News 11 Feb 13

Hadzic Trial Told of Family’s School Jail Ordeal

At the Hague war crimes trial of former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic, a witness said his troops locked up her children and caused her husband’s disappearance.

Marija Ristic

Samira Baranjek, whose husband has been missing since the war in Croatia, testified before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia how she, her husband and two daughters were imprisoned by Serb soldiers in a school in the Croatian village of Borovo Selo in November 1991.

“Last time I saw [my husband] was just before he entered one of the classrooms for interrogation. That was November 19,” said Baranjek.

“Later I found out, I mean I heard, that he was in a room from which screams were heard and that his body was wrapped up into a bloody blanket and taken out of the room,” she said.

Her husband Ivan Baranjek is one of approximately 2,000 people who are still missing as a result of the conflict between Croats and Serbs during the 1990s.

Hadzic faces 14 war crimes charges, including the persecution, extermination and torture of non-Serb civilians from Croatia between 1991 and 1993.

During the war in Croatia, Hadzic was the president of the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous District of Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem, and subsequently the president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina.

The witness recalled that while she was imprisoned in the school, Hadzic came to visit.

“I heard him speaking over the phone with someone from Belgrade. He said, ‘Mladjo, send the soldiers, [the Croatian town of] Vukovar fell, now we should go for Osijek tomorrow’,” Baranjek said.

The defence tried to discredit the witness, claiming that she had confused Hadzic with someone else and that it was impossible for her to remember such details 21 years afterwards.

Baranjek answered that “it is normal to remember all the details as it was very important for me whether me and my children would survive”, adding that there was no reason for her to lie.

Hadzic’s trial will continue on February 18.

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