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Visegrad Case - Indictment Unsealed

Tribunal Update 197 Last Week in The Hague (October 30 - November 4, 2000)
By IWPR

Earlier this year, the indictment was partly unsealed following the arrest of one of those named in the document, Mitar Vasilijevic. Tribunal spokesman Jim Landale revealed last week that the other two wanted men are Milan Lukic and his cousin Sredoje Lukic.


Office of the Prosecutor, OTP, spokeswoman Florence Hartmann said the removal of the seal from the Visegrad indictment does not mark a change in the prosecutor's policy.


Hartmann said the OTP had informed the Republika Srpska authorities of the indictment against the Lukic cousins in February, but the search for the accused had so far failed to bear fruit.


Visegrad, a key transportation hub and the site of a hydroelectric dam, was a town of strategic importance. In April 1992 the Uzice corps of the Yugoslav army attacked the town. When the troops withdrew in May local Serbs took over the municipal government.


Paramilitary troops, police and local Serbs then began a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing, the indictment claims.


"Hundreds of civilians in the town of Visegrad were killed in random shootings. Every day, men, women and children were killed on a famous bridge spanning the Drina and their bodies were dumped into the river.


"Many of the Bosnian Muslim men and women were arrested and detained at various locations in the town... Serb soldiers raped many women and beat and terrorised non-Serb civilians.


"Widespread looting and destruction of non-Serb homes and property took place daily and the two Bosnian Muslim mosques in town were destroyed," the indictment reads.


The three co-accused were allegedly members of the local paramilitary unit, the White Eagles, and associated with Vojislav Seselj, leader of Serbian ultra-nationalist Radical Party.


Between mid-April 1992 and at least October 1994, members of the White Eagles, the indictment claims, committed dozens, if not hundreds of crimes in the Visegrad area, including murders, torture, beatings, looting and the destruction of property.


Prosecutors claim the Lukic cousins and Vasiljevic, on at least two occasions in June 1992, "committed, planned, instigated, ordered, or otherwise aided and abetted the mass murder of approximately 135 Bosnian Muslim civilians."


The three allegedly forced approximately 65 Bosnian Muslim women, children and old men, mostly from the village of Koritnik, into a room in a house in Visegrad's Pionirska street. After forcing them to hand over all their money and jewellery, prosecutors claim, the three locked the front door and set the house on fire.


On that occasion, the indictment claims, 46 members of the Kurspahic family died, including a two-day-old baby. The Lukics and Vasiljevic are accused of detaining, robbing and burning alive a further 70 people in the village of Bikavac, near Visegrad. (See Tribunal Update No. 161)


The three are charged with murder, exterminating Bosnian Muslim civilians and committing persecution on political, racial or religious grounds. Both these offences qualify as crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war.