1 Friday, 6th March 1998
3 (The accused entered court)
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Good morning, ladies and
5 gentlemen. Are interpreters ready? Registrar, could
6 you please call the case?
7 THE REGISTRAR: Case IT-95-14/1-T,
8 Prosecutor versus Zlatko Aleksovski.
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Could I have the
10 appearances for the Prosecution, please?
11 MR. NIEMANN: My name is Niemann. I appear
12 with my colleagues, Mr. Meddegoda and Mr. Marchesiello
13 and Ms Erasmus for the Prosecution.
14 JUDGE RODRIGUES: For the Defence, please?
15 MR. MIKULICIC: Good morning, your Honours,
16 good morning colleagues. My name is Mikulicic and
17 along with my colleague, Mr. Joka, we represent the
18 Defence, thank you.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: We shall therefore proceed
20 with our case, with a witness if I am not mistaken,
21 Mr. Meddegoda?
22 MR. MEDDEGODA: The witness that the
23 Prosecution intends to call this morning is a witness
24 whose name has been divulged to the court in the list
25 of witnesses dated 3 March. His name appears at
1 number 1 in that witness list. On behalf of that
2 witness, I am seeking to apply for certain protective
3 measures. I am seeking, your Honours, to apply for a
4 pseudonym so that the witness's name will not be
5 divulged. I am also seeking your Honours' permission
6 to have the image of the face of the witness distorted
7 during the course of transmission. I have indicated my
8 application to my learned friend and I believe that my
9 learned friend has no objection to this application.
10 In the circumstances, I move that your Honours grant
11 the protective measures that I am seeking for and on
12 behalf of this witness.
13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic, do you agree
14 with this?
15 MR. MIKULICIC: Your Honours, Defence has no
16 objection to this. The Defence agrees to these
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Turning to Mr. Gerlach to
19 undertake all the necessary protection measures -- it
20 is already done? Thank you. Can we please have the
21 witness brought in and could you please close the
23 (The witness entered court)
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Good morning, Sir. Can
25 you hear me well?
1 A. Good morning, yes, I do hear you.
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you for coming to
3 the International Tribunal. I will now ask you to read
4 out the solemn declaration that the usher is tendering
5 to you?
6 A. Just a moment so I can get my glasses.
7 I solemnly declare I will speak the truth, the whole
8 truth and nothing but the truth.
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Let me thank you once
10 again for coming here. You are now going to answer
11 questions that are going to be put to you by
12 Mr. Meddegoda, counsel for the Prosecution.
13 WITNESS J
14 Examined by MR. MEDDEGODA
15 Q. May I proceed, your Honours?
16 Witness, their Honours have granted certain
17 protective measures for you during the course of your
18 testimony and, throughout the course of your testimony,
19 you will be known as Witness J and I also would like to
20 inform you that your name would not be divulged and in
21 the course of your testimony the image of your face
22 will not be transmitted -- it will be distorted when it
23 is transmitted to the outside world.
24 Witness, I would ask you first of all to look
25 at the sheet of paper that I hand over to you and
1 confirm whether the name which appears on the sheet of
2 paper is your name or not?
3 A. Yes.
4 MR. MEDDEGODA: If my learned friend may be
5 shown the piece of paper and I tender it under seal.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 71.
7 MR. MEDDEGODA: Witness J, you are a Bosniak
8 by ethnicity?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Your religion is Islam?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And what is your age?
13 A. On 26 February I was 56.
14 Q. Very well. Now, witness, I want to take you
15 back to the events of April 1993. In narrating those
16 events, I do not want you to divulge any details that
17 would reveal your identity. Do you remember the date
18 16 April 1993?
19 A. I do.
20 Q. And where were you on that day?
21 A. I was at home.
22 Q. Who else was with you at home on that day?
23 A. My son, my wife, and a neighbour also came in
24 the morning on that day of the 16th.
25 Q. What time did you wake up on 16 April?
1 A. I woke up at 4.30 and I did early morning
2 prayers - "sabah".
3 Q. Thereafter, what did you do?
4 A. After that, I told my wife to turn on the
5 radio so that we could hear the news, because she was
6 always listening to the 5 o'clock news.
7 Q. And what did you hear over the news at
8 5 o'clock that morning?
9 A. I heard on Radio Busovaca how Dario Kordic
10 was ordering all HVO units to attack the positions of
11 the BiH Army.
12 Q. Could you please tell this court who Dario
13 Kordic was?
14 A. Dario Kordic was a man who worked at the
15 Busovaca municipality, who before the conflict was in
16 charge of the military affairs of -- that is, for the
17 recruits in the Busovaca municipality.
18 Q. And what was his role during the conflict?
19 A. During the conflict, he was the chief
21 Q. Of which army was he the chief commander?
22 A. Of the army of the Croatian Defence Council.
23 Q. And that is the army known as the HVO?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. How did you know that it was Dario Kordic who
1 was addressing over the radio?
2 A. I know -- I knew that this was Dario Kordic,
3 because earlier, around 1990, my son was in the army
4 and I was trying to get him out when the war broke out
5 between Croatia and Serbia so that he would not go to
7 Q. So, that morning, what you heard was Dario
8 Kordic ordering all HVO units to attack the positions
9 of the BiH Army; is that right?
10 A. Yes, and to attack the positions of Bosnia
12 Q. Upon hearing this over the radio, what did
13 you do?
14 A. When I heard this on the radio, my wife
15 stayed in the house and my brother, myself and three or
16 four other men went to a small forest about 200 metres
17 away from the house and we could see down in the fields
18 that the soldiers were already moving. Around
19 6 o'clock the rain started and so I went back home.
20 They all went back to their own homes.
21 I was there with my son, Salih, and Ramiz
22 Zatagic came to my house. He was a neighbour of mine.
23 He came and we were discussing where to flee, because
24 we did not know where to go, because Kuber and Ahmici
25 and Kratinje were all already taken, so we had no way
1 out. I told my wife, "Go to the back room and look
2 through the window and see if somebody is coming." We
3 all took positions so that we could see if they were
4 coming from the direction of Kratinje, Kaonik or
5 Jelinak. My wife went to the bathroom. She entered
6 the room and she said, "There are three HVO soldiers
7 and they are carrying the Kalashnikov rifles", like
8 this. They came straight to my house and they said,
9 "Come and get ready." I got ready and started to go
10 out and I asked, "What did I do to you? If I am guilty
11 of anything, kill me now."
12 My son was sleeping at the house. He went
13 into the kitchen and, from the kitchen, he went to hide
14 and, from the kitchen, he went to the pantry. One of
15 the HVO soldiers opened the pantry door and I guess he
16 saw his feet and so he came out of the pantry and he
17 said, "There is no-one there" and he whispered
18 something to the other soldier, so the other soldier
19 walked in and said, "You - come out and get dressed,
20 too." So then he did.
21 Then we were all taken to my neighbour's
22 house. So when we arrived at the neighbour's house,
23 his son also arrived. He was born in 1969, so he got
24 dressed as well. So, it was four of us then.
25 We were taken down to where the mini bus
1 was --
2 Q. I think you may be going a little fast. Your
3 answer has to go down and the translators have to
4 translate it.
5 A. Yes, I understand.
6 Q. I suggest you slow down because you are
7 speaking a little too fast.
8 A. Very well, very well.
9 Q. You said you were taken, together with your
10 son, to your neighbour's house and could you tell this
11 court what happened at your neighbour's house -- you
12 and your son were taken and then you were taken to a
13 neighbour's house; is that right?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And what happened at the neighbour's house?
16 A. They ordered my neighbour and his son also to
17 get dressed, so that the four of us were taken down to
18 the intersection of Jelinak/Loncari/Kaonik.
19 Q. What happened when you were taken to that
21 A. There was a mini bus waiting there, and the
22 driver of it was Mirko Plavcic, son of Jure, from the
23 village of Jelinak.
24 Q. Did you know Mirko Plavcic from before?
25 A. Yes, I knew him, because he was in the
2 Q. At the time you got in the bus, were there
3 others already in the bus?
4 A. When we came to the mini bus, I saw inside
5 more of our own men, who were brought there. My house
6 was a little bit far -- a bit outside of the village,
7 about 300 metres, so, together with the four of us,
8 there were all together 21 persons.
9 Q. You said that you saw "more of our own men"
10 to use your own words. Who do you mean when you
11 say "more of our other own men"?
12 A. Bosniaks -- Bosniaks, Muslims, however you
13 want to put it.
14 Q. What happened after you got into the bus?
15 A. We could not all fit -- we could not all sit
16 down, so we stood and three HVO soldiers entered and
17 they escorted us to the Kaonik camp.
18 Q. Were those HVO soldiers who escorted you in
19 the bus -- what were they wearing at the time?
20 A. These were the HVO soldiers and they carried
21 Kalashnikov rifles for the most part. There were also
22 some automatic rifles as well. They wore camouflage
23 uniforms with the HVO insignia.
24 Q. Do you recall what happened upon reaching
25 Kaonik camp?
1 A. When we arrived at the Kaonik -- in the
2 Kaonik camp, we were put in a hangar and, when I came
3 to the hangar, I saw that there were some -- another
4 150, 160 other people there, who had been arrested
5 throughout Central Bosnia. If you had a Bosniak name,
6 you would be brought to this camp.
7 Q. About what time was it when you arrived at
8 the hangar in the Kaonik camp?
9 A. When we arrived in the hangar, it was about
10 9 o'clock in the morning -- 9, 9.15.
11 Q. Upon arrival, did you have to -- were you
12 ordered to get off the bus?
13 A. We were ordered to get off the bus and we
14 were lined up -- Ljubo Vukadinovic was taking down all
15 our data; names, last names and our dates of birth.
16 Q. Do you know Ljubo Vukadinovic?
17 A. I saw him for the first time over there at
18 the hangar.
19 Q. What was he wearing when you first saw him?
20 A. He was wearing a camouflage uniform with the
21 HVO insignia. This was on 16 April 1993.
22 Q. After taking down your personal details, do
23 you remember what happened to you and the other
24 prisoners who were brought to Kaonik?
25 A. After they took our personal details, then
1 they gave us something to eat. There were two or three
2 spoonfuls of rice and some old bread -- 6 or 7 days,
3 but it was such that my gums hurt later from it.
4 Q. Was the personal property of the prisoners
5 taken at any point in time when you were brought into
6 the hangar?
7 A. All personal effects, which we had, would --
8 they said, "Get up, you balijas and take out everything
9 you have -- watches, gold and rings." Then I came and
10 said, "Do you also want my person ID?". They said "no",
11 but that was the only thing that I had there.
12 Q. Did your son have anything with you at the
13 time that the soldiers were searching for personal
15 A. My son had nothing except, in his sock, he
16 had an ID card of the Territorial Defence. This is
17 what he had in his sock.
18 Q. Your son was a member of the Territorial
19 Defence, was he?
20 A. Yes, yes.
21 Q. And what type of work did he do in the
22 Territorial Defence?
23 A. He was in communications and he went to the
24 village of Dvor -- this is before the conflict -- he
25 went through Jelinak to Dvor and Putis -- some people
1 call it Putis [pronunciation].
2 Q. You said when you were brought to the hangar
3 you saw about 150 to 160 detainees. Now, would you be
4 able to tell this court to which particular ethnic
5 group these detainees belonged?
6 A. All these detainees were all of Bosniak
7 ethnic background.
8 Q. Do you remember what happened the next day in
9 the camp -- that was on 17 April?
