As the trial of Momcilo Krajisnik resumed, protected witness 565 testified about abuse and murder of Bosniaks in Sanski Most in the summer of 1992

Momcilo Krajisnik in the courtroomMomcilo Krajisnik in the courtroom

After a one-month break, the trial of Momcilo Krajisnik continued today with the presentation of evidence about the crimes in Sanski Most. Krajisnik is the former speaker of the RS Assembly, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992.

A protected prosecution witness, bearing the pseudonym 565, spoke about the events in Sanski Most in the summer of 1992. In June, the local Serb authorities detained him in the garage of the Betonirka company, together with some thirty other eminent Bosniaks from the town. Crammed into the rook, with very little food and water, they were detained there for 19 days; sixteen out of the nineteen days they were beaten.

On the last day of their detention – 22 June 1992 – a group of some 20 prisoners, including the witness, was taken to the banks of a stream. Some fifty meters from them stood Nedeljko Rasula, the then president of the Sanski Most municipality and one of the leaders in the SDS (Serb Democratic Party), the witness said.

As the prisoners were ordered to dig holes, the witness heard blunt blows and gurgling sounds behind him. He realized that the armed persons who had escorted them there began slitting the prisoners' throats. "My turn was coming," witness 565 said, but then the Trial Chamber decided to continue hearing his testimony in closed session.

From the questions put later on by Krajisnik's defense counsel Chrissa Loukas and the responses given by the witness, one could draw the conclusion that witness 565 survived the massacre because two persons accompanying Nedeljko Rasula had intervened on his behalf.

The defense tried to challenge the credibility of the claim that a high-ranking SDS member, Rasula, could be present at a crime scene, but the witness replied that he was certain he had seen him there, because he had known Rasula for 30 years.

The witness was transferred to the Manjaca camp the same day. In his estimate, eighteen or nineteen detainees died in the truck because of intense heat and lack of water and air under the canvas top. "When we arrived to Manjaca, we stepped out over the dead bodies," he said. On the orders of the camp commander, the dead bodies remained in the truck and were taken back. The witness never learned where they were buried. He remained in Manjaca until October 1992, when the International Red Cross intervened to have him released.

According to the prosecutor, the testimony of 565 is relevant for all counts of the indictment against Momcilo Krajisnik: genocide, persecutions, extermination, and killing, deportation and inhumane acts.