Malko Koroman, a wartime police chief in Pale, went on trial for the unlawful arrest and detention of Bosniak civilians, some of whom were tortured and killed in 1992.
The crimes against humanity trial of Malko Koroman, the wartime chief of the police’s Public Security Station in Pale who is now a deputy mayor, opened on Monday at the Bosnian state court.
The prosecution accuses Koroman of having organised and enabled the unlawful arrests and detention of people at the police’s Public Security Station in Pale and in a gym near the police building as part of a widespread and systematic attack targeting the Bosniak civilian population in the area between March and December 1992.
According to the charges, the civilians were subjected to torture and murder.
The first count alleges that between April and September 1992, Koroman ordered and organised the detention of Bosniak civilians from Pale in the gym, while police officers guarded the building from outside and controlled access to it.
“After examining them at the Public Security Station, his subordinates would bring the civilians into the gym and detain them in it, on no legal grounds, not telling them the reasons for their detention. The civilians did not have enough food, which was irregularly brought to them by Public Security Station staff,” said prosecutor Dika Omerovic.
The defendant is also charged with having enabled Bosnian Serb Army soldiers to bring and detain civilians from Sarajevo and Bratunac in the gym, where they were physically mistreated.
Under the second count, Koroman is charged with enabling Public Security Station officers to abuse the civilians on a daily basis and failing to take the necessary measures to protect them.
Prosecutor Omerovic said that five civilians died at the gym due to severe injuries, but police officers concealed the murders.
The third count alleges that Koroman, in collaboration with the Bosnian Serb Army, organised an attack on the village of Hrenovica and nearby villages. The prosecutor said he led the attack by gathering 100 policemen and assigning tasks and instructions.
During the attack, a group of men was taken to the gym in Pale. As they were entering the gym, they were made to walk between two lines of policemen who hit and kicked them. The policemen continued mistreating them until Koroman ordered them to stop.
Prosecutor Omerovic said she would prove that Koroman, as chief of the Public Security Station, actively participated in the persecution of the civilians.
But defence lawyer Muhidin Kapo said he would show that Koroman was not guilty.
“It is true that he was the chief of the Public Security Station, but the gym was not under his responsibility. A totally different body was responsible for it. When he appeared, all the mistreatment stopped,” Kapo insisted.
“Malko is a completely positive person and we shall prove his innocence,” he added.
Koroman is currently deputy mayor of the Old Town East municipality in Serb-majority East Sarajevo.
The first prosecution witnesses will be heard on January 27.