10 A. On the morning of 17 April, Mr. Zlatko
11 Aleksovski entered and he said, "We need 30 men for a
12 job", and he said that we should all line up. We all
13 got up and lined up. They picked 29 and my son was the
14 30th. I could not -- I did not have a chance to come
15 over and say, "Son, please take care of yourself" or to
16 say, "I can fill in for him." So they were taken to
17 either the village of Rovna or Kovacevac.
18 Q. I am not asking you about Rovna or
19 Kovacevac. You said Mr. Aleksovski came into the camp.
20 Did he come into the hangar? Was he alone when he came
21 into the hangar?
22 A. With Ljubo Vukadinovic.
23 Q. What time of the day was it when
24 Mr. Aleksovski and Mr. Vukadinovic came into the hangar?
25 A. This was between 7.30 and 8 o'clock in the
2 Q. Do you remember what kind of attire was being
3 worn by Mr. Aleksovski?
4 A. HVO uniform, a camouflage uniform with the
6 Q. Could you describe the physical appearance of
7 Mr. Aleksovski to this court?
8 A. He is a bit shortish -- shortish and he wore
9 a hat, he had an uniform on, maybe was a bit slimmer
10 than I am.
11 Q. Would you be able to recognise Mr. Aleksovski
12 if you saw him again?
13 A. I think that I would.
14 Q. Witness, could you look around this court and
15 say whether Mr. Aleksovski is present in this court
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And where is he seated in this court?
19 A. He is over there, the last one, wearing a red
20 tie. (Witness indicating).
21 MR. MEDDEGODA: Maybe the witness could be
22 asked to take a good look. He points in the direction
23 of the accused.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes.
25 MR. MEDDEGODA: You said 30 prisoners were
1 taken. Did you see them being taken out of the hangar?
2 A. Yes, I did see it. They put them on to a
3 truck, like cattle.
4 Q. Was Mr. Aleksovski present when they were
5 taken out of the hangar?
6 A. Yes, yes, he was present.
7 Q. And was Mr. Aleksovski present when they were
8 put into the truck?
9 A. Yes, he was.
10 Q. Do you know where this group of 30 prisoners,
11 including your son, had been taken to?
12 A. They were taken to the village of Rovna near
13 Bare or maybe Kovacevac. One of those two, I cannot
14 tell you precisely, but it should have been Rovna,
15 because -- the place where my son dug with Rasim Kermo
16 had features which made me believe it was Rovna.
17 Q. Did your son and the other prisoners who were
18 taken that morning, did they come back to the camp?
19 A. No.
20 Q. What do you mean, did not all the prisoners
21 come back or was it your son who did not come back to
22 the camp?
23 A. My son did not come back and my neighbour's
25 Q. Do you know what happened to your son?
1 A. I do know. According to my
2 brother-in-law --
3 Q. How did you know -- who told you what
4 happened to your son?
5 A. First Sefer Osmancevic told me, because they
6 were digging trenches -- two, three, or four men, in
7 one place and so, as they were finishing these
8 trenches, they would wait and -- they would wait in the
9 vehicle, so whoever came first would come back to the
10 camp and Sefer Osmancevic came and said that my son was
11 wounded. He said that a bullet grazed the back of his
13 Q. And did you know of this incident from
14 anybody else who had been taken for trench digging?
15 A. Yes, I did. I heard it from my son-in-law in
16 person, who was digging trenches with him. He was
17 wounded at 4 o'clock, and my son-in-law was trying to
18 pull him out from the fire, so they applied bandages on
19 it and they managed to stop the bleeding, so he did
20 pull him out eventually and they put him in a blanket,
21 and they brought him to the place where the car could
22 -- a place where a car could reach. Whether it was an
23 ambulance or some other vehicle, I could not tell, but
24 they said that he was taken to Nova Bila hospital.
25 Apparently, he was holding his hands like this
1 (indicating) and he lost consciousness at that moment,
2 according to what my son-in-law said. The person who
3 bandaged his head said, "This one is finished", but
4 then my son opened his eyes and he said, "I am not
5 finished, I am still alive."
6 MR. MEDDEGODA: Your Honours, I wonder whether
7 it would be appropriate to have a short break to enable
8 the witness to recover himself?
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes. Witness J, we have a
10 deep respect for your suffering. We will have a
11 15-minute break so that you can rest a little, and then
12 come back to continue with your testimony. So, a
13 15-minute break.
15 (A short break)
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Can we proceed?
18 MR. MEDDEGODA: Yes, your Honours. The
19 witness will be brought in by the usher.
20 (The witness entered court)
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Sir, can you hear me?
22 A. Yes, I do.
23 Q. Are you feeling any better now?
24 A. I am fine.
25 Q. Are you ready to proceed with your testimony?
1 A. Yes, yes -- I can.
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: We can therefore
4 Mr. Meddegoda, please proceed.
5 MR. MEDDEGODA: Witness, you were narrating
6 to this court what was told to you by -- about the
7 incident involving your son. Do you know what had
8 happened after your son had lost his consciousness?
9 A. They put him in an ambulance, or some other
10 type of vehicle -- I do not know, I could not tell you
11 that, but my brother-in-law requested to be allowed to
12 accompany him, but the HVO soldiers would not let him
13 go with them. That is what my brother-in-law told me.
14 Allegedly, he was taken to hospital -- whether the
15 Busovaca hospital or the Bila hospital, I do not know,
16 but, when my brother-in-law came back, he said that
17 Ljubo Vukadinovic had arrived. Ljubo Vukadinovic then
18 took my brother-in-law to Zlatko Aleksovski and my
19 brother-in-law asked him how he was. He said he was
20 feeling fine and I myself, I was hoping that my son was
21 exchanged as a wounded person. This all happened on
22 17 April.
