Case No IT-95-14
1 Monday, 10th November 1997
2 (10.00 am)
3 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Turning to the Registrar,
4 I would like the accused to be brought in, please.
5 (Accused brought in)
6 Does everybody hear? Are the interpreters ready?
7 Good morning, everybody. Good morning to the
8 Prosecution, to the Defence. Good morning to Mr. Tihofil
9 Blaskic. Does everybody hear? Given that, perhaps we
10 can resume our hearing. Prosecutor, would you please
11 recall where in the proceedings we were? I believe
12 I see Mr. Kehoe standing. We are listening to you,
13 Mr. Kehoe.
14 MR. KEHOE: Good morning, Mr. President, your Honours. I know
15 it has been some time since we have been here. Just by
16 way of recollection, the Prosecution team was putting in
17 a series of witnesses concerning the events taking place
18 in Ahmici and we would -- and the surrounding areas, but
19 mainly Ahmici, and we would continue that beginning
20 today, beginning with Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Watters
21 of the 1 Cheshire Regiment, in the army of the
22 United Kingdom.
23 Before we do bring Lieutenant Colonel Watters in,
24 Mr. President, there are a couple of matters concerning
25 individuals who do not want information disclosed for
1 which there have been prior motions. If just briefly we
2 could go to private session and talk about those two
3 issues, the Prosecution would be very grateful.
4 JUDGE JORDA: No objection from the Defence for a private
5 session in order for us to take our positions.
6 Mr. Hayman?
7 MR. HAYMAN: We do not know what it is about, your Honour,
8 but we think the Prosecutor should have that
10 JUDGE JORDA: All right, Registrar. Do you mean you want a
11 closed session or a private session?
12 MR. KEHOE: Just a private session, Mr. President. There is
13 no need to put the blinds down. Just when we talk about
14 issues which have been the subject of motions, it is not
15 heard out in the gallery.
16 JUDGE JORDA: All right, then we will now have a private
17 session. Until I can find a good way to say "private
18 session" in French, we are saying "session privée", but
19 that is really not a good way to put it. The French
20 judges -- we cannot talk about private sessions in
21 English, so I am saying "privée", although I know that is
22 not really the correct expression. In any case, we are
23 going to have the private session. All right, are we
25 (In closed session)
13 Pages 3342 - 3355 redacted in closed session
14 (In open session)
15 (Witness entered court)
16 JUDGE JORDA: Colonel Watters, do you hear me?
17 THE WITNESS: Yes, I do.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Will you please tell us your identity. Could
19 you tell us exactly your name? You are Lieutenant
20 Colonel Watters.
21 THE WITNESS: I am Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Watters and
22 I currently command the 1st Battalion of the Cheshire
24 JUDGE JORDA: Just a moment please. I just wanted to make
25 sure of your identity. You will be now asked to read a
1 solemn declaration, please, and remain standing while
2 reading it. Please read it.
3 LIEUTENANT COLONEL WATTERS (sworn)
4 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Lieutenant Colonel. You may be
5 seated. You have been invited by the Prosecution to
6 testify as a witness of the Prosecution. You will first
7 be examined by the Prosecutor and after by the Defence.
8 It is now Mr. Kehoe.
9 Examined by MR. KEHOE
10 Q. Good morning, Mr. Watters?
11 A. Good morning, sir.
12 Q. Colonel Watters, what do you do for a living right now?
13 A. I command 1 Cheshire, which is a British infantry
14 battalion, currently stationed in Northern Ireland.
15 Q. Briefly, can you give the Trial Chamber an idea of your
16 experience in the British military?
17 A. I was initially commissioned in 1973 after a year at
18 Sandhurst. I was then posted to 1 Cheshire as a platoon
19 commander, having conducted my platoon commanders'
20 course. Having spent two years as platoon commander,
21 I was trained as an antitank officer of the battalion.
22 After a few more normal regimental duty appointments,
23 which involved operational tours in Northern Ireland and
24 Rhodesia, I was then posted as the operations officer of
25 an armoured brigade in Germany, what we would call the
1 SO3 G3 operations, a grade 3 staff officer. After two
2 years doing that, I returned to 1 Cheshire to command an
3 infantry company, which I commanded in England and
4 Belize in Central America.
5 From there I was posted to headquarters Northern
6 Ireland, where I did a grade 2 staff job. After that,
7 I was posted to Brunei and Borneo to command the Jungle
8 Warfare School and from there I was posted as second in
9 command 1 Cheshire, then stationed in Vitez. After
10 that, and a few more appointments, I was posted back to
11 1 Cheshire to command it.
12 Q. Colonel Watters, when did you take command of the first
13 battalion of the Cheshire Regiment?
14 A. I took command of 1 Cheshire just before we went to
15 Northern Ireland last year.
16 Q. During your citation of your background, Colonel, you
17 said that there was a period of time where you were
18 second in command of 1 Cheshire in Bosnia stationed in
19 Vitez, is that correct?
20 A. That is right, sir.
21 Q. What time-frame was the battalion of 1 Cheshire there and
22 how long were you there?
23 A. The battalion was there from November 1992 until May
24 1993 and I was second in command from the beginning of
25 February 1993 until May when we left.
1 Q. So you were there for probably the last half of the
2 tour, is that about right?
3 A. That is right, sir.
4 Q. Colonel Watters, can you tell the court exactly what was
5 going on when you first got to Bosnia? What was the
6 state of affairs between the warring factions, to the
7 best of your recollection? Can you just give a
8 description of that to the court in your own words?
9 A. I arrived in Bosnia on 6th February and spent the first
10 couple of weeks taking over the job of second in command
11 from Major Tim Park. At the time, the commanding
12 officer, Colonel Stewart, was on his mid-tour leave and
13 so between Major Park and myself we were command and
14 second in command for that battalion for those two
16 My first impression was it was a very confusing
17 environment, militarily, to understand. I spent quite a
18 lot of time trying to put the three warring factions in
19 perspective, understand what their military and
20 political aspirations were, so we could understand what
21 they might be doing -- because what they said they were
22 doing was not always what we discovered they had been
23 doing -- and also to be very clear on the current state
24 of the war; where the front-line positions were, largely
25 the Serb front-lines and what the current state of the
1 Muslim Croat alliance was.
2 Also it was to get to know who the key military
3 and political personalities were within our area of
4 responsibility in Central Bosnia, and that is what
5 I spent the first couple of weeks doing, and was
6 assisted in that by Major Park, who took me round, and
7 also by the attendance of a meeting at Kakanj on
8 13th February, where I met most of the key personalities
9 within the Muslim and Croat armed forces.
10 Q. Did the British battalion have a particular area of
11 responsibility in Central Bosnia?
12 A. Yes, we did. Our area of responsibility really was from
13 Kiseljak up through Busovaca across to Zenica, along the
14 Lasva Valley, incorporating Vitez where our base was,
15 down to Travnik and then across to Jajce Maglaj. We
16 also had areas of responsibility beyond the Serb lines,
17 which we were not able to access, because the Serbs
18 would not let us cross the lines.
19 Q. When you were trying to familiarise yourself with the
20 area, did you have the opportunity to travel around your
21 area of responsibility, or your AOR as you call it?
22 A. Yes, I did, I travelled extensively.
23 Q. The mission for the British battalion in Vitez was known
24 as Operation Grapple, is that right?
25 A. Yes, that was the name given to it by the British
1 Ministry of Defence.
2 Q. What was the goals of the British battalion on Operation
3 Grapple in Central Bosnia and did those goals change
4 over a period of time?
5 A. The goals can best be expressed in our mission statement
6 which the commanding officer articulated within a few
7 weeks of us being in Bosnia. That was essentially --
8 our role was to facilitate the movement of humanitarian
9 aid throughout our area of responsibility in order to
10 prevent the starvation and general deprivation of the
11 civilian population. That was our mission statement, so
12 that was our goal, and at the beginning of our time
13 there, once the Serb front-lines had stabilised and we
14 were able to put in place what we would describe as our
15 "scheme of manoeuvre", or how we would actually achieve
16 our mission statement -- would you like me to explain
17 that or go on to how the goals changed during the
19 Q. Just explain a little bit about how you manoeuvred, and
20 then you can go into how those goals changed.
21 A. The scheme of manoeuvre essentially required -- you have
22 to understand we had a blank sheet of paper. It was
23 what we would call a, "fundamental estimate", an
24 examination of how we might do it, and the plan that we
25 came up with to achieve our mission statement is
1 articulated through this scheme of manoeuvre.
2 What the scheme of manoeuvre required was for the
3 identification within the battle group, BritBat, of a
4 number of officers to perform the function of liaison
5 officers. We identified six who were of the right
6 calibre and personality. These captains were each given
7 an area, a subarea of responsibility within the AOR, and
8 their task was to get to know the personalities, both
9 military and political, who controlled affairs within
10 the Muslim, Croat and if possible Serb areas, and to
11 establish a personal working relationship with these
12 individuals to allow us first of all to understand what
13 was going on, because it was very confusing, and
14 secondly to establish personal relationships which in
15 time of crisis we could call upon to resolve particular
16 situations at the appropriate level. The establishing
17 of these liaison officers became fundamental to our
18 ability to prosecute our mission.
19 Having established the liaison officers, and they
20 having established working relationships within their
21 subareas of responsibility, simultaneously we began a
22 patrolling exercise using the various armoured resources
23 within BritBat, primarily our Warrior armoured vehicles
24 of which we had 53, but also other armoured vehicles, to
25 first of all establish the Serb front-line, and secondly
1 then to produce throughout the area of responsibility a
2 degree of confidence within the local population and the
3 aid organisations, because we did not want to be tied
4 down to specific junctions and be running specific aid
5 convoys. We wanted to create a web, if you like, or a
6 network of security and trust throughout which aid could
7 move unhindered and we would patrol the area extensively
8 and bring force to bear at particular areas of
9 disagreement or conflict, and that was how we intended
10 to do it. That essentially worked up until the middle
11 of April.
12 Q. During the course of your efforts and the efforts of the
13 British battalion to attempt to move aid through the
14 Lasva Valley and the other portions of your area of
15 responsibility, did you come in contact with Colonel
16 Tihomir Blaskic?
17 A. Yes, I did. I first met Colonel Blaskic on
18 13th February at the Busovaca submission meeting in
19 Kakanj, which I attended with Major Park. He was there
20 to the best of my recollection with his immediate
21 commander, General Petkovic. There were also members of
22 the Bosnian Muslim military 3rd Corps.
23 Q. Is the individual that you identify as Colonel Blaskic
24 in the courtroom?
25 A. Yes, that is Colonel Blaskic sitting over there.
1 Q. Can you point to him, please?
2 A. (indicates).
3 MR. KEHOE: Let the record reflect, Mr. President,
4 your Honours, that the witness is identifying the
6 Was that the first point at which you met him, on
7 February 13th 1993?
8 A. That was the first time I had met him, yes.
9 Q. What role did Blaskic play in your area of
11 A. Colonel Blaskic was the regional commander of the HVO.
12 He had three subregions under him, each with their own
13 commanders and subordinate commanders below that. If
14 I can recall, the three areas were Kiseljak --
15 Kiseljak-Busovaca was the first operational area -- no,
16 that was the second. The first area was
17 Vitez-Travnik -- the second operational area was
18 Kiseljak-Busovaca and the third was Zepce, and they were
19 his three subregions, if you like, and he commanded the
20 overall region.
21 Q. Was there any doubt in your mind that he was the overall
22 commander in the Central Bosnia Operative Zone?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Did Colonel Blaskic have what could be called the
25 trappings of military power when you saw him in Central
2 A. It is quite difficult to understand trappings of power.
3 He had the natural authority of the commander. He had
4 the bodyguards that go with many of the commanders in
5 Bosnia at the time. He had communications, and he
6 reported directly to General Petkovic. I cannot think
7 of another way to articulate the fact that it was quite
8 clear he was the regional commander. He signed
9 documents as the regional commander in my presence.
10 Q. Did Colonel Blaskic have headquarters in the area?
11 A. Yes. His main headquarters were in the Hotel Vitez
12 during my period. I was aware he also had a
13 headquarters he worked out at quite often in Kiseljak
14 and I think he actually came from that part of Bosnia,
15 which would explain why he was quite often in Kiseljak
16 as well.
17 Q. Just going back to what we were talking about prior to
18 the description of Colonel Blaskic, you were talking
19 about the goals of the British battalion bringing
20 humanitarian aid in there. Did those goals change at
21 some point?
22 A. The goal of facilitating the description of humanitarian
23 aid which was our mission did not change, the mission
24 remained the same, we were just unable to achieve our
25 mission due to the deterioration of the situation in
1 Central Bosnia, with the collapse of the Muslim Croat
2 alliance, and the degree of fighting and conflict within
3 the area which we -- the idea of forcing humanitarian
4 aid through pitched battles was just facile, and our --
5 the core area of our mission, why we were facilitating
6 humanitarian aid, was to save people's lives, and the
7 requirement to save people's lives switched from feeding
8 them to actually taking them from the field of battle,
9 which is what our main emphasis switched to in the
10 period of late April.
11 Q. This is after the attack on the Vitez/Ahmici areas, is
12 that right?
13 A. It was a slightly larger area than that, but it was
14 after about the morning of 16th April our emphasis
15 changed totally, and really by the time we left in mid
16 May we still had not got back to our primary role of
17 distribution of aid. We had switched to the saving of
18 life in the micro concept in villages and at
19 checkpoints. The running of cease-fire commissions
20 became a major part of our work; facilitating the
21 movement of senior Croat and Muslim commanders under UN
22 protection to take the orders for cease-fires and the
23 conditions of cease-fires to their soldiers; the recovery
24 of bodies from the field of battle, burying of dead;
25 they became the more important things to do at that
2 Q. Colonel Watters, turning if you will from the goals of
3 the British battalion and Operation Grapple, did you
4 have occasion to examine the goals of the army of
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina and the HVO in Central Bosnia?
6 A. Yes. As I explained at the beginning, it was
7 fundamental to us to be able to conduct our mission to
8 understand what the warring factions were trying to do.
9 It became, as one studied it and accessed more
10 information and more personal observation and
11 discussion, it became obvious that there were
12 essentially three structures operating within Central
13 Bosnia in terms of the military situation, both within
14 the Bosnia -- Croat and Bosnian Muslim. I would best
15 describe those as the top level or strategic level, the
16 operational level and the tactical level, and the
17 strategic level was linked to the political aspirations
18 of the Muslims and Croats, and their central governments
19 and central military.
20 The operational level was the prosecution of the
21 strategic objectives by the regional military
22 commanders, and the tactical level was in really the
23 villages or the brigade units within Bosnia, and they
24 operated under the orders of the operational level.
25 I could develop that more if you wish.
1 Q. Let us talk about just individually for the army of
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina. What was their strategic goal at
3 this point when you got to Central Bosnia in February
4 1993, and continuing through until April?
5 A. Do you mean the BiH?
6 Q. The BiH.
7 A. The first point I think about the BiH is they were quite
8 traumatised by the success of the Serbs, especially in
9 the areas like Banja Luka, and in the areas --
10 Srebrenica, which was a running problem during our time
11 there. They really were consolidating and trying to
12 defend the area that they had so far not lost to the
13 Serbs and were very much keen to, from our perspective,
14 maintain their alliance with the Croats, because they
15 did not believe on their own they could actually hold
16 out against any further Serb offences, so they were very
17 much shoring up their eastern borders in the north with
18 the Serbs and working with joint defensive lines, for
19 example in Turbe, just outside Travnik, where they had
20 joint operations with the Croats.
21 Q. Turning if you will to the strategic --
22 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
23 MR. KEHOE: I am sorry. Turning if you will to the strategic
24 goals of the HVO, did you also examine strategic goals
25 of the HVO?
1 A. Yes, in very much the same way, and the story was quite
2 similar, but there were some differences. The major
3 difference between the HVO and the BiH is really the BiH
4 were an island, if you will. They could not be
5 reinforced or supported from anywhere else, there was
6 just the BiH, the Muslim community in Central Bosnia.
7 There was no greater, pan-European Muslim community
8 supporting them. They did have a sort of isolationist
9 survival approach. The HVO and the Croat community were
10 very different, because they had a -- the potential for
11 a great deal of support from Croatia proper, also --
12 that gave them a confidence in their approach which the
13 Muslims did not have, and certainly allowed them to
14 appear to be running agendas that were well outside the
15 concept of a Muslim Croat alliance, very much Croat
16 agendas for a greater Croatia.
17 Q. Explain those agendas, Colonel?
18 A. It was quite obvious that the Croats were looking at the
19 way in which the Serbs appeared to get away with what
20 they got away with through force of arms. The Serbs
21 take a piece of ground, the political community, the
22 Vance-Owen Plan seemed to acquiesce and almost be seen
23 to reward the efforts of the Serbs. It was our
24 understanding, certainly my belief, that the Croats
25 thought that this was quite a successful model to
1 emulate. Certainly the proposed Vance-Owen cantons that
2 we saw at the beginning of April, where canton 10 was a
3 Croat canton, which embraced our area of responsibility,
4 so we were particularly interested in it, appeared to
5 provide a Croat heartland within the middle of Central
6 Bosnia which included quite large Muslim minorities.
7 That appeared to be a strategic goal of the Croats, to
8 address this issue.
9 The second thing was the preoccupation with routes
10 or access from the large centres of Croat population,
11 Prozor and Tomislavgrad, leading down into main land
12 Croatia, and a preoccupation with securing routes from
13 Prozor up into Central Bosnia, because the Mostar route
14 was totally controlled and dominating by the Serbs, and
15 just unusable. The fighting in and around Prozor
16 against the Muslim villages to the east, the fighting in
17 Gornji Vakuf for control of a key junction on that
18 route, and later the fighting in the Lasva Valley sort
19 of reinforced the idea.
20 There is also a great historical precedent within
21 the Balkans for the domination of routes. If you looked
22 at the Serb gains and the routes the Serb front-lines
23 took, they were very strange until you overlaid the main
24 arterial routes of Bosnia and you saw that the Serb
25 front-lines had actually accessed nearly all these main
1 routes and cut them, thus isolating Central Bosnia and
2 preventing in many areas the reinforcements of pockets
3 and fingers, and all these other terms people use for
4 isolated resistance. That model of the preoccupation
5 with the Balkans on the man that controls the valleys,
6 or the man that controls the routes controls the
7 country, is historically evident in the Second World War
8 in Germany's operations within the Balkans. It was a
9 blinding glimpse of the obvious that this route from
10 Prozor up into --
11 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, I would like the witness to speak
12 more directly to the Tribunal.
13 A. I am sorry. It was a blinding glimpse of the obvious
14 that a great deal of the operations conducted by the
15 Croats, even during the period of the cease-fire, was
16 actually to maintain a degree of security on this
17 route. Also, as the fighting developed on 16th April
18 and beyond, a great deal of the effort of the Croat
19 forces was to try and secure routes, not only strategic
20 routes down to Prozor but also routes within Central
21 Bosnia, to link up the main Croat centres of population
22 such as Busovaca and Vitez, for example.
23 MR. KEHOE: You mention that as one agenda. Did the HVO and
24 the Bosnian Croats have a parallel agenda in addition to
25 securing these routes?
1 A. That parallel agenda manifested itself, as I tried to
2 explain earlier, with the development of canton 10 and
3 the problem that having Muslim minorities within their
4 canton would present them. It was quite obvious to us
5 with the events of 16th April and beyond that the Croats
6 intended to remove the Muslim minorities from the area
7 of canton 10, and also to remove Muslims from any areas
8 that would threaten the lines of communication or the
9 main routes within Central Bosnia, and specifically the
10 Lasva Valley area and the Kiseljak valley area.
11 MR. KEHOE: With the assistance of the usher, and if we could
12 just move up to what has now been marked, Mr. President,
13 as exhibit 29G, which is the map on the easel -- I am
14 sorry, is this "G" or "J"?
