At the trial of four Serbs charged with war crimes against civilians in eastern Croatia, witnesses testified that they saw the dead bodies of four members of the same Croatian family.
Branislav Dadic, a former member of the Serbian civil territorial defence force and a witness for the defence concerning war crimes committed in the town of Beli Manastir, said on Monday that he and other villagers saw the bodies of four men from the Cicak family in a wood.
“We were sitting in a cafe, when a local shepherd came. He told us that he saw crows flying, and he ran back towards them thinking that it might be one of his lost sheep. When he got to that spot, he saw four lifeless bodies,” Dadic said.
“Then around ten of us went to the woods. We saw four bodies in the shrubs and ruined walls. Later I found out that they were members of the Cicak family,” he added.
According to the indictment Zoran Vuksic, Slobodan Strigic and Branko Hrnjak, all members of the special police unit in the town of Beli Manastir, detained the four men from the Cicak family, and then drove them to a local abandoned farm and killed them.
Rajko Milojevic, another former resident of Beli Manastir, confirmed that the dead bodies were found in the abandoned farm in the woods.
The Special Police Unit of Beli Manastir was part of the military forces of the Serbian Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem. The entity was led by Goran Hadzic, who is currently being prosecuted for war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY.
Milomir Petkovic, another defence witness and former policeman, testified that the accused participated in the attack on village of Kozarac, in which, according to the indictment, they carried out ethnic cleansing, while robbing and attacking civilians.
Petkovic also said that he heard from other people that one of the accused, Zoran Vuksic, alias “Yellow”, was a member of a paramilitary group "Seseljevci" .
“People were saying that he was ‘Seseljevac’. I just know that he took part in the rally in the neighbouring village of Jagodinjak where Seselj had been speaking,” said Petkovic.
The ‘Seseljevci’ were a paramilitary group formed by Vojislav Seselj, the leader of the Serbian Radical Party , who is currently awaiting sentencing at the ICTY for his involvement in the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
The indictment also charges Vuksic, Strigic, and Hrnjak, alongside the fourth defendent Velimir Bertic, with the illegal detention of non-Serb civilians at the local police station. In this joint indictment, Bertic has not been charged with murder.
Dusan Madzarac, a former police commander in Beli Manastir, said that the detention of non Serbs had been devised so that Croatian prisoners could be exchanged for Serbs from some other villages in the area.
“As far as I know, all the detained men, according to our information, were members of the Croatian military forces, the National Guard,” said Madzarac.
The Serbian Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor is charging all four defendants for war crimes against civilians in eastern Croatia, including illegal detention, terror, torture and inhuman treatment.
The trial will resume on Tuesday.
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