1 Wednesday, 17th December
3 (9.30 am)
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Have the accused brought
5 in, please.
6 (Accused brought in)
7 JUDGE JORDA: As soon as the photographers have finished
8 their work -- can everyone hear me well? Are the
9 interpreters ready? Thank you, thank you for coming a
10 little earlier. Mr. Prosecutor, the Defence, Mr. Nobilo,
11 Mr. Hayman, can you hear me? General Blaskic, you can
12 hear me? Very well, we can begin then. I hope my
13 colleagues can hear me too.
14 Mr. Kehoe, we have only one witness for this
16 MR. KEHOE: That is correct, Mr. President.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. How long do you think his
18 testimony will take? What is the summary, what is the
19 connection with the indictment? Will you explain that
20 to us in summary form, but with precision and with
21 completeness. Thank you.
22 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. Good morning, Mr. President
23 and your Honours. The first and only witness today is a
24 gentleman by the name of Michael Buffini,
25 B-U-F-F-I-N-I. Mr. Buffini is now a civilian. During
1 the operative time frame, i.e. 1993, he was an officer in
2 the Royal Marine Corps. He was carrying the rank of
3 Major while he was operating in Central Bosnia and prior
4 to that time, he carried the rank of Captain in the
5 Royal Marines.
6 Mr. Buffini was in the first instance assigned to
7 the Combined British Forces headquarters in Split and he
8 will testify that during the period of time that he was
9 assigned to this location he saw HV troops, and this is
10 Croatian army troops, moving into the Prozor area; he
11 saw HV troops obviously engaged in fighting in the
12 Prozor area, and in that area during this time frame the
13 fighting was taking place between the Bosnian Muslim
14 army and the HVO, of which the HV was assisting.
15 He will likewise augment that testimony with
16 conversations of an ex Royal Marine, who noted that he
17 was training HV troops for assignment in Bosnia to
18 assist the HVO. As you know, Mr. President and
19 your Honours, this particular evidence goes to the
20 international armed conflict issue which is pertinent to
21 all the grave breach charges, so while it does not
22 necessarily go to the factual information set forth, it
23 does go to the international armed conflict issue which
24 those counts run through the entire indictment.
25 The next instance or instances that Mr. Buffini
1 will discuss, he will discuss his work in the Busovaca
2 Joint Commission, which commenced on approximately
3 6th March 1993, and concluded in the latter part of May
4 1993. He will discuss the parties, the representatives
5 for each side that attended that meeting, specifically
6 Franjo Nakic, Blaskic's second in command who
7 represented the HVO, and Dzemal Merdan, who was the
8 representative for the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
9 He will talk about Blaskic's authority in Central
10 Bosnia -- again, he will talk about this very briefly --
11 and how soldiers would not contravene Blaskic's orders,
12 and that to get things done, Blaskic's orders had to be
13 issued, most often in writing.
14 After the peace agreement is signed, or the
15 cease-fire agreement is signed on 21st April 1993, of
16 which this Chamber has heard, Mr. Buffini and the Joint
17 Commission begin to work on various complaints to ensure
18 that the cease-fire holds. Those complaints involve
19 allegations of trench digging by the HVO; those trench
20 digging allegations focus on the use of civilians and
21 prisoners of war doing those trench diggings. There
22 were also allegations that the HVO was using these
23 prisoners as human shields. Those allegations went to
24 two individuals directly during those meetings,
25 Blaskic's second in command, Franjo Nakic, and the
1 brigade commander of the Vitez brigade, Mario Cerkez.
2 Those complaints were made on numerous occasions by the
3 BiH, but also by the representative of the International
4 Red Cross, who Mr. Buffini will testify was visiting most
5 of these prisons.
6 He will discuss the failure to turn over prisoner
7 lists and the HVO being reluctant, while as trench
8 digging was going on, to turn over witness lists and how
9 HVO local commanders refused to turn over those lists
10 until it was cleared by Blaskic himself.
11 Those particular allegations, Mr. President, go to
12 a variety of allegations. If we can take them in
13 sequence, turning first as part of the persecution count
14 in count 1, the latter part of Mr. Buffini's testimony
15 will go directly to paragraphs 6.4 and 6.5.
16 Specifically in 6.5, Mr. President and
17 your Honours, you will see that the allegations in that
18 paragraph of the indictment focus on forcing Bosnian
19 Muslim prisoners and civilians to dig trenches and also
20 using them as human shields.
21 More specifically, Mr. President and your Honours,
22 we turn to paragraphs 15 through 20, which again recount
23 specifically the use of Bosnian Muslims for the digging
24 of trenches and for the use of those Bosnian Muslims as
25 human shields.
1 I am sorry, I said paragraphs 15 through 20,
2 I apologise, I meant counts 15 through 20 and that
3 should be 12 in the indictment.
4 In short, Mr. President and your Honours, that is
5 the focus of Mr. Buffini's testimony as it pertains to
6 the indictment and I anticipate, Mr. President, that this
7 testimony will be quite short. We will not cover ground
8 that we have covered before and I suspect that the
9 examination-in-chief by the Prosecution will be done in
10 maybe 30 to 40 minutes.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Thank you, Mr. Kehoe, I thank you
12 on behalf of my colleagues for this complete overview of
13 this testimony that we are going to hear.
14 Mr. Registrar, can you have Major Michael Buffini
15 brought in, please.
16 (Witness entered court)
17 JUDGE JORDA: Can he hear me?
18 THE WITNESS: Yes.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Please tell us your identity while still
20 standing for the moment.
21 THE WITNESS: I am Michael Leslie Buffini.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Can you please read the solemn
23 declaration which is being handed to you by the usher.
24 MAJOR MICHAEL BUFFINI (sworn)
25 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Major Buffini, you have
1 agreed to come and testify at the request of the
2 Prosecution in a trial of the International Tribunal
3 against General Blaskic, the accused, who is here
4 present. Mr. Kehoe, who represents the Office of the
5 Prosecution, has outlined in main lines your testimony,
6 that you were stationed in Split, then the focal point
7 of your testimony, all that you saw in the Joint
8 Commission in Busovaca, and then the complaints and
9 various allegations that were made following the
11 Mr. Kehoe will put a certain number of opening
12 questions to you, then you will make your testimony
13 which will speak in support of the indictment. After
14 that, of course, the Defence will have questions for you
15 and the judges too at the end of your testimony.
16 Mr. Kehoe, you have the floor.
17 Examined by MR. KEHOE
18 Q. Thank you, Mr. President.
19 Good morning, Mr. Buffini.
20 A. Good morning.
21 Q. Before we commence, if once again both you and I can be
22 mindful of our discussions, given the fact that the
23 people up in the booth have to interpret. If we just
24 ask for a gap -- if we take a pause between question and
25 answer, it will be helpful.
1 A. Okay.
2 Q. Mr. Buffini, can you tell us a little bit about yourself,
3 what you are doing now and tell us a little bit about
4 your military career up until the time of your
6 A. At the moment I am an investment advisor working in
7 Brussels. I have been doing the job for just over two
8 years now. Prior to that, I spent some time in the
9 Royal Marines on two different occasions. I joined the
10 Royal Marines in 1977 as a marine, but was commissioned
11 as an officer while I was still under training. I spent
12 a year as an officer under training, and then deployed
13 to Malta for my first tour with the platoon. I then
14 went to Cyprus with the United Nations and served six
15 months there, before deploying to Northern Ireland with
16 a commando unit, having done a mortar officers' course,
17 so I was trained as a mortar officer, and took my job in
18 Northern Ireland in South Armagh.
19 After that, I spent some time recruiting for the
20 Royal Navy and the Royal Marines and then spent a series
21 of staff jobs, which was really behind a desk doing
22 either training, serving in the Falkland Islands and up
23 in the Commander in Chief Fleet of the Royal Navy's
24 headquarters in Northwood, where I was responsible for
25 security of Royal Marines on board ships who were
1 responsible for security of nuclear weapons and the
2 general safety of the ships.
3 At that stage, I resigned from the Royal Marines
4 and left, went to Hong Kong and set up as an investment
5 advisor for two years out there. I was then asked to
6 rejoin the Royal Marines at the level that I had left,
7 so I retained my rank as Captain and I spent another
8 four years in the Royal Marines. Within that four years
9 when I rejoined in 1991, I was asked to go to join
10 Commander British Forces out in Croatia and to deploy up
11 into Bosnia as well, so I spent six months working in
12 that location. I then spent some time after that in
13 Ghana, training up security teams out there, and my
14 final job before I was invalided from the Royal Marines
15 was as a drafting officer for 3,500 troops of the Royal
16 Marines, so I was responsible for their jobs, where they
17 were going and their movement.
18 Q. Mr. Buffini, so you resigned from the Royal Marine Corps
19 because of a physical problem, is that right?
20 A. I did not resign, I had to leave because my knees were
21 in such a condition that I could not fulfil all my
22 duties as an active service officer.
23 Q. Mr. Buffini, if we can, can we begin to discuss your
24 period of time when you were sent to the former
25 Yugoslavia, and in your own words, can you just describe
1 to the judges when you went to the former Yugoslavia,
2 what you did there and I think as we discussed, it
3 logically falls into two areas, the period of time when
4 you were assigned to the Combined British Forces in
5 Croatia, and then the period of time when you were
6 assigned to the Busovaca Joint Commission. So again,
7 Mr. Buffini, in your own words if you could describe your
8 experiences down there to the judges at this point.
9 A. I arrived in Split on 15th January, and my task at that
10 stage was as a watch keeper for Commander British Forces
11 based at Divulje barracks. I also had another task,
12 which was my primary task, which was as the officer
13 commanding of the UK liaison officers and there were
14 nine teams of two people, each with a vehicle which was
15 known as a RB-44, a Reynolds Borton 44 vehicle which was
16 fitted out with an INMARSAT satellite telephone, with
17 the ability to fax messages from laptop computers. We
18 also had fairly comprehensive range of radio equipment
19 on board as well.
20 The idea was that the UK LOs, as they were
21 referred to, were able to gather information from
22 wherever the British forces were deployed and bringing
23 it back to the Commander British Forces based in Split.
24 So I was responsible for tasking those teams and
25 ensuring they were doing their jobs correctly.
1 For the first six or eight weeks, my main task was
2 as the watch keeper, which involved an eight hour shift
3 in the headquarters of Commander British Forces,
4 monitoring the radio nets and telephone links with all
5 the different agencies that they were in contact with.
6 So we had a direct link to BritBat, who were based up in
7 Vitez, direct links with the UNHCR, who were based at
8 Metkovic and other locations and obviously direct linked
9 with BHC, UNPROFOR's headquarters at Kiseljak.
10 So my job was to note on a normal watch keeping pad
11 all of the incidents that were happening over that shift
12 of eight hours that I was there. So as something
13 happened, I would note it down and then either take a
14 responsive action or call other people in to take the
15 necessary action that was required.
16 During that time of watch keeping, I also had to
17 deploy to visit my teams who were based at Metkovic,
18 working with the UNHCR. They were also based up in
19 Fojnica, with the tactical headquarters of Commander
20 British Forces, and we also had teams in Tomislavgrad,
21 who were working with. NCE, the National Command
22 Element. The idea behind that was for me to familiarise
23 myself with the duties of these people, what they were
24 doing and ensuring they were doing something which was
25 productive and not a waste of time.
