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SECOND SREBRENICA GENOCIDE TRIAL CONCLUDES IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

June 30, 2009 Comments off

PHOTO: Ethnic cleansing of 30,000 Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica was an integral part of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide which claimed lives of at least 8,372 victims (source: Federal Commission for Missing Persons).

After nearly two years, the second trial for genocide committed in Srebrenica in July 1995 has concluded before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina [www.sudbih.gov.ba], reports Balkan Insight. The State Prosecution will deliver its closing argument on August 24, while the defence will do the same two days later, on August 26.

Factual allegations in the indictment:

The indictment [download here] alleges that in the period between 11 July and 1 November 1995, as assistant to the Chief of Security of the Zvornik Brigade of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS), and as the person responsible for the management of the Military Police Company of the same brigade, the Accused knowingly participated in the forcible transfer of the Bosniak population from the Srebrenica enclave, as well as in the summary executions and burial of able-bodied Bosniak men from Srebrenica.

The indictment further alleges that on 13 and 14 July 1995, Milorad Trbić controlled the movement of the Bosniak population as part of their forcible transfer out of the enclave. On this occasion, he allegedly participated in organizing the transportation, detention, and guarding of Bosniak men from Srebrenica, who were transported in buses and trucks from Bratunac to detention sites in schools in the Zvornik area.

According to the allegations laid out in the indictment, between 11 July and 1 November 1995, together with other members of VRS and the Ministry of interior affairs (MUP), Milorad Trbić perpetrated the killing of over 7,000 Bosniak men. The indictment alleges that on 13 July 1995, the Accused personally participated in the summary execution of at least 10 Bosniak men at the Bratunac stadium, where between 1,000 and 1,500 Bosniak men had been detained.

According to the indictment, on 12 July 1995, together with 12 members of the Bratunac Brigade Military Police platoon and the Chief of Security for Bratunac Brigade, Momir Nikolić, Milorad Trbić captured about fifteen Bosniak men on the road between Potočari and Srebrenica. These captives were than allegedly taken to a building known as the White House, across the road from the UNPROFOR Headquarters building in Potočari where the Accused allegedly interrogated them. The captured Bosniak men were allegedly executed by the members of the Bratunac Brigade Military platoon in the presence of Milorad Trbić who supervised and directed the execution.

The indictment alleges that on 14 July 1995, Milorad Trbić supervised the transportation of Bosniak males from the Grbavci School in Orahovac to a nearby field where approximately 1,000 captives were killed.

The indictment further alleges that on 14 July 1995, outside the Grbavci School, together with other members of the Zvornik Brigade Military Police Company, Trbić shot and killed up to twenty Bosniaks who were previously detained inside the School’s gymnasium.

On 16 July 1995, as duty officer at the Zvornik Brigade Command, Milorad Trbić allegedly provided and coordinated communication between and with other VRS officers carrying out the operation to capture, detain, transport, execute and bury able-bodied Bosniak men from Srebrenica who had been detained in schools in the zone of responsibility of the Zvornik Brigade.

According to the indictment, between 1 August and 1 November 1995, together with other individuals, Milorad Trbić supervised, facilitated, and oversaw the reburial of bodies exhumed from primary mass graves in the Zvornik and Bratunac Brigade zones of responsibility, and their transfer to secondary grave sites.

Charges in the indictment:

Milorad Trbić is charged with Genocide pursuant to Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CC BiH) in conjunction with the following items:

a) killing members of the group
b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group all in conjunction with Articles 180(1), 21, and 29 of CC BiH.

Course of the proceedings:

The Court accepted/confirmed the indictment on 27 July 2007. On 9 August 2007, Milorad Trbić failed to appear at a plea hearing before the Court. The Court recorded a plea of not guilty in accordance with the law. The trial commenced on 8 November 2007, and the Prosecutor is currently presenting his evidence.

