Jezik / Language:
11 February 2014

Guards Did not Mistreat Prisoners in Foca

Radoša Milutinović BIRN BiH Haag

As the trial of Radovan Karadzic continues, Mitar Rasevic, former Chief of Security of the Penal and Correctional Facility, KPD, in Foca, says that not even one prisoner was killed in that prison during the war and that guards did not beat or abuse prisoners.

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina sentenced Rasevic to seven years in prison for having committed war crimes in the KPD in Foca, but he recently completed the serving of his sentence.

Testifying in defence of Karadzic, Rasevic did not deny that crimes were committed against prisoners and “military prisoners of war”, but he suggested that the military policemen and other members of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, over whom he did not have control, were responsible for those crimes.

Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska, RS, and supreme Commander of its armed forces, is charged, among other things, with the persecution of Muslims and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the charges, Foca was one of the seven municipalities in which the persecution reached the scale of genocide.

The indictment also charges Karadzic with genocide in Srebrenica, terror against civilians in Sarajevo by long-lasting shelling and sniping and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.

When asked by Prosecutor Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff if he denied the findings from the verdict against him, saying that prisoners were deprived of basic human rights, including the right to life, in the Foca prison, Rasevic said:

“I shall always deny that guards did it. I never received any pieces of information from prisoners, saying that they were mistreated by members of the security guard service…or that they did it in an organised and systematic manner”.

When the Prosecutor quoted parts of verdicts against Rasevic and other Foca KPD officials, saying that, without any selection, the prisoners were civilians, who did not participate in combat and that many of them were old and sick, the witness said that Muslims were brought and taken away “according to lists made by the military command” and that he was not responsible for that.

“The Army Command was the only instance which decided who would be detained and who would be released,” Rasevic said.

The Prosecutor called upon a finding by Sarajevo Court, saying that “between 180 and 200” Muslim prisoners were taken out of the prison in Foca, allegedly in order to be exchanged, and that they went missing without trace from then on. Rasevic did not deny those findings. Bodies of many of them were later exhumed from nearby mass graves.

However, the witness said that “the Army took people away” from the KPD.

“I claim responsibly that nobody was killed within the Facility complex,” Rasevic pointed out, adding that prisoners were “evidently” killed outside the prison. When asked if he was saying that witnesses lied, when they said that they had seen the murders, he said that they “could not have seen them”.

Gojko Klickovic, former member of the Main Board of the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, former Prime Minister of RS and current Mayor of Bosanska Krupa municipality, began testifying at Karadzic’s trial at this hearing.

Klickovic said that no members of SDS leadership “advocated for an ethnically clean Serb state”. Commenting on an instruction issued by the SDS top leaders in December 1991 concerning the establishment of Serb authorities in municipalities where Serbs were the majority, but also in those where they were the minority, Klickovic said that this was “neither a binding nor an important document” and that it “did not have any legal power whatsoever”.

According to the Prosecution’s allegations, that document, also known as variant A and B, was the basis of an SDS plan for taking over the authority in municipalities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was implemented in the spring of 1992 with the aim of defining the territories claimed by the SDS top leaders.

Under a second instance verdict, Klickovic was acquitted of charges for war crimes in Bosanska Krupa.

The cross-examination of Klickovic is due to continue tomorrow, February 12. 


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