Paramilitaries Committed Crimes in Prijedor
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Protected Defence witness KW-426 says, testifying at Radovan Karadzic’s trial, that crimes against Bosniaks and Croats in detention camps in Prijedor in 1992 were committed by “paramilitary formations, which police were not able to prevent or confront”.
The witness, the then member of police, who became member of the State Security Service later on, confirmed, however, that members of “a special unit” of the Safety Services Centre from Banja Luka were involved in crimes committed in Omarska and Keraterm detention camps, adding that, for that reason, the unit was dismissed in July 1992, while 40 members of that unit were “removed” from service.
The witness said that, considering the fact that those “special policemen” had never undergone any training, the Safety Services Centre in Banja Luka then decided that only specially trained policemen would be admitted to the Special Unit in the future. “Most of them were scrupulous and did not commit crimes,” witness KW-426 said.
As indicated by the witness, a special commission of the Safety Services Centre in Banja Luka determined that paramilitary forces committed crimes in “Omarska and Keraterm investigation centres”. He said that those formations were “dismissed” after that.
The indictment charges Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska, with the persecution in 20 municipalities in BiH, including Prijedor, where, according to the charges, the persecution reached the scale of genocide. Besides that, Karadzic is on trial for genocide in Srebrenica, terror against citizens in Sarajevo and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.
During the cross-examination Prosecutor Catrina Gustafsson presented the witness with an allegation that “the special unit of the Safety Services Centre in Banja Luka was known for its crimes”, but none of its members has been prosecuted for having committed them.
“I would not agree… Forty members were removed,” KW-426 said.
After that the Prosecutor quoted a letter by Simo Drljaca, Police Chief from Prijedor, by which he informed the Banja Luka Centre that special policemen “are independently arresting and mistreating detainees in Omarska and pillaging property during cleansing operations” in Prijedor villages.
KW-426 responded by saying that “paramilitary formations, which committed unlawful actions, but they were neither soldiers nor policemen”, mixed with some unscrupulous members of the Special Unit. For that reason, “a decision was made, later on, to form one special unit at the level of Republika Srpska”.
Responding to a suggestion by Prosecutor Gustafsson, who said that no investigation was conducted into crimes committed by Banja Luka special policemen in Omarska, the witness said that he “does not know what more senior leaders did”, adding that they “must have done” something.
At the end of this hearing presiding judge O-Gon Kwon reprimanded Karadzic’s Defence for having published a statement, which Ratko Mladic wanted to read at Karadzic’s trial on January 28, instead of testifying as a witness, but the judges did not allow him to do it.
Journalists present in the Tribunal received the statement, but it was declared confidential immediately. Mladic is on trial, in a separate case, for genocide and other crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The trial of Karadzic is due to continue on Tuesday, February 11.