Camp Survivor Details Horrifying Experiences, Defends Suspects
Mar. 23, 1996
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A Serb survivor of one of the worst Bosnian prison camps says beatings, pistol-whippings and torture were frequent, and that many inmates died from them.
But Relja Mrkajic says two camp officials indicted by an international war crimes tribunal Friday had nothing to do with the brutality at the Bosnian government-run Celebici camp.
The U.N. tribunal indicted a Croat and three Muslims for the 1992 murder, torture and rape of Serb detainees at the camp. They were the tribunal's first indictments for atrocities allegedly committed against Serbs _ not by Serbs.
Two of those indicted were Zejnil Delalic, a former Bosnian government army officer who had authority over the camp in central Bosnia, and Zdravko Mucic, the camp commander.
Mrkajic said inmates were often beaten with wooden and metal clubs and pistol-whipped. He and 89 other people were severely mishandled May 26, 1992, the night of his arrest and many of them died, he told The Associated Press.
``We had to run the gauntlet, and they beat us constantly,'' Mrkajic said of that night. ``I had four big cuts on my scalp and my left rib was broken.''
Mrkajic said he and three other doctors took care of those who were tortured.
``They would take people out at night and beat them, force them to hold heated knives, ... pour gasoline on them,'' and set them alight, he said. ``A lot of people with serious burns would come in the morning, or with spine injuries, broken legs, arms, hips.''
People slept on concrete floors and got no more than a slice of bread a day, he said. Mrkajic says he lost 60 pounds between May and October 1992.
But, Mrkajic says, he never saw either Delalic or Mucic mistreat inmates. He singled out Mucic for praise, saying ``no one was allowed to beat us'' when he was there.
Also indicted Friday were Hazim Delic, the deputy camp commander and Esad Landzo, a guard. Mucic is a Bosnian Croat, the others are Muslims.
Mrkajic said he witnessed Landzo and Delic kill two inmates.
``I saw Esad Landzo beating Samoukovic Bosko, and he died in front of me,'' he said. ``I saw Delic beat to death Slavko Susic. Delic and Landzo did it.''
Mrkajic said two local police commanders should also be charged for their participation in the atrocities at Celebici.
Delalic and Mucic are in custody, but Delic and Landzo are at large and believed to be in the Konjic region of central Bosnia where the camp was located.
Bosnian authorities have pledged to arrest both men and hand them over for trial.
The war crimes tribunal, set up by the Security Council in 1993, now has indicted 57 suspects: 46 Serbs, seven Croats, three Muslims and a Bosnian Croat.