RAPES OF BOSNIAK WOMEN AND GIRLS IN FOČA
By Peter Mitford-Burgess
I am an investigator with the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the ICTY. I have been involved with the Foca investigations for some time and today I would like to provide you with some detail on the investigative process that eventually resulted in the appearance of certain persons charged with war crimes before the Tribunal in The Hague. Specifically, I am referring to Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac, Zoran Vukovic and Milorad Krnojelac, who the Tribunal’s OTP indicted and who were subsequently tried for crimes committed in Foca. Essentially, I will provide you with an overview of what the investigative process involved and how we obtained the appropriate evidence to place before the Court.
The events that occurred in Foca during the course of the conflict were investigated by a number of international observers prior to the ICTY’s establishment.
The “Commission of Experts” produced a final report in May 1994. In that report the commission provided some details of the events that occurred in Foca from April 1992, including the bombardment and ethnic cleansing of villages, mistreatment and torture in detention facilities, executions, rape and the existence of a number of mass grave sites. The report identified as perpetrators of the crimes, a number of Bosnian Serbs from the area.
The Tribunal was also provided with material from various international humanitarian and non-governmental organizations that had been working with refugees and persons who had left Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some of this material included detailed information on victims, described events that had occurred including a variety of crimes, assaults, murders and rapes, and also identified a number of the perpetrators of these crimes.
During the course of the investigation, the Tribunal was also provided with extensive material from the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina containing details of crimes and potential witnesses.
Prior to 1996, the OTP had no access to the Foca area where the crimes were committed. Therefore, the investigation consisted primarily of a review of the information that was provided to the Tribunal concerning the events in Foca and interviews of those witnesses who were available to the investigators. Efforts were also made to contact Serb witnesses to obtain details of crimes. However, there was no cooperation forthcoming.
In respect of the Foca region, some Bosniak and Croat citizens, who had been expelled or exchanged, had been interviewed by the Bosnian authorities and various non-governmental organisations and had given details of the events that occurred in Foca and the surrounding villages in the period from early 1992 through to 1993. The records of these interviews were provided to the OTP.
This information may or may not have been correct. The OTP formed a team consisting of lawyers, investigators, analysts and interpreters. The team’s responsibility was to determine which crimes had been committed in the Foca region that the Tribunal had jurisdiction over, and to identify the persons responsible for committing them.
At this early stage the investigation team, having reviewed and analysed the material that had been provided to the OTP, formulated a course of action for the proposed investigation.
In particular, because of the seemingly high number and consistent pattern of sexual assaults against women, it was proposed to focus on those rapes that had been committed against women and young girls who were held in detention centres, as opposed to the rape of women in their homes. The sexual assaults against the women and children held in detention centres appeared to be organized in character and were committed frequently by what appeared to be specific groups of soldiers.
In respect of the non-Serb male victims it was decided to concentrate on their treatment whilst in custody at detention centres, particularly the prison Kazeno-Popravni Dom (KP Dom), principally focusing on crimes such as assault, torture and murder.
The decision was that the investigation would not be perpetrator–driven, but instead would concentrate on identifying the crimes that were alleged to have been committed in the Foca region.
In this respect, the investigation followed the standard approach to the investigation of any serious and/or violent crime: interview the victims and witnesses, examine the crime scenes and collect the appropriate evidence. Once this was done, the review and analysis of the material would identify the offenders.
One of the team’s major tasks was to locate potential witnesses and conduct interviews to establish the exact facts of what had occurred, the nature of the acts or crimes that had been committed against individuals, and what acts or crimes they had been witnesses to.
Bearing in mind that a considerable number of these potential witnesses no longer lived in Bosnia having left as refugees, one of the immediate problems was in determining where they were living at that time so that interviews could be arranged.
Assistance was therefore sought from various governments and organizations to locate people required for interview.
These persons were located. During the period 1995 to 1996, Tribunal investigators interviewed some 300 people in countries from Turkey to the USA. A considerable number of those were in Europe.
Investigators conducted comprehensive interviews in which they recorded the events as the witnesses recalled them. Some witnesses had an excellent recall of the events and described in exact detail what had occurred and what they had witnessed. It was obvious even at that stage that some of the witnesses were still traumatized by the events that had occurred. However, the
fact that a person is traumatized does not in and of itself mean that the person is unreliable. Some did not want to recall the events or had tried to block them from memory. A great deal of compassion, understanding, patience and trust was necessary to get witnesses to describe in detail the events that they experienced.
