2 --- Upon commencing at 9.02 a.m.
3 (Open session)
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Good morning, ladies and
5 gentlemen. Interpreters are ready so we can resume our
6 work. Mr. Dubuisson will you call the case number?
7 THE REGISTRAR: IT-95-14-1/T, the Prosecutor
8 versus Zlatko Aleksovski.
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, Mr. Dubuisson.
10 The appearances, please, Prosecution first.
11 MR. NIEMANN: Your Honours, my name is
12 Niemann and I appear with my colleagues Mr. Meddegoda
13 and Ms. Sutherland for the Prosecution.
14 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much,
15 Mr. Niemann. And for the Defence, Mr. Mikulicic,
17 MR. MIKULICIC: Good morning, Your Honours,
18 my name is Mikulicic, and along with my colleague
19 Mr. Joka, we represent Mr. Aleksovski.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much.
21 Mr. Mikulicic, you have the floor, is there another
22 witness you wish to call to the stand?
23 MR. MIKULICIC: Yes, Your Honours, the
24 Defence is calling the witness Viktor Maric.
25 (The witness entered court)
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Good morning, Mr. Maric.
2 Please read the solemn declaration that the usher is
3 holding out for you.
4 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will
5 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much, you
8 may sit down. To begin with, you will answer the
9 questions put to you by Mr. Mikulicic who is on your
11 WITNESS: Viktor Maric
12 Examined by Mr. Mikulicic:
13 MR. MIKULICIC:
14 Q. Good morning, Mr. Maric.
15 A. Good morning.
16 Q. I hope that you're comfortable, my name is
17 Mikulicic and I represent the accused, Mr. Aleksovski,
18 in this matter. I'm going to ask several questions and
19 I would like to ask you to answer them to the best of
20 your recollection.
21 For the beginning, Mr. Maric, when were you
23 A. I was born in the village of Podjele in the
24 municipality of Busovaca on the 20th of March, 1956.
25 Q. What is your ethnic background?
1 A. My ethnic background is Croatian.
2 Q. Are you religious?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. What is your religion?
5 A. Catholic.
6 Q. Mr. Maric, you said that you were born in a
7 village near Busovaca; where did you finish your
8 elementary school?
9 A. In Kaonik and four years, and in Katici
10 another four. This was in the municipality of
12 Q. Did you continue your schooling later?
13 A. Yes. I continued the secondary school for
14 machinery in Zenica.
15 Q. Mr. Maric, did you serve in the former JNA?
16 Did you do your military service?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Do you recall when this was?
19 A. This was in 1975 in Vipava and Nova Gorica in
21 Q. After, upon leaving the JNA, did you receive
22 any rank?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Were you a regular soldier?
25 A. Yes, I was a border patrol soldier.
1 Q. Mr. Maric, where did you get your first
3 A. This was in 1978, at the steelworks in
5 Q. Until when did you work in Zenica?
6 A. Until 1992.
7 Q. What did you do, what was were you employed
9 A. I was a machine technician.
10 Q. You said that you worked in the steel mills
11 in Zenica until 1992; in that period the war conflict
12 had already started in the Republic of Croatia and
13 earlier in Slovenia; is that correct?
14 A. That is correct.
15 Q. Mr. Maric, what did you do in 1992?
16 A. In 1992 I joined the units, the defence units
17 of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
18 Q. Could you clarify this to us in more detail?
19 When did you join and what type of unit was this?
20 A. The fact is that I think that as early as
21 1991 the village of Ravno was attacked by the JNA, and
22 the Croats had already organised to help defend the
23 territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
24 Q. And later, after the attack on the village of
25 Ravno, where were you? What type of military formation
1 were you?
2 A. I was in the HVO.
3 Q. As a volunteer?
4 A. That is correct.
5 Q. Tell me, in 1992, when defending the attacks
6 by the JNA and the Serbian army, did only Croats take
7 part or did also the Bosnian citizens of Muslim descent
8 took up arms?
9 A. It was mostly the Croats, and there were very
10 few Muslim volunteers at that time.
11 Q. Did you somehow try to explain this to
13 A. By following the media, the television, their
14 official said this was not their war, that they had not
15 yet been threatened.
16 Q. Is it true that if their leaders said this
17 was not their war, they meant the war against the JNA?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. To your recollection, did the citizens of the
20 Muslim ethnic background, and when did the citizens of
21 Muslim ethnic background join this resistance of the
22 Yugoslav People's Army?
23 A. I don't know exactly, but when it was obvious
24 that the JNA is already attacking the territory where
25 the Muslims were in the majority.
1 Q. So, all this is going on in 1992?
2 A. Yes, that is correct.
3 Q. Do you recall whether the state authorities
4 in Sarajevo did proclaim the state of war?
5 A. I don't know exactly when this was, but I
6 believe it was in April that they declared it.
7 Q. Was this for the territory of
9 A. Yes, that is correct.
10 Q. Mr. Maric, can you tell us where did you stay
11 after that, that is what units did you join?
12 A. I was in the HVO. I was involved in securing
13 the main highways, the main communication lines.
14 Q. Can you recall in which areas you were
15 involved in these activities?
16 A. This was in the area of the municipality of
18 Q. Do you mean the town of Busovaca or the
19 municipality of Busovaca?
20 A. The municipality of Busovaca.
21 Q. Mr. Maric, you mentioned that you were born
22 in the village of Podjele, a village close to Busovaca,
23 how far is it from the town of Busovaca?
24 A. It is about four-and-a-half kilometres away
25 from the centre of Busovaca.
1 Q. I assume that you are familiar with the
2 situation as it was early in 1992 in the territory of
3 the municipality -- '93 in the territory of the
4 municipality of Busovaca?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Mr. Maric, do you recall the events of late
7 1992 and early 1993 in the municipality of Busovaca?
8 Were there some tensions which developed between the
9 Croat and Muslim population in this area?
10 A. Yes, you could feel that.
11 Q. Could you describe to us your recollections
12 of these events?
13 A. The Muslim officials in the municipality of
14 Busovaca distanced themselves, they became more
16 Q. Did you notice at that time that the Muslim
17 population started leaving this territory, the town of
18 Busovaca and the municipality of Busovaca?
19 A. Yes, this was frequent occurrence. There was
20 a market in Busovaca over the weekend, and you could
21 see that a number of people had left Busovaca.
22 Q. What part of the population was leaving the
23 town in the municipality of Busovaca in this way?
24 A. For the most part these were the citizens of
25 the Muslim ethnic background.
1 Q. But a number of the people of Muslim ethnic
2 background stayed in town?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Do you recall with regard to sex which people
5 of which sex stayed and people of which sex left
7 A. They mostly left from the town.
8 Q. What I mean is, were they mostly males who
9 were leaving?
10 A. Yes, it was mostly males.
11 Q. Mr. Maric, did you also notice that women and
12 children were leaving town?
13 A. Yes, I did.
14 Q. How did you interpret these departures? Why
15 did you think these people were leaving?
16 A. At that time we thought that they were
17 getting organised in Kacuni, the neighbouring area,
18 that they were attempting to organise themselves,
19 something, so you could sense something.
20 Q. I see. In January of 1993 we know that
21 Busovaca was attacked. Do you remember those events,
22 and can you tell us when this took place?
23 A. Yes, this was on 24 January 1993 and what
24 preceded it was a killing of Ivica Petrovic and another
25 policeman in Kacuni. And the following day a general
1 attack on Busovaca ensued.
2 Q. From which directions was Busovaca attacked?
3 A. As far as I recall, it came from the
4 direction of Kacuni, Merdani, for the most part, I'd
6 Q. Mr. Maric, you mentioned those two locations,
7 Kacuni and Merdani; what was the majority population of
8 those two villages?
9 A. I know that in Merdani the population was 100
10 per cent Muslim; and Kacuni, I believe that it was
11 about 80 per cent Muslim.
12 Q. At that time you were a volunteer in the HVO.
13 What was your duty, what was your task at the time,
14 during the attack on Busovaca? What did you do?
15 A. I was the driver of the HVO president, and in
16 this role I performed these duties. This was, this
17 also included taking care, to protect the population in
18 the zone of responsibility of the HVO, and anything
19 else that one could do.
20 Q. You also mentioned that you worked, that you
21 were engaged in the protection of the population; can
22 you tell me, Mr. Maric, immediately prior to these
23 events, did also Croat displaced persons arrive from
24 the neighbouring villages?
25 A. Yes, given that these villages were close to
1 the combat zones, it was probably about three or four
2 hundred metres away, we needed to take care of the
3 families who were arriving.
4 Q. Do you recall from which villages did Croat
5 refugees arrive?
6 A. Yes, this was Putis, Podjele, Gavrine Kuce,
7 Loncari and the villages around Kacuni.
8 Q. Are all these villages in the territory of
9 the Busovaca municipality?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Mr. Maric, did you have an opportunity to
12 talk to the people who were driven out of their homes?
13 Did they tell you what happened?
14 A. Yes, yes, they were surprised, they could not
15 comprehend at first what had happened to them. They
16 were simply in a state of panic.
17 Q. Did they tell you who drove them away from
18 their homes?
19 A. Yes, since these were all neighbours before
20 the war, they knew where the shooting was coming from,
21 where the shells were coming from.
22 Q. Can you tell us who it was that was shooting?
23 A. It was the Muslim units who were shooting.
24 Q. The people who came from the surrounding
25 villages to the town of Busovaca, where would they be
1 put up?
2 A. At first they were put up in this collective
3 housing units in school buildings and later on a lot of
4 people just took people into their homes.
5 Q. And you were involved in these activities?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. But primarily your job was to be the personal
8 driver of the HVO president?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Mr. Maric, do you know whether the HVO
11 president at that time was a civilian or military
13 A. He was a civilian person.
14 Q. Do you know what his roles were, what his
15 duties were?
16 A. I assume that it was the organisation of
17 civilian life in these war time conditions.
18 Q. In the first half of 1993, was this the only
19 work that you did, or did you move, were you
21 A. On 15th March 1993 I was appointed the person
22 in charge of the civilian defence in Busovaca.
23 Q. You mean the municipality of Busovaca?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Mr. Maric, you told us that in your
1 professional career you worked in the steel mill in
2 Zenica, then you joined the HVO units as a volunteer
3 and now you're telling us that you were appointed the
4 commander of the civilian protection in the Busovaca
6 Did you know, did you have any experience
7 about how the civilian protection was supposed to
9 A. No, I did not have any specific experience in
10 that way, but you familiarise yourself very quickly in
11 these circumstances.
12 Q. Can you tell us what the role of the civilian
13 protection was?
14 A. The civilian protection has as its main
15 function to organise civilian protection in terms of
16 taking care of the refugees, to establish the units
17 which would engage in activities that were important in
18 the territory of the municipality.
19 Q. If I understood you correctly, one of the
20 functions was also to establish the so-called work
21 units, detachments; is that correct?
22 A. Yes, that is correct.
23 Q. Mr. Maric, when you came to the post of the
24 civilian protection, did these activities include
25 getting people who were to create lists of people who
1 would be involved in particular duties there?
2 A. Yes, there were some lists available there,
3 but people who were involved in the civilian protection
4 at that time also took lists of people who were of the
5 military age.
6 Q. Is it true that when you assumed the post at
7 the civilian protection that you determined that the
8 people on the list who were of Muslim ethnic background
9 had left the territory of the municipality?
10 A. Yes, they were not there anymore.
11 Q. Did you also have the lists of conscripts and
13 A. Yes, those containing the lists of Muslim
14 conscripts were missing.
15 Q. Mr. Maric, does it mean that being involved
16 in the activities of civilian protection you actually
17 had no insight into who of the Muslim civilian
18 protection recruits was there?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. What did you do then?
21 A. We then tried to compile a new list of the
22 military conscripts who were at that time available in
23 the territory of the municipality.
24 Q. So you just tried to compile new lists?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Can you tell me how many able-bodied male
2 persons were there in Busovaca, how many military
3 conscripts were there in the territory of the Busovaca
5 A. I do not know exactly. I could not tell you
6 the exact number, but very few.
7 Q. Tell us, please, Mr. Maric, when you
8 performed your duties, what was the technique you used?
9 How did you do this? For example, if you needed a
10 certain number of people for a certain work, how did
11 you do this technically, what did you do? Could you
12 describe that please?
13 A. Well, at the request of the commander of the
14 unit, of the HVO, a certain number of people were
15 requested for specific duties along the lines, and then
16 we would send out invitations using a courier, or a
17 runner. Or if that was not possible, we would do this
18 via the military police.
19 Q. Tell us, please, you mentioned if that was
20 not possible that you would use the military police.
21 What situations did you resort to this second method of
22 gathering people?
23 A. Well, we used this second method when there
24 was combat and when this was, it was not, we were not
25 able to use a courier or when the situation was
1 extremely urgent.
2 Q. Do you remember how many men a work unit
3 would be composed of?
4 A. Well, it depended, depending on the work to
5 be done, the tasks set before the unit on the terrain,
6 but they ranged from 10 to 50.
7 Q. In what way did you organise the transport of
8 these individuals who were to go on to do work on
9 terrain? Did they go on foot, were they transported
10 some way?
11 A. Well, we would collect them, there would be a
12 checkpoint, and then transport would be organised by
13 the HVO.
14 Q. Who secured these, escorted these people?
15 A. The military police did.
16 Q. I suppose, and please put me right if I'm
17 wrong, that there were cases when individuals did not
18 respond to the call up?
19 A. Yes, that happened.
20 Q. What would you do then, if somebody failed to
21 turn up?
22 A. We would apply certain measures, we would
23 resort to everything that we could on the basis of the
24 law, disciplinary measures, in fact.
25 Q. Was there, could you resort to any other
1 disciplinary measures?
2 A. Yes, detention measures.
3 Q. Mr. Maric, you mentioned that the military
4 police would escort these work units and that they were
5 working on the terrain. Do you remember the locations
6 they were sent to? Where did they work, in which
8 A. Well, depending on the needs, they were
9 usually the approach roads and bridges and defence
10 lines, that sort of thing.
11 Q. You mentioned defence lines. Can you tell
12 us, quote a few locations and villages in the vicinity
13 of which you would have work units?
14 A. They were Loncari, Podjele, Kula. There were
15 some other localities, I can't think of them at the
17 Q. Loncari you said, Podjele and Kula. Would it
18 be true to say that those villages, those positions
19 were along the frontlines of the combat activities?
20 A. Yes, that is correct.
21 Q. Is it also correct that along those locations
22 there were objective threats, that their lives were
23 threatened when they were doing their work?
24 A. Yes, that's right.
25 Q. How then did the military police guard these
1 people, do you know?
2 A. Well they would escort them to the place of
3 work. They would assess the circumstances and the
4 conditions; were the conditions were conducive to work
5 at that particular time.
6 Q. Were these duties performed during the day or
7 the night?
8 A. No, mostly at night.
9 Q. Why?
10 A. Well, for safety reasons.
11 Q. Do you recall when you performed your duties
12 that there were any incidents which broke out while
13 this work was going along the defence lines?
14 A. Well, there were some sporadic incidents, I
15 don't recall them all.
16 Q. At the same time, tell us, please, Mr. Maric,
17 and we are talking about the first half of 1993, what
18 the safety situations, security situation, was in the
19 Town of Busovaca itself? Was there shooting? Were
20 there grenades or was the situation peaceful?
21 A. Well, the situation was perhaps a little
22 better in town than it was along the defence line
23 because in the municipal building, for example, that is
24 where I usually worked, we were not, our safety was not
25 always assured there as the town was being shelled
1 across the road from the municipal building, that is to
2 say 10 to 15 metres a grenade fell in the vicinity, so
3 nobody felt quite safe.
4 Q. Were there any civilian casualties in the
5 Town of Busovaca itself?
6 A. Yes, of course, there were.
7 Q. Can you remember how many people were wounded
8 or killed in the Town of Busovaca?
9 A. I don't know the exact number, but there were
10 quite a few.
11 Q. Tell us, please, Mr. Maric, the municipal
12 building that you mentioned a moment ago, where is it
13 located within Busovaca itself? Is it along the
14 periphery or is it in the centre of town?
15 A. No, it's in the centre of town.
16 Q. When you mentioned the attacks from the
17 surrounding villages with a predominantly Muslim
18 population in the direction of Busovaca, could you tell
19 us how far those villages are situated from the Town of
20 Busovaca itself, as the crow flies for example?
21 A. Well, it's very near. Well, let's say 1.000
22 metres, 1.500, 1.000 metres, 2.000 metres, not very
24 Q. Therefore, would I be wrong in saying that at
25 that time, during the combat activities in 1993, the
1 area of the Municipality of Busovaca was more or less
2 equally just as safe and secure in comparison to the
3 combat activities?
4 A. Yes, that would be correct.
5 Q. Was there one particular locality in Busovaca
6 or its surroundings which was quite safe from the
8 A. No, that did not exist.
9 Q. Let us go back for a moment to the work
10 units. What was the national composition of those work
12 A. The national composition, ethnic composition,
13 was there were Muslims, Croats and Serbs.
14 Q. Tell us, please, Mr. Maric, did you, when
15 selecting individuals for these units, bear in mind who
16 you were going to select in view of their age and in
17 view of their health or some other reasons, for
19 A. Well, yes, when we would send an invitation
20 to these people, a call up, all those had to join. At
21 the time, we would look at their psychophysical
22 condition generally, and how old they were, and what
23 they would be capable of doing, what work they would be
24 capable of doing.
25 Q. If, for example, a recruit would supply you
1 with medical, a medical report which would say that his
2 health was not good enough for work, did you take
3 account of this?
4 A. Yes, until his treatment, medical treatment
5 was completed. We would not take in people like that.
6 Q. Mr. Maric, although you said in your
7 introduction that you are a machine technician, are you
8 acquainted with the provisions and regulations to be
9 applied in performing your duties subsequently?
10 A. Well, they were provisions and regulations
11 dating back to the former Yugoslavia which were taken
12 over by Bosnia-Herzegovina and the provision on the
13 organisation and implementation of work duties for
14 total national defence, which the executive council of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina enacted in 1985.
16 Q. Therefore, this is a regulation enacted by
17 Bosnia-Herzegovina and was therefore applied throughout
18 the territory?
19 A. Yes, because we had no other regulations.
20 Q. Do you know, perhaps, from your personal
21 contacts, whether these same regulations would be
22 applied to the area of Bosnia-Herzegovina which was at
23 that time controlled by the BH Army?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. No? I'm sorry, I didn't hear.
1 A. When the war ended and the Croats left
2 Zenica, they said that they did the same kind of work,
3 they dug trenches along the defence lines and so these
4 regulations were also applied there as well.
5 Q. Mr. Maric, until when did you perform your
6 tasks on civil defence in Busovaca?
7 A. About the 15th of June, 1993, up to then.
8 Q. And where did you go after that?
9 A. I went to join the HVO units.
10 Q. How many people were employed in the work
11 that you were doing?
12 A. Very few. There were four of us employed in
13 this civil defence work in Busovaca.
14 Q. When we spoke about the call ups of the
15 conscripts to perform the work duties, you said that
16 this was, for the most part, done by sending couriers
17 with the call up notice, if circumstances allowed, and,
18 if not, that the military police would be used to
19 collect these people?
20 A. Yes, that's right.
21 Q. Do you know, Mr. Maric, whether individual
22 military commanders along the defence lines also
23 applied this direct form of call up using the military
24 police or was this not a practice?
25 A. Yes, they did, directly, if the need arose.
1 Q. When was that? You say "When the need
2 arose," what did you have in mind there?
3 A. Well, when there were extensive combat
4 activities and when it was not, there was not enough
5 time to organise everything in the normal run of
7 Q. Mr. Maric, tell us, please, whether you know
8 the Kaonik camp?
9 A. Yes, I do.
10 Q. Do you know what the intention of that
11 facility was when it was built and what happened later
12 on with that facility?
13 A. Well, it was a barracks of the Yugoslav
14 Peoples Army. At least that's as much as we knew about
15 it then because as it was a barracks, we were not
16 allowed to approach.
17 Q. The army of the former Yugoslavia, the
18 Yugoslav Peoples Army, left Bosnia-Herzegovina
19 somewhere in mid-1992. That is the first half of 1992,
20 if I am not mistaken. What happened to Kaonik after
21 that, do you know?
22 A. Well, after that, Kaonik was taken over by
23 the HVO units.
24 Q. For what purpose? What existed there?
25 A. Well, the army was there. That is to say
1 part of the HVO units were located there.
2 Q. Do you know that one of the buildings in the
3 Kaonik facility was refurbished and for what purpose?
4 A. Well, one of the barracks buildings became a
5 prison, was turned into a prison.
6 Q. At the time when this building was
7 rearranged, did you visit it?
8 A. No, I didn't.
9 Q. Do you know, Mr. Maric, whether in the
10 locality around Kaonik, at the beginning of the
11 conflict in Busovaca, whether the inhabitants of
12 Busovaca of the Muslim nationality were sent there?
13 A. Yes, I know that they were put up there.
14 That means that all those citizens of Busovaca who did
15 not respond to the call up, their military call up, or
16 had done something else, were sent to the prison.
17 Q. Did you visit these people in Kaonik ever?
18 A. No, never.
19 Q. Did you in some other way have contacts with
20 those individuals?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Do you know, Mr. Maric, what the population
23 was there? Were they people who were conscripts or
24 were they some other people?
25 A. No, they were conscripts.
1 Q. In the municipality, in the defence
2 department, did you have any records of those people as
3 being recruits and conscripts?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Did you find those records when you came?
6 A. No.
7 Q. So, is it correct if I say that at that time,
8 there were no records on these individuals as
9 conscripts in the municipality? Do you understand my
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. You said in your introduction that when you
13 took up your duties in the civil defence department in
14 Busovaca, you found that the records of the Muslim
15 recruits were for the most part taken away. Now as
16 these are also people of the Muslim nationality, did
17 you have any records on those people in the
18 municipality or not?
19 A. No, we did not have any records.
20 Q. Do you know why these individuals were sent
21 to the Kaonik facility?
22 A. As I said, probably they had -- this was a
23 disciplinary action for not -- they could not remain at
24 home. Everybody had to do some work, so if anybody
25 refused to do some work, then they would be sent there,
1 even old people work and old women, so it was
2 inadmissible that conscripts were allowed to go
3 scot-free and do nothing. Of course it would be
4 difficult to ask them to fight against their own people
5 and that is why they were sent to the detention centre
6 where their ethnicity would not be in jeopardy.
7 Q. You said, Mr. Maric, that in performing your
8 civil defence duties, had never had contact with these
9 people from the Kaonik facilities; is that true?
10 A. No -- yes, I did not.
11 Q. Do you know who it was, not his name, but
12 what organisation was authorised to call upon these
13 people in the Kaonik camp to perform their duties?
14 A. Yes, it was the HVO command.
15 Q. From your experience and from your
16 recollections, can you tell us of an incident that
17 occurred when these individuals performed their work
18 duties; do you know anything about that or not?
19 A. No, I don't.
20 Q. Do you happen to know, Mr. Maric -- let me
21 ask the question in a different way. You said that the
22 beginnings of the conflicts in Busovaca were somewhere
23 around the 24th of January, do you know when these
24 individuals from Busovaca were taken to Kaonik?
25 Immediately after the fighting, before or after?
1 A. I can't say.
2 Q. Do you know when they returned from Kaonik?
3 Is that something that you're acquainted with?
4 A. I don't know, I can't say.
5 Q. Mr. Maric, you spent some time in the region,
6 you are acquainted with the situation that existed
7 there, you said that from the direction of Kacuni and
8 other directions the attacks were launched of the BH
9 Army on Busovaca. What do you think in view of the
10 fact that you performed your civil defence duties and
11 that you took part in the army as a volunteer, what was
12 the military goal of these attacks?
13 A. The military goal of the attacks launched was
14 to, for these forces to take over Busovaca and to set
15 up a Muslim state of some kind.
16 Q. Is Busovaca and its municipality located
17 along an important communications line?
18 A. Yes, between Sarajevo, Kiseljak, Travnik,
19 Bugojno, Split. That is the main communication line.
20 Q. Is that communication line in the military
21 sense important or is it peripheral?
22 A. No, it is very important.
23 Q. At the time in the military sense, was it
24 important who was in control of that communication
1 A. Of course.
2 Q. You personally took part in the defence of
3 the territory of the Municipality of Busovaca, did you
4 not? Can you tell us from your own experience whether
5 you ever undertook any offensive drives to take over
6 territory outside the Busovaca municipality?
7 A. No, quite the contrary, we only defended our
8 own part, our own villages and houses where my family
9 was located, so we had no offensive drives whatsoever.
10 We just protected our own homes.
11 Q. In those conflicts, in the fighting,
12 Mr. Maric, did you ever notice that on the side of the
13 defence, that is you who had put up a defence, that
14 other soldiers, apart from the HVO and the local
15 population took part?
16 A. I never saw anybody of that kind.
17 Q. I'll ask you in quite concrete terms, did you
18 see any soldiers with insignias of the HV, the army of
19 the Republic of Croatia?
20 A. No, never. No.
21 Q. Did you ever hear of the fact that in the
22 Lasva River Valley, soldiers of the Croatian army took
24 A. No.
25 Q. And let me ask you some more general, just a
1 few more general questions, regarding life and work
2 there at the time. Would it be true to say that during
3 these wartime circumstances, the Municipality of
4 Busovaca was encircled, in an encirclement?
5 A. Yes, it was under total encirclement.
6 Q. Does that mean that communications towards
7 outside from the municipality were severed?
8 A. Yes, that's correct.
9 Q. Mr. Maric, can you tell us what the supply
10 situation was like? Food? Fuel? Heating? Weapons?
11 How did this function?
12 A. Well, for the most part, supplies were based
13 on humanitarian organisations, the Red Cross brought us
14 food. Caritas, and other humanitarian organisations.
15 Whereas the rest, everybody had to fend for
17 Q. What about the population? Was there enough
18 clothing, footwear, food to go around?
19 A. No, there wasn't.
20 Q. Were these conditions the same for everybody
21 or were parts of the population favoured, for example,
22 the army?
23 A. No, everybody was in the same boat.
24 Q. You mentioned, Mr. Maric, that you were in
25 Kaonik did you -- no, I'm sorry, you said that you had
1 never been to Kaonik. But did you have occasion to
2 meet the warden of the military prison in Kaonik?
3 A. No, I know him by sight.
4 Q. Do you know somebody called Zlatko
6 A. Yes, I know him by sight.
7 Q. Can you point him out in the courtroom?
8 A. Yes, over there. (Witness indicated)
9 Q. The witness had shown in the direction of the
10 accused as somebody who he knows under the name of
11 Zlatko Aleksovski.
12 I am now going to ask you, Mr. Maric, whether
13 you met Mr. Aleksovski in Busovaca in the first half of
15 A. No.
16 Q. You mentioned that you were the personal
17 driver of the president of the HVO for the Municipality
18 of Busovaca, what was that person's name?
19 A. His name is Zoran Maric.
20 Q. You said that he was a civilian?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Can you explain to us then, having mentioned
23 the HVO, is the HVO a civilian or a military
24 organisation? Is it a civilian or military body? Do
25 you know something about that?
1 A. What I know is that the Croatian Defence
2 Council, which meant that the staff had become the
3 Croatian Defence Council to become the Croatian army.
4 The chief of staff. Whereas the Croatian Defence
5 Council within the frameworks of the municipality was
6 within the frameworks of the municipality and the
7 civilian department.
8 Q. Would it be true to say that the Croatian
9 Defence Council was a body who had both civilian and
10 military components within itself?
11 A. Yes, that's right.
12 Q. And being guided by the fact that the
13 president of the HVO was a civilian for Busovaca?
14 A. Yes, I understand.
15 Q. Was this civilian the president of the
16 Croatian Defence Council in the Municipality of
17 Busovaca, did he have any authorisations towards the
18 military formations and units? Could he issue orders
19 to these units? Could he be in command as a civilian
20 or did he have other duties to perform?
21 A. No, I don't think he commanded the units.
22 Q. Thank you, Mr. Maric.
23 MR. MIKULICIC: The Defence rests.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, Mr. Mikulicic.
25 Mr. Niemann, or Mr. Meddegoda maybe.
1 Cross-examined by Mr. Meddegoda:
2 MR. MEDDEGODA:
3 Q. Good morning, Mr. Maric.
4 A. Good morning.
5 Q. Mr. Maric, you said a while ago that you
6 functioned in the capacity as civilian defence
7 commander until the 15th of June, 1993; is that right?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And then you said you joined the HVO units?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Which of the units did you join thereafter?
12 A. The HVO units.
13 Q. And in which area, which operative zone were
14 those units which you joined based?
15 A. In Busovaca.
16 Q. And who was the commander of that zone in
18 A. That time? I don't recall.
19 Q. Who was immediate commander, the commander of
20 your unit which you joined, which unit that you
22 A. Mr. Jure Cauran.
23 Q. And what role did you perform in those units
24 that you joined?
25 A. Duties that were asked of me. That means
1 whatever I was asked to do, which was asked at that
2 time for that unit.
3 Q. To the best of your recollection, what were
4 the duties that were asked of you at that time?
5 A. To regularly carry out the duties ordered to
6 me by my superior commanders.
7 Q. Yes, Mr. Maric, I know they were the duties
8 that the commanders asked you to do, I am asking you
9 what were those duties that you were entrusted by those
11 A. I don't think I can answer this question of
13 Q. Why not? Why can't you answer the question?
14 Is that it that you don't remember those duties or is
15 it that you can't answer the question?
16 A. Those were the duties of a soldier.
17 Q. What did those soldiers' duties involve? Did
18 those soldiers' duties involve fighting in the front?
19 A. No, just defence.
20 Q. Defence. And where were you defending?
21 A. The Busovaca area.
22 Q. Together with you, how many soldiers were in
23 your unit which were defending Busovaca?
24 A. I don't know exactly.
25 Q. About how many could you recall? Was it 10
1 or 15 or 100 or more?
2 A. About 1.500, somewhere around 1.500.
3 Q. And how many of those 1.500 soldiers were
4 soldiers belonging to your unit, the unit that you
5 belonged to?
6 A. Majority.
7 Q. So you, when you say the majority, your unit
8 had soldiers numbering about, anything between 750 to
9 1.000 soldiers?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And if you could help me, Mr. Maric, who did
12 you say your commander was? That is the commander of
13 your unit.
14 A. The brigade commander was Mr. Cauran.
15 Q. And who was your immediate commander, the
16 commander of the unit to which you belonged?
17 A. I cannot recall exactly.
18 Q. Who did you report for duty, when you had to
19 take leave, when you had to absent yourself from duty,
20 whose permission would you generally obtain?
21 A. Commanders.
22 Q. And who was that commander?
23 A. Zarko Soskic.
24 Q. Do you recall what his rank was?
25 A. I do not recall.
1 Q. And the brigade commander you said was
2 Mr. Travcic, was it?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. He was the head commander of the brigade in
5 Busovaca, as you said?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. How long prior to your duty, how long prior
8 to you joining the HVO was Mr. Travcic the commander of
9 the brigade; do you know?
10 A. Not long.
11 Q. Was it a few days, a couple of weeks?
12 A. I cannot really lay out the dates for you
14 Q. I'm not interested in the dates, Mr. Maric,
15 what I want to know is how long before you joined the
16 unit did the brigade commander take up duty, have taken
17 up duty as the commander of the brigade in Busovaca?
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic.
19 MR. MIKULICIC: Defence is compelled to
20 respond to this line of questioning of my learned
21 colleague. We need to point out that the questions
22 regarding the composition of the military units which
23 were stationed at Busovaca are outside of the scope of
24 the indictment, as well as the examination-in-chief of
25 the Defence.
1 We believe that it is not pertinent what type
2 of military units were in Busovaca, because the
3 indictment only points to Kaonik and activities there.
4 So we believe that these, this line of questioning goes
5 outside of the scope of the examination, and we object
6 to that.
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I think that Mr. Mikulicic
8 is quite right; however, one must also bear in mind
9 that these questions have also direct link with the
10 credibility of the witness.
11 Mr. Meddegoda, bearing this in mind, you may
13 MR. MEDDEGODA: Very well, Your Honour.
14 Q. Mr. Maric, as I said, I will repeat my
15 question. I'm not interested in the date on which the
16 brigade commander assumed duty. What I want to know
17 is, you said you joined the HVO units on the 15th of
18 June 1993; how long before that, when was it that
19 brigade commander had assumed duty, in charge of the
20 brigade, how many days prior to your joining the HVO
21 unit, how many weeks or months prior to your joining
22 the HVO units had the commander assumed duty as
23 commander of the brigade in Busovaca?
24 A. Perhaps, perhaps in late 1992.
25 Q. Thank you. And for how long did you continue
1 to work in the HVO unit Busovaca?
2 A. Until the end of the war.
3 Q. And how are you employed, Mr. Maric?
4 A. I work in the Media Plan tile factory in
6 Q. Going back to early '93 late '92, Mr. Maric,
7 you said there was tension building up in the area of
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And it was at that time that you joined the
11 defence units of the HVO as a volunteer?
12 A. More precisely, I was a driver to the HVO
13 president. I was his personal driver.
14 Q. But you became the personal driver only
15 sometime in January, in the early part of 1993; wasn't
17 A. No, in late 1992.
18 Q. And before that, you functioned in the HVO as
19 a volunteer?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And you were involved in the defence of
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. What were the tensions? Could you describe
25 to this court what incidents took place in the area of
1 Busovaca in late 1992?
2 A. In late 1992, that is when the Serbian
3 aggression against the area of Ravno started in 1991.
4 Since that time the HVO got involved as much as it
5 could, and then this Muslim population did not get
7 Only later on, after the immediate threat of
8 war was declared in April of 1992, and in late 1992 the
9 tensions started building up in a sense, that is
10 between the HVO and these people, because they were not
11 getting involved. They would not become involved in
12 securing the facilities which were important at that
13 time, like communication lines and bridges and such.
14 Q. So, it was by late 1992 that the tension
15 started building up between the HVO and the Muslim
16 people of the area?
17 A. No, the Muslim population. This tension was
18 felt in the sense that the conscripts of the Muslim
19 army, of the Muslim units did not take part in
20 providing security in the area of Busovaca, which was
21 covered by the HVO.
22 Q. I mean what did they do if they did not take
23 part in securing the area? What did the Muslim people
24 do instead of taking part in securing the area?
25 A. For the most part, to my knowledge, they were
1 concentrated in their own smaller groups, in their
2 villages and things like that.
3 Q. And perhaps the Muslims did not want to fight
4 in the Republic of Croatia, did not want to fight along
5 with the HVO units.
6 A. It is possible.
7 Q. And it was at this time that, as you said
8 earlier on in your evidence, that the Muslim people
9 males, women and children, men, women and children, all
10 started leaving the area?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. I mean, you being an inhabitant, a native of
13 Busovaca municipality, you would have known these
14 Muslim people from your childhood.
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Were they neighbours of yours also that left
17 the area during this time during the tension that was
19 A. Yes, my village, village where I live. The
20 village where I live had combined Croatian and Serbian
21 population and there was a Muslim village about seven
22 or eight hundred metres away from my village, so we did
23 not have such close contact.
24 Q. Did you know, did you happen to know the
25 Muslim people from the area of Busovaca? You studied
1 in the elementary school there, and did you happen to
2 know the people of the area, your friends, the school
3 friends, your acquaintances?
4 A. I did not go to school in Busovaca, I went to
5 Katici; but I knew them from Merdani and other places
6 like Loncari.
7 Q. And if you may proceed, and you said there
8 was a Muslim village about seven to eight hundred
9 metres away from your village; that village I presume
10 was predominantly Muslim?
11 A. Merdani? Yes.
12 Q. And Muslims from that village, what position
13 did they take, what stand did they take at this time
14 when the tension was building up?
15 A. For the most part these encounters were
16 infrequent. Any larger gathering, there were no larger
17 gatherings anymore, so these encounters were kind of
19 Q. You, Mr. Maric, you said that you, after some
20 time functioning in the volunteer units of the HVO, you
21 were appointed the driver of the HVO president of the
22 Busovaca municipality.
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And then it was Mr. Zoran Maric?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Is he a relation of yours or is he connected
2 to you?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. How is he connected to you?
5 A. He is my first cousin.
6 Q. So, it was because of your relationship, I
7 mean, he considered you to be a trusted and loyal
8 person and that was why he appointed you, he took you
9 as his driver, personal driver.
10 A. He probably had his own reasons.
11 Q. But he was also, he would have, I believe,
12 considered the fact that you were his relation and
13 therefore he could rely on you and trust you and also
14 rely on your loyalty.
15 A. It's possible.
16 Q. And it was during this time that, after this,
17 it was in March that you were appointed the commander
18 of the civilian protection, civilian defence in
19 Busovaca municipality.
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Who appointed you commander of civilian
23 A. The HVO president, Zoran Maric.
24 Q. Was there a decree appointing you as
25 commander of civilian defence?
1 A. Yes, by a decision.
2 Q. Who made that decision?
3 A. The presidency of the Croatian defence
5 Q. And what were your duties and
6 responsibilities as commander of civilian defence in
7 the municipality of Busovaca?
8 A. I already mentioned that. The duties and
9 obligations of the commander of the civilian protection
10 included organisation of the activities, to organise
11 the activities and reception, primarily, of the large
12 numbers of the refugees in the area of Busovaca; as
13 well as to establish the work units; as well as all
14 other activities that issue from it, that regard the
15 organisation of civilian life, such as fire department,
16 assistance to certain economic facilities and so on.
17 Q. And how many work units were established
18 under your command in the Busovaca municipality?
19 A. I don't know what you have in mind,
21 Q. How many work units did you have, or how many
22 work units were composed when you took over as
23 commander, when you were appointed as commander of
24 civilian defence?
25 You said one of your functions was to
1 establish work units; how many work units did you
2 establish when you were in authority, in your area of
4 A. There may have been, maybe two or three work
6 Q. And how would you enlist people for such work
7 units? Would you describe to us the procedure of
8 enlisting people for such work units?
9 A. All military conscripts who did not have war
10 time assignments were sent to the work units of the
11 civilian protection.
12 Q. Did you have the list of names of all the
13 people, military conscripts who were to be assigned to
14 such work units?
15 A. I said that there was, that I did not find a
16 list of the Muslim conscripts; and so, through the
17 people's defence office, I did compile such a list; and
18 on the basis of that, I compiled a list for the work
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Meddegoda, forgive me
21 for interrupting. I think we should now take a break.
22 This would allow everyone to take a rest. Let us take
23 a 20-minute break. Thank you very much.
24 --- Recess taken at 10.20 a.m.
25 --- On resuming at 10.45 a.m.
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Meddegoda, please
3 MR. MEDDEGODA: Thank you.
4 Q. Mr. Maric, before the recess I was asking you
5 about the procedure in which you compiled a list for
6 the work units. And you said that these lists were
7 compiled and that the list of Muslim conscripts, you
8 obtained them from the peoples defence office?
9 A. The call up, that is compiling of the list
10 went through the peoples defence office to the people
11 who would be called up by the peoples defence office.
12 And this was of the military conscripts in the
13 territory of Busovaca municipality. But we did compile
14 a new list, yes.
15 Q. Who compiled that list in your office, in the
16 civilian defence office? Was it done by you or was it
17 done by anybody else?
18 A. I compiled it myself. So, I did it.
19 Q. The list so compiled, the persons in those
20 lists, you said you had divided them into about two to
21 three work units?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. What was the procedure when you required,
24 when you had to enlist the services of those people for
25 particular, specific types of work?
1 A. At the request of the commander of a unit or
2 the HVO commander, for a particular type of work, they
3 requested a certain number of people. And based on
4 such a request, we would call these military conscripts
5 from the work unit and then we would form one such work
6 unit and we would send it out in the field to perform
7 the particular type of task.
8 Q. From whom the commander, a unit commander or
9 the HVO commander, request for a certain number of
10 people? To whom would such commander, the unit
11 commander, or the HVO commander make such request?
12 A. They would send it to the civilian defence,
13 that is to the commander of the civilian defence.
14 Q. And then in your case, in the Busovaca
15 municipality, it would be addressed to you, that
16 request would be addressed to you?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. From the time, the time that you functioned
19 as a commander of civilian defence from March, from
20 mid-March of 1993, to about the 15th of June, 1993, how
21 many such requests were addressed from you from the
22 unit commanders or from the HVO commanders?
23 A. I believe somewhere around 10.
24 Q. Then when there was a request addressed to
25 you by a unit commander, what would you do?
1 A. I would carry it out and I would call the
2 certain number of the conscripts and I would send them
3 to work.
4 Q. You said you would request them in writing,
5 or at times you would send courier or a messenger to
6 those people, to join in the work unit?
7 A. We would send these calls through the
8 couriers and we would execute them or serve them
9 through a military police.
10 Q. I believe these were written requests that
11 were sent to them? They were sent in writing?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. What would happen to a person to whom such a
14 request was sent, wasn't at home at the time the
15 request was sent?
16 A. A second call or request would be sent out.
17 Q. Was that a report back to you from the
18 military police about the execution of that request?
19 A. Yes. They would report, for instance, that
20 he was not home. They couldn't find him or he was not
21 at that address, something like that.
22 Q. All such requests would go under your hand as
23 civilian defence commander?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. You said, Mr. Maric, that there were in the
1 course of your, in the course of your period of duty as
2 civilian defence commander, there were about ten
3 requests that you received from HVO commanders, how
4 many of such requests concerned trench digging on the
6 A. For the most part these requests concerned
7 these work on digging trenches.
8 Q. Do you recall how many of such requests were
9 connected with digging trenches?
10 A. There were maybe six or seven such requests.
11 Q. What were the other three or four requests,
12 what were those requests for?
13 A. The other requests concerned working on
14 clearing the area right next to the frontline, so
15 assistance to the fire department, to the humanitarian
16 organisations, to utility companies and so on.
17 Q. Now, Mr. Maric, a while ago you said that you
18 compiled a list yourself and on those lists that are
19 compiled, did you have names of Bosniaks of most people
20 of Muslims at the city who were on that lists that you
22 A. Of course there were all three groups,
23 Bosniak Muslims, Croats and Serbs.
24 Q. And what is the approximate percentage of
25 Bosniaks who were in the list that you compiled?
1 A. Somewhere around 50 per cent.
2 Q. Now whenever a request is made, you said you
3 would send, whenever a request is received by you, you
4 would send an HVO military police to collect the people
5 and then what would you do?
6 A. Those people would assemble at a particular
7 meeting point in town. They would be told what their
8 work duty was and then they were transported to the
9 location where they were supposed to do this work.
10 Q. Who would tell them what their work duty
12 A. It would usually be myself what their work
13 duty was or the immediate commander at the line of
14 defence where they were supposed to carry out this work
16 Q. Now would you go with the persons with the
17 work unit to the place where the work duty was supposed
18 to be carried out?
19 A. If my duties allowed me to, yes, I would go.
20 Q. There were instances that you did go, you
21 went to such places where work duty was carried out?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Where did you go to?
24 A. Kula, Podjele and Loncari.
25 Q. What was the work in Kula and in Podjele and
1 Loncari where the work units, what type of work that
2 they had to perform on the occasions that you went
3 along with the work unit?
4 A. This was digging of trenches, dugouts, things
5 like that.
6 Q. How long would each work unit work for?
7 A. It all depended on the type of work which was
8 to be performed. So this work could take anywhere from
9 four to eight hours.
10 Q. Who would determine that the length of work
11 that each work unit was to perform?
12 A. For the most part it was the needs at this
13 frontline of how much it needed to be fortified. And,
14 on the basis of that, that determined how many people
15 and how many hours were needed.
16 Q. How were the people on the frontlines when
17 they were working digging trenches and dugouts and
18 building fortifications? Do you know the conditions
19 under which they worked?
20 A. Yes, there were conditions ensuring their
21 safety. That is to say they worked at night and always
22 when there were no combat operations.
23 Q. Were they fed? Were they given drink?
24 A. Yes, they were fed like the army.
25 Q. Mr. Maric, now you, I presume -- I withdraw
1 that question, Your Honours.
2 Mr. Maric, you said that the HVO units were
3 involved primarily in the defence of Busovaca?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. You did not participate, that your units did
6 not participate in any offensive actions in that area?
7 A. No.
8 Q. Perhaps, are you aware that the HVO did
9 conduct offensive actions in the early part of 1993?
10 A. If there was fighting, it was to defend the
11 area and the main communication lines. That is to say,
12 the road between Busovaca, Travnik, Bugojno and so on.
13 That was in the service of the defence of the area.
14 Q. Was it in the defence of the area that the
15 HVO units attacked Ahmici in the month of April of
17 A. First of all, the HVO did not attack Ahmici,
18 the HVO defended Ahmici in order to retain the
19 Busovaca/Travnik communication line, Vitez and so on,
20 Bugojno and Split, on to Split.
21 Q. And it is your position that the HVO did not
22 attack Ahmici at any point in time?
23 A. It was all in the service of defence.
24 Q. So an attack did take place and your position
25 is that that attack was in the defence of the area that
1 the offensive actions took place?
2 A. It was an attack by the Muslim forces on the
3 main communication line and on the HVO localities.
4 Q. Do you also know that acts took place in the
5 Village of Marici (phoen) in 1993?
6 MR. MIKULICIC: Your Honours, with all due
7 respect, I have an objection to make of my learned
8 colleague, the Prosecutor. We are talking about
9 military operations which were not included in the
10 indictment and the military actions that are witness
11 did not take part in. So that these questions do not
12 have nothing to do with the indictment nor with the
13 credibility of the witness.
