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30 August 2007
News

Ljubicic: 'Jokers' unit suspected of Ahmici crimes

BIRN BiH
Ljubicic trial told that the 'Joker' unit of the Fourth HVO Military Police Battalion may well be responsible for the massacre in Ahmici.
Colonel Bryan Watters, who testified at the trial of  Pasko Ljubicic, spoke of the conflict between the Army of BiH and the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) in April 1993 and a massacre committed in the village of Ahmici near Vitez.

Ljubicic is accused of involvement in crimes committed in the Central Bosnia area.

Watters, who is a British Army officer, was present when the conflict between the Army of BiH and HVO broke out in Vitez. At the time, he was a deputy commander of a peace mission company.

"We were taken aback by the series of HVO attacks on 16 April 1993. The attacks showed that they were part of a well planned coordinated action covering the territory from Gornji Vakuf, via Prozor, to
Vitez," Watters has said.

Ljubicic, commander of the Fourth Military Police Battalion which was a part of HVO forces in Central Bosnia, is charged with having planned and executed attacks on Vitez and Busovaca and the surrounding
villages, which resulted in the killing of Bosniak civilians and destruction and pillaging of their property.

Watters explained that, during the HVO attack on 16 and 17 April 1993 in Vitez, heavy artillery was used. As an example, he told the court that "a whole house was destroyed after being hit by one missile
alone".

The witness has also recalled that, on 18 April, a huge truck-bomb explosion happened  when the mosque in Vitez was hit and "many civilians were injured and killed". The witness has characterised this event as a "terrorist act".

Watters described for the court how he "pulled the injured out from the ruins and took many survivors to his military base".

The witness also recalled a trip through the village of Nadioke, when a group of civilians blocked the traffic by lying on the road.

"I spoke to these people. HVO members had asked them to leave their houses or they would be killed," Watters said, adding that he "saw a group of HVO soldiers wearing black uniforms and emblems representing a joker ­ a playing card".

Ljubicic is charged with having control over the Fourth HVO Military Police Battalion and the Jokers who, allegedly, committed the attacks on the villages of Nadioke, Ahmici, Santici and Pirici when most
residents were killed or captured and their property destroyed.

Watters claims to have visited Ahmici village after the massacre.

"The Muslim part of the village was totally destroyed. We saw corpses, of adults and children, lying on staircase," Watters said, adding that they buried 96 persons from that village.

The witness considers that the Jokers unit committed the attack on the Ahmici village, but said that he "did not see the indictee".

The defence opted not to cross-examine Watters. The trial is due to continue on September 10.
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