Archive for Sredoje Lukic

Gacka family

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2014 by visegrad92

dzenana.gacka

 

Photo: Dzenana (Meho) Gacka. 1969-1992

fahrudin.gacka

 

Photo: Fahrudin (Meho) Gacka. 1963-1992 (first from right), in company with Dzevad Kustura and Senad Muhic. All three worked in Terpentin factory.

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Photo: Meho (Bekto) Gacka. 1928-1992 (first from right)

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Photo: Hamsa (Redzo Kasapovic) Gacka. 1930-1992 (third woman from left)  

 

During the trial of Milan and Sredoje Lukic, VG-115 testified about the murder of the Gacka family. NOTE:  The witness mistakenly called the victim Amela instead of Dzenana. All other information about the victim – place of residence, parents name, place and circumstance of death match. Full transcript can be found here.

He needed fuel, and he said to me, Turn around and look out the window, that’s my girlfriend Amela Gacka from Dobrun, the village of Dobrun.

Q.   Did you ever see this woman sitting in a car driven by Milan Lukic?

A.   I noticed that woman in the Passat vehicle, but that was in late autumn, not on that day but in late autumn, a couple of months thereafter.

Q.   After you met her, did you learn what happened to her?

A.   I also had occasion to see her walking with Milan Lukic’s mother. They would be carrying some groceries that they had bought at the green market, and I could notice that Amela Gacka was pregnant.

Q.   Is she alive today?

A.   Amela Gacka is no longer alive.

Could you tell us in which conditions she died, if you know?

A.   I was returning from the centre of town, from the public accountancy service (redacted)  Amela Gacka was sitting by Milan in a car.  He took her out and to the bridge, to the  bridge over the Drina River.  I remember, it had to be sometime around or before, rather, 1.00 p.m., during the day that is.  She was the last victim that I know of in the city of Visegrad and this happened in autumn, in late autumn, it was cold.  Actually, from what I learned Milan had her returned, had her specifically returned from Belgrade in order to cut short her young life.  Amela Gacka had a father and a brother,Meho Gacka was the father and I forgot the name of the brother (redacted)

Q.   You say that he made her come back so that he would end her life. What do you mean by that?

A.   What I mean is that Gojko Lukic, his older brother, actually gave all that up and he was no longer noticed — his presence was no longer noticed in these last months in Visegrad.  He left the town together with Amela Gacka to build a future somewhere else with her and live with her somewhere else and she was also pregnant.  Before giving birth and giving — bringing a new life into this world, he brought her back to the Bosnian city of Visegrad and took her life.  Otherwise Amela Gacka would also be a witness here today and she would have many a thing to tell about what Milan Lukic did.  I’m very sorry for her and for her parents — parent and her brother, whom I knew well, although I do not know where they are today nor whether they are still alive.  I have no information whatsoever about them.

Ismeta Kurspahic survived!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 7, 2011 by visegrad92

Image: Ismeta Kurspahic

Ismeta Kurspahic (1960) was one of the members of the Kurspahic family  who was burned alive in Pionirska street massacre on 14.06.1992. This was a fact established by the Trial Chamber in the first instance judgment in the Milan and Sredoje Lukic case. However, last year DNA analysis proved that Ismeta was exhumed from a mass grave in Straziste cemetery in 2009.  Lukic’s defence quickly reacted to this new fact:

In the January 24 motion, Milan Lukic’s lawyers allege that Ismeta Kurspahic, who was found to have died in a house burning on Visegrad’s Pionirska Street, did not in fact “die in the manner and the place as alleged in the indictment, and as stated in the trial judgement”.

They state that the defence team received information from the Bosnian authorities – the details of which remain confidential – that show that Kurspahic “was alive after the date of the alleged Pionirska incident”. In addition, they say that her body was not discovered with other victims of the incident, and was located some distance from Pionirska Street.

“…[This] is strong evidence that in fact she did not perish in the manner concluded by the judgement, and thus the conclusions of guilt and sentence as to Pionirska are thus [a] discernible error,” the lawyers state.

This information was not available during the trial, which took place during 2008 and the first part of 2009, because Kurspahic’s remains were not exhumed until late 2009 and not identified until December 2010, the motion states.

Numerous witnesses named Kurspahic as one of the victims of the fire, but the Lukic defence claims that if this new evidence had been available during the proceedings, the judges would have found that those witnesses “were not witnesses of truth” as regards this incident.

