Croatia sentences wartime guards for abuse of Serbs

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 31, 2012 8:24 AM
Croatia sentences wartime guards for abuse of Serbs

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia sentenced five former policemen to between one and three and a half years in prison on Wednesday for torturing ethnic Serb prisoners during Croatia's 1991-95 war for independence.

Croatia is scheduled to join the European Union in July, but its judiciary, human rights and war crimes trials remain under scrutiny. Brussels also wants the ex-Yugoslav republic to pursue efforts to combat organized crime and corruption.

Judge Marijan Garac of the Zagreb county court found the camp commander and four guards guilty of physical and mental torture of Serbs at the Kerestinec camp outside Zagreb, state news agency Hina reported at the end of the seven-month trial.

Several dozen Serb soldiers and civilians, including women, were kept at the Kerestinec camp, the site of a former Yugoslav army rocket base, from December 1991 to May 1995.

Witnesses spoke of a 'black room' packed with torture devices, where prisoners were beaten, subjected to electric shocks and sexually abused, mostly at night.

Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, but then fought a war with its ethnic Serb minority who opposed secession. The war ended after the Zagreb government recaptured Serb-held territory in the summer of 1995.

(Reporting by Zoran Radosavljevic; Editing by Alistair Lyon)