1 Tuesday, 17 March 1998
3 (The accused entered court)
4 (In closed session) [Confidentiality lifted by order of Chamber]
5 JUDGE JORDA: First, I want to say good
6 afternoon to the interpreters and ask me whether they
7 hear me? They do. We can continue.
8 Mr Harmon, the floor is yours. This is going
9 to be a busy week. We will try to organise a status
10 conference. You had some scheduling concerns. We will
11 try to do everything we can. The Trial Chamber has
12 other cases that it is hearing as well. I have a
13 status conference tomorrow in the Kordic case. There
14 are motions that were filed by the Defence, which
15 should not be discussed here. We have to review them.
16 All of this means that we have to try to keep speeding
17 up, as much as possible, the witnesses, but without
18 prejudice to the rights of the Defence or to the
20 Mr Harmon, I now give you the floor to
21 continue the testimony of Mr Mesic.
22 MR. HARMON: Yes, if Mr Mesic could be brought
23 in, Mr President, I will continue.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Can I have the witness brought
25 in, please?
1 (The witness entered court)
2 JUDGE JORDA: Mr Mesic, good afternoon. Are
3 you rested, are you feeling well?
4 A. Very well, thank you.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Mr Harmon.
6 STJEPAN MESIC (continued)
7 Examined by MR. HARMON (continued).
8 Q. Good afternoon, Mr Mesic. Let me first of
9 all ask you, could you describe to the judges when you
10 met Franjo Tudjman and could you describe your social
11 and professional relationship with him?
12 A. I had the honour to meet Franjo Tudjman
13 earlier -- that was in 1970 or before 1970, but this
14 was at Matica Hrvatska and we did not really associate
15 specifically at that time. I came to know him better
16 during the Croatian Spring, and even better
17 subsequently, after we returned from the prison -- we
18 would find ourselves in social circles which were --
19 which happened because of certain birthdays or some
20 other social occasions, because we could not call these
21 meetings political meetings, but we found ways to
22 meet. We were all leaders of the Croatian Spring, then
23 the generals who retired from the service in the former
24 JNA due to Croatian nationalism and in such circles
25 Franjo Tudjman would also be there very frequently.
1 I do not know what else you may be
2 interested, in that regard, in regard of our
4 Q. Mr Mesic, as part of the Government both of
5 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in
6 Government in the Republic of Yugoslavia, did you have
7 contacts with Franjo Tudjman, and can you describe
8 those contacts, the frequency of contacts, the type,
9 the nature of those contacts, please?
10 A. During these occasions when we met, we would
11 discuss the topical events of that particular point in
12 time. We analysed the situation in the former
13 Yugoslavia, in Croatia, we analysed what was going on
14 in the world, and we would try to forecast what the
15 situation was going to look like, where it was going to
16 go and what we could do in that regard, and I need to
17 say, with respect to Franjo Tudjman, he always took
18 part in such discussions, but he was not easy to talk
19 with, because he did not very well tolerant the
20 differences in views. He was not a pleasant collocateur
21 -- he was very hard in his positions.
22 Q. Mr Mesic, during your contacts with President
23 Tudjman, did he ever express his views in respect of
24 Bosnia, and, if he did, could you tell the judges what
25 his views were?
1 A. I think that one can read on that in his
2 books, but, to put it succinctly, in these discussions
3 and elsewhere, and when speaking in public, his
4 position was that, after World War II, it was a big
5 mistake to have created Bosnia as a republic. He
6 believed that Bosnia should not have been structured in
7 such a way as a separate republic, but that, instead,
8 it should have been dealt with like Kosovo and
9 Vojvodina, which were annexed to Serbia. He thought
10 that the best course of action would have been for the
11 Bosniaks, given their origin, because it is believed
12 that they are for the most part Croats, so it would
13 have been best that Bosnia should have been annexed to
14 Croatia, but that some modality should have been found
15 in that respect, so Bosnia should have been associated
16 with Croatia.
17 Q. Were the views that he expressed to you about
18 the annexing of Bosnia to Croatia, were those long held
19 views, firmly held views?
20 A. I think that his initial positions were
21 really a critique of the Communist leadership, which
22 had allowed that Bosnia be created as a separate
23 entity, that is, a constituent part of Yugoslavia, so
24 at first, during our conversation, it did not come out
25 that this position should have been changed. Even
1 after Croatia became independent, this idea was not
2 really tabled about the restructuring of Bosnia and
3 Herzegovina. You could only glean that from certain
4 statements regarding the very strange shape of
5 Croatia. It was considered that this shape of Croatia,
6 which looks like a crescent -- it was considered that
7 certain parts are missing, but there were no serious
8 discussions in which way the position of Bosnia should
9 be changed. But, as time went by, and if Yugoslavia
10 was going to disappear and it was a multi-national
11 State, how Bosnia was going to survive as a
12 multi-national State. It was believed that it would be
13 very difficult to keep it alive and these were
14 positions that were then expressed publicly, but also
15 it was something that was discussed in inner circles as
17 Q. In those discussions, both publicly and in
18 inner circles, did he express a view that parts of
19 Bosnia, historically, belonged to Croatia?
20 A. I believed that Tudjman's position was that
21 the best position for Croatia and for the entire area
22 was the solution from 1938, which was Banovina Croatia
23 and the borders of the Banovina were defined then.
24 However, this Banovina never really fully came alive,
25 because of the World War II -- the process was
1 interrupted and now, obviously, part of this Banovina
2 was now within the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me. This was 1938 --
4 you mean 1938, right?
5 A. Yes, it was at that time that the Banovina
6 was created in 1938, but then World War II came and
7 Banovina never fully came alive. Then, after World War
8 II, Yugoslavia was recreated, but now not as a unitary
9 State but as a Federal State, which comprised Serbia,
10 Croatia and then Macedonia, Slovenia and Montenegro as
11 well and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
12 MR. HARMON: His views were the territory that
13 was comprised in the Banovina should be annexed to or
14 absorbed into Croatia; is that correct?
15 A. Yes, his position was that this would have
16 been logical, because there would have been fewer
17 conflicts this way.
18 Q. Now, did he ever express to you, either in
19 your discourse socially or in your business
20 communications, his views about Muslims in Bosnia, and
21 could you explain what those views were?
22 A. I believe that his positions are fairly well
23 known, that is, with respect to the Bosniak Muslims.
24 He thought that they were Croats by origin, that they
25 converted to Islam during the Turkish occupation.
1 However, as the situation developed, after the
2 independence of Croatia, I believe that there were some
3 unclear points. If they were Croats by origin, I think
4 that we should have cooperated more closely with them,
5 because we were both the victims of the same
6 aggression. However, later, the conflict broke out
7 between the Croats and Muslims, which was damaging to
8 these victims of the aggression.
9 Q. Did he ever express his views about Alija
11 A. I am personally familiar with Alija
12 Izetbegovic because we both formed the Defence counsel
13 in the former system. I must say Alija Izetbegovic is
14 a wise man, but he is not a person who is skilled in
15 politics -- he is not a dominating person. He entered
16 politics -- he was catapulted into the politics.
17 I think that he did not have such clear ideas at first
18 and I think Franjo Tudjman was aware of this, so that
19 he could approach Alija Izetbegovic with more, how
20 shall I put it -- you know, he is a general, after all,
21 but he treated him in a way that is not really
22 appropriate -- he treated him as if he did not know
23 enough about politics, so he was a bit condescending to
25 Q. And so General Tudjman essentially was -- let
1 me ask you a different question. Mr Mesic, President
2 Tudjman was in fact a former general in the JNA; is
3 that correct?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And what you are saying is that that tempered
6 his views towards Mr Izetbegovic?
7 A. I do not think that he had kind of moderate
8 views to Izetbegovic. I think that he may have
9 underestimated Alija Izetbegovic, because he did not
10 really appear to him as a politician. At first, maybe
11 he did not, but he was a smart man. He found himself
12 in this situation. He was elected to President of the
13 Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina at a time when -- at
14 the height of the aggression against
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina. He had no defence mechanisms at
16 his disposal, so that he may have made moves that were
17 incomprehensible to Tudjman, but on the other hand the
18 situation of Alija Izetbegovic was very difficult. To
19 me, it was really a situation that offered no good
21 Q. Mr Mesic, can you describe a meeting that
22 took place between President Tudjman and President
23 Milosevic -- that took place in 1991 at Karadordevo .
24 Can you tell the judges what you know about that
25 meeting and what the ramifications of that meeting were
1 in respect of Croatian policy toward Bosnia?
2 A. I think that this meeting at Karadordevo was
3 sort of a turning point -- when the policy was changed
4 -- the policy, when it was first believed that there
5 was no Bosnia without Croatia and vice versa, and after
6 this meeting, what was taken into account was the
7 initial successes of Serbia. I must say that this was
8 at first tolerated by the European entities and I think
9 that the observers may have perceived that Bosnia was
10 finished and that it was doomed and I think that it was
11 from this situation that Tudjman was drawing his
13 As far as the meeting at Karadordevo itself
14 is concerned, at that time I was a member of the
15 Presidency of Yugoslavia and, in discussions with Bora
16 Jovic, who was the Serb representative in the
17 Presidency in Yugoslavia, I said, "We in Croatia have
18 information that the Serb villages," that is, the
19 villages mostly populated by the Serbs "are being
20 armed; that they are being armed by the JNA" -- which
21 was becoming more and more Serb, because we must
22 bear in mind that Yugoslavia functioned and it had
23 three integrating factors. One was Tito and his
24 charisma; one was JNA; and one was the Communist League
25 -- the Communist Party that is. While these three
1 elements were around, Yugoslavia could functions fairly
2 successfully. Once Tito disappeared from the scene,
3 and after Milosevic destroyed the Communist Party,
4 which was Yugoslav but mostly dominated by the Serbs,
5 he then took control of the JNA so that the JNA became
6 dominated by Milosevic and put itself in his service.
7 This is why out of their depots the Serb
8 population was being armed. I told Bora Jovic, the
9 Serb President in the Presidency, that we have this
10 information, that it was a suicidal policy on the part
11 of Serbs in Croatia as well as the Serbs overall and
12 that, in any ensuing conflict, they will lose the most,
13 because 10 per cent of the Serb population cannot
14 resist the 90 per cent, because then the Croats would
15 arm themselves and a catastrophe would ensue and the
16 most damage will befall the Serbs. I asked them what
17 did they want. He said that they were not interested
18 in the Serbs in Croatia, that they were our citizens,
19 that we could do whatever we wanted with them and that
20 they were also not interested in the Croatian
21 territories, that is the territories of the Croatian
22 State. I said, "Well, what are you interested in?" He
23 said then that they were interested in Serbia in
24 66 per cent of Bosnia. He said this used to be Serbia
25 and this will remain Serb.