It was imperative that the investigators and legal officers obtain as much accurate detail as possible from these witnesses, especially the nature of the alleged crimes and the identity of those persons responsible. Some of these witnesses were seen several times in the process of collecting the information, checking their facts, and corroborating events with other witnesses. It was also necessary to obtain a wide selection of people from across the Foca region so that as accurate a picture as possible could be obtained of the events that had actually occurred.
In the summer of 1996, officers from the OTP were able to actually get into Foca for the first time and to view at first hand some of those locations and premises that the victims and witnesses had mentioned during the course of interviews.
There was a degree of non-cooperation from certain Republika Srpska officials. For instance, during the search of Karaman’s house there was a degree of hostility in Miljevina, a village near Foca, but otherwise the local population was interested in what we were doing.
Some sites which were of interest were not accessible, being used at the time. However, others such as the KP Dom were available for inspection, the officials were cooperative and it was possible to conduct appropriate forensic examination.
I have prepared a selection of photographs taken during the mission to Foca in 1996, which I will show during the course of this presentation. This is by no means the total of all of the photographs that were taken during that mission, but simply a small collection to emphasize to you what we did and why we did it.
The aim of the 1996 mission was to obtain photographs of some of the key locations where we believed crimes had occurred, conduct any forensic examination that was considered necessary and to search for any physical evidence that might still be available, bearing in mind of course that some time had elapsed between the date of the crimes and our visit, and that the premises or locations might have undergone changes and been subject to other uses in the meantime.
In an effort to corroborate the facts provided to us by the witnesses, it was imperative that we locate and photograph various sites. This was important, first of all, so that the photographs could be shown to witnesses to confirm that they were the premises which the witnesses were referring to, in some instances so that the witness could identify specific rooms in a building in which they were detained, and also to clear up some inconsistencies of description in witness testimonies. It was also necessary to obtain photographs that could be tendered to the Court as evidence in any future proceedings.
I now refer you to a map of the Foca area and the locations of some of the premises.
This map here is simply an overview of some principal locations we were interested in, such as the Partizan Sports Hall, the Lepa Brena apartments, the KP Dom, the Aladza High School and some private houses.
I also refer you to a map of Foca and some of the surrounding municipalities in which
are indicated some of the rape sites outside the city of Foca. Those referred to on the
map are Trnovace and Miljevina.
In an effort to demonstrate to you the correlation between the facts from witnesses, the collection and establishment of evidence and the identification of offenders, I propose to describe to you a sequence of events which happened in Foca.
Before doing so, I will show you a map of the ethnic composition of the settlements in the Foca municipality. It principally demonstrates the split between the population of Bosniaks, Serbs and other peoples who were living here at the time. Essentially, the population of Foca was 45% Serb and 52% Bosniak.
Trošanj, a small Bosniak village about 10km from Foca, was inhabited by approximately 120 people in 1992. The village had enjoyed good relations with neighbouring Serb villages over the years. However, in April 1992 following the attack on Foca by Serb forces, the inhabitants became fearful for their lives and began sleeping in nearby woods during the night. This was not uncommon in a number of villages in the region at this time. Explosions and the sounds of shooting became frequent and nearby Bosniak villages were seen burning.
On the morning of 3 July 1992, the settlements of Trošanj and Mješaja were attacked by Serbs wearing camouflage clothing and a number of men and women were killed by gunfire whilst trying to flee. The remaining women and children were captured and taken by foot to Buk Bijela.
In interviews with witnesses, the following persons were identified as being present during the assault upon the villages: Janko Janjic, Gojko Jankovic, Radomir Kovac, Dragan Zelenovic and Zoran Vukovic.
Buk Bijela was a former hydro-electric plant construction site consisting of workers barracks and a motel. Some Serb soldiers were living there at this time. Buk Bijela served as a detention site for women and children after the takeover of Mješaja and Trošanj villages.
The two photographs on the screen were those taken in 1996 by OTP staff and these premises were identified by witnesses as the place they were taken to (image 1).