15 THE REGISTRAR: 29J.
16 MR. KEHOE: 29J, Mr. President, I apologise.
17 I ask you, Colonel Watters, if you could step up
18 to the microphone and, taking the red marker to your
19 left, could you outline, if you will, the strategic
20 goals of the HVO, based on the routes that you just
22 If I may, Mr. President, may I approach?
23 A. If I begin by marking the routes and the towns, shall
24 I do the routes in yellow and the towns in red?
25 Q. That is fine.
1 A. (Witness marks map). They are the main -- I have just
2 highlighted in red the main towns. I will just now
3 highlight the routes I talked about.
4 Q. Just talking about the main towns. Can you mention
5 them, going down from the left-hand corner?
6 A. Prozor, Gornji Vakuf, what we used to describe as
7 Novi Travnik --
8 Q. Which is Pucarevo on the map.
9 A. Vitez, Kaonik, Zenica, Fojnica and Kiseljak. There are
10 two small towns I am just trying to find which are
11 significant. Bilalovac is one of them, Kacuni, that was
12 the other one. I am sorry, sir, my memory does not run
13 four years that well on the detail of some of these
14 towns. The route we are talking about --
15 Q. Which route is this?
16 A. What we are going to do is link up first of all the main
17 Croat centres of population, and the routes that they
18 would be required to maintain to support political or
19 military operations. That is from Kiseljak up what we
20 described as the Kiseljak valley to Busovaca, which was
21 very important to the Bosnian Croats and was also the
22 regional seat of their main political influence, where
23 Mr. Dario Kordic lived. Across to Vitez, up past Stari
24 Bila, where our own place was just there, I will just
25 mark that, up to this key junction here, down past
1 Pucarevo, down to Gornji Vakuf, and then a road
2 controlled also by the Croats down to Prozor, and Prozor
3 linking directly down to Tomislavgrad and down into
5 In addition, there was a good deal of fighting in
6 early April just to the east of Prozor, which we could
7 not understand at first until we began to apply this
8 overlay or logic of routes. One of the big problems
9 with Gornji Vakuf was the large Muslim element there,
10 which was continuously fighting with the Croats. They
11 really could never guarantee that this key junction on
12 this arterial route could be safe. We were getting a
13 lot of reports of heavy artillery fire and attacks out
14 to the east of Prozor, and if you looked there were a
15 series of Muslim villages which went on routes, and it
16 is quite a plethora of routes and alternatives you could
17 take. You could move across to Fojnica, and there was
18 also fighting above Gornji Vakuf, which we put down to
19 an aspiration to push a second route across to
20 Busovaca. Of course, if you got to Fojnica you had a
21 straightforward route over to Kiseljak and there was a
22 route up to Busovaca.
23 So this matrix here overlays the importance of the
24 routes and how if you plotted the routes on the map and
25 you looked where the main areas of fighting were going
1 on between the Croats and the Muslims, or where the
2 major Croat offensives were, you could see that they
3 were actually following routes and the logic of it was
5 Q. This particular matrix that you put together with the
6 routes, is this something that would be planned at a
7 local level, at a local brigade level, or was this a
8 strategic endeavour taken by HVO headquarters, in your
9 opinion, as a military person?
10 A. To answer your question, it was a strategic plan,
11 because the pattern of it and the co-ordination of it
12 had to be done at the very minimum at region level or
13 the operational level. It certainly was not the
14 tactical level, because the co-ordination required for
15 each of these brigade areas was far too great for it to
16 be some sort of spontaneous tactical plan. It had to be
17 co-ordinated and planned at least at regional level,
18 probably actually at strategic level, or the resources
19 given to the regional commander at strategic level to
20 prosecute his regional battle.
21 Q. The route that you mentioned here goes through Vitez,
22 Kaonik, Busovaca, down through Kacuni and Bilalovac and
23 down to Kiseljak. In the area of Kacuni and Bilalovac,
24 when you got there in February 1993, was there a portion
25 or all that road between Bilalovac and Kacuni controlled
1 by the Bosnian Muslims, the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
2 A. Yes, there was, there were actually checkpoints and they
3 became quite contentious, especially the checkpoint in
4 Kacuni. If I draw here approximately, the green
5 line will show the area of this route that was actually
6 controlled by the BiH. They had BiH checkpoints at the
7 beginning and end of them. You knew as you drove down
8 the road that you had gone from a Croat controlled area,
9 south of Busovaca at Kacuni, into a BiH controlled area,
10 which you left south of Bilalovac, leading down to
11 Kiseljak, although there were odd areas just to the
12 north of Kiseljak as well that had areas of conflict
13 between Croats and Muslims.
14 Q. Would it be essential to accomplish those strategic
15 goals to ensure that this entire road from Kiseljak all
16 the way down to Prozor was open?
17 A. Certainly, because it allowed you to bring military
18 reinforcements in, plus normal civilian supplies, and
19 also in times of conflict it allowed you to take your
20 casualties out, and no soldiers want to fight a war if
21 they do not think that when wounded they can be
23 JUDGE JORDA: We are going to interrupt the testimony and we
24 will resume again at 11.45.
25 (11.20 am)
1 (A short break)
2 (11.40 am)
3 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed, please bring the
5 Colonel, please take a seat and we can resume
7 (Accused brought in)
8 MR. KEHOE: Colonel Watters, just turning back briefly to
9 Exhibit 29J, the area that you have outlined in yellow
10 are the routes which you termed as strategic goals of
11 the HVO, is that correct, sir?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. That area goes from Prozor to Gornji Vakuf, up through
14 Novi Travnik and bends down through the Lasva Valley?
15 A. Yes, it does.
16 Q. Onwards from Busovaca down to Kiseljak?
17 JUDGE JORDA: Please, I know it is a question of transcript,
18 could you please avoid repeating things that the witness
19 has already said? The witness has already said it. If
20 it is for the transcript, I understand, but if it is not
21 for the transcript, there is no point. The witness has
22 just said that, so please go ahead.
23 MR. KEHOE: Colonel, you mentioned during the time that you
24 were writing on the particular map at Busovaca that that
25 was where Dario Kordic was headquartered, is that right?
1 A. Yes, that is right.
2 Q. Had you met Dario Kordic?
3 A. I had met him a couple of times.
4 Q. Under what circumstances did you meet Dario Kordic?
5 A. On both occasions in Busovaca in his headquarters, to
6 resolve issues of stolen vehicles in transit and
7 checkpoints in the Busovaca, where we were normally
8 referred to Dario Kordic in the immediate area of
9 Busovaca if we had not been able to deal with the
10 problem on the authority of Colonel Blaskic.
11 Q. Was there -- what was the role of Dario Kordic
12 politically, if you know, in the Croatian Community of
14 A. He was certainly the political focus in that part of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina and we really did not have a great
16 deal to do with him because we dealt mostly at the
17 military level, but the liaison officer responsible for
18 that part of the area had had the task of getting to
19 know Dario Kordic as well as he could and bring
20 influence to bear with him when we did have problems.
21 We had a few problems that Dario Kordic was able to sort
22 out for us and we had not been able to sort them out
23 quoting the authority of Colonel Blaskic.
24 Q. During your time there, Colonel, did you detect some
25 tension between Kordic and Blaskic?
1 A. Yes. It is quite difficult to articulate exactly why,
2 but there did seem to be contradictions from the two,
3 mostly Dario Kordic contradicting what Colonel Blaskic
4 had said and trying, to our liaison officers, to
5 override the authority of Colonel Blaskic, but it mostly
6 applied to Busovaca and its close environs. It did not
7 seem to stretch much beyond that, in terms of the
8 particular problems that we had.
9 Q. So in your analysis of the problem, would any such
10 conflict affect this strategic plan that you have
11 outlined in 29J on the map?
12 A. No, other than the central focus being Busovaca, which
13 was very much Dario Kordic's view.
14 Q. Let us turn to April, Colonel, April 1993. Can you tell
15 the court what is going on in Central Bosnia and in
16 Bosnia in general in April 1993, and I am talking about
17 places like Srebrenica, as well as visits by Bosnian
18 Croat political officials et cetera. This is prior to
19 the outbreak of hostilities on 16th April.
20 A. At the beginning of April, our eyes were very much
21 focused on Tuzla, where we had a company, and we were
22 involved in negotiating a route from Tuzla to
23 Srebrenica, and I went up to Tuzla between 6th and
24 8th April, and we had the double problem of having lost
25 some of our military vehicles on a mission to a place
1 called Konjevic Polje. The Serbs had opened fire and
2 damaged two of our vehicles which we had had to abandon
3 there and the soldiers had to withdraw under tank fire.
4 I led a team back to try to recover those vehicles from
5 the Serbs. We went to Zvornik to negotiate with the
6 Serbs. So the early part of April we were very
7 preoccupied with the situation, generally Tuzla and
9 I returned on 8th April back down to Vitez, where
10 I was informed that Marte Boban had visited Travnik and
11 this had caused considerable problems. One of our
12 liaison officers, Captain Forgrave, had witnessed this
13 in Travnik. It had also caused considerable
14 consternation among some of our interpreters from the
15 Muslim community. They certainly did not believe that
16 we understood, as BritBat, the significance of this
17 particular character's visit. We did not, in their view,
18 understand the significance of a visit of a man of this
19 political stature. He certainly whipped up emotions
20 within Travnik and made comments such as, "there are not
21 enough Croat flags flying in Travnik". After his visit,
22 there were several people killed in Travnik -- initially
23 a lot of Croat flags went up after his visit and Muslim
24 young men were killed or shot taking down these flags
25 and it caused an enormous amount of tension in Travnik.
1 For the period 8th April to about 15th or 14th,
2 Travnik was the main area of concern, because we thought
3 there was a problem likely to ignite in Travnik. We had
4 not at that point connected it with anything on a larger
6 Q. Colonel, who did you understand Mate Boban to be?
7 A. I must admit, I have to confess a degree of ignorance.
8 I was not quite sure on 8th April who he was, although
9 I had read his name. I later understood that he was a
10 central political figure in the Croat Herceg-Bosna
11 aspiration, if you like.
12 Q. As we move ahead after this Mate Boban visit, did other
13 things happen going up until the evening of the 15th and
14 16th to give you some indication that something was
15 about to erupt?
16 A. I am just trying to get the chronology clear in my
17 mind. It is quite a long time ago. There was an
18 incident on 15th I think of April, or that area, where
19 the Croat commander in Zenica, Totic, was allegedly
20 kidnapped, probably kidnapped. Four of his bodyguards
21 were killed and a Muslim civilian was killed in Zenica.
22 The commanding officer in fact on that day, on the 15th,
23 went up to Zenica, because this was causing major
24 problems. There was a dictat from the HVO, and I cannot
25 remember whether it was a regional command or strategic
1 command, that if Totic was not returned within 48 hours
2 then the Croat population of Zenica would be moved out
3 of Zenica, and the implications of that, on the 14th and
4 15th, were exercising our minds considerably. We just
5 had a feeling that events were running away and we were
6 not at that time keeping up with what was going on.
7 Q. What happened after that, Colonel?
8 A. In the early hours of 16th April, some members of the
9 press arrived in our base in Vitez, I cannot remember
10 the exact time, it was midnight or 1.00 in the morning,
11 in a state of considerable shock. They had been staying
12 in a bed and breakfast based on a garage on the way to
13 Vitez, we knew it because there was a bear in a cage in
14 the garden of this garage, and they said that they had
15 been -- that the door had been kicked open and masked
16 men, men with balaclavas and guns had burst into their
17 room and told them to leave. There did not appear to be
18 anyone else in the house and they left all their
19 belongings and got in their car and driven down. We at
20 first thought this was a criminal situation, because
21 there was a great deal of crime going on throughout the
22 whole area, it overarched everything we had been dealing
23 doing, because dealing with criminal activity, thefts of
24 vehicles, robberies and so on. At first we thought this
25 was another example of it, but we were rather startled
1 at the closeness of it to where we were operating.
2 At about 5.00 or 6.00 in the morning, we then got
3 reports of shelling in the town of Vitez, which
4 certainly was very unusual.
5 Q. Let me stop you right there. You said shelling was
6 unusual. Why was it unusual?
7 A. Because there had not been reports of heavy shelling in
8 the town of Vitez since we had been there, that was why
9 it was unusual.
10 Q. Is there something unique about the control of weapons,
11 be they artillery weapons or mortar weapons? Is there
12 something unique about them that is different from light
13 arms fire that would cause some added precautions to be
14 taken by someone in command?
15 A. Artillery and mortars, certainly in Bosnia and in our
16 own army, are not controlled at the tactical level.
17 Mortars and artillery are controlled at either the
18 regional level or the strategic level, so the firing of
19 these weapons was a combat indicator, that whatever
20 operation was being prosecuted by whichever side -- it
21 is very difficult to tell where artillery is being fired
22 from, you can really only analyse the intent from where
23 the rounds are falling, so small arms fire really was a
24 constant and did not excite us terribly much. But the
25 use of heavy weapons, of mortars or artillery, was a
1 common indicator that there was something going on at a
2 higher level than a battle between a couple of villages
3 over some incident.
4 Q. So based on hearing and finding out that artillery was
5 being used, did you draw certain conclusions about who
6 authorised the use of that artillery?
7 A. At that time, because we did not know who was firing it,
8 at 6.00 in the morning the only thing we could conclude
9 was that there was something happening that was on a
10 larger scale than we had seen before and we certainly
11 were not expecting it. We were taken very much by
12 surprise, which is why we sent out patrols to ascertain,
13 if they could, where the artillery was firing from and
14 certainly where the artillery was falling and what was
15 going on. It was a period of considerable confusion.
16 We were getting reports from a Dutch transport base
17 which was nearer to Vitez than we were about this
18 artillery falling. We pushed our patrols at about 6.30
19 in the morning up through Vitez and beyond to establish
20 what was happening and the reports that were coming back
21 were very alarming, because it seemed to be on a scale
22 we had not seen before in this part of Bosnia.
23 Q. From the reports that came back, who was doing the
24 firing of artillery that morning?
25 A. To the best of our judgement, because the rounds were
1 falling in Muslim areas, we drew the natural conclusion
2 that the artilleries were fired by Croats. We then were
3 able to target known artillery pieces owned by the HVO.
4 There was one in a quarry, for example. There were
5 several artillery pieces that over the months we had
6 tracked, we had kept an eye on where they were, using
7 all the resources at our disposal, and were able to go
8 and look at some of those artillery pieces and they
9 indeed were firing. We knew them to be HVO artillery.
10 Q. On a regional level, who was in charge of those
11 artillery pieces that were firing on the morning of the
13 A. The regional commander, Colonel Blaskic.
14 Q. The defendant?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. You said this artillery fire began at about 6.00 am on
17 the morning of 16th April 1993. What happened after
18 that, Colonel?
19 A. We pushed patrols out that reported mortar and artillery
20 assaults, followed by infantry assaults, in the town of
21 Vitez and up the entire stretch of the Lasva Valley, on
22 both sides of the valley, and all the smaller villages
23 all the way up to Dubravica, especially those as you
24 look at the map on the north of the road.
25 At this point, Colonel Stewart was still in Zenica
1 where he had gone the day before to discuss with 3rd
2 Corps what on earth was going on and why they had
3 kidnapped Commander Totic, so I was on my own in Vitez
4 that morning. Having got reports from my patrols as to
5 the scope of the situation, I then took my own Warrior
6 out and went to visit Vitez up as far as Dubravica and
7 then, having validated and confirmed the reports I had
8 received from my subordinates, I decided that we ought
9 to talk to somebody and I called in to the Vitez
10 commander. I tried to talk to Colonel Blaskic, but he
11 was not available. I am pretty sure -- I went to the
12 cinema building in Vitez, which was the Vitez brigade
13 commander, Mario Cerkez, and I then went down to visit
14 the Bosnian Muslim commander, Sefkija, I cannot remember
15 his surname.
16 Q. Sefkija Djidic?
17 A. Yes, and left the liaison officer, Captain Dundas
18 Whatley, having got the agreement from the two tactical
19 commanders, because I could not at that time access the
20 regional level of command. The most severe fighting was
21 taking place in and around Vitez, so I asked for
22 representatives of the Croat and Muslim military forces
23 to come to Vitez school at 12.30 for a conference to try
24 to find out what on earth was going on.
25 Captain Dundas Whatley, the LO, then facilitated
1 the movement of those people, and the Muslim commander
2 came, but Cerkez did not come, he sent two people who
3 I think came from the -- I know they came from the Hotel
5 Q. Colonel, before we go into that meeting, let me just ask
6 you a few questions about your ride in through Vitez.
7 When you rode into Vitez about 8.00 in the morning on
8 16th April, what did you see? What did you observe?
9 A. As I approached the town, I could see columns of smoke.
10 There were no actual flashes of mortar or artillery
11 fire, but there were several very large black columns of
12 smoke coming out of the town. I came in from the south,
13 through the Muslim quarter, and there was considerable
14 collateral damage to the houses left and right of the
15 road and there were a number of bodies, either in a
16 macabre way -- one of them was actually hanging out of
17 the window with blood down the house, others were lying
18 in the street, and the first impression I got was that
19 none of them appeared to be soldiers, they were all
20 civilians. They were dressed as civilians, they were
21 men, they were women.
22 I then went through -- we came into quite a lot of
23 sniper fire as we approached beyond the mosque where the
24 Croat and Muslim front-lines, as we came to know them,
25 were, and we pushed through the front-lines into the
1 Croat areas. The Croat areas had no destruction and
2 were -- I will not say they looked normal, there was
3 nobody around which was abnormal, but there was no
4 actual destruction of property in the Croat half of
5 Vitez, which further confirmed our initial view that it
6 was a Croat offensive against the Muslim forces or the
7 Muslim town area of Vitez.
8 Q. The bodies that you saw on the right- and left-hand side
9 of the road as you were going into Vitez, the only
10 bodies that you saw that morning as you were driving
12 A. I did see some more bodies. When I got to the top of
13 Vitez and turned right to go up to Dubravica, on the
14 left just as you go down a hill, there were three or
15 four bodies, I think male and female, literally lying by
16 the road. It just looked strange, they were just neatly
17 laid out in a line in front of a house.
18 I came back from Dubravica back through Vitez and
19 I did not go up any of the side roads. I stayed on the
20 central road, because I was acutely aware that the
21 longer I spent out of my headquarters the less I would
22 understand about what was unfolding around me. That was
23 why I went back quite quickly.
24 Q. You mentioned earlier that you tried to see Blaskic
25 during this ride through Vitez and you were unable to
1 contact him. During this time-frame, did you see or meet
2 Blaskic at any point?
3 A. Again, it is difficult that long ago. I have a memory
4 of seeing Colonel Blaskic with his helmet on, which was
5 unusual, and he had a very distinctive American helmet.
6 I have a memory of seeing him with other Croat
7 commanders not in Vitez school but in the environs of
8 the town of Vitez somewhere, but I am afraid I could not
9 give a time and date.
10 Q. Let us turn, if you will, Colonel, back to the meeting
11 at BritBat that commenced at about noon time or 12.30.
12 Can you tell the judges what happened during this
14 A. There were two representatives of the HVO and one
15 representative of the BiH, who was the Vitez town
16 commander. He certainly seemed in a state of shock as
17 to what was going on and the fact he was actually losing
18 a battle and was very keen to arrange a cease-fire, as
19 indeed were the Croat commanders. We still at 12.30,
20 and more was unfolding on reports which I was not privy
21 to at that time, still had not realised that it was very
22 much bigger than Vitez and the environs. The use of
23 artillery was the factor that kept confusing us, because
24 as you drove through Vitez, it was just the two
25 commanders, Croat and Muslim, who were fighting, and yet
1 there was artillery and the effects of artillery. A
2 great deal of damage by RPG-7 rockets on the houses,
3 very distinctive marks they make as they hit the houses,
4 and I could not ascertain in this meeting what the scale
5 of the fighting was and why on earth the fighting was
6 going on in the first place.