23 Q. Witness, you were referring to your
24 "brother-in-law" -- is it your brother-in-law, or are
25 you referring to your son-in-law?
1 A. My brother-in-law and -- it is my --
2 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter apologises,
3 but it is very difficult to understand this family
4 relationship with the witness. Could you ask the
5 witness to repeat his answer, please?
6 MR. MEDDEGODA: Witness, could you repeat what
7 was said. You said you were told about this incident
8 involving your son. Who narrated this incident to you?
9 A. Sidik Osmancevic was the one who told them
10 about the incident. Then my son-in-law came and he
11 brought his jacket to me, and gave it to me and I asked
12 him, "Tell me the truth. Is he severely wounded? Is
13 he going to live?". Everyone who was with him digging
14 trenches -- everybody who came back told me that he
15 would live, because the bullet had only scratched his
16 head, and, according to what Sidik Osmancevic told me,
17 he was taken to hospital by Marinko Lukin, son of Jozo
18 from Bare. That is what Sidik Osmancevic told me.
19 MR. MEDDEGODA: Your Honours, I wish to ask a
20 few questions which may tend to reveal the identity of
21 the witness. Therefore, could we move into private
23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes. We will go into
24 private session now.
25 (In private session)
13 Page 1245 redacted - in private session
20 (In open session)
21 MR. MEDDEGODA: You said that your son was
22 wounded on the back of his head by a bullet. Are you
23 aware from which direction this bullet had come?
24 A. According to what my son-in-law told me, the
25 bullet had come from the direction of the village of
1 Kovacevac. He told me when he was wounded, some people
2 were laughing at that time.
3 Q. Do you know which army was in control of the
4 village of Kovacevac at this point in time?
5 A. No, no -- Kovacevac at that time was under
6 the control of the HVO.
7 Q. Do you know of any other person who was
8 wounded on the same day as your son?
9 A. Yes, I know -- Ramo, my neighbour's son was
10 also wounded -- his name was Ramiz. He was apparently
11 wounded in the neck and it happened around 10am.
12 Q. Do you know how Ramo had been wounded?
13 A. No, I could not tell you about that. I was
14 not there. I just know that he was wounded in the
16 Q. Witness, after hearing the sad news, what did
17 you do?
18 A. As a parent, I could not do anything. Nobody
19 called me at that time. I was only -- only Ljubo
20 Vukadinovic arrived and he called my son-in-law.
21 I could not tell you anything about their conversation
22 there, but my son-in-law was told that my son was
23 feeling well and that he was apparently in Busovaca or
24 in Nova Bila in hospital.
25 Q. Witness, thereafter, do you recall seeing
1 anything happening in the hangar on the following day?
2 A. On 17 April or -- oh, yes, I know what you
4 Q. I am referring you to after 17 April -- after
5 the day your son was shot?
6 A. Yes, yes, I know, I understand. In the
7 following morning, around 4am, three young men were
8 brought to the hangar, Saban Osmancevic, Abdulah, who
9 we called Abdil, and Camil Osmancevic, who was wounded
10 in the heel -- I believe it was his left heel. They
11 sat down on a bench. We got up and asked them what had
12 happened. They said that they were in the house of
13 Alija Osmancevic, they had hidden there and some HVO
14 soldiers had entered the house and started shooting
15 around and they wounded Camil. They could not provide
16 him with the first-aid and they wanted to take him to
17 -- take them to Kaonik.
18 When they brought them to Kaonik, they put
19 them in the hangar, so on the following morning, around
20 8am, Mr. Aleksovski came in, in the company of a
21 policeman, and he said, "Where are those three birds
22 who arrived yesterday?" I heard that personally,
23 I heard Mr. Aleksovski say that. So the doors of the
24 hangar opened, and we were standing close to the door
25 and we saw Saban Osmancevic take Abdulah Osmancevic,
1 who could not walk very well and he had miner's boots
2 on, and they took them to a Golf -- it was a police
3 vehicle, and two policemen were standing there. They
4 tied them up and they took them away, and we have not
5 heard anything about them ever since.
6 Q. Witness, thereafter, did you have occasion to
7 go to Mr. Aleksovski's office on any occasion?
8 A. 10 days later, after these incidents, after
9 my arrest, a guard opened the doors of the hangar and
10 he asked about me and I told him who I was and he said
11 that I should go with him to the office of Zlatko
12 Aleksovski. I went there and got in. As I was
13 entering the office -- whether this was Zlatko's
14 office, or some other room or radio station, I do not
15 know. All I know is that it was situated to the left
16 from the entrance of the hangar. Zarko Petrovic was
17 there. Zarko Petrovic used to visit me, because he had
18 contacts with my son Salih, who was in charge of the
19 local youth organisation at that time. He used to come
20 to my house. He was on very good terms with both my
21 sons, so they knew each other.
22 Anyway, there was a bottle of Coca Cola there
23 and a pack of Ronhill cigarettes on the table. He
24 offered me the cigarettes. I said I did not smoke, but
25 I drank a glass of Coca Cola. Then he told me, "Take
1 these cigarettes to your colleagues in the cell."
2 I then asked Zarko -- who then started speaking
3 something about Kula and the futility of our fight and
4 so on. I said, "Zarko, I am not interested to hear
5 anything about Kula. You know what I am interested in
6 -- I am interested to learn about the fate of my
8 He said, "I can only tell you that he was
9 wounded, and I do not know anything else about him."
10 Zarko said, "There is nothing I can do for you.
11 I cannot help you in any other way. I just can see to
12 it that you are not sent to trench digging any more."
13 On the next morning, a person by the name of
20 So we had to line up. I saw him fire -- I saw him fire
21 a burst of gunfire in the direction of the person by
22 the name of Kovac. I do not know -- then they started
23 taking off the clothes -- whoever had something new on
24 him; whether shoes or a new jacket, they took away
25 their clothes.
1 So we had to dig until late, until 9pm, and
2 after the work was completed, they did not want to
3 drive us back to the hangar, but they wanted us to
4 spend the night in a barn which was full of hay, and
5 there were 13 of us in there and all of a sudden
6 Mr. Zare took a hand grenade and threw it in the
7 direction of the village of Gradine. We were afraid we
8 would all be killed and set on fire in the barn.
9 Anyway, on the next morning we got up and they gave us
10 two or three cookies each and some tea. We drank the
11 tea. After that, we had to line up against a fence.
12 We were waiting to be relieved -- exchanged.
13 There was a woman there by the name of Janja
14 -- she was probably their cook. She was wearing a
15 uniform as well. She was then told to take off that
16 uniform, because they told her that people would think
17 that we were conspiring with Chetniks. Then this woman
18 came to us and she said, "I would gladly give you some
19 more cookies, but I do not dare to. You have to finish
20 eating as quickly as you can, but if they see me giving
21 cookies to you, I will be killed as well."
22 Q. Was this the only occasion that you were
23 taken for trench digging from the camp?
24 A. No, no.
25 Q. When else have you been taken for trench
2 A. On the third day, I was taken to Gradine --
3 this is between my village and Jelinak -- to Gradine.
4 I went, Sadik Ribo went, Serif Pezek -- when he died,
5 Salko, then Naib Osmancevic and Ulaga Osmancevic and
6 the person who took us there, up to a house of a
7 certain Fabijan, up to the fields up there. So we went
8 and he said, "Come on, balijas, sing. I do not like
9 you, Alija, because you are a balija, and the Drina
10 took 100 of your mudjehadeen", so Sadik started to
11 sing this. I told him, "Sadik, stop", but he did not
12 hear me.
13 Then he came back to me and he said, "So, old
14 man, you sing now", and I said, "Sir, if I knew how to
15 sing, I would not be here."
16 Q. For how long did you have to dig trenches in
18 A. We dug at Gradine from 9 o'clock until about
19 4 o'clock. That day we did not receive water or food
20 -- we received nothing. When we finished this, we
21 went to -- we started to go back to the hangar and
22 then, when we started, he said, "Okay, sit down and
23 take a rest." Then he said, "Whose house is over
24 there?" I said, "It is mine." He said, "It has not
25 burnt down." I said, "It has not." He said, "It will."
1 I said, "Well, let it burn then." Indeed, later, it
2 also was burned down.
3 Q. Were you taken to any other places for trench
5 A. When we were coming back from Gradine, there
6 was another group that was waiting with Ivica
7 Andrijasevic, who was the commander. I know he was the
8 commander, because everybody in the unit was listening
9 to him and he was assigning people to digging and so
10 Sefek said, "I cannot dig any more, just kill me." He
11 was over 62, 63. So they took us back to the hangar,
12 and then the next time they took me to Polom -- to
14 Q. About how many prisoners were taken to Polom?
15 A. There were about 15 prisoners that were taken
16 to Polom, but we were separated into groups of one and
17 two, but it was great there. We got as much food as we
18 wanted. We were given cigarettes. Your brother could
19 not have taken better care of you. You almost felt as
20 if you were free up there.
21 Q. Any other place that you were taken to?
22 A. They also took us to Podjele -- did I mention
23 Podjele? They took us to Podjele -- this is where we
24 spent the night. I think I said that, and then to
25 Bakije as well. At Bakije we worked for three or four
1 hours, so it was not much. When they brought us to the
2 camp, it was Sunday. Mr. Aleksovski walked in, and
3 Zarko, and they lined us up outside and he told
4 us, "Whoever has family in Busovaca can go to
5 Busovaca. Who does not have any family in Busovaca can
6 go to the village of Skradno where the Bosniaks lived"
7 and about 60 of us -- yes, it was the time when the
8 ICRC came and gave us a couple of blankets each, and
9 they allowed us to take these blankets along with us,
10 and I went to Skradno, because I wanted to flee.
11 I could not take it any more. I did not know where my
12 father was, where my wife was, I did not know the fate
13 of my son, so when I came to Skradno, I got
14 information, how many people from my village were
15 missing, but I did not want to talk about this, because
16 I had been in a camp, so I did not know how they were
17 pulling out of the village and going towards Kratine,
18 but I think that somebody will come and testify to that
19 as well.
20 MR. MEDDEGODA: Now, witness -- your Honours,
21 may I have your permission to show to the witness an
22 excerpt of Prosecution Exhibit 4, which has been
23 produced in evidence.
24 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit number 73.
25 MR. MEDDEGODA: Witness, could you please
1 look at the map that is on the projector? Please look
2 at it carefully and I will ask you a few questions.
3 You can look at it on the ELMO -- on your right. Do you
4 see that well?
5 A. Yes, I can see with my glasses.
6 Q. Witness, could you please point out, using a
7 highlighter that is on the table, Gradine where you
8 were taken for trench digging on the first occasion?
9 A. It is high ground, Gradine -- okay, this is
10 Kozica, this is Putis. (Indicating). That is Bakije.
11 Then Gradine, this is Podjele (Indicating).
12 Q. Can you see Podjele on that map --
13 A. Here, it is (indicating); here is Podjele.
14 Q. Witness, could you please mark those places
15 that you highlighted -- the village Gradine, could you
16 please mark it with the letter "A", and Bakije with the
17 letter "B" and, if you please, Podjele with the letter
18 "C". (Witness marked photograph).
19 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness please
20 be asked to speak into the microphone?
21 MR. MEDDEGODA: You may not find Polom on
22 that map.
23 A. I cannot see it. This is Rovna.
24 Q. Rovna can be marked as well. Rovna was the
25 place where your son was taken to on 17 April?
1 A. Yes, he was wounded.
2 MR. MEDDEGODA: Could you mark Rovna with the
3 letter "D"? (Witness marked photograph).
