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14 July 2016
News

Croatian Defence Council Fighter ‘Beat Prisoner Daily’

BIRN BiH Sarajevo

At the trial of former Croatian Defence Council fighter Almaz Nezirovic for alleged torture and inhumane treatment of detained Serb civilians, a witness said the defendant beat him several times.

Prosecution witness Zeljko Stajicic told the state court on Thursday that he was detained in hangars in Rabic, near Derventa, along with about 100 other persons, where defendant Nezirovic used to beat him almost every day, using batons, a whip, wooden bars and other objects.

Stajicic, who is a doctor, said he knew Nezirovic from before the war.

“I wouldn’t mind if it was somebody I did not know. He would just come and say: ‘Doctor, come out’… He hit me on all parts of my body, from head to toe,” Stajicic said.

Apart from being hit with a whip, he also remembered being beaten with a white baton.

“My fist, skull and 11 ribs were fractured. Multiple fractures. Nezirovic broke my ribs the first time he beat me. I was unconscious for 11 days,” Stajicic said, adding that other guards used to beat him as well.

The court gave Nezirovic a warning after he told the witness: “Shame on you.”

Nezirovic, a former member of the Croatian Defence Council, is charged with participating in the torture and inhumane treatment of Serb civilians held in the Rabic and Silos Polje detention camps in the Derventa municipality and a detention camp in the village of Tulek in the Bosanski Brod municipality in 1992.

At a separate hearing on Thursday, a prosecution witness told the trial of seven men accused of abusing prisoners in Ljubuski in 1993 and 1994 about bad conditions and inhumane treatment of detainees by guards.

Witness Dzemal Piric said he was captured as a member of the Bosnian Army in the Stolac area in April 1993, and after being at several other locations, he was transferred to Ljubuski in October.

“There was not enough space for the three of us to lie down normally. There was not enough food. They forced us to eat hot food very fast. We had to eat in rush, go to the toilet in a rush,” Piric said.

“We bathed for the first time before Christmas 1993. We used cold water, although it was December,” he added.

According to his testimony, the worst thing was that the cells were not locked, so anybody could come in and mistreat the detainees.

He said that defendant Stojan Odak was particularly inhumane towards them.

“Stole [Odak] demonstrated power over us, the helpless people, more than anybody else,” Piric said.

Odak is on trial alongside Ivan Kraljevic, Mato Jelcic, Slavko Skender, Dragan Milos, Vice Bebek and Vinko Radisic, charged with torturing and abusing civilians and prisoners of war and holding them in inhumane conditions.

According to the charges, Kraljevic, Jelcic and Skender were managers of the prison in Ljubuski in various periods of time from September 1993 to March 1994, while the other defendants were guards.

Witness Piric said he was personally not beaten, but he heard that others were, including his uncle.

“I wasn’t mistreated physically, but mentally. It is unimaginable that a person can devise such a thing and somebody can execute it,” he said.

“A man does not know what he is capable of surviving. You can only imagine the conditions in other detention camps, given the fact that we used to say we were fine in Ljubuski,” he added.

Odak’s defence asked the witness why he failed to mention the defendant in his previous statements in which he spoke about the beating of his uncle.

Piric said it was “an amendment to my statement”.


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