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Kordic & Cerkez Trial

Tribunal Update 122: Last Week in The Hague (19-24 April, 1999)
By IWPR

This is where, it seems, the first conflict started between the nominal allies Bosnian Croats, organised into Croat Defense Council (HVO), and Bosnian Muslims, who joined the Territorial Defense (TO) units.


The town of Novi Travnik was important for its military equipment factory, which - according to one of the last week's batch of witnesses was visited by Kordic in early 1992 in order to purchase weapons for HVO.


A record of a handover of weapons from the factory signed by Kordic and dated April 1992 was presented before the Trial Chamber. A video recording was also shown in which Kordic was told by an unnamed person that he can not


speak for the people of Novi Travnik since he comes from another town, Busovaca.


Kordic's repy to that was that, as the Vice-President of Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosnia (HZ-HB), he had the 'legitimate right to speak for the people of the Novi Travnik community,' since it was declared part of the HZ-HB.


Protected witness 'C' last week said that the creation of HZ-HB in November 1991 ' before the outbreak of war in Bosnia in April 1992 was a signal that the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) party was leaving its true partnership with the party of Bosnian Muslims, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA).


Serious conflicts between Bosnian Croats and Muslims in that part of Bosnia, according to last week's witnesses, started in October 1992 when HVO tried to establish full control over the weapons factory and take up all strategic positions in the town. Dario Kordic was present at a meeting of representatives of the two sides that discussed causes of conflict.


Although the witness could not tell in what function was Dario Kordic present at the meeting, according to the Prosecutor, his presence in itself is proof enough that Kordic also had certain responsibility over the military structures of HVO.


Witness Dragutin Zvonimir Cicak, a Bosnian Croat, who started giving his testimony towards the end of the last week, is a rare Prosecution witnesses one out of only three or four in all of previous trials who belong to the same ethnic group as the defendants. D.Z. Cicak is one of the early Bosnian Croat political activists who formed a branch of HDZ in Busovaca, [Kordic's hometown].


He started his testimony with the description of the rise to political power of Kordic, who was a protege of Mate Boban, former president of HZ-HB. Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice presented excerpts from articles written by Cicak that describe how Boban, Kordic and a group of their friends pronounced themselves leaders of a political body they called HZ-HB, without ever receiving public approval to act in the name of the Bosnian Croats.


* The testimony of Dragutin Zvonimir Cicak continues on Monday 26 April.


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