7 There seemed to be a willingness on the part of
8 all sides to stop the fighting and declarations were
9 made and a piece of paper was signed to institute a
10 cease-fire and exchange of prisoners, recovery of bodies
11 and so on, and they left the headquarters at that point
12 and it made absolutely no difference at all to the scale
13 of fighting.
14 Q. Sir, as time went on, on the 16th, did you and other
15 members of BritBat receive continuous information that
16 gave you a better view as to the scale of the fighting
17 that was going on in the Lasva Valley and elsewhere,
18 beginning on the morning of the 16th?
19 A. Yes, we did. We pushed patrols out and also received
20 reports from the aid agencies, from their various areas,
21 because they obviously could not move, and they were
22 ringing through to us or getting messages through to us
23 about what they were also seeing. It was obvious that
24 there was fighting in the Kiseljak valley, the
25 Lasva Valley, and there was also a lot of fighting east
1 of Prozor. It was quite obvious, given the scale of
2 this fighting, the amount of heavy calibre artillery
3 that one could hear firing, even if you could not always
4 see the effects, and there was a large HVO controlled
5 artillery piece, which I think was called "Nora", in a
6 quarry not far away from us that just seemed to fire
8 It was obvious that it was a major Croat
9 offensive, it was obvious that the BiH had been caught
10 unaware and were very much in the defensive, with the
11 HVO on the offensive. We witnessed that in many areas.
12 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, if I can once again ask the Colonel
13 to go up to 29J, and we just want to mark some of these
14 locations with a marker. If I can approach as well?
15 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, please, Colonel, you can go up to the
16 map. Mr. Kehoe can approach and also the Defence, if
17 they wish to.
18 MR. KEHOE: Colonel, once again can I ask you to speak into
19 the microphone? Once you make a mark, if you could turn
20 to the judges and tell them exactly what you are
22 When you had a chance to assess, Colonel, exactly
23 what was going on, where did you learn the fighting was
24 taking place at the same time?
25 A. Could you explain that again?
1 Q. When you began to receive information during the course
2 of the 16th, what were the locations that you learned
3 there was fighting at, and what were the conclusions
4 that you made in conjunction with this strategic plan?
5 What did you conclude was going on?
6 A. One of the things we were trying to do on the morning of
7 the 16th was produce a logic for what was unfolding in
8 front of us, because it certainly was not a series of
9 tactical battles just happening in a spontaneous way.
10 Q. You say tactical battles --
11 A. Village, the tactical level, village level; it certainly
12 was not that and we were used to that. It seemed to
13 have far more form and substance about it. Obviously
14 the first fighting we knew about was in Vitez, where the
15 Croat end of the village here (indicates) was attacking
16 the Muslim end of the village here. There was also
17 fighting happening in Kruscica up here. There was
18 fighting happening all the way down the Lasva Valley,
19 through Nadioci, Ahmici, Santici.
20 Croats had reinforced their checkpoints, and the
21 growth of checkpoints was actually quite a phenomenon in
22 itself. They had a serious checkpoint at Kaonik, a very
23 serious checkpoint at this junction here (indicates).
24 There was also fighting in and around Stari Bila, where
25 the Muslim people around here were being attacked by HVO
1 forces but were actually holding their own. There was a
2 little war happening around our base which at the time
3 was deflecting us slightly for a few hours.
4 There was fighting around Kacuni and Bilalovac.
5 There was a little fighting north of Kiseljak, to the
6 point where the UN headquarters in Kiseljak actually
7 packed up and was preparing to evacuate. There was
8 fighting in what we knew as Novi Travnik and there was
9 serious fighting just north of Prozor and a lot of
10 artillery on these villages up here. Gornji Vakuf was
11 actually moderately quiet, there were lots of reports of
12 aircraft over there, but not a great deal of fighting.
13 When you looked at it actually at that time the HVO
14 forces had more control over the route through
15 Gornji Vakuf than they had in the past, and the Muslims
16 were not threatening. In the view of the company
17 commander we had down there, the Croats were reasonably
18 in control at that point. That I think is as much as
19 I remember.
20 Q. You had a chance, Colonel, to take a look at this and to
21 plot out the fighting that was going on. Was it clear
22 to you that this fighting taking place in Vitez was an
23 intricate part of this overall strategic plan?
24 A. Yes, it was. In fact there was another route here
25 (indicates), because we could not quite understand why
1 Kruscica was quite so important until we realised that
2 there was a back road from Kruscica to Vitez. Kruscica
3 -- in fact, the main route and through here and these
4 roads began to move down as well, and you can see that
5 there is the possibility of a link up on the roads in
6 the centre here up through Vitez and through Kruscica
7 (indicates), so Kruscica, as well as being a -- having a
8 BiH headquarters in it and a Muslim population, also
9 controlled or dominated routes in the area.
10 The substance of the fighting did not appear to be
11 conducted against military targets, the substance of the
12 fighting seemed in the main to be conducted against
13 civilian populations, ethnic cleansing. The logic for
14 it, we thought, was a sort of twin-track approach, or
15 twin-track reason. One was the securing of the routes
16 and the strategic route out of Central Bosnia, and the
17 other one, in the light of about I think the early part
18 of April when the actual canton map for the Vance-Owen
19 Peace Plan showed canton 10, which was this area
20 (indicates) as a Croat canton, it appeared that the
21 Croats were seizing the strategic opportunity to remove
22 the Muslim people from the proposed Croat canton whilst
23 securing their routes.
24 The window of opportunity they had chosen was
25 strategically very clever, with hindsight, because the
1 situation up in to the east where the Serbs were
2 attacking Srebrenica and the villages below Srebrenica,
3 the Bosnian Muslim BiH was concentrating looking east,
4 BritBat was concentrating in the north and east, and the
5 world's media were all in Tuzla filming the first
6 evacuations from Srebrenica, so if as a military
7 commander you wanted to seize a strategic opportunity,
8 that was there, and the tactical plan made huge sense in
9 terms -- sorry, the operational plan in the region made
10 huge sense in that you were securing your routes,
11 fundamentally important, and there was a horrible and
12 icy logic to the removal of the Muslim minorities within
13 the proposed canton 10.
14 Q. The operational commander for the area that was on your
15 doorstep was Colonel Blaskic?
16 A. Yes.
17 MR. KEHOE: If I can go back, Mr. President, and ask Colonel
18 Watters to take his seat again?
19 Colonel Watters, as we moved on from the 16th, did
20 you have occasion to go back out into the Vitez area
21 later on that afternoon or early evening?
22 A. Yes, I did. One of the major concerns of the BiH were
23 casualties in Kruscica. Essentially, if we wanted
24 co-operation from the BiH then they asked that we went
25 into Kruscica and took these wounded women, as they were
1 described, out of the village. I gained clearance
2 through Colonel Blaskic's headquarters for this, what
3 was largely a humanitarian mission to go and remove
4 wounded civilians from the field of battle, and took a
5 patrol myself from Vitez up to Kruscica at about 5.30.
6 As we set off it was daylight. As we were moving into
7 Kruscica, it was getting dark, so it was that time of
8 the day.
9 At the time, Kruscica was under concentrated
10 artillery, mortar and rocket launcher fire, and it
11 really did look -- it is a bowl, and as you went up the
12 road out of Vitez, you crest a hill and the village is
13 in a bowl below you. It just looked like a caldron of
14 fire, it was absolutely startling. We went into the
15 village, went to the BiH headquarters. We received a
16 guide who took us down to the house where these people
17 were. I had got some armoured ambulances with me and we
18 put the women and some men into the armoured ambulances
19 and we took them to Travnik hospital.
20 Q. Colonel, there was a BiH Army headquarters in the
21 Kruscica area, is that correct?
22 A. Yes, that is correct.
23 Q. Did it appear to you, Colonel, when you went up there in
24 the late afternoon and early evening of the 16th , that
25 the artillery and mortar fire was directed towards a
1 military target, or did you conclude that something else
2 was taking place?
3 A. In the course of the day, we had already formed the view
4 that the HVO offensive in the Lasva Valley was not aimed
5 at attacking BiH positions because (a) there were very
6 few of them and (b) they were very under strength,
7 because most of the BiH effort, according to our
8 sources, was directed further east.
9 Q. Against the Serbs?
10 A. Against the Serbs. So when I went into Kruscica I knew
11 there was a BiH headquarters there, the headquarters was
12 there and functioning. I did not see many BiH
13 soldiers. The target for the artillery was the village
14 itself. The fact that the village was holding out
15 obviously meant it was being defended. I believed that
16 the model that we had seen in the other villages in the
17 Lasva Valley was being applied to Kruscica, and that was
18 to ethnically cleanse it, but it was obviously being
19 able to defend itself far better than other than people
20 had, because it was more of a defended locality.
21 I cannot say that the specific civilian houses were
22 being targeted, other than military positions, because
23 those civilian houses may well have been military
24 positions, but we did not believe there was any other
25 reason for attacking it other than the reasons they had
1 attacked the other villages in the Lasva Valley, which
2 was to remove the population.
3 MR. KEHOE: With the permission of the usher, if we can just
4 flip this map over, or take 29J down. There is another
5 map that is underneath which I believe is 56E. Again if
6 I could ask Mr. President, your Honours, with the court's
7 permission, if Colonel Watters can step up and go over
8 the map.
9 Colonel, using the orange marker, can you just
10 mark the path that you travelled on the morning of the
11 16th when you went out at approximately 8.00 or 8.30?
12 A. I went up past our bulk fuel installation, which was
13 here (witness marks map).
14 Q. You are marking that in the colour orange, is that
16 A. Yes, past our echelon location, which was here (witness
17 marks map).
18 Q. That is marked with the letter "K", is that right?
19 A. Yes, it is. That was our logistic base that supported
20 operations for the whole of our area of responsibility.
21 Then we went up through and past the mosque, which
22 I think is here, shown with an "F". I specifically
23 remember this bridge here, because there were some
24 anti-tank mines on it that we had to negotiate
25 (indicates). Then I went up here to the junction,
1 I think it is just beyond there actually -- I went off
2 that way and then came back the same route and linked up
3 with the liaison officer, visited Mario Cerkez here,
4 I think, shown with a "B", and then went back down
5 through Vitez and to the Muslim headquarters.
6 We could not get our Warriors there, so we had to
7 dismount and go through small roads. I cannot exactly
8 remember where it is, but I think it is somewhere in
9 this area here. Then back in my Warrior, leaving
10 Captain Dundas Whatley to negotiate a meeting with the
11 two tactical commanders and then return back down this
12 way to our base in Stari Bila (indicates).
13 Q. You also mentioned later on, on the 16th there was
14 artillery fire going into the village of Kruscica. Can
15 you give with the red the location of the HVO artillery
16 fire and also mark with green the location of the houses
17 that were being hit?
18 A. As we could understand it, from where the rocket
19 launchers were being fired, the rocket launchers -- we
20 could not work out what it was, either low small calibre
21 airburst artillery, or the RPG7 rocket launcher has a
22 specific range, and when it reaches its terminal range
23 the warhead self-destructs and we thought that is what
24 it might be as well, and they were being fired and you
25 could see the streaks from them as they fired them, they
1 were being fired from the high ground round here into
2 the village, and they were impacting throughout the
3 village, all over the place (witness marks map).
4 As we came up this road here and got to about this
5 position, we could see houses in this area here and in
6 the centre literally just erupting. I do not know
7 whether when the artillery rounds hit the house, I do
8 not know whether they had gas cylinders in them or what,
9 but there was these phenomenal explosions. As I say,
10 I described it as a caldron, because it just appeared to
11 be burning all over the place. We were specifically
12 careful when we went in to avoid going too far to the
13 right, because our own vehicles could be vulnerable to
14 the fire from the rocket launchers.
15 Q. Going back again to the orange, could you go up the road
16 to Kruscica and show us where you went?
17 A. We went into Kruscica -- when I got to this junction
18 here, we met up with a guide. I have a vague memory
19 that the BiH headquarters may have been in this area on
20 the junction, but I cannot swear to it, I am afraid.
21 Also because a lot of the houses had collapsed on the
22 roads, the route we took to the house in the cellar of
23 which were these casualties was also quite difficult,
24 because we were closed down and just following the
25 vehicle that was our guide. I have a feeling it was in
1 the back end of the village up here somewhere
2 (indicates), and we certainly drove quite a way to get
3 to it.
4 Q. The houses that you saw being shelled, did they appear
5 to be military installations or civilian houses?
6 A. They were civilian houses. Whether they were military
7 installations I cannot say.
8 Q. Did you ever have any information they were military
10 A. No, but I did not have information that they were not,
12 Q. Thank you, sir, you can take a seat. Colonel, let us
13 move ahead to 17th April 1993, the next day. Did the
14 fighting in fact continue that day?
15 A. Yes, it did. By that stage the commanding officer was
16 back from Zenica and he chaired a meeting on the morning
17 of the 17th. I did not attend that meeting so I cannot
18 remember who was at it, but it essentially went through
19 the same ground we had gone through on the lunch-time of
20 the 16th, and everyone signed up to a package of peace
21 proposals that were totally ignored for the rest of the
23 Q. In and around that day, were you asked by Muslim
24 authorities to make a search for any Muslim doctors in
25 the Vitez area?
1 A. What had happened is when we had -- the night before
2 when we had been in Kruscica, the military commander in
3 Kruscica had said that there were reports that two
4 doctors who worked in the clinic in Vitez who came from
5 Kruscica could not be found and they had no means of
6 treating their casualties in Kruscica because these two
7 doctors were isolated within the clinic in Vitez, and
8 would we go and get them, and also said there were
9 rumours that they had been killed, but would we try and
10 get these doctors, because without doctors he could see
11 the problems they were having and they could not treat
12 their wounded and people were dying and so on.
13 Q. So did the British battalion make a search for these
15 A. Yes, I, in fact, did it myself. We took the Warriors
16 into Vitez and dismounted and conducted a foot patrol in
17 the area of the clinic. We came under sniper fire a
18 couple of times, so we were not actually going to hang
19 around. I saw in the clinic through a window two dead
20 people dressed in white coats. They had been dead a
21 while from the colour of their faces and the colour of
22 the blood, and I presumed them to be the two missing
23 doctors and took my patrol back to our Warriors and
24 reported that to headquarters in Kiseljak.
25 Q. Colonel, let us turn our attention to the next day,
1 18th April 1993. What happened on that day, sir? Did a
2 truck bomb go off in Stari Vitez?
3 A. Sorry, I was starting at the beginning of the day. In
4 the evening, there was a report, again from the Dutch
5 battalion's transport base, of a large explosion, also
6 reported to us shortly afterwards by our own logistic
7 base, coming from the centre of Vitez, or the mosque
8 area of Vitez. I despatched Major Thomas, who was
9 commanding A Company, the Vitez company, to go and
10 investigate, and he reported back that from the
11 appearance of a large crater and parts of an automobile
12 in the crater, it appeared to be a large lorry-borne
13 explosion, a lorry bomb.
14 In our own experience in Northern Ireland, where
15 that type of device is one of the main weapons of the
16 IRA, we were able to identify exactly what it was, a
17 vehicle-borne explosive device. It had been placed near
18 the mosque in the Muslim area of the city. It had
19 caused total devastation. There were a lot of dead and
20 wounded and a lot of people trapped in the rubble. At
21 the same time, Major Thomas's people were under fire
22 from the Croat end of the village while they were
23 investigating it.
24 Q. After Major Thomas and the other members of Company A
25 went to Stari Vitez, did they attempt to evacuate
1 anybody out of there?
2 A. Yes, they did. The first thing we did was remove
3 wounded people in need of hospital treatment and we took
4 them to initially our own mobile surgical team and then
5 on to Travnik. We also evacuated some of the homeless
6 whose houses had just disappeared, and they were taken
7 to Travnik as well, and we picketed the area for the
8 remainder of the night, because there was not a great
9 deal we could do with lights. We waited until the
10 morning when we brought our Royal Engineer assets in to
11 begin doing a careful search of the houses for survivors
12 and removing the bodies.
13 Q. You mentioned previously in your testimony, Colonel,
14 that you had done several tours with the Cheshire
15 Regiment in Northern Ireland, is that correct?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. You also mentioned you are familiar with truck bombs of
18 this nature because of your experience with the IRA in
19 Northern Ireland, is that right?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Did you draw certain conclusions, based on the use of
22 this truck bomb in Stari Vitez on 18th April 1993, on
23 what its purpose was and what it was designed to do?
24 A. My personal view is that it was an act of terrorism, and
25 certainly it was not a legitimate act of war in pursuit
1 of military objectives. The design of terror weapons or
2 terrorist weapons is to terrorise, and it certainly
3 worked. The people 6 Stari Vitez were absolutely
4 terrorised by it. Very many of them wanted to leave
5 their homes and later on, the following day, up to 400
6 of them left and moved down to our echelon location.
7 The device was designed to break the will of the people
8 through an act of terror and it achieved its objective.
9 Q. Did it work?
10 A. Yes, it did.
11 Q. Did anything else take place other than this particular
12 use of the truck bomb on 18th April 1993 that you can
14 A. It is difficult to get it sequential. I can remember
15 things on the 19th. I would have to refer to our
16 incident reports, I am afraid. I have gone blank.
17 Q. If I may, did it appear to you that by the 18th the HVO
18 had accomplished its territorial goals in the area?
19 A. Yes, I do remember. On the 18th, there was a report
20 that Izetbegovic and Boban had signed a peace document,
21 and we received notification of this through
22 Colonel Blaskic's headquarters. The document was
23 designed to stop the war at that point, and the HVO
24 level of command were very content with this, and the
25 BiH were very unhappy about it, because the net gain, if
1 such a cease-fire had been applied on the 18th, would be
2 the HVO, who had taken considerable ground and
3 ethnically cleansed a number of small Muslim villages,
4 and if the lines of fighting were to be frozen at that
5 point, they would have indeed achieved their strategic
6 aim of ethnically cleansing canton 10, virtually, with
7 the exception of Travnik.
8 Q. In response to this, Colonel --
9 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone please.
10 MR. KEHOE: I am sorry. In response to the fighting, did
11 other members of the British battalion begin to see, on
12 approximately 18th April, a military response by the
13 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
14 A. Yes, we began to get reports of artillery and mortars
15 again being fired by the HVO and reports of tanks moving
16 out of Zenica down the mountain road towards Dubravica.
17 It certainly appeared -- the tanks certainly were a
18 combat indicator that two or three days after the
19 initial assault by the HVO that the BiH were actually
20 counter attacking. During the period of the 18th and
21 into the 19th, we saw more and more evidence of a very
22 large scale and successful counter attack by the BiH
23 forces against the HVO and essentially a change of the
24 tide and the HVO going on the defensive, having been on
25 the offensive.
1 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President and your Honours, once again with
2 the court's position, if we could turn back to 29J and
3 have that map flipped back over, if I could ask Colonel
4 Watters to outline in green pen the various areas of the
5 Bosnian Muslim offensive beginning on 18th April 1993?
6 A. What we discovered was that elements of 3rd Corps which
7 had been deployed out of Zenica towards Kakanj had been
8 withdrawn and had re-organised themselves and mounted a
9 series of counterattacks. One counterattack which was
10 led by, I think it was three tanks came down the
11 mountain road and into Dubravica and cut the road just
12 east of Vitez. A second attack came down through the
13 well defended Croat village of Jelinak and down to
14 Kaonik and cut the junction from Busovaca up to Vitez.
15 We also understood that the Muslims had moved
16 forces down here (indicates) and had reinforced the area
17 between Kacuni and Bilalovac, and indeed pushed forces
18 down as well, just north of Kiseljak here.
19 They also moved forces around, bypassing Busovaca
20 and reinforcing Kruscica, and so by approximately 18th,
21 19th and 20th April, the BiH had in essence rolled back
22 all the HVO victories and had essentially pocketed the
23 HVO within Busovaca and Vitez, and had cut off all
24 communication in and out of those two areas, and were in
25 a position to now launch attacks, on about the
1 21st, into Busovaca and into Vitez. I cannot remember
2 what was going on over here actually, I do not think
3 very much, I think they were just holding out.
