1 Thursday, 2 October 2003
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.02 a.m.
6 JUDGE LIU: Mr. Court deputy, please call the case.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case number
8 IT-02-60-T, Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic.
9 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.
10 Yes, Mr. McCloskey, you may proceed.
11 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you. Good morning, Your Honours,
12 Mr. President, Mr. Obrenovic.
13 WITNESS: DRAGAN OBRENOVIC [Resumed]
14 [Witness answered through interpreter]
15 Examined by Mr. McCloskey: [Continued]
16 Q. Mr. Obrenovic, how long have you known Dragan Jokic?
17 A: Mr. McCloskey, I first met Mr. Jokic sometime around the 15th of
18 June, 1992. That's when I saw him first, and that's when we got to know
19 each other.
20 Q. And could you briefly describe your professional relationship.
21 A. Well, when I came to the Zvornik Brigade on the 1st of December,
22 1992, up until that time, Major Jokic was chief of staff of the Zvornik
23 Brigade. I took over that duty from him, and he went to become the chief
24 of the engineers of the Zvornik Brigade, to take up that post. So along
25 those lines, we had a professional relationship, until in 1995 - the
1 beginning of May, in fact, 1995 - I started to take over the duty of -- or
2 rather, acting commander of the brigade. I became that. And when I -- to
3 all intents and purposes became commander of the brigade, he was assigned
4 elsewhere to take up another post.
5 Of course, during certain periods when I was acting in for the
6 commander of the Zvornik Brigade, the relationship was that I was the
7 commander and he was still chief of the engineers Brigade. So we had this
8 professional relationship going. And I think that our cooperation was
9 correct and proper. Nothing other than that.
10 Q. Did you have any friendship outside of the professional
11 relationships or outside the military sphere?
12 A. Well, I don't think so, no. Mostly it was a professional
13 relationship, proper, that sort of thing.
14 Q. Up until this period of 1995, you spoke to -- had there been any
15 major problems or issues between you in the professional relationship?
16 A. I don't think so, but, as you know, it was a difficult period.
17 There was a war on. We encountered various problems. So there would
18 always be some professional disagreement, as you would have anywhere else,
19 but nothing specific or important. We worked during difficult times. We
20 had difficult tasks to do. So of course there would be some tension and
21 friction from time to time, but nothing of any significance; at least,
22 that's how I saw it.
23 Q. How about post-war? Can you describe your professional
24 relationship post-war, post-1995, I should say?
25 A. Perhaps similar to what I've already described. We could say that
1 we had a certain amount of friction - I don't know if I'm using the right
2 word - sometime in 1998, when, due to certain problems that arose in the
3 unit, and I was the commander of the Zvornik Brigade already at that time,
4 and Mr. Jokic performed the function of chief of the operations sector,
5 there was a problem that cropped up with respect to some explosive device,
6 which SFOR had uncovered, and after that we conducted some internal
7 investigations of our own, and at one point Mr. Jokic accused me of
8 perhaps working for SFOR. So that was a major issue between us.
9 Afterwards, I asked to report to the Corps Commander, and I asked the
10 commander to take steps to either take him away from the command or
11 myself, because we could no longer work together. I think it was in the
12 summer of 1998 -- to have one of us transferred.
13 Q. In the summer of 1998, did the investigation into Srebrenica play
14 any role in the tension between you and Mr. Jokic at that time?
15 A. No, absolutely not.
16 Q. And after -- well, what did -- when you recommended to the
17 commander not to work with -- not to have Mr. Jokic work with you any
18 more, what happened?
19 A. After that, the Corps Commander decided to transfer Jokic to the
20 command of the 5th Corps at Sokolac, and that's what happened.
21 Q. Do you know the other accused in this case, Mr. Vidoje Blagojevic?
22 A. Yes, Colonel Blagojevic, I do know him.
23 Q. When did you first meet him?
24 A. In 1992, during that same period of time, as with Mr. Jokic, in
25 mid-June sometime, when I first arrived in Zvornik, or rather, the Zvornik
2 Q. And what was your relationship with him?
3 A. I knew him less well. That is to say, I knew Mr. Blagojevic less
4 well. We would see each other less frequently. But I think he was a
5 quiet man. That's the impression he gave me - fairly introverted. He
6 went about his own business. That's how I saw him. We didn't actually
7 see each other very often. We worked at different headquarters in
8 different commands, so we wouldn't come across each other that often.
9 Q. Was he commander of the Zvornik Brigade early on?
10 A. Yes, he was, precisely in June. That's when he was the commander
11 of the Zvornik Brigade. I don't know for how long. A relatively short
12 period of time. If I remember correctly, he was taken ill and he went off
13 on sick leave to undergo treatment somewhere. And then I left Zvornik
14 after that, that is to say on the 1st of December that same year. When I
15 came back he wasn't there. I didn't find him there any more. But later
16 on as he worked in the command of the Drina Corps, we would come across
17 each other from time to time on our various assignments. Our paths would
19 Q. Were there any troubles or problems between you two,
20 Mr. Blagojevic and yourself?
21 A. No, not as far as I know.
22 Q. As you've described, you've had an opportunity to command a VRS
23 brigade. I know courses are given on command, so this is somewhat of an
24 unfair question, but could you, for the Court, describe to us the essence
25 of command, the main responsibilities of command as you see it. Take your
1 time and organise your thoughts.
2 A. The commander is the most responsible individual, and when I say
3 commander, I mean brigade commander. He is the most responsible person in
4 a brigade. He has the exclusive right of commanding and issuing orders to
5 all the subordinates in the brigade. So to the command, parts of the
6 command, and also subordinate units, as well as units that might perhaps
7 be at some point attached to it. And it is from these rights that he
8 enjoys, as commander, he assigns tasks to units and individuals, and he
9 has full responsibility, takes full responsibility for everything that
10 happens within his units and in the area of defence or area of
11 responsibility of that particular unit.
12 The tasks of a brigade commander are -- and his duties are fairly
13 broad in scope and highly complex. In addition to issuing assignments to
14 his subordinates, he also does certain other basic things, to make it
15 simple: He commands and issues orders; he issues guidelines for all the
16 planning that goes on; he controls and sees whether the tasks issued are
17 being carried out and whether the plans are being put into practice; he
18 takes the necessary steps and measures to ensure that the orders issued
19 are being carried out; he sees to the disciplinary side and stimulates
20 soldiers, as well as sanctioning them if they have not been carried out;
21 and he has reports from the subordinates and reports to his superiors. Of
22 course, the commander does not do all these things alone. He has the
23 staff in the command at his disposal to assist him.
24 At this juncture, I should like to emphasise that the commander
25 can delegate his rights of command to somebody, whether that be the Chief
1 of Staff or one of his assistants or another chief of another sector.
2 However, that does not free him of his responsibilities. He continues to
3 be responsible for what any one of these subordinates does, for all their
4 acts, whether they be positive or negative. He takes full responsibility,
5 although he has delegated part of his rights to command to that person.
6 Q. What are a commander's responsibilities in enforcing the Geneva
8 A. To see that they are adhered to and implemented, that the Geneva
9 Conventions are observed and put into practice, and to ensure that his
10 subordinates, the chiefs of the various units, go about putting the
11 conventions into practice. And they stem from the commanders' duties. So
12 the officer who is in command, that is one level, and all the other
13 levels, all the other officers in command, commanding officers of an army,
14 must observe them.
15 Q. How does that extend to the care of prisoners in custody in his
16 zone of responsibility?
17 A. It would be the duty of one and all to act in conformity with the
18 Geneva Conventions, to ensure that the prisoners have the necessary
19 protection, to safeguard their lives, to create conditions as prescribed
20 by the conventions for accommodation, food, and medical care and
22 Q. In your training to become a JNA officer, did you receive training
23 in the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war?
24 A. Yes, I did. And if I remember correctly, that was in the first
25 year of military academy. I don't remember the semester we did this in,
1 but we had an examination on law, including international war law. We had
2 a course on that, and then sat for our examinations. So my answer to your
3 question is yes.
4 Q. What are a commander's responsibilities related to knowing what is
5 going on around him in his zone of responsibility and elsewhere?
6 A. Yes. Such responsibilities do exist. Quite simply, for a
7 commander to be able to make decisions of any kind, he is duty-bound to
8 take measures and steps to acquaint himself with what is going on in his
9 own unit, what is happening in his -- with his next-door neighbours, both
10 in the enemy camp and in the area of responsibility of his own unit.
11 Q. What about superior commands that come to his zone of
13 A. This would include superior commands. They are duty-bound to see
14 that all information and intelligence relevant to its subordinate units
15 should be divulged to the subordinate commander so that he be kept
17 Q. And what does a brigade commander have in order for him to become
18 acquainted with and learn about what's going on around him, all the things
19 you've described? What facilities does he have to look to?
20 A. The brigade commander, in my view, in order to be able to have the
21 necessary information to command the area around him, he has the following
22 resources: First of all, he has the corresponding organs in the brigade
23 command, and when I say that, I mean first and foremost the security
24 organs and intelligence organs, and these are duty-bound to keep him
25 informed, each within the frameworks of their field of action.
1 Next we have information coming to him from the Superior Command
2 and different individuals there, both civilians or MUP personnel in the
3 area of responsibility of his particular unit.
4 And finally, everything else he considers to be necessary in order
5 to take the necessary steps to ensure that he is kept informed and has all
6 the information before him.
7 Q. Where does the duty officer fit into this communication link with
8 the commander?
9 A. Of course, the duty officer has an important role to play. The
10 duty officer has the role of ensuring continuity of command at all times.
11 So it is the responsibility of the duty officer to inform the commander
12 about events, to convey all relevant information to him, either from a
13 superior or from the duty officer of the Drina Corps, or from duty
14 officers from subordinate units. So the duty officer, operative duty
15 officer, keeps his commander informed.
16 Q. Are there any records kept daily that a commander can review to
17 find out what's going on in his unit?
18 A. You mean the duty officer, operations duty officer?
19 Q. Among any records that the commander has access to, what records
20 does the commander have access to in his brigade command to help him
21 figure out what's going on, say if he's been gone a while and comes back?
22 A. The brigade commander can ask to see and gain insight into most of
23 the documents that are being kept and recorded in his unit. Perhaps there
24 are a few documents that the security officer has which might not be given
25 to the brigade commander, but otherwise everything else would be made
1 accessible to him, regardless of whether they're being kept by the
2 operations duty officer or other individuals in the brigade's command.
3 Q. What in particular - records - are there kept in the offices of
4 the duty officer?
5 A. If we're talking about July 1995, then the operations duty officer
6 would keep the following records: First, a logbook of the operations duty
7 officer of the brigade, the shift book, where the handover of duty is
8 recorded; then another work logbook; and then something else that we
9 called files, storing combat reports, regular daily combat reports sent
10 out to the Drina Corps; and then there was another book, or log, of
11 recruits, recording recruits passing through the garrison. So that, for
12 the most part, would be the written material that the operations duty
13 officer of the brigade would keep.
14 Q. We'll go over some of those logs a little bit later. But what was
15 your situation in the months leading up to July 1995?
16 A. Well, at the beginning of 1995, I was occupying my regular duties
17 as Chief of Staff of the Zvornik Brigade. On the 16th of April, 1995, I
18 was wounded in my left leg, and so had to undergo treatment, post
19 operative treatment as well. On the 1st of July, 1995, I returned to take
20 up my duties as Chief of Staff of the Zvornik Brigade, and once the units
21 of the Zvornik Brigade had left and gone to Srebrenica on the 4th of July,
22 automatically, because the commander had left with part of the units to
23 the Srebrenica area, I became deputy commander of the Zvornik Brigade.
24 This was an automatic process. So until the commander returned, or more
25 exactly the 15th of July, sometime around noon, I performed the functions
1 of deputy commander of the Zvornik Brigade and was to all intents and
2 purpose it's in command of parts of the unit of the Zvornik Brigade which
3 were in the area of defence of the Zvornik Brigade, in the area of
4 Zvornik, of course.
5 Q. Was your wound received in combat?
6 A. Yes, that's right, during combat.
7 Q. While you were leading your soldiers?
8 A. Yes, that's right.
9 Q. When did you first find out about the operation to attack the
10 Srebrenica enclave?
11 A. If I remember correctly, I first found out about it on the 29th of
12 June, in the evening. The commander and another officer came to see me at
13 my house, because I was on sick leave. They asked that I interrupt my
14 sick leave and return to the command of the brigade. Since certain
15 preparations were being conducted for part of the units to move towards
16 Srebrenica. So that's when I heard it for the first time, by way of
18 Q. Can you briefly describe for us the preparations that were
19 conducted by the Zvornik Brigade in which troops actually went out to take
20 part in the attack?
21 A. The preparations of the Zvornik Brigade for the Srebrenica
22 operation, or, as it was called in the military plans, Krivaja 95, began
23 intensively during the 2nd of July, 1995. That's when we -- or rather,
24 the Zvornik Brigade, was given a preparatory order from the Drina Corps
25 command, intimating the operation, and then another order reached us,
1 which defined in more specific terms and details the duties and
2 obligations of the Zvornik Brigade. And the commander took the decision
3 and afterwards an order was written out regulating the duties of the
4 Zvornik Brigade itself. The unit which was being prepared to go to
5 Srebrenica was set up on the basis of a decision by Lieutenant Colonel
6 Pandurevic. A Combat Group was set up. It had a command and two
7 battalions. That's what it consisted of.
8 The first battalion, if I can call it that, was made up of the
9 Podrinje attachment, establishment-wise, the Wolves, and the second unit
10 was composed of all -- or rather, a part of the battalion of the Zvornik
11 Brigade, one intervention platoon was taken from all the battalions except
12 from the 5th Battalion. And those men set up two companies. The
13 commander of a unit established in this way was Lieutenant Stanojevic, the
14 commander of the first battalion. The commander of this whole composition
15 from the Zvornik Brigade was Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic, our commander,
16 and his deputy, in addition to his regular duties, was the commander of
17 the Wolves, Captain First Class Milan Jolovic. That in brief is what the
18 establishment looked like.
19 Q. What was Jolovic's nickname?
20 A. Legenda.
21 Q. When did you first learn that the Srebrenica enclave fell?
22 A. I first learnt of the fall of Srebrenica on the 11th, in the
23 afternoon, the 11th of July, 1995, in the afternoon.
24 Q. And what information did you receive, if any, on the 12th of July
25 relating to what was happening in Potocari?
1 A. From the information media and also through various reports and
2 information from the Superior Command, we did know roughly what was going
3 on in Potocari. So we had the information media. They carried
4 information about the evacuation, and we were also ordered to send some
5 transport vehicles, that is to say, a few buses and trucks. So that's it,
6 generally speaking. So roughly, we did know what was happening with
7 respect to the evacuation of the population. We didn't know anything
8 about the details, but roughly speaking we did know what was going on.
9 Q. Did you know what the buses and trucks that you sent down from
10 your area were to be used for?
11 A. Yes, we knew, for transporting the civilian population.
12 Q. At that point, on the 12th, did you know anything about -- the
13 able-bodied men were being separated from the civilian population in
15 A. I did not know about that.
16 MR. McCLOSKEY: If we could take a short moment and we're going to
17 set up a map to help visualise all this, Mr. President. This is Exhibit
19 Q. Mr. Obrenovic, before we get to this map, aside from the basic
20 information about Potocari that you were aware of on the 12th, did you
21 receive any information about the Muslim 28th Division and the whereabouts
22 of the soldiers from Srebrenica?
23 A. We received the first information about this on the morning of the
24 12th, not before that.
25 Q. About what time?
1 A. In the morning hours, perhaps around 5.00 in the morning.
2 Q. And what information did you receive, you yourself, and when?
3 A. I personally received my first information from our group that was
4 in Gucovo. They had intercepted somewhere some radio communications from
5 people from the column of the 28th Division, and at first we did not know
6 what this was about and where this unit was. Perhaps an hour went by,
7 until we identified the forces concerned and roughly where they could be.
8 Q. Okay. Could you just tell us what you thought at that point the
9 forces were and where they were.
10 A. When we identified this, we thought that these were parts of the
11 28th Division, not the entire unit. After my telephone conversation with
12 the commander of the 4th Battalion of the Bratunac Brigade - or rather,
13 this unit had previously been our 8th Battalion a year before that - he
14 informed me that parts of the 28th Division were passing between his area
15 near Buljin and the Milici Brigade. My information was that these were
16 parts of the unit, and groups that made up a column that consisted of a
17 maximum of 1.500 men, and the column was not all in one piece, so to
19 Q. What time did you have this phone call with the commander of the
20 Bratunac Brigade 4th Battalion?
21 A. I think this was around 7.00 in the morning on the 12th,
22 approximately. Sometime before I immediately transferred this information
23 to the command of the Drina Corps -- transmitted.
24 Q. Who was the commander that you spoke to from the 4th Battalion of
25 the Bratunac Brigade?
1 A. Captain Radika Petrovic, Captain First Class Radika Petrovic. I
2 talked to his duty officer in the battalion, because he was already at the
3 positions facing those groups that were passing by. So I did not speak to
4 him personally.
5 Q. And can you tell us why you were concerned? It may seem obvious,
6 but could you explain.