1 Since they were not interested in Croatia,
2 that is the Croatian territory, or the Serbs in
3 Croatia, then I said, "Why do we not sit down? Why do
4 we not try to avoid a war? People are being armed and
5 everything and everything could blow up. There is no
6 need to shed blood if we can sit down and resolve
7 things at the table." He said that he agreed, but he
8 needed to talk to Slobodan Milosevic. I said
9 that I would talk to Tudjman and I said, "Why do not
10 the four of us sit down at the table and see what the
11 problems of the Serbs in Croatia were so that we could
12 resolve things without any armed conflict, because we
13 have an opportunity to do so".
14 I knew that there was such an opportunity,
15 because, as a Prime Minister in 1990, I attempted to
16 establish contacts with the representatives of the
17 municipalities where the population was Serb -- the
18 majority of the population was Serb, and at that time
19 all these representatives wanted to discuss, with the
20 exception of Milan Babic, who was the president of the
21 municipality in Knin. He was directly in contact with
22 Belgrade and he personally forbid this contact. But
23 I could see that people did want peaceful resolution of
24 the problem, and I also said that the Bosnian problem
25 should be resolved on an international level, that it
1 should be internationalised, that it should be resolved
2 through the UN, but that we should do everything to
3 avoid a war.
4 Since Slobodan Milosevic agreed to the
5 meeting and he said that we could meet anywhere,
6 State-side or abroad, then I went to Zagreb and
7 I talked to Franjo Tudjman and told him that these two
8 men were agreeable and was he agreeable that we should
9 all sit down and he said that he was. Then I expected
10 this call to see when we could organise this meeting.
11 However, Tudjman, at one point, told us that
12 he was going to go to Karadordevo alone -- this was on
13 30 March of 1991 -- that he wanted to see what they
14 wanted. I objected to Karadordevo, because Tito held
15 the 21st session there of the Communist Party and this
16 is when the Croatian Spring was broken, so I said, "We
17 should not go to this place because we have bad
18 memories relating to it". He said it did not matter
19 where we meet; it is more important to find out what
20 they wanted. Tudjman came back from Karadordevo that
21 same day and he told us that the army was not going to
22 attack us, that he had guarantees of Veljoko Kadijevic,
23 who was the Chief-of-Staff, and of Milosevic, and that
24 it would be difficult for Bosnia to survive, that we
25 could get borders of the Banovina.
1 Tudjman also said that Milosevic, sort of in
2 a gesture of largesse -- that Croatia could take
3 Cazin, Kladusa and Bihac, because this was the
4 so-called Turkish Croatia and the Serbs did not need
5 it. I thought Milosevic was really dolling out foreign
6 territories and I said this would end up in
7 catastrophe. I objected and this is why I was later
8 given a lot of grief for that, but then I also said
9 that there would be a short war in Slovenia, a longer
10 one in Croatia and that Bosnia would be awash in blood
11 and, unfortunately, I seem to have been right on all
12 these counts.
13 Q. Mr Mesic, from that day forward, did Croatian
14 policy vis-à-vis Bosnia change? Was there in fact a
15 dual policy then from Croatia towards Bosnia?
16 A. The Croatian public policy always proceeded
17 from the position that Bosnia was a State, that it was
18 unified, and that Croatia was the first to have
19 recognised Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, in objective
20 terms, taking into account everything that happened
21 subsequently, when Milosevic created a Serb republic
22 within the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Croats
23 formed the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, which
24 later became the Republic of Herceg-Bosna, it became
25 clear that this did not consolidate Bosnia-Herzegovina,
1 but, on the contrary, it undermined it, especially
2 since, after a certain period of time, Fikret Abdic
3 appeared on the scene and proclaimed the autonomy of
4 western Bosnia -- the area of Cazin, Kladusa and
6 Therefore, on the one hand, we had a public
7 expression of determination to support a unified Bosnia
8 on the part of Croatia, whereas, in fact, we were
9 following in Milosevic's footsteps, because of what
10 Milosevic had done, and this was fatal precisely for
11 the Croats, because, due to it, 850,000 Croats -- the
12 majority of 850,000 Croats have moved from
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina so that there are only about 350,000
14 left in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
15 Q. So, after President Tudjman returned from the
16 meeting at Karadordevo with President Milosevic, he
17 informed you that Bosnia would be partitioned --
18 partitioned between Croatia and partitioned between
19 Serbia; is that correct?
20 A. Roughly, from what he said, one could deduce
21 that Bosnia could not survive, that we would be given
22 the borders of the former Banovina plus Kladusa and
23 Bihac -- Cazin and Bihac. That was the conclusion that
24 could be drawn from what he said. Of course, nothing
25 was said to the effect that there was a written
1 document about it, or a written contract. That was not
3 Q. Mr Mesic, could you tell the judges about any
4 mapping commissions that were then set up between the
5 Serbs and the Croats to agree on the boundary lines of
6 a divided Bosnia?
7 A. I think that, at the time, there was no
8 debate about the Croat and Serb territories in
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina, but there is no doubt that
10 something started to happen which was not revealed to
11 the public, namely, we were at war with Serbia, and, to
12 me, it seemed abnormal for Serb and Croatian
13 delegations to visit one another and especially during
14 those visits a debate to be conducted on the territory
15 of a third State, i.e., of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Reports
16 reached me that there were people assigned to dealing
17 with this problem of maps, geographical maps, to
18 delineate the areas of Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks.
19 On the Croatian side, several people
20 participated, but, after a couple of months, they would
21 give up the job, dissatisfied. Among them were
22 Professor Lerotic, Dusan Bilandzic and others, who
23 would abandon these talks, because they said, "This
24 simply cannot be done," because Bosnia-Herzegovina is
25 like a leopard skin -- the people are scattered
1 throughout the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, so that
2 there is not a single locality that is ethnically pure,
3 except for parts of Herzegovina, which could be said as
4 being more or less purely Croatian -- even compared
5 with areas in Croatia, there are few that are so
6 ethnically pure as western Herzegovina is.
7 Q. Mr Mesic, could you describe a meeting that
8 took place in Graz between Mate Boban and Radovan
9 Karadzic, that meeting that took place on 6 May 1992 --
10 can you tell the judges about that meeting, and what
11 Mr Boban told you following that particular meeting?
12 A. At the time I was president of the executive
13 board of the HDZ, and I was not informed about that
14 meeting -- at least, I was not informed about it
15 beforehand, and I learned about it having taken place
16 quite by chance. For me, it was an absolute surprise,
17 because there was a conflict between the Croats in
18 Bosnia, and Karadzic -- because he was an exponent of
19 Milosevic, we were at conflict with Serb policy and
20 then suddenly such a meeting was held in Graz.
21 Therefore, some time later I learned about that meeting
22 and I asked Mate Boban what he could tell me about that
23 meeting. He said, "Not much -- not much was signed at
24 the meeting, but at least we now know that the Croats
25 and Serbs have cleared up all dilemmas and no disputed
1 issues remain. There is absolutely no further reason
2 for conflict between the Serbs and Croats in
4 After some time -- again I happened to be at
5 President Tudjman's -- he asked me to stay for lunch.
6 At that luncheon, in addition to representatives of
7 Croats from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nikola Koljevic
8 appeared, too, who was at the time Vice-President of
9 the Serb Republic, and it so happened that he sat next
10 to me. We did not talk about Bosnia. He is a scholar
11 of Shakespeare, so we talked about Shakespeare; people
12 were shedding their blood in Bosnia-Herzegovina and he
13 spoke to me about Shakespeare.
14 Q. Mr Mesic, did you become aware after the
15 Karadordevo meeting and after the meeting in Graz that
16 cooperation between the Serbs and Croats in Bosnia was
17 in fact occurring? For example, did you learn about
18 the blockage of weapon supply to the siege of Sarajevo
19 by Bosnian Croats and did you learn about events
20 relating to Fikret Abdic's obtaining gasoline supplies
21 and supplying that to the Serbs and any other events
22 that would illustrate the increased cooperation between
23 the Serbs and the Croats in Bosnia? Could you describe
24 to those to the court, please?
25 A. As soon as the conflicts started between the
1 Muslims or the Bosniaks on the one side and the Croats
2 on the other, the assistance to the Bosnian army was
3 intercepted, because all that aid could only come from
4 Croatia. I must say that, at first, this cooperation
5 was good, but it worsened with time. I know a concrete
6 case, when -- he was not the imam of Zagreb, but I do
7 not exactly know his title -- anyway, Sefko Omerbasic
8 came to see me with a group of Muslims and said they
9 had collected weapons and sent it, escorted by the
10 Croatian army to Sarajevo, but that those weapons did
11 not reach Sarajevo but were detained in Busovaca and
12 that it was still in Busovaca, even the soldiers were
13 still there, and this had been done by Dario Kordic.
14 I called up Mate Boban and asked him to
15 intervene, to let this shipment pass, because
16 I realised that if Sarajevo is not defended, Bosnia
17 would fall, and then the survival of Croatia would be
18 in jeopardy.
19 Mate Boban told me that he could not exert
20 any influence over Dario Kordic, if he refused to do
21 that, and then I joked and said, "What should be done?"
22 He said, "Kill him". Following this joke, Tudjman
23 called me after a short time and asked me, "Did you
24 give instructions for Kordic to be killed?" I said,
25 "no, I was joking, but some pressure had to be brought
1 to bear on them. Both of them are in the HDZ. This
2 one is his superior so the problem has to be resolved".
3 How it was eventually resolved in concrete terms, I do
4 not know.
5 As for the gas or the petrol, I think that
6 Fikret Abdic had a double-track policy. One was his
7 communication with Croatia through which he could only
8 receive the goods that he purchased abroad, including
9 oil. What he did after that with the oil -- surely he
10 could not have consumed all that he purchased himself,
11 but at the same time he was cooperating with Belgrade
12 and he appeared at the same time in both Zagreb and in
13 Belgrade, and, finally, he established cooperation with
14 Karadzic and, together with his forces, he attacked
15 Bihac, when the very survival of Bihac was at risk,
16 which meant the survival of parts of Bosnia. And
17 I think that Croatia played a positive role in that
18 particular instance, and this part of Bosnia was saved.
