THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL
FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
IN THE TRIAL CHAMBER
CASE NO. IT-95-14/1-I
Tuesday, 29th April 1997
B e f o r e :
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THE PROSECUTOR OF THE TRIBUNAL
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MR. GRANT NIEMANN, MR. ANURE MEDDEGODA and MR. MICHELE
MARCHESIELLO appeared on behalf of the Prosecution.
MR. GORAN MIKULICIC appeared on behalf of the defendant.
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2 (4.00 pm)
3 JUDGE JORDA: I would first like us to wait. Once and for
4 all I would like my orders to be given before the
5 accused is brought in, otherwise I find it a difficult
6 way to operate.
7 First of all, do all the interpreters hear? Is
8 everybody ready? Does everybody hear me for this
9 hearing of the initial appearance? Yes, I hear the
10 French interpreters. Does the Prosecutor hear me?
11 MR. NIEMANN: We have no sound.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Does the Prosecution hear now? Do you hear
13 me now, Prosecution?
14 MR. MEDDEGODA: No.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Niemann, do you hear me now? Do you hear
16 me, Mr. Niemann?
17 MR. NIEMANN: No, I am afraid I do not.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Does Mr. Aleksovski hear me?
19 THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Does the defence hear me?
21 MR. MIKULICIC: Yes.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Do you hear me, Mr. Niemann?
23 MR. NIEMANN: Yes.
24 JUDGE JORDA: We can begin the hearing, which is an initial
25 appearance hearing, given the arrest and presence of one
2 the Prosecutor.
3 MR. NIEMANN: If your Honours please, my name is Niemann --
4 JUDGE JORDA: Turn your microphone on.
5 MR. NIEMANN: If your Honour pleases, my name is Niemann.
6 I appear with, on my left, Mr. Marchesiello. On my
7 right is Mr. Meddegoda. We appear for the Prosecution
8 in this matter, your Honour.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Could we have the appearance for the defence,
11 MR. MIKULICIC: Your Honour, my name is Goran Mikulicic. I
12 am the defence attorney of Mr. Aleksovski.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Is there any kind of a warrant
14 that you have with you? It is Mr. Mikulicic; is that
16 MR. MIKULICIC: Yes, that is right.
17 JUDGE JORDA: You are from the Zagreb bar?
18 MR. MIKULICIC: Yes, I am.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Be seated. I suppose that both the
20 Prosecutor and the defence are prepared to move
21 forward. I would like to recall the terms of the
22 initial appearance hearing. The initial appearance of
23 an accused is covered by a certain number of provisions
24 which appear in the text, as well as by the
25 International Criminal Tribunal's Statute and Rules.
2 that the Trial Chamber reads the indictment and makes
3 sure that the rights of the accused have been respected,
4 confirms that the accused has understood the indictment
5 and instructs the accused to enter a plea. The Trial
6 Chamber will then set a date for trial.
7 In the same Statute there are a series of rights
8 which have been provided for your client; among them the
9 right to be informed as quickly as possible in a
10 language which he understands in detail of the nature
11 and cause of the charge against him, and to have time
12 and facilities for the preparation of the defence, and
13 there are other rights as well, which are made clear by
14 your defence. These have to do with those steps which
15 precede the hearing.
16 Dealing more specifically with the initial
17 hearing, which is the reason for our meeting today, the
18 initial hearing of the accused is provided for in Rule
19 62 of the Rules. It is a relatively short rule, which
20 says that the Trial Chamber -- the rights of the accused
21 are respected, that he has the right to counsel, reads
22 or has the indictment read to the accused in a language
23 he speaks or understands, and satisfies itself that the
24 accused understands the indictment. We will now do
25 that. We will call the accused to enter a plea of
2 accused fail to do so, enter a plea of "not guilty" on
3 his behalf and, last, if possible, one sets the date for
4 the trial. If not possible, we set the date for
5 whatever schedule can be done now in order to set up the
6 schedule for the trial.
