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9 December 2015
News

Witness Describes Forced Labour of Civilian Prisoners in Mostar

Emina Dizdarevic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

A state prosecution witness testifying at the trial of five former members of the Bosnian Army said she and other civilian prisoners depended on defendant Enes Curic during their detention in Meke in the municipality of Mostar. She said Curic used to bring the prisoners food.

Enes Curic, Ibrahim Demirovic, Samir Kreso, Habib Copelj and Mehmed Kaminic have been charged with participating in the detention of Croat civilians who were subjected to severe physical and mental mistreatment in the municipality of Mostar from June to December 1993.

According to the charges, Curic was a member of the 49th Mountain Brigade of the Bosnian Army and the manager of a detention facility in a school building and other buildings in Potoci, Demirovic was the commander of the 47th Mountain Brigade of the Bosnian Army, Kreso was the chief of the military medical unit of the Mountain Brigade which was active in the Bijelo Polje area, while Copelj and Kaminic were members of the Bosnian Army.

Demirovic is also charged with an incident of rape which occurred in Potoci.

State prosecution witness Jozika Ivankovic said she was captured and taken to Meke on June 30, 1993. She said Croat civilians were detained in two houses in the area.

“Curic came and we depended on him. He governed us. He had a military uniform from the Bosnian Army. He was with us from day one. He used to bring us food and other supplies,” she said.

After seven days of detention in Meke, Ivankovic said she was taken to Mostar and then to a school building in Bijelo Polje in the municipality of Mostar. While she was detained at the school building, she said she was ordered to work outside of the detention site on several occasions.

“I went to a house in order to clean it. Curic came and said he needed hardworking women. Soldiers escorted us to the house and brought us back,” Ivankovic said.

Ivankovic said she and other female prisoners were ordered to evacuate a wounded man from the Neretva river. She said Curic said he needed four women, and soldiers escorted her and three other female prisoners to a church in Bijelo Polje.

“We went down to the Neretva. A man swam across the river to the wounded man with a mattress, while we held the rope and pulled the wounded man out of the river. The Bosnian Army was in the monastery. That place wasn’t safe, but there was no shooting, not a single bullet was fired,” she said.

During cross-examination, Ivankovic said Curic never mistreated her and that he always treated the prisoners correctly.

Darko Knezevic, a former member of the Croatian Defense Council’s medical staff in 1993, also testified at today’s hearing. He said he was ordered to work at the dispensary in Bijelo Polje. He said on June 30, 1993, he was woken up by shooting near the dispensary.

“Somebody began shooting at the dispensary. Somebody was calling, ‘Doctor, doctor!’ We agreed that Kreso would go out. A few minutes later he returned and said we were surrounded and should surrender. I had no weapons. There was only one rifle in the building. I think it stayed there,” he said.

He said Bosnian Army soldiers ordered the dispensary staff to tie each other up with shoelaces. After that they were taken to the basement of Boro Zovko’s house. Knezevic said Kreso was not with them in the basement, so he assumed he was on the first floor of the house.

The trial will continue on December 23.

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