[Speaker 1] If I would make a film about myself
I would be the voiceover.
Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?
Nobody else in any conversation pays as much attention
to what is being said as I do.
Everything that comes out of your mouth is important.
Suddenly your thoughts are my thoughts.
I am you.
[Speaker 2] So I see this superhero as a lawyer.
The man who leads, the man who controls the whole situation.
The man who is in the courtroom.
I see the animal.
I see it as a witness because it’s vulnerable.
They will prey during the war.
That’s why I see a witness in this animal.
The vase I associate with myself, an interpreter.
The only purpose of a vase is to hold a flower.
And our sole purpose here
in this triangle is to provide interpretation
to facilitate the conversation
and nothing else.
[Speaker 3] I must sound composed.
You don’t need to know what is going on in my heart.
It’s important to give emotions
but I shouldn’t be telling you,
Oh, by the way this hurts me as well.
[Interviewer] Do you believe
that your sons are alive today?
[speaks in foreign language]
No, they’re not alive.
[speaks in foreign language]
Yankee knows that.
I would like to know in which grave they are so
that me their mother can give them proper burial.
So I can go and visit the place where their bodies are.
So I can look at their graves.
[Speaker 4] All rise.
The International Criminal Tribunal for former
Yugoslavia is now session.
Please be seated.
[Speaker 5] I’m safe in my bubble
between the walls of my booth, behind my glass.
But then the person I’m interpreting says something
that pierces my bubble and comes back home to me.
One day in trial
we are seeing a video showing Serbian forces who are
forcing this one Muslim prisoner to shout and communicate
with other Muslims hiding around in the neighboring hills.
He’s yelling to them, Come, come here,
the Serbs are not gonna harm you,
they are not gonna do anything to you.
I’ve seen that video already seven times.
And I know where the graves are of that man
and of the men who are hiding up there in the hills.
Something chokes in me and I hand the microphone
over to my colleague because I want to cry.
I know that if I try and say one word, tears will come
and strange sounds muffled and unintelligible.
[Speaker 6] This was a hotel room
where we met with one witness.
It was just one
of those hotel rooms that are, same everywhere.
A big bed and chair where here the witness was sitting.
And the two of us, the investigator and myself.
While being on a mission in Scandinavia, one
of the places we visited was a home of an elderly couple.
We sat down with them in their living room
with the painting of Jajce waterfall on the wall.
The photos on their shelves were of their two sons.
As we progressed with the statement
I learned that these two boys were taken
to a concentration camp in 1992.
They were never found.
They were never returned.
Their remains had not been found.
And the story itself was very sad and and terrible.
But what struck me the most was when we asked the couple
or the man actually
if he would like to have protective statements
should he be called to testify,
he said, Oh yes please
because if they hear that I am testifying in the courtroom
they might kill my boys, they might hurt them.
And then I realized that they, after eight years
they still believed that their children are alive.
And that was just heartbreaking.
Very, very hard to hear.
[Speaker 7] I discovered that it’s very,
very important to sit
in the middle of legal client and a victim.
And I also never wanted to look at any of them.
I always looked at the side
because I never really wanted to have witness
or victim turn around to me and say, Well, you explain
to him you’re Bosnian and you’ve been through the war.
Explain to him how all these things happened.
because I cannot explain anything to anyone.
I’m not there.
I’m a glorified phone.
But several times I allowed myself to look
at the victim to start feeling for that person.
And it didn’t really work out very well.
The last time was a couple of years ago.
It was in Srebrenica.
We were interviewing drivers who were driving men
and boys to get killed.
There was this driver and he started to tell a story
about how he drove with a boy, a Muslim boy.
And they were singing
with all these men waiting to be driven
to execution in the trunk in the back.
And the driver said, And when we were finished
I didn’t really know what to do with the boy.
I called back to the headquarters
and the duty officer got up.
He drove for 45 minutes.
He went into the truck, he picked up a boy
took him to the bushes and he killed him.
I couldn’t process it.
Who gets up at three, four,
five o’clock in the morning to kill a boy?
I came home that evening
and I started drinking and I was drunk for a month.
I wanted the energy of that boy.
I wanted it in my home and I wanted to be devastated
for him because he didn’t have anyone else to cry for him.
[Speaker 8] Omarska camp was operational
for quite a long time.
