At the war crimes trial of former Bosnian fighter Edin Dzeko, witnesses testified about beatings and blackmail by soldiers in the southern town of Jablanica in 1993.
Protected witness ‘J2’, a former member of the Croatian Defence Council, told Dzeko’s trial in Sarajevo on Tuesday that he was detained at the museum in Jablanica and taken to do forced labour.
He recalled that once he was taken to the Rogica Kuce neighbourhood, which was the headquarters of the Bosnian Army’s ‘Zulfikar’ unit, where he was abused after a soldier pointed him out by saying: “Dzeko, this is the guy.”
“Two soldiers took me from behind, and the third one pushed my head into water. They hit me with bats on the back,” said the witness, claiming that the abuse lasted for an hour, during which he was also hit with a concrete block.
According to the witness, the man he thought was Dzeko was standing two metres away, saying “drown him, kill him”.
Dzeko is charged with war crimes committed in the village of Trusina near Konjic in April 1993 and in Jablanica, against civilians and prisoners of war of Croat nationality.
He is also charged with participating in the illegal detention of eight Croat civilians in the Zulfikar detachment’s headquarters in Jablanica in September 1993.
The prosecution says that Dzeko mistreated imprisoned civilians by beating them and forcing them to stand on a road that was being shelled by the Croatian Defence Council. According to the indictment, Dzeko took money from two civilians in exchange for their lives.
The second protected witness at the trial on Tuesday, testifying under the pseudonym ‘J3’, said he was also detained in Rogica Kuce.
He said that Dzeko came and asked for his pickup truck, and that he was also told by Bosnian Army troops that he must pay 25,000 Deutschmarks if he wanted to save his life.
After telling the soldiers that he did not have that kind of money, he was told to collect as much as he could. J3 said that Dzeko drove him to see his sister and wife, where he got 3,500 Deutschmarks.
The trial will resume on March 19.