19 Q. Mr Mesic, can you inform the judges what
20 President Tudjman's view and what Slobodan Milosevic's
21 view was in respect of shifting populations and what
22 impact that would have on the division of Bosnia?
23 A. Since I was Belgrade and had occasion to meet
24 with Slobodan Milosevic quite a number of times,
25 I think I can say, with objectivity,
1 that I comprehended his policy. I realised what it was
2 he wanted. Actually, when he was withholding the
3 autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina, he proceeded from the
4 position that Serbia must be unified, that it must not
5 consist of three parts, and, in doing so, he was also
6 undermining Yugoslavia, because, as I said yesterday,
7 he was not interested in any kind of Yugoslavia,
8 federal or confederal.
9 This can be corroborated by the fact that we,
10 in Croatia and Slovenia, had proposed a confederal
11 model for a limited time of 3 to 5 years to see how it
12 would work and if it worked, we could go on together.
13 If not, we would part ways, but things would be decided
14 similarly to the Czechs and the Slovaks. Milosevic
15 obviously wanted something else. We see now the
16 results of his policy. He wanted a greater Serbia, he
17 wanted to extend the borders, and to take advantage of
18 the collapse of Yugoslavia, to extend the borders of
19 Serbia. However, his model included a policy of
20 genocide, because he not only wanted a greater Serbia,
21 but he wanted a purely Serb Serbia, and that is why his
22 squadrons of death destroyed and killed everything they
23 came across. They destroyed Catholic churches, Muslim
24 mosques -- they simply wanted to erase all traces of
25 other ethnic groups having lived in the areas through
1 which his armies passed.
2 The world was rather tolerant towards this
3 policy of Milosevic's, and I assume that Tudjman drew
4 the conclusion from this that the world wanted a
5 division of Bosnia-Herzegovina and he obviously played
6 the card of expanding his own borders, because he
7 stated on a number of occasions that what we were
8 holding by force of arms, when the war ended, sooner or
9 later, it would belong to us.
10 He was not very explicit. He did not say
11 that this would be Croatia. He said it would be
12 "ours". This could be interpreted as being Croatia,
13 or Croatian territory over which the Croats would have
14 certain privileges or priority. So, I think this is up
15 to us to make our own conclusions, because he was not
16 quite explicit.
17 We can see what was really wanted from Hrvoje
18 Sarinic, who was chief of cabinet of President Tudjman,
19 who said in public that he went to meet with Milosevic
20 13 times, that he travelled to Belgrade while we were
21 waging war -- a fierce war against the Serbs and he
22 said that Serbia must emerge from the war as the small
23 greater Serbia; in other words, the maximum ambitions
24 of Serbia would not come true, but that what one could
25 expect and what would be normal is for Serbia to make
1 some territorial gains after this war.
2 Therefore, if it was acceptable that, at the
3 expense of a third party, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia
4 should emerge enlarged in terms of territory, how then
5 could it be assumed that a little of that territory
6 would not belong to Croatia as well?
7 Q. Did Franjo Tudjman also believe that, by
8 shifting populations from the areas that had been
9 allotted to it following the Karadordevo meeting, that
10 that would benefit Croatia by dividing Bosnia?
11 A. Since, as I have said, Bosnia and Herzegovina
12 is rather like a leopard skin in terms of population,
13 with the exception of a few enclaves, it was difficult
14 to establish ethnically pure territories and probably
15 that was why Milosevic's genocidal policy was to
16 cleanse areas, and people fled as soon as villages were
17 torched and towns and people killed -- after all,
18 hundreds of thousands of people were killed, so,
19 clearly, this provoked fear, even among the people who
20 had still not been swept up by the war.
21 I remember an expression that was widely in
22 use after the Vance-Owen Plan, which established the
23 boundaries of the cantons in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and a
24 term that became current was "humane resettlement". It
25 is not a good idea for people to suffer and to tolerate
1 this destruction -- it would be better for the people
2 to be allowed to move towards their ethnic centres --
3 on the one hand there was Sarajevo, on the second
4 Mostar, the third Banja Luka, but from today's optics,
5 there is no such thing as humane resettlement. It is
6 only a milder term for genocide, in fact.
7 Q. Did you hear those discussions about the
8 humanitarian resettlement of population personally and
9 did you hear those -- that expression used by President
10 Tudjman in discussions with Dario Kordic, in
11 discussions with Mate Boban, Anto Valenta, Ignac
12 Kostroman and others from Herceg-Bosna?
13 A. Yes, because when talking to these gentlemen
14 that you mentioned and when Tudjman used the
15 term "humane resettlement", in explaining it, he said
16 that this was to avoid suffering, to put an end to the
17 killing, to put an end to the destruction, so that
18 people should be given a chance to deal with the
19 problem themselves, to swap houses among themselves
20 and, actually, to end the war. But, ultimately, this
21 led to division.
22 Q. Mr Mesic, I would like to turn your attention
23 now to the creation of Herceg-Bosna, which was
24 proclaimed on 18 November 1991. Did you have occasion
25 to see excerpts from the Narodni lists and other
1 decisions from Herceg-Bosna, which vested the HVO with
2 the executive power in the municipalities in which they
3 were located?
4 A. Yes. I somehow gained possession of these
5 decisions that you are referring to. Those decisions
6 were worded in such a way as to indicate the abolition
7 of the legally elected authorities at the previous
8 elections in the towns and municipalities and, instead,
9 deputies were appointed by the HVO. I asked Mate
10 Boban, who was the most senior among the Croats in
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina at the time, I said that this was
12 not legitimate, that it was not lawful, that the HVO
13 could not abolish legally elected bodies, but the
14 legally elected bodies could potentially set up some
15 sort of institutions which might assist in the defence
16 of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
17 Of course, those decisions never made any
18 mention of Bosnia-Herzegovina but rather of Croatian
19 lands, and I asked them what had prompted them to pass
20 such decisions which are rather like a putsch, like a
21 coup, they were not legal or legitimate. He said,
22 "Look here, these were done by the most qualified
23 lawyers, Vice Vukojevic from Zagreb, Smiljko Sokol, a
24 university professor, and as regards the wording and
25 the legal grounds, everything is absolutely above
1 board, and do not worry, we will not make a mistake".
2 As I was not satisfied with this answer,
3 I asked President Tudjman whether he had seen these
4 decisions that were being passed by these people in
5 Herzegovina and he said that he had been informed about
6 them. I repeated to him what the problem was. I was
7 saying that, "Illegal organs were substituting for
8 legal organs". He said that he agreed with me. After
9 that, I tried to learn whether any changes took place,
10 since he said he agreed with me, but no changes were
12 True, due to certain operations taken by Vice
13 Vukojevic, who was a member of Parliament, in my
14 Parliament, I insisted several times with him that his
15 status be cleared up, because he was one of the
16 mediators in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and then Tudjman said,
17 "Leave it -- as far as Bosnia is concerned, all the
18 civilian affairs are under the control of Vice
19 Vukojevic and the military affairs by Gojko Susak the
20 Defence Minister of the Republic of Croatia."
21 Q. As a result of those decisions that you saw,
22 Mr Mesic, what happened to the borders between Bosnia
23 and Croatia -- did they exist or did they cease to
24 exist, in your view?
25 A. I do not know whether even now that border is
1 fully established. For a time, it did not exist at all
2 -- it was an open border, and of course economically
3 this was harmful for us, but the areas which were under
4 the control of the HVO, the Croatian Defence Council,
5 our currency was in use, as an established currency,
6 and the whole legal system was a replica of the
7 Croatian legal system, so that one could not cross the
8 border without any formalities at all. That border did
9 not exist and, as far as I hear now, it is being
10 established, but I am not familiar with the real state
11 of affairs today.
12 Q. Mr Mesic, when you talked to Mr Boban about
13 the putsch, as you described it, did Mr Tudjman agree
14 with the decision to place HVO officials in authority
15 over elected officials in Bosnia?
16 A. I must say that President Tudjman agreed with
17 my opinion. He said that I was right, but he also said
18 that I should not interfere with Bosnian affairs any
19 longer, but that other people would be in charge of
21 Q. Would it be fair to say, in your opinion,
22 Mr Mesic, that the leaders of Herceg-Bosna took their
23 political direction from the leadership in Croatia?
24 A. I think, and I can assert with certainty,
25 that the Croatian Democratic Union of
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina was under the total leader of the
2 HVO leadership in Zagreb, because any decision that
3 needed to be made within the framework of the HDZ of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina had first to be established in
5 Zagreb and any observer of the Croatian TV programme at
6 the time could see that HDZ representatives would come
7 to Zagreb every couple of days to talk with the
8 President of the HDZ of Croatia.
9 Afterwards, when the Republic of Herceg-Bosna
10 was formed, representatives of the Croatian Republic
11 would come, but they were the same people, and now, now
12 that the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna no longer
13 exists formally, representatives of the Croatian people
14 come to Zagreb for instructions.
15 I can concede that, during those discussions,
16 it is possible to have a conflict of opinion, but since
17 I do not participate in them, and I am familiar what
18 the situation was before, it is my view that all they
19 do is come to collect instructions.
20 Q. Mr Mesic, let me ask you to go back to the
21 time when Herceg-Bosna existed initially in Bosnia.
22 You have testified that you saw certain leaders from
23 that entity, Mate Boban, Dario Kordic, Valenta,
24 Kostroman and others come to Zagreb --
25 A. Kostroman, yes.
1 Q. -- come to Croatia and meet with President
2 Tudjman. Where did they meet with him?
3 A. All of those who came to see President
4 Tudjman go to the presidential palace. It is always
5 like that.
6 Q. And would the meetings that occurred between
7 President Tudjman and the people I have just mentioned,
8 Boban, Kordic, Valenta, Kostroman and others be
9 recorded in appointment books kept in the presidential
11 A. I can describe how these meetings are held.
12 First of all, each meeting is recorded, every meeting
13 is recorded -- is registered with the secretariat and
14 then everything is recorded on the tape and President
15 Tudjman also makes his own notes about the contents of
16 some major meetings.
17 We were always warned that other meetings
18 were being taped and that everybody who was speaking
19 should introduce themselves so that the person who is
20 taking down minutes later would be able to identify
21 each of the speakers.
