THE HAGUE | 24.11.2011.

EXECUTION IN ORAHOVAC

In his evidence at the trial of Radovan Karadzic, a witness testifying under the pseudonym KDZ 039 described the three days he spent in detention in Potocari and Bratunac and an execution in Orahovac on 14 July 1995. The indictment against Radovan Karadzic alleges that about 1,000 Bosniaks captured after the fall of Srebrenica were killed in the incident. When the sun set, the execution continued under the headlights of backhoes, the witness recounted

With the evidence of a witness testifying under the pseudonym KDZ 039, the prosecution case entered its final stage at the trial of Radovan Karadzic. The prosecution will now try to prove that the former Republika Srpska president is responsible for the genocide in Srebrenica. The witness, a survivor of an execution in Orahovac in the summer of 1995, has already testified at all Srebrenica trials before the Tribunal.

The summary of the evidence the witness gave in November 2007 at the trial of the Bosnian Serb military and police officers was admitted into evidence today. According to the summary, after the fall of Srebrenica on 11 July 1995 the witness headed towards Potocari with the female members of his family. The next day the witness was separated from his family. He was detained with a large group of elderly men in an unfinished house in Potocari. There, the witness saw General Ratko Mladic for the first time. He was bareheaded and wearing a camouflage uniform. He greeted the prisoners saying ‘hello, neighbors’. Mladic told the prisoners they would be exchanged for the captured Serbs.

That same night, the witness and the remaining prisoners were taken to Bratunac by bus where they were detained in an abandoned warehouse near the Vuk Karadzic school. About 400 persons were brought there by midnight. During the night, Serb soldiers took out about 40 prisoners. Once they were taken out, the men inside could hear the blows, wails and screams, the witness said. Some prisoners returned to the warehouse badly beaten and bloody; others didn’t return.

The next day, on 13 July 1995, the prisoners were given water and they were allowed to remove from the warehouse the five men who had died during the night as a consequence of the beatings. As the witness recounted, behind the warehouse they saw a pile of dead bodies. More prisoners were taken out and about 40 prisoners were killed by the end of the day. A prisoner was beaten with an iron bar in front of the witness and was then finished off with an axe blow to his back.

The surviving prisoners were taken to Orahovac in six buses in the night of 13 July 1995. The witness saw Mladic again. Mladic told the bus driver to follow a ‘red car’. In Orahovac, the prisoners were detained in the primary school gym. By 10 am the following day, there were about 2,500 men in the gym, the witness estimated.

General Mladic visited the prisoners there too, this time brining new promises. Instead of taking them ‘to Fikret [Abdic’s territory]’ as they were promised, the prisoners were made to board the buses. They were blindfolded and were taken to a nearby execution site in groups. There, they were shot to death. At one point, the witness took off his blindfold and saw many dead bodies around him. When a burst was fired in his direction, the witness fell and remained on the ground, buried under dead bodies. The witness saw Serb soldiers bringing in new groups of people in trucks. The newcomers were taken out and executed. General Mladic stood there and watched it all, the witness claims.

When the night fell, the execution continued. The area was lit by the headlights of two backhoes. When it was done, the witness and two other survivors ran away from the execution site. On 19 July 1995, the witness crossed into the BH Army-controlled territory.

At the beginning of the cross-examination, Karadzic wanted to hear from the witness how Mladic was dressed and how big the warehouse in Bratunac was. Karadzic also asked him how and why the prisoners were taken out of the warehouse in the night of 12 July when about 40 persons were killed. Karadzic’s case is that the prisoners were taken out mainly because individuals wanted to take their revenge on them for crimes against Serbs in the villages around Srebrenica.

Karadzic will continue his cross-examination of the witness on Monday, 28 November 2011.