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9 December 2013
News

Victims Killed during Breakthrough

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH Haag

Testifying in defence of Radovan Karadzic, a former Muslim soldier says that between 1,500 and 1,700 persons were killed in the woods in July 1995, when the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina from Srebrenica attempted a breakthrough to Tuzla and that those people were not buried.

According to protected witness KW-12, in addition to being killed in ambushes set up by Serb forces, some also died in mutual firefights.
 
The witness denied the number of Muslims killed in Kravica village during the first of a series of mass liquidations after the fall of Srebrenica, as well as the responsibility of Serb policemen, who have been sentenced for that crime.
 
Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska and supreme Commander of its armed forces, is charged with genocide against about 7,000 Muslims from Srebrenica.
 
Karadzic’s Defence alleges that victims, who were killed during the breakthrough by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the ring around Srebrenica towards Tuzla, were among the victims, whose bodies were exhumed from mass graves in the Zvornik surroundings.
 
Witness KW-12 said that, during the breakthrough, which lasted from July 11 to 13, 1995, he could see between 1,500 and 1,700, or 2,000 dead people. As he said, some of them got killed in three VRS ambushes, but mutual murders also happened.
 
“A man passes by…he has no documents. He does not know the Bismillah phrase from Quran, he is not circumcised… he is killed right away,” the witness said.
 
The witness said that, after having been captured on July 13, he was transferred to the Agricultural Co-operative in Kravica, where other Muslim captives were held.
 
“There were about 80 people in the first room. Not even 100 or 200 people could fit in it,” witness KW-12 said, adding, after one of the guards, a friend of his, had sent him to another room, he “heard a brief burst fire and ran away through the window”.
 
According to the charges and previous Hague Tribunal verdicts, Serb forces killed about 1,000 Muslim captives in the Kravica warehouse. Several members of the Skelani Squad of the Special Police Brigade of RS were sentenced before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for that crime.
 
However, KW-12 said that the convicts were not present in Kravica, when the massacre was committed, but they were in nearby Sandici village. He said that he saw them, while Serb soldiers escorted him through the village after having captured him.
 
He said that he informed the Prosecution in Sarajevo and SIPA about it after the war, adding that they then asked him to sign a statement, saying that he “has never been in Srebrenica”. On the basis of his testimony, one can conclude that the witness was in prison after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
 
The witness said that he found 100,000 German Marks that belonged to one man, who were killed in an ambush during the breakthrough by ABiH from Srebrenica, adding that he and other men “smoked” the banknotes, using them as cigarette paper.
 
KW-12 testified extensively about the conflicts between ABiH commanders. He accused Naser Oric, Commander of the 28thDivision in Srebrenica, for having killed, acting in collaboration with his Deputy Zulfo Tursunovic, Commander of his unit Nurif Rizvanovic.
 
According to the witness’ testimony, prior to the arrival in Srebrenica members of his “16th Muslim Eastern Brigade” had killed five Serb civilians and then also Muslim refugees - two women and three men, who had witnessed the murder, in the Zvornik surroundings.  
 
Also, he said that, in May 1992 he was present, when two Serbs had their heads cut off in the Bratunac surroundings, while “a policeman was roasted on a spit”.
 
The indictment also charges Karadzic with the persecution of Muslims and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terror against civilians in Sarajevo and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.
 
The Prosecutors are due to cross-examine the witness tomorrow, December 10.
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