Momir Deuric, former warehouse guard in the Susica prison camp, gave evidence in Ratko Mladic’s defense. Deuric claimed that he knew nothing about the abuse, murders and forced labor in the camp. The witness went so far as to claim that he didn’t remember saving the life of his pre-war Muslim friend

Momir Deuric, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialMomir Deuric, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

In his statement to Radovan Karadzic’s defense Momir Deuric stated that as a member of the Territorial Defense, he worked as a warehouse guard in the Susica prison camp until 26 September 1992. Deuric’s statement was admitted into evidence as Ratko Mladic’s defense exhibit. According to Deuric, the warehouse was 20 meters from the place where the prisoners were detained. Deuric made sure to go there as rarely as possible and to learn as little as possible about what went on there.

In the statement Deuric said that at the beginning of the conflict Susica was a reception center for Serb and Muslim civilians who had left their homes. In late May 1992, the army took over the facility and started bringing in Muslims from Vlasenica. As he was questioned by defense counsel Stojanovic, Deuric said that prisoners were given the same rations as the troops. That was more or less all the witness could recall about the months he spent working in Susica. He didn’t know anything about the crimes listed in the indictment against Mladic, including the abuse and murder of detainees.

The prosecutor contested the witness’s claim that the prisoners received the same rations as the troops with a report made by the OSCE delegation after a visit to the prison camp. The report notes that the delegation saw the prisoners were ‘exhausted, pale and thin’. Deuric replied that some prisoners were ‘naturally lean’; they were thin when they arrived in Susica. The witness denied the prosecutor’s allegation that the Muslims from Susica were taken to do forced labor, insisting that everything they did was voluntary. When the presiding judge asked him if the prisoners received compensation for their work, the witness replied that he didn’t know anything about that.

The prosecutor asked Deuric if Muslims in the prison camp were abused by guards. The witness replied that there ‘were all sorts of stories about that’, but that he ‘didn’t personally witness any violence’. The indictment against Mladic alleges that at least nine men were killed in Susica from June to August 1992. In late September 1992, the prison camp was closed down and all remaining prisoners – about 140 of them – were executed, the indictment alleges. The witness didn’t know anything about that either. The prosecutor put it to him that the mass killing happened ‘after a speech made by Radovan Karadzic’.

Dragan Nikolic Jenki, the prison camp commander, pleaded guilty to the crimes in Susica. The Tribunal sentenced Nikolic to 20 years in prison for the murder, rape and torture of Muslim prisoners. Nikolic kicked prisoners, punched them, hit them with wooden bats, iron rods and batons, brass knuckles, rifle butts and other things. Nine prisoners died of their wounds. Nikolic regularly took outfemale prisoners and brought them back after they were raped.

Today the prosecutor showed a statement made by a former Susica detainee whose identity remained undisclosed. The former Susica prisoner claimed that Jenki abused him on one occasion and that he put a rifle into his mouth. His pre-war friendMomir Deuric walked into the room at that moment and saved his life, the prisoner said. Deuric was so intent on denying the crimes in Susica that he denied helping his friend. In Deuric’s words, he may have entered the room by chance at that point, but he certainly didn’t see Nikolic abuse anyone. ‘Maybe they saw me, but I didn’t see them’, Deuric insisted.

In the second part of today’s hearing Ostoja Barasin continued his evidence. Barasin, who used to work in the Information department in the VRS 1st Krajina Corps, began testifying last week.