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19 February 2008
News

Mejakic et al: Contradictory Statements

Defence witnesses give contradictory statements concerning Zeljko Mejakic's function in Omarska detention camp.

Two witnesses, invited by the Defence of Zeljko Mejakic and Dusko Knezevic, have given contradictory statements concerning indictee Mejakic's function in Omarska detention camp in 1992.

Answering the Prosecution's questions during cross-examination, witness Nada Markovski, who was a typist in Omarska detention camp in 1992, said that she "supposed" that Mejakic "was in charge" of the policemen who guarded the prisoners in the detention camp.

The State Prosecution charges Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban, Dusan Fustar and Knezevic with having committed crimes against humanity against the non-Serbian population held in Omarska and Keraterm detention camps in Prijedor municipality from April until the end of 1992. The Prosecution considers that Mejakic was commander of Omarska detention camp.

Markovski claims to have arrived at Omarska, "as per an order issued by Simo Drljaca", former commander of the Public Safety Centre in Prijedor, in late May 1992.

"My task was to retype the statements, which detainees gave to the investigators. There were many statements and they were signed. I typed up to 22 statements per day," Markovski said, adding that, from time to time, she heard "crying and screaming" and saw injured people, who, she "supposed", had been beaten by inspectors from Banja Luka.

Answering Prosecutor Peter Kidd's questions during the cross-examination, the witness said she "did not know" who was the commander of the police station in Omarska, which was a part of the Public Safety Centre in Prijedor.

The Prosecutor presented her with her earlier statements, given at the trials of Miroslav Kvocka in February 2001 and Milomir Stakic in January 2003, when she said that Mejakic was the commander of that section and that he was "in charge of the detention camp and the policemen in it".

"When I was there I saw Mejakic, Kvocka and Prcac, so I guessed he was the commander. Zeljko Mejakic issued orders to the policemen and to the people who guarded the detention camp," Markovski said, adding that she did not witness that, but she "guessed".

The witness also claims to have seen Momcilo Gruban in Omarska from time to time.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague sentenced Miroslav Kvocka to seven years' imprisonment for crimes committed in Omarska and Keraterm detention camps, Stakic was sentenced to 40 years and Prcac to five.

The ICTY indictment alleges that Simo Drljaca was a member of the Crisis Committee in Prijedor and Commander of the Public Safety Centre in Prijedor from April 30 to September 30, 1992. He was killed during an arrest operation conducted in July 1997.

Witness Radovan Kecan, former policeman from Prijedor, denied that Mejakic was commander of the police station in Omarska, claiming that he was only "a chief of the patrol section".

According to Kecan, the decision on the establishment of Omarska detention camp could have been made "only by the Crisis Committee". He thinks that Simo Drljaca was commander of the detention camp.

"Drljaca was an ordinary citizen, until he joined the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) and became commander. After that, he changed completely and he became a totally different person. He was in charge of all issues in the Public Safety Centre," Kecan said.

The trial is due to continue on February 20, when one witness will be examined and material evidence presented.
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