14 If we are once again evaluating the
15 credibility of the witness, then this can be done
16 within the frameworks of the facts contained in the
17 indictment. That is the form that my objection takes.
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Meddegoda, please.
19 MR. MEDDEGODA: Your Honours, the witness
20 very categorically in the course of his evidence has
21 stated that there were no offensive actions conducted
22 by the HVO during the early part of 1993. That was his
23 position. He has taken up the position that they were
24 only defensive actions. It is my endeavour to show to
25 him, to establish before Your Honours' Court, that the
1 HVO did, in fact, during the period that he is talking,
2 did, in fact, conduct offensive actions and was not
3 only involved in defending the area, but also did in
4 fact conduct offensive actions. That is, therefore,
5 the purpose of the cross-examination in putting these
6 questions to this witness, Your Honours.
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: We have heard what the
8 witness has said. The witness said that the HVO had
9 attacked Ahmici in order to defend its position in
10 Busovaca. So, Mr. Meddegoda, please put questions to
11 the witness that are more directly linked to what has
12 happened in Kaonik. It seems to me that, in fact, the
13 witness himself said that he had had to attack Ahmici
14 in order to defend Busovaca.
15 MR. MEDDEGODA: Very well.
16 Q. Witness, you also said in the course of your
17 evidence this morning, Witness, you know what Kaonik
18 camp was during the JNA times, during the JNA period?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. You said that it was later refurbished for
21 some other purpose?
22 A. Yes, I do.
23 Q. How do you know that it was refurbished?
24 A. First, because the HVO was there, so that
25 means that after the Yugoslav Peoples Army had left the
1 barracks, the barracks were taken up by the HVO and I
2 was a member of the HVO.
3 Q. Were you posted at Kaonik at any point in
4 time when you were a member of the HVO?
5 A. I was not. I was on the terrain.
6 Q. Yes, but had you -- did you have any direct
7 duty in the Kaonik complex within the Kaonik facility
8 as a member of the HVO?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Have you ever been situated at the Kaonik
11 facility either as a member of the HVO or in the course
12 of your duties as a civilian defence commander?
13 A. As a member of the HVO, yes.
14 Q. When was that that you were situated at the
15 Kaonik camp?
16 A. I don't know what you mean by camp. It was a
17 barracks of the former Yugoslav Peoples Army and then
18 it was a barracks of the HVO.
19 Q. Okay. When did you visit the barracks of the
20 HVO in Kaonik?
21 A. The HVO barracks, a part of the command was
22 stationed there and that's when I went there.
23 Q. When was that?
24 A. It was in 1994.
25 Q. So you, before 1994, you have not visited the
1 Kaonik, the HVO barracks in Kaonik?
2 A. No.
3 Q. So during the period of 1992 and 1993, you
4 did not visit the HVO barracks in Kaonik?
5 A. No.
6 Q. So how do you know that the Kaonik facility
7 was refurbished at some point in time?
8 A. By talking to my colleagues, to my friends, I
9 know that up there a building was being adapted as a
10 detention centre.
11 Q. What did your colleagues tell you about the
12 building that was being erected as a detention centre?
13 A. Nothing special, just that the building was
14 going to be used as a detention centre.
15 Q. So then when you said that you knew that it
16 was refurbished, that was not correct? You only
17 learned that it was to be used as a detention centre,
18 that is all?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Witness, you went on to say that in this
21 detention centre, people were detained during 1993?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. How did you know that?
24 A. I learned about this talking to my colleagues
25 and the people that I had occasion to meet.
1 Q. Who are the colleagues whom you spoke to,
2 from whom you learned about people being detained in
3 the Kaonik facility?
4 A. My friends, which means my colleagues from
5 the line, defence line, and in talking to the people,
6 everybody knew that Kaonik was intended to work as a
7 detention centre.
8 Q. Who were the people who were detained in the
9 Kaonik detention centre?
10 A. They were all those people who did not
11 respond to their military call up or had done something
12 else, another violation.
13 Q. Now as regards to those persons who did not
14 respond to the military call up, do you know who sent
15 them to the Kaonik detention facility?
16 A. I don't know.
17 Q. Do you know when this military call up was?
18 A. Yes, I do.
19 Q. When was that?
20 A. It was when I drew up, compiled the lists for
21 civilian defence and the defence department called up
22 all the population to take up their military operation
24 Q. So that was after March of 1993, after the
25 15th of March, 1993?
1 A. As far as I know.
2 Q. That was the time that civilian defence was
3 established? It was first established in March of 1993
4 when you were appointed commander of civilian defence.
5 There were no lists compiled before the 15th of March,
6 1993; wasn't it?
7 A. It probably existed, but with the
8 reorganisation that was taking place and the fact that
9 the members of the Muslim nationality had left, then
10 the work of the civilian defence units was not, did not
11 undergo continuity, so during that period, this was
12 done, but the need arose for new commanders of civilian
14 Q. Then you were appointed commander of civilian
15 defence and you drew up a list of people, didn't you?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. So it was from those lists that the people
18 you say were sent to the Kaonik detention facility?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Who sent them to the Kaonik detention
21 facility? On whose orders were they sent there?
22 A. The lists I had, the names I had on my list,
23 those people were there. All of them were there. And
24 on the basis of those requests, I made a new list of
25 the people who were in the Municipality of Busovaca and
1 these people from Kaonik, some of them were on the list
2 that I had in my possession.
3 Q. Yes. Well my question to you is, who sent
4 those people to the Kaonik detention facility?
5 A. If they refused to respond to the call up and
6 perform their duties, so if he refused to respond two
7 or three times, then we would send them, hand the
8 matter over to the military police.
9 Q. Were there such persons who did not respond
10 to your call two or three times?
11 A. No, usually they did respond.
12 Q. Which means there were no people who were
13 sent to the Kaonik detention facility for evading
14 military duty or conscription?
15 A. While I worked, no.
16 Q. You wouldn't know what happened while you
17 were not civilian defence commander, would you?
18 A. I would not.
19 Q. And you also said that there were others who
20 were sent there?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And who were those others, and for what were
23 they sent there?
24 A. They were others like people of the
25 Serbo-Croat nationality that did not respond to the
1 call, perhaps they liked alcohol too much. Anybody who
2 did not correspond to the needs at the moment.
3 Q. Yes, but during your time as civilian defence
4 commander, you said a while ago that people responded
5 to the cause for civilian defence, and you agreed there
6 were no such people who were sent to the Kaonik
7 facility for detention for evading military duty?
8 A. From the list that I had, the people did
10 MR. MIKULICIC: That's all, Your Honour, no
11 further questions.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Meddegoda, your
13 microphone was switched off so that the interpreters
14 did not hear you. Could you repeat what you just
16 MR. MIKULICIC: Sorry, Your Honours. I have
17 no further questions in cross-examination.
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much
19 Mr. Meddegoda.
20 Mr. Mikulicic, any further questions you wish
21 to put to the witness?
22 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, Your Honours,
23 perhaps just several questions to clarify matters.
24 Q. Mr. Juric, I beg your pardon, Mr. Maric, you
25 answered some questions put to you by the Prosecutor
1 which were raised regarding the work units formed at
2 the time when you worked in the civilian defence
3 section, and you said that there were two to three work
4 units, and that on ten or so occasions they were called
5 up for duty; is that correct?
6 A. Yes, it is.
7 Q. Tell us, please, Mr. Maric, whether these two
8 to three work groups that you mentioned earlier on
9 were, according to their composition, permanent work
10 groups, or did they change in composition? Were the
11 people that made up those units always the same or
12 change according to circumstance?
13 A. They changed according to circumstance, the
14 composition changed.
15 Q. When you mentioned that on ten or so
16 occasions you received requests for engaging work
17 units, do you know whether those work units were
18 engaged in some other way outside the realm of your
19 civilian defence department by the commanders
21 A. Yes, for example, the command or the
22 commanders could engage a work unit themselves.
23 Q. Do you know on how many occasions this
24 occurred, if we look at the ten or so cases that you
25 mentioned which were under the jurisdiction of civilian
2 A. Well, I don't know.
3 Q. When you spoke about the call ups for
4 recruits to the work units, you said that these call
5 ups were done either via courier or by the military
6 police; is that correct?
7 A. Yes, it is.
8 Q. In the case of urgency, when this had to be a
9 speedy process, did you also use couriers, or did you
10 seek other ways and means which would be faster under
11 the given circumstances?
12 A. Well, in these very urgent cases when there
13 was no time to send a courier and a normal call up,
14 then we would resort to using the military police to
15 collect the recruits.
16 Q. I understand. Thank you. Mr. Maric, did you
17 personally, as an inhabitant of the Municipality of
18 Busovaca, have occasion to see individuals who were
19 interned in the Kaonik camp do any labour?
20 A. Yes, on one occasion I saw them up by the
21 bridge near my house in Kaonik Podjele, it was a bridge
22 they were applying a new layer of concrete to. So,
23 going home I saw them working on the bridge. I knew
24 some of them and I would talk to some of them, and I
25 learned that they were at Kaonik.
1 Q. Did they perform these duties under
2 supervision or without supervision?
3 A. They performed this duty under the
4 supervision of the military police.
5 Q. Thank you, Your Honours, the Defence rests.
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Maric, I have a few
7 questions I would like to put to you. You have told us
8 about these lists of people who were supposed to work
9 in these work units. You told us that at a particular
10 time you had realised that this list had disappeared.
11 Were there any separate lists, separate lists bearing
12 the name of people from different ethnic groups, or was
13 there only one list?
14 A. No separate lists, there was just one list of
15 all the ethnic denominations, Muslims, Serbs and
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I'm not sure I understood
18 you well. It seems to me that you said that only the
19 list bearing the Muslim names had disappeared.
20 A. Yes, that's correct.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So, there was only one
22 list, or was there a number of separate lists?
23 A. Not a list in fact, the list was a joint one;
24 but records, we had records for civilian defence that
25 existed, and all the cards in the records with the
1 Muslim population was missing, all the files relating
2 to the Muslim population were missing.
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So, on that list the name
4 of the Muslim persons did not appear; is that right?
5 A. At that particular moment in the department
6 for civilian defence, it did not exist. But via the
7 defence department, which did have the files, we were
8 able to supplement our lists with the help of those
9 files and records.
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Another thing, do you know
11 if the prisoners in the Kaonik camp were sent to dig
12 trenches on their own or were they accompanied by other
13 work units?
14 A. I think they went alone.
15 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Maric, do you know, are
16 you familiar with the uniforms with the insignias
17 bourne by the Croatian soldiers of the HVO?
18 A. Yes.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: These uniforms, these
20 insignias were similar to or quite dissimilar from the
21 uniforms insignia bourne by the HVO?
22 A. For the most part they were different
23 particularly for the insignia HV and the insignia HVO.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: You said in general they
25 were not similar to the other uniforms; but in specific
1 cases, could these different uniforms show some
2 similarity, were they similar in some way?
3 A. I don't think -- only according to form.
4 They were clearly distinguishable, just the shape
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I understand. But the
7 people who were familiar with these slight differences
8 could establish the difference you're speaking of; but
9 could it happen that a person who was not familiar with
10 these differences, would it happen that such a person
11 could confuse these uniforms, could think that they
12 were people from the HV, when in fact they were people
13 from the HVO, and the other way around?
14 A. Well, no, because you could clearly
15 distinguish the HV from the HVO.
