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The trial of Atif Dudakovic opened on Monday at the Bosnian state court, with the former commander and 16 Bosnian Army soldiers accused of participating in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at removing the Serb population from the Bosanski Petrovac, Kljuc, Bosanska Krupa and Sanski Most areas during the Bosnian war.
The indictment charges Dudakovic with “enabling, allowing and agreeing on” the murders of captured Bosnian Serb Army soldiers by units that were subordinate to him.
Prosecutor Marijana Cobovic told the court she would prove that in the period between September 13, 1995 and mid-November that year, there was a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population by the Fifth Corps.
“The goal of the attack was not only to liberate the territory, but it also targeted the civilian population through persecution and the multiple deprivation of lives, not distinguishing between civilians and Bosnian Serb Army members who had laid down their weapons. Mercy was only shown to a few civilians,” Cobovic said.
She said that at least 65 civilians were killed in Bosanski Petrovac and surrounding villages, at least 42 were killed in Kljuc, ten in Bosanska Krupa, and at least 100 in Sanski Most and its surroundings.
“The murder of civilians and the destruction of their property were not justified by military necessity,” the prosecutor said, adding that civilian rather than military buildings were targeted in the attacks.
She said that members of the Fifth Corps destroyed, damaged or burnt 12 religious buildings in Bosanski Petrovac, four in Kljuc, six in Bosanska Krupa and 15 in Sanski Most.
Dudakovic is also charged with crimes against civilians during the summer of 1994, during a conflict between the Fifth Corps and members and supporters of the National Defence force of the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia, a self-proclaimed Bosniak-led wartime breakaway statelet.
“The injured parties had the status of protected persons, civilians and supporters of the National Defence of the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia, who did not participate in combat activities,” the prosecutor said.
Dudakovic, a popular Bosniak military commander, commanded the Bihac enclave in north-west Bosnia during the war. After the conflict, he became the general commander of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s army.
His arrest in April 2018 caused anger among Bosniak politicians and war veterans, but was praised by some Bosnian Serb politicians.
On trial alongside Dudakovic are former Bosnian Army soldiers Ekrem Dedic, Sanel Sabic, Ibrahim Siljedic, Safet Salihagic, Adis Zjakic, Hasan Ruznic, Redzep Zlojic, Samir Solakovic, Fatmir Muratovic, Muharem Alesevic, Husein Balagic, Edin Domazet, Ejub Kozenjic, Ibrahim Nadarevic and Said Mujic.
The trial will continue on April 22, when the defence lawyers will deliver their opening statements.