Archive for December, 2008

Post-war Visegrad: Special Report

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 28, 2008 by visegrad92

IWPR published an article about the situation in post-war Visegrad were genocide denial is still present.

———————————————————————————————

Visegrad in Denial Over Grisly Past

More than a decade after the war, few Serb residents are ready to confront the horrors that were perpetrated there.

By Rachel Irwin and Edina Becirevic in Visegrad (TU No 582, 27-Dec-08)

View of Visegrad.
Bridge across the Drina, built by the Ottomans in the late 16th century.
On the bridge at Visegrad.
Drina river, seen from the Visegrad bridge.
Vilina Vlas hotel.

When asked if she was aware of what happened in Visegrad during the war, the waitress’s face quickly tightened into a frown.

She doesn’t know anything, she says, crossing her arms and glancing nervously around the empty, darkened hotel cafe. She didn’t live here then, she says.

That seems to be a common refrain in this eastern Bosnian town.

Nestled in the mountains, and boasting a 16th-century Ottoman stone bridge that stretches majestically across the emerald-tinted Drina river, Visegrad could hardly be more picturesque.

But the natural beauty of the town and its surroundings belies the horror that gripped this region during the summer of 1992, when Bosnian Serb paramilitaries carried out a violent campaign to rid the area of Bosnian Muslims, or Bosniaks.

That summer, as many witnesses have testified in trials at The Hague tribunal, the historic UNESCO-protected bridge was the scene of executions of Bosniak men, women and children, whose bodies were thrown into the river, often in broad daylight. By autumn, 3,000 Bosniaks had been killed. Many more simply disappeared.

Currently standing trial at the Hague tribunal, Bosnian Serb cousins Milan and Sredoje Lukic are accused of responsibility for many of the outrages perpetrated at this time.

The men, who say they are innocent, are charged with burning 140 Bosniak men, women and children alive in barricaded houses.

An associate of Milan Lukic, Mitar Vasiljevic, was sentenced by the tribunal to 20 years in prison in 2002 for aiding and abetting the murders of seven Bosniaks in Visegrad.

In their decision on the Vasiljevic case, tribunal judges wrote that Visegrad was subjected to “one of the most comprehensive and ruthless campaigns of ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian conflict”. They added that, proportionally, no other Bosnian town except Srebrenica underwent a more drastic change in ethnic composition.

Before the war, 60 per cent of Visegrad’s 20,000 residents were Bosniak. Today, only a handful of survivors have returned to what is a predominantly Serb town.

The killings in Visegrad are also included in the first count of genocide against former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic, who was apprehended in July after 13 years on the run.

HOTEL AT CENTRE OF ABUSE CLAIMS

The Vilina Vlas hotel and health spa, where the waitress bristled at questions, is a short drive from the centre of town and surrounded by woods and a steep, pebble-filled ravine. The hotel’s website extols the healing properties of the spa’s waters and boasts of a large dining room perfect for business lunches.

From this mild description, one would never suspect that Vilina Vlas allegedly served a much grislier purpose during the war.

According to the prosecutor’s pre-trial brief in the Lukic case, Vilina Vlas “was used by Milan Lukic and his paramilitaries to detain and interrogate Bosnian Muslim civilian men as well as to rape and sexually enslave young Muslim women and girls”.

The alleged events at the hotel, and the allegation of rape, were not included in the final indictment against Lukic. The presumption of innocence relating to these allegations must therefore stand.

However, there is a substantial body of reports that suggest something terrible happened at Vilina Vlas. The alleged abuse there – which was documented as early as 1993 by the United Nations, Amnesty International and foreign journalists – was so severe that some women are reported to have jumped from second or third storey windows to their deaths. It is claimed that hundreds of others were held in the guestrooms for days or weeks at a time, where they were allegedly brutally raped, mutilated, and often killed.

