Inside a Burning House

13. November 2015.00:00
As the trial for crimes in the Prijedor area continued, a state prosecution witness said a house, in which she was detained together with more than 30 other women and children, was set on fire.
Protected witness Z-10 said she used to live in a hamlet on the territory of Prijedor municipality with her husband. She said her husband stopped going to work in April 1992, when Serb authorities took over the Prijedor municipality. She said all Bosniaks were ordered to put white blankets or bands on their houses.
As she said, as of that date Bosniaks were no longer allowed to move freely. She said men were hiding in the woods, because “the Serb Army walked around” in the villages.
“I remember our men coming from the woods and having a cup of coffee on July 23, 1992. There were nine of them. All of them went to the field in order to mow clover, while the Serb Army surrounded us from three sides. (…) I saw our men running away in all directions. My husband was among them,” witness Z-10 recalled.
She said that, after the men had fled from the hamlet, all women gathered in one house together with their children, 35 of them.
“They killed all the men and broke into our house. There were two soldiers in gray-olive uniforms with black kerchiefs. They only had eye holes. They ordered us to go outside. They asked money and jewelry from an old woman. Then they hit her. They lined us up against the house wall,” the witness said.
Z-10 said she then saw many armed soldiers, adding all of them wore different uniforms. At first she said she saw soldiers in “gray-olive and military uniforms”, but then she said she mixed up “the military” uniform with “the blue police one”. The defense of defendant Radomir Stojnic said the witness had not mentioned police uniform in her previous statement.
According to her testimony, those soldiers cursed them. When the wind began blowing, it lifted their kerchiefs.
“I recognized one of them. His mother was a fortune teller. His nickname was Mica. They called his mother Milanovica, but I don’t know her name. (…) Bozo Grbic was there as well. I knew him too. He used to go hunting with my father-in-law. Duje’s son. (…) He was blonde, somewhat chubby,” Z-10 said.
When asked by the prosecution why she said, in her statement given in 2014, it was Bozo Grujicic, son of Duje, the witness said she had forgotten his last name. The chamber then asked her which of the two last names was correct. She said: “The one I mentioned before. Grbic, Grujicic, something like that”. Responding to additional questions by the prosecution, the witness described the location of the house Bozo, whom she had seen on that day.
She said he told the other soldiers not to harm the women and children, adding that someone then ordered them to enter the house. As she said, the door was locked. She saw two soldiers with red bands around their heads going upstairs.
“They told the ones, who stayed in front of the house: ‘Cover our back’. We were told we must not go out. We did not see it, but we heard a rumbling sound coming from upstairs. They set the first floor on fire. We realized that when we got sick due to the high temperature and when roof beams and shutters fell down,” Z-10 said.
She explained she broke the door together with a few other women, so they saved themselves.
As she said, in the same evening her uncle informed her that her husband, as well as a few relatives, had been killed. She said her father was killed on the following day together with a Music, whose body had not been found.
Dusan Milunic, Radomir Stojnic, Radovan Cetic, Dusko Zoric, Zoran Stojnic, Zeljko Grbic, Ilija Zoric, Zoran Milunic, Bosko Grujicic, Ljubisa Cetic, Rade and Uros Grujcic, Zdravko Antonic and Rajko Gnjatovic have been charged with murders, torture, sexual abuse, destruction and pillaging of property of local population from Zecovi village.
According to the charges, Milunic was the commander of Rasavacka Company with the 6th Battalion of the 43rd Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, VRS, Radomir Stojnic was the commander of the reserve police station in Rasavci, while Radovan Cetic was the president of the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, and crisis committee in the village of Rasavci. The other defendants were members of Rasavacka Company, police and other formations.
Witness Z-10 said she was taken to Trnopolje detention camp together with other women and children. Prior to that she had seen that other houses in her village had been set on fire.
Besides being assigned the pseudonym, she was granted other protection measures – she testified in a separate room with her voice and face being distorted.
According to the official schedule, this trial will continue on November 20.

Džana Brkanić