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20 May 2016
News

Croatian Defence Council Fighter ‘Beat Up Prisoners’

BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Witnesses told the trial of former Croatian Defence Council fighter Almaz Nezirovic, accused of abusing prisoners in Derventa and Bosanski Brod, that the defendant beat them with a rubber baton.

Prosecution witness Vlado Markovic told the state court in Sarajevo on Thursday that he encountered defendant Nezirovic twice during his detention in a hangar next to the cemetery in Rabic in the Derventa municipality in May 1992.

“He was an HVO [Croatian Defence Council] soldier, not a guard. He treated us in an improper and violent manner,” Markovic said.

“We had a desk, a school desk, on which we had to put three fingers. He then hit us with a baton. He hit me ten times. It was a rubber police baton. He hit each and every one of us,” he added.

The witness said that on another occasion Almaz beat him up outside the hangar, hitting him on his legs, back and ribs with the baton, which made him faint.

He said he still suffers from the consequences of the beating.

Nezirovic’s lawyer Kerim Celik said that in the witness’s statement given in 1992, an unsigned copy of which he had received as evidence together with the indictment, he said that guard Edin Mrkonjic hit him on his fingers and used to take him out of the hangar and beat him with a baton as well.

The witness said this was true.

Prosecutor Milanko Kajganic said that, while listing in that same statement all those who beat him, Markovic also mentioned the name of defendant Nezirovic.

Celik also said that in his statement from 2003, the witness said he was hit on his fingers by Mrkonjic, not by Nezirovic.

“I remembered it today. Both of them beat me,” Markovic responded.

Former HVO member Nezirovic is charged with having participated in the torture and inhumane treatment of Serb civilians at the Rabic and Silos Polje detention camps in the municipality of Derventa and at a detention camp in Tulek in the municipality of Bosanski Brod in 1992.

A second witness, Stanimir Pijetlovic, also told the court that Nezirovic hit him on his fingers with a baton at the Rabic detention centre.

He said that Nezirovic then stabbed a military knife into the table between his fingers, which made him so scared that he still wakes up at night out of fear at gthe memory.

“I was beaten during 80 per cent of his shifts,” Pijetlovic said.

Also on Thursday, the trial of 11 former policemen and reservist officers charged with wartime crimes in Janja began at the state court with the reading of the indictment and the presentation of introductory statements.

Zoran Bogdanovic, Milan Djokic, Ljubisa Ikic, Branislav Trisic, Vlado Stjepanovic, Zoran Tanasic, Zarko Milanovic, Mladen Krajisnik, Savo Mrsic, Milivoje Cobic and Milan Markovic are accused of having arrested, tortured and caused the death of Bosniak civilians in the Janja area from April 1992 to September 1994.

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