1 Friday, 24th April 1998
2 (2.40 pm)
3 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Please bring
4 in the accused.
5 (The accused entered court)
6 JUDGE JORDA: I hope that everyone can hear
7 me. Are the interpreters here? Now can the Defence
8 hear me all right, and the Prosecution?
9 All right, as we agreed, we are going to try
10 to work in the spirit of serenity today.
11 Mr. Kehoe, you now have the floor.
12 I understand that you have the very heavy
13 responsibility today to do what you can to try to end
14 this examination within the time period we have
16 I talked about working in serenity. Both
17 parties will be controlling the clock today, otherwise
18 we will be required to bring the witness back, so
19 counsel, Mr. Kehoe, you have the floor.
20 MR. KEHOE: I will move briefly through my
21 initial remarks, consistent with the court's plan.
22 I will say that there will be very few
23 questions by the Prosecutor during this examination.
24 It will be in the narrative for, I would say, over 90
25 per cent of his testimony.
1 The testimony focuses, your Honours, on, in
2 large part, the allegations set forth in 5.2 of the
3 indictment. As you know, it is part of charging crimes
4 against humanity, the Prosecutor must prove that the
5 actions were widespread and systematic and large
7 Our particular indictment charges widespread,
8 large scale and systematic persecution of the Bosnian
9 Muslim population, not only in those townships, in
10 those municipalities under the command of the defendant
11 Blaskic, Vitez, Busovaca and Kiseljak but this occurred
12 as part of a larger plan throughout what we have heard
13 so much about, called Herceg-Bosna.
14 The next witness is a reporter for
15 The Guardian who has received many commendations from
16 the international community as well as being the author
17 of a book known as "Seasons in Hell".
18 He will explain to you his travels and his
19 experiences through Central and southern Bosnia,
20 specifically Herzegovina, and how he determined there
21 was a plan, a plan from the top coming from Mate Boban,
22 the President of the Croatian Community of
23 Herceg-Bosna, and working its way to the HVO troops on
24 the command, including the troops commanded by the
25 defendant, Blaskic.
1 He will describe what he saw after his
2 conversations with Mate Boban in August and October of
3 1992 and how he then observed, based -- after those
4 conversations, how the ethnic cleansing commenced and
5 the ethnic cleansing commenced of the Muslim population
6 by the HVO.
7 You will hear several municipalities, I do
8 not believe, your Honours, that you have heard of
9 before, they are nevertheless listed in paragraph 5.2
10 on the widespread and systematic count. They are and
11 will be commented on by the witness, Duvno, which has
12 also been described by the name Tomislavgrad.
13 Tomislavgrad is the same municipality as Duvno. In the
14 indictment we have it listed as Duvno.
15 Another municipality, Stolac. Your Honours
16 have heard of Mostar, there will be discussion about
17 the ethnic cleansing in Prozor and in Capljina.
18 What the witness will describe to you, based
19 on his experience in the former Yugoslavia and in the
20 conflict in Bosnia, that the activities on the HVO were
21 systematic, they were organised, there was direction,
22 it came from the top and went to the bottom and there
23 was a plan, an overall plan, to ethnically cleanse the
24 Muslim and certainly marginalise the Muslims from what
25 had been described as Herceg-Bosna.
1 In the interests of time, I do not think it
2 is necessary to go into all those facts that the
3 witness will talk about, suffice it to say that he
4 will, in large part, give your Honours the explanation
5 about how what happened in Vitez -- in Vitez and
6 Kiseljak and Busovaca under the command of the
7 defendant was something that was part of a much larger
8 fabric, that was happening throughout various areas in
9 Bosnia and Herzegovina.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Very well, let us bring in the
11 witness now. He is a journalist from The Guardian, is
12 that correct?
13 MR. KEHOE: Yes, your Honour, The Guardian.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, thank you.
15 (The witness entered court)
16 JUDGE JORDA: Do you hear me now?
17 A. Yes, I do, sir.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Please state your
19 name and your first name, in that order. First your
20 last name, then your first name?