Source: IWPR

Lukic’s defense was right about one thing: Ismeta Kursphaic was alive after 14.06.1992.

New evidence discovered by VGM shows that Ismeta was injured and treated at the Visegrad Health Center on 18.06.1992:

Image: Protocol of patients from the Visegrad Health Center dating 18.06.1992. Ismeta Kurspahic is noted under number 5473.

Under diagnosis the patient Ismeta Kurspahic was given the following medicine:

– Novalgetol ampula
– Jugocilin 2ml
– Gentamicin 120 mg
– Ultracorten ampula
She was given a lot of painkillers in large dozes. In the last column it is written that Ismeta was given injections and bandaged. Also it should be noted that a splint was found in the mass grave in Straziste were Ismeta was buried.
Image: The victim’s remains and a splint found at the Straziste cemetery.
Image: The mass grave in Straziste cemetery were Fadil Uzicanin, Aziz Hreljic and Ismeta Kurspahic were found.

Visegrad Genocide Denial

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2009 by visegrad92

This examination of the denial of genocide at Visegrad looks at three specific examples: a documentary  called ”Na Drini Grobnica”(”Grave on the river Drina”), the works of Momir Krsmanovic, a Serb writer from Visegrad, and the Visegrad report of the Committee for Collecting Data on Crimes Committed Against Humanity and International Law.

na-drini-grobnica

1.”Na Drini Grobnica”  is a documentary produced by the so-called Concentration Camp Survivors from Republika Srpska organization (”Saveza logoraša Republike Srpske”), featuring the organisation’s Visegrad section (”Regionalnog udruženja logoraša iz Višegrada”).  It was produced in 2007 and since then has been repeatedly aired on Republika Srpska TV as well as being available online. One of the people who worked on this ‘documentary’ was Slavko Heleta, a journalist in Visegrad. In addition to making this documentary, they have also organized two conferences on ”Crimes committed against Serbs in Upper Podrinje”.  The organization is very close to the SNSD (Alliance of Independent Social Democrats), the party of Republika Srpska Prime Minister and genocide denier Milorad Dodik. The organization’s former vice-president Slavko Jovicic Slavuj, now a member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina  Parliament, voted along with all the other Serb representatives in the BH Parliament against proposed legislation that would outlaw Holocaust and Genocide denial. The proposed legislation was based on the EU Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia.

The RS government funds the activities of this organization and has recently given 50,000 Euro to enable it to sue the Federation of B&H.

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Image: Momir Krsmanovic

2. Momir Krsmanovic, is a notorious Serb author from Visegrad. He wrote the popular novel ”’Even God wept over Eastern Bosnia” (”I Bog je zaplakao nad Istocnom Bosnom”) which deals with ”crimes against the Serb people in Eastern Bosnia”. According to his offical website (http://www.momir-krsmanovic.com/), Momir Krsmanovic was a survivor of Ustasa crimes committed at Sjemec near Visegrad in 1941. He survived these atrocities because ”Almigthy looked after him”. He boasts that he was able to write ”Even God wept over Eastern Bosnia” in a monastery on Mount Ozren thanks to Vasilija Kacavenda, the infamous Bishop of Zvornik who was very close to Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Kacavenda built his own residence on confiscated Bosniak property in Zvornik and is notorious for refusing to remove the Church built on the property of Nana Fata (”Granny Fata”) near Srebrenica.

Krsmanovic publicly brags about his close connections with the Orthodox Church (see here). His book is written as a historical novel, supposedly based on eye-witness accounts. It makes no mention of Serb crimes, instead Krsmanovic describes Bosniaks slaughtering Serbs and dumping them in the Drina river, rapes by Bosniaks etc. The novel is fascist propaganda aimed at young Serbs in Eastern Bosnia, like the film ”Pretty Village, Pretty Flame”.  Krsmanovic is also the author of ”The Blood-Stained Hands of Islam”, ”The Bloody Drina Flows” etc.

kahriman 001

Image: Abdullah Kahriman, Bosnian Army soldier, giving a taped forced confession to Visegrad Serb authorities. He has been missing ever since.

