CIRCLE OF DEATH IN BRATUNAC
With the evidence of protected witness KDZ 605 the prosecution continues calling evidence about the crimes in Bratunac at Radovan Karadzic’s trial. The witness described the abuse and killing of Muslim detainees. A member of Arkan’s unit called Bane and other Serb soldiers formed a circle in a school gym using school desks. They brought the prisoners inside the circle and beat them, some to death
At the trial of Radovan Karadzic the prosecution heard yet another witness from Bratunac. The witness, who testified under the pseudonym KDZ 605 and with image and voice distortion as protective measures, is a Bosnian Muslim. The Serb forces arrested the witness and held him captive first in a local school and later in Pale.
The prosecutor read out the summary of the witness’s written statement. On 17 April 1992, Arkan’s men and Seselj’s men were the first to enter Bratunac, followed by the JNA. Muslims’ houses were broken into and their property was looted. The witness and other residents of Bratunac had to sign a declaration of loyalty to the Serb authorities. Nevertheless, on 10 May 1992 they were all taken to a stadium in Bratunac.
At the stadium, the witness was separated from his wife and children, who were transferred to Tuzla with the rest of the women and children. The witness and other men were first detained in the school and then in a hangar in Bratunac. In the three days of his detention, the witness saw other prisoners being beaten and killed. The witness was also beaten and then taken to Pale. From there, he was taken to Visoko where he was released.
Speaking in detail about the physical abuse of prisoners, the witness said in the cross-examination that a man called Bane was particularly brutal. Bane boasted that he was a member of Arkan’s unit from Serbia and that he had been invited there to ‘kill’. Bane and other Serb soldiers put the school desks in a circle in the school gym. They would put the prisoners inside the circle and beat them, some of them to death. Sometimes the victims were selected randomly: the tormentors would throw a ball at them and pick those they would hit.
The witness replied that he watched Serb soldiers carve a cross on a prisoner’s arm with a knife. Although it was hard to see the point, Karadzic invoked his experience as a medical doctor to insist that the cross had been ‘rubbed onto’ the prisoner’s arm by a knife and not ‘carved’. According to Karadzic, the kind of knife wounds described by the witness couldn’t have healed in three days.
Karadzic tried to blame the chaos in Bratunac in May 1992 to paramilitary units: Arkan’s men and Seselj’s men; he claimed that the local Serb volunteers put themselves under the JNA command. On the other hand, Karadzic argued that a ‘lynching mob’ gathered after a group of Arkan’s men were killed in late April 1992 near Srebrenica, when a JNA column was attacked in early May 1992 and when a Serb was killed in Bratunac. This is why the municipality became a dangerous place for Muslims.
The prosecution called Ibro Osmanovic from Vlasenica as its next witness. Osmanovic has already testified about the Serb forces’ crimes in Vlasenica municipality at five Tribunal trials. Osmanovic spoke about his ordeal during the one and a half year he spent as a prisoner at four locations: in the police station and prison in Vlasenica and in the prison camps in Susica and Batkovic. In July 1993, Osmanovic was exchanged. Only two members of Osmanovic’s family survived the war; 33 are still missing. Osmanovic will continue his evidence on Monday.