'Monster of Grbavica' pleads not guilty of Bosnia war crimes

24th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

A former member of the Bosnian Serb paramilitary forces accused of a reign of terror against Sarajevo civilians during the 1992-1995 war, pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

"I am not guilty of a single charge of the indictment," Veselin Vlahovic told a Bosnian warcrimes court in Sarajevo at a special plea hearing some seven months after his extradition from Spain.

The 41-year-old Montenegrin has been charged with carrying out "executions, enslavement, rape, physical and psychological torture (and) looting" among Muslim and Croat civilians, according to the indictment which includes 56 charges.

Vlahovic, branded the monster of Grbavica, is accused of having committed those crimes in three Sarajevo neighbourhoods controlled by Serb forces in 1992 and 1993 -- Grbavica, Kovacici and Vraca.

The case is one of the biggest war crimes files handled by a local court. "We are ready for this trial. The prosecution will call 105 witnesses," prosecution spokesman Boris Grubesic told reporters.

The case is about "one of the most cruel war crimes committed during the war, including tortures, rapes and executions committed before the eyes of family members of the victims", the prosecution added.

"The defendant is indicted for the murders of 27 people, the rapes of 12, the disappeareances of five persons and causing injuries to 41 victims," prosecutor Behaija Krnjic said.

The trial is to start within the next 60 days, judge Darko Samardzic said Thursday.

Vlahovic was arrested a year ago as a suspect in a number of burglaries in the Spanish town of Altea where he was living. He was extradited to Bosnia in August.

© 2011 AFP

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