"The Monster of Grbavica"

21 September 2010 by Nidzara Ahmetasevic

“I still remember the day when Batko came to our place. I can even see him sitting in front of me and hear his voice“, D.B told IJT almost 20 years after she first saw Veselin Vlahovic Batko, known as “the monster from Grbavica”. D.B, who hopes to be called as one of the witnesses at the future trial of Vlahovic in Sarajevo, spoke under conditions of anonymity, not because of fear, but because of the ongoing investigation.

“He entered the place where I and my late husband lived in Grbavica. He demanded gold and money from us. We did not have it. And we told him that we did not have anything to give but our lives. He said that he would count to ten and then he would take the only thing we could offer. Then, he put a knife on the table in front of us.”

In 1999 Bosnia issued a warrant for Batko’s arrest in connection with 54 killings in the Grbavica area, all committed in 1992 and 1993. He was a member of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) attached to a military unit called the “White Angels”.

Grbavica was occupied by the VRS from April 1992 to February 1996, when it was reunited with Sarajevo under the Dayton Peace Agreement. During the four years of occupation, most Muslims and Croats were expelled from Grbavica.

Those who didn’t manage to escape were taken to various detention centres or killed. Hundreds of women were raped. Some of them allegedly by Batko. Batko’s name surfaced in connection with the rape of three women in Grbavica during the trial of Momcilo Krajisnik, the war-time Bosnian Assembly Speaker, in 2009.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
21 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Being the ICC's Chief Prosecutor is a delicate and politically sensitivejob.ForLuisMorenoOcampo it has been "the best job in the world." Fatou Bensouda will be taking over his office in June. She inhe

article
07 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

December 7, 2011 Ivory Coast is the latest playgroundoftheInternationalCriminal Court. This week the courtroom in The Hague became its theatre of justice. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo proudly p

article
07 December 2011 by Richard Walker

Four Congolese witnesses testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, find themselves caught in a legal wrangle, which could at once set a legal precedent and make them the last

article
07 December 2011 by Lindy Janssen

Brazil is booming. The economy is expanding and the country is getting ready to host the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. But the Latin American giant has not even begun dealing wi

article
07 December 2011 by Radosa Milutinovic

The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved.