Image: Pionirska Street Fire Massacre Infographics
Image: Bikavac Fire Massacre Infographics
On June 14 1992, in Pioneer Street(Pionirska Ulica) in Visegrad around 60 Bosniak civilians, (women, children and elderly) were barricaded and burnt alive in Adem Omeragic’s house. Almost all were from Koritnik village and a majority of them belonged to the Kurspahic family. Koritnik was looted and set ablaze.
Image: Senad Kurspahic, standing in front of his house in Koritnik next to a board with names of his family who were burnt alive(including a 2 day-old baby) in Adem Omeragic’s house in Pioneer street in the center of Visegrad.
Image: Visegrad genocide survivors and family members gather in Koritnik to mark the crimes committed there.
Image: Family members place boards with names of victims-their loved ones who were murdered by the Bosnian Serb Army.
Image: Genocide survivors and family members leave a sign for the perpetrators: “War criminals, our neighbours first robbed us, expelled us and then burnt us alive. 8 of us survived.”
21 July 2009
The conviction of Milan and Sredoje Lukić for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Tribunal) brings justice for the killing of scores of people during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina but ignores the suffering of victims of sexual violence, Amnesty International said today.
The Bosnian Serb cousins, members of the White Eagles paramilitary group, were convicted on 20 July of crimes against the civilian population in the Višegrad area in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 war, including murder, persecution, extermination, torture. Milan and Sredoje Lukić were sentenced to life and 30 years’ imprisonment respectively.
Amnesty International deeply regrets that the Prosecutor failed to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity of sexual violence, including rape, that were alleged to have been committed and that no one has been charged by the Tribunal for these crimes.
“The raped women of Višegrad deserve justice too. Those responsible for these crimes should also be held to account,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.
“Over a decade after the war, these women are forced to live with the memories of their suffering without being able to receive acknowledgement and compensation.”
Credible evidence of the abduction of young women who were subsequently held and subjected to rape and other crimes of sexual violence at the Vilina Vlas hotel near Višegrad has been gathered by the Tribunal and the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina which points to the alleged responsibility of the Lukić cousins for rape and other crimes of sexual violence. A number of non-governmental organizations have also documented testimonies of victims who allege that they were raped by members of paramilitary groups under Milan Lukić’s command. Amnesty International in 1993 documented two cases in which girls reported that they had been raped in Vilina Vlas hotel, allegedly by members of the White Eagles, which was under Milan Lukić’s command.
Amnesty International calls on the prosecutor at the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to open an investigation into the substantial number of allegations against Milan and Sredoje Lukić related to war crimes and crimes against humanity of sexual violence committed in the Višegrad area.
Rape and other forms of sexual violence were widespread during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite the fact that the conflict ended more than 13 years ago successive governments have consistently failed to bring those responsible to justice.
Many perpetrators of war crimes of sexual violence continue to enjoy impunity and often live in the same communities as their victims. Survivors of those crimes suffer trauma and other psychological and physical problems. Psychological support is often not available and access to health services is limited, especially for women in remote areas of the country. Many survivors are unemployed and live in poverty and cannot afford medicines, even when these are prescribed by a doctor.
Source: Amnesty International
The Trial Chamber is sitting today to deliver its judgement in the trial of Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić. I will briefly summarise the Trial Chamber’s findings. The Trial Chamber emphasises that this is but a summary of its findings and that the only authoritative account is the written judgement, which will be made available after this hearing.
This case concerns events that took place in the municipality of Višegrad, and the town of the same name, in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 7 June 1992 and 10 October 1994. The municipality is located in the south-eastern region of Bosnia close to the border of the Republic of Serbia on its eastern side. In April 1992, following acts of violence against the Muslim population in the municipality, the Yugoslav People’s Army, or JNA, entered Višegrad. It eventually withdrew on 19 May 1992, having established Serb control over the town and the municipality. Following the JNA’s departure, attacks on the non-Serb population, including murders, disappearances, rapes, beatings, and destruction of non-Serb property, increased. These attacks were carried out by paramilitary groups that operated in Višegrad with the complicity or acquiescence of the Serb authorities. The number of arbitrary killings and disappearances peaked in May and June 1992.
