This is the Footage that was used for ITN’s history changing video reportage by reporters Penny Marshall and Ed Vulliamy about the Omarska and Trnopolje (concentration) camps during the Bosnian War. In it you see the reporters trying to get permission to enter the camp, which is denied at first. Once inside they interview the prisoners but it is obvious that no one dares to speak freely. Ed Vulliamy covered the war in the Balkans in the 90s and has testified in a number of cases at the ICTY. The video was used as evidence in ‘Prijedor’ related cases, including the trail of Milomir Stakić.
Turning Point in the Bosnian War
In 1992, British journalists, including a film crew from the news network ITN and the Guardian‘s Ed Vulliamy, were invited to visit Omarska camp by Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader who would go on to be convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. At the time, Karadzic denied that it was a concentration camp and asked the reporters to witness it for themselves. But while there, the journalists were only allowed to speak to prisoners in the canteen under very constrained circumstances. They were stopped at gunpoint by the camp commander from visiting the areas of the camp where most of the prisoners were being held. After leaving Omarska camp they stumbled onto Trnopolje and found gaunt Muslim men and boys clinging onto life. Prosecutors say thousands of Muslim men and boys were massacred, tortured or died of starvation in a number of facilities run by the separatists.
That August, ITN broadcast the first images from Trnopolje, where Alic was being held. He had arrived in that camp the very same morning reporters met him. He had previously been held in another facility, Keraterm, where 130 men were massacred in a hangar. Fikret told The Guardian that he had been ordered to put the bodies onto a bulldozer.
Nearly twenty years later, Fikret said that the image of him had catastrophic consequences for the camp’s inmates. “After you left me behind,” he told former ITN journalist Penny Marshall in a 2011 interview in the London Times, “the guards started to beat some of those you’d spoken to straight away. They came back for me later, once the photo had been published. They wanted to kill me.”
His brothers helped him survive, he has said, by hiding him in the sprawling camp. He managed to escape days later by disguising as a Muslim woman and getting into a convoy of buses that was taking women out of Serb-held territory. Four days after his escape, more than 200 men were carted off in buses and executed at the edge of a ravine. One of the victims was Alic’s cousin, Mujo Alic. The war killed more than 20 members of Alic’s extended family, including his uncle and aunt who were burned alive in their homes and his grandfather who was shot dead in his kitchen.
Outside the camp, the images met with a different response. The horrific photographs and accounts inflamed public outrage. “I never thought I’d see another holocaust in my life,” remarked Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, amid a renewal of diplomatic maneuvers. By 1995, the Dayton peace accord ended the four-year conflict that was begun by Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.