1. 1 Friday, 3rd March 2000

    2 [Judgement]

    3 [Open session]

    4 --- Upon commencing at 10.35 a.m.

    5 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.

    6 Mr. Registrar, have the accused brought into the

    7 courtroom, please.

    8 [The accused entered court]

    9 JUDGE JORDA: First of all, I would like to

    10 be sure that the interpreters can hear me, that the

    11 booths are ready. Good morning.

    12 Mr. Registrar, I would like you to call the

    13 case.

    14 THE REGISTRAR: This is case number

    15 IT-95-14-T. The Prosecutor versus Tihomir Blaskic.

    16 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Can we have the

    17 appearance for the parties, please. On the side of the

    18 Prosecution.

    19 MR. HARMON: Good morning, Mr. President.

    20 Good morning, Your Honours. Good morning, counsel. My

    21 name is Mark Harmon. Present with me are my colleagues

    22 Mr. Gregory Kehoe, Mr. Andrew Cayley, and Mr. Simon

    23 Hooper.

    24 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much.

    25 MR. HAYMAN: Good morning, Mr. President,

  2. 1 Your Honours. It is a pleasure to see you this

    2 morning. Russell Hayman and Anto Nobilo on behalf of

    3 General Blaskic. Thank you.

    4 JUDGE JORDA: We can now begin.

    5 The Trial Chamber is today rendering its

    6 Judgement in the case of the Prosecutor versus Tihomir

    7 Blaskic, the accused here present. I should clarify

    8 that except where indicated otherwise, I will speak on

    9 behalf of the Trial Chamber, which I had the honour to

    10 preside over, and that Judge Shahabuddeen has appended

    11 a declaration to the Judgement.

    12 By way of introduction, I wish first, on

    13 behalf of the Chamber, to thank all those who enabled

    14 this trial, made significant by the accused's senior

    15 position and by the volume of information led at the

    16 hearings and by the length of the proceedings, to

    17 evolve under the best conditions.

    18 The Trial Chamber first wishes to recall that

    19 several Judges had to withdraw from the trial before

    20 its conclusion. Despite his commitment and drive,

    21 Judge Deschenes was, as you know, obliged to resign for

    22 medical reasons. Once again, I wish to thank Judge

    23 Shahabuddeen for having consented to take his place

    24 forthwith in the days following his election, thereby

    25 allowing the trial to commence on the date set. My

  3. 1 thoughts also turn to Judge Riad, whom illness kept

    2 away from the trial for several months. It was with

    3 some hesitation that, having consulted with the

    4 Prosecution, the Defence, and the accused, the Trial

    5 Chamber requested that he be replaced. However, it

    6 knew it could count on the total dedication of Judge

    7 Rodrigues, who was given the weighty task of

    8 acquainting himself with the entire case file in a very

    9 short time.

    10 I would also like everyone to be aware of the

    11 remarkable work contributed by all those persons who

    12 are sometimes forgotten but who day after day compiled

    13 the transcripts, more than 18,000 pages in the French

    14 version and 25,000 in the English version; filmed and

    15 recorded the hearings, then redacted the recordings to

    16 protect the witnesses; translated thousands of pages of

    17 documents, which will remain for history; interpreted

    18 the proceedings, despite the speed of the statements or

    19 the exchanges, despite the technical words and

    20 expressions used, despite the criticism sometimes made

    21 of them when a speaker deemed his term or phrase was

    22 not perfectly rendered.

    23 The Trial Chamber also recalls the invaluable

    24 assistance which it received from the Registrar, of

    25 course the Trial Chamber's legal officer, Olivier

  4. 1 Fourmy, and its assistants.

    2 I would above all like to pay tribute to the

    3 counsel for the Prosecution and the Defence for their

    4 remarkable attitude throughout the trial, thus showing

    5 that the ardour of proceedings does not exclude

    6 courtesy, at least towards the Judges, and that

    7 defending the interests one represents does not

    8 necessarily entail a permanent quality. The debates

    9 were always of the highest quality.

    10 Finally, I would point out that the accused

    11 testified as a witness for nearly 12 weeks, including

    12 the time allotted to the cross-examination and the

    13 questions of the Judges. Throughout the trial, General

    14 Blaskic always showed deference to the Judges.

    15 I should like to touch upon the length of the

    16 proceedings within this general introduction. In terms

    17 of form, the trial had only one shortcoming, something

    18 which we must all strive to remedy in the future, that

    19 is, its length.

    20 I should like to recall that it opened on the

    21 24th of June, 1997, and the proceedings were declared

    22 closed a little over two years later, on the 30th of

    23 July, 1999. Over the course of these two years, the

    24 Trial Chamber would hear 158 witnesses and receive

    25 nearly 1,500 exhibits, mostly written documents, some

  5. 1 of which consisted of several hundred pages. The

    2 parties tendered such detailed submissions that as of

    3 today, the French translations have still not been

    4 filed with the Registry.

    5 Naturally, the Trial Chamber wished to review

    6 all the elements of the case file. It verified all the

    7 arguments advanced and examined them in relation to one

    8 another and in the light of the exhibits. It notes in

    9 this respect that the parties submitted to it quite a

    10 large number of orders or reports issued by the

    11 accused. Every element of those orders has its

    12 importance: the actual content of the document itself,

    13 of course, but also its addressees, the day, and even

    14 the hour of its transmissions, its references where

    15 they exist, everything which permits the declarations

    16 of the witnesses to be confirmed or rejected.

    17 In this regard, the Trial Chamber must state

    18 its regret that it did not obtain all the available

    19 information, especially the other orders and reports

    20 issued by the accused, his superiors or subordinates,

    21 which were, or perhaps still are, stored in the

    22 archives.

    23 It must, however, express its dissatisfaction

    24 at the attitude of certain states not emanating from

    25 the former Yugoslavia and certain entities which

  6. 1 demonstrated true cooperation with the Tribunal and

    2 which, as the Trial Chamber knows, provided a

    3 considerable volume of information to the parties.

    4 In sum, the Trial Chamber would take seven

    5 months to deliver its Judgement, seven months to check

    6 element of evidence by element, witness statement by

    7 witness statement, whether and to what extent General

    8 Blaskic's responsibility for the facts ascribed to him

    9 was establish.

    10 Before proceeding to the explanation, it is

    11 probably appropriate to recall the crimes ascribed to

    12 the accused and the main arguments of his defence. The

    13 Trial Chamber will then set out the general context in

    14 which the conflict at issue fits and how it must be

    15 characterised. Next it will recall in brief the facts,

    16 in any case some of the more notable facts to the

    17 conflict. Lastly, the Trial Chamber will present its

    18 findings as to the responsibility of the accused for

    19 the crimes committed and the discriminatory nature of

    20 those crimes.

    21 The crimes ascribed to the accused.

    22 Tihomir Blaskic is charged with having

    23 committed, ordered, planned, or otherwise aided and

    24 abetted, between 1st of May, 1992 and 31st January

    25 1994: A crime against humanity, persecution (Count 1:

  7. 1 Attacks upon cities, towns, and villages; killing and

    2 causing serious injury; destruction and plunder of

    3 property; inhumane treatment of civilians; forcible

    4 transfer of civilians).