7 A. This had to be -- this had to do with our neighbour, to put it in
8 civilian terms, the neighbouring brigade, and it was my duty to follow
9 what was going on at my next-door neighbour's so to speak, from a combat
10 point of view. That is one thing.
11 Another thing is that for a long period of time, to be precise,
12 from mid-1993, we had had experience with these various groups, either
13 from the area of the 28th Division of Srebrenica or the 2nd Corps of the
14 Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tuzla. They were passing through the area of
15 responsibility of our brigade, the Zvornik Brigade. And I assumed that
16 they would take one of the customary corridors, the three or four that
17 were customary, and that they would continue to pass there and that sooner
18 or later they would come and threaten the positions of our brigade, the
19 Zvornik Brigade. Hence my concern.
20 Q. Can you show us with that laser pointer the customary corridor
21 you're referring to. If you can figure out how to work that thing.
22 A. This is Srebrenica, and I think that what is shown on this map, if
23 I understand this correctly, these are the positions that denote the
24 enclave. The positions of our units were on one side and on the other
25 side, on the inner side of the enclave, the positions of the units of the
1 28th Division. Somewhere around here was the position of the 4th
2 Battalion of the Bratunac Brigade, or rather, our former 8th Battalion of
3 the Zvornik Brigade. Your question had to do with the customary corridors
4 of the area of the Zvornik Brigade. They were --
5 Q. I'm sorry to interrupt, and I -- just for the record, I want to
6 say: You said your troops -- and you pointed to the area where they were,
7 and this was on the map just north of the village of Jaglici; is that
9 A. Yes, yes.
10 Q. When you tell us a location, if you could use a reference that's
11 on that map so that later, when someone reads the record of this, they
12 will understand roughly the area we're talking about.
13 A. I'll do that. So this is the town of Zvornik. The position of
14 the Zvornik Brigade, the positions of the Zvornik Brigade were at the
15 north. One will be able to find on the map the facility called Tursan
16 Brdo and Konjski Put, or rather, these are features on the map. Towards
17 the left, towards the left wing --
18 Q. You don't need to be too detailed. I will provide you with a more
19 detailed map later.
20 A. There was the village of Memici on the left, near the Spreca
21 River. This is a very big map, but roughly that's where this is. The
22 corridors you referred to were here, between the 4th Battalion of the
23 Bratunac Brigade to the north of the village of Jaglici, and the next unit
24 that was one infantry battalion from the Milici Light Infantry Brigade at
25 Ravni Buljin. There was an area that was never taken by units. Roughly
1 it covered perhaps 800 metres to one kilometre. It had been mined. And
2 the groups that went to and from Srebrenica usually used that. They
3 usually go out that way and then they would move along these mountain
4 roads, abandoned roads, through this area, this broad area of Cerska, then
5 they would cross to the area behind Zvornik, the area of Kamenica; from
6 there, they usually went in the following directions: One direction was
7 from Kamenica, say from this village, Cancari, up across Crni Vrh, and
8 then up here towards Paljkovica and Nezuk. That was one direction. The
9 other was from the village of Cancari, they would go here towards Memici
10 this side of the tunnel, through the Pretanska [phoen] hill and then they
11 would enter the area of Kalesija. Those are the two directions relevant
12 to the Zvornik Brigade, from Cancari there was yet another route towards
13 Paprace, towards this mountainous area here. I've forgotten the exact
14 names of the villages there. But on this map that's roughly the area I'm
15 referring to. This was a corridor that we knew about, one that was a bit
16 further away from us and that went from Srebrenica across the Han Pijesak
17 forests and then towards Kladanj, around here.
18 Q. Can you tell us what other information you learned on the 12th
19 about the -- specifically about the Muslims, and also about -- did you
20 become aware of what VRS units dealing with them in this area where they
21 began north of Jaglici?
22 A. I'm sorry, Mr. McCloskey. When you say the Muslims, are you
23 referring to the column of the 28th Division?
24 Q. Yes. I'm sorry.
25 A. As the day progressed, on the 12th, I was receiving more and more
1 information about this problem that I thought was relevant or even
2 dangerous for the unit that I was in then. We received a series of
3 information from this radio intercept group of ours, Premier, then the
4 information that the Superior Command gave us, and also part of the
5 information that came from the MUP. Then further on, I myself took some
6 measures that were reflected in the following: I sent my assistant
7 commander for intelligence affairs, captain Vukotic, to this battalion, in
8 Sekovici, the Kajica village, where its command was, and I asked him to
9 seek information there directly with regard to this specific information.
10 So during the second half of the day --
11 Q. I'm sorry. Can you just tell us where Kajica is in relation to
12 Bratunac or Kravica.
13 A. From Kravica along the road towards Bratunac, perhaps at this
14 curve here, if I remember correctly. So from Kravica along this asphalt
15 road towards Bratunac, perhaps 500 metres up to one kilometre. I cannot
16 remember exactly - there was a village that was called Kajica. And in
17 this village of Kajica was the commander of the 4th Battalion. And I've
18 already described its positions there from Ravni Buljin and further on
19 towards Bratunac.
20 Q. Okay. And what did you learn?
21 A. In the morning, on the 12th, I dealt with other matters, or to be
22 more precise, I was in Memici at our 7th Battalion because 2nd Corps of
23 the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina had already started attacking. And when I
24 returned in the afternoon, the intelligence officer was - I mean, when I
25 returned to the brigade command, to be quite precise - this intelligence
1 officer had already returned from Kajica from the command there, and from
2 him I heard this information, roughly what was going on over there,
3 namely, that parts of the units of the 28th Division were carrying out a
4 penetration and evacuation through this space and that practically the
5 entire area was overwhelmed by people from this column, and that there was
6 a second blockade in front of the column of the 28th Division, and that
7 this was placed already in part on this road here, between Kravica and
8 Konjevic Polje, to put it roughly, and Nova Kasaba where the asphalt road
9 is, to be precise.
10 Q. Do you know what VRS units were taking part in this blockade at
11 that time?
12 A. If I remember correctly, in that area the following units, VRS
13 units, were there: One battalion of the Protection Regiment that was
14 precisely here in Kasaba; then part of the units of the 55th engineering
15 battalion from the Drina Corps that was otherwise located here in Konjevic
16 Polje. Although I think that it should be pointed out that they had very
17 few men and that they could only take care of themselves. But since they
18 were there, it can be said that they constituted a unit that was in that
20 Q. And who else did you know about was looking after that area
21 besides those two units?
22 A. Also there were the forces of the Zvornik MUP, a company, and
23 there was another company that was getting ready to go there.
24 Q. Another company from where?
25 A. All these companies are of the Zvornik centre of the security
1 service. I could not say exactly where they got them from, but we called
2 them the blue police. These are special units of the police that were
3 trained for combat, and they were able to engage in combat with the enemy.
4 And they were commanded by the Zvornik security centre.
5 Q. And who was -- would have been their commander at the Zvornik
6 security centre?
7 A. The chief of the security centre was Lieutenant Colonel or Colonel
8 then, Dragomir Vasic. Mane Djuric was his deputy. Colonel Vasic was
9 absent probably up there in the area of Bratunac or Srebrenica - I don't
10 know exactly where. On that day, on the 12th, that is, I spoke to
11 Lieutenant Colonel Djuric a few times. He was in Zvornik and we talked
12 over the telephone precisely about these problems.
13 Q. The Court has heard about the special police forces of Ljubisa
14 Borovcanin. Can you distinguish how they are different from the forces
15 that you've just described under the command of Mr. Vasic.
16 A. I'll try, Mr. McCloskey. My knowledge is probably very modest in
17 this area. But to the best of my understanding, at the level of the
18 Ministry of the Interior of Republika Srpska, there was a special unit
19 that was called the brigade of the special police of Republika Srpska. Its
20 commander was -- I don't know what his rank was, but his name was Goran
21 Saric. Perhaps he was a colonel. His deputy was Mr. Borovcanin, who you
22 mentioned just now, and he was also Chief of Staff. This was a unit at
23 the level of the MUP of Republika Srpska and it consisted of several
24 detachments. I think seven at the time, perhaps eight. So in July 1995,
25 that's the way it was.
1 As opposed to that, every centre of security of the MUP, including
2 the Zvornik centre, had a unit that was equipped and trained from amongst
3 its regular ranks. This unit was established for specific tasks, combat
4 operations, and they were called special police forces. So if I
5 understood this correctly, these were ordinary policemen who, during their
6 regular work hours, so to speak, dealt with the maintenance of law and
7 order in their regular work. But if necessary, they would set up this
8 special unit of the police. They would wear military uniforms. They had
9 standard military weapons, light weapons, for the most part. And they
10 were used in combat, just like military forces.
11 Q. Thank you. Now, if you could just describe briefly, if you could,
12 the knowledge you gained from mid-July 12, midday, up until, say, midday
13 on the 13th. If you could just outline for us what you learned and what
14 you were doing. But just in an outline format. We don't need all the
15 real detail at this point.
16 A. Do you mean generally speaking or are you referring to something
18 Q. I mean -- well, generally. Let me ask one specific question
19 before we get there. Did you send any troops down to the area of Konjevic
20 Polje on the 12th?
21 A. Yes. The Zvornik Brigade sent to Konjevic Polje on the 12th one
22 squad or a half squad of traffic police, at the intersection there, in
23 order to regulate traffic there. We received written orders from the
24 Drina Corps to that effect, and we acted accordingly.
25 Q. How many men was that?
1 A. Roughly speaking, five or six probably. They could all fit into
2 one car and they simply left. I really can't remember all the details
4 Q. Okay. So again, if you could generally describe the events as you
5 learned them from midday on the 12th until midday on the 13th. Just give
6 us an overview.
7 A. In the afternoon of the 12th, I tried to clarify matters for
8 myself and for the unit, to see what was going on south of us, in the area
9 of Srebrenica and Bratunac, with this column of the 28th Division. In the
10 afternoon of the 12th, we received one or two intelligence reports, either
11 from the command of the Drina Corps or the Main Staff, and this had to do
12 with the information received from prisoners of war who were interrogated
13 and then this had to do with the possible future movement of the 28th
14 Division. Also I received information after my conversation with Mr. Mane
15 Djuric in the afternoon of the 12th. He had been in Vlasenica and he had
16 toured his units in Konjevic Polje. And he acquainted me in quite a bit
17 of detail as to what was going on there and what the problems were and
18 what should be done. As for this information I received from him, later
19 on I conveyed them to the operations duty officer of the command of the
20 Drina Corps. I received commander -- information from Commander Vukovic,
21 my intelligence officer, that is to say the intelligence officer of the
22 brigade. I've already referred to this a while ago, so I don't have to go
23 into all of that now.
24 Q. Mr. Obrenovic, you're speaking a little quickly. I can tell the
25 interpreter is having to -- so if you could slow down a bit, I'd
1 appreciate it.
2 A. Very well. Thank you.
3 In the early evening of the 12th, we had information that measures
4 were being taken to block this column of the 28th Division on the
5 mentioned road, that is to say, Kravica, Nova Kasaba, Milici. And by
6 then, parts of these units, smaller groups, as our intelligence said then,
7 managed to reach this other area of Glogova and Cerska by then. So I
8 received a task to take all necessary measures in order to protect the
9 elements of combat deployment of the brigade. These villages too in the
10 territory of Zvornik that had been populated. So this is roughly the
11 information I had in the early evening of the 12th. The initial
12 information was that this was about 150 men who managed to break through,
13 and the other piece of information referred to a unit of 300 men divided
14 into several groups, who had come to that area which was right behind us,
15 the Zvornik Brigade. And sometime late during the night, perhaps exactly
16 at midnight, between the 12th and 13th, I personally went with a group of
17 our units to this area here, right above Zvornik, to the south of -- or
18 rather, to the north of the village of Liplje. And I organised an ambush,
19 because I expected that that would be the place where these groups would
20 pass. And that is where we were on the morning of the 13th.
21 Q. Okay. Could you again briefly describe what information you were
22 getting on the 13th and what you did. But very generally and in an
23 outline format.
24 A. On the morning of the 13th, we were up there, but we didn't find
25 anything out. We searched the area, and sometime after noon, via the
1 devices I was told to go back to Zvornik, that there were no major forces
2 in our area. So I left part of the troops up there at Snagovo, and the
3 rest returned to Zvornik. Upon my arrival at headquarters, brigade
4 headquarters, I was informed that the column had been stopped on the road
5 just mentioned, from Kravica, Konjevic Polje, to Milici, and that there
6 were no major troops, that just smaller groups had managed to break
7 through into our area.
8 Q. What time was that that you went back to the brigade headquarters
9 and received that information on the 13th?
10 A. It's difficult for me to speak about the time exactly, but it was
11 sometime after noon, probably, after midday. Not too late.
12 Q. And who had told you to go back to the brigade?
13 A. The decision to go back to the brigade was taken by myself. I
14 made the decision, based on the information I received by radio to the
15 effect that the road to Konjevic Polje -- that an ambush had been set up
16 there and that there were no major forces there. So it was my assessment
17 that there was no need for me to be up there any more and that the units I
18 left up there would succeed in dealing with the small groups that might be
19 passing along that way. So I made the decision to return on the basis of
20 the information I received from the duty officer of the Zvornik Brigade.
21 Q. Do you know in the afternoon of the 13th who that duty officer
23 A. The duty officer on the 13th was captain Sreten Milosevic.
24 Q. Okay. And so after receiving that information, can you just
25 continue. What else sort of generally happened on the day of the 13th and
1 what information did you receive?
2 A. Soon after my arrival, the intercept groups informed us once again
3 that they were hearing a lot of traffic again, and they located this in
4 the area stretching from Cerska towards Kamenica.
5 Q. You've mentioned Kamenica a couple of times. Can you describe
6 where it is in relation to villages we can see on this map.
7 A. Kamenica is a broader area encompassing the following villages:
8 Liplje, probably Hodzici, towards Cancari. That's where Kamenica is,
9 roughly speaking.
10 Q. Okay.
11 A. It's a broad area comprising several villages.
12 Q. Okay. So if you could continue.
13 A. As I was saying, this was a period of time when I was receiving a
14 series of contradictory information. What the Superior Command, that is
15 to say, the Drina Corps command, claimed was that there were no
16 significant forces crossing into the rear of us. However, from the
17 intercept groups conducting interception, we began receiving more and more
18 information to the opposite, that there was a big column, and this column
19 of the 28th Division, it seems that their radio discipline was flagging
20 and they began to speak about numbers themselves. So our intercept centre
21 learnt that the number was 1.000 to 1.500 people in the area.
22 Q. Again, broadly, what did you do that afternoon, evening, on the
24 A. On the basis of the information received, I made the decision to
25 strengthen the units that had stayed up there in providing the ambush. I
1 decided to organise a provisional unit, grouping squad and platoon from
2 the units at my disposal, and so was able to form a unit which had the
3 strength of a company. And Captain Milan Maric from the operations
4 sector, was made commander, and I sent them up there. Another remaining
5 platoon from the military police company which had not been deployed at
6 that time I sent to the ambush at Siroki Put and they were there to do
7 reconnaissance work of the Drinjaca River canyon by the village of Glodi
8 roughly, where there were two bridges, and it was my assessment that if
9 the column were to pass by in the direction we expected it to move that
10 they would probably make use of those two bridges. And this is roughly
11 the area where the village of Siroki Put is located from where they could
12 observe the bridges. So setting up an ambush of this kind by the military
13 police platoon at Siroki Put and the other one at Dzafin Kamen, another
14 military platoon, and the rest of the ambush above the village of Liplje.
15 Q. Did you use any units or any people from the engineering company
16 for this group?
17 A. Yes. A moment ago, when I said I set up a mixed company, the
18 composition of that mixed company was roughly the following: I had some
19 15 soldiers from the engineers company, five or six soldiers from the
20 staff command, and about 15 to 20 soldiers from the logistics battalion.
21 And there were some donators too, 20 of them. And that was roughly it.
22 Plus a remaining platoon from the 5th Battalion, an intervention platoon.
23 So that was the mixed unit. I didn't have a complete standard type
24 establishment unit but had to make up the unit from the men who were free
25 from the different units, and made up a squad and a platoon for the
1 purposes of providing an ambush. So there were about 15 soldiers from the
2 engineers company.
3 Q. Did you use Dragan Jevtic, the commander of the engineering
4 company, in any way?
5 A. Yes. I did say that the commander of that platoon, or the
6 engineering company, should be its commander, Mr. Jevtic.
7 Q. And so by the evening of 13 July, where were you?
8 A. On the evening of the 13th, I was at the headquarters of the
9 Zvornik Brigade, in my office.
10 Q. And did you hear anything about Muslim prisoners on the evening of
11 the 13th? Excuse me. At any time on the 13th.
12 A. The first information about Muslim prisoners reached me in the
13 evening of the 13th. I can't tell you at what time exactly. Probably
14 between 1900 hours and 2000 hours, at least after 7.00 p.m.
