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1 June 2007
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Lucic: Conflicts in Kresevo

BIRN BiH
During the ongoing trial of Kreso Lucic, a former member of the HVO who served in Kresevo denies allegations about inhuman conditions in Bosniak detention centers.
Defence witness Zarko Pavlovic, a former Operations Officer of the Third Battalion of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) in Kresevo, has denied that Croatian forces took part in attacks on Bosniak villages in the vicinity of Kresevo.

"The HVO could not move one inch ahead. We were only defending ourselves.It would have been insane to try anything when there were 6000 of them and we were only 900", Pavlovic concludes.  

The indictment, containing four charges, alleges that Lucic and other members of the HVO Military Police committed crimes against Bosniak civilians in the territory of Kresevo municipality in June and July 1993.

He is also charged to have participated in attacks on the villages of Rakova Noga, Crnici, Bjelovici, Bukve and Ramici. Civilians were forcibly taken away from these villages and detained in Ivo Lola Ribar elementary school and Sunje warehouse in Kresevo, where they were kept in inhumane conditions and forced to work on a daily basis.

Zarko Pavlovic told the Court that Croats and Bosniaks in Kresevo "were fighting jointly against the Army of Republika Srpska" at the beginning of the conflict between the Army of BiH and HVO.

"In the beginning, we functioned as one army", the witness recalls.

The witness claims that, in Kresevo in early 1993, "tension s increased" between Croats and Bosniaks, and it was obvious that "the Army of BiH was digging trenches". An attack followed on 17 June 1993.

"It started with selective shelling of the bakery, ambulance and police station. Afterwards, the Croatian village of Pirin was  attacked", said Pavlovic.

"All militarily capable Croats in Kresevo municipality were then mobilized to dig trenches along the first front line. Had we not done this, we feared the worst would  happen to us", the witness claims.

Answering questions posed by Prosecutor Mirko Lecic (who has replaced Prosecutor Slavica Terzic) during cross-examination, the witness said that he had known about the civilians stationed in the elementary school and the warehouse, but they had been "refugees who had come to us".

Pavlovic added that he did not know anything about living conditions in the centers, as they "were not under his jurisdiction".

The trial continues on 4th June 2007.
 
 
 
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