1 Monday, 23rd February 1998
2 (9.00 am)
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Good morning, ladies and
4 gentlemen. We are going to resume the trial after
5 a long period of absence, and I believe we are going to
6 carry on with some witnesses. Is that so, Mr. Niemann?
7 MR. NIEMANN: Yes, your Honour.
8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Can you bring the witness
10 MR. NIEMANN: Yes, your Honour.
11 Mr. Marchesiello is going to take the first witness,
12 your Honour, today, and I understand that they are here
14 I received a recent message just before your
15 Honours came into the room to the effect that the
16 witnesses had not arrived. The witnesses are being
17 brought here. Now, whether they have now turned up or
18 not I do not know, but perhaps the orderly may assist
19 by checking for us.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes. (Pause).
21 (The witness entered court)
22 MR. MARCHESIELLO: Now, your Honours, as you
23 can see, the witness has arrived. Mr. Novalic, will you
24 read now the statement that the usher has provided to
1 A. I solemnly declare that I will speak the
2 truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Please, sit down.
4 Good morning, witness. Good morning. Can you
5 hear me?
6 A. Yes, I can.
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you for coming to
8 testify before this court. Questions will be put to you
9 by the Prosecutor. Please, you may proceed.
10 EDIN NOVALIC
11 Examined by MR. MARCHESIELLO
12 Q. Thank you, your Honour.
13 Mr. Novalic, have you understand, fully
14 understood, what the President of the court told you,
15 and the importance of the declaration you just read, as
16 to the truth of what you are going to say? Did you
17 understand it?
18 A. Yes, I have.
19 Q. Now, Mr. Novalic, let us start with some basic
20 data for the court.
21 Could you please state your full name, age,
22 date and place of birth, please?
23 A. My name is Edin Novalic. I was born on
24 2nd January 1954 in Busovaca.
25 Q. Could you state for the court your
1 nationality and your religion, please?
2 A. I am a Muslim. Of Muslim nationality and
3 Muslim religion.
4 Q. Now, thank you, Mr. Novalic.
5 Now, I would like you to shortly outline for
6 the court, which has been your education, your
7 profession, your school, and professional education.
8 A. I finished technical secondary school, and
9 I started university in Zagreb. I used to work in
10 a construction company called Izgradnja in Zenica for
11 about five years and also in the utility company in
12 Busovaca, where I worked for about 12 years until 1990.
13 Q. So you, one can say that you spent all your
14 life until 1993 in Busovaca?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Most of the time, most of your social,
17 professional, educational, experiences were all in
18 Busovaca. Is it true?
19 A. Yes. That is correct.
20 Q. Did you serve in the army at a certain moment
21 of your life, and in which unit, with which ranks?
22 A. Yes, I did, in Karlovac, and then also part
23 of my military service I did in Macedonia, and I had
24 a rank of captain, and I was member of the force
1 Q. And always referring to that period of your
2 life, can you provide us with some information as to
3 your political experiences? I mean, did you belong to
4 any political organisation or party? Were you involved
5 in such activities?
6 A. Until 1990 I was a member of the Communist
7 League. I had certain obligations with the union, but
8 I was never professionally involved in politics, and
9 I did not do it continually.
10 Q. Were you an influential member of the Muslim
11 community in Busovaca? What I want to see is whether
12 you were well-known and if not to say popular, for some
14 A. I think you could say that, yes.
15 Q. Right. Could you explain that and go into
16 some short details as to this?
17 A. Well, I was born in the town itself, and
18 I used to work as a company manager. I was involved in
19 sports, and that is the reason why people knew me more
20 than they knew other people in the town. That is simply
21 how it was.
22 Q. By the way, can you, approximately, even in
23 a rough percentage, state how many Muslims, Croats and
24 Serbs did live at that time in Busovaca municipality?
25 A. Well, for the accurate statistics,
1 45 per cent Croats, 44 per cent Muslims, and the rest
2 were Serbs and other nationalities. People from other
3 ethnic backgrounds.
4 Q. And as to this situation concerning the
5 ethnic and the religious composition of the population,
6 let us say, until 1991, were there any problems in the
7 ethnic interrelations, and interactions, or was the
8 situation, as one can say, "normal"?
9 A. I guess you could say that it was more than
10 normal. There were no problems whatsoever.
11 Q. So you have Serbian and Croatian friends and
12 the same with your neighbours? There were no
13 significant extension concerning their ethnic
14 background of a person living in Busovaca?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And starting from, let us say, 1991, or any
17 other date you will find more appropriate, did
18 something start to change in this normal and basically
19 pacific situation within the community?
20 A. After the first multi-party elections,
21 national parties came to power and these parties,
22 according to their statutes, were not exclusively
23 national parties. However, in reality, it turned out to
24 be so. Differences became visible, people started
25 quarrelling about seemingly insignificant things, about
1 school curricula, the use of the language, and so on.
2 People started to divide themselves, and, you know, all
3 ugly things that usually accompany such developments.
4 Q. You mean a development in stressing national,
5 and religious differences. Is that what you mean?
6 A. Yes. That is right, and it was more visible
7 every day. You could observe differences becoming more
8 profound in the everyday life.
9 Q. Could you shortly explain which was the role
10 of the HVO in fostering this process, this change?
11 A. At the beginning I noticed the presence of
12 the HVO through posters that were visible around the
13 town, and I think that what was written on such posters
14 was, "HVO, love for the homeland". You could not really
15 notice it at the main square, but, however, little by
16 little they started arming themselves illegally. But at
17 that time we thought it to be a positive thing because
18 a kind of war was beginning to break out, because
19 somehow we were hoping that we would not experience the
20 same things that were happening in Sarajevo or in
21 eastern Bosnia. We were hoping that it would stop.
22 However, the HVO became stronger and stronger
23 every day and at a certain moment the HVO, through the
24 use of force in the second half of 1992, took over
25 complete power in the town of Busovaca.
1 They abused the fear that could be felt among
2 the population, even among the Croatian population,
3 which used to be on very good terms with the rest of
4 the community, before that.
5 Q. I understand in your representation of this
6 situation that you make a difference between the
7 attitude of the HVO, growing into an increasingly
8 organised military organisation, and the attitude, the
9 original attitude of the Croatian community which did
10 not feel so strongly against the Muslim community.
11 A. Yes. At the beginning, this opposition
12 expressed by one part of the Croatian population was
13 really visible, prominent. But, however, as the time
14 passed by, that part of the population also changed its
15 opinion, and they were trying, they were beginning to
16 identify themselves with the HDZ and the HVO because
17 this is something that they felt in their everyday
18 life. Things were happening without their influence, so
19 you could say that at one moment almost 90 per cent of
20 the Croatian population sided with the HDZ and the HVO,
21 although they did not necessarily always agree with
22 their policies.
23 Q. And who were the major responsible for the
24 HVO in Busovaca municipality?
25 A. In my opinion it was Dario Kordic and Anto
2 Q. Which was the relation between these two? Was
3 one subordinated to the other or were they performing
4 different duties and responsibilities within the
6 A. They had different functions. Dario Kordic
7 had his -- head of wider function, more extensive, and
8 I think that the events that took place in Busovaca
9 were under the influence of Anto Sliskovic.
10 Q. Did Anto Sliskovic have a specific role
11 within the HVO? What was he in charge of?
12 A. He was in charge of organising and leading
13 the military police. Later on, he was in charge of the
14 intelligence service called, "SIS". I think, in
15 a nutshell, that he controlled everything, everyday
16 life of the town.
17 Q. Is he still the head of the SIS at the
18 present time?
19 A. I think he has functioned there, but I do not
20 think it is anything official. It is difficult to give
21 you an answer as to who is head of the SIS, but I do
22 not think you would get any other name than his.
23 Q. Within this difficult situation, increasingly
24 difficult situation which you described concerning the
25 Muslim community, were the Muslim, at a certain moment,
1 forbidden to move freely in the area, within the
2 municipality, which, by means of force, checkpoints,
3 what else?
4 A. The barricades were usual, an everyday
5 phenomenon. I do not know how long it lasted, but
6 I think that they were there for about six or seven
7 months. Every 10 or 15 kilometres. Mostly these were
8 the barricades of the HVO.
9 At the beginning, and depending on the events
10 in the field, we would have problems getting through
11 the barricades, but in January 1993 it was almost
12 impossible to move around.
13 Q. When you say, "we", you mean the Muslims?
14 A. Yes. Yes, of course.
15 Q. Otherwise the Croats, the other part of the
16 population, there is no impossible to move freely
17 around, given the situation and the war and so on.
18 A. I think you could say that they moved more
19 freely. However, among Croats themselves, there were
20 some people who did not have a very good reputation,
21 and were sometimes abused, or maybe where -- happened
22 to be in the company of a mixed society. So they could
23 have certain, sometimes troubles, harassment, and so
25 Q. Now, I am going to ask you as to the Muslim
1 reaction to this changing and increasingly dangerous
2 situation. How did the Muslim community react from the
3 political, and from the military point of view? But let
4 us stop now to the political. Did they organise? Did
5 they put up an organisation in order to protect the
6 interests of the local population?
7 A. There were such attempts, yes. Each time we
8 were faced with some concrete problems and each time we
9 managed to discuss them and negotiate a solution we
10 were able to reach a kind of satisfactory result.
11 However, nothing was ever carried out in practice.
12 Nothing was ever implemented. There were promises, and
13 so on. There were lots of things that were not good,
14 and we would discuss them. However, the situation was
15 getting worse every day, and the threshold of tolerance
16 kept moving all the time. This is something you could
17 talk about now, from this distance. However, at that
18 time we were slowly accepting certain things that may
19 seem to be illogical today.
20 Q. Does the Patriotic League fit within this
21 situation, this picture?
22 A. In April 1992 I was offered membership,
23 because my friends, my colleagues, who were members
24 from the very beginning, suggested that I should become
25 a member, and the first commander of the Patriotic
1 League in Busovaca which I accepted under one
2 condition, that this be a non-party organisation, and
3 that it be a multi-national organisation. This was
4 approved, and this is how I started working for the
5 Patriotic League. I started organising things,
6 involving people who thought that we should find a way
7 of functioning. There was no system whatsoever. We did
8 not have any instructions at the beginning, any
9 guidelines, and we simply managed to organise ourselves
10 like this, and the composition of the Patriotic League
11 reflected the composition of the population of the
13 We did not have any weapons, maybe 10 or 20
14 rifles, that was all. But at that moment the membership
15 was maybe double. We had much more members than the
16 HVO, but somehow we became dangerous, regardless of the
17 fact that we did not have any weapons.
18 Do you want me to continue?
19 Q. No, I want you to add something specific to
20 this description. Were there meetings and agreements,
21 or attempts to reach an agreement within -- between the
22 Patriotic League and the HVO? You, particularly, as the
23 commander of the Patriotic League, did you meet with
24 the representatives of the HVO, with Kordic in
1 A. I had a meeting with Kordic, whom I had known
2 from before, and he knew me very well. He still knows
3 me. We agreed that the weapons that belonged to the
4 Territorial Defence of the Busovaca municipality,
5 meaning the weapons that could be used in case of war
6 danger or emergency, and was supposed to be distributed
7 among the population, so we agreed that half of the
8 weapons should be divided among the Patriotic League
9 and the HVO.
10 However, this agreement was never honoured.
11 It was the first time that hostilities became obvious.
12 The masks were being taken off, and in order to avoid
13 any conflict we simply put an end to our activities
14 within the Patriotic League.
15 Q. As of this moment, the name of Kaonik appears
16 for the first time, because Kaonik barracks was a part
17 of this agreement, of this unattended agreement. Is it
18 not true?
19 A. Yes. The weapons were in the Kaonik barracks,
20 and the condition to reach it was that the former
21 Yugoslav People's Army should leave the barracks, and
22 I think that day by day an incident occurred, incidents
23 began to occur when we were asked to distribute those
24 weapons and then there was an incident, there were two
25 shootings on the occasion. They wounded one of ours,
1 one of our young men and one of their own. This became
2 dramatic to such an extent that we were no longer able
3 to work. Nothing was done without blood.
