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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Massacre Survivor Testifies

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- He says he survived the killing fields by playing dead under a pile of corpses. And he says Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic watched the slaughter he escaped.


Identified only as Witness A, he testified Friday how he lived through a mass execution of Moslem men after Bosnian Serb soldiers routed refugees and UN peacekeepers from the Srebrenica enclave in July 1995.


His testimony provided the most direct link so far at the war crimes hearing of Mladic's involvement in the atrocities he's charged with.


"I saw him [Mladic] watching Serb soldiers bringing us there, lining us up, and killing us," the witness told the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, adding he had seen Mladic five other times in the enclave after its fall.


Witness A's testimony came at an evidentiary hearing against Mladic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who tried once again Friday to derail the hearing with legal motions.


The UN tribunal has indicted the two for genocide and crimes against humanity, claiming they masterminded a tidal wave of atrocities during the 44-month Bosnian conflict.


Mladic has been singled out as the man who orchestrated the alleged massacres after Srebrenica, what his indictment called "the most horrendous, unimaginable war crimes committed in Europe since the end of World War II."


More than 6,000 Moslem refugees from the area are still missing, believed slaughtered by rebel Serbs and buried in mass graves. Tribunal investigators plan to begin examining some of those suspected grave sites Sunday.


Witness A said after the enclave fell, he was herded together with Moslem men to a school gymnasium near Karakaj, about 50 kilometers north of Srebrenica, with about 2,500 others.


He described how he was taken with a small group of men by truck to a field where they were lined up in four rows with up to 10 soldiers present.


The soldiers opened fire and the bodies fell.


"I kept silent and they thought I was dead," the eyewitness said. "I assume it's fate that I survived."


From under bleeding corpses he peered out.


"I saw him [Mladic] clearly, he and another officer looked at each other. I don't know what they were talking about, because of the truck machine noise," he said, referring to the trucks he said were shuttling in new victims.