War Crimes Tribunal Told Serbs Ran Rape Factories

Article excerpt

The trial of three Bosnian Serbs accused of running rape camps of Muslim women opened yesterday with a prosecutor linking the organised sexual assault to a wartime Serb "ethnic cleansing" campaign.

"This is a case about the women and girls, some as young as 12 or 15 years old, who endured unimaginable horrors as their worlds around them collapsed," prosecutor Mr Dirk Ryneveld said in his opening statement to the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

"They were brutalised and dehumanised and sexually assaulted by their captors, including the three men who sit before you," Mr Ryneveld told the three UN judges on the bench.

Radomir Kovac, Dragoljub Kunarac and Zoran Vukovic are accused of detaining Bosnian Muslim women in a school, a sports hall and other locations where they were sexually assaulted nightly by soldiers and paramilitaries, including the defendants.

The three men are charged with up to 50 counts of rape, torture, enslavement and outrages upon personal dignity in the Foca case - named after the south-eastern Bosnian city where the crimes allegedly took place.

The defendants, Bosnian Serb fighters, have pleaded not guilty to the war crimes and crimes against humanity charges, which carry a maximum life sentence.

They sat motionless as Mr Ryneveld levelled the accusations at them and outlined the history of the Serb take-over of Foca in the summer of 1992, with a video showing the city in flames. …