• Sweden edition

Swede charged with Balkan war crimes

Published: 05 Oct 2010 07:44 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Oct 2010 11:31 GMT+02:00

A 43-year-old Swedish citizen was charged on Tuesday with war crimes and kidnapping in connection with his job as a prison guard in Bosnia in 1992.

Ahmet Makitan has roots in Bosnia-Herzegovina and lives in Sollefteå in northern Sweden. He moved to Sweden in 2001, gaining citizenship in 2006.

He was arrested in January of this year following an investigation by the Swedish National War Crimes Commission (Rikskriminalpolisens krigsbrottskommission) which had begun back in 2008.

Makitan is suspected of having tortured Bosnian-Serb civilians while working at the Dretelj prison camp in Bosnia in 1992.

While serving as a guard, Makitan allegedly abused prisoners who had been placed in small cells or storage units with concrete floors.

The prisoners were undernourished and a large number were subject to violence, sexual assault, threats, and abuse.

They were also denied adequate medical care and were forced to relieve themselves in their own cells.

The suit against Makitan includes the names of 28 male and female prisoners who were held at the camp, with each one detailing the abuses to which they were subjected.

One man was forced to masturbate on another inmate and another was forced to perform oral sex on a fellow prisoner. Another inmate was forced to eat grass and cigarette butts, while another had the muzzle of a gun placed in his mouth.

Several of the prisoners were hit and kicked by the guards.

According to prosecutors, Makitan was aware of the unlawful imprisonment as well as the harsh treatment meted out to the inmates and their brutal living conditions.

As a result, prosecutors contend he is guilty violating the Geneva Conventions.

Makitan's case is unique, as it is the first time anyone has been charged with offences since the establishment of Sweden's war crimes commission.

The 43-year-old Makitan has previously denied all charges and his attorney has declined to comment on the case.

"No, I want to see and read the charge sheet first," said Ola Salomonsson to the Metro newspaper prior to the presentation of the indictment against his client.

According to Mark Klamberg, a doctoral candidate in international law at Stockholm University, Swedish legislation is not adapted for war crimes which may create complications for prosecutors.

"It is out of date, it is more than 20-years-old and a lot has happened. It causes difficulties for prosecutors, courts and even the defendants in relation to what is actually criminal under the law, as it is formulated in a quite sweepingly general way," he said to Sveriges Radio's Ekot news programme.

Makitan's trial before the Stockholm district court is scheduled to begin on October 13th, and prosecutor Magnus Elving estimates it will last at least five months.

The indictment covers 21 victims. In addition, between ten and twenty witnesses from a number of different countries will be called to testify.

The Swedish investigation stems from a football match in Denmark between asylum seekers, in which one of the participants recognized a secretary to the commander of the camp where Makitan served as a guard.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

08:42 October 5, 2010 by Lars J
This is groundbreaking. Not because of the arrest, but because media is actually reporting a crime that has been committed against Serbs. Maybe the time has come for an objective look at the Balkan wars.
09:12 October 5, 2010 by Viva Melita
But the media is saying he is a Swede which we all know is total hogwash.
09:12 October 5, 2010 by digital
An objective look at the Balkan wars? I'm all up for that, but after the Srebrenica genocide, no crime against Serbs in the Balkans can come even close. Go ahead, have a read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srebrenica_massacre
09:42 October 5, 2010 by Rishonim
According to Mark Klamberg, a doctoral candidate in international law at Stockholm University, Swedish legislation is not adapted for war crimes.

That's the biggest understatement ever. The Swedish legislation along with its justice system is not adapted to prosecute any crime whatsoever with the exception of tax evasion, speeding incidents and illegal downloading of a few B movies.. Other than that, everyone walks
10:58 October 5, 2010 by rafa1981
You know very well who owns the media and the geostrategical interests in the Kosovo war, as well as the double standards shown in the recent Georgia US fail, that treatment you are speaking will never happen and history will be written like it is today, I barely see documentals or read books of history from 1920 and upwards.

People tend to ignore that during Clinton mandate they died the same people more or less in hands of the US army as than during Bush' s mandate, in fact the almost all the Obama advisors were the Clinton ones.
21:10 October 5, 2010 by Nemesis
What idiot decided to allow a war criminal to become a citizen?
11:23 October 6, 2010 by flintis
@nemesis: should be in the plural form "which idiots" .The same idiots that have let all the other criminals in.
07:35 October 8, 2010 by waffen

Stop letting the criminals in by firing the idiots.

Denmark has, and others are doing so, so Sweden is way overdue in closing their borders and becoming Sweden again.
Today's headlines
Elections 2014
Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote
The Green Party is one of only two parties devoting their websites to the EU elections. Here campaign manager Emma Rung presents the party's posters. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote

The majority of Swedes feel the country's political parties are not doing enough to inform them about the upcoming European Parliament elections. Only two of the eight parties have dedicated their homepages to the May 25th polls. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping Brawl
Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders
Swedish police on the scene following Monday's fatal brawl. File: TT

Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders

The Syrian-Orthodox Church in Ektorp had tried to quell tensions between two rival families just hours before bad blood spilled into a massive brawl and two brothers lost their lives. READ () »

JobTalk Sweden
'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'
The bridge that connects Sweden to the European continent. File: L.E. Daniel Larsson/Flickr

'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'

The Swedish agency that helps Europeans fight impediments to the EU principle of free movement has revealed an increase in complaints, including one from a foreign citizen unable to open a bank account in Sweden. READ () »

Eurovision 2014
Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip
Sanna Nielsen in the new clip. Photo: YouTube (screenshot)

Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip

Sweden's Eurovision hopeful Sanna Nielsen released the official video for the song Undo on Wednesday, a clip featuring leather, slow motion destruction, and a frozen pig's heart and some violence. READ () »

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds
Swedish apartments. File: The Local

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds

A Swedish landlord suspects that a property fixer has set up a software robot to sign up for new flats on the market within seconds, and is charging house hunters to use the service. READ () »

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'

Twenty-five fire fighters were on hand on Wednesday night when a fire broke out in a southern Sweden animal park. The vast majority of the animals were unharmed, but the cluster of spiders wasn't so lucky. READ () »

Sweden Investor group posts sharp profit drop
File photo: Simon Cunningham/Flickr

Sweden Investor group posts sharp profit drop

Swedish investment giant Investor on Wednesday said its first-quarter profits slumped by a quarter, underlining Sweden's vulnerability to international instability. READ () »

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

People-watching April 23
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
University applications rocket to record high
People-watching April 18-20
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
People-watching April 16
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
Abba duo hints at reunion
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit: