Yahoo News ran the following AP article over the weekend:
Torture charges shatter Croatian's quiet Ky. life
by Bruce Schreiner and Brett Barrouquere
STANTON, KY -- If Azra Basic needed a place to run from the bloody aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia, her small-town Kentucky neighbors said she found it. The Croatian woman locals knew as "Issabella" settled years ago in this rural, hilly area and took jobs bathing elderly nursing home patients and working at a sandwich factory.
This week, acquaintances were shocked to hear the secret that Bosnian war crimes investigators said Basic has been hiding for two decades. As a soldier in the Croatian army, she killed a prisoner and tortured others by forcing them to drink human blood and gasoline, authorities said. She was arrested on Tuesday by federal agents.
"She's a lovely person, very diligent in her work," said 88-year-old Henrietta Kirchner, who was one of Basic's patients at the Stanton Nursing Center for about a week when she was recovering from a broken leg.
According to documents, the 52-year-old Basic (pronounced BOSH) is charged with fatally stabbing a prisoner in the neck in 1992 during the bloody conflict in Eastern Europe. Court documents accuse her of numerous other atrocities, including: setting a prisoner ablaze, pulling out prisoners' fingernails with pliers, ripping off a man's ear with pliers, and carving crosses and the letter "S" into another man's flesh.
The accusations were "very shocking" to 44-year-old former neighbor Brian Rice.
"She's a pretty nice person," said Rice, who lived near her for about two years until she moved in November. "If I was standing here right now and.....she drove by, she would throw her hand up and if the window was down, she would speak and say 'hi' by my name."
It's highly doubtful that any of your friendly neighbors are former war criminals. But the article does make you wonder which of your nice neighbors who wave and call your name would, in other circumstances, be equally glad to torture you.
The story is a little reminiscent of the infamous 1961 Milgram experiment, in which students at Yale University, under the instruction from the experimenter, willingly gave other students increasingly large electric shocks.
I suppose we should be grateful we were never forced to find out what our own limits are.
(If you're not grateful, you're probably one of those who would have happily pulled others' fingernails out.)