Testifying at the trial of the former Bosnia Serb army chief, Ratko Mladic, a witness recalled the abuse in the Susica detention camp were the Bosniaks from Vlasenica were imprisoned.
The Hague prosecution’s witness, Ibro Osmanovic, said that after the Serb forces had taken control of the town of Vlasenica, near Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia, in 1992, his younger sister, two brothers and 33 distant relatives were killed.
“My sister Ferida was 16 years old when she was set on fire. We found only seven percent of her body... four bones only,” Osmanovic said, adding that her remains were found only in April this year.
Osmanovic said that his sister was last seen in the summer of 1992 in the Susica detention camp, adding that he saw his younger brother for the last time, also in the Susica camp.
“My younger brother’s remains were found in three different mass graves and his head was found 25 kilometres away from those graves. The remains of my older brother have not been found,” Osmanovic said.
Mladic, former commander of the Army of Republika Srpska, is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity including the expulsion of non-Serbs across Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, according to the indictment, in seven Bosnian municipalities, including Vlasenica, reached a level of genocide.
Osmanovic said that he was arrested in late May 1992 and that, later on he was taken to the village of Drum, where the guards ordered the prisoners to bury 22 Bosniak men, who were executed with a shot between their eyes.
According to Osmanovic, all of the victims, aged between 20 and 60 years, were dressed in civil clothing. He said that he recognized some of them.
Describing his stay in the Susica detention camp, the witness said that all the detainees were civilians.
“Beating was a frequent happening in Susica. Some people were beaten up every day, while some were beaten to death,” the witness said.
When asked why he was detained, together with hundreds of other Bosniaks from Vlasenica, the witness said that none of them were guilty of anything.
“All those beatings and agony and suffering came from our former neighbours...Nobody was guilty of anything, but they accused us of all sorts of things,” the witness said.
The defence is due to cross-examine Osmanovic on September 21.
In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.
Key dates and events in the Bosnia war.
The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.