In the cross-examination, the prosecutor confronted Dragan Curcic, former commander of the Ludvig Pavlovic Independent Battalion of the HVO, with his request to the local police in Capljina to ‘spare from abuse’ the mother of one of his Muslim soldiers. The trial continues on 26 October 2009

Dragan Čurčić, svjedok odbrane Slobodana PraljkaDragan Čurčić, svjedok odbrane Slobodana Praljka

Dragan Curcic, former commander of the Ludvig Pavlovic Independent Battalion of the HVO, was cross-examined today. He confirmed his participation in the arrests of Muslim men of military age in the Capljina area in the summer of 1993. Although he confirmed there were arrests of women and children, Curcic claimed he had never seen anything of the sort.

‘I personally participated in the disarming process in the Rtimlje village sector’, the witness said in response to the prosecutor. ‘There is nothing illogical in disarming the enemy that had turned against you’, the witness said. However, the witness avoided confirming the prosecutor’s claim that there were mass arrests. The witness said he didn’t have ‘the exact numbers’. An order of the HVO caught the attention of the presiding judge: the order recommended that ‘age should not be taken into consideration’ when arrests were made. The witness said he had not seen that document before, adding that he would never have issued any such orders.

When asked if he knew that women and children were being arrested in the Capljina and Stolac areas, the witness said that he ‘personally never saw’ anything of the sort, but that things like that happened; ‘there is no running away from the fact’. Among other things, the witness contended that he didn’t know about the abuse of female detainees. The prosecution then showed the witness his own request to the local police in Capljina to ‘spare the abuse’ the mother of one of his Muslim soldiers. The witness replied that he wanted to help his soldier. Also, the witness couldn’t say why anybody would abuse a woman who, as the prosecution noted, was at least 50 years old.

The prosecutor argued that the Kralj Tomislav Brigade under the command of Nijaz Baltak, a.k.a. Mate Sarlija Daidza, was part of the Croatian Army. According to the prosecution, an element of that brigade formed the core of the Ludvig Pavlovic Battalion of the HVO in 1993; it was funded by the Croatian defense ministry. The witness confirmed that he was a member of the Croatian Army, but he tried to deny that General Janko Bobetko was his immediate superior despite the fact that he had addressed Bobetko with those exact words in a letter from March 1994.

In response to the prosecutor’s questions, the witness admitted that he would like the most if the Croats in BH had their own state. The prosecutor then implied that he had fought in the war for that goal and eventually for the unification with its ‘financial master’, Croatia, but the witness disagreed. ‘All Croats in BH would love that, but our reality is Bosnia and Herzegovina’, the witness said.

General Slobodan Praljak's defense rested its case after Dragan Curcic’s evidence. Praljak’s defense case started on 4 May 2009. The trial of the six former Bosnian Croat leaders continues on 26 October 2009 with the opening statement of General Milivoj Petkovic’s defense.