Whilst being held at these premises under the pretext of being questioned, a number of the women and girls were sexually assaulted or raped in huts by the Serb soldiers.
One 24 year old victim was raped by at least ten different soldiers, losing consciousness, and another 15 year old by at least three soldiers. Some of the women recognized the Serb soldiers. Some Bosniak men were also killed whilst being detained here.
Again, witnesses identified amongst the offenders Gojko Jankovic, Dragan Zelenovic, Janko Janjic, Zoran Vukovic and a number of others.
Buk Bijela was the place where these women, who had been detained at the Partizan Sports Hall, were taken to some months later. They had initially been taken to the Foca Stadium, where they had been gang-raped by soldiers, after which they were taken to Buk Bijela and also gang-raped by some Serb soldiers.
The women from these two villages, Mješaja and Trošanj, after being held in Buk Bijela for several hours, were taken by bus to the Foca high school in Aladza. It was here that the women and children remained for the following two weeks. During that time they were joined by more women and children from other villages, numbering about 70 people. They slept on mattresses. There were toilets, but no facility to bathe or shower.
Minimal food was provided. Police guarded the premises at all times.
On the screen, I will now show you a number of photographs of the Aladza high school that were taken by our staff during the mission in 1996 and were eventually presented as evidence in the court. They are probably scenes with which you are all familiar - the exterior of the premises, the entrance, the hall inside, classrooms. These photographs were identified by the witnesses as the place they were taken to and where the sexual assaults and rapes took place (image 2).
The women and girls described their treatment during the time they were detained here and all were consistent in their accounts of ill-treatment, beatings, threats, and repeated sexual assaults and rapes, sometimes by multiple offenders. The rapes took place in empty classrooms at the school and also in buildings away from the school.
As I have said, there were about 70 women and children in this school. Some of the victims were aged 15, 16, 19, 22, 24, 26, 27, 31, 34, but there were others, lots of others. This is only a small selection. The witnesses described soldiers coming each night about two days after they had arrived and after that, sometimes in twos and threes, selecting women and girls and taking them away for several hours, or the whole night. They were subjected to beatings, humiliation and various manner of sexual assault and rape. They were taken to various premises in and around the centre of Foca, where there were often other soldiers who also proceeded to sexually assault and rape the victims. The premises they were taken to, included the Lepa Brena apartment block. Women and girls were taken to several apartments in this block and raped. Empty Bosniak houses and flats in the Gornje Polje neighbourhood were also used.
During the time the women and children stayed in the Aladza school, the following persons were also identified to have committed sexual assaults against them: Gojko Jankovic, Dragan Zelenovic, Janko Janjic, Zoran Vukovic and Dragoljub Kunarac. There were other soldiers, of course. They were known by nicknames or were unknown to the women and girls.
On or about 13 July 1992, the women and children were transported to the Partizan Sports Hall, which they had to clean when they arrived. They were kept in a large hall.
Again, the facilities consisted of toilets and hand basins, but the showers did not work.
They slept on thin mattresses, of which only a few were available. Food was irregular and meagre. The sanitary conditions were poor and unhygienic and there was no medical care. Their stay was about four weeks and the premises were patrolled by armed guards subordinated to the then head of the Secretariat of Internal Affairs (SUP), Dragan Gagovic. Partizan was close to the SUP and the municipal building and the events that were happening in the Partizan Sports Hall could easily be seen by people working in the SUP. The detainees were all Bosniaks consisting of women, children and elderly persons. On about 13 August 1992, this group of women and children were deported to Montenegro, but later the Partizan Sports Hall became a temporary detention centre for a group of other villagers, being Bosniak women and children from such places as Tjentište, Paunci, Jelec and Miljevina.
The following is the series of photographs which we took in 1996, showing the Partizan Sports Hall, which were produced in evidence during the trial (images 3-4). Again, these photographs were used to show to victims and witnesses, so they could identify to us the premises in which they were held and the rooms in which the rapes took place, and to corroborate their testimonies about what happened at this location. These photographs show the offices and halls. At the time the photographs were taken they were being used for other purposes. Here is a photograph of toilets, showers, a large hall and windows.