21 A. Vulliamy Edward.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Please remain standing so you
23 may read the solemn declaration which will be your
25 MR. EDWARD VULLIAMY (Sworn)
1 JUDGE JORDA: You may be seated.
2 You have been asked to appear here before the
3 International Criminal Tribunal in this trial against
4 Mr. Blaskic, the person who is here in this courtroom.
5 It is the Prosecutor who has called for you to appear.
6 He is the one who will begin by asking you questions.
7 He has given us a brief summary about your
8 testimony and he has given us an idea also what will be
9 included in your testimony. Now, perhaps we will give
10 the floor to the Prosecution, so he can introduce his
11 first remarks and questions.
12 Examined by MR. KEHOE
13 Q. Thank you, Mr. President.
14 Good afternoon, Mr. Vulliamy.
15 A. Good afternoon.
16 Q. Just preliminary questions before we go into
17 the substance of your testimony. Could you tell the
18 judges a little about yourself, what you do for
19 a living, how long you have done it, et cetera?
20 A. Of course. I have been a , journalist since
21 1977. I was a television reporter from 1978 until
22 1986, when I joined the daily newspaper, The Guardian
23 of London, by whom I have been employed ever since.
24 I have developed to the level of what I think
25 is called "international reporter", which means you
1 work all over the place, and by default have become
2 a war reporter, without intending to.
3 Q. Tell us a little more, Mr. Vulliamy, you
4 became an international reporter. Tell us where you
5 have been stationed and what you have covered,
6 specifically over the past decade or so?
7 A. Of course. I made films all over the place;
8 Middle East, Lebanon, Europe, United States. For
9 The Guardian, since I went on the road, as were,
10 I covered the fall of Communism in eastern Europe,
11 Germany, Romania. I worked in Northern Ireland,
12 I covered the Gulf War from Iraq until -- up until the
13 war and just after it. And, in 1990, I was based in
14 Italy on a brief that was to cover Italy and I may
15 occasionally have to go to Yugoslavia, they said. The
16 reality, for obvious reasons, turned out to be the
17 other way round. I was in Slovenia and Croatia during
18 the wars there -- the conflict in Slovenia and the war
19 of independence in Croatia, working in Vukovar,
20 Vinkovci, Osejak and all over Croatia.
21 Then in 1992, subject to my brief, followed
22 the violence down into Bosnia-Herzegovina.
23 Q. Would it be fair to say that you covered the
24 activities in the former Yugoslavia, Croatia and Bosnia
25 from 1991 through approximately 1996?
1 A. Yes, on and off I was there from the
2 beginning to the end, with a year off between 1994 and
4 Q. Based on your writing in the international
5 field, have you been the recipient of various awards
6 from international organisations, as well as other
7 press organisations?
8 A. Yes, I have. Yes, I have won -- if you might
9 want to know, I won International Reporter of the Year,
10 1992, a thing called Correspondent of the Year in 1992,
11 Amnesty International Reporter of the Year, 1992, the
12 James Cameron Award, which, rightly or wrongly, is
13 called the "British Pulitzer", in 1994, then
14 International Reporter of the Year 1996 for
15 a retrospective series I wrote about the war in
17 Q. Now, let us turn our attention to the events
18 in the former Yugoslavia. Could you tell the judges
19 briefly your entry into the events in Yugoslavia and
20 then focus the large part of your narrative on the
21 events taking place between the Bosnian Muslims and the
22 Bosnian Croats over the 93/94 period?
23 A. Certainly.
24 As I said, I had covered the war in Croatia
25 for its duration from July -- June/July 1991 through to
1 the conclusion at the end of the year.
2 My work in Bosnia began -- focused almost
3 entirely upon violence being inflicted by the Serbs
4 against the Croatian and Muslim populations. I was the
5 person who, with the film crew, uncovered the Serb
6 camps at Omarska and Trnopolje. In August 1992 I was
7 working also in Sarajevo. I was quite well attuned to
8 the war by the time I came upon the possibility of
9 conflict between the Croatians and the Government
11 It was -- there were strange reports around
12 and I was aware of them before I first met Mr. Boban.
