Ranko Babic, Bratislav Bilbija and Djuro Adamovic went on trial in Sarajevo, accused of the torture, abuse and murder of Bosniak civilians in the village of Ljeskare near Prijedor in August 1992.
The trial of former Bosnian Serb soldiers Ranko Babic, Bratislav Bilbija and Djuro Adamovic began at the Bosnian state court on Monday.
The indictment, read out in court by prosecutor Cazim Hasanspahic, alleges that Babic, Bilbija and Adamovic participated, as part of a widespread and systematic attack on the non-Serb civilian population, in the torture, abuse and murders of Bosniak civilians.
Two of the victims were killed in Ljeskare and three others taken away to an unknown location and never seen alive again.
“In the middle of August 1992, they came to the hamlet of Bukvik in Ljeskare, accompanied by several unidentified soldiers commanded by Babic, and took civilians out of a house and shack. After that they took all the women except one back into the house and separated the men [from the others],” the prosecutor said.
He added that around 15 civilians were taken from the buildings in the hamlet.
According to the charges, Adamovic hit one of the men on his body and, acting together with Bilbija, hit another one on his head with a blade of an axe. Then they allegedly ordered one of the civilians to load the beaten man onto a cart.
An unknown soldier then stabbed the man in his chest, which caused his death. The soldiers his another man all over his body, killing him too.
The three defendants are also been charged with tying up three men with wire, beating them, ordering them to get into a police van, then driving them away. They have been missing ever since.
“Babic, who had the highest rank, failed to do anything to prevent the acts that were mentioned. By his presence, he encouraged the soldiers to continue committing these acts,” the prosecutor said.
This is Babic’s second trial for war crimes in the Prijedor area. A case against him and ten others for crimes in the village of Miska Glava, near Ljubija, is also underway.
The Ljeskare trial is due to continue on April 1, when the first prosecution witness will be heard.