Retired Croatian war veteran and former police officer Velibor Bracic on Wednesday testified for several hours before the Split County Court in the trial of Croatian Serb paramilitary commander Dragan Vasiljkovic aka Captain Dragan, saying that aside from being exposed to hunger and thirst, captured Croatian soldiers were beaten by guards in Knin on a daily basis and that he was also beaten by the accused.
Vasiljkovic, who commanded a Serb special operations unit and a training centre for special forces, is charged with war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war. He holds dual Australian and Serbian citizenship, and was extradited to Croatia from Australia in 2015.
Witness Bracic was taken prisoner in mid-June 1991 by rebel Serb forces and taken to Golubic, a village near Knin. He was subjected to torture there, after which he was transferred to Knin, where the torture continued.
The witness said that he was beaten by prison guards as well as by a man whom he later learned was their commander, called Captain Dragan.
The witness said that the accused beat him to show the guards how prisoners should be beaten.
Bracic said that he was detained in a damp room with no windows and that he and other inmates were forced to urinate and defecate in one of the corners of the room. They received water and food irregularly, said the witness, adding that he lost 30 kilos while in detention.
The witness, born in the area of Knin, said that his former neighbours and other people from Knin came to the prison to beat the prisoners, including himself.
Vasiljkovic and his defence tried to portray the witness as lacking credibility and changing his statements. Attorney Tomislav Filakovic asked Bracic if he had promised anyone to testify against Vasiljkovic, and when he said that he had not, the attorney said that according to transcripts related to the extradition procedure, he had promised it.
Filakovic then asked Bracic if it was true that before the indictment against Vasiljkovic was issued he had dinner with former Justice Minister Vesna Skare Ozbolt's husband and was contacted by the former minister herself, to which he said that the former minister's secretary had contacted him and tried to arrange a meeting with the minister, but that he did not attend the meeting and that he gave his statement to investigators in Sibenik.
As for the dinner with Skare-Ozbolt's husband, Bracic said that he happened to be in the same place as the former minister's husband and talked to him about the torture he had been subjected to.