7 I note, along with my colleagues, that the accused
8 has an attorney. I would now like to turn to
9 Mr. Mikulicic and first -- you may rise, sir. I would
10 like you to assure us, assure the judges of Trial
11 Chamber 1, that the accused has received a copy of the
12 indictment and that it was read to him in a language
13 which he understands.
14 MR. MIKULICIC: Yes, I can confirm that my client has read
15 the indictment and that he understood the indictment.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Has he himself read it, Mr. Mikulicic?
17 MR. MIKULICIC: Yes, he did.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Have you had the occasion to discuss it with
19 him, although I do know that you only arrived this
20 morning? Did you have the chance to speak about the
21 indictment with your client?
22 MR. MIKULICIC: No, we have very few time to discuss the
23 indictment, so pretty generally we discussed it.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. You may be seated. I will ask
25 the Registrar to read the indictment and will again be
2 Registrar to separate those parts which are relevant to
3 Mr. Aleksovski. I give the floor to you, Registrar.
4 THE REGISTRAR: The indictment contains the number
5 IT-95-15-I and is dated 2nd November 1995.
7 Richard J Goldstone, Prosecutor of the
8 International Criminal Tribunal for the former
9 Yugoslavia, pursuant to his authority under Article 18
10 of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal
11 for the former Yugoslavia ("The Statute of the
12 Tribunal"), charges that:
13 1. Serious violations of international
14 humanitarian law took place during the period of May
15 1992 to May 1993, when the armed forces of the Croatian
16 Defence Council (hereinafter referred to as HVO) of the
17 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna (hereinafter referred
18 to as HZ-HB) attacked the Muslim civilian population in
19 the towns, villages and hamlets of the Lasva Valley area
20 of Central Bosnia generally and specifically in the
21 municipalitites of Vitez and Busovaca and the civilian
22 population of the nearby city of Zenica, in the
23 territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
24 7. Zlatko Aleksovski, son of Tale and Eva (nee
25 Stanko), was born on 8 January 1960 in Pakrac, Pakrac
2 studies at the "Veljko Vlahovic" Faculty of Political
3 Sciences, Department of Sociology, in Sarajevo on 28
4 September 1983. From 23 February 1987 he was employed
5 as a counsellor at the "Zenica Correction House" until
6 on or about 29 January 1993, when he left to become
7 commander of the prison facility at Kaonik, near
8 Busovaca. After May 1993 he left Kaonik to become the
9 Head of the District HVO "Heliodrom" prison in Mostar,
10 which was also under the administration of HZ-HB.
11 20. Zlatko Aleksovski was an official at the
12 Zenica prison from 23 February 1987 until leaving to be
13 the commander of the detention facility at Kaonik, near
14 Busovaca, on or about 29 January 1993. He was in charge
15 of Kaonik Prison and was in a position of superiority to
16 everyone else in the camp. As commander, he met
17 International Committee of the Red Cross (hereinafter
18 referred to as ICRC) and European Community Monitoring
19 Mission (hereinafter referred to as ECMM) officials and
20 provided them with lists of detained persons and
21 acknowledged his position of commander of the facility
22 and his understanding of the Geneva Conventions in
23 relation to the detention and treatment of prisoners in
24 his charge.
25 21. Zlatko Aleksovski has demonstrated or
2 Kaonik Prison in a variety of ways including, but not
3 limited to, formal meetings with ICRC and ECMM
4 officials, accepting the custody of arrested persons by
5 HVO units, allowing the unlawful interrogation of
6 detained persons and allowing them to be used for
7 unlawful forced labour (digging trenches) and human
9 31. From January 1993 until at least the end ...
10 an international armed conflict and partial occupation
11 existed in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in
12 the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
13 22.2 All acts or omissions herein set forth as
14 grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949
15 (hereinafter "grave breaches"), recognised by Article 2
16 of the Statute of the Tribunal, occurred during that
17 international armed conflict and partial occupation.
