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12 June 2007
News

Lucic: Parties to a Conflict

BIRN BiH
The Court hears about the start of the conflict in Kresevo and tasks performed by Bosniaks who were detained in camp Sunje.
Four Defence witness at the trial of Kreso Lucic have spoken of the beginning of the conflict in Kresevo and have denied allegations made by Prosecution witnesses about their roles and the role of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) during the war.

Lucic, a former HVO Military Police commander in Kresevo, is charged with involvement, during the conflict between the Army of BiH and HVO from April to September 1993, in attacks on villages in the vicinity of Kresevo and forcible taking away, detaining and torturing of captured Bosniaks.

Ante "Antika" Maric claims to have been the chief of HVO engineering squad in Kresevo during the war. A building squad, which used to perform works on separation lines between the two armies, was also under his jurisdiction. The defence and the witness claim that the squad comprised of Croat civilians, mostly pensioners, who were able to work but were not fit for military service. Bosniaks brought from detention camp Sunje helped them in their work.

"I would get those people in the morning and they would go to work with my people. During evening briefings, I would tell them how many people I needed and where, and I would get them in the morning. I do not know who selected them, but they were brought by civil police," Maric said and added that the Bosniaks who were taken to work were treated in the same way as the Croat members of this squad.

The indictment alleges that Bosniaks were kept in poor conditions in several detention camps on the territory of Kresevo municipality and used as forced labour.

Maric denied allegations made by one prosecution witness who said that he was maltreated by Maric and Lucic.

"I think I performed all activities in a professional and fair manner during the war. I am very sorry to hear these stories," said Maric.

Mato Tadic, who was a chief of the building squad, has confirmed that Bosniaks from the detention camp used to work with them. But, he has also confirmed that they were treated in the same way as the Croats.

"There was no difference. When you are at the front line, you try to save your life," said Tadic.

Vinko Kvesic and Zeljko Gracic have testified about the attack by the Army of BiH on Kresevo and the surrounding villages in June 1993.

Calling upon the verdicts passed by the Hague tribunal and describing the events mentioned in the indictment, the prosecution has said that HVO forces, including military police, "have performed a wide and systematic attack on Bosniak civilians on the territory of Kresevo municipality", thus continuing the attacks performed on the territory of Central Bosnia as a whole.

Vinko Kvesic claims that, in June 1993, the Army of BiH attacked the village of Pirin, in which he lived. The local population moved out after the attack. Kvesic claims that, one day later, Army of BiH forces entered the village and totally burnt it. According to his words, local residents have not yet returned to the village.

Zeljko Gracic, an HVO ambulance driver in Kresevo, has said that, on the first day of the attack by BiH Army on Kresevo on 17 June, he was arrested and taken to detention camp Silos near Tarcin where he spent 43 days. Answering trial chamber chairman Davorin Jukic's question if he knew indictee Lucic at the time, the witness said yes.

"He was a military policeman, and I heard he was some kind of a commander," said Gracic.

The next hearing is set for 19 June.
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