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Source: Vreme, Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia, 3/30/96

Celebic Camp

by Filip Svarm

On March 20, the Hague Tribunal issued indictments for the crimes committed against Bosnian Serbs in Celebic Camp, near Konjic. The indictments list camp commander Zdravko Mucic "Pavo" (51), coordinator of the Muslim and Croat troops in the region, Zejnil Delalic (48), deputy camp commander, Hazim Delic (31) and guard Esad Landzo "Zenga"(23).

According to the indictment, Mucic, Delalic and Delic were in charge of the camp, all guards and other persons who had visited the camp and tortured the prisoners between May and September 1992. All three because of their positions are responsible for the crimes of their subordinates - at least 14 murders, at least seven incidents of torture, at least 5 cases in which great suffering and grievous harm was inflicted on the prisoners, at least three cases of inhuman behavior (including forced felatio by prisoners) and finally, unlawful imprisonment and imprisonment in inhuman conditions. In addition, Mucic is charged with robbing the prisoners, Delalic is charged with four murders, five torture cases and two rapes, and Landzo with five murders, four torture cases etc...

On March 18, accused Mucic and Delalic were arrested in Vienna and Munich respectively. It seems that Delic and Landzo are still at large somewhere in the Konjic region. The Bosnian presidency has said that "all criminals should face charges," and that "that is the attitude of the legal Bosnian authorities." Bosnian authorities also assured the Tribunal that the Delic and Landzo would also be arrested.

"This is the first, but not the last indictment for crimes committed against Bosnian Serbs," confirmed the spokesperson of the Hague Tribunal, Christian Chartier. "The indictment couldn't have been issued earlier because the Pale and Belgrade authorities refused to cooperate with the Tribunal and the witnesses had to be questioned outside the former Yugoslavia."

The Fund for Humanitarian Law from Belgrade gave its data and the testimonies about the crimes in Celebic to the Hague Tribunal. These files were used as a relevant information which facilitated the investigation.
From the Fund's documentation, Vreme publishes two testimonies: from the "tunnel" and "hangar". The names of witnesses have been altered.

When the war broke out in Sarajevo, I went together with my wife and children to live with my father-in-law in the village of Brdani, near Konjic. At that time that area was peaceful.

Around 10 o'clock on June 24, nine men dressed in camouflage uniforms broke into my father-in-law's house. On their heads they wore green berets and introduced themselves as Policemen from the Bosnian Territorial Defense. They took off my wedding ring and wrist watch, handcuffed and blindfolded me and took me to a van in which they had driven to the house. Soon we were in the center of the village. There, two more members of the "green berets" entered; those two beat me up with a metal bar used to clean a mortar...

We made frequent stops to pick up other "green berets". All of them them beat me and M.S. who had been arrested together with me. They knocked out a few of my teeth. They were hitting my arms and legs and using all kinds of things; I was covered with blood.

At about 2:30 p.m. we arrived to Celebic camp, a former Yugoslav Peoples Army base. The two of us were forced to stand against the headquarters building wall. There, we were taken over by the deputy commander, Hazim Delic. He wanted to hear our names. He kicked us both in the ribs several times. Guards took off our blindfolds and pushed us down a manhole. They covered the manhole; they urinated and threw stones on us...We spent 24 hours in that manhole.

The following day, we were taken to an underground corridor in a nuclear shelter. There, we found another 39 prisoners, civilians from the village of Bradina which had been burned to the ground, as I later found out from them, between May 27 and 31, 1992. The prisoners were exhausted and had a lot of injuries. Four men from that village, whom I had known from earlier, almost couldn't recognize me. I was totally disfigured because of the beatings. I was all covered with blood; my underpants were so bloody that I had to take them off and throw them away. All together, there were 41 men in the tunnel.
The tunnel was 1.4 meters [5ft] wide and 24 [70ft] meters long. It was made from concrete and had a slight slant. The tunnel ended with a short flat stretch, about 1.5 meters long. There was one plastic bucket which was used for urination and defecation and the flat portion of the tunnel was totally covered with urine and full of worms. Upon entering that corridor one had a feeling of being in a septic tank. When I arrived, I set down with M.S. next to the bucket, on a bare floor. We were very cold; they hadn't given us anything to cover ourselves or to sit on. The only light came from a peep hole on the door.

They beat every evening. Guards would bring people from a bar, picked those prisoners they had known from earlier, and took them outside because there was not enough space in the tunnel. All the walls were bloody. They would grab a prisoner by hair and hit his head against the wall. We were afraid to look at the wall. They forced us to drink urine and told us that was juice. They would divide 700 grams [1.5lb] of bread among 15 people. They didn't let us to wash ourselves, sometimes they would not even give us drinking water. After me, they brought in Professor Slavko Susic. His house was only 100 meters from the camp. They beat him non-stop: they took him in front of the door, burned his tongue, beat him; they heated nails in a gas flame and hammered in under his nails... We heard all of that. They brought him in on June 27; he died on July 4 from the torture and beating with a baseball bat. The guards left his corpse in a tunnel for a day.

They would make us raise our arms and face the wall and than, they would beat us with a baseball bat. Sometimes in the tunnel, sometimes in front of the door. Sometimes we were beaten by the guards, sometimes by the Territorial Defense soldiers coming back from the front. Anyone who wanted was allowed to beat us. Not a single minute passed without a beating.

Zeljko Milosevic (born in 1961) was murdered on July 19. They found some documents from which they could tell that Zeljko had been trained as a sharpshooter during his military service. That's why they killed him. They beat him, pulled out his tongue, pushed hot nails under his nails, hammered an SDS badge into his forehead. Once they killed him with blows and torture, they left his body in front of the tunnel for 23 days. They took us all out several times to see the body and told us that we would all end up like that.

