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6 July 2016
News

Bosniaks from Sokolac ‘Beaten in Captivity’

BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Testifying at the war crimes trial of former prison warden Nenad Przulj, prosecution witnesses said that prisoners were held in grim conditions and beaten up in detention in the Sokolac area.

Witness Mirsad Plecan told the state court in Sarajevo on Wednesday that he was arrested near Olovo on August 8, 1992 and taken to Sokolac, where he was held in a school building and assaulted.

“They examined and beat us,” Plecan testified.

“When they opened the door once, I saw [defendant] Nenad Przulj in the school building. I had known him from before,” he added.

Two and a half months later he was transferred to the nearby village of Cavarine, where he was detained in a hunter’s house.

“[Another prisoner called] Safet Gagula told me that Przulj was the manager of that place, like a supervisor of the detention camp. I used to see him there when he brought food to the camp,” the witness said.

He said the conditions in the detention facility were unhygienic, so some of the detainees got lice. Besides the men, two women and some minors were also detained there, he added.

“During those eight months I saw light twice. My family did not know where I was… They would cut one loaf of bread into 15 slices. The food they gave us was like cattle food. On some occasions they would fail to give us food and water for five days in a row,” Plecan said.

He said the detainees urinated and defecated into a bucket which was sometimes not emptied for a few days.

He also said the guards were “bestial” and that the detainees were beaten.

Przulj, the former commander of the prison in the Petar Kocic school building in Cavarine, is charged with having participated in the detention, beating and disappearance of Bosniaks from Sokolac, as well as other inhumane acts, in the period from May 1992 to March 1993.

Also on Wednesday, testifying at the trial of former Croatian Defence Council fighter Marijan Brnjic for an alleged rape in the Odzak area in June 1992, the defendant’s brother said he personally drove the defendant to Germany and that he was not in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period covered by the indictment.

Ivo Brnjic said he and his brother Marijan used to work in Graz in Austria in 1991.

“He was there until his departure to Bosnia in 1992. He stayed in Bosnia until May 10. I picked him up at the bus station in Zagreb and drove him to Germany,” the witness said.

He said he remembered the date because while he was waiting for his brother at the station, he was reading “newspapers that said that Odzak was the first free territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

The witness said he met his brother in Germany about two months later “during the Pentecost holiday”.

During cross-examination, the witness said that when he drove from Zagreb to Germany, his passport was not stamped at any of the border crossings they crossed.

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