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Kupreskic & Others Trial: The Brothers' Testimony Ends

Tribunal Update 135: Last Week in The Hague (19-25 July, 1999)

The three Kupreskic brothers denied all allegations contained in the indictment.

They claim they did not participate in the attack on Ahmici, that they were neither uniformed or armed, and that they did not know who killed more than 100 Muslims and destroyed and burnt their houses in Ahmici on 16 April 1993.

According to them, unidentified police or paramilitary HVO formations from elsewhere were most likely responsible. Whoever they were, they did not help them identify Muslim houses for attack or join in the violence. They also do not know if the attackers we re helped by local Croats.

All they know about it are the consequences of the attack, of which, as they claim, they became aware only two or three days later, when they returned from the hill where they say they hid at the beginning of the attack.

And while the prosecutor charges them with participation in persecution on political, racial and religious grounds, the three Kupreskics say they were friends with Muslims and helped them. Brothers Zoran and Mirjan said that through their participation in the local folklore ensemble, they danced the traditional dances and sang songs of all ethnic groups together with Muslims, and took part in Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox festivities.

Mirjan claimed that on April 16 1993, his best friend Fahrudin Ahmic, with whom he played in the same village band, was killed. He added that some of his Muslim friends were prepared to come to The Hague to testify in his defence, but that then they gave up one after another under pressure from others.

The brothers Kupreskic also claim that they were mobilised two days after the slaughter in Ahmici, on April 18. In reply the prosecutor argues that as men of military age, they were part of the HVO reserve even before the formal mobilisation.

Some prosecution witnesses called Zoran Kupreskic a "commander" of the HVO in Grabovi, while Zoran said that Grabovi was a part of Ahmici and that he was not a commander but was only compiling a timetable of village guards.

Prosecutor Franc Terrier also argued that in October 1992 Zoran Kupreskic signed an agreement between Muslims and Croats as the HVO representative after the first clash over a barricade on the road leading through the village. Zoran Kupreskic, however, claims that he was only a "clerk" at this meeting, and not a representative of the military or civilian authorities.

The Kupreskic & Others trial has now adjourned until after the August recess.

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