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6 February 2008
News

Mejakic et al: A Studious Child

BIRN BiH
Defence witnesses say that indictee Zeljko Mejakic was "a good student", whose only subordinates in Omarska detention camp were policemen.
Rajko Marmat and Milorad Stupar, Defence witnesses of Zeljko Mejakic and Dusko Knezevic, have testified at the Court of BiH.

The witnesses spoke about their involvement in the guarding of Omarska detention camp, their relationship with indictee Mejakic, and stressed that, in the camp, the police were not superior to investigators and Territorial Defence members.

"I have known Zeljko since 1975, as I was his teacher in the elementary school. He was a good and diligent pupil, who enrolled in the police academy because his father was not rich enough to pay for the regular high school," said Milorad Stupar, who guarded "the second circle around the detention camp" as member of the Territorial Defence.

"While in Omarska, he was an active policeman. The only subordinates he had were members of police forces," he added.

The Prosecution of BiH charges Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban, Dusan Fustar and Dusko Knezevic with the rape, murder, torture and beating of Bosniaks and Croats held in Omarska and Keraterm detention camps in the course of 1992.

Witness Stupar said he heard of Omarska detention camp in late May 1992, when he saw "10 to 15 buses" heading towards the mine, in which Bosniaks and Croats were imprisoned.

"My house is located by the road leading to the mine. In late May 1992 I saw columns of buses full of people. Later on, I was tasked, as member of the Territorial Defence, with guarding the detention camp and protecting it from outside attacks," said Stupar, adding that he "watched television and played cards" while on duty.

According to this witness, the detainees held in Omarska detention camp were "unshaven and they wore filthy clothes". He said they were given "cooked beef with potatoes or rice".

Second Defence witness Rajko Marmat said that he was also tasked with guarding Omarska detention camp as a "member of the reserve police forces". He claims to have received all orders from Simo Drljaca, commander of the Public Safety Centre in Prijedor, who was killed during an arrest operation in 1997.

"Upon our arrival at the detention camp on May 29, 1992, we were met by a uniformed special police member from Banja Luka, who showed us the guarding points and told us not to allow any break in, or escape of Muslims. Later on, I was transferred to a radio communications room in which I could hear screams coming from the room in which the investigators used to examine the detainees," Marmat recalled.

The witness also said that in late August 1992, acting on Drljaca's order, reserve police members who were on duty in Omarska, participated in "cleansing" of Koricanske stijene, where prisoners from the detention camp were shot.

"Policemen from Prijedor came to the detention camp and allegedly took the detainees to Travnik for an exchange. Later on we heard that some people were murdered and Drljaca ordered us to go there and clean the Koricanske stijene area. Some people went there and let the bodies down into a cave," Marmat said.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sentenced Darko Mrdja to 17 years and Milomir Stankic to 40 years' imprisonment for crimes committed in Koricanske stijene.

The Defence of Dusko Knecevic did not have any questions for the witnesses.

The trial is due to continue on Monday, February 18.
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