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The trial of Abduldahim Maktouf continued on Monday with the cross-examination of defence witness Ramo Durmis, a former leader of the Al Mujaheed unit.
Durmis said he was one of the eyewitnesses of an abduction of detainees from the Orasac camp near the town of Travnik on October 18, 1993,for which prosecutors hold Maktouf responsible.
Maktouf has been charged with the illegitimate arrest, detention and abduction of five Croat civilians in Travnik, as well as with assisting fighters of the Al Mujaheed unit in related illegal activity.
But Durmis told the trial chamber Maktouf could not have been a member of the Al Mujahid unit because he was a follower of the Shiite interpretation of Islam and also because he was engaged in trade, which is a sin under Islamic law, known as the Sheriyat. The Mujaheed unit generally rallied followers of the Sunni Wahabi Islamic movement.
The prosecution alleges that Maktouf drove one of two vehicles used to transport the abducted prisoners, and took part in planning the kidnap and the events which followed it.
However, Durmis said the vehicle used to transport the prisoners was in the possession of a certain Abu Dzafer, who drove it to the Orasac camp and put the prisoners on board.
“That night, I learned from Abu Haris from the unit that the Shura, the supreme Al Mujaheed council, had decided to abduct these people. Personally, I was against the decision because they were civilians, but no one could have changed the decision,” Durmis said in court.
According to his testimony, he saw two vehicles involved in the October 18 events.
“Abu Dzaferdrove the van. About 10 people, mostly foreigners, took part in the kidnapping.I did not count the number of hostages, but I learned the next day that they were abused and that one of them was decapitated,” Durmis said.
When asked by judge Hilmo Vucinic why the hostages were abused, the witness said that“their abductors wanted to get even with them in line with the Sheriyat because they had probably done something to draw the wrath of the Al Mujaheed unit.”
The trial continues on Tuesday when former state prosecutor Jonathan Smith is due to testify via a video link from the United States.