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Lelek: Indictee ‘s Tears in the Courtroom

4. July 2007.00:00
Former Visegrad policeman again denies the allegations in the indictment and accuses Prosecution witnesses of dishonesty.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

During cross-examination, indictee Zeljko Lelek denies once again that the allegations in the indictment are true and instead claims that Prosecution witnesses have given false statements.

“During the war I never even cursed or looked at someone with anger,” he said, with tears in his eyes. “During the past 14 months since my arrest horrible things have been happening to me and my family.”

Lelek is being held responsible for crimes against humanity committed on the territory of Visegrad municipality during 1992. The indictment alleges, inter alia, that Lelek, a former policeman in Visegrad, acted jointly with the Beli orlovi paramilitary group commanded by Hague indictee Milan Lukic and that Lelek is guilty of murders, deportation, forcible detention and rape.

During the direct examination held on 2 June this year, Lelek said that Bosniaks had been a majority in Visegrad before the war. Asked by the Prosecutor Bozidarka Dodik, during the cross-examination, if this is still the case, Lelek answered that “there is no census” but he thinks that “the Serbs are the majority population”.

According to Lelek, Bosniaks from this municipality voluntarily left Visegrad after the Uzice Corpus of the Yugoslav National Army had entered the city in May 1992. Before leaving, they had handed over their weapons. The indictee had personally made official notes of the handover and issued certificates, as he had been working in the material and technical service within the police.

He has also said that he made official notes of the suffering on Visegrad bridge, of murders and taking away of people, but he has not been able to provide details of these happenings.

“I do not know the nationality of the killed people, but I heard about the murders and made a note about it,” Lelek claimed, adding that he did not see who committed the crime as watching the such an act being performed would make one an accessory.

He has also told the Court that he “heard” that some civilians were detained in Vilina vlas spa in Visegrad, that even rapes took place there, but when he visited the spa with the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and foreign journalists, in June 1992, he did not see anything.

According to the indictment and statement of witnesses, Lelek took part in the rape of women forcibly detained in Vilina vlas.

The indictee has repeated his allegations that Bakira Hasecic, a prosecution witness and President of ‘Women Victims of War’ association, was responsible for his detention.

Lelek claims to have “obtained criminal charges against Bakira Hasecic for war crimes” from the police archives in Visegrad, in April 2006, and that he was arrested afterwards.

“Bakira Hasecic is responsible for all the things happening to me. She sends allegations against me to the prosecution, which works according to them. If I were in Visegrad I would try to bring the process against her to the end,” Lelek has said. He has not been able to answer the prosecutor’s question if the alleged process against Hasecic was cancelled after his arrest.

Lelek also claims that the Prosecution witnesses, influenced by Bakira Hasecic, gave false statements.

Judge Paul Melchior Brilman concluded that Lelek’s allegations imply that “Hasecic is a very important person” and asked the indictee and his defence attorney Radmila Radisavljevic when they intend to invite her to testify.

“We do not intend to invite her as she already testified as a prosecution witness,” Radisavljevic has responded and added that the defence did not feel the need to cross-examine this witness because “this person is well known for her behaviour”.

The next hearing is scheduled for 17 July, when the Defence will examine three witnesses.

This post is also available in: Bosnian