Jezik / Language:
28 August 2013

Prisoners Teargassed at Bosnia’s ‘Bunker’ Jail Camp

Amer Jahić BIRN BiH Sarajevo

At the trial for wartime crimes at Bosnian Serb detention centres in Vogosca near Sarajevo, a witness said that Muslim prisoners at the Bunker camp were gassed by their guards.

Former prisoner Armin Balesic told the court in Sarajevo on Wednesday that his worst experience in the Bunker camp was when teargas was thrown into the room where he was held for two months in the summer of 1992.

“The eyes watered, you sneezed and cried,” said Balesic.

He said that he and other prisoners were also forced to do hard labour such as digging trenches, and that he was slightly wounded once while building fortifications for the Bosnian Serb Army.

However Balesic, who was arrested after Serb forces found two rifles in his house, said prisoners volunteered to dig trenches because it meant that they got better food outside.

“I personally volunteered on couple of occasions,” he said.

The defendant in the case, Branko Vlaco, is accused of being the warden of the Bunker, Planjina Kuca, Sonja and Nakina Garaza detention camps in Vogosca.

Vlaco is charged with establishing a system to abuse imprisoned civilians. According to the indictment, prisoners were murdered, tortured and abused, forced to do hard labour and act as human shields, as a result of which many died. Dozens are still missing.

The witness said that he twice met Vlaco, who introduced himself as the warden, asked the prisoners if they had any problems and offered them cigarettes.

His mother Hata Balesic also testified, saying that she felt humiliated in the Bunker camp.

“I was humiliated because I had to relieve myself into a barrel in the corner. They were all men, I was the only woman there,” she said.

On arrival, she said she saw a family member called Zahid Barucija, who was later killed, she claimed.

“His jaw was broken. He could not eat,” recalled the witness.

She said she was allowed a meal once a day, and that thanks to some guards she managed to bathe in the nearby river once during her captivity and change her clothes.

The witness said that three months later, Vlaco told her she could go.

The trial continues on September 4.

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