THE HAGUE | 16.08.2010.

OMARSKA CAMP PRISONERS’ CHOIR SANG FOR SERB OFFICIALS

Former police officer, journalist, and prison camp detainee gave evidence on the humiliation the Croats and Muslims from Prijedor suffered in the Omarska prison camp where they were beaten up, starved and forced to sing Serb songs before a delegation which included the accused Stojan Zupljanin

After a three-week summer recess, the trial of former Bosnian Serb police officials Mico Stanisic and Stojan Zupljanin resumed today with the evidence of Nusret Sivac, former police officer and journalist from Prijedor. Sivac already testified at the trials of Milomir Stakic and Radoslav Brdjanin, speaking about the ethnic cleansing in Prijedor and his detention in the Omarska camp.

The prosecutor read out a summary of the witness’s statement: until 1990, Sivac worked in the Prijedor Police Communications and Encryption Center, and then became a correspondent for the Sarajevo TV. In the spring of 1992, Sivac witnessed the ethnic cleansing of Prijedor when Muslims and Croats were arrested and their property and religious monuments were looted and destroyed.

Sivac was arrested in mid-June 1992 and was first beaten in the police station yard. Sivac’s former colleagues ‘looked on from the window and laughed’, the witness recounted today. Sivac was then taken to the Omarska camp in a patrol wagon. As the witness said, all the prominent Muslims and Croats from Prijedor were detained there. The conditions in the Omarska camp were inhumane and prisoners were ‘emaciated and ill, with visible signs of violence’. At night, the screams of women being raped were heard; they cried and called for help.

In July 1992, a delegation of Serb officials visited the prison camp; the witness claims Stojan Zupljanin was among them. The prisoners were forced to sing Serb songs and chant ‘This is Serbia’. Members of the delegation laughed. In mid-August, Sivac was transferred to the Trnopolje camp. There, the witness stayed in the yard, under a make-shift porch because two prison camp buildings were overcrowded, full of prisoners arriving from the Omarska and Keraterm camps.

The defense of Mico Stanisic, the first interior minister in the Bosnian Serb government, suggested that the local paramilitary leaders – Milan Andjic and Nedjo Delic – were responsible for the crimes in Prijedor and for establishing of the Omarska prison camp. The witness agreed that Andjic and Delic took part in the crimes; however, Sivac insisted that the Serb authorities in Prijedor established the prison camp while Andjic and Delic provided ‘logistical support’.

Stojan Zupljanin’s lawyer denied that his client had visited the Omarska prison camp. As lawyer Dragan Krgovic noted, the first time Sivac gave evidence he said Kupresanin was a member of the delegation that visited Omarska. It was only later, at the trial of Radoslav Brdjanin, that Sivac changed his evidence, identifying Zupljanin as a member of the delegation. Sivac said it was ‘most likely a slip of the tongue’. Sivac claimed he became ‘100 percent sure’ it was Zupljanin during his first testimony when he was shown an article from a local Serb newspaper that also reported Zupljanin was in the delegation.