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12 September 2007

Mejakic et al: Murders by the Moonlight

Former Keraterm camp inmate recalls the night when over 100 prisoners were executed.

Testifying at the trial of four Bosnian Serbs charged with war crimes committed in Prijedor camps, prosecution witness told the Court about the night in July 1992 when a group of fellow detainees were murdered in Keraterm.

"During the night there was shooting which lasted for about two hours," protected witness K029 said.

"The morning after we were not allowed to go out of our rooms, but we could see corpses in the camp yard." said the witness.

He added that "about 120 detainees" were murdered on that occasion.

Witness K029, who was detained in Keraterm camp from June 18 to August 5, 1992, testified at the trial of Zeljko Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban. Dusan Fustar and Dusko Knezevic.

The indictment alleges that, from May to August 1992 Fustar was "one of the three commanders of guard shifts in Keraterm", where about 1,500 civilians were detained. During the same period Knezevic is alleged to have been visiting the detention camp on regular basis during which time he beat and murdered the prisoners. He is also alleged to have participated in rape and other forms of sexual abuse of detainees.

The witness told the court he remembered Fustar and Knezevic from his days in detention.

"There were no rules during Fustar's shifts. Someone would always be maltreated. I think that most prisoners were beaten up during his shifts," the witness said.

Everyone was abused in the camp, according to the witness, including boys no older than 14 or 15.

Knezevic took prisoners our of their rooms and hit their heads with a bat or "kicked them as if they were footballs", K029 recalled.

"As the time passed by we remembered him. If someone would say: 'Here comes Duca', we would run back to our rooms immediately," he said.

"He was not a guard, but he used to come to the detention camp and beat people up."

The trial is set to continue on September 13, 2007.
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