    5 Crimes against humanity, wilful killing, and

    6 causing serious injury (Counts 7 and 10).

    7 Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions

    8 (Counts 5, 8, 11, 15, 17, and 19).

    9 Violations of the laws or customs of war

    10 (Counts 3, 4, 6, 9, 12 to 14, 16, 18, and 20. Count 2

    11 was withdrawn by the Prosecution because it deemed that

    12 it was covered by the other counts).

    13 For killing, serious bodily injury,

    14 destruction and plunder of property, destruction of

    15 institutions dedicated to education or religion,

    16 inhumane or cruel treatment of detainees, including the

    17 taking of hostages and their use as human shields, all

    18 this against the Muslim population of Central Bosnia,

    19 and in particular the Lasva Valley, that is, more

    20 specifically in the municipalities of Vitez, Busovaca,

    21 Kiseljak, and to some degree Zenica.

    22 General Blaskic is also charged with not

    23 having taken reasonable measures to prevent crimes, to

    24 punish the perpetrators thereof, or knowing or having

    25 reasons to know that the crimes were about to be

  8. 1 committed or had been committed.

    2 How did General Blaskic respond to those

    3 crimes?

    4 In his defence, General Blaskic presented a

    5 series of arguments which the Trial Chamber may only

    6 reproduce in summary here but which were presented at

    7 length during the trial, most especially when the

    8 accused testified and, naturally, in the final

    9 submissions to the Trial Chamber.

    10 These arguments first touch upon the

    11 circumstances at the time. General Blaskic was, in his

    12 own words, under siege in a way and exposed to the

    13 attacks of the Muslim forces, whose objective was to

    14 take control of the Lasva Valley by isolating one

    15 municipality from another. Under these conditions and

    16 despite his efforts, it was completely impossible for

    17 him to maintain a proper command system, particularly

    18 given the difficulty of inter-municipality

    19 communication.

    20 The Defence further contended that the crimes

    21 committed by the Muslim forces explained the disorderly

    22 conduct of the Croatian troops, essentially comprised

    23 only of poorly-trained soldiers inclined to obey the

    24 local authorities rather than his orders. In addition,

    25 there were crimes committed, and particularly in the

  9. 1 case of Ahmici or the booby-trapped lorry in Stari

    2 Vitez, were for the most part the work of units not

    3 falling under his chain of command, whether these were

    4 military police or special units, such as the Vitezovi.

    5 Whatever the case, General Blaskic never

    6 allegedly gave the order to commit the crimes. In the

    7 opinion of the Defence, the attack on Grbavica

    8 demonstrates that when the accused ordered an attack,

    9 it adhered to the laws of war and that the crimes

    10 perpetrated subsequent to the attack resulted only from

    11 the acts of civilians driven by spirit of vengeance and

    12 left free to act due to the shortcomings of the police

    13 authorities.

    14 Moreover, General Blaskic always allegedly

    15 took care to restate in numerous written orders the

    16 need to respect Humanitarian Law. Allegedly, he could

    17 even detain civilians if only for the purposes of

    18 providing them with protection.

    19 Finally, the Defence maintains that the

    20 applicable laws at the time permitted the use of work

    21 teams to dig trenches.

    22 We now come to the findings of the Trial

    23 Chamber.

    24 Before addressing the actual responsibility

    25 of the accused, the Trial Chamber will outline the

  10. 1 geographical, political, and military context of the

    2 case and reiterate the specific crimes perpetrated.

    3 The general context into which the conflict

    4 fits is a geographic, political, and military context.

    5 The Lasva Valley, as described in the

    6 indictment, is an area some 30 kilometres to the

    7 north-west of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is a

    8 region crossed by a road running from south-east to the

    9 north-west which passes along the Sarajevo-Kiseljak

    10 stretch before continuing on towards Busovaca, then

    11 towards Vitez, and going on to Travnik. The distance

    12 between Kiseljak and Vitez is about 30 kilometres. The

    13 road lies at the bottom of the hills. The Defence

    14 presented a scale model. If it did exaggerate the

    15 height of the hills, the Defence admitted that they

    16 were increased threefold. It demonstrated the

    17 importance of the road to the whole of the region,

    18 especially in economic and military terms. All the

    19 municipalities of Vitez, Busovaca, and Kiseljak would

    20 correspond to a thin strip of land stretching, for

    21 example, from The Hague to Schiphol and Haarlem.

    22 The region was also especially remarkable for

    23 its large Croatian population. According to the 1991

    24 census, the Muslim and Croatian populations was

    25 distributed as follows: For the Vitez municipality,

  11. 1 11,514 Muslims and 12,675 Croats. Busovaca

    2 municipality, 8,451 Muslims and 9,093 Croats. Kiseljak

    3 municipality, 9,778 Muslims and 12,550 Croats.

    4 The town of Zenica had a Muslim majority (45

    5 percent Muslims compared to 16.5 percent Croats).

    6 Regarding the political and military context,

    7 the Trial Chamber deems that the crimes perpetrated in

    8 the region which we have just mentioned were admittedly

    9 committed in the context of an armed conflict between

    10 the Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, but before all

    11 else, in the context of an armed international

    12 conflict.

    13 In early 1992, Tihomir Blaskic was in Vienna,

    14 in Austria, having resigned from the former Yugoslavia

    15 Army, the JNA. According to his statements, he was

    16 recalled in February 1992 to his birth town of Kiseljak

    17 by the municipal council, who were relying on obtaining

    18 his services to organise the defence of the

    19 municipality against the Serbs. Upon his arrival,

    20 Croats and Muslims cooperated to this end. However,

    21 the situation rapidly deteriorated. As of 8 April

    22 1992, the Bosnian Croats organised within the

    23 Democratic Community of Herceg-Bosna, which we will

    24 refer to as HZ HB, created on 18 November 1991, and the

    25 Croats organised in this way instituted the HVO (the

  12. 1 Croatian Defence Council) which was both a military and

    2 a political structure. On the following day, the

    3 9th of April, 1992, the Muslims formed the Territorial

    4 Defence (the TO) which at the end of 1992 would become

    5 the Muslim army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, or the ABiH.

    6 Furthermore, I should like to recall that on

    7 the 6th of April, 1992, the Republic of

    8 Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence. On

    9 7 April, Croatia recognised Bosnia-Herzegovina as an

    10 independent state. Nevertheless, at the same time, it

    11 granted Croatian citizenship to "the members of the

    12 Croatian nation" of Bosnia-Herzegovina who so

    13 requested. On the 18th of May, the United Nations

    14 Security Council recommended that the Republic of

    15 Croatia be admitted to the United Nations (Resolution

    16 753) and on 20th of May, the Republic of

    17 Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    18 Simultaneously, the Security Council called

    19 for a cessation to external intervention in the

    20 territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that units of the

    21 JNA and of the Croatian army -- we will call it the HV

    22 -- units there to withdraw to place themselves under

    23 the authority of the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina

    24 or to be disbanded and disarmed (Security Council

    25 resolution 752). We are now talking about May 1992.