22 Q. Now, is it during one or more meetings that
23 you heard President Tudjman say, "What we hold with
24 weapons will be ours"?
25 A. Yes, I said this to several of those
1 meetings. Of course, the discussion was also about
2 where the Croatian forces were, what areas they were
3 in. However, whether the President meant that this was
4 going to be Croatia or this was going to be Croatian
5 lands in Bosnia-Herzegovina, there was no analysis of
6 that. It was just said, "This was going to be ours",
7 but what he actually meant by those words, I really do
8 not know.
9 Q. Did you hear President Tudjman utter those
10 words to the leaders of Herceg-Bosna in the context of
11 discussions with the Vance-Owen peace plan?
12 A. It was precisely around this time that these
13 discussions took place, because the proposition of the
14 Croatian side was to implement this agreement --
15 actually, this plan -- the Vance-Owen Plan -- as soon
16 as possible, because it suited the Croats. However, it
17 was still not signed by the Serbs, and later --
18 actually it was signed eventually, but it was never
19 ratified by the Croatian assembly, so that the plan
20 fell through.
21 However, the Croatian side in
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina enthusiastically supported the
23 implementation of this plan.
24 Q. Let me ask you your opinion, Mr Mesic: In
25 your opinion, would it be fair to say that the leaders
1 from Herceg-Bosna, that is, Mate Boban, Dario Kordic,
2 Valenta, Kostroman, and the military leaders of that
3 entity Herceg-Bosna became instruments of implementing
4 the policies of President Tudjman in Bosnia,
5 particularly the policy to divide Bosnia?
6 MR. HAYMAN: Compound, your Honour, and
7 vague. If more clear, express terms could be used. We
8 have been hearing about political leaders and now
9 counsel wants to lump presumably every military leader
10 in Herceg-Bosna into one group. I would ask that the
11 question be clear and be broken down so we can have a
12 fuller response by the witness.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, objection sustained. It
14 was a very broad question. We see what you are trying
15 to get, but try to do this in a different way.
16 MR. HARMON: Let me ask you this question,
17 Mr Mesic: in your opinion, is it fair to say that the
18 political leaders who I have identified, that is,
19 Boban, Kordic, Valenta, Kostroman and others, became,
20 in your opinion, instruments of implementing the policy
21 of President Tudjman to divide Bosnia?
22 A. In fact, in the final analysis, it was really
23 on the Bosnia policy that I parted ways with President
24 Tudjman. I had other objections, too. It was about
25 centralisation of power at all levels, the
1 centralisation of finances, the transformation of the
2 so-called social property -- all these were issues
3 which I parted ways with Tudjman's policies, but
4 I think that Bosnia was really the dot over the "i", if
5 you will, because I believe that Bosnia could not be
6 divided, and it was this insistence on the division on
7 the ethnic purity of Bosnia, the insistence on
8 resettlement of the Muslim population from all towns --
9 from many towns in Bosnia-Herzegovina -- I thought that
10 was a mistaken policy and I believe that those who
11 implemented such a policy were really the instruments
12 of a misguided Croatian policy in that regard.
13 MR. HARMON: And did you believe that Kordic
14 and Boban and Valenta and Kostroman were the
15 instruments by which that policy of dividing Bosnia was
17 JUDGE JORDA: Is this a different question?
18 It is a different question?
19 A. Yes, in a certain way, I had good relations
20 with Mate Boban -- not with the others. I only met
21 them during the official meetings, and he told me --
22 every time I met him I gave him my objections about
23 this policy towards the Muslims, because I believed
24 that we had a single aggressor in Bosnia-Herzegovina
25 and that we will receive international support if the
1 international community understands that there is a
2 single aggressor, that that is Serbia, that this was
3 not a civil war, and later the growing tensions and
4 later the conflict with the Muslims really played into
5 the hands of the Serb politics, or the Milosevic
6 politics. I then asked him what was his politics.
7 Then he said he had none himself, that he was really
8 implementing the policies of Zagreb and that he only
9 trusted Franjo Tudjman.
10 MR. HARMON: Mate Boban was
11 the Commander-in-Chief of the military forces in
12 Herceg-Bosna; is that not correct?
13 A. Yes, that is correct -- this was so in legal
14 terms -- this was the case in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
15 Q. And the policies of Mate Boban were
16 implemented in Herceg-Bosna by military force; is that
18 MR. HAYMAN: Could we have a foundation -- a
19 foundation for the answer? How does he know? Was he
20 there, was he briefed? Could we just have a foundation
21 for this, and some specificivity as to Central Bosnia
22 as opposed to just referring to Bosnia-Herzegovina --
24 JUDGE JORDA: We are not going to ask
25 questions about every question asked, but I would like
1 Mr Harmon to be specific in this question. Ask your
2 question differently, Mr Harmon.
3 MR. HARMON: Were the policies of Mate Boban
4 implemented through the use of military force?
5 A. Since Mate Boban was the President of the
6 Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, he had the supreme
7 political authority. He represented Bosnia-Herzegovina
8 and obviously he was responsible for all the bodies of
9 authority that were established in Herceg-Bosna,
10 including the military ones.
11 Q. Did you ever hear of a single military leader
12 in the HVO disagreeing with the principles and the
13 policies of Mate Boban?
14 A. I did not meet these people, or, if I did,
15 this would be in some joint meetings and I never talked
16 to them, except with those who were in the Croatian
17 army and who were going to Herceg-Bosna, that is to
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina. I talked quite a bit with Slobodan
19 Praljak and we could not come to agreement over this
20 major issue, because he believed that no communal life
21 could be preserved with the Muslims and that these two
22 ethnic groups should go each their own ways and
23 I talked to some others, who went to Bosnia -- to
24 Herceg-Bosna, but these were just casual meetings, sort
25 of in passing. I had no official contacts with these
2 Q. Let me turn your attention, Mr Mesic, to the
3 situation of dual citizenship and the situation of
4 people who were citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina
5 being able to be members of the Croatian Parliament, or
6 the SABOR. Could you explain to the judges the laws
7 I referred to, when they were promulgated and what
8 their effect was on the sovereignty of Bosnia and
10 A. At any rate, I was part of the opposition
11 politicians in Croatia who were against the election
12 rule where citizens of other States could also
13 participate, because I thought that only those Croats
14 from Diaspora could take part in elections who happened
15 to find themselves abroad at the time. As far as the
16 citizen law, the electoral system allows all Croatian
17 citizens to vote for the Croatian Parliament, and then
18 the law provides that all Croats of -- all persons of
19 Croatian origins could become citizens, with some
20 provisions which were -- conditions that were easy to
22 There were 12 representatives in the
23 Parliament, so about 10 per cent of the representatives
24 in the Parliament came from Diaspora and it was clear
25 that these Croats were Diaspora who have nothing to do
1 with the Croatian State -- they did not pay any taxes
2 -- it was clear that these were dominated for the most
3 part by the HDZ, and so it was clear to me that this
4 was sort of an abuse of the elections, because the
5 Party that controls those 10 per cent of the vote
6 clearly has a 10 per cent advantage coming into an
7 election, and obviously it was something that the
8 Opposition fought against.
9 However, it is clear that the HDZ has an
10 advantage here -- they have a monopoly -- they had a
11 monopoly, so they passed this law. But in terms of
12 Bosnia-Herzegovina, it had a devastating influence
13 there, because what it did there, it oriented the
14 Croats in Bosnia towards Croatia, rather than directed
15 them to look for their happiness and future in the
16 State where they were born, and where they lived with
17 other people with whom they should look for
19 I also spoke to the representatives of
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo, because I went there as
21 well several times. They said that they did not want
22 to exacerbate that problem, because they were getting
23 all their assistance through Croatia, and so they did
24 not want to undermine this kind of situation.
25 Q. As a result of that law that permitted people
1 from abroad to be elected to the Croatian Parliament,
2 were there members of the SABOR who were also involved
3 in the fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who were
4 officers in the HVO?
5 A. I think that several of these prominent
6 members of the HDZ who took part in the Government of
7 the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the State of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina are legally members of the Croatian
9 Parliament, so at the same time they are members of the
10 Croatian Parliament and the one in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
11 However, it is not easy for me to sort of estimate what
12 the level of their involvement over there was.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Mr Harmon, we might now take a
14 20-minute break and then resume at 10 after.
16 (A short break)
18 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Have
19 the accused brought in.
20 (The accused entered court)
21 JUDGE JORDA: Mr Harmon, until 5.30.
22 MR. HARMON: Thank you, Mr President.
23 Mr Mesic, you were President of the SABOR,
24 which was the Croatian Parliament, from the end of 1992
25 until through 1993; is that correct?
1 A. Correct.
2 Q. While you were President of the SABOR, during
3 that time, were members of the SABOR, who were from
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina, also members of the HVO and of
6 A. I never officially received any information
7 from any representative that they were members of the
8 HVO. However, I saw some people on television,
9 including Vice Vukojevic and Ivan Tolj, wearing the HVO
10 uniforms. I think there was a physician involved as
11 well, but I think he was only involved in medical
13 Q. Can you describe a conversation that you had
14 with Vice Vukojevic?
15 A. Since I was interested in the events in
16 Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the final analysis the
17 defence of Croatia depended on what was happening in
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina, so, in that light, I called Vice
19 Vukojevic. He was born in Herzegovina. I asked him
20 what was actually going on there, expecting to hear a
21 common defence was being established there. However,
22 to my surprise, he said that it was impossible to work
23 with Muslims, that there were conflicts in Prozor -- so
24 much so, that they loaded them up on a truck. I said,
25 "How many Croats were killed?" "None." "How many were
1 wounded?" "None." I said, "What did you do? You just
2 shot summarily people who were tied up?" I threw him
3 out of the office and we never met after that.
4 Q. Vice Vukojevic, did he representative himself
5 to you as being a member of the HVO, or did you ever
6 see him in a uniform belonging to the HVO while he was
7 a member of the SABOR?
8 A. Only on television. I saw him only on
9 television in uniform and he publicly said that he was
10 a brigadier of the HVO. I do not know who appointed
11 him to that position, but throughout this time he was
12 also in the Croatian Parliament -- he never said that
13 he was going to resign from that post in order to
14 assume another one elsewhere.
15 Q. Mr Mesic, who was Ivan Tolj and what rank did
16 he tell you he had in the HVO?
