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Kordic Was 'Only A Politician' - Prosecution insist that Kordic performed a military role.

Tribunal Update 185 Last Week in The Hague (July 17-22, 2000)

A majority of the 59 defence witnesses claimed that Kordic was "only a politician". Former commanders in the HVO testified that they had never received an order from Kordic.

Former officials from the para-state of Herceg-Bosnia testified that it never sought secession from Bosnia-Hercegovina and there was no policy to persecute the Bosniak population.

Kordic is accused of responsibility - through his political and military influence - for the persecution of the Bosniak population in Herceg-Bosnia, particularly Central Bosnia. He is charged with crimes against humanity, violation of the laws and customs of war and the Geneva Convention.

The defence argue that as Kordic was formally the vice-president of Herceg Bosnia and of the HDZ of Bosnia-Herzegovina he could not have wielded any military influence. Kordic's counsel insist that the military commander of all HVO units in Central Bosnia was Tihomir Blaskic.

They dismiss claims made during Blaskic's trial that Kordic exercised authority over the HVO Military Police as an attempt by Blaskic's defence to "minimise Blaskic's responsibility for the army's crimes."

Kordic did enjoy the rank of a colonel, but the defence claims it was an honorary rank. He also deputy commander of the chief headquarters of the HVO. The defence claims the office was "civilian".

To claims that Kordic was "only a politician", the prosecutors responded that the war was conducted by politicians, so Kordic is not absolved of responsibility. Moreover, the prosecution insist that in practice Kordic was also a military commander. When cross-examining defence witnesses, the prosecution presented a series of military orders signed by Kordic. The witnesses mostly denied knowledge of the orders.

As the defence were presenting their case, the prosecutor obtained a new report from Zagreb. Sent by the Croatian Information Service, HIS, to former president Franjo Tudjman, the report identifies politicians, Dario Kordic and Ignac Kostroman, as being responsible for HVO operations in Central Bosnia, including the massacre at Ahmici.

The defence dispute the authenticity of the document. The defence of the second co-accused, Mario Cerkez, the former commander of the HVO brigade in Vitez, will present its evidence next week.

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