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22 May 2008
News

Mejakic et al: A Policeman and a Human

BIRN BiH
Zeljko Mejakic expressed his condolences to the families of the killed detainees in Omarska detention camp, while the Defence called for a verdict of release in its closing arguments.

In the closing arguments, the Defence for Zeljko Mejakic said it considered the State Prosecution was not able to prove the indictee's responsibility for the crimes committed in Omarska detention camp. It asked the Court to announce a verdict of release.

The indictee said that he did not do anything "bad or inappropriate".

"I want to do what I have been trying to do for years. I want to express deep regrets to the victims from this area, and particularly to those from Prijedor. I should like to express my deepest condolences to the families of the killed and all those who spent at least an hour in the detention camp," Mejakic said.

"In the beginning I did not even know that the detention camp was established. As a policeman and as a man I think that it should not have existed at all. I consider that I did not do anything bad or inappropriate, which would now make me feel ashamed. The question, which shall bother me my entire life, is whether I helped detainees enough," said Zeljko Mejakic, reading his statement.

The State Prosecution charges Zeljko Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban and Dusko Knezevic with murder, rape, beating and forcible detention of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in Omarska and Keraterm detention camps in 1992.

"This is not a church or a mosque or some fountain of wishes as we are very serious and we base this trial on facts. Not one single document indicates that Mejakic was commander of the detention camp or chief of security and that he was responsible for other services. This was also confirmed by the Prosecution witnesses, who said that he was a chief or commander of security," Defence attorney Jovan Simic said.

The indictment alleges that, from May 24 to August 30, 1992, Mejakic was commander of Omarska detention camp and chief of security and that he was "superior to and responsible for the three guard shifts", as well as other services in the detention camp.

Tetsifying as a Defence witness during the course of the trial, Mejakic said that he was a commander of guards in Omarska detention camp and that police members, who safeguarded the detention camp, were subordinate to him.

"Omarska was not established on May 24, as was alleged by the Prosecution. It was dismissed on August 21, as was confirmed by their witnesses. However, the Prosecutor did not introduce any changes to the indictment during the course of the trial, although some errors related to terminology can also be noticed.

The investigators, who performed the examination of detainees, were the superior staff in Omarska detention camp," Simic said.

As indicated by Simic, the Omarska detention camp was "a training ground for extortion and plunder," where horrible crimes happened. "None of the indictees could have changed" the situation as it was.

"Judging by the thesis, set by the Prosecution, on a joint criminal enterprise, one could say that each Bosnian Serb, who was in the detention camp or anywhere near it, can be accused. I think this is a badly rewritten indictment," Simic said.

As indicated by Simic, the Defence of the first indictee suggested the conclusion of a guilt admission agreement between Mejakic and the Prosecution, asking that the allegations saying Mejakic was commander of security be changed, but it never received any response from the Prosecution.

"If his failure to tell the International Red Cross about the female detainees was his greatest sin, then you should sentence him for that," Simic said.

During the course of presenting evidence, the Defence tried to prove that Simo Drljaca gave the order to hide the female detainees in Omarska detention camp. Drljaca is the former chief of the Public Safety Station in Prijedor, who was killed during the arrest operation in 1997. The Defence considers him responsible for the crimes committed in this detention camp.

The Defence of Momcilo Gruban and Dusko Knezevic are due to present their closing arguments on Friday, May 23.

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