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20 May 2008
News

Mejakic et al: Frightful detention camps

BIRN BiH
In its closing arguments the Prosecution calls for guilty verdicts against the three indictees, claiming that they were members of a joint criminal enterprise.
At the end of a two-day presentation of closing arguments, the State Prosecution said that it managed to prove the responsibility of the three indictees for the crimes in Omarska and Keraterm detention camps in the course of 1992. It called upon the Trial Chamber to announce a guilty verdict.

"We do not think that Mejakic was an architect of the Omarska detention camp but he should be severely punished for having played a key role in the criminal detention camp. We therefore ask you to sentence him to a long-term imprisonment. In determining the sentence against Gruban, we think that the Court should take the sentences announced against Kos and Fustar as an example. The Prosecution considers that Knezevic should be sentenced to at least 35 years imprisonment and this would be the only adequate sentence in his case," Prosecutor Peter Kidd said.

The Prosecution charges Zeljko Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban and Dusko "Duca" Knezevic with participating in a joint criminal enterprise from May to August 1992. This included murder, rape, beating and the forcible detention of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in the Omarska and Keraterm detention camps.

The Hague Tribunal sentenced Milojica Kos to six years imprisonment. In April 2008 Dusan Fustar admitted guilt before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, BiH. He was then sentenced to nine years imprisonment. The two men were guard shift commanders in Omarska and Keraterm detention camps.

Talking about Knezevic, the Prosecutor said that he "beat the detainees in a brutal and sadistic way, and he did that for his pleasure." He continued by saying that his presence was "the personification of the detention camp evil."

"Some people undersign the crimes they commit and Duca was just like that. He loved to hunt people in herds and Zigic was his main companion. The beatings were long and sadistic, which caused severe bodily injuries to the detainees, who were asked to act like marionettes, which were controlled by them," Kidd said.

The Hague Tribunal sentenced Zoran Zigic to 25 years imprisonment for his participation in abuse, beating, torture and murder of detainees in Omarska and Trnopolje detention camps.

The prosecutor said that all witnesses confirmed that there was only one person, whose name was Dusko Knezevic, who visited the detention camp and beat the detainees. They said that he was known as Duca.

"He was not some intruder or a person who came to Prijedor at the beginning of the war. On the contrary, he was born there and he grew up in that town. And he beat his neighbours," Kidd stressed.

The third indictee's Defence tried to prove that there had been a mix-up of identities, claiming that Knezevic was not the person who had beaten the detainees.

The three Defence teams are due to present their closing arguments on Thursday, May 22 and Friday, May 23.
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