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COURTSIDE: Tuta & Stela Trial

New evidence of Croatia's role in the war in Bosnia
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The prosecution in the trial of the former HVO Convicts Battalion commander Mladen Naletilic "Tuta" and his subordinate Vinko Martinovic "Stela" last week produced documentary evidence to show Croatia's direct intervention in the war in Bosnia.


The prosecution aims not only to prove the two men's direct participation and superior responsibility for the attacks on and mistreatment of Bosniaks in Mostar in 1993, but also that the crimes occurred in the context of an international armed conflict in which the application of the Geneva conventions was an obligation to the warring sides.


After the prosecution had earlier produced witnesses to show Croatian army units were directly involved in the conflict between the local Croatian forces, HVO, and the Bosnian army, prosecutor Kenneth Scott last week tendered eight sets of bound documents as evidence, many from former Croatian president Franjo Tudjman's office.


This evidence is expected to prove Tudjman planned and controlled events that led to the Bosniak-Croat conflict through his influence over the Bosnian Croat leaders.


An investigator working for the prosecution, Marko Prelec, who searched Croatian war archives after they were made available last year, explained where the eight binders were found, to confirm their authenticity.


The judges did not allow him or the defence to comment on what the material proved. Instead, the defence questioned the legality of the prosecutor's acquisition of the documents. Kresimir Krsnik said the Croatian government was not entitled to surrender them without parliamentary approval.


Prelec replied, however, that the Croatian government had acted in accordance with the law when it allowed the tribunal to use the material.


The trial continues.


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