Eighth Report on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia: Part II


- continued

(10) May-Aug 92:

A 35-year-old Muslim from Prijedor was held prisoner by Bosnian Serbs from May 30 until August l3, 1992, nearly all of this time at Omarska camp.

Upon his arrival at Omarska on May 30, he and his fellow prisoners were immediately ordered to stand with their hands against a wall while they were beaten with sticks and other objects. At the beginning of his captivity, the witness regularly saw people beaten badly, often until they died, near the entrance of the campÕs administration building.

The worst beatings occurred after Serbs from the area were killed in combat. Following the death of six local "chetniks," for example, guards put a mixture of oil and water on the ground to trip up prisoners. Those who fell were beaten badly.

One evening, about halfway through his stay at Omarska, the witness saw a prisoner in the kitchen standing on a chair and complaining about "chetniks". A Serb soldier, after warning him to sit down, shot into the crowd, killing the man and wounding four other prisoners. The witness said he could identify the guard who had done the shooting.

During his imprisonment, the witness saw at least 10 to 15 prisoners beaten to death between the interrogation area of the second floor of the administration building and the building's entrance. One of the victims, Risah Hadzalic, was a personal acquaintance. Every night people were taken out of their bunk facilities: five, 10, sometimes 15. Some came back badly beaten; many never came back. (Department of State)

(11) May-Jul 92:

A 30-year-old Muslim was evicted from his family home in Kozarac by Serb militia on May 26, 1992.

On the way from Kozarac to imprisonment at Trnopolje, a group of Serbs threatened to kill him, his father, his brother, and three neighbors. The Serbs lined them against a building wall and cocked their rifles, but were stopped by an anonymous Serb commander. Instead of being shot, they were beaten -- in the case of the witness, until his ribs were broken. Later along the route, the witness tried to help an elderly woman who could no longer walk. A Serb soldier ordered him to let her go, and then shot the woman to death.

Also along the route, inside Kozarac, the witness saw armed Serbs, whom he knew, gun down the following five men: Ismet Karabasic, Sejdo Karabasic, Ekrem Karabasic (all brothers), Ekrim Basic, and Edin Basic.

The witness was held inside a school in Trnopolje from where he regularly observed, through a window, guards taking women from a movie theater. During both the day and the evening, on at least 20 different occasions, he saw the women taken either to the courtyard or to the playing field where they were raped. The men were usually drunk. He said that there were many witnesses who could see what was happening. The women usually were returned afterwards to the movie house. (Department of State)

(12) Jun 92

A 44-year-old Bosnian Muslim from Vlasenica, Bosnia, who was captured by Serbian forces on June 24, 1992, in Vlasenica, was sent to a prison camp in the Susica River Valley where he witnessed numerous atrocities committed by local Bosnian Serb troops. The witness knew several key personalities at the camp responsible for atrocities. He was later transferred to a prison in Batkovic on June 30, where he remained until February 20, 1993.

On April 17, 1992, the first Serbian troops entered the village of Vlasenica. The troops that initially occupied the village were from Novi Sad, Serbia, and were led by an unidentified lieutenant colonel who held a megaphone and demanded that all Muslim residents surrender their weapons and insisted that no harm would come to them.

The troops from Novi Sad left on May 2 when Bosnian Serb troops from Sekovici, Bosnia, took over the town. Local Serbian troops from Vlasenica also assisted the other troops with the occupation of their village. Over the course of five weeks, the troops captured residents of Vlasenica at random, took them to the police station for beatings, and then released them.

On June 24, local Serbian troops evacuated about 50 Muslim families who lived on a street in Vlasenica called Ulica Zarka Vukovica. After the evacuation, five houses were set ablaze and the men, women, and children were forced to walk to a prison camp in the Susica River Valley, located a few hundred meters from the town's main street. The camp was located on the west side of the highway leading to Han Pijesak. Soon after the residents from Vlasenica arrived on June 24, Durmo Handzic and Asim Zildsic, who had been taken to the camp earlier, died from injuries sustained from beatings suffered on June 22.

In the early morning hours of June 26, a reign of terror began at the Susica camp. At 1:00 am, two Serbian guards entered the warehouse and forced four men, including Muharam Kolarevic and Rasid Ferhatbegovic, outside. Immediately thereafter, four gun shots were heard outside the warehouse accompanied by screaming from the four men. At 1:30 am, two Serbian brothers from Vlasenica went into the warehouse and took three women away and raped them. Soon after daybreak, two brothers were selected to dispose of the four corpses. The men buried the victims in a grave near the camp.

