What can you do but shrug and look to the sky when you read about things like this?
People will tell you terrible things happen in wartime, and I always answer that things don’t happen. They are done.
Milan and Sredoje Lukic, two cousins, have been jailed by the War Crimes tribunal for appalling crimes in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad in 1992.
Milan, it seems, was worse than Sredoje. He was the one who forced people into houses before setting them on fire. Milan Lukic was involved in murdering Bosniak people on the bridge over the River Drina.
Every day truckloads of civilians were brought to the bridge by scumbags from the White Eagles, a paramilitary group associated with Vojislav Seselj, the disgraceful Serb academic and criminal. The murder victims – adults and children – were shot and thrown into the river by Lukic and his accomplices. Sometimes the children were thrown in and shot at as they fell to the water.
The census of 1991 showed that Visegrad’s population was 21,199:. 62.8% were Bosniak, 32.8% Serb. After the JNA withdrew from Visegrad Lukic’s people took control, the extermination began, just as it did in the rest of Bosnia.
What always amazed me about it was the matter-of-fact way they carried it out. Somebody had to order and pay for the buses to transport the victims to their place of murder. Somebody had to drive them. Somebody had to put together the lists of those to be killed. Somebody had to select and pay for use of the factories and warehouses where people were concentrated prior to extermination.
And as often as not, that somebody knew the victims well. Grew up with them. Went to school with them. Played football with them. Went to night-clubs with them before the war.
It didn’t prevent all the cold-blooded murders or the rapes.
Two paramilitary Serb groups stood out above the others. The White Eagles and Arkan’s Tigers, who were the dregs of Red Star Belgrade football club, led by the late Zeljko Raznatovic, otherwise known as Arkan, an international criminal and unprincipled lowlife. (He was taken out in 2000 by Milosevic’s hit squads when the things he knew became too much of a threat).
The Eagles and the Tigers followed the JNA around Bosnia, carrying out whatever atrocities the regular army – never noted for a weak stomach – refused to commit, tossing hand-grenades into cellars where civilans were hiding, murdering people in the street, raping Muslim women and, in the case of the Lukic cousins, burning people to death.
Milan Lukic is a piece of shit, a thug and a lowlife who would probably have emerged as a criminal no matter what happened, but Seselj is an entirely different matter. He received a PhD in law at the earliest age ever recorded in Yugoslavia. An extreme Serb nationalist, he is a brute, without human feeling. Even Slobodan Milosevic described him as the personification of violence and primitivity.
I remember Seselj once, in a TV interview, sneering at journalist Maggie O’Kane who raised the issue of mass-rapes by Serb paramilitaries against Bosnian women, and I can remember then what a pig he was.
Seselj’s trial at the Hague was suspended indefinitely last February following intimidation of witnesses.
People like the Lukic cousins, despite their murderous activities, were only the goons who carried out the designs of Seselj and his kind. Arkan was just a criminal. Milosevic was a self-interested crook, but Seselj is an idologue, who combines indifference to suffering with a strong intellect and fervent nationalism. Of all the figures in the Yugoslavian conflict, he seemed to me the most dangerous.