News 17 Feb 17

Female Fighter ‘Beat and Tortured’ Bosnian Prisoners

A former prisoner told the trial of Croatian Defence Council ex-fighter Azra Basic that a woman repeatedly assaulted and humiliated him while he was in captivity in the Bosnian town of Derventa in 1992.

BIRN
Sarajevo
Azra Basic after being extradited to Sarajevo. Photo: Bosnian prosecution.

Prosecution witness Cedo Prodic told the state court in Sarajevo on Friday that he and other prisoners were beaten up by a woman called Azra while they were being held at a military building in Derventa in April 1992.

Prodic said he was captured by Croatian Defence Council fighters along with his neighbours from the village of Cardak in the Derventa municipality on April 26, 1992, and taken to the Yugoslav People’s Army Centre in the town.

“Then they began hitting and torturing us. We had to eat old Yugoslav banknotes. Azra told me to eat them. I did not know her,” he said.

“One of the soldiers said: ‘Now you will see how Azra hits [people].’ She entered the room with a group of soldiers. She brought a Croatian flag with a checkerboard coat of arms and ordered me to kiss it. She hit me in my genitals,” he added.

He testified that she used to ‘walk’ him and another prisoner “like dogs on a leash made of laundry rope and hit us”. He said his jaw was broken in the process.

The witness also said that the women called Azra hit a prisoner called Blagoje Djuras “over and over again”, and that she used to bring other soldiers to hit him. He said he heard that Azra killed Djuras.

Azra Basic, a former member of the Croatian Defence Council, is charged with having participated in killing, torturing and causing severe suffering and injuries to people held at the Yugoslav People’s Army Centre in Derventa and in the village of Polje from April 26 to the beginning of May 1992.

She has pleaded not guilty.

Croatian-born Basic was extradited from the United States to Bosnia and Herzegovina last year.

She had left Bosnia and Herzegovina after the war and settled in the US, eventually becoming a naturalised citizen.

But she was arrested in the state of Kentucky in 2011 and prosecuted for immigration fraud after allegedly giving false information about her role in the Bosnian war when she arrived in the US.

She then waged a long battle against deportation, but was finally sent to Sarajevo in November 2016.

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