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Relota Participated in Murder of Three Civilians, Protected Witness Says

25. June 2015.00:00
A protected witness testifying at the Josip Relota trial said the defendant and others killed three of his neighbours in the village of Luka in Busovaca in January 1993.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Relota, a former member of the Nikola Subic Zrinjski Brigade of the Croatian Defense Council, has been charged with participating in the murder of three civilians on the night of January 26 or 27, 1993. Relota was allegedly accompanied by two other soldiers. After having shot the civilians, Relota and the other perpetrators threw an explosive device at them.

Protected witness B1 told the cantonal court of Novi Tratnik that when the conflict between the Croatian Defense Council and the Bosnian Army began, he hid in his house with three of his Bosniak neighbours. According to B1, Relota went to his house accompanied by a few other soldiers and interrogated them.

“He said, ‘Oliver was killed. Do you know who killed him? Turks killed him.’ Then he ordered us to take off our jewelry. He ordered his men to go out into the corridor by gesturing with his head. We heard rifles cocking. All three of them came in and started shooting at us. I jumped underneath an armchair. Then I heard footsteps. An explosive device was thrown at us through the window. After that I fainted,” B1 said.

B1 said when he woke up, he saw that his neighbours were dead. He ran away to a neighbouring house and surrendered himself to the police.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Branka Praljak asked B1 to state the exact date and time of the day of the murders. B1 said he didn’t remember the exact date and wasn’t sure whether the murders took place during the first or second half of January. B1 then asked that the public be excluded from the hearing in order to maintain his protective measures. A transcript of testimony he’d given at the Hague Tribunal was read aloud in the courtroom.

The trial will continue on July 10.

Kenan Kavazović

This post is also available in: Bosnian