In one of the many statements collected by the Research and Documentation Centre, RDC, in Sarajevo, a Bosniak woman spoke of her ordeal at the hotel with the Serb who brought her there.

“He raped me from 12.00 to 21.00 hours on that day. All that time, he held a knife in his hand, or within reach,” he said.

The few remaining survivors declined to be interviewed for this article, citing the trauma of retelling their story.

These days, Vilina Vlas caters to elderly visitors who come to bathe in the medicinal waters. Inside the hotel, heavy curtains are drawn on most of the windows and the air is stale from cigarette smoke. The furnishings in the lobby and cafe area are dark red, but heavily worn and faded with age.

The middle-aged Serb waitress, clearly uncomfortable with questions about the hotel’s past, shuffled across the vast dining room and headed downstairs to the lobby. She emerged moments later with a slender man who sat and watched the cafe’s only guests for several minutes, followed by another burlier man, who did the same.

All attempts to interview staff at Vilina Vlas ended in the same way – they said they knew nothing of what happened there during the war.

There is no suggestion that current staff members worked at Vilina Vlas in the early Nineties. Instead, we talked to them because like any other residents of this small town, they could reasonably expected to have some memory of its recent history, and – given where they work – to be aware of the stories surrounding the hotel in particular.

“Visegrad is a small town. They can’t not know,” said Mirsada Tabakovic, a Bosniak who fled Visegrad in June of 1992. She accompanied IWPR journalists to Vilina Vlas, and was present during the encounter with the hotel staff.

Tabakovic now lives in Sarajevo, where she works on behalf of rape victims and has helped to collect statements from many of those who survived the alleged abuse at Vilina Vlas.

“They are all in a terrible state,” she said. “They suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of them are not able to lead a normal life.”

And Tabakovic has endured her own trauma.

On May 19, 1992 – the day that the then Yugoslav army withdrew from Bosnia – soldiers with Serbian accents arrived at her door, she said, and took away her husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law; the last time she ever saw them alive.

Tabakovic hid with a Bosnian Serb friend in Visegrad until she was able to leave on an organised convoy on June 14 of that year. Her husband’s body was found eight years ago in a mass grave.

Tabakovic brushed her blonde hair away from her face and looked around the dining room – at the stony-faced waitress behind the espresso bar, the two hovering managers smoking cigarettes, the elderly guests climbing the stairs in their sweat suits, and at a half eaten cake in the humming cafe fridge.

“How can those people behave as if nothing happened here?” she asked incredulously.

Having coffee at a place like Vilina Vlas was clearly excruciating for Tabakovic, and she shifted in her chair, barely touching her drink.

“I was looking at those walls thinking about how many untold stories of pain they will keep secret,” she later remarked. “We have heard a lot about what happened at Vilina Vlas, but there is so much we will not hear, especially because they decided not to include rape in [Milan] Lukic’s indictment.”

As IWPR reported in July, the failure to charge Milan Lukic with rape provoked anger and astonishment from victims and NGOs. (See http://www.iwpr.net/?p=tri&s=f&o=345969&apc_state=henitri2008).

Hague chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte had omitted the charges from his indictment in order to speed up his trial, since the tribunal is under pressure to complete all cases by the end of 2009.

Del Ponte retired at the end of 2007, but the prosecution waited until last June – just a month before the trial was to begin – to resubmit the rape count. The judges deemed the submission too late, and the trial commenced with the charge absent from the indictment.

“WE KNOW NOTHING”

Acting as though nothing happened – or claiming not to know anything – was not a reaction exclusive to those at Vilina Vlas.

In a narrow, unheated room in the centre of Visegrad, several members of the right-leaning political party Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, huddled around a long table. They were eager to talk about the economic problems plaguing the town, and about plans to expand job opportunities and tourist attractions.

“We expect a lot from tourism,” said Brane Topalovic, an SNSD leader with a small frame and greying hair. “We have a spa, Vilina Vlas. We expect to expand its capacity, and there are plans to construct another hotel and a swimming pool.”