13 First of all, a meeting in a Vojvodina area of
14 Yugoslavia in 1991 between President Tudjman of Croatia
15 and President Milosevic of Serbia. We knew there were
16 rumours that there had been some sort of carve up of
17 Bosnia discussed at that meeting, that had been
18 reported. It was around, it was in the back of our
20 As were reports, odd though they seemed at
21 the time, of a meeting in Graz, which had also been
22 covered and was public, between Mr. Mate Boban, who was
23 the President of Herceg-Bosna, a statelet within Bosnia
24 declared in March 1992, before Bosnia was even
25 independent of Yugoslavia.
1 One was vaguely aware of these things but
2 they were very much in the back of one's mind, because
3 of what was happening on the ground which seemed to be
4 at odds with all this. Serbs were meting out some
5 particularly savage violence against both the Muslims
6 and the Croats, and they seemed to be resisting as
7 allies to this.
8 I first met Mr. Boban in August 1992, August
9 13th. This was after -- I was actually responding to
10 a challenge from the Serbs after we found their camps.
11 They said: Well, go and look at the camps which are
12 being run for our people by the Croats". I thought,
13 fair enough, I will. It is my job.
14 So I did and I investigated a camp which
15 I will not trouble you with now, Serb prisoners, and
16 discussed, went to discuss this with Mr. Boban. There
17 was an internecine conflict going on between Mr. Boban's
18 HVO and a small militia called the HOS which was around
19 at that time. We went to see him. We discussed both
20 of these things a bit, but he wanted to talk about
21 other things too.
22 He was the President of Herceg-Bosna, the
23 statelet but not of the Party, the HDZ, which was the
24 Bosnian branch of President Tudjman's ruling Party in
1 He talked a lot about Herceg-Bosna that
2 night. It was in his office in Grude off the main
3 street, little town of Grude, which was his
4 administrative capital from which he ran Herceg-Bosna,
5 because the fighting was too heavy in Mostar, which he
6 claimed was the capital of Herceg-Bosna.
7 He said it was: "Spiritually, culturally and
8 economically part of Croatia", from which it had been
9 separated by what he called: "Unfortunate historical
10 circumstances". Given the nature of the war, I took
11 historical circumstances to mean deep history,
12 centuries. I now realise what he meant was the
13 independence of Croatia from Yugoslavia and the fact
14 that Bosnia had only just become independent.
15 He said he could not accept the constitution
16 of Bosnia-Herzegovina and its capital, Sarajevo,
17 because he said that constitution, although it defended
18 individual rights, it did not defend the rights of
19 people, the word is "Narod" which I had come to know to
20 mean "people and nation", or "race", at the same time.
21 Those were the rights that he was interested
22 in protecting.
23 He did not think the constitution guaranteed
24 the rights of his people, the Croatian people, the
1 He went on to say -- he thought -- he called
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina: "Historically Croatian living
3 space". Those are the rather unfortunate terms the
4 translator used, I kept it. Went on to argue for
5 a dismemberment of Bosnia-Herzegovina, of what he
6 called "cantons" or "provinces".
7 He said then that this was based on an idea
8 inspired by Switzerland and was the spirit of the
9 European Union. I take it he meant at the time he
10 wanted this to appeal to western ears.
11 With hindsight, if you will allow me, this
12 language of "cantons" and "provinces" would later echo
13 that of the Vance-Owen Peace Plan. Dr. Owen had not
14 been appointed yet into the peace process and would not
15 for a couple of weeks. The plan would not be published
16 for several months. With hindsight, this echo was
18 His last point was that this time, he said,
19 the Croatian people are armed and equipped to defend
20 their freedom.
