According to the evidence of a former Omarska camp inmate Kerim Mesanovic, the lists of people to be killed, nicknamed ‘the icing lists’ by the guards, contained mostly the names of lawyers, physicians, engineers and other prominent non-Serbs from Prijedor. After Mesanovic completed his evidence, a former inmate of the Penitentiary and Correctional Facility in Foca took the stand. He is a protected witness, testifying under the pseudonym KDZ-017

Kerim Mesanovic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialKerim Mesanovic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

The trial of Radovan Karadzic for genocide and other crimes in BH continued today with the evidence of an Omarska camp inmate, Kerim Mesanovic. Before he was arrested and taken to the camp, Mesanovic was a computer programmer in the Secretariat of National Defense in Prijedor.

Mesanovic continued doing his job in the municipality after the SDS took over Prijedor; he was nevertheless arrested on 24 June 1992 and taken to the Prijedor SUP building, where he had four of his teeth knocked out. He was then transferred to Omarska, where he was kept in the notorious ‘white house’: many prisoners were brutally beaten there, some to death.

The judges first admitted into evidence a consolidated statement based on Mesanovic’s previous testimony in the Kvocka et al. case, Slobodan Milosevic’s trial and the trial of Radoslav Brdjanin. The prosecutor then asked him just a few questions and handed the witness to the accused for cross-examination. In his answers to Karadzic’s questions, Mesanovic described in greater detail his detention in the camp, saying that initially his name was in the first category of prisoners, the so-called ‘icing list’: the people on it were to be killed. According to the information he got from the camp commander’s driver, a man nicknamed Brk, his name was taken off the list after he was interrogated in Omarska on 2 July 1992. Soon afterwards, he was transferred to the so-called glass house, where prisoners were treated less cruelly.

Karadzic tried to prove that only those who took ‘active’ part in the fighting on 30 May 1992 in Prijedor were put in the first category. The witness, on the other hand, insisted that the first category included him, and he ‘never fought’, and a Muslim from Prijedor who was accused of being a sniper, despite the fact that he was blind. His body was later found in a mass grave, with a bullet in his head. The ‘icing list’, the witness said, comprised mostly lawyers, physicians, engineers and other prominent Prijedor non-Serb residents.

Karadzic tried to shift the blame for the conflict in Prijedor on the Green Berets, the Patriotic League and the Territorial Defense units. As he put it to the witness, those units, under the command of Slavko Ecimovic, attacked Prijedor from ‘all four sides’ on 30 May 1992. As he argued, the mass arrests that followed after ‘the showdown with the terrorists’ was ‘a whirlwind affair’: the Serb forces arrested everyone, including the Serbs, and then did a ‘triage’, releasing those who had been arrested by mistake.

Mesanovic noted that on the day the conflict broke out, the Serb authorities issued a recommendation only to the Muslims and Croats to mark their houses by hanging out white sheets. It was only later that he realized they did it in order to know ‘what to shoot at’ and whom to arrest later. He confirmed that there was a handful of Serbs among those who were arrested, but he insisted they were immediately released.

A protected witness, testifying under the pseudonym KDZ-017 took the stand after Mesanovic completed his testimony. KDZ-017 is from Foca. After the war broke out, he sought shelter in Montenegro. He was arrested there in May 1992, brought back to Foca and detained in the Penitentiary and Correctional Facility. The witness and other non-Serb civilians detained there, including the elderly and infirm, were often taken out of the cells and beaten. Many were killed.

At the beginning of his cross-examination, Karadzic tried to contest the witness’s testimony about the prisoners being taken out, beaten, killed and finally covered in rocks on the Drina river bank, as the witness and other prisoners were able to see and hear.

Karadzic will complete his cross-examination of the witness tomorrow.