1 Over that first six weeks, I determined that they
2 were quite a few jobs they were doing which were a waste
3 of time and asked if I could redeploy my troops to
4 better positions and to become more involved with
5 gathering of information which was more relevant to
6 them. So we changed the deployment from Fojnica up to
7 Vitez, where the troops there were working with the
8 British battalion.
9 We also had a request while I was still
10 watch keeping that two of the teams joined a working
11 group which I understood to be the Busovaca Joint
12 Commission in middle of February, and I sent two teams
13 up there to work with them.
14 Q. Mr. Buffini, we are talking about the year 1993, are we
16 A. Yes, we are.
17 Q. Okay, continue.
18 A. So that was the deployment of my teams and in the main,
19 while I was watch keeping, that was really what was
20 happening. So I spent most of my time in Split on the
21 watch keeping desk, but also some of the time travelling
22 throughout Bosnia, visiting the locations in Vitez, in
23 Gornji Vakuf when we were working through there and
24 travelling up to Kiseljak to obviously discuss the
25 deployment of the UK LOs throughout Central Bosnia.
1 At the beginning of March, end of February, I was
2 asked by Commander British Forces, Brigadier Cummings,
3 if I would deploy full time up to the Busovaca Joint
4 Commission to assist them with additional security and
5 with communications elements that they were able to
6 communicate on a much better range than they had at
7 present, which was very limited. So from the beginning
8 of March, I then moved up to Busovaca on a full time
9 basis working with the Joint Commission, where I spent
10 the next two or three months, apart from the two weeks
11 I had as my leave, R&R, deployed in that area.
12 The workings of the watch keeping, I will cover
13 that first, I think, several incidents which I think
14 come to mind while I was travelling up and down the
15 triangle was the identification of troops, coaches and
16 other forces that were moving up and down "route
17 triangle" into Central Bosnia. The intelligence cell of
18 Commander British Forces had asked us to gather
19 information whenever we were on the ground, so I was
20 specifically asked to identify on any given time troop
21 movements of Croatian soldiers moving up into Central
23 There were two occasions when I witnessed that,
24 and another occasion when as a watch keeper I recorded an
25 incident that related to Croatian troops moving in and
1 out of Central Bosnia. The first incident was when
2 I was watch keeping, and about 1.00 in the morning we got
3 a report that a coach with Croatian soldiers on board
4 had had an accident with a hand grenade in the coach and
5 that one of the soldiers playing around with the hand
6 grenade had let it off and had seriously wounded
7 himself. The Royal Engineers based en route triangle
8 were the nearest British troops to that and had relayed
9 the information back to me as the watch keeper. I asked
10 for more information, and was told that they were
11 Croatian troops, and that they had asked for a
12 "casevac", in other words a casualty evacuation, by
13 helicopter, of the wounded people so they could be taken
14 down to Split for treatment in the hospital.
15 I refused permission for helicopters to be used
16 for that purpose, because at that time the directive for
17 the helicopters was purely the assistance of
18 United Nations troops and not to any other warring
20 Other incidents which I noted were on driving up
21 to Prozor, going through Prozor, on up to Gornji Vakuf
22 and Vitez, was following a convoy of about six coaches
23 which were quite obviously Croatian coaches, because we
24 could identify their licence plates of the vehicles, and
25 the soldiers within them were from the HV, and again
1 that was noticeable from the badges that they were
2 wearing. While we were following this convoy, we
3 received quite a bit of verbal or signalled abuse from
4 the soldiers within the coaches. We followed them for
5 about two or three miles going into Prozor, where they
6 turned off and we carried on up to Gornji Vakuf.
7 I had to come back either the following day or two
8 days later, and I noticed again the same six coaches,
9 but this time they were loaded with what looked like
10 very battle-weary troops, some wearing bandages,
11 obviously those who had been injured and they were
12 moving back out of Prozor heading towards "route
13 triangle". Again we got quite a bit of signalled abuse
14 as we passed by those coaches.
15 Those were typical of the types of incidents we
16 were asked to report back on to Commander British
17 Forces. Other things were the identification of troops,
18 where they were located, any training establishments,
19 any helicopter flights, any aircraft flying which was
20 breaking the no-fly restrictions. Again, several times
21 we witnessed helicopters flying which were not
22 United Nations helicopters and also a training camp
23 which was being very actively used within Croatia, just
24 south of the border. If I recall, it was just outside
25 Sinj, and on one occasion certainly while we passed by
1 there, a lot of coaches were inside the barracks with
2 countless numbers of men inside the barracks obviously
3 undergoing training.
4 Several days later, while I was watch keeping,
5 I had reports that a convoy of coaches were identified
6 travelling up "route triangle", again with Croatian
7 licence plates, and from reports coming in from the call
8 signs that were reporting back to me as the watch keeper,
9 they were Croatian soldiers on board those trucks, on
10 the coaches.
11 That took me up to the time of really when
12 I deployed to Busovaca. Once I deployed up to Busovaca,
13 I had a briefing from UNPROFOR headquarters as to
14 exactly what my aims were, what we were trying to
15 achieve and the reality behind the British troops that
16 were involved within that organisation. I had
17 complained a couple of weeks earlier to my arrival up in
18 Busovaca that our vehicles, which were very soft skinned
19 vehicles, they had no armour, no protection, were being
20 shot at while they were accompanying the European
21 Community Monitoring Mission, the ECMM, so I had refused
22 for my troops to assist with the ECMM while they had no
23 armoured protection.
24 We eventually got agreement from UNPROFOR
25 headquarters that they would provide some vehicles for
1 us to move around in which were armoured, so therefore
2 gave permission for the UK LOs to become involved again
3 in the workings with the ECMM.
4 The aim of the Joint Commission, at that stage,
5 the early stage, was to try and negotiate cease-fires and
6 the removal of all the checkpoints that were blocking
7 the road between Vitez and Kiseljak, predominantly in
8 the Busovaca-Kacuni area. We had an ECMM monitor,
9 myself and then Franjo Nakic and General Merdan as the
10 main members of the Busovaca Joint Commission. Our
11 requirement was to bring people in who were the local
12 commanders from the various villages and the various
13 areas and the idea was that we would be able to liaise
14 with them to ensure that the checkpoints were removed,
15 that any complaints were addressed and dealt with and
16 that the free movement of United Nations vehicles, UNHCR
17 vehicles could take place throughout the whole of that
18 area. So it started off on a very limited basis.
19 It became very apparent that to ensure that the
20 checkpoints were removed, we had to address wider
21 issues. This was investigating reports of maltreatment
22 of villages, reports of snipers operating in various
23 areas, reports of villages being shot at and hassled by
24 what were deemed as thugs or other sides, troops coming
25 into those villages and behaving in a very threatening.
1 So we had to start off by investigating those complaints
2 from both sides and being fair and even with them to
3 ensure that we could then move to the next point, which
4 was the removal of checkpoints. So it was a gradual,
5 slow process of investigating, agreeing on certain
6 conditions before restrictions were lifted.
7 Our time at Busovaca was fairly short, because we
8 could not stay in the barracks that we had there in the
9 hotel and in the house that we had rented, so we agreed
10 to move up to Vitez and carry on our operations from
11 Vitez, working in the same Busovaca-Kacuni area. It
12 became very clear at that stage that the difficulties
13 were not just confined to the Busovaca-Kiseljak road and
14 that we then had to take into account complaints and
15 negotiations throughout the whole of the Lasva Valley
16 area, so we changed the emphasis from the Busovaca Joint
17 Commission to the Joint Commission.
18 Just going back to the personalities in that
19 commission, it was very clear to me that the people who
20 had the authority in that meeting was Dzemal Merdan from
21 the Army of BiH. He had the authority and he also had
22 the -- probably the support of his seniors in that when
23 we had to make decisions, he made those decisions and
24 instructed his troops on the ground when we were on the
25 negotiations. Franjo Nakic did not really have the
1 authority, and on several occasions in the early days to
2 start off with, before any cease-fires or any
3 negotiations or removal of checkpoints could be agreed
4 upon, had to resort back to Colonel Blaskic for his
5 authority and for his permission to do things. It
6 became a little bit frustrating from our point of view
7 that Merdan could make decisions but often they would be
8 delayed because Nakic had to report back and get
9 authority from his higher command.
10 This again became prominent when we were at Vitez
11 as the Joint Commission, when we were negotiating
12 cease-fires, negotiating repairs of telephone lines and
13 water pipes which were broken. Again it was clear that
14 the authority was from Merdan and we could do things
15 with him and he would instruct his local commanders that
16 whatever negotiations and commitments were given, they
17 would be carried out. Most of the time that was not the
18 case for Franjo Nakic, who would have to report back.
19 I went on R&R on about 4th April, so left the
20 area. At the time, the Joint Commission had resolved a
21 lot of difficulties, we had opened the route between
22 Busovaca and Vitez, we had got most of the checkpoints
23 off the road and incidents of shootings, snipings,
24 ethnic cleansing had reduced not altogether but
25 certainly considerably from the time we had started off
1 at Busovaca, so we felt we were becoming reasonably
2 successful, although it was quite time consuming in
3 getting the agreements, the word around the places.
4 It was clear to me before I left that the person
5 who had the authority in the Lasva Valley area and
6 command of the Muslim troops was Merdan. They respected
7 him, they listened to him and they did what he actually
8 instructed them to do.
9 From the HVO side, the local commanders would not
10 necessarily accept Nakic's orders, and on several
11 occasions when we went into villages or when we were
12 negotiating simple routine things with the local
13 commanders, when Nakic had given the instructions as
14 agreed in the Joint Commission, the local commanders
15 would insist that Colonel Blaskic had to give those
16 orders and that they wanted a written order signed by
17 Colonel Blaskic himself before they would act upon the
18 instructions of the Joint Commission.
19 So again, it was clear that Colonel Blaskic had a
20 very firm grip of the troops that were in that
21 Lasva Valley area on the HVO side, and that Franjo Nakic
22 did not have the same authority that Merdan had. But we
23 had achieved quite a lot of our aims, so when I left on
24 4th April, the whole place had quietened down quite
1 I returned back to Split on about 19th April,
2 after my two weeks leave, and was very surprised to
3 hear, although I had seen obviously television reports
4 of the outbreak of violence within the Lasva Valley
5 area, the difficulties that were being experienced, so
6 I was sent back up to Vitez to continue my work with the
7 Joint Commission, and arrived back, I believe, on either
8 the night of the 20th or early morning of the 21st,
9 because on that day, there was a high level meeting
10 between General Petkovic and General Halilovic, with the
11 Joint Commission, Ambassador Thebault and Commander
12 BritBat within the ECMM house.
13 That was the day that the cease-fire throughout
14 the whole of Central Bosnia was announced and agreed
15 upon and all the criteria for that cease-fire, in other
16 words the removal from the front-line positions to given
17 locations of both sides, and that was clearly stated;
18 the exchange of all prisoners by a given date; the
19 drawing up of lists of all the prisoners that were being
20 held by each side and the exchange of those lists; and
21 the fact that there would be a cease-fire from a given
22 time where no more shooting was to happen in that area.
23 I accompanied General Petkovic and Halilovic while
24 they were visiting troops on both sides in Vitez and
25 Stari Vitez as additional security, but as part of my
1 role as the Joint Commission with the ECMM. So we
2 visited troops in Stari Vitez, talked to them, visited
3 troops in Vitez to inform them that there was a general
4 cease-fire and that there should be no more fighting and
5 that they were to obey the instructions of the two
6 Generals. They were there in person and they were
7 giving orders to their troops on the ground. So from
8 the Commission's point of view, we felt very positive
9 about that, that with somebody of those ranks giving
10 those orders, that the cease-fire should take place.
