January 20, 1998 in Nation/World

Trial Begins In Massacre By Serbs

Associated Press

Forensic evidence from a mass grave will provide “harrowing details” of a massacre and help prove the guilt of a Croatian Serb charged in the killing spree, a war crimes prosecutor said Monday.

Slavko Dokmanovic has pleaded innocent to six charges that he took part in the beatings and summary execution of 200 Croats and Muslims captured in the Croatian city of Vukovar in November 1991.

Dokmanovic’s trial began Monday before a three-judge panel of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. In his opening remarks, prosecutor Grant Niemann said his evidence will include testimony from forensic experts and two eyewitnesses who escaped the massacre.

Dokmanovic, a former leader of Vukovar, faces a maximum life sentence if convicted by the U.N. court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The victims - some wounded, some elderly, others young boys - were herded out of Vukovar’s hospital by forces from the Belgrade-based Yugoslav army and Serb paramilitaries after the town surrendered, Niemann said.

Hundreds of Vukovar citizens had taken refuge at the hospital from the Serb artillery barrage during the six-month Serb-Croat war of 1991.

The 200 captives were taken to an army camp where they were savagely beaten by Serbs, including Dokmanovic, Niemann said. Later, they were bused to a nearby ravine, shot and their bodies were plowed into a mass grave, he said.

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