A mother's agony: 'It was my son Azmir. I saw them shoot him'

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The Independent Online

Still in shock, very shaken and crying, a mother, Nura Alispahic told yesterday of how she turned on her television to watch the news - only to see a video of the execution-style killing of her teenage son Azmir and five other Muslim men from Srebrenica, murdered by Serb forces in July 1995.

Still in shock, very shaken and crying, a mother, Nura Alispahic told yesterday of how she turned on her television to watch the news - only to see a video of the execution-style killing of her teenage son Azmir and five other Muslim men from Srebrenica, murdered by Serb forces in July 1995.

"I saw with my own eyes when these animals killed my son. He was only 16. No one can understand how I feel," she said.

Bosnian TV broadcast the footage, made by Serb troops, on its late-evening news on Wednesday night.

It showed six civilians taken from a truck, hands tied behind their backs and lined up on a hillside. Four were shot - one by one - in the back. Two others were ordered to carry the bodies into a nearby barn, where they, too, were killed. "I saw him, it was my Azmir," said Mrs Alispahic, 60. "He was second in the row. They were pushing him and he turned around ... I saw his face ... He was wearing the trousers he had on when he left Srebrenica, I saw his sneakers. They shoot him, I see him fall ..."

She cried, sitting beside her daughter, Magbula, in their room in a refugee camp near the northern town of Tuzla, some 120km north of Sarajevo, which has become the home of more than 20,000 Srebrenica Muslims, evicted by Serbs when they overran the town in July 1995.

Mrs Alispahic's other son, Admir, was also killed during the war. He was wounded in Srebrenica and evacuated to Tuzla. But shortly after he was released from hospital he was killed during the shelling of the town.

As many as 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb troops overran the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica in 1995 in Europe's worst mass killing since the Second World War. Since then, Serb politicians and public have lived in denial that that the war crimes ever happened.

The footage was first shown on Wednesday at the UN war crimes court in The Hague. The prosecution introduced the film in the trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, indicted for his alleged role in atrocities during the Balkan wars. UN prosecutors contend the killings were carried out by the Serb paramilitary unit known as the Scorpions somewhere on Mount Treskavica near the wartime Bosnian Serb capital, Pale.

The Scorpions allegedly were under orders from Serbian police in Belgrade, and the link could directly tie Mr Milosevic with the crimes committed in Bosnia. Carla del Ponte, the chief prosecutor for the tribunal, said yesterday that her court had more footage of Srebrenica killings.

"I have other video material but as you know, it is public only when we can provide it in the court during the trials. At the next trial, we will be able to show such material," Mrs del Ponte said after meeting with representatives of the Mothers of Srebrenica Association.

So far, Serbian police have arrested 10 members of the notorious Scorpions , whose faces were clearly visible on the video. However, the police released four names only, claiming some of the Scorpions on the arrest warrant are living abroad.

Mrs Alispahic recalled when she last saw her son alive. She said she thought he had already left Srebrenica. "But suddenly, his head appeared in the window and he said 'I came back to kiss you goodbye.'" She said. "I knew I'd never see him alive again".

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