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5 February 2008
News

Mejakic et al: "I Want The Truth", Indictee Tells Court

BIRN BiH
On the last day of his testimony, indictee Zeljko Mejakic tells the court that he did nothing to be ashamed of in Omarska detention camp.
On the fifth day of his testimony as a Defence witness, indictee Zeljko Mejakic said that the only people with fewer competencies than him in Omarska detention camp were members of reserve police forces. He also said that all he did, "as manager of the police security", was in line with the existing rules.

"I did not kill or hurt anyone. I did not do anything that would make me feel ashamed now. For more than 15 years I have been waiting for an opportunity to testify, because I want the truth and justice for everybody. This was the motive of my testimony and the reason why I surrendered to the tribunal in The Hague," Mejakic said.

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

Mejakic repeated that Simo Drljaca, Commander of the Public Safety Centre in Prijedor, frequently visited Omarska detention camp. "Many people were afraid" of Drljaca, who was killed during an arrest operation in 1997.

"Drljaca visited the detention camp frequently. He usually met the chiefs of investigations teams, whose offices were in the administrative building. He gave a strict order not to reveal the fact that there were female detainees in the camp. Those were abnormal times and circumstances. Establishment of detention camps and imprisonment of people were abnormal," Mejakic said, adding that he could not quit the service at the time, because of his family's safety.

"At the time I could not take the risk and quit the service, as this would endanger the safety of my family. In those times this was considered as a betrayal of the Serbian people, because we had a different system of values. Those were dangerous and difficult times and I did not have the courage to do it," Mejakic pointed out.

In the course of the cross-examination, Mejakic said that he saw detainees "sitting, playing cards or pouring water" on the so-called "runway" in front of the administrative building of Omarska detention camp. He also said that he could make official notes on all incidents, but he could not sanction the guards.

Following the cross-examination, members of the Trial Chamber also examined Mejakic. After that, chairman Judge Saban Maksumic allowed Goran Radic, Defence attorney of Momcilo Gruban, to perform a direct examination of the indictee.

In the course of the examination, Mejakic said that a total of "about 3,500 persons" were detained in Omarska detention camp at some point from May 28 to August 21, 1992. He also said that Momcilo 'Ckalja' Gruban "was not guard shift commander or chief" in that period.

"In the beginning Gruban worked as a guard in the administrative building. Later on, he guarded the room in which the radio communication equipment was situated. As far as I know, there was not such thing as guard shift commander or chief in Omarska detention camp," Mejakic said.

In the course of Mejakic's examination, the Trial Chamber asked the Defence not to pose "questions which have already been answered". The chamber allowed the Prosecution of BiH to make such questions despite the objections by Jovan Simic, Mejakic's Defence attorney.

The trial is due to continue on February 6, 2008.
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