A witness at the trial of former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic said he was brutally beaten by Serb troops after the fall of the town of Vukovar in 1991.
|Witness Branko Culic I Photo by ICTY|
Witness Branko Culic testified on Thursday at Hadzic’s trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia that he was one of the Croatian defenders of Vukovar who was held in the Serb-run prison camp Stajicevo after the town fell to the Yugoslav Army in November 1991.
“We surrendered [to the Yugoslav People's Army]. They told us to get into buses. I was in the second or third bus, I don’t remember. I didn’t know where we were going. Later, I found out it was camp Stajicevo,” said Culic.
Stajicevo, near town of Zrenjanin, was one of several military camps in the northern province of Vojvodina, near the Croatian border, that was run by the Serb army in 1991.
“I was wounded in my right hand. I can’t explain you how they beat us. The military police beat us with arms, legs, bats and wood,” Culic added.
“They yelled at us. Beat us. Humiliated us. I cannot explain what I have gone through. It was so stressful that I couldn’t eat for six days,” the witness recalled as tears fell from his eyes.
“I remember they beat one man so hard. He never got up any more. He died there after ten days,” he continued.
The prosecution says that as Croatian Serb leader, Hadzic was responsible for the fall of Vukovar after its long siege.
He faces 14 war crimes charges, including the persecution, extermination and torture of non-Serb civilians from Croatia between 1991 and 1993.
Culic said he was later transferred from Stajicevo to a camp in the southern Serbian town of Nis.
“They regularly beat us. Once I was called for interrogation where I was for seven hours. I was beaten all the time,” he said.
“I never saw Goran Hadzic there, but I heard from others he was coming. He told them he would bring us back to Vukovar where we would be tried as prisoners of war,” he continued.
The trial continues on Friday.
Some viewers might find the footage below disturbing.
The Hague Prosecution charges Goran Hadzic, former President of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, with crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war in Croatia in 1991 and 1992.
Timeline of events leading up to the arrest of Goran Hadzic.