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Aleksovski Trial

Tribunal Update 65: Last Week in the Hague (February 23-28, 1998)

Testimonies were offered by six former inmates of Kaonik as well as by one expert witness: Italian professor Stefano Bianchini, a Balkan-expert at the University in Bologna.

In the first part of his testimony, which will continue at the end of March, Professor Bianchini talked about political, economic and social factors that caused the disintegration of former Yugoslavia and the 1991-1995 wars.

Keeping in mind the fact that the official Belgrade still claims that Yugoslavia's break-up was caused by "separatism" of Slovenia and Croatia, followed by that of Bosnia-Herzegovina, it is important to point at Professor Bianchini's argument that "Serbia was the first to put forth a separatist program", and that it made "the first practical step towards the disintegration of the former federation" with its economic boycott of Slovenia in 1989.

The six former inmates of Kaonik all testified that everybody in the camp were taken to dig trenches on the front-lines or made to do other forced labor, e.g. reparations of bridges and roads, which is in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. Some of them were wounded on that occasion, or heavily beaten, and some were witness to murders.

Testifying to the conditions in the camp, former inmates described overcrowded cells (up to 20 people in a 2 meter by 3 meter room) and the lack of food and basic hygienic conditions.

Some of the witnesses had been physically and psychologically abused, and nearly all of them testified about "night calls" which resulted in the beatings of inmates. Drunk and drugged HVO soldiers would come in and abuse inmates whilst camp guards were powerless to confront them.

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