Food was virtually non-existent at Suslca camp. Each person was given only one slice of bread for a 24-hour period. As the summer progressed, soup was occasionally given in addition to bread. Prisoners commonly lost consciousness from malnutrition. No exception was made for women or children. The witness's 65-year-old uncle died of starvation. Prisoners who had to use the bathroom were forced to run to a toilet outside; another prisoner was given a stick and forced to beat the individuals while they were defecating or urinating.

On June 30, several prisoners were moved from the Susica camp to one in Batkovic, located approximately 10 kilometers north of Bijeljina, Bosnia. As the men from Susica got off the bus, they were beaten. From the very first day, everyone was subjected to harsh beatings. Many of the guards at Batkovic were brutal men but the witness identified one of the worst, the man who killed Zulfo Hadziomerovic on July 4 by beating him to death. This guard used the stock of his machine gun to beat the prisoner about 10 times on that day. (Department of State)

(13) May-Jul 92:

A 31-year-old Bosnian Muslim from Prijedor, Bosnia, was a prisoner at Keraterm camp from May 3l to August 5, 1992.

On May 31, about 300 Muslim men were arrested in a new section of Prijedor located along the road to Bosanski Novi. Five buses took them at first to Omarska camp, then to Keraterm camp.

The harassment and beatings of prisoners began on June 2. Each night prisoners were taken out, beaten, and killed. Guards would come into the rooms, fire their rifles at the ceiling, and force some prisoners to swallow the empty shells of 7.62mm ammunition. During the day, the guards took the prisoners outside and made them walk on all fours and bark like dogs. The prisoners had to take off their clothes and sit on bottles. A particular guard, whom the witness identified, supervised these "games", and laughed.

On July 26, the witness saw buses loaded with people drive through the gate. The people were told to get off the buses and were separated into two groups. Each group had to go to a grass-covered area at the end of the building and form a circle. Camp guards were reinforced by a busload of "chetniks" who beat the men with bats wrapped in barbed wire and with broken bottles.

This continued for the rest of the night. Then the metal door to Room Number 3 was closed and the soldiers fired inside the room. The prisoners panicked, pressed against the locked door, opened it, and ran outside, where they were machine-gunned. The massacre continued until 5:00 am the next day.

At 11:00 am on July 27, a truck came for the bodies of both the dead and those that were still living. Seventy volunteers were taken to load the massacred people on the truck. There were 170 dead and 47 still alive. The dead were loaded first; the injured were loaded on top of them.

At 4:30 am on July 28, the guards fired again into Room Three and killed 27 men. Banja Luka television reported that evening that there had been an escape attempt at Keraterm and that 27 prisoners were shot dead while trying to escape. On August 5, Keraterm was closed and the witness was returned to Prijedor where he remained until January 12, 1993. (Department of State)

(14) May-Aug 92:

A 34-year-old Bosnian Muslim told of his experiences at Keraterm and Omarska camp from late May to August 1992.

On May 26, Bosnian Serb soldiers arrested the witness on the road to Prijedor. They brought him to Keraterm for three days, then to Omarska. Upon his arrival at Omarska camp, he saw the beating death of 38-year-old Ahiz Dedic, a Muslim ex-policeman, by two men from a Bosnian Serb special unit. After his own torture the next day -- he was beaten until he fainted -- the witness watched five "chetniks" stab Ikrem Alic to death.

The witness was moved to the "electricians' house" from where, about a month later, he watched as a man with his hands against the wall of another nearby building was beaten by camp guards until he almost fell. One of the guards then took a running jump from several meters, pouncing on the man's back and knocking him down. He then turned the victim over, cut his ears off, and then cut his throat. Another guard turned and killed the man with his revolver.

The witness saw the killing of about 30 men during his stay at Omarska. Among the victims whose names he knew were: Muharem Kahrimanovic, Emir Karabasic, Jasmin Hrnic, Avdo Mujkanovic, Islam Bahonjic, and Imeoca Grozdanic.

The most sadistic killings were of Hrnic and Karabasic. In the course of a horrible beating, they were forced to bite off each other's sexual organs. Before the final death blows, they were also forced to drink motor oil and chew on dead pigeons.

At the end of August or beginning of September, the witness was taken to Manjaca camp, where he spent half a month. During the trip, he witnessed the beating deaths of Nezir Krak and Dedo Crnic, and identified their killer. Outside Banja Luka, Serb children were encouraged to board the bus and beat the prisoners. (Department of State)

(15) May-Jul 92:

A 24-year-old Bosnian Muslim witnessed the ethnic cleansing of Kozarac and the Prijedor area from May 26 until his capture three days later. From his place of hiding in the woods, he witnessed the killing of Hasan and Zejna Alic; she was shot in the breast, her husband in the head. Two days later, the witness saw the same killer stab a young man, force him to walk away, and then shoot him.

