MILAN Lukic may have killed more people during the Bosnian war than any other one person. Witnesses interviewed by investigators for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia implicate this thirty-three-year-old Serb in hundreds of killings of unarmed Muslim civilians in and around the Drina River town of Visegrad from 1992 to 1995.
I have interviewed many of these witnesses over the past seven years. They include two men who survived an execution by one of Lukic's "firing squads" and a woman who watched Lukic and his cousin Milos shove her mother and sister from the parapet of Visegrad's famous Ottoman bridge, over the Drina, and rake them with bullets as they tumbled into the water. Witnesses also say that Lukic and another cousin, Sredoje, imprisoned Muslim women in a rape camp, and that Lukic and his thugs incinerated scores of women, children, and old men inside two locked houses. Lukic was spotted abducting Muslim men from the Bosnian town of Srebrenica on July 12, 1995, the opening day of the largest massacre in Europe since Tito's Communists took over Yugoslavia, after World War II. Serbs have blamed Lukic for hijacking a bus and a train from which dozens of Muslims were abducted and killed, and for assassinating a leader of Visegrad's nationalist Serb political party. This grim inventory takes on added significance for tribunal prosecutors because Lukic's family includes General Sreten Lukic, for years the top commander of Serbia's police-terror operation in Kosovo, and Mikailo Lukic, the secret-police chief in Bajina Basta, a Serbian border town used as the staging area for bloody offensives against Visegrad and Srebrenica.
In the fall of 1998 a French military-intelligence officer used an informal channel to pass on a message urging the tribunal to indict Lukic. "The French were saying Lukic was causing trouble, smuggling, intimidating people, getting in the way of the French troops," one Western diplomat says. "They were saying they'd arrest Lukic within a few weeks of receiving a warrant." The tribunal prosecutor submitted a draft indictment against Lukic and two other men to a judge a few weeks after receiving the message. Acting like a grand jury, the judge handed down a sealed indictment just before Halloween, and within a day or two issued a warrant for the arrest of Lukic and the others. At this writing both the indictment and the warrant against Lukic remain sealed.