Edin Hadzovic, who survived being used as a human shield in the Bosnian town of Doboj in mid-July 1992, when 27 civilians were killed, said that he expects former top Serbian security officials, Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, to be sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN BiH) reported.
The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), the successor to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), will hand down the verdict in the retrial of the former head of Serbia’s State Security Service (SDB), Stanisic, as well former head of the country’ Special Operations Unit (JSO), Simatovic, on June 30.
The indictment against Stanisic and Simatovic alleges that in July 1992, special units of the Serbian State Security used detained non-Serbs as “human shields” in Doboj.
The two were initially acquitted by the ICTY in 2013.
Hadzovic, one of the survivors of the massacre, testified before the ICTY.
“It's hard to talk about. It brings tears to your eyes when you remember how many innocent colleagues, friends were killed that day. They picked us up, shot us, imprisoned us, killed us,” he told BIRN.
Hadzovic said he was taken away by the ‘Red Berets’ to a hangar belonging to the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) in Usora in 1992, and was then alongside about 130 other prisoners taken to another location, ‘Percin disko’, a prison camp run by authorities in Doboj and the Army and Interior Ministry of Republika Srpska, the Serb-dominated part of Bosnia, as well as members of paramilitary units.
He said that, at some point, members of Serbia’s military showed up and forced about 50 prisoners to run to the building of a local school in Doboj.
Anyone who would try to escape would be shot on-site, he said.
Hadzovic explained that the prisoners were then lined up and some of them were shot.
The prisoners were then used as human shields as they approached the frontline. As they approached, a soldier told them to run because he is about to throw a grenade.
“He threw the bomb, it didn't explode. When he told us to run, I jumped, my colleague jumped, and then dead bodies fell on us,” he said, explaining how the prisoners who were shot fell on him.
He said he then jumped the barbed wire fence next to the road and others followed, as Serb forces shot at them.
He said that he and another prisoner then hid in a basement of a nearby house for the rest of the day. They then fled towards the river Usora, towards Matuzici, which was controlled by the Bosnian army.
Hadzovic said a police officer recognised him and took him to a doctor.
He said that the Serbian ‘Red Berets’ ruled over the town of Doboj during the war, but did not mention Stanisic or Simatovic.
The first-instance verdict against Stanisic and Simatovic states that the court found that the JNA, police and members of paramilitary formations, including members of the Special Operations Unit, the Red Berets, occupied the town of Doboj on 3 May 1992. It was concluded that the Red Berets were members of the Unit in Doboj, as well as that some of them were recruited and trained in the centres in Doboj.