Archive for war crimes
Below are several photos of the identification process of Visegrad genocide victims who were found in Lake Perucac. These victims were identified in May, 2012. Photo credits: Almir Panjeta/klix.ba
The remains of Alma Hasecic, Visegrad genocide victim
Alma Hasecic’s father identifying the remains of his daughter.
Alma Hasecic’s father Remzija prays for the soul of his daughter Alma who was murdered during the Visegrad genocide
Forensic expert Hamza Zujo explains to Alma Hasecic’s family the cause of death
The remains of Alma Hasecic
A Visegrad family mourns at the identification of a loved one
The identification room in the morgue in Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Image: Milos Pantelic
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina ordered one month’s custody for Milos Pantelic and Ljubomir Tasic, suspected of war crimes in Visegrad and Sokolac municipalities in 1992.
The two men had been placed in custody “because… there is a fear that the suspects might flee and that they might influence witnesses while at liberty,” the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina said.
The Prosecution previously sought custody for the two suspects, saying that the suspects might flee because they had dual citizenship.
“Pantelic and Tasic might flee… while at liberty. Besides our [Bosnian] citizenship, they possess Serbian passports as well,” Prosecutor Dzevad Muratbegovic said.
“It is known that Serbia does not extradite its citizens. If they are released, Pantelic and Tasic might also influence their accomplices who are at liberty. One group lives in the Visegrad area, while others live in Serbia,” he added.
He maintained that custody was the only way to ensure the suspects’ presence before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Prosecution suspects Pantelic of having participated in the murder of dozens of Bosniak civilians near the Paklenik pit in Sokolac municipality and in the beating of civilians in Crni Vrh village and Orahovci school in the Visegrad area, as well as the forcible resettlement of the local population from Visegrad and the surrounding villages to Iseric Brdo.
Tasic is suspected of taking part in the forcible resettlement of more than 500 Bosniak civilians from Donji and Gornji Dubovik, Zagre, Smrijecje, Veletovo and Haniste, villages in Visegrad municipality.
The Defence proposed prohibiting measures against the suspects instead of custody. Nenad Grubez, attorney for Pantelic, said his client did not intend to flee.
“If he had had a place to go to, he might have fled”, Grubez said, adding that his client should not be made to suffer because his accomplices were at large.
Mirsada Beganovic-Zutic, attorney for Tasic, said that her client had nowhere to go and that his health was in poor condition.
“He has nowhere to go. How would he support himself financially in another country?… I propose that the Court orders prohibiting measures, because the suspect will not leave the territory of Bosnia,” Beganovic-Zutic said.
The State Investigation and Protection Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina arrested Pantelic and Tasic in the Visegrad area on September 4 this year.
Predrag Milisavljevic, who was arrested in June, is also suspected of wartime crimes in Visegrad and Sokolac.
He is suspected of having participated, along with other members of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS and police, in the forcible resettlement of about 450 non-Serbs from Visegrad municipality in June 1992 and the murder of more than 40 people next to the Paklenik pit, in Sokolac municipality.
Image: Sentenced war criminal Novo Rajak
On 27.November 2006 the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo declared Novo Rajak, a Bosnian Serb reserve police officer to 14 years in prison for war crimes against Bosniaks in Visegrad during the 1992-95 Aggression. The court convicted Novo Rajak, 41, of crimes against the Bosniak population of the Visegrad area in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina during the early years of the Genocide.
These included the expulsion of Muslim residents from their homes and the destruction of their property. The court also found him guilty of a role in atrocities against Muslim civilians, some of whom disappeared after Serbs captured the enclave of Zepa in 1995.
On 13.10.2011. the Visegrad Municipality signed contracts with 11 families for the reconstruction of their houses. Five of the families were Bosniaks and the rest Serbs. The project is financed by the State Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees.
One of the persons who signed the contract is the wife of war criminal Novo Rajak. Rajak is currently in prison serving his sentence for war crimes committed against Bosnian Muslims during the Genocide 1992-1995.
Image: The signing of the contracts in the Visegrad Municipality.
Image: Oliver Krsmanovic in 1992, Visegrad.
Oliver Krsmanovic was a member of the Bosnian Serb Army special unit “Avengers” which committed mass murder and rape against the Bosniak population in Visegrad and surrounding areas.
Image: Oliver Krsmanovic in 1980′s, Visegrad.
Oliver is wanted for crimes and rape committed in Visegrad and for abduction and murder of Muslim civilians in the Sjeverin case. In October 1992, 16 civilians – citizens of Yugoslavia were abducted in Sjeverin(Serbia) by members of the “Avengers” – brought to Visegrad, tortured and murdered. Their remains are yet to be found.
Oliver was arrested last night in Visegrad after “hiding” for years.
Original caption: [PHOTO]: Mosque ablaze, 8 June 1992. Flames and smoke rise today from a mosque in Visegrad, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 125 miles southwest of Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Serbs have seized two-thirds of Bosnian territory and have pounded Sarajevo with artillery and rocket fire. The surge in fighting began Sunday night. It ebbed before daybreak today, but rapidly escalated during the day. Source: Associated Press
Published in Chicago Sun Times, June 8, 1992.
Image: Visegrad’s Emperor mosque (Careva dzamija) set ablaze by Bosnian Serb soldiers from Visegrad on most probably 7 June 1992. Picture published in Chicago Sun Times on 8 June 1992. All mosques and other buildings of the Islamic Community were set ablaze and bulldozed by Visegrad Serb soldiers. They most probably acted under supervision of the Crisis Committee in the Visegrad Municipality. Throughout Serbian-occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina, mosques and all other Islamic architecture was systematically destroyed. It is believed that around 700 mosques were destroyed during the Bosnian Genocide.