4 Q. Now, I understand that the matter of the
5 armament was growing more and more decisive, important.
6 Did the HVO start any organised action, undertake any
7 organised action to systematically disarm Muslims, and
8 when did this occur, if so?
9 A. The first -- without saying so, it was
10 understood that nobody outside the HVO could freely
11 carry rifles across the town, or any public place, for
12 that matter, but in January 1993, or to be more exact,
13 I think it was on the 22nd January, during the night
14 masked members of the HVO, members of the military
15 police, I think, and some foreign soldiers who were
16 located in Busovaca at the time entered the houses,
17 certain houses, according to a preconceived plan. They
18 looked for weapons, they maltreated the people there,
19 and they killed a young man on the occasion.
20 During that same night, by means of an
21 explosive, they mined all the shops and business
22 locations which were not owned by the Croats, and these
23 were predominantly Muslim shops, Muslim owners.
24 (9.30 am)
25 Q. And this happened between 22nd and 23rd of
1 January. Am I correct?
2 A. I think that that is correct. Perhaps it was
3 on the night between the 21st and 22nd, but I think --
4 I am more certain that it was between the 22nd and
5 23rd. On the night between the 22nd and 23rd.
6 Q. Let us move ahead; when did you notice that
7 a sort of systematic military action was going to be
8 undertaken? Did you notice movement of troops, of HVO
9 troops across Busovaca and when, if so?
10 A. At that time, during those days of January in
11 Busovaca, I am not quite sure how much, but there were
12 several hundred foreign soldiers. The HVO, let me say,
13 at that time did not fight on any battlefield against
14 the Serbian army. They were generally in the town, and
15 this new army sought some kind of action. They were
16 allowed to do everything, and it was to be expected --
17 the worst was to be expected at any moment.
18 This action, this drive on the 22nd and
19 23rd was continued the following night so that
20 systematically practically all the houses and flats,
21 they entered into them and we just waited to see when
22 we would be visited by them. Some fared better, some
23 worse, depending on who came to knock on our doors.
24 Q. You said that the HVO mainly were not on the
25 battlefield. On the front-line against the Serbs. Where
1 was the BiH army during those days? The bulk of the BiH
3 A. The army, the BiH army, having left the
4 Yugoslav People's Army, set up a camp in the village of
5 Kacuni, and this camp is in a predominantly Muslim
6 area, and at times, this was around April or May when
7 the Yugoslav People's Army had left, and the
8 Territorial Defence moved into this territory, whereas
9 the HVO was given these two -- the two barracks in
10 town, and that is where the army slowly began to
11 organise itself and to send its soldiers to the
12 battlefield first towards Visoko. They were the forces
13 and detachments. They would get weapons there. Once
14 their time was over they would come back to their
15 houses without these weapons. At the time of the
16 conflict one of the army units was on the Maglaj
18 Q. During these days, I am referring to the
19 period, Thursday, 21st, 22nd... was your family still
20 staying in Busovaca with you or did you move them
22 A. On the Friday the 23rd my family was moved to
23 Zenica. They were in Zenica.
24 Q. Let us go to the morning of the 25th. On this
25 morning, I understand there was the final attack in
1 Busovaca against the community. How did you experience
2 it, starting from the 25th?
3 A. I think that I should go back to the
4 24th which was a Sunday, because the members of the
5 army, there were several incidents there. Some of the
6 officers of the army were taken out of the cars to the
7 barricades and were forced to lie on the asphalt. Some
8 of them were beaten. The army in retaliation, in
9 response, prepared to set up their own checkpoints and
10 barricades along the road in the village of Kacuni. It
11 is the Busovaca/Kiseljak road, and on the basis of
12 that, to seek more serious negotiations and talks to
13 decide upon these relations. That was the basic aim for
14 which these barricades were set up.
15 This very fact for the HVO meant a strong
16 challenge. First of all, they wanted to rule the
17 communication lines and on the Sunday of the 24th at
18 3 pm, rifle shots started. There were some dead and
19 that was the beginning of the conflict. We were located
20 in the town as it is -- in the centre of the town,
21 Kadica Strana, and we were --
22 Q. Excuse me if I interrupt you. When you say,
23 "we", you always refer to the Muslim community? Do you
24 want to say with that that the Muslim community was
25 living in a specific area of Busovaca?
1 A. Yes. The Muslims lived -- it was a mixed
2 population but in this particular section of town it
3 was an ethnically pure region, and that is where we
4 gathered. We were led into this corner of town. It was
5 logical for us to be there, and we wished to avoid
6 these night-time entries into our houses, into our
7 homes, and if something was to happen that it should
8 happen during the day.
9 We organised ourselves in that way so as to
10 protect ourselves, a sort of form of self-protection.
11 Q. And on Monday, then?
12 A. On Monday at exactly 6 am, after the sirens
13 were sounded for the general alarm, firing was heard
14 all over the territory, and the territory is not larger
15 than 200 times 300 metres. 200 by 300. The attack,
16 without our response, lasted for about two hours. The
17 epilogue was that there were five dead and somewhere
18 around 2 o'clock we surrendered. We wanted to surrender
19 earlier, three hours beforehand. We tried to surrender.
20 We went out into the main square with the complete
21 citizens and members of that commune, of the mahala.
22 There were women and children and old folk. About 500
23 of us in all.
24 Q. Was there any armed reaction from the part of
25 the Muslims in the mahala against the HVO, the
1 attacking HVO?
2 A. We did not see, we hardly saw any of the
3 attackers. For the first time, just before we
4 surrendered we saw a soldier who hid behind a tree, and
5 that was the first time we saw somebody after eight
6 hours of rifle shooting. Seven hours of rifle shooting.
7 Q. So mainly you were aimed at by snipers and
8 with mortars, if I understand?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Let us go now to the moment in which, in the
11 square, in Busovaca, you, Muslims, were gathered. How
12 many of them were gathered there at that moment? Men,
13 women, children, old people as well as young people?
14 A. There were about 500 of us, and the men were
15 divided from the women and children who returned home.
16 Some of the homes were burned. I think that there were
17 two buses, and we were transferred to the Kacuni camp
18 on Kaonik. These were jam-packed and this was just
19 before nightfall.
20 Q. And what happened on your -- how many of you
21 then arrived, were taken to Kaonik, approximately?
22 A. About 200 of us.
23 Q. 200. And on your arrival, what happened? Were
24 you searched, registered, interrogated, or what else?
25 A. When we arrived it was a new thing for us to
1 see that some people, and quite a large number of them,
2 more than 100, were already there. They were already
3 imprisoned there. There were people from other areas,
4 but we were the largest group, so that we did not have
5 any adequate accommodation; "adequate" in inverted
6 commas, of course.
7 There was a prison somewhere below, but it
8 was already full, and we were sent to a hangar with no
9 electricity, no heating, no windows.
10 Q. Who was in command, to your knowledge? Who
11 was in command of the camp at the moment you arrived
13 A. Mr. Aleksovski introduced himself as the
14 commander. He spoke to us in a few words. He -- I must
15 admit -- calmed us down somewhat and said that this was
16 only a temporary measure, that he was sorry that this
17 had happened and that he hoped that this would not last
18 very long. He apologised for not being able to provide
19 better conditions.
20 Q. And can you recognise Mr. Aleksovski within
21 this courtroom?
22 A. I think he knows me, too.
23 Q. Were you acquainted with him since before?
24 Did you know him already, or have you met in some
25 occasion before that?
1 A. I think I met him on that occasion for the
2 first time, but according to the stories by my friends
3 who had worked with him, I knew his name and his
4 surname. I knew, I had heard of Zlatko Aleksovski
5 because he worked with my friends. So I knew him from
6 my friends, but I saw him for the first time on that
8 Q. How long did you stay in Kaonik? How many
9 nights did you spend there?
10 A. I only spent two nights there, as opposed to
11 the others. I spent two nights in Kaonik.
12 Q. And so I understand you spent the first night
13 in this hangar together with all the prisoners from
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And what about the treatment you received
17 there concerning food, sanitary situation, and drinking
18 water and sleeping accommodation?
19 A. As far as the sleeping accommodations were
20 concerned, we received wooden boards used in transport
21 and there were some blankets.
22 I must admit that the hangar, as it was, cold
23 and ugly, we did accept it as a sort of a saving point
24 because we had all escaped death by the hairs on our
25 heads so that we had mixed feelings. I did not feel
1 hunger or cold. I felt strange, having escaped death.
2 This began to slacken, on the next morning I felt
3 differently but on that night it was a state of
4 confusion. I felt confused.
5 Q. What happened, then, the following morning?
6 A. In the morning at around 11, the guard called
7 me. I was led out, and Mr. Anto Sliskovic waited for me
8 in the car. I knew him well. He, in some way, had
9 chosen me to convey what he had to convey. He told me
10 that the situation on the terrain was not well, good,
11 that there was shooting in Kacuni, that there were
12 injured and dead, that nobody wanted to negotiate, that
13 nobody listened even to General Morillon and that from
14 the Zenica side the army was attacking using tanks and
15 the Mujahedin, which of course was not correct. Most
16 of it was incorrect.
17 I myself thought that he was trying to use me
18 in the negotiations. So I told him, I made a joke,
19 I said, "Well, I will be here at any rate. You will
20 know where to find me", and then he left.
21 Q. And what happened then, later the same day,
22 following this short talk with Sliskovic?
23 A. An hour later Zarko Milic arrived with a car.
24 He was accompanied by Pusic Dragan, and this young man
25 was to die later on. He was killed later. They came to
1 pick me up, and told me to get into the car with them.
2 When I got into the car they started to explain what my
3 duties were.
4 Q. I am sorry for interrupting you. Who was
5 Milic Zarko at that moment?
6 A. Zarko Milic had a function in the military
7 police. I do not think he was the main commander, the
8 chief commander, but he was a deputy of some kind in
9 the military police.
10 Q. So he was subordinated to Sliskovic?
11 A. Yes. I think they were all subordinated to
13 One of the soldiers in a masked uniform
14 stopped the car and addressed Milic. He asked him,
15 "shall I tie him up?". I did not realise what was
16 happening straight away, but when we continued our
17 drive Milic did not answer. He just smiled.
18 We continued to drive, and told me that I was
19 to go to the village of Strane to inform the
20 population, whom they thought were armed, to give
21 themselves up, because they were surrounded, and that
22 should they fail to do so, that a human shield would be
23 used to enter the village, and so on.
24 Q. Did Milic, on this occasion, explain you or
25 give you an explanation for the words which the men
1 had -- you met previously had pronounced -- "shall we
2 tie them up"? Was that in connection with the human
3 shield project, according to what Milic told you,
4 explained to you?
5 A. In any case, this meant, I cannot say exactly
6 whether I linked the two up, but on the same day
7 I became convinced that that is what it, in fact,
9 Q. Go ahead, please. So you were taken to
10 Strane. How far is Strane from Kaonik?
11 A. It is two and a half kilometres at the most
12 away from the Kaonik camp. It was a short drive,
13 because most of the road can be seen from the village,
14 and I had to move on foot amongst these rifles. It was
15 no easy matter. I kept expecting somebody to shoot. It
16 was a very tense situation, and there was shooting in
17 one area, so I did not know if they were shooting at me
18 or shooting somewhere else, but somehow I managed to
19 reach the village without any mishap. I gathered
20 together the villagers and began to talk to them.
21 Q. Did they know you from before, the villagers?
22 A. Some of them recognised me, although I did
23 not know many people in the village, but some people
24 did recognise me, which made matters easier.
25 I explained to them how come that I was there, and what
1 the situation was like, what had happened to us. I did
2 not want to influence their decision. I let them decide
3 for themselves. We were waiting for some other people.
4 This lasted for some time, and then at that moment, two
5 grenades fell on houses near to the place where we were
6 sitting, so that I suggested that I should go back, and
7 that they must make their decision. If they decide to
8 give themselves up, then let them raise the flag in
9 a visible position from the bridge so that I can see
10 them. If there was no flag raised, that meant that they
11 had decided to fight. To stay and fight.