RELATED:
Milorad Trbic, Srebrenica Protests, and Dutch Graffiti,
read here >>>

ZELJKO IVANOVIC PLEADS NOT GUILTY

June 30, 2009 Comments off

Building of the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina where Srebrenica Genocide trial is currently being held in front of the international judges (meet them here).

At the plea hearing before the Section I for War Crimes of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) [www.sudbih.gov.ba] in the Željko Ivanović case, the Accused Ivanović pleaded not guilty. Željko Ivanović is charged with the criminal offence of Genocide.
As alleged in the Indictment [download here], the Accused Ivanović in July 1995 as a member of the 2nd Šekovići Special Police Detachment in July 1995, together with other members of the Detachment, with a view to entirely destroying a group of Bosniaks from the UN Safe Area of Srebrenica, participated in killing at least 1,000 Bosniaks in the warehouse of the Kravica Farming Cooperative, Bratunac Municipality.

Factual grounds of the Indictment:

As alleged in the Indictment, there is grounded suspicion that as a member of the Special Police Unit of the 2nd Šekovići Detachment, RS MoI, during the period from 10 to 19 July 1995, with the intent to exterminate, in part, a group of Bosniak people, the accused Željko Ivanović participated in a joint criminal enterprise with the aim of forcibly transferring around 40 thousand civilians from the UN Safe Area of Srebrenica and execute more than 7,000 Bosniaks. According to the Indictment, on 12 July 1995 the accused Ivanović participated in the search of Bosniak villages around Potočari aiming to expel them to the territories controlled by the Army of RBiH. On 13 July 1995, as further alleged in the Indictment, the accused Ivanović participated in in ensuring that the road is passable in order to carry out an unobstructed transport of Bosniak population by trucks and buses; he opened and closed the road for traffic in accordance with the plan and thus decisively contributed to the execution of the plan to forcibly transfer Bosniak people. On the same day, the accused Ivanović allegedly participated in the capturing of thousands of Bosniak men who were trying to escape from the UN Safe Area. As alleged in the Indictment, the accused Ivanović participated in escorting a column of over one thousand of captured Bosniaks from the village of Sandići to the warehouse of the Kravica Farming Cooperative, knowing that they would be executed. After detaining the captured Bosniaks in the warehouse, the 2nd Detachment members started killing the captured Bosniaks by firing from automatic weapons and by throwing hand grenades. The Accused Ivanović allegedly got out of the semicircle formation from which the prisoners were fired at, and together with several other members of the 2nd Detachment he went around the warehouse intending to prevent a possible escape of prisoners through windows at the rear side of the warehouse. According to the Indictment, at the same time other members of the 2nd Detachment, while firing from their submachine-guns, automatic rifles and throwing hand grenades from the front part of the warehouse, killed the most of over one thousand of captured Bosniak men

Counts of the indictment:

Željko Ivanović is charged with the criminal offense of Genocide in violation of Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CC BiH) in conjunction with Article 180 (1) of CC BiH.

Course of the proceedings:

The Court confirmed the Indictment on 4 June 2009 [read here].

TRIAL CHAMBER VISITS ZAGREB, SARAJEVO AND SREBRENICA IN MOMCILO PERISIC CASE

June 28, 2009 Comments off

PHOTO: View of Sarajevo with newly built Avaz Twist Tower – the Balkan’s tallest residential building – located in Marijin Dvor business district.

The Trial Chamber in the case of Momčilo Perišić (case information sheet), former Chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav Army (VJ), on Sunday 21 June 2009 began a seven-day site visit which will take them to Zagreb, Sarajevo and Srebrenica.

The visiting delegation consists of Judges Moloto (presiding), David and Picard from Trial Chamber I, as well as members of the Prosecution and Defence teams in the case and officials from the Tribunal’s Registry.

The Trial Chamber decided to conduct the site visit on its own accord. The Trial Chamber considered that it would be assisted to visit locations relevant to the case “in order to gain a better understanding of the facts at issue”.