When asked, he claimed not to know about the rape and murder that allegedly occurred at the state-owned Vilina Vlas during the war.

“Look, I don’t know, even today, what happened in Visegrad,” he said, underlining that he only moved to the town in 1996. “I only know what people tell me.”

And what is that?

“Some tell one story, others tell something completely different,” he said, appearing increasingly agitated. He added that while he does not follow the trials at the Hague tribunal, he did meet Milan Lukic in 1996.

“[Milan] was a good-looking man,” he said. “He did not have any problems with law enforcement then.”

Another member of the SNDS, an elderly man in a blue jacket, nodded his head in agreement before launching into a speech about the “Muslim extremists” who he said started the conflict.

“According to propaganda, 3,000 Muslims were killed here,” he said. “I guarantee that this is a lie. What happened here was a civil war.”

During the ensuing discussion, a theme emerged: no one at the table knew what happened during the summer of 1992 because they claimed to have been living elsewhere, or to have already left the area. They said they did not see any crimes committed themselves, and thus considered any stories of atrocities in Visegrad to be rumours and nothing more.

Did they think the accounts of what happened at Vilina Vlas were just rumours?

“I don’t know,” answered Topalovic, the party leader.

At that point, a middle-aged man sitting quietly at the back of the room interjected. He appeared uncomfortable with some of his friends’ statements, and attempted to explain them.

Cedomir Guzina grew up in Sarajevo, and fought in the Bosnian Serb army during the 44-month siege of the city. After the war ended, he came to Visegrad, and spent the next four years living at Vilina Vlas with other Serbs who had left their home towns.

“No one ever mentioned the crimes people talk about now,” said Guzina. “I heard people talking about it only after Milan Lukic had left town, after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Maybe the people who were with him [then] know more, but nobody talks about it and we know nothing.”

Darko Andric, a tall young man in jeans and a white sweater, sat tensely listening to Guzina speak. He was a child during the war, and said his family left Visegrad in the spring of 1992.

“Even if something happened here, no one knows about it,” he said. “That’s why it’s stupid to answer your questions. I heard there was some kind of hospital there [at Vilina Vlas] during the war. They say the water has healing powers. The wounded were there and doctors took care of them… hundreds of people were saved. Who knows how many amputations took place there?”

According to scholars, this sort of denial is extremely common – and even expected – after atrocities have been inflicted on a civilian population.

“Because you have guilt about what your group did to this other group, you wind up not wanting to acknowledge it. It reflects on you,” anthropologist Gregory Stanton told IWPR. Stanton, founder and president of international organisation Genocide Watch, is a former employee of the United States State Department, where he helped to draft the UN resolution that created the war crimes tribunal in Rwanda.

In Germany, for example, it took at least 20 years for the country to begin coming to terms with the Holocaust, Stanton explained.

While the Bosnian war officially ended 13 years ago, some observers feel that Bosnian Serbs, in particular, still have a long way to go in facing up to their role in atrocities committed, especially when it comes to the crime of rape.

“There are men who will admit they committed crimes against humanity before they will acknowledge rape,” said Sara Sharratt, a clinical psychologist, who for the last three years has co-directed a project for women who testify about sexual violence at The Hague tribunal and Bosnian courts.

“There is more acknowledgement in larger towns, but still nowhere near where it needs to be,” she told IWPR. “My sense is that it’s not coming in the near future…. There hasn’t been a lot of healing.”

Part of the problem, say others, is the overall atmosphere of denial that still permeates the Serbian part of Bosnia – Republika Srpska – and Serbia itself.

Sonja Biserko, chairwoman of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, said that during the war, the media in Serbia dispensed an enormous amount of pro-Serb, anti-Bosniak propaganda.

“This was a preventative war against a genocidal [Bosniak] force – that’s how the media framed it,” she said.

Even now, she added, many Serbs are reluctant to confront what went on during the war, and seem content to leave it to “history” to assess what happened.

A common phrase repeated in Serbia these days is “history will say what happened”, she said. “This is what you hear all the time, even in the media.”

“But what is history?” she asked. “The passage of time?”

SUSPECTS ALLEGEDLY LIVING IN TOWN

Sitting at an outdoor cafe by the banks of the Drina, a Bosnian Serb man lit a cigarette and pointed at the old Ottoman bridge.

“Look, that bridge was built in 1571,” he said. “There were as many people killed there [during the war] as there are bricks in the bridge. It’s the biggest graveyard.”

After a moment, he added, “I never cross that bridge. I use the one down there to go to work.”

The man, who lived in Visegrad during the summer of 1992 and continues to do so, added that when the Drina became full of bodies, someone would open a sluice gate on a dam located downstream on the river to flush them away.

He agreed to speak to IWPR on condition of anonymity, as he feared he might be targeted for speaking out. As he spoke, he would periodically look around to see whether anyone was watching. Talking about the war isn’t something people do here.

Many residents, he explained, had been offered large sums of money to remain silent, especially since some suspected – and even convicted – war criminals are known to be living in town.

One of those that he mentioned specifically was Oliver Krsmanovic, a former associate of Milan Lukic. Both men were sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison by a Belgrade criminal court in 2003.

Lukic and Krsmanovic, along with two other men, were convicted of abducting 16 Bosniaks from a bus in the Serbian border town of Sjeverin on October 22, 1992. The kidnapped men were taken to Visegrad where they were tortured, then executed on the banks of the Drina, prosecutors alleged. Their remains have yet to be found.

Jasna Sarcevic-Jankovic, a spokeswoman for the office of the war crimes prosecutor in Belgrade, confirmed that Krsmanovic is still at large. She said that the prosecutor’s office does not have any new information on his whereabouts, and that it was up to the police to apprehend him.

But the Visegrad resident IWPR spoke to claimed to know exactly where Krsmanovic is hiding.

“I saw Oliver Krsmanovic the day before yesterday,” he said. “He has not left his house in years. If they want to arrest him, they should come to me, and I will help them approach his house at night. I guarantee they’ll find him in his room.”

Taking a sip of his espresso, he said he didn’t know why Krsmanovic hadn’t been arrested, since his whereabouts are something of an open secret around town.

When asked whether he was haunted by the things he witnessed, the man was quiet for a moment.

“I could not sleep the first year [after the war ended],” he said. “I was taking sleeping pills. [But] I never did anything to harm anybody and I think I did much to help.”

On a few occasions, he said, he hid Bosniak children in his house until he was able to transfer them to Bosniak-held territory.

As he sat back in the yellow cafe chair, the man alternated between expressing fears of being exposed and a brazen willingness to speak openly.

”I am not afraid,” he said. “They can do whatever they please to me. Three thousand [murdered] people are more important than me.”

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague. Edina Becirevic is a senior lecturer at the University of Sarajevo.

Lukić’s lawyers try to bribe witness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 26, 2008 by visegrad92

Weeks after Hamdija Vilić testified how Milan Lukić’s defence tried to bribe him with 100,000 Euro to secure an alibi for Lukić’s crime in Pionirska ulica, Višegrad were over 70 civilians were burnt alive, Lukić’s defence lawyer Jason Alarid accused Bosnian secret police of having “an interest in bringing about the conviction of Milan Lukic.”

Picture: Hamdija Vilić testifying at the Hague.

Persecutor Dermot Groome responded by saying “Mr Alarid has made dozens of serious allegations, I will demonstrate the fallacy of all of these.”

