WHO'S WHO IN PRIJEDOR
Simo Drljaca: Former Chief of Police and Head of Secret Police
Simo Drljaca, one of the most notorious police officials in the whole of former Yugoslavia, controlled the civil and secret police during the Serb takeover of the Prijedor area in 1992 and was later appointed vice-minister of internal affairs (under the Ministry of the Interior) of the [then so-called] Republika Srpska. Numerous news reports, survivor accounts, and an extensive investigation by the U.N. Commission of Experts have indicated that Drljaca played a major role in the organization and management of the concentration camps in the Prijedor area.
According to an IFOR source, Drljaca was appointed directly by Radovan Karadzic to command the police force of five municipalities in the Prijedor area. He reportedly led a brutal military police-type unit during Operation Storm [in Croatia], which gave him a bad reputation among young soldiers and police.24 From 1992-1995, Drljaca's police force continued to persecute non-Serbs, and there is ample evidence to suggest his direct involvement in the "disappearance" of a Catholic priest, Father Tomislav Matanovic, and his parents in September 1995 (see section on "Disappearances").
After the signing of the Dayton agreement, Drljaca personally obstructed freedom of movement and the return of refugees and displaced persons, going so far as to hand out weapons to the local population to threaten returnees.25
Drljaca's immediate supervisor is Minister of the Interior Dragan Kijac who is based in Bjeljina, the seat of the Ministry of the Interior and the Republika Srpska police. In June 1996, an IFOR source told Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, "Drljaca has complete power, maintaining control through the police and the military. [Mayor] Stakic is under Drljaca's thumb...Stakic won't meet with me on certain subjects unless Drljaca is present." The source claimed that Drljaca was "controlled by Pale", through limiting or granting him funds, calling him to Pale frequently, and controlling information passed to him.
Drljaca's cooperation with the U.N. mission, and more recently, with IPTF has been minimal, but there was surprisingly little international attention to his behavior until an altercation with IFOR in September 1996 (described later in this report). He remained police chief for nine months following the signing of the Dayton agreement, despite his history and his numerous violations of the Dayton agreement, which are detailed below (see Section C: "Violations of the Dayton Agreement by the Prijedor Authorities, The Role of the Police").
An IPTF report dated November 2, 1996, which was given by a third party to Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, states, "The impression by Prijedor IPTF, IFOR and ECMM, is that Drljaca is clearly wielding power and influence in Prijedor. The question at hand is whether this influence extends to the local police. From the sightings listed above [in the IPTF report] and the information of Drljaca's new position with the Ministry, it appears to be the case. The fact that Drljaca is traveling in police vehicles gives further credence to this conclusion."26 Rather than being dismissed from his post, Drljaca was actually promoted to special assistant to Minister of the Interior Dragan Kijac. Drljaca describes his new role as "security advisor," according to IPTF. Drljaca has also referred to himself as "logistics officer."
At a November 29 IFOR press conference, IPTF spokesman Alexander Ivanko acknowledged that Drljaca had been seen four times by IPTF, and that IPTF Prijedor believed he was still in operational control of the Prijedor police. Ivanko stated "We've raised this with Minister Kijac, he has reassured us--I'm not sure we can believe his reassurances--but he has reassured us that Simo Drljaca no longer has any influence in the area of Prijedor. As far as we know, Simo Drljaca nevertheless is an assistant to Minister Kijac, in charge of logistics." Drljaca was also seen in December 1996 by IPTF in an apparent police function.
According to information given to Human Rights Watch/Helsinki in January 1997 by an IPTF source, Drljaca is still the de facto chief of police, and "controls all police issues." He also carries an illegal weapon and is accompanied by armed body guards at all time.
IFOR sources have confirmed to Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, and IPTF sources strongly suspect, that Drljaca is heavily involved in organized crime.27
Simo Drljaca: Wartime Activities
According to Kozarski Vjesnik, a Serbian-controlled newspaper in Prijedor:
The man (Simo Drljaca), who the Serbian Democratic Party of the Opstina Prijedor put in charge of forming the Serbian police after half a year of illegal work, had done his job so well that in thirteen police stations, 1,775 well-armed persons were waiting to undertake any difficult duty in the time which was coming. Between April 29 and 30, 1992, he directed the takeover of power [by the Serbs] which was successfully achieved in only thirty minutes without any shots fired. The assembly of the Srpske Opstine Prijedor, at the end of March last year , appointed him chief of the public security station (i.e. in charge of the secret police). He was in charge of this job during the most demanding period and remained in the position until January 1993. These days he has been appointed the vice-minister of Internal Affairs of the Serbian Republic.28
In an interview with Kozarski Vjesnik on April 9, 1993, Drljaca stated:
In the collecting centers of Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje more than 6,000 informative conversations29 were held. Of these people, 1,503 Muslim and Croats were transferred to the Manjaca camp.30
Drljaca did not explain what happened with the other 4,497. Speaking to a journalist about prisoners in the Manjaca camp, he said with regret, "Instead of them getting their just punishment, we were forced to release them by the international powers."31
The secret and civil police, both controlled by Drljaca and the Ministry of the Interior, "would interrogate, torture and kill camp inmates and be in charge of the psychological part of the operation," according to the U.N. Commission of Experts. "The most brutal functions of the sluzba bezbjednosti (state security) personnel could alternatively be carried out with the paramilitary units,"32 among them the Red Berets, a paramilitary unit possibly under the direct command of Radovan Karadzic.33 A visit to Omarska by Human Rights Watch/Helsinki (then Helsinki Watch) representatives in August 1992 confirmed that access to the camps was granted by local police authorities, not by the military, although there was considerable collaboration between the two.34
As Drljaca told Kozarski Vjesnik, "They (the police forces, including the secret services) carried out my orders and the orders of the CSB ("Centar Sluzbene Bezbjednosti," or Public Security Center) Banja Luka and the Minister of Interior . . . the cooperation was excellent with the Army of Republika Srpska and with the officers ofthat army. The cooperation was manifested in the joint cleansing of the terrain of traitors, joint work at the checkpoints, a joint intervention group against disturbances of public order and in fighting terrorist groups."35
After local Serbs took control of the Prijedor municipality in the spring of 1992, according to the U.N. Commission, Drljaca informed all non-Serbian police officers that they would have to abide by "Serbian law", display "Serbian emblems", and sign a declaration of consent to abide by the regulations set by their Bosnian Serb counterparts. Few signed, and no non-Serbs remained in the police force for more than the first ten to fifteen days. Soon they were among those specifically targeted for persecution. One former Omarska detainee claims that on one occasion, twenty non-Serbian policemen from Prijedor were executed in the camp.
