1 Thursday, 19th February 1998
2 (In Open Session)
3 (10.20 am)
4 (The witness entered court)
5 JUDGE JORDA: Can everybody hear me?
6 Prosecutor's office and the Defence as well?
7 The Chamber issued an order dated today which
8 I am going to read out.
9 Pursuant to Rules 54, 65(bis), 71, and 75 of
10 the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, (there is no copy
11 of this) Noting the Status Conference held on
12 18th February 1998, and noting the request
13 confidentially filed by the Prosecutor on 18th
14 February 1998, and noting the Defence motion filed on
15 18th February 1998, and further noting the agreement given by General
16 Blaskic given during the Status Conference, considering that
17 Judge Riad, member of Trial Chamber I, presently in this case is
18 not available due to illness, and considering that his unavailability
19 should not prejudice the accused's right to be judged without
20 undue delay, as provided by Article 21.4.C of the Tribunalís Statute
21 and considering the fact that Rule 74(a) of the Rules of
22 Procedure and Evidence gives leave to the Trial Chamber
23 in exceptional circumstances and in the interests of justice, and upon
24 request by one of the parties, to order that a deposition be taken for use
25 at trial, and appoint for that purpose a presiding
2 Considering that the provision of Rule 71 is in
3 all matters in keeping with the testimonies heard in court and
4 provides for cross examination of the witness, and in keeping with Rule
5 71(e), the deposition and the record hereto related will be transmitted
6 to the full formation of the Chamber, noting that the Chamber believes
7 that the unavailability of one of its members is an
8 exceptional circumstance, and that it is in the interests of
9 justice that the testimonies in the present trial be
10 not suspended, noting the fact that the parties agreed
11 on this procedure under Rule 71 of the Rules, by which Judges
12 Claude Jorda and Mohamed Shahabuddeen shall be appointed as
13 presiding officers and the procedure shall only apply to
14 four specific witnesses, considering that the accused agreed to the
15 said procedure.
16 Further considering that the parties agreed on the protected
17 measures adopted by the Trial Chamber I pursuant with
18 Rule 75.
19 For the above grounds I grant the requests,
20 filed by both parties and order that the hearings on
21 Thursday, 19th February, and Friday, 20th February shall
22 be held to hear the witnesses in the procedure provided
23 by Rule 71.
24 Claude Jorda and Muhamed Shahabuddeen, as presiding officers
25, are hereby mandated to organise the hearing in the following manner.
1 The presiding officers and the parties will appear in civilian
2 clothes and the hearing will be public, subject to the measures provided
3 for the witnesses being maintained. Lastly, the record will
4 be transmitted to the Trial Chamber composed of its
5 three judges pursuant to Rule 71(e) of the Rules.
6 Done in French and English, the French version being
7 the authoritative version, signed: the Presiding Judge so we are now
8 having the hearing on this basis, and I hope,
9 Mr. Harmon, that you have explained all this to your
10 witnesses so that they are not caught by surprise.
11 MR. HARMON: Yes, I have, Mr. President.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Fine. This being so, if you
13 all agree, failing any observations, we might take on
14 the course of our work and it is understood that all
15 this will be reported to Judge Riad, and should Judge
16 Riad make any observation on the basis of our report,
17 or upon reading the transcript, we would, of course,
18 call the witness again in the coming days or weeks.
19 So be it.
20 Mr. Prosecutor, I think you have a protected
21 witness, have you not?
22 MR. HARMON: Good morning Mr. President, good
23 morning Judge Shahabuddeen, good morning, counsel.
24 The next witness and the witness who is to be
25 deposed is a protected witness, and he will have visual
1 distortion, face distortion, and a pseudonym. He will
2 be referred to as, "Witness AA".
3 To summarise, Mr. President, Witness AA is
4 a Bosnian Muslim retiree who resided in the Kiseljak
5 municipality in the village of Visnjica which was
6 a mixed Croat and Muslim village, and if I could have
7 the ELMO turned on, Mr. President, and Judge
8 Shahabuddeen, for your orientation about where the
9 events he will describe occurred, I have placed on the
10 ELMO Exhibit 29D. That is on the screen now, and that
11 will indicate both the village of Rotilj and the
12 village of Visnjica.
13 Now, this witness will describe the attack on
14 the village of Visnjica which occurred on the morning
15 of 18th April 1993. At the time of the attack this
16 witness was a civilian. He was a Muslim as well. He
17 will describe how the village was very lightly defended
18 and swiftly overtaken by the HVO. He will testify that
19 on the 19th and the 20th, the HVO soldiers entered the
20 village and systematically set fire to most of the
21 Muslim houses in the village. He will describe
22 a killing of an unarmed civilian by HVO soldiers. He
23 will describe how, after the attack, he and other
24 Muslim civilians were removed from the village and
25 taken to a location he refers to as, "the silos".
1 He remained there overnight, as did a large
2 number of other Muslim civilians who were there as
3 well. While they were there the HVO came and took
4 Muslim men from that location and took them and forced
5 them to dig trenches.
6 He will testify that the following day he
7 returned to his village and he discovered the corpses
8 of his nephew and his nephew's wife who had been killed
9 by the HVO, of whom were civilians, both of whom were
11 He will then testify about burying his nephew
12 and his nephew's wife and five other Muslim civilians
13 and he will testify that he remained in the village of
14 Visnjica until September of 1993 when two HVO soldiers
15 ejected him from his house, set his house on fire and
16 set his son's house on fire.
17 He was then taken to the Kiseljak barracks
18 where he remained for 14 days. He will describe the
19 conditions in the Kiseljak barracks and he will testify
20 that while there, on a daily basis, Muslim detainees
21 were taken out by the HVO to dig trenches, and he was
22 informed that one of those individuals was killed and
23 three of them were wounded and he will identify those
25 At the end of 14 days he was taken by the HVO
1 to the village of Rotilj where he remained until
2 September 6th 1994. He will describe the conditions in
3 the village of Rotilj. He will testify that every day
4 the HVO took people out of the village, Muslims and
5 forced them to engage in trench digging and other types
6 of forced labour, he himself included.
7 Lastly, Mr. President and Judge Shahabuddeen,
8 he will testify that while he was in Kiseljak engaged
9 in a form of forced labour which was trash collection,
10 he saw members of the HVO marching through town with
11 a decapitated head of a Muslim on the end of a post, at
12 the end of a pole, with other members of the HVO
13 playing music and parading behind the man carrying the
14 decapitated head on the post and this took place in the
15 presence, in broad daylight in the middle of town in
16 the middle of the HVO police and others.
17 That is a summary, Mr. President, of his
18 testimony. His testimony relates in the indictment to
19 count 1, persecution, all paragraphs, paragraph 6.1
20 through 7; counts 2-4, unlawful attacks on civilians
21 and civilian objects, which is paragraph 8, counts 5
22 through 7, wilful killing, which is paragraph 9 of the
23 indictment; counts 11 through 13, the destruction and
24 plunder of property, paragraph 10; count 14,
25 destruction of institutions dedicated to religion,
1 paragraph 11; I am sorry, counts 15 through 18,
2 inhumane treatment of detainees and hostages,
3 paragraphs 12 through 15.
4 Now, Mr. President, Judge Shahabuddeen,
5 I would ask that you receive Exhibit 75, a copy of
6 which I have provided to Mr. Dubuisson. It is an aerial
7 view that depicts virtually all the areas that will be
8 testified about by this witness. It depicts the
9 village of Visnjica, Rotilj and the Kiseljak barracks,
10 and you have that at your side for the purposes of
11 assisting you understanding his testimony.
12 Lastly, Mr. President, because the witness is
13 a protected witness, I have instructed him during this
14 deposition not to identify by name his relatives who
15 were murdered by the HVO. He is prepared to do so,
16 Mr. President, in a private session, but in a public
17 session I have instructed him to only refer to them as
18 his nephew and his nephew's wife. He will also be
19 referring to his daughter only as his daughter, but if
20 the court wishes or if counsel wishes to have them
21 identified by name he is prepared to do so, but in
22 a private session.
23 That concludes my opening remarks,
24 Mr. President.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much,
1 Mr. Prosecutor. We are going to let Witness AA come
2 in. Please, when you put your questions, do not repeat
3 what the witness said, whatever the witness said he
4 would have said. I want to us speed up the
5 proceedings, so let us have the witness in.
6 (The witness entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: Can you hear me, sir? Can you
8 hear me?
9 A. I do.
10 JUDGE JORDA: So you are going to be heard
11 as a witness. We shall call you, "Witness AA". Please
12 check that your name is written on the piece of paper
13 handed in by the Registrar. Do not mention your name,
14 just wave or make a sign to show that it is your name.
15 Fine. You agree to coming to testify in
16 front of this Chamber, sitting today in plain clothes
17 for reasons set out to you by the Prosecutor, but this
18 does not change anything to your testimony. First, you
19 are going to swear the oath which is in the same way as
20 every witness does. Just remain seated, and you can
21 read out in your own language the document that is
22 being handed in to you.
23 A. I do not have my glasses.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Take your time. (Pause).
25 Please, go ahead. Do read out the oath.
1 WITNESS AA (sworn)
2 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much, sir.