12 When, on my return from the village I was
13 attacked by sniper fire. Many bullets were fired, but
14 I was not hit. I ran and fell, and I made it seem as if
15 I was hit but I had to get up again, and somehow
16 I managed to get back to safety. I called Milic, and
17 after several attempts he heard me, and he managed to
18 contact the people who were firing. He used a megaphone
19 and he told them to let the civilians go and not to
20 fire at me.
21 I reached shelter in the car, and I told
22 Milic what I had done up in the village. What I had
23 decided. On the other hand, I think there was Vlado
24 Cosic who was not happy with my decision, and he told
25 me to go to the village again. He was angry, and he
1 said that one hour is too long, and that nobody could
2 have one hour to bring in a decision.
3 I did not want to go to the village alone,
4 and I suggested that Dragan Pusic go with me and Cosic
5 ordered him to go, so Dragan Pusic and I went up to the
6 village once again.
7 Q. And there you discussed again the
8 surrendering of the village.
9 A. The people were already outside gathered in
10 one spot, and it was they who talked to Pusic mostly.
11 I sat apart. I gave a cigarette to one of them. I did
12 not want to interfere.
13 Pusic did not have answers to all their
14 questions. The people asked him all kinds of questions.
15 First of all, he would reply, but then he was not able
16 to give -- to answer all their questions and to tell
17 them what would happen to them, so that I suggested
18 that we go back to the car, once again, and to take
19 a young man who represented the villagers, Pusic,
20 a soldier of the HVO, and myself. And we went back to
21 the car, which was a Volkswagen Golf, and this man, his
22 nickname was Bebo. He spoke to Vlado Cosic about the
23 conditions and about what would happen to the
24 villagers, to the population.
25 Q. So, as a result -- the village did surrender
1 and particularly, did they deliver their arms they had
2 in the village? Were they armed? Were the villagers --
3 which kind of arms were in the village?
4 A. They decided that nobody would leave the
5 village, that they would stay in their, by their homes.
6 That was the decision, and this young man from the
7 village agreed to that. We then returned to the -- by
8 car to the village. We all got into the Golf, the car,
9 and went back to the village and the weapons were
10 already stacked up. There were about 30 different types
11 of weapons. They had all been collected, and stacked,
12 and the soldiers of the HVO were in a village above our
13 particular village. Some were masked, others were not.
14 Then they continued to take the men out of
15 the group, and they asked them which houses belonged to
16 them, and then two or three of them, with him, went
17 into his house to look for more arms, and on that
18 particular night all the menfolk were concentrated into
19 three or four buildings, whereas the women and children
20 were left in the houses, in the dwellings, and they
21 were guarded by the HVO soldiers, but the next day all
22 of them were taken to prison.
23 Q. The same day, after your negotiation, you
24 were taken back to Kaonik by Milic. Is that not so?
25 A. Yes. Milic took me there by car. On the way
1 there, before we turned towards the camp itself, he
2 told me that we should go to the village of Skradne to
3 do the same thing there. I told him that the village is
4 close by, and that he could use the megaphone because
5 I had seen him use this megaphone in my case
6 beforehand. So, I said that he could convey his message
7 through the megaphone, and then he took me back to the
9 Q. Back to the camp in Kaonik, that very evening
10 did you meet somebody who has been taken on the bridge
11 over the Lasva, where you were? In front of Strane?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Did you know them, and what did they tell you
14 about what has happened to them on that occasion, that
15 very occasion?
16 (10.00 am)
17 A. At the camp I met my friends, people I had
18 walked with, talked with, lived with, and they were
19 taken after me. They were sent to the bridge, taken to
20 the bridge, but were brought back before me so I did
21 not see them. But they were my friends, my relations,
22 and they were taken to the bridge as live shields,
23 human shields.
24 Q. Can you tell us some of their names and the
25 names you can remember?
1 A. Saracevic Emin, Saracevic Tarik, Sarajlic
2 Ivget, Sarajlic Kerim, and several other names.
3 Q. Did they tell you they have been tied one to
4 the other in order to be used as human shields?
5 A. They were tied in some way. I do not know if
6 they were firmly tied but there was a rope used. How
7 the rope was used I do not exactly know.
8 Q. That very evening, did something else happen?
9 A. While I was talking to them the guard came to
10 me again, and let me say this, was sort of, shall
11 I say, as a reward for a duty successfully carried out,
12 he said he proposed that I go to the -- a proper jail,
13 a proper prison. That is to say, down below where the
14 conditions were better. I did not want to at first, but
15 I saw that the guard had been ordered to take me there,
16 so I had to go with him.
17 Q. Who had ordered, given such an order to the
19 A. I do not know.
20 Q. Did you remember meeting with Aleksovski on
21 this occasion?
22 A. At the entrance to the pavilion, to the
23 prison, on the left-hand side, there was a sort of
24 improvised office which I was taken to and I spoke to
25 Aleksovski there. It was a sort of off-the-bat talk. He
1 offered -- he gave me a choice. He said that I could
2 sort of choose a cell. He said who was in which cell,
3 and I chose the people that I would share my cell with.
4 We exchanged several sentences about the situation. We
5 sort of said, "this should not have ever happened", and
6 so on.
7 Q. So I understand that your fellows, they
8 stayed, they spent this second night in the hangar. The
9 other prisoners.
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. You alone were chosen to spend the night in
12 a more comfortable situation.
13 A. Yes, I think that was the case.
14 Q. But why did you think you receive special
16 A. Well, it was much better than the place I had
17 been before.
18 Q. And what happened the morning after that?
19 A. The next morning I was picked up by Dragan
20 Pusic. I heard him call my name out in the corridor. It
21 was some time before 7 am. It was still dark, and when
22 I got out he told me that we were to go to the village
23 of Merdani to carry out the same task, so I protested
24 because I did not wish to be used for that purpose, and
25 also because it was a dangerous area. It was very
1 difficult to go through all those lines, because
2 I would be left very far from the spot and I would have
3 to walk.
4 Q. How far is Merdani from Kaonik?
5 A. About 3 kilometres away.
6 Q. Go ahead, please.
7 A. In the direction of Zenica.
8 So, he left me near the village of Strane,
9 and I had to go on foot from there, and I reached the
10 village on foot. Luckily I was not shot at that time,
11 and when I got to the village, two members of the army
12 jumped up carrying weapons, one of them recognised me
13 and he took me to the local command.
14 Q. Sorry, when you say, "the army", you mean the
15 Bosnian army?
16 A. Yes, that is correct. That is what we called
17 it at that time.
18 Q. Go ahead, please.
19 A. The army was the recent title of the armed
21 So, I started talking to them about what was
22 happening, and there was no question of the surrender
23 of the village because the location of the village and
24 the direct link with Zenica were quite important, and
25 the surrender was out of the question.
1 Me, as someone who was in such a situation
2 for the first time, the first person to get into such
3 a situation, I was very interesting to them, and I was
4 at Zenica around 8 o'clock. It was some type of service
5 done to me, the fact that I was actually sent to that
7 Q. Do you know whether, in this occasion, the
8 same prisoners were used to serve as potential human
9 shields, as they had been used the day before?
10 A. Well, it was the same prisoners, most of the
11 time. They would be left on a spot where they had been
12 brought to, I think it was near the old railway lines
13 in the direction of the village, so they stayed there
14 until 12 o'clock and that is what I learned after the
15 exchange. They told me that.
16 Q. So according to what they told you they were
17 taken back to Kaonik, and later on exchanged. This is
19 A. Yes, that is correct, yes.
20 Q. And then one can say that you did escape from
21 Merdani. You --
22 A. I guess you could say that, but I simply had
23 no choice. They would not have left me. That is for
24 sure. I was the one who wanted to go back.
25 MR. MARCHESIELLO: Thank you, your Honours.
1 I have no other questions.
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Good morning counsel. Do
3 you have any questions to the witness? If you would
4 care to proceed?
5 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, your Honours.
6 I would like to take this opportunity to greet all
7 my -- all present here in this courtroom and if you
8 will allow me, I would kindly ask to have a short break
9 for the purpose of consultation with my client
10 regarding the questions that I intend to put to this
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Well, I think we can
13 proceed to a recess, and perhaps during that recess you
14 could put the questions you would like to, so we are
15 going to stop now for some twenty minutes.
16 (10.10 am)
17 (Short adjournment)
18 (10.35 am)
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic, did you have
20 an opportunity to talk to Mr. Aleksovski? Please
21 proceed, Defence counsel.
22 Cross-examined by MR. MIKULICIC
23 Q. Thank you, your Honours.
24 Good afternoon, Mr. Novalic. My name is Goran
25 Mikulicic and I represent the accused in this case,
1 Zlatko Aleksovski and I will ask you several questions,
2 and please be so kind as to answer as best as you can
4 In my questions I will try to focus on that
5 part of your testimony which refers to your stay in the
6 Kaonik prison, and about the events that took place in
7 and around Kaonik, because this is the subject matter
8 of the case that is being tried here.
9 Mr. Novalic, when you were brought to Kaonik,
10 you said you felt safe, and saved, in a way. Could you
11 clarify this to us, please?
12 A. I could repeat what I have said. Maybe only
13 an hour or two hours before that we were exposed to an
14 imminent threat of death, and we felt more or less safe
15 there, and I have to admit, and this is what I said
16 during the examination-in-chief, that after Aleksovski
17 spoke to us, we were even more calm.
18 Q. Mr. Novalic, who brought you to Kaonik?
19 A. We were brought in by buses. I do not exactly
20 remember how many soldiers were with us on the bus, but
21 one could say that we did not need anyone to watch over
23 Q. Who received you at Kaonik and where exactly
24 were you involved?
25 A. We were brought into the hangar, this is how
1 we called it, and the first person to speak to us was
2 Mr. Aleksovski.
3 Q. Do you remember his exact words?
4 A. I could not exactly quote him, but I told you
5 the gist of it, and it is the following -- he was
6 trying to calm us down. He expressed his conviction
7 that it was only a temporary measure, that it would not
8 last very long. He apologised for the conditions,
9 because they were not able to provide us with better
10 conditions, technically, and as I said, he did manage
11 to calm us down.
12 Q. Mr. Novalic, when you said that it was not
13 possible, technically, to provide better conditions,
14 what do you mean by that?
15 A. Well, I think that such a number of prisoners
16 could not be expected, and I think it was more or less
18 Q. Mr. Novalic, do you remember whether, on that
19 occasion, Mr. Aleksovski told you, "do not be afraid.
20 Everything will be all right, as you remember there
21 were conflicts before", and people would eventually go
22 home. Do you remember that, him using that sentence?
23 A. I do not think that there were any conflicts,
24 and he could not say that. There was not -- there had
25 not been any conflict which could be compared to that
1 one. Nothing similar had ever happened before.
2 No, he could not have said that sentence.
3 I do not know which conflict exactly you are referring
4 to. Which prior conflict? Which prior detainees?
5 Q. I would not go into depth. I just wanted to
6 know whether you remember or not.
7 A. Then I do not remember.
8 Q. Mr. Novalic, you are from Busovaca.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. When you were brought to Kaonik, did you
11 recognise any of your fellow citizens from Busovaca who
12 happened to be in Kaonik who were involved in guarding
13 the facility of Kaonik?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Could you say, about those people that you
16 recognised, in what capacity they were at Kaonik?
17 A. I believe they were guards. That is what we
18 called them. That is the terminology that was used by
19 the HVO, and I think they were guards.
20 Q. Could you tell the difference between a guard
21 and a soldier of the HVO?
22 A. It was obvious that there was a difference
23 between the two. I was there only a short while, and we
24 used to call these people, "guards".
25 Q. You said that there was an obvious
1 difference. What difference do you have in mind?
2 A. There was their sole obligation in the
3 prison. They did not go anywhere, they did not go to
4 trenches or to the front-line. I do not think they had
5 any other assignments, aside from that one, at least
6 during that time.
7 Q. You said in chief that on the next morning
8 you were picked up by a car, by two persons in a car.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. How were they dressed?
