Lazar Drasko:Witness at The Hague
Lazar Drasko, the war-time prosecutor in Visegrad was a witness in the Mico Stanisic and Stojan Zupljanin case. Here are some of the most interesting parts of his testimony:
Image: Lazar Drasko, war-time prosecutor in Visegrad.
Vacant Muslim houses for Serb settlers
Q. Before you arrived in Visegrad, do you recall hearing announcements over the radio coming from the Visegrad municipal authorities?
A. My in-laws said to me that they had heard that. That they were inviting people to come there, that there were vacant houses, that houses would be distributed.
Settling Serbs in Visegrad
Q. You mentioned that these announcements that your family heard over the radio were calling for people to come to Visegrad. What ethnicity were they trying to attract to Visegrad? What ethnic group?
A. Exclusively Serbs. They were saying that Visegrad had been ethnically cleansed of Bosniaks or Muslims they were called at the time and that we could can get their houses. So that many people from the Neretva Valley went there. But not only they; also people from Sarajevo, or Zenica, or Travnik. Over 20.000 people came to Visegrad from all over. And, of course, accommodation had to be found for all of them, and they had to be fed. It required organisation, and they were also drafted into the army. Many left for Serbia later. They expected the fall of Gorazde. There were announcements to that effect. The Serbs from Gorazde were also expected to come to Visegrad.
Pionirska Street Live Pyre
A. I looked for an apartment in town — or, rather, down-town in the vicinity of the prosecutor’s office, an apartment of any kind. And I saw there was a house that was partly burnt in Pionirska Street, but the facade was good. Only one room had burned down. But they were saying, No, this is not good enough for you. Let’s go to another place. And we found an older house which was damaged, but it could be — it could be renovated. And I said, Why is this better? This one is better because nobody was killed here. You don’t want to live in a house where people were killed and live among their ghosts and have people on your conscience.
Military officials on war crimes in Visegrad
Q. Before you left for Visegrad, while you were still in Bileca, did you have any conversations with military officials about crimes that were occurring in Visegrad against the non-Serb population?
A. Well, here’s what they said to me, especially Josip: Lazar, I don’t recommend that you go there; crimes were committed there. The Bosniaks were cleansed away.
On paramilitary units and foreign fighters
A. But they were — there were groups coming in all the time. Some were called locusts. Somebody said that they are some gypsies from Belgrade. Sorry, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but that’s what they were called. I know that they roamed the area, but they left very fast, in ten or 15 days. Another group was called Garavi, but they were locals. They were called that because they were smear their faces black before going into action. I know that the — that Seselj’s Men had been released from prison. They were called Seselj’s Men; they were locked up for various criminal offences, and they were sent to Bosnia to make havoc there. They didn’t even fight; they only stole and raped. I even had a criminal report because they had raped a girl. I didn’t know which other units there were. There were also the Russians. A guy had brought a unit that had been in Afghanistan. They only wanted to fight Muslims. They said they wouldn’t fight Croats. They prayed to God, some of them drank a bit. There was a Cossack whowas killed. There was a doctor who got killed. Valery Pikov [phoen] was an engineer, and he had reserves about Russian soldiers and volunteers. He had an apartment in the state of Russia. He was a civilised man. But very few of them stayed behind — stayed. They mostly went away fast.