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12 May 2008
News

Vrdoljak: The worst humiliation

BIRN BiH

Prosecution witnesses speak about the participation of Ivica Vrdoljak in cruel maltreatment of detainees in the course of 1992.

Prosecution witnesses Luka Patkovic and Momir Lazic said that indictee Vrdoljak cruelly beat them in the detention camp in Derventa and Bosanski Brod area. They also spoke about his participation in the torture of other detainees with "red hot steel."

"During our detention in the military warehouse in Rabic, my uncle told me that Geza tortured him by scorching him with red hot steel and I saw those scars. Geza did not beat me while I was there but he did beat me when I was transferred to Silos together with other detainees. I suffered the worst humiliation when he forced me to admit that I had got weapons," said Patkovic, adding that he was captured in Derventa on April 26, 1992.

The State Prosecution charges Ivica Vrdoljak, also known as Geza, former member of the 103rd Derventa Brigade of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), with having participated in the physical and mental abuse of civilians in the Silos building in Derventa and "Beograd" store warehouse in Bosanski Brod in 1992.

"As far as I can remember Vrdoljak was a soldier and he was dressed in uniform. He had short black hair, he did not have a beard and he was bigger than he is now. Now when I look at him this is the same man who beat us," Patkovic said, adding that he had known the indictee from before.

As indicated by Patkovic, after he had been released from the detention camp, he gave a statement to the police in 1994. This is when he found out that Ivica Vrdoljak was the person whose nickname was Geza.

Second Prosecution witness Momir Lazic claims to have seen Vrdoljak for the first time in Silos building on June 26, 1992. He said that he and other soldiers physically abused him while he was there.

"They took me to a room in which six soldiers had already been. One of them ordered me to kneel down and perform a Muslim prayer. While I was doing that they stayed hitting me in the ribs and, at one stage, I felt a terrible ache in my right hip, which was caused by scorching," said Lazic, adding that he did not know who had tortured him with "red hot steel".

The witness said that Patkovic, who had known Geza, told him that Geza's "real name" was Ivica Vrdoljak.

"Vrdoljak took me out and beat me up with another soldier one more time. Upon our arrival to 'Beograd' store warehouse, he took me to a separate room, where they hit me with their legs, hands and sticks. When I fell down, he took a brick and hit me in my head with it," Lazic said.

The trial is due to continue on Monday, May 19, 2008.
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