Dretelj camp

The Dretelj camp or Dretelj prison[1] was a prison camp run by the Croatian Defence Forces (HOS) and later by the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) during the Bosnian War.

Dretelj camp
Prison camp
Dretelj is located in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Location of Dretelj camp within Bosnia and Herzegovina
Coordinates43°7′35″N 17°42′24″E / 43.12639°N 17.70667°ECoordinates: 43°7′35″N 17°42′24″E / 43.12639°N 17.70667°E
Locationnear Čapljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Operated byBosnian Croat military and police authorities (Croatian Defence Forces and the Croatian Defence Council)
InmatesBosniaks and Bosnian Serbs
Number of inmates1,000–2,800

The camp

The camp was located near Čapljina and Medjugorje in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Originally a Yugoslav National Army barracks, the camp was primarily concrete with six warehouses, along with two concrete tunnels that were dug into the hillsides. Each warehouse was roughly 200 square meters, of which the Bosnian Croats could fit anywhere between 400 and 700 prisoners.[2] During 1992 the HOS detained mostly Serb civilians, who were held in inhumane conditions, while female detainees were raped.[3]

The HVO detained Bosniak men at the Dretelj camp primarily from April to September 1993, with some Bosniaks detained there until approximately April 1994. The prison population at Dretelj Prison peaked on 11 July 1993, when the HVO detained approximately 2,270 Bosniak men at the prison. After that, the detainee population averaged about 1,700 Bosniak men.[4]

During the time from 30 June until mid-July 1993, the Herceg-Bosna/HVO authorities conducted mass arrests of Bosniak men, including Bosniak members of the HVO, and detained many of them at Dretelj Prison. The Herceg-Bosna/HVO authorities held and continued to detain Bosniak men at the Dretelj camp irrespective of their civilian or military status, including a number of boys younger than sixteen and men older than sixty. The Herceg-Bosna/HVO authorities made no bona fide or adequate effort to distinguish military detainees from civilians, or to provide generally for the release of civilian detainees. During August and September 1993, the HVO criteria for releasing Bosnian Muslim men from detention included being married to a Croat woman or possessing a visa and letter of guarantee to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina to another country. Many Bosnian Muslims detained at Dretelj Prison were deported by the Herceg-Bosna/HVO authorities to other countries, via the Republic of Croatia.[4]

Conditions at Dretelj Prison were harsh and unhealthy due to overcrowding, bad ventilation, no beds and insufficient bedding, and inadequate sanitary facilities. The HVO provided the detainees with insufficient food and water and often made them eat under cruel and humiliating circumstances. In the heat of mid-July 1993, the HVO kept detainees locked up without food and water for a number of days, resulting in the death of at least one Bosnian Muslim detainee.[4]

Throughout the time that Bosniaks were detained at Dretelj Prison, HVO members, including the prison warden and members of HVO units not attached to the prison, subjected detainees to beatings and cruel treatment, including constant fear of physical and mental abuse. Bosniak detainees were sometimes forced or instigated to beat or abuse other Bosniak detainees. Bosniak detainees held in the isolation cell were particularly brutalised. Bosniak detainees were harassed, subjected to ethnic insults and humiliated.[4]

The HVO acts and practices resulted in the serious injury and occasional death of many Bosniak detainees. At least four Bosniak detainees died at the Dretelj camp as a result of being beaten or shot by HVO members.[4]


In November 1994, Refic Sarić, a Bosniak prisoner later promoted to guard duty, was found guilty of torturing Bosniaks by a Danish court.[5][6]

In December 2008, Mirsad Repak, a Bosnian soldier in the Croatian Defence Forces, was found guilty of crimes committed against Serb civilians by a lower Norwegian court.[7][8][9][10] Repak was in 2010 acquitted by the Supreme Court of Norway, of charges relating to war crimes and crimes against humanity.[11] He had been charged with paragraphs[12] of law, which did not exist at the time of his alleged crimes and the conviction was thus not in accordance with the Constitution of Norway.[13] The final judgment in the case fell 13 April 2011. The Supreme Court sentenced Repak to 8 years in prison for "deprivation of freedom resulting in unusual and severe suffering".[14](Norwegian)

In January 2010, a former camp guard at the Dretelj camp was arrested on suspicion of war crimes. Ahmet Makitan, a Bosniak soldier in the Croatian Defence Forces, was indicted for the kidnapping, torture, assault and abuse of Bosnian Serb prisoners by a Swedish court.[3][15]

On 2 March 2012, the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina filed an indictment against, commanders of the Croatian Defence Forces or guards at the camp, Ivan Zelenika, Srećko Herceg, Edib Buljubašić, Ivan Medić and Marina Grubišić-Fejzić on charges of crimes against humanity carried out towards Serbs.[16][17]