3 Some preliminary questions will be put to you
4 by the Prosecutor but soon thereafter you will be free
5 to relate the events that have been summed up by the
6 Prosecutor in relation to the events you were
7 unfortunate enough to witness. You were not a victim
8 of these events, but you witnessed them in Kiseljak.
10 Examined by MR. HARMON
11 Q. Good morning, Witness AA.
12 Now, Witness AA, please, during the course of
13 the questions I ask you, I would like you to relax, be
14 calm and if you need a break, please let me know or let
15 the court know.
16 Let me begin. I am going to begin by asking
17 you a series of very short questions and then I am
18 going to ask you to give your answers in a narrative
19 form about a number of subjects, but let me begin by
20 asking you some background questions.
21 How old are you?
22 A. 73.
23 Q. Are you a Bosnian citizen?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Are you a Muslim?
1 A. A Muslim.
2 Q. In April of 1993 were you retired?
3 A. Yes, I was.
4 Q. Did you live in the Kiseljak municipality in
5 the village of Visnjica?
6 A. Yes, I did.
7 Q. Until April, or until 1993, had you lived in
8 Visnjica all your life?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Were you a member of the Territorial Defence?
11 A. No, I was not.
12 Q. Was your village, Visnjica, a mixed Muslim
13 and Croat village?
14 A. It was. Yes, a mixed village.
15 Q. Now, your village was attacked by the HVO on
16 18th April 1993. Is that correct?
17 A. It is, at 5 o'clock in the morning.
18 Q. Now, before we get to the events of the
19 attack, could you tell the judges anything unusual that
20 you observed before the attack took place on the
21 18th April? Any unusual activity that may have
22 suggested an attack was coming?
23 A. I did see about three or four days earlier
24 people in uniform, two to three soldiers, and they were
25 carrying automatic rifles in their hands.
1 Q. And please continue just telling the judges
2 who they were, what kind of uniforms they were wearing,
3 what they were doing.
4 A. They were wearing military uniforms. On
5 their arms they had the HVO sign, only I cannot
6 remember on which arm they had this sign. They were
7 walking by, and then I saw them digging trenches just
8 above the village.
9 Q. What was the response of the Muslims in the
10 village when they saw the HVO digging trenches above
11 the village?
12 A. Some people were going for negotiations, to
13 negotiate that they fill in these trenches, but they
14 said that they would remain there for the future, but
15 this was a mere formality, they said.
16 Q. How many days before the attack started were
17 those trenches dug?
18 A. Some five to six days before.
19 Q. Now, you mentioned seeing men in HVO uniforms
20 walking through the village. Who were they and what
21 was their position in the HVO?
22 A. They were going by, and I saw them, and I saw
23 somebody called Nikica Pravdic, called Braco, then
24 Jelenko Pravdic, Drmac, Madin. Those were the ones
25 I saw walking in uniform and carrying automatic rifles
1 in their hands.
2 Q. Were any of those men commanders of the local
3 HVO force?
4 A. Yes. Yes. Nikica Pravdic, known as Braco,
5 he was the commander of the HVO for the village of
7 Q. Now, Witness AA, very briefly, can you
8 describe to the judges, first of all, if there was
9 a Territorial Defence in your village, whether it was
10 a large unit or a small unit, and whether it was well
11 armed or poorly armed.
12 A. There were several soldiers, like
13 a detachment of Jasokovci. How many soldiers there
14 were I do not know. I was not a participant. I was
15 not a member. I was nothing. They may have been 10,
16 15 or 20, but I do not know that. The commander was
17 Zijo Karahmet, captain first-class in the JNA.
18 Q. And how would you describe their weapons, and
19 the amount of ammunition they had?
20 A. It was very poor. If somebody bought himself
21 something with his own money, then he had something.
22 Q. Now, Witness AA, I would like to turn to
23 18th April 1993, and I would like you to tell the
24 judges in your own words, at your own pace, the story
25 of the attack on your village. Please begin.
1 A. On 18th April 1993 I woke up. I usually
2 cannot sleep well, so I keep getting up and that day
3 I got up at 4.30. I had two cigarettes. (redacted)
7 got up and he said, "what is it, daddy?". I said,
8 "Well, can you not hear the shooting, my son?", and he
9 immediately ran into the room --
10 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, are we talking
11 about his son or his nephew, which is merely for the
12 sake of precision?
13 MR. HARMON: We are talking about his son at
14 this point.
15 A. My son.
16 MR. HARMON: May I have just a moment,
17 Mr. President?
18 Witness AA, when you refer to relatives of
19 yours, if you could just refer to them by a designation
20 as, "my son", or, "my daughter", that would be
22 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Thank you
23 Mr. Harmon.
24 A. ... and my son got up. He had a rifle.
25 I think they called it a Sandzara, I do not know, and
1 he ran off to the position he had, I do not know where
2 it was. I did not see him again until April 1994 when
3 I reached Fojnica. I never heard or saw him in the
5 MR. HARMON: Please continue.
6 A. Then this happened; there was an attack on
7 the village. On the 18th, the 19th, I was in my own
8 house. All that day I went out in the afternoon for
9 a breath of fresh air, and a shell fell just in front
10 of the house on the asphalt and two bits of shrapnel hit me in
11 the back. They were not large but for me they were
13 Then my daughter carried me inside, took me
14 inside, and she treated and bandaged the wound. Before
15 night-time the whole village, the younger people, women
16 and children who were there, headed off towards Zeneca,
17 the Kresevo municipality. I stayed on alone in the
18 house. Nobody came.
19 And then, in the morning, I was sitting there
20 smoking, and then I hear somebody running and when
21 I looked it was Bajro Palavlija. He reached me about
22 2 metres away from me, and he asked me who was there,
3 are you going?", but he jumped over the fence and he
4 had not reached 10-12 metres from my house when I heard
5 somebody saying, "shall I get rid of him?", and another
6 one answered, "get rid of him, fuck his mother", and
7 a bullet hit him on the right-hand side and he fell to
8 the left. I just did not see what part of the body it
9 was, but it was his right-hand side.
10 The person who had hit him ran up to him, and
11 he took something from his pockets and put it in his
12 own pocket. What it was, I could not see.
13 Then he dragged him, maybe 25-30 metres away
14 from my house, and he sort of shoved him to the side
15 and he covered him with his jacket and went off.
16 I went inside into my room and somebody came knocking
17 at the door.
18 "Who is there?", and I said, "me". He said,
19 "come out here", and swore my bloody mother, and he
20 said, "I am wounded. I cannot jump up so quickly", and
21 then he repeated, "get out", shouting at me. So
22 I started getting up from the couch I was lying on and
23 I saw a barrel at the door. When I saw the barrel of
24 a rifle I got up, and then I saw his head appear, and
25 on his head was a helmet. I looked at him, and this is
1 what I said to him, "Dusko, take care, I am wounded",
2 and again he swore at me and said, "do not call me
3 Dusko, you do not know who I am", but I do know exactly
4 who he was and where he comes from.
5 He forced me out of the house and he said,
6 "you are going down to the mosque", and the distance
7 is about 50-60 metres from my house to the mosque.
8 "A car will come and take you away". When I got out of
9 the house I told him I had a nephew around the back of
10 the house. He allowed me to go to fetch my nephew.
11 I was going, but he had his gun pointed at me.
12 I opened the door of my nephew's house and called him
13 out. "Come with me. I am being forced to go to the
14 mosque and let us go together and then they will take
15 us by car to the silo", and this nephew of mine
16 answered, "uncle, good luck to you. I cannot even get
17 up", because he was ill. He had problems with his
19 Then this one, this Dusko who was chasing me
20 out, said, "come on", but I said to -- my nephew asked
21 me to leave him a cigarette, if I had one, and so I had
22 three or four cigarettes on me. I cannot remember
23 exactly, so I put them on the table. Then he said he
24 did not have anything to light them with, so I left him
25 some matches, and I went off with Dusko following me.
1 Dusko Prajo. He still had this gun pointed
2 at me. About 20 or 25 metres from my house he said to
3 me, "you see those people over there next to the
4 mosque, you go there because I am going back to collect
5 some more. Do not look around, left or right", so
6 slowly, with a stick, I walked on and he left me.
7 I did turn around a little, and I saw him
8 going into the yard of my nephew's house. I stopped to
9 light a cigarette, and I heard a rifle shot, somehow as
10 if it was in a closed area. It was not in the open
11 air, and then I went on as far as the mosque.
12 Then the car came, we were loaded onto it and
13 taken off to the silo. When we reached the silo and
14 when we were coming out the HVO were selecting the
15 younger people, and said to them that they had to go
16 and dig trenches. They did not tell me, and they did
17 not select me because I was elderly, but all the
18 younger ones were taken aside.
19 I spent the night there. In the morning when
20 it dawned I had pains, and I saw an HVO soldier on
21 guard duty, so I went up to him and said to him,
22 "please, can I ask you something?", and he said,
23 "yes. Do. Be free to ask me", and I said, "I am
24 wounded. Could I go and see a doctor to take out the
25 shrapnel, because it is hurting me", and he said, "go
1 ahead grandpa, only I have no transport for you", so
2 I headed off.
3 I was about 20 or 30 metres away from him
4 when I heard somebody saying, "halt, halt". I pretended
5 not to hear, and then I heard the cocking of an
6 automatic rifle and of course I immediately stopped,
7 and again he swore at me and he said, "where do you
8 think you are going?", and when I turned around to face
9 him, it was Jozo Prankovic, known as Brico, and the
10 guard was running after me, and he said to him, "Brico,
11 I let him go to see a doctor, because he is wounded, to
12 give him some first aid treatment", but he said,
13 "I never asked you anything. You go back", and he
14 would not let me go.
