Related topics

Serb Soldier Details Atrocities In Gruesome Court Testimony With AM-Yugoslavia, Bjt

March 13, 1993

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ In chilling testimony Saturday at Bosnia’s first war crimes trial, a Serb soldier demonstrated how he slit POWs’ throats and described a massacre of 150 villagers.

He said orders to rape Muslim women came from the Bosnian Serbs’ top leader.

At no point during more than two hours of testimony did Borislav Herak express any remorse for the 30 killings he is charged with. But he repeatedly told of superior officers who ordered him to murder or rape, and said he could have been killed for disobeying.

The trial, which opened Friday before a five-judge military tribunal, is the Bosnian government’s first attempt to prove in court its claims that Serb nationalist forces have carried out widespread atrocities during the 11-month- old war.

Herak, 22, and co-defendant Sretko Damjanovic could face a firing squad if convicted.

Herak has confessed to 20 killings and several rapes. Damjanovic, who did not testify Saturday, has denied the five murders he is accused of committing.

Herak described how he grew up in Sarajevo, getting along well with his Muslim neighbors, until the war broke out last April. Relatives told him Muslims planned to kill all the Serbs, and an uncle assured him he would get a house, TV and other rewards if he became a soldier, Herak said.

″I was told that my father was taken out of his house and slaughtered because he was a Serb. But my father still lives in Sarajevo, I found out when I was captured, and he is busy in the civil defense of the city.″

Herak said he was taken to a farm after joining the Serb army and taught slaughtering techniques, which he practiced on pigs. He then used his new skills to kill three Bosnian prisoners of war.

″My commander told me that because I come from Sarajevo and lived with Muslims, I could be suspected as a spy, so I had to prove myself,″ Herak said. ″All the time, another soldier was standing behind me with a rifle. If I didn’t do it, they would shoot me.″

At the request of Judge Zlatan Teftedarija, Herak demonstrated the technique on a court security officer. He told the man to lie on his back, then knelt on the officer’s chest, held his head by the hair and used a ruler in place of a knife to show how he would slit the throat.

Herak said he later was sent with some soldiers from Serbia to the village of Ahatovici, near Sarajevo, with orders ″to kill everybody and burn everything down.″

He said about 150 villagers, including many children, were herded together and shot at close range with a machine gun. Some were still alive when they were dumped into a mass grave.

″The commanders killed them with a pistol,″ Herak said. ″After that we got some brandy and some food.″

Nearby, Herak said he heard voices in a basement, found a family of 10 hiding there and killed them all after taking their money and gold.

He said he and a colleague killed another couple, not believing their claim that they were Serbs.

Herak said he later learned they were telling the truth, ″But we weren’t sorry. We took their TV and hi-fi.″

Herak said an order to rape Muslim girls and women came from a local commander who said the instructions came directly from Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

″We had to follow this order, because it was important for the morale of the Serbian soldiers and because of revenge,″ Herak said. ″They claimed the Muslims did the same to the Serbs during World War II and now our time had come.″

Herak said he and three friends went to a women’s jail in Vogosca, north of Sarajevo, and were given a girl named Amela to gang rape.

He said after one of his colleagues hit her in the face, ″she didn’t say anything. She just started to cry. We told her to take her clothes off and lie on coach.″

Herak and he and his friends took turns raping the girl while the others held her down or sipped cognac. Then they drove her to a hillside and told her to get out because she would be freed. Herak said his co-defendant was present.

″She was very quiet and started walking,″ Herak said. ″Then Sretko pulled out his pistol and killed her with one bullet to the head.″

Update hourly