It was within this context that Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić both from the village of Rujište near Višegrad town, allegedly committed the crimes with which they are charged. Milan Lukić has been charged with committing or aiding and abetting persecution, murder, extermination, cruel treatment, and inhumane acts, as crimes against humanity and war crimes, in relation to six discrete incidents. The incidents are 1) the killing of five Muslim civilian men at the Drina river on or about 7 June 1992; 2) the killing of seven Muslim civilian men at the Varda factory in Višegrad town on or about 10 June 1992; 3) the events leading up to and including burning alive of approximately 70 Muslim civilians in Adem Omeragić’s house on Pionirska street in Višegrad town on or about 14 June 1992; 4) the burning alive of approximately 70 Muslim civilians in Meho Aljić’s house in Bikavac, also in Višegrad town, on or about 27 June 1992; 5) the killing of Hajra Korić, a Muslim civilian, in or about June 1992; and 6) the beating of Muslim detainees at the Uzamnica detention camp between August 1992 and October 1994.
Sredoje Lukić has been charged with committing or aiding and abetting the crimes of persecution, murder, extermination, cruel treatment, and inhumane acts, as crimes against humanity and war crimes, in relation to three of the above six incidents: 1) the burning alive of approximately 70 persons in Adem Omeragić’s house; 2) the burning alive of approximately 70 Muslim civilians in Meho Aljić’s house; and 3) the beating of Muslim detainees at the Uzamnica detention camp.
In relation to the Drina river incident, the evidence shows that Milan Lukić collected seven Muslim men on 7 June 1992, and eventually drove them to the Drina river near Sase where he lined them up at the river’s edge. Milan Lukić ignored the victims’ pleas for their lives and told the soldiers with him to shoot the men with single shots. He and the soldiers then shot the men in the back, killing some of them instantly and then returning to fire additional shots into those bodies they thought to still be alive. Five men perished. Only VG014 and VG032, both of whom testified before the Trial Chamber, survived by pretending they were dead.
With regard to the Varda factory incident, the evidence shows that on about 10 June 1992 Milan Lukić entered the Varda factory and collected seven Muslim men from their workstations. He thereafter took them down to the bank of the Drina river in front of thefactory, where he lined them up. Milan Lukić then shot the men in full view of a number of people watching, including the wife and daughter of one of the victims, Ibrišim Memišević. All seven men were killed.
Considerable evidence was received concerning the Pionirska street incident. The evidence shows that a group of 70 Muslim civilians, most of whom came from the village of Koritnik and included many members of the Kurspahić family, were taken by a group of armed Serbs to Jusuf Memić’s house on Pionirska street, where they were robbed at gunpoint. Women and some children were then strip-searched, after which a number of women were taken away, stating upon being brought back to the house that they had been raped. Later in the evening, the group of victims was transferred to the nearby house of Adem Omeragić, where they were locked into a ground-floor room. The evidence shows that the carpet of the room had been prepared with an accelerant. After a while, a lighted, explosive device was placed in the room which ignited an intense fire when it exploded. As the victims tried to escape the flames through the two windows of the room, they were shot at by the armed men outside the house. Other explosive devices were also thrown into the room. Witnesses VG078 and VG101, who had escaped and were hiding close by, could hear shots coming from Adem Omeragić’s house. VG101 said to VG078:
“These people are killing our mother, our mother-in-law, and our brother’s two children. They didn’t do anything wrong”.
Only a handful of people survived, and all of those who are still alive came to testify before the Trial Chamber. However, 59 people were burned alive.
The Milan Lukić Defence challenged the very occurrence of the fire in Adem Omeragić’s house through a number of experts who visited the site in January 2009. The Trial Chamber has endorsed the view of the experts that the longer a crime scene investigation is delayed, the less reliable the conclusions that can be drawn. Under crossexamination by the Prosecution, the experts qualified their conclusions to such an extent as to render their overall findings practically without foundation, including by agreeing that a fire could have taken place and that an incendiary device exploded in Adem Omeragić’s house. Therefore, the Trial Chamber has placed little weight on their evidence. On the basis of the acceptance by the Vasiljević Trial Chamber of Mitar Vasiljević’s alibi in relation to the Pionirska street incident, the Milan Lukić Defence also challenged the credibility of a number of Prosecution witnesses who recalled seeing Mitar Vasiljević there. On the evidence presented in this case, the Trial Chamber by majority, Judge Robinson dissenting, has found that Mitar Vasiljević was, in fact, present on Pionirska street during the robbery in Jusuf Memić’s house, and during the transfer to and burning of Adem Omeragić’s house.
