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25 January 2013

Avdovic and Vintila: Ex-Detainee Recalls Sarajevo Barracks Beatings

A Bosnian Serb witness testified how a guard repeatedly attacked him while he was imprisoned at the Viktor Bubanj army barracks during wartime.
Giving evidence at the war crimes trial in Sarajevo, prosecution witness Slobodan Gutaj said that the defendant, Iulian-Nicolae Vintila – who was a cook as well as a prison guard at the barracks – had beaten him up several times in his cell.

“When he beat me up thoroughly two or three times, I asked [another prisoner] what was his name, and he told me it was Vintila the Cook,” said the witness.

Vintila and Ramiz Avdovic are charged, as members of a joint criminal enterprise, with taking part in the establishment and maintenance of a system of abuse of Serb civilians between June and late November 1992.

According to the indictment, Avdovic was in charge of all the guards in at the Viktor Bubanj barracks military prison, while Vintila was a cook and a guard at the barracks.

Asked by Vintila’s lawyer, Vlado Adamovic, whether it was possible he had mistaken the defendant with somebody else, the witness replied that “everything was possible”.

The defence announced that it believed that this was a case of mistaken identity and that there were inconsistencies between the witness’s earlier statement and his court testimony.

The witness said that he was beaten on arriving at the Viktor Bubanj barracks, after which he lost consciousness.

“They kicked you, beat you with fists and batons... These were horrible pains. I was all black [with bruises] and I wonder how I could have endured all that,” he said.

He said that during his time in the barracks, he was taken for questioning before the investigating judge and told he was being tried for “cooperation with the [Bosnian Serb] Army of Republika Srpska”.

“I was sentenced to a year in prison, and that was only to cover for the time they already kept me. Later my sentence was increased by six months,” said Gutaj.

He spent around eight months in the Vikor Bubanj barracks, he said, after which he was moved to the Central Prison in Sarajevo.

The trial will resume on February 1.
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