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SFOR Strikes Again

Tribunal Update 71: Last Week in The Hague (6-11 April 1998)
By IWPR ICTY

The second Prijedor "encounter" was much quieter than the original operation when the suspect Simo Drljaca resisted the arrest and was killed in the ensuing shoot-out with British commandos. On Wednesday, 8 April 1998, the accused Miroslav Kvocka and Mladen Radic surrendered without resistance as soon as they "encountered" SFOR troops on their respective doorsteps.

Both were then transferred to The Hague and taken into custody at the Tribunal's Detention Unit, thereby increasing the number of defendants to 25. The accused Kvocka and Radic were scheduled to be brought before Trial Chamber I-bis (Judge Almiro Simoes Rodrigues presiding) on 14 April in order to enter a guilty or not-guilty plea on each of the counts with which they have been charged. Miroslav Kvocka and Mladen Radic are two of the 19 accused in the "Omarska indictment" issued by the Tribunal on 13 February 1995.

They were named with regard to atrocities allegedly committed between May and August 1992 against Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat civilians held at the Omarska camp, a makeshift detention facility where "the Serb forces killed, raped, assaulted, beat and otherwise mistreated the prisoners."

According to the indictment, Kvocka briefly figured as the commander of the camp before becoming one of the two deputies to Zeljko Meakic, the camp commander. Radic was one of the three shift commanders. Both are indicted in their alleged capacity as superiors to other camp personnel. According to the indictment, they knew or had reason to know that camp guards and other subordinates "regularly and openly killed, raped, tortured, beat and otherwise subjected prisoners to conditions of constant humiliation, degradation and fear of death."

For not preventing such acts and failing to punish the perpetrators, both are individually charged with three counts of crimes against humanity, four counts of violations of the laws or customs of war and four counts of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

In addition, Miroslav Radic has been indicted for crimes he allegedly committed himself against a female detainee. According to the indictment, Radic had repeatedly subjected "A" to forcible sexual intercourse. For five incidents of rape, he is charged with an additional five counts for each of the above-mentioned crimes.

The crimes committed at Omarska have already received significant attention at the Tribunal. During the trial of Dusko Tadic (May-November 1996), 30 former Omarska detainees testified, including a woman who stated that she had been raped and subsequently beaten five times. In the "Opinion and Judgment" of Trial Chamber II, which proclaimed Tadic guilty, the Omarska camp was described as "the most notorious of the camps, where the most horrific conditions existed."

The Omarska camp commander, Zeljko Meakic, who is still at large, was the first person the Tribunal accused of the crime of genocide.

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