He survived by playing dead under a pile of corpses - and as he peered through the bleeding bodies, he saw Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic watching the slaughter.
The man identified as Witness A testified Friday how he lived through a mass execution of Muslim men after Bosnian Serb soldiers overran the U.N.protected enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.
“I saw him (Mladic) watching Serb soldiers bringing us there, lining us up, and killing us,” the witness told the Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal.
Another witness, Drazen Erdemovic, testified that he had participated in the slaughter of up to 1,200 Srebrenica Muslims in one day.
The two men’s testimony came at an evidence hearing against Mladic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic designed to put more international pressure on them to surrender.
The U.N. tribunal has indicted them on counts of genocide and crimes against humanity for allegedly masterminding a wave of atrocities during the 3-1/2-year Bosnian conflict. Witness A’s testimony provided the most direct link so far between Mladic and the Srebrenica killings.
In Friday’s hearing, Witness A said that after enclave fell he was one of a small group of men trucked to a field where they were lined up in four rows before as many as 10 soldiers. Then the soldiers opened fire.
“I kept silent and they thought I was dead,” he said. “I assume it’s fate that I survived.”
The killing continued into the night, he said.
Erdemovic, 24, a Croat in the Bosnian Serb army who has already pleaded guilty to war crimes charges, told the court how he helped shoot Srebrenica’s Muslims at a farm near Pilice, a village north of Karakaj.
He said he was a member of the two units of soldiers that shot up to 1,200 Muslims in one day after the fall of the U.N. safe area.
Under psychiatric evaluation for a post-traumatic stress disorder, Erdemovic said he objected to the slaughter but was told if he didn’t participate he too would be shot.
“My commander told me if I feel sorry for these people I can line up with them,” he said, sobbing as his testimony ended.
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