Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Courtside: Stakic Trial
a model of civic tolerance.
Former Prijedor hotel manager Mico Kos said Stakic, former crisis staff president charged with genocide, belonged to a special group of politicians within the town known for being "reasonable and tolerant".
Kos said he had never heard a single discriminatory statement from the lips of Stakic, accused by prosecutors of using his position as chief of the town in the spring of 1992 to wage a campaign of murder and terror against local Muslims.
Kos said that in fact attacks in the town came from "extremists", by which he meant Croats and Muslims (Bosniaks), not Serbs.
In late May 1992, he said these extremists had shot at his car, and he later counted 28 bullet holes. He claimed they used such attacks to "implement their justice through arms".
Asked by the judge to explain why Serb leaders had seized control of the town prior to any attacks by "extremists", Kos said that he did not know, and did not want to know, as this was a "matter for politicians".
However, Kos added that he was sure that the defendant was blameless. "Stakic was primarily a doctor, and then a politician," he told the court.
Kos said he never asked what happened to non-Serbs he knew and socialised with before the war - they simply disappeared from the town. The prosecutor suggested that some of them were killed in the Omarska camp, but the witness said that he never heard anything about their fate.
Asked if he knew anything about the camps, he said, "From what I heard, those were more like collection centres for the migration of people to desired destinations."
Later on in the testimony, he admitted hearing about a mass killing of detainees in Keraterm camp, but could not say who might have been responsible for detentions. "One could not tell who was in charge in Prijedor," he claimed.
Vjera Bogati is an IWPR correspondent in The Hague and a journalist with SENSE news agency.
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