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witness-statements-describe-forced-labour-and-suspected-rape-of-potoci-prisoners
17 February 2016
News

Witness Statements Describe Forced Labour and Suspected Rape of Potoci Prisoners

Emina Dizdarevic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

A statement by a deceased witness was read at the trial of five former members of the Bosnian Army charged with crimes in the Mostar area in 1993. In the statement, the witness said defendant Enes Curic was a detention camp manager who sometimes exempted prisoners from forced labour.

Defendants Enes Curic, Ibrahim Demirovic, Mehmed Kaminic, Samir Kreso and Habib Copelj have been charged with participating in the detention of Croat civilians who were subjected to severe physical and mental mistreatment from June to December 1993.

According to the charges, Curic was a member of the 49th Mountain Brigade of the Bosnian Army and was also a manager of detention facilities in Potoci. Demirovic was the commander of the 47th Mountain Brigade. Kreso was the chief of the medical section of a unit that was active in the territory of Bijelo Polje, while Copelj and Kaminic were members of the Bosnian army.

Demirovic has also been charged with an incident of wartime rape in Potoci.

In a statement given to the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) in 2006, Marko Grgic said he and his family were captured in Potoci in the municipality of Mostar on the morning of June 30, 1993. He said he was detained in a school building in Potoci after spending several days in other locations.

He said Enes Curic was the detention camp manager.

“I remember that person B was frequently taken out at night and returned on the following morning. I believe Curic knew about it, because he would call her over sometimes,” Grgic said.

Grgic mentioned said Curic “sometimes protected detainees.”

“When detainees went somewhere to perform forced labour, Curic exempted me from going,” Grgic said.

Prosecutor Stanko Blagic also read a statement given by Mladen Crnjac, who said the Bosnian Army captured him in Potoci on June 30, 1993 and took him to the Omerika house. When he arrived, Crnjac said he saw more than 100 people in the basement and other premises of the house.

Crnjac said a man nicknamed Hecim addressed the prisoners, and said they would be taken to Mostar to be exchanged. Crnjac spent 15 days in detention before being transferred to the school building in Potoci.

“I saw Eno Curic. He was the chief in the school building...While I was digging trenches, I had a heart attack. A soldier helped me. Curic and others told me I would be exempted from digging trenches, because I had a heart attack,” he said.

Crnjac said some girls were taken out of the school. He said according to rumours, they were taken out in order to be raped. He also recalled some prisoners were taken out to evacuate a wounded man from the Neretva river.

The trial will continue on March 2.

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