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

Foca Trial

Ex-detainee claims Krnojelac played key role in prison terror
By IWPR

Tribunal prosecutors concluded their case last week against a former Foca prison warden with testimony from a ex-detainee who portrayed the accused as clearly part of the prison's chain of command.


The defendant, Milorad Krnojelac, was a warden at the notorious Foca jail where hundreds of Bosniaks were detained following the seizure of the town by Bosnian Serb forces.


In the Foca prison indictment, Krnojelac is charged with crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the law or customs of war.


One of the last prosecution witnesses was a former detainee who corroborated the prosecution's case that non-Serbs were exposed to a planned campaign of terror and killings after Foca fell.


"I was told by an investigator in the prison that we (the detainees) would be divided in three groups - those considered loyal to the Serb state would be released, and the other two groups punished," witness Muhamed Lisica told the court.


The witness also heard Serb guards say that that the military command in Foca would decide the fate of the detainees. However, the prosecution underlined that Krnojelac was a part of that chain of command and often seen in the prison with high-ranking political and military figures.


Lisica testified that "Krnojelac was the person through whom the command was running the prison".


The witness also quoted the brother of the accused, Arso Krnojelac, who worked in the prison as a driver. According to Lisica, Arso was critical of his brother's activities at the prison, "His brother believed that Krnojelac was stupid to accept the job of warden because, he said, 'one day someone will have to be held accountable for everything that happened in the prison.'"


Out of 45 prosecution witnesses, around 40 were former detainees who testified about interrogations accompanied with beatings and killings. The prosecution compiled a list of 29 detainees who were killed in the prison, but around 300 inmates are still listed as missing and considered dead.


The defence case is scheduled to commence on May 1.