At one point in their odyssey, the expellees of Hrvacani returned to their home village. Just outside the village, a Bosnian Serb soldier warned them: “There is no place for you Balijas to go, except Turkey. This is Serbia.”
Pasic said the village of 100 houses was burned, everything inside looted down to the appliances and wood paneling, and the livestock killed. The five elderly people who had stayed behind were either incinerated in their houses or shot to death.
On the road again, the group, now numbering 200, headed toward the village of Vecici, hoping to obtain papers to allow them to depart the Serb-conquered part of Bosnia for the rump part still under the control of the mostly Muslim Bosnian government. One person in their party betrayed their location, and after two ambushes the group had to surrender to the Bosnian Serbs.
It was in the nearby village of Grabovica that the final selection for execution occurred. Women and children, held at gunpoint in a school classroom, that night saw their fathers and husbands arrive on open trucks in heavy rain, hands tied behind their backs, to be moved to the room above. The Bosnian Serb military allowed family members to visit the men, but Pasic said he did not, because earlier in the day he had pretended that he had no relatives among them.
“I wish, I wish I would have,” he said in a whisper.
He never saw his father again, nor did his mother, who had been separated from him. Some 150 men were never heard from again.
“There is no doubt in my mind that they were all killed,” Pasic said.
Those in the classroom were ordered onto a bus for their final trip out of Serb-held Bosnia – but not before having to run a gauntlet of civilians wielding axes, knives and sticks. An old lady in black stopped him just short of the bus.
“She grabbed me, she had a knife,” he recalled. “She said: ‘Let me kill one Balija because one of my sons was killed in Vecici.” A Serb guard saved his life, he said. Even while the bus traveled, crowds encircled it and threatened to tip it over.
The final part of the journey was a treacherous descent by foot down a serpentine road from Vlasic mountain, where brigands in army uniforms repeatedly attacked them. But Pasic’s story had a lucky end, for he was reunited with his mother in Travnik.
Pasic testified twice before, in 2003 and 2004, in the tribunal’s cases against Radoslav Brdjanin and Momcilo Krajsnik, two top political operatives, who were sentenced to 34 and 20 years respectively.