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Karadzic: A “Cooling” List

5. October 2011.00:00
Witness Kerim Mesanovic testified at Radovan Karadzic's trial at The Hague, speaking about the abuse and murder of Bosniaks in the Omarska detention camp in the summer of 1992, after Serb forces took over the control over Prijedor.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Karadzic, the then President of Republika Srpska, RS, is charged, among other things, with the unlawful detention, torture and murders committed in Omarska as part of persecution of Bosniaks and Croats from Prijedor, which, as alleged under the indictment, escalated into genocide.

Mesanovic, the then officer with the local National Defence Secretariat, said that Serb authorities dismissed and arrested him in late June 1992 and transferred him to Omarska.

The witness said that guards brutally beat, mistreated and killed Muslims, who were held in the detention camp. He said that up to 3,000 people were held in the camp, adding that they did not have enough food or water.

Mesanovic said that better-off Bosniaks and intellectuals were put on “a cooling list”, which means that they were going to be executed. He said that they were transferred to “a white house” within the detention camp complex, adding that nobody saw them again after that. As he said, bodies of many of his friends were found in mass graves later on.

Mesanovic told the Court that he was held in “the white house” for a short time, but Omarska Commander Zeljko Mejakic transferred him to some other building.

“Mejakic’s driver, known as Brk, told me that my name was on ‘the cooling list’, i.e. liquidation list, too, but it was removed on July 2,” the witness said.

Following a short stay in Keraterm detention camp, Mesanovic was released. He then managed to flee to a third country via Serbia, using false identification documents. He said that Serb authorities had previously confiscated his property.

During the course of cross-examination Karadzic said that Mesanovic’s stay in Omarska was part of a legitimate investigation, but the witness denied the allegation. Responding to a question made by the indictee, he confirmed that, while he was held in the detention camp, he “did not witness any murders”, except one, but prisoners were taken away and never returned.

Mesanovic rejected the indictee’s allegation that the abuse of people in Omarska was a result of autocracy of certain guards. The witness said that the guards “took people out as per a list, as per someone’s warrant”.

“The commanding line went through the commander of guards to Mejakic and Chief of Prijedor police Simo Drljaca,” the witness said.

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina sentenced Mejakic to 21 years in prison for crimes committed in Omarska. SFOR killed Drljaca while attempting to arrest him.

As the trial of Karadzic continued, protected witness KDZ-017 testified about the unlawful detention, beating and murder of non-Serb civilians in the Penal and Correctional Facility in Foca. Serb authorities arrested the witness in May 1992, after he had been sent back from Montenego as refugee.

The witness said that detainees were taken to the administration building for examination, adding that they were beaten up in that building. “In June 1992 four groups, each consisting of nine Bosniaks, were taken for examinations and beaten up. We then heard gunshots. Nobody ever saw them again,” witness KDZ-017 said.

A similar thing happened to those, who were taken for an exchange. The witness said that several sick prisoners died due to the inhumane conditions and lack of medicines.

While cross-examining the witness, Karadzic said that he did not see any of the murders, adding that the prisoners may have been released. However, witness KDZ-017 rejected that possibility.

“Gunshots were heard after the brutal beating that took place in a room that was close to mine. The only conclusion is that those men were killed. Their bodies were then transported by a small truck to River Drina banks,” the witness said. He was held in Foca Facility until October 1994.

The Hague Prosecution’s indictment alleges that Karadzic is charged with genocide in Srebrenica, terror against civilians in Sarajevo and taking international personnel hostages.

The trial is due to continue on October 5.


This post is also available in: Bosnian