21 We drove away from this conversation, said
22 our goodbyes and talked about it in some detail,
23 because it was an interesting conversation. The first
24 thing that struck me about this was that the gist of
25 the briefing -- and it was a long conversation, it
1 lasted at least two hours -- was directed much more
2 against his supposed Muslim allies and the Government
3 in Sarajevo to which he was, I thought, loyal, until
4 this conversation, than it was against his supposed
5 Serb enemy. I began to sort of remember this
6 vaguely from the back of my mind, this talk about
7 a deal in the Vojvodina between Presidents Tudjman and
8 Milosevic and this bizarre report of a meeting between
9 himself and Dr. Karadzic, the leader of the Bosnian
10 Serbs in Graz earlier that year.
11 My colleague did actually ask Mr. Boban had he
12 ever met Karadzic and he said no, he had not. The gist
13 of this was against Sarajevo and his allies, which is
14 all the more peculiar because a matter of a couple of
15 weeks beforehand, the mainly Muslim -- although not
16 entirely then -- Muslim Bosnian Army had fought
17 alongside the HVO in one of the more remarkable
18 military successes of their alliance, when they had
19 driven the Serbs out of the eastern half of Mostar,
20 east of the Neretva River, and up a mountain into the
21 hills. It was quite an achievement and the atmosphere
22 in Mostar -- I has also been on that trip -- was still
23 in the aura of this victory.
24 Boban's remarks seemed peculiar in the light
25 of that.
1 The second thing was that he clearly saw
2 Herceg-Bosna as no part of Bosnia-Herzegovina but part
3 of Croatia, for all his caveats. There was this use of
4 the term: "We are armed and equipped to defend our
6 We were, rather sadly, accustomed to this
7 kind of language, meaning: "We are prepared to impose
8 our will by freedom in the former Yugoslavia", by this
10 Anyway, that conversation got lost in other
11 work. The priorities of the day were what the Serbs
12 were doing to Croats and Muslims in the country
13 elsewhere. I carried on working with that. Bumped
14 into this theme again into September 1992, when I went
15 up to Travnik. I had accompanied some Muslims and
16 Croats over the mountains when they were being herded
17 over the hills from their homes by the Serbs at the end
18 of August and had been dumped in this town, Travnik in
19 Central Bosnia. I wanted to go back and report on
20 that. I heard strange reports of a shooting incident
21 in a place called Kiseljak between Muslims and Croats.
22 It seemed odd. And another shoot-out, isolated
23 incident, at an arms factory in Novi Travnik which was
24 another town, separate from Travnik, just a little way
25 up the valley.
1 I did not know anything about these. I was
2 hearing from -- about them from one young man in
3 particular who found it all abhorrent. He was the
4 commander of the HVO in Travnik, I knew him from the
5 first war in Croatia, a man called Pokrajcic. He said
6 that he was not going to bow, as he put it, to pressure
7 from either side, implying there was pressure from the
8 Muslim and Croat side -- he did not explain what, but
9 he said, and I quote, or something like it: "Over my
10 dead body will I submit to this pressure, I am here to
11 fight for the two victim peoples of this war". I took
12 that, rightly, to mean the Croats and the Muslims.
13 Something was in the air. As I say, the
14 Serbs were still the priority. I let that go.
15 I move on to October of that year, the
16 following month.
17 Q. October of 1992?
18 A. 1992, yes, sorry.
19 There was an interesting -- we were watching
20 the pattern of fighting obviously very careful. There
21 was some interesting developments. It seemed that
22 there were very few -- there was very little fighting
23 going on between the HVO, south of Central Bosnia
24 anyway, and the Serbs, that the Croatians were moving
25 their troops into areas which were Muslim-controlled,
1 in which there were more Croats than Serbs and that the
2 Serbs, meanwhile, were focusing their attention on
3 areas which were Muslim-controlled in which there were
4 more Serbs than Croats; Srebrenica, Korasde, I do not
5 need to go into that, it is a tangent.
6 Because of this development, the idea of the
7 carve up came back into one's mind again and then
8 things started to happen very rapidly and suddenly.
9 I was in Split, where we were often based for
10 logistical reasons, on the Croatian coast, when
11 I heard, and this was on October 20, 1992, that Mate
12 Boban had been up to Travnik and had declared it part
13 of Herceg-Bosna.
14 Well, this was quite a shock and quite
15 important because Travnik was a very long way up the
16 line into Central Bosnia. It was a matter of a few
17 miles from the Serb -- the front-line with the
18 Serbs. It was way up into Central Bosnia. It had
19 a Muslim -- the Muslims where by quite a way, I think,
20 the largest ethnic group in the town, and it was
21 a surprise that Boban had gone up there and declared
22 this as part of the Herceg-Bosna, particularly when
23 I recalled what Herceg-Bosna was supposed to be,
24 according to his briefing of August 15th, the bellicose
25 position that Herceg-Bosna was taking with regards to
1 the Sarajevo government. I was surprised.
