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The Confession of Borislav Herak
(Herak was tried in 1992 for war crimes committed against Moslems in and around Sarajevo. The Sonja Cafe was an improvised prison for Moslem women, frequented by Herak.)
When I joined the nationalist volunteers
they gave me a woman, a television and video.
At the Sonja Cafe, Miro took me to the women.
Emina, Sabina, Amela, Fatima – we had them all.
There were always more arriving. It was easy.

You just picked up a key and went to a room.
I remember Fatima. A nice woman –
about thirty years old. We gave her tea.
Me and Miro took her in the car. Later
we stopped by a small bridge and I told her

to get out. She walked about three steps
from us, with her back to me – she did not turn –
and I shot her. I went to her just to be sure.
In the torchlight, something pink slid
from just above her neck. She did not move.


I helped to carry the thirty men
from Donja Bioca, the holes in their chests
rimmed with purple. We swung them, arms and legs,
into the incinerator. Even within the flames
some of them moved. One even turned

his head, looked at me.
I remember most the little girl in red
at Ahatovici. Her brothers and sisters, aunts
and friends, all shuffled backwards, made
little cries, before we fired.


One day, Sreten took me to the compound.
He showed me how to wrestle pigs to the ground
hold their heads back by their ears
and slit their throats. It was easy.

Sreten is sixty-five. Next day we tried it again
on three prisoners. It was just a short cut –
and they were dead. They did not squeal.
They just gurgled through the black slots

above the small of their chests. Here.
They did not squeal, like pigs.
Except Osman. I have pictures
in my mind, and they return each night.

Osman, whose throat I cut, he is always
there. He says – Please don’t kill me
I have a wife and two small children. Please.
He speaks through the wound.


Now there are trials. Many words, journalists
with their microphones. I am on the television.
They will stand me in front of a wall
and shoot me. My father is ashamed. I say –

That’s OK old man, you just stay and wait
for the shells to kill you. I tell the priest –
If there were a God, I would not have been
caught. I am sorry. I did what I did.

You would have done the same.