PICKAXES, SHOVELS, BLOOD AND TEARS
In the final part of his evidence at the trial of Ratko Mladic, Ivo Atlija described the wounds he had seen on the bodies of victims killed in an attack of the Serb forces on the village of Brisevo and other hamlets in the Prijedor area. ‘They looked like large cuts, from 10 to 30 cm long, with cracked tissue, as if someone had hit them with pickaxes and shovels’, the witness said, unable to hold back tears
Ratko Mladic’s defense continued the cross-examination of Bosnian Croat Ivo Atlija today. Mladic’s lawyer insisted that the witness actually saw just one murder during the attack of the Serb forces on the village of Brisevo on 24 July 1992. Also, the defense noted that the person had been killed by the ‘Chetniks’; the soldiers the witness had seen there could have been paramilitaries who ‘bought uniforms in the local market’.
The witness said in his statement that as he was burying the people killed in the hamlet of Mlinari he noticed that some dead bodies had irregular wounds. ‘Such wounds couldn’t have been caused by bullets’, the witness said. The defense put it to the witness that he wasn’t a ballistic expert and didn’t have any medical training. Upon Judge Orie’s insistence, Atlija described in detail the wounds he had seen on the victims’ bodies. They ‘looked like large cuts, from 10 to 30 cm long, with cracked tissue as if someone had hit them with a blunt object’, Atlija said.
As Atlija recounted, he saw shovels and pickaxes with traces of blood and human tissue next to the bodies. The head of Milan Buzuk, whose body was found in the hamlet of Mlinari, had been crushed. Next to Buzuk’s crushed head, Atlija saw the brain tissue that had seeped out. Buzuk’s eyes were black holes, Atlija said, unable to hold back tears.
The defense strove to prove that the attack on the village of Hambarine and other hamlets in the Prijedor area in the summer of 1992 was justified by military necessity. Defense counsel Branko Lukic insisted that the villagers of Hambarine were well-armed; several Serb soldiers were killed and wounded in an incident immediately before the attack.
Atlija heard about the incident from the villagers of Hambarine: he was told that there were casualties on both sides. He didn’t know who opened fire first. In his statement to the OTP investigators, Atlija said that he watched the attack on Hambarine from a hill near Brisevo. In those days, the Prijedor radio repeatedly broadcast an ultimatum to the people in Hambarine to surrender Aziz Aliskovic and a group of other villagers or the village would be attacked and burned to the ground.
Mladic’s defense counsel put it to the witness that Serbs had called the civilians from Hambarine to leave the village so they could arrest Aliskovic. Many of them did that and were later invited to come back, the defense counsel claimed. The witness confirmed the claim, saying he had learned from the villagers of Hambarine who had taken temporary shelter in Brisevo that Serbs had assured them nothing would happen to them if they returned. Later Atlija heard that most of those who actually did return were ‘abused, killed or taken to prison camps’.
- Case : Mladic
- 2012-09-05 PEOPLE DIED FOR NO REASON IN BRISEVO
- 2012-09-05 DEFENSE: MLADIC WASN’T TOLD ABOUT TREATMENT OF PRISONERS
- 2012-09-04 SEFIK HURKO’S SECOND ENCOUNTER WITH RATKO MLADIC
- 2012-09-19 'KARADZIC'S GUESTS' IN OMARSKA AND TRNOPOLJE
- 2012-09-20 IMPRISONED BY HIS ERSTWHILE NEIGHBORS
- 2012-09-20 MLADIC’S DEFENSE: TRNOPOLJE WAS ‘HUMANITARIAN CENTER’