15 Q. And where were you when you received that information?
16 A. I was in my office, the office of the Chief of Staff, at the
17 Zvornik Brigade headquarters.
18 Q. And what form did you receive information?
19 A. It was a telephone -- if I understood your question, it was a
20 telephone conversation from the forward command post of the Zvornik
21 Brigade. Lieutenant Drago Nikolic called me up, and it was through him
22 that I learnt about this.
23 Q. And what did Drago Nikolic tell you?
24 A. He told me that he had just been called up by Lieutenant Colonel
25 Popovic, that he had just finished talking to Lieutenant Colonel Popovic,
1 and that he had told him that in the Zvornik area, they were expecting a
2 large number of prisoners to be brought in from Srebrenica, or rather,
3 from Bratunac, and that he had to make preparations to take in those
5 Q. What else did he tell you? Or did you respond to him after he
6 said that?
7 A. He told me that he had to be replaced as duty officer of the
8 forward command post to be able to take part in that, and he said he was
9 expecting a man to come with concrete, specific information as to what was
10 to be done in this regard in future. I said -- I told him -- or first of
11 all, I asked him why the prisoners were being taken to Zvornik, why
12 weren't they being taken to Batkovici, down there, and then towards the
13 north and Bijeljina, where a camp existed and where the prisoners could be
14 put up? And he told me that the prisoners were not going to be sent
15 towards Batkovici or the Batkovic camp, because the Batkovic camp, as
16 everybody knew, the Red Cross and UNPROFOR knew about it, and the order
17 was to take the prisoners and execute them in Zvornik.
18 Q. And what did you say when he told you that?
19 A. I said that we couldn't accept an obligation of that kind without
20 the knowledge of our commander, and that without reporting back to the
21 Superior Command and informing them, we couldn't do that. And he said
22 that the order had come personally from Mladic and that everybody knew
23 about this including our commander, Lieutenant Pandurevic. And that this
24 would personally be implemented by Beara and Lieutenant Colonel Popovic,
25 and that they asked that he be included in all this.
1 Q. So then what did you say?
2 A. I didn't make any comments. He told me that -- he asked where the
3 military police company was, and asked that it be placed at his disposal.
4 Q. What did you say to that?
5 A. I said that I had already deployed the military police company,
6 that they were on assignment setting up an ambush, and that it was already
7 deployed. And he asked that at least the commander of the military police
8 company be placed at his disposal. Whether he was colonel or lieutenant
9 colonel Jasikovac Miomir and have a military police platoon at least. I
10 said I'd see what I could do.
11 JUDGE LIU: Mr. McCloskey, it's time for a break.
12 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yes.
13 JUDGE LIU: Yes. We'll resume at a quarter to 11.00.
14 --- Recess taken at 10.15 a.m.
15 --- On resuming at 10.49 a.m.
16 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. McCloskey, please continue.
17 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you, Mr. President.
18 Q. Mr. Obrenovic, going back to where we left off at the break: You
19 had said that: I said I'd see what I could do. At that moment in the
20 conversation with Drago Nikolic, had you decided whether or not to support
21 this operation to kill the Muslim prisoners?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Had you communicated that to Drago Nikolic?
24 A. No, I didn't tell him decisively.
25 Q. What do you think you had communicated at that point to Drago
1 Nikolic regarding whether or not you were supporting it?
2 A. I apologise. I don't think I follow you. What's the question?
3 Q. In your statements to him that you've told us, what were you
4 intending to communicate to him, if anything, regarding your intentions
5 related to the operation?
6 A. In view of the fact that the military police platoon had already
7 been engaged in the field at that point in time, while we were talking,
8 while I was talking to him, I didn't know what was available of what he
9 was asking me for.
10 Q. Okay.
11 A. So I knew that I couldn't place the military police platoon at his
12 disposal. He asked for a platoon, and so it remained open. I said I
13 would do my best to ensure something for him and to place something at his
14 disposal, Jasikovac and some men from the unit.
15 Q. You say he asked you. Did he have any authority to tell you and
16 actually take these units?
17 A. He asked that of me.
18 Q. Yes, but militarily, did he have the authority to take those units
19 without asking you?
20 A. No, he did not.
21 Q. Did you decisively ever tell him or engage him in this project?
22 A. Whether I told him what at some point?
23 Q. Did you ever issue instructions or order him in any way to take
24 part in this operation to kill the Muslim prisoners that he had told you
1 A. Previously, I had practically approved -- tacitly.
2 Q. Can you explain that, what you mean by that?
3 A. By telling him that I would place part of the military police at
4 his disposal. Previously, I had told him that when it becomes topical, to
5 replace him from the forward command post for him to call up the next man
6 to take his place, the next man in order, to all intents and purposes, I
7 practically approved his participation in those affairs.
8 Q. Did your discussion about having him replaced at the forward
9 command post take place during this first conversation you've been talking
11 A. I myself and Drago Nikolic, you mean? Yes, yes.
12 Q. Okay. What else do you remember about that conversation?
13 Anything else that you can recall?
14 A. Perhaps to clarify what I mean with respect to his shift.
15 Straight away, almost at the beginning, he told me that he would have to
16 be replaced from the duty of duty officer at the forward command post, and
17 I told him to see who the next man was on the list. When the time came
18 for him to have -- to supply additional information about all this and
19 hand over to him, to call the next man on the duty shift list, and I
20 approved him being replaced.
21 Q. Was this discussion and approval of him being replaced, did that
22 occur before or after the discussion about the killing of the Muslim
24 A. After.
25 Q. What happened then, after this conversation? What did you do?
1 A. Soon afterwards, via the radio centre, they informed me that this
2 particular military police platoon in the ambush, observing the bridges at
3 the Drinjaca River, noticed a vast column, a large column, and they told
4 me that as far as they could see, it was a column three kilometres long.
5 And with that platoon was Lieutenant Colonel Jasikovac. So when I
6 received information from them that it was a military column with flank
7 security, et cetera, I ordered Jasikovac to return to Zvornik with the
8 unit. And some 40 minutes later, roughly, he did arrive.
9 Q. Why did you order Jasikovac to return with the unit?
10 A. Mr. McCloskey, for two reasons. The first is to place Jasikovac
11 at the disposal of Drago Nikolic, and the second reason was the fact that
12 the unit who was there at the ambush and remained there on the side, I had
13 to transfer part of the unit once again in front of the column of the 28th
14 Division. So these were the two guiding reasons I ordered them to come to
16 Q. Can you just remind us who Jasikovac was in the Zvornik Brigade.
17 A. I apologise. Perhaps I wasn't precise enough. It was Miomir
18 Jasikovac who was lieutenant of the police, military police, the military
19 police of the Zvornik Brigade.
20 Q. And did Mr. Jasikovac and his unit actually show up at the
22 A. Yes. The soldiers stayed in front of the barracks in the truck,
23 and he came into my office alone. As I said a moment ago, perhaps some 40
24 minutes after our conversation via the radio centre and the radio device.
25 Q. And about what time was this?
1 A. That was the evening of the 13th, in the evening, probably around
2 2100 hours, thereabouts, just before it became dark.
3 Q. And what occurred during the meeting you had with Mr. Jasikovac?
4 A. It all happened in my office of the Zvornik Brigade headquarters.
5 He informed me what they had seen, and his assessment of the column that
6 had been sighted, and on that basis I concluded that they were large
7 forces of the 28th Division. And then I ordered him to take five soldiers
8 with him and for them to stay. I said that the prisoners would be brought
9 in from the Zvornik area and that he should report to Lieutenant Colonel
10 Drago Nikolic or that he would call him so that he should stay with those
11 five soldiers in the Standard barracks and that the rest of the platoon
12 that the commandeer, Commander Mekic was in charge of the remaining
13 soldiers in the platoon.
14 Q. Did you tell him what was supposed to happen to those prisoners?
15 A. No, I did not talk about that. I just said that when he speaks to
16 Drago Nikolic, he will see that he will give him additional orders and
18 Q. When Drago Nikolic told you that this operation was approved by
19 Mladic and that your commander and others knew about it, why didn't you
20 check that? Why didn't you call your commander or call someone?
21 A. I'm sorry. I don't know if the interpretation I got was correct.
22 You said that Mladic approved this order, and I think that I said that
23 Drago conveyed to me that Mladic had ordered that, not approved it;
24 ordered it. And I believed Drago Nikolic, since he told me that Mladic
25 had ordered that to be carried out. He mentioned to me that people who
1 would be involved in this, that the commander knew about it, quite simply,
2 I believed him. I thought that these were matters that were far too
3 serious for him to play games with.
4 Q. What should you have done when you were informed by Drago Nikolic
5 of this operation, according to your training in the JNA?
6 A. I should have forbidden him to do any such thing. I should have
7 looked for Pandurevic and the Corps Commander and I should have opposed
9 Q. What did you think would happen to you if you did that, if you
10 opposed it?
11 A. Well, I was afraid, quite simply. After this entire chain was
12 referred to. And at that moment, I came to the conclusion that something
13 like that could not have happened otherwise. These people probably
14 ordered that. And we were being kept abreast. I simply thought it was
15 pointless for me to complain about anything then. But I should have.
16 You're quite right.
17 Q. How many Muslim prisoners did you think Drago Nikolic was talking
19 A. On the afternoon of the 13th, I had already had information that
20 this concerned about 3.000 prisoners. That is what the Zvornik Brigade
21 was informed about, and that is what I thought it was. I did not have any
22 more up-to-date information.
23 Q. After your meeting with Mr. Jasikovac, did you -- when was the
24 next time you learned anything about the operation that you had just
25 authorised, to kill the Muslim prisoners?
1 A. The first information that followed in this respect, in respect of
2 everything that was going on, was the following day, that is to say, the
3 14th, around 1400 hours, or roughly around that time. From Major Zoran
4 Jovanovic, who had brought a company from Zvornik by way of reinforcement.
5 Q. And what did you hear, and where were you, and what did you hear?
6 A. At that time, I was with those units in the ambush, in the broad
7 area of Snagovo, and he had brought in an additional company by way of
8 reinforcement because by then we had already fought the column of the 28th
9 Division once. He informed me that Beara brought to the area of Zvornik a
10 large number of buses with prisoners.
11 Q. And did you say anything or do anything after receiving that
13 A. No, I didn't do anything.
14 Q. In order to just get the next few days into context, especially as
15 it may relate to this operation to kill prisoners, could you, in the next
16 maybe five minutes - and I know that's not a long time, but can you tell
17 us where you went and what you did relating to your military duties from
18 the 13th, 14th, the 15th, and 16th. And you can use the pointer and the
19 map which is -- we have a new map, Exhibit 116. But just if you can get
20 through those days and just try to do it in five minutes, just so that we
21 can see the broad context of what happens within this time frame. So you
22 could start, if you could, by telling us where you went after the meeting
23 on the 13th, in the evening, with Jasikovac, and what you did. And I may
24 interrupt and ask questions, as is the practice.
25 A. Well, Mr. McCloskey, on the 13th, in the evening, after having
1 learned about this large column that had just entered the area of
2 responsibility of the Zvornik Brigade, near the village of Glodi,
3 immediately after that, via radio communications, using the communications
4 that were available then, I called General Zivanovic and I informed him
5 about it.
6 Q. Remember, your words have to be translated, and I can hear the
7 translator going pretty quick. So if you can slow it up a little bit.
8 And before we get into this, and remember, we just want a broad, a broad
9 outline: Could you take a look at this exhibit, P116. Do you recognise
10 this map?
11 A. Yes. I know this map. I saw it at the time when it was made. It
12 was made after all of the things that happened in Srebrenica happened. We
13 can see the long time period during which it was kept. Major Galic and
14 Major Dragutinovic signed it. We can see it here. The assistant
15 commander of staff for operations and teaching, he was not that during the
16 Srebrenica events. He was assistant commander for personnel at the time.
17 At that time, at the Srebrenica time, Major Dragutinovic was assistant
18 commander for operations. However, this map here, or rather, this part
19 around the Zvornik Brigade, this was done as far back as 1993. So the
20 first signature comes from that period, lest there be any confusion.
21 Q. Okay. And remember, we have to make a record. So when you
22 point -- you pointed down to those two names that were involved with this
23 map. They are the names in Cyrillic down in the right corner of the map;
24 is that correct?
25 A. Yes, you're right.
1 Q. And can you tell us what the various coloured markings on this
2 map, just the big ones, what they represent, and what this map represents,
3 just briefly, if you could. If you can start down in the southern part of
4 the map and work your way north.
5 A. Generally speaking, this is a topographical map. 1 to 50.000. In
6 the centre of the map is the municipality of Zvornik, or rather, the area
7 of responsibility of the Zvornik Brigade. There are some handwritten
8 decisions - sorry - markings on the map, according to the rules of keeping
9 topographical maps in the JNA and the VRS. Then also there are general
10 names and the names of particular units that are printed in black. So, for
11 example, there is the name of the map itself, in black. The markings of
12 the units, the Eastern Bosnia Corps, the Drina Corps, then the legend, and
13 so on. All of that is written in black. As for the red colour, it
14 denotes our units, the VRS units, and their positions.
15 Q. How about the blue markings?
16 A. All the blue markings on the map represent our then enemy, that is
17 to say, the units of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. And here we see
18 these markings operative group 4. This does not match the actual
19 situation in the month of July 1995. I've already said that, as it can be
20 seen here, this map was kept from 1993 onwards, and that is when they had
21 this kind of organisation. They had divisions by 1995, and brigades. But
22 these markings are there because it's an old map.
23 So all the blue markings on the map relate to the Army of
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina, units and their actual movements.
25 Q. Could you tell us what the title says, up top.
1 A. The document is marked as the "working map of the operative organ
2 of the command of the Zvornik Infantry Brigade." It was -- the beginning
3 is the 1st of September, 1993, meaning that it was kept from the 1st of
4 September, 1993, and the end is 31st of December, 1995. According to the
5 rules then in force all such documents were strictly confidential. So
6 that is the copy of the document that I'm referring to.
7 Q. And I apologise. I understand it's in Cyrillic. But can you tell
8 us what this marking is, the two-letter marking ending in "X," right below
9 the title.
10 A. I'm sorry. The X is H in Cyrillic, and it says RH here, which is
11 an abbreviation for the Republic of Croatia, Republika Hrvatska.
12 Q. Can you go down to the next three-letter abbreviation, below that.
13 What does that mean?
14 A. Do you mean this?
15 Q. Yes.
16 A. What I'm showing right now? IBK, IBK. That is the Eastern Bosnia
17 Corps of the Army of Republika Srpska.
18 Q. Okay. Let's go across the Drina, and it looks like a C.
19 A. It's an S in Cyrillic. SRJ in Cyrillic, which is the
20 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Savezna Republika Jugoslavija.
21 Q. Okay. Let's go down to the two-letter area that you're pointing
22 to in the southern part of the map.
23 A. DK, the Drina Corps.
24 Q. Okay. And then down in the south, where we have the red and the
25 blue again in the right-hand corner of the map, what does that depict?
1 A. I'm sorry. Do you mean this?
2 Q. No. The red markings and the blue markings, the circle.
3 A. Here, in the south of this map, is the area of the enclave of
4 Srebrenica. The blue colour, as I said a few minutes ago, depicts
5 positions within the enclave that were held by the units of the 28th
6 Division. The colour red depicts the positions of units of the Army of
7 Republika Srpska that were facing the positions of the 28th Division, that
8 is to say, those that were manning the enclave.
9 Q. And there's little red arrows in that enclave area. What does
10 that depict?
11 A. These arrows show the directions of advancement and penetration of
12 the Army of Republika Srpska units during the Krivaja 95 operation.
13 Q. Okay. And let's go to the north of the enclave. There appears to
14 be a semicircle in the north of the enclave with -- in blue, with arrows
15 going in a northerly direction. What is that?
16 A. Yes. This semi-circle at the north of the enclave is marked in
17 blue. This is a topographical marking for denoting a unit that is
18 expected, units that are being collected. If I remember correctly, this
19 is the villages of Jaglici and Susnjari, that area where the 28th Division
20 was being grouped, and all the accompanying manpower, for starting the
21 breakthrough and the march towards the area of the 2nd Corps. And this --
22 so this is the region of build-up. And the arrows going from there show
23 the direction of their movement.
24 Q. Can you point out the village -- I know the Court can't possibly
25 see that from there, but can you point out where the village of Potocari
1 is, just so the Court can get an idea of where it fits into this. If you
2 yourself -- just generally. I know you can't even read it from there.
3 A. I'm sorry. May I approach the map and read it?
4 Q. That gets problematic, just logistically. If you need to --
5 JUDGE LIU: Well, can we have the camera zoom on certain points?
6 Maybe the witness could read from the monitor.
7 A. I'm sorry. I really cannot see a thing here.
8 MR. McCLOSKEY: Well, I can't either. My machine is not working.
9 But it's a good idea, Your Honour.
10 Q. Okay. So now you're pointing to the area of Potocari. Were you
11 able to lean over and spot it? Okay.
12 A. I'm sorry. I can't see from here, but roughly it should be
13 somewhere around here, the village of Potocari, around here.
14 Q. That's all we need, is roughly. And how about Bratunac?
15 A. [Indicates].
16 Q. Okay. And can you follow the road to Konjevic Polje, just slowly
17 with your red ...
