Footage of Death Camps Shown as Serbs Go on Trial ; WAR CRIMES Ten Years after Images of Skeletal Victims Shocked the World, Guards Face Charges of Raping, Torturing and Murdering Ethnic Minorities
Castle, Stephen, The Independent (London, England)
MEMBERS OF a UN tribunal watched footage yesterday of skeletal, emaciated prison camp inmates, as they began the trial of four Serbs who are accused of masterminding the systematic rape, torture and murder of Bosnian Muslims and Croats in 1992.
In its first case dealing directly with what prosecutors describe as a "system of concentration camps", the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia opened prosecutions arising from abuses at three camps. The camps' discovery marked a turning point in the Balkan conflict; the prosecutor, Grant Niemann, said the images had "sent shock waves around the world".
Within a year of the camps' discovery, the UN had set up its war crimes tribunal and, at the end of August 1995, Nato began air strikes against Serb forces.
While the pictures of the inmates became infamous, starvation now appears to have been only one element of the brutality imposed on the estimated 6,000 people detained in Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje camps, in the Prijedor region of north-western Bosnia.
On trial in The Hague are Miroslav Kvocka, 43, the first commander of the Omarska camp who was the most senior officer in the camp until June 1992 (when he became deputy commander), Milojica Kos, 36, and Mladjo Radic, 47, both of whom were shift commanders at Omarska, and Zoran Zigic, 41, a taxi driver who visited three camps from May to August 1992 allegedly to beat, torture, abuse and murder prisoners. Zeljko Meakic, who took over the command of Omarksa in June 1992, is still at large.
Messrs Kvocka, Kos, Radic and Zigic all deny charges of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war in indictments that cover events at all three camps. According to the prosecution, the three commanders exercised the power of life and death over the civilian detainees, hundreds of whom were subject to appalling violence and abuse and an unknown number of whom died.
The indictment picks out one instance in which Mr Zigic is alleged to have severely beaten two men over a period of days, then forced them to jump from a truck, lie on broken glass and have sex with other prisoners. …