Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Arrest Of Damir Dosen

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

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six were withdrawn but secretly amended again last September, by which time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


abuses.


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


camps.


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.