Bosnia: UN tribunal tries two Serbs for role in wartime atrocities

The Hague, 9 July (AKI) – Two Bosnian Serbs went on trial at the UN's Yugoslav war crimes court on Wednesday charged with killing at least 140 Muslims - one of the worst atrocities of Bosnia's bloody 1992-1995 civil war.

Brothers Sredoje and Milan Lukic have been charged with multiple murder, persecution, obliteration, inhuman acts and cruel treatment of Muslim civilians in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad from 1992-1994.

According to the charge sheet, they and their paramilitary unit “Beli orlovi (The White Eagles) on two occasions in June 1992 burned alive 140 Muslim civilians, woman, children and old men in two houses in Visegrad.

Milan Lukic was arrested in Argentina in August 1995, and his brother Sredoje surrendered to the tribunal in September the same year. In their first appearance before the court, they pleaded not guilty to the charges.

But prosecutor Dermot Groome told the court he would prove that they had committed “hundreds of crimes” and “cruelty without precedent”.

Groome said he would bring to the court a female survivor from the atrocity, who jumped from a burning house and managed to escape.

“She will look Milan Lukic, whom she had known for all her life, in the eyes and tell him that he did it,” Groome said.

 According to the indictment, more than 13,000 Muslims were killed or forcibly removed from Visegrad in one of the worst ethnic cleansing campaigns in the spring and summer of 1992.

Most of the Visegrad war crimes are ascribed to Lukic brothers and their paramilitary units which fought in the area.

Visegrad is a picturesque town on the banks of the Drina River. Before the war, the town had a mixed, Muslim and Serb population.

But most Muslims were expelled from Visegrad during the war and few have since returned.

Since it was set up by the UN Security Council in 1993, the UN tribunal has indicted 161 suspects, mostly Serbs for crimes committed in the 1990s Balkans wars that accompanied the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

The tribunal (photo) has so far sentenced 45 Serbs, 13 Croats, four Muslims and two Kosovo ethnic Albanians to almost one thousand years in jail.


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