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31 May 2007
News

First Defence Witness Testifies in the Lucic Case

BIRN BiH
A former HVO Commander from Kresevo who is standing as a defence witness in the case of Kreso Lucic claims that Bosniaks were held in temporary detention centers with the aim of ensuring their safety.
Ivo Kulis, the first Defence witness taking the stand in the case of Kreso Lucic, former commander of the Military Police of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), gave testimony about conflicts that took place against the Army of  BiH in Kresevo and the subsequent detention of Bosniaks indetention centres.  

The State Prosecution considers that Kreso Lucic, as a responsible person, ordered and took part in the capture of civilians in Kresevo municipality during June and July 1993. He is also charged with having personally participated in the torture of detained Bosniaks in the 'Elektroprivreda' building, where the HVO Military Police HQ was located.

According to the testimony of Ivo Kulis, who was, during the war, a commanderof the 3rd Battalion of the HVO in Kresevo, the fighting in that city started on 17th June 1993. 

"A big part of Kresevo was attacked and shot at by rocket grenades. The attack by the Army of BiH was intensive and violent, with the involvement of many soldiers and a lot of equipment. Members of the Kresevo defence forces did not have any combat experience. This can be proven by the fact that we had more than 50 casualties within the first month," said Kulis.

The witness has spoken about the "stationing" of Bosniaks from Kresevo in the Sunje warehouse and the Ivo Lola Ribar elementary school  which were turned into detention centres. 

"We decided to hide and protect the Bosniaks, because we were afraid that someone might kill them. A certain number of old and invalid people stayed in their homes while the others were stationed in these buildings. We stationed Croatre fugees from other places in the secondary school. They ate in the same kitchen with the Bosniaks", said Kulis adding that HVO had cooked 100 kilograms of meat on a daily basis in order to feed people in the detention centers.

The indictment alleges that Bosniaks from the villages of Rakova Noga, Crnici, Bjelovici, Bukve and Ramici were detained in these centers during June and July1993.

The witness has pointed out that the a fore-mentioned buildings, in which Bosniaks were stationed, were not "traditional detention camps". He has added that Sunje hangar was under the jurisdiction of civil police, commanded by one Josip Topic.

The hangar was used for the internment of Bosniak men, as well as Croats who did not want to perform their military duties. Some were even allowed to go home to visit their families and have a bath. I know that some were made to under take forced labour, but people would also volunteer to go. We mobilized everybody at the time, even women in a local bakery shop, who were making pies", said the witness.

When asked by the Prosecutor, during cross-examination, why men were separated from women in the buildings where Bosniaks were detained, the witness responded that this was done "due to lack of space".
Speaking of the indictee, Kulis said he had come from an "honorable family" and that he had performed his work "diligently."

The trial continues on 1st June.
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