Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Foca Prison Trial

Former inmates provide more harrowing accounts of prison life
By IWPR

As prosecutors last week wound up their case against Milorad Krnojelac, former warden of Foca prison, several more ex detainees gave evidence on conditions there.


According to the indictment, over 1,000 Bosniaks from Foca and the surrounding area passed through the prison between 1992 and 1993.


Nezir Cengic, an 87-year-old pensioner from Rataje, gave evidence by video link from Sarajevo because he was too frail to travel to The Hague. Cengic said he and four neighbours, also Muslim, were arrested on August 17, 1992 and taken to the Miljevina police station near Foca.


Cengic said he was beaten unconscious. His assailants took him home and robbed him of money and valuables. He was beaten again. Unconscious and dying, he was finally transferred to Foca hospital.


"First they beat me up, and then they cured me," Cengic said. The Serbian doctor, he said, "brought him back from the dead" and "treated him as if he were a close relative" for 50 days.


Then, the witness said, "a drunken Chetnik" appeared in the hospital and attacked the doctor, a woman, for "treating enemies" and threatened to slit his throat and those of two other Muslim patients. In order to protect them, Cengic said, the doctor drove them in her car to a "safe place" - the prison.


Cengic stayed there for four months. He said he received no medical treatment, but was not maltreated. He was too weak to go for food and had to rely on others to bring food to his cell.


Cengic said he met Krnojelac, but could say nothing either good or bad about him.


In January 1993, the witness said, he was taken away on a prisoner exchange and driven to Belgrade along with several other detainees.


More IWPR's Global Voices

Why Did Cuba Jail This Journalist?
Rights defenders say that unusually harsh punishment reflects wider troubles for Havana regime.
Under A Watchful Eye: Cyber Surveillance in Cuba
Cuba's Less Than Beautiful Game