Jezik / Language:
27 February 2014

Blood Pouring out of Head

Amer Jahić BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Testifying at the trial for crimes in Jablanica, a witness says that he heard that indictee Nihad Bojadzic wanted to kill a prisoner, but Commander Zuka prevented him from doing it.

Protected witness M, former member of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, was detained in “The Battle of Neretva” Museum in Jablanica. The witness told the Trial Chamber that a member of “Zuka’s Unit” came and told him: “I have heard everything about you”, informing him that his comrade Ilija Kaleb had been “shot” and that he was at a hospital.

“He said that Nihad came up there and wanted to kill Ilija, so he brought Zuka, who saved him,” the witness said.

The indictment alleges that “Zulfikar” Unit was commanded by Zulfikar Alispago, also known as Zuka.

The Defence read a part of witness’ statement given to the Security and Information Service, SIS, of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna after having been released from detention in 1994. The statement indicates that the witness did not mention the story about Kaleb at all and that he mentioned Bojadzic in the context that he became commander after Zuka had left Bosnia and Herzegovina in late 1993.

According to the charges, Bojadzic, former Deputy Commander of “Zulfikar” Unit with the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ABiH, prevented doctors from giving medical assistance to a prisoner, while threatening the prisoner and asking him to give him money.

The witness also described the beating of prisoners within the Rogica houses complex, where, according to the charges, the “Zulfikar” Unit’s base was located. He explained that soldiers took him aside.

“Then they began beating me. Blood was pouring out of my head. I could hardly keep my eyes open,” the witness said.

The witness told the Court that Zuka appeared while the beating was still ongoing. After that all of the soldiers ran away.

The Defence presented an allegation that Bojadzic, not Zuka, prevented the mistreatment, asking the witness what he would say in response to that allegation. The witness said: “I would say nothing”. Responding to additional questions by the State Prosecution, the witness said that he differentiate between Bojadzic and Zuka.

The second protected State Prosecution witness, who testified under the pseudonym N, said that Bojadzic came after grenade shrapnel had wounded a cook in Prenj restaurant in the vicinity of “Zulfikar” Unit’s Base.

According to the witness, former member of “Zulfikar” Unit, Bojadzic yelled at the Croat prisoners, who were present at that location. The witness said that he stayed outside for up to two minutes, so he did not see that the prisoners were ordered to line up and that guards pointed their weapons towards them.

Bojadzic is charged with having lined prisoners up in front of the restaurant and ordered them not to move, while grenades were falling around them. At the same time he ordered guards to keep their guns pointed towards them. Responding to Trial Chamber’s questions, the witness mentioned two members of “Zulfikar” Unit, who looked like Bojadzic, so someone might mix them up.

The trial of Bojadzic, who is also charged with other crimes committed in Jablanica, is due to continue on March 13.

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