After Armin Bazdar from Rogatica completed his evidence the prosecution called to the witness stand Sead Hodzic, a survivor of a massacre in the village of Zaklopace near Vlasenica on 16 May 1992. More than 60 persons were killed in the attack of the Serb forces. Some of victims were children under the age of ten. Protected witness KDZ 607 began his evidence today

Sead Hodzic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialSead Hodzic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

The trial of Radovan Karadzic continued with the cross-examination of witness Armin Bazdar from Rogatica. In mid-August 1992, the witness survived the execution of a group of 27 Muslim men. Some of them were underage boys.

Karadzic suggested that Bazdar, who was 15 at the time, was taller and ‘more masculine’ than his peers and that the Serb soldiers could well think he was older than he actually was. After a series of questions about the details in the witness’s statement, the accused said he ‘would prefer not to have to ask any of the victims any questions’. Before leaving the courtroom, the witness said he hoped his evidence would help in ‘reaching a fair judgment in the Karadzic case’.

The prosecution then called Sead Hodzic. Hodzic is a survivor of the massacre in the village of Zaklopace near Vlasenica on 16 May 1992. More than 60 people were killed in the attack of the Serb troops on the village. Children under the age of ten were among the victims of the incident, listed in the indictment against Karadzic.

According to the witness’s written statement, the Serb forces marched into Vlasenica in April 1992 and seized the town with the assistance of the JNA Novi Sad Corps. The witness recounted in the courtroom his conversation with a JNA tank crew member; the man told him he was surprised that they had managed to capture the town ‘without a single bullet’. The JNA soldier told the witness that they heard that the Muslims were ‘slaughtering’ Serbs in Vlasenica but he now saw that it was not true. He also told the witness in confidence that the JNA would withdraw in a couple of days and leave the equipment and weapons to the local Serbs. Finally, the JNA soldier told the witness: ‘Beware of your neighbors once we are gone’.

According to the witness, when the JNA withdrew from Vlasenica the Serb forces launched attacks on the neighboring Muslim villages. The village of Zaklopace was taken without any resistance. The Serb soldiers drove into town in cars, and started taking people out of their houses and killing them. The witness fled the village. Later that day, when he returned, the witness identified 58 victims. Many of them had been shot in the back of the head or in the mouth. Twenty-eight members of the witness’s family were among the victims.

In the cross-examination, Karadzic claimed that in April 1992 the JNA was a ‘legitimate military force’ and had the right to enter Vlasenica and ‘protect’ its citizens. Karadzic also said that the BH Territorial Defense in April 1992 issued several orders to attack the JNA and Serbs. It was the main reason why the JNA entered Vlasenica, Karadzic argued. The witness was, as he said today, unaware of such orders; he insisted he was ‘sticking to what I heard from a tank crew member in Vlasenica’.

After Sead Hodzic completed his testimony, a protected witness from Rogatica took the stand. He is testifying under the pseudonym KDZ 607 and with image and voice distortion. The prosecutor didn’t read out the usual summary of the witness’s written statement that was admitted into evidence. Judging from what was heard in the parts of the hearing open to the public, the witness is testifying about the Serb attack on yet another village in the Rogatica region and about the mass executions in the Serb prisons in that municipality, which included the notorious Rasadnik prison camp.