Jezik / Language:
25 June 2015

Witnesses Confirm Assault of Injured Party in Zelenika Trial

Sanela Gaković BIRN BiH Mostar

Witnesses testifying at the Ivan Zelenika trial described the injuries sustained by the injured party after he was allegedly beaten by the defendant.

Ivan Zelenika, a former member of the Croatian Defense Council, has been charged with the severe physical abuse of Muhamed Lalic, also known as Hamo, in his apartment in Mostar on the night of May 6 or 7, 1994. Lalic died during the course of the trial.

Zelenika is also charged with assaulting detainees from the Heliodrom detention camp while they were performing forced labour on Santiceva Street in Mostar.

Testifying for the cantonal prosecution of Mostar, witness Mirko Pejic told the trial chamber that Lalic, his neighbour, went to his apartment seeking assistance after he was beaten.

“At around 2am, we heard someone banging on our door. I opened the door and didn’t see anyone. The hallway was dark. I heard a voice coming from down the hall, saying ‘Mile, it’s me, Hamo.’ I looked down and I saw a man crawling. Without thinking I dragged him into the apartment. When I turned on the light, I saw that his head was covered in blood,” Pejic said.

Pejic said Lalic told him Zelenika had beaten him with a bottle.

“My deceased wife wiped the blood away with a cloth dipped in brandy and had him lie down on a bed,” Pejic said. He said he returned Lalic to his apartment, which was one floor below, later on.

Pejic said he told his neighbour, Pero Gabric, that Lalic needed someone to drive him to the hospital.

“I headed to my apartment with Pero, but I didn’t enter Hamo’s place with him. I don’t know what happened afterwards. I don’t know where he took him. They said they took him to a doctor,” Pejic said.

Pero Gabric, their neighbour, said he found Muhamed Lalic in his apartment and said it was evident that his ribcage had been injured.

“I saw fingerprints on his cheeks and bruises on his ribs. He told me he had fallen down. Of course, I didn’t believe him, because you can’t fall that way. I held him up by the arm while we were walking towards the car. I drove him to the hospital, where they kept him,” Gabric said.

Witness Gabrijel Lasic said that on the following day he noticed that Lalic’s apartment door was open. He entered and saw Lalic’s furniture scattered around the apartment. Lasic said he heard from neighbours in the building that Zelenika had beaten Lalic and that Pero Gabric had driven him to the hospital.

Boris Blagojevic, who worked as a surgeon at the Regional War Hospital of the Croatian Defense Council in Mostar, also testified at this hearing. Blagojevic said he didn’t remember Lalic, but confirmed that his discharge letter was signed by him. He read the final diagnosis, which stated that Lalic received numerous injuries on his body, mainly on the head and chest area and that his ninth and tenth ribs were broken. The discharge letter indicated that the injuries were caused by another person.

Blagojevic said that the discharge letter also indicated that Lalic stayed at the hospital from May 7 to May 18, 1994.

A statement given by Lalic to the prosecution in 2005 was read at this hearing, in which he’d indicated that Ivan Zelenika and Goran Vukoje assaulted him in his apartment.

The trial will continue on September 9.

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