News 07 Nov 12

Artist Recalls his Imprisonment in Dretelj Camp

At the trial of five ex Croatian Defence Forces, HOS, fighters charged with war crimes committed in the Dretelj camp, one of the defendants apologised to the witness for causing his suffering.

Justice Report

Milivoje Bokic, a sculptor from Trebinje, said he was arrested in August 1992 and taken to the military dispensary in Mostar, and then transferred to the Dretelj camp.

He said that prisoners were beaten and abused in Dretelj every day.

“Groups of three or five soldiers used to come every night. They would order the prisoners to come to the windows. Then they beat us. On the following day we would have to clean blood from the windows,” the witness said, adding that the prisoners were threatened they would be killed if they told anyone how they got their injuries.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina charges Ivan Zelenika, Srecko Herceg, Edib Buljubasic, Ivan Medic and Marina Grubisic-Fejzic with crimes against Serb civilians in Dretelj in 1992.

The indictment alleges that Zelenika was a HOS officer, Herceg was the prison commander, Buljubasic his deputy, while Medic and Grubisic-Fejzic were prison guards.

According to the charges, all of them participated in forcing prisoners to perform hard labour and torturing them. A few persons died due to consequences of the abuse.

Bokic testified that Edin Buljubasic was behind the beatings in Dretelj. Buljubasic apologized to the witness, admitting that he did order the beatings of the prisoners.  

“You were right. I did order your beating. If you would please accept my apology,” Buljubasic said.

Buljubasic is serving time in the Zenica prison for 4 murders committed before and after the Bosnian war, including the murder of his own father.

The witness said that some of the prisoners died in Dretelj, adding that he heard that some were sexually abused as well.

“One of the prisoners did not want to come to the window, so he was beaten up. Then they tied him to the window bars and beat him. It looked like the crucifixion of Jesus. He remained hanging there,” the witness said.

Prior to being brought to Dretelj, Bokic spent about a week in the military dispensary in Mostar, where he said he as beaten up on Zelenika’s order.

Zelenika reminded the witness that he offered his help and told him to respect him as an artist when Bokic was brought to the dispensary.

The witness replied: “I know, but you must admit that you ordered them to beat me with a belt”.

The trial is due to continue on November 13.

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