Bosniak witnesses on Serb-run Susica camp near Srebrenica
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
13 October 1995.
The Hague, Netherlands — A sobbing survivor of a Bosnian Serb prison camp told a war crimes tribunal Friday that roughly two dozen Bosniak women and girls disappeared without a trace after conquering Serbs took them away.
“They started yelling: ‘We want the Muslims to see what our seed [sperm] is,'” Zehra Smajlovic told an emotion-charged court-room.
Another former prisoner testified this week that victims were lashed to an electricity pylon and beaten to death with baseball bats, batons, rifle butts and chains. Others, they said, were beaten, then shot to death.
One man was said to have been beaten so viciously his eye burst out of its socket. Guards threw his disfigured body back into an empty storage warehouse at the camp, where he died.
One by one, 12 Bosnian Muslims walked up to the docket this week to tell the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal tales of murder, torture and disappearances. Their testimony ended Friday.
The 12 came to the Netherlands to give evidence against a suspect who was not even in the courtroom: Dragan Nikolic, the alleged Bosnian Serb commander of the Susica camp near Vlasenica [pre-war adjoining municipality to Srebrenica] in northeast Bosnia. Nikolic is not in tribunal custody and Serb authorities refuse to hand over war crimes suspects.
He is charged with murdering eight inmates and torturing 10 others at the Susica camp, and with illegally detaining 500 Bosniaks there in the summer of 1992.
“Nikolic ruled Susica with an iron hand,” said American lawyer Teresa McHenry, summing up the evidence for the prosecution.
“He created by his own example an environment where sadistic physical, mental abuse of the detainees was commonplace,” she said.
Next Friday, the tribunal is expected to reaffirm its charges against Nikolic and issue an international warrant for his arrest. His exact whereabouts is unknown, but he is believed to be living among Bosnian Serbs who will shield him from arrest.