4 Thank you.
5 Your Honours, may I also have permission to
6 show to the witness an aerial photograph, which has
7 already been tendered in evidence.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit number 74.
10 MR. MEDDEGODA: Witness, could you carefully
11 look at the photograph that is on the ELMO and show to
12 this court the hangar building which you referred to
13 where you were first taken when you were brought to
14 Kaonik? Could you mark that building -- could you
15 circle that building using a highlighter?
16 A. This is the road to Kaonik -- leading from
17 Kaonik to Busovaca -- this is the turn-off, and then
18 you go here (indicating) and you arrive here
19 (indicating). This is the building where the cells
20 were, and this is where our hangar was.
21 Q. Could you please mark the building where the
22 hangar was -- circle that building and mark it with the
23 letter "A"? (Witness marked photograph).
24 So that was the building to which you were
25 first taken when you were brought to Kaonik?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And that was the building you were detained
3 throughout your stay in the Kaonik camp?
4 A. Yes, from 16 April until 13 May, and then, on
5 13 May, they brought us out and whoever had a family in
6 Busovaca was allowed to go to Busovaca, and Busovaca
7 was under the HVO control. Who did not have family was
8 allowed to go to the village of Skradno where the
9 Bosniaks lived. I was assigned to be with Behaija
10 Barucija -- myself and my son-in-law and Ekrem
11 Osmancevic. We stayed there and beyond the village
12 there were some fields, and we went there and the HVO
13 police came and they asked us whether anybody was
14 bothering us, anybody was provoking us, but my nerves
15 were already frayed, I knew nothing about my
16 80-year-old father, I did not know the whereabouts of
17 my wife, I did not know where my family was, so we
18 decided to escape.
19 Q. Who escaped together with you?
21 (redacted). We set our clocks for 1.30 in the
22 morning and somebody gave us a shirt, some spare
23 trousers, so we -- for 30 days we had not bathed or
24 shaved, and so it was given to us so that we would
25 recover a little bit. We enquired with the ICRC about
1 an exchange, but we were in the area controlled by the
2 Croatian Defence Council, so we did not know how we
3 were going to be exchanged, so we decided to flee. So
4 we set the clock at 1.30 in the morning. We got up, we
5 all got dressed, and I started getting dressed, but all
6 of a sudden I felt a great fear and I said, "I do not
7 dare go," so the man with whom we stayed, he said, "My
8 friend, it is better for you to leave. Do not wait for
9 their knives here. The first moment I can, I will
10 flee, too." So, I packed my bags, and we started in
11 the area of Kaonik.
12 We arrived at the bridge and that is where
13 the river of Kozica was and then there is the
14 building-block plant nearby, and my son-in-law was
15 going first, and then Ekrem behind him and I was the
16 last, (redacted)
17 (redacted). I said, "If I am killed, if my son-in-law
18 is killed, our families will be left without anyone."
19 But I finally summoned the strength and I went along.
20 So, at the mouth of the Kozica River in Lasva
21 we stopped and we said, "Shall we swim across?" And
22 I said, "I do not know." There is a main checkpoint at
23 the Mediapan factory and above there was all HVO.
24 I said, "I do not feel like swimming across." It was
25 16 May and it was still quite cold. So they had a
1 machine-gun nest at Marica Kuce and then they ran a
2 wire across the river, so we could trip it and it will
3 alert them -- they would kill us all.
4 I said, "What would you want to do instead?"
5 He said, "I would go directly to the bridge and
6 whatever Allah says", and I believed in Allah, if I am
7 killed, it is fine, if I survive, thank God again. So,
8 at Mehena Vode, a place called Korito -- there was a
9 place where we took off our shoes and started.
10 Around Mediapan, it was all lit. There was a
11 little bit of fog, but it was all very well lit. We
12 were still in the area controlled by the HVO, so Ekrem
13 says, "I know the way. I know a path below the
14 Mediapan." I said, "What about the mines; will there
15 be any mines in that area?" He said, "I did not think
16 of that." We started in the direction of the village
17 of Strane. So we came to the first house near the
18 Mediapan, or maybe 25 metres from the Mediapan -- this
19 is Rezib Zatagic's house. We entered his yard and from
20 there we went towards the house of Dzevad Sisic. Then
21 we were now between the trenches and control point. So
22 we climbed up to about -- to Dzevad Sisic's house and
23 then the dog started barking.
24 I said, "Lie down; it is the HVO patrol." So
25 we lay in the grass for about 15 minutes and the
1 barking stopped. Then we went through -- near a fence,
2 and it was -- and so there was like a hedge and then it
3 was five or six metres later, the branches started
4 crackling, so we moved further towards the road, but we
5 were exposed, so I held on to a branch. I did not know
6 whether it was dry or not, so it broke on me and
7 I tumbled over and then the burst of fire came in my
8 direction -- about 10 of them. I lay in the grass, and
9 I said, "Dear Allah, am I ever going to see my own?"
10 At this point I did not care whether I would be killed
11 or not, but I had a grandson who was two years old.
12 "I do not know if I am ever going to see him again" --
13 those were my thoughts.
14 At that point we dispersed, and we took care,
15 each, of himself. I thought the two of them were
16 killed. Later on they told me they believed I was
17 killed. So, not knowing what to do, if they had moved
18 in my direction, I would have been caught right there.
19 I think that they did not know what it was. They may
20 have thought that it was a bear or some kind of animal,
21 so as it was raining, there was -- it created some kind
22 of a run-off canal so I wanted to come to this canal
23 and then climb up to the woods and then go through the
24 woods, so I managed to do that.
