Familys of Srebrenica Muslims killed in 1995 videotaped execution testify in court

A Bosnian woman testified Thursday in the trial of five Serb militiamen accused of a videotaped execution of six Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica 1995, and demanded to know where the body of her son was. Hana Salkic, 53, was one of a dozen victims' mothers, sisters, sons or brothers who traveled from Bosnia to testify in the war crimes trial of the five militiaman allegedly shown gunning down the prisoners in the dramatic video broadcast on Serbian and Bosnian television last June. Salkic presented the judges a photo of her son Saib, 20, who was shown being shot in the video as the Serbs captured the U.N.-protected enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995, hunting down Muslim men and boys who tried to find shelter by fleeing into surrounding woods.

About 8,000 men and boys were killed by the Bosnian Serb troops _ the worst carnage in Europe since World War II.

"I want to know the truth. Why did you kill my son?" Salkic said facing the five Serb defendants, former members of the dreaded Scorpions paramilitary unit.

"I was proud of my child, he harmed no one," she said, sobbing. "I want to know where he was buried. I want to be able to visit his grave."

The defendants showed no emotion and didn't answer.

The footage showed six Srebrenica civilians taken from a truck, hands tied behind their backs and lined up on a hillside. Four were shot one by one in the back. The other two were ordered to carry the bodies into a nearby barn, where they, too, were killed.

The six Bosnian Muslims shown being killed on the video are still officially considered missing as their bodies have not yet been discovered.

Semir Ibrahimovic, 19, said he recognized his father Smail, 35, in the video, although he last saw him alive as he fled into the woods in on July 11, 1995.

"My father suffered the worst beating by these animals," Ibrahimovic said, pointing toward the defendants.

"I could hear my father (in the video) say: 'give me some water, and then kill me,"' Ibrahimovic said. "I want to know why did they hit my father in the head so much."

During the landmark trial which started in December, only one defendant admitted shooting the victims. The rest said they did not fire their guns although they were either present or knew about the execution.

The trials in Serbia of those responsible for war crimes became possible after the ouster of former autocratic President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Milosevic himself is being tried by the U.N. war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands.

The trial in Belgrade was seen as a key test of the ability of Serbia's judiciary to deal with cases of war crimes committed by Serbs during the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, reports the AP.

D.M.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team