Jezik / Language:
22 April 2016

Sanski Most Prisoners ‘Suffocated in Truck’

BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Several prisoners from Sanski Most suffocated to death while being transported to the Manjaca detention camp in 1992, a prosecution witness told the trial of a former Serb police chief.

Prosecution witness Senad Piric told the state court in Sarajevo at the trial of former local police chief Mirko Vrucinic on Friday that detainees from the Betonirka factory in Sanski Most suffocated to death while being driven to the Manjaca detention camp in 1992.

Piric said he was arrested in late May 1992 and detained in a sports hall and a school building in Sanski Most for 42 days, then transferred to Manjaca.

He remembered that it happened on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. “I have not been able to celebrate it ever since,” he said.

He said that several big trucks and one smaller truck came to pick the detainees up and policemen loaded them onto the vehicles.

When they arrived at Manjaca, the witness heard the drivers telling each other: “People died under the canopy [of the truck].”

Mirko Vrucinic, the former chief of the public security station and a member of the crisis committee in Sanski Most, is charged with having participated in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at persecuting the non-Serb population from April to December 1992.

The persecution included murders, forced resettlement, unlawful detentions and forced disappearances, according to the charges.

Piric recalled having seen the defendant in front of the police station following his arrest in Sanski Most.

He said that occasion Vrucinic told him that he “would neither harm nor help” him.

“The gentleman was a master of life and death,” the witness said.

Also on Friday, the cantonal court in Sarajevo found former Bosnian Serb soldier Momir Tomas guilty of crimes against civilians in the Hadzici area in 1992 and sentenced him to one year and four months in prison.

Tomas was found guilty of having physically abused and inhumanely treated Bosniak civilians in the village of Breza in the Hadzici municipality on November 29, 1992.

Presiding judge Jasmina Begic said that testimony from witness Asim Korjenic, who recalled his own abuse, was trustworthy and confirmed by other witnesses’ testimonies.

“The beating, threats, curses and forcing the witness to put washing powder and starch on his head represented a harsh assault and an attack on his dignity and integrity. All of this happened deliberately with the aim of belittling the civilians,” Begic said.

She said the court could not accept the defence’s argument that the defendant was not responsible, but his brother.

Both sides have the right to appeal against the verdict to the Supreme Court of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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