The witness and his friends were captured by "chetniks" in the nearby woods on or about May 29. One of the young Serbs who caught him was a school friend who personally took charge of the witness and his brother, and arranged for them to change into civilian clothes taken from a nearby house. His Serb friend warned the two brothers not to admit to Serb prison authorities that they had been "fighters."

The witness was taken to Keraterm for the first night, then to Omarska. Upon arrival, he witnessed the killing of a detainee by a former taxi driver whom he identified. On June l, he watched as a member of the "taxi driver's band" killed a Muslim named Jasmin Velic with a pickax. He also witnessed the slow death of Hasic Eno, who had been stabbed in the back and took five days to die.

During the witness's second month at Omarska, Asur Jakupovic arrived as a prisoner. With a ring in his nose (the kind used for pigs) and attached to a chain, Jakupovic was dragged into camp on his hands and knees by a young Serb soldier. The victim was naked from the waist up, which revealed a bloody Serb cross carved in his back. The guards announced to Muslim onlookers that this was the way Serbia's enemies would look. Jakupovic was then tossed onto a burning stack of truck tires, where he died.

The witness said that such killings were often observed by three senior camp officials from the second floor of the administration building. He identified these camp officials. (Department of State)

(16) May-Jun 92:

A 26-year-old Bosnian Muslim from Divic, Bosnia, witnessed the ethnic cleansing of his village and atrocities in a Celopek detention facility, where he was detained from May 29 through June 29, 1992.

On May 29, all 174 male citizens of Divic were taken by bus to a movie theater that was part of a cultural center being used as a prison in the village of Celopek, located seven kilometers north of Zvornik.

On June 7, two Serbian soldiers from Kraljevo murdered Suljeman Kapidzic and Ramo Alihodzic as an example to all prisoners of what would happen if they didn't pay the guards 2,000 German marks immediately. The men collected amongst themselves enough German marks to pay the price.

On June 10, a 35-year-old Serbian soldier took seven pairs of fathers and sons from the group and forced them to walk onto the stage of the theater and disrobe. He forced the seven pairs to perform fellatio on one another while the other men were required to watch. While this was happening on the stage, the same soldier took Sakib Kapidzic and Zaim Peserovic from the audience and ordered the men under his command to beat them until they were unconscious, and then ordered his men to stab their victims to death.

The soldier then took a semi-automatic rifle and shot randomly at the men on the stage and into the audience. He also approached a 16-year-old boy, Damir Bikic, and asked him to point out his father in the audience. He asked the father if he had any other male offspring. When the father replied that he did not, the soldier put a rifle in the boy's mouth and killed him. In this sequence of events, this particular soldier killed 10 men. (Department of State)

(17) May-Jun 92:

A 31-year-old Bosnian Muslim witnessed the JNA attack in late May 1992, the subsequent ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population of Sanski Most, Bosnia, and the destruction of their property. The witness spent 50 days as a prisoner in Sanski Most and then was imprisoned at the detention camp in Manjaca until mid-December 1992.

Between May 23 and 24, the JNA and its military police arrested the Muslim officials in the city government and members of the Muslim intelligentsia. On May 25 and 26, the JNA units attacked Muslims in Sanski Most by throwing grenades in their homes in the Muslim section, Mahala, and by firing at the houses with automatic weapons. This lasted one day, during which 11 persons were shot to death in a house on Muhici Street that belonged to a man named Hilmija. Of these, three were women, one of whom was pregnant, and five were young boys.

The men were taken to the local school; women and children were transported to Velika Kladusa. After the "cleansing," the Serbs continued to throw grenades into the houses, then burned them. The ruins were leveled with bulldozers. Local Serb platoon leaders, whom the witness identified, used their soldiers to carry out the destruction.

The men from the Muslim section of Sanski Most were held prisoner in the local school for 50 days, where there were 1,200 men and no toilet facilities. The men were beaten continuously and forced to beat each other. Frequently, Serbian irregulars armed with knives came to the school and demanded to kill the prisoners, but police guards would not let them in. (Department of State)

(18) 19 May 92:

A 60-year-old Bosnian Muslim described the massacre of Muslim prisoners at a hunting lodge.

Bosnian Serbs in Metaljko detained the witness and drove him to Mostina detention facility, a hunting lodge in the woods between Metaljka and Cajnice. There were 50 Muslim men held inside the lodge and another six in a shipping container to which the witness was brought.

A Serb from the village of Stakorina, whom he identified, entered the lodge at about 5:00 pm and opened fire on the prisoners. The witness heard the firing last for about 10 minutes, then heard the man exit the lodge and continue shooting into the air until someone told him to calm down. He responded, "Take me down to Cajnice so I can kill them all."

He did not come to the shipping container where the witness was detained. (Department of State)

(19) 9 May 92:

A Bosnian Muslim from Brcko witnessed the slaying of prisoners by Serbian guards at Luka camp on or about May 9, 1992.

