Dragan Kolundžija

Before the war, I socialised with all people. I was friends with everyone, regardless of their nationality and faith. Even today, I have no prejudice in that respect. I am aware now that at the time I was a tool in the hands of others, and this I deeply regret. I express regret and remorse for all the acts, including my acts in situations when I could have done more and didn't. I am aware that this is no compensation to my own people of Prijedor…

Dragan Kolundžija, was a guard shift commander at the notorious Bosnian Serb-run Keraterm detention camp in Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. Although Kolundžija was aware that detainees were kept in inhumane conditions, beaten, raped, sexually assaulted and killed, the Trial Chamber heard ample evidence of his effort to ease the harsh conditions at the camp for many of the detainees. Kolundžija was sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment.

Read Guilty Plea Statement

9 October 2001 (extract from transcript of hearing)

[Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to say a few words.

Today, to my plea of guilty, I would like to add my sincere human regret. I'm sorry for all the families of the people who were in Keraterm. All my life I tried not to do unto others as I would not like to be done unto me. About the existence of the camp, I learnt only when I was assigned there as a reserve policeman. Throughout the time I worked there, I viewed all people equally, regardless of whether I knew them or not. The events that followed demonstrated that I was naive. It is true that I complained many times about the conditions for the people in Keraterm, but I see that it was not enough. It is true that I allowed of my own will people to be brought food, blankets, and clothing for the detainees, but I see that that, too, was not enough. I prevented all sorts of harm to be done to the detainees. I see now that it was not enough, although this did not happen while I was so-called shift leader. I never protected only those people whom I knew. I think I acted the same towards everyone. For all my mistakes, I bear responsibility.

It is true that the massacre in Room 3 happened in the night shift, when I was on duty. God is my witness that I tried everything to save the people, to prevent the crime, but unfortunately I did not succeed against a large number of armed people. For the rest of my life, I won't be able to forget that bloody night, nor will I be able to forget all that happened to my townspeople who were unjustly contained in the Keraterm camp. It is hard for me to remember those people in those conditions and to realise that I didn't do more for them.

I never wanted to stay in Keraterm, and I did not agree with the conditions, but I believed if I stayed, I could help to lessen the evil and to ease the suffering. As an ordinary reserve policeman, or the so-called shift leader, I thought I had done all I could. Before the war, I socialised with all people. I was friends with everyone, regardless of their nationality and faith. Even today, I have no prejudice in that respect. I am aware now that at the time I was a tool in the hands of others, and this I deeply regret. I express regret and remorse for all the acts, including my acts in situations when I could have done more and didn't. I am aware that this is no compensation to my own people of Prijedor, but I do hope that I will be contributing to a new beginning.

My remorse will certainly not remove the scars of a painful past, but I sincerely hope that it will help heal the wounds. Once again, I apologise and I am sorry for everything that happened. For the sake of our children's future and all of our futures, I will do my utmost to prevent this or anything like this from ever happening again. Thank you.

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