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22 May 2014
News

Hadzici Witness Made to Dig up Dead Bodies

Selma Ucanbarlic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Testifying at the trial for crimes in the Hadzici area, a Bosnian State Prosecution witness said he was beaten and taken to locations to perform forced labour and exhume the bodies of dead detainees during detention that lasted three-and-a-half years near Sarajevo.

Djordje Suvajlo, who was brought to the “Silos” camp in June 1992, told the Court on Thursday that shortly after being detained, a group of soldiers came and visited one cell after another in order to beat detainees. 

“They entered my cell. A young soldier, who was not strong enough to knock me down, started hitting me. I kept standing until an older man came and began beating me. After that I fainted,” he said.

The witness said he suffered severe pain from those blows for the next month. 

He said that detainees held in “Silos” were routinely beaten while being examined and that guards treated them roughly, especially at the beginning of their detention.

On one occasion, the indictee Nermin Kalember, known as Buba, took him out of the cell after which he was then “beaten by young soldiers”, he said.

Kalember's defence said the witness did not mention their client’s name in his previous statements. 

Mustafa Djelilovic, Fadil Covic, Mirsad Sabic, Nezir Kazic, Becir Hujic, Halid Covic, Serif Mesanovic and Nermin Kalember are on trial for crimes committed in the “Silos” and “Krupa” military barracks and in the “May 9” school building.

According to the charges, Hujic and Covic were managers of “Silos”, Mesanovic was a deputy manager of “Silos” and manager of the “Krupa” barracks, while Kalember was a guard in “Silos”. The other indictees were members of civil, military and police authorities. 

Speaking about the conditions in “Silos”, Suvajlo said that the detainees did not have enough food and water and that some of them died in detention. The conditions improved following the arrival of the Red Cross, he noted. 

In late 1992, the witness said, he was taken to “Krupa”, where conditions were slightly better. He said he was then taken to several locations in order to perform labour. As he said, while in Hrasnica, he had to dig trenches and remove the bodies of dead persons.

“They took us to Butmir. I heard somebody say: ‘Send four Chetniks in order to carry the dead.’ I was among those four. They took us to a meadow. We were told to carry two killed men. I saw two frozen corpses. A part of skull was missing on one of them,” Suvajlo said. 

He said that in October 1994 he was brought before a judge who examined him about “some joint enterprise aimed at destroying Bosnia and Herzegovina” and that he received an indictment, which he then appealed. 

“After that, the guards took me out and beat me. I realized they did not like my appeal, so they ordered them to beat me,” he said, adding that, later on he signed some document so he would not be beaten. 

Suvajlo was exchanged in January 1996 after having spent 1,335 days in detention. 

The trial continues on May 5.

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