A man accused of torturing and murdering detainees at a Serb-run prison camp pleaded not guilty Friday to war crimes and crimes against humanity, claiming mistaken identity.
Goran Lajic, 28, was allegedly part of the staff of the notorious Keraterm camp, which housed thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats in a former ceramics factory in northwest Bosnia in 1992.He was indicted last July for allegedly killing at least five detainees at the camp and torturing others.
Wearing a T-shirt and jeans, Lajic pleaded not guilty to all charges and told the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal it had arrested the wrong Goran Lajic.
"There may be very many Goran Lajics in Bosnia-Herzegovina," he said. "In this case, this is a completely different person . . . I have never seen Keraterm camp in my life."
Prosecutor Grant Niemann told Judge Claude Jorda of France that he was confident he had the right man but asked for a photo of Lajic so prosecution witnesses could confirm his identity.
German authorities, acting on the U.N. tribunal's orders, arrested Lajic on March 18 in Nuremberg and handed him over to the U.N. court on Monday. No trial date was set at Friday's hearing.
Lajic's indictment alleges that Keraterm's prisoners were routinely killed, sexually assaulted, tortured and beaten.
One victim was allegedly beaten by Lajic and other guards and forced to lie on broken glass. The man died after 10 days of torture, according to the indictment.
Bosnian Serb Dusan Tadic, whose war crimes trial was adjourned until Monday to clear space in the tribunal's only courtroom for Lajic's arraignment, is also alleged to have visited Keraterm to kill and torture prisoners.
Lajic and 12 other Serbs were indicted for alleged crimes at Keraterm, one of three Serb-run camps set up in 1992 in the Prijedor region. The tribunal has indicted 57 suspects - 46 Serbs, eight Croats and three Muslims - but has only five suspects in custody.