The photograph on the screen now shows the proximity of the Partizan Sports Hall (1) to the SUP Building (2) and the Municipality Building (3). It is a landscape view of the same premises (image 5).
|A view of Foca showing the proximity of the Partizan Sports Hall (1), the SUP (Secretariat of Internal Affairs) building (2) and the Municipality building (3).|
Immediately after their arrival, armed soldiers often in groups of three or four came and forcibly took the women and girls to houses, apartments and the Zelengora Hotel for the purposes of sexual assaults and rape. The pattern here was prolonged and consistent, with the victims being subjected to sexual assaults both night and day in what was a continual process. The soldiers were rough and violent, and oral, vaginal and anal rape occurred including repeated gang-rapes. Afterwards the victims were in shock, terrified, sometimes barely able to walk, bleeding and with visible injuries. The acts of sexual assault and rape caused the victims severe mental and physical pain and suffering. In the description I am giving to you at the moment, I cannot in all honesty give justice to the horror, humiliation and degradation that these women and children received during the time they were in these detention facilities. No one apart from them can best describe how they felt and that they underwent. The mistreatment given to victims by the Serb soldiers was based on ethnic grounds as evidenced by victims being told on several occasions, “that they would give birth to Serb babies” and “enjoy being fucked by a Serb”. Groups came constantly both day and night, often Montenegrin soldiers. One of the witnesses described the scene in which soldiers came into the hall and one of them raped a woman who was sleeping next to her 10 year old child. Witnesses describe often having to clean the apartments and cook meals for the soldiers prior to being raped.
Places they were taken to included the house in Aladza at 16 Osmana Ðikica Street, flats in the Lepa Brena apartment block, a house in Pod Masala, and the Hotel Zelengora. This photograph is an overview of those premises and the second is the Hotel Zelengora (image 6).
|Hotel Zelengora, where Bosniak women and girls were taken for the purpose of sexual assault.|
I shall now show you the house at 16 Osmana Ðikica street (image 7). This was the premises that Kunarac and his soldiers allegedly controlled. Witnesses often returned to this house several times and were raped by Dragoljub Kunarac and other soldiers under his command. Kunarac and his Montenegrin soldiers were frequent visitors to the Partizan Sports Hall, taking girls away for the purposes of rape. Multiple and gang-rape by his soldiers at this house was common. On one occasion, whilst taken to this house for rape, the witnesses also described meeting other young girls who had been brought from Kalinovik school. They were also raped by soldiers at the house. These girls from Aladza arrived on the night that the Aladza mosque was blown up, as they heard the explosion and windows shattered inside the house.
|The house at 16 Osmana Djikica Street, controlled by Dragoljub Kunarac and soldiers under his command.|
During the detention of women and girls at the Partizan Sports Hall, four of the girls were taken to Karaman’s house in Miljevina in August when the Aladza mosque was blown up. They did not return.
The remainder of the women and girls were eventually taken from the Partizan Sports Hall on about 3 September 1992 and taken to Gorazde for exchange. It was during this journey that a 12 year-old [Almira Bektovic] was taken off the bus, physically removed from her mother in the bus and taken to Karaman’s house where she was subjected to repeated rapes over a period of time.
The witnesses detained in the Partizan Sports Hall identified the following persons responsible for raping women and girls: Dragoljub Kunarac and his group of soldiers, Janko Janjic, Zoran Vukovic, Dragan Zelenovic, Gojko Jankovic, Juraj Radovic, Jagoš Kostic, Dragomir “Gaga” Vukovic. As I have said before, some of them were known by their nicknames and there were many that were unknown.
Four witnesses describe being taken from Partizan to Karaman’s house in Miljevina on 2 or 3 August and remained until 30 October when they were joined by other girls. The house was occupied by soldiers subordinated to Pero Elez’s unit, which was part of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS). This became probably the most notorious of the houses in Foca where girls and women were held and raped. The ages of the girls that were here were 12, 14, 15, 15, 16, 19, 19, 20, 24 - teenagers, children. Girls were also brought here from the Kalinovik school. They were forced to do household chores - washing, laundering, cleaning, and cooking. Each of the soldiers who were there took a girl for himself. The victims were repeatedly raped, sexually assaulted and often beaten during their stay. As I said, the soldiers took the girls for themselves and they remained their property for the time that they were there. They were also offered to other soldiers who came to the house and they were raped and sexually assaulted by them as well.