11 A. They were wearing camouflage uniforms.
12 Q. You obviously know them.
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Are you aware that those people were somehow
15 related to Zlatko Aleksovski?
16 A. I can only give you my opinion. Since I knew
17 the situation in Busovaca from before, and taking into
18 account the reason why I was picked up, why they
19 contacted me, I think that Aleksovski had nothing to do
20 with that.
21 Q. Could you tell us once again which persons
22 they were?
23 A. Zarko Milic and Dragan Pusic.
24 Q. Did Zlatko Aleksovski have any relation with
25 your, let me call it, "mission", when you went to the
1 village of Strane for negotiations?
2 A. Again, I could only give you my personal
3 opinion. I do not think that Aleksovski had any
4 information from the field, and I do not think that
5 such activities could be within his competence.
6 Q. You spoke about the use of human shields at
7 the bridge. Did you see it personally?
8 A. No, not on any occasion. But this is true.
9 Q. Mr. Novalic, could you tell us, you only heard
10 about that from people you knew.
11 A. That is correct.
12 Q. Do you remember whether your acquaintances,
13 your friends, told you something about who took part in
14 that human shield, and here I do not mean detained
15 persons, but I am referring to persons who were somehow
16 supervising that operation.
17 A. No, they did not tell me anything about that,
18 but they did not have to, on the other hand, because
19 I knew who was able to organise that.
20 Q. Could Zlatko Aleksovski organise that?
21 A. I do not think so.
22 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, Mr. Novalic. No
23 further questions.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Novalic, you have now
25 concluded your testimony. The International Tribunal
1 would like to thank you for having testified, so that
2 is it as far as you are concerned.
3 A. Thank you.
4 (The witness withdrew)
5 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Would the Prosecutor
6 please show in the next witness?
7 MR. MEDDEGODA: Your Honours, before I call
8 the next Prosecution witness into this court, I wish to
9 make an application for certain protective measures in
10 respect of that witness. I am making that application,
11 my Lord, under the provisions of Rule 75 of the Rules
12 of Procedure and Evidence, and we have, the Prosecution
13 has advised learned counsel for the Defence of the
14 application which we intend to make to your Lordship's
15 court today.
16 In respect of this witness, my Lords, the
17 witness who we intend to call will be the witness whose
18 name appears as number 2 in the Prosecutor's inventory
19 of witness statements, which is filed before your
20 Honour's Chamber on 16th February 1998.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic, do you have
22 any comments you would like to make on this score?
23 MR. MIKULICIC: We do not have any objections
24 as to the proposed protection measures for the witness.
25 We agree.
1 MR. MEDDEGODA: I thank you your Lordships
2 and I thank Mr. Mikulicic and in respect of this
3 witness, your Honours, I would request the permission
4 of court to have the pseudonym, "A", that he be named
5 as, "Witness A", that a pseudonym be assigned and he be
6 named as, "Witness A", and that his facial image, that
7 there be image distortion in respect of his face, my
8 Lords, during the course of his testimony.
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Then the Chamber can give
10 its consent, and we would ask the usher to please take
11 the necessary measures, please. So, if the technicians
12 would also do what is required...
13 Is everyone ready? Can we begin? Can we
14 introduce the witness?
15 MR. MEDDEGODA: Your Honours, the curtains
16 have to be brought down before the witness is brought
17 in. (Pause).
18 (The witness entered court)
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Good morning. Please
20 stand, if you would, sir.
21 A. I solemnly declare that I will speak the
22 truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Please be seated, and
24 please answer the questions that are going to be put to
25 you by the counsel for the Prosecutor's Office and
1 thank you very much for being here this morning.
2 WITNESS A
3 Examined by MR. MEDDEGODA
4 Q. Your Honours, may I proceed? May I ask the
5 usher, your Honours, to show this piece of paper to the
6 witness, and to confirm his name which is written on
7 that sheet of paper, my Lords? (Handed).
8 Witness, could you look at that sheet of
9 paper, and confirm whether your name appears on that
10 sheet of paper?
11 A. Yes. It does.
12 MR. MEDDEGODA: It may be shown to learned
13 counsel for the Defence, my Lords.
14 My Lords, I tender it as an exhibit under
16 Witness, could you state what your ethnicity
18 A. I am a Muslim.
19 Q. And you profess the faith of Islam?
20 A. Yes, I do.
21 Q. Do you remember the 24th January 1993?
22 A. Yes, I do.
23 Q. Do you recall what you did that morning?
24 A. Yes, I do. I do recall.
25 Q. And could you tell this court where you went
1 in the morning of the 24th January?
2 A. Around 10.30 in the morning I set off in the
3 direction of Zenica together with my family. We wanted
4 to pay a visit to our relatives there.
5 Q. What time did you reach Zenica?
6 A. About 11.15, 11.30.
7 Q. To whose house did you go in Zenica?
8 A. We went to the house of my mother-in-law.
9 Q. And for how long did you stay in your
10 mother-in-law's house in Zenica?
11 A. I stayed there until the afternoon, maybe
12 until 2.30.
13 Q. What time did you leave your mother-in-law's
15 A. As I said, about 2.30 on the same day.
16 Q. Thank you. When you left your mother-in-law's
17 house did you return alone or did you return with your
19 A. I returned alone. I went home alone.
20 Q. And how did you travel to Zenica that day?
21 (11.00 am)
22 A. I travelled by my car. A simple passenger's
24 Q. On your return from Zenica, you said you
25 returned alone.
1 A. Yes. I left Zenica alone, but I gave a lift
2 to an acquaintance of mine who was hitchhiking at the
3 main road, Zenica/Sarajevo main road who was also going
4 to Busovaca, so I picked him up, together with his
6 Q. Did they proceed in your car to Busovaca?
7 A. No. They went as far as Kaonik, some
8 4 kilometres before Busovaca. They got out of the car
9 because this is where they lived.
10 Q. After the acquaintances got off the car, in
11 which direction did you proceed?
14 Q. And what happened when you were proceeding in
15 that direction?
16 A. As I was approaching Busovaca near the Kim
17 cafe there was a barricade that had been set up by the
18 HVO soldiers and manned by the HVO soldiers, and this
19 is where I was arrested. I was detained, and brought to
20 the bus stop at Busovaca.
21 Q. How did you know that they were HVO soldiers
22 who were manning the checkpoint in Busovaca?
23 A. They wore HV patches and camouflage uniforms,
24 so they had patches on their sleeves. They wore HVO
1 Q. And you said you were arrested and taken to
2 the bus station in Busovaca?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. How were you taken to the bus station in
6 A. Well, they forced me out of the car, and an
7 HVO sat down behind the wheel, and I sat next to him on
8 the passenger's seat, so from the Kim cafe to the bus
9 station, that is how we went there. In my car.
10 Q. And what happened at the bus station in
12 A. They brought me to a room, most probably
13 premises of the military police, where I was recognised
14 by two persons, and they took me back immediately and
15 locked me up in the lavatory of the bus station.
16 Q. You said that in a room you were recognised
17 by two persons. Do you recall, do you know who those
18 two persons were?
19 A. I recognised them, and they knew me very well
20 too. There was Vlado Cosic and Pasko Ljubicic.
21 Q. And who were they?
22 A. Well, Vlado Cosic, I think he was the
23 commander of the military police, and this other, Pasko
24 Ljubicic, I do not know what role he had.
25 Q. After you recognised them you said you were
1 detained, you were locked up in the lavatory of the bus
2 station. Is that correct?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Did you see anybody, any others locked up in
5 the lavatory of the bus station when you were locked in
7 A. Yes. There was another person there already.
8 Q. And do you know who that person was?
9 A. Yes, I do. Mirsad Dizdarevic.
10 Q. After you were locked up in the lavatory were
11 others brought into the lavatory as well?
12 A. Yes, they were.
13 Q. Do you recall the names of any others whom
14 you knew who were brought in to be detained in the
16 A. Yes. Some of them I knew. One of them was
17 Vahid Hajdarevic and his father. I do not know the
18 names of the others.
19 Q. For how long were you kept detained in the
21 A. About -- until about 8 o'clock in the
22 evening, 7.30-8.00 pm.
23 Q. And what happened at about 7.30/8.00 in the
25 A. They took us out of the lavatory. They took
1 us into a bus, and we went to the direction of the
2 former Kaonik barracks, and to the camp.
3 Q. Who took you in a bus in the direction of the
4 former Kaonik -- former Kaonik barracks?
5 A. The driver was Zeljko. His nickname was
6 Bubreg. I think his surname is Arapovic, I am not sure,
7 but his nickname was Bubreg, meaning "kidney".
8 MR. MEDDEGODA: Your Honours, at this stage,
9 I would wish to make an application for a redaction of
10 an answer which went in from the witness, in page 42,
11 line 25, and page 43, line 1, my Lord.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Defence counsel?
13 MR. MIKULICIC: We have no objections, your
15 MR. MEDDEGODA: I thank you, your Honours.
16 You said you were taken by bus to the far
17 barracks in Kaonik. Is that right?
18 A. Yes. Yes, yes. That is right.
19 Q. Do you remember who the driver of that bus
21 A. Zeljko, and his nickname was Bubreg. The
22 driver. He was a former driver of the Zenica Transport
24 Q. Well, how many of you were taken in that bus
25 to the Kaonik barracks on that occasion?
1 A. About 10 of us.
2 Q. And were they all Muslims who were taken in
3 that bus to Kaonik that day?
4 A. Yes. They were all Muslims, apart from the
6 Q. Do you know at which point in the Kaonik camp
7 did you get off the bus?
8 A. At the entrance to the former JNA barracks,
9 near the gates.
10 MR. MEDDEGODA: Your Honours, I wish to show
11 an exhibit to the witness, which exhibit I intend to
12 mark and produce as P14. There are copies of that
13 exhibit. P15, my Lords, copies of that exhibit, my
14 Lords. There is one for the Defence and copies for your
15 Honour's court. That may be marked as P15, your
17 Witness, could you show to this court at
18 which point you got off the bus at the Kaonik barracks?
19 Could you please place it on the ELMO?
20 Could you please point out the place at which
21 you got off the bus? Could you circle that place and
22 mark it with letter, "A"? Could you mark that place
23 with letter "A"? Thank you.
24 A. (Witness marked map).
25 Q. What did you have to do after getting off the
1 bus at that point?
2 A. When we got out we stayed there for a short
3 time at the entrance gate. The HVO army was there. We
4 were lined up by the HVO soldiers in a column in single
5 file and we were taken in the direction of the hangar
6 or the camp.
7 Q. Could you show on this map to which hangar
8 you and your other colleagues were taken to? Could you
9 please circle that building and place -- and mark that
10 building with the letter, "B"?
11 A. (Witness marked map).
12 Q. And what happened to you inside this hangar
13 when you arrived in this hangar?
14 A. We were locked up in one of the cells,
15 a group that had been brought there by bus, a group of
17 Q. How many of you were locked up in this
18 particular cell?
19 A. Those of us who had come in the bus about, 10
20 of us.
21 Q. Do you remember the cell number to which you
22 were put into?
23 A. It was cell number 1, a solitary confinement
25 Q. Do you remember what time of the day it was
1 when you arrived in the cell?
2 A. It was about 8.30 pm.
3 Q. What was the approximate size of the cell?
4 A. It was about 2 by 3 metres.
5 Q. And did the cell have any windows on?
6 A. There were no windows in that particular
8 Q. Were there any electric lights in the cell?
9 A. There were no lights.
10 Q. Could you describe the interior of the cell?
11 A. Half the cell was made up of wooden
12 platforms, about half a metre in height, taking up half
13 the cell. There were several straw mattress, and
14 several blankets which were taken off the wooden
15 platforms and placed onto the concrete floor, so that
16 we could sit on them or lie on them.
17 Q. After you arrived in the cell, when were you
18 given your first meal?
19 A. The afternoon of the day after. I cannot
20 quite recall exactly when, but the following afternoon
21 at about 5 pm, the following afternoon. I do not
22 remember exactly, but it was in the afternoon of the
23 next day.
24 Q. After you arrived in the cell, were you
25 registered by any officials in the camp?
