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28 March 2008

Andrun: Detention camp mover

The Appellate Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has heard the statements given by four witnesses at the retrial of Nikola Andrun.
As part of the retrial of Nikola Andrun, the Appellate Chamber of the State Court heard the statements of four Prosecution witnesses. They all identified the indictee in the courtroom as the former deputy manager of Gabela detention camp, in which they were imprisoned.

The first instance Trial Chamber ruled Nikola Andrun guilty and sentenced him to 13 years imprisonment for crimes committed against detainees in Gabela detention camp near Capljina. The crimes were carried out in 1993, when, according to the State Prosecution, Andrun was deputy detention camp manager.

The Croatian Defence Council (HVO) arrested former BiH Army member Kemal Balavac and about 40 other soldiers and took them to Gabela in June 1993. Balavac claims to have seen in the detention camp, Nikola Andrun, who introduced himself by saying that he was deputy manager of Gabela detention camp.

"Andrun said that his grandfather used to hold people in a detention camp and he was proud to be doing the same thing. I think he pulled all strings in the detention camp, while Boko was just a fool who walked around and did what he did," Balavac said.

Boko is the nickname of detention camp manager Bosko Previsic. The Ministry of Interior of Hercegovina-Neretva Canton issued a warrant against Previsic, after the Cantonal Court in Mostar had accused him of the crimes committed against detainees in Gabela.

"I think I, of all detainees except the ones who were killed, lived through the most horrible experiences," the witness said, describing how the indictee took him from the detention camp to "a prize ring", where he was supposed to fight with a man, while the Safety and Information Service members organised a betting. After that, the witness claims that members of "Ludvig Pavlovic" Unit took him somewhere to perform forced labour and abused him, "with Andrun's consent."

"They extinguished cigarettes on my arm but the most severe beatings were the ones they did with their legs, while wearing boots. Andrun watched all this and he did not do anything," the witness said.

During the first instance trial, the Defence did not want to cross-examine this witness but he was invited to testify as Defence witness and was directly examined. This part of his testimony will be heard at the next hearing. 

Witnesses Eldin Vujinovic, Senad Setka and Hadze Klaric stayed in hangar number three, together with "more than 350 other detainees". They said that there were four hangars in the detention camp, where even 14-year old children were held. 

The three witnesses spoke about the disappearance of detainee Mirsad Zujo, who never came back after having been called out by Nikola Andrun.

"They used to take Mirsad out and beat him up. They broke his teeth. The third time Andrun called his name out he said: 'Come on Zujo. There will come a time when they will go to the other side, but you, for sure, will never go.' He left and he never came back. Actually his remains did come back in a bag in 1996," Senad Setka said. Zujo was his best friend.

The witnesses also said that, although Bosko Previsic was detention camp manager, Andrun had "more responsibility."

"Previsic used to give us lectures. He would say that he was the one deciding on our fate and he insulted us. Whenever Andrun appeared something concrete happened. He did not talk much," Setka said.

The next hearing is due to April 2.
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