The ex-prisoner testified at the war crimes trial of detention camp warden Branko Vlaco that he was locked up in inhuman conditions in Vogosca near Sarajevo.
Prosecution witness Alija Halilovic said that after being captured in May 1992, he was taken to the Bunker camp in Vogosca by defendant Branko Vlaco and kept there for 100 days.
“‘What is it? What are you so scared of?’, he [Vlaco] asked us while he drove us to the camp in his [Volkswagen] Golf. That is all we heard from him. We did not know where we were going or what would become of us,” Halilovic told Vlaco’s trial on Wednesday.
Halilovic said that he was locked up in a concrete room with seven other prisoners.
“All of them were sitting in the dark. They were beaten-up. None of them reacted, none of them said anything. One was lying in the corner, you could not hear him breathe... When I asked them what happened, none of them dared tell me,” said the witness.
The prosecution accuses Vlaco, as the warden of the Bunker, Planjina Kuca, Sonja and Nakina Garaza detention camps in Vogosca, of establishing a system to punish civilians held there 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 on the Sarajevo frontline. Many of the prisoners were allegedly killed at the camps and dozens are still missing. The prosecution alleges that Vlaco also raped one female.
Halilovic said that prisoners were often taken to do hard labour or forced to participate in looting. He said he was used as a human shield three times.
“Luckily I was not hit by anything and the bullets were just flying around me. Once, out of 50 people taken there, only 20 of us returned. Four got killed, and 26 ended up in hospitals and who knows where after they were wounded,” said Halilovic.
He said the prisoners lived in tough conditions, sleeping on concrete and not receiving food every day.
“In the beginning we ate every day, and later we were not getting anything for 50 hours. They came, fed the dog in front of us; we were watching, and nothing,” said Halilovic.
The witness said he recognised Vlaco as a former policeman and knew he was the Bunker camp’s warden because he introduced himself as such.
The trial is set to resume on March 6.