Hamdija Vilić at court explained the offer he received from Lukić’s defence team:

“As Vilic recounted, in early June 2008 he was approached by some men who introduced themselves as the middlemen representing Milan Lukic’s defense team. They asked him if he would be prepared to give an official statement to the defense. Vilic accepted their offer as he ‘wanted to see’ what Lukic, who had ‘destroyed his life and family’, wanted from him. Later, the witness contends, the accused called him two times from the UN Detention Unit. On 22 June 2008 Vilic met Lukic’s middlemen and lawyers in Zavidovici; they offered him a prepared statement to sign. The statement said that Vilic, as a BH Army unit commander, kept Milan Lukic besiegd from 13 to 15 June 1995. Hamdija Vilic recounted how he was promised the accused would get him ‘everything he needs in life’, including €100,000 if he confirmed the claims in the statement in court.” (Sense Agency)

According to Vilić, Lukić also promised that he would ‘learn the truth’ about the fate of his family if he came to The Hague and testified in his favor. Vilić’s wife and three children were burnt alive in the Bikavac neighborhood on 27 June 1992. Lukić’s lawyer Jason Alarid, didn’t even bother denying that Vilic had been contacted yet he accused Vilić ‘of asking for money himself ‘.

Probably with this in mind the Trial Camber started a ex-parte investigation against members of the defense team for alleged involvement in attempts to ‘bribe and intimidate witnesses’. Lukić and his laywers caught red-handed replied with a call for the disqualification of the Trial Chamber including the presiding judge, current ICTY president, Judge Robinson.


BOSNIAK WOMEN & CHILDREN BURNED ALIVE BY SERBS AROUND SREBRENICA

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 24, 2008 by visegrad92
Borrowed from Srebrenica Genocide Blog. The pictures below refer to our earlier post.
———————————————————————————————–
The events preceding and leading to the Srebrenica genocide included unprecedented levels of cruelty committed by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica against the civilian Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) population of the Podrinje.

In order to prolong the suffering of innocent victims, Serbs around Srebrenica would barricade Bosniak women, children, and elderly men in abandoned houses and then set them on fire alive.

Those who tried to escape would be fired upon and killed. The youngest victim was 2 days old baby whose remains contained multiple bullet holes. Some babies died in their mothers’ wombs as you can see in forensic photos provided below. According to numerous testimonies presented at the ICTY, main organizers of these crimes were Mitar Vasiljevic, Milan Lukic, and Sredoje Lukic.

Forensic evidence was collected by the U.N. war crimes investigators. The remains of victims were analyzed by the Department of Pathology at the University Clinical Center Tuzla and archived by Genocid.org project

.

PHOTO: Remains of a pregnant Bosniak woman and her unborn baby excavated from a mass grave Suha in the Srebrenica region, near Bratunac. Fetus body was preserved in mother’s womb with tiny legs and undeveloped brain clearly visible. The woman was barricaded in an abandoned house and then set on fire by Bosnian Serbs. When she tried to escape, she was shot with a single bullet to her stomach. In 1992, Serbs barricaded approximately 150 Bosnian Muslim women, children, and elderly men in two abandoned houses located in the Srebrenica region near Visegrad and then burned them alive. Zehra Turjacanin was the only survivor from the burning house in Bikavac and recently she testified ‘what it feels like to burn alive’ at the trial of Milan and Sredoje Lukic.

PHOTO: Pathologists at the University Clinical Center Tuzla examine remains of a pregnant Bosniak woman and her unborn baby found in mother’s womb. The woman was barricaded in an abandoned house and then set on fire by Bosnian Serbs. When she tried to escape, she was shot with a single bullet to her stomach. The victims were excavated from the mass grave Suha in the Srebrenica region, near Bratunac. The events preceding and leading to the Srebrenica genocide included unprecedented levels of cruelty committed by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica against the civilian Bosnian Muslim population of the Podrinje. In July 1995, crimes against humanity had culminated in a crime of genocide when Serbs overtook Srebrenica, summarily executed between 8,372 and 10,000 Bosniaks (men, children, and elderly), and forcibly expelled more than 20,000 people in a U.N.-assisted case of ethnic cleansing.