18 22.3 In each paragraph charging crimes against
19 humanity, a crime recognised by Article 5 of the Statute
20 of the Tribunal, the alleged acts or omissions were part
21 of a widespread, large-scale or systematic attack
22 directed against a civilian population, specifically the
23 Bosnian Muslim population of the Lasva Valley region of
24 the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
25 22.4 All of the victims referred to in the
2 relevant times, persons protected by the Geneva
3 Conventions of 1949.
4 22.5 All of the accused in this indictment were
5 required to abide by the mandate of the laws and customs
6 governing the conduct of war, including the Geneva
7 Conventions of 1949.
8 22.6 The general allegations contained in
9 paragraphs 8 through to 22.5 are realleged and
10 incorporated into each of the related charges set out
13 31. From January 1993 until at least the end of
14 May 1993, Zlatko Aleksovski accepted hundreds of
15 detained Bosnia Muslim civilians from the HVO or their
16 agents into his custody at the detention facilities in
17 Kaonik. The detainees were from a widespread area
18 including, but not exclusive to, Vitez and Busovaca
19 municipalitites. Many of the detainees under his
20 control were subjected to inhumane treatment, including,
21 but not limited to, excessive and cruel interrogation,
22 physical and psychological harm, forced labour (digging
23 trenches), in hazardous circumstances, being used as
24 human shields and some were murdered or otherwise
2 Grave Breaches and Violation of the Laws or
3 Customs of War.
4 Unlawful treatment of Bosnian Muslim detainees.
5 37. Dario Cordic, Tihofil Blaskic, Mario Cerkez,
6 Ivan Santic, Pero Skopljak and Zlatko Aleksovski,
7 between 1 January and 31 May 1993, and as otherwise
8 described in paragraphs 23 and 26-31 of this indictment,
9 all of which are incorporated in full herein,
10 individually, and in concert with others, planned,
11 instigated, ordered or otherwise aided and abetted in
12 the planning, preparation or execution of the unlawful
13 treatment of Bosnian Muslim detainees in the Lasva
14 Valley area of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
15 and, or in the alternative, knew, or had reason to know,
16 that subordinates were about to do the same, or had done
17 so, and failed to take the necessary and reasonable
18 measures to prevent such acts or to punish the
19 perpetrators thereof.
20 By these acts and omissions Dario Kordic, Tihofil
21 Blaskic, Mario Cerkez, Ivan Santic, Pero Skopljak and
22 Zlatko Aleksovski committed:
23 Count 8: a GRAVE BREACH as recognised by Articles
24 2(b) (inhuman treatment), 7(1) and 7(3) of the Statute
25 of the Tribunal;
2 2(c) (wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury
3 to body or health), 7(1) and 7(3) of the Statute of the
5 Count 10: a VIOLATION OF THE LAWS OR CUSTOMS OF
6 WAR (outrages upon the personal dignity) as recognised
7 by Articles 3, 7(1) and 7(3) of the Statute of the
9 This indictment was amended by a Decision of 22
10 November 1996.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Registrar. Thank you for reading
12 this. Mr. Zlatko Aleksovski, would you rise, please?
13 Would you state your name, your first name, any
14 relations that you have, any other identifying
15 characteristics, your profession today? We are
16 listening to you.
17 THE DEFENDANT: My name is Zlatko Aleksovski, the son of
18 Tale Aleksovski. My mother's name is Eva Stanko.
19 I was born on 8 January 1960 in Pakrac in the Republic
20 of Croatia.
21 JUDGE JORDA: You studied political science; is that
22 correct? What is your profession today?
23 THE DEFENDANT: Until I was indicted, I worked as Manager
24 of the District Court in Busovaca. I graduated in
25 political sciences in Sarajevo, Department of Sociology.
2 prosecuted under the indictment which has been drafted
3 by the Prosecutor against you, which explains the
4 reasons for your arrest and presence here today. You
5 have heard those parts of the Statute which relate to
6 you. You heard the indictment. Your counsel has
7 explained it to you. I would like you to tell me
8 whether you understood what was read, whether it was
9 read to you in a language which is yours, and for you to
10 tell me as well whether you plead "guilty" or "not
11 guilty" to each of the three counts in the indictment,
12 two having to do with graves breaches of the Geneva
13 Convention, and one count of violation of the laws and
14 customs of war.
