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Arrest Of Damir Dosen

Tribunal Update 149: Last Week in The Hague (25-30 October, 1999)

Dragan Kolundzija's case to the 'Kvocka & Others' Indictment - both relate

all or in part to crimes at Keraterm - Kolundzija was united with another

Keraterm suspect anyway, when co-accused Damir Dosen joined him in the

Tribunal detention centre.

On October 25 SFOR troops in north-western Bosnia arrested Dosen, former

shift commander in the Keraterm camp, who was accused in July 1995 along

with Kolundzija and five more Bosnian Serbs, still at large.

Dosen was to make his first appearance before the judges on November 1, to

enter a plea on the indictment's seven counts, charging him with crimes

against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war. The original

indictment was issued in 1995, amended in 1998 when the charges against the

six were withdrawn but secretly amended again last September, by which time

the indictment was under the tribunal's seal.

The arrest of Dosen removed the seal from that part of the new Keraterm

Indictment that refers to his role at the camp. Of the new amendments now

revealed, the most striking is the removal the charges for grave breaches

of the Geneva Conventions from the second amended indictment.

It suggests that the prosecution had decided against claiming that the

conflict in that part of Bosnia was of 'international character' - needed

to qualify the acts as in breach of the Conventions - despite the fact that

this character had been confirmed by the appeals chamber judgement in the

Tadic case.

According to the indictment, Dosen was one of the shift commanders in the

Keraterm camp, near Prijedor. "Between 24 May until 30 August 1992, Bosnian

Serb authorities in the Prijedor municipality unlawfully confined more than

3,000 Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serbs in the Omarska,

Trnopolje and Keraterm camps," it reads.

"In Keraterm, interrogations were conducted on a daily basis, regularly

accompanied by beatings and torture. Severe beatings, torture, killings,

sexual assault and other forms of physical and psychological abuse were

commonplace at that camp. "At a minimum, hundreds of detainees whose

identities are known or unknown, did not survive."

Dosen, 32, also known as 'Kajin', was in "a position of authority to camp

personnel," says the indictment. He has been accused, in the first three

counts, of alleged persecutions, inhumane acts and outrages upon personal

dignity. "He had the authority to control the conduct of guards, and as a

policeman on active duty he had the obligation to safeguard the lives and

property of civilians," notes the prosecutor. Therefore, "by his acts and

omissions" he committed crimes against humanity and violations of the laws

or customs of war.

The accused is separately charged with four more counts of crimes against

humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war over his alleged

participation in the beating of detainees. "On around 25 June 1992, a group

of detainees was called out of Room Two. Dosen and others severely beat the

group," states the prosecutor.

In both clusters of charges, Dosen is found criminally responsible pursuant

to Articles 7 (1) and Article 7 (3) of the Statute. Article 7 (1) reads as

follows: "A person who planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise

aided and abetted in planning or execution of (above referred) crime shall

be individually responsible for the crime."

Article 7 (3) reads: "The fact that any of the acts...was committed by a

subordinate does not relieve his superior of criminal responsibility if he

knew or had reason to know that the subordinate was about to commit such

acts or had done so and the superior failed to take the necessary measures

to prevent such acts or punish the perpetrators."

The "Sikirica & Others" indictment contains the names of seven persons, of

whom the former commander of Keraterm, Dusko Sikirica, is additionally

accused of genocide.

Three shift commanders at Keraterm - Dosen, Dragan Fustar and Dragan

Kolundzija - are accused on the basis of their superior authority, but also

for their alleged individual participation in crimes. Nenad and Predrag

Banovic, and Dusan Knezevic are accused as persons, who in their capacity

as guards or visitors, participated in the killing, beating or other


Dosen and Kolundzija, who was arrested by SFOR in June this year, are so

far the only persons from that indictment in custody in The Hague. Before

Dosen's arrest, the Prosecutor had requested that Kolundzija be joined to

the Kvocka & Others indictment, that concerning crimes in the Prijedor


The judges refused that request, considering that such a "joinder" would

delay proceedings against the other accused charged in the Kvocka & Others

indictment. Kolundzija and Dosen could now request that they both be tried

separately as their co-accused are still not available to the Tribunal.

But if SFOR continues to carry out its mandate in Bosnia "in a firm manner"

as NATO Secretary-General George Robertson announced after Dosen's arrest,

the remaining five co-accused could find themselves in the Hague custody in

the upcoming period. Since June 1997, SFOR in B-H has detained 14

individuals indicted for war crimes, including four this year.

There were no trials at the Tribunal last week. This week (week beginning

November 1) the Kordic & Cerkez Trial as well as "contempt proceedings"

against the accused Milan Simic and defence counsel Branislav Avramovic

will continue.

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