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Bosnian Serb Paramilitary ‘Demanded Money for Lives’

13. March 2013.00:00
A witness at the war crimes trial of Zoran Dragicevic said he and other fighters extorted cash by threatening murder and rape during wartime in 1992.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The protected witness code named ‘A-3’ told the court in Sarajevo on Wednesday that three fighters including defendant Dragicevic – a Serb paramilitary nicknamed ‘Krompir’ (‘Potato’) – took her and her husband to Mount Trebevic, south-east of the city, where they forced them to give them money “in order to save their lives”.

A-3 said the fighters, who also included Veselin ‘Batko’ Vlahovic, appeared at their door at around 11 pm in late May 1992.

“Batko was one of them. He took my husband into the living room and beat him, asking for money, while the defendant and the other soldier stayed with me in the hallway,” the witness said.

She said the fighters then took them away to Mount Trebevic.

“I was in a car with Batko, while my husband, the defendant and the other man were in another car… While we were driving, Batko asked me in what way I wanted him to rape me. I told him that I was old enough to be his mother. He then hit me so hard that two of my teeth fell out,” witness A-3 said.

When they got to Mount Trebevic, Vlahovic asked her husband to give him money, she said.

“I heard Batko asking him whether we had enough money to pay for our lives. They first mentioned the amount of 3,000 Deutschmarks, but ended up speaking about 10,000,” the witness said.

They were then taken back to their apartment, where they gave the fighters 14,000 Deutschmarks, 400 Swedish Kronas and jewellery worth between 5,000 and 7,000 Deutschmarks, she said.

Dragicevic is charged with having robbed and abused non-Serbs in the Grbavica, Vraca and Kovacici neighbourhoods of Sarajevo and raped one person during the period from May 1992 to December 1994.

Vlahovic has been tried for war crimes in a separate case and the verdict is expected soon.

When asked by the defence if she recognised a photograph of the defendant, the witness said she was 80 per cent sure that he was the person who came to her door with Vlahovic and stole the money.

The trial is due to continue on March 20.

Mirna Buljugić

This post is also available in: Bosnian