Former Chief of Staff of the BH Army 306th Brigade testifies about the conduct and status of the foreign fighters northeast of Travnik and about the HVO blockades that prompted the BH Army to launch military operations in June 1993.

Remzija Siljak, defense witness for HadzihasanovicRemzija Siljak, defense witness for Hadzihasanovic

The mujahedin "caused nothing but problems" for the BH Army, Ramzija Siljak testified. He is the former Chief of Staff of the BH Army 306th Brigade. He said foreign fighters were not subordinate to the BH Army and that they "did not obey anyone."

In the 306th Brigade’s area of responsibility--northeast of Travnik--the mujahedin committed several crimes against Croat prisoners, including crimes in the villages of Miletici and Maline. The former BH Army commander in Central Bosnia, Enver Hadzihasanovic, is accused of those crimes, but his defense challenges the allegations that the mujahedin acted as part of the BH Army.

“I don’t know that anyone had precise data about the mujahedin. I was hiding from them, expecting nothing but trouble," Siljak said. "An ugly massacre of four Croats happened in Miletici after the mujahedin raided the village" in April 1993, the witness continued. He also heard that in June, the mujahedin kidnapped and killed Croats who were being escorted by BH Army troops from Maline to Mehurici, allegedly to protect them. According to the witness, the BH Army was trying to "solve the problem of the mujahedin," but it "lacked authority to investigate the conduct of groups that were not part of it, nor was that its responsibility."

Through this witness, the defense tried to show the build-up to the military operations where the crimes Hadzihasanovic and former 7th Muslim Brigade commander Amir Kubura are charged with were committed. The witness said that despite the fact that in April and May 1993, the HVO had cut off parts of the territory of the 306th Brigade with interspersed check-points, isolating a number of villages in the Bila river basin, orders continued to come from the 3rd Corps command to try to solve the problems peacefully. But by June, the witness went on to say, the 306th Brigade could no longer function and it sought military assistance to unblock some of the villages.

After those operations, the BH Army was able to unblock the road from Travnik to Zenica (which is where the 3rd Corps HQ was located), but the houses of Croats who had left the area were looted and destroyed. The defense is trying to prove that the destruction was not done by 3rd Corps troops. "This became a transit route, thousands of refugees passed there, it was hard to control it," Siljak said, claiming that the BH Army not only issued orders to protect property, but formed a unit that was supposed to look after the abandoned houses.