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6 July 2009
News

Bastah et al.: Name Change

BIRN BiH
Two Defence witnesses tell the Court that Goran Viskovic helped Bosniaks in Vlasenica during the course of 1992.
Nada Gavric, whose name was Nadja Kurtagic prior to 1992, said that she had known Goran Viskovic since 1974, adding that he "visited me frequently" during the course of the war, "asking me about my kids and offering help".

"My husband had died a short time before the war started. I had two kids to support by myself. Goran visited my young son very often. They would talk with each other. One day Goran picked him up and they went to the Crisis Committee in Vlasenica together. When they came back, I saw him holding a paper, indicating that my son could work as a civil and military hairdresser in our shop. This paper helped us a lot," witness Gavric said.

The State Prosecution charges Viskovic, as a former member of the Military Police Squad with the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, and Predrag Bastah, a former member of the reserve police forces, with participation in the capture, detention, deportation and murder of Bosniaks in Vlasenica.

Gavric said she lived in Vlasenica "during the course of the war and I never faced any problems".

"Nobody came to our house. As far as I know some Muslim houses were searched, but we did not have any problems during the war. Most people had escaped prior to the conflict. In view of the fact that we decided to stay in the town, in September 1992 I submitted a request to the Police Station, asking for a change of my and my kids' names. We did this on our own. No pressure was put on us to do it," Gavric said.

Answering questions pertaining to Viskovic, she said that she used to see the second indictee in Trgoprom shop, when he "stopped by, bringing supplies for local people".

"Whenever he came he would ask me how I and my kids were doing. This happened a hundred times during the course of the war," Gavric said, adding that she never heard anyone say that Viskovic had participated in crimes committed against Bosniaks in Vlasenica during 1992.

The second Defence witness, Slavko Novakovic, told the Court that he worked as a Secretary with the Vlasenica Municipal Assembly until 1991, adding that from May to September 1992 he worked as "commander of the soldiers deployed at the checkpoint just outside the town".

"During my term as the municipal assembly secretary, inter-ethnic relations were violated by the election campaign in 1990. An atmosphere of fear was present all the time. One could see the disagreement among people, generating uncertainty. People then started talking about various kinds of preparations and distribution of weapons," Novakovic said.

This witness said he was tasked with "controlling the departures and arrivals of citizens" at the joint military and police checkpoint in Vlasenica as of May 1, 1992.

He said that while being deployed at the checkpoint he saw "many Muslims leaving the town using permits issued by the municipal authorities".

"Those who stayed in the town used to get humanitarian aid, just like the Serbs. I know Goran Viskovic very well. Following the beginning of the war, I used to see him at the locations where humanitarian aid was distributed to people. He did not personally distribute the food, but he visited the places, because some individuals misused the aid in order to make some profit for themselves. For this reason, the military and police took care of that. Goran was present at those locations several times," the witness said.

The trial is due to continue on Thursday, July 9.



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