HOW THE MOSTAR OLD BRIDGE WAS DESTROYED
At the trial of six former Herceg Bosna leaders, the prosecution continues its case by calling evidence related to the destruction of the Old Bridge. Witness Miro Salcin claims he saw with his own eyes a tank firing rounds at the Old Bridge from the Cekrk hill at Hum, where the HVO had its positions. The accused Slobodan Praljak countered his claims, saying that the BH Army destroyed the bridge with explosives
Miro Salcin, witness in the trial of the former Bosnian Croat leaders
Miro Salcin, former commander of the 2nd Company in the BH Army, claims that on 8 November 1993 he actually saw the tank that fired the round at the Old Bridge in Mostar. The tank was deployed on the Cekrk hill at Hum. This area was controlled by the HVO. Testifying at the trial of six former Herceg Bosna leaders, he says he saw some 80 rounds being fired by a tank. He was at an observation post close the Old Bridge
By the evening of 8 November 1993, the bridge was almost totally destroyed. The witness himself couldn't believe the bridge had survived the night. It crumbled the next morning, after six more tank rounds hit it. The witness described the panic after the Old Bridge collapsed. It was one of the last lines of communication with the rest of the territory controlled by the BH Army. It took them two days to calm the panicked people, the witness said.
In his cross-examination, the accused Slobodan Praljak maintained that the Old Bridge had actually been blown up by explosives planted by the BH Army, not by tank rounds fired by the HVO. To prove his claims, he quoted from a book, How the Old Bridge was Destroyed. He co-wrote the book with a number of "experts", as be described them. The book claims that the investigation undertaken by the district military prosecutor on 22 November 1993 concluded that the bridge had been blown up by explosives, not destroyed by tank rounds.
The witness called this "a sheer lie", adding that the general did not believe him because the shells did not fly over [Praljak’s] head. At one point, Praljak warned the witness to give specific and accurate answers to the questions "without adding fairy tales" as his “skin” was at stake here. Those were not whipped-cream cakes falling around him during the war, the witness reminded the general. In light of what he had lost during the war, he said he couldn’t care less for Praljak's skin.
In his examination-in chief, Salcin said that from the BH Army observation where he was, located in Tito's cave, he could see four HVO sniper nests at the Stotina hill. He thus corroborated the evidence given by witnesses who testified about sniper incidents. Prisoners from the Heliodrom were being brought to those locations to fortify the pillboxes and drill holes in the houses which were later used by snipers who then shot "everything that moved" in Donja Mahala, the witness went on to say. The witness said that the HVO soldiers would throw car tires filled with explosives from Hum. He also recounted that airplanes dropped bombs that looked to him like napalm bombs on Donja Mahala.
"I myself don’t know how I managed to survive", the witness said. Because he lost everything he loved in the war, sometimes he feels he'd “rather not be alive".
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