Defence witnesses at the trial of Tomislav Mercep, a former top advisor in Croatia's wartime Interior Ministry, gave conflicting testimonies about the existence of a prison in Pakracka Poljana.
Zvonimir Trusic, one of Mercep's closest associates, denied any knowledge of a prison in Pakracka Poljana, but he added that he “would not see anything strange if one existed, because in a war zone it is necessary to have a space for prisoners”.
Nikola Cvitanovic, one of the former commanders of a police unit known as the “mercepovci”, said there were several civilians imprisoned in Pakracka Poljana, but denied that they had suffered any violence.
Cvitanovic claimed that the prison was at the local football grounds, but the unit's former logistics officer Zvonimir Zakosek said it was at the railway station in Pakracka Poljana.
They both accused the deceased “mercepovci” member Munib Suljic for any violence committed by the police unit.
Cvitanovic said he “later heard that Suljic and those around him, who killed and tortured people, had claimed they had approval from above.”
Suljic died of cancer in 2006 in prison, where he was serving a 12-year jail term for the unlawful arrest of three men in Zagreb and their detention in Pakracka Poljana's prison.
Prior to his death, Suljic announced he wanted to testify on the war history of his unit, but he died before prosecutors took his official statement.
Mercep has been charged, as a commander of a police unit, to have personally ordered the unlawful arrest, torture and killing of civilians from October to mid-December 1991, in and around Zagreb and in the towns of Kutina and Pakrac in central Croatia.
According to the indictment, his police unit, the “mercepovci” illegally captured 52 people, mainly Croatian Serbs, killing 43 of them, while three disappeared and six survived torture.
The trial will continue on April 11 when Zarko Domljan, former speaker of the Croatian parliament, and former chief of Croatia's secret service, Josip Perkovic, are expected to testify.
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