Perišić is the most senior officer of the Yugoslav Army to go on trial for crimes committed during the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. He is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, inhumane acts and attacks on civilians committed between 1993 and 1995 in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Zagreb.

The Indictment alleges that Perišić provided significant personnel, material and logistical assistance to the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Army of Serbian Krajina (SVK) in Croatia. According to the Indictment, the provision and payment of VJ officers serving in the VRS and the SVK was done secretly to hide the involvement of the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia.

Perišić is charged with aiding and abetting the planning, preparation, or execution of a military campaign of shelling and sniping in civilian areas of Sarajevo between August 1993 and November 1995, which resulted in the killing and wounding of thousands of civilians. He is also charged with the shelling of civilian areas in the city of Zagreb in May 1995, resulting in the killing and wounding of a number of civilians.

He is further accused of aiding and abetting the crimes of extermination, murder and persecutions in Srebrenica between July and November 1995, where his subordinates serving in the VRS, including General Ratko Mladić, captured and executed several thousand Bosnian Muslim men and subsequently engaged in a comprehensive effort to conceal the killings by reburying bodies exhumed from the original mass graves.

The Indictment against Perišić was confirmed on 24 February 2005 and made public on 7 March 2005, when the accused was transferred into the Tribunal’s custody. The Prosecution filed the Second Amended Indictment on 5 February 2008. The trial began on 2 October 2008.

MARTIC JUDGMENT SHOWS MILOSEVIC’s GUILT

June 28, 2009 Comments off

DID YOU KNOW? ICTY Judgment against Milan Martic shows Slobodan Milosevic’s guilt and Yugoslav People Army’s involvement in the widespread war crimes. It also shows that more than 200,000 Croats and other non-Serbs were ethnically cleansed from Serb-held territories in Croatia long before Croatian and Bosnian Army attacked Serbs and regained lost territory in the Operation Storm.

After the Srebrenica Genocide there were concerns over the recurrence of the massacre in the Bihac pocket area.

The 1995 Srebrenica genocide claimed lives of at least 8,372 Bosniaks, while another 30,000 Bosnian Muslims were ethnically cleansed from the Enclave under supposed U.N protection.

Bosniaks and Croats quickly devised a large-scale military operation known as Operation Storm (Operacija Oluja). This military action was carried out by Croatian Armed Forces, in conjunction with the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to retake the parts of the country back into Croatia, which had been controlled by separatist ethnic Serbs since early 1991. The operation lasted 84 hours and was conducted from August 4 – August 8, 1995. Approximately 100,000 to 150,000 Serbs were forced to flee.

Some controversial commentators, like Carl Bildt, called this action as “the most efficient ethnic cleansing we’ve seen in the Balkans.” However, one must also remember that 4 years before the Operation Storm, more than 200,000 Croats and other non-Serbs were ethnically cleansed from the same territory held by Croatia’s Serbs.

According to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) indictment against Slobodan Milošević, the Croat and non-Serb population from the 1991 census was approximately 223,921. Serbs ethnically cleansed Croats, Bosniaks, and other non-Serbs from it’s territory 4 years before Croatian and Bosnian Army struck back and regained forcibly taken territory.

Milan Martić, the former wartime political leader of Croatian Serbs, was transferred today to Estonia to serve his 35-year sentence for crimes committed against Croats and other non-Serbs in Croatia between 1991 to 1994.

In Prosecutor vs. Milan Martic, the Trial Chamber found that the evidence showed that the President of Serbia, Slobodan Milošević, openly supported the preservation of Yugoslavia as a federation of which the so called Serbian Krajina in Croatia would form part. However, the evidence established that Slobodan Milošević covertly intended the creation of a Serb state known as the “Greater Serbia.”

This state was to be created through the establishment of paramilitary forces and the provocation of incidents in order to create a situation where the JNA could intervene. Initially, the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) would intervene to separate the parties but subsequently the JNA would intervene to secure the territories envisaged to be part of a future Serb state.

