Jezik / Language:
9 March 2016

Witness in Livno Trial Confronted with Differences in Statements

Džana Brkanić BIRN BiH Sarajevo
A former member of the Livno military police testified at the trial of three former members of the Croatian Defense Council’s military police. The witness said defendant Zdenko Andabak was his commander. He said the second defendant in the case, Muamir Jasarevic, was at the headquarters, but he didn’t specify which one.

“I don’t know. As a soldier, I had no access to decisions on appointing people to their positions. We considered them assistants, deputies, training instructors,” former military policeman Damir Miskovic said. He said he became a member of the military police in May 1992, when Andabak was their commander.

Zdenko Andabak, Muamir Jasarevic and Sead Velagic have been charged with the detention, torture and murder of Serb civilians in the Ivan Goran Kovacic school building in 1992. The indictment against them contains 29 counts.

According to the charges, Andabak was the commander of the military police of the Croatian Defense Council for the North-Western Herzegovina Operational Zone, Jasarevic was his deputy, while Velagic was a member of the crime service of the Croatian Defense Council’s military police.

According to a statement Miskovic gave to the Bosnian state prosecution in March 2015, Muamir Jasarevic was the assistant commander. Explaining the differences between his statements, Miskovic said that Jasarevic was at the headquarters.

Miskovic said he was a member of the military police crime service in August 1992. He said Ibrahimovic was the chief at the time, but he didn’t know who appointed him. In a statement he gave during the investigation in 2012, Miskovic said Zdenko Andabak appointed Ibrahimovic as the chief of the crime service.

“I don’t know, I am not sure. I may have said that. Prior to that examination I had been reading stuff on the internet,” Miskovic said, explaining the differences between the statement and his testimony.

Miskovic said he saw “a large group of Serbs was escorted to the gym” on or around August 10 or 11, 1992. He said “they were considered to be armed”.

He said he did not personally participate in the arrest of those individuals, but he did participate in “weapons search activities.” He said he he received orders to conduct search activities from squad commanders and even from duty officers.

Prosecutor Lejla Konjic said that in 2015, Miskovic said he conducted the searches under orders from Andabak, Babo (Muamir Jasarevic’s nickname), Ibrahimovic and other men from Zagreb. Miskovic confirmed this.

Miskovic said a few women were present in the school building. He said he took one of them from the gym to his aunt’s home, because he knew her.

“Sometime around August 20 I went to Ljubuski for a three-week training, while those people stayed in the gym. I don’t remember if anyone else was there when I returned,” Miskovic said. He said Sead Velagic, whom he identified in the courtroom, went to the training with him.

Miskovic said he knew the detainees were examined, but did not know about the beatings. He was then presented with his statement from 2012, in which he said some beatings occurred. “Perkovic hit one man,” he said in response.

The prosecutor then read a part of the statement indicating that Miskovic saw Muhamed Ibrahimovic hitting a detainee with a rubber baton and that Jasarevic, also known as Babo, hit a detainee two or three times.

“They could write whatever she wanted. They made suggestive questions,” Miskovic said.

In his previous statement, Miskovic said there were “12 persons whose heads were shaved.” Testifying at today’s hearing, he said he first heard about the “celavci” [the bald men] from the media.

Defendant Zdenko Andabak asked Miskovic who was present when he gave his statement last year. Miskovic listed a note taker, prosecutor Konjic and a younger prosecutor, who allegedly threatened him.

“He took some papers from the Hague out and said it was hard to find a job and I should keep mine. I felt like committing suicide at that moment,” Miskovic said.

Prosecutor Konjic said this wasn’t true. Defense attorney Bajro Cilic read from the report that prosecutor Konjic, a note-taker and Miskovic were present during the statement.

Cilic asked the witness questions related to the threats, which the trial chamber prohibited. After warning him several times, the chamber fined him 3,000 BAM and removed him from the courtroom. Miskovic’s examination was interrupted.

The trial will continue on March 16.

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