  13. 1 The presence of extant forces was therefore

    2 widely known, but what of the region with which we are

    3 dealing? The evidence tendered presents apparently

    4 contradictory and vague perspectives, which the Trial

    5 Chamber endeavoured to clarify. Despite individual

    6 local differences, quite a simple picture can be

    7 drawn.

    8 As the Trial Chamber indicates, the Lasva

    9 Valley was an area in which the Serbs made up only a

    10 minority of the population. Nevertheless, the Serbian

    11 forces were not far away; they were at Jajce, to the

    12 west, and they were advancing to Kiseljak in the

    13 south-east. The front had to be held. The control of

    14 arms was the order of the day, and they were taken from

    15 wherever they were found; for example, at the former

    16 JNA barracks in Kiseljak or in Kaonik. They next had

    17 to be handed out. This was the trigger to the

    18 conflict, conflicts which would be all the more violent

    19 as nationalism intensified.

    20 The HZ HB, the Croatian Community of

    21 Herceg-Bosna, had internal disagreements between the

    22 supporters of multi-ethnicity or, in any case,

    23 cohabitation with the Muslims and the most die-hard

    24 Croatian nationalists. The latter unquestionably

    25 received the support of Zagreb.

  14. 1 An international conflict, that is the nature

    2 of the conflict in question, an international armed

    3 conflict. The Republic of Croatia did not content

    4 itself merely with remaining a spectator on the

    5 sidelines, or even simply to protect its borders; it

    6 intervened in the conflict, pitting the Muslims and

    7 Croats of Central Bosnia against each other.

    8 Let us recall that Franjo Tudjman and

    9 Slobodan Milosevic met in March 1991 to discuss the

    10 partitioning of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which would have

    11 led to its disappearance, at least as a distinct

    12 entity. According to one Defence witness, Croatia

    13 harboured ambitions in respect of the territories

    14 within Bosnia-Herzegovina considered as Croatian for

    15 150 years. In any case, President Tudjman's

    16 nationalism and his territorial ambitions became

    17 evident to many of those with whom he spoke, including

    18 Lord Owen and witnesses Paddy Ashdown, II, and X, heard

    19 by the Trial Chamber. We are sometimes obliged to use

    20 pseudonyms to protect witnesses.

    21 As acknowledged by some of its highest

    22 ranking officers, such as General Bobetko, Admiral

    23 Domazet, or General Petkovic, Croatia sent troops to

    24 southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, into Bosnian territory;

    25 however, it did not stop there. The evidence noted by

  15. 1 the Trial Chamber in its Judgement demonstrate that the

    2 troops of the Croatian army, the HV, were observed at

    3 many locations in Bosnian territory, including the

    4 Lasva Valley. Documents show that very many HV

    5 soldiers served within the HVO and were ordered to

    6 remove here HV insignia and replace them with those of

    7 the HVO. Most HVO officers were, in fact, HV

    8 officers. An exception at the time is not General

    9 Blaskic, now an inspector in the disciplinary body of

    10 the army of the Republic of Croatia. The presence of

    11 these men was reinforced by substantial material

    12 assistance. The Trial Chamber concurs that Croatia

    13 might also have supplied some assistance to

    14 Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, this assistance dried up,

    15 at least within the region and period under

    16 consideration, whereas the total aid sent by Croatia to

    17 all structures of Herceg-Bosna was assessed at one

    18 million German marks a day.

    19 The objectives of the Croatian nationalists

    20 of Croatia were evidently shared by many members of the

    21 HVO and the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna,

    22 including Mate Boban, of course, President of the

    23 Community; but also Anto Valenta, President of the

    24 Vitez HDZ, then President of the HDZ for the HZ HB, and

    25 whose nationalist writings are revealing; Ignac

  16. 1 Kostroman, Secretary-General of the HZ HB; Dario

    2 Kordic, Vice-President of the HZ HB, whose speeches

    3 fired up the Bosnian Croats.

    4 The Trial Chamber will cite here by way of

    5 example the minutes of a meeting on 12 November 1991,

    6 signed by Mate Boban and Dario Kordic, and I

    7 quote: "... the Croatian people of Bosnia-Herzegovina

    8 must finally opt for an active and determined policy to

    9 achieve their eternal dream - a common Croatian

    10 State."

    11 It is still the case, however, that the

    12 nationalists found it unacceptable that the Muslims

    13 could want to have a defence. The Bosnian Territorial

    14 Defence, the TO, which we mentioned a moment ago, was

    15 formed on the 9th of April, 1992. On 10 April, Mate

    16 Boban outlawed the TO in the territory of HZ HB. The

    17 Croatian general, Anto Roso, confirmed this in an order

    18 on 8 May, and on 11 May, Tihomir Blaskic implemented

    19 that order by pronouncing the TO, the Territorial

    20 Defence, unlawful in the territory of the Kiseljak

    21 municipality, a matter to which we will return.

    22 Let us now consider the conflict in the Lasva

    23 Valley. From May 1992 until January 1993 first, and

    24 then we will talk about the situation in April 1993.

    25 But between these two periods, we must refer to an

  17. 1 important event that had an important political

    2 importance, that is, the Vance-Owen Plan.

    3 I am sorry if I am going too fast for the

    4 interpreters.

    5 Beginning in May 1992, until January 1993,

    6 tensions between the Muslim and Croatian populations

    7 would increase, and incidents broke out particularly

    8 when one side thought it could gain a tactical or

    9 strategic advantage, such as control of a village, a

    10 town, former military warehouses, or a road. The

    11 provocations and incidents multiplied, such as the

    12 Croatian flag being flown on public buildings and

    13 officers of Croatian origin being kidnapped. The first

    14 destruction of mosques and Muslim houses, the first

    15 civilian murders and first acts of plunder would be

    16 seen. In a narrow strip of territory, as we saw,

    17 internal displacements of Muslim populations driven

    18 from their dwellings by the crimes of the Croats were

    19 added to the movement of Croatian, and particularly

    20 Muslim refugees chased from their lands by the Serbs.

    21 The accused, Colonel Blaskic, at the time,

    22 was appointed commander of the Central Bosnia Operative

    23 Zone, as we know, on the 27th of June, 1992. And the

    24 order was issued by whom? By a general of the Croatian

    25 army, Ante Roso. In accordance with this order, issued

  18. 1 by a Croatian general, Milivoj Petkovic, the operative

    2 zone incorporated the municipalities we are dealing

    3 with, those of Vitez, Busovaca, and Kiseljak. In

    4 August 1992, serious incidents erupted around the

    5 village of Duhri, to the south of Kiseljak, whose

    6 mosque was destroyed.

    7 In the autumn, the situation deteriorated

    8 rapidly. The HVO sought to force the Muslims to hand

    9 over their arms, and shots were fired in and around

    10 Vitez. On the 20th of October, the Muslims established

    11 a roadblock at Ahmici. They claimed, the Muslims, that

    12 it was to prevent HVO troops from reinforcing the

    13 Croatian positions in Travnik. The Croats, on their

    14 part, asserted that their forces were moving up to the

    15 front facing the Serbs in Jajce. Whatever the case, a

    16 Croatian soldier was killed, the roadblock was knocked

    17 down, and the Muslim's arms confiscated. Tensions

    18 remained high, while the forces on the ground

    19 organised. The accused formed brigades within the

    20 military structure. The army of Bosnia-Herzegovina

    21 formed its 3rd Corps, based in Zenica.

