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Celebici Trial: Inching Towards A Conclusion

Tribunal Update 83: Last Week in The Hague (29 June-4 July 1998)

Last week, the defense of the third co-accused Hazim Delic - who, according to the indictment, was a deputy commander of the camp and a direct executioner of several crimes allegedly committed there, including two cases of rape - began presenting its evidence.

Alleged victims of those rapes - Grozdana Cecez and Milojka Antic - testified before the court last year in public hearings, without the aid of identity-protection equipment (see Tribunal Updates 20, 22, and 24).

Delic's defense counsel, Sarajevo lawyer Salih Karabdic, announced in the opening address that, during the coming weeks, the defense intends to summon witnesses who will dispute the testimonies of Cecez and Antic.

The three witnesses called to the stand last week by Delic's defense were trying to prove another point, which Karabdic also announced in his opening address: that Celebici's prisoners were not "innocent civilians" but "rebels" who took up arms in order to oppose the legal authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, block roads, and obstruct the free movement of people, all of which they did in cooperation with alien forces (JNA and paramilitary formations from Serbia) that carried out an aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992.

As members of Territorial Defense units (out of which the Bosnian army evolved in the later stages of the war), the three witnesses participated in the "liberation" of Serb villages in the vicinity of Konjic, during which "armed rebels" were captured and taken to the Celebici prison under escort of the HVO military police.

According to their statements, illegal arms had been found in the houses of Antic and Cecez, which is why they were arrested. One of the witnesses claimed that he used to bring coffee to Cecez while she was in prison and even brought her flowers on one occasion. The witnesses alleged that the prisoners were treated well, and that their families were allowed to visit them three times a week.

They also said that the accused Delic was a member of the military police of the HVO, and that in that capacity he took part in the interrogation of the inmates and in the searches for hidden weapons in their homes.

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