Prison camps in Visegrad region

Prisoners at Trnopolje concentration camp in Prijedor Municipality 1992.

Prisoners at Trnopolje concentration camp in Prijedor Municipality 1992.

Final report of the United Nations Commission of Experts
established pursuant to
security council resolution 780 (1992)

Annex VIII – part 1/10
Prison camps

The full report can be found here.

(…)

There are reports of 21 Serb-run camps established in the Visegrad region as part of this «ethnic cleansing» campaign. They were first created in April and May 1992 and appear to have run throughout July and August, although most of their precise dates of existence are unspecified. These camps are as follows: Banja Suse, Bikavac Hotel, a building above a tunnel, a factory in Visegrad, the fire station at Visegrad, the former police station in Visegrad, Hasan Beretovac Primary School, Hasan Veletovic Primary School at Gucine, Pozarnica Barracks, Prelovo Camp, stable of Guso Salko, Varda Sawmill or Plant, Vardiste Barracks, Vilina Vlas Hotel, Visegrad Electric Plant, Visegrad High School Centre, Visegrad Sports Centre, Uzemnica or Uramnica Barracks, the Zelimir Djuric Zeljo Primary School in Prelevo, and Zamjenica Garrison. There are also reports that prisoners were held in private homes and apartments.

These camps held Muslim inhabitants from Visegrad and the surrounding villages. Several of them were specifically established to detain women for the purposes of rape. Members of Serbian military and paramilitary forces as well as local civilians would regularly visit these camps. Rape was apparently so common in the region that one nurse at a refugee shelter in Zenica stated, «Virtually every young woman who fled (Donji Vakuf, Foca, or) Visegrad after Serb extremists began what they call »ethnic cleansing« was raped.» *4238

(…)

Annex VIII : Prison camps (part 8/10)

Banja Suse: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is one report that during the initial attack on Visegrad in April, a man and his two sons were taken to a camp at Banja Suse. *4243 Apparently, this camp was near the River Drina. All the report describes is that a unit of the Serbian Territorial Defence stationed on the other side of the river suddenly opened fire on the camp. The man and children detained there escaped by swimming along the river. *4244

Bikavac Hotel: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) Bikavac was a detention camp where Muslim women were held for the purposes of rape and sexual abuse. *4245 There are alleged to have been girls under the age of 14 at this camp. *4246

This hotel was also the headquarters of the Serbian Territorial Defence and the White Eagles. It appears the hotel may have been the combined headquarters of the two armed forces. *4247 An identified man was the manager of the hotel and was alleged to be involved in activities there. *4248

Building above tunnel in Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is one report that girls were taken by «Cetniks» and detained in «a building above the tunnel» in Visegrad. *4249 There is no further information about this camp.

Factory in Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by a neutral source, namely the Defence Debriefing Team.) The Defence Debriefing Team reported the existence of a camp at a factory in Visegrad in December 1992. *4250 No other details are included.

Fire Station in Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) The fire station at Visegrad was one of the main detention facilities in the area. There are no indications of exactly where in Visegrad this fire station is located; it is only described as having a «big open area» below it. *4251 Most prisoners at the station came from Zlijeb and Visegrad although there is a report that a group of young girls came from Kuke. *4252 Those from Zlijeb arrived sometime in June after the attack of their village by Arkan’s units. *4253 The exact dates of the other groups’ detention are unknown.

The fire station was a holding facility from where prisoners were often taken and returned. During detention, prisoners were temporarily taken to the police station, Vilina Vlas Hotel, and private homes for the purposes of interrogation and rape. While at the station, prisoners were also raped, beaten, killed, and made to do hard labour. *4254

The most detailed description of the station comes from an ex-prisoner who was held there for five days in late May 1992. *4255 In her testimony, the witness refers to the camp as the «Fireman’s Society». She was a particular target for rape and interrogation by the «Cetniks» because she was originally from Zepa, and they wanted information about Muslim military activities there. *4256

While she was at the station, 130 people were also detained, 20 of them men. Upon her arrival, the «Cetniks» lined up 15 kids and told everyone, «If anyone does anything against us, all 15 will be killed, and we will line up another 15.» *4257 Thereafter, the prisoners were separated by gender and taken in groups of five to a «receiving area» where they were stripped naked and searched by guards. They were told that if they withheld any valuables, they would be killed. *4258

She reports that on the first night, an unknown number of «Cetniks» came and took away two young girls to be raped. The mother of the children tried to give them some previously hidden money, but this did not stop them. Instead, they simply took the mother and forced her to watch the rapes. *4259

On the second day, another female detainee was taken away. Apparently, she was brought to the police station for questioning and returned later that day. On this same day, the witness was also taken from the station and brought to a house in the Bikavac quarter of Visegrad by a named man. There, 20 men awaited her. They gang raped her and then the man drove her back to the station. *4260

That evening, two men came to the camp with eight other men. They took away the male prisoners in groups of five and six. Approximately, 21 men were taken in all, their destination unknown. This left about 100 to 110 women and children remaining at the station. *4261

