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27 June 2007
News

Mejakic et al: Maltreatment in Omarska

BIRN BiH
Prosecution witness speaks about the torture that detainees were exposed to in Omarska.
Protected witness K018, who testified via video-link, has spoken about the beating of detained Bosniaks and Croats in detention camp Omarska and about the severe injuries that caused the death of some detainees. A part of his examination was conducted in a closed session.

Zeljko Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban, Dusan Fustar and Dusko Knezevic are charged with participation, during 1992, in the torturing, killing, raping and beating of forcibly detained Bosniaks and Croats in camps Omarska and Keraterm.

Members of the public were present when witness K018 said that he had been brought to Omarska on 28 May 1992 and then taken, together with other men, to room 15 in a hangar within Omarska camp.

"When we arrived the room was empty. Later on, between 300 and 400 were brought there," the witness has said. He claims that guards used to come to the room frequently and take detainees out for interrogation and beating.

The indictment alleges that detainees in Omarska and Keraterm were beaten up with fists, legs, baseball bats, guns and a stick with a metal ball on one end.

The witness has recalled one day when a larger group of detainees was taken away, tortured and beaten up.

"I remember that, on 24 July 1992, they brought between 200 and 300 people from the area of Brdo," he told the court.

"Most of them were then taken to Bijela kuca. We could hear detainees moaning and begging them not to beat them," the witness said, adding that they often saw dead bodies in front of Bijela kuca, which were then driven away in a yellow truck in an unknown direction.

"At the beginning of August 1992, a guard called four of us out and said we should go to room 25 and collect a body. When we came there we saw alive detainees in the same room and one big severely beaten man was lying on the floor. I suppose he had been brought there quite recently because he was bigger that the rest of us," said the witness.

According to witness testimony, Mejakic was commander of detention camp Omarska while Miroslav Kvocka was his deputy.

The indictment alleges that Mejakic was manager of Omarska from 24 May to 30 August 1992. In 2005, Miroslav Kvocka was sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to seven years imprisonment for crimes committed in Omarska and Keraterm.

"One detainee told me that Mejakic had advised him not to stand up when guards call our names in the evening. I think it was his friend," says the witness, who was taken to Trnopolje camp from Omarska on 6 August 1992. He left there on 1 October the same year.

The trial continues on 28 July 2007.
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