"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.

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