THE HAGUE, Netherlands – THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Muslim man told judges Wednesday at the U.N. trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic that he survived the Srebrenica massacre by feigning death beneath the bodies of men gunned down around him.
The witness testified under a pseudonym and with his image distorted, saying he feared Karadzic supporters could find him and exact revenge for his appearance at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.
Reading a summary of the man's written statement to judges as a way of saving time, prosecution lawyer Julian Nicholls said the witness was among about 1,000 Muslim men who surrendered to Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995 and was trucked to a school gym near the town of Srebrenica.
There, the men were taken to a small room, given a drink of water and blindfolded before being put on another truck and driven to a nearby meadow.
"Prisoners were lined up in rows and shot," Nicholls said. "The witness managed to survive by feigning death as he lay under the body of another victim."
The witness said more trucks loaded with prisoners would arrive every 10-15 minutes and the men would be executed in the same way.
"This killing continued for hours," Nicholls said. As night fell, the witness managed to creep away and eventually found his way back to Muslim-controlled territory.
Bosnian Serb forces gunned down some 8,000 Muslim men in fields around the U.N. safe haven of Srebrenica in late July 1995, Europe's worst massacre since the Holocaust.
Karadzic faces 11 charges, including two genocide counts. He insists he is innocent.
Karadzic, who is conducting his own defense, objected to the witness' testimony, saying prosecutors were presenting it for "dramatic effect."
Presiding judge O-Gon Kwon brushed aside the objection and told Karadzic not to interrupt.
Wednesday's testimony completed a brief overview of the worst atrocities of the 1992-95 Bosnian war — the Srebrenica massacre, the siege and shelling of the capital, Sarajevo, and the brutal "ethnic cleansing" campaign early in the war to expel Muslims and Croats from territory claimed by Serbs.
In coming weeks and months, prosecutors are expected to present dozens more witnesses to give more detail about Serb atrocities and attempt to link Karadzic to them.
The prosecution contends that Karadzic, 64, is guilty as "supreme commander" of Bosnian Serb forces responsible for the crimes. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.
Last week a man told judges how his wife was killed by a Serb shell while shopping at a Sarajevo market and another witness described how 20 Muslim men who were forced to dig their own graves and then were shot or had their throats cut by a Serb butcher as their village was ethnically cleansed early in the war.