The evidence shows that Milan Lukić was inside Jusuf Memić’s house and that he robbed the victims of their valuables. He was present and armed when the strip-searches were being carried out. He also participated in removing a number of women from the house who, reportedly, were raped. Milan Lukić participated in the transfer of the victims to Adem Omeragić’s house, and the evidence shows that it was he who closed the door once the group was inside the room. The Trial Chamber also has found that it was Milan Lukić who placed the explosive device into the room, thereby setting the house ablaze. Furthermore, the Trial Chamber has found that he shot at the windows of the house and that he shot at and wounded VG013 as she escaped.
The evidence shows that Sredoje Lukić, a police officer in Višegrad, was also present, and armed, at Jusuf Memić’s house, including while the robbery and strip-searches were taking place inside, and when the women were removed. The Trial Chamber has found that he was also present during the transfer to Adem Omeragić’s house. However, the Trial Chamber has concluded that there is no reliable evidence that Sredoje Lukić set Adem Omeragić’s house on fire or shot at the windows as people tried to escape. Nevertheless, the Trial Chamber has, Judge Robinson dissenting, found that by his presence and by being armed, Sredoje Lukić substantially contributed to the deaths of the 59 people trapped in the house. The Trial Chamber has further found that Sredoje Lukić aided and abetted in the cruel treatment and inhumane acts committed against all the members of the group.
The other incident charged in which Muslim civilians were burned alive occurred at Meho Aljić’s house in Bikavac. Zehra Turjačanin testified in relation to this incident. She presented a sad, tragic but heroic figure. Permanently disabled as a result of this event, and scarred for life, she has broken all ties with her former homeland. Her evidence, as well as the evidence of other witnesses, shows that Milan Lukić and other armed men forced a group of approximately 70 Muslim civilians into Meho Aljić’s house, locking them inside.
All the exits had been blocked by heavy furniture and a garage door was also placed against a door to prevent escape. Gunshots were fired at the house and grenades were thrown inside, setting the house on fire. Witnesses VG058 and VG035 vividly remembered the terrible screams of the people in the house, “like the screams of cats”. The Trial Chamber has found that at least 60 Muslim civilians were burned alive.
The Milan Lukić Defence also challenged the occurrence of the Bikavac fire through its experts. For the reasons mentioned earlier, the Trial Chamber has placed little weight on this evidence as relates to the Bikavac fire. It has placed no weight on the evidence of the Defence psychological expert, George Hough, who provided views on the evidence of Zehra Turjačanin, the sole survivor of the incident, without having had any contact with her. The Defence also challenged the credibility of Zehra Turjačanin because in the period immediately following her escape from the fire she gave various accounts to Serb soldiers and a doctor of how she received her horrific burns. The Trial Chamber concludes that these differing accounts do not cast doubt on Zehra Turjačanin evidence, and that she is a witness of truth.
The Trial Chamber is satisfied that Milan Lukić was present and armed throughout the incident. He used the butt of his rifle to push people into the house, saying, “Come on, let’s get as many people inside as possible.” After the victims were locked inside, he shot at the house, threw grenades into it and subsequently set it on fire using petrol.
With respect to Sredoje Lukić’s presence during the incident, the Trial Chamber by majority, Judge David dissenting, has found that Zehra Turjačanin’s evidence is inconclusive. Therefore, the Trial Chamber by majority, Judge David dissenting, is not satisfied that Sredoje Lukić was present at the Bikavac incident.
The Trial Chamber will now turn to the last two incidents in the indictment. In respect of the killing of Hajra Korić, the evidence shows that Milan Lukić searched for Hajra Korić among a group of women and children who were fleeing. Once Milan Lukić found her, he singled her out and shot her at point blank range. He was laughing when he turned her body over with his foot and shot her in the back.
In relation to the Uzamnica camp, the evidence shows that both Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić were opportunistic visitors to the camp, although Sredoje Lukić came to the camp less frequently than Milan Lukić. When at the camp, both Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić severely and repeatedly kicked and beat the detainees with their fists, truncheons, sticks and rifle butts. Several victims testified before the Trial Chamber about these brutal beatings and the grave injuries and permanent injuries they sustained and the suffering they endured.
