Former police officer and cameraman from Prijedor Nusret Sivac testified at the trial of Radovan Karadzic about the ‘Wailing Wall’ in the Omarska prison camp. According to the indictment, about 150 villagers from the Brda area were killed there around 20 July 1992. In the cross-examination, Karadzic brought up Sivac’s book where Sivac called him the ‘werewolf from Mt. Durmitor’. Karadzic suggested that Sivac had an anti-Serb bias and argued that this disqualified him as a witness

Nusret Sivac, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialNusret Sivac, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

Among the incidents listed in the indictment against Radovan Karadzic is the Omarska prison camp massacre in which about 150 persons from the Brda area in Prijedor municipality were killed. Prijedor municipality was one of the eight BH municipalities where the persecution of non-Serbs reached the scale of genocide, the prosecution alleges. In his evidence today, Nusret Sivac, former police officer and cameraman from Prijedor, spoke about the incident. In 1992, Sivac was detained in the Omarska prison camp.

In the examination-in chief, Sivac said that he and other Omarska prisoners learned in late July 1992 that the Serb forces had ethnically cleansed the areas on the left bank of the Sana river. On or around 20 July 1992, twelve buses came into the Omarska camp, with the men captured in the Brda area: this is what the residents of Prijedor called the villages of Hambarine, Zecovi, Trakovcani, Rizvanovici and Sredice. On their arrival in the prison camp, the prisoners were lined up against a wall. There they were abused and killed. ‘We in Omarska called this wall our Wailing Wall’, Sivac said. He said that two prisoners he knew were taken out to clean blood and other evidence of physical abuse with a fire hose.

The witness’s evidence at Milomir Stakic’s trial in 2002 was admitted into evidence. At the Stakic trial and in some other trials before the Tribunal, Sivac recounted how the Serb forces took over power in Prijedor in April 1992. He also described the ensuing ethnic cleansing of the non-Serb population. Sivac testified about the inhumane conditions, beatings and murders of prisoners in Omarska where he was held captive after his arrest on 20 June 1992. In August 1992, Sivac was transferred to Trnopolje and then released.

In the cross.-examination Karadzic brought up excerpts from the witness’s book in which he described the non-Serbs’ ordeal in Prijedor. The fact that the witness called him ‘the werewolf from Mt. Durmitor’ in his book irritated Karadzic so much that he claimed it ‘disqualified’ Sivac from testifying against him. Sivac disagreed, saying that ‘a lot of people in BH thought that’ of Karadzic.

Sivac disagreed with Karadzic’s claim that in the summer of 1992, the communications between Pale and Prijedor were completely disrupted. As Sivac explained, a colleague of his described to him Karadzic’s meeting with the politicians from Prijedor after the Serb Assembly session on 12 May 1992 in Banja Luka. After Karadzic commended Srdja Srdic and other Serb officials from Prijedor for their successful seizure of power, he then suggested, ‘you should do everything you can to reduce the non-Serb population to a reasonable number’. The witness didn’t want to reveal the identity of his colleague; he merely said he was a Serb, no longer alive, whose family still lived in Prijedor.

The accused will most probably continue cross-examining Nusret Sivac next Monday, because another witness is scheduled to testify via video link on Friday when the trial continues.