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22. 03. 1999. 20:20H

ZAGREB, March 22 (Hina) - "The Jasenovac camp was an institution set up on the model of Nazi, German camps, with the primary purpose to destroy people. Its basic purpose was for those who enter it, never to leave it alive, and those who should leave it alive, could do so only by sheer chance", said witness Jakov Finci in Monday's continuation of the trial of Dinko Sakic, accused of war crimes committed at the Jasenovac concentration camp during WWII.

"There is no difference between Jasenovac and Auschwitz, Dachau or Mathausen. The only thing about Jasenovac is that it did not have a crematorium and gas chambers. They did make an attempt with the crematorium but after two months of experimental work they dismantled it because the stench was horrible. They executed all those who had constructed it or performed services", Finci said, answering a County State Attorney's question about his opinion about the Jasenovac camp.

Speaking about the criteria for the execution of inmates, Finci said they used to select elderly people, the sick, weak and those unfit for work. "In autumn 1944, they killed mostly Jews and Serbs, and some Croats and Muslims. There were few Romanies, the mass killing of Romanies had been committed during 1941", Finci said adding the identity of the killed was not known during the "musters", because names or sentences were not read out.

According to the witness, there were very few children in the camp. During the dismantling of the women's camp in Djakovo, 2,000 women and children were transferred from Djakovo to Stara Gradiska and executed. Many Serb children, brought from Mount Kozara to the camp, would be "reformed" by the Ustashi, but upon learning about their descent, Maks Luburic had them "taken to the village of Jablanac and executed".

Finci also spoke about the killing of children at the Stara Gradiska camp. Word went around there that Ante Vrban ordered the poisoning of some 1,200 children with Zyklon-B, Finci said.

Asked by Sakic's attorney Ivan Kern how many people had been killed when during a transfer of inmates from Stara Gradiska to Jasenovac, Finci said that out of 700 prisoners, 200 had been killed on the way to Jasenovac. Adding that he was not accusing Sakic for that, he said he held him responsible for not having secured food for prisoners for two days upon their arrival at Jasenovac.

He also remembered that during the transfer to Jasenovac, an Ustasha soldier had hit him with a rifle butt saying "you tortured Jesus".

Upon hearing this statement, the defendant Sakic laughed. The president of the Trial Chamber, Drazen Tripalo, warned the defendant to refrain from laughing as he would be given the opportunity to give his comment after the witness's testimony. Sakic apologised to the judge adding "I am reading to avoid listening to nonsense".

The first witness in the main hearing, Dragan Roller, said that five to six people had been killed during the transfer of prisoners from Stara Gradiska to Jasenovac.

Finci claimed that during the ten days of his service as an undertaker in Jasenovac, upon his first arrival at the camp, some 3,000 people had been buried. Undertakers were mainly Jews because it was considered that none of them would survive, Finci said.

When the defence attorney insisted that he be precise on the number of people buried daily at the camp, Finci said 100, and their number in ten days was 3,000.

Finci was then requested by the defence attorney to describe the location and time of the hanging of Albert Izrael. The witness then rose and showed the president of the trial chamber on a camp map where the hanging had happened.

Finci saw Dinko Sakic several days after his arrival at the camp, on September 23, 1944. Sakic passed by with his entourage and other prisoners told him it was Sakic. He saw him the next time when three inmates, Serbs, were hanged. After that, he said he remembered seeing him another two times.

During the "autumn execution" in 1944, the Ustashi came three times to the tailor-shoemaker barrack with 200 inmates, each time taking 20-30 prisoners. The execution lists were made by day and people would be taken away by night, said Finci, adding he had learned this from people in the writing-room. There were no mass executions in the period between the "autumn execution" and the beginning of the dismantling of the camp in early April 1945, he added.

Asked how he knew about the execution procedure at the crane, Finci said he had learned about it from inmates who, the day after, would go to take the clothes of those who had been taken away. Inmates would climb to the attics and watch them being led away, and some of them saw the executions on the crane. It was known that prisoners from the chainworks were preparing wire for the tying-up of prisoners and sharpening knives for the Ustashi. Prisoners who worked at the crane had to clean it from blood.

"Personally, I did not see any executions, otherwise I would not be here today", Finci said adding he had never been to the "Zvonara" either, otherwise he would not be alive. "I used to hear about it from those who cleaned 'Zvonara'", he said.

Asked whether he knew any victim who had been killed in the "Zvonara", Finci said he did not. "The workshop was located in a separate part of the camp and I avoided leaving it", he said.

Asked about Hinko Picili, Finci confirmed that Picili was a camp commander at one time. Picili was from Pozega, and was of Italian descent. He was the commander of the working department of all camps and was very cruel. "He joined the Ustasha movement in 1941 and came to Jasenovac. The second time I was in Jasenovac I did not see him there. He came again to the camp in early April, at Luburic's invitation, to dismantle the camp. He designed the furnaces for the incineration of prisoners, one in Gradina and the other in Jasenovac, unsuccessfully though, because it stank", Finci said adding Picili managed to escape, allegedly to Italy, after the camp was dismantled.

Asked by judge Tripalo if he had anything to add to his testimony, Finci said he had no financial interest in the trial. He said he had lost his entire family, got over it, but did not forget it.

"I have been having heart attacks every day since Sakic arrived. Had they not discovered me, I would have never volunteered to testify", Finci said.

At the beginning of the main hearing, judge Tripalo said the summons to witness Anton Milkovic returned with a note that he had died on January 24.

The trial of Dinko Sakic continues tomorrow.

This material is provided by Croatian News Agency (HINA)
HINA News Line: http://www.HINA.Hr/

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