At the start of the trial for crimes committed in Dretelj, one of the most notorious camps of the Bosnian war, a prosecution witness confirmed that Bosnian Serb civilians were detained there in 1992.
Halil Beso, former member of the Croatian Defence Forces, HOS, in Stolac, told the Bosnian court that he saw prisoners in the Dretelj facility, but that he did not see whether they were injured or not.
“I was in Dretelj on three occasions. The prisoners were there. They were Serbs locked up there. (...) I don’t think they were injured, but I could not see as I was in a vehicle. There were women too, I saw women at the window, I think they were held upstairs,” said Beso.
Beso, who was the commander of the military police with the Croatian Defence Forces in Stolac between July 1 and August 9, 1992, said that he was wounded in August 1992, and sent to hospital so one of the accused, Edib Buljubasic, took over the command.
Beside Buljubasic, the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina also charges Ivan Zelenika, Srecko Herceg, Ivan Medic and Marina Grubisic-Fejzic with crimes committed in 1992 in Dretelj.
The indictment specifies that Zelenika, Herceg, Buljubasic, Medic and Grubisic-Fejzic in 1992 took part in crimes against several hundred Bosnian Serbs from the municipalities of Mostar, Ljubuski, Capljina and Stolac, who were imprisoned in the Dretelj camp.
According to the indictment, Zelenika was an officer of the Croatian Defence Forces, Herceg was the former commander of the Dretelj camp, Buljubasic was his deputy, while Medic and Grubisic-Fejzic were former camp guards.
Zelenika, Herceg, Medic and Grubisic-Fejzic are all Bosnian Croats, while Buljubasic is a Bosniak. Marina Grubisic-Fejzic is one of a few women being charged with war crimes during the Bosnian war.
Witness Beso said there were both soldiers and civilians amongst the prisoners in Dretelj, and that he heard they had been imprisoned in order to be exchanged.
The witness also said he personally knew defendant Ivan Medic, who was transferred to his unit in July 1992.
“He was transferred early in July. He was a good fighter, but a little bit stubborn, he often went off the rails,” said Beso.
The trial is set to resume on August 14.