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Kupreskic Pleads 'Absolutely Not Guilty'

Tribunal Update 59: Last Week in The Hague (January 12-17, 1998)
By IWPR ICTY

Having visibly recovered from his wounds (to the chest, arms and legs), Kupreskic entered the courtroom without assistance on January 16 and pleaded "absolutely not guilty" to the crimes of which he is accused.

According to the indictment "Kupreskic & others", Kupreskic, along with two close relatives (Zoran and Mirjan) and three other Bosnian Croats, was directly involved in the attack against the Muslim population of the village of Ahmici near Vitez on April 16, 1993, in which more than 100 Muslim civilians (including over 30 women and children) were killed and all 176 Muslim houses and both mosques were burnt and razed to the ground.

Several Muslim survivors of Ahmici, testifying recently in the trial of General Tihomir Blaskic (commander of the Croat forces in Central Bosnia at the time of the attack) have stated that the attack on the village began from Kupreskic's house and that he personally took part in the killing of some of his Muslim neighbours.

In his first appearance before the court, however, Kupreskic rejected all such accusations, claiming that he had not taken part in the attack on Ahmici and that he had had neither "occasion or opportunity" to kill his Muslim neighbours nor the "courage or interest" to do so.

Others accused in the "Kupreskic & others" indictment have also pleaded not guilty. It appears that they will be tried jointly, after a decision is made on the preliminary motions of the defence, and, possibly, the prosecution. It is unlikely that the trial will start before summer, when the Tribunal will have three courtrooms at its disposal.