Although some of the soldiers left in October with some of the victims to other flats or apartments within the Foca area, other soldiers remained and young girls were brought here as well. They were also raped and sexually abused up until March 1993.
Now I will show you a series of photographs of Karaman’s house located in Miljevina.
On the bottom screen you can see the Miljevina Hotel in the distance, which was at the time used as the headquarters or gathering point for Pero Elez and his associated groups of soldiers. But the house on the top was where women and girls were held and subjected to rapes. Here are views of Karaman’s house (image 8).
|Karaman’s House, outside the town of Foca where Bosniak women and girls were held and subjected to rape.|
The witnesses identified the following persons as being responsible for raping women and girls whilst detained at Karaman’s house: Dragoljub Kunarac, Radovan Stankovic, Dragan Zelenovic and a host of others. I have not named them all.
There were other houses and flats to which women and girls were taken whilst detained in Foca. Radomir Kovac and Jagoš Kostic had an apartment in the Lepa Brena apartment block. Two girls were kept there for four months, as well as two other young girls after being at Karaman’s house. Kovac and Kostic took one girl each and raped them repeatedly over the period of time they were detained there. They were often threatened with murder, beaten, and made to wash, clean, and cook. They had no contact with the outside world. They were humiliated, degraded, oppressed and kept in constant fear and raped mostly every night. They were provided on occasions with leftover food, but diet and hygiene were neglected. They were required at times to strip and dance naked with soldiers watching. They were paraded around Foca with Kovac and were also raped by other soldiers who visited the address. The girls were treated by the two as if they were their property and they had complete control over them. The 24 year old and the 12 year old were taken to two other apartments then later returned here for more rape. Two other victims – one was 15 and one was 19 – were later sold by Kovac to Montenegrin soldiers for the sum of 500 Deutsche marks.
Radomir Kovac, Jagoš Kostic, Zoran Vukovic, Slavo Ivanovic and others committed sexual assaults at this location.
There was a house near the Hotel Zelengora where Serb soldiers took the 24 year old and 12 year old and held them for about 15 days. There were 10 - 15 soldiers there and the girls were raped repeatedly during the time they were held.
The 24 year old and 12 year old were also taken to another location in Pod Masala and held for seven to ten days and raped by another group of Serb soldiers. Again, this was the 24 year old and 12 year old who were held hostage in Kovac’s apartment. The 12 year old was the girl taken off the bus. She had a horrific period of time after she was taken from her mother.
In December 1992, the girls were taken to the place of an individual called “Dragec” in Foca. He rented them as prostitutes to other soldiers and other people. The 24 year old was eventually sold and kept confined in an apartment in the Pod Masala area of Foca until March 1993 when she managed to escape. The 12 year old was taken by one “Jasko Gazdic” never to be seen again. We presume she is dead but we have no idea where she is. She was never heard from by her mother, family or anybody else. She was only 12 years old.
On 2 August 1992, girls aged 16 and 14 were taken from the Kalinovik school and brought to a house at Trnovace. They stayed there for several months (one until September and one until January 1993). Kunarac and another local commander kept them confined. They were not free to leave and even if they were, there was nowhere to go. They were forced to cook and clean and required to use Serb names. Again, they were treated as the soldiers’ personal property. Both girls were continuously raped during the time they were at this house, including by other soldiers who came to the house. Other girls - aged 16, 16 and 18 years - were also brought to the house for short times and raped.
The individuals identified by witnesses were Dragoljub Kunarac, “Gaga”, Zoran Nikolic and others.
I have outlined a shocking series of facts that were told to us over a period of time by these witnesses. It was important to identify who the persons responsible for these crimes were, crimes that included rapes, sexual assaults, beatings and torture. In order to establish who was criminally responsible for the sexual assaults and rape of the women and children, it was necessary to identify the offenders. For some, this was relatively easy as some of the victims knew who the offenders were. That is, some of the offenders were from the local Foca area and were known by some of the victims prior to the war. They knew their correct name, employment, and sometimes their actual address, family and background. In this respect, identity for us
was not a problem. But such was not always the case.
