Jezik / Language:
24 February 2015

Bosnia Camp Guard Apologises to Abused Serbs

Denis Dzidic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
The former deputy commander of Croatian Defence Forces’ wartime Dretelj detention camp admitted that he abused Serb prisoners in 1992 and begged for their forgiveness.
In his closing statement at his trial at the Bosnian state court on Tuesday, Edib Buljubasic said that he was sorry for taking part in the abuse of Serb prisoners who were held at the Dretelj camp in southern Bosnia in 1992.

Buljubasic said that he took part in the beating of a prisoner called Bozo Balaban and later ordered others to beat him until he died, and that he also hit other prisoners with a bat and kicked them.

“I am truly sorry and I beg for forgiveness. I ask the judges to look at my admission as a mitigating circumstance,” said Buljubasic.

He said however that he was not responsible for the running of the camp or the rest of the crimes that were committed there.

“According to all the Geneva conventions, international and domestic laws, the responsibility lies with the person who has power. At that time, the power was in the hands of officers of the Croatian Defence Forces,” he said.

Buljubasic is on trial alongside Ivan Zelenika, Ivan Medic, Srecko Herceg and Marina Grubisic-Fejzic, charged with crimes against Bosnian Serb civilians who were detained at the Dretelj camp in 1992.

According to the indictment, Zelenika was an officer of the Croatian Defence Forces, Herceg was the commander of the Dretelj camp, Buljubasic was his deputy, while Medic and Grubisic-Fejzic were guards. The indictment says that they all took part in torturing and forcing prisoners to do hard labour, and that several people died as a consequence of the abuse.

Buljubasic is already serving time in Zenica prison for four murders committed before and after the Bosnian war, including the killing of his own father.

In his closing argument, Buljubasic said that he did not threaten female inmates to have sex with him and actually tried to help prisoners at the camp.

“I cannot be a criminal, terrorist or bully. That is not in my character and I could never be a criminal, even though I am in prison,” he said Buljubasic.

The prosecution has asked for all five defendants to be found guilty, while the Zelenika and Herceg’s defence teams have asked for their clients to be acquitted. Lawyers for Medic and Grubisic-Fejzic will present their closing arguments on March 3.
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