Witnesses Describe Murder of Civilians in Podgradje at Kusuran Trial
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Kusuran has been charged with the murder of Ostoja Baltic, who he allegedly set on fire in a car on August 29, 1992. Kusuran was allegedly accompanied by several other persons, including Semir Alukic, who was found guilty of war crimes under a second instance verdict.
According to the indictment, on August 29, 1992, Kusuran and several other persons also went to the hamlet of Podgradje in the vicinity of Kozarac and killed Bozo Indjic by setting him on fire inside his house. Afterwards they set Sojanka Dekic’s house on fire. She managed to escape through a window with her daughter Snjezana.
Witness Snjezana Cvetojevic testified at today’s hearing. She said she was at home with her mother in Podgradje, when they were attacked by several men. She said they shot at the house and ordered them to come outside. She said her mother was cut with glass from a broken window, but they managed to escape.
“When they noticed that we ran away, they shot at us, but fortunately they didn’t hit us. Then I saw that they had set our house on fire and the house of neighbour Indjic, which was about 50 meters away from ours,” Cvetojevic said.
She said Hamdija Beslagic told her he was one of the men who attacked her house. She said he told her that he had no choice but to shoot, and that he didn’t want to kill her mother.
Kristina Baltic, the wife of the deceased Ostoja Baltic, also testified at today’s hearing. She described her husband’s disappearance, and said that one day he didn’t come home from work.
“On the second day [of his disappearance], my father in law and some neighbours went looking for him. When they came back, they said he was murdered and set on fire in his Fico car. There were rumours in the village that it was done by a group of Muslims led by a certain man named Kolo,” Baltic said.
Snjezana Kudric, the trial chamber chair, asked Baltic if she knew who Kolo was. Baltic said he knew his last name was Kusuran.
Zoran Indjic, the son of the deceased Bozo Indjic, also testified at today’s hearing. He said he was in Modrica when he was called and told that something had happened.
When he arrived to Modrica a few days later, his father had already been buried. He said he heard his father was murdered by a group of Bosniaks from Kozarac. He wrote down the names of the people who allegedly participated in the murder of his father, and who he heard their names from. He handed the list over to the prosecutor.
Rade Indjic, also a son of the deceased Bozo Indjic, said he travelled to Podgradje from Prijedor when he heard that the house of a postman had been set on fire.
“Everything was set on fire and we found the burned remains of my father, which we then buried,” Rade Indjic said.
Rade Indjic said that in 1993 he talked to Hamdija Beslagic in the Prijedor barracks. Beslagic had surrendered himself to the police and told him he was with the men who killed his father.
“I heard it was done by Kolo’s group and when I made inquiries, I heard that Kolo was the butcher Kusuran, meaning Muhamed Kusuran,” Indjic said.
Witness Mersud Mujanovic said that during the attack on Kozarac he met Beslagic. He was with a group of men, including Kusuran.
The trial will continue on October 16.