Jezik / Language:
27 February 2008

Gasal et al: Alleged Pressure on Witness

Prosecution witness claims he was pressured prior to his testimony.
Prosecution witness Drago Zulj, a former member of the Military Police Squad with the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) who was captured in Bugojno in 1993, has claimed that pressure was put on him ahead of his testimony at the Court of BiH.

He said "his school friend Mujo Durakovic" visited him and told him that the four indictees were not guilty of the crimes charged upon them.

"I told him it was up to the court to decide on that. However, all this made me scared and nervous," witness Drago Zulj said.

The State Prosecution charges former BiH Army members Nisvet Gasal, Musajb Kukavica, Enes Handzic and Senad Dautovic with having committed crimes against Croats in Bugojno.

Drago Zulj claims to have been captured, in July 1993, following negotiations between the Army of BiH and HVO. The witness said that Senad Dautovic took part in the negotiations on behalf of the Army of BiH.

The indictment alleges that, from July 18, 1993 to March 19, 1994, Dautovic was commander of the ABiH Joint Staffs for the Bugojno area. He and Enes Handzic, assistant commander for security with the ABiH 307th Brigade, are charged with having participated in planning, helping and preparing, as well as in capturing and unlawful detaining Croats in detention camps.

The captured soldiers, including Zulj, were originally taken to a furniture shop basement in Bugojno and then to the detention camp formed at the "Iskra" football stadium.

Describing the days spent in detention, Zulj said that prisoners were often taken to some locations to perform forced labour. Some of them never returned from those locations. "Stipica Zelic was one of them".

Cross-examined by Senad Kreho, indictee Nisvet Gasal's Defence attorney, the witness said that Zelic was taken from the stadium detention camp to perform forced works, before Gasal became the detention camp manager.

The indictment alleges that Gasal was manager of the camp located at the stadium from August 1993 to March 1994, and that Musajb Kukavica was commander of detention camp security. It further alleges that prisoners were often taken from the camp to perform hard labour in Bugojno and on the ABiH frontlines.

Asked by Fahrija Karkin, Defence attorney of indictee Enes Handzic, who ordered the prisoners to perform forced labour, Drago Zulj said he did not know.

"I think that the detention camp guards did not take us to those works. The persons who were in charge of the forces at the frontlines were the ones who decided what we would do and gave us commands," Zulj said.

Second Prosecution witness Ivica Klaric, a former HVO member captured in July 1993, spoke about the torture of prisoners.

"At night they used to call out some names and those prisoners were taken to a meadow where they were beaten. After one such beating, manager Gasal came to us and asked us who had done it. He promised it would not happen again," Klaric said, adding that some Meho and Ibro had been detention camp managers before Gasal took over.

When asked by Fadil Abaz, Defence attorney of Musajb Kukavica, the witness said that he saw his client in the detention camp very often and that his task was "to help prisoners".

Refik Serdarevic, attorney of indictee Senad Dautovic, wanted to know if  HVO members committed "any crimes" during the conflicts in Bugojno. The witness said he had heard of some crimes committed in Vrbanja place.

Third witness Stipica Djapic, former chief of medical services with the First HVO Battalion who was also  held at the stadium, said that medical staff were not allowed to visit the camp during the first days of his detention. Later on, the situation changed.

"Later on, a doctor used to come, who told occasionally brought all medical supplies to us," Djapic said.

The trial is due to continue on March 5, 2008, when three new Prosecution witnesses will be examined.
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