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May 1997

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Press Release

7 May 1997

The Truth behind the Tadic trial and Trnopolje camp

Today trial judges at the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague handed down their verdict on DUSKO TADIC. Although Tadic was found guilty on other counts, the Trial Chamber II was unable to find any evidence that Tadic committed persecution (specifically rape, torture, forced confinement and mass murder) at the Bosnian Serb-run Trnopolje camp during the civil war in 1992.

The judges confirmed that when it came to the events alleged to have taken place at Trnopolje camp 'most of the allegations were supported only by the testimony of Dragan Opacic, whose testimony under the pseudonym of Witness L, was later withdrawn'. What the judges failed to explain, however, was exactly why the entire evidence of such a key witness should have been 'withdrawn'.

The truth is that Dragan Opacic's evidence was discredited because he was exposed as a trained liar while on the stand at The Hague. As Thomas Deichmann explained in his article 'The Picture that Fooled the World', published in February's LM magazine, Opacic was forced to admit that the police in Sarajevo had schooled him for the witness box.

Opacic told the Tribunal stories of gang rape, torture and murder at Trnopolje. Most famously, he drew a map of Trnopolje depicting a barbed wire fence surrounding the camp. These stories were exposed as a pack of lies. There was no barbed wire fence surrounding the camp. So where did Opacic get the idea from?

While schooling him for the witness stand, the Bosnian authorities repeatedly showed Opacic videotapes of Dusko Tadic and of Trnopolje, which he scarcely knew. Prominent among these tapes was the famous footage shot by an ITN news team in August 1992 - the pictures of Fikret Alic and other Bosnian Muslims apparently caged behind a barbed wire fence which, as Thomas Deichmann has revealed, gave the world the false impression that Trnopolje was a Nazi-style concentration camp.

The discrediting of Witness L's evidence was never mentioned in the British media. Now it has been glossed over in the Tribunal's own statement.

After the Tadic verdicts, LM editor Mick Hume said:

'The true story of Opacic's evidence to the Tadic trial confirms how ITN's award-winning pictures from Trnopolje fooled the world. It provides powerful justification of LM's case in our libel battle with ITN.


'Behind all of the emotive language and images employed at the International War Crimes Tribunal, one fact has been forgotten. There is a clear difference between a camp like Trnopolje, however grim, and a real concentration camp like Belsen or Auschwitz. Those who try to compare the two run the risk of rewriting history, by trivialising the Nazi genocide against the Jews.'

For further information or comment contact

Jan Macvarish, LM Press officer

Office hours (0171 278 9908

Out of hours 0831 246 694


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