“ … He finished raping me … and said that he could perhaps, do more … but that I was about the same age
as his daughter. ”
“Witness 50” (she testified with her name and identity withheld from the public), a teenage rape victim from Foča speaking about how ICTY convict Zoran Vuković raped her. She testified on 29 and 30 March 2000 in the case against Dragoljub Kunarac, Zoran Vuković and Radomir Kovač.
Read her story and testimony:
Witness 50 was a Muslim teenage girl from a village in the Foča municipality of southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina when war broke out in April 1992. She was afraid that something bad would happen to her. “[A]ll the things that I was afraid of I experienced on my own skin later on,” Witness 50 told the court.
Witness 50 testified that from its first days in April 1992, the war affected life in her village. Only the Serbs were armed, she said, they saw more of the army and her neighbours wore uniforms. They could not go into town to buy basic necessities such as food or toiletries, or go to the doctor.
“ Each one of them raped the girl he wanted to rape, and as many times as he wanted to rape her. ”
At the beginning of May 1992, Witness 50 and her family began living in the woods because they were afraid that they would be burned in their homes, which she said had happened in the surrounding villages. On 3 July 1992, Witness 50’s village was attacked, and a couple of days later four uniformed soldiers, including one of her neighbours, captured them and took them to the motel at Buk Bijela.
When they arrived, Witness 50, several of her family members, and a group of women, children and two elderly men were taken to a room in barracks located around the motel. Witness 50 related how ICTY convicted Zoran Vuković, at the time a sub-commander of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) and a member of the paramilitary in Foča, who was wearing military clothing and carrying a weapon, took her to a bedroom. She told the court how Zoran Vuković forced her to have oral sex, while saying things like: “What are you afraid of? Don’t you know what sex is? Haven’t you done it before? Let’s enjoy it.” Witness 50 said she was scared and could do nothing to defend herself because he had a pistol and he threatened her.
Shortly after the first time she was raped, Witness 50 stated that she was taken to the Foča High School, where she had been a student in 1992. The day after she arrived, a group of soldiers came into the classroom and picked out about eight girls, including her. One of these soldiers took Witness 50 to a room and ordered her to lie down and take off her trousers. He raped her vaginally. Witness 50 stated in her testimony that she did not remember exactly what he said to her, but that he and all of the men who would later rape her said the same things: “You Muslim women, you Bule [derogatory term], we’ll show you.” When asked in court how she felt, Witness 50 stated: “There are no words in this world that could describe my feelings. It is the worst thing that was happening to me.”
Witness 50 was not taken out again while at the Foča High School, but she saw Serb soldiers taking other girls out, by pointing at them: “You, you or you.” She said they would take them out when they wanted to: every night some girl would end up somewhere with some soldier. Witness 50 said that when the girls came back they would all be crying, while some would be bleeding from the nose, screaming, or tearing out their hair.
“ [E]verything hurt me: my stomach, my back, my legs, everything ached. What hurt me most of all was that he was certainly some 30 years older than I was. He was probably my father’s age. ”
After 11 days, Witness 50 was taken from the Foča High School to the Partizan Sports Hall, where she was held together with some 60 people, all women and children except for two elderly men, and all Muslims. Witness 50 said that Serb soldiers went to the Partizan Sports Hall to pick out girls as well, and she told the court about a number of times they took her out and raped her. Sometimes, she said, Serb soldiers would take her out every day for three days, and then sometimes not for two days. Sometimes she would be gone for a short time, and sometimes she would be gone for three days.
Witness 50 was hiding in the bathroom a day or two after she arrived at the Partizan Sports Hall in mid-July when she was taken out for the first time. Zoran Vuković, who had raped her at Buk Bijela, sought her out and took her to an apartment and raped her. Witness 50 said that “when he finished raping me, he sat down and lit a cigarette, and he said that he could perhaps do more, much more, but that I was about the same age as his daughter, and so he wouldn’t do anything more for the moment.”
The next time Witness 50 said she was taken out of the Partizan Sports Hall to be raped, a group of Serb soldiers took her and three other girls to a house opposite the bus station in Foča. The house had been ransacked, and the soldiers first ordered them to tidy it before they raped them. “Each one of them raped the girl he wanted to rape, and as many times as he wanted to rape her.” Witness 50 stated that three different men raped her before they took her back to the Partizan Sports Hall.
After that incident, Witness 50 said another group came and took her and at least two others from the Partizan Sports Hall to an abandoned Muslim house. One solider raped her repeatedly there.
Witness 50 told the court how a man called Gica took her out of the Partizan Sports Hall to an apartment in the neighbourhood of Brod, which she thinks was his own. On the second day she was there, an acquaintance of Witness 50’s raped her. Witness 50 stated that he knew her very well. They took the same bus every day: he to go to work and she to go to school. Witness 50 stated that he was certainly 30 years older than her, and was a married man. She said that he laughed while he was raping her. “I had the feeling that he was doing this precisely because he knew me, to inflict even more evil on me.”
Another time she was taken from Partizan Sports Hall, Witness 50 said a Serb took her to his apartment, also in Brod, where he lived with his mother. He introduced Witness 50 to his mother as his Serb girlfriend, forcing her to use a Serb name, and to say that her mother and father were Serbs. They brought her brandy to drink, which she had never done before as she was not even 17 years old, and Muslim women for the most part did not drink. He then took her to his bedroom and raped her for four hours. “He was so terrible,” said Witness 50. “He did such things that I cannot even explain them. I had no place to take a bath. I couldn’t even wash my hands…”
On 2 August, ICTY convicted Dragoljub Kunarac, at the time the leader of a VRS unit, took Witness 50 and three girls out of the Partizan Sports Hall to a house in the Aladža neighbourhood. A Montenegrin soldier, who Witness 50 described as old and “awful,” took her to a room, where he threatened her with a knife, saying “You will see, you Muslim. I am going to draw a cross on your back. I’m going to baptise all of you. You’re now going to be Serbs.” Witness 50 said that he threatened her with the knife so much that she thought she would lose her life. He raped her in a “beast-like manner,” so hard that later Witness 50 saw that she was bleeding. “[E]verything hurt me: my stomach, my back, my legs, everything ached. What hurt me most of all was that he was certainly some 30 years older than I was. He was probably my father’s age.”
That night, Witness 50 was taken back to Partizan Sports Hall. Although soldiers kept coming and taking girls out, Witness 50 was not taken out again. On 13 August 1992, Witness 50 and the other detainees at the Partizan Sports Hall left Foča on buses, organised by the police. Witness 50 heard that the reason the police sent them away was that the International Red Cross Committee might be coming to Foča, and she assumes that is why they had to disappear from there.
Witness 50 testified on 29 and 30 March 2000 in the case against Dragoljub Kunarac, Zoran Vuković, and Radomir Kovač. The Tribunal convicted Zoran Vuković, a member of the (VRS) and a member of the paramilitary in Foča, and sentenced him to 12 years’ imprisonment for raping Witness 50. The Tribunal also convicted the co-accused in this case, Dragoljub Kunarac, leader of a VRS unit, and Radomir Kovač, sub-commander of the VRS military police, and a paramilitary leader in Foča. The Tribunal sentenced them to 28 and 20 years’ imprisonment, respectively.