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Evidence Indicates Bosnia Massacre

Eyewitness report supports charges by US of killings

(Page 2 of 2)



No guards were posted in the area, which consists of homes that were destroyed when the village was captured by the Bosnian Serbs in 1992. One group of soldiers questioned why a car was parked in the area, but moved on.

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A second charge of Bosnian Serb atrocities involves the village of Bratunac, 10 miles northwest of the Srebrenica area.

In the first few days after the fall of Srebrenica, residents on the Serb side of the Drina River reported hearing gunfire coming from Bratunac.

According to published accounts, Serbs who crossed into Bratunac during the period were told that Muslims were being executed in the local soccer stadium.

During a visit to the site on Saturday, evidence that prisoners were held, tortured, and possibly killed was found in an abandoned building on the stadium grounds.

Dozens of piles of feces line the floor of the three-room, one-story building, and in two places it appeared that someone or something had been repeatedly rubbed through the waste. Several dozen bullet holes pocked the interior walls, and what appeared to be dried blood stains dotted the floor and one wall.

In an interview with a Serbian magazine at the time, Bosnian Serb military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic said captured men from Srebrenica were being taken to Bratunac for screening as potential war criminals. Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey alleged last month that 1,600 prisoners were killed in the stadium.

What occurred in the building is unclear, but the squalid conditions found there fit what captured Muslims from Srebrenica described in published accounts. Several Muslim prisoners have reported being crammed shoulder-to-shoulder into small rooms and being unable to move or go to the bathroom. Others reported torture, including being rubbed in feces.

An attempt to enter Srebrenica itself from Bratunac was blocked by Bosnian Serb police who said special permission from the party of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was needed.

Bratunac residents interviewed Saturday said they had seen no traces of Muslim refugees or prisoners in the town since the fall of Srebrenica. No prisoners were held in the soccer stadium either.

After interviewing dozens of Bosnian Serb civilians and soldiers over a 300-mile swath of Serb-held territory in Bosnia, the fate of 4,000 to 6,000 men that UN officials say are still missing from the enclaves remains unclear.

Of the 10,000 men believed to be in Srebrenica before its fall, roughly 6,000 are believed to have made it to government lines, leaving 4,000 unaccounted for.

Over 3,000 people, including 1,500 armed men, refused to surrender to the Bosnian Serbs after the July 18 fall of Zepa. Six hundred have crossed into neighboring Serbia, leaving 2,400 people unaccounted for.

Statements by Bosnian Serbs, and limited inspections of Bosnian Serb prisons by the International Red Cross last month, indicate that the 4,000 to 6,000 missing Muslims are not in Bosnian Serb custody. Dozens of soldiers and civilians interviewed gave accurate descriptions of the 30-mile flight of 6,000 Bosnian government soldiers from Srebrenica to government-held Tuzla last month.

But no civilians or soldiers interviewed between the Bosnian Serbs' headquarters in Pale in eastern Bosnia to the city of Banja Luka in western Bosnia said they had even heard rumors of new Muslim prisoners.

Bosnian Serbs vehemently denied that any massacres had occurred and said that once men from Srebrenica were screened for potential war criminals, they were allowed to rejoin their families in government-held territory.

Contradicting this assertion, one Bosnian Serb soldier from the Srebrenica area said over 500 Muslim soldiers were shot by Serb forces after the fall of Srebrenica. He said at least 4,000 Bosnian government soldiers had been captured, and he believed they were imprisoned somewhere near the town of Bijeljina.

But civilians and soldiers in the Bijeljina area said no Muslim prisoners were there except for a few being held in nearby Batkovic. Limited inspections by the ICRC last month of the Batkovic detention center and other prisons in eastern Bosnia resulted in the discovery of only 164 prisoners from Srebrenica and 44 from Zepa.

One possibility is that more Muslims are alive in the hills of eastern Bosnia than believed. Serb soldiers and civilians, a Yugoslav Army soldier, and residents of scattered villages painted menacing pictures of hundreds of armed Muslims still roving the woods around the former safe areas.

Limited fighting, including one brief gunfire exchange in Nova Kasaba Wednesday, were witnessed. Two patrols of a half-dozen men were being conducted outside the town. A larger encampment of about 50 soldiers was observed near Nova Kasaba.