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

Kordic & Cerkez Trial: Defence Case Opens

Defence claims Bosnian Croat officials had no military or political role in war crimes against Muslims in central Bosnia

Opening defence statements in the trial of Dario Kordic and Mario Cerkez were heard last week.

A former senior Bosnian Croat official, Kordic, is accused of both political and military responsibility for crimes committed against Muslims in central Bosnia.

The defence disputes the charge, arguing that the prosecutor exaggerated Kordic's influence as he was neither a member of the government nor part of the army chain of command.

"Where is the evidence that Kordic issued orders for crimes? Is there evidence that he issued orders to anyone?" his American defence counsel Stephen Sayers asked the court. "There isn't!"

In its opening statement, Cerkez's defence team claimed their client, the commander of the Vitez Brigade of the HVO, neither committed nor was responsible for any crimes in the Vitez area

His defence counsel, Bozidar Kovacic, pointed out that besides Cerkez's HVO brigade, there were other units like the HVO military police and Vitezov (the "Knights"), blamed for Ahmici and other crimes, operating in the Vitez municipality.

According to his defence, Cerkez was head of the local HVO brigade, but not the HVO supreme commander in the area, nor some kind of the territorial commander.

Two former commanders of the HVO, Generals Filip Filipovic and Franjo Nakic, the first witnesses summoned by Kordic's defence, confirmed that Kordic had no military role.

More IWPR's Global Voices