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19 August 2016
News

13 Indicted for Bosanski Novi Murders and Torture

BIRN BiH Sarajevo

The Bosnian prosecution filed an indictment against 13 people, charging them with crimes against humanity in the Bosanski Novi municipality in 1992.

The Bosnian prosecution filed an indictment on Friday against Ljuban Babic, Ranko Balaban, Rajko Karalica, Milenko Brcin, Mirko Odzic, Milenko Babic, Ostoja Balaban, Ratko Goronja, Nikola Reljic, Dragan and Ranko Baltic, Miroslav Kapetanovic and Ranko Grab, charging them with participating in the murders and torture of civilians from the villages of Ekici and Alici in the Bosanski Novi municipality in June 1992.

“During an attack on those villages and the eviction of the local population from their houses, the defendants, who acted in collaboration with other people, committed the murders of 27 Bosniak male civilians who they had previously separated from their families and beaten, tortured and abused in front of their children and wives,” a prosecution statement said.

It is also alleged that after they were taken to the place where they were executed, the victims were forced to dig a grave into which they were thrown after they were killed.

The accused have been also charged with participating in excavating the grave and dumping most of the remains into the river in a bid to hide the crime in 1996.

As a result, only nine victims’ corpses have been found so far, while the search for the others continues.

The indictment has been forwarded to the state court for confirmation.

Also on Friday, at the trial of Edhem Zilic, who is accused of abusing Croat and Serb detainees in the Konjic area, prosecution witnesses testified that the defendant had beaten them.

Brothers Zoran and Mario Matkovic, both former members of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, said they were transferred to a school building in Celebici in the Konjic municipality on April 25, 1993, then about 20 days later to the Musala gym in Konjic.

On arrival, they said they were met by the detention facility’s manager, defendant Zilic, who they recognised in the courtroom.

“I remember his eyes, his look. I shall never forget it… Because he mistreated me in the detention camp,” Zoran Matkovic said.

He said that Zilic once hit him “bloodthirstily” in the head with his fists and pulled his hair, asking him to admit that a piece of paper that had been found had originally come from an HVO member.

Mario Matkovic recalled carrying a slice of bread and an onion while returning from working one evening, adding that he hid a whole loaf of bread behind his back.

He met Zilic, who asked him if they had any food. He showed him the slice of bread and onion. The witness said the defendant began hitting him with his fist and rifle and kicking him, and also did the same to the other detainees.

“When we entered the detention camp, my father was crying and I was laughing. The loaf of bread sufficed for the next few days,” the witness said, adding they were hungry at Musala and that he lost about 20 kilogrammes while detained there.

According to the charges, Zilic ordered, carried out, enabled and failed to prevent the inhumane treatment of Croat and Serb detainees held at Musala.

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