Serb Troops ‘Detained and Beat’ Bosniaks in Visegrad

At the trial of Bosnian Serb ex-soldier Vitomir Rackovic, accused of illegally detaining Bosniaks in the Visegrad area in 1992, witnesses recalled how villagers were seized and mistreated.

Prosecution witness Adil Cakar told the Sarajevo court on Wednesday that he was arrested by Bosnian Serb forces in the village of Crni Vrh in May 1992 and taken to another village, Donja Lijeska near Visegrad, where he and other prisoners were beaten.

“They brought us to the front of a school building in Donja Lijeska. I saw Rackovic at that place. They beat us and forced us to look down, so we could not see who was beating us. Rackovic was about ten metres away, but I did not see whether he approached us,” the witness said.

He said that he thought that another Bosniak prisoner, Muhamed Cukojevic, who was detained on the same day, was killed.

Rackovic, a former Bosnian Serb Army serviceman, is charged with participating in attacks on Bosniak villages, taking part in illegal detentions, torture, forced disappearances and rapes in the Visegrad area from May to August in 1992. The bodies of some of those who were detained have never been found.

A second witness on Wednesday, Nezir Mesic, told the court that, while hiding in the woods, he watched soldiers tying villagers up and taking them towards Donja Lijeska. He said that on the following day, he was told that Adil Cakar and Muhamed Cukojevic were among those who had been taken away.

“Adil was released later on. Cukojevic has never appeared again. People said that he was killed,” said Mesic.

The witness said that however he was not sure whether the defendant Rackovic was among the soldiers who took the two men away.

Prosecutor Dzevad Muratbegovic reminded the witness that, in a statement that he gave in 2003, he said that he saw the indictee there, but the witness repeated that he was not sure whether he saw him or not.

The trial is due to continue on June 4.

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