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9 November 2015
News

Witness Describes Seeing Civilians Escorted Off Train in Strpci

Amer Jahic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

A state prosecution witness testifying at the trial of ten former members of the Bosnian Serb Army said a train filled with civilians was stopped in Strpci by a group of soldiers on February 27, 1993. He said the soldiers entered the train and asked passengers to show identification, before escorting some of them off the train.

Luka Dragicevic, Boban and Petko Indjic, Obrad Poluga, Novak Poluga, Dragan Sekaric, Oliver Krsmanovic, Radojica Ristic, Vuk Ratkovic and Mica Jovicic have been charged with kidnapping 20 passengers from a train travelling from Belgrade to Bar on February 27, 1993. The victims were allegedly abducted from the railway station in Strpci and killed later in Visegrad.

According to the charges, Luka Dragicevic was the commander of the Second Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade in Visegrad, Boban Indjic was the commander of the Interventions Company of the same brigade, while the other defendants were members of the Interventions Company or the First Company of the First Battalion of the Second Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade.

“As soon as the train stopped, we heard people running next to the tracks,” state prosecution witness Zoran Pantovic said at today’s hearing. Pantovic said armed soldiers entered the train a short time later. He said the train was travelling from Belgrade to Bar.

Pantovic said he was in the second or third coach and shared a compartment with five other passengers. He said a soldier entered their compartment and asked to see their ID.

“We got the cards ready. I had mine in my hand, but he didn’t take it. He took ID cards from some of the passengers, but not from all of them. One person was taken out of our compartment,” Pantovic said.

He said the passenger who was ordered to leave the compartment was named Ismet Babaic. Pantovic said he didn’t know why certain passengers were taken off the train.

“Nobody even raised their voice. It looked like a routine check,” Pantovic said.

Pantovic said he looked through a window and saw the passengers who’d been taken off the train being escorted onto a truck. Pantovic said the whole procedure lasted fifteen minutes, and the train continued its journey towards Bar.

After the passengers had left the compartment and started talking amongst themselves, Pantovic said he realized passengers with Bosnian Muslim names had been taken off the train.

The trial will continue on November 20.

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