2 Things moved very, very fast. The next day,
3 October 21st, reports reached us of a shoot-out of
4 a gas station in Novi Travnik. The reason for it
5 apparently -- and I add hindsight here, because I did
6 not find this out until later -- was that supplies were
7 being equally divided up until then in Central Bosnia
8 between the Bosnian Army, mainly Muslim and the HVO.
9 Apparently -- so the story goes -- the HVO said to the
10 Muslim guy going to get the fuel: "sorry, you are not
11 getting your share". There had been an argument and
12 somebody shot the Muslim soldier dead.
13 We were trying to guess whether this was just
14 an isolated accident or something serious. Given what
15 Boban said, what he had been saying in Travnik the day
16 before, we decided to go up and have a look. What we
17 found was surprising and depressing.
18 We took a route up through Mostar and
19 Kiseljak, through Busovaca and there was a lot of
20 movement on the road, particularly from Kiseljak, a lot
21 of trucks and ramshackle vehicles carrying soldiers
22 into the Vitez, Novi Travnik area.
23 Q. What type of soldiers?
24 A. HVO, all HVO.
25 Sorry, unless I say otherwise, Croatian will
1 mean HVO.
2 It got dark, we failed to reach Novi Travnik
3 before dark and did not want to because the atmosphere
4 had completely changed.
5 There were road blocks along most of the way,
6 new road blocks, HVO road blocks. We got as far as
7 Vitez and went -- we were killing time and went to
8 a radio forum in a house where a radio station was
10 There all the parties to this, shall we say,
11 embryonic conflict, were represented; the local imam,
12 the Croatian HDZ and the HVO. The HVO was represented
13 by a man called Pero Skopljak. I remember him and took
14 a note of him saying that: "The HVO was now the only
15 legal authority", in the area where power had been
16 previously shared.
17 There was -- that was the first time I heard
18 of the village of Ahmici -- pure coincidence, I was
19 going through my notes later. There was a reference to
20 Ahmici, the man from the HDZ, I do not know his name,
21 said that Ahmici, the Muslims had been singing songs
22 which offended the Croats.
23 I would ask you to understand that had we
24 known what else was going to happen, we would have
25 taken more notes, but the forum was dull for the most
1 part, and I did not take any more. I just saw that
2 name, but they were talking about something that
3 happened in Ahmici and the Croats were taking exception
4 to it.
5 The reason I did not take any notes of the
6 debate is because of what was happening outside. The
7 building had a balcony overlooking the part of the town
8 and there was a lot of fighting going on.
9 People came out to explain, they said that
10 the Muslims had put barricades up in Stari Vitez, which
11 means "old Vitez", their quarter, and were shooting
12 out. That, I am sure they were.
13 We could see a lot of shooting in from
14 positions that were visible from the balcony. I did
15 not see, but I could hear, because I knew the sound of
16 it by now, anti-aircraft weapons being launched,
17 ground-to-ground. There was a lot of fighting.
18 The meeting broke up and we were quite wary
19 of what to do and where to go. We decided to go and
20 stay, as we had done before -- when I say "we" in this
21 instance it is a chap called Sasha (Inaudible), a good
22 guy, a Croatian -- quite a hard-line Croatian,
24 We decided to go to the Hotel Vitez. The
25 system roughly is this: the HVO had two hotels in the
1 area, the Orient in Travnik and the Hotel Vitez in
2 Vitez. The system was roughly this, they were
3 militarised, they were billeting soldiers there. If
4 you rolled up and offered some Deutschmarks to stay
5 the night, they were only too happy to move a soldier
6 to another room, everybody was happy, you got a place
7 to sleep, that was fine. We said: "Let's stay at the
8 Hotel Vitez".
9 We arrived there to find the place completely
10 transformed since our last visit there. There were men
11 bunkering down in the lobby, men bunkering down in the
12 bar. We were told we could not stay, that it was now
13 a military headquarters.