4 Q. When you say "over here", you are talking about
5 Novi Travnik?
6 A. Yes. There might have been some movement across here to
7 Novi Travnik, I cannot remember, but certainly the 3rd
8 Corps had come back and recaptured what used to be
9 theirs and pushed their front-lines down on to the main
10 Lasva Valley road and cut it at several strategic
11 points, thus isolating the HVO military forces.
12 Q. You may have a seat again, thank you. So Colonel, by
13 19th April 1993 did you observe that this offensive by
14 the Muslims was underway?
15 A. Yes, we did, and there was a reaction on the 19th by, we
16 believed, the HVO, and that was the shelling of Zenica,
17 and that was reported to us by an aid agency. I think
18 about seven or so rounds, there may have been more,
19 I cannot remember the exact detail, I have to again look
20 at our reports, but a number of heavy calibre artillery
21 rounds had landed in the middle of Zenica and
22 approximately 13 people, I think, were reported killed.
23 This we considered on the same proportion as the vehicle
24 bomb in Vitez, as to be totally indefensible from a
25 Geneva Convention and the Articles of War point of view.
1 Q. Why?
2 A. Because shelling Zenica was going to achieve no tactical
3 advantage to the forces in retreat into Vitez and
4 Busovaca, HVO forces, against the onslaught of the BiH,
5 and we could only assume that the HVO had fired their
6 artillery into Zenica as a warning to the Muslim forces
7 to stop attacking and embrace the previous peace
8 proposal that we had heard about on the 18th. It did
9 actually the reverse and merely strengthened the
10 resolve, we were told later, of the BiH, who were
11 already highly motivated following what they understood
12 to be massacres in the Lasva Valley, the detail of which
13 at this stage we did not know.
14 Q. Did you conclude that the HVO was trying to threaten the
15 Bosnian Muslims as a result of the shelling of Zenica on
16 19th April?
17 A. Colonel Blaskic was confronted with that exact statement
18 by Colonel Stewart. At the time, Colonel Blaskic's
19 reply was that he thought it was being done by the
20 Serbs, which we, of course, did not totally discount,
21 because there was a twisted logic that the Serbs might
22 enjoy continuing to see the conflict of the Croat and
23 Muslims, because it would weaken their position in
24 Central Bosnia to oppose them, but we checked our
25 sources and the following day confronted the Serbs and
1 the Serb regional commander for the Blasik mountain area
2 as to this accusation.
3 It was patently obvious from our own royal
4 artillery experts that the position of his heavy range
5 artillery was not in range of Zenica. It was in range
6 of us in Vitez, but it was not in range of Zenica, so we
7 deducted from that that it was indeed Croat artillery
8 that had fired.
9 I think if one cross-referenced the material, you
10 might find reports of large calibre, known Croat
11 artillery firing during that time, but I could not put
12 my hand on my heart and say it. That was our belief.
13 Q. Colonel, did you conclude that that was a threat by the
14 HVO to the Bosnian Muslim forces?
15 A. It was indeed a threat. It was "stop attacking us or we
16 will flatten your city" type of threat.
17 Q. During the same period of time, did Blaskic begin to
18 complain about how the British battalion was responding
19 to all the activities in the Lasva Valley?
20 A. Yes, it was interesting. We began to be inundated with
21 telephone calls and faxes, which in itself was
22 interesting because all our phones had been cut off, but
23 whenever the HVO wanted to communicate with us our
24 phones came on again and we would receive phone calls
25 and faxes, alleging a string of misdeeds, ranging from
1 wanton firing of our canons in the town centre of Vitez,
2 to desecration of the church in Vitez by driving our
3 Warriors over the graveyard and accusations of moving
4 Muslims soldiers and materiel around the battlefield.
5 It was taken quite to heart by Colonel Stewart,
6 because he, despite what was going on, had had a
7 personal understanding with Colonel Blaskic and found
8 these accusations from Colonel Blaskic flying in the
9 face of the blunt neutrality that we had been exercising
10 throughout our entire time there and found it rather
11 disappointing that Colonel Blaskic should resort to such
12 crude propaganda to try and somehow devalue or discredit
13 the reports that we were sending.
14 Q. Let us stay with the 19th, Colonel. On the 19th, did
15 the HVO continue to ethnically cleanse the Lasva Valley
17 A. Yes. If you like, it was probably described as
18 mopping-up operations. I was returning from Zenica with
19 a member of an aid agency, and I was approaching just
20 short of the Busovaca junction, I think. There was a
21 military camp there that was rather isolated from
22 others, a sort of HOS-type HVO, I think called Holiday
23 Cottages or something like that. As we drove towards
24 it -- it was a place we knew well, we had seen the
25 soldiers zeroing their rifles in the fields and so on.
1 There were a group of Muslim old men, young boys, women
2 and young girls, children, old men and women, lying in
3 the road and blocking the movement of my aid agency and
4 Warriors down the road. We got out to ask them what the
5 problem was, and it had happened the day before with
6 Croat women and children up near Zenica to Colonel
7 Stewart, so it is not the first time it had happened to
9 I got out and negotiated, with an interpreter,
10 with the people to ask them what was wrong and
11 essentially, there was some HVO soldiers who were
12 clearing them out of their houses and ordering them to
13 go to Zenica, but they would not let them take the men
14 with them and that was essentially the problem. The
15 women refused to leave because the HVO soldiers would
16 not let the men go with the women and the women did not
17 want to leave the men because they believed they would
18 be killed.
19 We took about an hour and a half to negotiate with
20 the HVO that we would be allowed to take the women in
21 our vehicles away, and we would stay there long enough
22 for the men to make their own way towards Zenica.
23 Q. Colonel, did you discuss this matter with the HVO
24 commander that was there?
25 A. Yes, I did.
1 Q. What did he tell you he had been ordered to do?
2 A. He had been ordered to clear these people out because
3 the Croat people needed their houses.
4 Q. What did you understand him to mean by that?
5 A. He said that they were just told to leave, the people
6 said they had been told that if they did not leave they
7 had been killed. What I had seen in the Lasva Valley
8 over the last couple of days left me under no illusion
9 at all that if these people did not leave, they would be
10 killed, and that is why we decided we would stay there
11 until these people left, because we would take them with
12 us and make sure they were not killed.
13 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, again with your Honours'
14 permission, if we could turn to the third overhead on
15 the easel. It should be marked as 53B, is that correct,
16 Mr. Dubuisson?
17 THE REGISTRAR: If you allow me, I am waiting for the
18 interpretation. Yes, that is 53B.
19 MR. KEHOE: If I can again, Mr. President, with your Honours'
20 permission, have Colonel Watters step up to the easel
21 and if I could go over there as well.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, that is fine, if you want to approach,
23 approach. The Defence as well, if you wish to
25 MR. KEHOE: Colonel, if you will could you mark with the
1 green the Muslim houses where these people were trying
2 to be evacuated from?
3 A. (Witness marks map). That is as my memory serves, that
4 sort of area there. The actual people themselves were
5 approximately here, and the camp I was talking about --
6 Q. Mark that with the red.
7 A. It was in this sort of area here. I remember this large
8 lay-by, and the people, during our conversation, I think,
9 if my memory serves me, we moved down here and did most
10 of the negotiations in this sort of area here
12 Q. Thank you, Colonel. Just by way of clarification,
13 Colonel, you marked the area where the houses were in
14 green on Exhibit 53B and the place where the camp was in
15 red, is that right?
16 A. Yes, that is correct.
17 Q. Let us move ahead, Colonel, to the 20th. If I could,
18 with the assistance of the usher, if we could just flip
19 one down and move back to 56E. Colonel, when we were
20 talking about Exhibit 56E previously, and that is the
21 overhead that is on the easel, you mentioned that you
22 had driven past the echelon garage, is that right?
23 A. Yes, that is right.
24 Q. I believe it is marked there as -- is that "F"?
25 A. "K".
1 Q. I am sorry. I was close. What is the echelon garage?
2 A. The echelon garage was the administrative logistic base
3 for BritBat, and it had headquarters company and the
4 logistic elements of BritBat that supplied the stores,
5 resources, fuel, food, all what we would describe as
6 "combat supplies".
7 Q. After the commencement of the battle on 16th April 1993,
8 did it become a location for refugees to congregate,
9 were Bosnian Muslims congregating there?
10 A. Yes, in the original siting of our base in Vitez it was
11 presumed that the sharp end was between Vitez, Travnik,
12 Turbe, and the quieter end was towards Vitez and that
13 was why the echelon was sited where it was, behind the
14 main base so the main base could protect it. But when
15 the fighting started on the 16th, we found the situation
16 reversed and the echelon was the front-line. What
17 happened on the 20th were large numbers -- they started
18 off on the 19th, the day after the lorry bomb in Vitez,
19 groups of people began coming to seek sanctuary and
20 refuge at the echelon location and on the 20th, there
21 were approximately 400 or so refugees congregating at
22 the echelon location.
23 These people were also being subjected to sniping
24 attacks, and we positioned screens to shield them from
25 sight. We could not actually bring them into our
1 echelon location for two reasons: one, we were not quite
2 sure at what point we ceased being neutral if we started
3 sheltering one community from the other, but we
4 certainly wanted to protect them. Also the base itself
5 was not very big and we did not want allegations that we
6 were defending against the HVO.
7 We were in constant discussion with HVO regional
8 headquarters about this issue, which we considered at
9 the time to be paramount --
10 Q. When you say "HVO region headquarters", that is Blaskic?
11 A. Colonel Blaskic's headquarters, the Hotel Vitez -- to do
12 something against these snipers who were actually
13 shooting these people and people were actually, at the
14 edge of the fence of our logistic base, were being
15 killed by snipers, so we launched a series of attacks
16 against the houses that these snipers were operating
17 from and actually captured some of the snipers, which we
18 handed over to the UN.
19 Q. Was Blaskic made aware that these 400 or more refugees
20 were there in front of the echelon?
21 A. His headquarters were certainly aware. I do not have a
22 recollection of talking personally to Colonel Blaskic
23 about it. Colonel Stewart may have done. But his
24 headquarters were, because my headquarters, the TacOps,
25 was in contact with them, and we had also sent liaison
1 officers down to discuss with both the tactical
2 commander, Mario Cerkez, and the region commander's
3 headquarters, because this was just absolutely
5 Q. Colonel, you have been a military person for the better
6 part of your life, is that correct, sir?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. A headquarters works by information coming to the
9 headquarters and moving up the chain of command to the
10 person in charge?
11 A. Correct. The headquarters just facilitates the flow of
12 information to the commander so he can make decisions
13 and direct operations.
14 Q. When you as a military man contact Blaskic's
15 headquarters and inform those headquarters about the
16 plight of these 400 refugees, you would expect in due
17 course for that information to filter up to Blaskic, do
18 you not?
19 A. Yes, I do.
20 Q. Did Blaskic do anything to attempt to protect these
21 400-plus refugees in front of the echelon?
22 A. No, and when in the end we contacted an aid agency and
23 asked for their support in declaring these people
24 refugees so we could move them without the accusation of
25 contributing ourselves to ethnic cleansing, we sought
1 the support of Colonel Blaskic's headquarters to do
2 this, because we would have to move them through his
3 lines of contact if we were to get them to Zenica or
4 Travnik, and we also wanted to make sure there were no
5 misunderstandings when we moved these people, and the
6 requirement that came back from Colonel Blaskic's
7 headquarters was that we could move these people, but we
8 were to search them for weapons before they were moved.
9 That was the only positive contribution over that
10 incident that we had from his headquarters.
11 Q. Did you search these individuals?
12 A. Yes, we did. I cannot remember the exact detail, but we
13 found a couple AK-47s, a pistol, and maybe a couple of
14 hand grenades among them.
15 Q. Did you find that unusual?
16 A. No, not in Bosnia in April 1993. When you are talking
17 400 people and you are talking a couple of rifles, a
18 pistol and a couple of grenades, that does not
19 constitute a military force.
20 Q. Colonel, describe these people. What were they like?
21 A. They were wretched, essentially. They had been
22 intimidated or bombed out of their homes in Vitez and
23 the surrounding area. They were largely old men, women
24 and children, which was often the case because the
25 younger men were either fighting or prisoners, and they
1 had no food, they had no clothing against the weather,
2 and the weather was pretty awful at that time. We, in
3 an humanitarian act, were feeding them because we could
4 not stand by and watch them die of cold and starvation.
5 We also erected makeshift shelters for them as well.
6 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, I am about to go into a relatively
7 large area. I do not know if at this juncture you want
8 to break off, but the next piece of testimony is going
9 to be quite lengthy.
10 JUDGE JORDA: We have not finished from the French
11 translation. All right then, we will take our break
12 now. I would like to say, tell both the parties, that
13 is, that the two coming weeks will be part of the new
14 phase of the Tribunal, because new judges are arriving.
15 Of course the same ones will be in this trial, but
16 I just wanted to tell you our calendar is going to be
17 changed. There are circumstances that are unfortunate,
18 perhaps you are aware of them. One of our colleagues
19 passed away, and on Wednesday morning and part of
20 Wednesday afternoon there will be a funeral ceremony in
21 his memory and then the cremation of our colleague Judge
22 Li. Therefore there will be no hearings on Wednesday.
23 A plenary session with its judges as they are today is
24 supposed to take place on Wednesday, I do not know if we
25 will be able to do all of that. Theoretically there
1 will be no hearings on Wednesday.
2 I also want to take advantage of this moment in
3 order to tell you next week on Monday there will be no
4 hearing for the Blaskic trial, for the well known reason
5 now, that is the new mandate of the judges. The new
6 four year mandate begins on Monday and there is an
7 official ceremony for taking the solemn declarations of
8 our five new colleagues. During that week as well there
9 will be scheduled changes which I will let you know
10 about, because there will be meetings, plenary sessions
11 with the new judges. This is information which I wanted
12 to give you. We can now suspend our hearing and resume
13 at 2.30.
14 (1.00 pm)
15 (Adjourned until 2.30 pm)
1 (2.30 pm)
2 JUDGE JORDA: We will resume our hearing now. Please have
3 the accused brought in.
4 (Accused brought in)
5 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, Colonel, the floor is yours.
6 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon,
7 Colonel. Colonel, let us turn our attention to
8 21st April 1993. Later on in the day on 21st April,
9 there was a meeting chaired by the Ambassador Thebault
10 of ECMM in which you directly participated, is that
12 A. Yes, I was the military advisor to that meeting.
13 Q. Prior to that meeting, Colonel, what did you do?
14 A. On the morning of the 21st I led a patrol around the
15 ring road of Vitez, down to Dubravica and left up the
16 mountain road towards Zenica to establish where the BiH
17 front-lines were in their advance down on to the main
18 Lasva Valley road. I went a short distance up the
19 mountain road, where I then saw BiH forces and quite
20 triumphant, waving green flags and generally getting out
21 of their battle positions and waving at us. I turned
22 round and went back down and as I was going down through
23 Dubravica I saw a group of 30 prisoners. I presume they
24 were Muslims because they were guarded by the HVO. They
25 had their hands tied and were moving I think up the road
1 towards the Croat positions that were defending the
2 bottom end of the mountain road.
3 Q. Were they carrying anything while they were walking?
4 A. I have to confess I did not notice. I do remember
5 seeing their hands tied and I had the view they were
6 going to dig trenches. I may have seen shovels in
7 evidence, but I cannot exactly remember. When I came
8 back, I was under the impression they had been going to
9 dig trenches. I cannot remember why I was under that
11 Q. Did you see anybody digging trenches around that area
12 during that period of time?
13 A. Yes, we did. Periodically we saw people digging
14 trenches, and on that day, through my gunsight, I had
15 seen people digging trenches.
16 Q. Did you make certain conclusions, upon seeing that
17 trench digging, after looking at who was guarding them
18 as well as who was digging the trenches?
19 A. The positions I saw were HVO trenches that were being
20 dug well behind their forward positions on the edge of
21 Dubravica, and I assumed they were actually HVO trenches
22 and there were HVO soldiers with weapons and there were
23 people in civilian clothes digging trenches without
25 Q. After you finished this recce in the area, did you then
1 go to this meeting?
2 A. Yes, I did. I was asked by the commanding officer if
3 I would go and represent him at the meeting as the UN
4 military advisor to Ambassador Thebault, who was the
5 chairman of the meeting.
6 Q. What was the purpose of this meeting, Colonel?
7 A. The meeting had been organised at a high level involving
8 General Morrillon, who was the military commander of UN
9 forces in Central Bosnia, and the people we were told to
10 expect at the meeting were the regional commanders of
11 the BiH and HVO and the higher level or strategic
12 commanders, General Petkovic and General Halilovic, HVO
13 and BiH respectively.
14 Q. Let me stop and clarify that. The BiH commander was
16 A. The BiH commander at region level was Hadzihasanovic,
17 and the strategic commander was Halilovic.
18 Q. So is Halilovic on top of Hadzihasanovic, and who was
19 below him?
20 A. His deputy Merdan.
21 Q. Were all three of them at that meeting?
22 A. We were expecting Hadzihasanovic, but he did not arrive,
23 and he was represented at the region level by his deputy
24 Merdan, so the BiH team with a few advisors were
25 essentially Halilovic and Merdan.
1 Q. The HVO side, the strategic commander was whom?
2 A. Petkovic.
3 Q. And below him?
4 A. Below him the regional commander was Colonel Blaskic.
5 Q. And both of them were there?
6 A. They were.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Could you go a little more slowly, please, so
8 that the interpretation is accurate. I mention this
9 both to Mr. Kehoe and the witness.
10 MR. KEHOE: I am sorry, Mr. President, we will speak a little
11 more slowly.
12 Colonel, if you will, can you describe exactly
13 what you did at this meeting?
14 A. The meeting was eventually convened, there was a delay,
15 General Halilovic was late and we adjourned to the ECMM
16 house and had some coffee. During that period, I was in
17 the presence of General Petkovic and Colonel Blaskic
18 when there was quite a heated exchange. It looked to me
19 like the superior officer was remonstrating with his
20 subordinate officer. I do not speak Serbo-Croat, so
21 I did not know what it was about, but I could see that
22 Colonel Blaskic was on the receiving end of a stern
23 talking from General Petkovic. An interpreter who was
24 with me was quite shaken by the conversation that had
25 taken place, and told me that --
1 MR. HAYMAN: Objection, your Honour, as to out of court
2 statements. I object, and had specifically asked that
3 that issue be raised with the court before the testimony
4 be elicited.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe?
6 MR. KEHOE: This particular issue has to deal with the
7 comments of the interpreter at the scene to this
8 particular witness. First of all, your Honour, with
9 regard to the hearsay objection, there is no hearsay
10 before this Tribunal and this court takes the evidence
11 and weighs it. Even if there was a hearsay objection,
12 under a common law system there are numerous exceptions
13 that would permit such a testimony to come in.
14 Nevertheless, your Honour, the court can balance exactly
15 the weight of this evidence coming from this witness, as
16 it does with every other piece of evidence that comes
17 into this court.
18 JUDGE JORDA: I do not know whether my colleagues have
19 anything to say. I am going to consult them. I have my
20 own opinion. (Pause).
21 We reject this objection. You may continue,
22 Mr. Kehoe.
23 MR. KEHOE: Colonel, explain to the court exactly what
25 A. Having witnessed the exchange, I looked at the
1 interpreter and said, "what was all that about?", and he
2 took me outside the house and explained that
3 General Petkovic had been angry -- this is more or less
4 what he said -- with Colonel Blaskic over what had been
5 happening over the preceding few days. He wanted to
6 know, and the exact word he used was, "was it under
7 control?", and Colonel Blaskic had told him it was under
8 control and he was not to worry about it. That was the
9 substance of the exchange, and we did not really know
10 what was the situation that was or was not under control
11 at that time, other than the general failure of the HVO
12 offensive which was now a defence against the BiH
14 When the following day and the day after we began
15 to discover the extent of some of the civilian deaths
16 within specifically the village of Ahmici, we drew the
17 conclusion that this may have been what the exchange was
18 about, but I am unable to specifically say that. It was
19 the personal view of the interpreter but it was not
20 necessarily my personal view.
