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COURTSIDES: Ljubicic Trial

Former commander pleads not guilty over Lasva valley crimes.

Former Croat military police commander Pasko Ljubicic pleaded not guilty last week to all counts of an expanded and elaborated indictment.

Though the prosecution added no substantive factual allegations, the indictment has been expanded from 11 to 15 counts, with further details of an alleged attack on the central Bosnian village of Ocehnici - where five civilian women were killed.

Ljubicic is charged with individual and command responsibility for crimes allegedly committed by his troops in the Lasva valley, the gravest of which occurred in Ahmici on April 16, 1993.

According to the indictment, Ljubicic directly participated in the attack on Ahmici, where all Bosniak homes “were completely destroyed, mosques blown up and more than 100 civilians killed". Other alleged crimes included attacks on Bosniaks in Busovaca, Vitez and Ocehnici.

Ljubicic was charged with crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war. No date has been set for the trial.

The prosecution is to supply Ljubicic’s counsel with several taped testimonies from other related trials, which have dealt with the actions of the defendant and those of the military police. The defence will then decide if it is to refute evidence that has already been proven before the court.

The trial of Ljubicic will be the fourth in The Hague relating to the attack on Ahmici, and follows the Blaskic, Kordic and Kupreskici cases.

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