Brother defends Serb accused of Omarska terror

As Dusan Tadic's trial starts, his brother tells Emma Daly he is no war criminal

Kozarac - Mladen Tadic tells his story well, his phrases polished in interview after interview, his sincerity total. He is a walking PR campaign for his brother, Dusko, who goes on trial today at the Hague charged with crimes against humanity - specifically the torture and murder of Muslim men held at Omarska, a prison camp set up by the Bosnian Serbs in the summer of 1992 to hold the victims of "ethnic cleansing".

Dusan Tadic, his brother says, has Muslim friends (the charges include an allegation that he murdered one such friend) and even spoke out against the thugs looting and burning Muslim property in his home town, Kozarac.

"He is totally innocent," Bosko, a middle-aged man wearing an electric- purple shell suit, said. "They say that all those houses that are not destroyed were saved by him. He protected them."

Perhaps he did, though, if so, his efforts came to nought. Virtually every house in Kozarac, once predominantly Muslim, stands gutted and abandoned, torched to ensure that the inhabitants who escaped would never come back. Along the main street, lined with flowering chestnut trees, only a few buildings stand, those belonging to Serbs.

One is the cafe that once belonged to Dusko, now run by Mladen. A piebald pig reaps for scraps beside the wooden tables that stand outside and three surly soldiers play pool at an outdoor table. They are not from Kozarac, and their unfriendly demeanour suggests they have been sent to keep an eye on Mladen.

The local authorities and in particular the police chief in nearby Prijedor are not happy, Mladen says, with the Tadics' campaign to clear Dusko. "Normal people, our neighbours, our friends, are supporting us as much as they can," he said. "However the people who should be helping us the most are not giving us any support."

This, Mladen claims, is because Dusan, a local official, "knew what was actually happening here". And when he tried to protect the town from the upheaval, Mladen says, Dusan was press-ganged and sent to the front. He escaped and is now wanted for desertion by the Serbs in Bosnia.

"He's accused by the Serbs of being a deserter and by the Muslims of being a war criminal. That's a contradiction," Mladen said, firmly. The allegations of torture and murder are probably true he admits: but his brother is the victim of mistaken identity. "There is one man here who looks like Dusko's twin and I think he is the one," Mladen explained. "But he has the full protection of the police."

One plank of the Tadic defence is that Dusan was never at Omarska; he certainly did not work there as a guard, but that is an element that makes the allegations yet more heinous. The war crimes tribunal contends that Dusan tortured for fun, that he turned up at Omarska looking for a twisted good time. He is accused of forcing one prisoner to bite off the testicles of another; the second man died.

Dusan has spent a year in solitary confinement at a purpose-built prison block in Schevenginen. "He can hardly wait to get the trial started. He is really looking forward to it," said Mladen, who has to visit another brother in the city of Banja Luka to connect with Dusan's weekly phone calls. "He is confident he will prove his innocence."

So far neither Dusan's wife, Mira, or his two brothers still in Bosnia, have raised the money for a plane ticket to the Hague, Mladen said. Dusan's expertise in karate - the cafe is filled with black-and-white photos of Dusan and Mladen in karate kit - has stood him in good stead over the past twelve months, Mladen said.

"He has good living conditions at The Hague, including a gym where he can exercise. That has kept him going because you can imagine what it is like to live alone in the jail," he added. "There are some days when he is in a very good mood but other times he is down and he cannot understand for example why none of the local officials will help his case."

The official Serb line towards the tribunal has gradually changed, from outright hostility (it was set up as part of the supposed global conspiracy against Serbs) to demands that it investigate crimes committed against Serbs. But there is no acknowledgement yet that the war-crimes process is a necessary precursor to a real peace in Bosnia.

Still, a few people in Kozarac, the kind of sleepy, small town that ought to exist in happy obscurity, will admit to the need for some justice. "All those who acted in an evil way towards other human beings, who killed or raped, should face the tribunal, be they Serbs, Muslims or Croats," Mladen said. "If my brother is guilty he should stand trial. But he is not guilty."

Letters, page 12

News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS2 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day + tax deductable expenses: Randstad Education Leicester: At...

Finance Officer

£80 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Finance Officer with Educat...

Primary Teacher

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay, Free CPD: Randstad Education Sou...

Supply Teachers Required

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of Pay, Excellent CPD : Randstad Educati...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor