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

Herceg-Bosna Trial Hears From Veteran Witnesses

TU No 452, 12-May-06
Jadranko Prlic, Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petkovic, Valentin Coric and Berislav Pusic all held senior positions in the political and military structures of Herceg-Bosna, an area whose Croat leaders declared its a distinct “community” within Bosnia in 1991 and claimed republic status two years later.

British journalist Ed Vulliamy, who has previously given evidence several times at war crimes trials in The Hague, recalled time he spent in the Croat-dominated Herceg-Bosna region during the war in Bosnia, and visits he made to Croat-run detention facilities.

On trips to the Dretelj prison in Capljina municipality in August 1992 and September 1993, he recalled seeing prisoners in a bad way and being kept in humiliating conditions. On the second trip, detainees told him that some inmates had been killed and that on one occasion they had been locked up for 72 hours and had had to drink their own urine.

Prosecutors say the Dretelj facility was initially filled with Serb prisoners but was later used for Muslims. At its height, the prison is said to have held more than 2,000 detainees.

Vulliamy’s testimony was followed by evidence from United States historian Robert Donia, who has also appeared on many previous occasions. Donia appeared as an expert witness to provide an account of the historical context behind fighting that broke out between Croat and Muslim forces during the war in Bosnia.

He noted how Croat hardliners had in the past sought to present Bosnian Muslims as nothing more than ethnic Croats whose forefathers had converted to Islam. And he spoke of how the Bosnian Croat leadership in 1992 sought to come to an agreement with the country’s Serbs on dividing up its territory.

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