Evidence of a massacre against Bosniak detainees in Celopek near Zvornik was presented today at the trial of former SDS leader Momcilo Krajisnik

Momcilo Krajisnik in the courtroomMomcilo Krajisnik in the courtroom

At Momcilo Krajisnik's trial today, the prosecutor presented evidence about the crimes in the Zvornik area, including the murders and instances of horrific torture in the Culture Hall in Celopek. These crimes are also included in the indictments against Slobodan Milosevic and Vojislav Seselj.

A protected witness who is a Bosniak from a village near Zvornik recounts that in April 1992 after eight hours of shelling from JNA positions Arkan's and Seselj's volunteers and the White Eagles entered his village. According to the summary of the witness's statement, read by the prosecutor in court, by May 1992 JNA major Pavlovic could no longer guarantee the Bosniaks' safety and they were subsequently bused towards Han Pijesak. However, instead of being allowed to go to the BH Army controlled territory, the Bosniaks on board the buses were used as human shields during attempts to break through the front lines. They were then returned to the Zvornik area to be used as human shields again. They were held in Zvornik for several days. Men were then separated from the rest. According to a list they had to make themselves, there were 186 men that were then taken to the Culture Hall in nearby Celopek.

The witness says that members of paramilitary forces from Serbia came to Celopek. Among them was Dusan nicknamed Repic (Ponytail) with his men. They beat the detainees brutally and killed some of them. In June 1992, Repic told the detainees, as the witness recounts, that "they will have a bloody Eid al Adha celebration (Muslim holiday)." He singled out several pairs of fathers and sons and forced them to perform demeaning sexual acts on each other and mutilate those who refused to do the same to each other. Then, the witness continues, Repic shot four detainees standing right next to the witness with a rifle. The witness's brother was then singled out. He later died of the consequences of the severe beating. The witness says that later Repic came to the Hall on his own and fired until his clip was empty. On that occasion he killed twenty people.

A hundred and four survivors were later transferred to the Batkovic camp, after the local Serb women protested against the killings in Celopek. More than twenty wounded men never made it to the camp: they disappeared without a trace.

Although volunteers from Serbia played a major role in the crimes, and the JNA shelled the area, the prosecutor notes that the persecutions were carried out with the assistance of the locals – the detainees were transported in buses owned by Drinatrans company from Zvornik and they were escorted and guarded by members of the reserve police, as the witness noted.

The defense cross-examined the witness in closed session. At the beginning, defense counsel Chrissa Loukas noted publicly that Dusan Vuckovic a/k/a Repic had been sentenced by a Serbian court to ten years in prison for the crimes in Celopek.