Serb Detainees in Hadzici Gave Voluntary Statements on Arms Possession, Defense Witness Says

28. January 2016.00:00
Testifying at the trial of seven Bosniak defendants charged with crimes in the Hadzici area, a defense witness said she noted down statements given by Serbs accused of illegal arms possession in Tarcin and Pazaric.

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Mustafa Djelilovic, Fadil Covic, Mirsad Sabic, Nezir Kazic, Becir Hujic, Halid Covic, Serif Mesanovic and Nermin Kalember have been charged with war crimes in the municipality of Hadzici. The indictment alleges they were members of military and police authorities, as well as managers or guards in detention camps, such as the Silos detention facility.

They have been charged with the unlawful detention, inhumane treatment, physical abuse and mental suffering of Serb detainees. They’ve also been charged with taking detainees to other locations to perform forced labour.

At today’s hearing, witness Meliha Begovic testified in defense of Fadil Covic, the former chief of the Hadzici public safety station.

“I was a recording secretary on circumstances related to the possession of illegal weapons and the organization of paramilitary formations,” Begovic said.

According to Begovic, an inspector took the statements from Serbs detained at a cultural center and the Silos detention facility in Tarcin, as well as an elementary school building in Pazaric, which was also used as a detention site.

When asked how the persons who gave statements at the school in Pazaric were treated, she said they were treated in a strictly professional manner and that she considered their statements voluntary.

Begovic recalled the shelling of the school in Pazaric, where detainees were held.

“We left the room and went into the corridor. The inspector, the person giving the statement, and I. Those detained in the school gym also came. We were all in the corridor…All of us squatted. All of us were scared,” Begovic said. She said they were shelled from Hadzici, which was under Serb control.

Responding to questions from the prosecutor, Begovic said some of the detained Serbs were found possessing weapons, although they denied having possessed weapons in their statements. While being examined by the prosecution, Begovic said she “might have seen” injuries on some of the detainees, “when the Rijecka Brigade intruded Silos.”

Akif Musanovic was the second witness to testify at today’s hearing, also in Covic’s defense. He said was the commander of the exterior security guard at the Silos detention facility for 30 days.

Musanovic said he took over that role after the Rijecka Brigade invaded Silos.

“When they came to the Tarcin area, they robbed people. Then they wanted to enter Silos and create a chaotic situation…I heard that some people had been abused before. That didn’t happen while I was in charge of security,” Musanovic said. He said reserve police forces protected detainees from new intrusions.

Musanovic said “a temporary prison” existed at Silos. He said most of the prisoners were Serbs captured on mountain passes, while some were members of the Bosnian Army.

The trial will continue on February 4.

Albina Sorguč

This post is also available in: Bosnian