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COURTSIDE: Ljubicic Case

Ljubicic pleads not guilty to Ahmici killings

The fourth and probably last trial for crimes committed against Bosniak civilians in Ahmici, central Bosnia, opened its preparatory phase last week, with Pasko Ljubicic, former commander of the HVO military police in central Bosnia, pleading not guilty to all 11 counts.

More than a hundred Bosniaks, including women, children and the elderly, were killed in the HVO attack on the Lasva valley village on April 16, 1993, and all Bosniak homes burnt and destroyed.

Ljubicic is not only accused of responsibility and planning, but of personally taking part in the attack. Earlier, two Bosnian Croat leaders, Tihomir Blaskic and Dario Kordic, were found guilty of participating in planning the action, while two lower ranking HVO members were found guilty of taking part.

The indictment charges Ljubicic with persecution on political, racial and religious grounds in Ahmici and other Lasva valley villages; attacks on civilian targets; killings; violence; destruction; plunder and cruel treatment - acts qualified as crimes against humanity and violations of laws and customs of war. Ljubicic pleaded not guilty to each count of the indictment.

The prosecution will be presented by Mark Harmon, the US prosecutor who conducted the case against Blaskic. It intends to use the transcripts from the trial of General Tihomir Blaskic in this case, as Blaskic himself testified that Ljubicic led the Ahmici attack.

Ljubicic was transferred to the tribunal after surrendering voluntarily to Croatian police on November 9, a few days after the tribunal removed the seal from the indictment against him.

Vjera Bogati is an IWPR special correspondent at The Hague and a journalist with SENSE News Agency.

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