    22 I said that I would make a digression by

    23 referring to an important diplomatic step, and that is

    24 the Vance-Owen Plan.

    25 In January 1993, the Vance-Owen Plan was

  19. 1 presented. This peace plan defined, among other

    2 things, a decentralised Bosnia-Herzegovina, organised

    3 into ten provinces, each enjoying substantial autonomy

    4 and necessarily governed by a democratically elected

    5 local government. According to the statements of one

    6 witness, the whole reasoning behind the plan was that

    7 there should be a division of power with one

    8 nationality being predominant in some zones but not to

    9 the prejudice of the other nationalities. Power was to

    10 be exercised with respect for the minorities.

    11 It should be borne in mind that the Lasva

    12 Valley was largely located in province 10, with the

    13 rest of that valley, the southern part of the

    14 municipality of Kiseljak, being in province 7. The

    15 plan came down to assigning the main provinces in

    16 province 10 to the Croats and to the Muslims in

    17 province 7. Nevertheless, in the minds of the Croatian

    18 nationalists, and particularly Mate Boban, President of

    19 the HZ HB, the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, that

    20 meant that province 10 was Croatian. It also meant

    21 that territories which they considered historically

    22 Croatian would be incorporated within the predominantly

    23 Muslim province 7, which was unacceptable to them. It

    24 was, in any case, best to ensure Croatian dominance in

    25 the regions affected.

  20. 1 I must say that the Vance-Owen Plan never

    2 came to be implemented on the ground, but the Croats,

    3 and in particular the Bosnian Croats, bore a heavy

    4 responsibility in conducting the war in anticipation of

    5 its implementation and in willing its unilateral

    6 execution.

    7 As of January 15, 1993, Mate Boban sent an

    8 ultimatum to the Muslims ordering them inter alia to

    9 hand over their arms. Faced with their refusal, the

    10 Croatian forces conducted operations meant to Croatise

    11 some territories by force. Hundreds of Muslims were

    12 arrested and many imprisoned in Kaonik in the former

    13 JNA warehouses. Many of them were beaten. Most had to

    14 dig trenches, often under inhuman conditions and

    15 exposed to enemy fire. In so doing, they were beaten,

    16 even killed, and sometimes used as human shields.

    17 The considerable efforts made by the European

    18 Commission Monitoring Mission, the ECMM, and the United

    19 Nations Protection Force enabled some prisoners of war

    20 to be released and the conflict to be contained.

    21 However, this situation was not to last, and

    22 my colleagues and I will deal with the situation in the

    23 Lasva Valley in April 1993.

    24 On the 15th of April, the Croats, especially

    25 through the voice of Dario Kordic, at a televised

  21. 1 public meeting, issued a new ultimatum. Tihomir

    2 Blaskic declared, also on television, that HVO soldiers

    3 had been attacked in Nadioci. In a written order, he

    4 commanded the HVO brigades and the Vitezovi special

    5 unit to fire back if attacked, and then instructed the

    6 HVO brigades and the 4th Battalion of the military

    7 police to defend themselves against what he termed

    8 Muslim terrorist attacks.

    9 On the 16th of April, at 01.30 hours, he

    10 issued a combat order to the Vitez Brigade and the

    11 Tvrtko independent units to, and I quote, "prevent the

    12 attacks of extremist Muslim forces." The formation's

    13 concerns had to be ready, and again I quote, "to

    14 commence shooting at 05.30 hours on the 16th of April,

    15 1993."

    16 In fact, on the 16th of April, 1993, at 5.30,

    17 and then over the following days, the Lasva Valley

    18 became the theatre of numerous crimes. Civilians were

    19 killed or wounded, houses set alight, minarets brought

    20 down, mosques destroyed, women and children separated

    21 from the men and left with no choice but to flee, women

    22 raped, and men imprisoned, beaten and led off to the

    23 front to dig trenches. Everywhere, the same or

    24 virtually the same scenario was played out.

    25 An artillery attack, sometimes with homemade

  22. 1 weapons, "babies", was launched with complete disregard

    2 for the consequences and followed up by an infantry

    3 attack. It matters little whether the objective had,

    4 at least in part, some military interest. It was

    5 sufficient to do such as to make it impossible for the

    6 Muslims to live there once the Croats had conquered the

    7 ground. This was true to such an extent that

    8 undefended villages which were not military targets

    9 were destroyed.

    10 The 16th of April, 1993. Ahmici, a village

    11 with a very large Muslim majority, known for the

    12 fervent practice and teaching of the Muslim religion

    13 and whose largest mosque had just been rebuilt. A

    14 village perched high up overlooking the main

    15 Busovaca-Vitez road, but some distance away from it. A

    16 village where there was no Muslim army.

    17 It was 5.30 on the 16th of April, and the

    18 artillery opened fire. The Croatian inhabitants left

    19 the evening before. Only those who were armed and

    20 wanted to kill remained behind, to kill the

    21 terror-stricken Muslims who were awoken in the dead of

    22 night, who left their houses to flee and who fell to

    23 the bullets of the awaiting soldiers. Muslims, women,

    24 children, and the old included, forced out of their

    25 homes in order to be killed. Muslims who hid under

  23. 1 their beds, in their cellars, and who were burnt alive

    2 in the flames of their houses.

    3 These facts are known. The Defence finally

    4 acknowledged that these facts were materially

    5 incontestable. After much prevarication, the Defence

    6 ended up clearly implicating the troops whom it claimed

    7 had committed all those crimes, that is, the military

    8 police, and in particular a special unit thereof, the

    9 Jokers, whose commander was Vladimir Santic, assisted

    10 by Anto Furundzija, also prosecuted by this Tribunal

    11 for facts related to this attack.

    12 Other villages and hamlets were also attacked

    13 simultaneously: Nadioci, Pirici, Santici, located in

    14 the immediate vicinity of Ahmici.

    15 The same scene recurred in the municipality

    16 of Busovaca. The HVO artillery shelled the villages of

    17 Jelinak, Merdani, and Putis. On 17 April 1993, the HVO

    18 soldiers and the Jokers entered the village of Loncari

    19 and searched the Muslim houses for men of combat age

    20 and for arms. All the houses and stables belonging to

    21 the Muslims were set on fire. All the houses in the

    22 villages of Jelinak and Putis were also set on fire.

    23 Entire villages, the women, the children, and the

    24 elderly, were assembled and then chased out. Some

    25 civilians were beaten.

