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Serb on Trial for Bosnia War Crimes

May 5, 1998

BIJELO POLJE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A Serb charged with kidnapping and killing 19 civilians during the Bosnian war _ selecting them because of their Muslim names _ went on trial Monday in a Yugoslav court.

Nebojsa Ranisavljevic, 34, is charged with taking part in kidnapping the people, mostly Muslims, from a train in February 1993. They were robbed, tortured and executed by a Bosnian Serb paramilitary unit.

Ranisavljevic denied the charges, saying Monday he was forced to confess. He is formally charged with war crimes against the civilian population.

The train started in Serbia and traveled to Montenegro. Bosnian Serb paramilitary troops stopped it when it passed through a small sliver of Bosnia.

The indictment against Ranisavljevic says the victims, chosen because of their names, were taken deeper into Bosnian territory, where they were ordered to hand over their money, jewels, watches and other valuables.

They were later beaten and taken to a garage where most were shot. Two tried to escape, but were shot as they ran. One was injured and his throat was slit.

Authorities in Serb-led Yugoslavia have never issued a formal finding on the incident, despite repeated calls by victims’ relatives.

The trial is taking place in Bijelo Polje, a Montenegrin town on the border with Serbia, close to the village where the kidnapping took place.

Ranisavljevic was arrested in Montenegro in October 1996.

Montenegro, the smaller republic that with Serbia forms Yugoslavia, has recently shown greater interest in cooperating with the war crimes tribunal based in The Hague, Netherlands. Serbia has called the court biased against Serbs.

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