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21 October 2015

Witness Describes Forced Labour and Detention of Civilians in Bijelo Polje

Emina Dizdarević BIRN BiH Sarajevo

A state prosecution witness said Enes Curic captured him in Bijelo Polje in the municipality of Mostar, and said he was forced to perform forced labour while still a minor.

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 Bosnian state prosecution alleges that at the 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 the medical service 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 also been charged with the rape of a woman in Potoci in 1993.

State prosecution witness Dalibor Zovko testified at today’s hearing. Zovko said he was captured in Bijelo Polje on June 30, 1993. He said Enes Curic, a soldier nicknamed Sultan and a man named Celo captured him.

“I knew Curic from before. They said the Bosnian Army entered Bijelo Polje and that we were their prisoners...We were transferred to Meke, where we were held for seven or eight days. There was shooting and shelling. We weren’t safe in that house,” Zovko said.

Zovko said he was transferred to a school building in Potoci in July 1993 and was detained in the school gym.

“I wasn’t physically mistreated. Curic was the manager. That’s what they told us. He personally told us he was the prison manager. I was a minor, but I performed labour, including digging trenches, on the frontlines. We worked almost every day,” Zovko said.

Zovko said a protected witness known as B was taken out in the evenings and brought back in the mornings. He said she looked “totally exhausted.”

State prosecution witness Boro Zovko said he was captured on June 30, 1993. According to Zovko, two soldiers, who introduced themselves as military police officers, entered his house.

“They asked me where my money was. They mistreated me and my wife. They took me towards the medical service. I called Kreso...I was standing in front, I didn’t enter the building,” he said.

He said Kreso left the medical service building accompanied by members of the Croatian Defense Council whom he had captured. He said Kreso was dressed in a civil uniform and had a handgun in his holster.

“Members of the Bosnian Army ordered us to enter my house with them...We were transferred to the basement, while the other captured civilians were upstairs...I knew Kreso, since he was a doctor with HVO [the Croatian Defense Council]. He even offered me medical assistance. He gave me medication,” Zovko said. He recognized Kreso in the courtroom.

Responding to cross-examination questions, Zovko said he didn’t know how Kreso captured the soldiers in the medical service building, because he didn’t enter the building

The trial will continue on October 28.

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