1 A. I do not recall anybody making a note of our
2 names on that particular day.
3 Q. You said you were, you and the -- all the ten
4 of you who were brought in the bus were put into cell
5 number 1.
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. How long did you spend, how many days did you
8 spend in cell number 1?
9 A. As far as I recall, a little more than
10 a week. About 8 or 9 days.
11 Q. From inside your cell were you able to
12 observe what was happening inside the hangar?
13 A. Yes. There was a small gap on the door of the
14 cell through which I could see something, a little bit.
15 Q. And what were you able to see through the
16 small gap on the door?
17 A. I could see the corridor, and the members of
18 the HVO. I was able to see the prisoners that were
19 being brought into the camp, and distributed in the
20 cells, sent to the different cells. Those who were
21 called out and taken out of the cells for labour or as
22 human shields. That is more or less what I was able to
24 Q. During your stay in the camp, did you see the
25 camp commander?
1 A. For the first two or three or four days I did
2 not know who the commander was. I was only able to see
3 the faces of the soldiers, but I did not know who the
4 commander was for the first two or three days.
5 Q. After that, after the first two or three
6 days, were you able to see who the commander was?
7 A. He introduced himself to us. The commander
8 introduced himself. He said he was Zlatko Aleksovski
9 and he said he was the commander of the camp, and that
10 he would be taking care of us. We would be under his
12 Q. Would you be able to recognise Zlatko
13 Aleksovski if you see him again?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Could you please look around this court and
16 say whether Zlatko Aleksovski is present in this court
18 A. Yes. Zlatko Aleksovski is present.
19 Q. Witness, now, during your stay in the camp
20 were you ever taken out of your cell?
21 A. Yes, I was.
22 Q. When were you first taken out of the cell?
23 A. Do you mean out of the cell into the
24 corridor, or further outside or where? I did not
1 Q. About how many days -- I will rephrase my
2 question, witness.
3 About how many days after you arrived in the
4 camp were you taken out of the cell and out of the
5 hangar building?
6 A. To go to the lavatory. We were taken out to
7 go to the lavatory during the first 12 days.
8 Q. Apart from being taken out to go to the
9 lavatory, were you taken out for any other work in the
11 (11.30 am)
12 A. Yes. There was that too.
13 Q. And when was that? How many days after you
14 arrived in the camp was that?
15 A. On the third or fourth day, thereabouts. We
16 were taken out of the hangar for the first time after
17 three or four days to bring food from the gate where
18 the food was probably cooked, prepared.
19 Q. At any point were you taken to another
20 building in order to assist with the work?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And when was that?
23 A. Around the seventh day of having been in the
25 Q. And where were you taken to?
1 A. I was taken to another hangar above the one
2 in which my cell was located to work.
3 Q. Would you please show on the map before you
4 to which hangar you were taken on that occasion?
5 Witness, could you show the -- and could you circle
6 that building and place the letter, "C", on that
8 A. (Witness marked map).
9 Q. Were you taken there alone?
10 A. I was not alone. Mirsad Dizdarevic was with
12 Q. And what did you have to do in that building?
13 A. We had to use pallets from the top. We had to
14 set them in orderly fashion, one beside the other in
15 the hangar.
16 Q. Witness, during your stay in the camp, were
17 you ever taken out of the camp for hard labour?
18 A. Yes. On the 12th day.
19 Q. On how many occasions were you taken out of
20 the camp for hard labour?
21 A. Four times.
22 Q. You said a while ago that you were taken out
23 on the 12th day of your stay in the camp, is that
25 A. Yes. That is right.
1 Q. And was that the first occasion on which you
2 were taken out for hard labour?
3 A. Yes. Outside the camp. The first time.
4 Q. And where were you taken to on that occasion?
5 A. I was taken to work in the village of Prosje
6 near Kacuni.
7 Q. How were you taken to Prosje?
8 A. By truck. From the camp to below the village
9 of Prosje was a place called Babjak. From thence we
10 went on foot to the first lines, to the front-lines of
11 the HVO.
12 Q. Now, witness, about how many of you were
13 taken to Prosje that day?
14 A. With me there was a group of 20 others.
15 MR. MEDDEGODA: Your Honours, may I seek your
16 permission to show to the witness an excerpt of P4
17 which is a map of the area, and I intend to ask the
18 witness to point out the places to which he was taken
19 for hard labour.
20 Your Honours, this document may be marked as
22 Witness, you said you were taken to Prosje.
23 Could you please show this court on that map before you
24 the place Prosje where you were taken to? Could you
25 please circle that area and place the letter, "A", and
1 mark that with the letter -- please circle that area
2 first and then mark that area with the letter "A".
3 A. (Witness marked map).
4 Q. Thank you. You said you were taken together
5 with the other 20 of you who were taken to Prosje that
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And what did you have to do in Prosje?
9 A. We were divided up into groups and we dug
10 dug-outs for the HVO, for the army.
11 Q. Into how many groups were you divided?
12 A. Into four groups. Five people in each group.
13 Q. And do you know whether this was on the
14 front-lines of the HVO?
15 A. Yes. It was at the HVO front-lines.
16 Q. For how long did you have to dig trenches on
17 that day?
18 A. In the evening at about 9 pm, that was about
19 the time when we were taken away. We were there until
20 9 pm.
21 Q. You were there until 9 pm.
22 A. 9.30 pm.
23 Q. Do you recall any particular incident while
24 you were trench-digging on that occasion?
25 A. Not on that occasion. There was a little
1 maltreatment but nothing special.
2 Q. And what form did that maltreatment take?
3 A. Well, psychologically. They said all kinds
4 of things to us. They told us we would die, "what do
5 you need Tuzla for? What do you need Zenica for? Why
6 did not you put up HV insignias and put on HVO
7 uniforms?". Things like that.
8 Q. And at about 9.30 were you returned to the
10 A. We started out for the camp at about 9.30 and
11 we reached the camp at about 10 pm. 10 or maybe 10.30.
12 Q. How did you come back to the camp?
13 A. On foot. Up to the truck, and then with the
14 truck we were taken with the truck to the camp.
15 Q. What was the second occasion on which you
16 were taken out for hard labour, out of the camp?
17 A. It was on the next day. That is, on the
18 13th day of my stay in the camp.
19 Q. And where were you taken to on that day?
20 A. We were taken in the direction of the village
21 of Donja Rovna. This is where I used to work and I know
22 that the area is called Glavica. To the front-lines as
24 Q. Were you taken alone?
25 A. No. The group by that time consisted of 19
2 Q. And how were you taken to Rovna?
3 A. On that day we were bussed to the location,
4 and the driver was Zeljko, Bubreg, again, to a spot on
5 the way to the location but from that spot on we had to
6 walk to the front-lines.
7 Q. Could you please show on the map that you
8 have before you the place Rovna where you were taken
9 to? Could you please circle that place on the map, and
10 mark it with the letter, "F".
11 A. (Witness marked map).
12 Q. That day, you said 19 were taken to Rovna.
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And what did you have to do in the village of
15 Rovna that day?
16 A. We were again divided into groups, and my
17 group had to dig trenches on that location, and as far
18 as I know, the other groups were also doing the same in
19 the area of Rovna and Bare.
20 Q. For how long were you digging trenches that
22 A. Well, until the evening, until 6.30.
23 Q. And then after, were you brought back to the
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. How were you brought back to the camp?
2 A. Well, again, we walked to where the bus was
3 staying, and then we were taken in the bus to -- we
4 were taken back in the bus.
5 Q. Did you have to undergo any mistreatment on
6 this occasion?
7 A. Yes. There were curses, insults, things like
8 that, mostly. Some of my colleagues were slapped.
9 I cannot remember their names.
10 Q. After that day, when was the third time you
11 were taken out for hard labour out of the camp?
12 A. It was on the next day. The following day
13 after this.
14 Q. And on that day where were you taken to?
15 A. We were taken to the area of Donji
16 Solakovici, or Milovica. It is the area beneath Bjohan.
17 Q. And how many of you were taken to this
18 village to, this area on that day?
19 A. 19 of us.
20 Q. And what did you have to do that day?
21 A. Again, we had to dig out dug-outs, trenches.
22 We had to cover the dug-outs and so on.
23 Q. And for how long did you have to engage in
24 trench digging on that occasion?
25 A. We stayed there until very late, until
2 Q. And thereafter did you all come back to the
4 A. Yes. We were taken back to the camp.
5 Q. How were you all taken back to the camp?
6 A. With the same truck that had brought us
8 Q. Now, could you please show on the map before
9 you the place in Donji Solakovici where you were taken
10 to for trench digging on the third occasion? Could you
11 circle that area, mark that area with the letter, "G".
12 A. (Witness marked map).
13 Q. Then you said you were taken on four
14 occasions, so when was the fourth occasion that you
15 were taken out of the camp for hard labour?
16 A. It was on the following day, after this one.
17 It was a Sunday.
18 Q. And where were you taken to on that day?
19 A. We were taken to Kula. The destination was
21 Q. Thank you. And how many of you were taken to
22 Kula on that day?
23 A. 19 of us.
24 Q. And by what means of transport were you taken
25 to Kula?
1 A. In the same truck that had been taking us to
2 various locations.
3 Q. In Kula too, were you all separated into
5 A. Yes. We were separated in four groups. There
6 were five of us in each group, except for one group
7 where there were four people.
8 Q. And what did you have to do in Kula?
9 A. Well, my group had to dig trenches, mostly
11 Q. And how many of you were there in your group?
12 A. I think that I was in the group which
13 consisted of four people. I do not remember exactly,
14 but I believe that there were four of us.
15 Q. And how were you taken to the place where you
16 had to dig trenches?
17 A. We were brought to the area beneath Kula,
18 I do not know the name of the village, in a truck, and
19 there we were taken over by two HVO soldiers who
20 escorted us all the way to the top of the village of
22 Q. Do you know the names of the HVO soldiers,
23 two HVO soldiers who escorted you?
24 A. I know the name of one of them. I do not know
25 the name of the other one.
1 Q. And what is the name of that person?
2 A. Nedeljko Vidovic. He was from Donja Lucani by
3 birth, from the municipality of Kakanj. He was an
5 Q. Did anything happen to you and the rest of
6 the group when you were being escorted by the HVO
8 A. Yes. On the way there we were robbed of
9 everything we had on us; money, gold, jewellery.
10 Q. Could you describe to this court how it
12 A. Yes, I could.
13 Q. Could you please describe to this court how
14 it happened?
15 A. Halfway from the spot where we were -- where
16 we got off the truck, we were told to turn our backs to
17 these two soldiers and that is what we did. They were
18 discussing something, and again, they told us to turn
19 around and to take up everything we had in our pockets,
20 money, gold, jewellery, or -- from our necks -- and to
21 put everything on a pile, and again they ordered us to
22 turn around, which we did, so they looked at the things
23 we had put on the pile, and then they took something
24 from the pile and then they told us to take back
25 whatever remained in the pile.
1 After we did that, we went -- we continued in
2 the direction of Kula, of the location where we were
3 supposed to work.
4 Q. And you said -- and what did you have to do
5 in Kula? What was the nature of the work you had to do
6 in Kula?
7 A. We were supposed to -- we had to dig trenches
8 mostly. At Kula. That is what we did.
9 Q. For how long did you dig trenches?
10 A. Until 6 pm. We started out from the camp
11 around 1.30 and we worked until 6 pm.
12 Q. And what happened at about 6 pm?
13 A. We were taken back and they took us in the
14 direction of an old house. It was a little house, and
15 we were brought in.
16 Q. Who escorted you in that direction?
17 A. HVO soldiers.
18 Q. And you said you were taken to a house.
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Was the entire group of detainees taken to
21 this house?
22 A. Yes, yes. We were all taken into the house.
23 Q. And what happened? Did anything happen inside
24 this house?
25 A. Yes. All kinds of things happened there.
1 Mistreatment, beatings, murder, everything.
2 Q. Could you please describe to this court in
3 detail how it all happened whilst you were inside the
5 A. Yes, I could. At the beginning we were
6 mistreated, physically and verbally abused. There was
7 also robbing, searches, and things like that, and it
8 all lasted for about an hour, an hour and a half, maybe
9 even two hours.
