Jezik / Language:
11 October 2013

Beaten While Having Lunch

Sanela Gaković BIRN BiH Mostar

As the trial of Mijo Banovic and Gojko Granic, who are charged with crimes in Dretelj detention camp, Capljina municipality, in 1993, continues, Prosecution witnesses describe how indictee Banovic mistreated them physically. 

Witness Medin Kaplan said that he was captured in the Stolac area on July 14, 1993 and that he was transferred to Dretelj a few days later.  

“Brada was a military policeman. He had a beard at the time. They called him Mijo Brada [Mijo Beard]. At that time I did not know that his name was Mijo Banovic. People were scared of him more than anybody else. He used to take us out of isolation cells and hangars. He took me out of the isolation cell during my four-day stay in it and beat me,” Medin Kaplan said.  

The witness recognised the indictee in the courtroom, saying that he was the person who used to beat him.  

“When we had lunch, we were ordered to lie on the ground and step on each other’s backs. In fact, prisoners were beaten up the whole time while having lunch,” Kaplan recalled.  

Witness Almir Obradovic, who was in the detention camp from July to September 1993, said that military police of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, beat them up.  

“Mijo Brada was among them. He had a black beard, uniform and a white belt. I remembered him by those things. He beat me with a police stick, boots, rifle butts, depending on the situation. I suffered torture, humiliation,” Obradovic said, adding that the beating always took place during lunch.  
When asked by judge Slavko Pavlovic whether he recognised indictee Banovic, the witness said that he did not even want to look at him.  

“I do not want to look at him and remember those days. I am trying to forget all that. I was only 20 years old at that time,” Obradovic said.
Jasmin Saldo said that he knew Mijo Banovic well, adding that he “walked through the detention camp all the time and beat prisoners up”.  
“We were held in the hangar for 20 days. We urinated and defecated in that room. About 750 of us were held in it. Only later did they allow us to use the toilet. When they took us out in order to eat, we would get some soup. I had a plastic jar, so I managed to pour some water in it. However, Mirhet Djuheric, who co-operated with guards, saw me and told Mijo about it. Banovic approached me and ordered me to dump the jar into a canal. After that he beat me up. He ordered me to stand still, while he hit me with a rifle butt on my legs and stomach and slapped me,” Saldo said.  
He told the Court that, while he was in the hangar, he looked through holes made by bullets and saw Banovic and ten other HVO members beating prisoners after having taken them out of isolation cells.  
“He did beat others with his boots and a stick and a gun. When people would get out of the isolation cells, he used to beat all of them. They held their hands on their heads. Also, fire was opened towards the hangars on July 13, 14 and 15. They fired hundreds of bullets. Eight of us were wounded on that occasion,” Saldo said.  
Witness Halil Kohnic said that he used to see the two indictees in Dretelj and that Banovic hit people.  

“Eleven people were eating, while eleven others were lined up against the wall and beaten with batons, boots, wood branches and forces to sing Ustasha songs. Mijo beat me with a stick and broke two of my teeth,” Kohnic said.  
He said that they forced them to lie on hot asphalt and run across each other’s backs.  
The trial is due to continue on October 30.
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