Karadzic thugs 'told me to dig my own grave'
Published 14/04/2010 | 05:00
A Bosnian Muslim has described how he watched men dig their graves before Serb killers slashed their throats.
The man, giving evidence in a UN court, came face-to-face for the first time with the warlord Radovan Karadzic.
The former Bosnian Serb leader is on trial for genocide and war crimes linked to "ethnic cleansing" during the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1992.
Karadzic, who is defending himself, was repeatedly reprimanded by the UN judge for hectoring and interrupting Ahmet Zulic, a Muslim survivor of Serbian executions and detention camps.
Karadzic cross-examined Mr Zulic for two hours as the trial resumed following a six-week delay.
As Mr Zulic (62) entered the court in The Hague with his head bowed, Karadzic subjected him to a baleful stare over his glasses before the prosecution's first witness began his evidence.
The former mineworker described how Serbs shelled Muslim houses in Sanski Most, in north-west Bosnia, before he and many others were rounded up in June 1992 and held in horrific conditions, where they were regularly beaten or taken off to be killed.
"Two men would kick us in one part of the body and another would use a baton to beat you over the head until you became unconscious," he said.
In written testimony, Mr Zulic also described how he was taken to Kriva Cesta on June 22, 1992, where he and 20 other men were given spades and hoes as a groups of senior Serb military were "sitting at a picnic table, drinking and laughing".
"They gave me a hoe and said I had to dig my own grave," he said. "Then I heard people screaming and shouting. I saw Ibro Eminic when his throat was cut."
A butcher, named in prosecution documents and described as "not mentally healthy" slashed the throats of prisoners; those who tried to flee were gunned down, alleged Mr Zulic.
Mr Zulic was saved at the final moment by an intervention from his former schoolteacher, a Serb, who was present. He was beaten, a shot fired over his head and his family threatened with rape before he was taken back to a detention centre. He said: "Three of us survived and all the others were slaughtered. I still have a scar where they tried to cut my throat."
The Bosnian Muslim also recounted how prisoners died during transportation to the Manjaca detention camp, where he was nearly beaten to death after allowing the Red Cross to examine him.
Karadzic was censured after he imperiously hectored the witness: "I would be grateful if you could answer yes or no."
Prosecutors have 300 hours to present details of Karadzic's alleged role as "supreme commander" of a Bosnian Serb campaign to drive Muslims and Croats out of Bosnia. (© Daily Telegraph, London)