Jezik / Language:
13 December 2013

Stealing People’s Lives

Mirna Buljugić BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Presenting her closing statement at the trial for crimes in Stolac and Capljina, the State Prosecutor says that it has been proved that Ivo and Veselko Raguz committed war crimes against the civilian population and that they should be “sentenced according to the law.”

“This was a betrayal, mass deportation of Bosniaks, brutality and stealing of parts of lives from people who did not represent a danger to anybody,” said State Prosecutor Remzija Smailagic.

She said that this was not about desertion, as claimed by the Defence, but all men, who were unarmed, were taken away and detained in the “Kostana” hospital and detention camps in “Dretelj”, “Gabela” and “Branko Sotra” school building.

Smailagic said that the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina had proved that “the cleaning of area was undertaken” and that all battalions of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, including the Fourth Battalion of “Knez Domagoj” Brigade, which was under Veselko Raguz’ command, participated in it. Ivo Raguz was a member of that same Brigade.

“The witnesses said that Veselko had a commanding function and that he controlled and ordered the deportation of Bosniak civilians from the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina territories,” the Prosecutor said.

According to her closing statement, being an experienced commander, Veselko Raguz “must have known that the civilians would be abused and that some would even die in the mentioned facilities.”

“Veselko Raguz is an accomplice in the crime. One of the witnesses said that he saw him pointing a gun towards civilians, who were walking towards ‘Branko Sotra’ school building in Aladinici,” the Prosecutor said.

Also, the Prosecutor mentioned witness Ramiz Suta, who said that he saw Veselko in the Masline area, where he ordered civilians to get onto a truck, which then drove them to the “Kostana” hospital, where Veselko examined him. 

“Whenever Suta did not know an answer, Veselko ordered others to beat him,” Smailagic said.
She also mentioned the witnesses, who met indictee Ivo Raguz, who examined them in “Dretelj” detention camp together with Veselko.

“One witness said that they examined him alternately and that they did not prevent another person from connecting electricity wires to their ears, causing him to fall down from the bench when the high-voltage electricity was turned on,” the Prosecutor said.

She explained that it had been proved that civilians were first taken to “Kostana” hospital and then to “Dretelj” and “Gabela” detention camps, adding that some of them were also taken to “Branko Sotra” school building.
As she said, 2,270 men, including minors and many men above the age of 50, were detained in “Dretelj” detention camp on July 11, 1993.

The trial of Veselko and Ivo Raguz, who are charged with crimes committed against detained civilians in Stolac and Capljina in July and August 1993, began in December 2011.

According to the charges, Veselko Raguz ordered, assisted in or directly participated in the unlawful arrest and detention of civilians, resettlement of Bosniak women and children and physical abuse and torture of civilians.
The indictment alleges that Ivo Raguz participated in the physical abuse of detained civilians.

The Defence of the indictees are due to present their closing statements on December 23.

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