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

Prosecution Witnesses Continue at Celebici Trial

Testimony by "Witness D" implicates Bosnian Army commander Delalic in beatings, raped and other ill-treatment of prisoners at the Celebici camp.
By IWPR ICTY

Three of the four prosecution witnesses who testified at last week's resumption of the Celebici trial were former inmates of the Bosnian Army-run camp. The witnesses described different personal experiences. Witness M was severely beaten. Witness B was not beaten, but since he worked on different jobs moved around the camp and did see a lot. Zoran Novakovic went through torture of the "special welcome" intended for the prisoners from Bradina, but stayed in the camp for only nine days. Nevertheless, their testimonies on general conditions in Celebici camp mostly tally with depositions of the previous witnesses.

The most interesting testimony was probably given by Witness D. Most of the examination by the prosecutor and the defence went on in camera. As a member of the Bosnian Croat military formation, Croatian Defence Council (HVO), Witness D served in the Military Investigation Commission which in June 1992 interrogated and categorised the inmates in Celebici camp. On the basis of what Witness D said in the public part of his hearing, the members of the Military Investigation Commission quickly discovered that inmates were ill-treated. They saw them being brought to interrogation sessions with tied hands and with signs of beatings, heard stories of women confined and raped, but had no means of preventing it. After a while they concluded that their work in the camp was purposeless and, furthermore, that it served as a smoke screen for persecution of the inmates. They wrote a report in which they stated this and dissolved the commission.

The testimony of Witness D laid most of the accusations against Zejnil Delalic, commander of the Tactical Group of the Bosnian Army in charge of the area where the Celebici camp was situated, and Zdravko Mucic, commander of the Celebici camp. Delalic's defence asserted even before the beginning of the trial that the only prosecution witnesses were two HVO members who, allegedly, once tried to kill Delalic and now were continuing their attacks on him by testifying. It would have been interesting to know how Witness D handled the cross-examination by Delalic's chief defence lawyer, Sarajevo attorney Edina Becirevic, but that part of the hearing was closed to the public.