25 I found a path. I was on all fours. I came
1 to the road. I looked left and right. I saw that
2 there was a light, which was lighting the road. I went
3 under the bushes, came into a ditch and then about 100
4 metres from there, all of a sudden my Ekrem and my
5 son-in-law appeared before me and they said, "Are you
6 alive?", "How about you, how did you manage to get
7 through?". They said, "We went over to Vrbjce, we
8 crossed the road and went in the direction of Lasva",
9 whereas I followed this canal.
10 I arrived at the gas station at Gavro and
11 from there I crossed Lasva at the Merdani bridge, which
12 the HVO had blown up, so I arrived there, and that is
13 where our units were, and they were there sort of, how
14 shall I put it, protecting that area.
15 Two days later, another group started --
16 attempted to flee from Skradno and they found this -- a
17 minefield and on that occasion Fehim and Ahmet
18 Osmancevic were both killed and we managed to pass by
19 there. So I went to the village of Grabe, to my
20 sister's, and then I went to Rijeka and started looking
21 for my wife and my family. When I saw my wife --
22 Q. What happened? Where did you see your wife;
23 in which village was that?
24 A. The name of the village was Jurevici near
25 Babeno. That is where we met, yes.
1 Q. You were united with your wife?
4 was in hospital and that he would come and now it is
5 been five years -- it will be five years on 17 April.
6 We have not heard of him since.
7 MR. MEDDEGODA: That is all your Honours,
8 I have no further questions.
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: We could perhaps have
10 another 15-minute break before we start with the
11 cross-examination and give the floor to Mr. Mikulicic.
12 After that, we will go until the end of the morning
15 (A short break)
16 (12 noon)
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Meddegoda, I think we
18 have to say that, in the exhibit number 74, the witness
19 has put the letter "E" instead of letter "A", so
20 I think we will have to rectify that.
21 MR. MEDDEGODA: The letter "E" may stand,
22 your Honours, or -- it could be rectified or it could
23 remain as "E" -- I think it is phonetic.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: All we have to do is just
25 to take note of that so as to avoid any possible
1 confusion with the transcript.
2 Witness J, you have completed your
3 examination-in-chief -- you have answered the questions
4 put by the Prosecutor and now you are going to answer
5 the questions of the Defence. I believe it is going to
6 be Mr. Mikulicic and he is going to ask you several
8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic, you have the
9 floor. However, before we proceed with the
10 cross-examination, let me remind you that we would like
11 to finish this session this morning -- we would like to
12 finish with this witness and I would like also to ask
13 the interpreters if they agree to prolong -- to
14 continue working if we have to prolong the session a
15 little bit. I can see them nodding their heads --
16 I believe it is okay, so, Mr. Mikulicic, you may now
17 proceed with the cross-examination.
18 MR. NIEMANN: Your Honour, I have another
19 witness, which I would like to see if I can complete
20 this morning. He will not be a lengthy witness, but
21 I would at least try, if that is possible.
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes. You may proceed,
23 Mr. Mikulicic.
24 MR. MIKULICIC: Your Honour, my colleague,
25 Mr. Joka, will be questioning the Witness J, thank you.
1 Cross-examination by MR. JOKA
2 Q. With your permission, your Honours, by way of
3 introduction, let me express the attitude of the
4 Defence to the witness. We have also been asked by our
5 client, who, due to procedural reasons, is not able to
6 do it himself, to express our condolences for the
7 difficult moments that you have been through and the
8 difficult situation you are still in. Having said
9 that, I will try to be as brief as possible in my
11 I would like to proceed with the questions
12 now and, in view of the contents of my questions,
13 I would like to suggest to move into private session,
14 because I would like to ask about certain names, and
15 I will be referring to a witness that has been examined
16 here -- Witness H -- so, for the protection of that
17 witness and, also, for the protection of this
18 particular witness, I would like to move into private
19 session for only two or three very brief questions.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: We will go into private
21 session now. Mr. Dubuisson, would you ensure the
22 necessary steps are taken?
23 (In private session)
21 (In open session)
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: We are ready, Mr. Joka.
23 MR. JOKA: Do you know the location called
24 Bare, Witness J?
25 A. Yes, I do. There was a school building
2 MR. JOKA: Could you indicate on the map
3 exhibit number 73 the place where Bare is located?
4 Could I please ask the usher to help me?
5 A. I believe I could, yes. (Handed). Let me
6 see -- this is Strane -- (indicating).
7 Q. Could you please mark it with the following
8 -- with the letter in order?
9 A. Which letter?
10 Q. Well, which is our next letter -- we had "A",
11 "B", "C" and this would be "D"?
12 MR. MEDDEGODA: We had "D" as well, it would
13 be "E".
14 MR. JOKA: Then it is the letter "E", yes?
15 A. Okay.
16 Q. Could you now try and locate the village of
17 Rovna -- we already have it, okay. What about
18 Kovacevac, could you indicate that about the
19 letter "F", please -- please, letter "F".
20 (Witness marked photograph).
21 Very well, thank you. I would now like to
22 continue with my questions. We have finished with the
23 map, thank you.
24 Witness J, could you please tell the court
25 whether you know who the commander at Bare was?
1 A. The commander at Bare was Mr. Mario Dimitrivic
2 -- his father's name is Mile.
3 Q. Thank you. Let me clarify one more thing.
4 You have told the court about your meeting with Zarko
5 Petrovic some 10 days after your son had disappeared?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Do you know that Zlatko Aleksovski had
8 engaged some -- had undertaken some investigation in
9 order to find out about the fate of your son?
10 A. No, I do not know -- I did not know anything
11 about that.
12 Q. On that occasion, when you talked to
13 Mr. Petrovic, was Mr. Aleksovski present in the office?
14 A. No. As I was getting in, he was getting out
15 of the office.
