…U.S. Marshals arrested 52-year-old Azra Basic on Tuesday in Stanton, about 45 miles east of Lexington, where she lives and works at a nearby food processing plant. She has lived in Kentucky for several years, but it’s not clear how she wound up in the rural city best known for its annual corn festival.
The Croatian-born Basic is wanted in Bosnia on charges of committing war crimes against ethnic Serb civilians in 1992, including acts of murder and torture, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Arehart wrote in a complaint requesting extradition.
Arehart says Bosnian authorities accuse Basic, a one-time member of the Croatian Army, of killing at least one person and torturing others at three camps from April to June 1992, during Europe’s bloodiest conflict since World War II.
Basic said at the court hearing that she had been working at the Nestle Prepared Foods plant in Mount Sterling, where frozen foods are processed. Nash declined to comment on whether Basic has any family in the state and why she was in Kentucky. A message left for the media relations office at Nestle was not immediately returned Thursday.
Just as an aside, the thought of a torture-murderer working in any food processing plant is stomach-turning. According to the Washington Post, “Basic was an employee at the Mount Sterling, Ky., Nestle Prepared Foods plant that makes Hot Pockets-brand sandwiches, the company said, declining to provide additional details.”
Court records list her as having lived at two addresses in Stanton.
Basic also worked at the Stanton Nursing Home, said neighbor Eli Vires, whose mother-in-law stayed there. Basic displayed compassion toward her patients, Vires said, quoting her as saying: “The only thing that can’t be replaced was human life.”
Bosnian authorities in Doboj charged Basic in January 1993 as an unknown defendant, using witness statements, medical examinations and forensic experts between 1992 and 2001 to identify her. Interpol traced Basic to Kentucky in 2004 and an international arrest warrant went out in 2006.
Arehart’s complaint accuses Basic of committing crimes at three camps near the majority-Serbian settlement of Cardak in Derventa. Witness said the Croatian military took ethnic Serbs from the Cardak settlement in late April of 1992 and tortured them.
Radojic Garic, listed in the complaint as a witness, said Blagoje Djuras was beaten unconscious. Garic said Basic then stabbed him in the neck, killing him, and dragged other Serbs to the body “and made us drink that blood.”
A second witness, Dragan Kovacevic, told investigators in October 1994 that Basic slit the throat of Djuras. Arehart said Kovacevic identified a picture of Basic in December 2009.
Another man, Sreten Jovanovic, told investigators in September 1992 that he was forced to drink gasoline, beaten unconscious and his hands and face were set on fire by Basic, who was wearing a military police uniform from a brigade in Rijeka, a port city in Croatia.
Arehart wrote that a subsequent medical examination concluded that Jovanovic suffered “torture in captivity.”
Other witnesses listed in the complaint said Basic and other soldiers beat and burned them and pulled their nails out with pliers.
In August 1992, witness Cedo Maric told Bosnian investigators that Basic cut a cross and four “S” letters into his forehead before hacking his neck below the Adam’s apple.
In November 1994 testimony, Mile Kuzmanovic told investigators Basic forced him to “swallow a handful of salt and eat Yugoslav money” before beating him with boots, weapon butts, metal bars and batons. Kuzmanovic said Basic and others forced him to “lick blood off floors covered in broken glass and crawl on the glass with a knotted rope in his mouth with which soldiers used to pull out the teeth of prisoners.”
I will spare you the obligatory Serb-bash that appeared at the end of this article. Two decades on, it is still impossible for any mainstream media outlet or wire service to report a story about Serbs, without poisoning the well by repeating baseless, and often provably false, allegations against other prominent Serbs, or against the Serbian people as a whole. After all, it would never do for the audience to start feeling sympathetic toward Serbs.
The mainstream media still insists that if the UN, or any kangaroo court associated with it, claims that a Serb is guilty, then it is so, despite the utter absence of due process of law in such venues. But then, during the Clinton Administration, these same media outlets and their operatives played a vital part in starting and continuing the war against the Serbian people. All I can say is that what goes around, comes around. Some day these media minions may themselves be facing a kangaroo court in some unknown part of the world. Do not expect me to speak up in their behalf.