Horror Stories in Effort to Capture Bosnian Croat Suspect Ivica Rajic
(THE HAGUE, April 2Reuters) A girl cheated death by hiding under her sister's corpse and a woman saw her husband shot dead when Bosnian Croat forces stormed a Muslim village in October 1993, the U.N. war crimes tribunal heard on Tuesday. Testimony from survivors was heard in the case of Bosnian Croat militia leader Ivica Rajic who was charged last year with leading the attack on Stupni Do in central Bosnia. Bosnian Croat forces under Rajic's command are alleged to have razed the village, killing at least 16 Muslim civilians and forcing the survivors to flee.
Rajic remains at large and was not represented at the hearings which prosecutors hope will lead to a confirmation of the charges and an international warrant for his arrest. Prosecutor Eric Ostberg of Sweden told a panel of three judges that Stupni Do had been a quiet and remote farming community of no military significance. "It was a small town, I use the past tense, because... it was totally devastated and no longer inhabitable. It was a village of about 250 people living in some 60 houses," he said.
HVO Soldiers on Alleged Killing Spree
War crimes investigator Ehsan Bajwa of Pakistan said survivors he had interviewed had described how soldiers of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) had attacked the village and committed atrocities against its inhabitants. Bajwa said a woman, witness B, and her teenage son, had been forced to watch as her husband and two other men were shot dead. One man's throat had been cut before he was shot and the same Bosnian Croat soldier later held the knife threateningly to the throat of a seven-year-old boy, he said.
Bajwa said witness B and other women and children were rounded up by Bosnian Croat soldiers and locked in a shed which was then set on fire. They managed to break out and were eventually rescued by United Nations peackeeepers. A 14-year-old girl, witness E, described how she had cowered in a pit in the basement of a house along with her sister, her aunt and another woman from the village. Soldiers had discovered them and discharged their weapons into the pit, but Bajwa said the girl had survived because she had not been noticed beneath the other three bodies. Rajic is one of eight Bosnian Croats charged with war crimes by the U.N. tribunal.
Another Bosnian Croat, General Tihomir Blaskic, gave himself up to the tribunal on Monday to face charges arising from the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia's Lasva Valley region. Blaskic, who denies the charges, is due to make his first appearance before the tribunal on Wednesay. He is only the third of 57 indicted war crimes suspects which the tribunal has taken into its custody. To date the tribunal has indicted 46 Serbs, eight Croats and three Muslims.
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
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