Celebici Trial

Tribunal Update 40: Last Week in The Hague (August 4-7, 1997)

Celebici Trial

Tribunal Update 40: Last Week in The Hague (August 4-7, 1997)

Thursday, 7 August, 1997

The accused are three Bosnian Muslims (Zejnil Delalic, Hazim Delic and Esad Landzo) and one Bosnian Croat (Zdravko Mucic), whilst their alleged victims, that is, the detainees of the Celebici camp were Bosnian Serbs from Konjic and the near-by villages which were taken over by the Croat-Muslim forces in May 1992.

Two more detainees of the Celebici camp testified last week. The first, Milenko Kuljanin, is mentioned in the indictment (Counts 42-43: Inhumane Acts Involving the Use of Electrical Device) as one of the victims of the alleged "electrical inclinations" of the accused Deputy Commander of the Camp Hazim Delic, who had, according to the indictment, "used a device emitting electrical current to inflict pain on many detainees..."

This victim had also undergone a "special treatment" intended for all detainees from the village of Bradina, which had resisted the attack for several days (even though Kuljanin claimed in his testimony that there was no defence of the village whatsoever).

Immediately after being taken to the camp, Kuljanin, together with a group of detainees from Bradina, was placed against the wall and heavily beaten for several hours; after that, the whole group of some fifteen people were pushed into an underground manhole where they were held for several hours, only to be later moved to the so-called Tunnel 9.

All the 120 days of his detention, during which he was beaten and maltreated by Delic and camp guard Esad Landzo on several occasions, Kuljanin had stayed in this tunnel (whose length is some 20 meters and the width slightly exceeds one metre).

Since, as he claimed, he sat close to the door he could hear when the guards beat Slavko Susic to death in front of the entrance to the tunnel. Several detainees, who had either seen or heard Delic and Landzo torturing Susic in an attempt to force him to confess where he had concealed some radio station, have testified about this murder, described in Counts 11 and 12 of the Indictment.

Kuljanin also testified that on one occasion he was taken together with a group of detainees to Konjic in order to clear up the mud and rocks which heavy rains had piled up around the house of the accused Delalic, who held the highest military position in that area at the time. He also claimed, that Camp Commander Zdravko Mucic had taken him, along with several detainees, to the food storehouse and ordered them to load the food into his van. "We stole for Mucic", Kuljanin said.

In the cross-examination, the defenders insisted on the fact that in the first statement he had given to the investigators, Kuljanin had made no mention that he was held in a manhole, that he cleaned up around Delalic's house, or that he "stole for Mucic." The witness explained this with the fact that he was "in a hurry" while giving the first statement, as well as that he was in two minds as to whether to testify before the Tribunal or not.

The Defence also insisted on two more details contained in Kuljanin's testimony. The first is that - before he was arrested and taken to the Celebici camp - the group with whom he was fleeing from the village of Bradina had run across a Muslim reservist of the Territorial Defence and disarmed him.

The second detail refers to his escape from the sports hall Musala in Konjic, where he was transferred after his four-month-long detention at the Celebici camp. Namely, on one occasion when the detainees in the Musala were taken to the first front lines to dig the trenches, Kuljanin escaped together with several other detainees, bringing along one Muslim guard as a hostage.

The defenders asked him whether he knew that the disarmed reservist of the Territorial Defence and the guard-hostage were later found dead. Kuljanin replied that he had heard that, but that he did not know what was the cause of their death.

The second witness last week, also a detainee, Branko Sudar, had undergone "the regular treatment" at Delic's and Landzo's hands, whom he had known before the war: occasional beatings and maltreatment, but nothing such that it would be included in the special count of the indictment.

However, for the Prosecutor, Sudar is important as an eye-witness of two cases of murder, described in Counts 1-2 and 5-6 of the indictment. He was the witness in the Hangar 6 when Landzo had led Scepo Gotovac outside and heard the latter's screams and the sounds of beating. When heavily-beaten Gotovac was returned to the hangar, Sudar saw Landzo "fumbling around his forehead."

The indictment claims, which has been confirmed by some of the earlier witnesses, that Landzo had stuck a pin of the Muslim party SDA into the forehead of the beaten-up detainee on that occasion. A short time later Gotovac died succumbing to his wounds. Also, Sudar testified in the same way about the beating to death of Simo Jovanovic.

He also testified that Commander Zejnil Delalic had visited the camp on one occasion, but in the cross-examination by his defence counsels Sudar said that he had heard from the guards who were forcing the detainees to line up for inspection that "the commander is coming", but that he is unable to confirm whether it was really Delalic.

Apart from former detainees of the Celebici camp, Austrian policeman Wolfgang Navrat, who had participated in the search of the offices of Delalic's firm INDA-BAU in Vienna on 18 March 1996, also gave his testimony. 51 video tapes and 12 folders containing documents relating to Delalic and Mucic were seized on that occasion.

The inclusion of these tapes and documents in the material evidence was requested by the Prosecutor more than two months ago, but the Defence opposes it, claiming that the search was sloppy, and that the Austrian policemen did not adhere to the legal procedure, that the seized documents were not sealed, and that the chain of custody cannot be established. The Austrian policeman denied all this, but the dispute remains unresolved.

After Navrat, his chief, Panzer, the team leader in the investigation of Delalic and Mucic that was conducted in Vienna at the request of the Tribunal, was supposed to testify. However, Panzer had to urgently return to Vienna for family reasons, so that his testimony had to be postponed.

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