Karadzic judges told of mass executions

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Judges trying Radovan Karadzic heard Wednesday that a witness survived the 1995 Srebrenica massacre by feigning death, hiding under the body of a fellow Muslim shot by Serb soldiers.

The witness, whose name was withheld and his face obscured from the public, told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia he fled from Serb forces with thousands of others from the Srebrenica enclave.

Having hidden in the woods, some surrendered and were later taken in trucks holding about 30 captives apiece to a field near Zvornik, where "the men were lined up in rows and shot", prosecutor Julian Nicholls told the court.

More than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred by Serb forces after the fall of the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves in July 1995, an act for which Karadzic is charged with genocide.

"The witness managed to survive by feigning death as he lay under the body of another victim," Nicholls said, reading to the court a summary of the witness' testimony in earlier trials.

"The witness observed that approximately every 10 to 15 minutes another truck would arrive and those prisoners would be killed in the same manner."

After the killings, Nicholls said the witness saw "that most of the field was covered in bodies. He noticed not all the prisoners were dead. He could hear sounds coming from some of the men."

He then fled through the woods to Muslim-held territory.

Cross-examined by the Bosnian Serb wartime leader, the witness became animated and had to be cautioned by judges to "please calm down".

"You wanted to drive us out of Bosnia-Hercegovina and create an ethnically clean territory," he told Karadzic, who responded: "We are going to prove the opposite".

Karadzic, 64, faces 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide charges arising from Bosnia's 1992-95 war in which 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million left homeless.

Arrested in July 2008 after 13 years on the run, he is acting as his own defence lawyer.

© 2010 AFP

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