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Former prisoners will lay flowers at a ceremony on Sunday to commemorate the suffering of Bosniak civilians held by Bosnian Croat forces at the Kostana Hospital in Stolac in 1993, an event organised by the Association of Camp Prisoners of Stolac.
Kostana was part of a network of wartime detention centres run by the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, the Bosnian Croat military force. Once well-known for its treatment of bone diseases, it became a torture site for Bosniaks from Stolac and the surrounding villages from May to October 1993.
Ex-prisoner Mustafa Dizdar, who was imprisoned at the hospital in July 1993, said that Kostana was a symbol of the suffering of the Bosniak people.
“When I came to Kostana Hospital, I immediately was called to go out into the hall where the torture site was. I was facing the wall and was beaten from head to toe. Beaten so I would admit some things. Mostly, just because of my [Bosniak] name,” Dizdar told BIRN.
Vido and Josip Kresic, both former members of the HVO, are currently on trial at the Bosnian state court for the physical and psychological torture of civilians who were imprisoned at the hospital.
In November 2017, the Hague Tribunal sentenced six former Bosnian Croat political and military officials to a total of 111 years in prison for wartime crimes, including crimes committed at Kostana. One of the defendants, Slobodan Praljak, took poison in court as his verdict was read out and died shortly afterwards.
According to the indictment in the case, at least five people died as a result of being tortured at Kostana.
Amer Djulic, the head of the Association of Camp Prisoners of Stolac, said he was held at Kostana from August 1993 and tortured there.
“I was taken to Kostana Hospital on August the 2nd, separated from my parents and sister. I went through terrible torture, witnessing two murders – Salem and Vejsil Djulic. I myself was beaten by HVO members – my neighbours until the day before. I was lucky to survive,” Djulic said.
He expressed unhappiness that the local authorities in the town have not allowed a memorial to the victims to be built.
“Victims are victims, because every victim deserves to be mentioned, to be remembered [whatever their ethnicity],” he said.