Milan Lukić presented alibis for the Drina river, Varda factory, Pionirska street, Bikavac and the Uzamnica camp incidents. The Drina river and Varda factory alibi is that Milan Lukićwas in Belgrade and Novi Pazar in Serbia from 7 to 10 June 1992. The Trial Chamber has found that the purported alibi suffers from a number of glaring inconsistencies, and has held that the evidence of two key witnesses, MLD1 and MLD10, is lacking in credibility. MLD10 also testified in support of the alibi for the Bikavac incident, that at the end of June 1992 Milan Lukić was in Rujište for three or four days. Also in this respect has the Trial Chamber found MLD10’s evidence to be wholly unreliable. Particularly damaging to MLD10’s credibility overall was the credible and reliable evidence of Hamdija Vilić that MLD10 received payment in exchange for false testimony.
Milan Lukić’s alibi for the Pionirska street incident is that on 13 to 15 June 1992, he was deployed as a reserve policeman in Kopito. The Trial Chamber has found that the evidence of witnesses who are fundamental to the alibi as a whole, notably MLD4, MLD7 and Goran Ðeric, display discrepancies on matters that are central to the alibi. The Trial Chamber has also found MLD4’s and Goran Ðeric’s evidence to be unreliable. There was little evidence advanced in support of the alibi for the Uzamnica detention camp charges, according to which Milan Lukić was imprisoned for some of the relevant time. The Trial Chamber has found that Milan Lukić’s imprisonment for some time in spring 1993 and possibly 1994 has no bearing on the evidence showing that he beat the detainees because it does not correspond to the same time period.
Sredoje Lukić presented alibis for the Pionirska street and Bikavac incidents. In light of its majority finding that the Prosecution has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that Sredoje Lukić was present at the Bikavac incident, the Trial Chamber has not made any findings in relation to the alibi for the Bikavac incident. In relation to the alibi for the Pionirska street incident, which is that Sredoje Lukić met Veroljub Živković and Branimir Bugarski in Obrenovac, Serbia, in the evening of 14 June 1992, the Trial Chamber has found that aspects of the evidence presented are implausible and that the evidence of Veroljub Živković, a key witness, is neither credible nor reliable.
For each incident where an alibi has been presented, the Trial Chamber has considered the evidence as a whole, that is, the evidence led by the Prosecution and the evidence led by the Defence, and found that the alibi is not reasonably possibly true. In particular, the Trial Chamber has rejected the alibi for the Drina river and Varda factory incidents as a cynical and callously-orchestrated artifice. The Trial Chamber has concluded that the Prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt the relevant charges.
A very large amount of evidence was presented of other crimes that were committed in Višegrad during the indictment period, including specific instances of murders, rapes and beatings, some of which were allegedly committed by Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić. A significant proportion of this evidence, including several incidents of rape, was presented by the Prosecution for the purpose of rebutting the alibis presented. As Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić have not been charged with any crimes arising out of these incidents, the Trial Chamber has not made any determination of guilt in relation to them.
The perpetration by Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić of crimes in this case is characterised by a callous and vicious disregard for human life. The Trial Chamber has found that Milan Lukić personally killed at least 132 Muslim people. In early June 1992 and within a matter of days, Milan Lukić summarily executed 12 Muslim men at the Drina river with indifference and deliberateness. He carried out the cold-blooded murder of Hajra Korić in a flippant and cavalier manner. As opportunistic visitors to the Uzamnica camp, bothMilan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić came for no other reason than to inflict violence on the detainees. Although Sredoje Lukić came to the camp with less frequency than Milan Lukić, both accused beat the detainees with extraordinary brutality, causing them serious and permanent damage.
The Trial Chamber has found that Milan Lukić played a dominant role in both the Pionirska street and Bikavac incidents, in which, respectively, 59 people and at least 60 people burned alive. While Sredoje Lukić did not himself set Adem Omeragić’s house on fire himself, he knew what would happen to the victims that he helped herd to AdemOmeragić’s house.
The Pionirska street fire and the Bikavac fire exemplify the worst acts of inhumanity that a person may inflict upon others. In the all too long, sad and wretched history of man’s inhumanity to man, the Pionirska street and Bikavac fires must rank high. At the close of the twentieth century, a century marked by war and bloodshed on a colossal scale, these horrific events stand out for the viciousness of the incendiary attack, for the obvious premeditation and calculation that defined it, for the sheer callousness and brutality of herding, trapping and locking the victims in the two houses, thereby rendering them helpless in the ensuing inferno, and for the degree of pain and suffering inflicted on the victims as they were burnt alive. There is a unique cruelty in expunging all traces of the individual victims which must heighten the gravity ascribed to these crimes.
