Jezik / Language:
13 December 2013

Mistreatment of Prisoners

Dženita Duraković BIRN BiH Bihać

Testifying before the Cantonal Court in Bihac, Prosecution witnesses say that unknown soldiers mistreated prisoners, who were taken to an exchange by bus in March 1995.

“After having gotten on the bus, we were blindfolded. We sat on the bus floor. I was somewhere in the middle. The beating began. They beat me on my back and legs with batons. They forced us to sing some songs. I heard prisoners moaning. I think that they beat those who moaned even more,” said Proko Pilipovic.

According to his testimony, the bus stopped once in order for those, who had not been recruited, to be registered by the Red Cross.

“When we got on the bus, they blindfolded us again. The beating began again as well. It lasted until we stopped at the exchange location,” Pilipovic said, adding that, following the exchange, doctors examined them. He said that they determined that two of his ribs were cracked and one was broken. 

Husein Begic, Safet Kovacevic, Muhamed Anadolac, Abid Ljubijankic and Sabahudin Hafuric, former members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, are charged with physical and mental mistreatment of more than 30 former members of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, whom they escorted from Cazin and Bihac in order to be exchanged.

Witness Nebojsa Trkulja said that he was in a group of prisoners, who were escorted to the exchanged on March 11, 1995.

“All sorts of things, mostly the beating, happened in the bus. I was in the rear part of the bus. I was beaten on my legs and backs with batons,” Trkulja said, adding that he visited a doctor in Sanski Most after the exchange. The doctor referred him to the Military Medical Academy, VMA, in Belgrade.

Trkulja said that he weighed 80 kilograms when he was captured and “only 40” when he was exchanged. 
Ivan Ivancevic, former President of the Commission for Exchange of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, in the period from 1993 to 1995, appeared as a Prosecution witness at this hearing.

According to the witness’ testimony, many exchanges were organised in collaboration with the Commission for Exchange of the Fifth Corps of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but an incident happened for the first time on March 11, 1995, when prisoners were physically and mentally mistreated while being escorted to the exchange location.

“When I saw the bus, I thought it was empty, because I could only see a few uniformed people jumping. I thought that it was some conspiracy, so I began shouting. However, when the door opened, I saw prisoners lying and sitting on the bus floor. They were in a very bad shape,” Ivancevic said. 

The trial is due to continue on January 9, 2014.

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