  24. 1 On 19 April, it was the turn of Ocehnici to

    2 be attacked. Civilians were killed, amongst them

    3 women. All the Muslim dwellings were set aflame. This

    4 same tactic was always used in the municipality of

    5 Kiseljak.

    6 Initially, to the north of town of Kiseljak,

    7 from 18 to 21 April 1993, when the villages of Behrici,

    8 Gomionica, Gromiljak, Hercezi, Polje Visnjica, Rotilj,

    9 and Svinjarevo were attacked, the village of Gomionica

    10 would be subjected to fresh assaults in June. The

    11 houses were set alight, the mosques of Behrici and

    12 Gomionica destroyed, and the one in Gromiljak damaged

    13 in a fire. The mosque in Visnjica was plundered. Many

    14 Muslim houses were burnt to the ground, and their

    15 inhabitants chased out or assembled to be later

    16 detained.

    17 On this matter, it must be said that though

    18 some were taken away to the Kiseljak barracks where

    19 mistreatment abound, an even larger number, including

    20 women and children, were led off to the village of

    21 Rotilj. It was impossible to leave the village

    22 inasmuch as the Croatian troops controlled the access

    23 roads and snipers waited to end any attempt to flee.

    24 The living conditions were difficult, given that the

    25 Muslims lacked food and water, and to pack into those

  25. 1 Muslim houses which remained in tact.

    2 The male detainees were obliged to dig

    3 trenches, mostly on the front lines, where they were

    4 subjected to physical violence.

    5 In June 1993, it is south of the municipality

    6 which sought same crimes reproduced in Grahovici, Han

    7 Ploca and Tulica. Here again, civilians were killed,

    8 houses plundered and/or set alight, and men taken

    9 prisoner, beaten, and forced to dig trenches.

    10 Returning to the municipality of Vitez, note

    11 must also be made of the attacks on Vitez and

    12 particularly on Stari Vitez, the Muslim neighbourhood

    13 of the town, in April 1993, Stari Vitez in July, Donja

    14 Veceriska and Gacice in April; and Grbavica in

    15 September 1993. The Trial Chamber will make three

    16 particular points in respect of these attacks.

    17 The first is the recourse to terror. Thus,

    18 on the 18th of April, a lorry packed with hundreds of

    19 kilos of explosives blew up on the outskirts of Stari

    20 Vitez near a mosque. According to the Defence, this

    21 action was decided upon and conducted by the Vitezovi

    22 under the command of Darko Kraljevic.

    23 The second point which the Trial Chamber

    24 explains in more detail in its Judgement is that some

    25 attacks could meet military necessity. For example, an

  26. 1 explosives factory was located between the villages of

    2 Donja Veceriska and Gacice. Nevertheless, even in that

    3 context Muslim civilians were killed and driven out,

    4 and Muslim dwellings destroyed without any

    5 justification.

    6 Similarly, the observers agreed that the

    7 attack on Grbavica, which, moreover, the accused

    8 admitted having organised, was very well-conducted.

    9 However, the subsequent destruction again did not

    10 correspond to any military necessity.

    11 The third point is that, as one member of the

    12 ECMM noted, the principal Muslim political officials

    13 and intellectuals of the town were arrested and

    14 detained during the attack on Vitez.

    15 Lastly, the Trial Chamber must make mention

    16 of the shelling of the town of Zenica on the 19th of

    17 April, 1993, when around midnight, several shells fell

    18 far away from any zone of military interest whatsoever,

    19 causing notably the death of many civilians. Taking

    20 into account the circumstances, the probability that

    21 this crime is ascribable to the HVO seems great. The

    22 Trial Chamber considers, however, that the elements in

    23 its possession do not allow the accused to be found

    24 responsible for this criminal attack.

    25 We will now turn to the responsibility of the

  27. 1 accused.

    2 For all the facts that I have just had

    3 mentioned, other than the shelling of Zenica, how must

    4 the responsibility of the accused be assessed?

    5 As a preliminary observation, the Trial

    6 Chamber wishes to make two observations.

    7 First is that the accused is not himself

    8 charged with having committed the physical acts

    9 constituting the basis of any of the crimes in the

    10 indictment. In other words, General Blaskic is not

    11 charged with killing a Muslim or Muslims by his own

    12 hand.

    13 The second observation is that in its

    14 reflections upon the crimes imputed to the accused, the

    15 Trial Chamber has taken note of the circumstances at

    16 the time and particularly the possibility that crimes

    17 were committed by Muslim forces. In this respect, the

    18 Trial Chamber deems that it was the Chamber itself

    19 which wished to hear the commanders of the 7th Muslim

    20 Brigade, which was often associated with some of these

    21 crimes. It is not a question here of imputing them or

    22 not to such-or-such Muslim unit; notwithstanding this,

    23 the Trial Chamber considers that it has received

    24 evidence of atrocities committed against Croatian

    25 civilians and that then the perpetrators of those

  28. 1 crimes must be prosecuted.

    2 However, and this is fundamental, the Trial

    3 Chamber condemns the argument which would have one

    4 crime excused by another. The truly essential question

    5 which arises is whether General Blaskic ordered crimes

    6 to be committed or otherwise failed in his duties as a

    7 commander and whether the crimes were committed as part

    8 of a widespread and systematic attack against the

    9 Muslim civilian population.

    10 The accused ordered that attacks be launched,

    11 which resulted in crimes being committed, for which he

    12 is responsible for in any case, aided and facilitated

    13 their commission and, moreover, did not take the

    14 reasonable measures which would have allowed the crimes

    15 to be prevented from being committed or the

    16 perpetrators thereof to be punished.

    17 Going only by the documents available to it,

    18 the Trial Chamber must state in this respect that the

    19 accused developed a remarkable range and number of

    20 activities. In addition to the strictly military

    21 activities, General Blaskic took measures relating both

    22 to the protection of civilians and the channeling of

    23 humanitarian aid, as well as relocating Croats and

    24 Muslims. This must be said.

    25 Nonetheless, this apparent intense activity

  29. 1 poorly conceals the true nature of the orders which he

    2 gave to the troops under his authority and the failure

    3 of his authority as regards the construct of his own

    4 troops. The analysis of the facts contradicts what the

    5 Defence presented as the actions of a highly

    6 professional officer who never ordered crimes to be

    7 committed and who, on the contrary, tirelessly strove

    8 to prevent or make amends for crimes.

    9 Let us first speak about the authority of the

    10 accused.

    11 It is symptomatic to notes that tension

    12 between the communities continued to rise from May 1992

    13 to January 1993. However, the only truly effective

    14 measures taken by the accused consisted of setting up a

    15 solid chain of command throughout the territories under

    16 his command. The many orders produced at the hearings

    17 amply demonstrate that the accused wanted to establish

    18 firmly the authority of the Croatian forces in the

    19 region and his own authority over all these forces.

    20 On 11 May 1992, for instance, he signed an

    21 order stating that, and I quote, "The only lawful

    22 military units in the region of the municipality of

    23 Kiseljak are the HVO units." At the same time, and

    24 again I quote, "The TO," that is, the Territorial

    25 Defence, "is deemed to be unlawful in this region."

  30. 1 Furthermore, the accused claimed that he

    2 tried to professionalise an army made up of

    3 poorly-trained troops and ascribed the crimes to

    4 elements which are uncontrolled or which did not fall

    5 under his command.