17 A. I do not know what rank he held in the HVO.
18 He was a general in the Croatian army. He was in
19 charge of political affairs -- he ran the political
20 affairs in the Croatian army and he said he had the
21 same job in the HVO, but he was also a member of the
22 Lower House of the Croatian Parliament.
23 Q. Mr Mesic, what is your conclusion as to the
24 effect that this kind of representation in the SABOR
25 had, that is, allowing people who were from Bosnia and
1 Herzegovina to be members of the SABOR -- what effect
2 did that have on the independence of Bosnia and
4 A. I am convinced that this led to destruction
5 -- if Croats were looking for their place in Croatia,
6 they were not going to defend Bosnia-Herzegovina, they
7 were not going to advocate the unity of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina. I thought that it was a policy
9 that was detrimental to Bosnia-Herzegovina and
10 I thought that it hurt Croatia as well. I have always
11 believed, and I do so now, that, had it not been for
12 the Washington and Dayton Accords, that it is
13 questionable whether, with the fall of Bosnia, Croatia
14 itself could have survived.
15 Q. Now, while you were in the SABOR, did you
16 send a commission down to Mostar to investigate into
17 tensions -- I am sorry, into the events and the
18 tensions that were rising between the Bosnian Muslims
19 and the Bosnian Croats?
20 A. Different information, different news was
21 reaching me as to what was going on in
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina. For instance, in Mostar, and in
23 order to get to the real information, I sent a
24 delegation of our Parliament to Bosnia-Herzegovina,
25 with a special visit to Mostar in order to find out
1 what was really going on there, and it was led by Drago
2 Krpina. Upon their return, they were very
3 disappointed, they were very depressed -- they said the
4 place was going to blow up, that a large number of
5 Muslims of the villages surrounding Mostar left those
6 villages, and those were mostly the Muslims who had
7 fled the Serb terror, and they came to this area and
8 that changed the complexion, the demographic complexion
9 of Mostar, that this was upsetting the balance there,
10 and that the leadership of the HVO was very concerned,
11 because if such a large number of Muslims stayed in the
12 area, they had feared that the conflict may arise from
13 it and then later on television I saw that some people
14 were leaving Mostar, moving out. The television showed
15 columns of people leaving Mostar. I do not know where
16 they were headed. Some were transported in trucks.
17 I also do not know where.
18 I asked Drago Krpina to inform President
19 Tudjman about what was actually going on there, but
20 I do not know what he actually did about it.
21 Q. Now, did in fact conflict break out between
22 the Bosnian Muslims and the Bosnian Croats?
23 A. Yes. A fierce conflict broke out, of
24 terrible proportions, so that a part of Mostar now
25 looks like Hiroshima. After the fighting, the city was
1 divided. In principle the city was divided in an
2 artificial way, and great efforts are being invested in
3 order to establish an homogenous community, that the
4 people there are Mostar citizens regardless of which
5 ethnic origins they are of.
6 There was even an old bridge there, which was
7 a symbol of the city, which was destroyed. This bridge
8 was built during the Turkish rule, but it was a symbol
9 of binding of people, because it was a symbol of
10 tolerance; the Turkish engineers designed this bridge,
11 but it was built by the Croat workers with stone which
12 was brought from Croatia. So, it was symbolic, the
13 destruction of this bridge, which strategically meant
14 nothing, and this was the justification for its
15 destruction. I think that the policy was such that it
16 wanted to destroy all bridges between the ethnic groups
17 in Bosnia, to divide them as soon as possible, and to
18 keep them as separate as possible.
19 Q. Which side of the conflict destroyed the
20 Mostar bridge?
21 A. It is difficult for me to say who destroyed
22 it, because I do not have personal knowledge of who did
23 it, but I have information that this bridge -- that the
24 destruction of the bridge was planned from the Croatian
25 side. However, who issued the order, I do not know.
1 There were different accounts in the public, but I do
2 not think that the investigation of that was ever
4 However, objectively speaking, the Bosniak
5 side had the least interest in destroying it. There
6 are acts of provocation -- there are all kinds of thing
7 in the war. An objective investigation would probably
8 yield results.
9 Q. In your opinion, Mr Mesic, was it logical for
10 the Muslims to have started the Bosnian/Croat conflict?
11 A. Since I, too, am some kind of a general of
12 the Croatian army, true, I attended military school for
13 officers in reserve a long time ago, but I see no logic
14 there, regardless of what the various sides allege.
15 The Bosniaks were absolutely inferior in relation to
16 our common aggressor and that is Serbia and its army.
17 By the time when the Muslims had vast casualties, when
18 more than 100,000 people were killed, and then for them
19 to open up a new front and to narrow down the
20 manoeuvring space that they had seems strange.
21 First of all, they could get logistics from
22 Croatia and, if they open up a front against the
23 Croats, there is no assistance for them -- nor is there
24 any chance for Bosnia to be saved. That is why it is
25 unconvincing for me to claim -- it has no ground to
1 claim that the Muslims started that war.
2 However, it was harmful equally to the Croats
3 and Muslims, and fortunately the Washington agreement
4 came, and the Dayton Accords were signed which halted
5 that war; but, to heal the effects of that war will
6 take a long time yet.
7 Q. Mr Mesic, during that war, did Croatia
8 provide material assistance to the HVO?
9 A. Since the policy was that the HVO was
10 defending Croatian interests and Croatian areas in
11 Bosnia and Herzegovina -- because you must listen to
12 the statements made by the leaders of Herceg-Bosna,
13 they always spoke about Croatian lands, they never
14 spoke about Bosnia-Herzegovina and this is something
15 that bothered me in particular, so, clearly, Croatia
16 did assist them and this was no secret. The only
17 secret is how that assistance was organised. I was the
18 President of the Parliament and I am familiar with the
19 Croatian budget and there never was an item referring
20 to assistance to Herceg-Bosna, nor was mention of
21 Herceg-Bosna ever made in any way, but Josip Manolic,
22 who abandoned the HDZ together with me, and he was in
23 charge of all the intelligence services in Croatia, he
24 stated in public, addressing the international and
25 domestic public opinion, and he told me in person, that
1 Croatia had spent 1 million German marks per day on
2 assisting all the structures in Herceg-Bosna and that
3 certainly means the HVO included, because, from where
4 else would the HVO receive logistic support if not from
5 Croatia. I think there is no secret there.
6 I assume that the assistance came from the
7 Defence Ministry to the Defence Ministry of
8 Herceg-Bosna, the Ministry of the Interior to the
9 Ministry of Interior of Herceg-Bosna. That is probably
10 how that assistance was run, but I cannot explicitly
11 allege how much was spent on this assistance, nor how
12 it was actually channelled.
13 Q. In your opinion, Mr Mesic, would the
14 ministries that you have just described have kept
15 records and maintained records of the assistance that
16 it provided to the HVO?
17 A. I have never seen any such document, but
18 anyone who has control of any funds must have some kind
19 of control mechanism over the spending of those funds.
20 Therefore, this must exist somewhere in the
21 documentation of any ministry, including the Ministry
22 of the Interior and the Ministry of Defence. All
23 I know is that an audit was carried out in most
24 ministries, except in the most sensitive segment, where
25 it has not been completed, so that neither the public
1 nor the Parliament have been fully familiarised with
2 the audit carried out of the operations of the Ministry
3 of Defence, the Ministry of the Interior and the
4 Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
5 Q. Mr Mesic, between 1992 and 1994, for purposes
6 of this question, were Croatian troops and Croatian
7 police in Bosnia?
8 A. You see, I can claim, with certainty, that
9 the Croatian army could not legally go to
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina for the very reason that, for the
11 use of the Croatian army outside the borders of
12 Croatia, a decision of the Croatian SABOR was
13 required. No such decision existed. If it did,
14 I would have known about it, but whether any units were
15 there, whether they were used in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
16 that is a different matter. There was an agreement
17 between President Tudjman and Alija Izetbegovic during
18 the Serb attack on parts of Dubrovnik and
19 surrounding area. An agreement was reached where a
20 part of the Croatian army defended the hinterland of
21 Dubrovnik and entered the territory of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina, but that was in agreement with the
23 Bosnian President.
24 However, due to the post I held, I was often
25 exposed in the media, I often appeared on radio and
1 television. People asked me questions to the effect
2 whether our troops were in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
3 I said that I had requested a report from the Defence
4 Ministry about it and that the answer I received -- an
5 explicit answer was that there was no Croatian troops
6 on the territory of any other country, including the
7 country of Bosnia-Herzegovina. But soldiers did come
8 to me who were discharged because they refused to go to
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Their parents would come to see
10 me, too, for the same reasons, but officially, I was
11 always told that if any Croatian soldier did go there,
12 he went there as a volunteer.
13 Q. So, Mr Mesic, is your answer that there were
14 or there were not Croatian troops in Bosnia between
15 1992 and 1994?
16 A. I believe there were, but if they were, they
17 were not there legally.
18 Q. Were those troops involved in the conflict
19 between the Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats?
20 A. Since after the outbreak of the conflict
21 between the Croats on the one side and the Muslims on
22 the other, a certain shift was made to the detriment of
23 the Croats, I received information that some aid was
24 given in the form of volunteers to halt the Bosnian
25 offensive. Whether these were real volunteers, what
1 kind of units were used -- that is something that
2 I never investigated myself.
3 Q. Now, to your knowledge, Mr Mesic, did the
4 Croatian army personnel, who were in Bosnia, suffer
5 casualties, and would there be records of those
7 A. As in any normal administration, there should
8 be some kind of a record, especially about human
9 casualties, so if Croatian soldiers died there, then
10 there must be a document to that effect, because the
11 families need to regulate their benefits. If soldiers
12 were wounded, again, their disability benefits needed
13 to be regulated. But it is a fact that in our press
14 there was a lot of vagueness and, whenever somebody was
15 killed, the report said where he was killed and where
16 he fought for Croatia, but, for a certain number of
17 casualties, the term used for some in the papers
18 was "fell for their homeland" and I was told that this
19 phrase was used for those who fell in Bosnia. But
20 I must admit that I did not investigate this in any
21 detail, either.
22 Q. Mr Mesic, did any of the soldiers who came to
23 you directly inform you that, while serving in Bosnia,
24 they wore patches that said "HV" but they had been
25 instructed to remove those patches and replace them
1 with patches identifying them as members of the HVO?
2 A. Yes. This was told to me by several people,
3 that the task of all those going to Bosnia was to
4 remove the insignia of the Croatian army.
5 Q. Can you tell the judges what you know about
6 the issue of joint commands, that is, commands between
7 the Bosnian Muslims and the Bosnian Croats, and what
8 the view of Zagreb was in respect of that issue?
9 A. At the beginning of the aggression, clearly,
10 the whole Yugoslavia army sided with the Serbs,
11 together with all its logistic equipment and this part
12 was under the control of Karadzic, or, rather, Karadzic
13 was just the instrument -- the main planner and
14 operator was Slobodan Milosevic.
15 As regards the Bosnian army, it was partly
16 all Bosnian, because 13 per cent of the members were
17 Serbs and, also, there were Croats from other parts of
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina, especially from Sarajevo in that
19 army. It is also well known that, in the HVO itself,
20 there were quite a number of Muslims, so that some
21 units in the Sava River valley were predominantly
22 Muslim even though they belonged to the HVO.
23 One must ask whether it is possible to wage a
24 war against an aggressor if there is no unified command
25 and the Bosnians insisted that there should be a joint
1 command, because that was the only way to decide
2 tactically and operationally about certain military
4 The Croatian side agreed with this joint
5 command, which would mean that both the HVO and the
6 Bosnian army would be represented according to the
7 share of the population, so that the term "united
8 command" was never used, and without that, it is
9 difficult to score any military victories.
10 Q. Mr Mesic, what was the relationship between
11 the Croatian army and the officers in command positions
12 in the HVO? Can you tell the court whether members of
13 the Croatian army went to the HVO, served in command
14 positions and then returned back to the Croatian army
15 and can you identify, by name, those individuals?
16 A. Professionally, that was not part of my
17 competencies. I was primus interpares -- I was the
18 speaker of Parliament, but certainly, I had more
19 information than many other people. Obviously, it was
20 possible for me to obtain some more detailed
21 information, but this information was also available to
22 the public, so that there was this fluctuation --
23 Milivoj Petkovic, Ante Roso, Slobodan Praljak, General
24 Tolj -- they were for a time in the HVO, then again in
25 the Croatian army. Whether each time they regulated
1 their relationship every time they went and came back,
2 I did not try to establish.
3 But one could see that, within a short period
4 of time, they changed their positions. They were for
5 some time in the HVO, then again in the Croatian army,
6 but how this was regulated, I do not know.
7 Q. Let me return to the issue of joint
8 commands. I have been asked by one of my colleagues to
9 clarify one point, Mr Mesic. Did Zagreb reject joint
10 commands, or did they accept the principle of joint
12 A. Zagreb was in favour of a joint command, but
13 not in favour of a unified command.
14 Q. Let me turn next to the issue of Ahmici and
15 ask you, Mr Mesic, first of all, had you heard of the
16 events that occurred in Ahmici in April of 1993 and, if
17 you had heard of those events, did you make an enquiry
18 as to whether or not any investigation had been
19 conducted into the massacre at Ahmici?
20 A. At the time, the time you mention, I was on
21 an official trip with the Croatian parliamentary
22 delegation, and, while on that trip, I learned of the
23 events in Ahmici. When I came back, I learned about
24 the various brutalities that occurred -- the
25 atrocities, that great crimes were committed, of which
1 even children were victims, and certainly, as a Croat,
2 I was not glad to see Croats committing crimes, and,
3 deep down, I had hoped that the Croats had not done
4 it. I asked Mate Boban who I met shortly after that
5 whether he knew anything about it. He said that all
6 those events had been provoked by a British officer,
7 and that they had established something, but not
8 sufficient information about it.
9 Then I asked, what had they ascertained and
10 who had committed the crime? He said they had firm
11 evidence that this was committed by people wearing
12 black uniforms. Then I asked him, "But then you did
13 not understand me, Mate, I did not ask what colour
14 uniforms they wore, but who was wearing those
15 uniforms". His reply was, "That, we have not
16 established and they could have been Serbs". Knowing
17 this part of the country, I knew that Serbs could not
18 appear there, and that it was obvious either that he
19 himself did not know, or that he was not telling the
21 Q. Since then, Mr Mesic, have you heard whether
22 anybody has been prosecuted by the Bosnian Croat
23 officials for the massacres at Ahmici?
24 A. No, I have not heard of that.
25 Q. Have you heard whether anybody has been
1 disciplined, or was disciplined in the HVO for the war
2 crimes that were committed in Ahmici?
3 A. My work was such that such a report would not
4 reach me through official channels, but I never learned
5 anything to that effect privately, either.
6 MR. HARMON: Mr Mesic, thank you very much for
7 your testimony.
8 I have no additional questions.
9 Mr President, I have concluded my direct examination.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr Harmon. I turn
11 now to the Defence. I do not know who is going to be
12 the cross-examiner -- it is Mr Nobilo -- yes, we spoke
13 about it yesterday.
14 Cross-examined by MR. NOBILO:
15 MR. NOBILO: Very well, thank you,
16 Mr President.
17 Good afternoon, Mr Mesic. During the
18 examination-in-chief, we heard the positions you held.
19 Among others, the most important, if I am not mistaken,
20 was that you were President of SFRY, or member of the
21 Presidency of SFRY, Prime Minister of Croatia, Speaker
22 of Parliament, and Secretary-General of the Party.
23 Will you tell me, after leaving the HDZ, did you
24 participate in the elections within another Party?
25 A. Yes. After leaving the HDZ, I participated
1 in the formation of the Independents Democrats of
2 Croatia, which was joined by 11 former members of the
3 HDZ. After some time, as members of this Party, we
4 joined the HNS, and I am now Vice-President of the HNS,
5 but, due to circumstances, HND continues to exist
6 headed by Josip Manolic, but I do not know what their
7 membership is.
8 Q. But while you were President of the HND, did
9 you participate in any elections as an individual or as
10 a member of a Party on a list?
11 A. Yes, I was elected to the municipal assembly
12 of Zagreb.
13 Q. Did you compete for Parliament, for President
14 of State, or something else?
15 A. No.
16 Q. Did your Party compete to join the
17 Parliament, HND?
18 A. Yes, and we won one seat.
19 Q. What share of the votes did you win?
20 A. I do not know.
21 Q. You said that the HDZ is an obstacle to
22 democracy, that there is no democratic decision-making,
23 there is a single Party attitude, that they have
24 plundered property through transformation, that they
25 are nationalists, et cetera. Could you tell me, when
1 did HDZ develop these characteristics?
2 A. I think after the agreement in Karadordevo --
3 this destructive policy began.
4 Q. And when did that take place?
5 A. 30 March 1991.
6 Q. So that Party has all these negative
7 characteristics as of 1991; and when did you leave it?
8 A. I left it in 1993. Franjo Tudjman asked me
9 to withdraw from the Parliament, because he could not
10 reach any agreement with Slobodan Milosevic, because
11 I had said somewhere that the Serbs themselves would
12 hang him on Terazije Square in Belgrade. By then,
13 I was already in deep conflict with official policy,
14 together with my friends, who abandoned the Party with
15 me. As you know, a step in politics is not taken just
16 like that, but when conditions mature, so that my
17 departure from the HDZ did not take place suddenly, but
18 when I felt that I had a chance of winning greater
19 support from the public -- rather than just leaving the
20 Party and ending my career without achieving anything,
21 due to which I had left the Party anyway.
22 Q. So, when did you leave the Party and form the
24 A. This was somewhere in April 1994. But the
25 talks regarding my departure from the HDZ lasted a long
2 Q. How long?
3 A. Ever since the agreement in Karadordevo.
4 Q. In the meantime, you held the highest
5 positions in the HDZ. Do you consider yourself to be
6 partly responsible for the way the Party developed and
7 what it did in Croatia?
8 A. Yes, I do shoulder part of the blame and
9 I must admit, as the public knows, that throughout that
10 period I advocated a policy of a unified and integral
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and I struggled for a maximum
12 degree of democracy in Croatia.
13 Q. Apart from the replacement of Kljujic, did
14 you ever participate in the work of any other body of
15 the HDZ for Bosnia-Herzegovina?
16 A. I attended another meeting in Sarajevo when
17 the question of the election of Kljujic arose, after
18 Mr Perinovic resigned, but I do not recall the exact
20 Q. Do you remember when Kljujic was replaced?
21 A. In 1992, because then I was President of the
22 executive board of the HDZ, but I do not know exactly.
23 Q. Was it in the first half of 1992, can you
24 remember that?
25 A. It could have been.
1 Q. Please correct me if I did not understand you
2 well. After the second half of 1992 and the
3 replacement of Kljujic, you did not take an active part
4 in the work of the bodies of the HDZ in
6 A. No, I never participated in the work of those
7 bodies. I could merely follow what was happening
8 there, up to a point.
9 Q. Very well. In that case, I will correct
10 myself. After Kljujic was replaced, you no longer
11 followed directly the work of any body of the HDZ in
13 A. I did follow it, but I did not participate in
14 the work of those bodies. I did follow, because I had
15 a certain position in Zagreb. I was a member of the
16 Presidency of the HDZ and the HDZ of Bosnia-Herzegovina
17 was not formally -- it was formally a separate Party
18 but all decisions were taken by the HDZ leadership in
19 Zagreb regarding what needed to be done in
21 Q. But did you attend meetings of the HDZ of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina bodies after that, did you go to
24 A. No. They came to Zagreb. The whole HDZ of
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina came to Zagreb.
1 Q. About the visits to Zagreb, at what sessions
2 and talks between Tudjman and the key figures of the
3 HDZ for Bosnia-Herzegovina did you attend?
4 A. It is difficult for me to say, because I do
5 not know how many such meetings were held -- after
6 I demonstrated my difference with the Croatian policy
7 towards Bosnia-Herzegovina, I was not invited to those
8 meetings. But, if I happened to be at President
9 Tudjman's and people from Bosnia-Herzegovina came, or
10 rather from Herceg-Bosna or from the HDZ of
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina, then I would stay on and attend
12 those meetings.
13 Q. Can you give us an example -- what meeting,
14 when it was held, who was present, what was discussed?
15 A. You see, we would have to look at the TV and
16 press reports. There was at least one meeting every
17 month, so that they appeared on television more often
18 than our own announcers.
