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15 March 2007
News

Mejakic et al: Defence Accuses Prosecution Witness

BIRN BiH


Former Omarska detainee describes living conditions in the detention camp.


During cross-examination in the trial of Zeljko Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban, Dusko Knezevic and Dusan
Fustar, the Defence has accused a Prosecution witness of smuggling weapons.

Senad Kapetanovic, a former Omarska camp detainee, was appearing before the Court of BiH as a prosecution witness in the proceedings against the so-called Prijedor Four.

According to Kapetanovic, "Serb soldiers" arrested him in May1992 when he was first taken to Omarska detention camp, then to Keraterm and in mid-June he was returned to Omarska where he stayed until the end of August.

"When I came to the camp, [Miroslav] Kvocka was the commander and Mejakic replaced him later," Kapetanovic said. Kvocka was sentenced before the Hague tribunal to seven years imprisonment for crimes committed against civilians who were detained in Omarska and Keraterm camps.

According to the indictment, as commander of Omarska camp in 1992, Mejakic was responsible for the lives of more than 3,000 detained civilians.

The witness also recognised Momcilo "Ckalja" Gruban as one of the commanders in the camp. According to the indictment, Gruban was commander of one of three guard shifts in Omarska camp from May to
August 1992.

Kapetanovic also said that the living conditions for Omarska detainees were very poor and that they received only one meal per day.

"Twenty people shared one loaf of bread, lunch could last a total of three minutes and they often beat us while we ate," the witness remembered.

After Omarska camp was closed at the end of August 1992, Kapetanovic was transferred to Manjaca detention camp where he stayed until December 12 of the same year.

During cross-examination, Zeljko Mejakic's Defence attorney Jovan Simic read part of a report which was allegedly sent by Jusuf Ramic - the alleged commander of Prijedor's Territorial Defence in 1992 - to the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Zagreb. He read the part according to which the witness Kapetanovic "was one of main weapons smugglers in Prijedor" and according to which "he sold weapons to Muslims at the highest prices".

The witness denied these statements and called them "ridiculous and false".

The next hearing will be held on March 21, 2007 when the Prosecution will question one more protected witness.
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