Home News 20 Years since closing of infamous prison camp for Serbs

20 Years since closing of infamous prison camp for Serbs


According to the testimonies by the former prisoners, Silos had all the elements of the infamous WWII concentration camp Auschwitz. It interned 600 Serb civilians 24 of who died of physical abuse, beating injuries, torture and hunger.

Concentration camp Silos in Tarcin near Sarajevo, where more than 600 Serb civilians, 24 of who died due to physical abuse, beating, torture and hunger, were held captive, was closed down 20 years ago on January 27, 1996.

The camp for the Serbs which was managed by the so-called Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ABiH) was opened on May 11, 1992 in a facility that used to be used to store wheat before the war, and was closed down on January 27, 1996 on the church holiday of Saint Sava, two months after the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed.

According to the testimonies by the former prisoners, Silos had all the elements of the infamous WWII concentration camp Auschwitz. It interned 600 Serb civilians 24 of who died of physical abuse, beating injuries, torture and hunger.

Silos, which was one of the total of 126 camps in the war-time Sarajevo, mainly detained civilians from the area of Tarcin, Pazaric and other neighbouring places.

The youngest prisoner was 14-year-old Leo Kapetanovic and the eldest was Vaso Sarenac who was over 85 and died in the camp at the temperature that was always 10 degrees lower than the outside one.

Women were not spared from torture either. One of them was six months pregnant.

The Serb prisoners who survived the horrific torture, recounted that the government officials of the Republic of BiH at the time had come to Silos to learn about what was going on at the camp.

Branislav Dukic, the head of the Association of Camp Detainees of Republika Srpska, told Srna earlier that an alarming fact was still true for Bosnia and Herzegovina: those who committed war crimes against the Serbs were not going to be brought to justice, especially when it came to Silos, the prison at the Viktor Bubanj barracks, and even a camp that was named “Alija Izetbegovic,” since there was no ordering party nor perpetrator in any of those cases, even though there were many killed Serbs.

In many of those camps were Serb children and elderly but it has never been a good enough reason for the Court or the Prosecutor’s Office to issue a just response, which shows the typical “political nature” of those institutions, said Dukic.

He reiterated that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Association of Camp Detainees of Republika Srpska had worked together to document the war crimes against the Serbs and that they submitted all the collected documentation to the Hague war crimes tribunal. They also sent those materials to the Special Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor in Serbia and Croatia too, but all those moves failed to bring any results or adequate reaction from the judicial bodies.

Former Silos prisoner Radojka Pandurevic told Srna that Alija Izetbegovic too had come near Silos twice.

Former death camp prisoner Slavko Jovicic Slavuj, who used to be a member of the BiH parliament, left Silos on January 27, 1996.

He testified that Silos was a laboratory for testing human endurance where Muslim soldiers and guards treated the prisoners like animals, beating them on a daily basis, exercising all kinds of torture on them, “killing” them with hunger and poisoning them with various pills.

That the camp was closing down the prisoners learned from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

They left the camp on January 26, 1996 while the last 42 prisoners left the following day, which marked the final closure of the prison.

The main hearing on the case before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina began on April 19, 2012.

For the crimes in Silos, Krupa Barracks and May 9 Elementary School the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH charges Mustafa Djelilovic, Fadil Covic, Mirsad Sabic, Nezir Kazic, Becir Hujic, Halid Covic, Serif Mesanovic and Nermin Kalember.

The Prosecutor’s Office charges those persons with war crimes against civilians and war crimes against prisoners of war. To be more precise, they are charged with wrongful incarceration, inhumane treatment, physical and mental abuse and imposition of forced labour on prisoners.

According to the indictment, Djelilovic was the head of the Crisis Staff and subsequently of the war-time presidency of the municipality of Hadzici. Hujic was prison warden and deputy prison warden of Silos, as was Halid Covic. Kalember was a guard at Silos.

Mesanovic was a deputy prison warden at Silos and a prison warden at the warehouse in Krupa Barracks. The remaining indictees were members of the military, civilian or police units.

The former commander of the ABiH 1st Corps, Vahid Karavelic, accused the members of the war-time presidency and government of the Republic of BiH of being solely responsible for the existence of the infamous prison camp.

Karavelic told the Court of BiH that the core of the Bosniak leadership during the war, which was made up, apart from Alija Izetbegovic, of the current Foreign Minister of Bosnia, Zlatko Lagumdzija, Haris Silajdzic, Ejup Ganic and Nijaz Durakovic, had the control over the events in Silos.

The Prosecutor’s Office has heard the witnesses and presented the material evidence and is now hearing defence witnesses. The next hearing has been scheduled for January 28.

It is the only trial for the death camp Silos and it began in May 2012.

In early 2014, the BiH Prosecutor’s Office notified the Srpska Interior Ministry that it had issued an order not to conduct an investigation into 455 persons for war crimes committed at camps Silos Tarcin, May 9 Elementary School, Igman, and Hrasnica, where persons of Serb ethnicity died between May 1992 and January 27, 1996.

Ognjen Begovic

Source: SRNA


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