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4 June 2007
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Lucic: Digging Trenches "Eased Boredom"

BIRN BiH
Kreso Lucic's defence witnesses speak about voluntary work of detainees in camp Sunje.
Three more defence witnesses at the trial of Kreso Lucic, a former military police commander with the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), have spoken about the situation in Kresevo in 1993.

In 1993, Franjo Markovic - a then chief of the HVO's security and information service, accompanied a delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during its visit to hangar Sunje, which was used as a detention centre during the conflict between the Army of BiH and HVO. He claims that Bosniaks were detained in the hangar "for their own safety".

"Life conditions were as good as they could be at that time. I remember a woman from the Red Cross commending us for how we treated the prisoners," said the witness.

Markovic has said that some people asked to be stationed in the hangar for their own safety. He has also said that the civilians detained in the hangar were not used as forced labour.

"There could be no force, because they wanted to go and dig trenches. They were bored, probably," Markovic concluded.

According to the indictment, Lucic participated, during 1993, in forcible taking away of Bosniaks and their detention in hangar Sunje, where they had to stay in bad conditions and were forced to perform hard work.

Pavo Vukoja, who was HVO commander for logistics during the war, claims that, "in the beginning, it was difficult" to provide food for Kresevo population.

"At that time, even HVO soldiers had only one meal in two days. Later on, when a kitchen was established, food was prepared for everybody. We used to prepare 3,500 meals a day," Vukoja explained.

He says that they "did the best they could" to provide food and both Croats and detained Bosniaks participated in the efforts.

Witness Ivica Nuic was a member of the Commission for Exchange of Prisoners in 1993. He says the commission cooperated with "the Bosniak commission".

"Exchange of civil and military prisoners were organised," the witness said, adding that Bosniaks would often bring bodies of killed Croats for exchange.

The trial continues on 5 June 2007.
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