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20 January 2014
News

Intrusions into Omarska from Outside

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH Haag

Testifying in defence of Radovan Karadzic, Miroslav Kvocka, former police guard in Omarska detention camp, says that Serb policemen did not endanger thousands of Muslims and Croats, who were detained in that facility, in the summer of 1992.

Kvocka said that Security Chief Zeljko Mejakic, whose Deputy he was, ordered policemen not to abuse detainees and to reduce their contacts with them to a minimal level.

In 2001 the Tribunal sentenced Kvocka to seven years in prison for having committed crimes in Omarska, while Mejakic was sentenced, before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to 20 years in prison for having committed persecutions, murders, torture and other crimes.

Karadzic, wartime President of Republika Srpska, is charged with grave crimes in Omarska and Prijedor municipality, where, according to the charges, the persecution of Muslims and Croats reached the scale of genocide.

Kvocka said that, as soon as he arrived in Omarska, he saw three or four bodies of Muslims, who had attempted to flee. He said that he was present, when a member of Serb forces shot at detainees out of revenge and killed a few of them.

The witness said that he did not know about the use of force during examinations of detainees.

While being cross-examined by prosecutors, Kvocka confirmed that the living conditions in Omarska, which he called “a concentration and investigation centre”, were bad and that he was present when detainees were forced to sing Serbian songs and slap each other.

Also, he confirmed that members of reserve police forces used to enter the detention camp from the outside and beat Muslims, some of them to death.

He denied having known, at the time, about “cruel crimes” committed by Zoran Zigic’s paramilitary forces, whose members used to enter the detention camp. He reminded the Tribunal that he worked in Omarska for 17 days only.

In 2005 the Tribunal sentenced Zigic to 25 years in prison for crimes committed in Omarska and other detention camps.

“I did not want anyone to die there. This is why I entered into conflicts with reserve policemen,” Kvocka said, specifying that those were “two or three men”.

Karadzic’s witness Dragan Radetic gave a similar testimony today, but he spoke about Keraterm detention camp. Radetic supervised the examination of detainees for a brief period of time in May 1992.

Radetic said that no evidence was found against any of the 50 persons who underwent examination.

The trial of Karadzic, who is also charged with genocide in Srebrenica, terror against civilians in Sarajevo and taking UNRPOFOR members hostage, is due to continue tomorrow, January 21. 

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