21 MR. HAYMAN: I object especially, your Honours, about
22 statements of the opinion of this third party, not here
23 before the court, not a witness, not subject to
24 cross-examination. If anything should be subject to
25 cross-examination, it is statements of opinion,
1 your Honours.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Riad? (Pause). The Tribunal believes
3 that the witness can give his opinion and the Tribunal
4 will weigh that statement. Of course one should not
5 take advantage of this, but the witness is not here, of
6 course, only for opinions but is here to say what he
7 witnessed. The essential thing is that the Tribunal
8 must be informed exactly about what happened. Let us
9 not multiply the objections. The Colonel may continue.
10 Mr. Hayman, do you want to go back to that point
11 because we have already settled that.
12 MR. HAYMAN: I do not object to his opinion, I object to him
13 recounting the opinion of someone else. It is stated in
14 the record and I ask that that be stricken, this
15 witness's statement of someone else's opinion on the
16 subject being discussed.
17 JUDGE JORDA: That is out of the question, Mr. Hayman. One
18 can state opinions. If the Colonel heard a third party
19 saying something -- he is under oath after all, do not
20 forget that, Mr. Hayman. He is under oath.
21 MR. HAYMAN: I understand, but it is not his opinion. I have
22 no objection to his opinion, but he is repeating someone
23 else's opinion. That was what my objection was.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, the problem here at the
25 international court is not to bring -- make any changes
1 from one legal system to another. This Tribunal must
2 have all the information in order to come to an
3 interpretation as to guilt. Please do not make us waste
4 time this way. Are you taking the floor again, because
5 this is the third time you are objecting on the same
6 point. This is the last time. Go ahead.
7 MR. HAYMAN: We ask for a subpoena issue for the testimony in
8 the Defence case of the individual whose opinion has
9 been recounted by this witness for this Tribunal.
10 I think it is a reasonable request. I ask that it is
11 issued as soon as possible.
12 JUDGE JORDA: We do not accept that request.
13 You may continue, Mr. Kehoe. The Colonel must
14 testify in complete freedom. He is under oath, and the
15 Tribunal must be informed exactly about what happened at
16 that meeting. We are overruling the objection and
17 overruling that request. You may continue, Mr. Kehoe,
18 along with the witness.
19 MR. KEHOE: Colonel, was the interpreter in fear at that
21 A. Yes, the interpreter was.
22 Q. Why?
23 A. Because the interpreter felt that what had been
24 overheard and that he had overheard it might prejudice
25 his own safety.
1 Q. Why?
2 A. Because he was a nervous individual anyway and generally
3 by this stage of the fighting quite in fear of his own
4 life, acting as an interpreter for us, in that we were
5 incurring the wrath of all parties in Central Bosnia by
6 our independent and unbiased stand.
7 Q. Would Blaskic have known that this was an interpreter
8 working for you, if he had never met this individual
10 A. At the time, I think Colonel Blaskic had his back to him
11 on the stairs, and General Petkovic was looking in his
12 direction. General Petkovic would not have known that
13 he was not an UN soldier, because as an UN employee he
14 was dressed in UN uniform. Colonel Blaskic would have
15 known he was not one of our soldiers.
16 Q. You said the interpreter said that Blaskic said things
17 were under control. Did he make any other comment about
18 his men being involved in any way, shape or form?
19 A. I cannot actually say I remember it that clearly. It
20 was a heated, short, sharp exchange that quite shocked
21 the interpreter. The interpreter then relayed to me,
22 when I asked him, and he was visibly shaking, what had
23 taken place, and I am paraphrasing, but he basically
24 said, "What I have heard could get me killed". I told
25 him to tell me what had taken place and he said that
1 General Petkovic had asked Colonel Blaskic if he had
2 things under control, and Colonel Blaskic said he had
3 things under control. That is as far as I remember.
4 Q. In light of the events that you learned thereafter in
5 Ahmici and these other villages, what did you conclude,
7 A. Later on when I ran that conversation back through my
8 mind, I believed that not only was General Petkovic
9 talking about the actual failure of the Croat offensive,
10 but he was also talking about the possible backlash
11 which manifested itself once the United Nations had
12 found the extent of the ethnic cleansing and the bodies
13 in the village of Ahmici.
14 Q. Let us continue on in this meeting. Did there come a
15 time when General Halilovic showed up and the meeting
17 A. Yes, there did. The meeting chaired by Ambassador
18 Thebault was conducted in a very proper and diplomatic
19 way, and eventually the diplomatic way forward had gone
20 as far as it would go and Ambassador Thebault asked
21 myself and the other military commanders from the BiH
22 and HVO if we would now take it forward in terms of
23 having now established the principle that everybody
24 around the table wanted a cease-fire, would the military
25 men now go away and work out the mechanics of how there
1 would be a cease-fire. At this stage, although in
2 principle the BiH agreed that a cease-fire was a
3 sensible thing, it certainly when we adjourned was not
4 something that General Halilovic was totally disposed
6 Q. Why?
7 A. To put in context, we asked the BiH and HVO
8 representatives to go into two separate rooms into which
9 we had put up maps and we asked them to mark up on the
10 maps the extent of their current front-line and any other
11 information that would be relevant to establishing the
12 conditions for a cease-fire, the stepping back of
13 forces, the production of a buffer zone et cetera. In
14 this, I moved between the two rooms discussing the
15 situations with the HVO and BiH and I had a long
16 discussion with General Halilovic over the principles of
17 why he must accept a cease-fire, even though at that
18 time, in his own view and indeed any other military
19 man's view, he actually was winning, and it is much more
20 difficult for an army that is winning a particular
21 battle to agree to stop the battle and withdraw over
22 ground that is already fought and won.
23 That was the challenge, to convince General
24 Halilovic and Mr. Merdan that it was in the interests of
25 the BiH and the Muslim people in Central Bosnia to agree
1 to this cease-fire, even though they were going to be
2 the ones that had to do all the withdrawing from the
3 lines of conflict, as the HVO forces really had gone
4 back as far as they could go into the environs of
5 Busovaca and Vitez.
6 Q. What did you say to General Halilovic to convince him to
7 tell his troops to withdraw?
8 A. I told him that as the current battle stood, in the eyes
9 of the BritBat and UNPROFOR generally, the BiH forces
10 had acted in defence in this battle since 16th April
11 against HVO aggression. Their current position,
12 although in the short-term tactical situation they might
13 well be able to destroy HVO forces in Busovaca and
14 Vitez, there were several components to the situation
15 that he should address or think about.
16 The first one was the HVO capability to fire long
17 range artillery into Zenica, which they had already
18 demonstrated they had the intent to do, and while
19 pushing forward the battle to capture Busovaca and
20 Vitez, his own people in Zenica would pay a very heavy
22 The second point was that what we had seen and
23 would be prepared to stand witness to at this time there
24 were no incidents of massacre committed by the BiH
25 forces since 16th April that at that time we were aware
1 of. One or two situations did come to light later, but
2 at that stage, we were unaware of any and certainly in
3 our view, and I was at the meeting representing
4 UNPROFOR, and I told General Halilovic that in the view
5 of UNPROFOR, the BiH forces at that time had the moral
6 high ground, as well as the tactical high ground. If he
7 had sufficient generalship to understand that to
8 prosecute any further what was a legitimate
9 counterattack would be difficult to justify, because he
10 had already taken back the land he had lost and any
11 further gains would be into Busovaca and Vitez and cause
12 the deaths of many innocent people.
13 Also, from the strategic point of view, the
14 situation that we had was that there were considerable
15 Croat reinforcements moving up from Tomislavgrad into
16 Prozor. The Croats had the capacity, or the HVO, as a
17 well structured and well organised military force, had
18 the capacity to reinforce Central Bosnia up through
19 Gornji Vakuf and the route was sufficiently capable now
20 for them to move certainly strong forces up it, and the
21 ability of the HVO to reinforce their position in
22 Central Bosnia was completely opposite to General
23 Halilovic's present situation, where he was under
24 tremendous pressure and 2nd Corps in Tuzla were under
25 tremendous pressure from the Serbs and the situation
1 with the Serbs was not going to go away and he was not
2 going to be able to sustain two fronts and it would not
3 be long before the Serbs would take advantage of the
4 situation in Central Bosnia, where the BiH were totally
6 So in essence, you had a situation that was
7 strategically unsustainable, although tactically quite
8 advantageous at that time to the BiH.
9 Q. In the other room is General Petkovic and the defendant
10 Blaskic. When you went to talk to them, who was the one
11 that discussed with you where the HVO positions were on
12 the map? Was it Petkovic or Blaskic?
13 A. There was a slight difference initially in that
14 Halilovic seemed to have a reasonable feel for where the
15 lines of conflict were and the disposition of the BiH
16 forces and I suspected that one of the reasons he was
17 late is he had been briefed by Hadzihasanovic in 3rd
18 Corps, because he did have quite a feel for what was
19 going on. I do not know what contact Colonel Blaskic
20 had had with General Petkovic, but Colonel Blaskic was
21 explaining in great detail on the map to
22 General Petkovic where the dispositions were of his own
23 forces and, as he knew them, the Muslim forces. I had
24 given my word that I would not give any advantage to
25 either party by explaining to the opposite party any
1 information I should gain on troop dispositions, which
2 I did not.
3 The situation with the HVO was very different
4 because they were on the defensive and unsure as to how
5 long the HVO would be able to resist the quite
6 overwhelming success of the BiH in the preceding couple
7 of days. They were more amenable to a cease-fire very
8 quickly and they were not arguing or debating over the
9 principle and concept of a cease-fire, it was really the
10 mechanics of the lines to which parties should withdraw;
11 specifically, how far away the BiH should withdraw.
12 Q. Was it clear during that meeting on the 21st that
13 Blaskic knew the positions of all his troops, as well as
14 where the BiH troops were?
15 A. Yes, of course.
16 Q. That position of the HVO troops, was that the
17 approximate area where people were digging trenches as
19 A. Yes, it was. Sorry, in one specific area it was.
20 I learnt more at that meeting about where everybody
21 was. A lot of what we knew was confirmed and other
22 smaller areas that we did not know as to detailed
23 dispositions which Colonel Blaskic had explained to
24 General Petkovic.
25 Q. Colonel, you set up what you might describe as a
1 demilitarised zone to which both lines should withdraw,
2 is that correct?
3 A. Yes, that is correct, in a phased process.
4 Q. How was that phase supposed to take place?
5 A. By first light the Croat positions would remain firm and
6 the BiH Muslim troops were to withdraw to a line I think
7 we called "alpha" on the map. Within 48 hours, the BiH
8 were to withdraw back to Zenica and the HVO were to
9 withdraw south of the main Lasva Valley road, and later
10 on in the process General Halilovic asked for an
11 additional 24 hours to pull his people back to
12 line "alpha", because people just were refusing to move
14 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, with the court's permission,
15 Colonel, could you go back up to Exhibit 29C and using
16 the blue pen to your left, could you sketch out the
17 approximate two lines of the areas to which the BiH Army
18 were to retreat and to which the HVO was to retreat.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Could you please try to speak more slowly,
20 Mr. Kehoe? You are asking questions very quickly. The
21 interpreters are doing their best, but frequently I only
22 have the translation of your following question later,
23 so if you could slow down a bit it would help us.
24 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. I apologise.
25 JUDGE JORDA: I will ask the interpreter to reinterpret the
1 last question asked by the Prosecutor, even though
2 I have it in front of me on the transcript. Thank you.
3 MR. KEHOE: Using the microphone, Colonel, could you explain
4 what you have drawn on the map?
5 A. The essential line of conflict was where the pen is,
6 essentially on the road. The BiH had captured the
7 northern area of the road and actually controlled the
8 road between Dubravica and --
9 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, we cannot see. The witness is in
10 front of the map. I know it is not easy. That is
11 better. Go ahead, that is fine, thank you very much.
12 A. The line is the position of the front-lines, with the BiH
13 having captured strategic points along the main
14 Lasva Valley road between Dubravica and Kaonik,
15 specifically the junction where the road comes up from
16 Busovaca. The first requirement within 28 hours was for
17 the Muslim forces to withdraw behind line "alpha" and
18 produce the first buffer zone from the front-line here up
19 to line "alpha" (indicates). That was the line where
20 General Halilovic asked for an additional 24 hours to
21 enable his troops to move to.
22 Within 48 hours, the BiH were to have moved back
23 to a line just south of Zenica and the HVO were to have
24 moved to a line approximately a kilometre or so behind
25 their current positions. This would create a neutral
1 zone here which UNPROFOR and BritBat would patrol and
2 guarantee the neutrality of that zone. That was the
3 concept, sir.
4 MR. KEHOE: The top line is the line you have marked "A",
5 which is "alpha", is that right?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. You can take a seat again. Colonel, in an effort to
8 begin to monitor this withdrawal, did BritBat patrol the
10 A. Yes, the first patrol went out in the early hours of
11 22nd April, the day after, because by first light the
12 BiH forces had said they would be north of the
13 line "alpha". The reality was they were not, and there
14 were still quite strong BiH forces specifically in the
15 village of Jelinak, which is just north of the road but
16 south of line "alpha". That patrol was conducted by
17 Colonel Stewart and it was whilst remonstrating himself
18 with the BiH forces for not having obeyed the orders of
19 their commanding general and withdrawn beyond
20 line "alpha" that he was told that part of the reason
21 why -- the reason they would not leave these particular
22 hills was because of the atrocities and murders that had
23 taken place in the village of Ahmici, which was the
24 first time that BritBat had had that accusation made.
25 Q. Prior to that time on the 16th, some BritBat units had
1 been in and out of Ahmici, is that right?
2 A. Yes, that is correct.
3 Q. Were you aware of the level of atrocities at that time?
4 A. No, we were not. We were aware of the level of
5 destruction, which seemed excessive compared to other
6 places, but the soldiers -- because each time we went
7 into the village of Ahmici the vehicles literally had
8 snipers' bullets pinging off them, so it was not very
9 safe to dismount, and the soldiers therefore had not
10 gone into the houses and checked. All they had seen was
11 dead animals and destroyed houses. That was very
12 similar throughout the length of the Lasva Valley.
13 Q. Stay with that. You are saying the destruction of
14 houses and livestock was similar throughout the
15 Lasva Valley?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. What did you think about that, what did you conclude
18 when you saw these houses burnt and the cattle killed?
19 A. That it filled the definition of ethnic cleansing and
20 that was that there was just nothing left for the people
21 to return to.
22 Q. Let us continue on with the events of the 22nd. What
23 happened, Colonel?
24 A. After Colonel Stewart's patrol returned, as was quite
25 usual, he would then continue to plan and work and write
1 orders and I then took a patrol out to check the village
2 of Jelinak and I also went into the village of Ahmici.
3 Q. What did you observe when you went in?
4 A. Ahmici was actually bigger than I had thought. It
5 pushed much further up into a valley. I had always
6 imagined, looking at the map and the name on the map,
7 because I had not been to the village before, that
8 Ahmici was centred around the mosque, which was 50
9 metres or so away from the main road. In fact, the
10 village pushed much further up into the valley behind
11 the main road.
12 The first thing I noticed was that the mosque had
13 been destroyed, the minaret, which I could not remember
14 noticing before. Although we had had reports of it, it
15 was the first time I had seen it. I then moved further
16 up the valley and went past the second mosque, up to the
17 houses towards the northern end of the village. There
18 was a little bit of sniper fire, we positioned some
19 Warriors to cover that and then I dismounted some of my
20 crew and we went and foot-patrolled through the village.
21 I went to several houses that Colonel Stewart had
22 shown me on a map where he had found evidence of people
23 having been killed.
24 Q. Before we go into that, Colonel, did you take a look
25 during your walk around and see expended cartridges at
1 certain locations and see various locations being shot
2 up and, based on those examinations, did you, as a
3 military officer, draw certain conclusions as to how
4 this operation had been conducted?
5 A. We had had reports from our patrols on the day of the
6 16th that they had seen groups of Croat soldiers in fire
7 positions around Ahmici and these soldiers had engaged
8 them with fire when they had gone towards the village.
9 When we looked at the village itself, we came across
10 positions on the southern side, the lower side towards
11 the road, towards the village, where we found empty
12 cases and from positions that had not been reported that
13 we had been fired upon from.
14 It looked to me to have all the makings of what we
15 would call a "cordon and search", or a "cordon and
16 destroy operation", if you will. In other words, that
17 before you commit your forces to the actual area you
18 wish to attack, if you do not want the enemy to be able
19 to withdraw, you would place cut-offs sited over likely
20 lines of withdrawal from the village so that you could
21 shoot any of the enemy who were leaving the objective if
22 you did not want them to escape. We found these sort of
23 positions with the grass damped down and a number of
24 7.62 long cartridges, the type used in Draganoff sniper
25 rifles, not the 7.62 short used in AK-47s, the normal
1 assault rifles.
2 Q. Continuing your search --
3 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please, Mr. Kehoe.
4 MR. KEHOE: Continuing your examination of the village, did
5 you continue or did you look and examine the locations
6 pointed out to you by Colonel Stewart?
7 A. Yes, I did. They were not that easy to find. There was
8 an awful lot of destruction in the village. Two things
9 struck; one is almost surreal, and that was the total
10 destruction and devastation of one part of the village
11 and in the southern part of the village, as if a
12 line was drawn in the sand, there were a whole series of
13 houses that did not have a scratch on them. There were
14 people in those houses who came out and shouted things
15 at us and went in, but would not come and talk to us.
16 We tried knocking on the doors to ask them what had
17 happened and they would not talk to us.
18 We then went further into the destroyed part of
19 the village and came across evidence in three houses
20 that had been pointed out to me. One had a skull in the
21 debris, another one had part of a charred corpse and a
22 human ribcage and in the third house, which was the most
23 shocking, there were two bodies in the entrance to the
24 house and then in the cellar there was a line of
25 bodies. But it is quite difficult to work out exactly
1 what they were -- in terms of whether they were male,
2 female, adults or children -- because they had been
3 burnt. There was evidence of a petrol can in this
4 cellar. There were also bullet hole marks along the
5 walls and blood splashes on the back of the walls and so
6 the scene looked like people had been put down in a
7 cellar, shot and then set fire to. A lot of the bodies
8 were twisted in grotesque ways, presumably from the heat
9 that would have been generated.
10 We tried, without disturbing the forensic
11 evidence, to count them and I think we worked out there
12 were about six. Quite a few of the skeletons were
14 Q. Which indicated to you what?
15 A. They were children.
16 MR. KEHOE: If I can turn, Mr. President, your Honours, to
17 Prosecutor's Exhibit 111, which is before the court. It
18 is a series of photographs. If I could just put them on
19 the ELMO with the assistance of the usher? If I may,
20 Mr. President, I think we might want to advise the
21 viewing audience that these photographs are very
23 JUDGE JORDA: I think you have just said so, Mr. Prosecutor,
24 so there is no need for me to repeat it. You know them
25 well, the Tribunal can say indeed, following what you
1 said, that they are very shocking, there is nothing more
2 to be said. This is an open public hearing, so will you
3 please continue.
4 MR. KEHOE: Yes. Colonel, we are going to backtrack for one
5 moment on some of these photographs before we go back to
6 Ahmici, but if we can take them in sequence. If we go
7 to the first photograph, which is 111/1.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Have you had them identified, Mr. Prosecutor?
9 Have they been marked?
10 MR. KEHOE: Yes, they have.
11 JUDGE JORDA: You have not mentioned the numbers. I did not
12 hear it, at least. How were they identified and
13 admitted, under what conditions?
14 MR. KEHOE: These photographs are identified as Exhibit 111/1
16 JUDGE JORDA: But you have not told us under what conditions
17 they were taken.