16 Q. Does that mean that you were able to speak to
17 Zarko Petrovic freely?
18 A. Yes, I was, and also because I knew Zarko
20 Q. Did Zarko Petrovic ask you about anything
22 A. No, that was all. He just told me not to
23 fight in the area of Kula -- he said that it was all in
24 vain and there were lots of trenches there, and then
25 I told him, "Zarko, I am not interested in Kula at
1 all. All I am interested to know is the fate of my
3 Q. Okay. Do you know what kind of function
4 Zarko had at that time?
5 A. I believe he was an intelligence officer.
6 Q. Whose intelligence officer was he?
7 A. At least that is what I thought. I thought
8 he was an intelligence officer. I had contacts with an
9 HVO policeman, and he told me that he was working for
10 an organisation named SIS -- I do not know what it
12 MR. JOKA: Thank you, your Honours. We have
13 completed our cross-examination and I would also like
14 to thank the witness for his answers.
15 MR. MEDDEGODA: No questions in
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Witness J, I have one
18 question for you.
19 If I have properly understood, Mr. Aleksovski
20 once told you that he needed 30 people to do a job. Do
21 you remember having said that?
22 A. No, he came in the hangar with Ljubo
23 Vukadinovic and he said that he needed 30 men to go --
24 to do a kind of job.
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes, but who said that?
1 A. Mr. Zlatko said that.
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Did he say anything about
3 the kind of work that people were supposed to do?
4 A. No, he did not say anything about that, but
5 it was our assumption that it would be trench digging,
6 because there was nothing else to do.
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Okay. Witness J, the
8 court has no more questions to ask you. We would like
9 to thank you once again for having appeared before the
10 court. We wish you a safe journey back home to your
11 country and we hope that the life for you is going to
12 be better. Thank you very much?
13 A. God willing, yes, and may I ask a question to
14 the court, your Honours?
15 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Witness J, because we have
16 no further questions for you, this means that you have
17 completed your testimony here before the Tribunal?
18 A. Thank you.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you?
20 A. And thank you, too.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: You may now leave the
23 A. Once again, let me ask you, please, could
24 anyone tell me, if my son has been killed, where his
25 bones lie. Enable me to bury him decently. I have
1 been living like this not knowing anything for the last
2 five years and the gentleman here has been accused and
3 other persons who have been accused here -- I think
4 that they know that, and I would kindly ask him to tell
5 me that, if he wishes to do so. If not, very well
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Witness J, we have heard
8 your question.
9 A. Thank you.
10 (The witness withdrew)
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Niemann?
12 MR. NIEMANN: Your Honours, the next witness
13 does not require any protective measures and I call
14 Daniel Damon.
15 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Do we need any protection
16 measures for this witness, Mr. Niemann?
17 MR. NIEMANN: No.
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Okay, you can then lift
19 the curtains -- raise the curtains.
20 MR. MIKULICIC: Your Honours, may I speak to
21 the Chamber? Our client, Mr. Aleksovski, has just told
22 me that he is not feeling very well and he would kindly
23 ask for a five minute break to collect himself a little
24 bit? If it is possible with the court's indulgence
25 could we have a five minute break?
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes, it is possible. We
2 will therefore have a 15-minute break.
3 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, your Honours.
5 (A short break)
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Niemann, you wanted to
8 say something about the situation?
9 MR. NIEMANN: Not particularly, your
10 Honours. I am not sure what the situation is entirely,
11 but I understand that the accused has taken ill and is
12 not able to be present. I guess there is nothing more
13 we can do about the matter, other than simply to
14 adjourn, unless of course the Defence are willing to
15 proceed in his absence. I do not know whether counsel
16 is in a position to do that or not. I understand
17 entirely either way and, in the event that counsel is
18 not prepared to continue, I can see nothing else but
19 for us to adjourn. I have a witness waiting to
20 testify, your Honour.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Joka, you are very well
22 informed of the situation as to the health of
23 Mr. Aleksovski. We would like to hear your position in
24 respect of that, namely, in respect of the possibility
25 to continue the hearing or not.
1 MR. JOKA: Your Honours, I can only say, as a
2 lay person, that our client is really not feeling
3 well. He has a kind of spasm and it seems like he is
4 numb and I am told that he is being attended to by a
5 physician right now and there is another physician on
6 the way coming from the UN detention unit. I do not
7 know what will happen next. We asked him whether he
8 would be able to collect himself and to continue.
9 He said that, right now, he could not tell,
10 that maybe in an hour he would. Obviously, at this
11 stage, he is not in a situation to go on. Without his
12 presence, we do not feel that we can continue with the
14 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes. The question is:
15 the Rules of Procedure and Evidence do enable us to
16 proceed without the presence of the accused, but we
17 need his approval for that. There is also a problem
18 here of a witness who has come to testify here today.
19 If he does not give his testimony here today,
20 he will have to come back. So that was my question.
21 The Chamber can hear the witness, but we also do
22 understand all the reasons for an adjournment.
23 MR. JOKA: I completely understand your
24 comments. What I am trying to say is that we were not
25 able to receive an affirmative answer from our client.
1 My feeling is that, at this point in time, he simply
2 does not fully comprehend our question.
3 We appreciate the fact that there are
4 problems regarding the witness -- I believe he arrived
5 from England -- and he is here.
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I will consult my
7 colleagues. Just a moment, please. (Pause).
8 We will have to balance the interests here of
9 the people involved in these proceedings.
10 Mr. Mikulicic, who is the lead counsel in this case, is
11 not present here. Therefore, I believe that it would
12 be more advisable to finish the hearing today. We
13 understand the problems of bringing in witnesses, but
14 this is an exceptional situation. So, the Chamber has
15 decided to adjourn the hearing and to continue at the
16 end of March, as it is scheduled in our calendar.
17 Therefore, we wish all the best to
18 Mr. Aleksovski. We hope that he will be able to
19 continue. I wish you a nice weekend, all of you, to
20 interpreters, technicians, and the hearing is
23 (The hearing adjourned)