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Foca Rape Trial - Prosecution Witnesses Recalled To Rebut 'Girlfriend' Claims

Tribunal Update 196 Last Week in The Hague (October 23-30, 2000)

Kovac is charged with rape and sexual enslavement. Several women have testified he kept them prisoner in his flat in the town where they were raped and sexually abused by the accused and other soldiers. The defence contest Kovac was in fact protecting the women.

Defence witnesses told the court Witness 87 was seen in Kovac's company at several cafes around Foca during the summer of 1992 and that the couple "looked to be in love".

Last week Witness 87 said Kovac had indeed taken her out to cafes in the town, but denied being in love with him.

"I was not in love, nor did I look like I was his girlfriend. I think that all the people who saw us in the cafe knew who I was and why I was with him," she said.

Before being brought to Kovac's flat, Witness 87 had been detained along with other women at the Foca secondary school and a house near the town. The women were raped at both locations. Kovac's defence lawyers do not contest either of these points, but claim the situation at the accused's flat was quite different and cannot be described as enslavement.

"Unlike the time when you were at the secondary school building and Karaman's house, at Kovac's you had a flat at your disposal, you moved freely, went out to cafes and no one mistreated you," the defence counsel said.

"For me, it was the same, but if you wish one could say that there is a difference between being raped by one or two, and being raped by twenty soldiers," Witness 87 said. She insisted she was not free to leave the flat.

Prosecutors have not summoned additional witnesses to further challenge the defence claims of Kovac's two co-accused, Dragoljub Kunarac and Zoran Vukovic. Kunarac claims he was seduced by one of the women accusing him of rape, while Vukovic says he was impotent as a result of an injury incurred in 1992. The court is still awaiting the medical report on Vukovic's condition.

Closing statements will be made on November 13, 14 and 16.

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