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The Trial of Sefer Halilovic to Commence on Monday 31 January 2005

Press Release . Communiqué de presse

(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)


The Hague, 26 January 2005

JP/ P.I.S. / 931e


On Monday, 31 January 2005, the trial of Sefer Halilovic will start before Trial Chamber I consisting of Judges Daqun Liu (Presiding), Amin El Mahdi and György Szénási at 9 a.m. in Courtroom III.

Factual allegations
According to the Indictment, confirmed on 12 September 2001, the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina ("ABiH"), in 1993, planned and conducted a military operation in Herzegovina called "NERETVA-93", the main purpose of which was to capture territory held by the Bosnian Croat Forces ("HVO") from Bugojno to Mostar by launching
offensives within this area and thereby ending the blockade of Mostar.

It is alleged that, on 8 September 1993, there was continuous shooting in the village of Grabovica. Over the next two days the bodies of Bosnian Croat civilians were seen in the village alongside the Neretva river and floating in the river. In all, 33 Bosnian Croat civilians named in the Indictment were killed in Grabovica.

Further, on 14 September 1993, in the course of "NERETVA-93", the Prozor Independent Battalion attacked the village of Uzdol which was then exclusively inhabited by Bosnian Croat civilians. During the course of the attack, 29 Bosnian Croat civilians and one HVO prisoner of war were killed in Uzdol.

According to the Indictment, Halilovic held the post of Deputy Commander of the Supreme Command Staff of the ABiH, as well as Chief of the Supreme Command Staff of the ABiH from 18 July 1993 to until November 1993. From 21 August 1993, Halilovic was Head of an Inspection Team to command and coordinate the "NERETVA-93" operation and as such Halilovic was the most senior military
commander for the operation in the field.

It is alleged that, notwithstanding his duties as a commander, Halilovic did not take effective measures to prevent killings of civilians in Grabovica and did not take steps to carry out a proper investigation to identify the perpetrators of the killings in both Grabovica and Uzdol and as commander of the operation to punish them accordingly. Further, the Indictment alleges that
Halilovic planned and was instrumental in the implementation of military operations carried out by the units which took part in the "NERETVA-93" operation.

The Indictment charges the Accused on the basis of superior criminal responsibility (Article 7(3) of the Statute of the Tribunal) with:

Violations of the laws and customs of war (Article 3 – murder).