18 A. [Indicates]
19 Q. Now you're stopped at Konjevic Polje. Okay. And can you take --
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. -- The main road are up to Zvornik from Konjevic Polje, with your
22 red dot.
23 A. [Indicates]
24 Q. That's Zvornik, where you stopped. Where is the forward command
25 post that Drago Nikolic was talking to you from?
1 A. [Indicates]
2 Q. Okay. And that's in the area of what battalion?
3 A. The 6th.
4 Q. And all those battalions are marked by number on this map?
5 A. Yes. On the north is the 1st, and then the next one is the 5th,
6 then the 2nd, and the 3rd, then the 6th, then the 4th, and then the 7th.
7 Q. Okay. Can you point out the rough northern boundary of the
8 Drina Corps?
9 A. The northern boundary of the Drina Corps coincides with the
10 northern boundary of the area of the Zvornik infantry Brigade. I've
11 already mentioned that today during the course of the day. This is a
12 geographical notion. Konjski Put, Tursan Brdo is the name of the actual
13 village at the front line itself. And then 141 was the trig in the
14 village of Glavicice on the Drina River.
15 Q. You've pointed to that on the map also. Is there a little red
16 line between those two points that you can make out?
17 A. Do you mean this one?
18 Q. Yes.
19 A. I think that the road is marked on the map, but this roughly
20 coincides with the uppermost northern boundary of the Zvornik Brigade and
21 the Drina Corps area.
22 Q. And could you point out roughly where Pilica is. I don't think
23 you're going to be able to see it but do you know roughly where Pilica is,
24 below the border of the Zvornik Brigade, Drina Corps?
25 A. Probably here, in this area.
1 Q. Okay. That's just about an inch below the area that you've
2 described as the -- sorry. Let's say two centimetres below the area you
3 described as the border. All right. Okay. Let me --
4 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
5 MS. SINATRA: Your Honour, I just wanted the record to reflect
6 that the Defence is allowing the Prosecution to lead this witness through
7 this combat offensive so that it's clear for the Trial Chamber and for the
8 Defence also.
9 JUDGE LIU: Yes. This is just some positions, local positions.
10 MS. SINATRA: Thank you.
11 JUDGE LIU: There's no problem on it.
12 MR. McCLOSKEY:
13 Q. Let me take you back to where we had started before, but remember,
14 we need to do -- try to do this in five minutes, if you can. Just
15 describe to us the military situation from the evening on the 13th when
16 you go out to the lines to, let's say, the morning of the 17th, just so we
17 can get a feel for the situation. And again, if you need to refer to the
18 map, just let us know what location so we can try to make the record
19 clear. If you could tell us where you go on the evening of the 13th.
20 Let's do it in five minutes, if we can. I think that should make a clear
22 A. Very well. Mr. McCloskey, I've already said that during the 12th
23 and the 13th, the command of the Zvornik Brigade and the command of the
24 Drina Corps, to my mind, had a very confused picture as to what was going
25 on in relation to the column of the 28th Division. Very many pieces of
1 misinformation, perhaps I can put it that way. However, by the evening I
2 realised that there was a large column in the village of Glodi, and they
3 entered the area of responsibility of the Zvornik Brigade and that finally
4 some concrete action has to be taken in that respect. At Snagovo, I
5 already had part of the units from the night of the 12th and from the
6 afternoon of the 13th.
7 Q. I'm sorry to interrupt you. Can you show us roughly where the
8 border is that you're talking about between the Zvornik Brigade and your
9 neighbour and where you first became aware that the Muslim units entered.
10 It can just be rough. Don't worry about being precise at this point.
11 A. I've already shown the northern border a while ago when we talked
12 about the area of responsibility of the Zvornik Brigade and this is the
13 boundary on the south and our neighbour was the 1st Bircani Brigade and
15 Q. You're going fast. Especially now we've got to keep it slow.
16 A. I'm sorry. Our neighbour on the left was the infantry brigade
17 from Sekovici, the Bircanska Brigade, and the left zone went along the
18 Spreca River, the Spreca River, and then went on to Mount Udrc. Then to
19 the confluence of Drinjaca and Zeleni Jadar, those two rivers, then there
20 is Milovan, and then above the village of Zelinja to the Drina River.
21 Already in this area, Kuslat and Milovan, that is where the Bratunac
22 Brigade was our neighbour, in that area. So that would be within these
23 boundaries. That was the area of responsibility of the Zvornik Brigade.
24 Now, where we first saw the column clearly entering the area of
25 responsibility of the Zvornik Brigade was when they were crossing the
1 Drina River - sorry, the Drinjaca River. And when they were entering the
2 area of the village of Glodi. It's somewhere around here. I cannot see
3 very well from the spot I'm sitting at, but it's around here. This is
4 where we first saw them. Our patrols and our platoons that were in the
5 ambush saw them there around dusk.
6 I've already said that part of the units from earlier on, from the
7 night of the 12th, were there, and then they were reinforced on the
8 afternoon of the 13th, with Maric's company, and the engineers we
9 mentioned. Not only the engineers. I mentioned other units in that
10 context as well. They were sent to Snagovo.
11 Q. I notice on the map there seems to be blue arrows going across red
12 lines. What does that depict?
13 A. This depicts graphically the actual combat and the development of
14 the situation. Because on the morning of the 14th, we had the first
15 combat with part of the column of the 28th Division. And afterwards, in
16 the early evening hours of the 14th, we had fiercer fighting, and the
17 units that I was with were broken up there, left and right. And then they
18 penetrated this asphalt road, Crni Vrh, and then they went here to the
19 village of Planinci and towards Krizevici and Baljkovica.
20 Q. So what dates and times did they make it to the Baljkovica area?
21 A. The front of the column of the 28th Division in the village of
22 Baljkovica, which was within the area of our 4th infantry Battalion. They
23 got there in the early evening hours of the 15th, perhaps roughly around
24 1700 hours or 1800 hours.
25 Q. And again, describe in broad terms what happened after the evening
1 hours of the 15th.
2 A. On the evening of the 15th, these units which were organised in
3 such a way as to defend the area from the onslaught of the 28th Division
4 were surrounded in that valley of Baljkovica, and that's when the fighting
5 started in the encirclement. The column of the 28th Division broke
6 through to this area and was just two to three kilometres away from the
7 2nd Corps of the BH army, and that's where the severe fighting began.
8 There would be a lull and then the fighting would start up again. But the
9 fighting and battles were continuous, to all intents and purposes,
10 throughout that period of time.
11 Q. When you say they broke through this area, what do you mean? Can
12 you give us a village or an area?
13 A. The units of the 28th Division broke through into the broad area
14 around the village of Baljkovica, and parts of them came to Krizevici,
15 Motovo, Potocani, those villages. I think there was the village of Rebici
16 as well, that that's what the village was called.
17 Q. So what time was this fierce fighting? What day and what time?
18 A. The serious fighting started already on the evening of the 15th.
19 Then, during the night, there was a thunderstorm, a lot of rain, and
20 during the night our units which were stationed there lost their positions
21 at Grujic Groblje. In the early morning hours of the 16th, the mortar
22 company was practically destroyed, and three self-propelled vehicles were
23 taken over on these positions at Motovska Kosa and the culmination of the
24 fighting came in the morning hours, probably around 0400 hours, 4.00 a.m.,
25 as dawn was breaking on the 16th of July.
1 Q. During this combat with the 28th Division coming up from the
2 south, were the 2nd Corps positions that are marked on the map in blue,
3 were they engaged in this fight at all from the north and the west?
4 A. Yes, you're absolutely correct. The 2nd Corps already in this
5 area of responsibility of the Birac Brigade, our left neighbour, started
6 offensive combat operations on the 11th of July. On the 12th, our 7th
7 Battalion came under attack, and in that same period, it was in the area
8 of the 6th Battalion that some demonstrative operations were taking place.
9 But as the column of the 28th Division drew closer to the front part of
10 the 2nd Corps, the units of the 2nd Corps itself and their divisions in
11 that area, strengthened their pressure, exerted greater pressure, and
12 after the night, and on the 14th, in this area here, roughly this area, it
13 is a mountain wreath, in actual fact - the units of the 2nd Corps of the
14 BH army made large bonfires, and these fires could be seen from this broad
15 area here. That was probably a marker of some kind of those units.
16 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... So we could go back to it for
17 the record if need be.
18 A. I can't see it from here, but if I remember correctly, the hill
19 was called Barasinovac.
20 Q. On this map, it's right below the three initials. Can you tell us
21 what those three initials are again?
22 A. Below the OG-4 initial, which means Operative Group 4.
23 Q. All right. So then just continue your -- these bonfires were lit
24 by the Muslims, and you left off: There was heavy fighting on the 16th
25 and the early morning hours. Then what happened?
1 A. There was heavy fighting, and this continued for the whole of the
2 morning of the 16th. The Baljkovica area was constantly under artillery
3 fire, either from our side or from the Muslim side. But everything was
4 aflame in that area, and this group of units within the command post of
5 the 4th Battalion, which is where I was myself, found itself surrounded
6 and cut off from the rest of the units, and this happened on the 15th --
7 on the evening of the 15th. They weren't able to evacuate their wounded.
8 So it was a chaotic situation. And at one point on the 16th, probably
9 around 10.00 - anyway, in the early morning hours of the 16th - the unit
10 of the 2nd Corps -- the units of the 2nd Corps here in the region of the
11 river of Baljkovica, underneath the village of Nezuk, managed to gain
12 control of the positions of the 4th Battalion and to break through this
13 front flank, the Grjesnik, as we called it. But this was in a very narrow
14 portion of the front.
15 Q. And what happened that day?
16 A. During the 16th, I was ordered at one point - I think it was
17 around noon - or rather, something was approved, that I could start my own
18 evacuation and the evacuation of those units, the withdrawal from the
19 command of 4th Battalion towards the positions of the 6th Battalion,
20 towards Parlog. That was approved. And we managed to break through until
21 the halfway point, a village called Glovedarice and on the basis of radio
22 communication I received orders from the commander, Lieutenant Colonel
23 Pandurevic, to cease the fighting and to undertake negotiations with Semso
24 Muminovic, who was an officer from the command of one of those divisions
25 from the 2nd Corps of the BH army. In order to establish a truce and to
1 open a corridor for the passage of the 28th Division, which was already
2 there in the area. They had already taken up the command post and set
3 fire to it where I was in Paljkovica.
4 Q. Did that in fact happen? Was there a corridor opened?
5 A. Yes, a little later on, after a series of problems of a practical
6 nature, practical obstacles, the corridor was opened towards the village
7 of Nezuk, that access and direction, and the commander, Lieutenant
8 Pandurevic, issued orders that in addition to this position that had been
9 seized of our squad that we deal with another platoon of the 4th Battalion
10 and that along that axis, along a small river and in a valley, to open --
11 that was where the corridor was opened for the passage of the column of
12 the 28th Division. And we actually agreed on a provisional truce,
14 I think that was on the 16th, at 1400 hours.
15 Q. How long did that corridor remain open for the departure of the
16 Muslim column?
17 A. We had agreed on this corridor, and the first variant of the
18 agreement was that the corridor should be open for 24 hours, that it
19 should remain open for 24 hours. If it was opened on the 16th at 1400
20 hours, then until the 17th at 1400 hours. However, the next day -- or
21 rather, while this was going on, Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic and someone
22 else, Semso Muminovic - I don't know what he was by rank, probably a
23 colonel or something like that - they had radio communication. They were
24 communicating by radio. And in the morning of the 17th, Semso asked that
25 the corridor be left open for a further 24 hours. However, our commander
1 did not approve that, and extended the deadline for another two hours. So
2 from 1400 hours until 1600 hours. However, our units started moving at
3 around 1500 hours to start the corridor. I think the corridor was
4 actually closed at 1600 hours at the latest. But the units starting
5 closing it off a little while before that.
6 Q. Do you know roughly how many Muslims were able to make it through
7 the corridor while it was open?
8 A. All I can say is, to give you an estimate, on the basis of what we
9 were able to see. Through that section, the column started moving from
10 1400 hours. There was only some sporadic fire, but neither side fired,
11 actually. And after the column -- after 1400 hours, the column was still
12 passing through, until it got dark. So I think a large number managed to
13 pass through. I was negotiating in Baljkovica, at the headquarters there,
14 on the 16th, in the morning, with an officer from the command of the 28th
15 Division. He introduced himself as being captain Salihovic, and told me
16 that he was an officer, an operative officer in the command of the 28th
17 Division. He had been wounded and as he wasn't able to talk because he
18 had a neck injury, he wrote down on a piece of paper that they had 7.000
19 people in the vicinity, of which 3.000 were armed. That's what he told me
20 then and that's all I know. And that would be my best guess and answer to
21 your question.
22 Q. So you thought the information he was giving you was credible,
23 based on everything else you knew?
24 A. Yes. I thought he was telling the truth and that there were
25 probably about 7.000 of them. And on a previous occasion, I had the
1 opportunity of talking -- on the 15th, in the morning, with two Muslim
2 soldiers who had been captured from the same column, and they told me on
3 that occasion that the column of the 28th Division had split into three
4 parts and that each part had approximately 2.000 men marching one behind
5 the other. So that would make it 6.000. That's what they told me then,
6 and this would roughly coincide with what the captain told me
7 subsequently, a day later, in fact.
8 Q. During this fierce fighting on the 15th and 16th, how many of the
9 VRS soldiers were killed?
10 A. If my memory serves me, about 40, 38, 39 soldiers were killed, and
11 over 100 wounded. It was very fierce fighting at close range. We were
12 about 50 metres apart. So it was almost breast to breast.
13 Q. Had you known any fighting like that ever occurring in that war
14 before this time, with those kinds of casualties?
15 A. I took part in quite a number of battles throughout the war, and
16 this was one of the fiercest fighting that I had taken part in.
17 Q. Do you know how many Muslims were killed in this fighting on the
18 15th and 16th, have any idea?
19 A. I can't be specific, but they must have had considerable losses, a
20 lot of people killed, and even more wounded, because we used all the
21 weapons at our disposal, the technical equipment, I mean.
22 Q. What did the Muslims do with their dead?
23 A. Well, I assume they pulled them out during the night, between the
24 16th and 17th. That's just my assumption. We did not find a large number
25 of corpses in the area later on. I don't remember exactly how many, but
1 maybe about 20. That was all. In this area around Baljkovica, on the
2 17th -- on the evening of the 17th up to the 19th, perhaps.
3 Q. As far as you know, did the VRS make any effort to bury those
4 corpses of Muslim soldiers?
5 A. I don't remember the exact date. Perhaps it might have been on
6 the 19th that we buried the bodies at Motovska Kosa, somewhere up there.
7 We might have buried these 15 to 20 bodies that we had gathered together.
8 Our units arrived, so we had to collect up the bodies, and they were
9 buried there in that general area of Motovska Kosa.
10 Q. Are you aware of the engineering unit or any unit of the Zvornik
11 military or civilian authorities burying any battle casualties prior to
12 that time?
13 A. You mean burying the dead who were killed in battle?
14 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Ms. Sinatra.
15 MS. SINATRA: Your Honours, I was quite confused by the question
16 too, because so far we have no evidence that the engineering department
17 has buried anyone, and now he's asking the question: Before this time,
18 has the engineer company participated in asanacija before. So could he
19 please just break the question down and clear up his questioning in this
21 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. McCloskey. The question is not clear to us
22 too. Would you please rephrase it, lay some foundations on it.
23 MR. McCLOSKEY:
24 Q. Were you aware of, prior to the burial of the battle casualties
25 that you just described on the 19th or 20th, were you aware of the
1 engineering unit of the Zvornik Brigade burying any other battle
2 casualties for the fighting that occurred between the 15th and the 19th?
3 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Ms. Sinatra.
4 MS. SINATRA: I'm sorry, Your Honour. I haven't heard any
5 testimony that the engineering department participated in this burial, so
6 could he lay the proper foundation and predicate first.
7 JUDGE LIU: Keep your first question --
8 MR. McCLOSKEY: I'm asking --
9 JUDGE LIU: Yes. You put two questions in one. This is a
10 compound question. Just stick to your first question.
11 MR. McCLOSKEY:
12 Q. Were you aware of any burials of Muslim battle casualties from the
13 fighting on the 15th and 16th, aside from what you just mentioned?
14 A. If I have understood you correctly, you asked about the burials of
15 the killed Muslim soldiers during the fighting, during the battle that I
16 described. Is that what you mean?
17 Q. Yes.
18 A. No.
19 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness repeat his answer, please.
20 JUDGE LIU: Witness, the interpreter did not catch your answer.
21 Please repeat it.
22 MR. McCLOSKEY: I'll try to clear it up, Your Honour. It's a
23 difficult area, and I apologise.
24 JUDGE LIU: Yes, you may.
25 MR. McCLOSKEY:
1 Q. You've described the burial of casualties on the 19th or 20th of
2 July. Are you aware of any other battle casualty burials that occurred
3 before that?
4 A. No. Killed Muslim soldiers in battle during the breakthrough of
5 the column of the 28th Division, no.
6 Q. So can you very briefly describe the situation in the area around
7 Baljkovica and the general area of the Zvornik Brigade relating to
8 remaining Muslim groups after the 17th of July. Just roughly, what went
9 on, just to give us an idea.
