Mapping Detention Camps 1992-95 in BiH
A joint TPOSBiH and CDTP project
Press Release, February 2014
According to the associations of former detainees in BiH, approximately 1,350 detention camps and other detention facilities existed in BiH during the war; 656 for Bosniaks, 523 for Serbs and 173 for Croats. In the cases of the accused, included among the many violations of international norms against civilians and prisoners of war, The Hague Tribunal, the Court of BiH and the lower courts in BiH have confirmed the names and circumstances of the killings of approximately 1,000 camp victims. In addition to this, according to a number of independent sources, approximately 200,000 citizens of BiH have passed through or been detained in detention camps or other detention facilities.
So far, in BiH no research project or commission has been tasked to help provide a methodological documentation of detention camps, torture or the illegal detainment of individuals. The goal of this project, jointly implemented by the Association for „Transitional Justice, Accountability and Remembrance in BiH” (TPOSBiH), based in Sarajevo and the Center for Democracy and Transitional Justice (CDTP) based in Banja Luka, in collaboration with the associations of former detainees in BiH, is to document and establish the existence of detention camps, the names and number of victims, and the torture inflicted on detainees, using empirical research and court findings. It aims to contribute to a common culture of remembrance in BiH and to the adoption of a law on the rights of victims of torture and civilian victims of war.
Furthermore, as members of the Coalition for RECOM, both TPOS and CDTP are directly contributing to RECOM’s mission to establish a list of detention camps, killings and victims. TPOS and CDTP also aim to encourage non-governmental organizations in Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Slovenia to join the project in order to contribute directly to the establishment of a forensic image of the detention camps that existed in the former Yugoslavia during the wars from 1991 to 2001.
By the end of 2014, in cooperation with the associations of former detainees, TPOS and CDTP plan to have an overview of 150 profiles of detention camps and other detention facilities. The profiles being drawn up will be factual narratives about the detention camps, containing information about the establishment of the detention camp, their management and staff, the number of detainees, assaults, murder and disappearances, as well as basic information about those convicted for war crimes. The narrative of a particular camp is to be based on the testimony of former detainees provided to TPOS and/or CDTP or to the associations of former detainees in BiH. It is also to include court findings, if the particular camp was the subject of court proceedings, and information from reports published by non-governmental organizations that monitor domestic trials.
In order to present the current results of the project, we have chosen several profiles of detention camps with the goal of contributing to a more accurate and complete perception of our wartime past. A summary, not a complete narrative, is provided about the detention camps in question.
KP Dom Butmir:
At the KP Dom Butmir detention camp, approximately 10,000 Bosniaks, who were forcibly expelled by Serb forces and authorities from their homes, were detained. In May 1992, as a former detention prison for civilians, it became a center for the exchange of displaced Bosniaks. It functioned as an exchange center until the end of 1995. At least 100 Bosniak prisoners were taken and killed at various locations. On 1 September 2009, the Appellate Chamber of BiH issued a final judgment in the case of Momcilo Mandic, acquitting him of the charges of crimes against humanity and crimes against the civilian population. On 11 July 2011, the same court acquitted former wardens of Butmir, Radoja Lalovic and Soniboj Škiljević, of the charges of criminal responsibility.
In May 1992, the Croatian Armed Forces (HOS) formed the Dretelj detention camp for Serb civilians from Mostar and the surrounding areas. From the beginning of May until 18 August 1992, approximately 224 Serbs were detained at the detention camp at some point. The detention camp was located in a warehouse area of the former Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), with an administrative building and several hangars. At least 5 detainees were killed or died as a result of the injuries sustained from beatings and torture. On 13 April 2011, the Supreme Court of Norway convicted Mirsad Repak, a former member of HOS, to eight years in prison. In April 2011, the District Court of Stockholm sentenced Ahmet Makitan to five years in prison for the torture of 21 Serb detainees in Dretelj. On 13 March 2012, the court issued an indictment against Ivana Zelenike, Srecko Herceg, Ediba Buljubašić, Ivana Medic and Marina Grubisic-Fejzić on charges of the criminal offense of crimes against humanity committed in Dretelj. The process is still ongoing.
