Bosnian Ministry Funds Museum at War Prison Camp, Angering Ex-Inmates

The Bosnian Defence Ministry told BIRN that it is planning to invest 540,000 Bosnian marks, some 270,000 euros, over the next three years on rebuilding part of the former Heliodrom detention camp in Mostar as the Military Museum of the 1st Infantry Regiment of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Regarding the construction of the facility for the needs of the 1st Infantry (Guards) Regiment of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, that is, for the preparation of the building for a museum, the financial resources are mostly secured through donations from the Association of HVO [Croatian Defence Council] War Medal Holders," the Defence Ministry said.

But former prisoners who were detained at the camp by Croatian Defence Council, HVO forces are opposed to the project.

Suljo Kmetas from Mostar was detained in 1993 by the HVO and held in a detention camp with other Bosniaks from the area, first a former police station premises for six months, and then for three-and-a-half additional months at the Heliodrom detention camp, which was located in the Stanislav Baja Kraljevic military base in Mostar.

"I don't have the words to describe the fact that someone would finance that museum, especially with the public money," Kmetas, who is now president of the Union of Camp Inmates of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, told BIRN.

The Helidrom was run by the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, an unrecognised Croat-led statelet during wartime. According to indictments at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, the HVO started detaining Bosniak men in the Heliodrom camp and others from 1993.

"More than 20,000 people passed through these camps," Kmetas said.

The idea to create the museum came from the...

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