10 A. As I've already stated, the bulk of the column of the 28th --
11 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Ms. Sinatra.
12 MS. SINATRA: I'm really sorry, Your Honour, to interfere here,
13 but I think that we're missing a very important piece of information. I
14 don't think Mr. McCloskey has ever asked who participated in the burial of
15 the Muslim soldiers, and I think I'm waiting to see where his connection
16 is of the burial with the Muslim soldiers and where it's relevant to the
17 allegations in the indictment.
18 JUDGE LIU: Well, to me, it's very clear. But if you want to
19 stress on this point, we may ask Mr. McCloskey to ask the question to the
20 witness so that this issue could be settled.
21 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you, Mr. President.
22 Q. The burials of battle casualties, that was done by the
23 Zvornik Brigade, as you stated; is that correct?
24 A. Yes, and that's what I said.
25 Q. And do you know what unit or body did that?
1 A. Collecting the bodies in the area around Baljkovica was conducted
2 by the units who happened to be there, deployed there, in combat
3 formation. Now, the actual digging, burial, was done by machines from the
4 engineering company.
5 Q. And as far as you know, the Geneva Conventions, there's no problem
6 with burying battle casualties, is there?
7 A. You're quite right.
8 Q. And if we could just get to the broad outlines of the situation
9 after the corridor is closed. Can you describe the next days and next
10 regarding the number of Muslims in the area and what the Zvornik Brigade
11 was doing about it.
12 A. Over the next few days, after the corridor had been closed, on the
13 afternoon of the 17th, the units of the 2nd Corps launched several
14 attacks, probably with the aim of breaking down the brigade's defence in
15 the area, and they attacked most frequently on the 7th, 6th, and 4th
16 Battalion, which had already suffered considerable losses, casualties.
17 Now, the area that the column of the 28th Division moved around from
18 Baljkovica southwards to the end of our area, the village of Glodi, was in
19 fact -- I don't know whether I'm going to use the right term and
20 expression, but there were probably a lot of stragglers or remaining
21 groups. Whether they had remained consciously or whether they had just
22 gone astray and lost their way or anything like that while the column was
23 passing through. So that the units from the Zvornik Brigade, with
24 reinforcements which had arrived on the evening of the 16th or the morning
25 of the 17th or during the day of the 17th, took over the search operation.
1 They searched the terrain, destroyed and captured these groups, and I
2 think that I should stress in this regard that in all these activities of
3 searching the terrain, units of the MUP joined in. So searching the
4 terrain and dealing with the stragglers and remaining groups of the column
5 of the 28th Division, this was done intensively towards almost the end of
6 the months, that is to say, the 30th of July. Afterwards, there would be
7 searches from time to time, occasional ambushes. But after July, the
8 intensity lessened of our involvement with respect to controlling the area
9 in depth and searching the terrain, generally speaking.
10 Q. Can you give us any kind of a rough estimate of how many Muslim
11 stragglers, as you've called them, were in the area of the Zvornik Brigade
12 during this time period, from when the corridor closed to the end of July,
13 and onward?
14 A. It was our assessment that we were dealing with a large number,
15 fairly large number. According to the information that reached us, they
16 had split into smaller groups, numbering five to ten men. Very rarely
17 were there groups of about a hundred. Once or twice in an area, but
18 mostly these large groups were readily visible, so they broke up into
19 smaller groups. And towards the end of the month, as I've already said,
20 all these groups moved in the traces of the 28th Division, in their steps,
21 towards Baljkovica. After that time, they no longer moved towards
22 Baljkovica, but redirected and went to the Udrc area and towards Kladanj.
23 Q. Right after the corridor closed, was there any policy from the
24 Zvornik Brigade command relating to capturing prisoners?
25 A. Yes. On the 18th, after the -- after one of our soldiers was
1 killed and several other wounded, the commander ordered that nothing
2 should be risked when prisoners were captured, that our units should not
3 expose themselves to further risk, should not run any more risk. So after
4 that, some units did not take prisoners. What they did was to kill them
5 on the spot. However, others did continue the process of capturing the
6 prisoners if they came across anybody. But generally, a few days later,
7 the commander -- I think it was on the 20th or the 21st - did away with
9 Q. So when you say "killed them on the spot," are you talking about
10 in a combat situation or are you talking improperly, after they have been
12 A. I'm speaking about both.
13 Q. Now, let's go back, if we can - thank you for that overview - and
14 let's go back to the 14th of July, where you have described your last
15 contact about information related to the operation to kill Muslims. You'd
16 heard about that Beara was coming with many Muslims. Again, I'm sorry.
17 Can you just tell us about what time you got that information?
18 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. McCloskey, since you are changing the
19 subject, could we have our break?
20 MR. McCLOSKEY: I would love a break. Thank you, Your Honour.
21 JUDGE LIU: Yes. We'll resume at 12.30.
22 --- Recess taken at 11.59 a.m.
23 --- On resuming at 12.30 p.m.
24 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. McCloskey.
25 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you, Mr. President.
1 Q. Mr. Obrenovic, as we were going back to the 14th, could you just
2 briefly remind us of the contact you -- information you got from Beara.
3 What time was that? Where were you?
4 A. Mr. McCloskey, I was at Snagovo, roughly where the intersection of
5 the roads is up there. There were -- it was probably about 1400 hours
6 that afternoon. Major Zoran Jovanovic brought a company by way of
7 reinforcement, and he informed me, as I already said, that Colonel Beara
8 had brought to Zvornik a large number of prisoners, or rather, that buses
9 with prisoners of war that Beara had brought arrived in Zvornik.
10 Q. And did you do anything about that information, act on it in any
12 A. No, I didn't do anything.
13 Q. What did you think that information had to do with?
14 A. I knew that the arrival of these prisoners was related to the
15 information from the previous evening when I talked to Lieutenant Drago
16 Nikolic. That's what he had conveyed to me then.
17 Q. When is the next time on the 14th that you had any information
18 about the operation to kill the Muslim prisoners, I mean related to the
19 Muslim prisoners coming to Zvornik?
20 A. On that same day, somewhat later, my signalman received a message
21 over the radio which was not extended to him but to the signalman of
22 Captain Maric, and the radio centre was conveying a message from the
23 operations centre that two engineers should go back to Zvornik. Those who
24 were up there with us in the ambush. Specific names were referred to, and
25 allegedly they were supposed to go there to build a road.
1 Q. What did you do when you got that information?
2 A. I became suspicious. I thought it probably could not involve any
3 kind of road. My initial idea was that perhaps somebody is trying to get
4 those two persons out of combat, or that it has to do something with
5 another job. So I called the radio centre and I asked them to check this
6 out, what it was all about specifically.
7 Q. Did you have any suspicions what that "another job" might be?
8 A. I thought that perhaps they could be used for burials.
9 Q. Burials of what?
10 A. Of the executed prisoners.
11 Q. And so what did you do?
12 A. As I've already said, I asked, through the radio centre, to have
13 this checked out, to see what this was about. And for a short period of
14 time -- within a short period of time, after five or six minutes perhaps,
15 I got the following information: That they were being requested to come to
16 Zvornik because of the job that was being carried out by Beara, Popovic,
17 and Nikolic, and I knew what that was, as I've already said.
18 Q. So can you just for the record tell us what you thought Beara,
19 Popovic, and Nikolic's job was at that point, just briefly.
20 A. Execution of the said prisoners.
21 Q. And so what did you do once you received that information about
22 those individuals being involved?
23 A. At that moment, I was touring the units that were there within the
24 ambush, and I went on until I came to that platoon of Dragan Jevtic that
25 was a bit further away, about 100 metres away. Jevtic had already
1 received that message, and I think that he was already in a discussion
2 with these men, these two men specifically, these machine experts.
3 Q. Do you recall the name of those two men, machine experts?
4 A. Yes. One was Mitrovic, nicknamed Kocanj, and the other one, I
5 can't remember his name right now. At any rate, their names were referred
6 to specifically through radio communications. They were not being
7 requested by way of the duties they had but by name and surname.
8 Q. And so what did you do when you went over to where Dragan Jevtic
10 A. When he saw that I was coming, Dragan Jevtic spoke to me and
11 conveyed to me what I had already known, that they were asking for these
12 two mentioned men to be sent to Zvornik. I said that he should release
13 them and not discuss it any further.
14 Q. And how did he feel about releasing those men?
15 A. I personally think, or rather, the impression I had was that he
16 was against that. He probably thought that he needed them there for
17 combat. There weren't enough of them, anyway. My impression was that he
18 would not have let them go.
19 Q. Did he follow your order to let them go?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Okay. Let me just go back briefly. You mentioned your radio
22 signalman got this message originally. Can you describe for us what kind
23 of radio equipment you had with you while you were in the field there and
24 what kind of personnel you had to help operate that equipment.
25 A. Mr. McCloskey, this group that was up there with me at Snagovo, in
1 an ambush, we used standard radio stations, RUP-12 radios, that did not
2 have any protection possibilities. We knew that the other side could be
3 listening in. The signalmen who operated the equipment were soldiers, the
4 men who carried this equipment too. They were in charge of this radio
5 communication. And in a way - how shall I put this - in order to prevent
6 us from being overheard, at least up to a point, there were about 15 or 20
7 other frequencies that were written out and then sometimes as we were
8 speaking we would move to those frequencies, with the intention of being
9 overheard as little as possible. I should probably point out in this
10 context that these signalmen who carried this radio equipment were not
11 very well trained, and it wasn't easy for them to handle all of this. So
12 probably the enemy side could hear quite a bit, especially if there was
13 fighting that was about to break out and if there were to be a combat
14 situation or something, then all of this could be listened into even more.
15 Q. In the preparation of your case, did you have an opportunity to
16 look at some of the intercepts provided by the Prosecutor?
17 A. Yes, Mr. McCloskey. Your office, through my lawyers, submitted
18 that to me. I saw these intercepts that the enemy side that was listening
19 in to what we were saying recorded. I looked through all of this.
20 Q. And in your review of that, the material, did you find anything
21 that appeared to be relevant to this conversation -- or the information
22 you received about the named engineering people that you've mentioned?
23 A. Yes. On the page where the intercepts for the 14th are, I came
24 across this message conveyed to Captain Maric, and specifically, two names
25 are recorded --
1 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Ms. Sinatra.
2 MS. SINATRA: I'm sorry. Mr. McCloskey is going into the whole
3 topic of military intercepts by the Bosnian and Herzegovina army at this
4 time, the BiH army. Of course, the one he's referring to, we have double
5 objections to, because Mr. Obrenovic is not a participant, he's
6 speculating, he was not present at the time that these communications were
7 given or received. But as far as the total group of intercepts that he's
8 trying to introduce, there's only one, I believe, that Mr. Obrenovic is a
9 participant in. Our only objection there would be lack of authenticity,
10 lack of reliability, because of the equipment used by the Muslim tactical
11 field operators at the place where they were receiving, and we intend to
12 challenge the authenticity and reliability of all of the intercepts. But
13 the one he's about to go into, Mr. Obrenovic is not a participant in the
14 conversation, and he can't -- I mean, he can identify the names of the
15 operators, but he can do that without saying that it was related to or
16 corroborated by an intercept.
17 JUDGE LIU: Well, Ms. Sinatra, I think we have these question
18 settled during the previous occasion. Of course, on the one hand, you
19 have the full right to challenge the authenticity of those intercepts.
20 There's no problem about it. And one of the criteria to admit them into
21 the evidence is that those sources should be reliable. There's no problem
22 about that. But here we have this witness with us. It doesn't matter
23 that the Prosecution asks some questions about these intercepts. Although
24 this witness was not a participant or mentioned in the intercepts, but he
25 could shed some light about the people involved in those intercepts. We
1 are here -- we are not discussing about admission of the evidence into
2 these intercepts, but we have to be helped by some background information
3 about those intercepts, especially the contents. We could not -- well, I
4 think it's possible, but it's not convenient for us to call this witness
5 whenever we need him. Since this witness is here, we'll go through those
6 intercepts, and later on we'll consider his testimony with some other
7 witnesses. And at last, if the reliability of these intercepts,
8 authenticity of these intercepts, are established, we'll consider whether
9 to admit those into the evidence. But this is at a very late stage. I'm
10 looking forward, Ms. Sinatra, to your cooperation in this aspect.
11 MS. SINATRA: Thank you, Your Honour. I will, of course, put on
12 that evidence in cross-examination. I would just like for the record that
13 we object to any testimony relating to the intercepts at this time, for
14 lack of proper foundation and reliability. And we will -- I know the
15 Court will rule on that when we go to offer the exhibits into evidence at
16 that time. I would like to also object that since he doesn't have
17 personal knowledge of this, that it violates the Rules of Evidence of
18 personal knowledge. He should be speaking from his own personal knowledge
19 of these matters. And that's my objection. Thank you, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE LIU: Well, I believe that your objection is well recorded
21 in the transcript. We'll bear in mind your objections.
22 As for whether this person has the personal knowledge or not, we
23 don't know at this moment. We have to hear what this witness is going to
24 tell us. Maybe the question is not about the specific issue mentioned in
25 the intercepts. It may be related to certain persons in that particular
2 MS. SINATRA: And Your Honour, we agree. If he has personal
3 knowledge about those people, that he can relate in the courtroom,
4 separate from the intercepts, then we would most certainly have no
5 objections to that.
6 I also would like to ask the Court ahead of time: Mr. McCloskey
7 has been asking the witness, not today in Court, but he asked whether he
8 thinks this intercept is genuine. I think that's an improper question to
9 ask from someone who has no experience in the communications field and
10 didn't participate in the conversation. So we would just like to have a
11 running objection that genuine is not a proper terminology for
12 verification of an intercept.
13 JUDGE LIU: Of course, we'll consider those testimonies, taking
14 into consideration of your objections and with the understanding that this
15 witness could give us some evidence. But as for how much weight we are
16 going to put on that evidence is another matter.
17 Yes, Mr. McCloskey, you may proceed.
18 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you, Mr. President.
19 Q. Could you inform us how close you are to your signalman when
20 you're in the field in a combat situation, and the information he provides
22 A. Well, it depends. Usually a step away. Only if there would be
23 shooting, then we would move from one place to another. He would be right
24 next to my shoulder or I would be right next to his shoulder. It's all
25 the same.
1 Q. And so when your signalman informed you of this information
2 regarding these two engineers, can you tell us how close he was to you and
3 how -- if you know, how -- well, can you tell us how close he was to you
4 when he told you about that?
5 A. I've already said: A step away. Let's say a metre away. We were
6 right next to each other.
7 Q. And do you know when he had received the information over the
9 A. You mean at what time?
10 Q. Well, do you know how long before he told -- passed on that
11 information to you he had received it on the radio?
12 A. Immediately. Very soon afterwards, perhaps a few seconds later.
13 Q. Did you happen to overhear any of that information over the radio
14 as it came to him?
15 A. He had a headphone on his ears, and I heard that something was
16 being said, but he was the one who was conveying it to me.
17 Q. Thank you. Now, going back to the question: When you were
18 looking at the Prosecution intercepts, did you find any intercept that
19 appeared related to this information you've just talked about?
20 A. Mr. McCloskey, I found precisely that message, where it said
21 Maric, or for Captain Maric - I can't remember exactly - and then the
22 specific name and surname is mentioned, Mitrovic, and I don't know what
23 the first name is, and the other one, that they should come to Nedjo's
24 restaurant in order to build a road. I think that that's exactly what it
1 MR. McCLOSKEY: And Mr. President, at the conclusion I will have
2 some exhibits. That will be one of the exhibits. But I think it will go
3 more smoothly if we just save those exhibits at the end.
4 JUDGE LIU: Whatever way you think is suitable.
5 MR. McCLOSKEY:
6 Q. So about what time were these two engineers actually released from
7 their combat duties on the 14th?
8 A. After Jevtic and I spoke to each other, they left, perhaps a few
9 minutes after that. So all of that happened after 1400 hours.
10 Q. Do you know roughly how long after 1400 hours?
11 A. Probably soon after that.
12 Q. So after that, on the 14th, did you receive any other information
13 relating to the operation to kill the Muslim prisoners?
14 A. Yes. On the 14th, late in the afternoon, in a conversation that
15 took place through radio communications with the commander of the 4th
16 Battalion - this was just before our attack against the village of
17 Liplje - I found out that there were some problems in Orahovac and that
18 the deputy commander of the 4th Battalion had sent a group of soldiers to
19 help out there. All of this was via radio communications, and we did not
20 speak openly. We tried to improvise, in order to prevent the other side
21 from recording what we were talking about.
22 Q. So can you describe -- now, I'm sorry. Did you take part in this
23 improvised conversation yourself or was it with your signalman?
24 A. Yes. I was on our radio, and from the 4th Battalion, it was their
25 signalman who was on line. So I took the headphone, the receiver, from
1 the signalman, and I did the talking.