    6 Although the evidence confirms that General

    7 Blaskic did indeed concern himself with building a

    8 truly well-structured army, it refutes, however -- that

    9 is, the evidence refutes the theory of the lack or

    10 total absence of command authority. On the contrary,

    11 the information provided both by the Prosecution and

    12 the Defence shows that the accused meant to intervene

    13 in all areas by turning to all available forces,

    14 including, for example, the civilian police where need

    15 be.

    16 The analysis of the orders he received or

    17 issued shows that General Blaskic commanded all the HVO

    18 troops but also other units. Further, contrary to his

    19 assertion before the Trial Chamber, the chain of

    20 command operated satisfactorily.

    21 Which were the troops and the other units

    22 under his authority?

    23 The Defence showed a chart explaining the

    24 connections between the various units, and in

    25 particular, the fact that the military police or some

  31. 1 independent or special units like the Vitezovi did not

    2 fall under the authority of the accused but answered

    3 directly to the main staff in Mostar or the HZ HB

    4 Ministry of Defence. Although they may have been

    5 attached to General Blaskic for point-specific

    6 operations, he could not issue combat orders, he said,

    7 or give them any -- take any disciplinary measures

    8 against them. In any case, the authority that General

    9 Blaskic might have had could have been exercised only

    10 from the time the forces in question fell under his

    11 command.

    12 The Trial Chamber categorically rejects his

    13 arguments, including the semantic debate according to

    14 which a "detached" or resubordinated unit was not an

    15 "attached" unit, and vice versa.

    16 Let us take the example of Ahmici. According

    17 to the argument of the defence and the explanations of

    18 the accused himself, the military police, which the

    19 accused claimed were guilty of the crimes committed in

    20 that village, as the accused himself said, allegedly

    21 were attached to him only as of 11.42 on the 16th of

    22 April, 1993, the date and time the report allegedly

    23 placing the unit under General Blaskic's authority was

    24 received. What actually happened was completely

    25 different.

  32. 1 Several pieces of evidence attest to this.

    2 As of 19 January 1993, General Petkovic ordered that

    3 the Vitezovi be subordinated to accused, and I quote,

    4 "in all respects."

    5 In addition, on 15 April 1993, at 15.00,

    6 right before Central Bosnia went up in flames, the

    7 Vitezovi and the military police were detached to

    8 General Blaskic on orders from this same

    9 General Petkovic. In the afternoon of 15 April, at

    10 around 17.00, according to his own statements, the

    11 accused organised a meeting with the military police

    12 and Vitezovi commanders.

    13 By 10.00 in the morning on the 15th of April,

    14 General Blaskic had sent a "combat preparation order"

    15 to the military police and the Vitezovi and the HVO

    16 brigades in the Operative Zone. This order

    17 specifically requested that the police ensure that

    18 Muslim forces not block the main road connecting

    19 Travnik and Busovaca.

    20 At 15.45 on 15 April, the accused sent to the

    21 Vitez HVO Brigade (the Viteska Brigade under the

    22 command of Mario Cerkez), and to the 4th Military

    23 Police Battalion, an order to inter alia move to the

    24 highest level of combat preparation and to organise at

    25 all levels an uninterrupted command system and to be

  33. 1 prepared, I quote, "to engage in defensive action."

    2 On 16 April, at 1.30 in the morning, General

    3 Blaskic issued a "combat order" to the Viteska Brigade

    4 and to the Tvrtko independent units. The order stated

    5 that they should "occupy the defence region, block the

    6 villages and prevent any movement in and out." He

    7 specified that the force of the 4th Military Police

    8 Battalion, the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade (the HVO

    9 Busovaca Brigade) and the civilian police forces were

    10 also to participate in the combat. The order demanded

    11 that the forces be ready for action at 5.30 in the

    12 morning.

    13 At 5.30 in the morning, Ahmici and many other

    14 villages were attacked. Barely a few hours later, as

    15 we know, about 100 Muslim civilians in the Ahmici and

    16 other villages would be killed and burned and dozens of

    17 houses set on fire.

    18 General Blaskic thus took a decision and

    19 ordered that his troops be launched, that is, the

    20 regular HVO special, special or independent Vitezovi

    21 and Tvrtko troops, the "Jokers" and military police

    22 troops (or even civilian police). These troops

    23 attacked towns and villages, most of which were not

    24 defended, or only lightly, with the purpose of turning

    25 the Lasva Valley into Croatian territory.

  34. 1 Let us take the orders that General Blaskic

    2 issued for combat in the Kiseljak area.

    3 Kiseljak: The accused claimed that he was

    4 isolated from it, that he had communications problems,

    5 and this made proper operation of the chain of command

    6 problematic. I will return to this later.

    7 On 17 April 1993, at 9.10 in the morning,

    8 General Blaskic told the Kiseljak HVO Brigade to

    9 organise the closing off of some of the villages and to

    10 take control of Gomionica and Svinjarevo. In a second

    11 order dated 17 April, at 23.45 hours, he ordered the

    12 capture of those two villages and the launching of an

    13 attack to take Bilalovac.

    14 He wrote to the brigade commander that the

    15 military and civilian police were to be used for the

    16 cleansing, his term -- his term -- the cleansing of the

    17 ground. The accused wanted to be sure that the

    18 cleansing would be carried out. In orders, he fired up

    19 his troops by proclaiming that in Zenica, the Muslim

    20 forces were massacring the Croats and crushing them

    21 with tanks. In addition, General Blaskic entrusted his

    22 men with a historic mission. He told them, and I

    23 quote: "Keep in mind that the lives of the Croats in

    24 the Lasva region depend on your mission. This region

    25 could become our grave if you do not demonstrate

  35. 1 resolve."

    2 Lastly, the accused was not as concerned with

    3 the quality of his subordinates as he would have people

    4 believe. The Defence thus characterised the Zuti, a

    5 Frankopan HVO Brigade unit from Guca Gora, as Mafiosi.

    6 However, on 4 July 1993, the accused appointed the

    7 chief of the unit as deputy for the active forces in

    8 the Central Bosnian Operative Zone.

    9 According to General Blaskic's statements,

    10 the same military police which committed the crimes in

    11 Ahmici in April 1993 would be used to attack Grbavica

    12 in September of that same year.

    13 How did the chain of command operate?

    14 To demonstrate that the accused did not have

    15 the communications resources to ensure the proper

    16 operation of the chain of command, the Defence put

    17 forth the argument, in particular, that the accused was

    18 isolated within his Vitez headquarters and that he did

    19 not have a sufficient number of qualified officers

    20 available to him.

    21 The Trial Chamber is prepared to acknowledge

    22 that General Blaskic may have had communications

    23 problems, at least apparently. Many documents thus

    24 record requests for escorts to go from Vitez to

    25 Kiseljak, sent to UNPROFOR by General Blaskic.

  36. 1 The Trial Chamber, however, has more evidence

    2 than it needs to note that the chain of command was

    3 operating satisfactorily. General Blaskic did not

    4 complain about an inability to communicate with his

    5 superiors but rather about an inability to communicate

    6 with his subordinates.

    7 Moreover, these difficulties are much less

    8 important than the accused claimed.