11 The reality was while we were speaking to troops
12 on the ground, the soldiers, the individuals in
13 Stari Vitez and Vitez, that none of them had any
14 intention of wanting to stop fighting, but would
15 obviously try and do so, but the hatred from both sides
16 was so very apparent because of what had happened at
17 Ahmici and certainly from the Muslims' point of view,
18 where they felt that they had not got any answers, they
19 had not got any idea, or nobody had come forward to own
20 up as to what had happened.
21 So it became very clear to us that while the two
22 Generals had signed the agreement, there was going to be
23 enormous difficulties in ensuring that the troops on the
24 ground were going to agree to that. We felt quite
25 confident, though, that because the commanders, the
1 local commanders from both BiH and HVO had been present
2 at those meetings, that they would have the authority
3 and be able to distribute that information down to
4 ensure that the cease-fire happened.
5 From the Muslim point of view, they found it very
6 difficult to accept the cease-fire, and to agree to what
7 had been said, because they kept asking for information
8 about who had perpetrated the massacre at Ahmici, who
9 was responsible, and when were the ECMM/UN going to do
10 something about it. That caused great difficulties in
11 any negotiations, because it always came back to that
12 point, as to what was happening.
13 So in our meetings, we found that when we were
14 trying to exchange lists of prisoners that neither side
15 would hand over the lists. The Muslims had prepared
16 those lists but the HVO side had not, and were very
17 reluctant in doing so. They found it difficult to
18 identify where they were, they found it difficult to
19 find right locations, and so there was a delay there
20 from providing any information.
21 We also had Claire Podbielski come in on two
22 occasions very soon after that meeting on 21st April to
23 the Joint Commission, where Mario Cerkez, we had asked
24 him to come in, because he was the commander of the HVO
25 troops in Vitez itself, and on certainly two occasions,
1 Miss Podbielski from the ICRC was very adamant that the
2 HVO were breaking the rules of the Geneva Convention in
3 that they were using troops as human shields --
4 prisoners, sorry, BiH prisoners as human shields and
5 they were also using the BiH prisoners to dig trenches
6 in their front-line positions. On one, two, possibly
7 three occasions when she did come into the house, there
8 would certainly be BiH and HVO commanders present and on
9 two occasions, Mario Cerkez was there.
10 When confronted with that information, Mario
11 Cerkez was very flippant, denied it categorically and
12 said that his troops would not dream of breaking the
13 Geneva Convention, because they understood it. But it
14 became clear that from our point of view, with the
15 prisoners lists not being exchanged and the difficulties
16 that they were having in providing those lists that
17 there must have been something there to delay that and
18 the reality we felt was that they were using these
19 prisoners to dig the trenches and to provide front-line
21 When we asked Mario Cerkez, he denied it
22 categorically, that any of the troops would be used for
23 those purposes. We also asked Nakic, Franjo Nakic if he
24 knew of any of the troops being used for that and again
25 he denied that the HVO would be using prisoners of war
1 for those purposes.
2 I did not at any stage speak to Blaskic himself,
3 but we asked for the message to be passed on to
4 Colonel Blaskic to give us some answers as to whether
5 prisoners were being used for that purpose, but again
6 from Nakic and from Cerkez, we got a negative, that they
7 were not being used for those purposes.
8 We also investigated at this stage prisoners,
9 locations of where prisoners were being held from both
10 sides and trying to get into those locations. Several
11 times we were prevented from going into the prison
12 locations because orders had not been received from
13 Colonel Blaskic to allow us to come into those locations
14 to visit those prisoners, despite the fact that we had
15 commanders from the local area accompanying us. So we
16 spent quite a bit of time trying to negotiate the
17 exchange of these lists of prisoners, but unfortunately,
18 the Muslims, the BiH were very reluctant in providing
19 the lists, and again kept coming back to the fact that
20 nothing had had done, nobody had said anything, nobody
21 had identified the perpetrators of the Ahmici massacre,
22 and that caused a lot of resentment in the early days
23 after my return on 21st April, within our meetings,
24 because when we asked for Mario Cerkez and Franjo Nakic
25 to provide answers as to who had committed this, who had
1 done this atrocity in Ahmici, their response was that
2 they did not know, it must have been thugs or renegade
3 troops who were not under the HVO command, and on one
4 instance, Mario Cerkez actually said that it was the BiH
5 themselves who had committed the crime, really to curry
6 favour with the United Nations ECMM, so in other words
7 making the HVO look awful while themselves looking
9 We, of course, did not believe that at all and
10 felt that it was very much troops in that area who had
11 committed that, but while we were in negotiations with
12 the Joint Commission, we never got any answers from the
13 HVO as to who had committed it, whether they had
14 arrested it or whether they had followed up any
15 significant investigation into who had carried it out.
16 The early days after 21st April, when we were
17 trying to negotiate the release of prisoners, the
18 exchange of lists, meetings were very tense, very
19 difficult. I noticed quite quickly that Franjo Nakic
20 had become a little bit of a non-entity in our
21 meetings. It was clear he did not have the authority to
22 decide anything that the others had agreed, and it was
23 only when Mario Cerkez came into the meetings that we
24 felt we could deal with somebody who had a little bit of
25 authority, but each time there was an agreement that had
1 to be agreed upon, Merdan would give the agreement that
2 his troops would do such and such but either Mario
3 Cerkez or Franjo Nakic would insist they had to talk to
4 Colonel Blaskic first or go back and see him and discuss
5 terms or what they should be doing about that.
6 Again, it was very clear that Colonel Blaskic had
7 full control of all the local commanders and very much
8 controlled those troops in Central Bosnia. Certainly in
9 my opinion of dealing with these people on a day-to-day
10 basis over almost a three month period, most of the
11 commanders that I met from the HVO were fairly scared of
12 Colonel Blaskic. They would not normally do anything in
13 disagreement to the orders that he had given.
14 The Joint Commission after 21st April had the
15 agreement that there would be, because of the cease-fire
16 and that it would be set in place, a joint headquarters
17 of BiH and HVO troops which would be set up in Travnik,
18 so my role started disappearing as the agreement was
19 reached as to who would form the BiH element and the HVO
20 element of this joint operational headquarters, which
21 was to be based in Travnik. We still went out on some
22 investigations, we still tried to negotiate some of the
23 difficulties, because there was still quite a bit of
24 shooting, still quite a bit of ethnic cleansing going on
25 with burning of houses and a lot of complaints about
1 civilians being beaten up, being victimised and being
2 harassed, so we continued our work up until almost the
3 end of May, when the joint operational headquarters
4 deployed into Travnik.
5 At that stage, I deployed my troops into other
6 locations and I moved back to Split and spent quite a
7 bit of time working in Croatia, in Prevlaka and also
8 visiting my teams in Sarajevo who were deployed there.
9 I think it was on about 12th July when I eventually left
10 the area, because my role up in Bosnia and Croatia had
11 come to an end.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Major Buffini. You told us what
13 the Prosecutor had summarised for us before. I think
14 now there are some other points that must be clarified.
15 Of course, you are not going to have the witness
16 repeat himself, but you may ask other questions which
17 you feel would supplement the ideas that Major Buffini
18 has already expressed to us.
19 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
20 Mr. Buffini, just several questions based on your
21 testimony, and I would like basically to follow the
22 sequence that you testified to, if I may. You noted
23 that when you were assigned to the combined British
24 Forces headquarters, you had occasion to travel up
25 "route triangle" towards the Prozor area.
1 A. Correct.
2 Q. It was in that Prozor area that you observed the coaches
3 with the HV troops.
4 A. Correct.
5 Q. I think you also noted that a day or so later, you saw
6 the same coaches and more HV troops that appeared to be
7 wounded, was that accurate?
8 A. That is true, yes. Some of them were wearing bandages,
10 Q. Before we show those locations on the map, can you give
11 the judges an idea of who was fighting in that area
12 during this time frame?
13 A. Yes, it was -- we concluded from the information we had
14 gathered, and this was all of the British troops who
15 were deployed in those areas, reporting back to the
16 watch keeper and obviously to the intelligence cell, that
17 around the Prozor area, and to the east of Prozor, it
18 was the HVO and BiH which were in conflict, and that
19 there was very intense fighting in the area east of
20 Prozor, between, as I say, HVO and BiH troops.
21 MR. KEHOE: If I could, Mr. Buffini, and with the court's
22 permission, if we could address ourselves to the map on
23 the easel, and I believe, Mr. President, that is Exhibit
25 JUDGE JORDA: Of course.
1 MR. KEHOE: We do not have a microphone up there,
2 Mr. President, so if I could ask the questions and then
3 have Mr. Buffini move up to that area, up to the map. If
4 I could ask you with the yellow pen that is to your left
5 to mark on the map "route triangle", if you could.
6 A. "Route triangle" came up around the lake area of this
7 map and more or less finished at the end of the lake.
8 That came close to Prozor, which is here.
9 Q. Could you also take with the yellow pen and put a
10 line through the city of Prozor?
11 A. That is Prozor.
12 Q. Mr. Buffini, with the red pen that is on there, could you
13 circle the general location that you saw these coaches
14 with the HV troops in, and could you mark that with the
15 number 1.
16 A. On the first occasion, we followed them on that road
17 going into Prozor where I have identified, so we were
18 held up behind them.
19 Q. Could you mark that with the number 1 next to it?
20 A. (Witness marks map).
21 Q. During this period of time, were there British battalion
22 forces deployed in Gornji Vakuf just up the road?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Were you receiving information from Gornji Vakuf?
25 A. We were receiving daily Sit Reps from the troops based
1 in Gornji Vakuf, yes.
2 Q. Could you take the yellow pen and just highlight the
3 town of Gornji Vakuf?
4 A. That is Gornji Vakuf.
5 Q. You also noted that you observed troops with the same
6 coaches but wounded troops on your way back through
7 Prozor going out on "route triangle" a day or so later.
8 A. Correct.
9 Q. Could you mark that location with the number 2 and a
11 A. It was on the fairly large bend in the road just north
12 of Prozor.
13 Q. When you saw these troops, these HV troops, as a
14 professional soldier, did you conclude they had been in
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Why?
18 A. Wearing of bandages, looking very tired, all carrying
19 weapons, they looked as if they had been in the field
20 for about two weeks, just as a rough guide, knowing the
21 feeling myself.
22 Q. You also noted that there was an area east of Prozor
23 where HVO and BiH troops were in combat.
24 A. Correct.
25 Q. Could you circle that area with the green and mark that
1 number 3, if you could?
2 A. (Witness marks map).
3 Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Buffini. Please have a seat.
4 Again, following up, Mr. Buffini, on some of the
5 indications that you made concerning your identification
6 of these troops as HV troops, how did you conclude that
7 these were HV troops?
8 A. The trucks or the coaches themselves had Croatian
9 licence plates. The soldiers themselves that we saw had
10 insignia on which had HV only and not HVO.
11 Q. Mr. Buffini, when you say, "Croatian licence plates",
12 what was on this licence plate?
13 A. The licence plate was -- it had the Croatian, I suppose
14 symbol on it, or the shield on it, and it also had the
15 numbers which identified that it was from a Croatian
16 location, not specific, but it was totally different to
17 anything that was seen in Central Bosnia which was not
19 Q. You noted that you observed the patches about HV?
20 A. Correct.
21 Q. Had you had any conversations, Mr. Buffini, with ex
22 members of the Royal Marines which supported your
23 conclusions that there were HV troops in the Prozor
25 A. Yes, I met an ex Royal Marines NCO, Gus Bryden, in
1 Trogir, I think it was probably 5th or 6th February. He
2 was in military uniform wearing a green beret, which was
3 our own Royal Marines beret, so we hailed him and he
4 came and spoke to us over a couple of beers for about an
5 hour. We asked him what he was doing and he said he was
6 a mercenary out here with his son and was working with
7 the HV army. When we asked him specifics, he said that
8 he had been training raw recruits, young 18 year olds to
9 55, who had all been conscripted into the Croatian army
10 over a two week period to ensure that they could go to
11 front-line positions.
12 When we asked him where these front-lines positions
13 were that the HV troops were working in, he said some
14 were going to Zadar and some were going up to Prozor to
15 help with the HVO.
16 Q. Did you in fact observe a training camp facility on the
17 Croatian Bosnian border?
18 A. Yes, I witnessed a training camp, most of the time which
19 was empty as we drove past on a regular basis, which was
20 just north of Sinj, I do not know how to pronounce that,
21 but it is S-I-N-J, which was not in "route triangle", it
22 was still in Trogir. On one occasion I witnessed large
23 numbers of men in that camp, all in military uniform,
24 and assumed they were all under training for deployment
25 to the front-line positions.
1 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
2 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Buffini, did you have an opportunity to go
3 back past that training facility shortly thereafter?
4 A. Yes, when we noticed the first time I think we were
5 either going up to Vitez or coming back from Vitez.
6 I had to deploy again a week later, whichever way it
7 was, and on that occasion there was nobody in there at
8 all, the place was deserted. It was also during the
9 time I was watch keeping and again we had had reports
10 coming in, while I was on watch, that coachloads of
11 troops were being monitored moving up "route triangle",
12 so that was the assumption that they had come from that
13 camp moving up to Prozor.
14 Q. So it would be fair to say, Mr. Buffini, that you saw
15 these troops training in this camp, you received
16 information thereafter that troops were moving -- around
17 the same time that troops were moving to Prozor and you
18 returned past that camp and the troops were gone?
19 A. That is correct, yes.
20 Q. What did you as a soldier conclude from that?
21 A. The conclusion to be drawn from that was that troops had
22 been in training, very much along the lines that Gus
23 Bryden, the mercenary, had informed us, that they had
24 had their training time and were now deploying to their
25 front-line positions.
1 Q. Again, I am delaying to allow the interpreters to catch
3 Mr. Buffini, you also noted that you observed
4 helicopter flights breaking the no-fly restrictions.
5 Where did you observe these helicopter flights breaking
6 the no-fly restrictions?
7 A. Three occasions. One was to the south east of Zenica,
8 which was obviously a BiH area. We saw some
9 helicopters, I think two helicopters at that stage
10 landing in some fields in broad daylight. Did not see
11 that number of troops getting out but we certainly saw
12 them landing and a couple of people getting in and out.
13 The second occasion was flying into Vitez, but we
14 did not see them landing or taking off anywhere else,
15 but they were -- I think it was one helicopter that was
16 seen going into the Vitez area, towards Vitez town
18 A couple of other occasions which I reported to
19 COMBRITFOR was around the Sinj Knin area, which was on
20 the Croatian border.
21 Q. With regard to this helicopter flight into Vitez, were
22 you aware of the HVO in Vitez having a helicopters, or
23 the HVO having helicopters?
24 A. No. At no stage had we ever seen HVO helicopters in or
25 around Vitez, apart from that one occasion.
1 Q. If we may, if we can shift to your period of time with
2 the Joint Commission, both with the Busovaca Joint
3 Commission and also the Joint Commission as it was in
4 Vitez. You noted that Franjo Nakic was the
5 representative for the HVO, is that right?
6 A. That is correct.
7 Q. Did you know what Franjo Nakic's position was in the HVO
8 vis-à-vis the accused, Colonel Blaskic?
9 A. From what Franjo Nakic told us, he was the second in
10 command of the HVO troops in that Central Bosnia area,
11 so he was the appointed representative at the meeting of
12 Colonel Blaskic and was his second in command.
13 Q. You also noted, Mr. Buffini, that Mr. Nakic often told you
14 that he had to check with Colonel Blaskic before he made
15 these decisions.
16 A. That is correct.
17 Q. Was this true both before the conflict and after the
19 A. Yes, where there were decisions that were made which
20 were a little bit above the normal, telling a local
21 commander that he had to, for example, take a single
22 checkpoint off a road, most things over and above that,
23 Nakic would have to go back to Colonel Blaskic or report
24 back or ask for further details.
25 Q. Did you in fact ever take Franjo Nakic back to the Hotel
1 Vitez so he could consult with Colonel Blaskic?
2 A. I did not personally take him back, but certainly
3 I instructed my UK LOs on numerous occasions when asked
4 by Franjo Nakic to go back to the Hotel Vitez, because
5 Nakic had to discuss what had been covered in the
6 meetings with Colonel Blaskic, so several occasions we
7 took him back to the Hotel Vitez, yes.
8 Q. You noted during your testimony that the local
9 commanders were in fear of Blaskic and would operate
10 with a written order of Blaskic while they would not
11 necessarily follow the commands of Franjo Nakic. Was
12 there ever an occasion of any consequence during this
13 time period where you saw a commander, an HVO commander,
14 directly refuse an order of General Blaskic?
15 A. There was no time where any other commanders directly
16 defied Colonel Blaskic's orders, no. The only time
17 I witnessed where there was a little bit of revolt,
18 I suppose, was in the beginning of June, when the convoy
19 of hope or the convoy of peace was travelling through
20 Bosnia. As it was passing through Vitez on its way up
21 to Tuzla, a number of vehicles got taken out by the
22 commander from Busovaca, and were taken to an area to be
23 searched for weapons, because that commander was
24 convinced that the Muslims were conveying weapons and
25 arms and ammunition in this convoy up to the Muslim
2 We were asked, called in to negotiate the release
3 of those trucks, and to deal with the local commander,
4 so we took Merdan along and Nakic along and the
5 Commission. The Busovaca commander was -- had obviously
6 had quite a bit to drink, he was very angry, he was very
7 upset that this convoy had been allowed to go through,
8 where his feelings were that they should all be searched
9 before going through, so he had taken action himself to
10 check these weapons for any ammunition.
11 After about two hours of negotiating and having
12 had about six or eight trucks searched thoroughly,
13 everything taken off them, them stripped down to quite
14 some extent, no weapons, no ammunition, nothing had been
15 found on those trucks apart from aid and food. When we
16 started to get a little bit annoyed that the commander
17 would not release the trucks, we asked him if he had the
18 authority of Colonel Blaskic to take these trucks. He
19 was a little bit reluctant about coming forward, but we
20 then said we would have to go and see Colonel Blaskic to
21 express in our strongest terms that this should not have
22 happened and his commanders were not doing that.
23 At that stage, the commander agreed that these
24 trucks could then be released and could carry on their
25 way, but he was rather reluctant about the whole thing.
1 I think that was the only serious incident where I saw
2 anybody who did not carry out Colonel Blaskic's orders.
3 Q. Let me move ahead, Mr. Buffini. Now we are going to move
4 to your testimony concerning events after the cease-fire
5 agreement was signed on 21st April 1993. I want to
6 direct your attention to the conversations where the
7 International Red Cross representative, yourself and
8 other ECMM representatives informed Mario Cerkez and
9 Franjo Nakic that Bosnian prisoners were being taken to
10 dig trenches and were being used as human shields.
11 Was it clear, Mr. Buffini, to both Nakic and Cerkez
12 that the use of Bosnian Muslims to dig trenches and as
13 human shields was a violation of international
14 humanitarian law? Was that clear to them?
15 A. Very clear indeed. Claire Podbielski had got quite
16 angry at one of the meetings and had said it three or
17 four times that what the HVO were doing was contravening
18 the Geneva Conventions by using prisoners in such a way
19 as digging trenches and putting prisoners as human
20 shields. It was repeated, as I say, two or three times
21 to Mario Cerkez and Franjo Nakic and other HVO and BiH
22 commanders at those meetings.
23 Q. Again, Mr. Buffini, who was Claire Podbielski?
24 A. Claire Podbielski was the Red Cross representative, the
25 ICRC representative working in Central Bosnia at that
2 Q. Let me turn to the issue concerning the prisoner lists.
3 According to your testimony, allegations concerning
4 Bosnian Muslim prisoners digging trenches and being used
5 as human shields by the HVO was coming at the same time
6 when ECMM was requesting these prisoner lists, is that
8 A. That is correct, yes.
9 Q. I think you noted -- what was your conclusion -- let me
10 withdraw that.
11 You also noted that there was some reluctance of
12 the HVO to produce these prisoner lists, is that right?
13 A. Yes, the HVO were very reluctant in producing any of the
14 lists of prisoners or identifying prisons where
15 prisoners were being held, whereas the BiH had come up
16 with the lists, but had refused to give them over until,
17 obviously, the HVO had produced their lists, so there
18 was no exchange because the HVO were very reluctant
19 about giving anything over.
20 MR. HAYMAN: Your Honour, I just want to note, I think we are
21 covering ground twice and at a certain point I may
22 become concerned that I may not complete my
23 cross-examination in time to let this witness go today
24 and not have to return. For the convenience of the
25 witness, the court and the Prosecutor, I make that
2 MR. KEHOE: If I may, Mr. President, the question that I am
3 asking is going to the question --
4 JUDGE JORDA: I must adhere to the concerns expressed that
5 we should speed up our work as much as possible. The
6 judges have done all they can to that end. I remind
7 Mr. Kehoe that he said that he would complete his
8 examination-in-chief in 20 minutes, and up to the
9 present, except once I did not notice any repetition,
10 but I did not want to interrupt, up to now I think the
11 questions were quite to the point. In any event, we
12 will not be having a hearing this afternoon, I say that
13 very clearly, but I think that both the Prosecution and
14 the Defence are aware of our time limitations. I think
15 that we should agree on those limitations, but if not,
16 we would have to take some further steps, so please,
17 Mr. Kehoe, go to the point and to the essential.
19 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President, and I am almost completed with
20 approximately three more questions and I will be done.
21 Turning back, Mr. Buffini, concerning these
22 prisoner lists that the HVO was not disclosing, did the
23 local commanders tell you who had to authorise the
24 disclosure of those prisoners lists before they could
25 give them to you and to the BiH?
1 A. When we asked the local commanders for those lists,
2 several of them stated that they would only hand over
3 the lists when they had received written instructions
4 from Colonel Blaskic to do so.
5 Q. The last subject matter: during this time frame, did you
6 and Henk Morsink have a discussion with Mario Cerkez
7 where you requested to see a location where you had
8 heard that Muslim prisoners were digging trenches?
9 A. Yes, we were out with the ITN news team and we had some
10 complaints from the commander of Stari Vitez, the Muslim
11 BiH side, that they had witnessed BiH prisoners on the
12 front-line positions being used as shields and for
13 digging trenches. We approached Mario Cerkez and asked
14 him where this was happening and he denied it, and we
15 asked him for further information as to -- we asked him
16 permission to go into some of the front-line locations to
17 check this. We covered other points on that discussion
18 which lasted for about an hour and by the time we had
19 got to the front-line positions between Stari Vitez and
20 Vitez, there were no prisoners to be seen, but there
21 were some signs of fresh digging of trenches in that
23 Q. From those observations, what did you conclude,
24 Mr. Buffini?
25 A. The conclusion was very much that prisoners were being
1 used for the digging of trenches and to provide
2 protection for HV troops by using BiH prisoners as human
4 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, the Prosecutor would offer into
5 evidence Exhibit 29K and the Prosecutor has no further
6 questions of Mr. Buffini at this time.
7 JUDGE JORDA: I fully agree. Very well. We are going to
8 have a 15 minute break, not more, and then we will
9 continue with the cross-examination.
10 (10.55 am)
11 (A short break)
12 (11.15 am)
13 JUDGE JORDA: We will resume the hearing now. Please have
14 the accused brought in.
15 (Accused brought in)
16 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, you are now going to conduct the
17 cross-examination, and take whatever time you need.
18 MR. HAYMAN: Thank you, Mr. President, I should conclude in
19 about an hour. I do have several documents to show the
20 witness and that is why it will take longer than I would
21 have hoped but it does take some time to show seven or
22 eight documents which we may need sight translations
24 JUDGE JORDA: In the future, I can say this for the
25 Prosecution now, but it will be for the Defence later
1 on, when you state a time period, the Tribunal would
2 like as much as possible to have that time respected.
3 I know it is not always easy. It depends on the
4 flexibility and availability of the judges to adopt
5 themselves as well, but does not mean that one can just
6 go on as long as one wants without respecting the time
7 which has been set.
8 Cross-examined by MR. HAYMAN
9 Q. Please construe my comment as a request, Mr. President,
10 I meant it as such.
11 Good morning, Mr. Buffini.
12 A. Good morning.
13 Q. You spoke of the units that you were responsible for as
14 having certain communications equipment in their
15 vehicles, correct?
16 A. That is correct.
17 Q. Do you know, can you tell us whether during your service
18 in Split and in Bosnia, whether those units ever
19 intercepted any radio or telephone communications of
20 Colonel Blaskic that might be of assistance to the
22 MR. KEHOE: Your Honour, at this point I am going to object
23 to radio intercepts. That certainly was not part of any
24 direct examination.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Objection sustained. This was not part of the
1 examination-in-chief. Move to another question please,
2 Mr. Hayman.
3 MR. HAYMAN: You said that you deployed your units to assist
4 the Busovaca Joint Commission with its communications
5 capabilities, is that right?
6 A. That was the intention, yes.
7 Q. Before you joined them to assist in this regard, did
8 they have limited communications capabilities, the Joint
10 A. The Joint Commission only had very small handheld
11 radios, which was interpersonal communication between
13 Q. Were they not able, using the equipment that they had,
14 to communicate within, for example, the operative zone
15 of Central Bosnia?
16 A. No, they did not have that facility, which was why we
17 provided the INMARSAT satellite telephone for that
19 Q. You are referring to the ECMM members -- you include the
20 ECMM members of the Commission when you make that
21 statement, is that right?
22 A. That is correct.
23 Q. Even though they had portable satellite telephone fax
24 equipment, is that correct?
25 A. They were using our satellite telephone system which we
1 supplied to them.
2 Q. You described several sightings of HV troops.
3 A. Correct.
4 Q. First the grenade incident you referred to. Can you
5 help us fix that in time?
6 A. That must have been either the end of January or very
7 early February, because I was still watch keeping at the
8 time, and obviously left the watch keeping towards the
9 end of February.
10 Q. Were you told where this accident with the grenade
11 happened? Where were these troops when the grenade blew
13 A. The grenade actually blew up while the coaches were on
14 the higher ground of "route triangle" in what was known
15 as the wooded section of "route triangle", which was
16 very much a Bosnia area.
17 Q. If you could just help us again, the higher ground of
18 "route triangle", is that east, south, west of Prozor?
19 A. It is south west of Prozor and it is not on that map.
20 Q. In connection with that report, were you ever given any
21 information suggesting that those troops had either been
22 in the Lasva Valley or the Kiseljak valley?
23 A. No.
24 Q. You described driving, going yourself to Prozor and
25 following a coach of HV troops for two or three miles.
1 Did that coach stop somewhere? Did you see it stop?
2 A. The coaches stopped in Prozor where we overtook them and
3 moved past them, having been stuck behind them for quite
4 some time.
5 Q. Thereafter, did you ever receive any information that
6 those troops ever went to the Lasva Valley or the
7 Kiseljak valley?
8 A. No information at all, no.
9 Q. Then you described some troops leaving the Prozor area
10 with bandages and they looked tired and so forth,
12 A. Correct.
13 Q. Did you ever receive any information that those troops
14 had been in the Lasva Valley or the Kiseljak valley?
15 A. No, no indication that they had been in conflict in
16 those areas.
17 Q. In fact, your belief is that they were not, correct?
18 A. That is my belief, yes.
19 Q. Can you help us put a date on those latter two
20 encounters, the coach you followed for two or three
21 miles and the coach with wounded, injured, tired
22 soldiers that you saw; when were those events?
23 A. Those events were both in middle to end of February
25 Q. During your tour, both in Split and in Bosnia, did you
1 ever receive any information that HV troops had been in
2 the Lasva Valley or the Kiseljak valley?
3 A. I do not recall any information coming to me or hearing
4 any information to that effect, no.
5 Q. You were in the Lasva Valley and/or the Kiseljak valley
6 for about eight weeks of time, correct?
7 A. It was nearer twelve weeks.
8 Q. During that time, you never saw any indication of HV
9 troops, is that right, in those locations?
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. You described seeing a helicopter in the area of Vitez,
12 is that correct?
13 A. That is correct.
14 Q. Do you remember the time frame of that sighting? Can you
15 help us with that?
16 A. The time frame was very much while the Commission was
17 based in Vitez, so it must have been either late March,
18 early April or the latter part of April, but I think it
19 was before I went on leave, so I would assume the end of
20 March/beginning of April.
21 Q. Are you dating that from memory or do you have any
22 records that would assist you?
23 A. That is from memory.
24 Q. Were there any markings on the helicopter that you were
25 able to observe?
1 A. It was too far to see any markings, but it was
2 definitely of a Russian make.
3 Q. Do you know whether helicopters were used for Medevac by
4 both the HVO army and the BiH Army when they were
5 available for that purpose?
6 A. It was our understanding that helicopters were being
7 used for that, but nothing had been agreed because there
8 was a no-fly restriction and even for Casevac,
9 helicopters had not been given approval to fly.
10 Q. You described soldiers in a training camp. Was that
11 training camp within Croatia?
12 A. Yes, in Croatia.
13 Q. You said I think in your last event involving HV troops,
14 you obtained a report that HV troops were moving in
15 coaches up to "route triangle", is that right? This is
16 a separate incident that we have not discussed yet in my
18 A. That is clear.
19 Q. Can you help us date that report?
20 A. It was before April 4th, so I would suggest that it
21 would be in March some time.
22 Q. Thank you. And again, you have no information
23 suggesting that those troops went to the Lasva Valley or
24 the Kiseljak valley, correct?
25 A. None at all.
1 Q. You were deployed to Busovaca to assist the Joint
2 Commission. Who was the chairman of the Commission at
3 that time?
4 A. Two separate incidents. Prior to my joining and
5 deploying troops, Jeremy Fleming was the chairman of the
6 Commission, but when I joined the Commission myself,
7 Mats Torping had just taken over as chairman of the
9 Q. Did you attend all of the meetings of the Commission
10 during the time period that you were either in Busovaca
11 when the Commission was based there, or in Vitez when
12 the Commission was based there?
13 A. While I was still in theatre, I attended probably
14 90 per cent of them, yes.
15 Q. Were you a member of the Commission?
16 A. Yes, I was.
17 Q. Is that based on the founding documents of the
18 Commission or based on some other agreement reached
19 between the parties, written or otherwise?
20 A. It was a decision which was taken by UNPROFOR at a later
21 stage after the founding of the Busovaca Joint
23 Q. Would you agree that when the Commission was founded,
24 the membership was limited to an ECMM representative and
25 then three representatives from the BH army and three
1 representatives from the HVO army?
2 A. When it was founded, yes.
3 Q. Have you seen those founding documents?
4 A. I probably saw them at the early stages of my initial
5 meetings with the Commission when I had first deployed
6 troops to assist them, yes.
7 MR. HAYMAN: If the usher could assist and show the witness a
8 document, Mr. President.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Are you trying to impeach the credibility of
10 the witness, Mr. Hayman?
11 MR. HAYMAN: No, your Honour, I think the witness may be able
12 to assist us in clarifying the origins of the Joint
13 Commission, who founded it, what was it founded for, who
14 were the members. I apologise that this document --
15 JUDGE JORDA: Very well, thank you very much.
16 MR. HAYMAN: -- is in English only at the moment. We will
17 have it translated.
18 Have you been provided with the document,
19 Mr. Buffini?
20 A. Yes, I have.
21 Q. Do you recognise it?
22 A. I do not recognise it as something I am used to seeing,
24 Q. Do you recognise on the back the signature of Jeremy
25 Fleming, chairman Joint Commission ECMM?
1 A. Yes, I have seen that signature on a couple of other
2 documents before, so yes.
3 Q. And you recognise it as Mr. Fleming's?
4 A. I take it that way, yes.
5 Q. The context for the formation of the Commission, was it
6 your understanding that this Commission was formed in
7 response to the armed conflict that had occurred in and
8 around Busovaca in January 1993?
9 A. It was in response to the armed conflict, but it was the
10 difficulty of free movement of vehicles, mainly UNHCR
11 and UN vehicles throughout the area which was the
12 overriding factor of trying to negotiate clear use of
13 roads in those areas.
14 Q. But you would agree the historical context was the
15 Commission was founded in response to the conflict in
16 January in and around Busovaca which created various
17 difficulties for humanitarian organisations, the UN and
18 the like, correct?
19 A. That is correct, yes.
20 Q. Did you learn that in fact the HVO had lost substantial
21 ground during that conflict in January to the BH army?
22 A. I was aware from military intelligence briefings in
23 Split, when I first arrived and while I was
24 watch keeping, that that was to some extent the case.
25 Q. You spoke of the respective roles of, I believe was it
1 General Merdan?
2 A. I referred to him as Dzemal.
3 Q. Was he a General in the BH army at the time?
4 A. We suspected it, but we had no confirmation that that
5 was the case.
6 Q. He was known to you as the deputy commander of III
8 A. That is correct.
9 Q. Mr. Nakic, what was his military rank?
10 A. Again, we were advised that he was the deputy commander
11 of the HVO forces in Central Bosnia.
12 Q. Were you ever told that he was the Chief of Staff of the
13 HVO forces in Central Bosnia, or was that ever your
15 A. No, that was not my understanding, no.
16 Q. Is there a difference between a deputy commander of a
17 corps and a chief of staff, in the British army for
19 A. In the British army, yes, a clear distinction.
20 Q. Is a deputy commander in the chain of command, whereas a
21 chief of staff is in an executive position, not in the
22 chain of command?
23 A. That is correct.
24 Q. You said by 4th April 1993, the Busovaca Joint
25 Commission had accomplished a great deal, is that
2 A. We firmly believed we had done quite a bit, that is
4 Q. Did you have any doubts that the members of the Joint
5 Commission on both sides had been working in good faith
6 to accomplish those ends?
7 A. Most instances, yes.
8 Q. You said on occasion, local commanders would not act
9 without a written order from Colonel Blaskic, correct?
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. What types of matters did that involve?
12 A. One incident was access into a village controlled by a
13 local commander. Other incidents after 21st April
14 included the exchange or the handing over of lists of
16 Q. Did you ever get the impression or form the conclusion
17 that when a local commander did not want to accommodate
18 you or wanted to slow down the process, he found it
19 convenient to say he would not act without a written
20 order from Colonel Blaskic?
21 A. Could you repeat the question again?
22 Q. Did you ever reach the conclusion or form the opinion
23 that local HVO commanders, on occasion, if they did not
24 want to accommodate your request, or they wanted to slow
25 down the granting of your request, they sometimes asked
1 to see a written order from Colonel Blaskic on the
3 A. No, I do not think that was the case. They would not do
4 things because they did not have that authority in
6 Q. You described one occasion when you I think
7 characterised a local commander as hesitating to follow
8 a directive of Colonel Blaskic and that involved the
9 convoy or joy or convoy of hope, correct?
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. Was that incident around 10th June 1993?
12 A. On recollection, something in early June, yes.
13 MR. HAYMAN: You have given one characterisation of that
14 event and I would like to read you a somewhat different
15 characterisation of it, and ask you if in fact it is a
16 description of the same event or if you think it is a
17 description of a different event.
18 It is a paragraph of perhaps 20 lines, your
19 Honour. I think it should be placed on the ELMO so the
20 interpreters can follow better and I have copied the
21 so that all can follow. Indeed for the record, and
22 I will put on the record where this is from,
23 Mr. President. This is 3 from a witness statement
24 of Alistair Duncan, taken in August and April 1993 by,
25 among others, Mr. Kehoe. If the image could be enlarged
1 and moved up. We will be looking at the bottom half of
2 the , beginning where there is a slash mark next to
3 the word "when". I will read it to you, Mr. Buffini, and
4 if you could keep my question in mind when I am reading
6 "When the convoy of joy was finally moved on, it
7 took the specific authority of Dario Kordic with the
8 Croats in order to obtain release. Dario Kordic was
9 thus the key to the release. I had previously taken
10 Blaskic to the Vitez bypass where the convoy had been
11 halted for the second time. This was at the T-junction
12 at the easterly end of the Vitez bypass where you could
13 turn right into Vitez town. Blaskic was wearing his
14 military helmet and flak jacket. The soldiers refused
15 to allow the convoy to move, even when I used the name
16 of Colonel Blaskic as an authority. The soldiers said
17 quite categorically that they wanted the order to come
18 from Kordic. They had the appearance of normal HVO
19 soldiers in standard mixtures of green combat and
20 camouflaged fatigues. To my knowledge, this was the
21 only occasion when the 'standard' HVO troops refused to
22 obey an order from Colonel Blaskic. During this
23 incident, it became clear to me that it was Kordic who
24 was controlling the actions of the local police and the
25 civilians who were both blocking the roads and looting
1 the convoy. The convoy was only released when myself,
2 the ECMM Ambassador and the COS of UNPROFOR, Brigadier
3 Ver Hayes spoke directly to Kordic, Blaskic, HVO
4 officers and civilian officials at a meeting in the
5 disused timber factory in the Nova Bila area."
6 Mr. Buffini, is it your view that this is a
7 description of the same event involving the convoy of
8 joy which you described, or is this a different event, a
9 different convoy?
10 A. The convoy is the same, but that was prior to the
11 incident we were involved in.
12 Q. What do you mean? Do you mean the convoy was stopped at
13 multiple points? I thought you said that you visited
14 the convoy when it was stopped around the Busovaca-Vitez
16 A. I said that about 20 trucks had been taken from that
17 convoy. The convoy had gone on, but 20 trucks had been
18 taken from it.
19 Q. Where did you go to try and retrieve those 20 trucks?
20 A. Into Busovaca itself.
21 Q. Is that where the trucks were?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Was Brigadier Duncan there?
24 A. No, it was his 2IC I believe, and one of the company
1 Q. Did you ever go to the scene of the stopped convoy at
2 the T-junction of the Busovaca-Vitez road and see
3 Colonel Blaskic there trying to free the convoy?
4 A. No, I did not.
5 Q. One other question, there is a term used in this
6 description I read "'standard' HVO troops". Did you
7 ever make any distinction in your mind between, for
8 example, an HVO brigade and the so-called special units
9 within the HVO? Do you know what I am referring to?
10 A. If you are referring to the special unit who always wore
11 black, then there was that distinction. I only saw
12 those once.
13 Q. You have said that in your opinion, commanders within
14 the HVO uniformly followed the orders of Colonel Blaskic
15 during your tenure, is that right?
16 A. That is correct.
17 Q. Did you have any contact upon which you could base that
18 opinion with commanders of the group known as the
20 A. I am afraid, I do not know the Vitezovi. What do you
21 mean by that?
22 Q. There was a unit named Vitezovi, which either was or had
23 descended from a unit of the HOS. Are you familiar with
24 that unit?
25 A. I am familiar with the term HOS, but not the unit.
1 Q. Did you ever have any contact with any commanders or
2 soldiers in that unit that would permit you to form a
3 specific opinion whether commanders in that unit obeyed
4 or did not obey the orders of Colonel Blaskic?
5 A. No. As I say, I never met the unit.
6 Q. What about the military police within the HVO? Did you
7 have any contact with them that would permit you to form
8 an opinion about the degree to which military police
9 commanders within the HVO either followed or did not
10 follow the orders of Colonel Blaskic?
11 A. To my knowledge, I was not aware that there was a
12 distinct difference between military police and HVO
13 troops operating in and around the Vitez area.
14 Q. How about the unit known as the Jokers within the
15 military police? Did you have any contact or gain any
16 information about them that might enable you to form an
17 opinion concerning whether they followed or did not
18 follow, or indeed were even under the chain of command,
19 clear chain of command of Colonel Blaskic?
20 A. The only thing I had heard about the Jokers were rumours
21 that they existed. We never confirmed their presence at
22 any times we were working in the area.
23 Q. Did you ever learn any information along the same lines
24 about a unit commanded by an individual known as Zuti,
25 Z-U-T-I, in the Nova Bila area?
1 A. No, I do not recall anything on that.
2 Q. Now I would like to turn your attention to 21st April
3 1993 meeting at the ECMM house in Vitez. Did you attend
4 that meeting?
5 A. I was present at the ECMM house and attended part of the
7 Q. Would you agree that during at least the part that you
8 attended, that the subject matter of the meeting was how
9 to separate forces and establish a demilitarised zone,
10 if you will, between the forces?
11 A. That is right.
12 Q. Would you also agree that during the portion of the
13 meeting you attended, there was no discussion of any
14 atrocities or alleged atrocities in Ahmici, nor any
15 requests for inquiry or investigation on that subject?
16 A. I do not believe that subject was brought up at that
17 stage, no.
18 Q. Now, you described the Generals Halilovic and Petkovic
19 touring the area and instructing their soldiers to obey
20 the cease-fire, correct?
21 A. That is correct. They were informing them of the
22 presence of the cease-fire, it had been agreed by both
23 of them and that the troops should respect that.
24 Q. Do you agree with the following statement, and I am
25 reading from your statement of 2nd and 3rd April 1997,
1 7, in the middle:
2 "During this tour of the area, I used the Joint
3 Commission interpreter to ask both the BiH and HVO
4 troops that I met as to what they thought of the
5 Generals' plan. No one I spoke to believed that a
6 cease-fire would last more than a couple of days. They
7 insisted that such crimes had been committed against
8 their own families that revenge had to be taken."
9 Do you agree with that statement?
10 A. Yes, I do.
11 Q. Do you agree that that was a sentiment you heard from
12 both the BH army and the HVO side?
13 A. Yes, it was.
14 Q. You have described the issue of the treatment of
15 prisoners and the exchange of prisoner lists. Let me
16 ask you first, did you ever meet with Colonel Blaskic
17 and discuss this subject?
18 A. I do not recall meeting him directly or discussing it
19 directly with him, no.
20 Q. Is it your testimony that orders given by
21 Colonel Blaskic on this subject were obeyed by the HVO
22 forces and the local commanders; that is on the subject
23 of exchange and release of prisoners and exchange of
24 prisoner lists?
25 A. We never -- it was quite some weeks before we managed to
1 exchange any lists or exchange any prisoners, so I am
2 not quite sure what you mean by "obeying".
3 Q. When did you or did others in the Commission perceive
4 that there was a problem moving forward with the agreed
5 upon exchange of prisoners, which I believe was part of
6 the 21st April 1993 agreement, correct?
7 A. Correct.
8 Q. When did that agreement become stalled such that you
9 made a request or someone else on the Commission made a
10 request that the parties re-emphasise, re-order, put
11 additional pressure on their forces to follow that term
12 of 21st April 1993 agreement? When was that?
13 A. That was in most of the meetings we had following that
14 21st April meeting, so each of the Joint Commission
15 meetings that we had on subsequent days; when lists were
16 not forthcoming, it was stressed to them that they had
17 to comply with the orders made on that day.
18 MR. HAYMAN: If the usher could assist, Mr. President, I have
19 a document I would like to show the witness. I do not
20 believe this is already in evidence, but it may be and
21 I apologise if it is. I could not find it on the
22 exhibit list as a Defence exhibit, a prior Defence
24 JUDGE JORDA: Will you please check the number?
25 MR. HAYMAN: If this could go on the ELMO, I think it would
1 be of assistance to the interpreters, your Honour.
2 I would like to call your attention, Mr. Buffini, to the
3 document which has a date of April 18th , 1993. It
4 states in pertinent part -- there is a reference to the
6 JUDGE JORDA: There is a little problem for the
7 interpreters, who do not have the documents in front of
9 MR. HAYMAN: Could it be enlarged, that is helpful. There
10 are extra copies --
11 JUDGE JORDA: That is better now, is it not? It is better.
12 Very well.
13 MR. HAYMAN: There simply was not time, your Honour, to
14 distribute all the copies during the break we had, but
15 I do have extra copies if it is helpful.
16 There is a title in the upper left-hand corner
17 which is slightly cut off now, "the cease-fire between
18 the HVO and ABiH units". Then it reads, and I am not
19 going to read the entire document:
20 "On the basis of orders given by the HVO head of
21 staff" et cetera, dated April 18th:
22 "I command", and I will read the first two points:
23 "1. All the subordinate HVO units are to stop
24 immediately all combat actions against the units of the
1 "2. Exchange the detained soldiers and the
2 civilians at once."
3 Mr. Buffini, was this order on 18th April, 1993, by
4 Colonel Blaskic, was it obeyed by the HVO? Were
5 detained soldiers and civilians exchanged at once at a
6 point in time soon after 18th April 1993? Did it
8 A. No, I do not think it did.
9 Q. You also described complaints about trench digging,
10 correct? Prisoners being taken out to dig trenches?
11 A. That was a complaint we heard, yes.
12 Q. Did you also describe the ICRC having problems getting
13 into prisons and seeing detained persons?
14 A. I believe it was mentioned to us by Miss Podbielski once
15 that she had difficulty getting in, mainly because of
16 the access to those places.
17 Q. These are complaints I take it that arose after
18 21st April, 1993, when the agreement was made for a
19 cease-fire and for the other terms you have described?
20 A. That was when I was back there and became aware of them,
21 yes, because I returned on the 21st.
22 MR. HAYMAN: I have another exhibit for the witness,
23 Mr. President. It is two s, the first is in BSC
24 and there is an English translation only. So the
25 exhibit will consist of two s. If the usher could
1 assist and place the English translation on the ELMO,
2 concentrating, with the assistance of the technical
3 staff, on the body of the text, the six or seven points
4 of the order, thank you.
