News 23 Jan 13

Sarajevo Detention Camps Trial Opens

Prosecutors accused Branko Vlaco of persecuting non-Serbs at camps in the Vogosca suburb of the Bosnian capital and in neighbouring villages in 1992.

Justice Report

Bosnian state prosecutor Munib Halilovic said that Vlaco was part of a joint criminal enterprise along with members of the military, police and civilian authorities.

Vlaco's war crimes trial in Sarajevo opened on Wednesday with the reading of the indictment and the presentation of introductory statements.

“We shall prove Vlaco’s role through witnesses’ statements and material evidence. The injured parties, who suffered tortures, had a chance to see and hear him commit the crimes,” prosecutor Halilovic said.

He said that Vlaco was the warden of the Bunker, Planjina Kuca, Sonja and Nakina Garaza detention camps and established a system to punish civilians held there in the period from May to the end of October 1992.

According to the charges, detainees were abused, forced to perform hard labour and used as human shields. Many of the detainees were allegedly killed at the camps and dozens are still missing. The prosecution alleges that Vlaco also raped one female.

During the conflict, Bosnian Serb forces controlled the outskirts of Sarajevo and many non-Serb residents of the capital were arrested and taken to detention centres in Vogosca.

To support the allegations, Halilovic said he proposed to examine 99 witnesses and present more than 400 documents.

However Vlaco’s defence attorney Rade Golic said in his opening remarks that no widespread and systematic attack existed and that there was no plan to persecute the non-Serb population as alleged.

Golic said he would also try to prove that Vlaco was not a member of a joint criminal enterprise.

Vlaco was arrested in Montenegro in January 2012 and extradited to Bosnia.

The first prosecution witness will be examined on February 6.

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