3. The Committee for Collecting Data on Crimes Committed Against Humanity and International Law was formed during the war with the primary aim of spreading propaganda about crimes committed against Serbs in Bosnia. The committee produced a report on every town, especially Visegrad. These reports were used by Slobodan Milosevic’s defense at The Hague and can be found online. The committee gathered information from the courts in Visegrad. Two names recur: Judge Radmila Radisavljevic (later Zeljko Lelek’s defense lawyer) and Prosecutor Lazar Drasko (later a defense witness for Milan Lukic in the Sjeverin trial). Drasko is still a prosecutor in the Bosnian Federal courts and the authorities have ignored victims’ calls for his suspension. Radisaljevic is working as a lawyer in Visegrad. It is important to note that neither comes from Visegrad – Drasko is from Capljina and Radisaljevic from Zenica. Victims have repeatedly called for the criminal prosecution of both, but the authorities have ignored those calls. The most infamous case involving these two is that of Abdullah Kahriman, a Bosnian Army soldier captured by the Bosnian Serb Army near Visegrad. Kahriman escaped from Visegrad in ’92 and joined the resistance. He was captured, interrogated by the Visegrad authorities, tortured and forced to confess to war crimes. His forced confession is used by the Committee and also used in the propagandist documentary ”Grave on the River Drina”. His whereabouts are unknown.  He was last seen in Visegrad, in the custody of the court authorities. He was probably murdered.

The Committee’s Visegrad report makes ludicrous and unbelievable accusations. Here is one example:  “The Muslims publicly displayed their chauvinistic feelings and emphasised their religious affiliation by wearing green clothes, brandishing Muslim flags and other religious emblems.”

(Source: Committee for Collecting Data)

These are the three sources of information concerning Visegrad or Eastern Bosnia to be found on Serb websites.  More recent evidence of genocide denial by Visegrad Serbs can be found in comments in Internet forums, Facebook discussion groups etc.: ”What happened, happened! Let’s look towards the future”, ”The war ended 15 years ago. Don’t talk about it!”, ”I really don’t know why you people left, you are welcome to return any time”, ”We all committed crimes, now let’s not talk about it”.

visegradduga1

Image: Bosnian Serb soldier harrasing an unidentified  Bosniak elder, Visegrad 1992.

There is another aspect of denial that particularly concerns Visegrad – the Lukicization of war crimes. This is the tendency to place the blame for every war crime committed in Visegrad on Milan Lukic. It seems now that Lukic himself ordered and executed every crime committed in Visegrad. But don’t forget, Milan Lukic was a member of the Visegrad Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army. This is an established fact, mentioned at the Sjeverin trial and confirmed by Branimir Savovic (SDS President) and Luka Dragicevic (Commander of the Visegrad Brigade). Lukic had a superior. He received orders and he obeyed orders. There is a chain of responsibility behind the commission of these crimes.

And finally, last but not least, it is worth repeating that the main role in the Visegrad genocide was played by the Crisis Committee in the Visegrad Municipality.

Slap memorial for Visegrad genocide victims

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by visegrad92

slap

Image: Slap near Zepa were bodies of genocide victims from Visegrad were retrieved and buried by local Bosniaks. In 1992 Bosniaks in Visegrad were murdered on the Mehmed-pasa Sokolovic Bridge and on the New Bridge. Their bodies dumped into the Drina river. Read more here.

slap1

Image: Slap near Zepa were bodies of genocide victims from Visegrad were retrieved and buried by local Bosniaks. In 1992 Bosniaks in Visegrad were murdered on the Mehmed-pasa Sokolovic Bridge and on the New Bridge. Their bodies dumped into the Drina river. Read more here.

slap2

Image: The Drina river, the largest gravesite of Bosniaks from Eastern Bosnia.

slap4

Image: Slap near Zepa were bodies of genocide victims from Visegrad were retrieved and buried by local Bosniaks. In 1992 Bosniaks in Visegrad were murdered on the Mehmed-pasa Sokolovic Bridge and on the New Bridge. Their bodies dumped into the Drina river. Read more here.

slap5

Image: Slap near Zepa were bodies of genocide victims from Visegrad were retrieved and buried by local Bosniaks. In 1992 Bosniaks in Visegrad were murdered on the Mehmed-pasa Sokolovic Bridge and on the New Bridge. Their bodies dumped into the Drina river. Read more here.

slap3

Image: Slap memorial for Visegrad genocide victims.

Note: We thank Mevludin Agic for allowing us to use these pictures.