2 Q. Can you describe this improvised conversation?
3 A. Yes. Since I was getting ready for us to launch the attack
4 against Liplje, I wanted to see what the situation was in the 4th
5 Battalion that was remaining behind our back. I called the command, the
6 headquarters there, and I said that -- and they said that everything was
7 all right towards the 2nd Corps and towards the front end. But they said
8 that there was a problem at the place where are the command of our brigade
9 was previously, as well as the commander of that battalion. That means
10 Orahovac. And that there were problems in relation to those who had been
11 brought in, the Zoljani. They were the intervention platoon and they were
12 with Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic in Srebrenica. So I knew what this was
13 all about.
14 Q. And who were you speaking to at this time?
15 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Ms. Sinatra.
16 MS. SINATRA: Your Honour, just for clarity, might I ask that the
17 Prosecutor, who has given us a huge book of exhibits with numbers on it,
18 if he's referring to one of the intercepts, can he tell us which one he's
19 referring to so I can at least look at what he's speaking about at the
20 same time? Just for identification purposes, not to be admitted into
22 JUDGE LIU: Is it possible? I believe that Mr. McCloskey said
23 that he will introduce those documents at a later stage.
24 MS. SINATRA: Well we're --
25 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. McCloskey.
1 MR. McCLOSKEY: Mr. President, I made specific reference, as
2 you've stated, to the previous conversation about the engineers. But this
3 conversation was not intercepted, the conversation that he had with the
4 person that he's talking about now. There's no record.
5 MS. SINATRA: I guess that's what I was confused, Your Honour,
6 because I'm looking for one, and he's not provided us with that
7 information. I will object that if there was no recording and no
8 intercept and no way to corroborate this testimony, that it violates the
9 best -- the Rule of Evidence as far as reliability and authenticity goes.
10 JUDGE LIU: Well, I think this piece of information is different
11 from the previous one. Because this witness, he himself took part in that
13 MS. SINATRA: Yes, Your Honour. I think you are correct on that.
14 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
15 You may proceed, Mr. McCloskey.
16 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you, Mr. President.
17 Q. So who were you talking to during this conversation about the --
18 you referred to, I think, the Zoljani.
19 A. On one side was I, myself, and on the other side was one of the
20 signalman from the command of the 4th Battalion.
21 Q. And were you communicating at this time with the deputy commander
22 of the 4th Battalion in any way?
23 A. It was his signalman.
24 Q. Do you know if the deputy commander was around his signalman
25 anywhere and communicating through him, or do you think you were just
1 speaking directly to the signalman?
2 A. No. His signalman was right next to him, just like my signalman
3 was right next to me. It is generally known that signalmen only convey
4 messages. They don't reach decisions or make reports. They just convey
5 what we say.
6 Q. So who was the deputy commander of the 4th Battalion that you were
7 communicating with?
8 A. It was Lieutenant Lazar Ristic.
9 Q. Did you act on that information at this time at all?
10 A. Well, it was my understanding of this message that they had
11 resolved the problems and that the 4th Battalion had no problems. So I
12 could therefore proceed with my activities.
13 Q. And so in the evening of the 14th, did you have any significant
14 communications that you made to anyone?
15 A. Actually, on the 14th, during the day, I had conversations with
16 the radio centre several times. My intention was to inform them of the
17 real strength of the column and to ask for reinforcements. On the 14th,
18 late at night, probably after 2300 hours, when we had gathered together
19 our dispersed units, and when I gained a general impression of the
20 casualties and losses and what had actually happened to us, I took a piece
21 of paper and wrote down a brief outline of what had happened to us, and
22 titled it "Extraordinary report," and gave it to the signalman to convey
23 to the radio centre, communications centre, and to be relayed to the duty
24 officer and the corps command.
25 Q. Can you just remind us: You've spoken of the radio centre. Can
1 you just describe to us briefly again the difference between the radio
2 centre and the duty office, and their locations and functions.
3 A. Mr. McCloskey, the radio communications centre was a container,
4 actually, situated on a hill above Zvornik, above the barracks at Karakaj,
5 perhaps some 500 metres from the barracks itself, in the direction of --
6 or rather, north-west, in a northwesterly direction, which was where there
7 was a squad of soldiers. And with their radios, they had communication
8 with our units in the field, and also with me and my group up there. And
9 so it was from there that they had a line, a wire line, to the
10 headquarters, which is where the duty officer had his office, as I
11 explained to you yesterday. The office was on the first floor, the first
12 room to the right after you came up the stairs.
13 So I and the operations duty officer could not have a direct link
14 and communication. They had to call or I had to call up the radio
15 communications centre and they would then relay the messages to each of
17 Q. Can you tell us why there wasn't a radio centre inside the Zvornik
18 Brigade headquarters that you could communicate with?
19 A. Yes. I think you were there. The Zvornik Brigade headquarters,
20 or rather, the entire barracks, are located in a valley, gorge, and they
21 wouldn't be able to have any radio communication. The radio waves would
22 be blocked by the large -- the mountains round about. So the geography of
23 the terrain was such that it demanded radio communication in this way
24 rather than in the other way. So that's what we did. The tactical
25 capabilities of the devices we had and the structure of the terrain
1 itself, the geographic make-up, dictated how we structured our
3 Q. All right. That evening of the 14th, did you have any other
4 significant -- or did you have any communications that related to the
5 operation to kill the Muslim prisoners?
6 A. No, I did not.
7 Q. And where did you stay the night of the 14th?
8 A. I spent the night of the 14th together with those units, at
9 Snagovo, in the area of the crossroads up there. So between us and
10 Zvornik was where this column of the 28th Division passed through. We
11 were cut away from the Zvornik area, actually, cut off from the Zvornik
13 Q. So on the 14th of July, did you ever go back to the brigade
14 headquarters at any time?
15 A. No I did not.
16 Q. Were you aware that an officer of the Zvornik Brigade military
17 police, I believe her first name was Nada, provided a statement to the OTP
18 said she saw you at the headquarters of the Zvornik Brigade on the evening
19 of the 14th?
20 MS. SINATRA: Your Honour, excuse me. I'm going to object to this
21 line of questioning. Mr. McCloskey is questioning the witness on whether
22 he read OTP witness statements of someone else, and whether he can
23 speculate what it is that she was thinking or saying at the time. I think
24 it's an improper line of questioning. If he has Nada Stojanovic's
25 statement that he'd like to base this foundation upon, we'd be happy to
1 accept it into evidence.
2 JUDGE LIU: Well, if we look at the transcript, the witness gives
3 some evidence, saying that he was not at headquarters on that night; he
4 was at Snagovo, in the areas of the crossroads up there.
5 Then the Prosecution tried to refresh the memory of this witness,
6 saying that: Well, I have a different view on that, because somebody said
7 that you were at headquarters on the 14th. I think that's a quite normal
9 MS. SINATRA: Your Honour, all we're asking from the Jokic
10 Defence, is if Mr. McCloskey is going to ask the witness if he's refreshed
11 his memory with a document that is an OTP statement, that they introduce
12 that document into evidence, in support of the memory that he has. It's
13 like him refreshing his memory here with documents in the courtroom.
14 JUDGE LIU: Well, it depends. Let us hear how the witness is
15 going to answer this question, and later on we'll decide whether we'll
16 have this document or not.
17 Mr. McCloskey, you may proceed.
18 MR. McCLOSKEY:
19 Q. Mr. Obrenovic, do you know the person I'm talking about? Do you
20 know Nada's last name, for the record?
21 A. Mr. McCloskey, it was Mrs. Nada Stojanovic, who was a senior in
22 the company of the Zvornik Brigade.
23 Q. How do you account for her version of events?
24 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
25 MS. SINATRA: Your Honour, I'm sorry. That calls for speculation
1 on his part to comment on how does he account for Nada Stojanovic's
2 perspective on the events. The best witness would be Nada Stojanovic.
3 JUDGE LIU: Well, I agree that question is not quite clear.
4 Maybe, Mr. McCloskey, you could rephrase your question.
5 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you, Mr. President.
6 Q. Do you agree with Nada Stojanovic's assessment that you were
8 A. Mr. McCloskey, she must be wrong on that point. I wasn't there.
9 I don't know why she said that. It's not true.
10 Q. Do you recall reading the statement of a soldier from the Bratunac
11 Brigade named Mico Gavric that also reported you present at the Bratunac
12 Brigade on the 14th?
13 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Ms. Sinatra.
14 MS. SINATRA: I'm sorry, Your Honour. I'm just going to renew the
15 objection with each statement that he's referring to, that the witness
16 refreshed his memory with, if he'd like to introduce those documents into
17 evidence so that we can see the documents that he refreshed his memory
18 with, we would not object to any introduction of those statements into
20 JUDGE LIU: Well, first of all, I don't know how important,
21 whether this witness in the headquarters or in other places. Secondly,
22 maybe the Prosecution at first would like to refresh the memory of this
23 witness to see what is his response. If the Prosecution failed, the
24 Prosecution might show a document to this witness. We'll just wait.
25 We'll just be patient for a while.
1 MR. McCLOSKEY: Mr. President, just to clarify: It is not my
2 intention to refresh the recollection of this witness. He has, I believe,
3 full recollection of the events. But I do know from the record that these
4 two soldiers differ in their account with this witness, and it will be a
5 very -- an area that I'm sure counsel will like to bring up on
6 cross-examination. And as such, I wanted to give this witness a chance to
7 explain any knowledge he has of those differences, which is my duty.
8 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Ms. Sinatra.
9 MS. SINATRA: Yes, Your Honour. And we have no objection, if
10 Mr. Obrenovic had personal knowledge from a conversation with Mico Gavric
11 or Nada Stojanovic about their not agreeing with his version of the story.
12 But the fact that the Prosecutor used his statements that he does not
13 intend to introduce into evidence to refresh the witness's memory is
14 inappropriate and we object to it, unless he wants to introduce those
15 statements into evidence as a foundation for this testimony.
16 JUDGE LIU: Mr. McCloskey, are you --
7 JUDGE LIU: Well, I saw two counsels standing. And this time I
8 think I'll call Mr. Karnavas first.
9 MR. KARNAVAS: Thank you, Your Honour. If I could be of some
10 assistance. I believe if the Prosecution were to ask Mr. Obrenovic if in
11 the course of his preparation did he come across any documents presented
12 to him by the Prosecution which would very -- or be different from his
13 recollection, and the answer is yes, then he could probably ask the next
14 question. And in one of those documents, and I don't think that there
15 would be a problem. And so we certainly don't intend to object. We do
16 recognise -- we understand we have the statements, but I think a lot of
17 confusion can just be put to rest if he were to ask: In the preparation,
18 did you come across any documents which are different from your
19 recollection as to where you were. And he'll say yes of course. Which
20 are the documents he'll say a statement from Mico Gavric and what did he
21 say. We can have that little discourse and we can move on. Thank you,
22 Your Honour.
23 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Ms. Sinatra.
24 MS. SINATRA: Well, I really appreciate the instruction from
25 Mr. Karnavas on how we should proceed, but I believe that I agree with
1 Mr. McCloskey on this that the best evidence would be to have Nada
2 Stojanovic or Mico Gavric come into the courtroom and testify. And the
3 fact that he has referred to a document that the witness has refreshed his
4 memory with, questioning is still inappropriate unless he wants to
5 introduce the document which is the foundation of the testimony into
6 record. But I do agree: Nada Stojanovic is on the witness list of the
7 Prosecutor, and at that time Mr. McCloskey can question Ms. Stojanovic on,
8 you know, her difference of opinion from Mr. Obrenovic. But the fact that
9 Mr. Obrenovic has not spoken to Ms. Stojanovic, the fact that he's relying
10 on everything he says right now from reading a hearsay statement from the
11 Prosecution which he does not intend to introduce into evidence is
13 JUDGE LIU: Well, the issue here, at least at this moment, in my
14 view, is not a crucial matter. It only goes to the credibility of this
15 witness. Because this witness has already admitted the crime that is
16 prosecution [sic], the crime against humanity. Since this is not a
17 crucial issue, and during the proceedings there are always different views
18 concerning with certain things happened. Here we just hear what the
19 witness is going to tell us. If the Defence counsel would like to
20 rebuttal the views expressed by this witness, you probably would show the
21 document to him and argue with him to attack his credibility. And later
22 on we will have that person to be a live witness in this courtroom. I
23 believe that at last the Chamber will piece all the information together
24 and to make decisions.
25 So let us proceed.
1 MS. SINATRA: I just wanted to bring to the Court's attention that
2 one of the main issues in the defence case is Mr. Obrenovic's presence or
3 not presence on the day of the 14th in the Zvornik Brigade headquarters.
4 JUDGE LIU: Well, you may raise it during your cross-examination
5 and in your case, in the future.
6 Yes, Mr. McCloskey.
7 MR. McCLOSKEY: Your Honour, could we go into private session very
9 JUDGE LIU: Yes. We'll go to the private session, please.
10 [Private session]
23 [Open session]
24 MR. McCLOSKEY:
25 Q. Mr. Obrenovic, you I believe testified you spent the night of the
1 14th in the field. Can you briefly describe what you did the morning of
2 the 15th and where you went.
3 A. Mr. McCloskey, early on the morning of the 15th, an all-out attack
4 started on the threefold battalion, that is the 7th, 4th, and 6th. The
5 group who was at Snagovo with me, when dawn broke, consolidated our
6 positions, and from Borik, from Snagovo, we moved towards Crni Vrh,
7 searching the terrain. The idea was that at Crni Vrh, at the asphalt
8 road, that we should joined up with units of the 7th Battalion who was
9 there to protect their rear and was in the ambush there. So we were
10 moving along this ridge towards Crni Vrh, searching the terrain as we
11 went, and I personally was in command of the units up there.
12 Q. And what did you do after that?
13 A. Sometime around 11.00 I returned to the headquarters of the
14 Zvornik Brigade.
15 Q. And why did you go back to the HQ, headquarters?
16 A. I returned because the column of the 28th Division, the bulk of
17 the column, had already crossed over the Zvornik-Crni Vrh asphalt road and
18 went to Planinci and came out just in the rear of the 4th, 7th, and 6th
19 Battalion. And I went to the command of the Zvornik Brigade, the
20 headquarters, to take steps to ask for reinforcements or do anything I
21 could to protect those three battalions of ours.
22 Q. And about what time did you get back to the headquarters?
23 A. About 11.00.
24 Q. And what did you see when you got to the headquarters?
25 A. On the road - I took the old road with the forces from Zvornik -
1 and on the asphalt road between Zvornik and the Zvornik Brigade
2 headquarters, I passed by a truck belonging to the Zvornik Brigade with
3 soldiers coming back from Snagovo. Now, within the compound of the
4 barracks, in front of the building, I happened to meet Colonel Vasic, the
5 chief of the Zvornik security centre.
6 Q. And what did you do?
7 A. As we were walking along together, I said hello to him and we had
8 a chat. He was interested in a policeman of theirs that had been captured
9 the night before, Captain Zoran Jankovic, who was captured at Snagovo
10 and as we were walking along we entered the headquarters, the building
12 Q. And then what happened?
13 A. The two of us went up the staircase, up to the first floor from
14 ground floor level, and Major Dragan Jokic, from the corridor on the
15 right-hand side on the ground floor called out to me. So I went back down
16 to the ground floor and Vasic - Colonel Vasic - went up towards our
17 offices up there. So I briefly spoke to Major Jokic.
18 Q. And to be clear: This is the morning of what day?
19 A. The 15th, around 11.00, a little after 11.00 perhaps.
20 Q. And what was said?
21 A. He called me. He said: Major, just a moment. I went back. And
22 he said he had a lot of problems with securing the prisoners of war and
23 with burying them.
24 Q. Did he say anything else that you recall?
25 A. Yes. I asked him who he had informed about this state of affairs,
1 and he said that Beara, Popovic, and Nikolic were taking people wherever
2 they felt like it and however they felt like doing, and that Colonel
3 Popovic had ordered that nothing should be conveyed through radio
4 communication about the prisoners and that nothing should be recorded,
5 written down, in that connection either.
6 Q. So what did you do when he told you this information?
7 A. I said that it was none of my business, and I made a gesture with
8 my hand, refuting this, and they told me from the command that the
9 commander would be there shortly. So I went up the staircase again to my
11 Q. Why did you tell him it was none of your business?
12 A. Well, through impotence maybe. It wasn't a suitable response at
13 all events, no.
14 Q. Was this operation your business?
15 A. Well, certainly.
16 Q. Did you make any sort of physical gesture to Mr. Jokic when you
17 made the statement about it being none of your business?
18 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
19 MS. SINATRA: That's asked and answered. He described his
20 gesture. He made already.
21 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much. I think Mr. McCloskey has asked
22 what kind of gestures the witness made. Am I right?
23 MR. McCLOSKEY: Yes, Your Honour.
24 Q. Mr. Obrenovic, can you describe what kind of gesture you made?
25 Can you just show us?
1 A. I waved my hand and went up the staircase.
2 Q. Okay. Just like you just did, just sort of taking your right hand
3 and moving it --
4 A. Probably, yes.
5 Q. Did Jokic say anything else as you went up the staircase?
6 A. Well, as I've already said, he said that from the corps command
7 they had reported that the commander would be arriving shortly, at any
8 moment, and I left, and that was all.
9 Q. And where did you go?
10 A. I went up the stairs, down the corridor, the hallway on the first
11 floor of the command headquarters, to my own office.
