Bosnian Army Officer Tried for Prozor Killings

14. November 2016.17:05
Former Bosnian Army officer Enver Buza went on trial over the killings of 27 Croat civilians - the youngest aged ten - by his troops in the Prozor municipality in 1993. Buza, the former commander of Bosnian Army’s Prozor Independent Battalion, went on trial on Monday at the state court in Sarajevo.

According to the charges, members of battalion carried out an attack on the population of the village of Uzdol and the hamlets of Krize, Zelenika and Raici in the Prozor municipality on September 14, 1993, killing 27 Croat civilians.

The indictment says that ten-year old Stjepan Zelic was the youngest victim, while Luca Zelenika, who was 87 at the time, was the oldest.

“The defendant was physically present in the vicinity of the crime scene and watched the course of the operation,” prosecutor Sanja Jukic told the court.

“Although he knew about the crimes, as information on the crimes had been submitted and made available to him and an investigation was required, he only prepared an official note and failed to undertake certain actions in order to criminally process the crime perpetrators,” Jukic said.

The prosecution presented a video recording made by members of the Croatian Defence Council right after the crime was committed, depicting the bodies of the civilians who were killed.

“These civilians and victims did not participate in the combat. They were killed only because they had not left their homes and because they were Croats,” Jukic said.

The defence however said that the indictment was not properly based on the facts, and also disputed the defendant’s command responsibility for the killings.

“The defence denies that the defendant had immediate findings concerning the death of the civilians and that he failed to undertake a possible investigation procedure,” said defence lawyer Ismet Mehic.

The trial of Mehmed Alesevic, a former Bosnian Army soldier charged with committing crimes against civilians and prisoners of war in the Buzim area, also began at the state court on Monday.

The first prosecution witness, Mustafa Miljkovic, testified that he was captured as a member of the National Defence of the Western Bosnia Autonomous Region in March 1995 and taken, along with three other fighters, to the former Radoc hotel in Buzim, where they were put in detention.

He said he was beaten up six times.

“They used to beat us with batons, bottles, planks and fists and kick us. They would hit us with whatever was at hand,” Miljkovic said.

He confirmed that he remembered having been hit by defendant Alesevic once during one of the beatings.

He said Alesevic kicked him in the head, but he was unable to specify when exactly it happened.

He said he found out Alesevic’s full name after the war.

Alesevic is charged on 13 counts with committing crimes in Buzim from December 1994 to the end of 1995.

According to the charges, he was a clerk with the Military Police Squad of the 505th Buzimska Brigade of the Fifth Corps of the Bosnian Army at the time.

In its introductory statement, the defence said the prosecution had no evidence to support the allegations contained in the indictment.

It said that the defendant was young at the time, carried out the tasks of “a clerk” and had no commanding role in the prison.

Marija Taušan