    9 The Trial Chamber knows that helicopters were

    10 arriving in Vitez. It can acknowledge that there was

    11 relatively little radio equipment. Still, not all the

    12 telephone lines had been cut. In the middle of the

    13 conflict, General Blaskic was able to telephone the

    14 commander of the opposing forces directly. For

    15 example, several witnesses testified about the Croatian

    16 authorities' control over the telephone lines in all or

    17 some of the region. We also have proof that cellular

    18 telephones were available.

    19 An analysis of the written documents is

    20 especially telling. It is interesting to note

    21 discrepancies between the same documents depending on

    22 whether they were produced by the Defence or produced

    23 by the Prosecution. But that does not touch on the

    24 heart of the issue which lies in the unbelievable

    25 number of orders and reports issued or received by

  37. 1 General Blaskic. We need merely consult the reference

    2 numbers provided to the Trial Chamber.

    3 All of that operated very smoothly. I will

    4 return to the events in Kiseljak later.

    5 For example, General Blaskic said that

    6 communications were not operating properly.

    7 Nonetheless, on 17 April, at 9.10 in the morning, the

    8 accused asked the Ban Jelacic Brigade in Kiseljak to

    9 make preparations and to send a report to him by

    10 23.30. On 17 April, he received the report. On 17

    11 April, at 23.45, General Blaskic issued the order to

    12 attack on 18 April, at 5.30 in the morning. On 18

    13 April, at 5.30 in the morning, the attack effectively

    14 began.

    15 The chronology of the events thus confirms

    16 that the attacks were organised. This is clear from

    17 the chronology itself and from the fact that, as the

    18 accused himself acknowledged, he took no measures upon

    19 learning that crimes had been committed.

    20 Let us consider the period April to August

    21 1993.

    22 On 15 April, General Blaskic was in Vitez and

    23 issued the orders to which we have referred.

    24 On 16 April, at 1.30 in the morning, he gave

    25 what we called the combat preparation order. On

  38. 1 16 April, at 5.30 in the morning, the HVO artillery

    2 went into action in Vitez, Stari Vitez, Ahmici,

    3 Santici, Pirici, and Nadioci. The shelling was

    4 followed up immediately with infantry attacks. During

    5 the morning of 16 April, the forces under the accused's

    6 command attacked the municipality of Busovaca, in the

    7 direction of Jelinak, Merdani, and Putis.

    8 On 17 April, the attacks continued, and

    9 General Blaskic prepared the assaults on the

    10 municipality of Kiseljak.

    11 In the small hours of 18 April, artillery was

    12 again used, and, in accordance with a well-established

    13 pattern, this was followed up by infantry attacks on

    14 Svinjarevo, Gomionica, Visnjica, and I will not go on.

    15 On 18 April, to break the Muslim resistance

    16 in Stari Vitez, a truck packed with hundreds of kilos

    17 of explosives blew up. On 18 April, Donja Veceriska

    18 was attacked.

    19 On 20 April, it was the turn of Gacice.

    20 Around 20 April, General Blaskic was in control of the

    21 situation. He needed to reinforce his defences, and to

    22 do so, he used and would do again the Muslim detainees

    23 to dig trenches, particularly on the front line.

    24 The south of the municipality of Kiseljak was

    25 a more fragile zone. Simply stated, General Blaskic

  39. 1 and his forces were in the west and the Serbian forces

    2 in the east. The Muslim forces, however, were in the

    3 north and the south. The accused launched a further

    4 offensive in June. The pattern was the same:

    5 Artillery followed by infantry. It was the villages of

    6 Grahovci, Han Ploca, and Tulica which fell victim to

    7 the crimes of his troops.

    8 And when General Blaskic learned that the

    9 crimes had been committed, what did he do? Nothing.

    10 I will not say anything about his assertion

    11 that he knew nothing of Ahmici until Colonel Stewart of

    12 UNPROFOR wrote to him to inform him of the horrors he

    13 had observed and demanded from him an investigation.

    14 Still, what did General Blaskic do? There

    15 was no serious investigation. Instead, he issued a

    16 statement saying that the crimes were committed by

    17 Serbian forces that had infiltrated or by the Muslims

    18 themselves.

    19 And when before this Trial Chamber he accused

    20 the military police, the Jokers, in particular, what

    21 new information did the accused put forth? He failed

    22 to say that the Jokers commander, the same Joker that

    23 he is accusing, Vladimir Santic, had his office in the

    24 Hotel Vitez at his headquarters. He asserted, however,

    25 that he called for an investigation as early as

  40. 1 24 April. In fact, the witnesses confirmed that

    2 General Blaskic did so only on the 8th of May at the

    3 earliest, and I quote his written order of 10 May, in

    4 which he said, "There are open rumours about the events

    5 in Ahmici."

    6 The accused then explained that nothing had

    7 happened, that he had issued a reminder and that the

    8 report transmitted to him by the Security and

    9 Information Service was incomplete.

    10 However, he asked for another report only on

    11 the 17th of April, 1993 and was allegedly told that the

    12 information had been transmitted to Mostar.

    13 This satisfied General Blaskic because even

    14 when, between June and October 1994, he became the HVO

    15 deputy chief-of-staff, responsible in particular for

    16 investigating war crimes, he took no definitive

    17 action.

    18 Lastly, no soldier in the HVO, military

    19 police, the Jokers, or any unit was ever punished for

    20 the massacre at Ahmici.

    21 I will compare this attitude to a very simple

    22 fact. In the middle of the conflict, on the 16th of

    23 April, the very day of the attack on Ahmici, General

    24 Blaskic sent a protest to UNPROFOR because a United

    25 Nations armoured vehicle had knocked down the fence of

  41. 1 a church.

    2 There was a massive or systematic attack

    3 against the Muslim civilian population.

    4 The evidence produced for the Trial Chamber

    5 by both the Prosecution and Defence demonstrates that

    6 General Blaskic ordered attacks and actions which

    7 resulted in crimes being committed for which he is

    8 responsible and that he was part of a design whose

    9 purpose was the persecution of the Muslim population.

    10 First of all, there was a political will, and

    11 then there was a policy of discrimination.

    12 Political will first. It must first be

    13 stated the HVO was not only a military but also a

    14 civilian structure and, as such, took decisions

    15 regarding the organisation of life in the town.

    16 Returning to the example of Kiseljak, the municipal

    17 crisis staff decided on the 25th of June that

    18 the "Executive Committee of the Municipal Assembly of

    19 Kiseljak shall now be called the Croatian Defence

    20 Council (HVO) of Kiseljak." On 25 May, that same

    21 crisis staff cancelled the bank account for the

    22 Territorial Defence and ordered that a bank account be

    23 opened for the Kiseljak HVO.

    24 By accepting his responsibilities as HVO

    25 commander for the defence of Kiseljak, but especially

  42. 1 as HVO commander for the Central Bosnia Operative Zone,

    2 and then exercising these commands, General Blaskic was

    3 perfectly aware that the scope of his activity was not

    4 and could not be a strictly military one.

