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Kordic & Cerkez Trial: Only One Witness

Tribunal Update 152: Last Week in The Hague (November 15-20, 1999)
By IWPR

He was able to influence the situation and I tended to deal with him when it came to serious matters", said Major Martin Forgrave, former liaison officer with the British contingent of UNPROFOR in Central Bosnia.


During his service in Bosnia, from October 1992 to March 1993, he used to meet Kordic three times a month on average. The witness said that he found Kordic much more effective than the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) commander in Central Bosnia, Tihomir Blaskic.


"As the situation in the area intensified, Kordic seemed to assume more of a military persona", said the witness and added that Kordic was addressed as colonel, which was also the rank of the BritBatt commander at the time, Bob Stewart.


Forgrave explained that Kordic was a person who was able to solve quickly and efficiently the problems related to the passage of convoys, confiscated UNPROFOR vehicles, and on one occasion, the abduction of a Danish soldier.


"The person who was said to be responsible for various atrocities in the area was Anto Sliskovic", he said, adding that Sliskovic was "a regular feature" at Forgrave's meetings with Kordic. "Sliskovic, who was responsible for internal security matters in the area, appeared to be Kordic's confidant, his right-hand, but Kordic was clearly in charge."


Forgrave testified that at the beginning of 1993 HVO in Central Bosnia was reinforced by troops from Herzegovina - some 100 soldiers, a number of whom were dressed in black uniforms with crosses, some wearing regular Croatian Army (HV) insignia. "A German mercenary told us that some of that contingent came from Croatia", said the witness.


He described one encounter with those soldiers in Novi Travnik HVO Headquarters on which occasion those soldiers, who were drinking, performed a Nazi salute to the UNPROFOR group and made signs implying that the UNPROFOR soldiers would be their target. "One of them even put a pistol in the mouth of one of the soldiers who were there with me", said Forgrave.


Kordic's defence wanted the witness to confirm that Blaskic was the person who commanded all HVO units in Central Bosnia and that HVO armed forces in the area were responsible to him, which was confirmed by the witness. The defence was thus trying to prove that Kordic's military role was of no significance.


The defence also pointed out that Sliskovic never said to the witness that he was Kordic's right-hand. "Sliskovic was actually a deputy commander of Busovaca HVO brigade", stated the defence counsel Stephen Sayers. As for the political role of Dario Kordic, his lawyer emphasised that the accused, at the time, was just one of five deputy presidents of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party.


Due to technical difficulties, the hearings in this case were cancelled after the cross-examination of witness Forgrave. It was the only testimony that took place last week. The trial resumes on Monday.