A witness at the trial for war crimes committed at the Dretelj detention camp in southern Bosnia in 1992 said he and other prisoners were assaulted and sexually abused.
Protected witness 'B' told the Sarajevo court on Tuesday that on July 15, 1992, he was arrested, taken to the army infirmary in the Bosnian town of Mostar, and interrogated in a basement by defendant Ivan Zelenika and another person.
“He [Zelenika] was holding a whip, and the other one a baton. He lashed me several times with the whip, and the other one hit me with the baton,” recalled the witness.
The next day, he said, he was taken to Dretelj.
“There were around 60 people in the Dretelj camp. Some of them were disfigured. They looked more like wraiths than people,” he said.
He said that prisoners were constantly beaten, and that he was severely beaten up several times himself, once by Ahmed Makitan, who was sentenced in Sweden to five years in prison in April 2011 for crimes committed at Dretelj.
“I fell into a coma once. The first blows came from Makitan, but the others joined in. They were hitting me and some other people. How many of us they beat, I don’t know,” the witness testified.
He said that some prisoners were killed, and that he witnessed one of the deaths.
“[The prisoner] was taken outside... We heard his screams. Meanwhile they threw him into the hangar and tied him to the bars. He called out for his wife and went silent. I crawled to the other side of the hangar, touched his hand and neck. That’s when I said that it seems he passed away,” he said.
He also testified about sexual abuse of prisoners, saying that defendant Ivan Medic forced a prisoner “to put his sexual organ into another man’s mouth”.
He said that once while doing hard labour, prisoners were forced to pretend to be animals.
“Their soldiers showed up and they mounted us. Some of us had to bark, some bleat or bray. I had to bark, then bray,” he said.
Zelenika is charged, along with Medic, Srecko Herceg, Edib Buljubasic and Marina Grubisic-Fejzic, with involvment in torture and forcing prisoners into hard labour at the camp, where several people died as a result of being abused.
According to the indictment, Zelenika was an officer of the Croatian Defence Force, Herceg was commander of the Dretelj camp, Buljubasic was his deputy, while Medic and Grubisic-Fejzic were guards.
The witness said he regularly saw Herceg, Buljubasic and Grubisic at the camp, and that Grubisic once hit him in the genitals.
The witness will be cross-examined on March 19.