The man who witnessed the killing of Muslims in the village of Drum near Vlasenica in June 1992 testified at the trial of Radovan Karadzic. Suad Dzafic from Vitkovic near Bratunac, survivor of a mass execution near Nova Kasaba in May 1992, took the stand after him

Suad Dzafic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialSuad Dzafic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

The trial of Radovan Karadzic continued with the evidence of a protected witness testifying under the pseudonym KDZ 603, with image and voice distortion. The witness saw 22 Muslim men being killed by the Serb forces in the village of Drum near Vlasenica in early June 1992. The previous witness, Ibro Osmanovic, who was held prisoner by the Serb soldiers, had to bury the victims. According to Osmanovic, victims had been killed by gunshots to the back of the head or the forehead.

The witness’s written statement was admitted into evidence. According to the summary, Serb forces entered the village of Drum on 2 June 1992 and immediately started firing on the villagers. The witness saw a number of men being killed before he was transferred to the Susica prison camp together with the women, children and the elderly. The witness remained there for 28 days and was then taken to the prison camp in Batkovic. He was exchanged on 7 December 1992.

In the cross-examination, Karadzic claimed that Muslims in Vlasenica were well-organized, armed and even had a ‘secret army’. ‘The entire zone was on fire because of the Muslim army’s actions’, Karadzic claimed, arguing that fire was opened from the village of Drum on the Panorama hotel, where the Serbian Crisis Staff was located. There was no shooting in Drum until 2 June 1992, the witness replied, and there was no resistance in the village. According to the witness, the cleansing of Drum and its environs of Muslims was ‘scheduled’ for that day.

After the witness completed his testimony, Suad Dzafic from Vitkovic near Bratunac was called to the witness stand. In the second half of May 1992, Dzafic survived the mass execution near Nova Kasaba. The witness was arrested on 18 May 1992 when Serb troops attacked villages in the Bratunac area. Together with 32 men of military age and five underage boys, the witness was taken to the prison in Vlasenica. There they were beaten and abused.

On 21 May 1992, the witness and other men of military age were taken out of their cells and were ordered to get on a bus. They were stripped of their documents and other personal possessions: they were told that they ‘wouldn’t need them anymore’. The bus stopped near Nova Kasaba and prisoners were ordered to get off in groups of four to five men. The witness remembers that one of his cousins told him as they left the bus, ‘You see, we are going to die’. They were ordered to run through the field and then fire was opened on them.

Describing the execution, Dzafic said that he first felt the warmth from the bullet that hit him. He then fell down next to his brother who was still alive. As they lay on the ground, a soldier approached them and killed his brother and several other wounded men. After the soldiers left, the witness crossed the river. He was found and rescued by some Muslims.

In the cross-examination, Karadzic repeated his claim about armed Muslims sent into battle in Croatia by the SDA to fight against the JNA and then to attack Serb villages. Karadzic also contended that Bratunac was left without a Muslim leadership not because they were fired but because Serbs first ‘fired themselves’ from the joint municipality and Muslims then ‘refused’ to form their own municipality.

Dzafic is the 100th prosecution witness at the trial of the former Republika Srpska president, on trial for genocide and other crimes in the war in BH.