The trial of Ratko Mladic, former commander of Bosnian Serb forces, continued this week as victims testified about mass killings of Bosniaks and Croats in the Bosnian Krajina.
Safet Taci, a witness for the prosecution, spoke about Bosnian Serb crimes against civilians held in the camp at Keraterm, near the northern town of Prijedor, in 1992.
Taci described how, in late July 1992, he saw the murder of around 150 prisoners in the infamous camp.
While detained in the camp, he said he saw Bosnian Serb soldiers setting up a machine gun in the yard and pointing it at the nearby “room number three”, which housed around 150 male prisoners from the village of Hambarine near Prijedor.
“You could hear their pleas for air from the room, they were beating on the doors for them to be opened... They most probably broke down the door in order to get some air. But when they broke out, the Serb soldiers opened fire at them,” the witness said.
Mladic, former commander of the Army of Republika Srpska, is charged with genocide in Srebrenica and in seven other Bosnian municipalities, including Prijedor, as well as with crimes against humanity and violation of laws and customs of war.
A Bosnian Croat witness, Ivo Atlija, also testified about crimes in the Krajina region, saying that during an attack on his village of Brisevo on July 24, 1992, the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, killed 68 villagers, including his father, 14 women, two young males and four disabled people.
Another prosecution witness, Rajif Begic, told the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, that he survived the massacre of around 20 men in the Sanski Most region in May 1992.
The mass killing, according to Begic, was carried out by Bosnian Serb forces.
Begic said he was arrested and taken to a bridge on the Sana river with around 20 other Bosniaks. He said that the prisoners were then either killed on the bridge or made to jump inside the water, while soldiers shot from above.
“When they told me to jump, I did so. The water was shallow so I bashed my head. I hid under the bridge and heard them waiting for me. But I took my shirt off and threw it in the river and started diving the other way.
"They shot at the shirt and I saw the bullets but luckily I escaped them and swam to shore,” said Begic.
Mladic is also charged with genocide in Sanski Most in 1992. During his cross examination, Begic told the court that he knew some of the Bosnian Serb men who had arrested him and shot from the bridge.
He said they were not members of the Army of Republika Srpska, but of paramilitary units, or were reserve police officers.
The Mladic trial continues on Monday, September 10.
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.