Jezik / Language:
4 February 2016

Witness Identifies Stojan Odak as Brutally Abusive Guard at VIZ Prison

Nedim Hasic BIRN BIH Sarajevo

Testifying at the trial of seven former managers and guards at the VIZ prison in Ljubuski, a state prosecution witness identified defendant Stojan Odak as one of the members of the “Jastrebovi,” who mistreated and beat prisoners whenever they could.

Stojan Odak, Ivan “Ivica” Kraljevic, Mate Jelcic, Slavko Skender, Vice Bebek, Vinko Radisic and Dragan Milos have been charged with participating in crimes committed in the VIZ military investigative prison in Ljubuski from late April 1993 to March 1994.

According to the state prosecution’s charges, Kraljevic, Jelcic and Skender were managers of the VIZ facility at various times from September 1993 to March 1994. The other defendants were guards. More than 100 detained Bosniak civilians and prisoners of war were detained in the facility, where they were held in inhumane conditions and mistreated. They were given very little food and were taken to various locations to perform forced labour.

A protected witness known as S-1 testified at today’s hearing. He said he was brought to the VIZ prison in Ljubuski after Croatian Defense Council soldiers captured him in Mostar.

“Stole and Nedo were the worst [guards] of all. The two of them were the key problem for all the prisoners in Ljubuski,” S-1 said.

He said Ivica Kraljevic, whom he had known from before, told him in his office that he would be in charge as of that day. S-1 said he was brutally tortured in his office.

“Kraljevic and three more people were in the office. Ivica went out and told them to get the job done. Two of them connected me to a battery with wires. They held up my head, filled my ears with water and connected the wires. The pain was horrible. I think the water in my ears was boiling,” S-1 said.

S-1 said he spoke to Kraljevic several times.

“He asked me if he could do anything for me. I asked for a cigarette. He gave me one, but he didn’t give me matches. He didn’t want me to set myself on fire, he said and left. He would take me into his office, sit opposite to me and keep quiet for half an hour. They would return me to the cell after that,” S-1 said.

Describing the conditions in the prison as terrible, S-1 said the prisoners had to defecate in bags. He also said there was no water and that mice walked over their heads.

“My genital area became infected with worms. I didn’t drink water so I had no water to clean it somehow,” he said.

He said he was mistreated every day of his detention.

“Stole, Nedo and a guy named Santic were the worst. Odak was like a mad dog. Whenever he saw me, he hit me. He ordered us to leave the cell, get some water, spill urine out of bottles and come back in 11 seconds,” S-1 said.

He said Odak also kicked and hit him when he was forced to collect cigarette stubs in the yard.

Odak’s defense attorney said S-1 had said in previous statements that he didn’t know Odak’s full name.

“I didn’t know them before. I only knew their nicknames while I was in the prison. People told me who they were later on,” S-1 explained. He pointed to Odak in the courtroom and said that he was “Stole.”

S-1 also described what guards “Nedo” and “Stole” did to two detainees, who are also protected prosecution witnesses in the case.

“They were in the cell next to mine. I heard everything. I’m ashamed to describe what they did to them. Men do not do such things to each other unless they are forced to do so,” S-1 said.

S-1 said conditions in the prison improved when Slavko Skender was appointed as the new manager.

“There was one good person in that horrible situation, Dragan Milos. He protected us. We fasted and wanted to stop because we found out we would be beaten because of that. We started eating, but that made Stole and the others mand. Milos saved us from death,” he said.

The trial will continue on February 18.

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