It’s the camp that
it was the first discovery by Western journalist
of something really wrong going on in in Bosnia.
There was a taxi driver who
who kept coming each evening
and would ask the guards to select one
or two prisoners
and then he would just spend the evening beating the guy.
And it was this witness.
I interpreted for him twice
in courtroom, in two cases, and he was a doctor.
He managed to get a camera smuggled
in and then he decided to do something so incredibly brave.
He took photos
of the people he was treating of their wounds
of their bruises as documenting what was going
on just in case he survives and can show that to the world.
He wanted to make sure
that later nobody can say it didn’t happen.
I asked once to give me a tape of his
his testimony and I have a recording somewhere.
I was that impressed.
It’s hard to describe the situation there.
General care, [indistinct], crying, those shoot.
There’s a computer, the microphones a desk and two chairs.
The glass of the booth is tinted.
This gives me space to distance myself.
I get less involved that way.
It is different when I do consecutive interpretation,
when I’m sitting at the same table
with a witness or the accused, when I can smell them
they become more human to me
and it makes it harder to distance yourself.
[Speaker 9] Just imagine this youngest boy
I had those little hands of his, how could they be dead?
[speaks in foreign language]
The mornings I wake up,
I cover my eyes not to look at other children going
to school and husbands going to work holding hands.
[Speaker 1] Hey, it is just words.
Take it easy.
Listen to me with my voice and choice of words.
I can make any sentence less of a confrontation
while still giving a correct interpretation.
[Speaker 1src] My first job would be the I.C.T.Y.
was actually just
upon the discovery of the secondary mass grave
of Srebrenica men and boys.
I was invited by Srebrenica team to accompany them to
a place where they suspected there was secondary mass grave.
Of course, became prepared with the archeologists
with excavators and all that equipment
for rough digging and also for fine tuning.
And they started digging.
The smell of digging flesh is just absolutely unbearable.
It was very overpowering.
I didn’t really want to approach the area.
I didn’t really want to go and see.
One of the archeologists started talking to me
and she said, Well, did you go to see
the corpses and so on?
And I said, No.
And she said, Why don’t you go
and see what they did to your people?
And then I looked at her
and I thought to myself, Well, she’s absolutely right.
If I was born 2src kilometers to the right
this could have been my corpse in this mass grave.
And I got up and I went to see.
I looked at all those corpses there
and their smell
wasn’t all that overpowering for me anymore.
I looked at them and I said, the Muslim prayer for the dead.
And I felt good about myself
and felt good about what I have done that I saw them.
That could have been me.
[Speaker 11] Yeah.
I didn’t like going to the detention unit because I
didn’t like having any sort of contact
with the accused.
I don’t feel comfortable because I met their victims
and I worked with their victims first.
And all of a sudden I’m thrown into the detention unit to
interpret for the person responsible for their sufferings.
I suffered during the war
and I understand suffering
of the people who came to testify.
But it is weird when, you meet a guy who was
in the paramilitaries and like five minutes
before he was talking about capturing guys, putting a
a rat on his stomach, covering the rat with a pot
and heating the pot so that the rat could dig
out the guts of the guy who was alive.
Can you imagine that?
He said that story in the proofing session.
It’s like, I don’t wanna be,
alone in the room with this guy.
You feel uncomfortable because you know
had we met 15 years ago
I would’ve been the victim for sure.
[Speaker 12] There was a story about
these two famous doctors actually and they were put
into concentration camps because
they were Muslim intellectuals.
They kept them in the toilet and the guards
they would come there, they would just bring them out.
They would beat them up.
And I think that they actually killed them
by beating both of them.
And I kept on having a reoccurring dream
that I’m actually in the toilet and
that the concentration camp guard is knocking at my door.
And I called my grandmother and I told her about the dream
and she told me, Besmir, do you know who they were?
Those people who were knocking at at your door?
And I said, No, I don’t.
She said They were actually angels.
They were there to let you know
that you are doing your job right.
The knowledge that somebody might be looking
at me and scrutinizing my interpretation really
helped me to do my job
the way the dead people I’m interpreting
about would want me to.
I said to myself, Well
I’m going to be the best fucking interpreter there was.
If there are angels watching
or the ghosts of those dead people, well you know what guys?
You can count on me.