War Crimes Trial Details Atrocities

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- A war crimes trial resumed Tuesday for three Moslems and a Croat accused of raping, torturing and murdering Serb prisoners at a Bosnian concentration camp.


The trial, the first to consider rape as a war crime, also is examining how commanders are responsible for atrocities carried out by their underlings at the Celebici camp in a Moslem-controlled part of central Bosnia.


"It is their serious violation of international humanitarian law we are going to try," prosecutor Eric Ostberg said in opening arguments Monday at the UN court.


The suspects -- Zejnil Delalic, 48; Esad Landzo, 24; Hazim Delic, 32; and Zdravko Mucic, 41 -- rolled their eyes, fiddled with pencils and sighed as if bored as Ostberg laid out the charges against them.


Serbs held for months at Celebici were "murdered, tortured, raped and beaten by guards at the prison and by outside persons who were permitted to come into the camp," Ostberg said.


Inmates were beaten with steel cables and wooden and metal bars, burned with heated scissors, wrapped with fuses that were then lit and kept in vats of water, a 49-page indictment alleges. At least 14 died.


Women were raped, it says, and one man died after a badge with a Moslem party logo was nailed to his head. Some prisoners were forced to act like animals, or perform oral sex on each other.


About 500 Serbs, most of them civilians, were kept in the camp. Prosecutors chose 76 survivors to testify, and the presiding judge was considering a defense request that lawyers for the accused be given the addresses of witnesses so their testimony could be verified. Prosecutors have protested, citing the need to protect the witnesses.


The indictment points to different roles the four had in the camp. Delalic, a corpulent, wealthy entrepreneur, became a Moslem military commander in 1992 and allegedly set up the camp. Mucic, a Croat, was the camp's commander. Delic was his Moslem deputy and Landzo was a guard.


Some survivors have said that Mucic tried to lessen their suffering but could not control the guards who carried out most of the atrocities.


There has been no evidence that Delalic or Mucic personally committed atrocities. Even so, they were indicted as men in charge who knew about the crimes and could have stopped them.


Bosnia's Serbs, blamed for much of the horrors of the war, see the trial as a chance to show the world they were not the only ones charged with atrocities in the former Yugoslavia.


The trial is expected to last for months.