TUTA WAS CRUEL AND JUKA WAS "MERCIFUL"
Witness CU, testifying at the trial of six former Herceg Bosna officials, accuses the HVO of launching the attack on Mostar on 9 May 1993 and subjecting detainees to physical abuse in prisons in Mostar, Siroki Brijeg, Ljubuski, Heliodrom and Dretelj
Jadranko Prlic and Bruno Stojic in the front row and Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petkovic, Valentin Coric and Berislav Pusic in the back row
"He told me to open my mouth and after having put out his cigarette on my tongue, he ordered me to swallow it". This is how Witness CU, testifying under protective measures at the trial of six former Herceg Bosna officials, described his meeting with Ivan Hrkac Cikota. The witness was detained by the HVO in Siroki Brijeg following his arrest in Mostar on 10 May 1993. Ivan Cikota was the brother of Mario Hrkac Cikota, former HVO commander who had been killed near Doljani around that time. He forced the witness to hit his head against the wall as hard as he could ten times.
In 1992, witness CU was a member of the HVO Security Service in Mostar, but in April 1993 he decided to join the BH Army, having realized that there might be a conflict between Croats and Muslims. He claims that in the early morning of 9 May 1993, the HVO launched an artillery attack on Mostar. He heard broadcasts on the Mostar radio station announcing that there a large-scale action would follow, aimed at "the liberation of right-hand river bank in Mostar", calling the Muslims to surrender.
At the time of the attack the witness was in the Vranica building, where the BH Army brigade headquarters was. The next day he surrendered to the HVO together with a group of soldiers and civilians from the Vranica building. The terms of the surrender were negotiated by Enver Maric, former goalkeeper of the Velez soccer club, who happened to live nearby. The witness then described how the former BH Army member who turned HVO collaborator Juka Prazina was sorting out the prisoners with his men. The Croats were allowed to leave, elderly Muslims were taken to the Bijeli Brijeg stadium and the younger men were transferred to the Mostar Tobacco Institute building. The witness described how Mladen Naletilic Tuta beat him up by his walkie-talkie cursing his 'Balija mother'. When he objected, saying that his mother was a Catholic, Tuta beat him even more ferociously. At that moment Juka Prazina interfered saying that "nobody is to touch him again" and then went on to kick him in the head.
In the course of his captivity in the HVO prisons in Mostar, Siroki Brijeg, Ljubuski, Heliodrom and Dretelj the witness was repeatedly physically abused and taken to do forced labor. He recounted how together with other prisoners he had to dig Tuta's private swimming pool in Debeli Brijeg. He was transferred to the HVO frontline in Mostar where he was used as a human shield. The worst experience he had was in Santiceva Street. A HVO soldier forced him to sit on sand bags on the demarcation line and used his shoulder to rest his rifle as he fired at the BH Army lines. Sitting on the sand bags, the witness pointed to his shoulder, signaling to the BH Army soldiers to shoot him there to put him out of his misery.
As the judges kept on rushing his examination-in-chief, the witness addressed the Chamber before the beginning of his cross-examination, telling the judges he was "in no hurry". As he said, he was willing to stay until Monday when he is to be cross-examined by the accused and their defense counsel.
- Case : Prlic et al.
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