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2 December 2015
News

Curic Conveyed Orders Regarding Mostar Prisoners, Witness Says

Emina Dizdarevic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

A state prosecution witness testifying at the trial of five former members of the Bosnian Army said he was in charge of detained Croat civilians and a work squad in wartime Mostar. He said he received his orders from defendant Enes Curic.

Enes Curic, Ibrahim Demirovic, Samir Kreso, Habib Copelj and Mehmed Kaminic have been charged with participating in the detention of Croat civilians who were subjected to severe physical and mental mistreatment in the municipality of Mostar from June to December 1993.

According to the charges, Curic was a member of the 49th Mountain Brigade of the Bosnian Army and the manager of a detention facility in a school building and other buildings in Potoci, Demirovic was the commander of the 47th Mountain Brigade of the Bosnian Army, Kreso was the chief of the military medical unit of the Mountain Brigade which was active in the Bijelo Polje area, while Copelj and Kaminic were members of the Bosnian Army.

Demirovic is also charged with an incident of rape which occurred in Potoci.

State prosecution witness Esad Tipura testified at today’s hearing. Tipura said the Bosnian Army entered Bijelo Polje in the municipality of Mostar on June 30, 1993. He said Omer Tipura told him to hold detained Croat civilians in “Omerika’s houses.”

He said they eventually took the civilians to Mostar, while a group of able-bodied men stayed behind. He said they formed a work squad and went to various locations every day to perform forced labour.

“After some time the military police said the work squad should be located in Skender’s houses. At the time Curic appeared several times in order to convey orders from the command, and said nobody should harm the civilians,” Tipura said. On September 30, 1993, he said they received an order to transfer the work squad to a school building in Bijelo Polje.

Tipura said he was ordered to obtain food from logistical services for the detainees in the school building. He said Enes Curic was in charge of the school.

“I brought food from logistics services every morning. Sometimes I did it, and sometimes Curic did. We risked our lives in order to provide food to those people...Curic and I used to accompany the civilians to an orchard so they could pick fruit. We did that until they threatened to shoot us,” he said.

During cross-examination, Tipura said he didn’t know who issued their orders. He said Curic simply conveyed orders and hid members of the work squad so they could rest.

Drago Maric, a former ambulance driver with the Croatian Defense Council in 1993, also testified at today’s hearing. He said he was at his medical unit’s premises on the night of June 30, 1993, when a burst of gunfire woke him up.

“We had no idea what was happening. We heard someone calling, ‘Doctor, doctor.’ Dr. Dino Vlaho went out. They said they needed another doctor. Samir Kreso went out. When he came back, he said Zuka’s army had entered Bijelo Polje. He said we should surrender and we would be exchanged. We handed our rifles over to the doctor, who gave them to a soldier,” Maric recalled.

He said some unknown soldiers ordered them to tie themselves up with shoelaces. According to Maric, the soldiers took them to the basement of Zovko’s house.

The trial will continue on December 9.
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