18 MR. KEHOE: Yes, your Honour. The photographs, the first two
19 photographs were taken by Colonel Watters himself, that
20 is the photograph driving into Stari Vitez and the
21 photograph of the bodies on the ground. The next
22 photograph -- the next four photographs were taken by
23 the British battalion. The photograph following that of
24 the soldiers beginning to take the bodies out of the
25 house is a clip taken from a media source, and it merely
1 is a view of -- further back view of the house, that is
2 again taken by the British battalion in the next
3 photograph. In the following photographs, they are
4 taken by the British battalion, until the last
5 photograph on that package, which was taken by Colonel
7 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
8 MR. KEHOE: Colonel, let us go through these photographs one
9 by one. As I said, we are going to backtrack a little
10 bit and talk about the events on the 16th. Do you
11 recognise this photograph?
12 A. Yes, I took that from the turret of my Warrior on the
13 morning of 16th April whilst driving into Vitez.
14 Q. Is there smoke coming up from a particular area?
15 A. Yes, in fact the photograph does not do the smoke
16 justice. I remember it looking much darker than that,
17 but you can see columns of smoke arising from the
18 central area of Vitez into the Muslim quarter.
19 Q. In the Muslim quarter?
20 A. Yes. I knew it to be the Muslim quarter when I got
21 there because the houses were all burning there.
22 Q. The next photograph, if you will, 111/2. Earlier in
23 your testimony, you had talked about seeing several dead
24 bodies in the road in and around Dubravica. Is that the
25 photograph you were discussing?
1 A. Yes, it was, the line of bodies. I vividly remember it.
2 Q. The next photograph, we move to Ahmici, the day you went
3 there on 22nd April 1993, if you could put that down,
4 Mr. Usher, what is that a shot of?
5 A. That is the view of the mosque and the downed minaret in
7 Q. Is that how it looked on the day you went in there?
8 A. Yes, it is.
9 Q. I believe that the next photograph, 111/4, is that just
10 a close-up of the mosque?
11 A. Yes, it is.
12 Q. Likewise the way it looked on the day you went in there
13 on the 22nd?
14 A. That is correct.
15 Q. The next photograph, 111/5, what is the angle of that
17 A. That is taken from within the village, looking down
18 towards the mosque as we then pushed further up into the
20 Q. If you were heading this way, you would be heading out
21 to the main road?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. The next photograph, 111/6, is that a close-up angle of
25 A. Yes, it is.
1 Q. Colonel, let us turn to 111/7. Is that the house -- one
2 of the houses that you went into on the afternoon of
3 22nd April 1993?
4 A. Yes, that photograph was not taken on that day, but that
5 is that house. That photograph was taken a couple of
6 days later when we did an operation to secure the town
7 or the village and remove the bodies.
8 Q. Are those members of the British battalion removing
9 those bodies?
10 A. Yes, they are members of the medical section and the
11 band who acted as stretcher bearers.
12 Q. Let us turn our attention to 111/8. Tell us about that,
13 Colonel. If you could, could you use the pointer and
14 point to the items that you are describing in this
16 A. This is the entrance to the house, it is a set of stairs
17 going to a slightly raised first floor landing. On the
18 stairs here is a body that has been badly burned. It
19 was a small body, it looked like it might have been a
20 child. Behind that there was another burnt body which
21 looked like it was an adult, because it was much larger.
22 Q. Let us move ahead to 111/9.
23 A. That is a close-up of the body on the stairs as you
24 approach the house, the body that is probably a child.
25 Q. Can we go to the next photograph, 111/10.
1 A. That is an adult's body just behind the child's body on
2 the first floor of the building.
3 Q. Moving ahead to 111/11.
4 A. That is a picture in the cellar of the same house, and
5 it is one of a line of burnt bodies.
6 Q. Next photograph, 111/12.
7 A. That is the same body taken from a slightly different
8 angle as the one we have just seen.
9 Q. Can you see the skull in that photograph, sir?
10 A. Yes, it is there (indicates).
11 MR. KEHOE: The next photograph, 111/13. I mis-spoke before,
12 Mr. President, with regard to this particular
13 photograph. This particular photograph, 111/13, was
14 taken by Colonel Watters also, is that correct, Colonel?
15 A. Yes, it is.
16 Q. What is this photograph?
17 A. This photograph is again the line of bodies that ran the
18 full length of one side of the cellar. Behind the
19 bodies here you can see the holes made by bullets as
20 they hit the wall. In front of the holes, down the side
21 of the wall, there was what was obviously blood.
22 Q. When you saw that, Colonel, what did you conclude had
24 A. I concluded that the people in the house or people had
25 been taken into the cellar of that house and they had
1 been put into that part of the cellar and had then been
2 shot. It looked like they had been shot with an
3 automatic weapon, because of the grouping of the bullet
4 holes on the wall.
5 Q. Do you recall approximately how many bodies were down in
6 this basement?
7 A. I think about six or seven.
8 Q. Did they include any children?
9 A. They included small skeletons, which were probably
10 children, yes.
11 Q. Let us turn our attention to the next photograph,
13 A. That is the same cellar and it is another skull. The
14 way we thought we knew the number of bodies was by
15 counting the skulls, because the bodies themselves were
16 contorted and burnt, but I think we counted six or seven
17 skulls. You can see more blood against the back wall
19 Q. Let us turn to 111/15.
20 A. That is another skull here and another body.
21 Q. Thank you. Next photograph is 111/16.
22 A. It may be similar to the first photograph because this
23 piece here looks similar, it is part of a sink or
24 something, but it is a skull and part of a burnt body.
25 Q. Do we see the same body on a different angle in the next
1 photograph, 111/17?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. You found burnt remains in more than one location, is
4 that right?
5 A. Yes, we did. There were two other locations, two other
6 houses, one had a skull in the roof tiles because the
7 roof had collapsed on top of the top floor and in
8 another house, we found what was obviously a ribcage,
9 again in a burnt house with a collapsed roof.
10 Q. Let us turn our attention to 111/18. Is that in the
11 first or second house?
12 A. That is in the first house, in the cellar.
13 Q. This first cellar, is that the cellar where you saw the
14 petrol can?
15 A. Yes, it was.
16 Q. A petrol can that is normally used for carrying some
17 type of inflammable liquids?
18 A. It can carry water as well, but it is generally used for
19 carrying petrol.
20 Q. Let us turn our attention to 111/19.
21 A. That is another body in the same cellar, you can see
22 parts of the body, the ribs and so on.
23 Q. We move to another location at 111/20.
24 A. This is the house where we saw a body. You can see part
25 of the ribcage showing there (indicates). The roof was
1 missing, the house had been burnt and the roof had
2 collapsed on top of the house.
3 Q. 111/21, is that a different angle of the same location?
4 A. Yes, it is.
5 Q. Let us turn to 111/22.
6 A. Yes, that is a different house. There you can see a
7 skull coming through the tiles, because the roof had
8 collapsed, been burnt, the house had been burnt and the
9 roof had collapsed on this one as well. There was a
10 skull in the wreckage.
11 Q. Was there any way for you to account exactly how many
12 individuals were burnt at that time?
13 A. Other than the ones we had seen which were the eight or
14 so in one house and the remains in the two houses you
15 have just seen photographs of, the answer is no. What
16 we thought as a worst-case scenario was that there were
17 more bodies underneath the houses with the collapsed
18 roofs, which was virtually every house in the Muslim
19 part of the village. It would take a major operation to
20 clear those houses, which we did not conduct.
21 Q. Colonel, you said previously in your testimony that the
22 control of artillery weaponry, mortars and the like,
23 would be controlled at the regional level and in Central
24 Bosnia it would be Blaskic, is that correct?
25 A. Yes, that is correct.
1 Q. Would that include any aircraft weapons, for instance?
2 A. Yes, it would.
3 Q. Let me show you the next photograph, 111/23. Was that a
4 photograph that was taken by you?
5 A. Yes, it was.
6 Q. Was that also in the Lasva Valley area during this
7 approximate time-frame?
8 A. Yes, it was.
9 Q. What is the licence plate for that particular weapon?
10 A. HVO.
11 Q. What type of weapon is mounted on that truck?
12 A. I think it is a four barrelled anti-aircraft weapon.
13 Q. The individual that is seated to the left with the
14 weapon on his knee, do you see what is on his face?
15 A. Yes, he is wearing a balaclava.
16 Q. Or a mask?
17 A. Yes. That was not uncommon.
18 Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Usher.
19 JUDGE JORDA: This is exhibit number -- no objections?
20 THE REGISTRAR: 111.
21 MR. KEHOE: Your Honour, at this time I will also introduce
22 29J, 53B and 56E, the exhibits that are on the easel.
23 JUDGE JORDA: No objection on the part of the Defence? In
24 that case, they have been admitted under those numbers.
25 MR. KEHOE: Colonel, after you had viewed these things in
1 Ahmici on 22nd April 1993, what did you as a military
2 officer conclude about the conduct of the operations in
3 that area on 16th April 1993?
4 A. I returned to Vitez where Colonel Stewart and Ambassador
5 Thebault were still in discussion over their reaction
6 and view to what they had found. Ambassador Thebault
7 was really shaken to the core of his being by what he
8 had witnessed. My own view, first of all, in terms of
9 BritBat, it was very important that we did not overreact
10 to what we had seen on a personal level, and maintained
11 our professionalism, and we did not draw initially any
12 conclusions. We sat and thought about it a great deal
13 without saying emotionally the first things that came
14 into our heads, because nobody could visit that place
15 without being very shocked.
16 My personal view was that it was an operation
17 conducted efficiently and successfully to ethnically
18 cleanse that village, and the significance of that
19 village in the Central Bosnia area and in the psyche of
20 the Bosnian Muslim and also in the view of the Bosnian
21 Croat was interesting, because we discovered more about
22 the village of Ahmici. It had a special place in the
23 minds of the Muslim people because it had a reputation
24 of producing as a village a disproportionately large
25 number of holy men, of mullahs, so it had a special
1 place. My view and that of many of my colleagues was
2 that this might explain why it appeared to have been
3 dealt with so savagely compared with other places in
4 which we did not find dead bodies, frankly.
5 There was no doubt in my mind that it was part of
6 a co-ordinated attack on the early morning of
7 16th April, just as we had witnessed the attack going up
8 the valley. We felt quite guilty, really, for not
9 having understood the significance of Ahmici, and maybe
10 afforded it some additional protection or observation,
11 because we just had not up until then realised its
12 significance. An equivalent emotional place in the
13 minds of the Croat people would probably be Guca Gora,
14 which is a monastery behind Travnik and Vitez. We did
15 understand that and we did visit often to reassure the
16 people there, but we were a bit late for Ahmici.
17 I think that is really all I can say. We were
18 shocked we had not done more to protect the village and
19 we had not understood its significance and it was part
20 of the ethnic cleansing operation that was conducted up
21 the Lasva Valley over those couple of days.
22 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
23 MR. KEHOE: Sorry. Colonel Blaskic was in command of the HVO
24 troops before Ahmici, was he not?
25 A. Yes, he was.
1 Q. During Ahmici?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And after Ahmici?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. As a military officer, where certain criminal activities
6 and atrocities take place, what is the responsibility of
7 the commander of that area?
8 A. When a commander plans an operation, one of the aspects
9 he must take into account in his military planning is
10 the safety of refugees, and it is required by the Geneva
11 Convention. A commander who prosecutes an operation is
12 responsible in law for the safety of the civilian
13 population through the areas which he is attacking, and
14 in his plan he is required under the Geneva Convention
15 to pay due cognisance to those people and ameliorate the
16 impact of his military operations upon them. That
17 really did not seem to make a lot of sense in the
18 Lasva Valley, because it appeared to us the actual
19 target was the civilian population, which immediately
20 contravened the Geneva Convention.
21 In strict answering to your questions, he was
22 responsible for the safety and security of civilians in
23 the area in which he was prosecuting military operations
24 as the military demander.
25 Q. Did you see him take any steps to safeguard civilians in
1 that area, to your knowledge?
2 A. No.
3 Q. After the events took place, what is a commander's
4 responsibility when it is brought to his attention that
5 criminal acts have taken place by his troops?
6 A. As a military commander, you are totally responsible for
7 all the soldiers under your command, as I am today. If
8 those soldiers under your command, which can happen,
9 disobey the orders they have been given and contravene
10 the Articles of War and the Geneva Convention, or even
11 simply loot or steal, then it is the responsibility of
12 their commanding officer and their brigade commander,
13 regional commander, to hand those over to the
14 appropriate military justice within their own chain of
15 command, and to identify them, arrest them and
16 court-martial them.
17 Q. To your knowledge, Colonel, were any such acts to
18 investigate and prosecute the individuals involved in
19 these atrocities done by the defendant?
20 A. I am aware that Colonel Blaskic endeavoured to find out
21 the names of those he believed responsible and
22 I understand that he passed those names up his chain of
24 Q. Did he do anything else?
25 A. We were very disappointed and quite appalled that
1 Colonel Blaskic did not immediately arrest the people
2 who had done it, if he knew who they were, and if they
3 were, as they must have been, under his command, because
4 they were operating on that operation.
5 Q. In summary, do you know of anybody that was arrested
6 because of these activities at all?
7 A. To my personal knowledge, no.
8 Q. Was Blaskic himself arrested by his higher command as
9 a result of this?
10 A. No.
11 Q. Did it appear to you that anybody was interested on
12 behalf of the HVO to do an investigation in this area?
13 A. That was one of the more appalling things, that nobody
14 did seem interested.
15 Q. What did you conclude, based on all of that information
16 that you had at that time?
17 A. My personal opinion was that the Ahmici business had
18 actually complicated and clouded the operation that HVO
19 forces Central Bosnia had tried to conduct to ethnically
20 cleanse the Muslim minorities from the future canton 10
21 and had brought the weight of media and world attention
22 on to it, and it overshadowed for a short time the
23 situation in Srebrenica, which in terms of scale is
24 quite ridiculous, because there was a great deal more
25 death and destruction going on in Srebrenica than the
1 Lasva Valley. But so shocking were the media pictures
2 of the dead, and in fact on the 24th I believe we buried
3 96 bodies of people killed in that fighting, and my view
4 in discussions with the HVO establishment was it was
5 more a regret as to the consequences rather than a
6 regret as to the means and that is a rather subjective
7 judgement, but it is my view.
8 Q. Were you shocked by that, sir?
9 A. Yes, I was.
10 MR. KEHOE: One moment, Mr. President. (Pause).
11 Mr. President, I have no further questions of this
13 JUDGE JORDA: Colonel Watters, as our procedure in this
14 Tribunal requires, in fact as any Tribunal will require,
15 you now will have cross-examination by the Defence.
16 I think it will be Mr. Hayman who is going to do the
18 Mr. Hayman?
19 Cross-examined by MR. HAYMAN.
20 MR. HAYMAN: Thank you, Mr. President.
21 Good afternoon, Colonel Watters.
22 A. Good afternoon, sir.
23 Q. My name is Russell Hayman and together with my
24 colleague, I represent General Blaskic.
25 Are you suggesting to this Tribunal that you spoke
1 to General Blaskic and he said that he regretted the
2 consequences but not the means or the actual deaths of
3 civilians in Ahmici? Are you suggesting that?
4 A. No, I did not say that. I said it was my opinion, and
5 it was an opinion that I gathered in discussion with a
6 great many people within the HVO from the 16th to about
7 24th April.
8 Q. Did you discuss that subject with General Blaskic?
9 A. We skated round it on the 21st, but I did not -- not the
10 actual Ahmici situation, because we did not know about
11 it, but the concept of attacking the civilian population
12 in these areas. I did not believe it worth making an
13 issue of it in the cease-fire negotiations because the
14 BiH were already incensed enough about it already and
15 I did not see the point in prejudicing the concept of a
16 cease-fire on the 21st by holding some sort of Tribunal
17 within a cease-fire negotiation.
18 Q. Did you discuss it with him or not?
19 A. I would probably say I did not discuss it in straight
20 terms, no, but I know Colonel Stewart did and Colonel
21 Stewart related some of those conversations to me.
22 Q. You said you also learned that then Colonel Blaskic
23 found out who was responsible for Ahmici, is that right?
24 A. I said I understood that Colonel Blaskic had sent a list
25 of names up his chain of command of those he believed
1 had conducted the massacre in Ahmici, yes.
2 Q. Did he send a list of names to the authorities that were
3 responsible for instituting military prosecutions within
4 the HVO?
5 A. I was told he had.
6 Q. Do you agree if that in fact occurred that is the proper
7 procedure for a commander to take?
8 A. No, I do not think it is the proper procedure. I think
9 the commander should have arrested the soldiers
10 concerned and detained them.
11 Q. Is that regardless of the quantum of proof or the
12 information in the commander's hands?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. So regardless of the quantum of proof, the commanding
15 officer must arrest and detain the individual suspected?
16 A. If he has reasonable grounds.
17 Q. So it does depend on the quantum of proof?
18 A. Yes, but there again, to actually put a list of names
19 accusing people of doing something, you must have had a
20 quantum of proof, otherwise why put a list of names?
21 Q. Because you have to have a trial, do you not? In a
22 military system there is a military court, a military
23 prosecutor. Someone is accused, they need to be tried
24 and, if guilty, found guilty and punished?
25 A. You do not accuse people without a burden of proof in
1 the initial circumstance.
2 Q. What is that burden of proof?
3 A. I do not know, I am not Colonel Blaskic.
4 Q. You are suggesting that he acted wrongfully, you are
5 informed that he passed a list of names to a military
7 A. No, I said his chain of command.
8 Q. The record will speak for itself, Colonel. You are
9 suggesting that he acted wrongfully in not arresting one
10 or more individuals, and yet you are not able to tell us
11 what the quantum of proof would be for him even to refer
12 the names to a military prosecutor?
13 A. The quantum of proof is that he obviously believed that
14 the people he put down on that list had done those deeds
15 in Ahmici, otherwise I cannot imagine why he would have
16 written their names down on a list. If he knew the
17 people who had done that, then he had a responsibility
18 to remove those people from military operations.
19 Q. Tell us how you know this?
20 A. I was told that by Colonel Stewart.
21 Q. How did he know this?
22 A. He was told that by Colonel Blaskic.
23 Q. Were you present at this conversation?
24 A. No, I was not.
25 Q. Were you given any details of this alleged conversation?
1 A. Yes, I was.
2 Q. What?
3 A. That Colonel Stewart wanted to know what Colonel Blaskic
4 was doing about the massacre of Ahmici, because if he
5 did nothing he would be implicating himself in it, and
6 he must take some form of action. Colonel Stewart came
7 back and said that having put this to Colonel Blaskic
8 that Colonel Blaskic had said that he had actually
9 identified those who had done it and passed a list of
10 names up his military chain of command.
11 Q. When was this?
12 A. I cannot give you the exact date, I would suspect it was
13 around the -- any time from the 24th until the end of
15 Q. In preparing for your testimony, did the Prosecutor's
16 Office tell you they were going to elicit information
17 which was not from you but you obtained it from Colonel
19 A. The Prosecution did not tell me that at all. They asked
20 me what I knew and I told them.
21 Q. Did you tell them this information was entirely
22 derivative from Colonel Stewart?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. But they did not reference that in their question to
25 you, did they?
1 A. I did not explain the detail of how I formed my
2 opinions, you have just elicited that from me.
3 Q. Have you spoken to Colonel Stewart about whether he is
4 going to come and testify to this court?
5 A. Yes, I have.
6 Q. Is he?
7 A. I do not know.
8 Q. You were asked about an incident in which certain
9 individuals, some 400 of them, came to the British base
10 and one or more snipers were firing at them, do you
11 recall that?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Around I believe 20th April 1993, is that correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. You said that the facts of this situation were relayed
16 to the HVO command at the Hotel Vitez?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Were they also relayed to the command of Mr. Cerkez?
19 A. Yes, they were.
20 Q. How do you know that, both of those?
21 A. Because I, as the chief of staff, was in the ops room
22 and gave instructions that the liaison officers should
23 go and visit the regional and tactical level of command
24 of the HVO, and try to get them to stop their snipers
25 from shooting at these people.