Video of Slap exhumation:

Serbia involved in war crimes in Visegrad

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2009 by visegrad92

Natasa Kandic, the director of  “Fond for Humanitarian Law” in Belgrade gave a short interview to E-novine, (an online magazine) journalist Bojan Tončić. We have translated the most interesting parts. Read full article here.

Natasa Kandic. Photo by Dragan Kujundžić

Natasa Kandic. Photo by Dragan Kujundžić

All the officers who were in the Visegrad Brigade are pensioned here or are still in the Serbian Army. And the same thing is always repeated: Serbia did not take part in the war, but their officers did and their citizens did.

”It is very important that Milan and Sredoje Lukic were not indicted for command responsibility, they were the direct perpetrators of the most hideous war crimes”, says Natasa Kandic.

”Along with Milan Lukic were many other individuals, even women; sometimes he was a Serb, but when he was to be freed from jail in Belgrade then he was a citizen of another country. During the trial for  crimes committed  against Muslims from Sjeverin, we got a confirmation document that he was a member of the Republika Srpska Army. So he did not commit crimes that were not known of, Republika Srpska and Serbian authorities were fully aware of them. Every week he was in Belgrade, nobody had the intention to arrest him, because it was part of the strategy to full fill an aim with deportations and murders – the creation of  a Serb state.  So, Serbia is involved because all the officers who were in the Visegrad Brigade are pensioned here or are still in the Serbian Army. And the same thing is always repeated: Serbia did not part part in the war, but their officers did and their citizens did. And the officers and policemen who were present there,  refused to help those who survived the live pyres. In that police they were surely people from Serbia”, says Natasa Kandic.

A women from Zvornik who testified against Lukic, a protected witness, said that she was “unfortunately Serb”. “She said that one day she saw Milan Lukic and another man who represented himself as a student from Novi Sad, cutting a man with knifes. She saw Milan Lukic, leading armed children when he and Mitar Vasiljevic murdered Medo Mulahasic on the Drina Bridge, and teaching children how to shoot before that” , says Natasa Kandic


Bosnia and Herzegovina: No justice for rape victims

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 22, 2009 by visegrad92

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.

Background
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

Milan Lukic 1992 pictures

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2009 by visegrad92
Members of the Serb military unit in Visegrad in 1992. Second from left, standing is Milan Lukic.

Members of the Serb military unit in Visegrad in 1992. Second from left, standing is Milan Lukic.

Milan Lukic wearing Chetnik(WW2 Serb Royalists) headgear.

Milan Lukic wearing Chetnik(WW2 Serb Royalists) headgear.

Milan and Sredoje Lukic Judgement

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2009 by visegrad92
War-time picture of Milan Lukic in a military uniform in Visegrad.

War-time picture of Milan Lukic in a military uniform in Visegrad.

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.

Milan Lukic led away in a police car in Argentina after being arrested.
Milan Lukic led away in a police car in Argentina after being arrested.

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.

Milan Lukic at the Hague
Milan Lukic at the Hague

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.

Sredoje Lukic speaking to high-level Republika Srpska authorities before turning in to the Hague.
Sredoje Lukic speaking to high-level Republika Srpska authorities before turning in to the Hague.

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.

Sredoje Lukic at the Hague.
Sredoje and Milan Lukic at the Hague.

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.

Bosnian Serb pair jailed for burning Muslims alive

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2009 by visegrad92

By Aaron Gray-Block

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)

Source

Video – Paklenik massacre exhumation

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2009 by visegrad92

The Paklenik Massacre is the massacre of at least 50 Bosniaks by Bosnian Serb Army in the Rogatica Municipality on 15 June 1992. One day earlier, the Serb Democratic Party-led Višegrad Municipality organized a deportation of Bosniak civilians to Olovo, a town near Tuzla. However, on its way towards the Rogatica Municipality, Bosnian Serb Army members from Visegrad stopped the buses and took all the men off to another bus. They spent the night in Rogatica and the next day they were taken to Paklenik (Hell) to a ravine called Propast (Downfall) where they were systematically executed and their bodies thrown into the ravine. Only one man survived the massacre. The men responsible for this massacre have not yet answered for their crimes. The only people who have been indicted were Mitar Vasiljevic, Nenad Tanaskovic, Sredoje and Milan Lukic. The Bosniak civilians who were deported and who were massacred came from the following villages in Visegrad: Gornji and Donji Dubovik, Velatovo, Zagre, Smijece, Zupa and Dobrun.


The remains of these executed Bosniaks were found in 2000.