Sometime after the men were taken, the others went to sleep, but were later awakened when about seven or eight «Cetniks» showed up again with socks over their heads and «with colours and dirt on their faces». *4262 They wore plastic gloves and were shouting that they wanted to test something in the building. First, they took two girls to be raped. Then, they chose from the other women using a flashlight in the dark room to see their faces. *4263

The witness was one of the women chosen. She was taken upstairs with two others. Upstairs in the hallway, they were grabbed at and kissed by several men. Then, they were brought into a small office with four men and forced to strip naked. First, the other two women were raped. Then, they were sent into the hallway and she was left alone with the men. *4264

One of them told her to sit down «in the Turkish way» in front of him. He made her kiss the cross he wore around his neck three times and cross herself. When she told him she did not know how, another of them showed her and made her do it. He then told her that she had changed religion and that she was now a Serb. *4265

After this time, the three other men left the room. She had to perform fellatio on the perpetrator while he held a knife to her throat. He ejaculated inside her. Then, the second man came in, and she was forced to do the same thing to him, then the third, and the fourth. *4266

While upstairs, the witness noted that there were three rooms: two smaller offices and a big room where a lot of folders and paperwork were stored. The two smaller rooms were empty. She reports that only one of these rooms, the one in which she was raped, was used for rape. *4267

On the third day, she was again taken away from the station at around 2:00 p.m. The «Cetniks» took her to the «New Bridge» where they interrogated and kissed her in front of the Muslim men being killed there. *4268 She was met by a named man and brought to the Vilina Vlas Hotel. Though she had never met this man, she knew him to be one of the main perpetrators of crimes in the area. He raped her at Vilina Vlas all that day and night and brought her back to the fire station at 12:00 a.m. *4269

Only five minutes after she was returned, the «Cetniks» came for her again. This time there were three of them. They took her to an empty house not far from the station, interrogated her about Zepa, and raped her. *4270

After five days of detention, the witness was transferred with her two children to Kalina near Olovo. During her transport, the convoy was stopped three times as various «Cetniks» continued to look for her. She successfully evaded them by hiding underneath other prisoners during their searches of the convoy trucks. *4271

Among the perpetrators she reports were involved in activities at the fire station were three identified man, one man identified by nickname, and many of Arkan’s and Seselj’s men. *4272 She states, «They all had beards, black dresses, all in black with hats and Serbian crosses, long hair.» She adds that she did not know any of them from before the war but learned that some were from Uzice, Bijolje, and Visegrad. *4273

Other reports indicate that two other men were also present at the station. In addition, a man identified by one name only from Visegrad was there. *4274 One witness specifically alleges that she and three other women were raped when they had no valuables to give him. *4275

Hasan Beretovac Primary School: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) There is a report that a Serb-run camp was established at this school. *4276 There is no further information.

* VGM Editor’s Note: The School’s correct name is Hasan Veletovac. *

Hasan Veletovic Primary School at Gucine: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is also a report that a camp was established here. There are no details about it other than the fact that the entire population of Crna was brought here, stripped of their valuables, and detained. *4277 This may, in fact, be the same camp reported above as Hasan Beretovac School.

* VGM Editor’s Note: The School’s correct name is Hasan Veletovac. *

High School Centre at Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) A camp was established at the high school in Visegrad. *4278 There is no indication exactly where the high school is located, and no other information is included.

Former JNA Garrisons at Vardiste: *4279 (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) There are reports that a camp existed at the former Vardiste military garrisons. *4280 No additional information was provided regarding this facility.

Former Police Station at Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) The police station is alleged to have been established as a holding centre for Muslims from Visegrad upon the Serbian occupation of the area. *4281 Inhabitants were initially arrested and interrogated at the station from 14 April to 18 April and continued to be brought there throughout the summer. *4282 Here, prisoners were interrogated, beaten, tortured, and starved. *4283 According to one report, at least five prisoners were taken out a day to be killed. *4284

Pozarnica Barracks: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is a report of a camp at the Pozarnica Barracks. *4285 No information regarding operation or control, duration or existing conditions was provided about this facility.

Prelovo: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) The existence of a camp is reported in Prelovo. Apparently, it was created upon the initial attack of Visegrad by Uzice corps troops in April and run by an identified man. *4286 At the camp, prisoners are alleged to have been shot and burned. *4287

Sports Centre at Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is a report of a camp at the «sports centre» in Visegrad. As of October 1992, it was reported that 1,000 prisoners had been detained there and 1,630 killed. *4288

Local Stable: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) Muslims are said to have been arrested by an identified man and held in the stable of a certain other identified man. *4289 They were arrested and brought to the stable on 24 June 1992, but there is no indication as to how many were there or how long they stayed.

Uramnica or Uzemnica Barracks: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) Upon the initial attack of Visegrad, Muslims were ordered to gather at the Uramnica Barracks where they were held for three days. *4290 The report does not give a precise date of their arrest, but it was near 17 April 1992. Their destination after Uramnica is unknown.

