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16 March 2016
News

A Friendly Disarmament Operation

Lamija Grebo BIRN BiH Sarajevo
Testifying in defense of Zdenko Andabak, a witness said he heard the defendant informing the commanding officer on dead and wounded men and asking him to send an ambulance and police on the day when a disarmament operation was conducted in Grborezi village in Livno municipality.
Ante Colak, former head of “Petar Kresimir Cetvrti” Livanjska Brigade, recalled having been at the tactical-operational center on July 21, 1993 and heard the defendant talking to commander Stanko Vrgoc via communication means.

“I met him at the commander’s office on that day a short time after the events in Grborezi. He had a megaphone, grey-olive uniform and a blue hat that looked like the UNPROFOR beret,” the witness said, adding the defendant reported to the commander and got a new task.

Colak explained there were no conflicts between Croats and Bosniaks in the Livno area in July 1993. According to his testimony, the Livanjska Brigade consisted of about 4,200 people, including about 900 Bosniaks.

The witness said they “were under the necessity” of conducting the disarmament operation due to the military and political situation in other areas in order to prevent conflicts.

As he said, the operation was preceded by an unsuccessful meeting with Croat and Bosniak political representatives at which the parties should have agreed on execution of demobilization and handover of weapons without the use of force.

“The operation was a friendly and protective one. (...) Stanko Vrgoc issued an order to conduct the operation. (...) We did all we could to prevent open conflicts,” Colak said.

According to the witness’ testimony, a company of the Livanjska Brigade from Sector 1 was tasked with going to Guber, Komorani and Grborezi area in order to establish military security, while the operation was supposed to be executed by the Second Light Assault Battalion.

The witness said that, though an analysis of the operation, he found out that an ambush was organized in Grborezi and that a man with a machine gun was behind the injured parties’ house.

Andabak has been charged with leading the operation in Grborezi village on July 21, 1993, when members of the Second Light Assault Battalion of the HVO military police killed one and wounded another person. According to the charges, members of that Battalion then wounded one more person, whom Andabak killed.

It is alleged that the defendant then physically abused one civilian, ordering him to lie down, jumping on his stomach and breaking his two teeth with a rifle butt.

According to the charges, Andabak was the assistant chief of the Military Police Directorate for the North-Western Herzegovina Operational Zone of HVO and commander of the Second Light Assault Battalion of the HVO military police.

Responding to questions by the trial chamber, Colak said Andabak was at the military police headquarters. He said the defendant was just a coordinator between the commander of the Livanjska Brigade and the Second Light Assault Battalion.

The trial will continue on April 6.
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