This former JNA depot was once again reactivated as a detention camp in April 1993. The Croatian Defense Council (HVO) arrested and detained on a massive scale Bosniaks from the wider area of Herzegovina. In mid-July 1993, 2,270 Bosniaks were detained in Dretelj; some were minors and some older than 50 years. At least six detainees were killed or died from injuries sustained from beatings or torture. In October 1993, after the closure of the detention camp, the detainees were taken to additional detention camps – Gabela and Helipad. On 25 November 1994, the High Court in Denmark sentenced Refik Saric to eight years in prison for war crimes committed in Dretelj.
On 18 December 2006, the District Court of Stockholm (Sweden) sentenced Jackie Arkle, a member of the Special Unit of Ludvig Pavlovic, for ethnic cleansing, looting, unlawful detainment of prisoners and the torture of eleven Muslim civilians. On 29 May 2013, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) issued a first degree verdict on the six former leaders of the Croatian community and the Republic of Herceg-Bosna for crimes against Muslims and other non-Croats committed from 1991 to 1994. By a unanimous vote, the judges sentenced former Prime Minister of Herceg-Bosna Jadranko Prlic to 25 years in prison; the Minister of Defense Bruno Stojic and Commanders of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO) Praljak and Milivoj Petkovic to 20 years in prison; Military Police Commander Valentin Coric to 16 years in prison; and Director of the Office of Prisoner exchanges Berislav Pusic to 10 years in prison. On 12 November 2013, the Cantonal Court in Mostar sentenced Mia Banovic to a year and ten months in prison, and Gojko Granić to a year and a half for war crimes committed against detainees in Dretelj. On 12 November 2013, the Cantonal Court in Mostar sentenced Fran Vulića, former member of the Military Police Battalion, to ten years in prison for the killings committed in Dretelj.
Music school in Zenica:
In the period between 26 January 1993 and 20 August 1994, the Music School in Zenica functioned as a detention prison of the Army of BiH. At least 100 individuals were detained. The detainees were Serb and Croat civilians as well as members of the HVO; women and children were not detained. On a number of occasions, the detainees were transferred to the KP Dom detention camp in Zenica. On 22 April 2008, the ICTY convicted the former Commander of the Third Corps of the Army of BiH, Enver Hadzihasanovic, for failing to take adequate and necessary measures to prevent or punish the cruel treatment of detainees. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
KP Dom in Foča:
KP Dom was a penal-correctional facility where prisoners from Bosnia and Herzegovina and other republics of former Yugoslavia served their sentences. During the war in BiH, it served as a detention camp for Bosniaks. In the period between 10 April 1992 and the beginning of June 1992, a large number of Bosniaks were arrested in Foca and the surrounding areas. The detention camp was overcrowded and at times 750 individuals were detained. By the fall of 1992, the number decreased to approximately 200-300 detainees. Approximately 266 detainees were taken and killed at various locations; their mortal remains have not been identified and exhumed. At the beginning of October 1994, approximately 60 detainees who remained were then transferred to KP Dom Butmir.
On 17 September 2003, the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY sentenced Milorad Krnojelac, former warden of Foca, to 15 years in prison. On 6 November 2008, the Court of BiH sentenced Mitar Rasevic, to seven years in prison; and Savo Todovic to 12 years and 6 months for his participation in a joint criminal enterprise. On 1 September 2009, the Court of BiH acquitted Momčilo Mandić, former Minister of Justice of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He had sole responsibility for and was the supervisor of the operations and functioning of all penal-correctional institutions in Republika Srpska of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Vojno in Mostara:
The Vojno detention camp was located in the Vojno neighborhood of Bijelo Polje in the municipality of Mostar. It was under the control of the First Bijelo Polje Battalion of the Second Brigade of the HVO. It was formed in July 1993 and closed on 7 March 1994. The detainees were Bosniaks, primarily women, children and elderly from the municipality of Mostar. The detention camp consisted of three private homes and a garage within a radius of 100 meters. The first detainees were brought in July 1993, including, along with men, women, children and elderly. The men were brought from the Helidorom detention camp during the day or for a longer period of time to perform forced labor. Approximately 60 women and children were detained; and a large number of women and girls were raped and exposed to sexual abuse on a daily basis. At least 21 detainees were killed in the detention camp. On 9 March 2011, the Court of BiH sentenced Marko Radic, Dragan Sunjic, Damir Brekalo and Mirko Vracevic for participating in a joint criminal enterprise and the crimes against humanity committed in the detention camp. Marko Radic was sentenced to a prison term of 21 years, Damir Brekalo to 20 years, Dragan Sunjic to 16 years and Mirko Vracevic to 12 years in prison.
