Serbs Kill 200 Bosniak Prisoners, Heave Bodies Down the Slope
9 August 1992.
ZAGREB, Croatia — A Bosniak [Bosnian Muslim] says a split-second decision to leap into a ravine saved his life while Serbs killed about 200 fellow prisoners and heaved their bodies down the slope.
“One of the bodies fell about five meters from me, so that the man’s brains were all over my chest,” said Semir, 24, who said he knew of just one other man who survived the massacre last month.
Semir asked The Associated Press not to photograph him or use his family name on the chance one of his brothers might also have survived the killing, which he said occurred Aug. 21 .
In Sarajevo, Bosnia’s Investigative Commission for War Crimes said it had “all the details” about the alleged massacre, including the names of the victims and those who killed them.
The Bush administration said Tuesday it also was investigating reports of the massacre.
Semir said Serbs caught him in mid-July near Prijedor in northern Bosnia and held him in a detention camp at the nearby Keraterm ceramics factory. He was later moved to a camp at Trnopolje. On Aug. 21, he said five buses came to the camp. Women and children were put in on one bus; men and teenage boys in the others.
“We were told not to be afraid because they would take us for exchange near Travnik,” Semir said.
Travnik was the closest large town held by Bosniaks and Croats, about 60 miles to the southeast. But when the convoy reached the Ugar River canyon, Semir said buses carrying about 50 women and children moved on and 10 Serb military policemen began shooting the men and boys.
“They called one by one for people to get out of the bus, took them behind the bus, and the only thing we heard was a shot,” Semir said.
Semir said he decided to try to escape, but his two older brothers wouldn’t go with him.
“I was afraid of a bullet in my head and especially of my throat being cut,” said Semir.
After a brother and a 16-year-old nephew were taken out and shot, Sermir said he jumped out of the bus, pushed a Serb policeman and leaped into the ravine.
“Later I realized I was very lucky, because a tree stopped me only about 30 meters (yards) from the top of the canyon. Otherwise, I’d be dead.”
He hung from the tree as if dead, he said, after one of the policemen shot at him.
Semir said he recognized several of the killers because they were from his home, Corakovo.
After nightfall, Semir said he and another man, who was wounded in the leg and shoulder, reached the bottom of the canyon and then separated.