On the 26th of August 1991. On this date, the JNA 9th Corps – under the command of late Slobodan Milosevic – participated on the side of the Croatian Serb forces in an attack on the Croat-majority village of Kijevo, near Knin. From that point, the JNA participated in attacks on majority-Croat areas and villages. One witness even described the Army of the so called Serbian Krajina and the Yugoslav Army as one and the same organisation, only located at two separate locations.

Widespread acts of murder and violence, detention and intimidation became pervasive from 1992 to 1995. These acts were committed by local Serbs and by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) who was under the command of Slobodan Milosevic.

The evidence established that the so called Serbian Krajina and its leadership sought and received significant financial, logistical and military support from Serbia. The support came from the MUP (Serbia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs) and the State Security Service of Serbia, from the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) and from the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Milan Martić stated that he “personally never ceased this cooperation” and that there was “good cooperation with the leadership of Serbia, notably the [MUP].” In fact, the relationship with Serbia was so close that the SAO Krajina police was mainly financed with funds and material from Serbia. The support from Serbia continued throughout the indictment period.

The Trial Chamber therefore found that among others Blagoje Adžić, Milan Babić, Radmilo Bogdanović, Veljko Kadijević, Radovan Karadžić, Slobodan Milošević, Ratko Mladić, Vojislav Šešelj, Franko “Frenki” Simatović, Jovica Stanišić, and Captain Dragan Vasiljković participated in the furtherance of the common purpose of the joint criminal enterprise. The evidence showed that Milan Martić’s contacts with other members of the joint criminal enterprise were close and direct.

CONTINUE YOUR RESEARCH:
1. ) 12 Jun 2007 – Trial Chamber Judgement
2. ) 8 Oct 2008 – Appeals Chamber Judgement

14TH ANNUAL PEACE MARCH (2009)

June 26, 2009 1 comment
110 kilometres long march (68.35 miles)
IN MEMORY OF THE SREBRENICA GENOCIDE VICTIMS

Official Web Site of the Peace March: www.marsmira.org

“PEACE MARCH 2009” INFO
“Peace march 2009, to freedom via route of death, July 1995” is an event gathering participants from all over the world, held for already four years, in memory of the victims of genocide committed on Bosniaks in Srebrenica – UN “Safe Zone”, in 1995. In this year, it is the 14th annual, and this event is part of the commemoration of that tragedy.

MAIN GOAL AND THE PUROSE OF THE MARCH
The purpose of this march is to honor the victims of the horrible crimes committed by police and military forces of Republika Srpska towards Bosniaks in Srebrenica – UN “Safe Zone”, in July 1995; and to ensure and to remind all the relevant world figures to bring to justice “persons” responsible for such a crime against humanity, as soon as possible. All this is necessary in order to maintain peace and tolerance among ethnicities in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

DURATION AND SCHEDULE

•Duration of the march: three days – from July 8th to July 10th 2009
•Gathering, registration and distribution of promotional materials: July 8th (06am – 8.30am) in front of the primary school in Nezuk, Sapna Municipality
•”Peace march 2009″ start: July 8th (8.30am) – Nezuk, Sapna Municipality
•Sleepover points :
July 8th 2009 – Gornja Kamenica, Zvornik Municipality;
July 9th 2009 – Mravinjci, Bratunac Municipality:
July 10th 2009 – Donji Potočari, Srebrenica Municipality.

•”Peace march 2009″ finish: July 10th – between 5pm and 6pm – Donji Potočari, Srebrenica Municipality; arrival at Potočari Memorial center.

ROADMAP OF THE “PEACE MARCH 2009”
Nezuk – Baljkovica – Parlog – Crni Vrh – Snagovo – Liplje – Jošanica – Donja Kamenica – Bakrači – Glodi – Udrč – Cerska – Kaldrmica – Đugum – Mravinjci – Burnice – Kameničko Brdo – Ravni Buljim – Jaglići – Šušnjari – Budak – Potočari (Memorial center)

The full length of the march is about 110 km [68.35 miles], and if you are interested in a detailed preview of the described roadmap check our interactive map in “guide for participants”.