16 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Another thing, you said
17 that during a certain period of time there were no
18 clothes, no shoes around to be found. Did it happen
19 that sometimes the HVO soldiers did not bear insignias?
20 A. Yes.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So, it did happen that the
22 HVO soldiers did not bear any insignias, because there
23 were no insignias to be distributed; is that right?
24 Did it happen?
25 A. Yes, that's possible, because under the
1 circumstances there was not enough uniforms of this
2 kind to go around, or insignia to go around.
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: You also said that you,
4 yourself, had gone to a certain number of places to
5 escort the work units. When you went to these places,
6 did you see the facilities where the prisoners coming
7 from Kaonik were held?
8 A. I said that I saw some of them along the
9 lines towards the bridge, towards Podjele, I did not go
10 on the spot, however. But for the most part where the
11 civilian defence units were working, I did not come
12 across them.
13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, very much. I
14 don't think we have any further questions for you
15 Mr. Maric. Thank you very much for coming to testify
16 before this Tribunal. Have a safe journey home. Thank
18 THE WITNESS: I would like to thank you, too.
20 (The witness withdrew)
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic, I think you
22 wish to call another witness to the stand, but maybe we
23 should take a break now, 15-minute break now. This
24 will enable us to start with direct examination of the
25 witness immediately after the break, we would not have
1 to interrupt the direct examination of the witness. Do
2 you agree with this proposal?
3 MR. MIKULICIC: Yes.
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much. We
5 shall now take a 15-minute break and then start with
6 the examination of the next witness. Thank you.
7 --- Recess taken at 11.30 a.m.
8 --- On resuming at 11.51 a.m.
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Neimann.
10 MR. NIEMANN: Your Honour, if I could just
11 raise a matter before the next witness is called. I
12 noticed in respect of this witness it would seem that
13 he holds a position equivalent to the position of the
14 last witness within the Municipality of Vitez, and to
15 that extent presumably is somewhat similar to the
16 witness Rajic which we already heard from, who has a
17 position in the Municipality of Travnik.
18 But the point I raise, Your Honour, is about
19 the relevance of another witness from another
20 municipality being called by the Defence, especially in
21 circumstances where they have already called the
22 witness from Busovaca, which was the area directly
23 connected to and related to Kaonik.
24 And I am prompted to do this Your Honour,
25 because Mr. Mikulicic tends to object when we move
1 beyond the scope of the indictment or beyond the Kaonik
2 camp, as such, and has done so on numerous occasions,
3 and it would seem that this is perhaps a similar
4 situation that he accuses the Prosecution of becoming
5 involved in.
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic, do you wish
7 to answer that?
8 MR. MIKULICIC: Of course, Your Honours. I
9 would like to clarify what the intention of the Defence
10 is in regard of presentation of testimony of these
11 witnesses. The Municipalities of Travnik, Vitez and
12 Busovaca are in the Lasva River Valley, which are about
13 five to ten kilometres away from one another. And so,
14 they are all part of the Lasva River Valley, which is a
15 part of the indictment. It was isolated during the
16 pertinent period of time here, and so, they all lived
17 under similar circumstances.
18 The idea of the Defence is to present
19 witnesses from these three areas and to show what the
20 practices were during the pertinent period of time
21 covered in the indictment.
22 For instance, the Defence has called these
23 witnesses in order to show how the work duty functioned
24 in the territory of the, not only of Busovaca, but also
25 the neighbouring municipalities which were in the Lasva
1 River Valley.
2 And the Defence would like to point out that
3 the organisation was very similar with very minor
4 differences. So, that is one purpose.
5 Another purpose is to present to the
6 Honourable Trial Chamber and our colleagues what the
7 use of the work units was. And I believe that this is
8 one of the key issues as regards the charges against my
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Let us hear the witness.
11 We will bear in mind the fact that there is no need to
12 repeat information or questions that have been put to
13 previous witnesses. Questions have to be as direct as
14 possible, let us not lose any time. Need I remind you
15 we need to close this case as quickly as possible, we
16 need to have precise information.
17 If some questions have already been put to
18 other witnesses and have received answers by these
19 questions, then there is no need to put them again to
20 this witness. Do we all agree on that? If so, the
21 next witness may be called in.
22 Mr. Neimann.
23 MR. NIEMANN: Yes, Your Honour.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic, you have the
1 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, Your Honours. The
2 Defence calls the witness Dragan Strbac.
3 (The witness entered court).
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Good morning, Mr. Strbac,
5 can you hear me?
6 THE WITNESS: Yes.
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: You will now read the
8 solemn declaration that the usher is holding out for
10 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will
11 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much, you
14 may be seated. For the moment being, I will ask you to
15 answer the questions put to you by Mr. Mikulicic, the
16 gentleman on your left.
17 WITNESS: DRAGAN STRBAC
18 Examined by Mr. Mikulicic:
19 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, Your Honours.
20 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Strbac.
21 A. Good afternoon.
22 Q. I represent the accused and I will ask you
23 questions in that respect and ask you to respond to
24 them to the best of your recollection.
25 Mr. Strbac when and where were you born?
1 A. I was born on 29 July, 1963 in Vitez.
2 Q. Where did you go to school, elementary
4 A. I graduated from the elementary school in
5 Dubravica in the Vitez municipality.
6 Q. What is your ethnic background?
7 A. Croatian.
8 Q. Are you a religious person?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. What is your religion?
11 A. It is Catholic religion.
12 Q. After completing the elementary school, did
13 you go to another school?
14 A. Yes, I went to the high school in Vitez.
15 After the graduation I enrolled in the metallurgical
16 school at the university in Zenica.
17 Q. Mr. Strbac, did you serve in the JNA?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Do you recall where you were?
20 A. Yes, in 1992, in 1982 I went in October to
21 serve in Banja Luka, and after that I was transferred
22 in February of 1993. And I returned home on the 8th of
23 October of '93 (sic).
24 Q. So I heard you say that, you said '82, so you
25 would have finished in '83?
1 A. Yes, I'm sorry, it was '83.
2 Q. Did you acquire a rank?
3 A. No, not a rank, I just became a specialist, I
4 became a tank driver.
5 Q. Did you take employment after you were
6 released from the military?
7 A. No, as I said, I enrolled in the metals
8 engineering school, which I graduated from in 1988, and
9 then I waited for a couple of years until I found a
10 job, and I finally found employment in '91.
11 Q. What was your employment during that period?
12 A. I was in charge of the civilian protection in
13 the Vitez municipality.
14 Q. When was that, in 1991?
15 A. Yes, that was in 1991.
16 Q. Later on, in 1992, did you also work in the
17 same job?
18 A. Yes. I worked in the same post throughout.
19 I was the chief of the civilian protection of the
20 Municipality of Vitez, so that was my professional
21 duty. And after the conflict with the Bosniak Muslim
22 side, I also assumed the position of chief of the
23 civilian protection, which was a voluntary position.
24 Q. So, you had two functions, one was
25 professional and one was voluntary; is that correct?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. So, for one you were paid, you received a
3 salary; is that correct?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And as a commander of the civilian
6 protection, that was a volunteer type of position?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Before you took over this post in 1993, who
9 was the commander of the civilian protection?
10 A. It was Sulejman Smreko.
11 Q. Do you know what ethnic group this person was
13 A. Yes, he was a Bosniak Muslim.
14 Q. What happened such that he stopped working
16 A. When the conflict started in April of 1993
17 between the HVO and the then Territorial Defence, or as
18 they call it, the army of the BH, Mr. Smreko did not
19 see fit, and I must say that we didn't see it, either,
20 fit for him to continue in this position.
21 And in this period of the month of April he
22 was still in Vitez, he continued to live in his
23 apartment where I visited him on several occasions. We
24 had a couple of conversations in that regard, and he
25 personally considered that it would not be right for
1 him to continue in this position.
2 So, I took over as commander of the civilian
3 protection staff. And I must say on this occasion that
4 after about one month after this start of the conflict,
5 at his personal request, and with our assistance, he
6 moved to the territory of Zenica municipality.
7 And I don't know if I should add this, even
8 though I personally was trying to convince him to stay,
9 he said that he wanted to go where all his people went.
10 Q. Can you tell us how it was, how he was able
11 to go to Zenica? Were there communication lines open?
12 A. No, we helped him through UNPROFOR, the
13 international forces there.
14 Q. Did you meet him later?
15 A. No, I personally did not, but persons who
16 were my subordinates did.
17 Q. Do you know where?
18 A. During the period of time when some part of
19 the units were clearing the terrain in the area called
20 Mahala where the majority of the population was Muslim.
21 So, during this clearing of the terrain,
22 during the period, during the time when dead bodies
23 were being recovered from the area, one of my staff met
24 him, and it seemed a bit strange to us how come that he
25 had gone to Zenica and now we saw him here in this
2 And I'm not sure, we had some information
3 which I was unable to corroborate that he was commander
4 of that area.
5 Q. When you say commander, what forces do you
6 have in mind?
7 A. This would be the army of BH.
8 Q. Mr. Strbac, you said you grew up in
9 Dubravica, is that part of Vitez?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. How far is it from Vitez?
12 A. About 2 kilometres.
13 Q. Were you in the village of Dubravica
14 throughout this period of conflict? That is, the area
15 where you grew up where your parents were?
16 A. On the third day, the Muslim forces took my
17 village and they set my house on fire first, and this
18 area is still under the control of the BH Army.
19 Q. What happened to your family?
20 A. We were expelled. We found refuge in the
21 city. One bedroom apartment to eight family members,
22 so you can imagine what kinds of conditions we live
24 Q. Mr. Strbac, is the Vitez municipality in the
25 town of Vitez a neighbouring municipality to Busovaca?
1 A. Yes, that is correct.
2 Q. Did you, in your work, contact and cooperate
3 with your colleagues in Busovaca with the colleagues
4 who were involved in similar types of work?
5 A. Yes, when the conditions allowed that, but it
6 was becoming difficult in the -- maybe in the second
7 part of 1993, but let's say until July, very little,
8 because risks were very high. It was very difficult to
9 go from one municipality to another, to leave your own
10 area, because the situation was very delicate. It was
11 a valley where you could shoot from one end to another
12 very easily. So the risk was very high and one did not
13 want to run them.
14 Q. You also said that you were both the chief
15 and commander of the civilian protection. What was
16 your job?
17 A. My job was to organise the civilian
18 protection, to put it at disposal of the civilian
19 population, to protect it. It is a way to organise
20 civilian population against the elemental disasters and
21 war damages.
22 Q. In practical terms, how did this civilian
23 protection work?
24 A. In the Municipality of Vitez, we had
25 municipal staff of civilian protection where I was
1 chief and, as I mentioned earlier, also commander. And
2 I had my assistants for certain -- in certain fields,
3 which means an assistant for first medical aid. I am
4 only going to enumerate certain ones. It would be for
5 protection against fire, rescue from destroyed
6 structures, protection of vegetation, of animals, of
7 animal stock, animal feed and so on. And the
8 civilian -- so these were the measures that we would
10 However, we also organised units of civilian
11 protection. We had specialised units, which would be
12 the units which were engaged in specific activities,
13 like first aid, fire protection and so on. And the
14 units for general use, which were engaged in all other
15 activities, which were dictated by the circumstances on
16 the ground.
17 Q. Mr. Strbac, what was the legal foundation?
18 Were there legal provisions for the civil protection?
19 And I am not asking you to quote them all, but did you
20 have them?
21 A. Before the conflict in the territory of the
22 former Yugoslavia, we had a particular system and this
23 system was based on certain legal provisions. And
24 specifically in this area, we used the law and defence
25 of the former SFRY, which was adopted by the Republic
1 of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And on the basis of these
2 documents, we organised civilian protection in our
4 Q. Is it true that these regulations were in
5 force throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina?
6 A. Correct.
7 Q. You mentioned that there were also general
8 purpose units in the civilian protection, can you tell
9 us what was their purpose?
10 A. I have given you some specialised names that
11 we gave to certain of those, but there were work units,
12 so these were units which were used for anything which
13 needed to be done in order to organise normal life in
14 an area. So, whatever the population needed. I am not
15 talking about any specific tasks, they could do
16 anything which the competent authority or the competent
17 body would request of us to do.
18 Q. Does it mean that these work units could also
19 be used to support the military units?
20 A. As I said, anything that had to do with the
21 defence and continuation of life there, so they could
22 do that as well.
23 Q. Do you personally know whether these work
24 units, which were subordinated to you, involved in
25 activities relating to the defence?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. How was this organised?
3 A. We in Vitez organised it in such a way that
4 the office for peoples' defence would call up the
5 conscripts. And I am going to call them conscripts
6 because they were part of the work units. So we
7 established these work units with commanders and then
8 these units would be sent out to perform a task
9 wherever we got the request from.
10 For instance, for fortification of the
11 defence lines -- I am giving an example. If we
12 couldn't, we would usually compile a list of the
13 conscripts. Since this was a wartime situation, we
14 would usually give this list to a military policeman
15 and then he would make rounds to the indicated
16 addresses, to these persons. He advises the conscript
17 to report at a certain location at a given time, to
18 report to his commander. And from there on, the
19 commander would take over the control of these
20 conscripts and then would take the conscripts to
21 wherever the task needed to be carried out.
22 Q. Mr. Strbac, who were the conscripts? Now
23 we're talking about the work duty, who were the
24 conscripts for the work duty?
25 A. These were the persons who were not able to
1 be conscripted by the armed forces. So whoever, the
2 part of the population which could not be used for
3 military purpose, we used in work units and other
4 civilian protection units, whoever was able to
5 contribute to the defence with respect to work units
6 and civilian protection.
7 Q. Mr. Strbac, can you give me about the ethnic
8 composition, was anything specific there or were these
9 work units established regardless of the ethnic
11 A. These units were established according to the
12 territorial principles. So the ethnic group was not a
13 factor there. And I believe that this is the best
14 principle, the territorial principle. So that the
15 people in such conditions would run the least risk. If
16 we had to transport these people, we would use this
17 territorial principle, so that we could transport them
18 to the location and back with the least risk.
19 Q. I understand, but wasn't it usual that by
20 organising on territorial principles, wasn't it that in
21 certain areas, the Croatian population was prevalent,
22 in another one, Muslims ones, so that certain work
23 units would be composed mostly of Croats and others of
24 mostly Muslims, even gypsies?
25 A. That's exactly how it was. I'll give you two
1 examples. In the territory of Vitez municipality, we
2 had an area, which is called Sofa, where the majority
3 population is gypsy. It used to be before the war. It
4 is still the case today. And from the Romali
5 conscripts, we established two work units, let me call
6 them that.
7 Q. Was this the case with some areas where the
8 Muslims were in the majority?
9 A. Let me give you an example of the town. I
10 also had two units there and one unit was
11 predominantly, it consisted mostly of the Muslim
12 conscripts and I had another mixed work unit in town
13 where there were Muslims, Croats and Serbs. And
14 thirdly, I had some units with the majority Croat
15 conscripts, which were organised in areas where the
16 Croatian population was predominant.
17 Q. Very well. So, in short, it was organised on
18 the territorial principle?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Mr. Strbac, given that this territorial
21 principle resulted in having one ethnic group prevalent
22 in certain units, were they sent to particular areas?
23 A. No, not at all. There were certain specific
24 situations, but they were not unusual for the
25 circumstances in which we lived. If we did not have
1 enough people for a certain situation, we would have to
2 supplement them by units from another area, another one
3 who was free at the time, who had nothing to do at the
4 time. So we did have some needs in certain situations
5 to move one unit from one area to another. So there
6 were no strict rules involved there.
7 Q. Mr. Strbac, were there situations where you
8 would just attach a work unit to a particular military
9 unit for its needs, and it was then subordinate somehow
10 to this military unit, were there such cases?
11 A. Let me tell you, this was the easiest way to
12 go about these things. We had a coordinator, let me
13 call him a coordinator, he was a person who was in
14 charge of a number of these work units. This person
15 coordinated between the office for civilian protection
16 which was calling people up and the military units in
17 order to sort of cut down the time from the time when
18 the group was called up for a certain job until the
19 next time when another need had emerged.
20 Let's say if a certain task required a longer
21 period of time, let's say not one day or one night,
22 then in order for us not to have to waste time to call
23 these people over and over again, because also it was
24 difficult to call people up. The phones were down.
25 There were shelling, so the communication lines were
1 interrupted. So all these made our tasks much more
3 So we would just agree with the commander at
4 this defence line and we would attach a work unit to
5 this unit in a zone of its responsibility and we would
6 make an arrangement with the commander of this line and
7 commander of the work unit, how they would communicate
8 between one another and how they would supply the
9 transportation and all the other details. So we had
10 such practice to have certain work unit attached to
11 certain military units for a certain period of time.
12 Q. Very well. Does that mean that in a
13 situation like this, this particular military commander
14 would be directly responsible both in terms of
15 discipline and organisation for this work unit?
16 A. As I said, every unit has its own commander.
17 In such a situation, this commander was responsible for
18 the entire situation there, including the work unit,
19 calling up people and, if circumstances allowed,
20 transportation to and from this line of defence and the
21 stay of the defence.
22 Q. So would this commander also determine what
23 type of work these work units were to perform?
24 A. Yes, of course. We were engaged in any
25 number of activities. But let's say on a frontline, on
1 a defence line, it would be fortification of this
2 frontline, which means building of dugouts, digging of
3 fox holes and trenches and so on. There would also be
4 chopping wood, for instance, and other activities.
5 Q. Very well, Mr. Strbac, I think we have
6 clarified this now. Let me ask you the following
7 question: The persons who had work duty and who were
8 called up to join these units, I assume that some of
9 these persons were trying to avoid this; is that
11 A. Yes, that is correct. Not only those persons
12 who had work duty. You may be aware that sometimes
13 people tried to avoid not only work duty, but the
14 civilian protection duties as well. This was the case
15 here also.
16 Q. Were there regulations that provided for the
17 disciplinary measures for such persons?
18 A. Correct, yes. The law had provisions which
19 regulated these disciplinary infractions, especially in
20 wartime situation where every citizen has a duty to
21 place himself at disposal of the defence forces in a
22 municipality. Every such person who had this legal
23 obligation to perform certain duties, disciplinary
24 measures had to be taken against those.
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me for interrupting
1 you, Mr. Mikulicic. But it seems to me that we have
2 already heard part of these informations, so could you
3 try to cut it short, could you try to speed things up?
4 Let us try not to repeat things that have already been
5 said. Thank you.
6 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you for your advice,
7 Your Honour. I think that I have practically reached
8 the end of my questioning. I may just have an
9 additional one or two questions.
10 Q. So, sir, you said that every citizen had a
11 duty to place himself at disposal of the defence
12 forces. Now I want to ask you who was in charge of it
13 during the conflict?
14 A. What period?
15 Q. '93.
16 A. Mr. Pero Skopljak.
17 Q. Very well, Mr. Skopljak was in charge of the
18 defence department office. Would such a person go to
19 perform such a duty as an example?
20 A. Mr. Skopljak was not able to do such a thing
21 given his obligations, but through his authority and
22 through his reputation, he certainly gave contribution
23 to stimulate other people. You know, there are always
24 people who find the reasons not to carry out their
25 obligations, but he would use his authority to have
1 such a person to perform his function and give his
3 Q. Very well, Mr. Strbac, just one more question
4 to you and this would end my questioning of this
5 witness. By the nature of your job, you sometimes
6 would go to the frontlines; is that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. During your visits to the frontlines and your
9 conversations with soldiers who were defending this
10 area, did you ever see any soldier wearing the HV, the
11 Croatian army insignia?
12 A. My duties and my job called for constant
13 moving around. I told you that this was risky, but I
14 had to take that risk, so I was constantly on the
15 move. I never saw, I never heard of anybody with the
16 HV insignia. And I wonder how this could happen
17 because we used to say in Vitez that we were like in
18 some kind of a bowl from where nobody could leave.
19 MR. MIKULICIC: Very well, Mr. Strbac, this
20 is my last question and I have no further questions of
21 this witness.
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, Mr. Mikulicic.
23 Mr. Niemann you have the floor. If you have any
24 questions to put to the witness, you may proceed.
25 MR. NIEMANN: Thank you.
1 Cross-examined by Mr. Niemann:
2 MR. NEIMANN:
3 Q. Mr. Strbac, when you say that you functioned
4 according to the territorial principle, I presume that
5 this changed -- the ethnic composition of the groups
6 changed as the Muslim people left various villages
7 throughout the municipalities of Vitez during the
8 period throughout 1993?
9 A. I did not say that I worked, but we
10 organised, which means we organised the recruits for
11 civilian defence according to the territorial
12 principle. And that the ethnical structure with the
13 beginning of the conflicts was upset. I don't think
14 that it was greatly upset. Because a significant
15 portion of the territory of the Municipality of Vitez,
16 where the majority is a Muslim population, it remained
17 under the control of the BH Army and it still remains
18 under its control. All that I can say is that there
19 was a certain drain in the Muslim/Bosniak population,
20 in the centre of the town itself and in one or two
21 villages of the Vitez municipality.
22 Q. So under the control of the HVO, were there
23 any particular work units over which you had
24 responsibility which were made up of purely Muslim
1 A. Let me say, I must say here now that we
2 cannot use the concept of responsible, a responsible
3 military unit and competent because it was not
4 competent for these work units. It's authorisation did
5 not extend there. They performed the function of
6 assisting the military units. They were just a
7 function of the military units; whereas their
8 competence and authorisation only came into being when
9 these units were engaged in some particular actions.
10 So the military units drew up a plan of action. The
11 work units would carry out those plans. Once those
12 plans and that work had been completed, the people
13 would be sent home, disbanded, sent home and would be
14 sent to other work assignments. Of course, via the
15 defence departments and their chiefs.
16 Q. Yes, I wasn't talking about people being
17 called up and conscripted into military units. I was
18 talking about people being conscripted into civilian
19 work units. And my question to you was: In the area
20 that was under the control of the HVO, in the Vitez
21 area, were there any particular work units, civilian--
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. --over which you had responsibility that were
24 made up of purely Muslim people?
25 A. The work units composed of exclusively Romani
1 people, gypsies I said a moment ago. We had two work
2 units made up of Romani people. And, as I said, they
3 were formed according to the territorial principle and
4 that is why that was so.
5 Q. I think we seem to have a communication
6 problem because I wasn't asking about Romani people, I
7 was asking about Muslims.
8 A. The Muslims, yes. The Romani are of the
9 Islamic faith in our country and I also said that we
10 had a work unit, which I called Colony Number 1, that
11 was its name. It was a work unit from the town, mostly
12 composed of conscripts. I am not going to say they're
13 civilians. They were conscripts of a work
14 responsibility or civilian protection. They were not
15 civilians. Because if he is a recruit, a conscript,
16 once he has been given his war assignments, that
17 individual becomes either a conscript of civilian
18 protection units or the armed forces. So he would take
19 up his work duties and therefore we did not have
21 Q. Did you have any Bosnian conscripts in the
22 area of the HVO over which you had responsibility
23 during the period of 1993?
24 A. Of course.
25 Q. Where did they operate?
1 A. The civilian protection units, for example,
2 in the town of Vitez, I had one such unit in charge of
3 humanitarian questions. That is to say it was composed
4 of Muslim, Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs alike, and it was
5 in charge of loading and unloading and distribution of
6 humanitarian relief and supplies.
7 I had another unit where the majority of
8 people were Muslims, Muslim recruits, and that unit was
9 in charge of fortifying the front line. In addition to
10 those two units, I had eight other units of a general
11 purpose with a majority of Croats who also took the
12 fortification work along the front line.
13 Q. The Muslim or Bosniak units, the unit that
14 contained Bosniaks that was used in fortification of
15 the front lines, what front lines were they that you're
16 talking about? Where were they?
17 A. Around the municipality of Vitez.
18 Q. And this was in a front line between the HVO
19 and the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
20 A. That's right.
21 Q. And are you able to give us the names of any
22 of those persons who were Bosniaks who participated in
23 this as a consequence of being called up by you?
24 A. They did not work on the basis of my call up.
25 I said that the call up was done by the department for
1 defence. That is the institution authorised to call up
2 conscripts and give out war assignments.
3 The names, I would have to think about that.
4 I had women and men, about 300 conscripts in all. Let
5 me think for a moment. Let me try and remember the
6 commander's name of the Muslim work unit. Karadza
7 Ahmet, for example, he was the commander of the work
8 unit of colony one.
9 Q. And over what period of time was he
10 functioning as the commander of colony one?
11 A. I think some time between June to February
12 1994, until the signing of the Dayton agreement.
13 Q. How was it organised for the commander of a
14 work unit and a military commander to function with
15 each other?
16 Would the commander of the work unit still be
17 responsible for giving directions to the members of his
18 unit, or would that be taken over by the military
20 A. Would you repeat the question, please?
21 Q. Yes, I will. You spoke of the fact that the
22 civilian work units would from time to time work
23 directly for military commanders in the Vitez area.
24 And my question to you is the relationship that then
25 existed between the military commander and the
1 commander of the civilian work unit.
2 Would the commander of the civilian work unit
3 still maintain responsibility for directing these men
4 to work when he was in a situation where he was
5 directly under the control of a military commander?
6 A. A military commander did not have, as I said
7 a moment ago, the authority to command the work units,
8 or to command the commander of the work unit. He would
9 just issue requests for the defence department to
10 ensure a set number of persons to work in the work
11 units. And on the basis of that request sent in to the
12 department, recruits would be sent. That is as far as
13 we were able to fill those posts.
14 So, he was not in authority to issue orders,
15 but had the possibility of asking, making requests,
16 whether in writing or by telephone, that was not
17 important, and the work units were placed into the
18 service of the armed forces.
19 Q. So, the commander of the work unit was then
20 responsible, I take it, for such things as the safety
21 of his men, for ensuring that they had equipment and
22 things of that nature. Is that true, or correct?
23 A. In a way, yes.
24 Q. And so, did it work this way: That a
25 military commander would say, "What I would like is for
1 say a trench to be dug here", and once he indicated
2 where it was to be located, it was then a matter for
3 the commander of the work unit to carry out that task
4 with his men in the most efficient way he thought
5 possibly. Is that fair?
6 A. I can't tell you what happened along the
7 front line exactly. I was not in authority, I was not
8 present there to see what the work unit did when it
9 came to the front line and what the commander, how the
10 commander issued the request.
11 But I do know that the commanders, via their
12 staff, would issue their requests. Whereas, up on the
13 front line, I don't know what happened.
14 So, the task was, yes, the defence department
15 and civilian protection department in which I worked, I
16 assisted in sending people to carry out their
17 assignments; and when they would get to the particular
18 locality where they were to perform their assignments,
19 then those people would be taken over by the commander
20 of the front line, and he would cooperate with the
21 commander of the front line to see what activities were
22 to be done.
23 Q. Now, you mentioned one of the work units in
24 Vitez was responsible for assisting with humanitarian
25 aid. I take it that this is humanitarian aid that was
1 being brought in by convoy at the time.
2 A. Yes, that's right.
3 Q. And these convoys, during the course --
4 well, 1992 and 1993, fairly regularly came through
5 Vitez; didn't they?
6 A. I would not mix this with 1992. 1992 was
7 something else again, if we compare it to the situation
8 as it was in 1993. In 1993 I can't say that they came
9 regularly. I don't know what you mean by regular.
10 Q. Certainly convoys came through Vitez in 1993,
12 A. From time to time, I would say, periodically.
13 Q. And these convoys were organised by the
14 international community, by and large?
15 A. Yes, except the white road convoy, that was
16 in October, if I'm not mistaken, in 1993, where, in the
17 convoy of humanitarian relief, the drive was called the
18 white road, assistance to central Bosnia.
19 And we from the civilian protection
20 department took it upon ourselves to deal with this,
21 regardless of the fact that it was in the area of Nova
22 Bila. From all the regions of the Lasva River valley,
23 members of the civilian protection department took part
24 in the unloading, stocking the relief sent and
25 distributing it later on.
1 Q. You said in your evidence that people who
2 didn't respond to the call up to perform civilian
3 duties could be sent to prison, or imprisoned for doing
5 Did that happen at all during the period of
6 time you were in charge of the civilian protection in
8 A. They were placed under detention. I wouldn't
9 say prison. I'm not a legal man, but if we say prison,
10 then this requires a court and so on. I'm not well
11 versed in legal matters, but we call it detention.
12 And let me say that in my own practice, I did
13 not have occasion to send anybody, to apply this
14 disciplinary action and send somebody into detention.
15 Whether others did, I don't know. I can't say.
16 Q. So, so far as you're concerned personally,
17 you didn't have occasion to have to take action against
18 anybody for failure to comply, because the issue had
19 been resolved before it got to that point; is that what
20 you're saying?
21 A. Yes. I'm talking about that portion which
22 was under my authority.
23 Q. And you may not know this, because as you
24 said, it didn't arise during your period; but you don't
25 know what law it is that you could have relied on in
1 order to impose disciplinary measures on somebody for
2 evading work, I take it.
3 A. Disciplinary action, I don't recall what the
4 chapter is called, but the basis is the law on total
5 peoples' defence and social self protection of the
6 Republic of BH, and the chapter relating to
7 disciplinary measures, if somebody, in cases of failure
8 to comply in the armed forces in civilian protection,
9 civil defence, work duties and so on. So it is that
10 particular law which provided for disciplinary action
11 for failure to comply.
12 Q. During the period of time in 1993 when you
13 were in Vitez, there were members of the Bosniak
14 population who were being held in detention in Vitez;
15 weren't there, from time to time? Were you aware of
17 A. No, I'm not aware of that.
18 Q. So, you never knew of or heard of a situation
19 where civilian Bosniak people were rounded up and held
20 in detention centres in Vitez, in the whole period of
21 time you were there?
22 A. I'm not acquainted with that. I didn't hear
23 of anything like that. I don't know the period you
24 have in mind. Are you referring to the entire period
25 of 1993.
1 Q. No, the first half of 1993, from January to
2 July of 1993. You never heard of anyone being held in
3 detention centres in Vitez, in cinema complexes, or
4 chess clubs?
5 A. I'm not acquainted with this. Let me just
6 tell you one thing: With the beginning of the war
7 actions in April, 1993, I did not go home for 15 days,
8 although I performed duties of civilian protection.
9 I'm just giving you this as an illustration. I had so
10 much work to do to protect the civilian population that
11 quite simply I was not able to be informed of military
12 affairs and what was happening elsewhere.
13 Q. So, if I was to ask you, did you from time to
14 time go to detention centres in order to obtain Bosniak
15 workers to go to the front line and dig trenches, then
16 your answer would be to that, "no", I take it?
17 A. I, in Vitez, as far as I know, there were no
18 detention centres in Vitez. So, I did not have the
19 possibility of going there. And I don't know why I
20 should. Civilian -- I had no need to go to detention
21 centres, as they did not exist in Vitez, as I say.
22 And I would not have any need to do so,
23 because the number of conscripts that we had, of the
24 number of conscripts that we had, I don't know, I had
25 no need to collect and round up people elsewhere. I
1 don't know where I would go for that.
2 Q. Are you aware of members of the HVO or
3 military police gathering up persons from such centres
4 during the first half of 1993?
5 A. Which area did you have in mind?
6 Q. Vitez.
7 A. In Vitez, I don't know.
8 Q. In addition to being responsible for
9 organising work units and so forth, were you also
10 involved in arranging housing exchange?
11 A. Let me just tell you one thing: I was not
12 the only person included in organising work units. I
13 said a moment ago, I said how these work units came
14 into being. The department for defence would call up
15 conscripts, give them their war assignments, and I had
16 some work units under my jurisdiction, when they were
17 formed, which means that I was not the sole person
18 responsible. I was just one of the executors.
19 And as far as housing exchange goes, I don't
20 know how at that time, when communications were
21 severed, when all contacts were broken off, how
22 anything could be exchanged, especially houses.
23 Q. Okay. Let me ask the question this way: Did
24 it ordinarily fall under the responsibility or ambit of
25 responsibility of the commander of the civilian defence
1 at any stage to become responsible for organising house
2 exchanges or apartment exchanges?
3 A. No, not under the jurisdiction of civilian
5 Q. So, the process of exchanging Bosniak houses
6 for Croat houses was not something that you ever
7 engaged in.
8 A. I was included, not in the exchange, the
9 housing exchange, but I was in charge of finding homes
10 for people in the municipality of Vitez, but not
11 housing exchange.
12 On several occasions when the Muslims would
13 leave Vitez, they had some internal agreements with
14 Croats from other municipalities by which they would
15 make agreements and they would ask me to sign those
17 However, as far as housing exchange is
18 concerned, they were sort of internal agreements
19 amongst these people. They would be signed without any
20 seals or anything of that kind, and as an institution,
21 the civilian protection department was not included in
22 that process. That's all I know about it.
23 So, at that time it was war time, and this
24 was not an essential point. I don't know about
25 anything else.
1 MR. NIEMANN: No further questions.
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I received no
3 interpretation, but if I understood you well you have
4 no further questions for the witness.
5 MR. NIEMANN: No further questions, Your
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, Mr. Niemann.
8 Mr. Mikulicic, do you wish to put any further
9 questions to the witness.
10 MR. MIKULICIC: Thank you, Your Honours, the
11 Defence has no further questions.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: This Trial Chamber has no
13 questions to put to you Mr. Strbac, thank you very much
14 for coming. We wish you a safe journey home. Thank
15 you very much.
16 THE WITNESS: Thank you.
17 (The witness withdrew)
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Mikulicic, we have
19 still a good half-hour left. Is there another witness
20 that you, that is here that you could call to testify?
21 Because I think that we have the time to listen to yet
22 another witness.
23 MR. MIKULICIC: Unfortunately, Your Honours,
24 the Defence has no further witnesses, no third witness
25 for today. We were guided by the fact that on the
1 previous days we heard one witness per day. So, we
2 shall conclude there, and tomorrow we will have more
3 witnesses for you.
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Well, in that case, I guess
5 the hearing will be adjourned. We understand the
6 situation fully well. We will meet tomorrow morning at
7 9.00 a.m. See you all tomorrow and thank you very
9 --- Whereupon hearing adjourned at 1.00
10 p.m., to be reconvened on Thursday,
11 the 27th day of August, 1998, at
12 9.00 a.m.