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28 April 2008
News

Hodzic: Suicide in Rovasi

BIRN BiH
Two former guards in the prison in Rovasi describe how they found a prisoner who had committed suicide.
At the trial of Ferid Hodzic, two Prosecution witnesses recall how a prisoner in Stale prison in Rovasi, Vlasenica, committed suicide. Both witnesses were former guards in that prison.

The indictment alleges that the Territorial Defence of BiH held a group of Serbian civilians and prisoners of war in inhumane conditions in Stala prison for seven months in 1992 and in early 1993. The State Prosecution considers that indictee Hodzic ordered the detention of those people. He allegedly was commander of the Territorial Defence in Vlasenica municipality at that time.

According to the indictment, they insulted and beat the prisoners, causing them bodily and mental suffering and one person died due to the injuries caused by the beating.

The indictment further alleges that indictee Hodzic "failed to open an investigation concerning the death of this prisoner and to undertake any measures in order to prevent those crimes or punish the perpetrators, although it was his responsibility as a commander."

"When I came to the prison one morning, the guards gave me the key to the prison, because they did not dare go in there and look at the dead man. I entered the room and I saw that Dusan had hanged himself to a manger pillar. He hanged himself 24 hours after having been brought there," Dzevad Music recalled.

Music claims that the prisoners could have seen Cestic committing suicide, which contradicts what Prosecution witness Rade Pejic said. He claimed to have seen the dead body when they were taking it out of the prison the following morning.

Ismet Huric and Music said that, following the suicide, a doctor, police and Becir Mekanic came to the prison. According to their opinion, he "took over the function of the commander of Vlasenica Territorial Defence from the indictee."

The two witnesses said that the living conditions in the prison were bad but they also said that they suffered from a lack of food and water and they lived in "a stable."

Huric and Music said they witnessed the beating of prisoners. According to them, this was done by "the military from Tuzla area," commanded by a person named Nurif.

"Some soldiers, who were dressed in camouflage uniforms, came and knocked down the door. Then they entered the prison and beat the prisoners. Later on, Bjelic, who was the only person who had the keys to that room, reported that they had broken into the prison," Huric said.

Veiz Bjelic was indicted by the same incitement with Hodzic, but after he admitted guilt, he was sentenced to 6 years in prison.

Music said the soldiers entered the prison through the attic and beat the prisoners up.

The trial of Ferid Hodzic is due to continue on May 13, 2008.

Hodzic's Defence was due to start presenting its evidence on May 21. However, Defence attorney Asim Crnalic said the Defence may decide not to present its evidence at all, if it finds that the Prosecution has not been able to prove the allegations contained in the indictment.
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