* VGM Editor’s Note: The Barracks correct name is Uzamnica. *

Varda Electric Plant: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) There was allegedly a camp at Varda, a place described both as a sawmill and a plant. *4291 Over 1,000 people are estimated to have been killed there. In specific, seven people were reported killed on 11 June and 22 killed several days thereafter. *4292

Apparently, this camp was run by an identified paramilitary group. This group reportedly took Muslims to the plant, locked them in rooms, killed them, and then threw their bodies in the River Drina. *4293 Two other men are also mentioned in connection with activities there. One was seen by a witness taking workers to the sawmill on 10 June 1992. *4294 The other was known to take prisoners from Varda and have them killed at the «Old Bridge.» *4295

Vilina Vlas Hotel: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources, including Amnesty International.) Vilina Vlas was one of the main detention facilities in Visegrad. It was located in a hotel/spa about seven kilometres south-east of Visegrad proper, on the way to Gorazde. *4296 This camp was established with the coming of the Uzice Corps in the end of April. *4297 It held Muslim women for the purposes of rape, serving as a camp «brothel». Apparently, women detained here were picked up by police officers, members of the White Eagles and Arkan’s and Seselj’s men. *4298 Many of them were not yet 14 years old. *4299

Vilina Vlas was well-known as a camp which detained only young, beautiful women. One witness was told that the women brought to Vilina Vlas were chosen to bear «Cetnik» children. Hence, they were «selected» carefully and brought only here. *4300 Another relates that Muslim women who had previously brought food or other supplies to the Green Berets paramilitary troops were also brought here. *4301

One detailed report outlines the arrests of several girls from Visegrad on 9 June 1992. These girls were arrested by an identified man active at many camps in this region and taken to the hotel. *4302 One of them describes being interrogated and raped by this man. While in the room where she was raped, members of the White Eagles tried to get in to rape her as well, but the man would not let them. *4303

When the mothers of these and other girls reported their arrests to the Serbian Secretariat of International Affairs, they were simply told «the Turks also do nasty things to Serbian kids» and sent away. *4304

One witness offers a detailed description of her 24- hour stay at the hotel. At the time she was brought to Vilina Vlas, she was being detained at the fire station in Visegrad, but was taken here to be raped by a «Cetnik» known only by nickname. *4305

She describes the hotel as big, with a basement and two floors. Upon their arrival, the reception area was dark. The «Cetnik» got a key from an unidentified man at the reception area and brought the witness to the second floor. The hallway was large and ran to the left and right from the top of the stairs. There were rooms everywhere with the doors open, so she could see that they were all occupied by women prisoners and «Cetniks». *4306

Once in a room, the witness was forced to take a cold shower as this man pointed a rifle at her. Then, he left her there to get a bottle of whiskey. He returned and raped her for two hours. *4307 Afterward, she was raped by eight other men. *4308

According to this witness, the women detained at the hotel had sufficient food and drink because they were the «selected women» meant to later give birth to «Cetnik» babies. *4309 She relates that during her stay, the women and men in the rooms were hugging and kissing. She suspects that the women behaved in this way because they had given up resisting the repeated rapes. *4310

Yet overall, reports of the treatment of women at the hotel are not good. The prisoners were raped repeatedly and beaten with batons. *4311 One report alleges that some were even killed by suffocation in a system of gas pipes at the hotel. *4312 Many sent there were never seen again. *4313 Apparently, certain soldiers at the camp were taking revenge for dead Serbs at Zepa. *4314

One report describes the fate of 200 girls brought to the camp. Of them, five committed suicide by jumping form a balcony at the hotel, six others escaped and the rest were killed after multiple rapes. *4315

Once this camp became well-known it was moved. *4316 There are no details as to when this move took place or to where the camp relocated.

Zamjenica Garrison: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) A camp at the former Zamjenica Garrison was established after the Uzice troops entered Visegrad. *4320

Zelimir Djuric Zeljo Primary School at Prelovo: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is alleged to have been a camp at this primary school. *4321 This may be the same camp described above as Prelovo Camp.

Private homes in Visegrad: (The existence of these detention facilities have not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There are two reports that Muslims were also held in private homes and apartments in Visegrad for varying lengths of time, but there is no information about where these homes were located. *4322

The ICRC reports visiting one camp in the region, but it is not clear which of the above-mentioned camps it was. Representatives visited «Visegrad camp» on three occasions: 12 June, 15 June, and 2 July 1992. On 12 June, they reported the detention of 58 prisoners at this camp; on 12 June, they reported 20, and on 2 July, they also reported 20 prisoners. *4323

One Response to “Prison camps in Visegrad region”

  1. It’s hard to find the words to say anything meaningful about what went on. And it’s hard to imagine the deep inner sickness of someone who can wear a cross while they engage in this kind of behaviour without pausing to reflect on their own shame.

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