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29. 03. 1999. 21:50H

ZAGREB, March 29 (Hina) - The trial of Dinko Sakic, a commander of the Ustasha concentration camp of Jasenovac during World War II, continued before the Zagreb County Court with the testimony of Milka Zabcic (born in 1929).

Zabcic was arrested in Zagreb in spring 1943, at the age of 13, and taken to Jasenovac. After she arrived at the camp, she lived in a cowshed which belonged to the camp's premises but was not fenced off. Zabcic said she had never been at the fenced-off part of the camp.

According to Zabcic, one could say that the camp was everything that was under Ustashi control, including the buildings with prisoners, the buildings which housed the Ustasha command, the workshops in Jasenovac and a building in the Jasenovac village to which she was transferred later.

She said she had not seen executions or torturing being carried out, but stressed that the regime had been very strict and everyone had to keep silent because otherwise they "would be flogged". Zabcic said she saw a group of children as skinny as skeletons in a "cowshed".

In the beginning Zabcic was ordered to pick corn in the village of Ustica, on the banks of the Sava River, and in late 1943, she was transferred to a building in the Jasenovac village, in Kozarska street, where she baby-sat two little children. Zabcic said the house had floors and walls covered with blood and concluded by the large amount of torn clothing that a number of people must have been killed there.

She said she recognised Sakic at the courtroom right away, adding "He was a striking man, dressed nicely, and had a beautiful posture".

Zabcic said she first saw Sakic in the Jasenovac village in 1944 and later, on several occasions, near the command building and the canteen.

The witness then recalled an event from early 1944, when she saw seven cut off human heads in a building near the Ustasha command. "Their eyes were still open", she said, adding an Ustasha soldier later told her that the heads had not been cut but sawn off.

She later also learned that the executed were "politicians", caught while trying to escape.

She also recalled another event from early 1944, when she saw five people who had been hanged at the Jasenovac village, near the Ustasha command. One of the victims was a physician from Zagreb working in Jasenovac, his wife and another three men. Zabcic later learned that the woman had fallen from the post three times and that a woman Ustasha officer had pulled hear hair out trying to hang her.

The same day, immediately after the hanging, Zabcic met in the kitchen Dinko Sakic, one captain and Andrija Artukovic (an Ustasha officer tried in Zagreb in 1986).

"I can remember well that Artukovic was eating red beet and fried schnitzel while looking through the window at the hanging bodies. The three of them were laughing and commenting on something", Zabcic said.

The witness then recollected that she was present at the wedding of Dinko and Nada Sakic, because she was in front of the church and held a torch. "That was an important event, which all villagers had to attend because those who failed to appear were punished".

The witness did not know whether Nada Sakic had held any post at the camp but she did remember her meetings with her. "At one time, in 1944, she stormed out of the Jasenovac health unit, waved her whip and struck me so strongly that I still have a scar on my face", Zabcic said showing the right side of her face. She said Nada Sakic was a very beautiful woman. She saw her again "in 1955, at the Ban Jelacic square (Zagreb's central square). We ran onto each other, she was very surprised and ran away", she added.

The witness said that at the end of the so-called black road leading to the Sava, there was a bunker into which the Ustashi used to throw the bodies of the killed. "Once the Sava was in spate, the bodies emerged so the Ustashi had to cover the bunker with concrete". Later on, they dug out another hole.

Zabcic said she had seen on several occasions a truck with the Ustashi sitting behind, with their backs turned to a tarpaulin. The hands of camp inmates could be seen sticking out of the tarpaulin. The truck always came back empty, she added.

Zabcic saw Dinko Sakic while a prisoner was being taken to execution. She said she saw from her room a young Ustasha taking the prisoner towards the hole, and five minutes after she saw Sakic going after them.

She also recalled an event in the warehouse when she asked for a bar of soap and received a "soft soap bar, with red streaks". The man working at the warehouse told her that "it was soap made of prisoners, but of poor quality because it was not processed long enough". "I realised then what it was all about. I felt sick", Zabcic said.

An Italian Red Cross commission was to visit the camp in 1943 and the Ustashi ordered the prisoners to use picks and destroy the floor of the gas chamber, which, the witness said, was full of burnt human remains. "Since they could not break the floor, the prisoners walled it up, but the commission did not come".

Zabcic left Jasenovac in late 1944 thanks to an Ustasha lieutenant, who told her to escape in a truck in which uniforms were being transported to Novska, but to make sure "Ljubo (Sakic) or Maks (Luburic) don't see you". She said she saw Sakic from the truck while leaving Jasenovac. From Novska she left for Zagreb by train.

This material is provided by Croatian News Agency (HINA)
HINA News Line: http://www.HINA.Hr/

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