Wednesday, September 19, 2007


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 19,2007) – Zijad Nanic, former assistant commander for security affairs of the 505th Buzim Brigade with the Fifth Corps of the Bosnian Army, has testified before the Bosnian State Court about the appointment of Sefik Alic as deputy commander for security of "Hamze" Battalion.

Prosecution witness Zijad Nanic stated that Sefik Alic was deputy commander for security of "Hamze" battalion - but that he was not responsible for prisoners of war (POWs).

Zijad Nanic, who was also a member of the previous FBIH Entity Parliament, has said that Alic was appointed as deputy commander for security at the time of the foundation of the battalion, on the eve of the "Oluja" military operation.

The indictment alleges that "Hamze" members arrested, on 5 August 1995, four Serbian aggressor's soldiers, and killed them on the same day. The Prosecution holds Alic responsible for failing to "investigate and punish" the perpetrators of the killings, as was his duty.

According to Zijad Nanic's statement, 505th Brigade commander Izet Nanic appointed Alic as assistant commander for security "some time between the first and the fifth of August 1995". Izet Nanic was later killed in action.

"I was against it. I knew I could not expect Alic to perform the tasks in a correct manner. He was not versed, he did not complete the training," the witness said, adding that Izet Nanic told him that he "did not need a person to write reports but a courageous person for the fight".

"This was the commander's wish and I was not allowed to disagree," Zijad Nanic said, explaining that "Alic was not responsible for the prisoners of war". They were the responsibility of "the battalion commander or other designated person".

He has described Alic as a swift, courageous and competent person when it came to military operations.

During cross-examination, Zijad Nanic has said that he did not read the Bosnian Military Police Work Regulations, adopted by the Bosnian Presidency in 1992, which ordered appointment of assistant deputies for security at all levels.

The witness has not been able to say if the decision on Alic's appointment was also confirmed in writing, but he claims to have never seen it. He says that Alic was dismissed from the post in the course of August.

"The indictee was not inclined to the writing of reports. The normal practice was for officers to make weekly reports, and in extraordinary situations, they were supposed to make daily reports. I never received one single report from him," the witness has said.

Although he was the chief security officer in the 505th Buzim Brigade, Zijad Nanic claims to have never received a written or oral report concerning the prisoners of war. He has also said that he learned about the capture of the four Serbian aggressor's soldiers in 2005, when he was giving a statement to the Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA).

"Had I known, back in 1995, of these happenings, there would have been an investigation and criminal charges would have been pressed against the perpetrators of the killing," Zijad Nanic has said.

The witness has not been able to clarify the dates indicated on the documents presented to him by Prosecutor Peter Kidd. The documents indicate that Alic performed the function of deputy commander for security in Hamze Battalion from June 1995 until November that year.

"I know for sure that he was dismissed in August already. And, this can be explained by an attempt to have a continuous period spent in the Army in order to get a pension," Zijad Nanic has said.

During cross-examination, the defence presented Izet Nanic's order appointing Sefik Alic as commander of BOFORS cell in the period from January to October 1995, as well as the defendant's wartime record showing that he was not deputy commander for security of "Hamze"battalion. The indictment refers to these documents as prosecution evidence.

A former commander of the 505th Buzim Brigade Sead Jusic has also confirmed that Sefik Alic was assistant commander for security of "Hamze" battalion.Jusic was a commander of the 505th Buzim Brigade with the Fifth Corps of the Bosnian Army from 5 August 1995.

According to witness Jusic's statement, "Hamze" Battalion was formed in June 1995, while the official handover of the flag was conducted on 4 August, on the eve of the "Oluja" (Storm) military operation.

"A function in the battalion headquarters was reserved for Alic. As far as I understood it, he was assistant commander for security," Jusic told the Bosnian State Court.

According to Jusic, the responsibilities of the assistant commander for security included examination of prisoners of war and their transfer to the Battalion Commander or, if he was not present in the field, to an immediate superior. If the Battalion Commander was present, he was responsible for deciding how to treat the prisoners.

"The commander's word was inviolable and he could give orders that some bad actions be undertaken, if he so decided," Jusic has said.

In Court, Jusic clarified the obscurities related to the appointment dates mentioned in some documents. He has confirmed that Alic did not perform the function in October 1995, although a document signed by Jusic so indicates.

"People did not have adequate personal ranks. It was necessary to write it that way in order to solve their personal status," the witness explained.

Alic's personal record does not indicate that he was commander of Hamze squad before the establishment of the battalion. According to these records, Alic was commander of "Bofors" at the time. Jusic has also clarified this confusing piece of information by saying that the official name of Hamze squad was "Bofors".

Jusic claims that nobody informed him of the arrest of Serbian agressor's soldiers or of their execution on 5 August 1995. After Izet Nanic had been killed, the senior brigade officers held consultations on the same day. However, neither the "Hamze" Battalion Commander nor other officers informed Jusic about the prisoners. In 1996 he heard of "some recordings" related to the 505th Mountain Brigade.

"I had never heard of those prisoners until this process was initiated," Jusic has said.

The trial of Sefik Alic is due to continue on 24 September.

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