Škola and Kovačnica in Mehurići:
In Mehurići, in the municipality of Travnik, there were two detention facilities for Croats. The detention facilities were under the control of the 306 Brigade of the Army of BiH and under the Civilian Police in Mehurići. The two detention facilities were: the Primary School (Škola) and a blacksmith’s shop (Kovačnica). In the period between 6 June and 24 June 1993, in the gymnasium of the Elementary School, approximately 250 Croats civilians were detained. In the period between 6 June and 4 July, 1993, in Kovačnica, approximately 20-30 civilian Croats and members of the HVO were detained. Women, children and elderly were mostly detained in Škola, including pregnant women.
After an agreement of exchange was signed between the Army of BiH and the HVO on 24 June 1993, Croat civilians detained at Škola were exchanged with Bosniaks detained in Skradno, in the municipality of Busovača, and a number of men were taken to KP dom in Zenica. On 4 July 1993, the detainees from Kovačnica were transferred to KP Dom in Zenica. On 22 April 2008, the ICTY acquitted Enver Hadzihasanovic of command responsibility for the cruel treatment at Lpvačinici in Mehuriči. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for other crimes committed in central BiH.
In April 1992, the former barracks and warehouse of JNA located on the outskirts of the village of Čelebići, in the municipality of Konjic, was converted into a detention camp for Serb civilians. The majority of detainees were men captured during or after the military operations in Bradina, Donje Selo and the surrounding area, from 20 – 27 May, 1992. Women were housed separately from other inmates and were sexually abused. In hangar 6, with a capacity to accommodate a significant number of people, at one point there were approximately 240 detainees. In Tunnel 9, which was 1.5 meters wide and 2.5 meters high, at one point there were approximately 80 detainees. In September 1992, 109 Serbs from Bradina and Donje Selo were detained. At least 13 of these detainees were killed. The camp was closed in December 1992.
On 8 April 2003, the ICTY sentenced Hazim Delić, former Deputy-Commander of the Čelebići detention camp, to 18 years in prison. Esad Landžo, former camp guard at Čelebići, was sentenced to 15 years in prison; and Zdravko Mucic, former Commander of Čelebići, to 9 years in prison. Zejnil Delalić, former Commander of the First Tactical Group of the ABiH, was acquitted. On 23 July 2013, the Court of BiH sentenced Eso Macić, former member of the Army of BiH, to 13 years in prison for war crimes against civilians committed in 1992 at the Čelebići detention camp. On 22 November 2013, the War Crimes Chamber of the High Court in Belgrade acquitted Samia Honda, former member of 43rd Brigade of the Army of BiH from Konjic, of criminal responsibility for crimes committed at the Čelebići detention camp.
The Revolution Museum in Jablanica:
The Revolution Museum was under the jurisdiction of the Army of BiH. It was formed on 15 April 1992 and closed on 22 March 1994. The museum detained at least 354 Croats; almost half of the detainees were women. At least seven detainees were killed or died due to inadequate conditions at the facility. A number of women were raped and sexually abused. All detainees were exchanged in 1994. On 16 October 2007, the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY acquitted Sefer Halilovic. On 6 January 2012, the Court of BiH confirmed the indictment against Nihad Bojadzic accused of the criminal offense of war crimes against civilians and war crimes against prisoners of war. The lawsuit is still pending. On 27 December 2013, the Court of BiH confirmed the indictment against Azem Ibrović, Enes Maksumić Čado and Jusuf Hindić, accused of war crimes against prisoners of war.
The Police Station in Livno:
From the beginning of 1992 until mid- July 1993, the police station (PS) in Livno was used as a detention prison for Serb civilians. The detention prison was under the control of the Military Police of the HVO. At the garages within the police station approximately 100 Serbs were detained; almost all of the detainees were men, apart from approximately 10 women. The detainees were kept in six garages, each of them 6 x 4m in size; 10 to 20 detainees were kept per garage. At least one detainee was killed at the detention prison. To date, no cases have been processed for the crimes committed in Livno.
