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Omarska Trial - Former Women Detainees Speak Of Sexual Abuse

Tribunal Update 189 Last Week in The Hague (September 4-9, 2000)
By IWPR

Rape and sexual abuse, however, form part of the charges facing Radic's four co-accused, Miroslav Kvocka, Drago Prcac, Milojica Kos and Zoran Zigic, relating to persecution on political, racial and religious grounds.


Radic is charged with crimes against humanity (torture and rape) and violating the laws and customs of war (torture and outrages upon personal dignity).


Thirty-six women were held at Omarska, a former mine complex, during the summer of 1992. The women were kept in two rooms on the first floor of the administrative block.


According to earlier statements by prosecution witnesses, Serbian interrogators used the two rooms during the day to question detainees. In the evening, the witnesses said, the women prisoners had to clean away blood, urine and other traces of violence left over from the interrogations before they could sleep in the rooms.


Several prosecution witnesses have also said it was routine for guards and camp personnel to take women away at night. They would return some hours later bruised and crying, but unwilling to say what had happened.


Protected witness J said Radic called her out one night and took her to the camp commander's office. There, she said, Radic explained how detainees at the camp were divided into various categories depending on the severity of the charges against them.


Witness J said she was left in no doubt she fell into one of the "heavier categories." But Radic offered to intervene on her behalf, J said, and have her transferred to a "milder category" provided she return the "favour" by having sexual intercourse with him.


J said that Radic then pushed her against the wall and began touching and sexually assaulting her despite her pleas to be let go. The witness said Radic did not achieve full penetration, but ejaculated over her thighs and legs. J said Radic then promised to bring a sponge bed next time so "we can do it decently, not like just now."


J said another officer at the camp, Nedeljko Grabovac, known as "the captain", also sexually assaulted her. When asked if she had ever reported the attacks to commanders at the camp, J said she did not. "No one would have believed me and after that I would have fared even worse," she said.


J was held at Omarska from June 9 to August 3, 1992. She was then sent to the Trnopolje camp shortly before being released.


When J returned to Prijedor she found a Serbian colleague, Ankica Javrovic, living in her flat. On one occasion, J said, she met Javrovic in the town and was invited back to her old home for coffee.


"My former colleague, dressed in my clothes, served me coffee from my cups in my flat," J said. All Javrovic allowed her to take away, J said, were some family photos. Soon after, the witness said, she signed the papers handing over all her property to the Serbian authorities in exchange for permission to leave Prijedor.


The other women allegedly raped by Radic, witness K, made her statement behind closed doors on Thursday and Friday last week.