12 Q. And was there anybody at that office?
13 A. In front, in the ante-room. And if I can put it that way, there
14 was Colonel Vasic waiting, and the two of us entered my office together.
15 Q. And can you describe -- before I get there: Do you know if there
16 was -- when you and Mr. Jokic had your exchange, do you know if there was
17 anybody else that was within hearing distance of that exchange?
18 A. No, there was nobody. At least, I didn't see anybody.
19 Q. All right. And can you describe the meeting you had with Mr.
21 A. Mr. McCloskey, in my office -- actually, the two of us went into
22 my office together. We sat down. Our conversation started in the
23 following way: We discussed that Captain Jankovic, Zoran Jankovic, the
24 policeman who had been captured, and the strength of the column itself.
25 And I don't think that Colonel Vasic himself believed that there were so
1 many men in the 28th Division, that it was such a strong column. And so
2 briefly after hearing from me, he asked me whether I had seen so many
3 people with my very own eyes, so many men. And when I said that I really
4 had, and told him about it, he suggested that the best thing to do would
5 be to allow the column to go through.
6 From late at night on the 14th, as the Muslims from the 28th
7 Division column had arrested this man Jankovic, they had already called up
8 on the radio and asked us to let them through. So the two of us discussed
9 this and we thought that the column should be allowed to pass through.
10 Vasic told me of some experience he had gained during 1992. Of course,
11 all this was very fast. It wasn't an actual conference and discussion,
12 but he said he had been surrounded at Konjuh or somewhere like that and he
13 thought that the Muslims would fight to the death, and that the best thing
14 we could do was allow them to pass through.
15 Q. Remember to keep it slow. We need to keep the conversation slow.
16 Was this police officer Jankovic eventually released by the Muslim forces?
17 A. Yes, if I remember correctly. I think he was exchanged right
18 after the war. I don't know exactly when, but he was exchanged.
19 Q. And okay. What happened as this discussion is continuing? What
20 else is discussed?
21 A. Well, the two of us talked. Lieutenant Colonel or Colonel
22 Ljubomir Borovcanin walked into the office, and with him was the commander
23 of this special police detachment from Sekovici. I don't know which rank
24 he had. Milorad Stupar was his name. The two of them entered the office
25 together and joined in our conversation.
1 Q. Was Stupar, do you know, in rank or authority above or below
3 A. No. He was his subordinate.
4 Q. So what was discussed at this meeting?
5 A. Vasic, or Colonel Vasic, briefly spoke about the situation. As he
6 had put it, this was a situation that Bratunac had been brought into
7 without much thought. Before that, on the night of the 13th, a large
8 number of prisoners had been brought in. There weren't enough people to
9 guard them. And some of these groups remained on the buses. I remember
10 that he said -- that he told a story that during the night these prisoners
11 got restless and started shaking the buses, rocking the buses. So they
12 had a lot of trouble pacifying them.
13 In the meantime, as we were talking about this, we tried -- or
14 rather, I tried to get approval from the Superior Command for opening a
15 corridor and for allowing the column of the 28th Division to pass through.
16 Q. What did you do to try to contact Superior Command?
17 A. First I called the command of the corps and I asked to speak to
18 the commander of the brigade. However, they told me that he had set out
19 in the direction of Zvornik. At the corps headquarters there weren't any
20 other officers who I think could have issued the kind of approval or order
21 that I had in mind T then I called the Main Staff of the Army of Republika
22 Srpska and there I was put through to speak to Major General Miletic. I
23 spoke to him briefly, and I told him in the briefest possible terms where
24 the column was and what the dangers involved were. I told him the Zvornik
25 would fall and that practically half of the Zvornik Brigade would be
1 destroyed. He ordered me to use all the technical equipment available and
2 that this column had to be destroyed. He objected. Why was I using this
3 line that was not secure? And he slammed the phone. He simply
4 disconnected the line.
5 Q. What did you -- at the time, what did you think General Miletic's
6 position was at the Main Staff?
7 A. He was chief of the operations department. I don't know what it
8 was called. But he was the operations man at the Main Staff.
9 Q. And do you know what the extension number was that he was speaking
10 to you on, what extension you had to go through to get to him?
11 A. Those few days he answered the phone when extension 155 was
12 dialed. That's the switchboard at Panorama, of course.
13 Q. And Panorama is the code-name for what?
14 A. Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. McCloskey. Panorama is the code sign for the
15 switchboard of the Main Staff.
16 Q. So were you able to speak directly to General Miletic from the
17 phone in your office?
18 A. Yes, yes. I've already said that. Yes.
19 Q. And can you just again describe to us: The phone in your office
20 would go to where and how would that connection be made to General
22 A. I dialed the extension from my office and I called our
23 switchboard, the one that was one floor above us, and a girl who was there
24 answered the call, and I asked her to put Panorama through to me. And
25 then it's their part of the job, the part of the job of the signalman.
1 After a while the girl said to me: You've been put through. And the
2 voice on the other end said: This is Panorama. And I asked to speak to
3 one of the generals, and General Miletic then spoke to me.
4 Q. All right. And what did you do after this short conversation with
5 General Miletic?
6 A. To tell you the truth, I was taken aback. I saw that there would
7 be total failure. Colonel Vasic was sitting there, and I think that he
8 made a joke. I personally think this was a joke, saying something like
9 the army is stupid, whatever. Now we're going to ask for the approval
10 from someone from MUP to let these troops through. And he called somebody
11 in Pale. I think he referred to an advisor of the Ministry of the
12 Interior. He was calling from the civilian phone. The speakerphones were
13 on. And the person on the other end of the line - and I really can't
14 remember who that was now, and I didn't even know the man - this person
15 said, after Vasic spoke about this difficult situation, this person said
16 that the column -- or rather, Vasic said that the column should be
17 released, and this other man said: How did you ever get this idea? Call
18 up the army, get the air force in, and destroy all of them.
19 Then I was really taken aback, like everybody else in the office,
20 I think. I personally came to the conclusion that our superiors really
21 had no idea as to what was going on in respect of this column and what
22 kind of a danger this constituted.
23 Q. What in particular was it that this assistant to the minister said
24 that caused you to be so taken aback?
25 A. Two things. Firstly, to destroy this column. I mean, we really
1 had no possibilities to do that, even if we wanted to do so. This was a
2 force to reckon with. And secondly, that the army should engage the air
3 force -- well, first of all, we were not at a level that could do that,
4 and we had all known by then that UNPROFOR had imposed a no-fly zone, and
5 we all knew that combat aircraft could not be engaged at all. And we were
6 talking about minutes, not days. So this could not be discussed that way.
7 Q. Was the speakerphone on when you had your conversation with
8 General Miletic?
9 A. No. I spoke to General Miletic through the switchboard, through
10 that ordinary military phone, whereas Colonel Vasic talked from the
11 civilian phone, and that is why the speakerphone was on then.
12 Q. What happened then during this meeting? Was there anything else
14 A. Yes. In the meantime, as we were trying to make other contacts
15 and as we were thinking who else we could call, I said, sort of more on my
16 own: How did the corps command remain without anybody there? Where were
17 the appropriate superiors? Where was General Zivanovic?
18 Then Mr. Borovcanin said to me that the commander of the Drina
19 Corps was General Krstic, or rather, that Zivanovic was no longer
20 commander, and that's when I first found out that this replacement had
21 taken place. I didn't know about it until then.
22 In the meantime, in addition to what I've already said what Vasic
23 said about what had happened on the previous evening in Bratunac and the
24 problems that were there on the buses and things in connection with that,
25 Colonel Borovcanin first wondered how come so many soldiers of the 28th
1 Division could pass by. I had the impression that everybody thought that
2 far less troops had passed by. He told me that they had blockaded that
3 road from Konjevic Polje to Kravica and that there was a lot of fighting
4 there and that there were quite a few casualties, and they had taken quite
5 a few Muslim prisoners.
6 Then he was upset. It was my understanding that he was expressing
7 his dissatisfaction over the fact that the police - and when I say the
8 police, I'm referring to his own civilian police - was used to escort
9 these convoys of buses. And he said that he did not want the civilian
10 police to guard prisoners when they arrive at their destinations. In the
11 meantime --
12 Q. When you say "he," who are you referring to now?
13 A. I'm talking about Colonel Borovcanin. In the meantime, in the
14 meantime, at one moment - I really don't know which rank he held. He did
15 have a rank - Mr. Stupar addressed me and asked me whether I knew a
16 certain person, an officer who they called Oficir, officer. This was a
17 person in his unit who had graduated from some military school. And I
18 said that I did not know such a man, and he told me that he got killed in
19 Kravica. He explained this incident, as he referred to it, that over there
20 they were either guarding prisoners or taking them from one facility to
21 another in Kravica. And at one moment one of the Muslims who was being
22 guarded there grabbed a rifle are, an automobile rifle, and killed this
23 officer. The way he told it, the soldiers who had been there - policemen,
24 that is - as he put it, out of revolt, killed these men who were guarded
25 at the warehouse, the ones they were guarding there at the warehouse in
2 Q. Did Stupar give you any indication of the numbers of Muslims that
3 were killed in this warehouse in Kravica?
4 A. No. No, he didn't.
5 MR. McCLOSKEY: This might be a good time to break, I believe.
6 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Before that, would you please inform me how much
7 time do you need until you finish your direct?
8 MR. McCLOSKEY: Let me just take a quick look at my notes. It's
9 hard to say, but --
10 JUDGE LIU: Your microphone, please.
11 MR. McCLOSKEY: It's hard to say. It may depend on how many other
12 conversations we have during the testimony. But hopefully, an hour to two
13 hours, probably an hour and a half to two hours. There are some documents
14 that may take longer, but I hope not.
15 JUDGE LIU: Well, I believe the Defence team, you know, has been
16 quiet for quite a long time and they are very cooperative, you have to
18 Well, we'll resume at 15 past 3.00.
19 --- Luncheon recess taken at 1.47 p.m.
20 --- On resuming at 3.16 p.m.
21 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. McCloskey, please proceed.
22 MR. McCLOSKEY: Thank you, Mr. President.
23 Q. Mr. Obrenovic, we ended the last session. We were at that meeting
24 at the Zvornik Brigade headquarters where you were present with Mr. Vasic
25 Mr. Borovcanin, and Mr. Stupar. At some point in that meeting, did
1 someone arrive?
2 A. Yes. After a while perhaps about 20 minutes later - excuse me -
3 after I talked to General Krstic, Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic appeared.
4 Q. All right. Can you describe to us, before we get to Pandurevic,
5 can you describe your contact with General Krstic.
6 A. Since we could not get approval beforehand from anyone to open
7 this corridor so that the column could pass through it, Mr. Borovcanin
8 told me that General Krstic was now commander, instead of Zivanovic. I
9 then remembered to call the signal unit in the corps of -- in the command
10 of the Drina Corps and to ask for Major Jevdjevic, who was the signalman,
11 and I assumed he could establish a link for me with General Krstic. And
12 that's what I did. I spoke briefly with Jevdjevic first and I told him
13 that Zvornik was just about to fall, I said that the situation was
14 critical and I asked him to somehow establish a link with General Krstic
15 for me. And indeed, the line was not even interrupted. Very soon, I had
16 General Krstic on the line. I said to him, briefly, that the situation
17 was critical, that Zvornik would simply fall, and that more than half of
18 the Zvornik Brigade would be destroyed. He asked me why I was so
19 terrified. He obviously did not understand and he did not realise what
20 was going on. Then he said that I should not worry at all, that
21 Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic and Legenda would arrive any minute, and
22 that's how we ended this conversation.
23 Q. All right. And how long after that did your commander,
24 Pandurevic, arrive?
25 A. I think about 20 minutes after this conversation. They called me
1 on the phone. I cannot remember now whether it was from the entrance desk
2 or from the duty officers telling me that the commander was coming.
3 Q. And can you describe your contact with Pandurevic when he arrived?
4 A. Mr. McCloskey, I walked out of the office - this was my second
5 exit during this relatively short meeting - with the intention of meeting
6 him and reporting to him in front of the facility down there. However, I
7 didn't have enough time to do so, because he came up as I had walked
8 downstairs, and we meet downstairs, in front of the offices. We stopped
9 briefly there and I informed him, briefly, about the prisoners and the
10 operation of killing, execution, that Beara and Popovic took part in, and
11 about the problems that Major Jokic had informed me about and familiarised
12 me with at the moment when Vasic and I walked into the building of the
13 brigade headquarters.
14 Q. And remember to be slow. I know it's getting late, but the
15 translators are still working up there.
16 What else did you say to Commander Pandurevic at this point? Or
17 let me -- I'm sorry. Let me ask: After you reported to him that
18 information, did he say anything to you?
19 A. Yes. He asked me why the civilian defence was not doing the
20 digging in. I didn't know. Nobody mentioned the civilian defence to me
21 and I didn't know that they were supposed to be doing it. I simply
22 shrugged. I did not have such information. Then he asked me about the
23 column and about the 4th and 7th Battalions. I told him briefly that they
24 were still at their respective positions, their defence positions. He
25 asked me why the column had not been stopped earlier by using technical
1 equipment. I told him that, quite simply, I could not have done it
2 because they were too strong and the information coming in was confusing.
3 And as we were saying that, we entered the office.
4 Q. All right. Let me go back a bit. You said he responded to your
5 report about the Muslim prisoners with a statement about why wasn't the
6 civilian -- some civilian organisation digging in. What did he mean --
7 what do you think he meant by that?
8 A. The civilian protection is an organisation which existed at that
9 time. I think it still exists in our part of the world. It is supposed
10 to give different kinds of assistance to the civilian population, and
11 generally speaking, in an area when there are some emergencies, and so on.
12 And he asked me why the civilian protection was not doing the digging.
13 Q. What did you take "the digging" to relate to?
14 A. Problems related to burying the executed prisoners. That's what
15 it meant.
16 Q. Did you and Mr. Pandurevic have any other discussion related to
17 those prisoners, the executed prisoners -- burial, at the headquarters
18 that day?
19 A. No. No. It was the way I said it was.
20 Q. So after you had a chance to inform him of the military situation,
21 after talking to him about the prisoners; is that right?
22 A. No. No. The first information I gave him was about the
23 prisoners, and then, after that, a brief conversation, just a few
24 sentences, about the military situation.
25 Q. Okay. And then what happened?
1 A. In the meantime, we entered the office, my office, where the
2 mentioned three officers from the MUP were already sitting. I was
3 expecting Colonel Vasic to support me, since we had discussed this, that
4 we were asking for permission for the column to be let through. And he
5 opposed that. He said: No one had the right to trade in Serb land. And
6 he asked me to familiarise him with the military situation.
7 Q. When you said he opposed that, who do you mean?
8 A. I mean our commander, Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic.
9 Q. When you had spoken to General Krstic prior to that, did you
10 mention this idea of a corridor to General Krstic?
11 A. No, I didn't. He practically interrupted me with the information
12 that my commander was coming. And I realised that -- it was my
13 understanding that the commander would resolve everything.
14 Q. And so what happened after your commander opposed the idea of a
16 A. I informed him. I briefed him, practically, about my knowledge as
17 to the forces involved. I think I said that involved three groups of
18 2.000 men respectively, that this first group was the most dangerous one,
19 from a combat point of view, for our units; and that they were just by the
20 rear of our 4th and 7th Battalions. I think I said that they were in the
21 region of Planinci and Krizevicke Njive and that the situation militarily
22 speaking was not a rosy one at all. He then asked Colonel Vasic what he
23 had available in terms of MUP forces, and Vasic said that Borovcanin was
24 supposed to make all the decisions referring to the MUP. He appointed at
25 Borovcanin and he said that he had a unit and he was waiting for another
1 detachment to come from Janje and he was willing to make those units
2 available for combat.
3 Q. And what else of significance that you can recall?
4 A. Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic said, classically, from a military
5 point of view: I have decided to engage the Podrinje Detachment from Duga
6 Kosa, from the positions of the 7th Battalion, and this police detachment
7 of the civilian police from Janje from the direction of Parlog. There
8 should be a counter-attack and the column of the 28th Division, or rather
9 its forces, should be suppressed in the vicinity of Planinci, they should
10 be surrounded there and asked to surrender. Also use all available
11 artillery support in this. He appointed me to command the forces in
12 Baljkovica. That is to say, the Podrinje Corps, the 4th Battalion, and
13 this civilian police detachment that was supposed to come from Janje.
14 Q. Okay. During the discussions in the commander's office that
15 you've just spoken of, who else was present during this?
16 A. I was present. I already said when Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic
17 came, together with me, at the very outset, was Colonel Vasic. We walked
18 in together. A bit after Vasic and myself, perhaps, say, 15 minutes
19 later - I cannot remember that exactly now - Borovcanin came, Lieutenant
20 Colonel Borovcanin, and Stupar, together with him. These persons were
21 certainly present there.
22 Q. When Pandurevic arrived in the meeting, did it stay in your office
23 or did it move over to his office, this meeting?
24 A. No, Mr. McCloskey. We stayed on in my office. We went straight
25 in, through the door and into my office.
