At the trial of Sefer Halilovic, former soldier of the 9th Motorized Brigade of the BH Army confirms that officer Vehbija Karic said to the troops gathered in Grabovica on 8 September 1993 to “throw” disobedient Croats into the Neretva river. He cannot recall if Sefer Halilovic was present on that occasion

“Throw those that protest into the Neretva!” - this was the advice Vehbija Karic, a member of the Inspection team of the BH Army Main Staff, gave to the troops that complained to him of the villagers in the Croatian village of Grabovica not letting them into their homes. Witness Erdin Arnautovic, former logistics officer in the 9th Motorized Brigade, part of the BH Army 1st Corps, confirmed this as the trial of Sefer Halilovic today.

Vehbija Karic arrived in Grabovica on 8 September 1993 with several other high-ranking BH Army officers. Asked if Sefer Halilovic was with them, the witness replied that he could not recall him being there. When asked who was in Karic’s escort, Arnautovic did not give any names, saying only that those had been high-ranking people in the BH Army.

In his examination-in-chief, the witness claimed that on 9 September 1993 Sefer Halilovic had been at the forward command post in Jablanica. When the prosecutor asked him how he knew that if he had not seen him, Arnautovic replied, “I concluded he was there when I saw his driver. Wherever the driver is, there is also his superior!”

The prosecution is trying to prove that Sefer Halilovic, as the commander of Operation Neretva ’93, is criminally responsible for his failure to prevent or punish the murders of Croatian civilians in Grabovica and Uzdol in September 1993. Among other things, Halilovic is charged with failing to react to the suggestion made by his subordinate officer in Grabovica that all those who refused to cooperate “should be dealt with summarily” and “thrown into the Neretva”. The troops, the prosecution argues, acted on the suggestion and 33 civilians were killed in Grabovica on 8 and 9 September 1993. The youngest victim was 4, and the oldest 67 years old.