Bosnian Croat Fighter ‘Extorted Cash From Deportees’

Witnesses said that a serviceman on trial for wartime abuses threatened to kill Bosniak villagers unless they gave him their money.Two separate witnesses said that Zeljko Jukic, a former Croatian Defence Council fighter, had demanded cash with menaces while forcing Bosniaks out of the village of Visnjani, near Prozor, in 1993.

Testifying at the trial in Sarajevo, prosecution witness Ibrahim Lulic said that Jukic threatened his mother, saying: “If you don’t give me the money, I will slaughter your son.”

Lulic said that before that, Jukic had come into his house and asked him for cash.

“I said I did not have any. He then fired a shot from his revolver into the ceiling,” Lulic said, adding that he only discovered Jukic’s identity when told by another villager, Amir Konjaric.

Jukic is charged with having participated in the forcible resettlement of the Bosniak population from the Prozor municipality on August 28, 1993.

Witness Amir Konjaric also testified that Jukic had tried to extort money from villagers.

Muharem Konjaric, who appeared as the prosecution’s third witness, said that a man called Mirsad Pilav told him that Jukic, another Croatian Defence Council serviceman called Vinko Papak and a third man took him and two other prisoners from Prozor to a nearby rubbish dump.

Konjaric said that Pilav managed to escape by jumping into some water, adding that he then heard a burst of gunfire. While he was hiding, he heard shooting again when a second group of people was brought to the dump.

The indictment alleges that Jukic, who was accompanied by Papak and another Croatian Defence Council serviceman, participated in taking five men to the waste-disposal site. Those men have been missing since.

The trial of Jukic, who has pleaded not guilty, is due to continue on January 17.

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