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4 January 2008
News

Bjelic et al: Indictment for Vlasenica Crimes

BIRN BiH
An indictment against two former members of the Territorial Defence of BiH has been confirmed.
The Court of BiH has confirmed an indictment against Veiz Bjelic and Ferid Hodzic, former members of the Territorial Defence of BiH (TO BiH). The two men are charged with having committed crimes against civilians and prisoners of war in Vlasenica area in 1992 and 1993.

The indictment was originally confirmed in late November last year, but the court only made it available to the public in early January. This happened after a decision was made to conduct the trial in Sarajevo, despite the prosecution's request to refer the case to a competent local court.

The only count of the indictment charges Hodzic - as commander of the TO in Vlasenica based in Rovasi hamlet, near Cerska village - with having ordered the arrest of a group of Serbian civilians and their detention in "premises normally used for keeping of cattle" between May 1992 and the end January 1993.

The prisoners were held in those premises for seven months. During that time, other TO members "treated them in an inhumane way". One prisoner died due to the consequences of this maltreatment. It is alleged that Hodzic neither ordered an investigation into this death, nor did he undertake any measures to prevent crimes against the prisoners.

The same count of the indictment charges Bjelic with having guarded the prison in Rovasi hamlet, as member of the TO Vlasenica from June 1992 to end January 1993, and with having raped one female prisoner. He is also accused of helping other member of his unit to injure the prisoners.

The indictment's explanation states that the prosecution intends to examine 21 witnesses and present 52 pieces of material evidence.

The Court of BiH has scheduled the plea hearing on January 7.
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