Celebici Trial

Tribunal Update 22: Last Week in The Hague (March 31-April 5, 1997)

Celebici Trial

Tribunal Update 22: Last Week in The Hague (March 31-April 5, 1997)

Saturday, 5 April, 1997

Their testimony added several new details to the prosecution's depiction of the indicted. Esad Landzo was once again described as a bully of a guard who sadistically took pleasure from maltreating the powerless detainees; Hazim Delic's reputation-as a rapist and a ruthless deputy commander who was the undoubted authority in the camp-was reinforced; Zdravko Mucic was again described as the mostly absentee camp commander whose infrequent appearances brought short breaks in maltreatment to all the detainees and release for some.

Zejnil Delalic, who heads the list of indictees, is so far absent from the stories of the surviving inmates. Delalic was the top military authority in the Konjic region at the time covered by the indictment, and is thus credited with command responsibility for the alleged crimes in Celebici camp.

The experiences of last week's first witness are described in Counts 36-37 of the indictment, in which Landzo is accused of "Causing Great Suffering or Serious Injury to Nedeljko Draganic." This part of the indictment alleges that "beginning around the end of June 1992 and continuing until August 1992, Esad Landzo and others repeatedly mistreated Nedeljko Draganic by tying him to the roof beam and beating him, by striking him with a baseball bat, and by pouring gasoline on his trousers, setting them on fire and burning his legs."

When all this, and much else too, was happening to him, Draganic was only 19 years old. He told the Tribunal that he never found out why he was arrested on May 23, 1992, and taken to the camp. True, Hazim Delic had once tried to explain it to him, telling him that he and the others were in the camp "because they are Serbs."

For the same cause, Draganic was beaten "about 10 times" while he was in the camp, most often by another 19 year-old, with whom he had gone to school and whom he knew from the cafe in Konjic: Esad Landzo. Draganic described some of these incidents in detail, and those cited in the indictment in particular.

One day, Landzo, Osman Dedic and two other guards took Draganic into hangar 7. This is how Draganic described what happened there: "They tied me up to a beam so I was standing up with my hands tied above my head, and then they started beating me. They were kicking me and hitting me with planks and rifle butts [. . . ]. They kept beating me until I lost consciousness and I was hanging there by my hands."

Draganic also described an incident when Landzo poured petrol on him and set it alight, which, according to many witnesses, was one of the latter's "specialities". The Tribunal was shown photographs-taken after Draganic's release from the camp-showing burn marks on his legs. As in the case of Mirko Babic, a previous witness who also stated that he had fallen victim to Landzo's "pyromania", the Tribunal decided that independent experts should examine Draganic's legs, to determine the nature and origin of the marks.

Landzo's defence counsel Cynthia McMurrey led in the cross-examination of this witness, as she had done before. As in previous cross-examinations, she tried to discredit the witness, suggesting that he was lying, that he was a "Serb extremist", and that he had not seen the things he said he had seen.

Mucic's British co-counsel, Michael Greaves, understandably focused on the parts of the testimony which showed his client in a favourable light. Draganic had described how once, Landzo and some other guards had taken him outside the hangar and started to beat him, but had stopped and rushed him back to his place when they heard that Mucic was coming. Like all the previous witnesses, Draganic had been released from the camp (on August 30, 1992) by Mucic.

The sufferings of last week's second witness are described in the indictment (Counts 21 to 23) as "Torture and Rape of Witness A." It is alleged that "beginning around 15 June 1992 and continuing until the beginning of August 1992, Hazim Delic subjected a detainee, here identified as Witness A, to repeated incidents of forcible sexual intercourse, including both vaginal and anal intercourse. Hazim Delic raped her during her first interrogation and during the next six weeks she was raped every few days."

A year after the indictment was issued, Witness A waived measures to conceal her identity, and gave evidence about her sufferings in the camp publicly and under her full name. Her name had already been mentioned in court, in the testimony of Grozdana Cecez (see Update 20), the first victim of sexual violence in the former Yugoslavia to make statements in public before the ICTY.

Witness A is Milojka Antic, born in 1948, and before the war she lived in the predominantly Muslim village of Idbar near Konjic. The war came to her village on May 9, 1992. First there was the sound of gunfire, then unknown men in camouflage uniform came to the village and on the same day they took away nine Serb men, including the witness's brother. It was only after a month that the people in Idbar found out that the men had been incarcerated in the camp at Celebici.

Milojka Antic was arrested and taken to the camp on June 15, 1992, having been accused of hiding a radio transmitter. No transmitter had been found during a search of her house, so she was accused of concealing it in her hair. She testified that three of the four indictees were present at her first interrogation in the camp: Delic, Mucic and Delalic. She said they asked her where her husband was, to which she replied that she wasn't married, whereupon Mucic turned to Delic and said: "Right type for you."

Delic confirmed that the same evening. He sent guards to fetch her to the camp headquarters, ordered her to undress, and when she started to cry and beg him to leave her alone, Delic pointed a gun at her and said he would kill her. "I was scared and I did what he wanted," said Antic. Prosecutor Giuliano Turone insisted on the details of "penetration" and "ejaculation", and Antic briefly confirmed his terms.

She described two other rapes in similar fashion, with the difference that on the second of these, Delic attempted anal penetration, but stopped when the victim began to scream and bleed. The prosecutor wanted to know if Delic also undressed, and Antic replied that he would only remove his belt with his handgun and grenades and lower his trousers down to his boots; he remained in uniform.

During the rapes, Delic cursed and made threats all the time, and sometimes also tried to be witty. The day after the first rape, when he found Milojka Antic in tears, he said, "Why are you crying? It won't be the last time." And it wasn't.

Describing the general conditions in the camp, Milojka Antic talked most about hunger. On one occasion, the prisoners were given nothing to eat for three days; she and Cecez begged the guard to call the camp commander, intending to ask him "either to let us go, or to kill us, or to give us something to eat."

The commander did not appear, but several days later Delic asked why they had been asking for him. When they told him why, he tried to be witty again, and replied: "Never mind. Now you know what it is like to fast in Ramadan."

Milojka Antic was released from Celebici on August 31, 1992. She too was released by the indicted camp commander, Zdravko Mucic.

The trial of the "Celebici four" has been adjourned until April 14. It will continue with the cross examination of Milojka Antic by the defendants.

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