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30 January 2008
News

Mejakic et al: Simo Drljaca's Orders

BIRN BiH
On the third day of his testimony, indictee Zeljko Mejakic has spoken of the abuse of women in Omarska and how guards would take money from the detainees.
On the final day of his testimony as a Defence witness, Zeljko Mejakic spoke of the abuse of female detainees and destruction of documentation in Omarska detention camp.

He also spoke of how guards took valuables from detained Bosniaks and Croats in the course of 1992.

"The first case of attempted rape, known to me, concerned the person who was examined as protected Prosecution witness under the pseudonym of K035," Mejakic told the Court.

"She reported that a security person took her to a room and tried to force her to have sexual intercourse with him. In addition, protected Prosecution witness K040 told me, in Omarska detention camp, that another member of the security tried to force her into having sexual intercourse with him," Mejakic said.

The indictee added that he had informed Simo Drljaca, commander of the Public Safety Centre in Prijedor, about these two cases. Drljaca was killed when members of the international forces attempted to arrest him in 1997.

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

Mejakic said that he helped detained Bosniaks during their detention and after they were released from Omarska.

"After being released from Trnopolje detention camp, Prosecution witness K035 asked for my help as some soldier had threatened her by telling her that he would rape her. W

"And when I received the lists of people who were going to leave Omarska, I noticed that Kerim Mesanovic was going to be transferred to Manjaca, so I asked Ranko Mijic, chief of an investigation group, to transfer him to Trnopolje and he did it," Mejakic said.

Kerim Mesanovic appeared before the Court of BiH as a Prosecution witness in 2007. He said that he left Trnopolje thanks to indictee Mejakic and that he also left BiH later on, after Mejakic helped him obtain a false identity card, which he used to enter Serbia.

Mejakic claims that, in Omarska, some guards took valuables and money from detained Bosniaks and Croats, and were involved in the selling of food.

"I have to say that they used to ramp money in various ways. I remember when a member of the Territorial Defence brought two boxes of cookies to the detention camp with the intention to sell them to the detainees," Mejakic recalled.

According to Mejakic, Simo Drljaca "frequently visited" the detention camp. He gave an order for removal of "any written traces indicating that there are any female detainees in the camp".

"Drljaca made a specific order not to mention the female detainees. As per his order, we used to hide them somewhere when we had visits from the outside," said Mejakic, adding that most documents on this detention camp, which were kept in the Police Station in Omarska, "disappeared or were destroyed in the course of November 1992 and 1996".

Mejakic also said that groups of journalists and a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited the detention camp several times in 1992. He also said that, in November 1996, he was "ordered to leave the police". He claims that he went to Serbia after that, and in 2003 he surrendered to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which filed an indictment against him in 1995.

The ICTY's Referral Bench rendered a decision to refer this case to the Court of BiH on July 20, 2005, as per the ICTY's Rule 11 bis on referral of cases from The Hague to local courts. The four indictees were transferred to Sarajevo in May 2006.

The cross-examination of Mejakic is due to take place on Monday, February 4, 2008.
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