15 First question: do you confirm that you read the
16 indictment, read it in a language which you understand?
17 THE DEFENDANT: Yes, I have read the indictment in a
18 language I understand. That was last night, when the
19 Registrar gave it to me in the original officially,
20 because that was the first time I received it
22 JUDGE JORDA: Therefore, you can with all lucidity state
23 whether or not you are pleading "guilty" or "not
24 guilty". This is the question which myself and the
25 other judges are asking you. The indictment provides
2 recognised by Articles 2(b) (inhuman treatment) and 7(1)
3 and 7(3), referring to individual responsibility. As
4 to Count 8, serious breach of the Geneva Convention, do
5 you plead "guilty" or "not guilty"?
6 THE DEFENDANT: Your Honour, I have understood what the
7 Registrar read as well as this count that you are
8 referring to. I have read it but I deny all
9 culpability for the charges and I do not feel
10 responsible. Therefore I plead "not guilty".
11 JUDGE JORDA: This will be recorded in the transcripts of
12 this hearing by the Registrar. As to Count 9, which
13 also relates to a serious breach of the Geneva
14 Convention, specifically Article 2(c) of the Statute,
15 the fact of having intentionally caused serious harm to
16 the person, whether psychological or physical, under
17 Article 7(1) and 7(3), do you take the same position,
18 that you plead "not guilty"?
19 THE DEFENDANT: I confirm what I have already said.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. This will also be recorded.
21 Last, having to do with Count Number 10, the violation
22 of laws and customs of war, those having to do with
23 causing great suffering or serious injury to body or
24 health, outrages on the person's dignity, as recognised
25 by Articles 3, 7(1) and 7(3), as to this count, what is
2 that count?
3 THE DEFENDANT: As I said a moment ago, I plead "not
4 guilty" to all the counts. I consider myself
5 absolutely innocent.
6 JUDGE JORDA: This will also be recorded in the transcript
7 of today's hearing. You may be seated, Mr. Aleksovski.
8 THE DEFENDANT: Thank you.
9 JUDGE JORDA: I would now like to turn to the
10 Prosecution. Starting today, a certain number of
11 required time periods begin to run. The first
12 obligation, which is the Prosecutor's, pursuant to Rule
13 66 of the Rules, is that, starting today, Prosecution,
14 the Prosecutor must make available to the defence, as
15 soon as practicable after the initial appearance of the
16 accused, copies of the supporting material which
17 accompanied the indictment when confirmation was sought,
18 as well as all prior statements obtained by the
19 Prosecutor for the accused or from Prosecution
20 witnesses. The final version of this statement,
21 translations of this material must be made into the
22 language of the accused, which he understands.
23 Turning to the Prosecutor, where are you? What
24 time period are you giving yourself in order to disclose
25 all these documents to the defence?
2 Prosecution on this matter is that we require, with your
3 Honour's leave, time to at least consult with the
4 principal witnesses that are disclosed in the material,
5 in order to just ascertain whether there are any
6 security matters which we would need to address in the
7 event of discovery under that provision. We are
8 embarking on that exercise forthwith, and we will
9 endeavour to make discovery in as short a practicable
10 time as possible.
