Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bosnia and Herzegovina / Srebrenica Massacre / Genocide Tribunals

Radovan Karadzic Dismisses Srebrenica Survivor as a "Soldier Not a Victim"
By David Charter
The Times, April 21, 2010
Photo: Valerie Kuypers/AP
"Radovan Karadzic was admonished by judges at his genocide trial today for dismissing a Muslim survivor of the Srebrenica massacre as a 'soldier not a victim.' The former Bosnian Serb leader was warned by judges at the UN tribunal in The Hague not to make 'appalling' comments but stick to asking pertinent questions to the witness, who escaped from an execution squad by playing dead under the bodies of other Muslim men as they were shot. The court in The Hague heard how the witness was among a group of approximately 30 men who were blindfolded and taken to a meadow to be murdered but he miraculously survived and heard numerous other groups being brought to the site to suffer the same fate. Around 8,000 men died in the Srebrenica massacre. Dr. Karadzic, who is conducting his own defence on 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the ethnic conflict of 1992-95 in the former Yugoslavia, failed in an attempt to have testimony stopped from the witness, whose identity was protected from the public. Judges ruled that he could continue even though prosecutors said earlier that evidence about Srebrenica would come later on in the trial. Just after the witness returned to court after a break, Dr. Karadzic said: 'You are not a victim, you were a soldier for the Bosnian army.' Judge O-Gon Kwon told Dr Karadzic to stick to questions, then later added: 'We have a witness who survived an horrendous massacre but you made an appalling comment that he was not a victim but a soldier.'
The witness had been in the Yugoslav army and fought for Muslim forces but was unarmed when he gave himself up to Bosnian Serb forces when they took control of the UN Safe Haven of Srebrenica in July 1995. After being kept for a day in a school gym with hundreds of other Muslim men who received little water and no food, he was put on a truck with around 30 other blindfolded men. 'They drove just a short distance to a field and the prisoners were told to get out,' said Julian Nicholls, for the prosecution. 'The men were lined up in rows and shot. The witness managed to survive by feigning death as he lay under the body of another victim. Approximately every 10 to 15 minutes another truck full of prisoners would arrive and they would be killed in the same manner. These killings carried on for hours.' [...]"

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