Uncategorized @bs

Hague Jails Bosnian Croat Leaders For 111 Years

29. May 2013.00:00
The Hague Tribunal has convicted six Bosnian Croat leaders of war crimes in the short-lived unrecognised statelet of Herzeg-Bosna, giving them sentences totalling 111 years.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia found Jadranko Prlic, Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoje Petkovic, Valentin Coric and Berislav Pusic guilty on Wednesday of taking part in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at forcibly removing Bosniaks from territories under Bosnian Croat control during wartime in an attempt to create a ‘Greater Croatia’.

Prlic was jailed for 25 years, Stojic, Praljak and Petkovic for 20 years each, Coric for 16 years and Pusic for ten years.

The six former senior leaders of the short-lived Bosnian Croat statelet called Herzeg-Bosna were convicted of taking part in war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murders, rape, sexual assault, the destruction of property and the deportation of Bosniaks in 1993-94.

The verdict said they intended to “permanently remove and ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims and other non-Croats” from the territory of the newly-established Herceg-Bosna, which they wanted to attach to a planned ‘Greater Croatia’.

Croat nationalists declared Herzeg-Bosna, or the ‘Herzeg-Bosna Croatian Community’, independent from Bosnia in 1991, with the town of Mostar as its capital, but it was never recognised by any other country and ceased to exist in 1994.

Explaining the verdict, judge Jean Claude Antonetti said that top Croatian officials including late president Franjo Tudjman were active participants in the criminal enterprise.

“The conflict between the Croatian Defence Council and the Bosnian Army had an international character, since Croatia exercised operational control over the Croatian Defence Council,” said Antonetti.

All six defendants held senior political or military roles from 1992 to 1994.

Prlic was prime minister of the Herzeg-Bosna Croatian Community, Stojic was a military chief with the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, while Praljak was a senior Croatian Army officer, assistant Croatian defence minister, and later the commander of the Croatian Army’s main headquarters.

“Members of the HVO committed systemic persecution of Bosniaks during 1993. Thousands of men were detained regardless of whether they were members of the armed forces, while women, children and the elderly were arrested and deported from Bosnian Croat territories. These acts were accompanied by murders, abuse and robberies,” said Antonetti.

The judges found that Praljak played a prominent role in supplying the HVO with arms and commanded its operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Petkovic was chief of the HVO’s main headquarters and later on deputy supreme commander, while Coric was chief of the HVO’s military police directorate.

Pusic was convicted for his role as president of the commission in charge of the HVO’s prisons and detention facilities and head of the prisoner exchange service.

The court found that Bosniaks, including women, children and the elderly, were held in detention centres in terrible conditions, deprived of food, water and medical care. According to the charges, many detainees were forced to perform hard labour or gather corpses during dangerous combat situations.

“People were held in shocking conditions,” said Antonetti.

Erna Mačkić

This post is also available in: Bosnian