Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Croat Victim Remembers Martic Police Killings

(TU No 439, 10-Feb-06)
Jasna Denona was only 15 at the time of the attack on her village of Bruskha, in Croatia’s rebel-held southern region. She told the court that on December 21, 1991, she had been at home with her mother, two female neighbours and a man from the village called Dragan Marinovic, when they had heard a sudden knock at the door.

When Denona asked who was outside, someone apparently shouted, “Krajina police, Martic’s police, open up.” After that, the witness claimed to have heard a “burst of fire”.

As the women opened the front door and tried to escape, there was a second burst of fire, which hit Denona on her hip and arm, she said. After hiding behind a wall for a couple of hours, Denona was in so much pain she was taken to another neighbour’s house by car. There, her mother found some bandages and dressed her wounds, she said.

The witness said that it was not until the next morning that the residents of the village of Bruska, and its adjoining hamlet of Marinovic, realised the extent of the fatalities. Of the ten dead, nine were ethnic Croats and one was a Serb.

Denona confirmed the names of the victims, who are listed in an appendix to Martic’s indictment.

Martic, who is alleged to have controlled and organised the police force in the so-called Serb Autonomous District of Krajina, SAO Krajina, is charged with ten counts of crimes against humanity and nine of violations of the laws and customs of war for his alleged involvement in a plan to expel non-Serbs from large areas of Bosnia and Croatia between 1991 and 1995.

The witness, who has had four separate operations on her arm, said that she now has 50 per cent disability in the arm which is also disfigured.

Despite having been interviewed by a police officer in Bruska, at the hospital in Knin and a year later in Zadar, Denona said that she had never heard of anyone being punished for the killings.

She added that once her family returned to their house after the attack, they found it had been “ransacked, destroyed”, and seemed to have been used as a warehouse for ammunition.

In cross-examination, Martic’s lawyer Predrag Milovancevic asked the witness whether she had ever considered what the motive might have been for such a “horrific” act.

“I can only think that it was because we were Croats,” said Denona.

“What else would they attack innocent civilians? I was practically a child, only 15, at the time.”

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