The trial of retired General of the Army of Republic Bosnia and Herzegovina (AR BiH), Atif Dudaković, and sixteen other members of the AR BiH Fifth Corps, began on Monday on the BiH state Curt.
The trial began exactly on the date when Federation BiH celebrates the AR BiH establishment day. According to the indictment, Dudaković and others are charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes against civilians.
Dudaković is one of the AR BiH Generals who is considered as a hero of the defence of BiH. Bosniaks praise him because he and the armed forces under his command – isolated for three years – resisted attacks by Bosnian Serb forces who also had the support of Serb units from parts of Croatia they considered their historic territory. During this period, the Fifth Corps was also under attacks by Bosniak military units who denied the AR BiH command and fought against their own nation. At the end of the war, Dudaković was also the commander of the joint headquarters of the Federation of BiH Army.
He faces an indictment charging him with crimes against humanity committed in the municipalities of Bosanski Petrovac, Ključ, Bosanska Krupa, Sanski Most and war crimes against the civilian population in the municipalities of Bihać and Cazin. The indictment includes the responsibility for the killing of more than 300 Serbs, mostly older civilians, as well as soldiers who surrendered or were captured and thus incapacitated. According to the prosecution, Dudaković and the other co-defendants are also responsible for the destruction of 38 Orthodox religious sites.
Part of the indictment relates to war crimes committed against Bosniak victims, members and supporters of the so-called “National Defence of the autonomous province of Western Bosnia”, headed by Fikret Abdić.
Together with Dudaković, the accused are also Ekrem Dedić, Sanel Šabić, Ibrahim Šiljdević, Safet Salihagić, Adis Zjakić, Hasan Ružnić, Redžep Zlojić, Samir Solaković, Fatmir Muratović, Muharem Alešević, Husein Balagić, Ale Hodžić, Edin Domazet, Ejub Koženjić, Ibrahim Nadarević and Said Mujić. The three co-defendants were Dudakovic’s aides in the command of the Fifth Corps, one was the brigade commander and the other soldiers or military policemen.
The indictment also lists the qualification of a joint criminal enterprise. It is explained by the prosecution’s assertion that Dudaković’s soldiers, together with members of the units of the Seventh Corps of the BiH Army and members of the Ministry of Interior, during the offensive that lasted from mid-September to mid-November 1995, and which was directed against the civilian population of Serbian nationality, “consciously and willingly participated in a joint criminal enterprise with a common plan and the goal of permanently removing the entire population of Serb ethnicity from the territory of these municipalities”.
In December 2018, all of the accused pleaded not guilty at the BiH Court. The trial of Dudaković and his companions seems to be a marathon, not only because of the number of names on the indictment but also because of the fact that the BiH Prosecutor’s Office announced that it would propose the hearing 447 witnesses in the course of the evidentiary proceedings.
The Prosecution estimates that it will take at least 500 hours to produce the evidence. A year ago, Dudaković was arrested in Bihać by the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) officers. At the time, the arresting was welcomed by the Serbs and condemned from Bosniak politicians, institutions and victims associations. He was released from detention and will remain so until the end of the trial./ibna