    5 The nexus between the military and political

    6 aspects can be seen in the ultimatums issued by Mate

    7 Boban in January 1993 and by Dario Kordic in April

    8 1993. These orders were limited not only to calls for

    9 the municipalities of Vitez, Busovaca, or Kiseljak to

    10 revert to the Croats but also demanded that the Muslims

    11 lay down their arms.

    12 Moreover, General Blaskic participated in

    13 many public meetings alongside the politicians with

    14 openly nationalistic views. Many photographs attest to

    15 this fact, and several make it possible to assert that

    16 the "politicians" were dressed in military uniform. On

    17 22 September 1992, for instance, the accused was a

    18 member of the interim Presidency, together with Dario

    19 Kordic, Anto Valenta, and Ignac Kostroman, and

    20 participated in the HVO meeting in the municipalities

    21 of Central Bosnia during which inter alia the

    22 participants requested that a Croatian bank be

    23 established.

    24 In fact, General Blaskic was in permanent

    25 contact with the politicians. Anto Valenta had his

  43. 1 office at the Hotel Vitez which, as already stated,

    2 served as the accused's headquarters. During the

    3 negotiations with the European Mission or with

    4 UNPROFOR, General Blaskic was frequently alongside

    5 Ignac Kostroman.

    6 One detail is revealing: On 25 May, 1993,

    7 the accused co-authored a letter with Anto Valenta in

    8 which they complained to UNPROFOR that it, the ECMM,

    9 the UNHCR, and the ICRC were using too many "Muslim

    10 translators."

    11 General Blaskic was perfectly well aware of

    12 what policy was being followed.

    13 What was this policy? It was a policy of

    14 discrimination.

    15 This policy clearly discriminated against

    16 Muslims. Everything Muslim was to be done away with or

    17 replaced.

    18 I have just spoken of the desire expressed by

    19 the participants during a meeting co-chaired by the

    20 accused during which demands for a Croatian bank were

    21 put forward. It is interesting to note that the Muslim

    22 bank in Vitez would be destroyed by an explosion the

    23 day before the opening of the Croatian bank in Vitez.

    24 The Muslims were systematically excluded from

    25 the organs of political life.

  44. 1 The Muslim places of worship were destroyed,

    2 or at least damaged or plundered. This was the case

    3 for mosques whose minarets, in particular, were

    4 methodically destroyed, religious centres, or even

    5 those places where the dead were washed before burial.

    6 Lastly, life was made impossible for the

    7 Muslims because their homes were destroyed. The Trial

    8 Chamber points out that this destruction was in no way

    9 haphazard or caused by alleged military necessity. The

    10 Muslim houses were targeted with precision because, as

    11 shown in many documents, the neighbouring Croatian

    12 houses were almost always left intact.

    13 Guilt.

    14 General Blaskic, I now ask that you rise.

    15 [The accused stands]

    16 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, you have been

    17 found guilty of all the crimes ascribed to you except

    18 for the shelling of Zenica.

    19 You are guilty, General Blaskic, of, between

    20 1 May 1992 and 31 January 1994, having ordered in the

    21 municipalities of Vitez, Busovaca, and Kiseljak, and,

    22 in particular, the towns and villages of Ahmici,

    23 Nadioci, Pirici, Santici, Ocehnici, Vitez, Stari Vitez,

    24 Donja Veceriska, Gacice, Loncari, Grbavica, Behrici,

    25 Svinjarevo, Gomionica, Gromiljak, Polje Visnjica,

  45. 1 Visnjica, Rotilj, Tulica, and Han Ploca/Grahovci, a

    2 crime against humanity for persecution of the Muslim

    3 civilians in Bosnia.

    4 These were expressed by attacks on towns and

    5 villages; murder and serious bodily injury; the

    6 destruction and plunder of property and, in particular,

    7 institutions dedicated to religion or education;

    8 inhumane treatment of civilians and, in particular,

    9 their being taken hostage and used as human shields;

    10 the forcible transfer of civilians;

    11 And by these same acts, in particular, as the

    12 Trial Chamber said this was an international armed

    13 conflict, you committed a violation of the laws or

    14 customs of war which were expressed in unlawful attacks

    15 on civilians; a violation of the laws or customs of

    16 war, which is expressed through murders; or serious

    17 violations, breaches which are covered by Article 2 of

    18 the Statute, dealing with breaches of the Geneva

    19 Conventions which were expressed by intentional

    20 killing.

    21 I will not go back to the number of the

    22 counts. You can find them in the Judgement.

    23 Through murder; through serious attacks to

    24 the well-being and health of individuals; and you also

    25 made yourself guilty of serious breaches dealing with

  46. 1 destruction which could be expressed as violations of

    2 the laws or customs of war, destruction of property on

    3 a wide scale, and without military necessity, and

    4 through the plunder of private or public property.

    5 You have made yourself responsible for a

    6 violation of the laws or customs, specifically as

    7 regards the destruction and the damaging deliberately

    8 of buildings dedicated to religion or to education.

    9 Lastly, many were committed under your orders, crimes

    10 which were connected to the detention of individuals

    11 who were under your guard after the combat; inhumane

    12 treatment, cruel treatment; taking of civilians as

    13 hostages; human shields.

    14 In any case, as a commander, you failed to

    15 take the necessary and reasonable measures which would

    16 have prevented the commission of those crimes or the

    17 punishment of the perpetrators thereof.

    18 In order to set your sentence, General

    19 Blaskic, as the Trial Chamber explains in its

    20 Judgement, it took into account in determining the

    21 sentence all the circumstances which may be considered

    22 aggravating or mitigating. You were very young at the

    23 time of the events, and you were responsible for the

    24 Central Bosnia Operative Zone. The evidence presented

    25 to the Trial Chamber allows it to identify the role you

  47. 1 played. It also makes clear that you alone must not

    2 bear the responsibility for the atrocities committed,

    3 and I say this before the Prosecutors.

    4 The crimes you committed, General Blaskic,

    5 are extremely serious. The acts of war, carried out

    6 with disregard for international humanitarian law and

    7 in hatred of other people; the villages reduced to

    8 rubble; the houses and the stables set on fire and

    9 destroyed; the people forced to abandon their homes;

    10 and the lost and broken lives are unacceptable.

    11 The International Community must not tolerate

    12 such crimes, no matter where they may be perpetrated,

    13 whoever the perpetrators are and whatever the motives.

    14 If armed conflict is unavoidable, those who have the

    15 power to take decisions and those who carry them out

    16 must ensure that the most basic rules governing the law

    17 of nations are respected. International courts, today

    18 this Tribunal, tomorrow the International Criminal

    19 Court, must appropriately punish all those, and

    20 especially those holding the highest positions who

    21 transgress these principles.

    22 General Blaskic, you showed no respect for

    23 these rules, and this is something which you know.

    24 Consequently, the Trial Chamber sentences you to a

    25 prison sentence of 45 years, and the period that you

  48. 1 spent in detention at the Tribunal will be deducted

    2 from that figure, starting from the day that you

    3 arrived in The Hague.

    4 The Court stands adjourned.

    5 --- Whereupon the Judgement hearing

    6 adjourned at 11.43 p.m.