11 Subject to the convenience of the court, we would
12 today be seeking an adjournment of the matter until --
13 for a status conference, and I think that we would be in
14 a much better position to inform the court of our
15 progress in this matter in a period of three to four
16 weeks. In that time we would hope to have progressed
17 the issue of discovery, if not in whole, in part.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Niemann, I understand that you cannot
19 disclose all of the documents right now, but do you
20 already have documents which you can disclose to the
22 MR. NIEMANN: I am not in a position right at this moment,
23 your Honour, to say exactly what we can disclose and
24 what we cannot, but my understanding is that there is
25 some material that we believe we could make available in
2 endeavour to make that material available as soon as
4 JUDGE JORDA: Since Mr. Aleksovski was supposed to be at the
5 Tribunal several weeks ago already -- I believe that the
6 International Criminal Tribunal has been expecting him
7 ever since the indictment was issued, that is November
8 1995, if I can recall -- again I recall the date,
9 November 1995. However, Prosecutor, you do intend, do
10 you not, to set a date quickly? . Could you give us a
11 period, amount of time, how much you need for disclosing
12 the documents? If I am insisting on this, it is because
13 experience in other cases leads me to think that very
14 often a great deal of time is needed in order to get
15 going before a trial can begin.
16 The texts provide for our setting the date of the
17 trial as of today. Of course, we will not be able to
18 do so, but in so far as Mr. Aleksovski was supposed to be
19 here since December, I do suppose that certain documents
20 already could be communicated. If I ask you this, it
21 is because you know and the defence knows as well that
22 you have 60 days starting from today to decide whether
23 you will file preliminary motions or not within the
24 scope of this trial. Today we will set the date for
25 the end of that period, which will be 28th June, but
2 period of time you expect to be able to give to us a
3 certain number of documents. You understand my
4 concern, do you not?
5 MR. NIEMANN: Precisely, your Honour. Indeed, we will be
6 endeavouring to make available material as soon as we
7 possibly can. With respect to witness statements, there
8 are genuine and sensitive concerns that we have, which
9 we just simply need to check out. It is not a question
10 of just not being in a position to alternately discover
11 it. It is just a question of do we need to take steps
12 in order to afford protection, if that is required.
13 Indeed, it would be remiss of us, your Honour, if we did
14 not at least pursue that exercise. These things,
15 because you need to locate various witnesses and speak
16 to them in order to ascertain their position, do take
17 some time. That is why I suggested a period of one
18 month, which I thought would be reasonable for this
20 There is other material, which is not affected in
21 this way, and I would imagine, your Honours, that this
22 could be made available in a shorter period than that
23 one month period. I would expect that we would be
24 embarking on the process of discovery within the next
25 ten days, when we have sorted the material which we feel
2 which was discovered -- which was made available for the
3 whole of the indictment.
4 Your Honours are aware, of course, that this
5 indictment relates only in part to the accused,
6 Mr. Aleksovski, and there is a whole lot, a mass of
7 material which relates to other accused, which may not
8 fall within the scope of the Rule, but it is not our
9 intention to delay this exercise. It is not our
10 intention to be difficult in respect of discovery. It
11 is our intention to be as open and to be as efficient as
12 possible in making this material available.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Prosecutor. If I have understood
14 you well, from now -- ten days from now -- Mr. Triscos,
15 about ten days the Prosecutor has said. That would be
16 10th May. Shall we say 10th May? From now until 10th
17 May you will be able to submit a series of documents,
18 which do not directly require protection of witnesses,
19 also witness statements, hoping that these will be
20 corroborated, and that protection measures will not
21 represent an insurmountable problem, or simply other
22 declarations, which need not be witness statements,
23 pieces of evidence, agendas, various other documents.
24 Therefore, we are taking note that by May 10th you
25 will have disclosed to the defence a series of
2 beginning of June, we can meet again to see what
3 progress you have made with your witnesses, which
4 measures you wish to take, protection measures, for your
5 witnesses, and perhaps we will also know what the
6 preliminary motions will be.
7 Therefore, Mr. Prosecutor, by May 10th a certain
8 number of documents will be submitted to the defence.
9 We will not specify which documents those will be, and
10 then within a time period of one month we should meet
11 again to see what steps the Prosecutor requires
12 regarding protection of witness, and the defence also
13 can convey to us their first observations regarding the
14 documents which will be disclosed to them by May 10th.
15 I now ask Mr. Mikulicic -- thank you, Mr. Prosecutor
16 -- Mr Mikulicic, considering what the Prosecutor has
17 said, I would like to see whether this planning is
18 acceptable to you. You have the floor.
