At the trial of Vojislav Seselj, protected witness VS 1055 describes the attack of ‘Chetniks’ on a village near Sarajevo. The witness, who was detained for months in camps in Podlugovi and Semizovac, doesn’t know who set up these camps but adds, ‘I know very well that we were captured and brought to the camps’ by Vasilije Vidovic Vaske and his Chetniks

Vojislav Seselj in the courtroomVojislav Seselj in the courtroom

As the prosecution continues to call evidence on the crimes committed in the greater Sarajevo area at the trial of Vojislav Seselj, Serbian Radical Party leader, a protected witness testified today under the pseudonym VS 1055. In late March or early April 1992 a group of some twenty paramilitary soldiers appeared in Ilijas. They had fought in Krajina and their leader was Vasilije Vidovic a/k/a Vaske, a local Chetnik. Vaske wore a uniform with Chetnik insignia, had glasses ‘like Draza’ and had a black flag with white skull and crossbones draped on a VW Golf he drove.

[IMAGE]3461[/IMAGE]The witness was a manager of a shop in Ilijas. In late May 1992, he was fired because he was a Bosniak. He then took shelter in a nearby village with his family. But they were safe there only for a week. On 4 June 1992, the village was first shelled, then the Serbian troops arrived. The witness and about twenty other villagers hid in a basement of a house, but the attackers soon reached it. The witness and others were ordered to get out and lie on the ground and then their money and other valuables were taken away. The witness noticed Vasilije Vidovic approaching them with a companion. He then heard a shot and saw one of his neighbors was shot in the head. He is convinced that either Vidovic or his companion shot his neighbor. After that, the witness and other captives were taken back to the basement where the attackers first threatened they would kill them all, and then the villagers were ordered to go out again. They had to form a column and head first to Ilijas and then in the direction of Visoko.

The witness and other prisoners were first detained in the Iskra factory warehouse, near the railway station in Podlugovi. They were kept there for about three months in inhumane conditions. Then they were transferred to the Svrake camp in Semizovac. While they were there, they were taken to do forced labor. He had to dig trenches along the front line and to bury killed Serbian soldiers. The prisoners were often used as human shields when Serb forces launched attacks on the Mount Zuc and Mount Dolic. Many of them were killed then. The witness was permitted to name about a dozen prisoners who lost their lives on such occasions.

The witness spent two and a half months in captivity in the Svrake camp. The witness claimed it was under the control of the VRS. The witness was not sure who set up the camp in the Iskra warehouse, but stressed, ‘I know very well who arrested me and brought me there’: Vaske Vidovic and his Chetniks.

The witness last saw Vidovic on television when he acted as Seselj’s bodyguard; he drew his pistol to protect Seselj from the mass of people that surrounded him. According to the prosecution, Seselj promoted Vasilije Vidovic for meritorious service in the wars in Croatia and BH to the rank of a Chetnik war leader and brought him to Belgrade to be his bodyguard. Previous prosecution witnesses also mentioned the war leader Vaske, but Seselj claimed he was a VRS officer. There is no doubt that Seselj will repeat his claim in his cross-examination of the witness VS 1055 tomorrow.