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27 February 2009
News

Hodzic: No Contact With Prisoners

BIRN BiH
A Defence witness claims that Ferid Hodzic did not have any competencies in regard to military forces located in Cerska.
Sejfudin Hodzic, who said he was a "former member of Cerska Defence Department", told the Court that he knew that Ferid Hodzic was commander of the Joint Staffs in Cerska, but he did not have "effective control over any military forces or prisoners".

The State Prosecution contends that Ferid Hodzic was commander of the Territorial Degence in Vlasenica in 1992 and 1993, whose commander was in Cerska, in Rovasi hamlet. The "Stala" ("Barn") prison was located in this hamlet. Serb civilians and prisoners of war were detained in it.

Hodzic said that after the "fall of Zvornik, Vlasenica and the surrounding villages" in April 1992, he and his family joined other non-Serb residents, who escaped to Cerska, in which there were "more than 30,000 refugees".

"When we got to Cerska, the area was crowded with people, who even slept on barn roofs. As I was capable of serving in the military, they took me to the Joint Staffs in Rovasi, where I performed the function of a defence officer," the witness said.

He further said that at that time Ferid Hodzic was commander of the Joint Staffs, but he was involved in just one operation, when "a detention camp in Zvornik, in which Bosniaks were held", was liberated. The witness said that, after this operation he had "a marginal role".
 
He also told the Court that, despite the large number of refugees, people attempted to organize life in Cerska. To this end "expert refugees" formed a court martial, prosecutions and detention units.
 
"The prison for Court Martial detainees was called Stala. It was situated in Rovasi village, next to the Joint Staffs building. The name of the Court Martial judge was Ramiz Duric. He was the one who appointed Radif Mujanovic as the detention camp manager. Therefore the army did not have any competencies for the detention unit," Hodzic said.

According to Hodzic, the indictee never had "any contacts with prisoners, because the Stala prison had its own guards".

"The guards acted according to a rulebook. Prisoners used to get food every day. I remember looking through my window and seeing them get food. It was particularly difficult for me because I was hungry myself," the witness recalled.

The next hearing is due to take place on March 6, 2009, when the Prosecution will cross-examine this witness.
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