Silos Served as “Guarantee” for Missing Bosniaks, Says Witness

25. February 2016.00:00
Testifying in defense of Fadil Covic, a witness said people detained in the Silos detention facility weren’t responsible for the disappearance of Bosniak men from the Hadzici area. The witness said they served as a guarantee that some information on the missing would be obtained.

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Defendants Fadil Covic, Mustafa Djelilovic, Mirsad Sabic, Nezir Kazic, Becir Hujic, Halid Covic, Serif Mesanovic and Nermin Kalember have been charged with crimes committed 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.

They have been charged with the unlawful detention, inhumane treatment, and physical and mental pain of detainees. They have also been charged with taking detainees to locations where they performed forced labour.

On the second day of her testimony, witness Ferida Nisic said family members of the missing from the Hadzici area requested to meet all competent institutions. She said their request was not to exchange detainees from the Silos detention facility until their missing family members had been returned, dead or alive.

She said she was still searching for ten members of her family. She said a total of 88 persons from the area still hadn’t been found.

Nisic was presented with an official letter sent by the wartime presidency of the municipality of Hadzici to the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the State Commission for Exchanges and other institutions on March 1, 1993. She confirmed that the document contained requests by family members, which were referred to higher instance institutions.

“Such decisions reduced tensions among us, the family members, and satisfied us occasionally…We knew the municipality’s wartime presidency couldn’t execute our requests without involving higher-level institutions,” Nisic said. She said she and other family members felt that detainees held in the Silos detention facility were in a privileged position, compared to their family members.

She said she saw defendant Fadil Covic at one of those meetings, in which the families of the missing asked for help from competent authorities. She said she didn’t know what his functions was. She said she only knew that Covic worked as a policeman before the war.

Nisic said apart from their families, women from Eastern Bosnia made similar and more radical requests to competent authorities. She said those women were in the area as refugees.

Nisic said she knew that detainees from the Silos detention facility were exchanged illegally. She also said she knew that people were detained in the Silos detention facility so that they wouldn’t be endangered by third parties.

Radomir Susic, the former president of the Commission for Exchanges of the Serb municipality of Hadzici, also testified in Covic’s defense at today’s hearing.

Susic said he used to live in the village of Luke, near Tarcin, but was in Hadzici as of May 19, 1992. He said his family stayed in Luke but was exchanged later on. He said his neighbours from Luke saved his mother.

He said that the commission he was active in created lists of Serbs who remained in territory controlled by the Bosnian Army. He said the commission also created lists of Bosniaks who were in Hadzici. He said collaboration with the other side was established and the first exchange was held.

“We were supposed to exchange 50 people for 50 people, but exchanged ten less, because they said they didn’t want to be exchanged and wanted to go back to their homes in Pazaric and Tarcin, which they did so later on,” Susic said.

According to Susic, some exchanges happened in secrecy without the involvement of the municipal commission.

“Exchanges were discussed at an assembly session held on September 9, 1994. Our state commission misled the people on the other side by offering information on those people, while they were actually missing,” he said.

He said many people violated agreements on exchanges. He said Dragan Bulajic was one of them.

The trial will continue on March 3.

Džana Brkanić

This post is also available in: Bosnian