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Bosnian Serb Fighter ‘Assaulted Civilians and Extorted Money’

28. March 2013.00:00
A witness at the trial of ex-fighter Zoran Dragicevic for war crimes in Sarajevo in 1992 testified that paramilitaries beat her husband so badly that his lungs filled with blood.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The protected witness codenamed ‘A-5’ told the court in Sarajevo that on the morning of May 22, 1992, two armed soldiers came to the door of her apartment in the Grbavica district of the capital.

“They said they were taking my husband in for questioning and that they would come back soon,” said the witness, adding that she later found out that the soldiers were the defendant Dragicevic, known as ‘Krompir’ (Potato), and Veselin ‘Batko’ Vlahovic.

Dragicevic is charged with robbing and abusing non-Serbs in the Sarajevo settlements of Grbavica, Vraca and Kovacici between May 1992 and December 1994, as well as with rape.

Vlahovic has being tried in a separate case for murdering, raping, abusing and robbing civilians. A verdict is expected on March 29.

A-5 said her husband returned with the two soldiers, looking like he had been beaten.

“My husband told me to give them all the gold I had, because I would be buying his life. The smaller soldier spread out a handkerchief and I put gold coins, jewellery and foreign currency on it,” recalled A-5.

Two days later, she received a telephone call from a man telling her that her husband had undergone surgery in the town of Pale.

“He told me they extracted two and a half litres of blood from his lungs and that he would have suffocated in his own blood had they not done that,” she said.

Several days later, she said, Dragicevic came to her apartment again with another soldier, asking for money. When she told him she did not have it, the defendant took the remaining cash from her purse and fired shots around the apartment.

“Then he raised his hand and said he was sorry he did not kill my husband,” said A-5.

She met her husband again in November 1992, and he told her how he was taken to the Digitron Buje building, a residential block in the Grbavica neighbourhood, where he was physically assaulted.

“My husband liked to joke around and told me that as soon as he arrived, five of them beat him up as a welcome, and then the small and tall soldier took him to a room where they beat him and tried to extort money from him. Then they took him to some garages, where he saw four dead bodies. They beat him savagely there,” said the witness.

Asked by the defence whether she was sure that the man in a photograph of Dragicevic showed to her by the police was the same person that came to her apartment, she said she was more than 50 per cent certain.

The trial will resume on April 3.

Mirna Buljugić

This post is also available in: Bosnian