Radovan Karadzic’s defense witnesses contend that there were no prison camps in the territory under the Bosnian Serb control – this time in Hadzici municipality. Only those who committed crimes were held in prisons, the witnesses claimed. Witness Mladen Tolj admitted that ‘during the war, there was no difference between a reception center and a prison’

Mladen Tolj, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicMladen Tolj, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

Radovan Karadzic defends himself against the charges of ethnic cleansing and persecution, arguing that the Muslims ‘voluntarily’ left their homes and went to ‘temporary reception centers’ that could not be called prison camps.

The two witnesses who were examined, Nevenko Samoukovic and Mladen Tolj, claimed that the Muslims from Hadzici were put into reception centers because they wanted to be transferred to other locations. Tolj, former chief of the public security station in Hadzici municipality, claimed there was a ‘prison for the men of military age who broke the law’. He was unaware of any crimes committed in the prison facilities. Muslims were also put into the ‘reception center’ in the gym in Hadzici, Tolj said, adding that if they wanted, Muslims could move to the territory ‘under the control of their folk’. Those who had committed crimes were transferred to the prison in Kula. According to the testimony of previous witnesses, around 180 to 200 persons were sent to Kula. Later, they were transferred from the prison to other detention centers.

In his statement to Karadzic’s defense, Tolj noted that on one occasion a group of Serbs entered the gym in Hadzici and abused the Muslims who were ‘temporarily accommodated’ there. They did it to retaliate for the abuse of Serb detainees in the Silos prison camp. In the cross-examination, Tolj confirmed that the gym was used to house those who were first interrogated in the garage of the municipal building and were proven to be innocent of any crimes. Tolj admitted that very few of them came to the gym voluntarily. Most of them were brought and detained there ‘with the best of intentions’, Tolj explained, because there, they were ‘as safe’ as they could be from the attacks by the ‘loose cannon, the groups outside the law and police and military system’.

When the prosecutor put it to the witness that those persons were detained unlawfully, the witness first replied that they had been ‘held there in order to be exchanged, but the exchange fell through’, and then added that ‘a reception center, temporary accommodation, a prison, a remand prison, or detention facilities… it all boiled down to the same thing’.

Nevenko Samoukovic, president of the Municipal Board in Hadzici municipality completed his evidence before Tolj took the stand. Samoukovic also claimed that Muslims had left the territory ‘voluntarily’ and were held in ‘designated premises’ for their own safety. The prosecutor noted that more than 280 persons in the gym had not expressed a wish to be detained there. ‘I can’t answer to that because they didn’t ask me or talk to me’, the witness said.

Mladen Tolj, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic
Nevenko Samoukovic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic