1 Monday, 8th December 1997
2 (10.30 am)
3 (In closed session)
13 Page 4688 to 4785 redacted - in closed session
17 (3.50 pm)
18 (A short break)
19 (4.15 pm)
20 JUDGE JORDA: We will resume the hearing now, please have
21 the accused brought in.
22 (Accused brought in)
23 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Prosecutor, I see that the protective
24 materials have been put into place, the Defence has been
25 told about it. I now give you the floor, Mr. Harmon
1 MR. HARMON: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President and
2 your Honours, this next witness is a protected witness
3 only requesting protection of visual distortion. She
4 will be using her name. In summary, Mr. President, she
5 is a witness who is from the village of Gacice. If
6 I could have the ELMO on, on the video monitor there
7 should be for your Honours, the village should be
8 appearing on the small map and the pointer is indicating
9 on the monitor the location of this particular village
10 where this witness is from.
11 This village, Mr. President, is approximately two
12 kilometres from the Hotel Vitez. This witness, who is
13 name is Advija Hrustic, will testify what life was like
14 in her village before the 1993 attack on her village.
15 She will discuss intimidation and discrimination by the
16 HVO in respect of Muslims in her community. She will
17 also discuss the presence of soldiers from outside the
18 Vitez municipality who wore distinct patches and who
19 were located at the Dubravica school.
20 When the time of April 16th 1993 arrives, she will
21 be discussing her observations of attacks on adjacent
22 villages, Ahmici, Donje Veceriska and others. She will
23 describe the effect of the truck bomb in her village.
24 She will discuss with your Honours events that are
25 consistent with the pre-arming of Croats in her village
1 and the evacuation of Croats from her village before the
2 attack took place on 20th April 1993, and then she will
3 describe the attack itself.
4 Next she will testify, Mr. President and
5 your Honours, about being taken prisoner by the HVO and
6 how she and the other civilians were taken from her
7 village to the Hotel Vitez, where they were placed
8 around the Hotel Vitez in order to stop shelling of the
9 Hotel Vitez. She will discuss her captivity for the
10 remaining 16 days after she was returned from the Hotel
11 Vitez to her village and she will discuss the conditions
12 of her captivity and the plight of the other villagers.
13 That is the summary, Mr. President and your Honours, of
14 her testimony.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Before the witness comes in, let us understand
16 one another. The testimony must not be long. I cannot
17 say this in front of the witness, because it would not
18 be appropriate. The witness will express herself and
19 then you only ask questions which would supplement what
20 she has said according to the method which was applied
21 with Witness A and with an abbreviation which would be
22 much better. We can now have Ms. Advija Hrustic brought
23 in. About how long have you planned for this witness?
24 MR. HARMON: Well Mr. President, depending on how long she
25 takes in her narrative, I would say no more than an hour
1 and a half, but it is a question of how fast she goes
2 through her narrative. I have instructed her to hit the
3 important points in her narrative and I hope she will
4 abide by my instructions.
5 JUDGE JORDA: That is fine, thank you.
6 (Witness entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: Do you hear me?
8 THE WITNESS: Yes.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Please state your name and your first name,
11 THE WITNESS: My name is Advija Hrustic.
12 JUDGE JORDA: The usher will give you the solemn declaration
13 and you may remain seated.
14 THE WITNESS: Yes.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Go ahead.
16 MS. ADVIJA HRUSTIC (sworn)
17 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. You have agreed to testify here,
18 your face has been protected, the protective measures
19 that you requested have been put into place in agreement
20 with the parties. You will testify about what you saw,
21 do it in your own words and after the Prosecutor asks
22 you a few questions, you will then tell what are the
23 important events about what happened. I mention again
24 the important events that took place in Gacice, the
25 intimidation campaign that preceded it, the things that
1 took place after the truck bomb, the arming of the
2 Croats, your captivity, what you observed among the
3 military troops who surrounded you or who were merely
4 with you. Once this has been done -- this can only been
5 done once you have been asked questions. Do not worry
6 if you lose the track of what you are saying, this is
7 not an unusual thing in front of judges, the Prosecutor
8 will put you back on the right road as to what you
10 Mr. Harmon, some preliminary questions?
11 Examined by MR. HARMON
12 Q. Yes, Mr. President, thank you.
13 Ms. Hrustic, how old are you?
14 A. 31.
15 Q. Were you born in Travnik and did you live from 1984
16 until 1993 in the Vitez municipality in the village of
18 A. Yes, that is correct.
19 Q. In April 1993, did you live in that village with your
20 husband and two small children, who were aged eight and
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Are you and your husband of the Muslim religion?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. In April 1993, was the village of Gacice, mixed Muslim
1 Croat village, located approximately two kilometres away
2 from Vitez?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. In 1993, were you employed as a teacher of the English
5 language in the Vitez primary school, which was located
6 in the city of Vitez?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Did you also have a small general store in the village
9 of Gacice?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Could you please in your own words tell the judges what
12 life was like in your village before the war, and also
13 tell the judges when and why it changed, in your view?
14 A. Before the war, when I lived in Vitez, the situation was
15 very good, as it was in the entire country. We lived in
16 a mixed village, we socialised, we went out together, we
17 were godparents to each others' children. There was no
18 difference between the two different religions, or
19 whoever was which religion did not matter because people
21 Q. I see just a correction in the transcript, it says when
22 you lived in Vitez, you mean when you lived in the
23 village of Gacice?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. When did that change and why did it change?
1 A. Right after the elections which were held in Vitez and
2 the village where I come from, the Croats started to
3 speak more clearly about -- there were Croats and
4 Muslims did not belong to this town and to this state.
5 Then one evening we were watching the Vance-Owen Plan
6 being presented on television. Mr. Boban was also on TV,
7 he said very clearly that the country was going to be
8 divided, that the Croats belonged to one country, that
9 they needed to follow these principles and that at this
10 point they were a free people who can freely determine
11 its own fate and that they needed to persevere in order
12 to be who they really are.
13 Q. Did the Vitez municipality appear on a map, and if so
14 which nationality would have control of the Vitez
15 municipality, in that television programme you saw with
16 Mate Boban?
17 A. Vitez was clearly in the Croatian republic of
18 Herceg-Bosna, and was supposed to be under the control
19 of the Croatian defence council, that is the Croatian
21 Q. After things started to change in the Vitez
22 municipality, can you advise the court of what specific
23 observations you saw that directly impacted on Muslims
24 in their daily life? I can draw your attention to areas
25 of work, of school, of events in the marketplace. If
1 you could inform the court in your own words what
2 happened in the Vitez municipality, please.
3 A. Yes. At first, the Croatian flags were put out on all
4 the public buildings, private homes, so that the town
5 was like at Christmas time. It was full of Croatian
6 flags. In school, we had to speak the Croatian
7 language. In the evening news, there was a caption
8 saying, "the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna". There
9 were many armed people around, and then we were all
10 receiving our salaries in the Croatian money, the Kuna,
11 and that was the only currency and this was how
12 everything was paid in all the stores in the
13 municipality. If by any chance in some store there were
14 prices marked in Bosnian currency as well as Croatian
15 currency, those stalls in the marketplace or those
16 stores were blown up, the stalls were overturned, so
17 there was no way to mark anything in the Bosnian
18 currency and pay in any other than the Croatian one.
19 Q. In respect of the school where you taught, were you
20 informed by the director of the school that instruction
21 had to be in the Croatian language?
22 A. Yes, one morning the director came to me, they had had a
23 meeting before I arrived, so I was not present at the
24 meeting. That was the whole teaching staff and then he
25 came over to me and he told me in person that this was a
1 Croatian school of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna
2 and, "in this school, the only language spoken will be
3 the Croatian language". In the staff room where we were
4 all sitting, we had a picture of Mr. Franjo Tudjman, we
5 had the Croatian symbols, that is Croatian flags also in
6 this staff room.
7 Q. Can you tell the judges what happened to your husband in
8 his work?
9 A. My husband, up until then had worked -- I am not sure
10 how long, but about eight years in the local commune,
11 and that was part of the municipality, the municipal
12 government. One day he came back from work and said
13 that he was fired. Mr. Santic had offered him to sign
14 off on a loyalty to the Herceg-Bosna, and then the
15 gentleman pulled out a paper, a notice and said that he
16 was no longer employed there.
17 Q. Let me clarify something you mentioned about the
18 marketplace. You said that if items were sold in Kuna
19 and Bosnian money, there would be consequences to the
20 stall owners. Did you personally see those incidents
21 and can you describe them in detail to the judges?
22 A. Yes, I was personally on the marketplace one day, it was
23 just a regular market day, there were a lot of people
24 there. Suddenly, from the street we were surrounded by
25 the policemen and the soldiers of the HVO, I do not know
1 exactly how many there were. We were all afraid at that
2 moment. Two of them were at the corners of the market,
3 and so nobody could either enter the market or leave.
4 They then passed by the stalls where the goods were
5 being sold and wherever they saw that the prices were
6 marked in both money they would overturn it, so all the
7 stalls that displayed two currencies, they were
9 So a friend of mine who also had a store at the
10 marketplace, he had it also marked in Bosnian currency
11 and his premises were blown up. All the windows were
12 smashed, and he tried displaying both currencies and
13 that did not help, then the same thing happened and then
14 he tried marking it in German Marks and then had the
15 same consequences. After that, he closed down his
17 Q. You said that policemen came into the shops, into the
18 marketplace and turned over these stalls. What kind of
19 policemen were those?
20 A. I did not understand the question.
21 Q. What insignia did those policemen have on their
23 A. They wore HV and HVO and they had white belts.
24 Q. Now I would like to turn your attention to another area
25 of your testimony. It is the area, if you could inform
1 the judges what unusual events you observed in and
2 around your village and in and around Vitez before the
3 attack itself that occurred in your village on April
4 20th. What strange things occurred? Specifically if
5 I could direct your attention to any training that you
6 saw near your village, any unusual activities late at
7 night that took place in your village. Could you tell
8 the judges, please, what you saw in respect of those?
9 A. Yes, before the attack to our village, we could often
10 observe a lot of armed individuals. They would be in
11 groups of about 50 individuals, and they had, I do not
12 know, the word -- I cannot recall, the word "target" in
13 the Bosnian language. They all were armed and they were
14 going to a nearby pool where they had target practice.
15 Q. When you say "individuals", are you referring to HVO
17 A. Yes, the HVO soldiers who had clear insignia, they had
18 the chequer-boards on their heads also, on their arms, on
19 their jackets. Also at night I could observe from my
20 window, at home, my first door neighbour, who was a
21 Croat, who was almost always wearing a black uniform, he
22 had the HVO insignia on his uniform. They were coming
23 in different vehicles and they were hauling in things.
24 It looked like big bags with handles like duffel bags.
25 When they would come close to the house where they were
1 leaving these things, they would turn off all the lights
2 in the house, in the vehicle, but we could see this
3 because sometimes there was moonlight and this would all
4 usually happen between midnight and 2.00 am.
