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Sweden's first war crimes trial underway

Published: 13 Oct 2010 11:54 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Oct 2010 11:54 GMT+02:00

The trial of a 43-year-old Swedish citizen charged with war crimes started in Stockholm on Wednesday. He is accused of torturing inmates while working as a guard at a Bosnian prison camp in 1992.

Ahmet Makitan was arrested in January following an investigation by the Swedish National War Crimes Commission (Rikskriminalpolisens krigsbrottskommission) carried out with the help of the United Nations International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague.

When the trial began, Makitan sat between one of his attorneys and a female interpreter. Wearing a green shirt and with his back turned toward the plaintiffs and the gallery of the Stockholm District Court, Makitan listened to the prosecutors opening statements in Swedish.

In a trial expected to last at least five months, Makitan will be made to answer accusations that he committed genocide. He will also meet several of the victims he is accused of torturing face to face when they are called to testify at the trial.

A former soldier with the Croatian defence force HOS, Makitan has been charged

with "aggravated war crimes and abduction," and stands accused of torturing Serb prisoners, including civilians, between May and August 1992, court documents showed.

Makitan, who was 25 at the time, allegedly committed the crimes while working as a guard at the Dretelj detention camp in southern Bosnia near the Neretva river, which served as a border line between the Serb and Bosnian-Croat fighters.

According to the charge sheet, which is based on witness accounts from around 30 former Serb prisoners, Makitan helped imprison civilians without due process and hold them hostage with the aim of using them for prisoner exchanges.

As an HOS guard at the camp, he also stands accused of inflicting serious injury on prisoners, depriving them of food and water and sufficient medical attention and making them do forced labour.

Prosecutors spend around 30 minutes on Wednesday reviewed cases in which Makitan, who was born in Bosnia Herzogovina and moved to Sweden in 2001 before taking citizenship in 2006, is accused of abusing and humiliating prisoners at the camp during the spring and summer of 1992.

Prosecutor Magnus Elving also did his best to explain why a Swedish court in 2010 is confronted with the bloody history of the Balkans in the 1990s.

“War criminals shouldn’t feel safe by fleeing. There shouldn’t be safe havens for war criminals anywhere,” said Elving, according to the TT news agency.

The indictment covers 21 victims who were held at the camp, and each one has detailed the abuses which Makitan is alleged to have committed. In addition, between ten and twenty witnesses from a number of different countries will be called to testify.

The Serbian victims, who will be represented by a number of Swedish lawyers during the trial, are demanding joint compensation from Makitan of around 5 million kronor ($750,000).

During the morning’s proceedings, Makitan only made one statement through his attorney Ola Salomonsson: that he objects to the accusations.

The prosecutor also emphasized that this is the first trial in Sweden of someone has been charged with war crimes.

“This is a small, rather crude field in Swedish courts,” said Elving.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:06 October 13, 2010 by Sam1
God bless Sweden!!! that no one on its land can escape justice!!!

there are murders and presidents who have committed mass murders in other countries still walk tall!!

Syria North korea, China, Mexico, Iran, (Arabia all together) Burma, Russia,Pakistan India, USA, etc etc etc..

People the world is going to go through a major cleansing it seems...WWIII is on its way ..
12:58 October 13, 2010 by LuxVeritas
No, WW3 is not on the way, but fear of it whilst undertaking all manner of insidious inhuman activities, along with private commercial murderous endeavours will; until we halt them once and for all. We the human beings number in the billions, they the insane elite cabal are in the thousands. We shall prevail, as more of us wake from our slumber of programmed apathy, refuse to comply with the sick false system and say no more, enough is enough.

Alongside the torturer should stand the commanding officer who gave the order and the politician that signed it. It is time for true justice, not laws without ethics, morality or humanity enforced by corrupt commercial courts under UCC in place of real law of the land and universal law. To add names to countries already mentioned; Bush, Clinton, Obama, Kissinger, Bryzinski, Blair, Blackwater/ Xe directors, black ops murderers of the defenceless innocents and all those with blood on their hands for profiteering from genocide, torture, war, occupation, pillaging, poisoning of peoples air, foodstuffs and water.

The only people who desire war are these inhuman sociopath scumbags who want us in fear so they can become rich and fat off our slavery, sweat and blood. They are our servants, not our masters, not our rapists or parasites. May every man and woman trained and without fear stand and be counted for all the human beings on this planet who do not form a part of their sick elite cabal of illuminated who dwell in soulless darkness.
13:35 October 13, 2010 by Sam1
LuxVeritas@

You think those people who have blood on their hands and have poisoned everything they can will be spared just like that, a murder regime :-) will turn into a good regime by just people saying NO!!!

No way a cup of milk being poisoned daily should be poured out cleant and new milk poured in , which means, they will be war and mass cleansing!!

NUKES!!! too...some people will become barbeque and many innocent will suffer..

but one has to pay for his negative actions!! it can not just be forgiven lives they killed they shall pay for with same action blood and suffering.
14:16 October 13, 2010 by asian369
he is Ahmet...oh no... put him on trial.
15:46 October 13, 2010 by ericrufinosiah
It is just a shame that a criminal by the name of Ahmet makitan was allowed to be

a Swedish citizen after having commited so many crimes in Bosnia and no wonder

Jimme Akesson is against such people but tthen was accused of being a racist and etc.perhaps the New Government should do some soul searching on the

background of the many immigrants welcomed to Sweden for the past 20 years.You might be surprised that some of them maybe " et "
22:26 October 13, 2010 by Iraniboy
@ericrufinosiah

In case you don't know, Ahmet and Jimmy have similar ideology. They both are far-right, nationalist Xenophibic and especially against Muslim population. Ahmet got a chance to implement it there in Bosnia, Jimmy hasn't!
20:26 October 16, 2010 by Sam1
true Iraniboy true!!!
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