Jezik / Language:
20 April 2011

Gasal et al: Civilian Authorities "Responsible for Iskra"


At the trial of four indictees charged with crimes committed in Bugojno in 1993, witness Selmo Cikotic, Bosnia's current minister of defence, abides by his statement that the Army was not responsible for members of the Croatian Defence Council held as prisoners at Iskra stadium.

Cikotic, who stuck by his statement despite the military documents that were presented to him at the trial, testified for a second time on Wednesday at the request of the Trial Chamber.

He was invited again because members of the Chamber wanted to clarify certain issues after having found out about Cikotic’s testimony before the Hague Tribunal in 2004.

Cikotic, who was Commander of the Western Operational Group with the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina 1993, said that civilian authorities were responsible for Croatian Defence Council, HVO, prisoners.  

“The unit that captured soldiers in combat was responsible for those prisoners until they were handed over to the State Exchange Commission and Ministry of Internal Affairs, MUP, and wartime Presidency of Bugojno municipality,” said Cikotic, who testified in consultation with a legal advisor.

Nevertheless, the witness said that he thought that the Commander of the 307th Brigade and Chief of the Municipal Headquarters of the Territorial Defence could assess which prisoners should be released, adding that indictee Enes Handzic could do this as well.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina charges Enes Handzic, former Assistant Commander for Security of the 307th Brigade with the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nisvet Gasal, Musajb Kukavica and Senad Dautovic with war crimes committed against Croats in Bugojno.

The indictment alleges that Gasal was Manager of the detention camp at the stadium, Kukavica was Commander of Security in the detention camp and Dautovic was Chief of the Public Safety Station and Commander of the Town Joint Command.

Cikotic said that Dautovic commanded all forces in the town of Bugojno for “about ten days, during combat” in July 1993.

“He informed me about the problem of a large number of prisoners of war. I think that he said, as far as I can remember, that many of them should be released, because there were no reasons or conditions to keep them in detention,” said Cikotic, who testified at this trial for the first time at the request of Handzic’s Defence on April 21 and 28, 2010.

Cikotic said that in December 1993, he did not know about “the problems” related to prisoners or disappearance of people who had been taken away from the stadium.

He said that he saw the military documents pertaining to prisoners at Iskra stadium for the first time during the trial. He said that he did not know about the order giving instructions to the 307th Brigade on how to treat prisoners, issued in September 1993 and signed by his Assistant for Security Kemal Djafic.

“I think that the order was prepared without my knowledge,” said Cikotic, who did not change his opinion about the Army’s responsibility for the Iskra stadium after having seen the mentioned document.

Cikotic said that this was the first time he saw orders to bring prisoners which were signed by Handzic. He explained the fact that military policemen guarded the stadium by saying that they were helping out, adding that he did not know if Gasal and Kukavica had been members of the Army prior to being deployed to the prison.

“I remember that the Executive Board of the wartime Presidency rendered the decision about the establishment of the prison at Iskra stadium, but I do not know whom they appointed as its manager,” Cikotic said.

The trial is due to continue on Wednesday, April 27. As per an order issued by the Trial Chamber, the Prosecution is supposed to submit a revised indictment by that date.


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