Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Foca Trial - Kunarac Claims He Was 'Seduced'

Tribunal Update 183 Last Week in The Hague (July 3-8, 2000)

Kunarac appeared as the defence's first witness. During his three-day testimony, Kunarac denied committing rapes, but said he had had a "sexual relationship" with one of the prosecution witnesses, but against his will.

"When I surrendered to S-For in 1998, I said that I felt guilt and had a guilty consciousness for [protected prosecution witness] DB. I surrendered in order to prove my innocence in relation to everything else," Kunarac said.

DB testified before the court that Kunarac had raped her. Kunarac claimed, however, DB had seduced him at the instigation of one of his friends. The accused claimed this friend had encouraged the relationship with DB in order to divert Kunarac from searching out "men who had raped women."

Kunarac said the accusations of rape levelled against him had affected him "as a man and a person." As a result he had investigated who was responsible for the alleged rapes. Although commander of a reconnaissance unit, Kunarac said, he did not exercise command responsibility over the soldiers in that unit - soldiers also accused of raping women in Foca.

During much of the time in question, Kunarac said, he was not in Foca but "in the field." When he returned to the town, the accused said he normally went to his parents' home or to the brigade headquarters.

One of the rape victims had told the court that on August 2 1992 she and six other girls were taken from Kalovnik by three soldiers, including one called Zaga - Kunarac's nickname. The women were transported to a house in Foca in the back of a refrigerated lorry.

"I do not remember how many times I was raped that night," one of the girls said.

Kunarac claimed, however, that on the evening of August 2 he had arrived in Foca "with a captured military vehicle and went straight to brigade headquarters."

Prosecutors begin their cross-examination of Kunarac this week.

The defence is challenging claims that Serbian forces attacked the Bosniak population of Foca in a "planned manner." They opened their case with historical background going back to the 14th century and the arrival of the first Serb inhabitants to Foca. A series of objections from the judges, however, pointing out the court was only interested in the alleged offences of the accused in 1992, halted this line of argument.

Kovac's defence lawyer, Momir Kolesar, switched focus to the fact the prosecution had called fewer than 20 alleged rape victims as witnesses. The majority of these women came from the same village, Kolesar said, which indicated the alleged abuse was "neither systematic nor widespread."

Kovac is accused of sexually abusing four women in his flat over a period of several months. Kolesar disputed this was enslavement because the women were not held there permanently. Nor did they "flee or seek help," he said.

Goran Jovanovic, representing Vukovic, said in his opening statement, the accused "was not the person portrayed by the prosecutor."

The defence also challenged the methods of identification used by the prosecution. The judges upheld one objection, concluding Vukovic could not be held responsible for the charges levelled by one witness who had failed to identify him in court.

Other defence objections were dismissed, however, including the argument that rape does not qualify as a crime of torture.