15 So I went back. I sat there where the other
16 people were. I do not know exactly, I did not have
17 a watch, how long it was, or when it was, maybe it was
18 just before noon, I headed home. I did not ask anyone,
19 I just left. I needed to lie down. I could not stand
20 it any more.
21 When I went along the main road the cars
22 passing by seemed to be heading straight for me, so
23 I saw that I could not go any further, so I entered the
24 field, but I followed the direction of the road and
25 I reached my house.
1 When I reached my house, I went immediately
2 to see my nephew, how he was feeling. When I opened
3 the door his bed cover was half on the floor, half on
4 top of him. I called his name out from the door, "come
5 on, get up. Let us have a cigarette". No reply. When
6 I got in, my nephew was dead. Both he and his wife.
7 He was already stiff. I saw that his left eye had been
8 gouged out and his left arm, in the form of a pear, it
9 was, so I opened up his shirt, a bullet had entered his
12 I went out. I went to the neighbours called
22 Two or three days later a commander came,
23 Nikica Pravdic, known as Braco, and he spoke to me
24 sharply, "do you want to go to the cemetery for the
25 killed to be buried? Where are you going to bury your
1 nephew? If it is up to me to decide I will go and tell
2 them where to bury him", and he allowed me to do that.
3 I went to the cemetery with my cane, and when I got
4 there there were six people digging, waiting for me to
5 show them where, and so I pointed, "over there, please
6 bury my nephew and his wife over there". Two of them
7 started digging. They had dug about knee-deep, and
8 then Nikica Pravdic, called Braco, came and said, "that
9 is enough", and I answered, "Braco, the animals will
10 dig them up". Again, he cursed me and he said, "I do
11 not want to talk about it any more. That is enough".
12 So, they brought in them on wooden planks, as
13 we called them. We rolled them up in a blanket and put
14 them there, and that is how it ended.
15 Then the Doctors Without Frontiers came.
16 Somebody had told them about me. Who it was, I do not
17 know. They came to the door, knocking, and three of
18 them walked in. One of them could speak our language,
19 the other two could not -- my language. The one who
20 could speak, he asked me how I was. I told him. They
21 immediately put on white coats. I had to lie down, and
22 they took out both of these two bits of shrapnel from my
23 back. Then they sewed me up with four stitches for one
24 wound and two for another, and they dressed my wounds
25 every day for five days and they came every morning,
1 bringing me food which was enough for the whole day, as
2 I had no one to cook for me, so I stayed there, and
3 that was how I recovered and I was at home until the
4 27th August 1993 when somebody knocked at the door.
5 MR. HARMON: Now, I want to say, before we
6 get to 27th August 1993, let me ask you some questions
7 to amplify and clarify parts of your testimony.
8 You said that the HVO first enters your
9 village on the 19th and more HVO came in on the 20th.
10 Is that correct? 20th April 1993. Is that correct?
11 A. Yes, yes it is.
12 MR. HARMON: Now, what did you see HVO
13 soldiers do?
14 JUDGE JORDA: Do not ask questions that have
15 already been answered, Mr. Harmon. I am warning you.
16 I shall interrupt you if you do so. You cannot say,
17 "you said this, is this right?", because the witness
18 is under oath, so the court is informed of what he
19 said. Ask for precision only on those elements that
20 have not been mentioned by the witness, otherwise
21 I shall interrupt you. You cannot say to a witness,
22 "you said this, is this right?". This is incompatible
23 with judicial rules, because he is under oath.
24 Only ask those questions that are necessary
25 to the proceedings.
1 MR. HARMON: Fine. I will rephrase my
2 question, Mr. President.
3 Witness AA, when the HVO soldiers came into
4 your village on the 19th and 20th, what did you see
5 them do to the Muslim houses that had been vacated by
6 the Muslims?
7 A. Yes, I did see this. At first, they would
8 load up the things, the furniture onto the vehicles,
9 then they would take some liquid and pour all over and
10 then they would light a match and throw it in there and
11 everything would just be lighted up and burn down.
12 I personally saw five or six houses as they poured some
13 kind of liquid. I could not tell. I did not see what
14 it was, but then he would just throw in a match and the
15 house would go on fire.
16 But first, they would take the furniture, and
17 they would take it somewhere. I do not know where they
18 took that.
19 Q. Now, did you see the HVO soldiers
20 intentionally light on fire any Croat houses?
21 A. No Croatian house was burned in my village.
22 There were only two barns, two Croatian barns, that
23 were burned in my village, but no houses.
24 I saw that Selem Vulic's house was -- Mehmut,
25 Elman, Mijo Pulja, Enes Begovic, Dzevad Celic, Meho
1 Begovic, and Bajro, so those were the houses that I saw
2 burning and I saw how they were -- they poured some
3 fuel on them and then later I saw how they were burning
4 my own house.
5 Q. Now, shortly after you returned to your
6 village, following the attack, did you have an
7 opportunity to walk around your village and count the
8 number of Muslim houses, summer kitchens and barns that
9 had been burned down?
10 A. Not right away, but about 20 days later,
11 I think there were three or four of us, and we took
12 a pencil and paper and we started walking from the top
13 of the village to the bottom, and we were counting
14 everything, and putting marks, and we counted all the
15 houses, the barns, and the summer kitchens and
16 altogether there were 103 burned structures.
17 I saw that Ahmet Topalovic, Hamid Merdzanic
18 and Sacir... these were all elderly men, and we went
19 around, surveyed everything and wrote everything down.
20 Q. Now, the 103 structures that had been burned,
21 those were 103 structures that belonged to Muslims. Is
22 that correct?
23 A. Yes, Muslims.
24 Q. Okay. Now I would like to turn your
25 attention to the testimony relating to the killing of
1 Bajro Palavlija. Was that man a Muslim?
2 A. Bajro. Yes. He was Muslim, wearing civilian
3 clothes, had no weapons on him, and he was going to
4 search for his mother.
5 Q. Now, the HVO soldier who killed him, can you
6 identify him?
7 A. Dusko Prajo, son of Jozo, from Kiseljak.
8 I know him personally.
9 Q. You mentioned your nephew and your wife.
10 Were they both Muslims? I am sorry, your nephew and
11 your nephew's wife.
12 A. Dusan Prijo, son of Jozo. He chased me and
13 then he returned to my nephew's house, and his wife.
14 Q. Now, Witness AA, was your nephew and your
15 nephew's wife, were they both Muslims?
16 A. Yes, they were. Both of them were.
17 Q. And when you last left your nephew, did he
18 have any weapons on him?
19 A. No. He had none. He was disabled. He could
20 not move. He had nothing. He was just lying there,
21 nothing else.
22 Q. Now, you have testified about being taken to
23 some silos. Where were the silos located in relation
24 to the village of Visnjica?
25 A. The bottom of the village of Visnjica. This
1 belongs to an area, Visnjica Polje. That is part of
2 the bottom part of the village.
3 Q. Now, let me turn to your return to your
4 nephew's house, and the discovery of your nephew and
5 your nephew's wife.
6 While you were there, did you also come
7 across a child of your nephew? And please, tell the
8 court about that discovery.
9 A. Yes, I did, yes, I did. I found him. He
10 climbed from underneath the sofa and he said, "uncle,
11 Dzono killed both my father and my mother". He was five
12 years old. He was a boy, and when we heard -- Duzo was
13 from Mostar and then later he came and took him and
14 took him away and I do not know where he had taken him
15 and I do not know anything about him after that.
16 Q. Now, just so that the record is perfectly
17 clear, the man who you saw kill Bajro Palavlija, was he
18 different than the man, the HVO soldier who came to
19 your house and told you to go down to the mosque? Was
20 that a different individual?
21 A. They were all wearing the same uniforms. No
22 one else came. Just the one that I said. Dusan
23 Prijo. Son of Jozo. And I did not see any other
24 soldiers coming.
25 Q. Okay. Now, let me turn your attention to
1 that part of your testimony where you were present when
2 a number of people were buried. Your nephew, and your
3 nephew's wife were buried. Who were the other people?
4 Can you identify them by name?
5 A. Yes, I can. My nephew and his wife --
6 JUDGE JORDA: Please listen, sorry,
7 Mr. Harmon, I do not agree. Excuse me, Witness, let us
8 start on solid foundations. We heard the testimony of
9 Witness AA. If there are any challenges, either you
10 ask for additional precision supporting the indictment,
11 or else the court deems itself sufficiently informed.
12 If there are challenges by the Defence, the Defence
13 can, in its cross-examination, ask the questions and
14 you have your additional interrogation.
15 So unless you have precision that you are
16 seeking which you did, on the child of the nephew and
17 his wife, this is a new element, but if it is to just
18 ask again for what has been said already, Judge
19 Shahabuddeen and myself have heard that already, so let
20 us not come back on this, otherwise we are going to
21 double or triple testimonies. And we are going to
22 devote too much them to them.
23 Excuse me, Witness AA. It is a question of
24 methodology. I have to make sure that the trial is
25 being held in all due respect of the procedure, so, you
1 gave as summary of what you were expecting from the
2 witness, I have noted that down, so all that you
3 mentioned has been said already, so let us not ask this
4 additional questions of the witness.
5 All you can do is bring precision,
6 specifications and you have got, of course, the right
7 to put questions once you have heard the
9 So, Witness AA, carry on from that time on
10 following the funerals.
11 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, with all due
12 respect, I was attempting to make precision -- excuse
13 me, Witness AA. With all due respect, Mr. President,
14 I was attempting to make precision on the persons who
15 were not identified who were buried with his nephew and
16 the nephew's wife. The answer I was attempting to
17 elicit was that the five other people were Muslims and
18 they were all civilians and they included women. That
19 is what I was attempting to elicit, Mr. President. That
20 was not testified by this witness, and since we are
21 dealing with an indictment that talks about attacks on
22 civilians, that testimony should be part of this
24 JUDGE JORDA: Okay. As long as you do not
25 have the witness repeat again what he has been through,
1 and double it, so please, Witness AA, answer the
3 A. Which question? Shall I say who was buried on
4 that day?
5 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. The question is as
6 follows, and then we will move on to the next sequence
7 of events; were the people who were buried, were they
8 Muslims? I am talking about the people who were buried
9 with your nephew and his wife. You can answer that
10 question and then the Prosecutor will ask you to move
11 on to the next events.
12 A. My nephew and his wife, that is two, are
13 Bajro Palavlija, that is three, Senad Begovic, that is
14 four, Palavlija Ago, five. Ismet Begovic, six.
15 Seventh person was from Visegrad. He had come here to
16 visit someone from the family. I do not know his first
17 or last names. I only know that he was in Visegrad.
18 MR. HARMON: Were those people all Muslims?
19 A. All Muslims.
20 Q. Were they all civilians?
21 A. Yes. All civilians. Nobody wore any
22 military uniforms.
23 Q. Lastly, you have mentioned the name Nikica
24 Pravdic who was an HVO commander in the village of
25 Visnjica. Did you see him driving in stolen Muslim
2 A. Yes, I did. Yes, in a white Lada and he
3 changed cars every day, but I mostly saw him in a white
4 Lada driving around, every day. And his house was
5 right above my own.
6 Q. Now, with the assistance of the usher, if
7 I could have Exhibit 73 placed on the ELMO, it is
8 photograph Z1 bar 601.
9 Witness AA, you will see this photograph on
10 the ELMO and I am going to ask you to identify what
11 that is. Can you identify that?
12 A. It is the mosque in Visnjica.
13 Q. Can you tell the judges what happened to the
14 mosque in Visnjica? What you saw happen to it?
15 A. I saw when they broke down the door, and they
16 took everything away from the mosque, all furnishings.
17 They first banged at the door. They could not break
18 them down because they were iron. Then they brought an
19 automatic rifle, so they shot through the glass first,
20 and then into the lock where the key went in. Then
21 they broke in and they took everything from it. It was
22 just like bare floor left there, and they loaded it up
23 on the truck. Where they took it, that I do not know.
24 I do not know in which direction they went.
25 Q. Witness AA, when you say, "they", who is,
1 "they"? Can you identify them either in general terms
2 or specifically?
3 A. I know when Jakov was banging with his foot,
4 Franjo Skoro, he would run into it and kick it and then
5 he also shot a burst of fire. Franjo Skoro, I knew
6 him. I personally know that it was him. And the other
7 four, those I do not know. They were wearing the
8 uniforms and the HVO insignia but where they came from,
9 that I do not know.
10 Q. All right. Now, if you could continue with
11 the story that you were telling the judges. You said
12 that something happened on the 27th August when some
13 soldiers came and asked -- and knocked on your door.
14 Would you please continue with your story for the
16 A. On 27th August 1993 I was sitting alone,
17 below my house. It could have been between 10 and 11,
18 around that time. I went into the bedroom to take
19 a nap, and I fell asleep immediately. Then I heard
20 someone knocking on the door, harder and harder, and
21 then I responded, and I said, "it is me, who is
22 there?", and the voice said "Open up". I said, "I am
23 not going to open up to anyone at this hour", and he
24 said, "you do not need to open up. Just give us over
25 your daughter. Wake her up and make her come out", and
1 I said, "she is not home"; "where is she?"; "she went
2 to a party. She never came back home and I do not know
3 where she is"; "Open up, open up so we can see".
4 And I see that he was going to break in, so I
5 took a risk and I opened the door. As soon as he
6 walked in, he turned on the flashlight. There was no
7 light, and I immediately saw who it was. Nenad
8 Pravdic, Mico's son. "Where is your daughter?". He
9 immediately went into her bedroom. He sees that the
10 bedding was intact. "Where is she?", "I do not know.
11 She went to some party. I do not know where she is.
12 I do not know where she is staying the night"; "tell me
13 where she is"; "I cannot tell you Nenad, where she is,
14 when I do not know. She left before dark". "Come out
15 with us".
16 I went out with them. When I was out, I saw
17 on the asphalt road that leads through Visnjica, there
18 was a yellow Fiat, no registration plates. The door
19 was open, and a man was sitting in and smoking. And
20 then he says, "Nenad, fuck it, they will catch us". Who
21 they were going to catch, I do not know.
22 He turned to me and he cursed my bloody
23 mother. He kicked me and he said, "go back into the
24 house". So I stayed. I did not dare go back into the
25 house. They left. So I ran into a small wood above
1 the house and that is where I spent the night until
2 dawn. That is where I was -- she came back in the
3 morning, again, on the 29th. Again, they came
4 knocking. I do not know who it is. Again, I respond.
5 "Give me your daughter"; "she is not home. Did not
6 I tell you that I do not know where she is? She is not
7 sleeping at home". I knew where she was that night.
8 "Open up, open up", and again, I opened up.
9 They entered, they went straight to her room, they saw
10 she was not there. They did not mistreat me, they left
11 right away.
12 In the morning, I got up, and I went to get
13 her, to the place where she was spending the night, and
14 as soon as I opened the door she said, like this, she
15 said, "what is wrong, father?". I said, "nothing".
16 "Something is wrong"; "no. Nothing is wrong". So this
17 other woman came up where she had spent the night. Her
18 husband, Fadil Topalovic, had been detained, and she
19 said, "tell us where -- what is wrong?". Then I told
20 them what happened.
21 Then she started pulling her hair and said,
22 "daddy, let us go wherever we can", and I said, "why
23 do not we go home". She said, "no". That is how she
24 told me. "Lets go home", and she just kept saying,
25 "no". Then this other woman with whom she was staying
1 said, "I am going to go with you too". So we came back
3 I said, "daughter, just pick some good
4 clothes and a travelling bag and we will get going",
5 and then she started selecting her things. I did not
6 interfere with that. At one point there was some
7 crying and at the door my older daughter is at the
8 door. "Daddy, what happened?". I told her, "I do not
9 know what it is. They came looking for your daughter
10 here"; "who?"; "those who came to you came to me as
12 And so I went with her, I went to Nikica
13 Pravdic, called Braco, the commander. He was not up
14 yet, but his wife was, and I said, "please call Braco
15 for me". She called him. He came to the door, and
16 tells me, "what is up?", and I said, "Braco, give me
17 some papers so she can go to Visoko, to my in-laws",
18 and he said, "Oh come on, what are you talking about?",
19 and he immediately went back into the house.
20 So I moved on with her towards the village to
21 another commander, Luka Drmac. He was also
22 a commander. I also asked him to do that, and he said,
23 "no, this is children. They are joking", and I said,
24 "they cannot be joking". When this was Nenad, Mico's
25 son. He turned around into the house, so that was the
1 second one, Luka Drmac.
2 I went to Franjo Skoro. He was a senior
3 commander and I found his sister outside. I asked her,
4 has Franjo gotten up? She said, "yes, he is there
5 drinking coffee", and I said, "could you please call
6 him for me?", and she said, "I can". She went and then
7 she was gone for a while and eventually she is coming
8 and Franjo is following behind her. He opens up the
9 door, and he stopped at the door. He said, "what is
10 up?", and I said, "please give me papers so that my
11 daughter can go to Visoko to my relatives", and he
12 said, "is that what you came for?" I said, "yes". Then
13 he closed the door and went back into the house.
14 I moved off from the house maybe twenty,
15 twenty-five metres begging her to go back home.
16 I said, "daughter, let us go back home", and she said,
17 "daddy, you just go and best luck to you", crying. We
18 parted, and I think we were maybe 10 metres away from
19 each other. She said, "Babo, wait". She came over to
20 me. "Daddy, will you do me a favour?", "yes", I said.
21 "Come with me to Kiseljak"; "daughter, what are you
22 going to do in Kiseljak when it is full of the HVO?".
23 She had black skirt and black everything on.
25 In order to please her I went to Kiseljak.
1 We did not talk during that time, and then we came to
2 Kiseljak. It was full of the HVO, full of the
3 uniforms. When we got there I knew where the police
4 station was, so I went straight there. There was
5 a policeman, a soldier there, and I said, "hello". He
6 said, "hello, old man"; "can I talk to the
7 commander?". He said that he had to ask. He went
8 inside, and then he comes back out, and he said,
9 "please come in, both you and your daughter". So we
10 entered. He is standing by.
11 "What is up, old man?", and I started telling
12 him what happened to me and why I came. He said to the
13 soldier, "do we have any cars free?", "take this, old
14 man, and his daughter to the barracks, to room
15 number 9". At that point I said, "can I ask you
16 something?". And he said, "go ahead, ask". "You do not
17 need to give me a car, just tell me where we should go,
18 and to whom we should report". He said, "no, no, you
19 have to go there by car". So they put us in this car,
20 and we were driven directly to the barracks where the
21 army is.
22 We got out, and they said, "there is a bench
23 over there, sit there. Do not look around and do not
24 walk around. I am going to report", so we sat there.
25 She kept crying, asking me, "what are they going to do
1 to us, daddy?". I said, "daughter, I do not know.
2 I know just as much as you".
3 The building was maybe 2 metres away from
4 where we were sitting. There were bars, and we could
5 see many heads looking through the bars.
6 Then this soldier who brought us came back
7 and said, "sit there. Do not look around, do not
8 move. A soldier will come for you", and he went off.
9 "I am going to do my work".
10 So we stayed there, and about five or six
11 minutes later a soldier came with an automatic rifle,
12 and he said, "grandpa, you and your daughter get up",
13 so we got up. We were carrying this bag, and we were
14 carrying it between us. We entered a corridor. It
15 seemed to me to be a very long one, and then he said,
16 "first door to the left". We got in. There were three
17 soldiers in uniform with HVO signs. At one table, two
18 of them, and at another table, just one. And then he
19 said to me, "you, grandpa, sit at this table, your
20 daughter next to you, and the bag next to her". So
21 I sat down and she sat down. Nobody was saying
23 Then one of them got up and said, "do you
24 smoke, grandpa?", and I said, "when I have anything,
25 I do". So he opened a packets of cigarettes and offered
1 me one, and a match, and I lit up, and I finished that
2 cigarette. He did not ask me anything. Then he again
3 got up and offered me a second cigarette, and I said,
4 "Well, thank you, sir. I have just put one out";
5 "never mind. Have another one". So I took it and
6 I lit it. I had smoked it maybe halfway, I was not
7 really measuring, and he said, "are you feeling better
8 now, grandpa?", and I said, "I am fine". He said, "we
9 will not go into that". Then he said, "what is it that
10 brings you here?".
11 The other two sitting at the other table were
12 not saying anything. They were writing something
13 down. I do not know what they were doing.
14 Then he kept asking me things and told him
15 how things had happened, how they came looking for her
16 and all these things, and then one of them, sitting to
17 the side, said, "can I, commander, ask the old man just
18 one question?". He said, "go ahead, go ahead"; "do you
19 remember when this man knocked at your door and when
20 you opened the door what his hair was like? Do you
21 remember?". I said, "as far as I was able to say when
22 he switched on his lamp he did not have much hair. It
23 was very thin, here in front", and then he said, "sir,
24 I know that he is telling the truth because I know the
25 man. It is Nenad Pravdic".
1 Then he asked my daughter, "young lady, do
2 you know any people in Visoko or Fojnica, friends or
3 relatives in that direction?", and she told him, "I do,
4 in Visoko I have two uncles", and those were her
5 mother's brothers. "So they are your mother's brothers,
6 are not they? And where do they live?"; "they live in
7 Bukovina"; "that is about 2 kilometres from Visoko.
8 Would you like to go to your uncles?".
9 She went on crying and then she asked me,
10 "but what are you going to do, daddy?", and I said,
11 "do not worry about me". Then this man got up and
12 stroked her hair and said, "young lady, do not cry,
13 whatever Mario can do, he will do for you", and when he
14 said that, I realised who he was, Bradara Mario.
15 I know his mother and his father and his uncle. I know
16 them all.
17 "Would you like to go to your uncles?", and
18 then again she asked me what I was going to do and
19 I said, "do not worry about me. Do not think about
20 me. Just decide what you are going to do", and she
21 chose to go and he immediately gave her a pass.
22 At that moment the door opened. In came
23 a man in black civilian clothes with a tie around his
24 neck, a cigarette in his mouth. He wanted to shut the
25 door, and he saw me. He caught sight of me. I have
1 a nickname, and he called me by the nickname, cursing
2 at me. Then this Mario said to him, "Bojo, I did not
3 call you", and he pointed his finger that he should go
4 out and he went.
5 So he gave her this pass. He shook hands
6 with us and wished my daughter good luck. We went
7 out. He was running after us, and he called me,
8 "grandpa!", we stopped. He said, "be careful in case
9 Bojo comes across and mistreats you. I will escort you
10 as far as the gate". We went as far as the gate. He
11 entered the place where the police were and they
12 talked. I do not know what they were saying, but
13 anyway, he said, "a soldier will take you directly to
14 the barricades", and that is how it was. A soldier
15 came with a car, we got in, he took us to the
16 barricade, she showed the pass, and they let her go and
17 I went back.
18 So, I did not know anything about whether she
19 was alive or dead until the 22nd April 1994.
20 I knew nothing about her. I stayed at home,
21 the first, second and third and fourth. On the 4th in
22 the evening, again someone came to my door, knocking.
23 As he knocked, he also broke through the main door.
24 I got up, I jumped up. Again, he switched on his
25 lamp. I realised who it was, and he says, "where is
1 your daughter?", and I said, "she has gone to Visoko".
2 Then he cursed at me. "Did you send her away?".
3 I said, "no, Bradara gave her the papers". Then he
4 started hitting me, both of them. I cannot tell you
5 what they did to me. They beat me up. I started
6 bleeding. They were really hitting me hard.
7 Then they dragged me outside, and Nenad
8 Pravdic said, "fire!". Then this other soldier went to
9 the house. I had a summer kitchen, and with incendiary
10 ammunition they fired at the summer kitchen and it
11 burst into flames and this other one went up the steps
12 into my...
13 I said, "do not set fire to at least one of
14 the houses", my son's house, and again he cursed at me
15 and he poured some liquid, I do not know which liquid,
16 he poured this and then he said, "light it", and it
17 went up in flames.
18 Then I risked it. I said they would either
19 kill me or they will throw me into the flames, so
20 I thought I would jump over the fence and run into the
21 field, and I escaped. The house was burning, and
22 I escaped into the woods.
23 That is where I was when it dawned, when day
24 came on the 5th, the 5th September, I went back to my
25 house, and I saw what had happened. What could I do?
1 So I walked around among the remains and under my foot
2 I felt something. It was a lighter. I wiped it off,
3 and I saw what was written on it. And I put it in my
4 pocket. It may be 10 or 20 minutes or maybe half an
5 hour's time, I do not know, Nikica Pravdic, known as
6 Braco, and another three soldiers from Travnik came up,
7 and Pravdic Nikica asked me, "what happened here?", and
8 I said, "Well, you see what happened"; "and who set
9 fire to it?", he asked. "How do you expect me to know
10 when it was after midnight?"
11 And I had in my shirt pocket half
12 a cigarette, maybe more, maybe less, and I took it out
13 to light it, and I took out the lighter and I lit it
14 and Pravdic grabbed that lighter from my hand. He
15 snatched it away from me and I said, "do not take away
16 that lighter, what am I going to use to light my
17 cigarettes?". Again he cursed at me and he said,
18 "I have seen this lighter somewhere. Let me check and
19 then I will give it back to you".
20 Nothing else happened. I walked around the
21 village that day. On Monday 6th at dawn I was at
22 a neighbour's house, and I was on my way home when
23 I saw Braco, Nikica, in a car, and I stopped him. He
25 MR. HARMON: Witness AA, why do you not just
1 wait a minute?
2 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. I was having
3 a discussion with my colleague. It might be time for
4 a break, for the interpreters' sake. I only wanted to
5 know whether you had many questions to put to the
6 witness. How long is the story going to take? A few
7 minutes, or are we going to have the break right now?
8 What do you think, Mr. Prosecutor?
9 MR. HARMON: At this point, Mr. President,
10 insofar as the new portion of his testimony, I have two
11 questions to ask him for clarifications, but the
12 remaining part of his testimony will probably take
13 35-40 minutes.
14 JUDGE JORDA: So it will not be 35-40
15 minutes. If I can make it shorter I will. So we are
16 going to have to break now for twenty minutes:
17 (11.50 am)
18 (Short adjournment)
19 (12.15 pm)
20 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Harmon?
21 MR. HARMON: Witness AA, two questions of
22 clarification. That is Mario Bradara. Do you know
23 what his position was in the HVO?
24 A. I heard that he was deputy commander, that is
25 the deputy of the commander Rajic.
1 Q. Now, when -- the man who came to your house
2 and set your house on fire on the 6th -- I am sorry, on
3 the 4th September, were they wearing HVO uniforms?
4 A. They were.
5 Q. Now, turning to the 6th September, can you
6 tell the judges what happened to you and to other men,
7 elderly men, women and children in the village of
8 Visnjica, where you were taken?
9 A. I can. Can I continue now?
10 Q. Yes, please.
11 A. On the 6th September 1993 in the morning,
12 about 9 o'clock, two buses came to the village of
13 Visnjica, and they rounded up all the Muslims, they
14 forced them out of their houses, those who were left,
15 the women and children, and we were all boarded onto
16 the buses, and we were driven off to Kiseljak. When
17 you come to the turning for Rotilj, the buses stopped.
