Jezik / Language:
8 March 2016

Witness Says Vincetic and Baotic Raped Her

Dragana Erjavec BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Testifying at a trial for crimes in the Orasje area, a state prosecution witness confirmed that defendant Mato Baotic and Pero Vincetic raped her in May 1992.

Defendant Mato Baotic was the former commander of military police of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO), and eventually became the commander of a detention camp in the premises of a school building in Donja Mahala. He has been charged with raping and sexually abusing Serb women several times.

Testifying at today’s hearing, Marija Benkovic said when she got married she moved from Hungary to Orasje, where her husband Marko Benkovic lived. She said they ran a Hungarian restaurant in Orasje before the war. She worked at that restaurant.

She said the war in Orasje began in late April 1992. She said that the 106th Brigade of the Croatian Defense Council, which also contained a military police unit, was formed in that town.

“I knew those men by sight. They had camouflage uniforms. They visited our restaurant frequently. I heard Pero Vincetic was their commander. He was always accompanied by Mato. I didn’t know his last name at that time, but I found out later,” Benkovic said.

Benkovic said she and her husband moved from Orasje to Donja Mahala in May 1992. She said they stayed at their friend Ivo’s house. She said Ivo had a big basement, where they felt safer.

“Pero Vincetic and a couple of other policemen came to Ivo’s house that night on May 12 or 14, 1992. They asked Marko to come with them. They did not say where or why they were taking him. Of course, I could not go back to sleep. A couple of hours later Vincetic returned and told me to come with him, as I had to testify for Marko,” Benkovic said. She said that Mato Baotic was in the car with Pero Vincetic.

According to Benkovic, they first took her to the restaurant and took all their money. She said they then blindfolded her and drove her in an unknown direction. They took her into a house, where she was interrogated by Mato Baotic until Pero Vincetic said they should “start doing something better.”

“He took my belt and told me to take my clothes off. I said I was not a stripper. Mato Baotic then took my trousers and underwear off. He grabbed me by the hair and pushed my head to the floor. He held me in that position the entire time. Vincetic stood behind me. Vincetic raped me, while Mato was holding me. Then they switched places. Vincetic held my head, while Matow was raping me,” Benkovic said.

The state prosecution filed an indictment against Vincetic in 2010, charging him with war crimes in Orasje. He is not available to judicial bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Benkovic said that, after her rape, Vincetic and Baotic drove her to the Hungarian border. Prior to their arrival at the border, Vincetic told her “to never even think about crossing the border and returning to Orasje.”

“He told me to find a new husband, because my Marko’s body will be carried by Sava river,” Benkovic said.

She said a month after her arrival in Hungary she found out she was pregnant and had an abortion. She said her mother was the only person she told. She said her husband Marko managed to flee in July 1992 and came to her in Hungary.

“I told him everything. Although this is a taboo in my family, my mother and Marko know everything. My father died without ever hearing about it … Marko and I have not had children since,” Benkovic said.

Marko Benkovic also testified as a witness for the prosecution. He confirmed that Pro Vincetic and Mato Baotic took him away in mid-May and held him in detention for about a month and a half.

“They tortured me and asked me to admit I was a traitor and that I collaborated with Serbs. I was a caterer, so I liked both Serbs and Muslims. They did not like it, so they considered me a traitor,” Benkovic said.

He said when he went to Hungary his wife told her was raped and had gotten pregnant.

“To be honest, I have not had my wife since,” Benkovic said.

The trial will continue on March 15.

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