PHOTO: Remains of a pregnant Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) woman and her unborn baby excavated from the mass grave Suha in Srebrenica region, near Bratunac. Baby’s undeveloped head, fingers, and legs are clearly visible. The woman was barricaded in an abandoned house and then set on fire by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica. When she tried to escape, she was shot with a single bullet to her stomach.

PHOTO: Pathologists at the University Clinical Center Tuzla show remains of a pregnant Bosniak woman and her unborn baby. She was barricaded in an abandoned house and then set on fire by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica. When she tried to escape, she was shot with a single bullet to her stomach.

PHOTO: Remains of a Bosniak woman and her unborn baby excavated from the mass grave Suha in the Srebrenica region, near Bratunac. Baby’s undeveloped body was preserved in mother’s womb. She was barricaded in an abandoned house and then set on fire by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica. When she tried to escape, she was shot with a single bullet to her stomach.

PHOTO: Pathologist at the University Clinical Center Tuzla inspects remains of unborn Bosniak baby that was found in a womb of a murdered mother. The woman was barricaded in an abandoned house and then set on fire by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica. When she tried to escape, she was shot with a single bullet to her stomach. The victims’ remains were excavated from the mass grave Suha in Srebrenica region, near Bratunac.

PHOTO: Remains of a baby bottle and baby clothing containing multiple bullet holes were excavated from the mass grave Suha in the Srebrenica region, near Bratunac. The Bosniak victims were barricaded in an abandoned house, set on fire, and burned alive in 1992 by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica.

PHOTO: Remains of a baby bottle and baby clothing containing multiple bullet holes were excavated from the mass grave Suha in the Srebrenica region, near Bratunac. The Bosniak victims were barricaded in an abandoned house, set on fire, and burned alive in 1992 by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica.

PHOTO: Remains of a baby bottle and baby clothing with a bullet hole were excavated from the mass grave Suha in the Srebrenica region, near Bratunac. The Bosniak victims were barricaded in an abandoned house, set on fire, and burned alive in 1992 by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica.

PHOTO: Remains of Bosniak children killed by Serbs around Srebrenica. The victims were barricaded in an abandoned house, set on fire, and burned alive by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica in 1992. The victims’ remains were excavated from the mass grave Suha in the Srebrenica region, near Bratunac.

PHOTO: Remains of a Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) child and a baby killed by Serbs around Srebrenica. The victims were barricaded in an abandoned house, set on fire, and burned alive by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica in 1992. The victims’ remains were excavated from the mass grave Suha in the Srebrenica region, near Bratunac.

PHOTO: Remains of Bosniak children killed by Serbs around Srebrenica. The victims were barricaded in an abandoned house, set on fire, and burned alive by Bosnian Serbs around Srebrenica in 1992. The victims’ remains were excavated from the mass grave Suha in the Srebrenica region, near Bratunac.

PHOTO: Dignitaries and forensic workers attend process of exhumation of victims from the mass grave Suha around Srebrenica, near Bratunac. Bosnian Muslim victims – women, children, and elderly men – were barricaded in abandoned houses and then set them on fire alive. Those who tried to escape were shot and killed.

PHOTO: Dignitaries and forensic workers attend process of exhumation of victims from the mass grave Suha around Srebrenica, near Bratunac. Bosnian Muslim victims – women, children, and elderly men – were barricaded in abandoned houses and then set them on fire alive. Those who tried to escape were shot and killed.

PHOTO: Dignitaries and forensic workers attend process of exhumation of victims from the mass grave Suha around Srebrenica, near Bratunac. Bosnian Muslim victims – women, children, and elderly men – were barricaded in abandoned houses and then set them on fire alive. Those who tried to escape were shot and killed.