1 Q. Who had the actual contact? I take it it was not you;
2 you did not personally have any contact with any HVO
3 headquarters about the issue of snipers attacking these
4 400 refugees, correct?
5 A. The actual detail of whether I spoke on the phone or
6 whether I did it through the liaison officers I cannot
7 remember, but I am quite clear that the liaison officers
8 passed verbatim the instructions they were given, as
9 they had done throughout the whole tour, and came back
10 with the verbatim answers.
11 Q. If you spoke to someone on the phone, would you have
12 made a record or note of that?
13 A. Probably not, depending where the phone was. One of the
14 problems was we really had all our phones cut off.
15 There was only one in the whole building that was
16 working, and it was not in the ops room, it was at the
17 other end of the building, in what was the Royal
18 Engineers' resources cell. If conversations were
19 conducted in there, which they were, and I have a vivid
20 memory of a conversation with Colonel Blaskic from that
21 telephone, the notes would probably not have been taken
22 on it.
23 Q. What liaison officers did you task with going to these
24 two HVO headquarters to raise the subject of these
1 A. Captain Dundas Whatley.
2 Q. You gave him the responsibility of going to both?
3 A. Yes, they were both beside each other.
4 Q. Did he go?
5 A. Yes, he did.
6 Q. Did he report back to you?
7 A. Yes, he did.
8 Q. What did he tell you?
9 A. Verbatim I cannot remember, just he said he had passed
10 the message.
11 Q. Did he tell you that in the office or offices of
12 Mr. Cerkez there was a locker of sniper rifles that had
13 been locked up, do you recall that?
14 A. No.
15 Q. Did he relay to you a message that any persons sniping
16 at these refugees should be killed by UNPROFOR and that
17 was the position of the HVO?
18 A. Yes, we were aware that the HVO would condone our
19 attacking those positions.
20 Q. So that message was passed to you?
21 A. Yes, it was.
22 Q. In connection with this incident, correct?
23 A. This "incident" took place over a number of days.
24 Q. But in connection with this incident --
25 A. At about halfway through, maybe the second day.
1 Q. 21st April that?
2 A. Might have been the day, I cannot remember.
3 Q. You got a message -- the HVO's message to you, UNPROFOR,
4 was, "if there are snipers attacking these 400 refugees,
5 go find them, kill them and you have our blessing"?
6 A. Correct.
7 Q. Did you tell the Prosecutors that in preparation for
8 your testimony here?
9 A. No.
10 Q. After getting that message, in fact an operation was
11 undertaken, correct?
12 A. Yes, it was.
13 Q. To go find, capture or, if necessary, eliminate these
15 A. Correct.
16 Q. In fact some of them were captured?
17 A. Yes, they were.
18 Q. Were others shot at?
19 A. Others were shot at.
20 Q. Were any wounded or killed?
21 A. I do not know.
22 Q. All that happened with the blessing of Colonel Blaskic,
24 A. Yes, that is correct, which was slightly odd since they
25 were HVO soldiers, but there you go.
1 Q. That does not sound like a normal army to you, does it?
2 A. What does not sound like a normal army?
3 Q. A commander telling another force on his terrain to go
4 kill his own men because he was unhappy with their
5 conduct and he condoned the killing of those men. Is
6 that something you have ever heard happen in the British
8 A. Soldiers in the British army would not do that.
9 Q. That is my point.
10 A. I am clear on that.
11 Q. You arrived in Bosnia on February 6th?
12 A. Correct.
13 Q. And you left around May 8th?
14 A. Yes, I think it was something like that.
15 Q. Did you have any R and R period while you were in
17 A. No, I did not.
18 Q. So you were there about 90 days, correct?
19 A. I have not added them up, but 96 days, something like
21 Q. Three months, 6th February, March, April, May.
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. You mentioned that you learned there were three
24 operative groups within the HVO underneath
25 Colonel Blaskic, correct?
1 A. Correct.
2 MR. HAYMAN: I will just recite them as a foundation for
3 another question, Mr. President. First operative group,
4 Vitez/Travnik, second Kiseljak/Busovaca and third Zepce?
5 A. Correct, as I remember it.
6 Q. Do you know who the commanders were within the HVO of
7 those operative groups?
8 A. I did at the time and I could find out again by reading
9 our logs. I cannot remember them all off the top of my
10 head four years later.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Would you like us to take a break here, or do
12 you have a question which is going to deal with the
13 previous question that you have just asked? As you
15 MR. HAYMAN: At the court's pleasure, Mr. President.
16 JUDGE JORDA: If the following question is not directly
17 related to the operation, we could suspend now and start
18 again at 4.10. Thank you.
19 (3.50 pm)
20 (A short break)
21 (4.10 pm)
22 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed, please have the
23 accused brought in.
24 (Accused brought in)
25 Mr. Hayman.
1 MR. HAYMAN: Thank you, Mr. President.
2 Colonel Watters, you spoke earlier on the subject
3 of whether Colonel Blaskic had a headquarters in
4 Kiseljak; do you recall that subject?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. When did you first visit him in Kiseljak at a location
7 that you believed to be his headquarters?
8 A. I said I thought he had an alternative headquarters in
9 Kiseljak. I never visited him there.
10 Q. When is the first time one of your liaison officers
11 first visited Colonel Blaskic in a location that was
12 reported to you as being Colonel Blaskic's headquarters
13 in Kiseljak?
14 A. We were told when trying to contact Colonel Blaskic in
15 Vitez, in the Hotel Vitez, that he was in Kiseljak.
16 That was told to us a number of times and from that we
17 deduced that he had another headquarters in Kiseljak,
18 because he seemed to spend a lot of time there.
19 Q. Did you also learn that his parents lived outside of
20 Kiseljak and that he would go visit them on weekends?
21 A. I did not know the detail, but I knew his family were
22 from Kiseljak.
23 Q. So when you say you believed he had a headquarters in
24 Kiseljak, you based that on the material you just
25 stated, is that right?
1 A. During the week -- several times when we wanted to talk
2 with Colonel Blaskic we were told he was in Kiseljak.
3 We assumed he had a headquarters in Kiseljak.
4 Q. Did you ever hear a report that he had a headquarters
5 staff in Kiseljak?
6 A. No.
7 Q. You said you believed there were three levels within the
8 HVO, or rather that the HVO could be analysed by
9 identifying a strategic, an operational and a tactical
10 level, do you recall that?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Where does political power fit in to this hierarchy you
13 have set forth?
14 A. At the strategic level.
15 Q. At the strategic level, do you combine at that level
16 both political power and military command?
17 A. I do not know the answer to that.
18 Q. So I take it your model does not specifically account
19 for the exercise of political power within Central
20 Bosnia, such as by the political -- Croat politicians?
21 A. No, I was talking about the structure of the military
23 Q. You said that you believed there was an agenda in Bosnia
24 among Croats for a greater Croatia, is that right?
25 A. That is correct.
1 Q. Did you ever speak to Colonel Blaskic and hear him speak
2 about a greater Croatia?
3 A. No.
4 MR. HAYMAN: With the court's permission, I would like to
5 approach and invite the witness to join me before
6 Exhibit 29J, over which we have placed a transparency,
7 and would like to make certain markings on it. I also
8 invite my colleagues and Mr. Nobilo. Keeping in mind
9 that we not obstruct the view of the court, you have
10 stated that historically, conflicts in Central Bosnia
11 have centred largely on control of the major roads --
12 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, could you speak into the
13 microphone, please? Everyone must have a microphone,
14 everybody must be able to speak and hear and see. Fine,
15 go ahead, please.
16 MR. HAYMAN: You have said that in your view military
17 conflicts in Central Bosnia have centred largely, at
18 least in modern times, on struggles for control of the
19 major roads and access roads, routes, correct?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. You need to speak into one of several microphones?
22 A. Yes, I said that, sir.
23 Q. You know that to be true during the World War II time
24 period, for example?
25 A. I do not pretend to be an expert on it, but it was
1 certainly one of the things that we discussed and read
2 about, the problems that the German army had subduing
3 the Balkans during World War II.
4 Q. In part, this reality is due to the fact that Central
5 Bosnia is an area of very high and highly defined
6 mountains, correct?
7 A. Yes, sir.
8 Q. Most of those mountains, you cannot go over the
9 mountain, you must find a road or a path, for example,
10 through a mountain pass in order to enter another part
11 of Central Bosnia, correct?
12 A. Yes, sir.
13 Q. And also the winters are quite severe, with snow and ice
14 and so forth, further hindering transportation, correct?
15 A. Extremely severe.
16 Q. You have been so kind as to set forth at least some of
17 the major roads or potential access routes into Central
18 Bosnia from the south. I would like to ask you a few
19 questions to round out that picture. First of all, you
20 have noted in green that the stretch of road from Kacuni
21 to Bilalovac was taken control of by the BiH Army,
23 A. As far as we know, yes.
24 Q. Was that in roughly the second half of January 1993, to
25 your knowledge?
1 A. I was not there, but I think that is about right. It
2 certainly was my experience when travelling that route
3 that you went through BiH checkpoints in roughly those
5 Q. By the time you arrived on February 6th that was the
7 A. As far as I remember, yes.
8 Q. Unless you disagree, I am going to put --
9 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me. Your Honour, if there is going to be
10 drawing, I would ask that the witness do the drawing and
11 not Mr. Hayman.
12 MR. HAYMAN: That is fine, your Honour. I would ask you to
13 indicate again just the area of BiH control over this
14 road, perhaps by tracing the road but also putting a
15 right-angled line at either end so we have a record of
16 that on the transparency.
17 A. I will, but it is four years after the event and my
18 detail is not --
19 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, I see.
20 MR. HAYMAN: If you would also trace --
21 JUDGE JORDA: Would you please explain? The Tribunal cannot
22 see anything. What colour is he using to make his
23 markings on the transparency? If you could please
24 reindicate what we are going to see, because we have not
25 seen anything.
1 MR. HAYMAN: With the court's permission I will mark over the
2 witness markings, indicating a right angle cutting the
3 road from Kacuni to Bilalovac in green, first at the
4 Kacuni point and then at the Bilalovac point.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Very well, Mr. Hayman. Now we can see. Please
7 MR. HAYMAN: Let me direct your attention, can you find a
8 road on this map from roughly the Kacuni area to
10 A. Yes, I can. It is marked in yellow. There is one just
12 Q. In your experience, was that road held by the BiH Army
13 throughout your tour in Central Bosnia?
14 A. I do not know, sir.
15 Q. The road from Kacuni to Zenica, do you see that road?
16 JUDGE JORDA: Could you please indicate to the Trial Chamber
17 what it is, because we cannot see anything yet, the road
18 from Kacuni to Zenica, please, as indicated by the
20 MR. HAYMAN: I am withdrawing that question for the moment,
21 your Honour.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. But we have not seen anything for
23 the moment, so next question, please.
24 MR. HAYMAN: Can we find a road, Colonel, from Fojnica to
25 Sarajevo through Tarcin?
1 A. I am not familiar with it.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, could you tell us where you are
3 heading? It would be simpler. Where do you want to get
4 to, because we are now drawing routes on a map like a
5 travel agency, so would you please -- I know that he is
6 not listening. Mr. Hayman, what is the goal of these
7 various questions that you are asking? Could you tell
8 us that? You are dealing with judges. Because for the
9 moment we are just drawing routes. What is the
10 objective of your question, so that we can focus things
11 a little bit, instead of just asking the Colonel to draw
13 MR. HAYMAN: Of course, your Honour. The witness drew one
14 section of road on the map that is Exhibit 29J proper as
15 being controlled by the BiH Army, but only one section.
16 In reality, it is at least the Defence's position that
17 the vast majority of these roads came to be controlled
18 by the BiH Army and in fact the witness has described a
19 military action in April, I believe April 21st,
20 22nd 1993, which led to a cutting of the road from Vitez
21 to Busovaca by the BiH Army. We wish to show the court
22 that picture. If this was a struggle for roads, was it
23 important only for the HVO or was this also a critical
24 military issue for the BiH Army and if so, in what
1 JUDGE JORDA: You see, it is much simpler to explain and
2 then to ask the witness to make the plan in accordance
3 with your thesis. Very well then, let us hear the
5 MR. HAYMAN: I will ask the questions from there and ask my
6 colleague Mr. Nobilo to assist the witness and perhaps we
7 can proceed more quickly.
8 JUDGE JORDA: I think that would indeed be simpler.
9 MR. HAYMAN: Colonel, would you agree that the mountain road
10 from Zenica to Travnik -- do you know that road, not to
11 Vitez but to Travnik?
12 A. No, I do not.
13 Q. Perhaps Mr. Nobilo, can you point out the road for the
14 witness from Zenica to Travnik. Did you become aware,
15 Colonel, during your tour in Bosnia, that that road came
16 to be under the control of the BiH during the period of
17 April and May 1993?
18 A. I travelled that road during that period and it seemed
19 to be rather muddled. There were Croat villages and BiH
20 villages so there was not a clear route through it for
21 either force.
22 Q. Were you in the theatre when Guca Gora was overrun by
23 the BiH army?
24 A. No, I was not.
25 Q. Guca Gora is up in that area, correct?
1 A. Yes, it is.
2 Q. You are unable to tell us anything about who controlled
3 that road?
4 A. As I said, I travelled it during the period April/May
5 and I do not think anyone actually controlled it.
6 Various areas of the route were controlled depending on
7 the ethnic majority of each village on the route.
8 I remember going through a variety of different
9 checkpoints and on several occasions being refused
10 access by both BiH and HVO.
11 Q. So you recall it as being contested, or having multiple
12 checkpoints on it?
13 A. Yes, I do, sir.
14 Q. When you arrived in the theatre, were you briefed on the
15 fighting in Gornji Vakuf that had already occurred?
16 A. Yes, and I visited Gornji Vakuf on three or four
18 Q. In the course of the briefings you received, did you
19 learn that the fighting in Gornji Vakuf began as early
20 as June 1992?
21 A. I cannot recollect the exact dates, but I know it
22 predated our arrival there as BritBat.
23 Q. At the time you arrived, what were you told, in terms of
24 your briefings, in terms of who controlled Gornji Vakuf?
25 A. The battle ebbed and flowed and we were not sure
1 actually who controlled it for the whole period.
2 I would not be qualified to comment, as it was
3 specifically looked after by one of our company
5 Q. Did you learn in the course of your tour who controlled
7 A. Where is Konjic?
8 Q. I would ask Mr. Nobilo to assist and point out the city
9 of Konjic.
10 A. I do not have a recollection, sir.
11 Q. Very well. How about the city of Bugojno?
12 A. I remember we had a liaison officer responsible for
13 Bugojno. It was not a particular area I had studied.
14 Q. During your tour, do you know whether the BiH was able
15 to travel from Zenica to Sarajevo?
16 A. I suspect they could.
17 Q. Do you know what route was possible for them?
18 A. No, I do not.
19 Q. Would you agree that being able to make that trip and
20 have that access was of critical strategic importance to
21 the BiH Army?
22 A. Yes, I would.
23 Q. In addition to having as much access to the roads that
24 you have outlined on this exhibit as possible, correct?
25 A. I do not know how they did it and I have to confess,
1 given the state of the conflict in Sarajevo, it was
2 always a bit of a mystery, but certainly they did appear
3 to come in and out of Sarajevo from Zenica.
4 Q. In addition to having that access, would you agree that
5 it was of critical strategic importance to the BiH Army
6 to be able to link up the different Corps, corpuses,
7 that they had in the theatre, correct?
8 A. It certainly would be a strategic aim to do that.
9 Q. You knew, in the course of your tour, that the BiH first
10 corpus was in the Sarajevo and Visoko area, correct?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And the second corpus was in the Tuzla, Usera and Zepce
13 area, correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. The third corpus was in Zenica, correct?
16 A. Correct, sir.
17 Q. And the fourth corpus was in the Mostar, Jablanica and
18 Konjic area?
19 A. I knew in theory, I had never been there.
20 Q. And the sixth corpus was based in the city of Konjic,
21 were you aware of that?
22 A. I was not, actually.
23 Q. And the seventh corpus was located in Travnik, you were
24 aware that they were headquartered in that city?
25 A. Yes, I was. I was not actually sure they were a Corps,
1 I thought Travnik was subordinate to Zenica.
2 Q. You thought they were part of the 3rd Corps?
3 A. Yes, I did.
4 Q. In any event it would have very important --
5 JUDGE JORDA: Slowly, Mr. Hayman, please. Do not forget the
7 MR. HAYMAN: My apologies.
8 JUDGE JORDA: And of course us. Think of us too.
10 MR. HAYMAN: We are always thinking of you, Mr. President and
11 your Honours.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
13 MR. HAYMAN: With respect to the third corpus and the BiH
14 forces in Travnik, similarly road access between those
15 two units would be of critical military significance to
16 the BiH Army?
17 A. Yes, sir.
18 Q. Would you agree in principle that control of these roads
19 was of critical military significance to both the HVO
20 and the BiH Army?
21 A. Yes, I would.
22 Q. Would you agree that in January 1993, or at least prior
23 to your arrival, the BiH Army took steps to attain
24 control over a portion of these roads, specifically the
25 stretch between Kacuni and Bilalovac?
1 A. I cannot remember what went on before we arrived.
2 Certainly during our tour, that stretch of road was
3 contested by the HVO and BiH and to my memory was
4 largely controlled by the BiH.
5 Q. You have described on 21st April 1993 how the junction
6 at Kaonik had been overrun and taken control of by the
7 BiH Army, correct?
8 A. Yes, sir.
9 Q. Perhaps that could be indicated as well by a green
10 cutting mark across the road in that location, please?
11 A. (Witness marks map).
12 Q. The effect of that act was to sever the road link
13 between Vitez and Busovaca, correct?
14 A. Correct, sir.
15 Q. Would you agree that that was a further military
16 strategic importance to the BiH Army because once the
17 Vitez Busovaca enclave was severed, forces within the
18 enclave could not be moved along the spinal road and
19 massed at any one defensive point; would you agree with
20 that, sir?
21 A. Yes, I would.
22 Q. Before we move away from this map, you have also
23 discussed in your testimony the concept of canton 10
24 under the Vance-Owen Peace Plan.
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. You said you believed that the conflict on 16th April
2 and following days on the part of the HVO involved an
3 attempt to purge canton 10 of its Muslim residents?
4 A. That was the only logic that we could think of.
5 Q. Let me ask you about certain towns and villages within
6 canton 10 and tell me whether they were attacked by the
7 HVO on the 16th.
8 A. I will do my best.
9 MR. HAYMAN: Mr. Nobilo, if you could point out the towns as
10 I identify them. Sivrino Selo. Do you see that.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Is it necessary to show them? If I have
12 understood you well, Mr. Hayman, that your strategy is to
13 mention a number of villages within that canton that
14 were not attacked, perhaps you can list them and see
15 whether the witness can react to that. That would speed
16 up things a little. It will not change anything in
17 terms of the substance of your question, so please
19 MR. HAYMAN: I will and I can, although the location of the
20 villages is also of interest.
21 Have you found Sivrino Selo?
22 A. It is here, sir (indicates).
23 Q. Do you know, was it attacked on the 16th?
24 A. I would have to check our records. It is not a name
25 which immediately springs to mind.
1 Q. Was it attacked on 17th April, if you know, 1993?
2 A. I do not know.
3 Q. Is Sivrino Selo on the spinal road between Vitez and
5 A. It is a kilometre north to it.
6 Q. Can you find the town or village of Krcevine?
7 Mr. Nobilo, can you assist, please? Indicating to
8 the north of Vitez?
9 A. Yes, I can see that.
10 Q. Do you know, was it attacked on 16th April 1993?
11 A. I do not, sir.
12 Q. Is it on the spinal road from Vitez to Busovaca?
13 A. A kilometre north of it.
14 Q. The town of Poculica, do you find that on the mountain
15 road from Vitez to Zenica?
