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Guilty Plea From Prison Camp Killer

Plea agreement deal for man who admitted part in “systematic” slaughter at notorious Brcko camp.
By Emir Suljagic

One of the more brutal figures to have emerged in the Bosnian war, a man who killed unarmed prisoners and committed acts of sadism against them, pleaded guilty in The Hague this week.

On September 8, Bosnian Serb Ranko Cesic, 39, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war. In return for his guilty plea, the prosecutors asked for a sentence of between 13 and 18 years. Cesic, for his part, promised to testify in other trials at the tribunal.

Cesic admitted responsibility for killing at least 10 detainees in the nearby Luka prison camp and other locations in May 1992.

According to the indictment, Serb forces overran Brcko from the end of April 1992, and collected its Muslim and Croat residents at a detention camp and at a sports hall in the town. Over the next two months, hundreds of them were murdered. Ten of the 12 charges against Cesic relate to the second and third weeks of May, after the camp was first set up, when the document says captives were killed “systematically”.

In just one incident at the Luka camp, Cesic, who the indictment says was operating under the apparent authority of the Brcko police, beat Nihad Jasarevic to death with a wooden club weighted with a lead core.

As well as shooting and clubbing his victims, Cesic also admitted to acts of sadism. In one case, he forced Mirsad Glavovic to say goodbye and shake hands with other prisoners held in the main camp building, before he took him outside and beat him to death.

Cesic also confessed that he forced two brothers to assault and perform sexual acts on each other in the presence of other detainees.

In his plea, Cesic admitted that he killed his victims with prior intent, and that he was aware of his actions.

Cesic was arrested in May 2002, and initially pleaded not guilty on all counts. Cesic was indicted in July 1995, together with Goran Jelisic, who styled himself the “Bosnian Adolf” at the Luka camp. Jelisic was convicted and is now serving a 40-year sentence in Italy.

Emir Suljagic is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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