What it feels like to be burn alive

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 6, 2008 by visegrad92

Zehra Turjačanin, svjedok na suđenju Milanu i Sredoju Lukiću

Testimony by Zehra Turjacanin, the only survivor from the burning building in Bikavac, Visegrad. The house of Meho Aljic was set ablaze on 27 June 1992, on Vidovdan (the Serb Orthodox Holiday marking the Battle of Kosovo Polje, 1389) by Milan Lukic and other members of his paramilitary formation.

Q. And where did these men lead you to?

18 A. About 100 metres away from my house to another house.

19 Q. Do you know the name of the family or the person who owned this

20 house?

21 A. Yes, I do.

22 Q. What was the name of the family that owned this house?

23 A. Aljic.

24 Q. And what was the name of the head of the household?

25 A. Meho Aljic.

Page 2312

1 Q. What happened when you arrived in front of the Meho Aljic house?

2 A. We all went into the house of Meho Aljic.

3 Q. Do you recall what you were wearing that day?

4 A. Yes, I do.

5 Q. Can you please describe what you were wearing, including any

6 jewellery.

7 A. I was wearing sneakers, pants, a red T-shirt, a jacket, and I had

8 a small gold chain on my neck.

9 Q. Did anything happen to that small gold chain?

10 A. I was the last one to enter the house, and at that moment as I

11 was entering, Milan Lukic himself pulled the gold chain out from under my

12 red T-shirt.

13 Q. Can you describe for us what you saw when you first entered the

14 house?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Please do so.

17 A. Well, there were lots of people in the house. They were all

18 sitting against the walls in the house.

(…)

17 A. In that house there were mainly young mothers with their small

18 children. There were also a few elderly people, two or three elderly

19 men, also a few elderly women, but unfortunately there were many children

20 in the house.

21 Q. What would you say was the age of the youngest child you saw in

22 the house that evening?

23 A. The son of Suhra, Enamalada [as interpreted]. Her son had more

24 than one year [as interpreted].

25 Q. What’s your best recollection as to the time of day that this

Page 2315

1 occurred?

2 A. Yes, I do. It was approximately 8.30.

3 Q. What was the atmosphere like in that room?

4 A. Fear.

5 Q. What happened in that room that night?

6 A. The men that I mentioned, first of all they threw rocks at the

7 house to break the — the windows, and then they threw in some grenades,

8 and then they shot at the walls and the people inside and after that set

9 fire.

10 Q. You’ve mentioned some grenades. Were you injured in any way when

11 this happened?

12 A. Yes. My left leg was injured in several places.

13 Q. You testified that a fire was set. Can I ask you to describe for

14 us in as much detail as you recall how that happened?

15 A. Well, today I can’t remember all the details.

16 Q. Just if you’d tell us what you do recall today.

17 A. Well, after throwing the rocks and the grenades and shooting at

18 us a fire broke out, and it just happened way too quickly, so quickly.

19 That’s really all I can say at this moment.

20 Q. What portion of the house was the fire in?

21 A. It was the room in which we were, the living-room and the

22 dining-room or kitchen, however you would like to call it.

23 Q. Can you characterise how quickly the fire spread in that room?

24 A. Yes. The fire spread extremely quickly, very quickly.

25 Q. What did people in the room do?

Page 2316

1 A. The people inside were burning alive. They were wailing,

2 screaming. It’s just not describable what I heard.

3 Q. Did their clothes catch fire?

4 A. Well, with all the fire and smoke I couldn’t see anything.

5 Q. Did your clothes catch fire?

6 A. Yes. Yes, of course.

7 Q. Where was Aida at this time?

8 A. Well, she was still next to me. In fact, I held her close to me,

9 close to my stomach.

10 Q. What happened next?

11 A. When I started to — to really burn and it was unbearable, I

12 remembered where the door was, the door through which I came in, and I

13 tried to escape through that door.