16 A. I certainly remember there was something at Poculica.
17 It was quite heavily defended by the HVO, I remember
19 Q. By the HVO or by the BiH?
20 A. I could be wrong, I thought it was a HVO town. We tried
21 to get access to it but we could not. I have a memory
22 of HVO, I could be wrong. There are very many towns in
23 that area.
24 Q. Mr. Nobilo, if you could point out for the witness the
25 town of Tolovici, again north of Vitez.
1 Do you recall whether it was attacked on 16th or
2 17th April?
3 A. No, I do not.
4 Q. It is not on the spinal road, is it?
5 A. No, it is not.
6 Q. Mr. Nobilo, could you point out the town of Preocica to
7 the witness, indicating again to the north of Vitez.
8 This also would be in canton 10, correct?
9 A. I would have to overlay the boundary, but I suspect it
10 is on the edge of it.
11 Q. Zenica was in canton 10, was it not?
12 A. I cannot remember the exact boundary of canton 10 on
13 this map.
14 Q. Do you think the boundary fell between Vitez and Zenica?
15 A. I think it did.
16 Q. Thank you, you may sit down. When you arrived in the
17 theatre in February, were you briefed on what the BiH
18 Army was doing to strengthen its position and prepare
19 for a conflict with Croats in Central Bosnia?
20 A. No, I was not, sir.
21 Q. Were you told that the BiH Army had undertaken a general
22 mobilisation in the Vitez area in January 1993?
23 A. No, I was not. I do not quite know what a general
24 mobilisation was. I think the whole of Central Bosnia
25 was mobilised.
1 MR. HAYMAN: If the usher could assist, your Honour, I have a
2 document I would ask be placed before the witness,
3 provided to your Honours and provided to Prosecution
4 counsel. The first page, your Honour, is in English,
5 the second page in BSC. We have not yet been able to
6 have any translations undertaken, but with the court's
7 leave we will place them on the ELMO. I can read at
8 least the first page, perhaps Mr. Nobilo can read the
9 second and undertake a translation for all and then
10 I would like to ask the witness a few questions about
11 the documents.
12 Perhaps if you could place it on the ELMO, Colonel
13 Watters, I can read it, you can look at it.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Could we hear the number of this exhibit,
15 please, Mr. Prosecutor? Any comments regarding this
16 exhibit? Let us wait for the witness to identify it
18 MR. HAYMAN: Yes, your Honour. At the very top of the
19 page -- I am sorry to burden the usher again, but if we
20 could move the document down, at the top of the page is
21 in hand-written form "Cheshire Mil Info 080 19th January
22 1993"; do you see that?
23 A. Yes, I do.
24 Q. Do you know what "Cheshire Mil Info" would refer to?
25 A. It is a 1 Cheshire military information summary,
1 probably serial number 080, dated 13th January 1993.
2 Q. 13th or 19th?
3 A. Sorry, maybe 19th. On the document it is 19th. It is
4 difficult on the screen to say.
5 MR. HAYMAN: If I may read it? Your Honour, parts of this
6 document have been redacted. It was provided to us by
7 the Prosecutor's Office and hence the first
8 paragraph begins with 2:
9 "2. Vitez. A local source reported that tensions
10 in the area between Croats and Muslims were high. He
11 stated that local Muslim civilians were being called up
12 for duty with the local BiH forces. One particular
13 example (call-up document attached) had never served
14 with the BiH forces before. The document states that he
15 was to report to the school in Preocica."
16 Does "GR" refer to "grid reference"?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. "GR 2497 on 15 January 93. The stamp on the document
19 was that of the 325th Broska Brigade. Comment. The
20 recruitment of civilians (i.e. people who have no
21 involvement in the BiH/HVO forces) is a reflection of
22 the assessed need by the BiH forces to strengthen
23 themselves against the perceived increased threat from
24 the HVO. A CS" -- is that a reference to "call sign"?
25 A. Yes, it is.
1 Q. Would that be a Warrior vehicle?
2 A. It could be a Warrior, it could be an armoured personnel
3 carrier, it could be a Scimitar, it could be a
4 Scorpion. It could be anything.
5 Q. "A CS visited the predominantly Muslim village of
6 Preocica. It was reported then that there were well
7 prepared defensive positions around it and that the
8 village was of military significance in the Vitez area."
9 Comment ends. Now the second page.
10 MR. NOBILO: In the heading, we find the Republic of
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina, the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the
12 Defence headquarters of Vitez. The heading is, "Call-up
13 for service in the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina". In the
14 form we first see surname, first name and father's name,
15 but this has been redacted, crossed out. Year of birth
16 1967, resident of Kruscica:
17 "Should on 15th January 1993 immediately upon
18 receiving this call-up paper to the unit of the BH Army
19 T-9048, the location, the school at Preocica. Take with
20 you your personal things, warm clothing and weapons.
21 Commander of the Defence of Vitez, signed", his
22 signature and the stamp of the Republic of
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina, 3rd Corps, 325th Mountain Brigade of
24 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
25 MR. HAYMAN: Do you recall, Colonel Watters, whether you were
1 briefed when you arrived in the theatre in February on
2 the subject of mobilisation of forces?
3 A. Not specifically but generally it was believed that the
4 entire Central Bosnia area was mobilised to form their
5 joint union against the Serbs.
6 Q. By that, you mean that every able-bodied man had been
7 mobilised either into the HVO or the BiH Army, correct?
8 A. I think every able-bodied man is probably an
9 exaggeration, but a great majority.
10 Q. Do you recognise this document as being in the format of
11 a Mil Info Summ generated by 1 Cheshire during their
12 tour in Central Bosnia?
13 A. Yes, I do.
14 MR. HAYMAN: I offer the document, your Honour.
15 MR. KEHOE: No objection.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Registrar?
17 THE REGISTRAR: It is going to be admitted into evidence as
18 Defence Exhibit D59, that is the number.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Very well.
20 MR. HAYMAN: We spoke a moment ago about the third corpus
21 headquartered in Zenica. Did you receive reports in
22 your tour that they had somewhere in the neighbourhood
23 of 90,000 men under their command?
24 A. I cannot remember the exact figures, but they were
25 certainly a substantial force.
1 Q. Over 70,000 or 80,000?
2 A. I cannot remember.
3 Q. Over 50,000?
4 A. A substantial force. I never remember fastening on to a
5 specific figure. I would not actually have trusted it.
6 Q. Were you also told or briefed by your own personnel that
7 the HVO within Central Bosnia had around 12,000 men at
8 their disposal; does that sound accurate to you?
9 A. Again, I do not remember fastening on specific numbers.
10 It could have been accurate, I really cannot remember.
11 Q. Do you recall being briefed generally as to the
12 proportion of soldiers in the HVO in Central Bosnia and
13 soldiers in the third corpus?
14 A. Yes, and in infantry the BiH outnumbered the HVO.
15 Q. By a large multiple?
16 A. Our assessment was by a considerable margin and the HVO
17 outnumbered the BiH in terms of their access to direct
18 fire tank weapons, artillery and mortars. That was our
19 general assessment.
20 Q. When you say "direct fire tank weapons", what do you
22 A. Anti-aircraft cannon mounted on the back of trucks,
23 anti-tank weapons, tanks themselves and mortars and
24 artillery for indirect fire.
25 Q. Did you see the HVO in Central Bosnia in possession of
1 any tanks?
2 A. Only in Maglaj, personally.
3 Q. What about in the Lasva Valley, did you ever see any HVO
5 A. No, I did not.
6 Q. Did you see or learn of BiH Army tanks in the
7 Lasva Valley or Zenica?
8 A. Yes, I personally saw one T-55 on the mountain road.
9 Q. Let me turn your attention to the cease-fire agreement
10 of April 18th, do you recall that?
11 A. I am sorry, there were so many agreements, on 16th,
12 17th, 18th, 19th. I cannot remember a specific one.
13 I remember the discussions on the 16th and I remember
14 the discussions on the 21st. I am not sure I chaired
15 them. I think Colonel Stewart might have done.
16 MR. HAYMAN: If I could ask for the usher's assistance, your
17 Honour. (Pause). If a copy of this document, your
18 Honour, could be provided to the witness as well as
19 Prosecution counsel and each of your Honours. Again if
20 it could be placed on the ELMO. (Handed). The first
21 page of this document, Colonel Watters, bearing in
22 hand-written form, "Cheshire Mil Info 170 18 April 1993."
23 The first page reads, "Warrior CS reported a BiH CP";
24 would that be "checkpoint"?
25 A. Yes, it would.
1 Q. "Located at grid reference 134001. The call sign
2 reported that the soldiers were unfriendly and told the
3 call sign to leave immediately."
4 First let me ask, do you know how we would go
5 about determining where this location is?
6 A. Yes, by plotting the grid reference on the map.
7 Q. Is that something we could do even on this map?
8 A. I would have to look carefully, I might be able to.
9 Q. Perhaps during the evening break we could attempt that
10 and save time. If the second page of the exhibit could
11 be displayed, this refers to the cease-fire matter
12 I spoke of. In the upper right-hand corner, this reads:
13 "Annex A to Mil Info 171 18 April 1993. Copy of
14 cease-fire agreement between HVO and BiH, distributed
15 by" --
16 JUDGE JORDA: Is that 70 or 71? I am sorry, 170. Maybe
17 Mr. Hayman made an error and said 171. I think it is a
18 zero. It is not English or French, so it is 170, "Mil
19 Info 170". Please continue.
20 MR. HAYMAN: Thank you:
21 "Copy of cease-fire agreement between HVO and BiH,
22 distributed by", and only the letters "HV" are visible
23 next to the margin, but it is unclear whether something
24 may have been cut off on the margin, "Central Bosnia.
25 "1. The following text is taken directly from a
1 copy of the cease-fire agreement signed by
2 Tihomir Blaskic, commander HVO, Central Bosnia, on
3 18th April 1993.
4 "'On the basis of the orders given by the HVO
5 head of staff, HZ Herceg-Bosna office number", then a
6 list of numbers, "dated April 18th.
7 "A. All subordinate HVO combat units are to
8 immediately stop all combat actions against units of the
10 "B. Exchange the detained soldiers and civilians
11 at once.
12 "C. Take care of all the wounded, no matter what
13 army they belong to.
14 "D. Collect all information about those involved
15 in the conflict, details on murdering of soldiers and
17 Colonel Watters, do you have a recollection of the
18 process which gave rise to this apparent cease-fire
19 agreement executed on April 18th?
20 A. I remember the cease-fire agreement, I remember it
21 making no difference and I do not remember the -- I have
22 no recollection of what the process was that produced
23 it, other than the fact that it seemed to be ignored on
24 the ground.
25 Q. Would there be a record in the archives of 1 Cheshire
1 concerning that process, assuming 1 Cheshire was
3 A. 1 Cheshire would not have been involved if it was
4 Herceg-Bosna, the level that promulgated it. I have a
5 recollection of this cease-fire agreement coming sort of
6 slightly out of nowhere, and I was initially being
7 extremely excited about it when it first arrived,
8 thinking there had been a major break through, but as
9 I said, it did not appear to make any difference on the
11 Q. An actual cease-fire did not stick between the period of
12 18th April and at least 21st April?
13 A. No.
14 Q. It did not stick, correct?
15 A. Correct.
16 Q. Is this document in the format of a 1 Cheshire Mil Info
17 Summ and as you would expect it to be in that regard?
18 A. Yes.
19 MR. HAYMAN: I offer the document, your Honour.
20 MR. KEHOE: We have no objection, Mr. President.
21 JUDGE JORDA: What is the number then?
22 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, this is D60.
23 MR. HAYMAN: You spoke in your testimony of the cease-fire
24 meeting at the ECMM house on 21st April 1993.
25 A. Yes sir.
1 Q. You have that in mind, that meeting?
2 A. Yes, sir.
3 Q. Would you agree that at the time of this meeting, the
4 Army of BiH had either taken the Kaonik junction or was
5 advancing on the Kaonik junction from the direction of
6 Kuber mountain?
7 A. Yes, sir, they had either taken it or were about to take
9 Q. Would you agree that the army of BiH, at the time of
10 this meeting, 21st April, was either advancing from
11 Poculica to Preocica and Dubravica, or had already taken
12 those positions?
13 A. Yes, sir.
14 Q. Would you also agree that as at the time of this
15 meeting, the Army of BiH was advancing towards Vitez
16 from the direction of Krcevine to the north of Vitez,
18 A. It was certainly advancing on Vitez from the north, yes.
19 MR. HAYMAN: One moment, your Honour. (Pause). To your
20 knowledge, was the Army of BiH also advancing from
21 Bilalovac in the direction of Kiseljak?
22 A. There was certainly fighting to the north of Kiseljak.
23 I am not exactly sure where the forces were coming from.
24 Q. Did you receive reports on 21st April 1993 concerning
25 how many Croat villages had been lost by the HVO to the
1 Army of BiH on that date?
2 A. I would have to go and check the records. Ground had
3 been lost by the HVO, which would have included
4 villages. I cannot remember the exact list.
5 Q. Do you recall receiving a briefing that approximately
6 five Croat villages had been lost or were in the process
7 of being lost on 21st April 1993?
8 A. That is quite possible.
9 Q. In fact, your view is, is it not, that the cease-fire
10 agreement reached on 21st April 1993 saved the HVO from
11 a military defeat in Central Bosnia?
12 A. I would certainly say it saved them from possible
13 defeat. I could not obviously say they would have
14 actually been defeated. They might have held out and
15 been reinforced from Prozor, I do not know, but they
16 were certainly facing defeat.
17 Q. They had already lost or were about to lose the Kaonik
18 junction; would you agree their backs were to the wall?
19 A. Yes, I would.
20 Q. Now let us turn to the meeting itself. Was the subject
21 of the meeting on the 21st in essence Petkovic's request
22 to the BiH to stop their offensive?
23 A. You could summarise it as that, yes, but the HVO also
24 had conditions to do with any future cease-fire.
25 Q. That request and the conditions and the mechanics of a
1 cease-fire and a withdrawal, that was the subject of the
3 A. The principles were the subject of the first part of the
4 meeting, chaired by Mr. Thebault, and the mechanics of
5 how the two commanders would agree to separate their
6 forces and place a cease-fire was the subject of the
7 protracted second military planning meeting.
8 Q. You attended both parts?
9 A. Yes, I did, sir.
10 Q. In either part, was there any discussion of a massacre
11 in Ahmici or any other massacre of Muslim civilians?
12 A. No, sir.
13 Q. No mention whatsoever in that meeting, correct?
14 A. I have no recollection of it. I think there were a lot
15 of accusations and counter-accusations of various things,
16 but there were no specific accusations by the BiH of a
17 massacre in Ahmici, I am sure of that. But there were
18 lots of accusations and counter-accusations, and
19 occasionally General Petkovic or General Halilovic would
20 step in and stop the meeting descending into an argument
21 between Mr. Merdan and Colonel Blaskic as to the
22 prosecution of the conflict over the preceding few
23 days. I have a clear recollection of that.
24 Q. In these meetings, allegations were constantly being
25 raised and being brushed aside by the opposing party,
2 A. Who is the opposing party?
3 Q. The enemy force. An allegation would be raised that
4 something happened here or there, or the other side
5 would say, "we do not know who did that", something to
6 that effect, would try and brush it aside?
7 A. I would not describe it as "brushing aside". I would
8 say the two strategic commanders were keen to reach a
9 regional decision and did not want the process to get
10 bogged down in accusations and counter-accusations which
11 would only continue to inflame the situation, rather
12 than bring the situation to an end. I have a clear
13 recollection of them both being very General-like about
14 it, rather than worrying about the tactical position on
15 the ground vis-à-vis individual forces and villages.
16 Q. The result of this meeting was an agreement to establish
17 a demilitarised area and in effect a withdrawal of
18 troops, correct?
19 A. Correct, sir.
20 Q. Would you not agree, Colonel Watters, that when the
21 enemy is pressing in and taking territory, and that is
22 what is being discussed, and your commander asks you if
23 you have the situation under control, the reference to
24 "situation" in all probability means the losses you are
25 sustaining at that very moment with respect to the
1 territory under your command; would you not agree with
3 A. That is an interpretation. I was not sure at the time
4 of my own interpretation. It appeared to be quite a
5 vitriolic exchange between the two.
6 Q. If five Croat villages were lost on 21st April 1993, can
7 you appreciate the level of intensity of
8 General Petkovic's feelings on that occasion?
9 A. I can. What I did not understand was the impact it had
10 on the interpreter.
11 Q. Would you agree that the interpretation I set forth that
12 referenced to "control the situation" most likely refers
13 to the losses being sustained on the ground by the HVO;
14 would you not agree that that is a reasonable
15 interpretation of the exchange you described as
16 occurring on 21st April 1993?
17 A. It is an interpretation, it was not altogether mine at
18 the time.
19 Q. Do you agree it is a reasonable interpretation of the
20 exchange that you described occurring on 21st April
22 A. It is an interpretation, I am saying it was not
23 necessarily mine at the time.
24 Q. Do you agree it is a reasonable one? If you do not --
25 MR. KEHOE: Your Honour, please, the question was asked and
1 I believe we are now on the third time the question was
2 asked. The witness answered the question. Can I ask
3 that question not be repeated because counsel is
4 dissatisfied with the answer?
5 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, on this specific point, I have to sustain
6 this objection. I can say to you, Mr. Hayman, with a
7 smile on my face, that you yourself this morning
8 objected to questions which assumed that they were going
9 to extract from the witness a kind of interpretation
10 that was being asked. I did not interrupt you at the
11 present and I considered it was natural for you to try
12 to give the invitation that you wanted, but this is
13 three times you are asking the question and the witness
14 has already answered, so please go ahead.
15 MR. HAYMAN: If you change your answer, let us know.
16 MR. KEHOE: Your Honour, I move to strike the comments of
17 counsel on the record at this point and ask that the
18 court direct counsel just to ask questions.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, I do not like having things taken out of
20 the transcript. We are experiencing something which is
21 alive, that is what a trial is. Mr. Hayman made that
22 comment, it is going to remain in the transcript then.
23 It is not the best of his comments since the trial has
24 begun, but it was said. All right, continue.
25 MR. HAYMAN: Could you understand yourself anything that was
1 said between General Petkovic and Colonel Blaskic on
2 21st April 1993?
3 A. No, sir.
4 Q. Could you see them?
5 A. I could see the back of Colonel Blaskic and the face of
6 General Petkovic.
7 Q. So you could not see Colonel Blaskic's facial response
8 to this conversation?
9 A. No, I could not.
10 Q. Were you looking at them during this exchange, were you
11 focusing on the back of Colonel Blaskic and the face of
12 General Petkovic?
13 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, please try to shorten what you are
14 saying, we are not going to reconstruct a scene none of
15 us witnessed. The witness is telling you what he saw
16 and what he understood. Try to move to another
17 question, please.
18 MR. HAYMAN: I will move on, your Honour. I think he said
19 what he could see, and my question is, was he looking,
20 was he focusing on it, or is it something he could see
21 if he looked and turned in that direction, which are two
22 different things, and if it is too detailed I will move
23 on, but may I just see if the witness has anything else
24 to add?
25 A. I could see that --
1 JUDGE JORDA: Colonel, yes, go ahead.
2 A. I was focused on it because it was the first time I had
3 seen a Croat military commander getting a roasting from
4 another Croat military commander, so it was something
5 very unusual and I focused on it.
6 MR. HAYMAN: Your Honour, if we are going to 5.30 today, this
7 might be a convenient time to go into closed session,
8 briefly, concerning the matter that has been brought to
9 our attention at the beginning of the day.
10 MR. KEHOE: Yes, your Honour, I believe we will go into that
11 issue. I believe it is private session.
12 MR. HAYMAN: Yes, just no public audio.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Private session then. I would just tell the
14 people in the visitors' gallery, this is not a closed
15 session, they will see people here speaking, but the
16 sound will not come through. All right, we can now pass
17 into the private session. It will take a few moments.
18 (In closed session)
13 Pages 3502 - 3510 redacted in closed session
15 (5.30 pm)
16 (Hearing adjourned until 10.00 am the following day)