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COURTSIDE: Foca Prison Trial - No Idea

Former prison guards claim they had no knowledge of how detainees were injured, or where the missing may have gone.
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Former guards from Foca prison claimed last week there were no beatings or killings at the institution when Milorad Krnojelac was warden.


Krnojelac is accused of crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva conventions and violations of the laws or customs of war for crimes committed against non-Serb men detained at the prison in 1992-93.


Former detainees have testified that cruel interrogations, beatings and killings were commonplace and that around 300 inmates disappeared after being taken away to work or for prisoner exchanges. The former detainees claimed only a handful of guards treated them correctly.


Last week, however, defence witnesses insisted the prison guards behaved "in a professional manner".


Former guard Risto Ivanovic said he never saw, heard or heard tell of any abuses within the prison. When the prosecutor pointed out the injuries to former detainees, which they had testified were the result of prison beatings, Ivanovic said they were sustained outside the jail.


The prosecution then showed Ivanovic around ten photographs of missing detainees. The former guard looked very serious and said he knew many of the men but had no idea what had become of them.


"The soldiers would come with a list, the guards on duty had to take the detainees out and had no knowledge of what happened to them afterwards," he explained.


Asked why non-Serbs had been detained in the first place and whether he thought each of them criminals, Ivanovic replied, "With the first gunshot everyone chose their side."


The former guard stopped short, however, of agreeing with the prosecutor's suggestion that the only reason non-Serbs were detained was because they belonged to the "wrong side".


In the coming weeks, the defence is expected to conclude its presentation of evidence. Closing arguments of the parties are expected by July.


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


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