Image: Careva mosque before the genocide.
Image: The Careva mosque re-constructed thanks to funds given by Visegrad’s Bosniak diaspora.
Credit: Melissa & Mirela, Thank you!
THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Bosnian Serb cousins Milan and Sredoje Lukic were convicted by the Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal on Monday of burning dozens of Bosnian Muslims alive in the country’s 1992-1995 war.
Milan Lukic, 41, who prosecutors said led a Serb paramilitary group known as the “White Eagles” or “Avengers,” was sentenced by the tribunal in The Hague to life in prison for killing at least 119 Bosnians in two incidents in June 1992.
Sredoje Lukic, 48, who prosecutors said was also a member of the unit, was given 30 years imprisonment. The court ruled it had not been proved that he was present at one of the attacks.
Both men had pleaded not guilty to all charges and said they were not present in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad at the time of the crimes. Defense lawyers had requested acquittals.
“The perpetration by Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic of crimes in this case is characterized by a callous and vicious disregard for human life,” Judge Patrick Robinson said.
The court found about 59 Bosnian Muslims were burned alive in a house set ablaze with an accelerant and an explosive, while at least 60 people died after being barricaded inside another home before grenades were thrown into the building.
Judge Robinson said the court found Milan Lukic guilty of both incidents, adding he played a dominant role in the attacks in that he personally closed the door of one of the houses, set them on fire and shot at people who tried to escape.
The court found Sredoje Lukic was not present at the second incident, but his presence at the first “substantially contributed to the deaths” despite the fact he did not set fire to the house or shoot at the victims.
Bakira Hasecic, president of support group ‘Women-Victims of War’, said she hoped both men would be tried by Bosnia’s own war crimes court for rapes and torture for which they were not indicted in The Hague.
“They only concentrated on the gravest crimes but it is only 5 percent of all the crimes they committed,” said Hasecic, herself a rape victim during the war.
Milan Lukic was convicted on 21 counts of crimes against humanity and violations of laws or customs of war, including murder, inhumane acts, cruel treatment and extermination. Sredoje was convicted on seven counts.
Milan Lukic was also convicted of shooting and killing 12 Bosnian Muslim men on the bank of the River Drina.
After seven years on the run, he was arrested in Argentina in August 2005. Sredoje surrendered to Bosnian Serb authorities the following month. Their trial started in July last year.
(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
Watch a short documentary about the seige of Gorazde ’92-’95:
In its closing argument, the prosecution has called for a sentence that will ensure that Milan and Sredoje Lukic ‘will remain in prison for the rest of their lives’, a sentence that will send a clear message that there is no mercy for those capable of committing such heinous crimes. Milan Lukic’s defense contends the prosecution has failed to prove Milan Lukic’s responsibility beyond reasonable doubt, asking for his acquittal. Sredoje Lukic’s defense will deliver its closing argument tomorrow.
‘There is only one sin, and that is theft. All other sins are variations on that theme and murder could be seen as theft of life’. Prosecutor Dermot Groome used this quote from a book Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini in his closing argument at the trial of Milan and Sredoje Lukic. Groome urged the judges to deliver the sentence that would make sure the accused ‘will spend the rest of their lives in prison’ because they ‘stole more than 3,000 years of life’ in June 1992 from the Visegrad Muslims.
Milan and Sredoje Lukic are charged with setting up the two living pyres in which about 140 people were burned to death, and with the murder and abuse of Visegrad Muslims in 1992. Murder is, as Groome put it, ‘a theft of life’, not only of the victims but also of their families and the community as a whole. If the crimes at issue in this case are seen from that point of view, the prosecution noted, it will be understood ‘that the people in Visegrad suffered inestimable loss because of the actions of the two accused and the scale of the theft’.
The prosecution wants the judgment handed down to Milan and Sredoje Lukic to ‘send a clear message’: all those who ‘might contemplate committing similar crimes and use vulnerable victims’ that they would be arrested and criminally prosecuted. They will have the right to a fair trial but if they proven guilty’ there will be ‘no mercy’ for them as they would ‘be punished to the maximum extent of the law’.
Jason Alarid, Milan Lukic’s US lawyer, contested in his closing argument the evidence of the surviving victims and other prosecution witnesses describing them as ‘liars’, ‘lunatics’, ‘alcoholics’ and ‘hysterical persons’. Alarid challenged the identification of his client and questioned whether the living pyres in the Pionirska Street and in Bikavac actually happened. According to him, it has not been established whether there was a fire there and the victims have not been identified. In Alarid’s view, the prosecution has failed to contest the ‘irrefutable evidence on the alibi’ of Milan Lukic: therefore, all the witnesses who claimed that they saw the accused at the crime scene ‘lied’. The prosecution, Alarid contends, failed to investigate the Visegrad crimes properly and has not been able to call evidence which would prove his client’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. This is why, the defense counsel argued, Milan Lukic should be acquitted on all counts in the indictment.
The defense of the second accused, Sredoje Lukic, will deliver its closing argument tomorrow afternoon.
Before the closing arguments, the last prosecution witness, Dutch handwriting expert Wil Fagel took the stand. Fagel concluded that the signature of former police commander in Visegrad, Risto Perisic, was forged on the document corroborating Milan Lukic’s alibi for the fire in the Pionirska Street. In the cross-examination of the Dutch handwriting expert, the defense implied that Perisic intentionally signed the document differently in order to be able to deny the authenticity of his signatures later and avoid any responsibility for the crimes. In its final brief the defense contends that Milan Lukic was indicted to direct the attention away from ‘the true leaders in Visegrad in 1992’, including Risto Perisic.