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Foca Trial - The prosecution call their last witness

Tribunal Update 180 Last Week in The Hague (June 12-18, 2000)
By IWPR

"We were four, they were five or six. All in the same room. They forced us to have group sex. We were all naked and they were taking turns. I did not know those soldiers, but they said they were from Montenegro," the last prosecution witness said.


The prosecutor then asked this last witness why she had failed to mention one particular rape in previous statements. Witness 105 said in reply, "I cannot remember everything. And there are things I will not be able to speak about for as long as I live."


Witness 105 said she is certain her husband was executed on the day Bosnian Serb forces took control of her village. She said that, together with her two children and the other female villagers, she was taken to Foca. Towards the end of her detention at the Partizan Sports hall in Foca, the witness said, she did not spend "a single night with my children."


"I can't tell how many times I was raped. My children would ask: 'Where did you go, Mummy?' And I would say: 'For interrogation.'"


Witness 105 said she was not raped by any of the accused in this trial but that she remembered seeing Kunarac taking girls away to rape. On one occasion, the witness said, she saw him in a house where she was raped. "I had a feeling he was a commander there", witness 105 said.


The Prosecution has charged Kunarac with the additional offence of failing to exercise his duties as a commander in preventing his subordinates from raping women or punishing the perpetrators. Witnesses who came across him or who were raped by him have testified that Kunarac did behave as a commander.


Witnesses have said Kovac, like Kunarac, raped women but also passed women onto other soldiers. Some witnesses have testified that he even sold some girls he had held captive in his apartment for several months after he had himself lost interest in them.


Vukovic has been identified by witnesses as one of the rapists and as being present at several locations where rapes were taking place.


To prove that the sexual abuse in Foca represented a war crime, the prosecution has tried to demonstrate the attacks were one instrument used in a widespread attack on Muslim citizens. Therefore it was important to the prosecution to demonstrate that the rapists described by the victims, including Kunarac, Kovac and Vukovic, were soldiers.


Part of the prosecution case has therefore tried to show the three accused were members of local military units during the period the Muslim population was being attacked, incarcerated and deported.


Several witnesses have also given evidence on the laws governing military conduct, rules the Bosnian Serb forces were not exempt from.


Out of 33 prosecution witnesses, 16 were rape victims. All of those victims were Muslim women from the Foca area. Their evidence is undoubtedly the strongest in the prosecution's arsenal when it comes to the allegations that the rapes committed in and around Foca were systematic in nature.


The prosecutions closing statement will be delivered at a later stage. The defence will begin presenting its case on July 3. Kunarac is expected to testify in his own defence, while Vukovic has said he will not give evidence. Kovac has yet to decide.


The trial is expected to continue into the autumn.


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