Kordic & Cerkez Trial

Tribunal Update No. 175, Last Week in The Hague (May 8-13, 2000)

Kordic & Cerkez Trial

Tribunal Update No. 175, Last Week in The Hague (May 8-13, 2000)

Saturday, 13 May, 2000

Kordic's alleged presence at a series of incidents has been used by the prosecution as evidence of the Bosnian Croat political leader's influence over the military.

One such incident concerned a confrontation at a checkpoint in the village of Kacuni in central Bosnia in January 1993.

Prosecution witnesses testified that Kordic and his escort were stopped at the checkpoint on January 20 or 21 by soldiers from the Bosnia-Herzegovina army and disarmed before being allowed to continue their journey. The prosecution witnesses said Kordic had threatened the B-H army soldiers. The same evening the brother of one of the soldiers was killed. The prosecution alleges this murder was directly connected to the checkpoint incident. (See Tribunal Update No. 164)

Defence witnesses, however, testified last week that Kordic was not present during the confrontation at the checkpoint.

Josip Grubesic, a civilian policeman and a member of Kordic's escort, said that, on the day in question, the accused and Ignac Kostroman, secretary of the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, party in Bosnia Herzegovina, returned from negotiations in Travnik in separate cars. "When we reached Busovaca, Dario Kordic went home and the Ignac Kostroman's vehicle continued onto Kiseljak through Kacuni," Grubesic testified.

Kostroman's driver, Ivo Arar, said it was his car that was stopped by the B-H army soldiers at the checkpoint. Arar said they were then disarmed and fierce argument ensued during which threats were exchanged.

Defence counsel Stephen Sayers then asked Grubesic if Kordic had been present at any time during this confrontation. "Absolutely not," Grubesic said.

The prosecutor countered, however, that there were no negotiations between Bosniak and Croat politicians in Travnik on that day and that Kordic and Kostroman had been in Fojnica. Both men, the prosecutor continued, had returned to Busovaca through Kacuni.

Nice submitted a document from the Fojnica meeting, which cited the names of Kordic and Kostroman. The defence argued, however, that the names were mentioned only because the meeting had been held on Kordic and Kostroman's orders.

The defence then called witnesses to rebut charges that Kordic had been present in the village of Donja Vecerska, one day before the Croat Defence Council, HVO, attack in the Lasva valley.

A prosecution witness, Midhat Haskich, had claimed that on April 15, 1993, he saw Kordic in a cafe in the village poring over maps with the local HVO commander. On the same day, Haskich claimed, another villager, Mile Vanic, celebrated the baptism of his son.

The cafe owner and Vanic both denied this, testifying that Kordic was not in the village that day. Vanic also produced the baptismal records for his four children to prove that none of them had been baptised on that date.

The defence then attacked the claim that Kordic exercised influence over the selection of soldiers for special units. A prosecution witness had claimed that Bruno Santic, a member of a crack sabotage unit known by the acronym IDG, had said Kordic selected him for the unit. When asked by the defence to confirm whether this was true, Santic said the prosecution witness had been wrong and that he joined the unit of his own free will. Santic went on to say that as far as he knew Kordic did not have jurisdiction to select personnel for special units. "Rather, he was more at a political level," Santic said.

Support our journalists