5 Later, I could see this neighbour, after the war
6 had started, that this neighbour was bringing out
7 weapons from this house.
8 Q. One last question of clarification on this point: how
9 often would you see this unusual activity take place in
10 your village before the attack on your village took
12 A. There was no specific time limits, we never knew when
13 exactly this would happen, sometimes that would be two
14 or three times a month, sometimes two or three times a
15 week, sometimes night after night this would go on.
16 Q. Now if I could direct your attention to the presence in
17 the Vitez municipality of some soldiers from the
18 Dubravica school. Would you please inform the judges,
19 first of all who these soldiers were, as far as you
20 knew, what they did in the Vitez municipality in your
21 community and what you did in respect of those soldiers?
22 A. For instance in operations like the thing at the
23 marketplace, and during the patrols in the town, Vitez
24 is a very small town and everybody knows everybody
25 else. We could see these soldiers patrolling together
1 with the HVO soldiers. They were in the Princip
2 factory, people of all, I think, groups were working
3 there and our own people were able to tell us that there
4 were a number of unknown people in uniforms who
5 supposedly came there to provide security for the
6 factory. Also, the school which was later moved to
7 Vitez, there too we could often see soldiers and we
8 could hear them talk. They had a different accent from
9 us, and we could often see them going up and down the
10 road, or in front of the school, and they were doing
11 exercise, physical exercises and they were all armed.
12 Q. What kind of insignia did they have on their uniforms,
13 these soldiers from outside of the Vitez municipality?
14 A. They had the HV and a kind of a leaf on their arm, like
15 a branch, like branches.
16 Q. You said that you saw these soldiers participating in
17 operations with other HVO soldiers. Did you also see
18 them at checkpoints?
19 A. Yes, at the entrance to our village, which was very
20 close to the town, very often they would set up
21 checkpoints and we would all be controlled, our
22 documents would be controlled, our vehicles, bags would
23 be searched to all of us, and these soldiers also
24 participated in this, together with the soldiers from
25 the Vitez area whom we did know.
1 Q. And the soldiers with the oak leaf, did they also
2 participate with the HVO military police in operations
3 that you saw?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Just some other points of clarification on these
6 soldiers who were stationed at the Dubravica school.
7 Did they generally contribute to the intimidation of
8 Muslims? Could you see them doing certain actions,
9 could you hear them, what they were saying and if so,
10 could you please describe fully to the court what you
11 saw and what you heard?
12 A. People were more than afraid in this kind of situation
13 when we would see them and in these situations, that if
14 we, say, went to school, we only saw the military, if we
15 went to the marketplace, there were only the military
16 around. If we went to the factories there were only
17 military around in large groups. It was not just fear,
18 it was terror.
19 Q. Okay. Ms. Hrustic, I would like you to try to give a
20 narrative answer to the judges. When I ask you about a
21 particular subject area, in your own words and at your
22 own pace, would you please inform the judges, without my
23 interrupting, if you can, and I will be glad to assist
24 you with certain questions, but I think the court is
25 more interested in hearing you expound on some of these
1 subjects than my asking you questions. Please, if you
2 could fill in as many details as you could about these
3 particular soldiers and what you did in terms of these
4 soldiers, in terms of telephoning the Dubravica school
5 and why you did that.
6 A. People were simply scared, we all lived in terrible
7 fear. We were afraid to say that we were Muslims, we
8 were afraid to go out anywhere, because some of the
9 people who lived around us may recognise us and kill
10 us. They would recognise us for who we were. I had two
11 children at that time, and knowing that the HVO
12 military -- sorry, that the military were accommodated
13 in the school in Dubravica, I did not know what to do.
14 Out of fear, out of terrible fear for my children, one
15 day I called up and I introduced myself as Maria, and
16 I said, "are you really here to help us kill all the
17 Muslims?", and the gentleman who answered the call said
18 something to the effect, "do not be afraid any more, we
19 are here now and your problems will be solved very
20 soon. There is a reason why we came here", and so to
21 the effect that the situation would be resolved soon.
22 Very often, almost all Muslim families were
23 receiving phone calls, that it was time for us to leave,
24 that this was not our country, that we should go to
25 Iraq, that we should go to Turkey, that this was the
1 Croatian Republic, that we were not a nation, that we
2 would all be killed, not just myself but all people, so
3 in fear we would go to one another to ask what would
5 On one occasion, I personally was visiting a
6 friend who called me almost daily, completely panicked,
7 she was almost beside herself with fear, from all these
8 phone calls. I went over to her and when the phone
9 rang, she was just too afraid to pick it up. I picked
10 it up, there was a male voice on the other end and, "the
11 time has come for them to leave, they would be killed,
12 they had no chance, time has run out for them", things
13 like that.
14 Q. Let me clarify some of what you just told the judges.
15 You said you called some people up. Did you call the
16 school at Dubravica where the soldiers with the green
17 leaves on their soldiers were located and did you speak
18 to one of those soldiers?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. What exactly did he tell you?
21 A. He told me that they had come from Herzegovina, that
22 they had come from Grude, they had come to help, to help
23 the Croats, that very soon everything was going to be
24 the way it should be, and that I should not be afraid of
25 anything, that the problems would be -- problems with
1 the Muslims would be solved very soon. I had asked him
2 whether they had come to kill all the Muslims and then
3 he said, "yes, we will solve that very soon".
4 Q. Now I would like to turn to another area I would like
5 you to tell the judges about and that is the time-frame
6 from 16th April to 19th April and that is when you
7 observed -- starting when you observed the village of
8 Ahmici attacked and neighbouring villages. Could you
9 please tell the judges where you were and what you saw?
10 Please take your time in telling the judges what you
12 A. The day before the attack on Ahmici was almost normal.
13 I went to school and the children had a full day at
14 school. We came back and then in the morning, some time
15 around 5.50, we heard a couple of shells falling. We
16 were afraid, we got up and since my house is on high
17 ground, I could see almost the entire town below me.
18 I saw the village of Ahmici in flames, I saw terrible
19 smoke coming from the direction of that village. You
20 could hear the shells exploding, you could smell the
21 smoke. I heard the shells in the Stari Vitez, and we
22 could even see the place where the shells would fall,
23 the people were afraid.
24 We called each other, asking if anybody knew what
25 was going on, was this a war, was it something else? We
1 had no idea what was happening. After that, I saw the
2 surrounding villages in flames. I heard the shells. A
3 village across, away from us in the other clearing was
4 also shelled. We had no soldiers in the village, we had
5 six or seven soldiers who went to the front-lines with
6 the Serbian Army, and they would usually come back to
7 the village without their weapons. They were all in
8 civilian clothes in the village. We watched the village
9 of Veceriska, how people are struggling around their
10 houses. We saw one by one going up in flames. People
11 were calling us over and asking for help. We had no way
12 to go out and help them, but we organised for the women
13 and children to move towards the houses that were closer
14 to the forest, because that would be easier for escape.
15 The night before the 20th, so on the 20th in the
16 evening, the small arms fire in Veceriska village
17 subsided, there was military there, but we could not see
18 any children or women, we could only see the flames. In
19 the morning, we pulled back to the upper area near the
20 forest, there were three or four houses there where the
21 women and children were sheltered. These were shelters
22 which had 30 or maybe 10 people, women, children and the
24 There were a few men left in the village, and they
25 had dug up some trenches that were about 1.4 metres deep
1 for cover. They did not have any weapons, my husband
2 had blue jeans and a blue jacket and he had a hunting
3 rifle, he had been a hunter for 20 years. He had two
4 young men with him, 16 and 17 of age. They had two hand
5 grenades and so in front of every house we had a couple
6 of people who would guard these shelters where the women
7 and children were, and from all sides, we were
8 surrounded by the Croatian settlements, a factory was on
9 one side, so it was impossible for us to leave.
10 In the morning, at around 5.30 to 5.50, we heard
11 our own village being shelled. The shells were falling
12 from all sides.
13 Q. Ms. Hrustic, before we get into the attack on the
14 village on 20th April, let me clarify some things you
15 have testified about. You said you could see
16 surrounding villages in flames. Which villages were
17 those? Can you identify them by name, please?
18 A. I saw the village of Ahmici, I saw Veceriska, I saw the
19 houses in the old Vitez, I saw the surrounding villages
20 whose names I really do not know on the other side.
21 Those were the settlements close to the Veceriska
22 village, because they had the upper and lower Veceriska.
23 Q. You also said that you saw some villages shelled. Did
24 you see Stari Bila shelled?
25 A. Yes, I saw that Stari Bila was being shelled.
1 Q. Being shelled from an artillery piece located where?
2 A. I could see very clearly from the balcony of my house,
3 this was a house which was in the Croatian settlement
4 across the way, and this was in the ground floor of a
5 house that was still under construction. You could see
6 the flame from where it was fired, so it was shelled
7 from Mlakici to Stari Bila.
8 Q. At some point in time after the attack on Vitez and
9 Stari Vitez took place, was there an enormous explosion
10 that you felt in your village, and can you describe,
11 please, to the judges, what effect that explosion had on
12 your village, which was about two kilometres away?
13 A. Yes. We heard the shelling, the fire and then there was
14 a very powerful explosion. One had the feeling that the
15 house was coming down. On my house, the glass, together
16 with the frame, came down and a balcony door also fell
17 to the floor from the explosion. The house was shaking
18 as if it was going to tumble down. All the glass panes
19 in the surrounding houses were broken.
20 Q. Let me ask you one other question about your previous
21 testimony. Earlier you said you had made a telephone
22 call to the Dubravica school to talk to soldiers who
23 were wearing these green-leafed insignia. Do you
24 remember approximately when that telephone call was
25 made, what month?
1 JUDGE JORDA: I wonder whether you already asked that
2 question, Mr. Harmon. I think you have. I think she
3 said that she does not remember.
4 MR. HARMON: That is fine, Mr. President. Let me proceed to
5 the events still before the attack on your village on
6 April 20th.
7 Were you aware of an ultimatum by the HVO to the
8 men in your village to turn in their weapons and can you
9 please in your own words tell the judges about that
11 A. Yes. As I said, our men were in the upper part of the
12 village, and the HVO wanted a meeting with them. They
13 told them that they had an ultimatum to surrender our
14 weapons, that we had to sign an oath of allegiance to
15 the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, that all the
16 people needed to be disarmed. Our men refused this,
17 asking the HVO army that they too should surrender their
18 weapons, together with us, and that we should form mixed
19 groups of Bosnians and Croats to organise guard duty
20 over the weapons if they did not trust one another, but
21 the HVO refused. They just insisted that our side
22 should surrender whatever it had.
23 Two days later, the Bosnian side initiated a
24 meeting, asking that some kind of a compromise be
25 reached, but they refused. They said that they had
1 given us a chance, we had refused it and there was
2 nothing more to discuss.
3 Q. Just a couple more points of clarification.
4 Approximately how many men were in your village at or
5 about April 20th 1993?
6 A. About 30.
7 Q. Where were the other men?
8 A. Our other men were on the first front-line against the
9 Serb Army.
10 Q. What kind of weapons were available, did your men have
11 in the village prior to the attack?
12 A. Before the attack on the village, we had hunting rifles,
13 we had a couple of grenades. It was mostly just hunting
14 weapons, and some adjusted weapons that had been brought
15 in maybe -- there were not more than five. I do not
16 remember exactly how many, but I do not think there were
17 move five.
18 Q. On 19th April, the day before the attack, did you see
19 Croat residents of Gacice leaving the village?
20 A. Yes, on 19th April I was able to see Croatian women with
21 their children and bags in great haste going towards the
22 lower part of the village, that is in the direction of
23 Mlakici village. Before that, I saw them during the
24 previous weeks and months bringing in large quantities
25 of food to store in their houses. All the women and
1 children abandoned the village.
2 Q. Just a point of clarification, when you say Mlakici
3 village, that is the Croatian part of the village of
4 Gacice, is that correct?
5 A. Yes.
6 MR. HARMON: Now Mr. President, if I can turn to Prosecutor's
7 next exhibit, which is I believe 156, I ask that that be
8 presented to the witness so she can refer to it if she
9 wants in her description of the attack on April 20th.
10 For the record, Mr. President, this is an exhibit which
11 is a portion of Exhibit 77, it is an enlargement with
12 certain numbers and circles indicating locations on it.
13 It has attached to it a legend.
14 For the record, Mr. President, the witness has had
15 an opportunity to indicate to me these locations which
16 have been marked on the exhibit. She has also had an
17 opportunity to compare the legend with the numbers that
18 are marked on the exhibit itself, and if I can ask her
19 one question briefly?
20 Ms. Hrustic, are the numbers on this particular
21 exhibit that have been marked, and the descriptive
22 material that is on the legend, have you had a chance to
23 review both the numbers and the legend?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Is the legend accurate?
1 A. Yes, it is.
2 Q. Please, if you feel comfortable using this particular
3 exhibit during the course of the next part of your
4 testimony, feel free to do so, otherwise I will ask you
5 some questions about it later on. What I would like to
6 do now, Ms. Hrustic, is to move on to the attack itself
7 on your village that took place on 20th April. Can you
8 please describe to the judges in your own words, at your
9 own pace, the attack, what happened, what you saw and
10 what you did.
11 A. The night before the actual attack, from the house
12 marked with the number 1, I went to another house marked
13 number 6, with my two children, my mother, because there
14 were other people there. The shelling started in the
15 morning, of the village itself, from three sides. One
16 direction came from number 12, and from Mlakici, which
17 is also marked with number 12. There was a lot of fire
18 in the morning, the shells were falling and our men, who
19 had no weapons, were withdrawing towards the woods,
20 whereas the women and children stayed in the cellars.
21 After the shelling, I went out a couple of times
22 to bring water for the children because we had not
23 prepared anything in the basements. I could see the
24 army, the military, people in uniform running between
25 the houses, calling out to each other, calling us out,
1 shooting. We stayed in the shelters and I heard from
2 the direction marked here as 11, women and children
3 crying, screaming. Then there were bursts of fire
4 again, the military, the soldiers that I could hear
5 speaking would shout "balijas", they would curse our
6 mothers, they would threaten us, "come out, we know you
7 are there, we will slaughter your women and children,
8 nobody will remain alive. Do not hide, there is no
9 point, we know you are there", and with a group of eight
10 that I was one of, there was an elderly man of about
11 65. The rest were my two children and some elderly
13 We came out of the basement, which is marked as
14 number 6. While we were still in the basement I heard
15 bursts of fire, and I could see some houses because
16 there was no doors where I was, I could hear a burst of
17 fire, the glass breaking and then a house burning.
18 There was an awful lot of smoke, almost all the
19 surrounding houses were burning and the man calling us
20 was behind the garage where we were staying and we could
21 hear him clearly, we could hear him cocking his rifle,
22 firing into glass and the flame that would appear a
23 moment later.
24 So I came out with the group, because we thought
25 we would be safer if there were more of us in a group,
1 and on the road, there were many children, many women,
2 many old people; there were very many soldiers who had
3 insignia, some of them had the letter U, some had HVO
4 insignia, some had HV and there were a couple with the
5 word Jastrebovi, "the hawks". They started laughing at
6 us, "we knew you were there, you balija", they would
7 push us around and they said, "go down the road now".
8 They were around us, so we headed in a large column, a
9 large line.
10 There was an old imam with us who was about 60,
11 over 60. A soldier took his rifle and said, "what do
12 you balija want? You have come here to teach them how
13 to be better balijas". The man said nothing except, "do
14 not, my son". He took a pistol, put the pistol in his
15 mouth, the man fell to his knees, he hit him a couple of
16 times. He held this pistol in his mouth, threatening to
17 kill him, saying that he should follow the column.
18 We all of us reached a house where we were told
19 that we would be going on. We did not know where we
20 were going. They took us in front of the Vitez hotel,
21 all the women and children --
22 Q. Let me interrupt you right there for just a minute to
23 get some additional clarification. The soldiers that
24 you saw in the village attacking your village, you said
25 had a variety of different insignia, HVO, HV, the letter
1 U. Did they also have Vitezovi patches on them, some of
3 A. Yes, they did.
4 Q. Did the soldiers from those different units appear to be
5 working together in the attack on your village?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Did the attack on your village come from three different
8 directions which are indicated by the number 12 on
9 Prosecutor's Exhibit 156?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. At some point in time on 20th April, you said you and
12 certain number of civilians from your house left and you
13 joined other civilians and you were walked into the town
14 of Vitez in a large column. Approximately how many
15 civilians were in that column?
16 A. There were 247 of us.
17 Q. Were you told why you were being marched down to the
18 Hotel Vitez?
19 A. No.
20 Q. While you were en route to the Hotel Vitez, could you
21 hear shelling?
22 A. Yes, all the way we could hear shelling. The children
23 were terrified, they would hide behind us, we heard
24 rifle fire and shelling.
25 Q. Let me show you -- I am sorry. You then arrived at the
1 Hotel Vitez, is that correct?
2 A. In front of the Hotel Vitez, yes.
3 Q. Let me now ask the usher to please put on the ELMO
4 Prosecutor's Exhibit 157, which will be two photographs,
5 Mr. Usher. If I could start with the first photograph.
6 The first photograph, Mr. Usher, is marked PH 206.
7 Ms. Hrustic, do you recognise this photograph and
8 can you tell the judges where this is?
9 A. Yes, I can. This is the Vitez hotel, where the
10 civilians were taken on that day. That is exactly the
11 spot where we were taken.
12 Q. Mr. Usher, if I could then have photograph 207 placed on
13 the ELMO.
14 Ms. Hrustic, do you recognise this photograph?
15 What is that?
16 A. Yes, it is the place where I was sitting that day with
17 the other people, that was where they took us.
18 Q. So you were sitting between the Hotel Vitez, which is in
19 photograph 206, and this particular building, which is
20 photograph 207, is that correct?
21 A. Yes, it is correct.
22 MR. HARMON: Now if I could have, Mr. Usher, if you could next
23 take Prosecutor's Exhibit 158 and place that on the
24 ELMO, and for the record, Mr. President and counsel, this
25 is an enlargement of a portion of Exhibit 45, and it has
1 a legend with one item indicated on the legend.
2 Ms. Hrustic, do you see on your monitor Exhibit
3 158 that has been placed on the ELMO? Can you tell the
4 judges what the large white circle is with the number 1
5 next to it?
6 A. That is the area where we spent two and a half to three
7 hours on 20th April.
8 Q. So that is the area where about 247 civilians were kept
9 on 20th April, is that correct?
10 A. Yes, it is.
11 Q. In your own words, Ms. Hrustic, would you tell the
12 judges about your arrival at the Hotel Vitez and what
13 occurred while you were at the Hotel Vitez?
14 A. When we got there, we were standing and waiting, we did
15 not know what to do. There were some men with us and
16 they first told us that all the men should go to one
17 side and that the women and children to another side, so
18 there would be a metre or two between the two of us, the
19 two groups, and then they took away the men. This was
20 all happening within maybe ten minutes. Then we went on
21 standing and then we sat down and a soldier said, "I am
22 going inside to inform the commander about this", and he
23 pointed with his head in our direction. One of the
24 soldiers said, "we could put them in the cinema".
25 There was a shell crater in front of the hotel,
1 and I sat inside. The soldiers were coming in and out
2 of the hotel. There were no particular shifts or
3 anything like that. Then a soldier came, there was a
4 man who came first with a camera, and then a soldier
5 came out who had a crate of mineral water, and said,
6 "you see how good we are". The women and children
7 started to drink water, the cameraman filmed all this
8 and as soon as he left, the crate was taken away from
9 the women and the children.
10 Q. You said the soldier said, "I am going inside to inform
11 the commander". Were there any other comments by the
12 HVO soldiers talking about shelling and the location of
13 the civilians in particular?
14 A. Yes. One of the soldiers said, while we were standing
15 there, "you are going to sit here now and let your
16 people shell you, because they have been shelling us up
17 to now, and you better sit down and wait".
18 Q. Did the soldiers stay with the 247 civilians or after
19 the soldiers said that, did the soldiers retreat into
20 the Hotel Vitez?
21 A. The hotel is mostly of glass, so that we could see them
22 and they could see us. They said that they had good
23 shelters in the hotel, that they were not afraid, no one
24 could harm them, so the soldiers brought us there and
25 went inside and they were there while the filming took
1 place, whereas the rest of the time, a couple of them
2 watched us through the glass and we were told that if
3 anybody moved, they would be shot on the spot because
4 they could see us and they were watching us.
5 Q. You remained there for about two and a half to three
6 hours, is that correct?
7 A. Yes, we sat there. They did not tell us to go any
8 place, and we did not know where to go.
9 Q. Were you later told where you should go?
10 A. Yes, later we were told to go back to the village, and
11 as we were passing through the village, we saw that
12 almost all the houses were on fire, the stables were on
13 fire, we were afraid, we did not have anywhere to sleep
14 because this was a large group of people. One of the
15 soldiers turned around and said, "what do you want? You
16 want me to kill you all here and now?"
17 Q. Were you escorted back to your village on your own free
18 will, or were you threatened that if you did not go back
19 to your village you would be killed, at the Hotel Vitez?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Can you explain that answer, please, to the judges?
