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13 August 2013

Herceg Did not Give Orders in Dretelj

Selma Ucanbarlic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
Testifying at the trial for crimes in Dretelj, witness Toni Raic confirms that he saw Srecko Herceg in Dretelj, but he never gave him any orders.
As per a proposal by the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, parts of an audio recording made during the investigation were played in the courtroom. Listening to the recording, one could hear Raic, former member of the Croatian Defence Forces, HOS, say that he used to see Herceg during his stay in Dretelj.
“I think that Srecko Herceg was in charge of us at the end of our stay there, as he was always present, he was around and had some sort of a military rank,” the witness said during the investigation.
Responding to questions by the Defence of indictee Herceg, Raic confirmed that Herceg never gave him any orders and that he never saw or heard him give orders to anybody else.
Raic began testifying in April this year, but the trial was interrupted due to his bad health condition. At that time he said that he was under pressure when he gave his statement during the investigation. He testified again in June, saying that he did not remember the events related to the indictees. At that hearing Prosecutor Remzija Smailagic announced that she would listen to a recording made during the investigation in order to determine differences between the witness’ statements.
Ivan Zelenika, Srecko Herceg, Edib Buljubasic, Ivan Medic and Marina Grubisic-Fejzic, former members of HOS, are charged with crimes committed in Dretelj.
According to the charges, Zelenika is a former HOS officer, Herceg was Commander of Dretelj, Buljubasic was Deputy Commander of the military barracks in Dretelj, while Medic and Grubisic-Fejzic were guards. The indictment alleges that all of them participated in forcing detainees to perform hard labour and torturing them. It further alleges that several people died due to the consequences of the abuse.
During the playback of the recording one could hear the witness say that he did not know Edib Buljubasic well and that he thought that Buljubasic was Commander during a certain period of time. Testifying at the main trial, the witness said that he thought that Buljubasic was Commander of the military barracks in 1992.
During the investigation and at the trial Raic said that he did not know the person named Ivan Medic Poskok. While giving his statement during the investigation, he spoke about Marina Grubisic as well. He said that she too was present in Dretelj.
As the sound was bad, the audience at the gallery of the State Court courtroom was not able to hear one part of the recording, when Raic was asked whether he saw Herceg beating detainees.
Prosecutor Smailagic asked the witness why he said at the trial that he could not remember certain events, although he gave answers to those questions during the investigation. The witness responded by saying that he was mentally unstrung.
“Prior to the examination, some people, who introduced themselves as SIPA members, threatened me by saying that they could arrest me whenever they wanted. They copied my documents…” the witness said.

The trial is due to continue on August 20.

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