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14 October 2015
News

Witness at Bijelo Polje War Crimes Case Describes Forced Labour

Emina Dizdarevic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
A state prosecution witness testifying at the trial of five former members of the Bosnian Army said he was detained in Bijelo Polje and forced to dig trenches everyday.
Enes Curic, Ibrahim Demirovic, Samir Kreso, Habib Copelj and Mehmed Kaminic have been charged with participating in the unlawful arrest and detention of Croat civilians in the municipality of Mostar from June to December 1993. The civilians were subjected to severe physical and mental mistreatment during that time.

Curic was a member of the 49th Mountain Brigade of the Bosnian Army and the manager of a detention facility in a school and other buildings in Potoci. Demirovic was the commander of the 47th Mountain Brigade of the Bosnian Army. Kreso was the head of medical services with the military unit of the Mountain Brigade (active in the Bijelo Polje area), while Copelj and Kaminic were members of the Bosnian Army.

Demirovic, who was also a member of the 449th Eastern Herzegovina Mountain Brigade of the Bosnian Army, has been charged with the rape of a woman in Potoci in 1993.

State prosecution witness Ante Andric testified at today’s hearing. Andric said the Bosnian Army came to Bijelo Polje in the municipality of Mostar and detained him along with other Croat civilians in a school building.

“First we went to Omerika’s houses. About 50 people had already been brought to those houses when I arrived. Eighteen of us were chosen to be members of a work squad. I was 61 at the time. Omer Tifura was in charge of the work squad. After that we were transferred to the school building. We made bunkers and dug trenches for the Bosnian Army,” Andric said.

Andric said Enes Curic was in charge of the prisoners and that he provided them with food and firewood.

“I used to see Curic in Omerika’s houses. He would send women to go out and cook food. He was imprisoned for seven days because he went with us to collect firewood...He was present in the school building as well. He was appointed something like the head of the prisoners. He took care of them,” Andric said.

According to Andric, Omer Tifura decided who would dig trenches with a police officer. He said he was wounded in August 1993 and that a detainee named Stanko Zovko got killed.

“A bullet passed below my chin. It scratched me and hit him in the chest,” Andric said. He was exchanged 155 days later.

The trial will continue on October 21.
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