Lastly, Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić are alleged to have committed the crime of persecution through a number of underlying acts. The Trial Chamber has found that Milan Lukić acted with discriminatory intent when committing the underlying acts charged. It has also found that Sredoje Lukić acted with discriminatory intent when aiding and abetting the underlying acts charged. Judge Robinson dissents from this Trial Chamber’s finding insofar as the underlying acts pertain to the transfer of the approximately 70 Muslim civilians to Adem Omeragić’s house and their detention and murder in that house during the Pionirska street incident.
Milan Lukić, please rise.
The Trial Chamber finds you, Milan Lukić, GUILTY pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Statute of committing:
Persecutions, a crime against humanity, count 1
Murder, a crime against humanity, count 2
Murder, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 3
Inhumane acts, a crime against humanity, count 4
Cruel treatment, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 5
Murder, a crime against humanity, count 6
Murder, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 7
Murder, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 10
Inhumane acts, a crime against humanity, count 11
Cruel treatment, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 12
Murder, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 15
Inhumane acts, a crime against humanity, count 16
Cruel treatment, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 17
Murder, a crime against humanity, count 18
Murder, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 19
Inhumane acts, a crime against humanity, count 20, and
Cruel treatment, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 21
The Trial Chamber by majority, Judge Van den Wyngaert dissenting, finds you, Milan Lukić, GUILTY pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Statute of committing:
Extermination, a crime against humanity, count 8, and
Extermination, a crime against humanity, count 13
The Trial Chamber sentences you to a term of imprisonment for the remainder of your life.
Pursuant to Rule 101(C), you are entitled to credit for time spent in detention, which as of the date of this judgement amounts to 1443 days, and for such additional time you may serve pending the determination of any appeal. This information is provided in the event that it becomes necessary in any subsequent proceedings. Pursuant to Rule 103(C), you shall remain in the custody of the Tribunal pending finalisation of arrangements for your transfer to the State where you shall serve your sentence.
Milan Lukić, you may sit.
Sredoje Lukić, please rise.
The Trial Chamber by majority, Judge David dissenting, finds you, Sredoje Lukić, NOT GUILTY on the following counts:
Count 8: Extermination, a crime against humanity
Count 13: Extermination, a crime against humanity
Count 14: Murder, a crime against humanity
Count 15: Murder, a violation of the laws and customs of war
Count 16: Inhumane acts, a crime against humanity
Count 17: Cruel treatment, a violation of the laws and customs of war
The Trial Chamber finds you, Sredoje Lukić, GUILTY pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Statute of committing:
Inhumane acts, a crime against humanity, count 20 and
Cruel treatment, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 21
The Trial Chamber finds you, Sredoje Lukić, GUILTY pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Statute of aiding and abetting:
Persecutions, a crime against humanity, count 1,
Inhumane acts, a crime against humanity, count 11,
Cruel treatment, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 12
The Trial Chamber by majority, Judge Robinson dissenting, finds you, Sredoje Lukić,
GUILTY pursuant to Article 7(1) of the Statute of aiding and abetting:
Murder, a crime against humanity, count 9
Murder, a violation of the laws and customs of war, count 10
The Trial Chamber sentences you, Sredoje Lukić, to a sentence of 30 years of imprisonment.
Pursuant to Rule 101(C), you are entitled to credit for time spent in detention, which as of the date of this judgement amounts to 1404 days, and for such additional time you may serve pending the determination of any appeal. Pursuant to Rule 103(C), you shall remain in the custody of the Tribunal pending finalisation of arrangements for your transfer to the State where you shall serve your sentence.
Sredoje Lukić, please sit.
The hearing is adjourned.
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)
In every Genocide, there are people who realize the awful truth and prepare to defend their homes and family. Today we shall remember those, who prepared, fought and did not allow their home-town to fall to enemy hands without a bullet fired. In the Visegrad, there are several persons who should be remembered.