It has been alleged that Drljaca was one of those responsible for deciding who would be taken to the Omarska camp. A survivor of the Omarska and Manjaca camps and former acquaintance of Drljaca's told Human Rights Watch/Helsinki on November 16, 1996 that he saw Drljaca a number of times in the Omarska camp in 1992. His daughter, seeking his release, had called Drljaca, who checked a list while they were on the phone and confirmed that her father was on the list for Omarska. "Sorry," he said, "there's nothing I can do for him." 36
Peter Maas of The Washington Post further described Drljaca's role:
The tour of Omarska and Trnopolje was conducted by Simo Drljaca, who controls the camps and is the police chief of Prijedor, the nearest town. Drljaca flatly denied the charges of mistreatment, torture, and executions. "Interrogation is being done the same way as it is done in America and England," he said. Asked about the skeletal state of many at Omarska, he said that they were not underfed. "They are not skeletons," he boasted.37
When Chuck Sudetic of the New York Times asked Drljaca why the prisoners were so thin, Drljaca replied that the Muslims were naturally skinny because they did not eat pork and fasted each year during Ramadan. "That's the way the Muslim nation is," he said. "Have you read the Koran?" Drljaca insisted that none of the prisoners had been physically mistreated and that reports of killings were untrue, and that any men who had died in the camp had died of war wounds. He also told Sudetic that all the investigators were lawyers.38
In August 1992, Sudetic reported: "The most powerful warlord in the Prijedor area is the local police chief, Simo Drljaca, who runs the militia and has reportedly had serious clashes with local army officers." In an apparent effort to distance himself from the atrocities being committed in the concentration camps, Karadzic told the Times that Drljaca was responsible for the inhumane conditions in the camps under his control, which included Omarska and Keraterm."39
Sudetic reported: "Undercutting denials by Serbian leaders that there is no official policy behind the forced expulsion of Muslims and Croats, Mr. Drljaca speaks frankly about how to `cleanse' the undesirables. `With theirmosques, you must not just break the minarets,' he said, `You've got to shake up the foundations because that means they cannot build another. Do that, and they'll want to go. They'll just leave by themselves.'"40
In 1992, Drljaca had insisted to journalist Roy Gutman41 of Newsday that no one was killed at Omarska, and that only two prisoners had died between May 25 and mid-August, both of "natural causes." Another forty-nine "disappeared," including the former lord mayor of Prijedor, Muhamed Cehajic, and were presumed dead, Drljaca told Gutman.42 But Simo Drljaca later told Gutman that "in legal terminology, we use that term `disappeared.' Maybe some who `disappeared' died in `disappearing.'"43
In the Bosnian Serb version of events, detainees were interrogated for four days and then deported -voluntarily. Drljaca told Newsday that the 800 detainees who "organized the whole thing" (the alleged "conspiracy to overthrow the Serbs"), among them rich Bosniaks who allegedly financed the Bosniak SDA political party, were taken to Manjaca "to await criminal trial." Taken with them were 600 people who reportedly commanded units of Bosniak and Bosnian Croat resistance. The remaining 1,900 persons [of the approximately 3000 people Drljaca admitted to arresting and taking to Omarska] were found "innocent" and taken immediately to Trnopolje, which officials, including Drljaca, referred to as "a transit camp," but was actually a deportation center.44
In fact, relatively few interrogations were conducted before transfers to the various camps, and only a handful of detainees had ever carried arms, according to Gutman's extensive and detailed reporting.45
A survivor of Keraterm and Trnopolje said in November 1992:
On July 17, 1992, at 5:30 a.m., Simo Drljaca, chief of police, ordered my second arrest. Three civilian policemen and a driver took me in a police car first to the police station and then to the town camp `Keraterm'.... `Keraterm' was a plant built to produce tiles and thermic products. It was never opened, and its plant floors and depots were turned into a notorious camp enclosed by wire fence, well guarded, with machine-gun nests and a huge dredger which overlooked prisoners like a ghost. Between 850 to 1000 people would be brought to the camp daily, depending on the extent of `cleansing' in the town and its surroundings....I spent 53 days in `Keraterm' and in the prison hospital. I watched people being beaten up and murdered...46
Another survivor reports that:
Around June 20th, the ethnic cleansing of the villages of Motric and Carevac was carried out. Serbs simply took away the people who were at their homes or worked in the field. They killed some of them, mainly young men, placed others on the buses and transferred some of them to "Keraterm", while the rest of them were allegedly taken to Omarska. In "Keraterm" some twenty guards readily waited for them with special beating implements like baseball bats, chains, battery cables, and extremely flexible metal hoses with a metal ball on the end. They would take them in groups of ten and they did not watch where they hit them. Especially brutal was Dusan Knezevic, called Duca, who pierced some people's thighs with a bayonet....[One night] they started shooting with automatic guns...we realized what had happened in the morning. `Autotransport' [sic] FAP 1620 trailer truck came in the morning. A certain Pero whom I knew from earlier drove it. The guards took some people from our sleeping-room and ordered [them] to load bodies on the truck. There were ninety-eight dead and sixty-four wounded....the following night, July 25-26th, we again heard machine-gun fire in the same room...I counted. Exactly twenty-one shots.47
Drljaca finally escorted Peter Maas and some other journalists to Keraterm, where he refused to allow them to see the building where prisoners had actually been held, and then to Omarska and Trnopolje, where the journalists met starving men who spoke with them in hushed tones about the terror of the camps.
