“I am guilty because I agreed to be in Keraterm. I am guilty because I did not help them more. For this I am guilty before God, before those people, and before you, Your Honours. I am sorry for every man who suffered, every family that lost a family member, every child that has lost a father. I am sorry for every mother who has lost a son.”
Damir Došen, was a guard shift leader at the Keraterm detention camp in Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. He permitted the persecutions and violence towards detainees in the camp. This included beatings, rape, sexual assaults,, harassment, humiliation, psychological abuse and killing. However, the amount of aggravation was limited in light of the restricted nature of his authority, and as a shift leader he often acted to improve the terrible conditions that prevailed in the camp. Došen was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment.
Read Guilty Plea Statement
8 October 2001 (extract from transcript of hearing)
Your Honours, at the end of this trial, for the evil that happened in my town Prijedor and in Keraterm, I wish to thank you for letting my voice be remembered. I wish to say that I was in Keraterm, that I was sent there as a reserve policeman, that I spent two months there guarding innocent people who were imprisoned there.
I wish to say that at that time I was young, thoughtless, that I had lost a son, that I was caught in the chaos of war and death in which I found it difficult to find my bearings. The people who are imprisoned were my fellow townspeople. They were innocent and they were suffering grievously.
A crime has been committed against these people, and I am prepared to take my part of the responsibility for this crime before God and before men. I tried to help them, to make it easier for them, to talk to them, to protect them. The conditions under which they were imprisoned were below human dignity.
I am guilty because I agreed to be in Keraterm. I am guilty because I did not help them more. For this I am guilty before God, before those people, and before you, Your Honours. I am sorry for every man who suffered, every family that lost a family member, every child that has lost a father. I am sorry for every mother who has lost a son. I want everybody to hear my words, especially my neighbours, who were imprisoned only because they were not Serbs.
Evil happened, and evil must not happen again, nor must it be forgotten. I am conscious of all this today. I'm conscious that a man, however small and impotent he may be, must not allow himself to be overcome by lack of courage and that he must sacrifice himself in such situations. This is the only way in which we can help future generations to overcome injustice and inhuman actions. I wish to thank Their Honours and the gentlemen from the Prosecution for their efforts to reach the truth and to satisfy justice.
I hope that the Trial Chamber will give me a chance to return to my family and to my children, to return to my neighbours of all religious and nationalities, and I hope that we will again have an opportunity to live in my town of Prijedor with my fellow townspeople with whom I lived and kept company before the war. I hope that we shall live together again in harmony, as we did before the war and before the evil that befell us. Thank you, Your Honours. ”