|(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 27 June 1996
Nine more persons indicted for attacks on Muslims in the Lasva river valley.
The Prosecutor of the International Tribunal today publicly indicts nine persons for grave breaches and violations of the laws and customs of war for crimes committed during attacks by Bosnian Croat forces on Muslim villages in the Lasva River Valley area of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The nine accused are charged in two indictments which were confirmed by a Judge of the International Tribunal in November 1995. At the Prosecutor's request, the Tribunal has refrained from publicising these indictments until now in order to safeguard the safety of victims and witnesses. The Prosecutor is now satisfied that the security of these victims and witnesses is assured. In addition, the Prosecutor had wished to give the relevant authorities an opportunity to arrest the accused. As a reasonable period of time has elapsed without such arrests being made, he believes that it is now time to make these charges public.
INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE LASVA VALLEY MASSACRES
These indictments are the second and third relating to the attacks on the Muslim population of the Lasva River Valley by Croatian Defence Council (HVO) forces between May 1992 and May 1993.
The first indictment, issued on 10 November 1995, charged six persons, including Dario Kordic, the Vice-President of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna (HZ-HB); Tihomir Blaskic, the Chief of Staff of the Croatian Defence Council; and four other prominent members of the HZ-HB. Of the six accused, only Blaskic is currently in the Tribunal's custody.
THE ACCUSED PUBLICLY INDICTED TODAY
The indictment, "Kupreskic and others", which was confirmed by Judge McDONALD on 10 November 1995, charges eight members of the HVO with grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and violations of the laws and customs of war for their part in the sacking of Ahmici, Vitez and eight other villages in the Lasva Valley, and for the murder of many of its civilian inhabitants. Warrants for the accused's arrest were served on the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 13 December 1995. Warrants will soon be served on the Governments of Croatia and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The accused are:
Zoran KUPRESKIC (born 23 September 1958) was a HVO soldier in Ahmici. Before the war he was in business with his cousin and co-accused, Vlatko KUPRESKIC.
Mirjan KUPRESKIC (born 21 October 1963) served as a HVO soldier in Ahmici, together with his brother Zoran and cousin Vlatko.
Vlatko KUPRESKIC (born 1 January 1958) was a HVO soldier.
Vladimir SANTIC, aka, "Vlado" (born 1 April 1958) was a former policeman and HVO soldier in Vitez.
Stipo ALILOVIC, aka, "Brko" (born 15 September 1949) was a bar/cafe owner and a HVO soldier in Vitez.
Drago JOSIPOVIC (born 14 February 1955) was a HVO soldier in Santici and a former chemical worker.
Marinko KATAVA (born 18 November 1952) was a HVO soldier in Vitez and a local factory employee in Vitez.
Dragan PAPIC (born 15 July 1967) was a HVO soldier in Ahmici and was locally employed.
The indictment "Marinic" which was confirmed by Judge McDONALD on 10 November 1995, charges Zoran MARINIC, aka, "Svabo", with grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the laws and customs of war for the killings of Muslim civilians in Busovaca in the Lasva River Valley. Warrants for the accused's arrest were transmitted to the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 13 December 1995. Warrants will shortly be served on the Governments of Croatia and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
MARINIC (born on or about 6 June 1963) was a HVO military policeman in Busovaca.
THE CRIMES ALLEGED IN THE INDICTMENTS
The joint indictment charges the eight accused with direct participation in the systematic attacks on mainly Muslim villages in the Lasva Valley on 16 April 1993 and the murder of civilians.
According to the indictment, early that morning, HVO forces including the accused launched a series of attacks on towns and villages throughout the Lasva River Valley.
HVO forces first shelled these villages with heavy weapons, including mortars, rockets and anti-aircraft guns. Groups of HVO soldiers then went from house to house killing and wounding Muslim civilians, burning down their homes and barns, and destroying their livestock. After the attacks, the HVO detained many civilians, whom they later forced to dig trenches on the front lines.
The most ferocious attacks were directed against the Muslim-dominated village of Ahmici.
"The HVO first shelled Ahmici from a distance, then groups of soldiers went from house to house, attacking civilians and their property using tracer rounds and explosives. Every Muslim house in the village was burned, and many unarmed Muslim civilians were deliberately and systematically shot.
"A minimum of 103 Muslim civilians were killed in and around Ahmici. Of [these] (. . .) 33 were women and children. All 176 Muslim houses in Ahmici along with [two] mosque[s] were destroyed.
"Before the attack on 16 April, Muslims were 356 out of a total population of 466. After the attack, no Muslims were left in the village."
The indictment against Zoran MARINIC charges him with murdering four of his former Muslim neighbours in Busovaca and wounding a fifth. These crimes were perpetrated on 26 April 1993 following attacks on the town by HVO forces.
MARINIC is alleged to have personally shot at close range three members of the Topalovic family, as well as their young orphaned niece. Two of the victims, including a man confined to a wheelchair, died instantly; the other two died soon afterwards. The victims' house was torched after the killings.
A fourth member of the Topalovic family was also shot, but survived the attack.
The joint indictment charges the eight accused with a total of 18 counts of grave breaches and violations of the laws and customs of war, relating to wilful killing, contrary to Article 2(a) of the Statute; murder, contrary to Article 3; the unlawful and wanton destruction of property, contrary to Article 2 (d); causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, contrary to Article 2 (c); a deliberate attack on the civilian population and wanton destruction of a village, contrary to Article 3; cruel treatment, contrary to Article 3; participating in the unlawful confinement of civilians, contrary to Article 2 (g); and outrages upon the personal dignity of another, contrary to Article 3.
Zoran MARINIC is charged with two counts of grave breaches (wilful killing and wilfully causing serious injury, contrary to Articles 2 (a) and (c) of the Tribunal's Statute, respectively) and two counts of violations of the laws and customs of war (murder and cruel treatment, contrary to Article 3 of the Statute).
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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