news 30 Oct 12

Kerestinec Verdict Due on October 31

After some of the defendants in the trial for war crimes at the Croatian military prison of Kerestinec had addressed the court, the presiding judge announced that the verdict would be passed on Wednesday, October 31.

Boris Pavelic

During Monday’s hearing, four of the five defendants gave their final address to the court, and took the opportunity to deny all accusations of war crimes committed against Croatian Serbs at the military prison of Kerestinec.

Stjepan Klaric, who was in command of Kerestinec prison, and four of his subordinates, Drazen Pavlovic, Viktor Ivancin, Zeljko Zivec and Goran Strukelj, are charged with the physical and psychological torture of 34 detainees, and the sexual abuse of male and female prisoners from December 1991 until May 25, 1992.

“Nobody was killed, tortured or raped in Kerestinec. There were isolated incidents which I punished, but there was no systematic abuse,“ Klaric said.

Klaric added that the Croatian intelligence service SIS was responsible for questioning prisoners in the period relevant to the indictment.

The former SIS chief Josip Perkovic testified earlier in the trial that SIS officers had not questioned anyone in Kerestinec.

Perkovic claimed that after the International Red Cross had submitted a complaint, several pieces of apparatus were found in the so-called "black room”, which was allegedly used to torture and sexually abuse prisoners.

The defendant Goran Strukelj was the only one to express remorse for the torture that took place in Kerestinec.

The other defendants claimed that they neither knew nor participated in the torture of the prisoners.  The last defendant remained silent in his defence.

The trial of the five ex-Croatian soldiers, who were arrested in 2010, started at the County Court in Zagreb on March 27, based on the indictment that was filed in November last year.

The Kerestinec military prison was set up in the former Yugoslav People's Army, JNA, air base in the village of Kerestinec near the Croatian capital Zagreb, on 17th September 1991.

The trial will continue on Tuesday, October 30, when the defence and the prosecution will present their closing arguments.



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