Jezik / Language:
19 December 2007

Kurtovic: Final Prosecution Witness

The final Prosecution witness has testified about the military undertakings of indictee Zijad Kurtovic and the Dreznica Independent Battalion.
During the evidence presentation process against Zijad Kurtovic, the state Prosecution has examined Esad Sejtanic, its final witness. At the next hearing, scheduled on January 10, the prosecution will present its material evidence and thus complete this stage of the trial.

Kurtovic, a former member of the Army of BiH, is charged with involvement in the detention, torture and maltreatment of Croatian civilians and prisoners of war in the All Saints Roman catholic church in Donja Dreznica in October 1993. The indictment, which contains 11 counts, alleges that Kurtovic was commander of the Military Police Squad with the Dreznica Independent Battalion.

Esad Sejtanic, who was commander of that battalion from December 1992 to July 1993, said that the battalion's Military Police Squad was tasked to "guard the headquarters" and "checkpoints located by M17 highway".

The witness has known Kurtovic since he first came to the battalion. The witness further claims he knows his military undertakings, but he does not think that Kurtovic was commander of the Military Police Squad, but an ordinary military policeman, "a good one" in fact.

"He was a brave fighter and a good policeman. He used to be engaged in guarding of the checkpoint by M17 road, where we had many problems. Whatever I asked him to do, in my capacity as Battalion Commander, he executed in a correct manner. All members of the military police were brave men, who were not afraid of danger," said Sejtanic.

Answering Defence attorney Fahrija Karkin's questions during cross-examination, the witness said that his unit did not hold any prisoners of war in Dreznica.

"The only persons we arrested were members of the Army of BiH. We gave them lessons in morality and told them they were obliged to defend their houses," said Sejtanic, adding that these arrests were not performed by military policemen from Dreznica, because "they were in charge of guarding the headquarters", while "the bravest of them" were on the frontlines.

The witness claims that, before the conflict between the ABiH and Croatian Defence Council (HVO), the "complete structure" of HVO had left Dreznica, while "about ten Croatian civilians" had stayed in Dreznica and "we did not make any problems for them".
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