An IFOR source recently told Human Rights Watch/Helsinki that Drljaca "ran the camp at Omarska....was appointed directly by Karadzic...[and is] up for the Hague Tribunal." The source added that Drljaca owns the `Aeroklub' restaurant and a perfume shop in Prijedor.48
Simo Drljaca and the Prijedor "Mafia"
According to two IFOR sources assigned to the Prijedor area with access to intelligence information, and IPTF sources, Drljaca also heads a well-organized crime ring. The police reportedly "take a cut" on all major financial transactions in the town, and some local businesses are required to pay Drljaca "protection money." Local Serbs and non-Serbs alike fear Drljaca and his men.
IFOR confirmed that Drljaca controls the local Property Commission and the local Commission on Displaced Persons and Refugees, and therefore controls housing in the Prijedor municipality. "If you know Simo, you can get a house," one IFOR officer told Human Rights Watch/Helsinki. "If you don't, you can pay him. Everyone in Prijedor knows this."49 This source also stated that Drljaca was involved in the destruction of over ninety Bosniak houses in the village of Hambarine, outside Prijedor, in October 1996.
The Boston Globe confirmed through Western sources in Prijedor who had talked to local residents about Drljaca that "In addition to controlling officials from the mayor on down, Drljaca is alleged by residents to have demanded kickbacks for apartments and police protection of businesses. Locally, his name is `Mr. Ten Percent' for the rate he demands from area businesses and restaurants. . .Bosnian Serbs who don't toe the party line allege they had to pay the police to avoid being evicted from their apartments" and have been called in to the police station, where they were threatened by Drljaca in "informative talks" (interrogations) after speaking with Western officials.50
Ranko Mijic: Acting Chief of Police
Mijic served as deputy chief of police until the 1996 removal of Simo Drljaca as police chief of Prijedor, at which time he became acting police chief. When IPTF Prijedor asked Mijic recently about the persons indicted for war crimes on the police force, Mijic said he did not know them and said that the local police need permission from the minister of the interior to provide such information.51 However, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki viewed two documents in Prijedor which had been signed by two of the indicted persons. The first, dated July 11, 1996, was signed by Nedjeljko Timarac. The second document, dated October 22, 1996, was signed by Miroslav Kvocka.52 Mijic took control of the Prijedor police in September 1996. It is therefore evident that at least one of these two indictees was still serving on the police force until October 22, 1996, and had thus been under Mijic's authority for at least one month. According to IPTF, Mijic has been extremely uncooperative with regard to providing IPTF with the patrol schedule.
According to Nusret Sivac, a survivor of Trnopolje, Ranko Mijic was chief interrogator for all the camps in the Prijedor area. He was responsible for the death lists and issued death sentences in Keraterm and Omarska. According to Sivac, Mijic is "the biggest war criminal after Drljaca." Before the war, he was head of the Division of Criminology for the police department.53
Zivko Jovic: Acting Deputy Chief of Police
Zivko Jovic was formerly head of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Prijedor police department, and according to an IPTF source, owns the " Calypso" coffee shop behind the IPTF police station. According to a local source, Jovic was a military policeman during the war and was responsible for war crimes.54 An independent testimony from a survivor of Keraterm and Trnopolje names Zivko Jovic as one of those responsible for the atrocities committed in those camps.55 According to Nusret Sivac, another survivor of the concentration camps, "Jovic Zivko was an interrogator/inspector in Keraterm camp."56
Grozdan Mutic: Head of State Security
Mutic was assigned to the post of chief of state security for the Prijedor municipality in 1993, and according to an IFOR source, receives his directives from Dragan Kijac, minister of the interior, not from Simo Drljaca. State security officers have intelligence and internal investigations duties. His brother, Rade Mutic, is an extremist who is the director of the local television station and is rabidly anti-Bosniak, according to international sources in Prijedor. His other brother, Mile Mutic, was the editor of the local newspaper Kozarski Vjesnik, and along with Rade, used the written and spoken media to propagate anti-Bosniak propaganda and to fuel ethnic hatred and violence throughout the war.
Milomir Stakic: Mayor of Prijedor
Milomir Stakic, working as a member of the "Crisis Committee," was directly involved in setting up the infamous camps around Prijedor, according to the U.N. Commission of Experts. Ed Vulliamy reported in TheGuardian in February 1996: "Dr. [Milan] Kovacevic's boss in 1992 was the `president', or mayor, of Prijedor, Milomir Stakic....And he was introduced to us as the man endowed with the authority to grant, or refuse, access to Omarska."57
In an interview in August 1992, Mayor Stakic provided the following statement:
We have tried to get the other side to live in peace with us. Our problems are with the extremists, not the population. We are trying to get Muslims not to leave the area, but to stay and live with us, but they want to go to Croatia and Germany, or back to Bosnia [sic], while the extremists bring weapons into the area, kill the Serbian people and commit appalling atrocities. There are no camps--there are only transit centers where people are taken for their own protection. Others are people who want to leave and we are assisting them. 58
Stakic resigned from his post in 1993, but was reinstalled as mayor on direct orders from Karadzic in February 1996.59 He is under investigation by the ICTY, and an indictment for war crimes is expected by local observers in Prijedor and a source close to the ICTY, but it is by no means certain he will be indicted any time soon.
