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Karadzic: Thousands of Dead People

11. January 2012.00:00
Following a three-week break, the trial of Radovan Karadzic at The Hague continues with a statement given by a Bosniak from Srebrenica, who survived the shooting in the vicinity of a dam in Petkovci village in mid July 1995.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Protected witness KDZ-045 said that, after the Republika Srpska Army, VRS forces had entered Srebrenica in July 1995, he joined “between 12,000 and 15,000” other Bosniaks, “one third of whom were armed”, who tried to get through to Tuzla.

The witness said that he surrendered to VRS members on July 13, 1995, because Serb soldiers addressed Bosniaks over megaphones and promised that they would be exchanged. According to the witness, more than 2,000 captured men were transferred to Nova Kasaba and then onto Bratunac by overloaded trucks.

KDZ-045 said that, on July 14 he was transported to Petkovci, along with other Bosniaks, and detained in a school building. As he said, about 300 captives were held in one classroom. In the early evening, Serb soldiers started to take those people out. He said that shooting could be heard after that. When he was taken out to the corridor, he saw piles of documents and other things that belonged to the people, who had been taken away. His hands were then tied.

“They loaded us onto a truck. Following a ten-minute drive, we stopped in a field. I saw piles of corpses in that field. A soldier told us to get off the truck and lie down. After that they shot at us from a close distance,” witness KDZ-045 said, adding that one bullet wounded him, so he fell down and hid among the dead people.

Karadzic is charged with genocide against more than 7,000 Bosniaks from Srebrenica, who were shot by VRS forces, whose supreme commander he was, in the days that followed the fall of Srebrenica on July 11, 1995. According to the charges, about 1,000 Bosniaks were killed in the vicinity of a dam in Petkovci on July 14, 1995.

The former President of Republika Srpska is charged with the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terror against civilians in Sarajevo and taking members of peace forces hostage in the period from 1992 to 1995.

Witness KDZ-045 said that, once the Serb soldiers had left, he and another survivor went to a nearby waterway in the morning on July 15, adding that they managed to get through to the Bosniak territories three days later.

Indictee Karadzic spent most part of the cross-examination on questioning the witness about his membership in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Witness KDZ-045 confirmed that he was member of the Territorial Defence until June 1992 and that the Army recruited him in mid June 1995, but he stressed that he did not take part in battles.

Karadzic said that the Srebrenica victims were “unfortunately a result of the civil war”. The witness responded by saying that “it was not a civil war, but an attack against the Muslim population”.

The indictee asked the witness to specify how long the shooting in Petkovci lasted, but the witness was not able to do it. “I was wounded, unconscious. I cannot specify how long it lasted. I would be ashamed to ask such a question, knowing that I saw a thousand of dead people,” KDZ-045 said.

John Clark, court pathologist, testified for the Hague Prosecution at this hearing. He said that he determined, in 1999, that bullets fired on their heads or backs from a close distance killed most of the few hundred victims, who were exhumed from mass graves in Kozluk, Nova Kasaba, Konjevic Polje and Glogova.

“There were no indications that those victims were killed in combats,” Clark said, adding that some of the victims were tied and blindfolded.

The trial of Karadzic is due to continue on Wednesday, January 11 this year. R.M.

This post is also available in: Bosnian