Thursday, July 10, 2008


THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (July 10,2008) - Serbian war criminals Milan and Sredoje Lukic who committed numerous war crimes against Bosnian civilians in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia went on trial yesterday before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague,the Netherlands.

In one horrifying mass murder in June 1992, Serbian war criminals Milan and Sredoje Lukic barricaded nearly 70 Bosnian civilians — elderly men, women and children ranging in age from 75 years to just 2 days — into a house and set fire to it, Prosecutor Dermot Groome told judges at the ICTY.

As flames tore through the crowded rooms and the victims inside screamed in agony, Serbian war criminals Milan and Sredoje Lukic stood outside shooting anybody who tried to escape, he said.

One boy and his mother somehow managed to flee the building separately.After he fled, the boy cowered in a creek bed as the horror unfolded in front of his eyes.

"He cried as he watched the house burn. Listening to the screams of his many burning relatives, believing his mother was among them. It would not be until three years later ... that the mother and that son would learn that each had survived this holocaust," Prosecutor Groome stated.

Serbian war criminals Milan and Sredoje Lukic , showing no signs of emotion, sat in court listening to a translation of the prosecution's opening statement through headphones. They have pleaded not guilty to charges including mass murder, extermination and persecution, which carry a maximum life sentence.

Groome said Serbian war criminals Milan and Sredoje Lukic repeated the atrocity of deteining another 70 Bosnian civilians into a house and torching them less than two weeks later.

Again, one of the Bosnian civilians managed to flee, but only after making a heart-rending decision.

The woman, who will testify at the trial under the pseudonym VG114, was huddling with her sister in the house as it burned, Groome said.

"Efforts to keep the flames off her 9-year-old sister proved futile, she considered that her last act would be to climb out of the house and warn other Bosnians to flee for their lives," he told the three-judge panel.

"So in an act that still haunts her to this day — and will for the rest of her life — she loosened her sister's grip on her clothes, abandoned her to the flames and started to bang on the garage door blocking the window," Groome added.

"She did escape the fire that night but not before her flesh caught fire, her long brown hair singed from her head, now bald and burned." he said.

In another attack, Serbian war criminal Milan Lukic and other members of the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor lined up seven Bosnian civilians beside the River Drina, which cuts through Visegrad, and shot them in the back with semiautomatic gunfire, Groome said. Two of the men survived by falling into the river and playing dead. They also will testify at the trial.

Serbian war criminal Milan Lukic was arrested in August 2005 in Argentina and sent for trial in The Hague.

His accomplice,Serbian war criminal Mitar Vasiljevic, was convicted by the tribunal in 2004 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The tribunal had planned to send both Serbian war criminals to face the justice in Bosnia as a way of speeding up proceedings at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which is under pressure to finish all trials and appeals and close its doors by 2010.

However, Serbian war criminal Milan Lukic successfully appealed against having his case transferred to Bosnia and judges then decided to try both Serbian war criminals together in The Hague so witnesses would not have to testify twice.

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