Kordic & Cerkez Trial

Tribunal Update No. 174, Last Week in The Hague (May 1-6, 2000)

Kordic & Cerkez Trial

Tribunal Update No. 174, Last Week in The Hague (May 1-6, 2000)

Saturday, 6 May, 2000

The prosecution alleges that Kordic - who was deputy president of Herzeg Bosna and a senior member of the main Bosnian Croat political party, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ - was the leading political figure in central Bosnia and a man with real military influence.

Colonel Zvonko Vukovic, former commander of the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, military police and latterly an officer in charge of home guard units attached to the central Bosnian headquarters, said he had never received a written or verbal order from the politician.

Darko Gelic, a former liaison officer at the HVO headquarters, said he had never seen or heard Kordic issue orders to the military. Gelic described Kordic's position as political.

Major Marko Prskalo, who was in charge of information and propaganda at the HVO central Bosnia HQ, said that as far as he knew Kordic never had the authority to issue orders to the HVO military police and special units. Prskalo said HVO commanders alone had that authority.

Special units, like the Vitezovi (Knights), have been named as the perpetrators of a number of crimes in central Bosnia. Various witnesses, including the former HVO commander and convicted war criminal Tihomir Blaskic, have blamed the HVO military police for the Ahmici massacre.

Prskalo said he had never heard of Blaskic receiving orders "from a politician". The other defence witnesses also dismissed the possibility Kordic exercised authority over Blaskic.

"Were you aware of political influences over military decisions?" prosecutor Geoffrey Nice asked Gelic. The witness replied that he knew of no such influence. Nice then asked for clarification: "You say that the war was simply being run by the military?" Gelic responded, "You have to ask the politicians."

The prosecutor then produced a document from the HDZ in Bosnia, which purported to establish political control over staff policy in the HVO. The prosecutor asked Prskalo, "It was a completely politicised army, wasn't it?" Prskalo replied, however, that when the document was written it was possible someone was saying some things "that were not in his domain."

During his testimony, Vukovic had explained the command structure within the HVO military police. Judge Mohamed Bennouna intervened to say, "Do your really think that the army lives separately from the rest of the world and has nothing to do with political structures and aims set by those structures? You knew what aims your were fighting for and who had determined those aims."

Vukovic said his personal aim was to fight against the Serbian aggressor, which had expelled him from his home in Travnik. Vukovic added that he had not been senior enough to have contact with politicians.

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