18 Two policemen came in, and they put aside all the men,
19 whereas the women and children went on to the village
20 of Rotilj where there was a camp. We were taken off to
21 the so-called barracks, and we were there.
22 The younger men were selected for trench
23 digging. I was not forced to go, because I am an
24 elderly man. I was not forced to do that. They went
25 off daily to dig trenches, and from the 6th September
1 1993 until the 20th September 1993 I was in the
2 barracks, and then a car came, and the door of the room
3 I was in was opened. I did not count. There were
4 about 20, 25 or 30 of us there. I do not know how
5 many. I was called out, and taken to the car. I got
6 in, the door closed, and I was taken to Rotilj.
7 We got to where Atif Hodzic's mill was. The
8 car stopped there, the door was opened, and he just
9 said to me "look for accommodation for yourself". He
10 went off, he went back, and I stayed behind, and from
11 there I looked around for somewhere to stay. Wherever
12 you go and ask people it was all full, and at Sejo
13 Dzina's I found room in the basement. I asked Sejo,
14 "could I stay with you?", and he said, "you can, you
15 can". So I stayed in his basement.
16 MR. HARMON: Witness AA, before we turn your
17 attention to the events in Rotilj, I would like to stay
18 and ask you some questions briefly about the conditions
19 in the Kiseljak barracks where you and the other
20 Muslims were detained. Can you describe to the judges
21 with some degree of precision the conditions that
22 existed, how many people there were in the Kiseljak
23 barracks, how much food was given to each of the
24 detainees, what sleeping conditions and quarters were
25 available, whether anybody was killed in the process of
1 digging trenches, whether the ICRC came to visit you.
2 Could you please describe to the judges in some more
3 precision answers to those particular areas I have
5 A. I can. Yes. While I was in the barracks
6 from the 6th-20th September 1993, we were in rooms in
7 some rooms there were 20, in another, 30 people. I do
8 not know exactly. As for food itself, we would get one
9 loaf of bread of 750 grams which had to be shared
10 sometimes by 12, sometimes by 14 people for a day.
11 Then we get chicken liver paste, a small one, for four
12 people and that was all we were given. That is as far
13 as food is concerned. So it was poor in quality, and
14 terribly small in quantity.
15 Then the Red Cross came once, and we were
16 taken out of the rooms, into the corridors, and they
17 asked us, "do you have to work? What kind of food are
18 you given? What about sleeping conditions?". Some
19 people had a blanket, others did not have any. You
20 would put your shoes under your head, if you had any,
21 and that was it. When the Red Cross came and when they
22 asked us what the food was like, "are you forced to dig
23 trenches?", one of the people had the courage to say
24 that the food was poor. Whether he took that down or
25 not, I do not know. I did not see it, but when the Red
1 Cross left he was beaten up terribly badly for having
2 said that the food was no good. He was badly beaten
4 They were taken to dig trenches every day.
5 The younger men. I did not. I was not taken there.
6 I can tell you that straight away. I know who the
7 people were who went to dig trenches, and I know that
8 Hasan Karahmet was killed while digging trenches.
9 Another person who was wounded was Salko Sejdzic, and
10 Avdo Palalija. Those were the men who were wounded.
11 These two, whereas Hasan Karahmet was killed.
12 Q. Thank you, Witness AA. Now, if you could
13 please tell the judges about your experiences in the
14 village of Rotilj.
15 A. While I was in the village of Rotilj, from
16 20th September until 21st April 1994, while I was in
17 Rotilj the CARITAS organisation twice gave us 5 kilos
18 of flour each and a large tin of canned food and a soap
19 each. That was what we received until I was there,
20 that was the 21st or the 22nd April 1994. There was
21 very little food. What we ate most was potatoes.
23 In 1994 on the 20th April we heard over the
24 radio, Radio Kiseljak, that elderly people could go
25 visit their family. So I immediately reported at the
1 barricades and there Simo Komsic was there at the
2 checkpoint from the village of Borni, and he asked me,
3 "where are you going?". I said, "I heard last night
4 on the radio that elderly people could go visit their
5 family", and he said, "yes, yes, you are right"; "can I
6 go then, Simo?"; and he said, "go ahead, only you have
7 to go to the police first". So I went to Kiseljak, to
8 the police station. The man on duty asked me, "what
9 can I do for you?"
10 Q. Witness AA, before you relate the events of
11 leaving Rotilj, I would like to stay and have you
12 describe further to the judges the conditions in Rotilj
13 and specifically I would like you to describe to the
14 judges the accommodations that were available to the
15 Muslims, whether you were allowed -- whether Muslims
16 were allowed to leave the village, whether --
17 A. No, we were not allowed to go anywhere. You
18 could just walk around the village from one house to
19 another. You were allowed to walk around, but not
20 outside the village. You could not go anywhere.
21 As for accommodation, I told you, some people
22 had a cover given by their hosts or something to lie
23 down on, and that is how we lived. That was the
24 situation as it was while I was in Rotilj.
25 Q. Were the accommodations overcrowded?
1 A. Yes. There were up to 34 people in a single
2 room in one house. The house had one floor, so there
3 was nowhere to cook or to lie down. They would make
4 a fire outside and then somebody would make some kind
5 of a soup or stew, a vegetable stew, something like
7 Q. Was there electricity and heating in the
8 houses or was there no such luxury?
9 A. There was no heating. If you had some timber
10 you would light a fire. If you did not you just endure
11 the cold.
12 Q. Now, while you were in the village of Rotilj,
13 did the HVO come to the village every day and force
14 Muslims to dig trenches and engage in other forms of
15 forced labour?
16 A. Every day they would come. Every day. In
17 the morning, from 6.30 until 6.30 in the evening, when
18 they would be brought back. They were taken to dig
19 trenches every day, whether it was raining, whether it
20 was cold or not, regardless of the weather, they went
21 every day.
22 Q. Now, was it the HVO that would not let the
23 Muslims leave the village of Rotilj?
24 A. I do not know. You could not go anywhere.
25 It was not possible to go anywhere. Nor did you dare
1 go anywhere out of the village of Rotilj. Only if you
2 had an exchange arranged could you go.
3 Q. Can you tell the judges what the HVO did to
4 the livestock in the village and what they did to the
5 money that some of the Muslims possessed?
6 A. As for -- the whole village of Rotilj, there
7 was not a single head of cattle or any animals, chicken
8 or horses or cows. Nothing. They took everything.
9 Q. Were the Muslim occupants of the village of
10 Rotilj safe from physical attack while they were being
11 kept in the village of Rotilj, or were they assaulted?
12 A. They would come in the evening. In the
13 evening the HVO would come, looking for money, women.
14 There are people that they took money from. They did
15 not take any from me because I did not have any, but
16 they did come.
17 Q. Now, were you forced to engage in some form
18 of labour by the HVO?
19 A. Yes. Yes. I was forced by three or five
20 days, I do not recall exactly, in Kiseljak to dump
21 trash into a vehicle. On the 3rd January 1994 when
22 I was in Kresevo Visoko intersection, I could hear
23 a group of soldiers who were coming from the barracks.
24 When they approached there were eight soldiers in
25 uniform. One of them had an accordion on and was
1 playing it. Three others had guitars and played and
2 the others were shooting and singing and one of them,
3 whose nickname was Pijuk, had a head stuck on a pole
4 and they carried it. When I saw that, I had a heart
5 attack. I was taken to the doctor's. His name was
6 Pero Lovric and after that I was not taken to do any
7 kind of labour any more.
8 Q. Witness AA, the soldiers that were parading
9 around with the decapitated head on a pole, was this in
10 the centre of Kiseljak in the daytime or in the
12 A. Daytime. Daytime. They went through all of
13 Kiseljak. They carried it through all of the town.
14 I do not know where they brought it from, but they
15 brought it from Kresevo, from some place called Cimpeno
16 Brijek. I had never heard of this place before.
17 Q. Did you know or did you hear them say that
18 the head on the post belonged to a Muslim?
19 A. They said a balija. A Muslim.
20 Q. And did the soldiers that you saw parading
21 around the town, were they trying to conceal or trying
22 to hide that head from the public and from the police
23 and from others in the town, or were they quite proud
24 and did they display it quite openly?
25 A. Proudly. They went through all of Kiseljak
1 and they played music and they carried it and they shot
2 out of their weapons. Nothing was hidden.
3 Q. Did any of the authorities, either the
4 military authorities or the police authorities, stop
5 them, arrest them, confiscate the head from them?
6 A. I did not see that. I was taken to the
7 doctor's so I did not see whether they were stopped or
8 prevented from anything.
9 Q. All right. And then eventually, and you can
10 answer this with a yes or no answer, eventually you
11 left Rotilj with a pass that permitted you to go visit
12 relatives and you never then returned back to Rotilj.
13 Is that correct?
14 A. No, I did not. That is correct. When I went
15 to the police, when I asked whether I could go and
16 visit my family, I was told, I was asked, "when were
17 you born?", and I said, "in 1927", and they said, "you
18 can go for a visit"; "and where would you go?" I said
19 in the direction of Visoko. They said, "you cannot";
20 "how about Fojnica?". They said, "you cannot".
