Defense Witnesses Say Nikola Maric Helped and Sheltered Them During War

8. January 2016.00:00
A defense witness testifying at the Nikola Maric trial said the defendant saved his life on August 28, 1993. Maric has been charged with crimes against humanity in the Prozor area.

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Maric, a former member of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO), has been charged with 25 counts of murder, torture and other inhumane acts against the Bosniak population in Prozor from November 1992 to October 1993.

A protected witness known as C testified at today’s hearing.

“I climbed onto a truck transporting people to an exchange location with my wife and mother-in-law. A soldier said, ‘Get down, you bloody Baliya [an ethnic slur for Bosniaks], what are you doing there?’ He gripped his gun as if he wanted to kill me. At that moment Nikola Maric arrived by car. He yelled at him, ‘No,’ and saved my life,” C said.

C said he and a few other able-bodied Bosniak men were taken from the village of Visnjani in the municipality of Prozor to the Prozor secondary school, where he was detained until mid-December 1993. He said he was then transferred to detention camps in Mostar and Dretelj.

C said he didn’t see Maric in the secondary school in Prozor. He said he hadn’t heard anything negative about the defendant.

Also testifying at today’s hearing, Slobodanka Milovic said she visited the defendant’s parents in the village of Lug in the municipality of Prozor with her father-in-law and his wife.

Milovic said she stayed at the Maric household for a day along with the Rajkovics, a Serb family. She said Nikola Maric also visited them in Prozor and helped them escape the area.

She said the Maric family helped transport them to the village of Borovnice for safety reasons. She said they took shelter in Borovnice for eight days before going back to Prozor.

“One day in 1993 Nikola Maric appeared at my door with a backpack full of food, because he knew my husband had been captured by the Bosnian Army in Konjic. He said, ‘The children must not go hungry,’” Milovic said. She said she would owe a debt of gratitude to Maric for the rest of her life.

She said Bosniak families that lived in her father-in-law’s building didn’t reside there during the entire war. Responding to a question by the prosecution, Milovic said she didn’t know what happened to Bosniak families in July 1993.

Responding to a question from the defendant, Milovic said he couldn’t have participated in the conflict in Prozor in October 1992, because it was impossible to enter the town. The state prosecution said this claim was based on Milovic’s opinion.

The trial will continue on January 15.

Džana Brkanić

This post is also available in: Bosnian