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Testifying in his own defense at today’s hearing, Begovic said he was one of five former soldiers of the Yugoslav National Army ordered to work at the Batkovic detention center in late May 1992. He said he was mobilized by the Bosnian Serb Army later on.
“There were about 30 guards in Batkovic. It was a farm with wheat silos,” Begovic said.
He said Bosniak and Croat members of the Yugoslav National Army who didn’t want to fight were the first prisoners to be brought to the Batkovic detention center. He said civilians were detained there later on.
Begovic said the detainees would pass between rows of Serb soldiers, who would hit them. He confirmed having hit detainees as well.
“We were ordered to scare those people. Not all of them were hit. They would hit one person and then the third one after him and so on. People were mistreated,” Begovic said. He said the detainees were punched and hit with rifles.
He confirmed that some people would enter the hangar in which the detainees were held and beat them.
“The detainees were taken to locations where they performed all sorts of work, like digging, seeding, work in the military barracks,” Begovic said. He said he used to escort prisoners to work sites.
He said they held ten detainees in a loft used for storing wheat for two months, in order to hide them from Red Cross representatives and prevent them from being registered.
“An order arrived specifying the ten people to be removed, so the Red Cross couldn’t register them,” Begovic said. He said he took the detainees up to the loft.
When asked whether any sexual abuse took place at the loft, Begovic answered negatively.
“I claim it didn’t happen,” Begovic said.
He gave a similar answer when asked whether anybody was killed in the detention center.
“While I was in that detention camp, nobody was killed,” Begovic said. He said “some people disappeared,” but he didn’t know who they were.
Begovic said that all the detainees in the Batkovic detention facility were civilians, and that none of them were in uniform.
Begovic’s defense presented a few pieces of material evidence, including documents confirming that Begovic was married, a father of two children and that his financial situation was bad.
The prosecution presented two pieces of additional material evidence, which indicated how the detainees should have been treated.
Prosecutor Miroslav Janjic announced that he would further define the indictment.
The trial will continue on November 4.