Borislav Herak "Out of guilt, I confessed to the rapes and murders"
War turns neighbor against neighbor
By George Rodrigue
Dallas Morning News
9 May 1993.
Borislav Herak was 21 when the war started. The former Serb fighter was a little crazy and frequently drunk, a high-school dropout whose most demanding job was pushing carts of flour through a Sarajevo bakery.
He had nothing against the Bosniaks, though. His brother-in-law was a Bosniak. No Muslim had ever done him harm.
“They only helped me,” he said. “They helped me all the time. Once I had an accident, fell and hit my head. A Serb neighbor was afraid and ran away. A Bosniak neighbor picked me up and took me to the hospital.”
After the war started, however, a Serb cousin told him his name was on a Muslim “death list.” He fled to Vogosca, leaving his father behind.
Soon after he arrived, Serb commanders told him they “had telephoned Sarajevo and were quite sure that my father had been killed in his house, on the street in Sarajevo, and that my house had been burned.”
In mid-August his captain, a man named Borov, offered him the chance for revenge.
“We had an order to go to the restaurant Sonja in Vogosca,” Herak said. “We were told that we were going to rape girls there… so as to increase the morale of our fighters.”
At the door to the cafe he found Miodrag and Dragan, two members of Vojislav Seselj’s private army.
The U.S. State Department accuses the Seselj bands of numerous massacres. Herak said that in Vogosca the men served as pimps and executioners of unarmed women.
“This is Amra,” Miodrag allegedly said, presenting a tall, dark-haired, 20-year-old woman. Herak and three friends beat her until she undressed, then took turns pinning her hands to a bed and raping her.
Two hours later, Miodrag told them: “Go kill her. We do not have enough food or space, and we want to bring new girls in.”
They drove her to Zuc mountain and took her out of their car. Then one of Herak’s comrades shot her in the head and hid her body in the bushes.
During his first interview with The Dallas Morning News, Herak said he hated the raping and the killing. He claimed to have done it only out of fear. “We had to obey orders,” he said, over and over.
“Why?” he was asked. “Would they have killed you?”
“I cannot say that,” Herak replied. “But they would have taken my house.”
“The house they gave me.”
“They had given you a Muslim’s house?”
“Yes… a nice one. It was white, with two stories and a barn … A television came with it, but not a VCR. They never gave me a VCR.”
Herak said he had machine-gunned scores of defenseless Muslim men and women civilians and slit the throats of countless others.
During his second talk with The Dallas Morning News, Herak admitted that a part of him had liked the war — the drinking, the barbecues, the fellowship.
He knew that his commanders had given him the drink, the house and the girls to buy him. And he knew that, in a way, it had worked. Some part of himself enjoyed the raping.
“But it was just a little part,” he insisted.
Last fall, Herak and some friends carelessly took a wrong turn near Sarajevo and drove into a Bosniak patrol. Out of guilt, he said, he promptly confessed to the rapes and murders.
Back in Sarajevo, he soon learned that his father was very much alive — and ashamed.
“He says that I am his son, and he can forgive me,” Herak said. “But I can’t look him in the eye.”