Muslim Admits Brutality at Bosnia War Crimes Trial
A Bosnian Muslim former prison guard on trial for war crimes admitted Tuesday that he had mistreated Serbian detainees, but he told the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia that he had been following orders.
United Nations prosecutors charge that Esad Landzo was directly involved in the torture and killing of Serbs in 1992 at Celebici camp in central Bosnia, jointly operated by Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats.
He is on trial with Bosnian Muslims Hazim Delic and Zejnil Delalic and Bosnian Croat Zdravko Mucic in the first case to come before the tribunal in which the victims were Serbs.
Landzo told the court that he obeyed orders to the letter and considered himself a good soldier. Fear for his own safety drove him to commit some of the acts of which he is accused, he said.
He described a reign of terror under camp commander Mucic and camp deputy Delic.
Landzo, 25, has pleaded not guilty. He faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.
Asked whether he had kicked prisoners unconscious, beaten them with shovels and suffocated and burned one detainee, he replied: “Yes . . . but it was ordered by superiors.” He said he could not recall other alleged incidents.
According to the indictment, Celebici prisoners lived in terror. They witnessed the slaughter of other prisoners, suffered inhumane conditions and were deprived of adequate food, water and medical care. Landzo is accused of helping create this misery.