COURTSIDE: Bosanski Samac Trial

Witness speaks of attempts to resist Serb takeover in the Mahala area of the municipality.

COURTSIDE: Bosanski Samac Trial

Witness speaks of attempts to resist Serb takeover in the Mahala area of the municipality.

A witness in the trial of four former political and military leaders of Bosanski Samac said last week that his failed attempt to aid forces resisting the Serb takeover of the municipality led to years of abuse and detention.

Kemal Mehinovic, a 46-year-old baker, said that after the Serbs seized the

municipality in April 1992, they discovered some non-Serbs had attempted to join the resistance in the Mahala area on the day of the takeover.

Mehinovic said he met a group of armed non-Serbs on April 17, 1992 who told him they were going to stop the "carnage" against Muslims in the Mahala area. They were talked out of it, however, by another man they met who warned them that they would be killed.

A month later the Serbs arrested him at home and took him to the police

station. "They mostly hit me on the head," he said, adding that they also forced him to spread his legs, hitting his genitals and telling him that he would never have to use them again.

Mehinovic said Stevan Todorovic was the main perpetrator of the beatings.

The former police chief in the town pleaded guilty before the tribunal and

is serving a 10-year sentence for war crimes. He has pledged to testify for the prosecution.

Mehinovic said Todorovic ordered him to lick his own blood off the walls. A month later, a police investigator ordered him to sign a document admitting his role in an "armed uprising" against the Serbian municipality of

Bosanski Samac.

Although the defense during the cross-examination suggested he signed voluntarily, Mehinovic insisted he was forced. "I had been beaten so much that I did not dare say a word, let alone refuse to sign," he said.

The witness said he spent several months in Batkovici camp before going

before a military court in January 1993. He was never offered a defense

counsel. "The judge asked if I knew why I was there. I replied that I did

not and he said, 'You'll know'. That was all," he said.

He was then taken to another prison before returning to the camp. He was

released from detention in October 1994 without knowing what the military

court had decided. While testifying at this trial, he discovered that it had ordered his death sentence. Had the Republika Srpska courts functioned more efficiently, he might be dead today.

However, the legacy of his beating remains with him. Mehinovic had to have half of his stomach, parts of his intestines and one kidney removed. He

suffers severe headaches from the damage done to his skull and needs daily

medication. When a defense counsel for the defendant Simo Zaric expressed

regret on behalf of his client for Mehinovic's suffering, the latter replied, "I don't accept it." The trial continues.

Vjera Bogati is an IWPR special correspondent at The Hague and a journalist with SENSE News Agency.

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