LOGISTICS

•ARMED FORCES OF B&H – Supplying tents in sleepover points; helicopter in case of an emergency
•FEDERAL MINISTRY FOR REFUGEES – Supplying water, first aid teams, promotional material and participates in financing the cots of food;
•Muslim Charity Organization “MERHAMET”, Tuzla Regional Office – Supplying food for participants
•RED CROSS SOCIETY – B&H – Supplying snacks and refreshment
•RED CROSS of the FEDARATION of B&H – Provides mobile first aid teams

PROGRAM CONTENTS OF THE MARCH
During the march, the organizational committee will prepare following events:

•History classes – stories and testimonies of survived participants of the real march – the “march of death” in July 1995 – from Srebrenica to the free territories;
•Religious services – lead by the representatives of the Islamic community instances from Tuzla
•Book promotion
•Round tables
•Documentary projection – “Genocide in Srebrenica”

PARTICIPANTS
It has been announced that the “Peace March 2009” will be attended by many organized groups, as well as individuals. We are expecting between 2.500 and 3.000 participants from all around the Bosnia and Herzegovina, The Netherlands, Croatia, France, Switzerland, Serbia, Italy, United States of America, Australia and many other countries.

HOW CAN YOU APPLY FOR “PEACE MARCH 2009” ?
You can apply for participation in the march by:
– filling the online application that can be found # h e r e #
– …or by signing in at the gathering points, on the first day, with one of the group leaders.

MILOSEVIC’S FRIEND NASER ORIC NAILED BY SARAJEVO COURT

June 25, 2009 5 comments
NASER ORIC SAGA CONTINUES…
[reading time: 3-5 minutes]

Naser Oric, a former bodyguard of late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, has been sentenced to two years in prison by the Sarajevo court for illegal possession of weapons. Who exactly is Naser Oric?

Oric had organised the defence of the eastern enclave of Srebrenica during the 1992-1995 war. He had a warm post-war relationship with both Slobodan Milosevic and his son Marko. Marko supported Naser Oric thoughout his trial. They were in constant telephone communication according to the Serbian state prosecutor Bruno Vukaric. Milosevic’s son Marko even congratulated Oric on his acquittal of all charges in relation to defence of the Srebrenica enclave. (source: Sarajevo X).

At the Hague Trial, Oric and Milosevic had a very friendly relationship. Milosevic once jokingly told Oric that he would be grateful if Oric would write him a report about the war time situation in Srebrenica to which Oric responded by saying that he believed that Milosevic already had all that information, prompting Milosevic to say, “Yes but I would like to get your perspective on it.”

In his recently published book titled “Target” (Meta), radical Serbian ultra-nationalist Vuk Draskovic wrote that he remembers Naser Oric as one of the most polite security officers in Serbia. Oric arrested Draskovic and his wife Danica in Belgrade on March 9, 1991 during violent Belgrade demonstrations. Draskovic still remembers Oric as a nice guy.

Draskovic is, perhaps, the best known for his hatred against Muslims. In 1990, Draskovic held a meeting in Sanjak, – which is a small region in Serbia and Montenegro where Bosniaks once consisted ethnic majority. At that time, Draskovic had issued a threat to non-Serb population: Those who, on Serbian land, lift any flag other than a Serbian one, whether it’s a Muslim, Albanian, or Croat flag, will be left without the flag and without the hand.

Five years later, in July 1995, Serbs committed genocide against Bosniaks in Srebrenica. Then, as expected, Serbian propaganda focused its failed efforts to deny that genocide ever took place.

