Former prisoner detained in the Culture Hall in Celopek describes brutal murders, humiliating torture and sexual abuse of Bosnian Muslims in June 1992. Dusan Vuckovic called Repic was the ringleader, the witness says. The prosecution indicates it will be calling evidence to link the accused with the volunteers taking part in the murders and torture in the Zvornik area

Vojislav Seselj in the courtroomVojislav Seselj in the courtroom

After leading evidence on the abuse and murders of the Muslim in Zvornik prison camps at Ekonomija and Ciglana, the prosecution called its first witness testifying on the murders, torture and humiliation of Bosnian Muslims in the Culture Hall in the village of Celopek, near Zvornik. The witness is testifying under the pseudonym VS-1065 and with image distortion as protective measures.

The witness was captured with five hundred other Muslims in late May 1992 in his home village of Divici near Zvornik. Over the next few days, he was transferred from one place to another. Finally, he was brought with some 180 other captives to the Culture Hall in Celopek. In the first half of June 1992, the prisoners were regularly abused and humiliated. Some fifteen of them were taken out never to return. They were not seen alive again. The witness identified volunteers who took the captives out and killed them by their nicknames: Major, Zoks and Buca. In his words, the ringleader was called Repic.

According to the witness, the gravest crimes happened in mid-June 1992, to coincide with the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha and in late June 1992, on St. Vitus’ day, according to the Orthodox calendar. The chief executioner in both cases was Repic. On Eid al-Adha, he killed about fifteen Muslims in different ways: he shot them or stabbed them in the chest or neck with a knife. Before that, he ordered ten prisoners to take off their clothes and get up on the stage of the Culture Hall. He forced them to perform oral sex to each other; he particularly insisted that fathers and sons should be paired up. When the humiliation and the murder spree were over, Repic ordered the five survivors to take out the bodies from the hall and load them onto trucks. They were not seen again.

On 28 June 1992, St. Vitus’ day, Repic reappeared in Celopek and started shooting the captives. He killed about thirty people, the witness estimates. A few days later, the witness and about a hundred Muslims who had survived the massacre were transferred to the old prison in Zvornik. From there they were taken to the Batkovic camp near Bijeljina and were later exchanged.

When the judge asked him if he later found out more about this volunteer called Repic, the witness replied that he heard that Repic was a member of the Yellow Wasps unit and that his name was Dusan Vuckovic. Vuckovic was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court in Serbia, after he pleaded guilty to some of murders in Celopek. Two years ago he committed suicide in the prison.

Seselj chose not to cross-examine witness VS-1065 saying that he ‘spoke honestly’. Seselj did, however, raise the issue of the relevance of the witness’ evidence, because he denies he had anything to do with the Yellow Wasps unit. The presiding judge admitted that the Trial Chamber had yet to see the link between the accused and his party on one hand and the Yellow Wasps on the other, reminding Seselj that the trial had only just started and that more evidence would be called on that issue. Seselj was placated by the prosecutor too, who explained that the prosecution would soon call evidence on Seselj’s links with the groups that had committed crimes in Zvornik in the spring of 1992.