Stakic, a medical doctor and currently director of the community health center in Prijedor, is according to IFOR sources close to Drljaca and serves as the de facto head of the local SDS. He is allegedly involved with Drljaca in local mafia activities and has knowledge of the "disappearance" of Father Tomislav Matanovic.60
International monitors in Bosnia and Hercegovina report that Mayor Stakic has repeatedly failed to comply with provisions of the Dayton agreement. According to IFOR, Mayor Stakic has been involved in organizing mob attacks and in provoking violent incidents through announcements on the radio. For example, on June 25, 1996, Mayor Stakic issued an inflammatory statement on Radio Prijedor, warning of fanatical Muslims entering Prijedor and calling on listeners to defend the town.61 The group identified as "radical Muslims" was in fact an international women's peace group (See section, "Obstruction of Freedom of Movement by Prijedor Authorities," for details of incident). After the "defense," Radio Prijedor announced that "a group of Muslim extremists tried to penetrate by force...which demonstrates a provocation by the international community and a violation of Srpska's [Republika Srpska's] sovereignty."62
In October 1996, ninety-six Bosniak houses and two mosques were blown up in the village of Hambarine, near Prijedor. The evidence suggests that the authorities were involved in this destruction (see details in section titled "Destruction of Property to Prevent Repatriation"). Stakic told an IFOR officer that he had opposed the bombingsand wanted to leave his job--that he did not plan to run for re-election. According to UNHCR reports, however, prior to the destruction of housing in Hambarine, UNHCR provided Stakic with a list of the displaced persons who wished to visit their houses in the village. The houses destroyed corresponded to those owned by the persons on this list.
Momcilo Radanovic, a.k.a. "Cigo": Deputy Mayor of Prijedor
The Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts states:
Another paramilitary unit was the so-called "Gypsy Brigade" from Omarska. The leader of the group was Momcilo Radanovic nicknamed "Cigo" [diminutive form of "Cigan", i.e. "Gypsy"]. He was a taxi driver who fought in the war in Croatia. He is now said to be the Vice President of Opstina Prijedor. During the attack by infantry and paramilitary units on the Kozarac area, the "Gypsy Brigade" apparently was one of the most cruel, committing massacres in the villages Alici, Softici, Brdjani, and Jakupovci. He and his group are also ill-reputed for other alleged heinous acts against non-Serbs, for example, in the camps Omarska and Keraterm.63
According to IFOR sources, Radanovic, who served as mayor of Prijedor from late 1995 to February 1996, is an "uneducated taxi driver" who is "owed money by a lot of important people in Prijedor." Author and Omarska camp survivor Nusret Sivac, told The Boston Globe, "The biggest crimes in Kozarac were committed. . .under the command of Momcilo (Cigo) Radanovic."64
Sivac, who has written a book about his experiences, states therein:
Milan Andjic, approximately 60 years old from Omarska, earlier a building materials merchant, and just before the war owner of the village inn "Trias" in Omarska, organized and financed a Chetnik65 unit which numbered 200 Cetniks, mainly from Omarska, who were killing and raping around Slavonia [Croatia] and Bosnia. Their commander was Momcilo Radanovic `Cigo,' an ex-taxi driver. Milan Andjic was selling the loot--mainly electronic and electrical appliances, agricultural machinery, trucks, cars, livestock--in the shops he owned. He specialized in the extortion of valuable things from the rich inhabitants of Prijedor, the private entrepreneurs, promising them freedom. He is guilty for the death of many well-known and highly esteemed residents of Prijedor and Kozarac. His Cetnik unit...committed many crimes during the ethnic cleansing of the Prijedor region.66
Sivac also states that in Kozarac, "Cigo" and his men "were slaughtering and killing all that moved, whatever they found, and they were especially bloodthirsty in Jakupovici, Kamicani, and Brdjani. They were killing women and children, one by one."67
According to an IPTF source, Radanovic is alleged to be highly involved in the local mafia, and was present, according to a witness, at the initial arrest of Father Tomislav Matanovic.
Srdjo Srdic: President of the "Serbian Red Cross" Prijedor
The Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts states: "Srdic, a dentist by profession, was a representative of the SDS in the Assembly of BiH (Bosnia and Hercegovina), later in the self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Hercegovina, and is a close associate of Radovan Karadzic." Further, as a member of the "Crisis Committee," and as mayor, Srdic was said to be responsible for much of the propaganda against non-Serbs and was "allegedly personally responsible for plunder and physical and psychological terror. As President of the Red Cross in 1992, he made the false pretense that the Red Cross was helping prisoners in the concentration camps. He has also been accused of having organized `ethnic cleansing' by using Red Cross vehicles."68
Sivac, the author and camp survivor, writes of Srdic that he was "one of Karadzic's closest associates and flatterers":
A man for all political systems - a political chameleon. War profiteer. Used to sell weapons, blackmail and rob. Earlier, he was the secretary of the OO SK (organization committee of the Communist party) in the Medical Centre of Prijedor, where he was employed. He became a big nationalist. He is the organizer, leader, and ideologist of the taking over of power in Prijedor and the establishment of the so-called Serbian Municipality of Prijedor. As the President of the Municipal Committee of the Red Cross of Prijedor, he became well-known as the organizer of the mass evictions of Bosniaks and Croats of the Prijedor region. In order to show what a good Serb he is, Srdjo set fire to his son's house and cafe because he was married to a Muslim woman."69
Srdic was the head of the "Crisis Committee" at the time of the "disappearance" of Father Tomislav Matanovic.