22 A. Mostly all the women and children who had left the
23 village had no food on them, no water, nothing. Each
24 one of the women were just holding on to their children
25 by the hand and when we got there, we did not know what
1 to eat, where to go back to, and we did not have
2 anywhere to go back to in the village, because the
3 village was burning. We saw it, we had passed through
4 it, so then we were told that we had to go back to
5 Vitez, otherwise we would all be killed in front of the
7 Q. Did you believe that you and the other civilians who
8 were gathered around the Hotel Vitez were there as human
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. You went back to your village and remained in your
12 village for approximately 16 days, is that correct?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. You and the other civilians were placed in a number of
15 houses that had not been destroyed and those are
16 indicated on Prosecutor's Exhibit 156 with the number 4
17 and the radiating arrows that point to a variety of
18 houses; is that correct?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. While you were in that village of Gacice during those 16
21 days, I would like you to tell the judges first off
22 about a trench that you saw being dug. Will you please
23 explain to the judges what you saw in respect of that
25 MR. HARMON: Excuse me, I am not getting an English
2 A. When we got back to the village we were told to be --
3 JUDGE JORDA: That is fine, go ahead.
4 A. When we got back to the village, we were told that we
5 had to stay in these houses that were in a group, so
6 that they could see us, and that we could be under
7 control. There was a checkpoint at the junction below
8 those houses where armed military men were on guard.
9 For that time, we never got any food or water or
11 One morning, we did not have any water, so we had
12 to cover a distance of some 200 metres, but after having
13 informed the HVO soldiers who were there, or rather
14 after asking them for permission to go and get water,
15 and then we would go in groups of three or four women
16 with cans to fetch water. From the house I was in,
17 I was able to see my house, which is number 1, and we
18 had to pass along that path to fetch water. A big
19 trench digger arrived one day, which dug up in the
20 Muslim grebje an enormous trench, maybe 40 or 45 metres
21 long, and it was about two metres wide. We did not know
23 One morning, I got up very early, I was going to
24 fetch water, and I could see a white car, an ambulance,
25 and a woman in a white coat, a man next to her, who
1 lowered two bodies there. One was a little longer than
2 half a metre, the other was a little bigger. Both were
3 charred. I went back and asked my neighbour, "are we
4 going to fill up those holes?"; in other words, were
5 those holes for the rest of us inhabitants? He said
6 that the body was of a little girl and her mother from
7 Ahmici, he did not mention the name, he said that he was
8 just following orders and if he is told that we should
9 fill up that hole, he was sorry but that would happen;
10 if not, then we would survive.
11 Q. Was your neighbour an HVO soldier by the name of Boro
13 A. Yes, he was.
14 Q. When did you make those observations of the two victims
15 from Ahmici being put in the burial trench in your
16 village; what date, approximately?
17 A. It was towards the end of April, beginning of May.
18 Q. Did Boro Krizanovic inform you of what units had
19 participated in the attack on Gacice?
20 A. Yes, he said when we went back in front of the hotel
21 that they were very good men, they had very good army,
22 that they had received assistance, that the 303rd Split
23 Brigade and the 125th Varazdin Brigade had come to their
25 Q. Were those units from Croatia?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Did Boro Krizanovic also tell you about what had
3 happened to a Muslim by the name of Fikret Hrustic who
4 lived in your village?
5 A. Yes. What would happen to us, we asked them and how
6 could they have done something like that, because this
7 was so cruel. We found a man burnt in the basement of a
8 house opposite the way to mine, he said that he was in
9 front of the house, that Fikret Hrustic was inside, that
10 he had lined up his pots and pans in front of the door,
11 thinking that they would not come in, that he was
12 yelling, saying "this will not be Herceg-Bosna" and that
13 he did not want to come out. They said they could call
14 him to come out, that he did not want to come out, that
15 he shouted that this would never be Herceg-Bosna, "if
16 I have to die, I will die here, this is my country", and
17 then they set fire to him. He screamed while he was
18 dying and then he fell silent. He said that Fikret was
19 mad, he could have done without that.
20 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, I have my next exhibit, which is
21 Exhibit 159, which I would like to distribute. It is a
22 photograph of a headstone of Fikret Hrustic with
23 relevant birth date and death date indicated on it.
24 I have shown this to the witness, Mr. President, and
25 I can move on then without putting it on the ELMO.
1 Next I would like to turn to a gentleman by the
2 name of Garic Kreso. Can you please, Ms. Hrustic, tell
3 us about Mr. Garic Kreso; who he is, what conversations
4 you had with him?
5 A. Upon our return in front of the hotel, a man who had a
6 bullet-proof vest and a helmet on his head said his name
7 was Kreso Garic, his parents were in the village of
8 Mlakici. He said he had been living for 18 years in
9 Zagreb, that he had come for the purpose of this
10 operation to our village, and to the area, and that when
11 the operation was completed, he would be going back to
12 where he had come from.
13 Q. Were you aware of his going down to the Hotel Vitez at
14 any point in time?
15 A. He told us that we should ask whatever we needed, that
16 we should ask him for everything, no one was allowed to
17 move from one house to another without asking him for
18 permission, and in a number of cases, when we wanted
19 anything, wanted to ask him something, then they would
20 say that Kreso was not there for the moment, that he was
21 in the hotel, that they had an important meeting and
22 that when he came we could ask him.
23 Q. Again, Ms. Hrustic, I would like to turn your attention
24 to Prosecutor's Exhibit 156, which is this enlargement
25 of a portion of Exhibit 77. There appear to be in
1 that photograph a number of homes, houses and structures
2 that are burned, damaged. Have you had an opportunity
3 to inspect this particular photograph before coming into
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. There are a number of structures that are not indicated
7 by numbers, but that are damaged. Can you tell the
8 court whether those structures that are unnumbered but
9 damaged are structures belonging to Muslims?
