Jezik / Language:
17 February 2016

Witnesses Describe Prisoner Abuse and Torture in Livno

Dzana Brkanic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

A state prosecution witness identified defendant Muamir Jasarevic, also known as Babo, as the military police officer who electrocuted him while he was detained in a school building in Livno.

Defendants Muamir Jasarevic, Zdenko Andabak and Sead Velagic have been charged with the detention, torture and murder of Serb civilians held in the Ivan Goran Kovacic school building.

According to the charges, Andabak was the chief of military police of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO) for the North-Western Herzegovina Operational Zone, while Jasarevic was his deputy. Velagic was a member of the crime service of HVO military police.

State prosecution witness Marko Vulic said he was detained in the Ivan Goran Kovacic school in Livno. He described how he was tortured when he was taken to chief Muhamed Ibrahimovic to be interrogated.

“Ibrahimovic was typing something. He said, ‘I want the keyword for Knin and then a blow.’ Babo [Jasarevic] hit me more than anyone else. Zmija hit me too. Babo connected electrical wires to my neck, upper arm and thigh three times. They beat me with boots, batons, all sorts of things. I was covered with black bruises,” Vulic said.

He said he was unable to get up for ten days due to the beating he endured.

Vulic said he recognized defendant Muamir Jasarevic, known as Babo, in the courtroom. He said he hadn’t known him before, but learned his name in the school. He said he also remembered Zdenko Andabak from the school building, but described his behaviour as “immaculate.”

Also testifying at today’s hearing, state prosecution witness Vojislav Ivetic said he was detained in the school gym in August 1992 after a raid in which the entire Serb population was apprehended.

He said a man Dino Hodzic used to beat him during his detention. He said he was released when military police chief Zdenko Andabak signed a letter discharging him from prison. Andabak said the discharge letter, which the state prosecution presented, didn’t contain his first or last name. He said it could be determined that the signature on the letter wasn’t his.

State prosecution witness Pero Jovic said he was detained in the school gym for 51 days and was taken out for interrogation twice. He said a man named Garic took him out on the first occasion and Jasarevic on the second. As he said Garic punched and kicked him, and beat him with a baton, causing him to faint.

“Babo [Jasarevic] took me out on the second evening...He was a big, serious man. He never smiled. He connected electricity to my neck arteries. It looked like a shaving machine. We were alone,” Jovic said.

Jasarevic’s defense said that in one of his previous statements Jovic said his client was the first person to take him out for interrogation. Jovic denied this. According to Jasarevic’s defense, Jovic also said he was placed in an electric chair. Jovic denied this as well.

Jovic said afterwards that Sead Velagic took him home in order to retrieve a light machine gun, which the witness had previously returned. He said he threatened him because of the gun. Jovic said that while he was alone with him in the school corridor, Garic sprayed his leg with a flammable agent and set it on fire.

Velagic’s defense said that in his previous statement, Jovic said Garic took him home because of the machine-gun and then set his leg on fire in the school building. Jovic denied this, saying that specific page of his statement given to the Bosnian state prosecution in January 2015 didn’t contain his signature.

Jovic also said Zdenko Andabak told him he was free and that he had to report to the station every day after his release.

“He had a brother in the military police. He was my work colleague...He [Zdenko Andabak] had a small mustache, but not now,” Jovic said, identifying the defendant in the courtroom.

Andabak said the witness mistook him for his brother. He said his brother used to have a mustache and that Jovic used to work with his cousin, not with his brother.

State prosecution witness Aleksandar Radeta, who worked at the Commission for Searching for the Missing Persons of Republika Srpska, said he participated in the exhumation of 13 bodies from the Zastinje pit in Livno in 1999.

“Milun Bajilo from Livno and three more persons were identified. The data available to me indicates that 12 people whose remains were found in the grave had been brought to Livno from Croatia,” Radeta said. He said the bodies had fallen from a very high point.

Witnesses Jozic and Ivetic said Milun Bajilo was killed in the school building in Livno and that he was detained with 12 workers from Croatia, whom they called Celavci.

The trial will continue on February 24.

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