The Role of the Local Red Cross in "Ethnic Cleansing"
The local Red Cross in Prijedor served largely as a smoke-screen for abuses occurring in the concentration camps. Investigations by the U.N. Commission of Experts revealed that the local Red Cross was especially involved in the Trnopolje camp: "A staff member of the Red Cross in Prijedor. . .worked at the secretariat in Trnopolje where he was responsible for food supplies coming to the camp. Allegedly keeping food away from the internees, he caused terror and hunger, which was one of the reasons why prisoners in the camp succumbed [died]."70
Journalist Ed Vulliamy also reported: "The local Red Cross had indeed visited Omarska, and given it a clean bill of health. Dr. Dusko Ivic [a local Red Cross staff member] said later, "Oh, yes, I have certainly visited Omarska,and my professional assessment of the health of the people there is very good, apart from some diarrhea."71 Similarly, journalist Roy Gutman, who visited Manjaca and Banja Luka but was denied access to Prijedor in July 1992, reported that, "Military authorities and the local Red Cross acknowledged the existence of a camp at Omarska but rebuffed requests to visit it. . .A local Red Cross official said he knew of `no civilians' in Omarska."72
There have been serious allegations involving Red Cross transports. The Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts states, "One member of the Krizni Stab Srpske Opstine Prijedor, who was engaged in the local Red Cross (his name is not disclosed for confidentiality or prosecutory reasons), allegedly had people pay DM 50 per person to be transported in Red Cross vehicles toward Travnik. Non-Serbs in four such buses were allegedly among those liquidated at the Vlasic mountain."73 Further, witnesses identified a soldier working with an "intervention unit" as a member of the [so-called] Serbian Red Cross working in Trnopolje camp, "who had once boasted he had blown up a Muslim with a bomb."74
There was misuse of the Red Cross emblem by Bosnian Serb soldiers, in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
A survivor of Omarska and Trnopolje said in July 1992:
They caught us in such a manner that they used the Red Cross emblem and shouted into a megaphone: "Surrender, the Red Cross is waiting for you, you will be protected." There were twenty-one buses on the road and in front of them they separated women and children. We had to keep our heads lowered in the bus. Some buses drove straight through the woods and into Trnopolje, the others went to Ciglane (the Brickyards). They would take people to Ciglane by night. Then machine-gun fire would be heard and that person never returned.75
The local Red Cross played a major role during a wave of forced expulsions in October 1995. As a seventy-four-year-old woman from Prijedor interviewed by Human Rights Watch/Helsinki in November 1995 explained:
We were collected in front of the Red Cross, which is next to the football [soccer] field. I don't know how many buses there were, maybe five or six. People from the [local] Red Cross read names from the list as Muslims streamed in from everywhere.
A U.N. human rights fact-finding mission conducted from October 24-28, 1995 concluded: "More than six thousand Muslim residents of northwestern Bosnia were forced to travel to Bosnian government-held territory in mid-October on as little notice as five minutes. . .The expulsion was carried out by both local civilian authorities (including the local Red Cross)and Bosnian Serb military police and soldiers."76
The U.N. Commission of Experts reported: "There are reports of non-Serbs having approached the local Serbian Red Cross in Prijedor to ask for the whereabouts of relatives who had `disappeared,' were detained or deported, and who then were forcibly taken by Serbian Red Cross personnel into one of their buses and transported to Logor [camp] Trnopolje to be incarcerated without any reason given."77
A Bosniak man expelled from Prijedor in the fall of 1995 told Human Rights Watch/Helsinki: "The Serbs took surveys of our property for a long time. We were not allowed to sell our own possessions. They made lists of possessions and put it in the Serb Red Cross and told us not to sell anything--that they had a record [and would know if anything was sold]."78
IFOR and IPTF confirmed to Human Rights Watch/Helsinki in April 1996 and in January 1997 that local residents had made serious allegations that they were not receiving aid from the local Red Cross due to corruption by Red Cross officials.79 An international monitor has also confirmed reports that the local Red Cross refuses to give humanitarian assistance to non-Serbs.
Milan "Mico" Kovacevic: Director of Prijedor Hospital
Milan "Mico" Kovacevic, an original member of the "Crisis Committee," now serves as director of the Prijedor Hospital. In his book Seasons in Hell, Ed Vulliamy stated:
Milan Kovacevic, the big, impervious and haunted deputy mayor of the now Serbian-controlled town of Prijedor...[is] the man responsible for the delivery of Muslim prisoners to the Omarska concentration camp..."We must understand," he says, "that wherever there are Serbs, there is Serbia, and that Serbs cannot be `free from persecution' until Kalabic's and Moljevic's80 frontiers are secure from all the enemies of the Serbian narod [people or nation]". . .Kovacevic was born in a Croatian concentration camp during the Second World War. Outside the window of his office, Muslim women are queuing at the police station for news of their menfolk, whom they have not seen since they were taken away to Kovacevic's camps two months ago.81
Later, Kovacevic tells Vulliamy, "What you will find here are not concentration camps, but transit centres. We are a people born out of concentration camps, determined to protect our nation from genocide again." He then said, "I understand your priorities, but I do not have the authority to allow you to go to Omarska." This, afterVulliamy had been informed by Colonel Vladimir Arsic82 and Major Milutinovic of the local Bosnian Serb command that the camp was run by civilian authorities.83
Roy Gutman, journalist for Newsday, also interviewed Kovacevic on October 18, 1992. "Milan Kovacevic, the city manager in Prijedor, said Omarska was an investigative facility, set up `to see who did what during the war, to find the guilty ones and to establish the innocent so that they didn't bear the consequences.' He said the camp was closed when the investigation was completed." Gutman's book contains a photo of Kovacevic in a U.S. Marines t-shirt, sitting with Drljaca at the time.84
In the aforementioned February 1996 article for The Guardian, Ed Vulliamy speaks of Kovacevic:
The man responsible for the day-to-day administration of Camp Omarska was Dr. Milan Kovacevic, and anaesthetist by profession. He was a bear of a man with a pale moustache and he told us there was nothing the world could teach the Serbs about concentration camps, since he had been born in one....After our discovery of Omarska, when the media circus descended on Prijedor and the camp was hurriedly closed, Dr. Kovacevic was assigned the task of explaining to the world's cameras what a "collection centre" was.... Dr. Kovacevic, it turns out, is now director of Prijedor Hospital. He remains a proud nationalist. `The facts showed it necessary to destroy Bosnia. I wanted to make this Serb land. Without Muslims, yes. We cannot live together. I still hold that view.'85
According to a reliable local source, the majority of aid to the Prijedor Hospital is siphoned off by Kovacevic and Mayor Stakic (See section, "Aid to the Prijedor Hospital").
