06.09.2006.

SURVIVORS FROM THE BRANJEVO FARM

Protected witness who testified as witness I and witness P105 in the first two Srebrenica trials, takes the stand without any protective measures under his own name

Ahmo Hasic recounted for the third time at the ICTY how on 16 July 1995 he had survived the execution of more than a thousand Muslim prisoners at the Branjevo farm, but for the first time he did so without any protective measures. Hasic already testified about what he had been through from the day when the VRS had entered Srebrenica on 11 July until 24 December 1995, the date of his exchange. He did so at the trials of Radislav Krstic in 2001 and Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic in 2003, but under a pseudonym and with the image altering device.

In Potocari, where he took shelter after the fall of Srebrenica, Hasic was separated from his family – four grandchildren, his wife, daughter and daughter-in-law. He was detained in “house nearby”, as he described it. On 13 July, he was taken to the Vuk Karadzic elementary school in Bratunac with the other detainees from the house, “in a column of seven buses”.

Two of his sons, Hasic testified, joined the column of men who were trying to get to Tuzla through the woods. “I buried one of them last year, he was found by the doctors in a mass grave and I haven’t yet found the other one,” the witness said.

Hasic was detained in one of the classrooms, with about sixty other prisoners. He described how the prisoners were “taken out and killed” incessantly. “The cries and moans” would be cut short by bursts of gunfire and then there would be a lull until another person was taken out. Hasic says that six or seven men, mostly young, were taken out of his room.

On 15 July, the prisoners were told they would be taken to Tuzla. Instead, the buses headed towards Zvornik, crossed into Serbia, re-crossed the Drina River back into Bosnia and finally brought the prisoners to another school, in the village of Pilice. There were 12 underage boys in the classroom where he was, Hasic said, while the oldest prisoners were up to eighty years old. The next morning, the prisoners’ hands were tied and they were bussed to the Branjevo farm, about two and a half kilometers away from the school.

Serb soldiers in camouflage uniforms, as Hasic recounted, made the prisoners run the gauntlet, cursing the prisoners as they “escorted them to the field that was black with bodies”. When his group reached the execution site, instead of the order, “Fire”, he heard the order, “Lie down” and then the burst of gunfire. He fell down, unhurt, and stayed down, pretending he was dead. As he lay there, he counted another seven columns of prisoners who were brought to the execution site.

At dusk, after making sure there were no soldiers there, Hasic managed to untie his hands and run into the woods. He spent the next ten days or so wandering the hills, only to fall into the VRS hands again. On 26 July he and about thirty other Muslim prisoners were transferred to the camp in Batkovic, under Red Cross escort. He was exchanged in the “last batch”, on 24 December 1995, after five months in detention.

Ahmo Hasic lost two sons and two brothers in Srebrenica in July 1995. The brothers’ remains were found in the mass grave in Pilice and buried in the cemetery in Potocari.