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Witness Tells of Serb Brutality

July 14, 1998

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ A Bosnian Muslim detailed the brutality he endured at a Serb-run prison camp in 1992, claiming Monday he was severely beaten with batons and metal rods.

Taking the witness stand at the U.N. war crimes tribunal, ex-prisoner Mevludin Sejmenovic said he spent nine horrific days at the Omarska camp in northwest Bosnia’s Prijedor region were he was interrogated and beaten because of his religious beliefs.

His testimony came during the trial of Bosnian Serb official Milan Kovacevic, 57, who is charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for alleged atrocities committed in Prijedor in 1992.

Kovacevic’s trial, which began earlier this month, is the first at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal to deal with genocide charges.

Prosecutors accuse Kovacevic of guiding a campaign of atrocities against Bosnian Muslims and Croats, including the establishment of three of the Bosnian war’s most infamous prison camps: Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje.

Hundreds of detainees were tortured and killed in the camps, according to Kovacevic’s indictment.

Kovacevic, a former anesthesiologist, has pleaded innocent to all 15 charges. If convicted, he faces a maximum life sentence. He was arrested by NATO forces last summer in Prijedor.

The tribunal has indicted 60 people for alleged war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and has convicted two since being set up in 1993. Twenty-seven suspects are in custody.

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