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COURTSIDE: Prijedor Genocide Trial

Court hears evidence concerning disappearance of a leading Muslim doctor.
By Mirna Jancic

A Muslim civilian from Prijedor last week spoke of the fate of the town's Muslim and Croat doctors during the Bosnian war.

Nusret Sivac was giving evidence in the trial of Milomir Stakic, charged with genocide against non-Serbs. The indictment against him says the local Serb authorities targeted prominent Muslims, most of whom perished in the detention camps set up with permission of the accused.

One of the towns' leading citizens, Dr Esad Sadikovic, disappeared in August of 1992 at Omarska camp. He was last seen by a group of camp inmates including Sivac.

Most of Prijedor's Muslim and Croat doctors were executed in the camps, Sivac said, adding that this happened while the municipality was controlled by Stakic, himself a doctor.

Sivac focused on the fate of Sadikovic, whom he described as a humanist who had taken part in UNHCR missions around the world. One day, at dawn, while both were detained in Omarska, a guard ordered Sadikovic to gather his things and he was taken away.

The witness said the fact that he was ordered to take his belongings suggested that he was about to be killed. As he left the room, all the inmates stood up and shouted, "Thank you doctor for everything you've done."

"We couldn't believe that there is a criminal in this world who could kill such a man, and yet he was killed that day," said Sivac.

Sivac worked for the department of security before the war and later as a journalist. He claims he saw Stakic in Omarska during a visit to the region by top Serb functionaries, and said the event was written about in the local paper, Kozarski vjesnik. The article was read out in court.

As the defence says its client never set foot in Omarska, Judge Schomburg asked Sivac to confirm that he saw Stakic that day in the camp, which he did.

Mirna Jancic is an IWPR assistant editor

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