For a number of the women and girls, the offenders were previously unknown and their first contact was during the course of the assaults. Some of the victims overheard the offenders being referred to only by nicknames or were not referred to by any name whatsoever. In such instances, the offenders were identified by the place where the crime occurred, their physical description, or by who else may have been present at the time the rapes and assaults took place. Because most of the offenders took the victim or victims to the same places, it was a matter of identifying the address and establishing who those soldiers and persons who frequented the address were. Sometimes, offenders’ nicknames were widely known in the community, as were those persons with
whom they associated, so it became possible to identify these persons. For instance, “Caga” and “Gaga” were common names the girls gave us. These were names known to people in the community and we managed to establish without much of a problem who these persons were. Dragoljub Kunarac was the person named “Caga” and he was the person in charge of the house at 16 Osmana Ðikica street. He also revealed his identity to some of his victims. In his testimony, Kunarac admitted visiting these premises, meeting some of his victims and revealing his identity.
There were about 11 Zoran Vukovic’s in the area and we had to establish who was the one responsible for the crimes. We were aided in that respect by the victims themselves who managed to provide us with very good physical descriptions of this individual.
Kovac’s identity was also not a problem. The victims were with him over an extended period of time and he also had a nickname with which people often used to refer to him. We also prepared photographs, which we called identification photographs, to show victims, so that we could identify the offenders. So, establishing the identity of the perpetrators was not a problem.
This is one example of a series of photographs we used, 12 photographs in total. The suspect is amongst them in one location and the identification board was shown to the victims to see if they could identify the person we suspected was the offender.
In this respect it was imperative that the investigation establish the correct identity of those responsible for the crimes, so they could be charged in due course.
The second case which I will describe to you concerns the events of 7 April 1992, when the Serb forces began the takeover of Foca. As the Serb forces, consisting of military police, local and non-local soldiers, gained control of the town, Bosniak and non-Serb inhabitants were arrested.
After the Serb forces took over Foca, they continued to take over and destroy Bosniak villages in the Foca municipality. These facts were again established from the number of people who were interviewed and who described what they saw and heard during this period.
During this time, there were a number of premises that had been destroyed and during our mission we saw that there were a number of sites that had been heavily damaged by shelling and gunfire – parts of Aladza, Donje Polje, Gornje Polje and the old town of Foca.
The photograph on the screen now is that of the Cizluk neighbourhood across the Cehotina River, which is a Serb neighbourhood. You see that the Serb Orthodox church still stands.
I now wish to show you a video of premises in Foca that were destroyed at the time.
The video was provided to us for the purpose of using it as evidence.
(Shows video footage)
One of the most famous mosques destroyed during this time was the Alad`a mosque.
It was blown up on the night of 2 or 3 August 1992. After its destruction, the rubble was completely removed, leaving little sign that such a building ever existed.
What I am showing you now is a series of aerial photographs of some of the destroyed mosques in Foca, which were presented in court as evidence. They include two closeup aerial photographs, one taken in October 1991 and the other in August 1992 (image 9). There is a photograph of the Aladza mosque in the days before it was destroyed and one showing it after it had been destroyed and the rubble removed. We also have photographs of the mosque’s interior, which were also presented in court (image 10). There are also photographs of the site that had been cleared after the mosque was destroyed (image 11).
|An aerial photograph showing some of the destroyed mosques in Foca.|
|The Aladza mosque (interior) before its destruction.|
|The cleared site, following the destruction of Aladza mosque.|
During the course of the on-site investigation of the KP Dom, the investigation team found rubble that was clearly from the Aladza mosque. The rubble consisted of parts of the mosque, which were identifiable because of their marble structure and ornamental design.
There are some more photographs of the premises’ interior.
We have photographs showing some of the rubble that had been found at the excavation site near the KP Dom, where the rubble had been taken to. It is believed that there had been persons buried at the site. Our historian recognized the rubble as coming from the Aladza mosque.
The Bosnian State Commission for Gathering Facts on War Crimes listed 17 Muslim sacred sites in Foca, including 12 mosques, that had been destroyed.
During the course of the arrest of the non-Serb population many Bosniaks were initially taken to the Territorial Defence Military warehouse at Livade. However, eventually all male detainees were transferred to the KP Dom. The women were allowed to go back to their homes, but remained under effective house arrest with little freedom to move about. On occasions, some of these women who were alone in their homes were visited by Serb soldiers. Their premises were looted, money was stolen from them, and sometimes women were sexually assaulted and raped.
