Witnesses Describe Serb Attack on Zecovi Civilians, Including Children

15. January 2016.00:00
Testifying at the trial of fourteen defendants charged with attacking civilians in the village of Zecovi in the municipality of Prijedor, a state prosecution witness said she hid in the basement of a house in the village with women and children during the attack. Serb forces attacking the village then set the house on fire.

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Defendants Dusan Milunic, Radomir Stojnic, Radovan Cetic, Dusko Zoric, Zoran Stojnic, Zeljko Grbic, Ilija Zoric, Zoran Milunic, Bosko Grujicic, Ljubisa Cetic, Rade Grujcic, Uros Grujcic, Zdravko Antonic and Rajko Gnjatovic have been charged with committing acts of murder, torture, sexual violence, as well as destructing and confiscating property from the local residents of Zecovi, a village near Prijedor.

Milunic was the commander of the Rasavacka Company of the Sixth Battalion of the 43rd Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army. Stojnic was the commander of the reserve police station in Rasavci. Radovan Cetic was the president of the Serbian Democratic Party and crisis committee in the village of Rasavci. The other defendants were members of the Bosnian Serb military, police and other formations.

State prosecution witness Hata Hopovac said she was in a basement filled with women and children in Safet Hopovac’s house during the attack on Zecovi in July 1992. She said she saw five soldiers she didn’t recognize.

“It happened that houses were set on fire. We could see fire,” Hopovac said, including Safet Hopovac’s house.

Hopovac said she and the other civilians fled the basement when the concrete ceiling became hot. She said she didn’t know whether the door was locked.

Hopovac said she found out from her sister-in-law that her husband and a few other individuals had been killed in the Tocak brook, but she didn’t know who the perpetrators were. She said his remains were found later on.

After leaving the basement, Hopovac said she went to Carakovo, where she saw many people. She said they were taken to Travnik by Serb forces.

Mina Brakic was the second witness to testify at today’s hearing. Brakic said she saw Serb soldiers surround Zecovi on July 23, 1992. She said she hid in Hata Redzic’s house when the attack began, and heard soldiers calling for Suljo Dzenanovic.

Brakic said she went out and explained to the soldiers that only three women were in the house. She said the soldiers cursed at her, and that was ordered lie down and was questioned about the whereabouts of her son and husband.

“I lied in a puddle for about 20 minutes. My mouth was full of mud and water,” Brakic said. She said another group of soldiers passed by and one of them told the others to let her go. She was then released.

Brakic said she went to Hasib Kafteran’s house on the following day, where she encountered about 40 people who had also been attacked. She said she spent the night with them in the woods. When they returned to the house the following day, they encountered two children.

“The children were covered in blood and pale. They kept falling down…They said, ‘We’re from Gradina. Everyone was killed in the village last night,’” Brakic said. She said they all went to Carakovo on the same day to surrender.

According to Brakic, younger men were separated from the other civilians in Carakovo. She said “God knows how many thousands of ID cards were dumped on the road” in the hamlet of Zeger.

“Soldiers said, ‘If you know any of them, take their IDs. They may have lost them,’” Brakic said.

She said she heard that Suljo Tatarevic, his son Saban Tatarevic, Izet Bacic, Sonja Bacic and their son-in-law Hazim, as well as two of Djulaga Tatarevic’s sons, had been killed.

“My husband was killed near the school in Zecovi, in a forest…It happened on one of those days,” Brakic said.

During cross-examination, Brakic said she did not personally see any of the killings.

The trial will continue on January 22.

Lamija Grebo

This post is also available in: Bosnian