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07. 04. 1999. 19:26H

ZAGREB, Apr 7 (Hina) - "I saw the camp commander, defendant Dinko Sakic, kill Dr Mile Boskovic with three shots," witness Dervis Sarac told the Zagreb County Court on Wednesday in the continuation of the trial against the commander of a concentration camp in World War Two Croatia accused of war crimes against humanity.

Sarac, 74, was arrested for illegal possession of a weapon and collaboration with the partisans in Banja Luka in January of 1944. In May of the same year he was transferred to the camp at Stara Gradiska, and a month later to the camp at Jasenovac, where he was detained until February of 1945.

The witness said he saw Sakic at the Jasenovac camp several times, but did not know exactly until when the defendant commanded the camp.

Describing September 20, 1944, Sarac said there was a muster followed by the reading of an Ustashi court-martial ruling for Dr Boskovic's "camp organisation." The Ustashi began with hangings. Nikola Pejnovic, who smiled at Sarac before the hanging, was hanged two metres from him.

Sakic stood some 7-10m away, with Boskovic half a metre before him.

"Sakic then told Boskovic he valued him as a man and expert, and that he should feel honoured to have the camp's commander personally kill him," the witness said. He added Sakic then extracted a gun and fired three shots at Boskovic, who fell on his back.

"I saw everything well. The first shot hit Boskovic between the nose and the temple, the second between the left eye and ear, while the third, I don't know if that one hit him," Sarac said.

Sakic then ordered the Ustashi to hang a pharmacist from the Ustashi hospital, another member of the "camp organisation", and when the man begged for mercy, Sakic answered, "It is your fault that I had to kill the best people at the camp."

Prior to that, the witness said he saw the pharmacist talking to an Ustashi who escaped to the partisans the day after, taking with him a report by the "camp organisation." Some 18 inmates were hanged on that occasion, Sarac said.

The day before the "Boskovic group" was executed, Sarac said he saw the manager of the Ustashi hospital in Jasenovac hanged across the hospital building, together with his wife and some other Ustashi officers and inmates who worked at the hospital.

The witness said he saw Sakic at another muster, called after an inmate killed an Ustashi guard while escaping. Fifty inmates were selected for retaliation, he added.

Another muster was called a week after the "Boskovic group" were hanged. After the court-martial rulings were read out, Ustashi official Zrinusic personally hanged five Chetniks.

The witness did not remember whether the defendant was present at that muster, but claimed three groups of Muslim peasants, brought from Bosnian villages, were executed at the Gradina site while Sakic commanded the Jasenovac camp. He also remembered that at that time, he saw three inmates hanging from a tree while he was going to the camp kitchen for food.

Sarac said he first saw the defendant a month after arriving at the Stara Gradiska camp. Sakic was present at a muster at which he said he had come from Jasenovac to take away 50 inmates.

"He selected 49, and after asking for another voluntary, I answered," the witness said. "He asked what my name was and where I was from. He tapped me on the shoulder and said I would have a good time at Jasenovac."

Upon arriving at the camp, the witness was appointed to the construction group, and then taken to one of six barracks for the inmates. "Five barracks were crowded with inmates, it stank, and dysentery, typhoid and typhus raged. Compared to Jasenovac, accommodation at Stara Gradiska was like in a hotel," Sarac said.

At the camp, they were guarded by Ustashi draftees who, according to the witness, were good towards the inmates at first, but "drastically changed their behaviour" after the hanging of the three Ustashi and on account of the "lenient attitude" towards the inmates.

During his detailed testimony, Sarac clearly recalled numerous facts, from inmates' and Ustashi's names to their duties and the date when Boskovic's group was executed.

Sarac said whole days were spent at hard labour, the food was poor and many inmates were so exhausted they looked like skeletons. They would be taken to the inmates' hospital which he said was often "cleared." The witness said he saw two or three groups of inmates who were in that state taken away.

From the construction group, Sarac was appointed to tailors. His entire former group was executed during "Sakic's time," he said.

Roll calls and selections of inmates for executions at Gradina were also carried out before the "Boskovic case", the witness said, but pointed out they increased in frequency before the camp was closed down in January of 1945.

"On still nights we could hear moans coming from Gradina," Sarac said, adding by lifting a roof-tile on the barrack, the inmates would watch the Ustashi take the inmates one by one for execution all night long. "Considering the intervals between the abductions, we calculated that between 100 and 150 inmates could be executed during one night."

The witness was present when one tailor was flogged. He had made three caps for an Ustashi without the latter's permission. After flogging him, the Ustashi hanged him.

Sarac said he had been among 800 Croat inmates selected for labour in Germany. He added 350 either died or were killed during one month prior to the departure. He believed the commander of the Jasenovac camp at the time was Hinko Picili.

Asked by the prosecutor on what basis people were sent to the camp, Sarac said Jews and Serbs were imprisoned according to racial laws without trial or ruling. "They were sent (to camp) for an indefinite period of time, while Croats were sent for a definite period of time under decisions of administrative bodies," he said, adding his decision stipulated a six-month camp imprisonment sentence signed by Andrija Artukovic, then interior minister.

The authorised agent of Boskovic's brother, attorney Cedo Prodanovic, submitted before the main hearing papers confirming his power of attorney for six other persons, but the panel of judges refused to recognise them as injured parties.

The main hearing will continue on Thursday.

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

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