10 After that, another group of HVO soldiers
11 arrived, and they said to the ones that were already
12 there that they should leave, and that they had arrived
13 to handle us, the detainees, and we had some
14 assumptions as to what may happen.
15 However, very soon the detainees were being
16 taken out. One of them was first taken out, one of the
17 detainees, and he was beaten outside the house. Then
18 another one was taken out, who was also beaten up. We
19 could hear him scream. And next it was my turn. I was
20 the third one to be taken out. So they took me outside
21 and at the moment I got outside, as I was explaining to
22 an HVO soldier something, another soldier hit me in the
23 back with a blunt object and I fell down. He told me to
24 get up, and I tried to get up but I could not at that
25 moment, so he hit me, he kicked me with his military
1 boot again in my nose, and there was blood coming from
2 my nose and he screamed again, he told me to get up but
3 I could not get up, and he again kicked me in the ear
4 which started bleeding.
5 He kept yelling, telling me to get up and
6 I somehow managed to get up, and then he told me to get
7 back into the house, so I was trying to get in. There
8 were no stairs, and it was difficult to climb up and as
9 I was getting into the house he was beating me all the
10 time . But somehow I managed to climb up and I went to
11 a corner where others had gathered. After that more
12 detainees were taken out.
13 While I was in that group, since I was
14 bleeding, my friends smeared themselves with my blood
15 so as to make it look as if they had already been
16 beaten, and when they were called out again we could no
17 longer actually get out. The soldiers then got into the
18 house, and they started beating all of us.
19 One of them had a knife and he was stabbing
20 detainees with his knife. The other one was using his
21 rifle butt to hit us, for hitting us. There was one
22 with a very thick metal chain, another one who had
23 a club, and it all lasted for about two hours.
24 After that, things went quiet. After that,
25 they forced us to pray, to say the Lord's prayer, to
1 kiss a cross that happened to be in the house. There
2 was also some shooting in the air above our heads,
3 shooting into the switches, and again things went quiet
4 for about half an hour.
5 After that, soldiers opened up the door from
6 outside, and they asked at one point who had been
7 stabbed with the knife. Two of the detainees, camp
8 inmates, showed the area where they had been stabbed,
9 and then one of them was taken out. It was Jasmin
10 Sehovic. He was taken out, but he was beaten up again
11 and we could hear him moan and cry and after that we
12 heard some shots from an automatic rifle and then
14 It was quiet for about several minutes, then
15 Nermin Elezovic was taken out, who had also received
16 some stabs in his stomach. He was also beaten outside
17 and we could hear him moan and then we could hear shots
18 from an automatic rifle.
19 It was quiet again, and then at one point,
20 after that, we heard HVO soldiers talk. Later on
21 I learned that one of the HVO soldiers was very fearful
22 while at the trenches and there was a shot that came
23 from an automatic rifle of an HVO soldier, and it
24 was -- I believe that an HVO soldier had been hit, and
25 he fell down on the asphalt road, and then there was
1 some quarrel. We could hear HVO soldiers quarrel
2 amongst themselves and I heard them say, "we did not --
3 we should not have done this", and the other one said,
4 "what?", and then we no longer heard anything. It was
5 quiet again.
6 They got in, these two soldiers, and another
7 one, I mean the soldiers who had brought us from the
8 vehicle to Kula, and they were joined in the meantime
9 by another one so that there were three of them. They
10 fell asleep. They closed the door, and turned off the
11 lights and then it was quiet.
12 This lasted for about an hour, an hour and a
13 half, and after that we heard voices again coming from
14 the outside. Someone was trying to get in but the door
15 was locked, and they were shouting, "Open up", but the
16 HVO soldiers were asleep. But all of a sudden they
17 broke in and somebody jumped, but we did not dare look
19 The light was turned on. We heard some noise,
20 and then we later saw that those who were sleeping were
21 disarmed by the soldiers that had arrived in the
22 meantime and they told us to get up and not to be
23 afraid, but we did not dare do anything because we did
24 not know who they were. But again they said that we
25 should not be afraid, that we should get up, so we
1 raised our heads and we realised that those were the
2 soldiers that had arrived to intervene. I knew some of
4 (12:10 pm)
5 Q. Now, witness, I will take you back to the
6 incident in the house. You said that whilst being
7 beaten one of the soldiers stabbed the detainees. Is
8 that right?
9 A. Yes. That is right.
10 Q. Now, how many detainees in all were stabbed
11 by that soldiers?
12 A. Three.
13 Q. So in addition to Jasmin Sehovic and Nermin
14 Elezovic, a third person was also stabbed?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Do you know who that person was?
17 A. A young man from Rogatica. I knew that he was
18 from Rogatica, a refugees from Rogatica. I do not know
19 his name. He was stabbed in the head.
20 Q. Now, after the arrival of the second batch of
21 HVO soldiers, what happened to you and the other
23 A. Those who had been tied up and disarmed were
24 taken away. We were asked whether we were cold. We
25 said, "yes". We lit a fire. There was a fireplace. We
1 lit a fire. They took the others to the camp, down to
2 the camp. We stayed for some time where we were, and
3 afterwards we were taken back to the truck and taken
4 back to the camp.
5 MR. MEDDEGODA: And what time was it --
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: If I might just interrupt
7 you, please, I think it would be appropriate to have
8 a recess, in particular for the benefit of our
9 interpreters, and we will have a ten-minute recess, and
10 I do not know if you can manage your time such that the
11 witness will not have to return tomorrow. I do not know
12 if that is possible?
13 MR. MEDDEGODA: Yes, your Honour, I will not
14 take very long with this witness. I will finish my
15 examination-in-chief in about fifteen minutes, and then
16 after my learned friend can cross-examine the witness.
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Fine. So we are going to
18 have a ten-minute recess. All of us, including the
19 interpreters, can have a rest and then we will pursue
20 with this witness.
21 (12.15 pm)
22 (A short adjournment)
23 (12:25 pm)
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Please proceed.
25 MR. MEDDEGODA: Thank you, your Honours.
1 Witness, you said that the second group of
2 soldiers who came to the house disarmed the soldiers
3 who attacked the detainees and together with the batch
4 of detainees you were brought back to the camp.
5 A. Yes.
6 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
7 Q. Your answer did not go down, I think.
8 A. Yes. The second group of soldiers had
9 arrived, and they disarmed those who had been beating
11 Q. And what time was it when you were brought
12 back to the camp?
13 A. Late after midnight. About 2 or 3 am.
14 Q. Did you see Jasmin Sehovic and Nermin
15 Elezovic in the group of detainees that were brought
16 back to the camp?
17 A. No. They were not with us any more.
18 Q. And what happened after you came back to the
20 A. The doctor was brought to dress our wounds,
21 those of us who needed it. That is what happened, and
22 then we were taken to our cells again. We stayed in the
23 cell until 10 o'clock the next morning, and that was
24 when the exchange took place, that morning, the next
1 Q. When you were brought back to the camp were
2 you questioned about the incident that had happened
3 a few hours earlier?
4 A. Yes. We were questioned.
5 Q. Do you know who questioned you?
6 A. Yes, I know some of the people who questioned
7 me. Anto Sliskovic, Zarko Petrovic, and Malenica, who
8 is deceased. I forget his name. He was a former
9 neighbour of mine. And Zoran Varesak.
10 Q. Witness, could you please show on the map
11 before you the place Kula where you had -- where you
12 went trench-digging? The previous day? Could you please
13 circle that area and mark it with the letter, "H"?
14 A. (Witness marked map).
15 Q. Thank you.
16 Now, on these occasions, on the four
17 occasions that you were taken out for digging trenches,
18 do you remember there being any shooting in those
20 A. There was some sporadic gunfire on both --
21 from both sides.
22 Q. In which area was there sporadic gunfire?
23 A. Yes, sporadic gunfire.
24 Q. And where was the sporadic gunfire? Was it in
25 all four places that you were digging or only in
1 particular places?
2 A. In all four places, and especially in the
3 area around Rovna.
4 Q. You said that at about 10 o'clock that
5 morning you were exchanged.
6 A. Yes. That is right.
7 Q. Do you know how that exchange took place?
8 A. Buses came, probably from the Red Cross, and
9 we had a list on the seventh day of our day in camp,
10 the Red Cross took the data, our names and so on, and
11 we were exchanged that day.
12 Q. Where did the Red Cross take your data?
13 A. I cannot quite remember, but it was about the
14 seventh day of our stay in the camp. Whether it was
15 seven or eight days later I am not quite sure.
16 Q. And now you know that the exchange was also
17 arranged by the International Committee of the Red
19 A. Yes, I do.
20 Q. And after the exchange, where were you taken
22 A. I said I would like to go to Zenica and that
23 is where I was taken.
24 Q. In Zenica were you subjected to any medical
1 A. Yes. I went to the hospital in Crkvice in
3 Q. After your medical examination what did they
4 discover as a result of that?
5 A. I had no fractures, luckily, so that I was
6 just given some medication to relieve the pain, and
7 I was given something to put on my back, some balm to
8 put on my back.
9 MR. MEDDEGODA: That is all, your Honours.
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much,
12 Mr. Mikulicic, would you be so good as to tell
13 us how much time you think you might be needing for
14 your cross-examination?
15 MR. MIKULICIC: Honourable court, I think
16 that we will be able to complete the cross-examination
17 by the end of today's dateline, so I do not think he
18 need return tomorrow, the witness need return tomorrow.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Fine. Thank you very much.
20 Please proceed, counsel.
21 Cross-examined by MR. MIKULICIC
22 Q. Thank you.
23 Witness A, I am Goran Mikulicic, the counsel
24 for the accused, Mr. Aleksovski. I am going to ask you
25 a few questions. Would you kindly answer them to the
1 best of your ability?
2 You said in your introduction that -- in your
3 statement -- that on the 24th January 1993 you went
4 with your family to Zenica for a visit.
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. How come that after your visit to Zenica you
7 returned alone?
8 A. My intention was to return to Zenica. I had
9 some livestock at home which I had to feed in the
10 afternoon and the evening, and then to return to my
11 wife and her family.
12 Q. Tell me, on the road to there, Zenica to
13 Busovaca, were there any control points?
14 A. Yes, there were. On several -- at several
16 Q. Who controlled these control points?
17 A. The HVO army checkpoints.
18 Q. At the time, had the conflict started between
19 the Croatian and Muslim nationalities in that area?
20 A. This was not known to me until that actual
21 moment, so before that moment there were no conflicts.
22 Q. What were the supplies like?
23 A. I beg your pardon?
24 Q. Supplies. Electricity, water, food, fuel?
25 A. I cannot quite remember these details, it was
1 a long time ago. But for the most part, I know that
2 I took supplies where the Croats live. I went for
3 supplies there and then when I took the supplies home,
4 this was on a rare occasion, they would either be
5 confiscated, if you did not know somebody or had
6 a neighbour. It was difficult. I remember that quite
8 Q. Witness A, you told us of the events that
9 took place when you were taken out of Kaonik.
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. You said that you were taken out on four
12 instances in groups of 19 people. Were they always the
13 same people?
14 A. The first time it was a group of 20 people
15 and the next three times there were 19 people in each
16 group. That was what it was like.
17 Q. Tell me, these groups of 19, were they always
18 of the same composition?
19 A. As far as I remember, yes.
20 Q. How were these groups of 19 determined? These
21 groups that were led out at Kaonik?
22 A. There was a roll call in the camp in the
23 individual cells. They were lined up and taken out.
24 Q. Who took the people out to labour?
25 A. The HVO army. Some of the commanders or the
1 heads of the different shifts, whoever was designated
2 to do so.
3 Q. Who looked after you while you were engaged
4 in hard labour on the spot?
5 A. The front-line army, the HVO army.
6 Q. How did you know that this was the front
8 A. Because I saw them. I dug trenches. I saw no
9 other trenches in front of us, and the army was there
10 with their weapons with us along those lines.
