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25 August 2016
News

Ex-Detainees Recall Harsh Conditions at Ljubuski Prison

BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Former prisoners testified about unhygienic conditions and malnourishment at a military prison in Ljubuski where they were detained in 1993 and 1994.

Prosecution witnesses Dzemil Sijercic told the state court in Sarajevo on Thursday that in October 1993 he was taken to the military investigation prison in Ljubuski, where conditions were poor and food rations were meagre.

“We went to the toilet in a bucket and a bottle. We got a bucket with boiling food and we had three minutes to eat it. There was not enough food, I lost 40 kilogrammes,” said Sijercic, adding that he once fainted because of malnourishment.

The witness added that later, he and some older prisoners were taken to other rooms and their conditions improved after defendant Slavko Skender became the warden.

Before that, the witness said, defendant Ivica Kraljevic was briefly the warden, and another person who he did not know.

The second witness who testified on Thursday, Ekrem Veledar from Pocitelj, said that he lost over 60 kilogrammes in the Ljubuski prison over six months.

“I got ill, I had wounds on my legs. I have the scars today. I had no one to help me medically,” said Veledar.

Ivica Kraljevic, Mate Jelcic, Slavko Skender, Stojan Odak, Vice Bebek, Vinko Radisic and Dragan Milos are charged with having participated in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at creating an ethnically-cleansed Croat statelet called Herceg-Bosna.

According to the indictment, Kraljevic, Jelcic and Skender were wardens of the military investigation prison, which was located in the police building in Ljubuski, in different periods from September 1993 until March 1994.

More than 100 Bosniaks from Mostar, Livno, Stolac, Jablanica, Maglaj, Zepce and other areas in Herzegovina were detained there.

Also on Thursday, at the trial of seven men for crimes against detainees in Hadzici, a defence witness said that he decided to testify in support of defendant Mirsad Sabic because he helped them during the war.

Witness Jovo Gracanin said he left the village of Pazaric in May 1992 and went to Hadzici but his sick mother and sister stayed behind. He said that he spoke to Sabic, who brought them food and medicine.

Gracanin asked the defendant for his family to be allowed to cross over onto Serb-controlled, and they were permitted to do so.

“I am grateful, Mirso,” the witness told Sabic in the courtroom.

On trial alongside Sabic are Mustafa Djelilovic, Fadil Covic, Nezir Kazic, Becir Hujic, Halid Covic, Serif Mesanovic and Nermin Kalember, all former employees of the police, the military or the civilian administration in Hadzici.

They are charged with committing crimes against civilians and prisoners of war detained in the Krupa barracks, the May 9 primary school and the Silos camp.

The Silos camp was one of the longest-running detention camps of the war.

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