In order to justify Srebrenica genocide, Serbian nationalists started propagating grossly inflated claims that over 3,000 Serb civilians were murdered around Srebrenica under Naser Oric’s command – a lie often repeated by the Serbian government propaganda. In fact, only 151 Serb civilians died around Srebrenica from 1992 – 1995 according to the Research and Documentation Center’s data which had been audited and backed-up by the experts from the Hague Tribunal.

Milivoje Ivanisevic, who came up with this “3000 Serbs killed” figure, is a Srebrenica genocide denier himself. Ivanisevic’s claims were discredited by the International Criminal Tribunal, Serbia’s Human Rights Watch, and Bosnia’s State-level Research and Documentation Center.

On the other hand, more than 14,000 Bosniaks died in 1992 as a result of Serb attacks, massacres, and ethnic cleansing perpetrated against the Bosnian Muslim population of Podrinje. (see Research and Documentation Center).

As a result of bogus Serbian allegations against Oric, he stood the trial at the Hague Tribunal. In July 2008, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia acquitted him of all charges brought against him.

Oric is in no way a perfect man. After all, everybody associated with late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic seemed to be rotten in one way or the other. According to BalkanInsight, “A Sarajevo Court based its Wednesday ruling on a large cache of weapons and ammunition, which were found in Oric’s apartments in Sarajevo, Tuzla and his summer cottage in Olovo. At the same time, the court found Oric not guilty of other charges, including extortion and threats.”

So, in conclusion, what can be said about Oric’s latest behavior? He broke the law. Now he has to pay it. Two years in prison. Fair and Square.

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE? (WITNESS DD in SREBRENICA GENOCIDE CASE)

June 22, 2009 Comments off
“I grabbed him by his hand and I – he kept repeating, ‘I was born in 1981 [age: 14]. What will you do with me? What do you want me to do?’ And then I begged them, I pleaded with them. Why are you taking him? He was born in 1981…

PHOTO: Serb executioners tied the hands of their Bosnian Muslim victims before shooting them. (Prosecution Exhibit P128/102 from the Krstić case)

“How is it possible that a human being could do something like this, could destroy everything, could kill so many people? Just imagine this youngest boy I had, those little hands of his, how could they be dead? I imagine those hands picking strawberries, reading books, going to school, going on excursions. Every morning I wake up, I cover my eyes not to look at other children going to school, and husbands going to work, holding hands.”

Witness DD (she testified with her name and identity withheld from the public), a Bosnian Muslim woman, speaking about how she lost her husband and two sons in the July 1995 Srebrenica genocide. She testified on 26 July 2000 in the case against Radislav Krstić. (View Video Clip)

In July 1995 Witness DD was a 41 year old mother of four, a daughter and three sons. She was living with her husband and sons in a village in the besieged majority-Muslim enclave of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina when the final Bosnian Serb offensive began. When the shells fell on her village, the family fled to the woods, looking for shelter in dugouts, already crowded with others fleeing the attack.

After spending a few days in the woods, Witness DD, along with her family, went to nearby town of Srebrenica, already overcrowded with other Bosnian Muslim displaced persons from surrounding villages. Fighting surrounded them, as the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) advanced to take the town. Shots could be heard all the time”. “The detonations were so loud, one would think that the whole earth was on fire”, Witness DD recalled.

While the shells were falling and the Serb takeover became imminent, most of the adult men decided to try to escape through the woods surrounding the town. The witness’ husband and the eldest son joined this group of men, while she stayed with their two youngest sons, aged nine and 14. “At that point I told my husband for the last time, ‘We’re not going to separate ourselves’, and he told me not to worry.” That was the last time Witness DD saw her husband or her eldest son.

Finally, the Serb forces took the town on 11 July 1995. Feeling abandoned and unprotected, the remaining residents of Srebrenica moved into the direction of Potočari, a few kilometers north of the town, to the base of the UNPROFOR Dutch Batallion soldiers. Witness DD remembers that, while she was walking with other Bosnian Muslim refugees towards Potočari, shells were still falling and she heard shots from different kinds of weapons. When they reached Potočari, the witness saw a large number of old trucks and buses. She tried to find shelter behind the trucks since the July heat was stifling, with the temperature of around 37 degrees.