21 I said, "where can I go?". He then tells me
22 Kiseljak --
23 Q. Witness AA, based on those kind of
24 conversations then you left the Kiseljak municipality
25 and never returned. Is that correct?
1 A. No. That is correct. I never returned.
2 MR. HARMON: All right, Witness AA. Thank you
3 very much for your testimony.
4 Mr. President, I have concluded my examination
5 of Witness AA.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much,
7 Prosecutor. I suppose you want this document to be
8 tendered into evidence?
9 MR. HARMON: That has already been tendered
10 into evidence, Mr. President, that is Exhibit 75.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Fine. I am now turning to the
12 Defence and Mr. Nobilo.
13 Cross-examined by MR. NOBILO
14 Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning,
15 Witness AA. I would like to ask you, regarding the
16 village of Visnjica, how many Croatian and how many
17 Muslim homes were there, approximately?
18 A. I do not know. It was all mixed. I never
19 counted how many of each there were, but it was all
20 mixed. There were more Muslim than Croatian.
21 Q. You said today that there were 10-15-20
22 soldiers in your village. However, earlier you gave
23 a statement and you said that there were 30 people in
24 that unit.
25 A. Excuse me, I do not recall, because I was not
1 a member of the Territorial Defence, or any army, so
2 I did not count them, and so I could not clarify it for
3 you. I simply do not know.
4 Q. But do you remember saying that there were 30
5 soldiers when you talked to the investigators of the
7 A. It could have been 20 or 30, 25. I did not
8 count them.
9 Q. Tell me, before this conflict, did refugees
10 from Bilalovac, from the village of Pozetva near Konjic
11 come to live in your village?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. How many, approximately?
14 A. I do not know exactly how many from Pozetva,
15 but I know that there was one man with his family.
16 Q. And did any -- the Muslims come from eastern
17 Bosnia, from Foca?
18 A. The one who was from Visegrad, he came to
19 visit his family as a member of the family.
20 Q. But were there other Muslims who were there
21 as refugees in your village?
22 A. Yes, there were some from Rakovica.
23 Q. And do you remember that in July of 1993 some
24 expelled Croats came from Fojnica, about 5,000 Croats
25 in that area?
1 A. 5,000? That I do not recall.
2 Q. But this is in July of 1993 from Fojnica.
3 A. I do not know the number which arrived.
4 Q. Do you know how many soldiers Croats had in
5 your village?
6 A. I do not know.
7 Q. Can you tell me exactly in April 1993 when
8 the fighting started, when was it that it started, and
9 when did the HVO enter the village, just so that we can
10 clarify this?
11 A. The fighting started on 19th April 1993.
12 I first saw the HVO soldiers with weapons entering at
13 dusk on the 19th, some of them, and then on the
14 20th they all came in.
15 Q. And when did the fighting start?
16 A. At 5 o'clock in the morning.
17 Q. You said that before dusk on the 19th that
18 Muslim civilians pulled out and later the TO soldiers
19 pulled out of the village. Can you tell me in which
20 direction they went?
21 A. They went towards Crnjici in the Kresevo
23 Q. Do you know, the silo in your village when
24 you mentioned, in January of 1993, a Muslim called
25 Fejzic erected a barricade there and controlled the
1 entrance to the village.
2 A. I know about the silo but I do not know who
3 erected the barricade.
4 Q. But was there a barricade?
5 A. Yes, but it was a little bit above the silo,
6 about 40 metres.
7 Q. It was manned by the TO members?
8 A. Muslims? No.
9 Q. So who was manning it? Who was controlling
11 A. It was the HVO.
12 Q. You mentioned Begovic, the man from Visegrad
13 and so on, which were buried in that cemetery. Do you
14 know under what circumstances were they killed? Did you
15 see that? Or did you hear about it?
16 A. I did not see how they were killed. I only
17 saw how Bajro Palavlija was killed.
18 Q. Yes. You answered that.
19 A. The others I did not see being killed.
20 Q. You said that this HVO commander was driving
21 in a white Lada. How do you know it was stolen?
22 A. I know who it was stolen from. Ibrahim
24 Q. You mentioned Rotilj and you said that it was
25 a camp?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Did this camp have some kind of a fence
3 around it which prevented people from leaving? How do
4 you conclude that it was a camp?
5 A. I concluded because I could not leave the
6 village, because there was the army, the military was
7 all around, so I could not leave.
8 Q. You said that the person, nickname Pijuk, was
9 carrying this head on a pole.
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Do you know whether he was a member of
12 Maturica, which was a unit there?
13 A. I do not know, but Maturica -- I do not know
14 the last name. He was from Brnjak, so I cannot tell
15 you the last name.
16 Q. But you know that he belonged to the
17 Maturica unit?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Have you ever seen Tihomil Blaskic? Do you
20 know anything about him?
21 A. I never saw him. I do not know him at all.
22 Q. Do you know that he is on trial here?
23 A. I do not know that. I do not know anything
24 about him. I do not know him, he does not know me.
25 I cannot say anything about him.
1 Q. But are you aware that he is on trial here
3 A. I do not know that.
4 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, your Honour, this
5 completes the cross-examination.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Do you want to give some
8 Re-examined by MR. HARMON
9 Q. Yes. Witness AA, on your direct examination
10 you testified that the fighting in your village started
11 the morning of the 18th April 1993 and on
12 cross-examination, in response to one of Mr. Nobilo's
13 questions, you said that the fighting started on the
14 morning of the 19th of April 1993. Can you just think
15 for a minute, concentrate, and could you clarify that
16 point for us? Which day did it start? The 18th or the
18 A. The HVO attacked the village of Visnjica on
19 the 18th of April, and on the 19th, some entered the
20 village but not all of them.
21 MR. HARMON: Thank you very much, Witness
22 AA. I have no further questions.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Shahabuddeen, you do not
24 have any questions, do you? I do not either.
25 You have been very accurate, Witness AA, and
1 very thorough in your testimony relating these very
2 painful events, and the Tribunal wants to thank you for
3 coming here.
4 You now can go home. You can try and find
5 some peace and serenity. Do not move, please, for
6 a while. We are going to suspend the hearing and this
7 afternoon we are going to resume at 4 o'clock. Indeed,
8 we have ex parte proceedings, starting at quarter to
9 three. Thereafter we shall resume with the
10 testimonies, at 4 o'clock. Tomorrow afternoon, there
11 will be no hearing. I am saying this for the
12 interpreters' sake, so tomorrow, I would like to start,
13 if possible, at 9 o'clock, so that we can try and
14 finish by 12.30. I invite the Prosecutor to make sure
15 that the four witnesses do not have to spend the
16 weekend here in The Hague, if that can be done. Thank
17 you very much. The hearing is suspended.
18 (12.45 pm)
19 (Luncheon adjournment)
1 (5.30 pm)
2 (In Open Session)
3 JUDGE JORDA: Will you have the accused
4 brought in?
5 (The accused entered court)
6 First of all, I wish to reassure our fellow
7 interpreters I am not going to be a tyrant and I also
8 know that the accused has been waiting all afternoon,
9 so I thought we should at least start with the next
10 testimony. We will work until 6 o'clock, and tomorrow
11 we shall resume at 9.15 instead of 9 o'clock. So
12 without further ado, Mr. Prosecutor, you have the
14 MR. HARMON: Thank you. Good afternoon,
15 Mr. President, your Honours, and counsel.
16 The next witness is a protected witness.
17 Mr. President, he has requested visual distortion and
18 a pseudonym. He will go by the pseudonym of BB.
19 Witness BB is a Bosnian Muslim who resided in
20 Busovaca in the municipality of --
21 JUDGE JORDA: Why do you not have AB?
22 I thought it would be AB in the sequence. So are you
23 going to have BB, CC and as follows? I mean it is not
24 very relevant, but it is your choice.
25 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, I follow the
1 wishes of the Registrar. I was told it was BB and I am
2 happy to comply.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Fine. So Mr. MD will do as you
4 wish, so as to Witness BB, go ahead.
5 MR. HARMON: Witness BB is a Bosnian Muslim
6 who is from Busovac municipality, from the village of
7 Jelinak. He will testify, Mr. President, about four
8 items. The first item he will testify about is that in
9 January of 1993, the HVO disarmed the residents of the
10 village of Jelinak and assured them that they would be
11 protected if they surrendered those weapons.
12 Secondly, he will testify about events which
13 occurred on the 15th April 1993, when he and other
14 Muslims from the village of Jelinak were arrested and
15 taken to the Kaonik camp.
16 Thirdly, he will testify that he was held in
17 detention in the Kaonik camp from 15th April until
18 19th June 1993, and he will describe the conditions
19 under which he was kept by the HVO, and he will
20 identify a large number of locations, where he and
21 other Bosnian male civilians were forced to dig
23 Lastly, he will testify about seeing Dario
24 Kordic in the camp at some point in time during his
1 Those are the areas, a summary of what he
2 will testify about. The counts in the indictment,
3 Mr. President, Judge Shahabuddeen, are count 1 of the
4 indictment, persecution, paragraph 6.4, 6.5, inhumane
5 treatment of civilians, paragraph 6.7, forcible
6 transfer of civilians.