19 Q. My question is, regarding you, which meetings
20 did you attend, when, who was present, and what was
22 A. Representatives of Herceg-Bosna, or of the
23 HDZ of Bosnia-Herzegovina, would come frequently, in a
24 group, whose members were announced -- Mate Boban,
25 Lasic, Boras, Kostroman, Dario Kordic -- I do not know
1 all their names -- they would all come for counsel from
2 the presidential palace.
3 Q. But you are not answering my question.
4 I have understood that these people came to Zagreb, but
5 my question is: were you in attendance at any of those
6 meetings? If you were, could you describe it for us --
7 when the meeting was held, what you discussed? I am
8 asking you about the meetings that you participated in?
9 A. If you had asked me that question earlier on,
10 I would have looked through my notes to tell you which
11 meetings I attended. Whenever I happened to be in the
12 presidential palace, I would attend that meeting,
13 regardless whether I was invited or not. Sometimes
14 I was invited, sometimes I happened to be there.
15 Q. Could you describe any one of those meetings
16 and place it in a time frame?
17 A. I do not know how many times I have to repeat
18 it at least once a month.
19 Q. And you attended each one of those?
20 A. I have answered that question, too.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Mr Mesic, Mr Mesic, Mr Nobilo
22 is very clear -- you can answer as you wish, but
23 I think that the question was very clear. You said
24 that you participated in those meetings. He asked you
25 for a example of those meetings and what happened at
1 those meetings. You can or cannot, you want to or you
2 do not want to, but you cannot simply say, "I have
3 already answered the question". I think you have not
4 answered the question. Maybe you cannot answer that.
5 That is not my problem.
6 A. No, no, I can answer that question. I think
7 that I was quite explicit. The HDZ of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina, their political leadership would
9 come to meetings with the HDZ political leadership of
10 Croatia. The meetings were attended by the people
11 whose names I have listed, as well as by members of the
12 Presidency of the HDZ of Croatia. I did not note down
13 the dates of those meetings. As for what was
14 discussed, first, when the referendum was discussed --
15 if you want an example, I will give you some examples.
16 When the referendum was discussed, the
17 referendum in Bosnia-Herzegovina, when a decision had
18 to be taken whether the Croats should support an
19 independent Bosnia-Herzegovina or whether they should
20 not participate in the referendum, because the Serbs
21 had already decided not to participate in the
22 referendum, I must say that the representatives of the
23 HDZ of Bosnia-Herzegovina were against the Croats
24 participating in that referendum, and this decision of
25 theirs was supported by President Tudjman and the
1 majority of the HDZ in Zagreb, or, rather, the Croatian
3 I had quite a lot of trouble to persuade both
4 Tudjman and HDZ members that, if the Croats did not
5 participate in the referendum, and if the Serbs did not
6 participate, the referendum would not succeed and
7 Bosnia-Herzegovina would remain part of Yugoslavia and
8 only after that was that decision changed.
9 At what meeting this happened, I cannot tell
10 you exactly, but, whenever any key decision was taken,
11 there was always a previous meeting of the HDZ of
12 Croatia, and of Bosnia-Herzegovina. When the
13 Vance-Owen Plan was about to be implemented, even
14 though it had not been signed by the Serbs or approved
15 by their assembly, at one such meeting it was agreed
16 that the Vance-Owen Plan should immediately begin to be
17 implemented, because it was in the interests of
18 Croatia, because it completed, it rounded off Croatian
20 MR. NOBILO: You cited an example of the
21 referendum and when the implementation of the
22 Vance-Owen Plan was contemplated; were you present
23 there as well?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Until when were you invited to these
1 meetings, can you place it in time?
2 A. I was invited less and less frequently and
3 sometimes I would just simply see on television that a
4 certain meeting was held. So, I would say, up until
5 about the end of 1993 -- after that, not any longer.
6 Q. So, you were invited during the Muslim Croat
7 conflict. Was there ever a decision adopted to start
8 to wage a war against the Muslims there?
9 A. No, formally such a decision was never
11 Q. I am not speaking about formally -- were you
12 present on such occasion?
13 A. There was no formal decision adopted, but it
14 is very clear that such a decision was implemented.
15 Q. I am speaking -- it is very clear that the
16 war came about, but I do not know if it was the formal
17 decision or not, but was such a decision ever adopted?
18 A. No, such a decision was never adopted.
19 Q. So you were in the HDZ leadership during the
20 Muslim Croat conflict. Was there ever a decision
21 reached to ethnically cleanse the Muslim population in
22 the territories controlled by the Croats and the HVO?
23 A. I must tell you that there was discussion in
24 such meetings about the situation in certain
25 municipalities and I was sitting next to Pero Markovic,
1 the mayor of Capljina, at one of such meetings.
2 I asked him, "What is the situation like between the
3 Muslims and Croats in your city?" He said, "There is no
4 situation in our place -- we have no Muslims left,
5 because we just cleansed them all."
6 Q. He said that of Capljina. Was ever a
7 decision taken in these meetings to go into the ethnic
8 cleansing of Muslims from certain regions -- to burn
9 down their houses; was there such a decision taken?
10 A. Such a decision was implemented, and if you
11 will recall, in the Croatian Parliament, a
12 representative who visited these territories controlled
13 by the Croatian army, that is the HVO, stated that he
14 was surprised by the misinformation that seeped into
15 the public. For instance, that a mosque was burned
16 down in Livno and he said, "I was in this mosque and
17 I can tell you that it was not burned down and I chased
18 out some sheep and some goats from this mosque
19 personally, because I could not see that they would be
20 in a place of worship, so I could tell, if sheep and
21 goats were there, people could not have attended it."
22 Q. Mr Mesic, I would like you to answer my
23 questions directly -- the way it is appropriate for
24 this institution. I asked you a direct question: when
25 people from the BHDZ would come to these meetings, was
1 there ever a decision taken to ethnically cleanse the
2 territories controlled by the HVO. Have you heard of a
3 decision, were you present there, did you take part in
4 such decision taking?
5 A. No, I was not and such a decision was not
6 formally taken.
7 Q. The English -- the translation says that it
8 was not formally taken, such a decision, but did you
9 hear that somebody informally said, "Let us do this, we
10 will not put it down as a decision". Was that -- did
11 that happen at one of the meetings with Tudjman?
12 A. Since representatives from various parts of
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina came to these meetings, where
14 obviously there were movements of the Muslim
15 population, and let us set aside things that were
16 happening in Mostar, it was clear to me that somehow
17 such policies were implemented, sort of by way of
18 sidelines, but officially it was always held that
19 Bosnia consisted of three constituent populations, and
20 so on -- let me not go into all the details.
21 Q. These meetings were not public meetings --
22 these were internal meetings. The contents of such
23 meetings were not revealed except what was decided to
24 be publicised, but what I am asking you is did somebody
25 say, like Tudjman, "Let us go and cleanse the Muslims
1 from the Travnik territory", for instance. Did you
2 hear some such thing?
3 A. No.
4 Q. Did the Muslim leaders come to Zagreb
6 A. Yes, it was only through Zagreb that they
7 could reach the rest of the world.
8 Q. So, you saw them around there frequently?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. You characterised Perinovic, Kljujic and
11 Brkic as persons who advocated the whole and unified
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. How do you explain the fact that Tudjman and
15 you said that he had a significant if not paramount
16 influence in Bosnia -- how did he agree that such
17 persons would be elected to the positions that they
19 A. I guess they did not want to implement the
20 policies that were asked of them, and so at first, for
21 Perinovic they said that his ancestors were Serb, so he
22 was not to be trusted and then Kljujic, that he was
23 married to a Muslim, and that he was going to implement
24 Alija Izetbegovic policies, and for Brkic, he was too
25 moderate and also was not fully acceptable for the
1 realisation of the Croatian policies in Bosnia, and so
2 they arrived at Mate Boban, for whom Tudjman said he
3 was the only person who understands his policy in
5 Q. Very well. These are all the reasons why to
6 relieve someone of the duties, but how come that
7 Tudjman accepted appointments of three separate persons
8 who are not implementing his policies -- how do you
9 explain that?
10 A. I have tried to explain that Tudjman's policy
11 towards Bosnia also shifted in time; from the time when
12 he also was advocating the unified Bosnia up until
13 Karadordevo -- after that he evolves in a certain way
14 because he was convinced that Milosevic would succeed
15 in breaking up Bosnia and that it would benefit him.
16 Q. Very well. We will now move on to the
17 replacement of Kljujic. In the examination-in-chief
18 you said, "I was put in charge of relieving Kljujic on
19 behalf of the HVO." This was a meeting of the
20 executive board; could you have effected his removal
21 without his own will?
22 A. I think I could not, because at that time the
23 faction which advocated the unified Bosnia and
24 Herzegovina prevailed.
25 Q. You said that you came from Zagreb in order
1 to remove Kljujic. I would like to play a videotape,
2 so please can we play it? This is videotape number 1.
3 It is very short.
4 I would also ask the interpreter to
5 interpret, if they can -- if not, I would like to
6 replay it in order to get most of it.
7 (Videotape played)
8 THE INTERPRETER: (translating videotape).
9 "Question: What is it about the division of
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina? I do not know about the meeting in
11 Siroki Brijeg, but you said Bosnia-Herzegovina has to
12 stay whole, not only because the international
13 community wants it but it is also in the interests of
14 Croats in Bosnia?
15 Answer: We always had the policy that the
16 borders were inviolable, that they cannot be changed.
17 This concerns Croatia as well as the other countries.
18 However, I must say that the leadership of
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina waited too long, that the moment of
20 decision was when Croatia decided to go alone, because
21 it is the best way to protect its own interests when it
22 was clear that Serbia is not accepting the confederal
23 concept proposed by Slovenia and Croatia, for all units
24 of the former Yugoslavia. I think that the BH was
25 late. I think that it was because the SDA leadership
1 believed that they could eschew this pressure, that
2 there would be no war. Now we see that Bosnia is
3 occupied; there is the largest concentration of
4 soldiers in Europe and equipment right now, and it is
5 very difficult now for Bosnia to achieve what Croatia
6 and Slovenia have already achieved. So I believe that
7 this referendum is a bit too late. But, as the saying
8 says, it is better late than never, and so I think that
9 it should go ahead, so that Bosnia should become
10 independent so that the Serb army would leave the
11 territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and so that the
12 Bosniak can proceed on its own independent way, and all
13 the advantages which it has with close cooperation with
14 Croatia can come to be."
15 (Videotape stopped)
16 MR. NOBILO: Please can we play the second
18 MR. HARMON: The only request I have is if
19 counsel could identify the dates of these film clips it
20 would be helpful to me and to the court, and perhaps to
21 the witness.