14 Q. Were you able to escape through that door?

15 A. Well, I was surprised when I reached the door. I wanted to — to

16 go through the door and take my sister with me, but we weren’t able to

17 because there was an obstruction, but I did manage to get out.

18 Q. Were you able to take your sister with you?

19 A. No, no, not at all. She stayed behind.

20 Q. After you got outside of that house were you able to see what it

21 was that was obstructing the door?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. What was it?

24 A. Well, there was another door leaning against the door. It was a

25 metal garage door that was leaning against the door and therefore

Page 2317

1 blocking it.

2 Q. How was it that you were able to get past this garage door?

3 A. Well, there was a space of approximately 65 centimetres, and

4 that’s what enabled me to get through.

5 Q. After you got outside of the house did you see anyone?

6 A. Yes, I did. I saw the men who had caused the fire.

7 Q. Where precisely were they?

8 A. About 100 metres away. They were lying on the grass.

9 Q. Could you see what they were doing?

10 A. Yes. They were lying on the grass.

11 Q. Did they see you?

12 A. Yes, they saw me.

13 Q. Did any of them say anything to you?

14 A. Yes. In fact, they all shouted at me at the same time. They

15 said, “Stop. Stop.”

16 Q. Did you stop?

17 A. No, I did not.

18 Q. What did you do?

19 A. Well, I ran, and as I was doing so I shook off my clothes that

20 were burning.

21 Q. Where were you running to?

22 A. Well, I reason away from the house towards another house, towards

23 Megdan in neighbourhood where the Serbian population was.

Zehra knew Lukic well, because she went to the same school with him. Her brother Dzevad shared the same table with Lukic in class.

8 Q. Do you know whether Dzevad Turjacanin also knew Milan Lukic?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. How did your brother know Milan Lukic?

11 A. Because they were in the same class at school.

12 Q. Did your brother ever speak about who he shared his classroom

13 table with?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Who did he share his classroom table with?

16 A. With Milan Lukic.

Visegrad’s mass murderers: Milan Lukic

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 1, 2008 by visegrad92

Milan Lukic, a Bosnian Serb, son of Mile, born 6 September 1967 in Foca, is from the village of Rujiste approximately 15 kilometres north of Visegrad. Milan Lukic lived for a period of time in Germany, Switzerland and Obrenovac, Serbia. Milan Lukic returned to Visegrad in 1992 and organised a group of local paramilitaries that were sometimes referred to as the “White Eagles” and “Avengers”. This group had ties to the Visegrad police and Serb military units.

The Charges

Count 1
(Persecutions)

3. Between 7 June 1992 and 10 October 1994, Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic, acting in concert with Mitar Vasiljevic and other uncharged individuals, committed and aided and abetted the execution of a Crime Against Humanity, that is, persecutions of Bosnian Muslim and other non-Serb civilians on political, racial or religious grounds, in the municipality of Visegrad.

4. Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic, with specific intent to discriminate on political, racial or religious grounds, committed the crime of persecutions and, with the awareness of the discriminatory intent of other perpetrators, aided and abetted in the execution of the crime of persecutions, by participating in:

a.) The murder of Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serb civilians as described in paragraphs 7-10 and 11 infra, and, in respect of Milan Lukic only, in addition, paragraphs 5, 6 and 12, infra;

b.) The cruel and inhumane treatment (severe beating) of Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serb civilians over extended periods of time as described in paragraphs 13-15, infra;

c.) The unlawful detention and confinement of Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serb civilians under inhumane conditions as described in paragraphs 7-10 and 11, infra;

d.) The harassment, humiliation, terrorisation and psychological abuse of Bosnian Muslim and other non-Serb civilians as described in paragraphs 7-10, 11 and 13-15, infra, and, in respect of Milan Lukic only, in addition, paragraphs 5, 6 and 12, infra; and

e.) The theft of personal property and the destruction of houses of Bosnian Muslims and other non-Serb civilians as described in paragraphs 7, 9 and 11, infra.