Witness Testifying at Hadzici Crimes Trial Says Defendant Released Him From Arrest

21. January 2016.00:00
A defense witness testified at the trial of eight former members of Bosniak military and police formations charged with war crimes in the municipality of Hadzici. Testifying in Fadil Covic’s defense, the witness, who worked on his farm in Pazaric during the war, said he was arrested on May 24, 1992 and was released on the same day by the defendant.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Fadil Covic is the former chief of the public safety station in Hadzici. He is on trial with Mustafa Djelilovic, Mirsad Sabic, Nezir Kazic, Becir Hujic, Halid Covic, Serif Mesanovic and Nermin Kalember for war crimes in the municipality of Hadzic. According to the indictment, the defendants were members of military and police authorities as well as managers or guards in detention camps.

They have been charged with the unlawful detention, inhumane treatment, and the physical and mental abuse of detainees. They also allegedly took detainees to locations where they performed forced labour.

Testifying at today’s hearing, defense witness Uros Tomanic said he was apprehended with his son and three other men and taken to the cultural center in Pazaric on May 24, 1992. He said he and his son were ordered to lean against a wall.

Tomanic said he heard someone ask, “Where is Uros?” When he turned around he recognized Mensur Covic and Nusret Selimovic. According to Tomanic, they pushed away a man with a rifle and took him and his son to an office in the cultural center, where Fadil Covic and his comrades were waiting.

“He offered us water and told us to take a seat. He asked me where my other son and wife were. I said they were at home,” Tomanic said.

Tomanic said Covic suggested he take his younger son as it wouldn’t be safe for him to be at his home. He said they were taken to Asim Selimovic’s house, where he spent the night.

The witness said he returned to his farm on the following day. He said he supplied eggs to a collective kitchen, a hospital in Suhodol, a shelter for children and youth in Pazaric as well as to refugees.

Tomanic said Covic was honest and straightforward, “considering what was happening during the war.” He said his son, who was arrested with him, was released and that he performed civilian tasks.

Tomanic said his brother was captured and held in Silos, a school building and Krupa, but he and his cousins didn’t want to be exchanged in November 1992.

Tomanic said approximately eight Bosniaks who were supposed to be exchanged never returned.

Tomanic said his brother and cousins told him nobody mistreated them during their detention.

When asked why Serbs were detained, Tomanic said that some of them were found in possession of weapons, while others were detained for security reasons as certain units in the area were hard to control. He mentioned the Rijecka and HOS [Croatian Defense Forces] formations.

Responding to a question by Djelilovic’s defense, Tomanic confirmed he had no problems with municipal bodies.

“A good neighbour is the most important thing. Wherever people had good neighbours, crimes couldn’t happen,” Tomanic said.

The trial will continue on January 28.

Albina Sorguč

This post is also available in: Bosnian