Jezik / Language:
21 November 2006

Mandic: Kula Cleaned Up for International Inspection

Witnesses in the Momcilo Mandic trial remember top officials’ visit to prison camp because of rare chance to wash.
Former inmates of the Kula detainment camp, Munib Isic and Hasan Sunj, today testified against Momcilo Mandic, who is on trial at the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo in connection with crimes at the prison.

Isic and Sunj were called by the prosecution to give evidence in support of the second of four counts on which Mandic is indicted. As minister of justice in Radovan Karadzic’s wartime government, he was responsible for all correctional facilitites on the territory of the former Srpska Republika BiH.

Mandicis charged with keeping inmates at the Kula prison, located in Butmir, near Sarajevo, in inhumane conditions, starving them and denying conditions for basic hygiene. Two of them were held in detention center in Hadzici before arriving to Kula.

“We survived very difficult moments there. Sometimes they would throw us food as if we were dogs - a piece of bread each - and we would have to fight each other so that we could eat”, Isic told the court.

Both witnesses confirmed the prosecution’s allegation that camp inmates in Kula were used as forced labour, but added that they sometimes volunteered to work outside the Kula compound because that meant a higher chance of getting food.

“We were skin and bones”, Isic claimed, testifying that he showered and shaved only once between mid-May, when he was arrested in Hadzici, and August 1992.

“Some delegation was supposed to come - Radovan Karadzic and some foreigners. Then we got lucky and were allowed to shower.With cold water, but we showered”, Isic recounted.

Describing the visit by Paddy Ashdown, who came accompanied by Karadzic on behalf of the British parliament, he told how the skinniest and worst-looking camp inmates were hidden from view.

Both Isic and Sunj said that the Kula guards behaved fairly towards inmates in their charge, and that chief prison officers Ratko Lalovic and Soniboj Skiljevic warned the soldiers who took them to work to behave fairly.

“Although,as soon as we left Kula with them, they would do whatever they wanted”, Isic testified.
When asked by Judge Davorin Jukic whether the warden, Lalovic, could have prevented them from being taken to work outside of the detainment camp, Isic responded in the affirmative, but added that he never used this opportunity to intervene.

According to the witnesses’ testimonies, camp inmates worked in Serb-controlled towns around Sarajevo doing heavy physical jobs. Isic recounted how he was most often escorted by soldier Zeljko Mitrovic Gilmar, whom he described as very cruel.

Mitrovicis currently on trial for war crimes at Sarajevo’s cantonal court, on account of having subjected civilians to forced labour.

MunibIsic and Hasan Sunj claim that during the time they spent in detainment at Kula they did not see the indictee in this case at the prison.

The trial of Momcilo Mandic continues on November 21.
comments powered by Disqus