VIZ in Ljubuško:
The penal-correctional facility in Ljubuško (VIZ Ljubuški or prison in Ljubuško) operated from April 1993 until March 1994 as a detention prison for Bosniak civilians and captured members of the Army of BiH. The HVO Military Police controlled VIZ Ljubuški. In the period between May and December 1993, at least 218 Bosniaks were detained at VIZ Ljubuški. The majority of detainees were released in December 1993 as refugees, or were transferred to the Helipad and Gabela detention camps. In March 1994, the last group of detainees was released at the Helipad detention camp. On 29 May 2013, the ICTY issued a first degree verdict for six former leaders of the Croatian community, and later of the Republic of Herceg-Bosna, for crimes committed from 1991 to 1994 against Muslims and other non-Croats. By a unanimous decision, the accused Jadranko Prlic was sentenced to 25 years in prison; the Minister of Defense Bruno Stojic and HVO Commanders Praljak and Milivoj Petkovic to 20 years in prison; Military Police Commander Valentin Coric to 16 years in prison; and the Director of the Office for the Exchange of Prisoners Berislav Pusic to 10 years in prison.
Silos in Kaćuni:
On the outskirts of Kaćuni village in the municipality of Busovača, a tank was located which was used for wheat storage before the war. In late June or early July 1993, the tank was turned into a detention camp controlled by the Army of BiH. At least 21 members of the HVO were detained there; they were captured in Fojnica. On 13 September 1993, the detainees were released in the process of prisoner exchange between the HVO and the Army of BiH.
Strolit in Odžak:
The Brotherhood and Unity Elementary School and the Strolit foundry in Odzak, were used as detention camps for Serb civilians. On 8 May 1992, both of the camps were opened and controlled by the 102nd Odžak Brigade of the HVO. At the Elementary School, there were approximately 700 detainees, and at least three were killed. In Strolit, between 100 and 200 Serbs were detained and at least one was killed. The District Court in Doboj convicted Ferid Halilovic for war crimes against Serbs in the detention camps in Odzak. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. On 24 September 2013, the Court of BiH found Albina Terzic guilty and sentenced her to three years in prison.
July 27 Barrack in Bihać:
On 27 July, the former JNA barracks was used as a detention prison for captured members of the Army of Republika Srpska and the Republic of Serbian Krajina in the period between 1994 and 1996. The detention prison was under the control of the Army of BiH. Approximately 120 Serb soldiers and 20 civilians were detained. The civilians were brought to the detention prison after the Republic of Serbian Krajina fell. The barracks functioned as a detention camp until 27 January 1996. On 6 December 2013, the Panel of the Section I for War Crimes of the Appellate Division of the Court of BiH made a ruling about the second degree verdict acquitting the first degree verdict. A re-trial has been scheduled before the Appellate Division of the Court of BiH. The case is still pending.
Iskra Stadium and Slovenia Furniture Salon in Bugojno:
In the period between 24 August 1993 and 19 March 1994, the Iskra football Stadium served as a detention camp for Croat and Serb civilians as well as members of the HVO. By early November of 1993, the detention camp detained more than 300 Croat civilians and prisoners of war. The 307th Brigade of the Army of BiH controlled the detention camp. At least 18 people were taken and killed. The Slovenia Furniture Salon served as a detention camp from 24 July 1993 to 23 August 1993. In the basement of the salon, approximately 50 to 200 persons were detained at a given time. The 307th Brigade of the Army of BiH controlled the detention camp as well. The majority of the detainees were members of the HVO, including a number of civilians. At least one detainee was killed. On 22 April 2008, the ICTY sentenced Enver Hadzihasanovic to three years and six months in prison and Amir Kubura to two years in prison for war crimes, because they did not take adequate and necessary measures to prevent the crimes. On 18 December 2013, in the case of Nisvet Gasal,the Court of BiH sentenced Senad Dautovic to seven years in prison, and Nisveta Gasala and Musajb Kukavic to four years in prison each. On 25 May 2011, Enes Handzic was sentenced to eight years in prison, after he had pleaded guilty.