A witness at the trial of a Bosnian Serb fighter for war crimes committed in the town of Bratunac said Bosniaks locked in a school were beaten by paramilitary ‘volunteers’.
Testifying at the trial of ex-Bosnian Serb military policeman Savo Babic, the prosecution witness said he went to the Vuk Karadzic primary school’s gymnasium with a friend in 1992 to help his neighbours who were imprisoned there, and saw a Serb paramilitary volunteer hitting a Bosniak with a metal rod.
“He hit a man who worked as a policeman in Bratunac before. I knew who he was. He hit him once, but the second time I snatched the rod away from him. I almost burst into tears then,” said the witness, Zoran Milosavljevic.
He said that he gave the rod to some of the detained Bosniaks so that they could smash a window and let some air in, because they were complaining they could not breathe properly.
He added that he also brought water and bread for the prisoners.
“I hoped the people would be released. I heard they were taken away but I don’t know who did it,” said Milosavljevic.
He said that one of the volunteer fighters, who was not from Bratunac, attacked him when he left the gymnasium and tried to draw a gun to shoot him.
Milosavljevic also testified that military policemen who were not from Bratunac wounded his friend Slavisa who had gone with him to help the imprisoned Bosniaks.
“Slavisa got terribly disappointed in life then and became an alcoholic. The reason is probably that his own people shot him,” said the witness.
He said he did not hear that the defendant Babic had treated anyone unfairly.
The prosecution charges Babic, then commander of the military police in Bratunac, with ordering, committing and failing to prevent the imprisonment of non-Serb civilians in the primary school in May 1992.
Around 400 detained civilians were beaten and tortured every day, and several dozen were killed or died as a result of the conditions at the school, the indictment alleges.
Prosecution witness Dusan Micic also testified at the hearing, claiming that the defendant was his commander in 1992.
“Babic explicitly forbade the military police to approach the school. He said these were civilians and we had no business with them,” said Micic, adding that he had heard about murders at the school from people in Bratunac.
The trial is set to resume on February 4.