The Kazneno-Popravni Dom (KP Dom), a prison, was the primary detention centre for Bosniak and other non-Serb men.
I refer you now to a photograph of the KP Dom taken by OTP staff in 1996 and submitted in court as evidence.
Prior to going there, a written request had been made to the authorities indicating the intention of the OTP to photograph the prison and to examine certain detention rooms and cells. A blue-print of the KP Dom is one of the documents that was provided to us.
The detainees imprisoned at the KP Dom were mostly civilians who had not been charged with any crime. They were Bosniak men between 16 and 80 years of age, including the mentally handicapped, physically disabled and the seriously ill. From April 1992, groups of detainees were brought in regularly. Up to 760 men were imprisoned at the KP Dom. Bosniak men were detained at the KP Dom from 1992 until the end of 1994 for periods lasting from four months to two and half years. The majority of detainees were transferred, deported or taken out for socalled exchanges during 1992 and 1993. The number of men listed as missing and last seen at the KP Dom is 266. However, there
are another 35 persons who are not on this list who are also missing. To be counted as missing from the KP Dom, a person had to have two independent sources to state that they last saw him there. There were two sources for 266 people, but not for the other 35.
The KP Dom was also used to house Serb prisoners convicted of committing crimes. However, in 1992 they were kept separate from the Bosniak prisoners.
During the course of the investigation, a considerable number of men were interviewed regarding the treatment they received whilst being detained at the KP Dom.
These interviews established a pattern of interrogations, beatings, killings, solitary
confinement, forced labour and cruel treatment by those persons in charge and responsible for their confinement. As a result, it was necessary to establish who was in charge
at the KP Dom and who was responsible for the treatment received by the detainees.
Witnesses describe Milorad Krnojelac as being the KP Dom’s Warden during the period April 1992 through August 1993. They describe him being addressed as ‘Warden’ and that he had ultimate responsibility for their welfare. Requests for matters such as outside visits to detainees, phone calls to families, etc., were all made to Krnojelac in his role as the Warden. Krnojelac also exercised responsibility for the security of the premises, provision of food for the detainees and their work duties.
Savo Todovic was Deputy Commander of the prison staff from April 1992 through to August 1993. Witnesses describe him as being the Deputy Warden and second in command to Krnojelac. He was also the person who assigned work duties to Bosniak detainees. He was described as being involved in the selection of detainees for work duties, exchanges, interrogations, solitary confinement, and was responsible for their punishment.
Mitar Raševic was the Commander of the guards before and during the war until October 1994.
This photograph shows a drawing made by one of the inmates which was submitted as evidence in court. It is a drawing of the KP Dom’s interior where this man was confined together with other detainees. The Building Number 8 on the left-hand side, which has the figure ‘A’ on it is one of the rooms where Bosniaks were detained. Figure Number 2 shows where the guards’ offices were and where some of the beatings took place (image 12).
|An inmate’s sketch of KP Dom, the primary detention centre for Bosniak and other non-Serb men.|
Witnesses also describe the presence of persons in various military uniforms at the prison, Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) soldiers from Uzice, in western Serbia and soldiers from Montenegro. They were also involved in the arrest, transfer and exchange of detainees, as well as functioning as guards and interrogators.
Detainees were also required to do forced labor. The Brioni farm was one of the places where they were taken to, as well as the metal workshop and the furniture factory.
Detainees were also taken to work in the mine at Miljevina.
Detainees after arrival were searched and their property was taken from them. They were placed in cells and interrogated.
Detainees were interrogated during their confinement regarding the majority Bosniak Party for Democratic Action (SDA) membership, possession of weapons, and their situation prior to the war. A number were threatened, subjected to beatings and forced to sign statements or provide information. Often, after their interrogations, detainees were unable to walk or talk.
Beatings and periods in isolation cells were often the result of requests to get additional food, warm water, attempts to communicate with other inmates or guards, minor violations of prison rules or for no obvious reason.
|An isolation cell in KP Dom.|
Between April and July 1992, the detainees were beaten on a systematic and frequent basis. The KP Dom guards used lists in order to select detainees to be taken to the administration building and to offices where they were beaten. Guards, soldiers or policemen from outside the KP Dom often carried out the beatings in connection with the interrogation of the detainees.
