Totić kidnapping

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Totić kidnapping was an April 1993 kidnapping of Živko Totić, the head of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) Military Police in Zenica and a few other persons. It is alleged that the kidnapping was performed by Muslim forces. The claim is presented by the Defence case during Kupreškić trial in the ICTY against Croat soldiers accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity on Bosniaks during Lašva Valley ethnic cleansing. It is said the kidnapping sparked the Lašva Valley ethnic cleansing.[1] However, the ICTY found that the evidence revealed a tendency on the Croat side to spread alarm among the Croat population. A videotape of a news programme reporting the kidnapping of Živko Totić, is also instructive. The broadcaster recites all the alleged crimes committed by the Bosniaks against the Croats in an apparent attempt to incite hatred against the Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Army. This vitiates Zvonimir Cilic's assertion that the Croat leadership was trying to achieve conciliation among ethnic groups, but to prepare their own population for an attack on the Bosnian Muslims creating misinformation and propaganda.[2]

The Kidnapping[edit]

  • According to unverified claims on April 13, 1993 four members of the Stjepan Tomašević Brigade were seized outside Novi Travnik. The four kidnapped personnel included Vlado Sliskovic, deputy commander of the Tomasević Brigade; Ivica Kambić, the brigade SIS officer; Zdravko Kovac, the brigade intelligence officer; and their driver, Mire Jurkević. The kidnapped HVO soldiers were allegedly bound, gagged, and blindfolded and remained so for most of their captivity.[3]
  • At 7:50 on the morning of April 15, 1993 Živko Totić was kidnapped while en route to his headquarters. Živko Totić in testimony at the ICTY stated that on April 15, 1993 masked attackers wearing Bosnian Army insignias blocked his car in a Zenica suburb and killed his driver, two bodyguards and his brother-in-law, all with him in the car-as well as a passer-by. Having killed his escort, the kidnappers tied Totic up, placed a transparent black bag over his head, threw him into a van and drove him away, yelling "Allahu ekber."[4]

Bosnian Army quickly ordered all units to help find the kidnapped men. During the ICTY it was claimed that the kidnappings were in response to HVO forces arresting and detaining 13 Bosnian Mujahideen.[5] The ICTY Trial Chamber concluded that the Bosnian Army or the Bosniaks in general did plan to launch an attack on the Croats on 15–16 April 1993. Countrary, the ICTY Trial Chamber in the Kordić and Čerkez case based on the evidence of numerous HVO attacks at that time concluded that by April 1993 Croat leadership had a common design or plan conceived and executed to ethnically cleanse Bosniaks from the Lašva Valley. Dario Kordić, as the local political leader, was found to be the planner and instigator of this plan.[6]


  1. ^ "Judgement and Sentence - IT-95-16: 2. The Case for the Defence". 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-17. Kidnapping of Zivko Totic and the Killing of his Bodyguards. In addition to the events in Dusina, Lasva and Busovaca which occurred around January 1993, the kidnapping of Zivko Totic and the killing of his escort on 15 April 1993 is said to have had a seriously destabilising effect on Muslim-Croat relations. Zivko Totic was the head of the HVO Military Police in Zenica. [42] Four or five of Totic's bodyguards were killed during his kidnapping, allegedly by Muslim forces. [43] Zivko Totic himself was not killed, however, and was eventually released. [44] 
  2. ^ "Judgement and Sentence - IT-95-16:(c) Findings of the Trial Chamber". 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-17. (c) Findings of the Trial Chamber: Moreover, the "Operations Report" dated 16 April 1993, produced by Zvonimir Cilic, appears to be one-sided in that it only mentions attacks on "Croatian houses in Krcevine and Nadioci", and nothing about the assault on Ahmici and massacres of Muslim civilians. The Report complains of Muslim forces attacking from Preocica and states, inter alia, that "attacks by Muslim forces are becoming more ferocious and bestial". The Trial Chamber finds that this evidence is not conclusive in as much as it could prove either that the Muslims were preparing for an attack or that the Croat forces were creating misinformation and propaganda to prepare their own population for an attack on the Muslims. The correct interpretation depends on the true situation: whether the Muslims were indeed preparing for an attack or not. 
  3. ^ Designed by asker (2004). "The ABiH Main Attack - Vitez, April, 1993". pub. Archived from the original on 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  4. ^ "A PROFESSIONAL KIDNAPPING". sense-agency. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  5. ^ "Transcript - IT-95-14". ICTY. 17 November 1998. Retrieved 2007-09-17. Q. So you're also not aware that the reason that Zivko Totic was kidnapped was as a bargaining chip to ensure that these Muslims in Kaonik were released by the HVO?
    A. I know that Zivko Totic was kidnapped, and I'm not aware that he was kidnapped for those reasons.
    Q. In May 1993, are you aware of an exchange that took place in Zenica where Zivko Totic was, in fact, exchanged by Mujahedin for these 13 Muslims that were detained in the Kaonik prison?
    A. I'm not aware of that. May 1993, I think that I was already detained in a camp then.
    Q. So you are not aware of the reasons why Zivko Totic was kidnapped, are you?
    A. No, I'm not aware of that.
  6. ^ "ICTY: Kordić and Čerkez verdict - IV. Attacks on towns and villages: killings - C. The April 1993 Conflagration in Vitez and the Lašva Valley - 3. The Attack on Ahmići (Paragraph 642)".