11 Q. Tell me Witness A, what you were wearing
12 during your stay in Kaonik.
13 A. I was in civilian clothing.
14 Q. Does this mean that you were a civilian?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Let us return to your worst experience in
17 Kula. Do you know the names, apart from Vidovic whom
18 you mentioned, Nedeljko Vidovic, you said that he was
19 orthodox, do you know any other names of soldiers who
20 took part in the incident that you described?
21 A. Yes, I know their nicknames. I remember their
22 faces very well. I would be able to recognise them, but
23 I do not know their names. Other people do. The people
24 in the camps. Other people in the camps.
25 Q. I am asking you whether you know their names.
1 A. I know their nicknames.
2 Q. You do not know what -- you cannot tell us
3 what other people know.
4 Tell us their nicknames.
5 A. Milos from Jajce, Slobodan, I think from
6 Vitez, Zorka from Vares. He is also an Orthodox. That
7 is more or less it.
8 Q. On that particular evening, tell us, did
9 you -- we are talking about these soldiers again who
10 caused the incident, who maltreated you. Did you notice
11 whether they were under the influence of alcohol?
12 A. Some of them were, some of them were not.
13 Q. Who were and who were not?
14 A. Those who came second to handle us. They were
15 under the influence of alcohol, of drink, as far as
16 I was able to note.
17 Q. You say those who came next; who were those
19 A. When they started to beat us.
20 Q. So those who beat you were under the
21 influence of drink?
22 A. No, the first lot beat us too, but the second
23 lot did as well.
24 Q. Tell me, tell us, do you know that in that
25 part of Kula where you were located, who was the
1 commander there?
2 A. I do not know.
3 Q. Did you hear something about that later on?
4 A. No, I was not interested. I do not know.
5 Q. You said, if I remember correctly, that you
6 know some of the soldiers who came after these events
7 to intervene. Who were these soldiers? Who are the ones
8 that you know?
9 A. Drazen Kvesic, Brane, or Branislav Kisto,
10 Dragan Relota, his nickname is Pizon, and one other,
11 I forget his name. I do not know his name.
12 Q. How did they intervene? Please tell us. You
13 said that they disarmed the people who were beating
14 you. What else did they do?
15 A. They took them to the camp.
16 Q. Did they handcuff them?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Did you, after this intervention, come to
19 understand that they had, in fact, taken these people
20 prisoners, that they had imprisoned you?
21 A. I concluded that they would not have come had
22 not a Croatian soldier been killed while they were
23 beating us up.
24 Q. I asked you whether the intervention that
25 took part, whether you were taken prisoner on the
1 occasion or not.
2 A. There would not have been an intervention if
3 that had not happened. Whether we were taken prisoner
4 or not I do not know.
5 Q. But we agreed that they were handcuffed and
7 A. Yes, that is right. But why?
8 Q. After that, you said that you returned to
9 Kaonik, and that the doctor arrived. Who called the
10 doctor? Do you know?
11 A. I do not know who called in the doctor, but
12 I do know that a doctor did come. He was a Muslim, and
13 he was in Busovaca because none of the other doctors,
14 Croats, would come to see to our wounds.
15 Q. Did you talk to the other Croat doctors?
16 A. No, we heard that from the Muslim doctor who
17 had arrived and who saw to our wounds and he was
18 a refugee from Jajce. He told us that when he came to
19 see to our wounds.
20 Q. What was his name?
21 A. I forget.
22 Q. Tell me, did anybody examine you with regard
23 to the events in Kula?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Who and when?
1 A. Interrogated you?
2 A. On the evening we arrived and on the next
3 morning. Anto Sliskovic was one, Zarko Petrovic was
4 another, Malenica.
5 Q. Who are these people?
6 A. Anto Sliskovic is a commander, as far as
7 I know, of these civilian police.
8 Q. Does that mean that you were interrogated by
9 the police, by policemen?
10 A. Probably, yes.
11 Q. Do you know what happened after these events
12 with Vidovic, Milos and Slobodan, what happened to them
13 afterwards, the ones you mentioned?
14 A. They were interrogated, they probably lied
15 about the murder of the Croatian soldier because they
16 were those who committed the killing, the group that
17 beat us up.
18 Q. Did you see that take place?
19 A. Did I see what?
20 Q. The event you are telling us about.
21 A. I learned about it afterwards.
22 Q. But did you see it, actually witness it?
23 A. No, I only heard some talking about it. No,
24 I did not see it.
25 Q. Tell me, do you know the fate of Vidovic
1 Nedeljko, Milos Slobodan from Zoka? What happened to
2 them after these events?
3 A. They were sent to cell number 1. They were
4 locked up in cell number 1.
5 Q. Witness A, you said that when you were taken
6 to Kula, that on the way to Kula you were robbed of
7 your possessions. Could you tell us on what day of your
8 stay in Kaonik this was?
9 A. Well, I would have to have a calendar to do
10 that. It was about the twelfth day of my stay. Just one
11 moment, please. Not the twelfth day, the last day
12 I went for hard labour. The day before the exchange.
13 Q. Does this mean that during your stay in
14 Kaonik you had all your valuables with you, money,
16 A. I did, but I was -- I hid them. I hid my
17 valuables, my gold and my money. I did not have much of
18 it, but I hid it because others were robbed before me,
19 of their valuables.
20 Q. Tell me, when in Kula, or anywhere elsewhere
21 you were taken, did you see any of the Kaonik guards?
22 A. What do you mean by, "Kaonik guards"?
23 Q. As I asked you, did you see in Kula, or in
24 any other places where you were taken to, guards from
1 A. Not guards. Only prisoners that had been
2 there before my arrival and were then taken up to the
4 Q. Tell me whether you knew Zlatko Aleksovski
6 A. No. I did not know him beforehand, I met him
7 in the camp.
8 Q. So you met him there for the first time?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. After these events in central Bosnia, did you
11 meet him again later on?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Do you know anybody called Ljubo Akrep?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Can you describe the circumstances you met
16 Zlatko Aleksovski in after these events?
17 A. Probably by chance. They were taking some
18 charcoal coal from in front of my house. Ljubo was
19 a neighbour of mine. I said, "hello", to him. Mr. Zlatko
20 introduced himself. I said that I knew him. He asked me
21 where I knew him from because he could not remember.
22 I said I had been in the camp, and so on. If we were
23 going into detail, then I asked him to come into my
24 house. I made him a cup of coffee and offered him some
25 cakes. We talked a little and that was all.
1 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, your Honour,
2 I have no further questions.
3 MR. MEDDEGODA: No questions in
4 re-examination, your Honours.
5 JUDGE VOHRAH: Witness, for completeness of
6 the record, could you state your age, please?
7 A. I am 37 years old.
8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Witness A, you have
9 concluded your testimony. We would like to thank you
10 for having come here today and cooperated, so thank you
11 very much.
12 (The witness withdrew)
13 MR. NIEMANN: I call the next witness, Dzido
14 Osmancevic, if your Honours please.
15 There are no protective measures for this
16 witness, your Honour.
17 A. I solemnly declare that I will speak the
18 truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Please be seated.
20 Mr. Osmancevic, good afternoon. Thank you for
21 being here. Please answer the questions from the
22 counsel for the Prosecutor's Office. Please proceed,
24 DZIDO OSMANCEVIC
25 Examined by MR. NIEMANN
1 Q. If your Honour pleases.
2 Could you please state your full name?
3 A. Dzido Osmancevic.
4 Q. And what is your date of birth?
5 A. 25th February 1965.
6 Q. And where were you born?
7 A. In the village of Jelinak, the Busovaca
9 Q. And what is your religion?
10 A. I am a Muslim.
11 Q. Now, prior to the war in 1992, 1993, where
12 were you employed?
13 A. I was employed at the steel factory in
15 Q. And what was the nature of the work that you
16 were employed doing there?
17 A. I was a technician in one part of the
18 factory, in the department of metalworks.
19 Q. In the period 1992/1993, during that period,
20 were you a member of the Patriotic League?
21 A. Well, first I was Territorial Defence, which
22 was then transformed into Patriotic League and Village
23 Guards. Yes, I was.
24 Q. And during that period, 1992/1993, what were
25 you doing in relation to the -- firstly the Territorial
1 Defence and then the Patriotic League, in your village?
2 A. Together with the Croatian Defence Council we
3 stood guard. There were rumours in the village, there
4 were stories in the village that we should be trained
5 because a war might break out, so we worked together
6 until there were differences and misunderstanding
7 between the two parts of the population, and they no
8 longer wanted to join us at the Village Guards. We
9 stood guard in the village together.
10 Q. When you say, "we stood guard together", are
11 you referring to the Croatian Defence Council?
12 A. Yes, I am. Initially it was the HDZ and then
13 the HVO. It was organised around the village and near
14 the woods, depending on where you had your assignments.
15 I was mainly with my neighbours, we were just sitting
16 there discussing, so that the enemy would not get into
17 the village.
18 But by the time the first conflict broke out,
19 they had the command and they wanted the weapons to be
20 surrendered, and our people surrendered their weapons
21 because they guaranteed us security.
22 I no longer had any particular assignments
23 aside from my usual work at the village.
24 Q. When you use the word, "they", who did you
25 surrender your weapons to?
1 A. To the Croatian Defence Council.
2 Q. Now, when you say that initially both the
3 Patriotic League and the HVO were defending the village
4 against possible attack by the enemy, at that stage, in
5 1992, who was the enemy?
6 A. Well, at that time it was the Yugoslav
7 People's Army, but it was mainly along the borders of
8 Bosnia and Herzegovina. There was no real war going on
9 at that time. There were no real shootings from the
10 JNA. I never saw anyone in the village. There were no
11 real conflicts. We simply stood guard in order to
12 protect the village. That is the way it was organised.
13 I do not know how else to put it. You can ask me
14 specific questions.
15 Q. Now, by April of 1993, had the circumstances
17 A. Do you mean when the first conflict started?
18 I do not know down things. I do not know the exact
19 dates. You mean 1992?
20 Q. No, I mean 1993. By April of 1993 had the
21 circumstances changed?
22 A. Well, yes. They no longer joined us in the
23 guards. They did not want to, and then an order came
24 from their commander, Ivica Andrijasevic, who arrived
25 together with two other policemen. The order was for us
1 to surrender weapons. I do not know what the
2 negotiations were all about. I was not -- I never went
3 to the command. I was a simple soldier who took part in
4 the Village Guards.
5 Actually, I was not a real soldier. I did not
6 have a uniform or weapons.
7 Anyway, they wanted weapons to be surrendered
8 by Muslims and Muslims did that. They surrendered what
9 they had. I do not know how many rifles they had, but
10 it was mostly hunting rifles and pistols.
11 He guaranteed us safety and that was how we
12 surrendered our weapons before the first conflict and
13 it was later on that people were taken to the camp,
14 that their houses were torched and so on.
15 Q. Now, it is that later on period that we are
16 now moving to.
17 Were you in your home in April 1993 when some
18 armed soldiers came to your house who were neighbours
19 of yours?
20 A. Yes. I was at home. Two HVO soldiers arrived.
21 I knew them from the neighbourhood, and they said the
22 same thing to everyone, that we should go to see the
23 commander of the centre, Ivica Andrijasevic, to have
24 talks. However, I did not see that person, nor did
25 anyone else.
1 Anyhow, we got into a shop which belonged to
2 a Croat and we stayed there for about two hours between
3 4 and 6 pm. We were then called out. We were searched,
4 and we were taken to a van which took us to Kaonik.
5 Q. Now, the two neighbours that came to your
6 house, do you know their names?
7 A. I do. One of them was Plavcic, that is his
8 surname. I always forget his name, but his nickname is
9 Zilan, and his surname is Plavcic. Vinko. Yes. His name
10 was Vinko, and the other one was Perica Badro.
11 Q. And how were they dressed?
12 A. They were wearing a camouflage uniform, and
13 they already wore HVO insignia. Not HDZ any longer. So
14 they had this HVO insignia together with the emblem,
15 because at the beginning they used to wear HDZ patches,
16 and at the time of my arrest they wore already HVO
18 Q. And these insignia were something that you
19 were familiar with, is that right?
