Dark Past in Balkan War Intrudes on New Life





STANTON, Ky. — Nearly two decades after fleeing her native Croatia, the squat, hardworking woman known as Issabell Basic lived a quiet life in this small town, firing up her Jeep Cherokee each day for the 25-minute commute to her job making Hot Pockets....

Emphysema kept her close to the series of homes she shared with Steve Loman and his wife, Lucy, whom she called “Sis.” The Lomans, in turn, describe Ms. Basic, 51, as a “big-hearted” person — the kind who would not buy something for herself without first picking up a gift for a friend, but who was also so scarred by the Bosnian conflict that she could not watch war movies and had severed all ties with her native land.

But perhaps there was another reason for the break: the woman known here as Issabell is identified in court papers as Azra Basic, and prosecutors in Bosnia allege that in 1992 she was part of a vicious brigade of Croatian Army soldiers that tortured and killed ethnic Serbs at three detention camps in the early years of the Bosnian war.

Victims and witnesses from the camps, quoted in court documents, say that while wearing a Croatian uniform, twin knives strapped to her belt and a boot, Ms. Basic carved crosses into prisoners’ foreheads. They accuse her of slitting one man’s throat and forcing others to drink from the dead man’s wound....

Now, after nearly 20 years, the past 15 spent working odd jobs in New York and Kentucky, Ms. Basic faces extradition to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she would stand trial in district court on charges of war crimes.

“They’ve alleged that she is the woman that did these atrocities; we’re certainly going to contest that,” said Patrick Nash, who is representing Ms. Basic (pronounced BOSS-ich) in the extradition proceedings. Ms. Basic, who is being held at the Fayette County Detention Center in Lexington, declined an interview request through her lawyer....


comments powered by Disqus