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

Omarska Camp trial

Former camp detainees come to defence of a camp guard.

The Defence lawyer for Bosnian Serb Mladjo Radic, accused of crimes in the Omarska concentration camp, said last week that Bosnian war outrages could be attributed to "centuries-old hatred" among its peoples.

Toma Fila's remarks, however, did not prevent him from summoning six Bosnian Croats and Muslims as defence witnesses for the accused Serb policeman.

All of the witnesses had been detained at Omarska during a period in 1992 when Radic was alleged to have been in command of one of the guard shifts.

The witnesses, whose identities have been concealed, said people lived in "harmony and love" in their ethnically-mixed village of Ljubija near Prijedor.

They claimed that during their detention Radic, alias Krkan, brought them money, food and cigarettes, and protected them from soldiers, police reservists and civilians who were allowed to maltreat the detainees.

In addition, they say that Radic was an "ordinary policeman", with no powers of command over other officers and soldiers in "his shift".

However, several dozen prosecution witnesses, all of them former detainees, claimed Radic's shift was definitely the worst, with the largest number of killings, heavy beatings and torture of detainees.

Radic will be cross-examined by the prosecutors next week.