TITLE=WAR CRIMES TRIAL (L-ONLY)
INTRO: The Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal opens a major
trial on Monday of three Bosnian Serbs charged with
the rape, torture or enslavement of Muslim women in
the southeastern Bosnian town of Foca eight years ago.
Lauren Comiteau reports from The Hague, where
prosecutors will try to show that systematic sexual
abuse was part of the Serbian war campaign against
TEXT: The Foca indictments lay out in clinical detail
what prosecutors claim is a horrifying chapter in the
Bosnian war. They say girls as young as 12 were held
prisoner for up to eight months by paramilitary troops
and soldiers, gang-raped nightly, and tortured.
Prosecutors say after Serbs overran the town of Foca,
they separated the women from the men and began their
brutal regime of torture and rape. Legal advisor
Patricia Sellers says it is a story of what can happen
to women during war.
/// Sellers Act ///
War is composed of acts of destruction and those
acts of destruction include sexual violence,
torture and enslavement. Foca is important
because it's probably more typical of war than
we are ready to admit.
/// End Act ///
War crimes prosecutors say that rape was so systematic
in the Bosnian conflict that it must be treated as a
serious war crime. The Foca indictments -- the first
to deal specifically with sexual assaults -- broke new
legal ground when they were presented four years ago.
Deputy Prosecutor Graham Blewitt says the trial could
make legal history.
/// Blewitt Act ///
Right from the outset of our investigations, we
were determined to incorporate the sexual
assault aspects -- all the rapes, the
allegations that rape was being used as a weapon
of war, as a means to terrorize the local
/// End Act ///
The three defendants are paramilitary leaders Zoran
Vukovic and Radomir Kovac, and Dragoljub Kunarac, said
to be a commander of a special unit in the Bosnian
Prosecutors say the men chose young women from
detention centers and took them to houses or hotels
where they raped them or let others do it. One 12-
year-old girl was raped in a primary school classroom.
In another case, two of the defendants are accused of
raping the same woman one night, telling her they
wanted to make sure she would give birth to a Serbian
Dragoljub Kunarac is also charged with keeping as a
slave a young girl who was already seven months
His lawyers, however, insist that he was not even at
the scene of the crimes. They also say there were no
detention facilities for Muslim women at Foca, just
shelters to protect them from the war. (signed)
18-Mar-2000 12:28 PM EDT (18-Mar-2000 1728 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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