1. Zijad Subasic, a young member of the illegal Patriotic League(PL), he was the PL leader in Visegrad according to PL leader Kerim Lucarevic. In late ’91 and early ’92, he and a couple of other young Bosniak men bought and transported small arms to Visegrad from Sarajevo via Gorazde. Zijad and his men managed to stop the Uzice Corps in Dobrun (outskirts of Visegrad near the Serbian border) and capture 40 “White Eagles”. They held this position for five days and thus allowing many Bosniaks in village areas to flee. Zijad was injured during one street fight and sent to Foca(which was not occupied by the JNA yet). After the occupation of Foca, Zijad was taken from his hospital bed by some local Serbs from Visegrad and slaughtered on the Mehmed-pasa Sokolovic bridge. R.I.P
2. Murat Sabanovic, led an armed group which captured a few Serb policemen and held them captive in the Hydroelectric dam in Visegrad, thus allowing Bosniak civilians from Visegrad and surrounding villages to flee. He became famous after a televised telephone conversation with the Commander of the JNA in Sarajevo General Miltutin Kukanjac in which he swore (which was unthinkable in the Communist regime) at General Kukanjac. Sabanovic claimed that he had explosives (but he did not) and that he is going to blow up the dam if the JNA did not retreat from Visegrad. This lasted a few days and was finished by intervention of B&H President Alija Izetbegovic who pleaded with Sabanovic “not to blow up the dam”. Sabanovic’s actions were more strategic and psychological than military.
*Desperate General Milutin Kukanjac begging Murat Sabanovic not to blow up the Visegrad dam.
3. Ahmet Sejdic, Commander of the First Visegrad Brigade formed in early May near Medjedja, Visegrad. It was made up of refugees and Visegrad Genocide survivors, former concentration camp inmates, rape victims etc. These were people who had high moral and nothing to loose. Their only aim was to liberate Visegrad. Fighters of the First Visegrad Brigade were able to liberate a few strategic villages and basically keep (a large part) the left side of the Drina river under control. They are popular for having taken Zaglavak (a hill above Visegrad) from Russian volunteers in the Army of Republika Srpka(VRS), about 15 Russians were killed in that operation. The First Visegrad Brigade held their positions until May 1993, almost a year of resistance on Visegrad territory.
4.Zaim Kustura, Ahmet Sejdic’s deputy, a people’s hero famous for leading expeditions in Visegrad’s hills and forests and rescuing Bosniaks hiding there. He is believed to have saved hundreds if not thousands of lives.
5.Mehmed Tvrtkovic, Commander of Visegrad’s Territorial Defense.
Image: Members of the First Visegrad Brigade in the forest near Vsiegrad preparing for an operation.
Image: Female members of the First Visegrad Brigade. Women who were raped or sexually abused or whose husbands or children were murdered in Visegrad by the Bosnian Serb Army joined up the resistance.
THE HAGUE, 01.09.2008.
Huso Kurspahic, former police officer from Visegrad, lost his mother, two sisters and almost fifty other relatives who were burned alive in the Pionirska Street. According to the indictment, Milan and Sredoje Lukic took some seventy Bosniaks from the village of Koritnik – including a newborn baby – to a house, shut them in and set the house on fire. Kurspahic’s evidence is based on the information he got from his deceased father, one of few who managed to escape from the burning house. As Kurspahic said, his father left him the truth about the event as his legacy.
Kurspahic first testified about the crime in 2001 at the trial of Mitar Vasiljevic, who was acquitted on that count, but was sentenced to 15 years for other crimes. Today at the trial of Milan and Sredoje Lukic the prosecutor tendered into evidence the transcript of Kurspahic’s evidence in the Vasiljevic case. In 2001, Kurspahic was granted full protective measures. This time, Kurspahic said, he decided to testify in public and to see the accused Sredoje Lukic face to face. The two of them had worked together in the Visegrad police for ten years.
Kurspahic also testified about the disappearance of his younger brother. He knows that in early May 1992 his brother was taken to the police station and was later taken to the Uzamnica barracks where he was ‘killed by Milan Lukic’, as far as the witness knows. Repeated abuse of Bosniaks detained in the barracks is among the charges against Milan and Sredoje Lukic.
In the cross-examination, Milan Lukic’s defense counsel insisted that the witness didn’t have ‘first-hand’ information and had changed his statement as time went by. Sredoje Lukic’s counsel denied his client was ‘anywhere near the terrible crime’ in the Pionirska Street, offering his condolences to Kurspahic. The defense counsel went on to ask the witness if he could even suspect a colleague he ‘had known for such a long time’ could commit such a crime against his family. Sredoje would be able to do it, the witness said.
The second witness who gave evidence today, VG-038, had managed to jump through a window of the burning house in the Pionirska Street on 14 June 1992. Most of the seventy-odd Bosniaks locked inside burned to death. The witness was only thirteen at the time. The transcript of his evidence at the trial of Mitar Vasiljevic was also admitted into evidence. Most of his testimony today was given in closed session.