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4 November 2015
News

Former Prisoners Describe Treatment in Bijelo Polje Detention Facility

Emina Dizdarevic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

A state prosecution witness testifying at the trial of five former members of the Bosnian Army said she was taken somewhere in the Mostar area to rescue a wounded soldier during her detention in Bijelo Polje.

Enes Curic, Ibrahim Demirovic, Samir Kreso, Habib Copelj and Mehmed Kaminic have been charged with participating in the unlawful arrest and detention of Croat civilians in the municipality of Mostar from June to December 1993.

The Bosnian state prosecution alleges that at the time Curic was a member of the 49th Mountain Brigade of the Bosnian Army and the manager of a detention facility in a school and other buildings in Potoci, Demirovic was the commander of the 47th Mountain Brigade of the Bosnian Army, Kreso was the head of the medical service with the military unit of the Mountain Brigade (active in the Bijelo Polje area), while Copelj and Kaminic were members of the Bosnian Army.

Demirovic, who was also a member of the 449th Eastern Herzegovina Mountain Brigade of the Bosnian Army, has also been charged with the rape of a woman in Potoci in 1993.

State prosecution witness Cvija Skobic testified at today’s hearing. Skobic said members of the Bosnian Army captured her and took her to a school building in Bijelo Polje in the municipality of Mostar.

“We were in the gym. We had some mattresses and blankets. I wasn’t cold. Neither were my children. The women who were held with us cooked. I think we were given some food, so the children had something to eat. Enes Curic introduced himself as the boss. He was always present,” Skobic said.

She said nobody assaulted, raped or mistreated her, but she lived in constant fear because of her three underage children.

Skobic said people were taken out each morning in order to perform forced labour. She said Curic used to decide which prisoners would go.

“I was taken out one night in order to save a wounded Bosnian Army soldier from the Neretva River. I begged Curic not to send me, because I had children and my husband had been killed...He didn’t listen to me. Since none of the women who came with me could swim, the soldiers took us back to the school building,” Skobic said.

State prosecution witness Jela Azinovic also testified at today’s hearing. Azinovic said she was also at detained at the school building. She described Curic as a guard and said he was always present.

“I can’t complain about the manner in which the detainees were treated. Nobody even touched me. They used some women as human shields, but I don’t know the details. I think Ibrahim Demirovic and a few soldiers came and took those people somewhere in order to use them as shields. I hadn’t known him from before,” Azinovic said. She identified Demirovic in the courtroom.

The trial will continue on November 11.

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