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17 May 2007
News

Mejakic et al: Horrors of 'Bijela kuca'

BIRN BiH
Two former Omarska detainees testify of horrors that they saw in the camp that one of them calls a "slaughterhouse".
During continuation of trial against four indictees from Prijedor, prosecution witnesses spoke about crimes committed in Bijela kuca, Omarska.

Zeljko Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban, Dusan Fustar and Dusko Knezevic are accused of responsibility for the crimes committed in this detention camp.

Protected witness K01 claims to have been brought to Omarska on 20 June 1992 after being arrested in the village of Rizvanovic, Prijedor municipality.

The witness alleges that, after the arrival to Omarska, all men were asked to stand by the wall, hand over their personal documents and, then, the guards started hitting them with "butts, rifles, sticks and legs".

"We were taken to Bijela kuca, in which there were some 180 prisoners that night. People fainted due to heat, congestion and narrow space. The guards forced us to lie down facing the ground and then they
started jumping on us and beating us," said the witness.

Witness K01 was exposed to similar tortures throughout his stay in Bijela kuca, that is, until "the camp was discovered by journalists". He was then transferred, together with a group of detainees, to detention camp Manjaca on 6 August 1992 and released on 24 December 1992.

Mustafa Puskar was brought to Omarska on 31 May 1992 "together with 50 men from Donja Puharska", Prijedor municipality.

"To me, Omarska was a slaughterhouse, not a detention camp. People were tortured, beaten and killed every day," he said. "I remember that detainee Islam Bahunjic was brought back from interrogation, in July 1992, with bruises all over his body. We could hear him moaning, but he soon became quiet. His body was taken behind Bijela kuca, as usual," recalls Puskar.

"One morning in July 1992, I counted 24 bodies of killed detainees, lined up like timber in front of Bijela kuca," said the witness. He also told the court that he had seen indictees Mejakic and Gruban during his stay in the camp from 31 May to 6 August 1992.

The indictment alleges that Mejakic was manager of Omarska from April to August 1992 while Gruban, nicknamed "Ckalja", was, in the same period, a commander of one guard shift.

"I saw Ckalja in Omarska for the first time at the beginning of June, and I suppose he received orders from interrogators which he then passed on to his guards. I also saw Zeljko in the detention camp, but I do not know what exactly he was doing. I heard he was commander of Omarska," Puskar told the court.

After the closure of the detention camp Omarska in August, Puskar was transferred first to Manjaca, and then to Trnopolje. He was released on 21 August 1992.

The trial continues on 22 May 2007.
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