I had dreamt of bread only for three days. They did not give us food; we were like skin and bones. Exhausted, we would faint several times a day from hunger and beatings. Sometimes they would take us outside to urinate, four of us together. But they wouldn't let us finish: half way through it they woudl start hitting us with a baseball bat on the kidneys... We were beaten by everyone in the camp. Deputy commander, Hazim Delic and Esad Landzo, a.k.a. Zenga were the worst. They called commander Mucic Pavo.

I was in the tunnel in Celebici since June 24 to August 21 1992. After that I was transfered to the Konjic Sport center; there were about 160 prisoners there. We were maltreated, but not a lot...

In April 1992, Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) armed about 400 Serbs in the region around Konjic. We were told to hold the barricades near the village of Bradina until the Army comes to our help. However, on May 5, the army evacuated in helicopters from Konjic. We were left alone.

On May 25, Muslims and Croats attacked the Serb village of Bradina and surrounded us from all sides. The fighters surrendered a day later because their families were in the village. The attackers killed fifteen of them on the spot. They set houses and stable on fires.

They detained women and children at the school building and released them a day later. Novica Kuljanin and myself managed to hide under a concrete slab. We remained hiding for three days and then set out towards the village of Brdani. We arrived to the village two days later and reported to the Muslim authorities. We were in the village until June 15. On that day, Nedzad Spego delivered a summons to report to the Police station. When I showed up, there were already about 40 men, Serbs, in front of the building. They put us in a truck and drove to the camp in Celebic.

As we were jumping out of the truck, soldiers started swearing and hitting us. They took away our money and documents saying that we would not need them in the future. Then, they pushed about 20 of us down a manhole; the hole was about 5 meters deep. After two hours we ran out of air. Mirko and Danilo Zivak fainted. After out pleading, the guard opened the manhole cover. We had spent about five hours there; afterwards they took us to a hangar which had earlier been used for fuel storage. There were already 200 people in the hangar, most of them from Bradina. They looked like ghosts. Most of them had bold patches on their scalps. All of them were covered with bruises. They told us that 20 people had been killed before we arrived. The following people were killed during the first seven days of my imprisonment: Simo Jovanovic, Scepan Gotovac, Nedo Milosevic, Bosko Samoukic and Zeljko Klimenta a.k.a. Keljo. They beat them in front of the hangar. I watched through the crack of the door; they were hitting them with baseball bats, pieces of wood, pipes, rifle butts and boots. After they fainted, guard Zijo Landzo finished them off by hitting their heart with a hard rubber ball.

We had to carry the dead into the hangar. The guards would pin SDS badges to their foreheads. They would leave the corpses with us during the night. The following morning, we would load the corpses on a truck. They were telling us that they were driving the corpses to the health center in order to determine the cause of death. Every night they were taking out about ten people. They beat them until they fainted. Landzo was the worst. One evening, he hit Jovo Draganic 250 times on his back and legs with a baseball bat. Jovo couldn't get up for ten days after that.

Landzo would enter the hangar and force the prisoners to do ten push-ups. Because the people were too exhausted they couldn't do it. Then, Landzo would kick them in the belly until they fainted.

Landzo wrapped a cable around Rista Vukalo's body and set it on fire. Risto suffered serious burns. Landzo pushed a hot needle through Mirko Dokic's tongue. He hit Bosko Samoukovic with a rifle butt in the ribs and killed him. He especially liked lighting gunpowder on prisoner's bodies. He put a hot knife into Momo Kuljanin's hand. Momo had a huge blister over the whole palm and fingers for two weeks after that.

One night, Hazim Delic, the deputy commander took five of us outside and lined us against the wall, to be shot. He turned on car headlights and spoke with someone in the dark for a long time. He asked for our last wish and then called the guards. He ordered them to aim and shoot. They shot above our heads. Nedeljko Grigorevic fainted. Then Delic ordered us to stand there for two hours. In the meantime they shot several times above our heads.

Pavo Mucic, the camp commander, entered the hangar one day and ordered a handful of prisoners to turn toward the wall and raise their arms. Then he kicked their lower back, around kidneys. Most guards were lower class young guys from Konjic. I remember some of them: Kemo Mrndzic, Salko, Kravar, Edo, Nermin Zilic...

For a month and a half we were getting a peace of bread, three times a day. At times we would go without food for 55 hours. From exhaustion, people were unable to turn over, let alone stand up. We were given water when they considered that we were thirsty. Ten prisoners had to share a 1.5 liter water bottle. In the hangar, there was a canal full of garbage, from which rats were coming out all the time. For several days, we had slept on bare concrete; later we were given old uniforms to sleep on. We were not allowed to bathe. I had to scrape dirt off myself.

Twice, they brought Verica and Mira, two retarded girls from Konjic. They stripped and trashed them in front of the prisoners.

Zejnil Delalic (who had donated a lot of money for the Muslim army) and Hazim Delic brought Arab journalists to the camp. A journalist from Sarajevo TV joined the group. They filmed as the guards were beating us. In front of the cameras, we had to testify that we had raped, slaughtered and killed. Zoran Mrkajic didn't say everything they had told him and was beaten for three days after that.

During August we were visited thrice by an International Red Cross team. After their first visit, about ten guards led by Hazim Delic burst into the hangar. They kicked every prisoner in the kidneys. After that we refused to cooperate with the Red Cross. I think they understood what was going on. They visited again 20 days later. After their second visit, the beatings subsided.