Author: dr. sc. ZILHA MASTALIĆ KOŠUTA
Grabovica is a village in the municipality of Jablanica, which has been under the control of the Army of the RBiH (ARBiH) since May 1993. A part of the Croatian population remained in the village after that. During the preparation for the "Neretva 93" operation, units of the 9th Motorized Brigade of the 1st Corps of the ARBiH from Sarajevo were stationed in the village. Since there were no other accommodation options for the members of the arriving units, they were accommodated in the houses of Croats from Grabovice. Their stay was remembered for the war crime committed against civilians of Croatian nationality, who did not pose a military threat.
Until the arrival of the members of the 9th mtbr 1 K ARBiH, the relations of the locals with the members of the ARBiH who controlled this area were good. Members of the 9th mtbr brutally killed 13 Croatian civilians on September 8 and 9, 1993, unprovoked. Among the civilians killed was a three-and-a-half-year-old girl, Mladenka Zadro. Her father Mladen, mother Ljubica, grandfather Ivan and grandmother Matija were also killed. Pero, Dragica and Martin Marić, Josip-Jozo Brekalo, Živko and Ljuba Drežnjak, Ivan Mandić and Ilko Miletić were also killed in the village. For the remaining 14 persons who were listed as victims of crime, in the process conducted before the International Court in The Hague, it was not proven that they were killed in the specified period by members of the 9th mtbr.
The Cantonal Court in Mostar conducted a trial against the perpetrators of the crime in Grabovica and convicted three, and the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo convicted two members of the 9th mtbr 1st K ARBiH. Nihad Vlahovljak, Haris Rajkić and Sead Karagić were convicted. All three were sentenced to 13 years in prison before the Cantonal Court in Mostar. Even earlier, before the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo, Enes Šakrak was also sentenced to 10 years in prison. For this crime, the International Court in The Hague tried General Sefer Halilović on command responsibility, however, he was acquitted on all counts of the indictment.
Uzdol is a village in the municipality of Prozor where the majority Croatian population lived. The village was under the control of the HVO. In the early morning hours of September 14, 1993, the Independent Prozor Battalion, together with several members of the MUP civilian police, attacked the HVO headquarters, which was located in a school building in one of the villages in Uzdol. After the start of the attack, the HVO started shelling Uzdol. During the attack, HVO units were brought into the area, and members of the Independent Prozor Detachment and the MUP committed crimes during the attack on HVO positions in and around Uzdol. Then 25 locals were killed, including children. The youngest victims of this crime were ten-year-old Stjepan and his thirteen-year-old sister Marija Zelić. Twelve-year-old girl Jadranka Zelenika was also killed. The oldest person killed in Uzdol was 87 years old. Some of the inhabitants were killed in their houses, and some of them tried to save themselves by running away from their homes. Enver Buza, acting commander of the Independent Window Detachment of the ARBiH, was sentenced to eight years in prison for the crime in Uzdol according to command responsibility.
Trusina is a village in the municipality of Konjic. Immediately before the crime in that village - on April 16, 1993, combat operations were conducted in Trusina between units of the ARBiH and the HVO. After the ARBiH units entered the village, they shot 15 Croatian civilians and seven HVO soldiers, who had previously surrendered. For the crime in Trusina before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Edin Đeko was sentenced to 13 years in prison, Rasema Handanović to five and a half years, Mensur Memic to ten years, Nedžad Hodžić to 12 and Nihad Bojadžić to 15 years in prison.
Heinous crimes in the villages of Grabovica, Uzdol and Trusina are crimes against the civilian population. The crime committed in the village of Grabovica was committed at a time when there were no combat operations. The crimes in Uzdol and Trusina were committed during combat operations, which makes a difference with the crime in the village of Grabovica. All three crimes are a shameful act and a disgrace to the reputation of the RBiH Army during the period of aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992-1995. inflicted by individuals from their ranks.
Ph.D. sc. Zilha Mastalić Košuta is a senior research associate at the Institute for Research on Crimes Against Humanity and International Law at the University of Sarajevo.