Foca Trial

Rape victims from Foca continue to relate their horrifying experiences in Bosnian Serb controlled rape camps.

Foca Trial

Rape victims from Foca continue to relate their horrifying experiences in Bosnian Serb controlled rape camps.

Sunday, 9 April, 2000

Rape victims continued to testify last week in the trial of three Bosnian Serbs - Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac and Zoran Vukovic - accused of the rape and sexual enslavement of Bosnian Muslim women in Foca in 1992.

Four women arrested and abused by Serbian forces in July 1992 testified that a 12-year-old girl was among the victims who shared their fate.

The indictment alleges that one night Kovac sold the girl, known as AB, to another soldier for 200 German marks. AB has never been found and remains listed as missing. The girl was held in Kovac's apartment at the same time as protected witnesses 75 and 87, who testified last week.

The girl's mother also testifed last week. She described how soldiers took the girl off the bus just as the family were about to leave Foca. Prosecutor Dirk Ryneveld showed the witness photgraphs of the girl and asked her age. "She was still going to school," her mother replied before breaking down in tears.

Protected witness 87, who was 15-years-old at the time of her detention said, "I decided to somehow put everything I had gone through behind me. But the traces of it will always remain in me. All my life I will feel the pain I felt then."

Witness 87 said Kovac kept her in his apartment for several months before selling her and another woman to Montenegrin soldiers for 500 German marks each.

Witness 75 shared a similar experience to witness 87. After the attack on her village in July 1992 she was taken and raped for the first time in Buk Bijela. After that, the witness said she was taken to the high school in Foca, from where the women were taken to the soldiers to be raped.

The same pattern continued after the witness was removed to the Partizan Sports Hall. Witness 75 said that Kunarac used to take them from therel to a house in Foca where soldiers from his unit were staying.

Witness 87 said, "Those soldiers, I think they were from Montenegro, would rape each of us. I was raped by Zaga." "Zaga" was Kunarac's nickname.

Witness 75, who was 24-years-old when she was detained, said she was frequently and brutally raped. She said on one occasion Kunarac or "Zaga" took her to his soldiers and immediately locked himself in a room with another girl he had brought.

"I was raped by a group of five," witness 75 said. "Later in the W.C., one soldier gave me a hand grenade to activate if I am abused again," she said.

Witness 75 then went on to describe conditions at the so-called Karaman's house near Foca, where several women and girls were detained for several months. Pero Elez was the "boss" at the house. "We cooked for them and served them," witness 75 said. "And then they would rape us."

It was after this time at Karaman's house that witnesses 75 and 87 were taken to Kovac's apartment, where they met 12-year-old AB and one other girl. Kovac and another soldier, both witnesses said, repeatedly raped them in that flat, and then passed them on to other soldiers. "Kovac slapped me in the face when I refused to go with other soldiers," witness 75 said. "On one occasion he raped me and witness 87 in the same bed while playing music from Swan Lake. He then told me that he killed my brother."

"Before the war they were lowly people, but when they got hold of a gun they became big...They were very brave when [faced] with women and children. When they killed people in my village, it was a celebration," witness 75 said.

She said that on one occasion a drunken Kovac forced them to dance naked on the table, threatened to kill them and throw them in the Drina River.

At the end of 1992, witness 75 said she was handed over to other soldiers who sexually abused her until March 1993. Finally one soldier helped her to escape.

Witness 87 remained in Kovac's flat until February 1993 and her sale to the Montenegrin soldiers for 500 German marks. She and the other woman, known as AS, were forced to work as waitresses in Niksic for no money. "After, they moved us to a flat in Podgorica where there were no soldiers," witness 87 said. "We simply got on a bus and left."

Vukovic, the third co-accused, was also mentioned in these testimonies. On several occasions the witnesses claimed Vukovic sexually abused detainees in Buk Bijela and at Kovac's apartment.

The prosecution contend that the widespread and systematic rape and sexual enslavement of Muslim women formed part of the Bosnian Serb's strategy of "ethnic cleansing". In the context of an armed conflict, the prosecution argue, such treatment consistuted a crime against humanity.

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