Foca Trial

Tribunal Update No. 174, Last Week in The Hague (May 1-6, 2000)

Foca Trial

Tribunal Update No. 174, Last Week in The Hague (May 1-6, 2000)

Saturday, 6 May, 2000

Protected witness 48 said two of the defendants, as well as three others named in the same indictment - Gojko Jankovic, Janko Janjic or Dragan Zelenovic - took part in rapes. Jankovic, Janjic and Zelenovic are still at large.

The witness shared the same fate as numerous other women who have testified before the Tribunal. She was detained at Foca secondary school and the Partizan Sports Hall, from where she was taken to soldiers stationed around the town to be raped and abused.

The witness provided a detailed account of the scene at the Zelengora Hotel in Foca where she said Kunarac raped her.

"He took me to a room and when I refused to take off my clothes, he tore them off me and raped me once, twice, three times. Orally the third time," she said. "He said it was a pity for me to be raped by others because I look like a Montenegrin woman. He said that we [Muslim women] would no longer give birth to Muslim babies, but to Serb children. I felt ugly, horrible."

Vukovic entered the room immediately after and also raped her several times, the witness said. When asked to identify the perpetrators, witness 48 immediately picked out Kunarac from the three accused. The witness could not confirm with certainty, however, that Vukovic was the man named in her testimony. She said that after eight years she could no longer remember his facial features.

The same woman then described another occasion, when she was subjected to a particularly brutal rape along with several other women detainees at a house in Foca, "I was conscious when six of them took turns on me. They bullied one youth into raping me, even though he had refused.

"When I regained consciousness I could smell the stench of rakija [home-made plum brandy]. I couldn't get up. I don't know what they did to me. I told them to take the rifle and kill me."

Witness 48, who is now 43, estimated she had been raped around 100 times during her detention. She said she felt worst when she was returned to the sports hall and her young children.

The witness said some of the Serbian soldiers sympathised with the women and tried to help. One of the guards at the sports hall, for example, hid witness 48 one evening to spare her from at least one night of abuse. On two other occasions, the witness said, a soldier at a flat in the town allowed her to sleep and prevented anyone entering the room.

During cross-examination, the defence lawyers have focused on inconsistencies between testimony given in court and earlier written and verbal statements given to investigators.

Kunarac's counsel raised such contradictions when cross-examining witness 48. The defence argued that some of the claims made by witness 48 did not match testimony from other witnesses, leading him to conclude that the other witnesses "were not telling the truth".

This comment provoked the presiding judge to intervene and reprimand the defence. "That cannot be a conclusion," the judge said, "and you cannot say that to this witness. Every person speaks for themselves and you know what kind of problems people face when they are afraid and anxious."

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