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15 May 2008
News

Hodzic: Police responsibility

BIRN BiH
A former guard at the prison in Rovasi says police, and not indictee Hodzic, were responsible for "Stala" prison.

Nurija Huric, Prosecution witness at the trial of Ferid Hodzic for crimes in the Vlasenica area, said that he received the orders from policemen, who worked in the "main headquarters" in Rovasi and that nobody could come to "Stala" ("Barn") prison without informing Veiz Bjelic about it.

"I saw Hodzic in May 1992. Some soldiers told me that he was the commander, but he was rarely present. The policemen used to distribute tasks to us and one of them, who had a green beret on his head, ordered me to work in the kitchen, dig trenches and finally guard the 'Stala' prison," Huric said.

The Prosecution of BiH charges Hodzic, former commander of the Territorial Defence (TD) in Vlasenica, with having ordered other TD members to hold captured Serbian civilians and prisoners of war in inhumane conditions in "Stala" prison in Rovasi in 1992 and 1993.

"The people who were detained in 'Stala' did not bathe and neither did we. They did their needs in a bucket. Other people told me that all of them were brought there after having been captured at the frontlines. I know that Bjelic had the key to the prison and nobody could enter "Stala" without his knowledge," said Huric, adding that Bjelic was a guard in the prison.

Originally the Prosecution charged Veiz Bjelic and Ferid Hodzic with crimes in "Stala" prison, but Bjelic admitted guilt at the very beginning of the trial. After having signed a guilt admission agreement with the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, BiH, the Court of BiH sentenced Bjelic, in March 2008, to six years imprisonment for his role in the rape and torture of prisoners, who were held in "Stala" prison.

In the course of the examination this witness said that one of the prisoners committed suicide in prison. Becir Mekanic then gave an order to bury the man. The witness said Mekanic was one of "the chiefs" in Rovasi. This is not in line with his earlier statement, given to the Prosecution of BiH, in which he said that indictee Hodzic was the chief.

"When I gave that statement I was telling the truth but I do not understand why I said that Hodzic gave an order for the burial of that man," Huric said.

During the examination of this witness, Hodzic briefly left the courtroom, with the permission from the Trial Chamber, because "he was not feeling well."

The trial is due to continue on Tuesday, May 20, 2008.

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