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26 March 2009
News

Hodzic: Indictee's Responsibility

BIRN BiH
An additional Prosecution witness claims the indictee "had control over the prison guards" in Rovasi hamlet, where Serb detainees were held.
Bego Uvalic, who appeared as an additional Prosecution witness at the trial for crimes committed in Vlasenica, said indictee Ferid Hodzic was commander of the Territorial Defence Staff, adding that guards in the prison, where Serb detainees were held, were subordinate to him.

"The prison was situated in Rovasi hamlet, in Vlasenica Municipality. The Territorial Defence Staff was based there as well. Serb soldiers were detained in this prison. I know that Ferid Hodzic arrested one of them and brought him there. There was one wounded person as well. Miso, who lived in the neighbouring village, was also detained, because he allegedly had a gun and threatened some people by
saying that he would kill us," Uvalic said.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina charges Ferid Hodzic, as former commander of the Territorial Defence in Vlasenica, with participation in the detention and physical and mental abuse of Serb civilians and prisoners of war in "Stala" prison in Rovasi hamlet.

The witness said the indictee "was the one who decided where the prison would be located", adding that he "appointed guards, who came from the Vlasenica area, just like Ferid Hodzic".

The witness told the Court that he had "never heard" of any female detainees in Rovasi, adding that he did not know if "anyone abused or wanted to abuse those prisoners". He further recalled that an armed soldier wanted to enter the room where the prisoners were held, but he was not allowed to do so.

"Since Ferid Hodzic's arrival in April 1992, everything was under his control. There were no civil authorities. I know that a civil protection unit, court and jury were part of the Staff," the witness said.

During cross-examination the witness said he was "not a member of the wartime Presidency of Vlasenica in July 1992", adding that he could not confirm why a Presidency decision had his signature on it.

"I am not sure that this is my signature. I became a member of the wartime Presidency of Vlasenica on December 23, 1992. I was officially informed of my appointment in February 1993," the witness said.

The Defence announced that it would ask a court expert to analyze the signature in order to determine whether this witness had actually signed it.

Court expert Abdulah Kucukalic, a neuro-psychiatrist who prepared findings and an opinion concerning witness Samir Music's capacity to testify before the Court, appeared at this hearing.

On the basis of medical reports concerning Music, Kucukalic determined that he suffered from "dissociated psychotic disorder", adding that his state of health was poor and he should be excused from testifying.

In his statement, which was read in the courtroom, Music said that he guarded the barn where the detainees were held, but he "was not aware that they were beaten up or raped".

After presenting several pieces of material evidence, the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina completed its evidence presentation.

The trial is due to continue on April 24.
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