20 A. Yes. Yes. I am. I am just drawing your
21 attention to the fact that at the beginning it was HDZ,
22 the HDZ insignia and then later on HVO.
23 Q. And could you describe what arms, if any,
24 they carried at the time when they came to your house?
25 A. Yes. They were armed. They carried
1 a Kalashnikov rifle with a wooden rifle butt. I think
2 all soldiers were issued with that type of rifle.
3 Q. Would you look at the document that I now
4 show you, please, and might this document be placed on
5 the ELMO screen? Perhaps before doing so you might --
6 the Registrar may attach to it the next exhibit number
7 in order of the Prosecution.
8 THE REGISTRAR: P17.
9 MR. NIEMANN: Perhaps before showing the
10 witness you might show Mr. Mikulicic, if you would be so
11 kind. (Handed).
12 Mr. Osmancevic, I am going to ask you to look
13 at the document that is placed on the machine beside
14 you there and it will appear, hopefully, on your
15 computer screen in due course, and just looking at
16 those two -- it is not quite in fact... that is right.
17 Just look at those now, can you point with
18 the pointer to the particular insignia that you are
19 referring to when you describe the two men that came to
20 your house?
21 A. It is this one, here. (Indicates).
22 Q. It is the one that is marked with a number 2
23 in the top left-hand corner.
24 A. Yes, that is right.
25 MR. NIEMANN: I tender those, please.
1 Mr. Osmancevic, you were saying that later on,
2 on the day that you were arrested by these two Croatian
3 soldiers, with the HVO insignia on their sleeves, you
4 were ultimately taken in a van to the Kaonik camp. Now,
5 can you tell us, how far away from your house in
6 Jelinak is the Kaonik camp?
7 A. I do not know the exact distance, but
8 I should say that it is about 3 kilometres away. I know
9 because when I go back from my work it is roughly the
10 same distance from the area where we were gathered, so
11 it should be about 3 kilometres.
12 Q. And were you familiar with the place called
14 A. Yes, I am. That is where I went to elementary
15 school, and the JNA used to have that location, but
16 I had never entered the facility before that. Not
17 before the conflict.
18 Q. So you knew where the camp was and you knew
19 the locality, but you were not familiar with the actual
20 JNA camp itself?
21 A. That is right, yes.
22 Q. About what time did you arrive at the camp?
23 A. Around 6 pm, between 6 and 7. It was already
24 getting dark.
25 Q. And when you reached the camp what happened?
1 A. We were ordered to get out. They spoke to us
2 as balijas. The commander of the police in Busovaca
3 was also there, Anto Cakic, and some other persons whom
4 I did not know, so when we got out we had to put our
5 hands behind our backs, and march in a column ahead of
6 them. At one point one of us did not raise his hands.
7 I do not know what happened. Maybe he did not hear. It
8 was Zakir Bulut and they started abusing us. Everybody
9 at that moment understood that we had to obey, so we
10 were taken to the hangar where we stayed most of the
12 Q. Now, apart from the police that you described
13 as being there, were there any soldiers?
14 A. Yes. There were soldiers there who took us
15 over, I mean the camp guards, and who stayed there in
16 the hangar where we were brought.
17 Q. And did these camp guards that took you over,
18 were they dressed in any particular way that you can
20 A. Yes. I can remember. The guards were dressed
21 in the same uniforms as soldiers, except for some
22 middle-aged men who called themselves, "Domo Brane".
23 They did not have proper uniforms. They would only have
24 maybe trousers that were part of a uniform and the
25 upper part was a piece of civilian clothing, but as
1 I say, those people were older than the rest of them.
2 MR. NIEMANN: And at that point, your Honour,
3 is this convenient for us to adjourn?
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: The interpreters are more
5 than willing to proceed a bit further to 1.30, so we
6 could continue, if you would.
7 MR. NIEMANN: I will not finish today.
8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Just in terms of how we
9 are going to be managing our time, if you could do with
10 the witness today so that he did not need to return
11 tomorrow, that would be good.
12 MR. NIEMANN: I cannot do that, your Honour.
13 Now, you said that they took you to the
14 hangar. Where was that hangar? Can you give us a rough
15 description of where it was, as best you can remember?
16 A. Yes, I can.
17 Q. Well, would you do that?
18 A. You want me to show it on the map or just to
19 describe it in my own words? It was not far from the
20 elementary school and there is a little road leading to
21 the camp there. There is a fence, and the building is
22 the second one looking from the main entrance.
23 MR. NIEMANN: Now, I would ask you to look at
24 the document that is now shown to you: might that be
25 perhaps marked as a new exhibit? It has been looked at
1 previously, your Honour, so I think we should give it
2 additional exhibit numbers because otherwise it will be
4 You might just show it to Mr. Mikulicic on the
5 way through, if you would be so kind. Thank you.
6 Again, looking at the television monitor,
7 I am sorry, the video machine there, putting it on
8 that, would you, with a pen that is there, just mark
9 with the letter, "A", the hangar that you were first
10 taken to, if you can find it? Take your time. Could you
11 put the letter "A" there?
12 A. (Witness marked map).
13 Q. Thank you. We will leave that for the moment.
14 Thank you.
15 Before you were taken into the hangar, did
16 the guards order you to do anything or did you have to
17 do something in response to something that was said to
19 A. I am sorry, I do not understand your
21 Q. Were you searched or required to surrender
22 any of your possessions?
23 A. It was when we entered the hangar. We had to
24 roll our sleeves up to our elbows and to turn our backs
25 to the wall, to take everything out of our pockets,
1 everything we had on us, and while we stood in that way
2 they took everything that -- we were just left some
3 cigarettes if we had any. They did not confiscate our
4 cigarettes but they took everything else. We stood like
5 that for some time up against the wall. We stood there
6 for quite a long time. We were fed up with standing
7 like that, and then the guard was -- told us to turn
8 around towards them. When we turned towards them we
9 still had to hold our hands up, and stand up like that.
10 Until they saw fit to take us to -- into another
11 corner, and in the evening another group came, and this
12 was a sort of detention centre, and that was what
13 happened in that first hangar.
14 The others came later on.
15 Q. Now, when you say, "the others came later
16 on", who were they and where did they come from, so far
17 as you know?
18 A. The first batch came from Loncari, that is
19 a neighbouring village from my own village. I knew
20 quite a lot of people in that group. I did not know the
21 others, though, there were some drivers. They were from
22 all over, from Zepce, from Maglaj, from Bugojno,
23 I cannot remember all the places but they were people
24 who were drivers in convoys. They had a lot of money on
1 Q. Now, when you say, "they", who were these
2 people? Were they villagers, were they soldiers, can
3 you describe them?
4 A. "They", when I say, "they", I mean that they
5 were Muslims. I think they were Muslims, and that they
6 were like me. I do not know who was in the army and who
7 was not in the army, but it was the army. I do not know
8 how you understand that army, but it was in the
9 village. There were no weapons, no particular weapons.
10 That is who, "they" -- probably Muslims. I do not know
11 how else to tell you, how you treat them, how to
12 explain what I mean by, "they".
13 Q. How many people were detained in this hangar,
14 approximately? The maximum number during the time you
15 were there?
16 A. I think there were more than 100, but not
17 more than 200. Between 1 and 200. I do not know
18 exactly. We were never able to see all of them because
19 we had to start digging straight away.
20 Q. Could you describe the conditions in the
22 A. The first six days for five or six days we
23 were standing up until the guards, some came, some of
24 the older people, whether on their own bat or others
25 after five or six days were given pallets. The food
1 arrived on the second day, but it was very bad food.
2 Poor food, and water, when we asked for it, we always
3 quarrelled as to who would go and get some water,
4 because the person to go and get the water was always
5 in for a beating, so we were not very thirsty, to tell
6 you the truth, and I had very little to eat on the
7 first five or six days so I do not really know when the
8 food came, was brought to us, whether it was regular or
9 not. The first few days were terrible, all in all.
10 Q. And you talked about them bringing the
11 pallets. When you first arrived there, what did you
12 sleep on? The first few days? What did you sleep on?
13 A. We crouched. We did not sleep. We crouched.
14 We slept, well, we were just there crouching. If you
15 were able to go to sleep that way you slept. If
16 somebody had a coat they would sort of half lie down.
17 I had a jacket and I put it up against the wall and
18 leaned against my jacket but there was not much
19 sleeping going on. You would wake up every hour or two.
20 Q. And then you said they brought the pallets.
21 What do you mean by that?
22 A. Well, pallets are -- it is something that
23 lifts you up from the concrete, and it is placed -- it
24 is wooden. It is a wooden plank up above the concrete,
25 and as it has raised from the concrete floor we were
1 able to sleep on it.
2 Q. Are these pallets used in the transportation
3 industry for putting materials on to cart them around?
4 A. Yes, I have already said, it is made out of
5 cement and -- it is to place above the cement, and made
6 of wood and the young men brought four or five of
7 these, about 20 or 30 of these wooden pallets were
8 brought to us, and then we were able to sleep on them
9 before the drivers came, but when the drivers arrived
10 three days later then it was very crowded. Some were
11 able to sleep for a while, in shifts, others just had
12 to remain standing.
13 Q. Was the hangar heated or -- in any way?
14 A. In the first few days, no. Afterwards there
15 was a little heating. We were given some wood to make
16 a fire with.
17 Q. Now, you mentioned a moment ago that after
18 a few days you had to go digging. What did you mean by
20 A. When the young men were brought from Loncari,
21 on that same evening or the next day they went to dig
22 on the terrain where we were. They did not -- as it was
23 a well-known terrain to us they did not take us out
24 because they thought we might run away but on the first
25 night or two I did not have to go, but then I, after
1 that, I went to dig.
2 Q. Now, who told you you had to go and dig?
3 A. I call him Ljubo Pisar, his name was Ljubo,
4 business was his nickname and he kept records of all
5 this and would say, "Right, now we need ten of you,
6 fifteen of you", depending on how many. On this
7 particular location they needed fifteen of us and he
8 was there throughout our stay in the camp. He had our
9 names and he issued our orders. He would select the
10 number of men he needed. He had a table. We would get
11 around the table, and he would write our names down to
12 say who was to go and who was not to go and then we
13 would go out to the trucks and he would make a record
14 of who went to the trucks and who returned to the camp.
15 Q. Do you know what happened to this record?
16 What was done with it once it was taken down?
17 A. I do not know.
18 Q. Did this person, Ljubo, did he work in the
19 camp all the time or did he come to the camp?
20 A. He worked in the camp all the time but he did
21 go home and was replaced by somebody else. His surname
22 was Zec. He was also a sort of clerk. I do know that
23 his surname was Zec so they would alternate and they
24 were the ones in charge of the comings and goings of
25 the camp. So, Ljubo had the main shift.
1 Q. And when you say, "had a table", where did he
2 set up his table that you walked past to register your
4 A. At the entrance to the hangar. As you come
5 in, near the door, on the left hand side where we were
6 lined up along the wall.
7 Q. Now, apart from these two people, Ljubo and
8 Zec that you have referred to, was anyone else there at
9 the time when you were taken out to go digging?
10 A. There were some other guards but I do not
11 know their names. There was Anto Cakic, not so often,
12 but the other two were there in most cases, when we
13 left the camp and returned to it. I do not know the
14 other names.
15 Q. Now, you have mentioned one of the places you
16 went to was Bare. Can you remember any of the other
17 places that you were taken to for digging?
18 A. Yes, I do. I went to Podjele, to Kula, to
19 Crkvice, I also went to -- I also dug graves for the
20 dead for the HVO to Ahmici. The forest, the woods above
21 Ahmici which is, from where I could see my village,
22 actually. Then I cannot remember all these places.
23 Perhaps I will later on. But I think that is enough.
24 Q. Is that a convenient time now, your Honour?
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you counsel. Thank
1 you for your cooperation to both counsel, and to the
2 Registry staff, so we will pick up tomorrow.
3 (1.30 pm)
4 (Hearing adjourned until 9.00 am tomorrow)