Nurse tells war crimes trial of Bosnia's wounded children

5th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

A former nurse at a Sarajevo hospital told the war crimes trial of Bosnian Serb political chief Radovan Karadzic Wednesday of the traumatised and wounded children she treated during Bosnia's conflict.

"Most of them were hit by shrapnel or sniper fire," Fatima Zaimovic told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, producing a journal that listed the children admitted to the hospital.

"The wounds entered here are the extremely serious wounds," the now-retired head nurse of children's surgery said of her record.

The 1992-1995 Bosnian war between the former Yugoslav' republics ethnic and religious groups -- Catholic Croats, Muslims and Orthodox Serbs -- saw 100,000 people killed and 2.2 million made homeless.

Around 10,000 were killed in a 44-month siege of the city of Sarajevo by Serb forces.

"He arrived with a wound to the abdomen and a fracture of the femur caused by the explosion of a shell," Zaimovic said of one child admitted on June 1, 1993.

"Pieces of metal were still embedded in his flesh," she said of a baby admitted on May 24, 1995.

"The shells fell everywhere ... hospitals, apartments, markets," the nurse said, recalling that the children often had to be sheltered in the hospital's cellar.

They were "traumatised" by the fighting and bombing, she said. "They were never going to draw you a positive image or something beautiful, everything was about the war," she said.

Zaimovic said fear was strong and ever-present and she was always worried she would be killed by a shell or a sniper.

"Once you got back from the hospital, or wherever you were, you did not dare to return ... asking yourself: 'Is it my turn now?'," she said.

Karadzic, the former president of a self-styled Bosnian Serb republic, is accused of warcrimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against Bosnian Croats and Muslims.

He has pleaded not guilty and faces life imprisonment if convicted.

The 64-year-old was arrested in July 2008 on a Belgrade bus after 13 years on the run and is defending himself against the charges.

© 2010 AFP

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