ICTY trial

Jadranko Prlić, Bruno Stojić, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petković, Valentin Corić, and Berislav Pušić were all charged with being part of a joint criminal enterprise from November 1991 to April 1994 to ethnically cleanse non-Croats from certain areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The indictment states that members of the enterprise (along with the HVO) set up and ran a network of prison camps, including the Heliodrom camp and Dretelj camp, to arrest, detain and imprison thousands of Bosniaks. Bosniaks in the camps were allegedly starved and subjected to "physical and psychological abuse, including beatings and sexual assaults".[18][19]

The six accused are charged on the basis of both their individual and superior criminal responsibility under Articles 7(1) and 7(3) of the Statute respectively for:[18]

  • nine counts of grave breaches of the Geneva conventions (willful killing; inhuman treatment (sexual assault); unlawful deportation of a civilian; unlawful transfer of a civilian; unlawful confinement of a civilian; inhuman treatment (conditions of confinement); inhuman treatment; extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly; appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly).
  • nine counts of violations of the laws or customs of war (cruel treatment (conditions of confinement); cruel treatment; unlawful labour; wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or destruction not justified by military necessity; destruction or willful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion or education; plunder of public or private property; unlawful attack on civilians; unlawful infliction of terror on civilians; cruel treatment), and
  • eight counts of crimes against humanity (persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; murder; rape; deportation; inhumane acts (forcible transfer); imprisonment; inhumane acts (conditions of confinement); inhumane acts).

Former mercenary and neo-nazi and later convicted bankrobber Jackie Arklöv was stationed at the camp as a guard and was convicted by Swedish court in 2006 for brutal tortures of inmates there, crimes he had been already found guilty of in Bosnia in 1994 but hadn't been punished for.[20]

See also


  1. ^ "Judgement Summary" (PDF). Prlić et al. (IT-04-74). ICTY. 29 May 2013. p. 3.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2009-06-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b "Ahmet Makitan Indicted for War Crimes". Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. 6 October 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22.
  4. ^ a b c d e http://www.icty.org/x/cases/prlic/ind/en/prl-ii040304e.htm
  5. ^ "The Prosecution v. Saric, Eastern Division of High Court (Third Chamber)". International Committee of the Red Cross. 25 November 1994.
  6. ^ "Bosnia Camp Guard Convicted in Denmark". The New York Times. 23 November 1994.
  7. ^ "Pros. v. Mirsad Repak". The Hague Justice Portal.
  8. ^ "Mirsad Repak sentenced to five years' imprisonment". Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. 2 December 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22.
  9. ^ "Mirsad Repak Found Guilty". Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. 11 March 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22.
  10. ^ "Verdict Against Mirsad Repak Expected Soon". Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. 16 February 2010. Archived from the original on 22 November 2010.
  11. ^ Verdens Gang, 2010-12-04, p.7
  12. ^ Verdens Gang, 2010-12-04, p.7: "... kan ikke domfelles etter de nye paragrafene om krigsforbrytelser og forbrytelser mot menneskeheten, slår Høyesterett fast i en dom de avsa i går."
  13. ^ "Norway court cancels Bosnian's war crimes sentence". The Telegraph. 3 December 2010.
  14. ^ http://www.domstol.no/no/Enkelt-domstol/-Norges-Hoyesterett/Avgjorelser/Avgjorelser-2011/Avdeling/Straffesaker/Domfellelse-for-ugjerninger-begatt-under-den-vapnede-konflikten-i-Bosnia-Hercegovina-i-1992/
  15. ^ "Trial starts for former prison guard charged with war crimes in Bosnia". Associated Press. 13 October 2010.
  16. ^ "Indictment for Dretelj Crimes Filed". Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. 2 March 2012. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012.
  17. ^ Sito-Sucic, Daria (2 March 2012). "Bosnia indicts five over wartime torture of Serbs". Reuters. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012.
  18. ^ a b https://www.un.org/icty/pressreal/2004/p836-e.htm
  19. ^ http://www.iwpr.net/?p=tri&s=f&o=333523&apc_state=henptri
  20. ^ http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=83&artikel=1072683

External links

Gabela camp

The Gabela camp or Gabela prison was a prison camp run by the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia and Croatian Defence Council in Gabela. The camp was located several kilometres south of Čapljina. Its prisoners consisted of Bosniaks and Serbs.

Heliodrom camp

The Heliodrom camp (Serbo-Croatian: Logor Heliodrom, Логор Хелиодром) or Heliodrom prison was a detention camp that operated between September 1992 and April 1994. It was run by the Military Police of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia to detain Bosniaks, Serbs, and other non-Croats and was located at a former military facility of the JNA in Rodoč, south of the town of Mostar.

