"Bloody Azra" sentenced to 14 years in prison

"Bloody Azra" sentenced to 14 years in prison
Azra Bašić, nicknamed "Bloody Azra" or "Azra Two Knives", a Croatian-born woman, who was arrested in the State of Kentucky, for war crimes in Bosnia, was sentenced to to 14 years in prison for crimes against imprisoned Serb civilians in the building called "JNA Home" in Derventa and the village of Polje in 1992, on Wednesday, December 27, at the BiH Court.

On the basis of witnesses' statements, the Trial Chamber has concluded that Bašić killed Blagoje Đuraš and that she inflicted severe bodily and mental injuries on imprisoned Serb civilians in the "JNA Home" (Yugoslav People's Army or JNA building in the downtown of many cities, used as officers club and often as military HQs).

The chairman of the Trial Chamber, Sead Đikić, stated in the explanation sheet of the decision that witnesses confirmed that Bašić beat Đuraš, ordered others to lift him and stabbed him with a knife to his neck, killing him in front of other imprisoners. According to victims' statements, Bašić often ordered imprisoned Serbs to eat Yugoslav dinars, kiss a Croatian flag, crawl on the floor on which pieces of broken glass were scattered and lick the blood of killed Đuraš. Also, she used to take prisoners out of the building to the simulating execution room, where she mentally hurt them even more.

Đikić added that, according to witnesses, Bašić used to engrave crosses and the letters "S" on the back of inmates in the "JNA Home", pour salt on their wounds and force them to lick salt, as well as that she used to kick some inmates at their genitals threatening to circumcise them. Bašić inflicted severe bodily and mental pain to Bora and Petar Marković when she questioned them in the village of Polje about a radio station from where they allegedly used to inform Serb Army units about the locations of the Croatian Army. She threatened Petar that she will slaughter him.

Taking on consideration the statements of witnesses, who, during the investigation recognised Bašić on photographs and confirmed that she was the only woman in the "JNA Home", court members were in a position to reach the conclusion that Bašić committed war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war. Đikić has said that Bašić was exonerated of charges of mistreatment of Milovan Adžić, Zdravko Vidović and Sreten Jovanović, because the Trial Chamber could not conclude about her guilt on the basis of their statements which were read in the courtroom. The number of crimes and cruelty expressed during their commission were taken as aggravating circumstances, while the fact that she has no criminal record was taken as a mitigating circumstance.

Slaviša Đuraš, the son of killed Blagoje Đuraš, said to the media that he monitored the trial and that he is partially satisfied with the judgment.

"It was very hard to prove something that happened 25 years ago. This is a great problem because of details that are required in statements. I express special gratitude to prosecutor Milanko Kajganić and his team who did a great job," Đuraš said.

He has confirmed that he took part in the search for Azra Bašić in the U.S.A. and that he is sorry for witnesses who suffered a new stress after they gave statements. Đuraš says that Radojica Garić, whom Bašić forced to lick his father's blood Blagoje, has been suffering from a mental illnesse, and that some of the witnesses have died.

He added that, three months ago, he met a member of the Croatian Armed Forces /HOS/ from Zagreb who personally knows Bašić and spent some time with her during the war.

"He told me about an event in the village of Korača near Brod, when Bašić brought a group of Serbian civilians to the bridge on the river Ukrina and killed them on the spot. When a HOS member, an Albanian, protested, saying that they did not come there to kill old people, she asked him if he is a Serb or a Muslim," Đuraš has said.

Azra Bašić was in an extradition jail in the U.S. from March 2011 until November 2016, when she was extradited to BiH after a long and complicated (extradition) procedure. She was inaccessible to justice in BiH for many years. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation traced her in the area of New York at the beginning of 2004, but she managed to escape the arrest. Bašić lived peacefully in the town of Stanton, Kentucky, for years, until she was arrested.../IBNA

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