Some of these detainees were taken to the administration building by guards.
Detainees heard the sounds of beatings, cries, and moans from the place where they were detained.
If you look at the Building Number 8, Wing A on the left-hand side, the room is Number 5. The detainees could clearly see from there across to the administration block where the beatings occurred.
Guards could be overheard insulting and provoking the detainees who were beaten with batons and fists. Other detainees could identify the voices of the guards and the screams and pleas of the detainees being beaten. Some of the witnesses also observed the beatings.
|An isolation cell in KP Dom. Up to 18 detainees kept in a single cell.|
These photographs show the view from the administration block across to the premises where the detainees were kept. It is quite evident that they could actually see from where they were to where the offices were, where the beatings were alleged to have occurred (image 15).
This office here is one of the offices used for beating prisoners. It was necessary to take these photographs so that we could show to the court that witnesses were not lying when they told us that they could see the beatings taking place. It was necessary to produce these photographs to corroborate the facts that witnesses had provided to us.
|A view from the KP Dom administration complex to the neighbouring building where detainees were kept.|
At the time we did the inspection in 1996, the walls of the office where we believed the beatings occurred had been scraped and any evidence of beatings that there might have been had been removed. It appeared that these were the only offices in which the interior walls had been recently renovated.
Detainees told us that they could hear shots. The detainees who had been previously taken to the administration building never returned. After the beatings, guards were seen taking blankets into the administration building and removing what appeared to be bodies. Other detainees who later entered the rooms where the beatings had taken place saw bloodied instruments and blood on the walls and the floor. Bullet holes were also seen in the walls of the hall behind the metal door to the administration building.
During 1992 and 1993, many detainees were removed from their cells for interrogation and never returned. They disappeared without a trace and are presumed to have been killed.
In September 1992, some 30 detainees, many of them hungry, volunteered to go picking plums. They were taken from the KP Dom and have never been heard of since, although I understand that at one of the exhumation sites the bodies of two of the persons who had been taken on the plum-picking expedition were found.
The photographs on the screen show: 1 – the administration building with offices where the beatings took place, and 2 - where detainees where held. These were submitted to the court simply to show what it was that the detainees could see (image 16).
|The KP Dom administration building (1) across to buildings where detainees were held (2).|
This photograph shows the exhumations that took place in the Foca area between 1996 and 2000. It identifies 10 different sites where exhumations were conducted from 1996 through to 2000.
Now, some facts:
Since the war 10,500 Bosniaks have been exhumed from burial sites in Bosnia.
Bosnian Serbs exhumed between 1,200 and 1,500 of these bodies and Bosnian Croats about 500.
Within the Foca municipality 430 bodies were found, of which 375 have been identified. The 375 have been identified as Bosniak. Of those, 55 remain unidentified, but are also believed beyond reasonable doubt to be Bosniaks based on clothing, the villages where they were found, being predominantly Muslim, and evidence from witnesses who survived these executions.
There are 730 people (596 men, 133 women, one three-day old baby) currently recorded as missing from the Foca municipality. Most of them disappeared from April to September 1992.
There are 266 persons recorded as missing from the Foca municipality and were last seen at the KP Dom.
There were 230 exchanged from the Foca KP Dom. However, this includes members of the army who were taken prisoner between 1994 and 1995.
Thank you for bearing with me during this presentation, since it does not paint a pretty picture of the events that occurred. I only concentrated on two areas – the crimes committed against the men in the KP Dom and sexual assaults and rapes committed against women who were detained in various premises. But that does not mean to say that there were no other crimes, other sexual assaults, rapes and other murders that were committed here and in the region as a whole.
My presentation today was just to give you an idea of the nature of the investigation, some of the things we did, how we were able to gather evidence, what we did in fact gather and how it was presented in court. In due course, my colleagues will take over and explain to you what happened with this material that we gathered together and how it formed a part of the case against people who were subsequently charged.
Read More: http://www.icty.org/x/file/Outreach/Bridging_the_Gap/foca_en.pdf
Read More: http://www.icty.org/x/file/Outreach/Bridging_the_Gap/foca_en.pdf