Jackie Arklöv

Jackie Banny Arklöv (born 6 June 1973) is a Swedish convicted criminal. Arklöv is an ex-neo-Nazi and Yugoslav Wars mercenary and war criminal, who, with two other neo-Nazis, murdered two police officers after a bank robbery in 1999.

Keraterm camp

The Keraterm camp was a concentration camp established by Bosnian Serb military and police authorities near the town of Prijedor in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War. The camp was used to collect and confine between 1,000–1,500 Bosniak and Bosnian Croat civilians.

List of concentration and internment camps

This is a list of internment and concentration camps, organized by country. In general, a camp or group of camps is designated to the country whose government was responsible for the establishment and/or operation of the camp regardless of the camp's location, but this principle can be, or it can appear to be, departed from in such cases as where a country's borders or name has changed or it was occupied by a foreign power.

Certain types of camps are excluded from this list, particularly refugee camps set up to house refugees who have fled across the border from another country in fear of persecution, or have been set up by an international non-governmental organization. Prisoner-of-war camps are treated under a separate category.

Manjača camp

Manjača camp (pronounced:Mañacha) was a prison camp which was located on mount Manjača near the city of Banja Luka in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War and the Croatian War of Independence from 1991 to 1995. The camp was founded by the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) and authorities of the Republika Srpska (RS) and was used to collect and confine thousands of male prisoners of Bosniak and Croat nationalities.

The camp was shut down under international pressure in late 1993 but was reopened in October 1995. At that time it was estimated that a total of between 4,500 and 6,000 non-Serbs primarily from the Sanski Most and Banja Luka areas passed through the camp. When the camp was captured in 1995 by Bosnian authorities, some 85 corpses were found associated with killings at the camp. Some 1,000 people from the Sanski Most area who were deported to the Manjača camp are still missing.

In early 1996, both the former concentration camp and the neighbouring army camp were opened to IFOR personnel for inspection following the Dayton Agreement.

Omarska camp

The Omarska camp was a concentration camp run by Bosnian Serb forces in the mining town of Omarska, near Prijedor in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, set up for Bosniak and Croat men and women during the Prijedor massacre. Functioning in the first months of the Bosnian War in 1992, it was one of 677 alleged detention centers and camps set up throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war. While nominally an "investigation center" or "assembly point" for members of the Bosniak and Croatian population, Human Rights Watch classified Omarska as a concentration camp.The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, located in The Hague, found several individuals guilty of crimes against humanity perpetrated at Omarska. Murder, torture, rape, and abuse of prisoners was common. Around 6,000 Bosniaks and Croats were held in appalling conditions at the camp for about five months in the spring and summer of 1992, including 37 women. Hundreds died of starvation, punishment, beatings, ill-treatment and executions.

Slobodan Praljak

Slobodan Praljak (Croatian pronunciation: [slobǒdan prǎːʎak]; 2 January 1945 – 29 November 2017) was a Bosnian Croat general who served in the Croatian Army and the Croatian Defence Council, an army of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, between 1992 and 1995. Praljak was found guilty of committing violations of the laws of war, crimes against humanity and breaches of the Geneva Conventions during the Croat–Bosniak War by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2017.Praljak voluntarily joined the newly formed Croatian Armed Forces after the outbreak of the Croatian War of Independence in 1991. Before and after the war he was an engineer, a television and theatre director, as well as a businessman. Praljak was indicted by, and voluntarily surrendered to, the ICTY in 2004. In 2013, he was convicted for war crimes against the Bosniak population during the Croat–Bosniak War alongside five other Bosnian Croat officials, and was sentenced to 20 years in jail (minus the time he had already spent in detention). Upon hearing the guilty verdict upheld in November 2017, Praljak stated that he rejected the verdict of the court, and committed suicide by poisoning in the courtroom.

Sušica camp

The Sušica camp was a detention camp set up by Serb forces for Bosniaks and other non-Serbs in the Vlasenica municipality in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Vilina Vlas

Vilina Vlas is a hotel that served as one of the main detention facilities where Bosniak prisoners were beaten, tortured and the women sexually assaulted by Serbs during the Višegrad massacres in the Bosnian War of the 1990s. It is located about four kilometers north-east of Višegrad, in the village of Višegradska Banja.After the war, Vilina Vlas was re-opened as a tourist facility.

Vojno camp

Vojno camp was a detention camp set up by the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) from June 1993 to March 1994, to detain tens of thousands of Bosniaks in the Mostar municipality. Bosniaks in the camp were subject to killings, mistreatment, rapes, detention and murders.

Internment camps


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