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26 April 2007

Jankovic: Death in Snagovo

Prosecution witnesses tell the Court of the shooting of civilians in Zvornik municipality.

During the trial of Zoran Jankovic, who is charged with crimes committed in Zvornik municipality in 1992, Prosecution witnesses Jasmina Susic, Hazim Karic and Hamdija Hrbatovic have told the Court about a massacre in Snagovo village.

Jankovic is charged that, as a member of the Serbian army and together with other soldiers, police forces and illegal military groups, he took part in the attacks on Snagovo and forced civilians to leave the villages of Seher and Like from April to end June 1992.

Witness Hazim Karic claims that Snagovo residents "lived in fear day and night" and had to hide in the surrounding forests during April 1992.

"People escaped to the forest as they were scared, and particularly when a number of people running away from Zvornik passed through Snagovo. In the second half of April the fear became even bigger as tank divisions arrived and started shooting at our houses," said the witness.

Karic also said that, on 29 April 1992, he was captured in the woods together with other village residents and they were all taken to the town of Hodzic, where men were separated from women.

"We did not stay there for long. They let us go home rather soon. As we were going back we saw black smoke coming from Rasidov Han, and only later we heard of the massacre that had happened there", said Hazim Karic.

The indictment states that Jankovic, together with other soldiers, took part in the attack on Snagovo on 29 April 1992. A total of 36 civilians were shot dead on this occasion and their bodies were burned in order to hide the evidence.

"A few days later we found burned corpses under some burning tyres. We dug up a grave and put the bodies in there. We found out later that there were some pregnant women and children among those killed," said Karic.

On 29 April 1992, prosecution witness Jasmina Susic was hiding in the forest together with her husband and a group of Snagovo residents where they were found and imprisoned by "armed soldiers in uniforms."

"After they had captured us they took us to the local school in Snagovo but released us shortly. When we were there we could hear shooting and children's crying. Later on we could smell an odour coming from that direction. The following day I found out that my parents, brothers and their families had been shot dead and burned," said Susic, her eyes filled with tears.

Susic pointed out that survivors told her that Jankovic and other soldiers had shot her family members and other residents.

On 29 April 1992, Hamdija Hrbatovic was in front of the school in Snagovo together with the other captured civilians, where he saw the indictee.

"We were all sitting in front of the school. A man came and said he was Major Zoran, and he also said he was coming straight from the Vukovar battlefield, that he had not taken his boots off for six months, and that [the Serbs] were a great force and nobody could do anything to harm them", said witness Hrbatovic, who recognised the indictee in the courtroom.

"Jankovic was wearing a uniform and he had a gray French beret," recalls Hamdija Hrbatovic.

The trial will continue on 18 April 2007.
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