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Blaskic Trial: Who Lied Under Oath?

Tribunal Update 133: Last Week in The Hague (5-11 July, 1999)

Last week, the prosecution summoned two "rebuttal witnesses" and submitted several documents, mainly in an attempt to prove that accused Blaskic "gave false statements about various issues" during his marathon trial.

More specifically the prosecution disputes his claim that he only learnt about the crimes in Ahmici on Apr. 22, 1993, that is six days after they were committed. On 16 April 1993, over one hundred Muslim civilians in the village were murdered and its Muslim owned homes, businesses and two mosques were torched and torn down.

Former European Community Monitoring Mission (ECMM) member Henk Morsnik told the judges that he had "heard some talk about Ahmici" on Apr. 17, 1993. Three days later he went to the village accompanied by liaison officers of the British UN contingent (Brit-Batt), the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Bosnian Croat (HVO) forces.

On their way home, as far as Morsnik remembers, the HVO liaison officer was dropped off at the Hotel Vitez, where Blaskic's HQ was based at the time. Thus, the Prosecutor says, it would be logical that he told his commander what he had seen in Ahmici on that day.

Also, Blaskic complained in his testimony that no one wanted to help him in the investigation of what had taken place in Ahmici, but Morsnik told the court that if asked, the ECMM would have helped him if it had been asked to.

Meanwhile, Blaskic's defence counsel Anto Nobilo told Tribunal Update that they had submitted several documents that he said will "refute the claims" made by the former supreme commander of the HVO, General Milivoj Petkovic, in his testimony to the court.

Petkovic, Blaskic's former commander, had testified via a video-link closed session on Jun. 23 on the chain of command linking Blaskic and the various Bosnian Croat forces operating around Ahmici.

The defence said they were "deeply dissatisfied" with what Petkovic said on that occasion (See Tribunal Update 131). The defence's references to Petkovic's evidence were again given in closed session.

The penalty for making a false statement under oath before the Tribunal is a maximum fine of fl 200,000 (100,000 dollars) and/or seven years imprisonment.

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