22 JUDGE JORDA: I think that Mr Nobilo has to
23 give all the information -- the identifying elements.
24 MR. NOBILO: We are going to try to ask
25 Mr Mesic -- this was a "Picture on Picture" programme
1 -- this is when you came back from Siroki Brijeg after
2 the removal of Kljujic. Do you remember this
4 A. I do, but I do not recall the date.
5 Q. But do you accept that this was immediately
6 after the removal of Kljujic?
7 A. No. I do recall the broadcast, but I do not
8 know the date.
9 Q. Can you recall the date when Kljujic was
10 relieved of his duty?
11 A. No.
12 MR. NOBILO: Unfortunately, Mr President, we
13 cannot give you the exact date. This is one day after
14 Kljujic was relieved of his duty in Siroki Brijeg.
15 Maybe subsequently we will be able to provide a date.
16 Please, the next segment.
17 (Videotape played)
18 THE INTERPRETER: (translating videotape).
19 "Not only the sovereignty of people as people
20 but also the sovereignty of a territory, because if the
21 SDS claims that the sovereignty extends to where only
22 5 per cent of Serbs live, that is an imperial policy as
23 dictated by Milosevic, which is something that Karadzic
24 only implements -- he is a small puppet.
25 However, Croatian people cannot just react to
1 challenges -- it has to spell out its own position,
2 both in the entire Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the
3 territory that it occupies.
4 Question: Speaking about Milosevic and
5 Karadzic, oftentimes the parallel is made between
6 Kljujic and the congressional leadership, and they say
7 he had to leave because he would not implement?
8 Answer: No, nobody says that he had to
9 resign. It was at the very end of the discussion that
10 he decided to resign. Nobody asked for him to step
11 down. We are a Croatian community, so we are
13 (Videotape stopped)
14 MR. NOBILO: With respect to the first
15 segment, were you at the time expressing the position
16 of the Croatian Democratic Union?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. So these were not just your own personal
19 views, but also the positions of the Party you belong
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. You told us here that your task was to
23 replace Kljujic, but on Croatian television you said
24 that nobody replaced Kljujic. There is a slight
25 difference between those two statements?
1 A. No, there is no difference. You did not
2 understand me. No-one, at the meeting, required the
3 dismissal of Kljujic at that meeting, and I came with
4 Tudjman's instructions to have him removed.
5 Q. So somebody did ask for his removal?
6 A. At the meeting, no-one did, but I came with
7 Tudjman's request for him to be removed. What do you
8 think -- do you think I could have said on television
9 I went there with instructions to remove Kljujic?
10 Q. Does that mean that you do not always tell
11 the truth?
12 A. No, but at the time I could not have said
13 that, because political circumstances would not allow
14 it. I always tell the truth, but if the pressure is
15 such as it was at the time, then I could not go into
16 the details. Political considerations would not allow
17 me to do that.
18 Q. So, if I understood you well -- please
19 correct me -- depending on whether you will go into all
20 the details or not, the complete truth or part of the
21 truth, depends on political circumstances?
22 A. Clearly, at the time, as the executive
23 secretary of the Party, I could not state for the
24 benefit of the public that President Tudjman required
25 the removal of Kljujic, but I did tell Kljujic that in
1 confidence -- I told him -- and you can check -- "my
2 task is first to persuade you to resign" and he said,
3 "Is this the explicit request of Tudjman?" I said,
4 "Yes, explicitly", but I added, "I see that people
5 here support you, that it is not possible to replace
6 you here, maybe only a third would vote in favour of
7 that, so I will go back to Zagreb and say that you won
8 the support of the meeting and what will happen after
9 that, we will see".
10 However, even after this -- first he said he
11 was sick, and then he said that he believed that
12 Tudjman could remove him in one way or another and then
13 he left, he went to Sarajevo.
14 Q. One further question: if political
15 circumstances affected your decision to speak the whole
16 truth or not, what about the political circumstances
17 today -- how do they affect your testimony?
18 A. You are wrong. This was not a question of
19 the truth -- I told the truth. No-one at the meeting
20 there -- there -- will you please repeat what I am
21 saying -- no-one over there asked for Kljujic to
22 resign, so will you repeat that. I said "over there"
23 and nobody asked me whether Tudjman had asked for his
24 replacement, so it was not my duty to say even that it
25 was Tudjman's request.
1 Q. In any event, what we saw now, these two
2 clips, was that indeed an interview with you -- did you
3 indeed say what you said on television?
4 A. Was that me?
5 Q. Are those your words?
6 A. Surely I can recognise myself, counsel.
7 Q. But we need to authenticate the evidence and
8 that is why I have to ask you.
9 A. Yes, I did recognise myself in this clip.
10 MR. NOBILO: So could please the Registrar
11 have these tapes translated and of course that is our
12 next Defence exhibit. Could you please give us a
14 JUDGE JORDA: Mr Harmon, we will consider
15 these have been identified by the witness.
16 MR. HARMON: Yes, Mr President. The only
17 thing is I renew my request that a date on this tape be
18 provided to the Prosecutor's Office. Second of all,
19 Mr President, I would request that any transcript of
20 this tape, fully translated, in English, be provided to
21 the Prosecutor's Office before Mr Mesic retires from
22 his testimony, so if there are any discrepancies
23 between the translation and the tape, I would have an
24 opportunity to ask Mr Mesic about the substance of that
25 tape. I do not understand the tape, I rely on the
1 interpreters, but I would like to have hard copy in
2 front of me and I would like to be able to review it
3 with Mr Mesic, if the occasion requires so.
4 MR NOBILO: We do not object if Mr Mesic is
5 going to stay for a while, but if the Registry is
6 unable to do that quickly, there should be no problems
7 in calling the witness to come back.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps tomorrow morning when
9 there is no hearing, it could be translated. It seems
10 rather long and it seems legitimate for the Prosecutor
11 to want to have translations but he can use it for his
12 right to re-examination. Although, of course, we do
13 compliment the interpreters on their work, but I think
14 that a written text in English would be good. I do not
15 dare ask for one in French, but at least one in
17 THE REGISTRAR: We will take care of that.
18 We will take care of getting a translation for tomorrow
20 JUDGE JORDA: We are going to break and we
21 will start at 3 o'clock, because at 2.00 or 2.30 there
22 is a status conference for a different case. I see
23 Mr Harmon has another question. We do agree about the
24 identification. I think it can only be identified once
25 -- identified totally once we know what was the date
1 of that interview.
2 THE REGISTRAR: This is D98.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Mr Harmon?
4 MR HARMON: The other request I have, if
5 counsel is going to use documents that are in the
6 Croatian language, and then provide them to me, they
7 are of little utility for me because I cannot read
8 them. If he has some documents he intends to introduce
9 and show this witness during his cross-examination,
10 I request that he submit those to the translation
11 department so they can be translated into English, and
12 when he submits a copy to me, I can read it, the
13 translation, and I can use it effectively.
14 MR NOBILO: Mr President, we have had this
15 kind of discussion many times. We have a lot of
16 documents. Mr Mesic is a public figure. All the
17 things he said here, he said earlier on, we claim in a
18 different way. We agree, but in that case, we must
19 suspend the cross-examination until everything is
20 translated, and then call back Mr Mesic, or, in order
21 to save time, we will proceed in the way we have so
22 far. I do not intend to produce whole pages or whole
23 articles, but only passages and in that way we can
24 expedite the proceedings.
25 MR HARMON: I do not intend to be
1 presumptuous in telling the Defence how to proceed with
2 its case. Quite clearly, they have had Mr Mesic's
3 testimony for a considerable period of time. They have
4 had it since 6 May. They have prepared this
5 examination by collecting these documents which are
6 relevant. I do not ask the court to suspend the
7 testimony of Mr Mesic, but perhaps efforts could be
8 taken at this late juncture to submit those to
9 translation so that the translation section can
10 provide, or make efforts to provide those documents to
11 me. They have had a clear eye on what questions they
12 intend to use and what documents they intend to use to
13 impeach, or attempt to impeach Mr Mesic's testimony.
14 It comes as no surprise -- they are not operating in
15 the dark on these. My request is, if they do not have
16 English translations at present, that they submit those
17 documents, which they clearly know and intend to use,
18 and introduce as exhibits in the cross-examination of
19 Mr Mesic, to the translation services and that the
20 translation services make maximal efforts to provide
21 translations of those copies to us.
22 I might add, Mr President, that the
23 Prosecutor's Office also endeavours to provide to both
24 the court and the Defence translations in English and
25 French, in advance of using the documents.
1 MR HAYMAN: If I may speak on behalf of my
2 colleague? We strongly object to the Prosecutor
3 telling us, the Defence, how we should prioritise our
4 work in our requests of the translation unit. As a
5 side bar, ex parte, we will tell the court how many
6 documents we have pending with the translation unit to
7 be translated, that we are waiting for. I am not going
8 to state that publicly. I can say Mr Nobilo has been
9 gathering these items, including during the testimony
10 -- he was out photocopying minutes before the
11 testimony. We react to the testimony and we gather
13 Quite frankly, this is not the Prosecutor's
14 prerogative. He can translate everything we produce.
15 This is his witness. He can bring him back, but he is
16 not in a position to unilaterally impose these burdens
17 and requirements on us.
18 JUDGE JORDA: First of all, the Prosecution
19 is not imposing anything -- just as the Defence is not
20 imposing anything -- not one on the other. The
21 Tribunal decides. We have already decided what we will
22 do with the video. If any other documents need to be
23 provided to the translation, that should be done. We
24 are pleased with the interpretation of the interpreters
25 here, and in case not all of the documents are
1 translated, you can use the interpretation of those
2 that have been interpreted. If that is not enough, of
3 course then Mr Mesic would be brought back. But let us
4 not make an incident out of something where there
5 should not be.
6 I recall once again that if your presiding
7 judge were to interrupt each time -- every moment of
8 the proceedings when there was not a translation, we
9 would have a lot of interruptions. Everybody has to do
10 their best. We will now suspend this hearing and
11 resume tomorrow at 3 o'clock.
13 (The matter adjourned until Wednesday,
14 18th March 1998 at 3pm)