Pero Colic: (Former) Commander Fifth Kozara Brigade and the Forty-Third Brigade, Prijedor
Pero Colic, recently promoted to general and named by Biljana Plavsic, President of the Republika Srpska, to replace Ratko Mladic as commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, was previously commander of the Fifth Kozara Brigade, stationed in Prijedor. The brigade came under the command of Maj. Gen. Momir Talic, 1st Krajina Corps (formerly the Fifth Corps), based in Banja Luka. The Fifth Kozara Brigade is a paramilitary formation in the Banja Luka Corps of the Serbian Army. On 24-25 July 1992, the Fifth Kozara Brigade, the Sixth Krajina Brigade, and local Serb paramilitaries attacked the Bosnian Croat villages of Stara Rijeka, Brisevo, Raljas, and Carakovo in the Ljubija region. Seventy-three Bosnian Croat civilians were killed during the attack by over 3,000 Serbs.86
Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interviewed one witness who linked Colic directly with the practice of forced labor in 1995, and three witnesses who mentioned Colic's unit, the Fifth Kozara or Kozaracka Brigade, as having been involved in forced labor. One of the witnesses, a young Bosnian Croat man, told Human Rights Watch/Helsinki about being taken to a forced labor camp, and described the cooperation between paramilitary forces from Serbia, believed to be under the command of Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic and local military forces:
The next morning [September 26, 1995] Arkanovci [Arkan's soldiers] [italics added] surrounded the whole area where we were in order to prevent people able to fight from leaving, including everyone because they knew we could not resist them. They wore black uniforms with black berets, red ribbons on their caps and had short hair. Serbs [who were] among us recognized them [as Arkan's men] also. . .Their accents were Serbian, from Serbia. They collected all draft-age males and put them on a bus. They went around and said "You, you, you," pointing at the men. They asked me where I was from and asked who I had with me, and I told them I had small children. They took us [men] on the bus, and the women and children stood crying--they [the soldiers] didn't allow them near us. . .They took us to the Hotel Europe near Omarska on the way to Banja Luka. . .Then we went to the Fifth Kozarska Brigade and were turned over to Commander Colic. The commander took information about people before he took them into his brigade. Then our turn came to show our papers. I had my previous Bosnia and Hercegovina identity card [which showed he was a Bosnian Croat], and he asked me what I was doing there--he said that we were all supposed to have been killed. Then my brother, I, and Petar Sehic were taken on foot in an unknown direction and put into a 7 by 8-meter cellar in an unfinished house near Manjaca. There we stayed until sunset. Around 7:00 p.m. another ten to twelve Muslims and Croats came. I recognized some, [but] we were afraid so we didn't speak. We stayed until the morning; then the army came again and discussed what to do with us. We were digging trenches near Tomina--we were sent in small groups. . .I was praying just to stay alive. . .We stayed [in forced labor] until the 3rd of January.87
Eventually, the man escaped. During his time in forced labor, his wife and children were held in a school in Lamovita, a village outside Prijedor, for exchange. The family was eventually reunited, after seven months of separation. Two family members taken in September, however, were still missing at the end of 1996.88
After rounding up Bosniak males during "ethnic cleansing" activities in the town of Sanski Most and surrounding villages on September 17, 1995, local Bosnian Serbs and paramilitaries gathered a group of men at the marketplace in Sanski Most. A Bosniak painter from Sehovici, told his story:
We were standing on the marketplace [having been rounded up from their houses] when one truck arrived. They put us all on the truck--they took us nine km. away to Tomina [a village in Sanski Most municipality]. There were just sixty of us--from [the village of] Sehovici. . .They unloaded twenty-five people, the others stayed on the truck. Those twenty-five stayed to work in forced labor, and the other thirty-five were transported to the village of Kljevci. I went with the group to Kljevci--along with my wife's father and myson. They took us out and gave us some water from a jerry can. It was raining a lot. They took us two by two, and I wanted my son to be with me, but they wouldn't allow it. They put us on the front line to dig trenches. The man who was with me was killed. . .I asked one soldier to mix old people with young people, but he wouldn't accept this idea. The soldiers were with the Kozaracka Brigade, Prijedor Brigade, and Dvor na Una [brigade]. We were working all the time--day and night. . .The 25th of September. . .was the time I saw my son for the last time. My son was in forced labor--he was just in a shirt--it was cold, and we were lying on the ground to sleep.89
The Bosniak male was separated from his son when he was injured and was later taken to the "Sanakeram" factory, a makeshift detention camp, in Sanski Most, where a number of men were summarily executed. He was then transferred to another detention center, "Autoprevoz" in Prijedor. He was finally exchanged, but when he arrived back in Sanski Most, now under the control of the Bosnian government army, his son was missing.
Colic also participated in the operations of the Forty-Third Motorized Brigade, which fought in Hambarine (recently "re-destroyed" by the Bosnian Serbs) and in Kurevo and Kozarac, where many atrocities were committed. The Sixth Battalion of the Forty-Third Motorized Brigade was known a the "Ljubija" or "Bilbija" battalion, after its village base and battalion commander respectively. This battalion reportedly played an important role in the "ethnic cleansing" of Kurevo.90 There were links the brigade reportedly shared with two other units: one from Prijedor and one from Dvor na Una.
