According to General Slobodan Praljak the war in the former Yugoslavia was not a war between the states that had emerged after its collapse; it was the war of Serbs against everybody else. This is why, Praljak contends, Croatia and BH were ‘a single theater of war’ and it was logical that he as an officer in the Croatian army actually spent more time fighting in BH

Slobodan Praljak svjedoči u svoju odbranuSlobodan Praljak svjedoči u svoju odbranu

The war in the former Yugoslavia was not a war between the states that had emerged after its collapse. It was the war of the JNA and the Serbian political ideas against everybody else, former commander of the HVO Main Staff Slobodan Praljak explained as his evidence continued today.

The accused Praljak tried to convince the judges that Croatia and BH were ‘a single theater of war’ where Serbian aggressor was fought. This is why it was logical that he – a Croatian Army officer - was deployed in the neighboring BH. Everybody in Croatia who wanted to go and fight in BH as volunteers could do it and they had their jobs waiting for them until they returned.

Praljak once again stressed that the JNA and other Serbian forces attacked Croatia from the BH territory. To illustrate his claim, Praljak played brief video clips of attacks by Serb troops on Dubrovnik, Osijek, Sibenik and Vukovar. Those cities were successfully defended mostly by volunteers who thus shattered the hopes of the Serbian political leadership that Croatia would not be able to defend itself longer than a month. In a situation like that, Praljak noted, the Bosnian government headed by Izetbegovic ‘didn’t move a finger to prevent the Serbian aggression against Croatia from the BH territory’.

The defense presented documents showing that Praljak first came to BH in April 1992 when he was appointed commander of the defense in southwestern Herzegovina. A month and a half later, Praljak returned to Croatia. By a decree of Mate Boban dated 26 March 1993, Praljak was appointed the commander of the HVO Main Staff. He was relieved of that duty, Praljak contends, at his own request on 9 November 1993, the day when the Old Bridge in Mostar was destroyed.

Praljak listed health problems as the reason why he requested to be relieved of that duty: discus and heart problems. The presiding judge asked Praljak if his departure had more to do with the pressure of the international community at that time to remove those responsible for the crimes in Stupni Do on 23 October 1993 and less with ill health. In his reply to that question the accused admitted that there were other reasons why he wanted to leave but denied it had anything to do with the HVO crimes in Stupni Do. According to Praljak, the main reason was his disagreement with the policies pursued by Mate Boban and others in his circle. In Praljak’s opinion they didn’t invest enough energy in not losing the war.