Monday 19 March 2018

Massacre survivor 'hid under bodies'

Mike Corder in The Hague

IN a voice choked with emotion, a Muslim man told judges yesterday at the UN trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic that he survived the Srebrenica massacre by feigning death beneath the bodies of men gunned down around him.

The witness testified under a pseudonym and with his image distorted, saying he feared Karadzic supporters could find him and exact revenge for his appearance at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. Reading a summary of the man's written statement to judges as a way of saving time, prosecution lawyer Julian Nicholls said the witness was among about 1,000 Muslim men who surrendered to Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995 and was trucked to a school gym near the town of Srebrenica.

There, the men were taken to a small room, given a drink of water and blindfolded before being put on another truck and driven to a nearby meadow. "Prisoners were lined up in rows and shot," Nicholls said. "The witness managed to survive by feigning death as he lay under the body of another victim."

The witness said more trucks loaded with prisoners would arrive every 10-15 minutes and the men would be executed in the same way. "This killing continued for hours," Nicholls said. As night fell, the witness managed to creep away and eventually found his way back to Muslim-controlled territory.

Bosnian Serb forces gunned down some 8,000 Muslim men in fields around the UN so-called safe haven of Srebrenica in late July 1995, Europe's worst massacre since the Holocaust.

Karadzic faces 11 charges, including two genocide counts.

Irish Independent

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