Following the "disappearance" of Father Tomislav Matanovic, sources told persons seeking his whereabouts that Father Tomislav was being held in "private detention" by Colic. In a conversation with representatives of a U.S. Congressional delegation in September 1996, the current commander of the 43rd Brigade, Col. Radovan Smitran, denied any knowledge of the case of Father Tomislav Matanovic, but confirmed that then-Colonel Colic had been responsible for the command of many of the men in the Forty-Third Brigade, garrisoned in Prijedor, during 1995. In a later conversation, Colic denied to the delegation having any information about Matanovic and claimed that his unit was based for three years in the Brcko corridor, far away from Prijedor. According to the delegation's report, "this is directly contradicted by nearly all local observers who confirmed that the brigade was the military ethnic cleansing unit which served entirely around the Banja Luka-Prijedor region, forcing non-Serbs to leave their homes."91
Milenko Vukic: Infrastructure (Electricity)
Vukic is director of the electric company "Elektrokrajina" in Prijedor, and is reportedly able to solve problems with electricity if bribed. According to IFOR sources, Vukic is a member of the local "mafia", and is making a great deal of money from electric bills. According to the U.N. Commission of Experts, Vukic used his position as director of the electricity company to cut electricity to Bosniak villages in the Prijedor area before they were attacked by the Bosnian Serbs.
Marko Pavic: Infrastructure (Post Office, Telephone and Telegraph)
Marko Pavic has been a strong leader within the SDS, and at one time served as mayor of Prijedor. Previously, he worked for the police and federal security service, which had close ties to the JNA.92 At the time ofthe Serb takeover of Prijedor, he played a critical role as director of the PTT. According to the U.N. Commission of Experts, "Reportedly, Serbian de facto control of the post was used to facilitate financial transactions needed during this period. Apparently, under the leadership of Marko Pavic the post office was used, among other things, to channel and launder money during the advent of the Serb takeover, and in the time following the power change."93
During the war, the telephone lines to Kozarac and other towns were cut off before attacks so that the residents could not contact the outside. The heads of the Croatian Democratic Union, or HDZ (Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica), the main Bosnian Croat political party, were taken directly from their offices at the PTT building in Prijedor to a camp, according to a source in Prijedor. The same person, however, claims that Pavic at one point tried to prevent the removal of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats from the PTT.9424 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview with an IFOR officer, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Hercegovina, November 8, 1996. 25 OSCE Human Rights Report, May 1996. See section on police, "Non-Compliance with the Dayton Agreement: The Prijedor Police," p. 31. 26 IPTF Prijedor report, November 2, 1996. 27 See "Simo Drljaca and the Prijedor Mafia," p. 20. 28 As quoted in the Final report of U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex V, Part 2, Section III. 29 The term "informative conversation" refers to interrogation. 30 Final Report of U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex 5, Part 2, Section XIII, Subsection A. 31 Michael Thurman, "The War Reporters' War," Die Zeit (Hamburg), September 2,1994. 32 Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex 5, Part 2, Section V, Subsection C. 33 According to a prominent Bosniak doctor expelled from Banja Luka in 1995, persons who previously served with Arkan's forces, National Security Forces of Serbia, were, in the fall of 1995, serving as body guards of Radovan Karadzic. Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview, Kutina, Croatia, November 10, 1995. 34 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, War Crimes in Bosnia-Hercegovina, August 1992, p. 66. 35 Interview held on April 9, 1993 in Prijedor, quoted in Final Report of U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex 5, Part 2, Section IX. 36 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, interview with survivor and daughter, U.S., November 16, 1996. 37 Peter Maas, "Away from Guards, Inmates Whisper of Abuse," The Washington Post, August 11, 1992. 38 Chuck Sudetic, "Inside Serbs Bosnian Camp: Prisoners, Silent and Gaunt," The New York Times, August 8, 1992 39 Chuck Sudetic, "Serbs' Gains in Bosnia Create Chaotic Patchwork," The New York Times, August 21, 1992. 40 Ibid. 41 Ed Vulliamy of The Guardian and Roy Gutman of Newsday were among the first to uncover and gain access to the concentration camps in the Prijedor area in 1992. Vulliamy accompanied non-Serbs as they were being "ethnically cleansed" from the territory, posing as a deaf mute. The two conducted extensive interviews over many months with Bosnian Serb officials, representatives of international organizations including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and with survivors of the camps. Roy Gutman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work, and Vulliamy has also been honored. Both Gutman's and Vulliamy's findings have been utilized in war crimes investigations by the ICTY. 42 Roy Gutman, A Witness to Genocide, New York, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1993, p. 94. 43 Final Report of U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex 5, Part 2, Section XIII, Subsection F. 44 Ibid. 45 See Roy Gutman, especially pages 90-101. 46 Testimony collected by an international humanitarian organization, Zagreb, Croatia, July 1992. 47 Interview conducted by Jadranka Cigelj, Zagreb, Croatia, January 8, 1993. 48 Human Rights Watch interview with confidential IFOR source, Bosnia and Hercegovina, November 1996. 49 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, interview with IFOR source, Bosnia and Hercegovina, November 5, 1996 50 Elizabeth Neuffer, "Bosnia's war criminals enjoy peacetime power," The Boston Globe, October 29, 1996. 51 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview with international source, Bosnia and Hercegovina, November 6, 1996. 52 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview with confidential source, Bosnia and Hercegovina, November 1996. 53 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview with Nusret Sivac, December 26, 1996. 