1 Q. During the discussions after Pandurevic arrived, were there any
2 discussions of the operation to -- related to the Muslim prisoners in
3 Zvornik or Bratunac?
4 A. While I was there, no.
5 Q. Now, prior to Vinko Pandurevic arriving, you have described the
6 various discussions that you had with Borovcanin and Stupar, and Vasic.
7 Aside from what you've already described, was there any discussions of the
8 Muslim prisoners that were then in Zvornik still in detention on this, the
9 afternoon of the 15th of July?
10 A. No, there weren't any such discussions.
11 Q. All right. And after you received these orders from your
12 commander to lead this group, did you go out and do that?
13 A. Yes, I did.
14 Q. Okay. Did you -- in the process of doing that, did you have
15 any -- did you have any communication with anyone relating to the Muslim
16 prisoners in the area of Zvornik?
17 A. No, I did not.
18 Q. Did you talk to anybody later on in the 4th Battalion area about
19 Muslim -- about the Muslim prisoners?
20 A. Yes, I did, during the course of that afternoon, in fact. After
21 we had stabilised the military situation, at least for a time, in the
22 Baljkovica region, I talked to Lieutenant Lazar Ristic, perhaps for an
23 hour or two at the most, after I arrived in Baljkovica.
24 Q. And what did you discuss with Lazar Ristic on this point?
25 A. I first asked him something with respect to the discussion we had
1 on the afternoon of the 14th, I and his signalman. I asked him how come
2 two days before that, when I asked him to make available a platoon for the
3 ambush, he said he didn't have any available men, whereas he nonetheless
4 had a group to send to Rakovac [as interpreted]. And he said that that
5 particular afternoon, Captain Milorad Trbic phoned him up and at the time
6 he was the referring officer in the Zvornik Brigade, and that he asked him
7 urgently to send some soldiers, some men, because a problem had arisen in
8 Orahovac, the school there. And what happened was that the prisoners
9 wanted to break out. And Lazar Ristic sent seven or eight soldiers to
10 help secure the prisoners in that school.
11 Q. Okay. The record said that whereas he nonetheless had a group to
12 send to Rakovac. Is that Rakovac? Is that correct? Or is it someplace
14 A. No, that's a mistake, or perhaps I made a slip of the tongue. It
15 was Orahovac.
16 Q. Was there any other discussion about that subject with Lazar
18 A. Yes. He told me that on that 14th, in the evening, he did go to
19 see what was happening, because he was a little worried, as the school was
20 in the middle of the village, in actual fact. And so when he arrived
21 there, he found these seven or eight soldiers providing security for the
22 prisoners in the school, guarding the prisoners in the school. And
23 according to what he said, he lined them up to let them go, because -- to
24 dismiss them because he saw what was going on, but Drago Nikolic, the
25 second lieutenant, opposed this.
1 Q. What else did he tell you?
2 A. He told me that Drago Nikolic had asked that the soldiers remain
3 there guarding the prisoners, and if they do so, via Captain Milosevic, he
4 would ensure new uniforms. He mentioned that he had seen a group of
5 soldiers, and he didn't -- wasn't quite clear on where this group had come
6 from. He considered that they were not soldiers from the Zvornik Brigade.
7 They were in camouflage uniform, according to what he said.
8 Q. Did he say anything else at that time about this subject?
9 A. Yes. The executions had already started when he stopped by at the
10 school in Orahovac.
11 Q. Did he tell you anything else, what he did about it?
12 A. No. If I remember correctly, that was it.
13 Q. Had you received any information about whether or not any Zvornik
14 Brigade soldiers took part in the executions near Orahovac?
15 A. Yes. On two occasions. That same day, a little later on -
16 whether it was in the corridor or in front of the building where the 4th
17 Battalion had its headquarters - one of their rear servicemen came up to
18 me and said he had heard that Lieutenant Colonel -- that second Lieutenant
19 Nikolic had participated in the execution and that he was surprised. He
20 just couldn't believe it how come this happened.
21 At a later period, again I learnt -- rumours were going round by
22 this time - that Koko Simic had taken part too - Gojko Simic, a man from
23 the 4th Battalion. Later on, when I asked Lazar Ristic about that, he
24 said that the man I mentioned was on leave. He was taking some free days
25 because he was seeing his son off to the army. And otherwise he lived in
1 Orahovac. And he joined the first group guarding the prisoners in the
2 school building, and later on when Drago Nikolic asked for volunteers, he
4 Q. What happened to Gojko Simic?
5 A. Gojko Simic was killed in the fighting on the 16th, if I remember
7 Q. Later did you receive -- did you have any discussions with anyone
8 from any of the other battalions about this operation to kill the Muslim
9 prisoners, either that day or the following day?
10 A. I don't think I talked about it that same day, but the next day,
11 in the evening - that is to say, the 16th - towards evening, I met Captain
12 first class Ostoja Stanisic, at Parlog, and I had a brief conversation
13 with him.
14 Q. And who was he? What was his position?
15 A. Captain first class Ostoja Stanisic was the commander of the 6th
17 Q. And where was the commander -- where was the headquarters of the
18 6th Battalion located at the time?
19 A. The headquarters of that particular battalion was situated in the
20 village of Petkovci.
21 Q. How close was that village to the large dam near Petkovci?
22 A. Well, approximately two kilometres away from the dam.
23 Q. What did you learn from Mr. Stanisic?
24 A. He told me that his deputy that day had been wounded and that he
25 was left alone, and that the previous day, in the new school building in
1 Petkovci, a group of prisoners had been executed directly in the school
2 house and the outbuildings of the school, so that he had to engage part of
3 his rear unit to take the corpses of the people killed away and to clean
4 up the area. And he didn't like having to do that.
5 Q. What do you mean when you said his deputy had been wounded and
6 that he was left alone? First of all, who is Ostoja Stanisic's deputy?
7 A. If I remember correctly, the deputy of the commander of the 6th
8 Battalion was Lieutenant Marko Milosevic.
9 Q. And do you recall Stanisic saying anything else to you about this
11 A. Well, he did mention that on the 14th, in the evening, the
12 prisoners had been brought to the school in Orahovac, and all the rest as
13 I have recounted it to you.
14 Q. Did he mention any names of any VRS or others that were involved
15 in that process?
16 A. He mentioned Colonel Beara.
17 Q. And what did he say about Beara?
18 A. Well, he said that that group of prisoners had been brought there
19 by Beara, this man Beara, and that they had organised the execution there.
20 Q. Did he tell you what units actually committed the execution?
21 A. He didn't tell me that at the time. I learnt later on that the
22 people who participated were members of the 10th Sabotage Detachment from
24 Q. The fact that the 10th Sabotage Detachment murdered prisoners at
25 Petkovci, did that change your responsibility at all regarding those
2 A. No, it doesn't change it.
3 Q. Now, did you learn where the various burial sites were of the
4 prisoners that were executed in Zvornik during this time period?
5 A. Do you mean up until the 16th?
6 Q. I mean, well, any time between the 16th or thereafter.
7 A. Yes. Later on I learnt about the different sites where the
8 executions had taken place and about the sites of the first burials.
9 Q. Can you just briefly describe for us, and maybe with the pointer,
10 just point out the general areas where the burials occurred.
11 A. Well, shall we start from this area here? I can see the dam and
12 the lake at Petkovci. And within the frameworks of the dam, there was a
13 site where the prisoners from the school in Petkovci were taken off and
14 shot there, and they were buried there too in the vicinity. That's one
16 I can't quite see from here where the school in Orahovac is, but
17 generally in this area, perhaps.
18 Q. Where else?
19 A. And also around the school was where the burial sites were. The
20 next place was the school in Rocevici, on the road from Zvornik as you go
21 to Kozluk. And they were incarcerated there in the school by the road on
22 the left-hand side, and those people were shot -- executed at Kozluk, on
23 the banks of the Drina River, towards Zvornik, looking at it from
25 The next place was Pilica, and two sites in Pilica, in actual
1 fact. The cultural centre, Dom Kultura, whatever the building was called,
2 right up by the road in the centre of Pilica, and the other place was
3 further into the village, on this road here. The school house at a place
4 called Kula, the prisoners from the school at Kula were taken off to the
5 farm here in Pilica, towards the Lokanj Road, where they were executed and
7 The map is a little far away from me, and I can't quite show you
8 the locations, but the name of the place is as I have stated.
9 Q. What happened to the bodies after they were buried?
10 A. Later on, in mid-September, I heard for the first time --
11 actually, it was on the 14th of September. I was in the field somewhere,
12 and when I returned, the duty officer informed me that from the corps they
13 had reported that Captain Trbic was to take over five tonnes of fuel. I
14 found this a little suspicious. I was -- it seemed to be strange why
15 Trbic should be asked to do that. So I called up the duty officer in the
16 corps command and he said that he knew nothing about this but that he
17 would check it out.
18 A short while after that, Colonel Popovic called and asked me
19 where I had got this information from about the fuel and Captain Trbic and
20 I told him that the officers on duty, the operations duty officer from the
21 corps headquarters had told me, and he made a joke - at least I took it to
22 be a joke. He said they were incapable of seeing to the matter and that
23 he would see to it himself as of that point in time.
24 Q. And what else did you learn about Popovic's or anyone's activity
25 relating to these reburials?
1 A. The following day, that is to say on the 15th, Lieutenant Colonel
2 Pandurevic came back from Krajina and I conveyed to him this information
3 about the fuel and my conversation with the colonel, Colonel Popovic. He
4 was going to the corps headquarters on that day, I mean Lieutenant Colonel
5 Pandurevic, was on the way to the HQ. And the following day we talked,
6 and it was said that Popovic would transfer the bodies from those primary
7 burial sites to others.
8 Q. So who did --
9 A. To rebury them.
10 Q. Just to make it clear: Who did you learn from that Popovic would
11 be transferring the bodies from the primary sites?
12 A. From my commander, Lieutenant Colonel Pandurevic.
13 Q. And that was when he returned from the Drina Corps headquarters?
14 A. No. When he went back, when he returned. I didn't go to the
15 Drina Corps headquarters. He went. So when he returned.
16 Q. Okay. So when he returned is when he told you about what Popovic
17 was going to do. Okay.
18 A. Yes, that's right.
19 Q. Did you learn anything else about this reburial process at that
21 A. Yes. Sometime later - and actually, I remember the date. It was
22 the 26th of September, and I remember the date because on that particular
23 day I was supposed to go with a unit to Krajina, to Mrkonjic grad, in
24 fact. So on the 26th, in the early morning hours, when I left, at the
25 entrance, or rather, the stairs, the staircase in front of the HQ brigade
1 building, I met Colonel Popovic. I shook hands with him and he asked me:
2 Is your commander up there and is Drago up there? He meant Lieutenant
3 Colonel Pandurevic, of course, and second Lieutenant Drago Nikolic and I
4 said both of them were up there. I left and he went into the building.
5 I remember this vividly because he was carrying a topographic map
6 with him, but it was rolled are up and not folded the way us army men do.
7 It was a long roll of paper.
8 Q. And where did you go after that, after that brief meeting with
10 A. I went to Kozluk, where I was supposed to line up the unit that
11 went to Krajina. And as the commander of that unit of the Drina Corps, I
12 went together with the unit to Mrkonjic Grad, within the composition of
13 the 1st Krajina Corps.
14 Q. And did you learn anything about the reburial process while you
15 were on duty in the Krajina Corps area of responsibility?
16 A. No, I didn't, Mr. McCloskey. There was fighting going on there
17 against the units of the HVO and BH army. So we engaged in battle there.
18 We were fighting. We had no particular connections to Zvornik at all,
19 communication with Zvornik.
20 Q. And when did you return to Zvornik on duty?
21 A. If I remember correctly, it was on the 20th of October, I believe,
22 1995, and afterwards I was given four or five days' leave, which I spent
23 at home. So I might have been back with my unit sometime around the 25th
24 of October.
25 Q. After returning to Zvornik, did you learn any information about
1 the reburials?
2 A. Yes, I did learn about them. I learnt that during that period,
3 this reburial took place, or rather, that the bodies were taken away from
4 the sites the prisoners of Srebrenica had been executed and buried, that
5 they had been transferred to other places, other sites.
6 Q. Did you get any information about who actually did this reburial?
7 A. Yes. The reburials were being done under the control of Colonel
8 Beara and Popovic, and from what I heard, the two of them in that area of
9 Zvornik, and further afield where these activities were taking place, they
10 would turn up wearing civilian clothing to oversee the whole process, and
11 that Lieutenant Drago Nikolic took part in all that as well, and that
12 Trbic, Captain Trbic handled the fuel and disposed of the fuel, which they
13 filled the machine tanks with, the machinery they used to transport the
14 bodies of the people executed.
15 I also learnt during that time that the police, the military
16 police of the Drina Corps, provided broader security around the area and
17 blocked all traffic on the roads, on the communication lines, to enable
18 the job to get done unimpeded. Several soldiers from our military police
19 company, the military police company of the Zvornik Brigade, in fact,
20 which Second Lieutenant Drago Nikolic took with him in order to provide
21 traffic security or something along those lines, were also taken. And the
22 other thing I learnt was that a couple of people from our engineers
23 company had taken part working on those primary sites, primary burial
24 sites, in loading up the corpses, and that Drago Nikolic and Popovic would
25 replace the truck drivers on whose trucks the corpses were being loaded up
1 so that nobody knew where the trucks were actually being taken. He would
2 replace the drivers at regular intervals. And this was rumoured around
3 pretty broadly.
4 Q. Did you learn the names of the people from the engineering company
5 that were taking part in the digging up of the primary graves?
6 A. No, I did not, to be quite frank, I wasn't very interested in
7 learning their names.
8 Q. Do you know whose machinery was involved in this digging and body
9 transport process?
10 A. I think several of our machines were used, one or two, one or two,
11 actually, were used on the sites where the corpses were dug out of the
12 primary burial sites. And as to the digging at the secondary sites,
13 Popovic had brought in people from somewhere, whether from the engineering
14 battalion of the Drina Corps or somewhere else, I really don't know. I
15 can't say.
16 Q. Where did you get your information that two people from the
17 Zvornik Brigade engineering company were involved in this?
18 A. I don't mean two. I meant several. So I can't be quite precise
19 on that score. But I heard that -- well, I can't really remember whether
20 in talking to Drago Nikolic or perhaps Trbic or one of those people from
21 our headquarters, from our command.
22 Q. Same question for the machinery of the engineering company of the
23 Zvornik Brigade. Where did you learn that information from?
24 A. I think it was from Drago Nikolic.
25 Q. Did you ever speak to Dragan Jokic about that reburial operation?
1 A. I did not.
2 Q. Did you have any information that he was involved in that reburial
4 A. I really do not have any such knowledge.
5 Q. Are you aware of any investigation made by anyone in the Zvornik
6 Brigade into the abuses of the Muslims that came as prisoners to the
7 Zvornik Brigade area in July of 1995?
8 A. I'm not aware of any such information. I don't know of any
9 investigation having been instituted.
10 Q. Are you aware of any Zvornik Brigade soldier that was punished for
11 abusing Muslim prisoners in any way in that time period where prisoners
12 came to the Zvornik Brigade?
13 A. Mr. McCloskey, no, no one was punished, and I'm not aware of
14 anyone having been punished.
15 Q. Was there a system in place in the Zvornik area to punish soldiers
16 that committed criminal offences while on duty or related to their
17 military activities?
18 A. Yes, there was.
19 Q. And were soldiers regularly investigated, tried, and punished for
20 committing offences?
21 A. For some, yes, graver crimes like killings, woundings.
22 Proceedings were started and carried out. Proceedings were also initiated
23 for relatively minor crimes, and I don't know how efficient the process
24 was, though.
25 MR. McCLOSKEY: Mr. President, I've got some exhibits. I probably
1 won't get through them all tonight. I apologise about that. We can try
2 to go through them or we can just maybe start fresher on Monday, whatever
3 you wish.
4 JUDGE LIU: Well, -- yes, Ms. Sinatra.
5 MS. SINATRA: Your Honour, I'm sorry, but Mr. McCloskey and I
6 might meet between now and Monday and there may be some exhibits that
7 we'll stipulate to, without having him go through the witness. If we come
8 to an agreement that they're admissible and we have no objections to them,
9 then we wouldn't have to present them through the witness. I'm offering
10 to work with Mr. McCloskey on an agreement of stipulation on certain
12 JUDGE LIU: So you mean we'll stop here?
13 MS. SINATRA: No. It's totally up to you and up to Mr. McCloskey
14 whether he has more evidence he needs to get through this witness, but I'm
15 just talking about: There are some documents that we have no objections
16 to and we could come to an agreement ahead of time.
17 JUDGE LIU: I see.
18 MR. McCLOSKEY: We might save some time, Your Honour. We have
19 been speaking frequently with counsel about logbooks and other things and
20 we might be able to save some time.
21 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Could you please inform us how much time do you
22 need next Monday? Just give us a rough idea.
23 MR. McCLOSKEY: One hour.
24 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Thank you very much. So we'll resume next
25 Monday at 9.00, and the hearing is adjourned.
1 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 4.04
2 p.m., to be reconvened on Monday, the 6th day of
3 October 2003, at 9.00 a.m.