News 21 Dec 12

Jablanica Crimes Witness Recalls Beatings in Museum

Testifying at the trial for crimes in Jablanica, a Bosnian State Prosecution witness says that he heard that “Nihad was a man to be afraid of”.

Justice Report
BIRN
Sarajevo

Ivan Jozic, former member of the Croatian Defence Council, said that he was captured in April 1993 by the Bosnian Army and that he was held in the basement of the old municipality building for a month before being transferred to “The Battle of Neretva” Museum, where guards said “bad things about Nihad”.

The Bosnian prosecution charges Nihad Bojadzic, former Deputy Commander of “Zulfikar” Unit in the Bosnian Army, for having beaten up and sexually abused Croat detainees in “The Battle of Neretva” Museum.

The witness said that, after the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina had occupied Grabovica, near Mostar, in May or June 1993, members of “Zuka’s Unit” came to the Museum.

“They beat everybody up. They beat me a little as well. They beat the guys from Grabovica more brutally than others,” the witness said, adding that he did not see Bojadzic on that occasion.

However, the witness recalled meeting Bojadzic, when he came to the Museum, lined detainees up and told them that there was no point in being member of Croatian Defence Council, but it would be “smart” to join the Bosnian Army.  

Jozic said that, while he was held in detention, he frequently performed some works for the Bosnian Army in the Jablanica surroundings, adding that this meant that he brought water and food to soldiers on frontlines, constructed bunkers and so on.

“I was among a group of people, who went to military positions at Ilijino brdo. I was severely wounded by a grenade,” he recalled.  

As he said, while he was treated at a hospital in Jablanica, he met a Croat soldier Ilija Kaleb, who mentioned to him that “Nihad shot him in his leg”, so he ended up at the hospital.  

Two more Prosecution witnesses were examined at this hearing. They testified about rape of two Croat females. Witness Ruza Marijanovic was brought to “The Battle of Neretva” Museum, along with other local residents of Doljani village, near Jablanica, following an attack by the Bosnian Army on July 28, 1993.

She told the Court that soldiers came to the Museum and said: “You, in that shirt, and you, in that shirt, come here!”. Then they took them away.

“When they came back, I opened the door ajar. Witness H was lying on the floor, crying,” the witness said.

As she said, other women told her that “some members of Zuka’s Unit” took them to Rogic’s houses in Donja Jablanica and raped them. According to the charges, the “Zulfikar” Unit Command was located in those houses.

Witness Olivera Rotim, who too was taken from Doljani to the Museum, recalled her first night in the Museum, when a few men took protected witness H and a “13 or 14 years old” girl away.

“They looked tearful on the following day. Rumours had it that they had been raped,” she said.

The trial is due to continue on January 17.

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Background

Timeline – Cuska Case

Timeline of events in the case against 13 former Serb fighters charged with committing war crimes in the villages of Cuska, Zahac, Ljubenic and Pavlac in Kosovo in 1999.

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