10 A. Yes, they are.
11 Q. Is there one structure that belongs to a Croat?
12 A. Yes, one.
13 Q. In respect of this particular exhibit, you have had an
14 opportunity to review photographs that were taken in the
15 village of Gacice. If I could show you very quickly,
16 with the assistance of the usher, a series of
17 photographs, could you tell me who owned these
18 particular structures, please? I can start with Exhibit
19 78 and we will move very quickly through these. They
20 will be placed on the ELMO and they will appear in front
21 of you, starting with photograph 254, Mr. Usher?
22 Let me just expedite this. If there is no
23 objection from counsel, 254, is this the home belonging
24 to Nurberg Hrustic?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Now if we could move to 256, does this structure belong
2 to Ferid Subasic, a Muslim in the village of Gacice?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. If we could move to photograph 250, please? Is this
5 building located in Gacice and did it belong to two
6 sisters by the name of Subasic?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Now Mr. Usher, I have concluded with that exhibit. If we
9 could go to Exhibit 160, please, which is the
10 Prosecutor's next exhibit? Starting, Mr. Usher,
11 photograph 238 from Exhibit 160.
12 Ms. Hrustic, is this the photograph of the small
13 mosque that was in the village of Gacice?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Now if we could turn to photograph 241, Mr. Usher. Is
16 241 a house also located in Gacice that belonged to
17 Ekrem Herzegovac?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Now if we could turn to photograph 252, please, is this
20 a structure in Gacice belonging to a man by the name of
21 Ismir Hrustic?
22 A. Imsir Hrustic, yes.
23 Q. Mr. Usher, if I could go to photograph 254?
24 You showed me, did you not, three homes that were
25 in Gacice, but you did not know the names of the owners
1 but you said these were Muslim homes. Is this one of
2 those photographs which is photograph 254?
3 A. Yes, it is.
4 MR. HARMON: Can we turn to photograph 256, please,
5 Mr. Usher?
6 I will ask you the same questions, is this a house
7 that belonged to a Muslim and is located in the village
8 of Gacice. Let us get the photograph on the ELMO
9 first. It does not appear to be in there. Okay, can we
10 turn to 250 then?
11 Mr. President, I am not sure why those photographs
12 do not appear in that exhibit, but I will present them
13 at a later time. Now if we could turn to Exhibit 261.
14 JUDGE JORDA: I am not sure that any of this is being
15 contested by the Defence. Mr. Hayman, are you contesting
16 any of these? You are putting this into the record,
17 recognised by the witness. It is like the map. Do it
18 the way you did with the map.
19 MR. HARMON: Can you tell me what this exhibit is, please,
20 Ms. Hrustic?
21 A. This is the entrance to a building in the village of
22 Gacice which was a cultural centre before the war, a
23 kind of youth centre with a discotheque and a library.
24 Q. Prior to the April 20th attack, there appears to be some
25 graffiti on this photograph. Was that graffiti on that
1 building prior to the 20th April 1993 attack?
2 A. Yes, this was there for at least three months on the
3 building prior to the attack. We were not allowed to
4 enter the building, the key was taken away from us. The
5 Croatian army was there, and in front of this door,
6 there were two armed guards. In the evening also they
7 would bring in something, I do not know what. In any
8 event, Muslims were not allowed to enter this building
9 and these are the graffiti on that building.
10 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, I have no additional questions.
11 Thank you, Ms. Hrustic.
12 I would like to move to introduce into evidence,
13 Mr. President, Exhibit 156 and the legend; 157, which is
14 two photographs; 158, which is an aerial enlargement of
15 the area around the Hotel Vitez; 159 and 160,
16 Mr. President.
17 JUDGE JORDA: No objection.
18 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, I apologise. I have one
19 additional question of the witness which my colleague
20 indicated. Thank you.
21 Can you tell me how you left the village of Gacice
22 16 days later and how the other villagers left the
23 village? I am talking about the Muslim villagers who
24 had been detained in these various houses?
25 A. At the time, while we were in the village, armed men
1 would come into the village on trucks and they had lists
2 of names of people and they would read out the names on
3 the list, they would take the women and children whose
4 names they would read and take them away, we do not know
5 where. On that day, a friend from the HVO army came and
6 said to me that I should take my two children and my
7 mother and that he would take me to the territory under
8 the control of the Bosnian army. The other people who
9 stayed behind in the village, the other women, they did
10 not know where I was going and I was not told exactly.
11 About two hours later, they were put on a truck
12 and they were told that they should go to Vjetrenica and
13 from there on foot together.
14 Q. So the other villagers were taken to the Dubravica
15 checkpoint and told to go on foot to Zenica, is that
17 A. Yes, they were all told to go to Zenica, and only then
18 did we learn that the others had been also taken to
19 various sites, various places according to this list,
20 but we did not know at the time.
21 MR. HARMON: I have no additional questions.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, that does not change your point as
23 far as the cross-examination is concerned?
24 MR. NOBILO: No.
25 JUDGE JORDA: I turn to my colleagues.
1 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, maybe we must have misunderstood
2 one another. I do intend to cross-examine this witness,
3 but I have no objections to the admission of these
4 exhibits. I have quite a number of questions,
6 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Mr. Nobilo, it is 5.40, we will now
7 adjourn and resume tomorrow at 11.00.
8 (5.40 pm)
9 (Hearing adjourned until 11.00 am the following day)