Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Former detainees of a notorious detention camp testified last week that their Bosnian Serb captors machine-gunned unarmed detainees in July 1992.
The five prosecution witnesses recounted the incident as part of the trial of Dusko Sikirica, Damir Dosen and Dragan Kolundzija. Sikirica is accused of crimes committed as a camp commander and the other two suspects are facing charges as guard shift commanders.
After describing appalling conditions at the Keraterm camp that included beatings and torture, witnesses told the court of a massacre of detainees on 24 July 1992.
Two machine guns were positioned in front of "Room No. 3", a warehouse where some detainees were held, in the early evening and the shooting started at around 10 pm and went on for several hours with occasional pauses, witnesses said.
The next morning, the witnesses said they saw corpses being pulled out of the warehouse and loaded onto a large truck, from which blood was dripping. After the bodies were loaded, the guards ordered wounded men to climb on to the truck.
One witness, Jusuf Arifagic, alleged that another massacre took place two days later. He said that first there was gunfire and then a voice could be heard asking, "What shall we do now, are there still any living left?" After that, the witness said he counted 43 individual shots.
The massacre - in which some 150 to 200 detainees were killed - has been described previously in other tribunal cases. It was mentioned during the trial of Dusko Tadic (who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for crimes in the Prijedor camps) as well as in the current trial of "Kvocka and Others" - in which five men are accused of crimes in the Omarska and Keraterm camps.
Arifagic testified that the day after the massacre, one of the accused - Damir Dosen or "Kajin" - visited "Room No.2" where Arifagic was detained.
Dosen was drunk and depressed. In tears, Dosen said that he did not agree with the "Chetnik policy of the SDS" (Karadzic's Serbian Democratic party); that he was against people being tortured; and that he had prevented shooting in Rooms No. 1 and 2, the witness told the court.
At one point, "Kajin" threw away his gun and allegedly told the detainees, "Kill me if you think that I am guilty of something," Arifagic said.
Bosniaks and Croats from Prijedor area were held in Keraterm, a ceramic tiles factory, and other detention centres in 1992 by Bosnian Serb forces.
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