5 Mr. Buffini, I would like to call your attention to
6 this document, which is dated 21st April, 1993, again
7 references on the basis of the order of the chief of HVO
8 main headquarters, is addressed to both HVO brigades and
9 other entities, including the military police and the
10 Vitezovi special task force, and which states, following
11 the word "order":
12 "1. ICRC shall be ensured free access to all
14 "2. Civilian population caught up in combat
15 shall be respected and protected.
16 "3. Detained civilians and soldiers shall
17 receive humane treatment and adequate protection.
18 "4. The identity of all the imprisoned and
19 detained shall be reported to the ICRC and its
20 representatives shall be allowed to visit the
21 individuals detained or imprisoned."
22 Let me ask you, this order of April 21st with
23 respect to reporting the identity of detained and
24 imprisoned persons, was that order carried out in a
25 timely manner, to your knowledge and belief?
1 A. From our workings on the ground, no, the order was not
2 carried out.
3 Q. After 21st April, there were problems in securing the
4 release and exchange of prisoners and indeed in securing
5 lists of prisoners, correct?
6 A. That is correct.
7 Q. That problem existed on both sides of the conflict,
8 correct? The BH army was reluctant to give lists and
9 for whatever reasons, technical, logistic or otherwise,
10 the HVO was not able to quickly produce lists of
11 detained persons, correct?
12 A. That is right, yes.
13 Q. Did you ask in the meetings of the Busovaca Joint
14 Commission, did you ask Mr. Nakic or one of the other HVO
15 representatives, "please redouble your efforts to get
16 this term of the April 21st 1993 order enforced?"
17 A. Yes, it was stressed just about every single meeting
18 after that time that we wanted to ensure that the
19 criteria put down in that cease-fire order were met. Up
20 to that point, they had not been.
21 Q. Would you have stressed that point at some meeting
22 between the 21st and 24th April 1993 at a meeting of the
23 Busovaca Joint Commission?
24 A. It had changed from the Busovaca Joint Commission to the
25 Joint Commission; yes, it was stressed.
1 MR. HAYMAN: If the usher could assist, I have a further
2 document, Mr. President, which again consists of a BSC
3 original and an English translation, I think they should
4 together be one exhibit, whether A, B, what have you,
5 and again if the text, the primary text of the exhibit
6 could be placed on the ELMO for the assistance of the
7 interpreters. Again, if the English text portion, the
8 body of the text could be placed on the ELMO,
9 Mr. Buffini, I would like to call your attention to the
10 document, the English translation. It is dated
11 24th April, reference is:
12 "Treatment of civilians and prisoners. Order to
13 all commanders of units in Central Bosnia Operative Zone
14 (brigades and independent units)."
15 It says "based on the request" et cetera:
16 "I hereby demand from all units and members of the
17 HVO to:
18 "1. Respect and protect the civilian population
19 in wartime. Civilians by definition do not take part in
20 conflicts and therefore cannot be a target of attack.
21 "2. Treat captured soldiers and civilians
22 humanely and ensure they are appropriately protected.
23 "3. Report the identity of all the captured and
24 detained to the ICRC and enable ICRC representatives to
25 visit them according to ICRC standard conditions."
1 With respect to point 3, Mr. Buffini, is this what
2 you were asking Franjo Nakic between 21st and 24th April
3 1993, to obtain some further pressure from above to
4 secure lists of prisoners and the exchange of those
5 lists, as well as ICRC access to prisoners?
6 A. We were asking for the HVO to come up with those lists,
7 which up to that stage they had not done. I do not
8 recall getting numbers of lists for quite some time.
9 Q. Did this issue persist between 24th April and
10 29th April, that is in your view and in the view of the
11 Commission members, insufficient progress was being made
12 in terms of securing and release and exchange of
13 prisoners and indeed in securing lists of detained
15 A. Yes, it continued to be very difficult.
16 MR. HAYMAN: If the usher could assist, Mr. President, I have
17 one last document, again an exhibit of two s, front
18 and back, both s, an order and a translation in
19 English only at this time. If the body of the order,
20 points 1 through 4 could be placed on the ELMO to assist
21 the interpreting staff. This document is dated
22 29th April 1993, 19.40 hours, re the release of detained
24 "In order to promptly carry out the joint order of
25 the chief of HVO headquarters and chief of BH army main
1 headquarters of 29th April, I hereby order:
2 "1. Immediately draft lists of detained
3 civilians (men, women, children) including the following
4 information", which is then specified:
5 "Responsible: immediate subordinate commanders.
6 Deadline: 30th April 1993, 10.00 hours.
7 "2. Release all civilians (men, women, children)
8 arrested during the conflicts between the BH army and
9 the HVO. Responsible: immediate subordinate
10 commanders. Deadline: 30th April 1993, 12.00 hours."
11 Then I will skip to point 4 for sake of speed:
12 "4. All released civilians must be guaranteed
13 full safety in the locations in your zones of
14 responsibility and you shall be held responsible for the
15 situation in your zone of responsibility."
16 Signed Commander Tihomir Blaskic.
17 Do you recall when detained civilians in the Vitez
18 area were released? Were they released on or about
19 30th April 1993?
20 A. Round about that time, but certainly into May when we
21 started getting sufficient information to ensure that
22 some releases were made.
23 Q. Returning for a moment to your comment that local
24 commanders always or almost always followed
25 Colonel Blaskic's orders, did you ever have contact with
1 the HVO brigade commander in Kiseljak that would permit
2 you to form an opinion regarding Colonel Blaskic's
3 ability to control or inability to control the HVO
4 brigade commander in Kiseljak?
5 A. I believe I only met the commander of the Kiseljak area
6 once on one meeting, so I could not --
7 Q. So you do not have an opinion on that specific point,
8 I take it?
9 A. No.
10 Q. You do not have such an opinion?
11 A. I did not see him and it was early days in my visit
12 there, so I really could not say an opinion on that.
13 Q. Let me ask you a few questions about "route triangle"
14 and the Prozor area. Are you aware that in
15 approximately January 1993, the road north from Prozor
16 to Novi Travnik was cut to the HVO in the sense that it
17 was taken over by the BH army?
18 A. It was cut in various areas and made travel through
19 there incredibly difficult, yes.
20 Q. So you are aware that these coaches of HV troops you
21 have described in and around Prozor, they would not have
22 been capable, without encountering BH army forces, of
23 driving north on the road from Prozor to Novi Travnik
24 and entering the Lasva Valley at that time, correct?
25 A. They would not have had access through the Gornji Vakuf
1 area, no.
2 Q. They would not have had access to the Lasva Valley
3 through that route, correct?
4 A. No, that is correct.
5 Q. At the times you have identified these coaches as either
6 being seen by you or reported as having been seen to
7 you, correct?
8 A. That is right, yes.
9 Q. You had a conversation with a mercenary, Gus Bryden. He
10 said he had trained HV troops to go to Zadar, as well as
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Zadar is in Croatia, is that right?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Did the mercenary Mr. Bryden ever tell you that he had
16 trained troops or had any knowledge that HV troops had
17 ever gone to the Lasva Valley or the Kiseljak valley?
18 A. No, he only discussed operating around the Prozor area.
19 Q. You described an incident where you and Mario Cerkez and
20 an ITN news team went to the front and saw recent
21 evidence of trench digging?
22 A. Mario Cerkez did not accompany us.
23 Q. You went with the news team?
24 A. Yes, I did.
25 Q. Did you ever discuss or raise the incident with
1 Colonel Blaskic, that incident?
2 A. I did not personally, no.
3 Q. Is it fair to say that when you give us your opinion on
4 whether orders were followed, that is orders of
5 Colonel Blaskic, or not, you are basing your opinion on
6 orders pertaining to the matters you were involved in,
7 which principally were cease-fires, passage of convoys,
8 clearance or repair of roads, is that right?
9 A. That is right, yes.
10 MR. HAYMAN: Thank you for your patience, Mr. Buffini.
11 Your Honour, I have no further questions, subject
12 to a review of the exhibits and determining whether any
13 of them should be admitted at this time. I think we can
14 do that later so that we can move forward now.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Are we going to have these documents
16 admitted? There was some doubt as to the order of
17 Colonel Blaskic of 18th April.
18 Mr. Registrar, have you had time to check, no? The
19 Prosecution has no objection to the admission of these
20 documents into evidence?
21 MR. KEHOE: At this juncture, Mr. President, we do, based on a
22 review of these documents. If these documents in any
23 form came from the Office of the Prosecutor, they could
24 have very well come from the Croatian Community of
25 Herceg-Bosna, and we have no source as to where they
1 came from, if they were given as Rule 68 material. I do
2 not want to belabour the point on all of them, but
3 I think a review of each document is in order.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Let us put it under a number provisionally
5 then. They will be admitted into evidence and the
6 Registrar will give us the number. You have some
7 re-examination, Mr. Kehoe?
8 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President, I do. May I proceed?
9 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, of course
10 Re-examined by MR. KEHOE
11 Q. You were asked questions by Defence counsel concerning
12 the route going up to Central Bosnia through Gornji
13 Vakuf being cut at various locations, is that not right?
14 A. Yes, I was asked if they were cut, yes.
15 Q. You were questioned concerning the capability of HV
16 troops moving through to Central Bosnia on that route,
17 is that right?
18 A. That is correct, yes.
19 Q. Are you familiar with the town of Fojnica?
20 A. Yes, I am.
21 Q. You are aware, are you not, that the Croatians were
22 moving troops up through Fojnica and into Central
23 Bosnia, to Kiseljak and the Vitez region, were they not?
24 A. We had every -- lots of reports to suggest that that was
25 the case, but no real sightings of anything pertaining
1 to that, no.
2 Q. Your conclusion on the information you had was that the
3 reason they were clearing the area east of Prozor was to
4 clear this road going up into Fojnica so they could move
5 into the central or the Lasva Valley area and the
6 Kiseljak area, is that not right?
7 A. That was our conclusion and was the conclusion drawn by
8 the British military cell in COMBRITFOR, that a route
9 was being opened up between Prozor and Fojnica, yes.
10 Q. So any indication that troops could not move from Prozor
11 to Central Bosnia via Fojnica would not be true, because
12 they could move that way, could they not?
13 A. We believed they could.
14 Q. You were asked some questions concerning these documents
15 that counsel has put before you. Have you seen all
16 these before?
17 A. No.
18 Q. The first one, and I do not know what -- the number on
19 the order of 18th April. Do you see that one?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. That order was issued by General Blaskic, was it not,
22 when war was still raging --
23 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, I am not hearing the interpretation
24 very well. I must say that it is not the first time the
25 beginning of the interpretation is not quite audible
1 enough. Maybe it is a purely technical matter, when one
2 interpreter takes over from another. That is my
3 impression, that is all. Thank you very much.
4 MR. KEHOE: That order on 18th April, according to your
5 information, because you were not there, war was still
6 raging, was it not?
7 A. Yes, it was.
8 Q. In fact on 18th April, one might say that the HVO had
9 reached their highest territorial gains, is that not
11 A. It could well have been, but it was very pertinent for
12 them to draw to a conclusion at that stage, yes.
13 Q. As you say, it would have been very pertinent to
14 conclude the hostilities once they had taken the ground
15 that they wanted, right?
16 A. Good military tactic, yes.
17 MR. HAYMAN: Your Honour, excuse me counsel, if counsel are
18 allowed to lead their own witnesses, I have no objection
19 as long as that rule will be applied to the Defence as
20 well as the Prosecution. Virtually every question has
21 been an extraordinarily leading question.
