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Kupreskic & Others Trial: Defence Witnesses Testify

Tribunal Update 127: Last Week in The Hague (24-29 May, 1999)

Bosnian village of Ahmici depends on the outcome of the trial of six

Bosnian Croats, inhabitants of Ahmici, who were indicted for taking direct

part in the massacre of their Muslim neighbours together with the forces

that came from outside the village.

Defence witnesses for Vlatko Kupreskic gave testimonies last week.

Kupreskic is charged with a general Count 1 (persecution on political,

racial or religious grounds), and for another four counts, related to the

murder of a Muslim woman and the wounding of her daughter.

According to the indictment and Prosecution witnesses, Fata Pezer and her

daughter Dzenana were shot at from in front of Vlatko Kupreskic's house by

the defendant and other HVO soldiers, aiding and abetting each other.

Ljubica Kupreskic, the Defendant's wife, was among the last week's batch of

witnesses. At the material time, during the night between 15 and 16 April

1993, she said she retreated to a shelter with her husband Vlatko Kupreskic

after receiving several warnings. The early morning of 16 April found them

in the shelter. Around 10am her husband allegedly went home to see his

father and returned to the shelter in the afternoon of the same day.

Upon his return he said the house was looted and full of soldiers who were

using it as a base for shooting at Muslim positions in the village. This

fits with the Prosecutor's description of the house as an HVO "staging


Ljubica Kupreskic denies that Vlatko could have been involved in the

shooting. She alleged that after the massacre, the son of Fata Pezar came

to Kupreskic's shop to tell him that his sister had been wounded, which,

she thought, he would not have done had he been told that Vlatko was

responsible for the murder of his mother. Apart from this, Ljubica

Kupreskic said, Vlatko was not politically active, did not complete his

military service, and was mobilized by the HVO only in September 1993.

According to his wife, Kupreskic also did not take part in the village

sentry duty and was not armed. The gun he used in December 1997 to try

resisting his arrest by SFOR he had only bought in January 1995 after

several break-ins to his shop.

Kupreskic & Others trial is to be continued next week in parallel to the

trials of the political and military leaders of HVO in Central Bosnia,

Dario Kordic and Mario Cerkez.