Immediately upon his arrival at Luka, the witness saw a "chetnik" beat and kill two men from Zvornik. The incident happened at the door of the camps warehouse, where the "in-processing" was taking place. The witness had been standing about 15 meters from the shooting.

The next day, the same man who had shot the men from Zvornik drove into camp with a woman named Ahmetovic, the sister of a Muslim ex-policeman whose whereabouts he was demanding to know. The "chetnik" pulled the woman from the car and beat her with a truncheon, asking again where her brother was hiding. After about 10 minutes, he took a shovel and hit her twice in the head, killing her.

During the same day, the witness also saw another Serb soldier beat and kill a 35-year-old Muslim man named Sead Cerimagic. The witness watched a total of five men get the same treatment from this soldier within an hour. (Department of State)

(21) May 92:

A 65-year-old Bosnian Muslim from Grapska, Bosnia, witnessed Serb irregular forces enter Sjenina and Grapska in May 1992, during which time residents were ordered to report to the hospital basement. Fearing internment, residents fled to the woods. Later, as they returned to their homes, they were rounded up by the irregular forces.

The soldiers ordered about 45 of them to dig a fresh grave in a cemetery near the mosque. Some of the victims attempted to resist, but were shot on the spot. Those who dug the grave were subsequently killed with automatic weapons and pushed into the grave. After the massacre, the grave was filled in and leveled with earthmoving equipment.

Residents were told they would be taken to Doboj on buses, but were force-marched instead: Individuals periodically were pulled out of the march column, taken a short distance away, and shot. (Department of State)

(22) Apr-May 92:

A 64-year-old Bosnian Muslim witnessed the April 8, 1992, ethnic cleansing of Zvornik by Serbian irregular forces units, which was organized by the Zvornik chief of police.

The "chetniks" burned about 200 houses. As people were forced out of their houses, they were directed to stay in a group in front of a large house. Most of the "chetniks" wore scarves or ski masks to hide their faces. Two unidentified Muslim men were taken behind a house and shot. Two other Muslim men, Hammed Cirak and Salikh Dagdagan, were killed in their homes, after which the corpses were brought out and burned. In all, about 76 people were killed, mostly in their basements. Those who were gathered together were told that younger males must either join the Serbian forces, leave, or be shot. Elderly men, women, and children were allowed to stay.

After a few days, the elderly men from the Kula area were allowed to return to their houses. In mid-April, Serbian forces began using a bulldozer to dig large pits in the Muslim cemeteries southwest of Zvornik proper. The witness saw buses and trucks dumping an undetermined number of bodies into these pits up to three times a day. One of the cemeteries was called Kazambase. He often saw trucks loaded with bodies in Maly Zvornik, in the area of the stone quarry near the Drina Hotel.

In May, "chetnik" forces moved into Djulci. They shot 10 residents on sight as they moved into town, as well as another 50 people who had been hiding in a garage. (Department of State)


(23) Dec 92:

A 24-year-old Bosnian of mixed Croatian Muslim background, from Banja Luka, reported that he had been hiding in his apartment for eight months when he decided on December 25, 1992, to risk going outside. The witness took some comfort from the Serb mayor of Banja Luka's Christmas greeting to all Croats.

The witness was picked up almost immediately during a roundup of military age men by Serb military police on a bridge in the city district of Mejdan. Two of the bearded "chetniks" started beating and verbally abusing him after asking him why he was not fighting.

The witness was taken to a bus loaded with other prisoners. As prisoners were brought on to the bus, each was beaten with a truncheon. All the prisoners had their valuables taken from them. There were four buses carrying a total of about 200 prisoners. The families who gathered around the buses were told their men would be back in an hour.

The buses stopped at a police station and a military camp on the way to Manjaca. At both places, the men were beaten and interrogated. The witness identified several guards who beat prisoners regularly at Manjaca camp, from which he was released the next month. (Department of State)

(24) Jun-Jul 92:

A 45-year-old Bosnian Muslim from Sanski Most witnessed the arrival at Manjaca camp of several convoys:

On June l7, a group of 40-45 persons from Sanski Most arrived and were all beaten once they dismounted the trucks that had transported them.

On June 28, a group of 20-25 prisoners arrived, were beaten, and were immediately put in isolation.

On July 7, a group of about 550 persons was brought to Manjaca camp in two trailer trucks and a three-ton truck. About 24 were already dead when the trucks were unloaded.

The witness singled out the Manjaca "policemen" as the most cruel of the guard contingents. The witness was beaten daily and kept in solitary confinement. He recalls being beaten approximately 20 times. One of his beatings lasted from 4:00 pm until 9:30 pm. The witness identified many of the sadistic guards, including one nicknamed Kostolomac (or bone breaker). (Department of State)

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