22 JUDGE JORDA: No, I think it is not up to the judges to
23 decide, I think that questions by hypothesis are leading
24 and Mr. Hayman, you are the one who produced these
25 documents, so it is quite normal for Mr. Kehoe to comment
1 on them with the witness. Try not to introduce your
2 personal opinions in the question, Mr. Kehoe.
3 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President, I will not.
4 Before we go to the rest of these documents that
5 counsel discussed with you, let me just discuss, and
6 I will ask you a question concerning the paragraph in
7 your statement that was read to you by Defence counsel,
8 and specifically the troops that -- I am reading the
9 last sentence, the troops that you talked to:
10 "They insisted that such crimes had been committed
11 against their own families that revenge had to be
13 Do you recall that portion of your testimony?
14 A. Yes, I do.
15 Q. Is it not true, Mr. Buffini -- withdraw that.
16 At this particular point, was the issue involving
17 Ahmici very much present during the time of these
18 cease-fire negotiations?
19 A. Yes, from the Muslim point of view, it was paramount to
20 them that that was their biggest problem to all
21 negotiations, was nothing was coming forward about
23 Q. Is it not true, Mr. Buffini, that the HVO troops
24 expressed reservations concerning the cease-fire because
25 they thought the Muslims would want revenge because of
2 A. There was that fear, but also there had been incidents
3 where BiH soldiers had killed HVO troops and civilians
4 in certain areas, I was informed by the HVO troops, yes.
5 Q. There was factors on both sides, is that right?
6 A. That is right, but the overriding factor was Ahmici and
7 obviously the BiH were very very aggrieved by that.
8 Q. Let me turn back to these orders that Defence counsel
9 was asking you questions about. We are dealing with the
10 series of orders that were placed on the ELMO, and from
11 the line of questions that were asked by the Defence,
12 the line of questions would want to indicate that
13 Blaskic's orders were not being followed, is that right?
14 A. That was my understanding, yes.
15 Q. From the line of questioning?
16 A. Correct.
17 Q. You said during the cross-examination that you were at
18 90 per cent of these meetings, is that right?
19 A. Absolutely right at that stage, yes.
20 Q. Did Nakic -- excuse me. Did Nakic or Cerkez ever
21 indicate to you or to anybody else at this meeting that
22 an HVO commander or a soldier was disciplined for
23 failure to comply with the orders of Colonel Blaskic?
24 A. No, on no occasions.
25 Q. Did they ever bring any indication to you that someone
1 was removed from their position, prosecuted, or in any
2 fashion punished for a failure to comply with Blaskic's
4 A. No, not that I can recall at all.
5 Q. During this period of time, you continued to receive
6 information that the HVO had prisoners digging trenches
7 and being used as human shields, did you not?
8 A. We had complaints from the BiH that that was still
9 happening, yes.
10 Q. In fact, Mr. Buffini, I think you testified in
11 cross-examination that when you attempted to get into
12 prisons, they had no order from Blaskic to allow to get
13 into those prisons, is that not right?
14 A. That is what we were told.
15 MR. KEHOE: I have no further questions, Mr. President,
16 your Honours.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Kehoe. I give the floor to
18 Judge Riad.
19 JUDGE RIAD: Good morning, Major Buffini.
20 A. Good morning sir.
21 Q. In the light of your statements, you may be in a
22 position to assist the Tribunal in clarifying some
23 specific points. Among your statements, you mentioned
24 in essence, I tried to write it, that Colonel Blaskic
25 controlled all troops in Central Bosnia. Then you
1 mentioned all commanders were scared from Blaskic and
2 would not do anything in disagreement with his orders,
3 and that Franjo Nakic had to go back to him to refer for
4 any serious decision.
5 In the light of this statement, my question is,
6 and you are free not to answer it: could an action of
7 the dimension of the events and the destructions of
8 Stari Vitez and Ahmici take place without the order of
9 this, what you called, controlling commander? Could it
10 take place without his orders, or vice versa, could an
11 order given by this commander to refrain from such
12 actions be disregarded?
13 A. The first part of the question, could something like
14 that have happened without the authority and the order
15 of somebody like Colonel Blaskic take place: no. The
16 scale of the operation and the extent of it was quite
17 significant that there would have to be a large number
18 of troops involved. That would have to come from orders
19 of higher authority.
20 The second part of the question was, could it have
21 happened against the orders of somebody like
22 Colonel Blaskic; again, my feeling would be that with my
23 knowledge of the local commanders of the area, and their
24 record for Colonel Blaskic, they would not have gone
25 against those orders.
1 Q. In the same line, you mentioned that the Red Cross
2 representative protested angrily with regard to the
3 digging of trenches by prisoners in the front-lines, and
4 the use of the prisoners as human shields. Was it
5 within the jurisdiction of the commander at that moment,
6 it was Colonel Blaskic, was it within his jurisdiction
7 to react to this by stopping the use of human shields
8 and stopping the digging of trenches, or was it beyond
9 his jurisdiction?
10 A. It certainly was not beyond his jurisdiction, which is
11 why we brought it up in the Commission meetings, so that
12 the message very clearly got back through to him via
13 Mario Cerkez and Franjo Nakic, for him to give the
14 orders to cease doing so. It was also pointed out to
15 the local commanders of those areas, where the incidents
16 were happening, that this should not take place as well,
17 so both the local commanders on the ground and also the
18 message was asked to be directed directly to
19 Colonel Blaskic.
20 Q. So it was up to him to stop it?
21 A. He was the ultimate commander of the troops on the
22 ground, so he should have insisted that his troops
23 refrained and stopped immediately from doing that.
24 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you, Major Buffini. Thank you very
1 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Shahabuddeen?
2 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I have a few questions to put to you;
3 one which is very preliminary is this: the HV soldiers
4 were Croatian soldiers from Croatia proper, is that
6 A. That is what we understood, sir, yes.
7 Q. All your sightings of buses with HV soldiers were in
8 Bosnia itself, Central Bosnia? How would you describe
10 A. It was in Central Bosnia, because once you passed over
11 the checkpoint south of Tomislavgrad, you were in
13 Q. The buses which were taking the non-dishevelled HV
14 soldiers were going away from the Croatian border or
15 towards the Croatian border?
16 A. They were going away from the Croatian border, north,
17 further into Central Bosnia.
18 Q. And the buses taking the dishevelled soldiers were going
19 in which direction?
20 A. They were pointing, they had not set off, but they were
21 pointing in the direction to come back south from Prozor
22 through back to Croatia.
23 Q. Back to Croatia. The inference which you drew from the
24 condition in which you saw the dishevelled soldiers was
25 that they had been engaged in combat.
1 A. That is correct, sir, yes.
2 Q. Were you in a position to make any inference as to
3 whether the place of combat was anywhere within Central
4 Bosnia, or outside of Central Bosnia?
5 A. The inference was very much that they had come from the
6 area around Prozor, which was in Central Bosnia.
7 Q. I see. You have seen some documents put in evidence by
8 learned Defence counsel. One is dated 21st April.
9 Mr. Registrar, it would be convenient if I could
10 refer to it by a number, but I do not know what number
11 I should use. Will that be all right?
12 You are not handicapped, you understand what I am
13 referring to?
14 A. Yes, sir.
15 Q. You are a military man and you are looking at a military
16 document. Should I take it that your impression is that
17 the document before you is in the standard form of a
18 military document of that type?
19 A. It certainly would be along those lines, yes, sir.
20 Q. The operative words here are these, the document is
21 signed by Colonel Blaskic, and he says:
22 "I hereby issue the following order."
23 Would you say that those are words of command?
24 A. They are as long as they are getting to the troops who
25 are accepting the command, sir, yes.
1 Q. If you look at the top of that document, on the
2 right-hand side, it seems to be addressed to:
3 "HVO brigade commander 1-12; independent units in
4 Central Bosnia Operative Zone; Vitezovi special
5 task force."
6 Would that signify that the officer issuing this
7 document issued it on the basis that he had a right to
8 exercise authority over the persons to whom the document
9 was issued?
10 A. That is right, sir, yes.
11 Q. Did you have any knowledge gained from your experience
12 on the ground as to what this reference to independent
13 units in Central Bosnia Operative Zone might have been
14 intended to refer to? You see the reference there?
15 A. Yes, I do, but I am afraid I was not aware of
16 independent units operating there.
17 Q. You would see similar language in the companion document
18 of 24th April 1993, the top right-hand corner has a
19 reference to "independent units"?
20 A. Correct, sir, yes.
21 Q. And the operative words here are "I hereby demand".
22 Those again would be understood by a military man to be
23 words of command?
24 A. British military commands would not "demand" anything,
25 they would normally "order" something, but on similar
1 lines, yes.
2 Q. I see. And the final document is dated 29th April,
3 which uses like language with variations; do you see
5 A. Yes, I do, sir.
6 Q. So your conclusion would be, would it, that whatever
7 happened in practice on the ground, the officer issuing
8 using these documents considered that he himself had the
9 authority to exercise control over the persons to whom
10 these documents were issued?
11 A. Very much so.
12 Q. Now let us go to the Joint Commission. You spoke of
13 Mr. Nakic, and you compared his disposition with that of
14 Mr. Merdan; Mr. Merdan seemed to be able to decide matters
15 on the spot, and Mr. Nakic tended to act ad referendum to
16 Mr. Blaskic. Do I understand you correctly?
17 A. That is correct, sir, yes.
18 Q. But was there any military matter on which Mr. Nakic took
19 the position that this was an issue outside of the
20 responsibility or authority or control or command of
21 Colonel Blaskic?
22 A. Outside the command of Colonel Blaskic? Was the
23 question, "outside of Colonel Blaskic's command"? I am
24 sorry, I did not quite understand.
25 Q. Let me try to put it again. Was there any military
1 matter in respect of which Mr. Nakic took the view that
2 the matter was not part of the responsibility of
3 Colonel Blaskic?
4 A. No, not a military matter.
5 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Then Major, I would thank you very
7 JUDGE JORDA: The presiding judge would like to thank you
8 for answering all these questions that my colleagues
9 have asked you. I have no further questions to ask you,
10 the Tribunal is very appreciative of your having come
11 here at the invitation of the Prosecutor for this long
12 testimony. It now sends you back to your civilian
13 activities and we can therefore ask the Registrar to
14 have you accompanied outside the courtroom.
15 A. Thank you very much, your Honour.
16 (The witness withdrew)
17 JUDGE JORDA: This testimony completes the work that we are
18 doing in December. We will resume in January and
19 I think I can tell you the date that we will resume, but
20 I have some hesitations because the schedule frequently
21 changes. In fact it changes from hour to hour, but as
22 things stand now we will resume on 19th January but at
23 2.00 for a long afternoon, that will be one of the new
24 formulae. Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems to me that
25 that is the schedule that was given this morning, that
1 is from 1400 hours on 19th January, this will go until
2 7.00. This is a system we will use. This will not be
3 used every week, but there will be certain times we will
4 share the courtroom with another trial taking place in
5 the morning, or sometimes we will reverse the order. In
6 any case, this will be communicated to you in due
7 fashion by the Registrar, but we have not completed all
8 of the plans, so that we can at least say that we will
9 begin at 2.00 on 19th January and continue until 7.00 in
10 the evening, so that means that will give us a day
11 almost equivalent to a full day.
12 Therefore we now adjourn the hearing.
13 (12.30 pm)
14 (Hearing adjourned until 2.00 pm
15 on Monday, 19th January 1997)