7 Then counts 15 and 16, the inhumane or cruel
8 treatment of detainees, paragraphs 13 and 14. Counts
9 17 and 18, hostages which is paragraph 15, counts 19
10 and 20, human shields which is paragraph 16. That
11 concludes my opening remarks, Mr. President.
12 JUDGE JORDA: I have written all that down,
13 so I will be watching you. You mentioned four items.
14 So let us have the witness in. Witness BB. So is he
15 voice protected or is it only the face?
16 MR. HARMON: Just the face, Mr. President, not
17 the voice.
18 (The witness entered court)
19 JUDGE JORDA: Fine. Thank you very much.
20 We can start.
21 Can you hear me now? The presiding judge is
22 speaking to you. Can you hear me?
23 A. Yes, I can hear.
24 JUDGE JORDA: You are going to be called
25 Witness BB, but before that, you are going to identify
1 your name but not speak it out. Identify your name on
2 the document handed in by the Registrar. Is that your
4 A. Yes.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Now you are going
6 to swear the oath in your own language. You can read
7 out the oath. Go ahead.
8 WITNESS BB (sworn).
9 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much. You
10 agree to coming here on behalf of the Prosecutor in the
11 trial against General Blaskic who is here present
12 today. You have some preliminary questions asked by
13 the Prosecutor in order to identify you, without you
14 having to identify the hidden elements, and the
15 Tribunal agreed to the protective measures concerning
16 you. You are going to mention four items, the fact
17 that the HVO disarmed the inhabitants of Jelinak, then
18 you are going to speak to the Kaonik camp and the
19 conditions in which you were kept after you were
20 arrested, and also in which conditions you saw Dario
21 Kordic, although I recall that this is not the trial
22 against Kordic but against General Blaskic.
23 So you have fifteen minutes for your
24 preliminary questions, but the witness will come
25 tomorrow again, but we will start with the testimony
1 today now.
2 You go ahead, Prosecutor.
3 Examined by MR. HARMON
4 Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon,
5 Witness BB.
6 A. Good afternoon.
7 Q. Let me ask you some preliminary questions.
8 First of all, how old are you?
9 A. 31.
10 Q. Are you a Bosnian citizen?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Are you a Muslim by faith?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. In 1993, April, of that month, did you live
15 in Busovaca municipality in the village of Jelinak?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And in fact you lived on the outskirts of
18 that village, did you not?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. In April of 1993 were you a member of the
21 Territorial Defence?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Now, I would like to ask you, I am going to
24 ask you about four sets of questions. The first is
25 dealing with the January 1993 ultimatum and surrender
1 of weapons by Muslims from the village of Jelinak, and
2 in your own words, could you please tell the judges the
3 circumstances under which the Muslims of Jelinak
4 surrendered their weapons?
5 A. Yes. In January when the -- before the
6 conflict I was supposed to go to my company to pick up
7 my salary cheque, but however, I heard strong powerful
8 explosions, and the shooting and I was -- I did not
9 dare go there. The shooting was coming closer and
10 closer to where I was, so that I started feeling fear.
11 There were some people came, Muslims, and they said
12 that we should have a meeting in the village of
13 Jelinak. I went over there and the meeting was about
14 the surrender of weapons. I did not know what it was,
15 but they just said, "surrender of weapons". Then I saw
16 that a certain Mario came. I do not recall his last
17 name. He said to surrender weapons, and that they
18 would guarantee safety. Again, the meeting resumed.
19 We did not know what to do. Most of the people agreed
20 to surrender weapons, and myself and a certain Jasmin
21 did not want to surrender them. He had an automatic
22 rifle which was issued to him in Zenica. It belonged
23 to the Territorial Defence, that is the...
24 And with me it was a bit different. During
25 the fighting around Maglij with the Serbs I found this
1 in a Serbian house and it was something that we called
2 a "kubura". Then I saw Mario arriving with another
3 two soldiers in a car, I do not know what make it was.
4 There was a small quantity of weapons that displayed on
5 the roadside. I started home. I was stopped at
6 a point called Meraja. I was stopped by the HVO
7 soldiers. They told me that supposedly I had to have
8 some kind of a certificate to -- or let us say a pass
9 from one point to another. I knew that I never needed
10 one before, and then Stipo Andrijasevic came. He was
11 also a local villager from the Jelinak. He was a local
12 commander. Then he said, "there is no problem here,
13 you can let him pass". I am sorry.
14 Then he told me that we did well, and then
15 I saw the village of Kovacevac, which was in flames.
16 This was already towards the dusk. In his words, we
17 would be safe, however I did not trust those words very
18 much, and as I said, he told me that we did well to
19 have surrendered the weapons, because otherwise we
20 would fared the same as the village of Kovacevac.
21 I did not comment on this. I just went home.
22 Q. Witness BB, let me ask you a couple of
23 questions of clarification. You mentioned a man by the
24 name of Mario. Mario coming with two other men. Was
25 Mario an HVO soldier, and how was he dressed?
1 A. He was wearing a camouflage uniform with
2 insignia on the -- the HVO insignia on the left hand,
3 and he had an automatic rifle, several rockets and he
4 had one combat set, combat kit. They were shooting at
5 villages of Merdani and Putis. I was alone in the
6 house. My mother was at Jelinak in the village with
7 her mother. My brother and sister. In fact, the
8 youngest brother too had left the Jelinak village.
9 They went to Nemila, which is beyond Zenica.
10 Q. Now let me ask you, Witness BB, you said you
11 left the village of Jelinak. You were stopped by Stipo
12 Andrijasevic or some soldiers at a location called
13 Meraja. How many soldiers were at that location,
14 Meraja and how were they dressed?
15 A. There were about 30 soldiers there. I do not
16 recall the exact number, but around that number.
17 I noticed that three soldiers had, "HV", insignia
18 whereas those who were from the Busovaca municipality
19 had the HVO insignia so that meant to me that this was
20 the Croatian army, but there was also some -- there
21 were also some troops from Herzegovina there. And
22 later I heard that indeed, a number of these soldiers
23 took part.
24 I also heard -- there were some murders in
25 the area of Kula. I heard during the truce, that
1 a brother of my professor, Ismet Medjuseljac, was
2 killed and also some other people.
3 Q. Now, let me turn your attention to April
4 15th 1993. Could you please tell the judges about the
5 circumstances of your arrest, and the arrest of other
6 Muslims from the village of Jelinak?
7 A. On 15th April the shooting started around
8 6.30-7.00 pm. At that time I was in the village of
9 Loncari. When I heard the shooting I started to go
10 home, and before that I saw on television that
11 a certain name called Totic had disappeared.
12 I personally did not know him, and I am not sure
13 whether this was true or not. So, I came home. I only
14 managed to have some coffee and somebody was already
15 knocking at the door. My sister came out, came back in
16 tears, said, "some soldiers are looking for you".
17 I came out. I could not recognise them because they
18 had masks like stockings over their heads. Some had
19 knit caps with just holes cut out for breathing and
20 around them for eyes. I only recognised Pero.
21 I cannot recall his name exactly. And somebody called
22 Predo. He was a member of the MUP in Busovaca, and
23 Pero was a neighbour in the village of Jelinak.
24 Predo addressed me. He said something to the
25 effect that we needed to go to Busovaca to have
1 a conversation with Ivica Andrijasevic, son of Stipo,
2 because Ivica was some kind of commander. We went with
3 him. My brother was captured too. So we came down to
4 the road below our house, then they started, they went
5 to other houses so that they could get more men who
6 were at their homes, but however, most of them were not
7 around any more. Some of them had hidden, some of them
8 had left. They got Nesib Osmancevic, Adil, and Kadir,
9 who is a disabled person. He walked under his own
10 power. He told me that there were other local
11 villagers hidden in the basement of his house, so he
12 immediately walked out and they aborted looking any
13 further. They put us in a vehicle, and took us to the
14 barracks of the -- or the former barracks at Kaonik.
15 There they immediately searched us. They lined us up
16 against a wall facing the wall, and we had to put our
17 arms up and with our fingers spread out against
18 a wall.
19 Q. Witness BB, before we go into the events that
20 took place at Kaonik, we only have a couple of minutes
21 left and let me ask you a couple of questions of
22 clarification on what you have just testified about.
23 The men who arrested you at your home,
24 arrested you and your brother and the others, were they
25 HVO soldiers?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. How were they dressed?
3 A. Camouflage uniforms with the HVO insignia.
4 Q. And you identified a number of people who
5 were arrested, you named them. Were the people who
6 were arrested all Muslim males?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Were the areas where you saw the HVO soldiers
9 arresting these Muslims, was it on the road between
10 Jelinak and the main road, the houses along that road
11 between the main road and Jelinak?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. How many HVO soldiers came to your house to
14 arrest you?
15 A. Five or six soldiers.
16 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, 6 o'clock, I have
17 concluded at this point my examination.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Well, congratulations,
19 Mr. Harmon, because you timed that well, and you are
20 absolutely concise. I do not often congratulate you so
21 I had better do it now. It is the purpose of your
22 butting in, indeed, you have made it clear and
23 tomorrow, this is for the interpreters, we shall start
24 at 9.15 only. Thank you very much. The hearing is
1 (6.00 pm)
2 (Hearing adjourned)