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COURTSIDE: Omarska and Keraterm Case

Indicted camp visitor breaks Hague record.
By Mirko Klarin

Dusko "Duca" Knezevic last week beat a tribunal record for the number of times he repeated the words, "Your honour, not guilty". Without altering his tone, he uttered the phrase 46 times, as if it had been pre-recorded.

Knezevic, who recently turned himself into The Hague, faces two indictments for crimes that occurred in summer of 1992 in the Omarska and Keraterm camps of north-west Bosnia. The defendant had no official function at either but "visited the camps with intention of mistreating, beating, torturing and killing the prisoners", according to the indictment.

Numerous witnesses at previous trials described him as an exceptionally cruel visitor who sadistically tortured detainees and killed some. Knezevic denies any guilt for all 46 counts, which concern crimes against humanity, breaches of the Geneva Convention and violation of the laws and customs of war.

After he entered his plea, Prosecutor Joanna Korner, as expected, announced that she will request the joining of the cases and a joint trial for all those indicted over Omarska and Keraterm.

Momcilo Gruban, a guard shift commander at Omarska, is already in the UN detention unit at The Hague. Predrag Banovic and Dusan Fustar also await trial for Keraterm. Of all those accused of crimes in the camps in the Prijedor area, only Zeljko Meakic - Omarska's former commander - remains at large. But he is also expected in the tribunal soon.

Mirko Klarin is IWPR senior editor at the war crimes tribunal and editor-in-chief of SENSE News Agency.

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