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28 January 2015
News

About Ten Guards – Hundreds of Detainees

Arnes Grbesic BIRN BiH Doboj

The presentation of Defence's evidence at the trial of Branislav Ninkovic, who is charged with crimes against detained civilians, has begun with testimonies by former guards and Manager of a prison in Doboj.

Djordjo Damjanovic told the District Court in Doboj that he began working in the prison on May 12, 1992 and that there were “nine or ten guards, who were responsible for hundreds of people, who were arrested without warrants or decisions.”

He said that there was blood on the prison walls and that detainees were Muslim and Croat civilians. Also, he said that, on St. Peter's Day in 1992 about 300 people were held in the prison, although the prison capacities could only accommodate only half as many people.

“We avoided discussing the events in the prison. As a human being, I felt worthless. I did not trust any of my colleagues. I could not help the detainees,” Damjanovic said.

The witness said that “the guards could not confront the Red Berets, military police and other uniformed and armed persons, who used to come to the prison and beat the detainees”.

“This continued until the International Red Cross registered the prisoners in June,” the witness said.

Damjanovic mentioned that some people died in the prison and that he registered visible injuries on detainees' bodies.

Miroslav Vidic said that he worked at the prison from mid-June 1992, adding that he performed the functions of Deputy Manager, Commissioner and Manager. He said that he replaced Mirko Slavuljica at the position of Prison Manager.

“None of the detainees complained about Ninkovic and other guards. In the beginning there was food. As there was less and less food in shops, we began lacking food in the prison as well,” Vidic said.

He said that the guards were not able to prevent intrusions by “uniformed and armed persons, who beat detainees using all sorts of objects”.

“Those things happened at night. In the morning we would inform the Health Centre and ask them to send a doctor. There were written records confirming this,” Vidic said.

While being examined by the Prosecutor, Vidic said that he knew nothing about the taking of a group of prisoners from Grapska or what happened to Avdo Kurtovic.

“There was one case of death, but I cannot say anything more specific about it. The autopsy showed that Marko Kikic died due to a heart failure and not due to the injuries he sustained. Dusan Vukovic was the guard, who took him out. We informed police and the Prosecution about it. He was under suspension for a certain period of time,” Vidic said.

Branislav Ninkovic is charged with having participated in the torture and abuse of arrested non-Serb civilians in the period from May 1992 to March 1993. This resulted in severe mental and physical suffering, bodily injuries and the death of prisoners.

Witness Dusan Radojcic said that he “worked many shifts” together with indictee Ninkovic during the course of the war and that he “did not see him mistreat anybody”.

Djordjo Lukic said that there was a special book in which all detainees were registered.

“When detainees were taken out of the prison, that was registered as well. I left all those papers there, when I retired in 2003,” Lukic said.

The trial is due to continue on February 26.
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