Foca Prison Trial

Survivors speak of brutal prison regime

Foca Prison Trial

Survivors speak of brutal prison regime

Saturday, 17 March, 2001

Many of the former inmates of Foca prison are now listed as "missing" and are unable to testify, but prosecutors have reconstructed the brutal beatings and maltreatment allegedly carried out there in 1992 through the testimony of some of the survivors.

"Some new senses are developed in prison," said Amir Berberkic, a doctor from Foca held in the prison for 479 days. "We heard every sound coming from the administration building (where detainees were allegedly beaten and sometimes killed)."

Foca prison acted as a detention centre for Bosniak civilians from April 1992 until late 1994. Many former detainees claim the "worst period" was the summer of 1992.

The warden at the time was school teacher Milorad Krnojelac, now on trial at the Hague for his role in the alleged brutality.

Berberkic spoke of several cruel interrogations aimed at establishing whether the detainees were members of the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action, SDA; or owned a weapon.

Although not present during the beatings of others, Berberkic gave an account of what he heard and saw. The witness claimed another detainee, Emir Mandzo, was beaten so hard his "legs and arms were pushed through though the back-rest of a chair. "Then they beat him with a club...One of the soldiers, a karate expert, swung and hit him in the face with his foot."

Berberkic said he had heard "screaming, begging...dull sounds of falling and splashing water" during Mandzo interrogation. The former Foca doctor said he took care of the young man when he was brought back to the cell with "a disfigured face, broken teeth, large swellings on his arms and legs, a broken index finger...." Berberkic said "nothing is known" today of Mandzo and numerous other detainees whose beatings and injuries he described.

All former detainees testify that inmates were taken in groups to be "exchanged" or to work - never to be seen again. Berberkic said his brother-in-law was "interrogated" and later disappeared.

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