Witnesses told the Hague trial of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic that they saw murders at detention camps in Foca and Prijedor and the shelling of Sarajevo.
Prosecution witness Nermin Karagic told Mladic’s trial at the Hague Tribunal this week that he survived the mass murder of Bosniaks by Bosnian Serb forces in Ljubija, near Prijedor, in the summer of 1992.
Karagic, who was 17 years old at the time, said that he was hiding in the woods, along with his father, cousins and other men, after an attack by the Bosnian Serb army on Hambarine village, near Prijedor, but that they were captured in July 1992.
After transferring them to the Miska Glava Centre detention camp, Serb soldiers took ten people from a group of prisoners, who were held in the same room as Karagic.
“They said in advance what would happen to them, how they would end up,” the witness said, adding that he heard screams from one of the men immediately after they had been taken away.
Karagic and other prisoners were then taken to a stadium in Ljubija and lined up against a wall, and the killing began. The witness said that he heard gunshots and screams.
Describing the killing of a prisoner standing next to him, the witness said: “I accidentally turned my head in that direction. They were killing him next to me. They were beating him with rifle butts and bayonets.”
Karagic said that when his turn came, a major stopped the murders. “They wanted to kill us as well. The major said: ‘Are you going to carry them away?’ So they stopped killing us. We were then ordered to carry the dead bodies and load them onto a bus,” the witness said.
Karagic, who said that his father did not survive the massacre at the stadium in Ljubija, explained that he managed to escape by jumping out of a bus.
Mladic, former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, is charged with genocide against Bosniaks and Croats in seven Bosnian municipalities, including Prijedor and Foca. He is also charged with crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war.
This week, the prosecutors also called protected witness RM-013 who said that, after having been arrested in April 1992, he was detained in the Foca prison for two years.
He described how hundreds of Bosniaks were unlawfully held in difficult conditions alongside him, while being abused and beaten up, some so badly that they died.
RM-013 said that he saw how prisoners were “taken to the administrative building” and that “the beating and screams in the courtyard followed”.
A former United Nations observer in Sarajevo, Per Brennskag, also testified this week and said that the Bosnian Serb Army shelled and fired modified air-bombs at civilian buildings in Sarajevo.
Brennskag said that he personally counted 150 artillery projectiles exploding in Sarajevo during one day in June 1995.
He said that both sides opened fire, but most of the grenades fell in the city after having been fired from Bosnian Serb positions.
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.