Witnesses at the trial of former fighter Zemir Kovacevic for one of the first war crimes of the Bosnian conflict said they saw Serb homes in the village of Sijekovac in flames.
A prosecution witness at Kovacevic’s war crimes trial in Sarajevo on Wednesday recalled how he fled his home in Sijekovac after it was attacked in March 1992.
Testifying before the Bosnian state court, Nenad Milosevic said that in mid-March 1992, Bosniaks and Croats in Sijekovac asked their Serb neighbours to surrender their weapons, but the Serbs rejected the idea “because of fear”.
Several days later, on March 26, an attack on the Serb settlements began, the witness said.
“Shooting started and I saw a group of people moving toward my home. Those were my [Serb] neighbours from the street. They asked me what to do since the shooting was getting closer and we decided to move back to the [nearby] Ribnjak region,” said the witness, a Bosnian Serb.
He added that he saw burning houses during the night and on his return to Sijekovac in October 1992, he saw that his house had been destroyed.
Milosevic said that he knew the defendant Kovacevic and that he saw him in March 1992, but never in uniform.
Kovacevic, a former Croatian Defence Council, HVO soldier is charged with committing crimes against Serb civilians in Sijekovac in March 1992 - one of the first war crimes of the Bosnian conflict.
The indictment says that Kovacevic took part in the attack on Sijekovac where, together with others, he took 15 Serb adults and four children from their houses and killed some of them.
The Bosnian prosecution also called Teodor Barnjak and Savo Bacic, who said that in 1992 they lived in the village of Mocila, near Sijekovac. Both men said that on March 26 they heard shooting and saw burning houses.
“There were bursts of fire and some bigger explosions. The sky went red and I concluded that houses were burning. The next day I went to my parents and learned the attack was done by the [local Bosniak-Croat paramilitary] interventions squad and units from Croatia,” said Bacic.
Both witnesses said they knew the defendant Kovacevic, but could not say if he took part in the attack.
Kovacevic’s trial will resume on February 20.