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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 15:45 GMT
Bosnian ex-general goes on trial
Sefer Halilovic at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, 27 September 2001
Halilovic: The most senior Bosnian Muslim to be tried at The Hague
The former head of the Bosnian army, Sefer Halilovic, has gone on trial at The Hague over the killing of Bosnian Croat civilians during the civil war.

Mr Halilovic is the most senior Bosnian Muslim commander to face trial at the international war crimes tribunal.

He is charged with responsibility for the 1993 killings of 62 Bosnian Croat civilians, many of whose bodies were dumped in the Neretva River.

Mr Halilovic, 53, has pleaded not guilty to a single count of murder.

He surrendered to the UN court in The Hague in September 2001.

At Grabovica, 33 people were killed, including women and children. At Uzdol, Mr Halilovic's men are reported to have killed 29 civilians.

Central Bosnia offensive

The killings took place when forces under his command were retaking territory controlled by Bosnian Croat forces, seeking to end the blockade of the city of Mostar.

Prosecutors showed amateur video footage of children and elderly people murdered in Uzdol. UN investigators say Mr Halilovic's men were responsible.

"The accused... could not have failed to notice the bodies when they were strewn all around," said prosecutor Sureta Chana.

She said Mr Halilovic failed to act against the killers, despite instructions from his superiors to do so.

Mr Halilovic has not been charged with personally ordering the alleged atrocities, but with failing to prevent them.

The Bosnian Muslim army was a largely improvised operation, bringing together Bosnia's poorly-equipped territorial reservists and the mainly Muslim militia known as the Patriotic League.

It faced a Bosnian Serb army that had inherited a substantial portion of the heavy weaponry of former Yugoslavia's armed forces.

A year after he was appointed commander, Mr Halilovic was demoted to number four in the army hierarchy during a confrontation with warlords, which coincided with a rocket attack on his apartment in which his wife was killed.

In late 1993 he was, in effect, retired when Bosnia's President Alija Izetbegovic moved against the Sarajevo warlords.

Co-operation

Mr Halilovic was indicted in 2001, when he was minister for refugees in the Croatian-Muslim part of Bosnia.

The BBC's South-East Europe analyst, Gabriel Partos, says the Bosnian Muslim side's willingness to work with The Hague has been in stark contrast with the Bosnian Serbs' failure so far to apprehend a single individual indicted by the tribunal.

Mr Halilovic's case follows the trials, already completed or under way, of other Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and Kosovar Albanians. Many of their fellow-nationals feel bitter about the fact that so many Serb suspects - whom they regard as the perpetrators of the worst war crimes - remain at liberty, our correspondent says.


SEE ALSO:
What is a war crime?
31 Jul 03 |  Europe
At a glance: Hague tribunal
05 Jul 04 |  Europe


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