54 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview with local source, Bosnia and Hercegovina, November 19,1996. 55 See page 16. 56 Nusret Sivac, Kolika Je U Prijedoru Carsija: Zapisi Za Nezabrav, Bonik (Publishers), Bosanska Novinsko-Izdavacka Kuca, Sarajevo, 1995. 57 Ed Vulliamy, "Yugoslavia: Horror Hidden Beneath Ice and Lies," The Guardian, February 19, 1996, p. 9. 58 Ed Vulliamy, Seasons in Hell (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994), p. 100. 59 The replacement of the mayors of Prijedor and Bosanski Novi by Pale authorities was noted in the press in February 1996. It is important that the authorities in Pale, Radovan Karadzic in particular, were reported to have direct control over the mayors of these towns. 60 Human Rights Watch interview with IFOR source, Bosnia and Hercegovina, November 1996. 61 IFOR, "Subject: Attempted Visit by Women's Group, 25-27 May 1996" and UNHCR, "UNHCR Guidelines - Status Report: 25 May - 31 May 1996." 62 IFOR, "Subject: Attempted Visit by Women's Group, 25-27 May 1996." 63 Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex V, Part 2, Section VI, Subsection B. 64 Elizabeth Neuffer, "Bosnia's war criminals enjoy peacetime power," The Boston Globe, October 29, 1996. 65 During the Second World War, the Cetniks called for the restoration of the Serbian monarchy and the creation of a Greater Serbia. They fought pro-Nazi Ustase forces, Tito's communist partisans and at times with and against the Axis powers. They were especially brutal in Bosnia and Hercegovina, where they carried out large-scale massacres against the Muslim and to some extent Croat populations. Muslims, Croats and some Serbs opposed to their policies commonly refer to Bosnian Serb military and Serbian paramilitary forces, during the Bosnian war, as "Cetniks." Some Serbian combatants vehemently rejected the label "Cetnik," claiming they were merely defenders of their people and their land and that they are not extremists. Others, such as paramilitary units loyal to the Serbian Radical Party, commonly referred to themselves as Cetniks. 66 Nusret Sivac, Kolika Je U Prijedoru Carsija..., Bonik, Bosanska Novinsko-Izdavacka Kuca, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina, 1995. 67 Ibid. 68 Final Report of U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex 5, Part 2, Section V, Subsection B. 69 Nusret Sivac, Kolika Je U Prijedoru Carsija: Zapisi Za Nezabrav, Bonik (Publishers), Bosanska Novinsko-Izdavacka Kuca, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina, 1995. (Translation) 70 Final report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex V, Part 2, Section VIII, Subsection B. 71 Vulliamy, Seasons in Hell, p. 104. 72 Gutman, A Witness to Genocide, p. 35. 73 Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex V, Part 2, Section XII, Subsection D. 74 Ibid. 75 Testimony collected by an international humanitarian organization, Zagreb, Croatia, July 1992. 76 Report of human rights fact-finding mission conducted by six persons representing UNPF-HQ, UNPROFOR, and the U.N. Centre for Human Rights, "Human Rights Abuses in Northwestern Bosnia: Report on Forced Expulsions from 5 -12 October 1995." Emphasis added. 77 Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Part 2, Section V, Subsection C. 78 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview, Zenica, Bosnia and Hercegovina, November 21, 1995. 79 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview with IFOR officer, Prijedor, Bosnia and Hercegovina, April 3, 1996, and with an IPTF monitor, January 1997. 80 Stefan Moljevic and Nikola Kalabic, founders of the modern `Greater Serbia' project, in 1941. 81 Vulliamy, Seasons in Hell, pp. 8-9. 82 Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Part 2, Section IX, states: "The military destruction of the non-Serbian habitations in Opstina [municipality] took place when the area was under the command of Col. Vladimir Arsic and Maj. Radmilo Zeljaja [both members of the "Crisis Committee"] in close cooperation with military superiors, at least in the regional capital Banja Luka."
Ed Vulliamy, in a February 19, 1996 article in The Guardian, "Yugoslavia: Horror Hidden Beneath Ice and Lies," states: "Our visit to Omarska in 1992 was preceded by a torturous briefing at Prijedor civic centre by those who had established and administered the camp. The military commander, Colonel Vladimir Arsic, explained that Omarska was run by the police on behalf of the civil authorities - the president of the local authority and his deputy - who were duly introduced. These men, after much argument, took us to the mine."83 Ibid, p. 100. 84 Gutman, pp. 94, 116. 85 Vulliamy, "Yugoslavia: Horror Hidden....,"p. 9. 86 Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex III.A, Part 3, Section C. 87 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview, Sanski Most, Bosnia and Hercegovina, April 6, 1996. Human Rights Watch/Helsinki had interviewed this man's relatives in Sanski Most in November 1995, shortly after he and other family members were taken. The testimony collected at that time corroborated this man's story. A brother of the man told Human Rights Watch/Helsinki that on or about September 29, while he was being held in forced labor to raise pigs for the Bosnian Serb Army, soldiers came to his village (Poljak, just outside Sanski Most) and took his wife and children away. "The Fifth Kozaracka Brigade took them, because they were the troops placed in this area - they were the last Serb forces--they are mostly from around Prijedor. I came to the house and the house was empty. I am alone." At the time, the man did not know that his wife and children, like his brother's family, were being held in the school in Lamovita. They were released along with other family members in the exchange referred to in his brother's testimony. 88 Ibid. 89 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview, Sanski Most, Bosnia and Hercegovina, November 27, 1995. 90 Final report, U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex V, Part 2, Section V. Subsection C. 91 Report of [Staffdel] Garon to Croatia and Bosnia, September 12-17, 1996, Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, 104th Coungress. 92 Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija, or Yugoslav People's Army. 93 Final report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex V, Part 2, Section II, Subsection F. 94 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview with confidential source, Bosnia and Hercegovina, November 19, 1996.