Along with thousands of Bosnian Muslim refugees, mostly women, children, elderly or disabled, Witness DD and her two young sons spent two nights in Potočari. The living conditions were deplorable, food and water were in scarce supply. As the witness told the Tribunal, the situation in Potočari was growing steadily worse. On the morning of 13 July 1995, the witness decided to leave, so she walked to the trucks, which the Serbs used to transport women, children and elderly out to Muslim-held territories. The men were not allowed to go, and were separated from the rest.

While they were queuing for the trucks, her children were nervous and tired. One of her friends tried to find some water for her elder son, but came back to the line shocked and scared: “He said, “I saw everything. I saw heads and limbs all over the place where I went to fetch some water.” At that point my child started trembling, and he was about to faint…”

As they were moving forward, approaching the rope surrounding the buses witness DD felt relieved, “I thought to myself, thank God. After everything I had seen, after I had seen people being separated, I kept thanking God because we seemed to have passed through, me, my children and these friends of ours.” Witness then DD saw the Serb soldiers standing on the both sides of the line of refugees, creating a kind of corridor around them that they had to pass through. As they moved forward, she saw one of the soldiers pointing at her son. “…I heard a voice say, ‘Popović, look out for this one’, and I immediately realised that he was referring to my child.”

The soldier told her 14 years old son to step out of the line, and part from the rest of the family. The boy was trying to resist, saying that he was too young to go with the adult men: “I grabbed him by his hand and I – he kept repeating, “I was born in 1981. What will you do with me? What do you want me to do?” And then I begged them, I pleaded with them. Why are you taking him? He was born in 1981. But he repeated his order”, and he threw the boy’s bag on a pile nearby. Witness DD remembers that, while the Serb soldier was dragging her son away, she heard the boy’s voice for the last time: “And he turned around, and then he told me, “Mommy, please, can you get that bag for me? Could you please get it for me?”

While watching her young son being taken away, Witness DD and her nine-year-old son were in shock. The youngest child was shouting and screaming, asking where his brother was taken and what would happen to him. The witness felt numb: “And I just stood there for a while. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to go.” Witness DD remembers that, at this point, her sister-in-law came and took her and her child towards a large uncovered truck, which they boarded. She testified that, while they were sitting in the truck, she saw a bus crowded with men parked nearby, with more men standing around it. She knew that her son was in it, but she was still hoping that he would be safe.

Trucks and buses, overcrowded with the Muslim women and children, set off on their way to the village of Tišća. As they traveled through the Serb-held territory, villagers threw stones at their vehicles. Her son was hit on his head, and she had to shelter him with her body all the way. When they finally reached Tišća, they were urged by an armed Serb soldier to disembark swiftly: “There was a very big Četnik standing there together with another one, a very young man, young boy who was actually smaller than my son who was born in 1986, but he was holding a rifle. And he told us to move on quickly.” The refugees were forced to continue on foot along the road, to the Bosnian Muslim held territory of Kladanj. After walking for several kilometers, through the “no-man’s land” between the Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Muslim lines, Witness DD and her nine-year-old son finally reached Kladanj. The two of them were safe, facing the life of a refugee.

At the time she testified, Witness DD was living with her youngest son in a small room in a refugee center. Her daughter, with two children of her own, did not have an accommodation at all. “And then sometimes I also think it would be better if none of us had survived. I would prefer it”, she told the court.

She never saw her husband or her two sons again. When asked what she thought had happened to them, Witness DD answered: “How do I know? As a mother, I still have hope.”

Witness DD testified on 26 July 2000 in the case against Bosnian Serb Army commander Radislav Krstić. The Tribunal convicted Radislav Krstić and sentenced him to 35 years’ imprisonment for his role in the crimes Witness DD, among others, suffered.