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Serb Soldier Says He Wants to Die for War Crimes With AM-Yugoslavia, Bjt

March 17, 1993

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Serb soldier Borislav Herak, the main defendant in Bosnia’s first war crimes trial, said Wednesday he hoped for the death penalty and insisted his confession to atrocities was not coerced.

Herak reiterated his claim that his codefendant, Sretko Damjanovic, had killed a young Muslim woman with a pistol after they and two other soldiers gang-raped her at a jail north of Sarajevo.

Damjanovic said he was beaten into a false confession of five murders and two rapes.

Milan Prpa, Herak’s lawyer, asked his client why he had confessed to 30 killings and a dozen rapes.

″Because I want the whole world to see what the Serb army is doing,″ Herak said. ″In the Serb army they lied to me about a lot of things.″

Do you want the death penalty? Herak was asked.


Does he deserve to die?

″I think so.″

In earlier testimony before a five-man military tribunal, Herak said Serb commanders ordered their men to kill unarmed civilians and rape captured Muslim women. His claims have buttressed Bosnian authorities’ assertions that atrocities have been carried out systematically by Serb forces during the nearly year-old war.

Herak testified Wednesday that he had been friends with Damjanovic since before the war and encountered him again last August. He said Damjanovic had told him of participating in ″ethnic cleansing″ operations in which Muslim civilians were killed by Serb forces sweeping through villages.

Damjanovic, whose testimony began Tuesday, returned to the witness stand Wednesday after Herak finished, repeating his claims that he was beaten by prison guards.

Prosecutor Ljubomir Lukic questioned him closely about his confessions, suggesting some details would have been known only by Damjanovic and could not have been supplied to him by interrogators.

Damjanovic said he had scars from knife wounds inflicted on him by prison guards. But when Damjanovic said Herak also had been cut, the judge called Herak back to deny that he had been physically abused in any way.

Damjanovic said he could offer no explanation why Herak would falsely implicate him, saying they had been friends.

Herak also provided details about a troubled adolescence, saying he left school at 16, fought often with his father and became an alcoholic at 17.

The trial was scheduled to resume Thursday.

Also Wednesday, Croatian media reported that a 32-year-old former captain in the Yugoslav army was sented to 15 years in prison for war crimes committed during the Croatian civil war.

The reports said Zeljko Soldo was convicted of crimes against civilians and cultural heritage in an attack on Dubrovnik, the most treasured city of Croatia’s Adriatic coast.

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