19 MR. MIKULICIC: If I am allowed to use my own native
20 language, it will be much easier for me.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, you have permission.
22 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, your Honour.
23 (In interpretation): I wish to welcome the court
24 ruling, fixing a deadline for disclosure of documents.
25 The defence would like, most of all, to have all the
2 have insight into them as soon as possible, for it is in
3 the interest of the defence for this trial to be
4 efficient and effective so as not to have any
5 unnecessary delays. Therefore, the defence agrees to
6 this deadline of 10th May for the submission of
7 documents, as well as the date for another hearing of
8 the Trial Chamber regarding progress made.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Thank you. So if you are
10 agreeable, we will bear in mind and take note in the
11 minutes of this initial appearance hearing that by 10th
12 May the Prosecutor will disclose a number of documents
13 in conformity with Article 66. On the other hand, we
14 will set a date for a status conference, which will be
15 held in about one month, and which would allow us to
16 establish how we stand with the files. That will be
17 halfway of the period of 60 days allowed for preliminary
18 motions. The end of those 60 days is 29th June.
19 Therefore, I propose that we meet -- let me see. Let
20 me consult my colleagues for a minute. (Pause.)
21 Very well. I propose that we meet again on
22 Wednesday, June 4th, the morning or the afternoon,
23 depending on your other obligations. Do you prefer the
24 afternoon, Mr. Mikulicic? Is that easier for you in view
25 of the air transport and other considerations? Do you
2 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, your Honour. An afternoon
3 hearing would suit the defence more.
4 JUDGE JORDA: We will give you the time, but in any event a
5 status conference will be held on June 4th in the
6 afternoon. Mr. Prosecutor, will that give you enough
7 time regarding the question of witness protection? Is
8 that date suitable?
9 MR. NIEMANN: It is suitable, your Honour, so that the
10 Prosecution can be in a position to report on where it
11 is in terms of any requests it might be making with
12 respect to witness protection. Thank you.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Mr. Registrar? (Pause.)
14 I have a small correction to make. The Registry
15 have noted that in mid-June we will still be involved
16 with the Celebici case and that on Fridays there are no
17 hearings. Therefore, perhaps the status conference
18 could be fixed for Friday, June 6th, at the end of the
19 morning. Would that suit you? Would that give you
20 enough time to get here, Mr. Mikulicic? About 11 o'clock
21 on June 6th?
22 MR. MIKULICIC: Yes, your Honour. I will adjust my
23 timetable to the needs and decision of the Trial
25 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Prosecutor, Friday, 11 o'clock, June 6th,
2 MR. NIEMANN: That is acceptable, your Honour.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. In that case the Tribunal has
4 decided that, first of all, by 10th May all the
5 documents under Rule 66 which are not covered by special
6 protection will be disclosed to the defence. Secondly,
7 the Trial Chamber decides that on Friday, June 6th, at
8 11 o'clock, a status conference will be held, which will
9 have a two-fold object. First, the Prosecutor will
10 present the results of all its enquiries that have taken
11 place over more than a month, that is during five weeks,
12 whether he will keep certain witnesses, reject them or
13 ask for special protection measures. Also we will hear
14 the views of Mr. Mikulicic on the basis of the documents
15 he has seen, whether he will have any preliminary
16 motions to make within the delay of 60 days, but that
17 date will have to be fixed on that occasion and let it
18 not be delayed beyond the deadline. At that point we
19 will fix the date for the beginning of trial.
20 I now turn my attention to Mr. Aleksovski. Do you
21 have any statement to make, Mr. Aleksovski, on the basis
22 of what you have heard regarding the dates and the
24 A. Your Honour, I have nothing to state at this moment.
25 I have followed carefully the proceedings and I agree
2 JUDGE JORDA: You may be seated. Thank you. The meeting
3 is adjourned.
4 (4.40 pm)
5 (Hearing adjourned)