14 Actually Sasha knew one of the guys and said:
15 "Look, this is silly, it is dark, we do not want to go
16 out, there are road blocks, there is shooting; can we
17 stay and we will pay as usual?"; "No, sorry, orders.
18 Cannot do it, love to help you, you have got to go".
19 Not pleasant. We left that night out into --
20 through the road blocks, picked up a Muslim man whose
21 car had been hijacked, dropped him off somewhere,
22 menacing atmosphere, found somewhere to sleep. Hotel
23 Vitez obviously out of action, closed to the public
24 from now on.
25 Next day got up -- we found a bed in Fojnica,
1 got up, drove back to Novi Travnik, aiming to get into
2 the centre of the town to see what fighting was going
3 on. Could not get to the centre of the town, got
4 trapped behind a wall. The Croat -- we were with the
5 HVO --
6 JUDGE JORDA: Sorry, which day was that?
7 What day exactly, you stated that earlier but I did not
9 A. I do not know that I did, actually. October
10 22nd was the day we drove up and stayed where -- where
11 the radio debate took place, in the hotel. The next
12 day is the 23rd, I am sorry.
13 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Even though our
14 time is being counted, could you please speak a little
15 more slowly for the interpreters, because you are
16 speaking too quickly and it is difficult for them to
18 A. My apologies to you and the interpreters.
19 Next day, October 23rd, we got up, go up
20 heading for Novi Travnik. Cannot get there because of
21 the fighting. We end up being pinned behind a wall
22 with some HVO soldiers. They are from, they said,
23 Vitez and Tomislavgrad, otherwise known as Duvno, its
24 previous name. They were firing these anti-aircraft
25 guns, ground-to-ground, shoulder-launched. They are
1 powerful. We were pinned behind the wall by a Muslim
2 sniper who was shooting anyone who tried to run back to
3 the car. We stayed there for some hours. It was quite
4 scary because the person I was with told me she was
5 a haemophilic, which was not exactly reassuring.
6 So eventually we got out and went to
7 a hospital in Travnik. I knew the director of the
8 hospital quite well by this time. He had spent the war
9 hitherto treating Muslims and Croats alike, who had
10 been ripped apart by sniper and mortar fire from the
11 Serbs; now he was treating Muslims and Croats alike who
12 had been ripped apart by each other.
13 The interviews we did in there that day
14 included two young children, one of each, as it so
16 Well, we left Novi Travnik that night to
17 return down to the telephones. Pretty bewildered; here
18 was an all-out war going on now, only -- we are now
19 only 48 hours after Boban's visit to Travnik. This was
20 a war for the first time in all my time in Yugoslavia
21 in which the Serbs were not involved. We joked about
22 them laughing about it on top of the mountains. They
23 could see the whole thing, I presume.
24 Got back to Split to find from colleagues
25 that we needed to get on the road again quickly because
1 an ultimatum had been issued in Mostar, which was the
2 capital of Herceg-Bosna, or aspirant capital, by the
3 HVO to the Bosnian Army that it was to disarm
4 immediately and either to disband or come under HVO
6 We did not know what to expect, went up to
7 Mostar early next morning. In Mostar, the situation
8 had changed completely from the alliance of the
9 summer. The HVO had taken over the court house, the
10 city hall, the post office, the telecommunications
11 building, they had put a guard outside the headquarters
12 of the Bosnian Army which then was next door in the
13 western half of the city, the less exposed half --
14 exposed to the Serbs, that is.
15 We went in to interview the commander, a man
16 called Arif Pasalic, who told us --
17 Q. The commander of which side?
18 A. The Bosnian Army, we went through the
19 Croatian guard to get into the Bosnian headquarters to
20 interview their commander. Sorry, Pasalic, his name.
21 He said he had been told to disarm. He said: "I refuse
22 to disarm, how can I disarm during a war?", was what he
24 He also said: "This is not some local
25 squabble. This is the implementation of a plan, a
1 policy coming from Grude and Mate Boban. If it is
2 implemented here it will mean war in Mostar", which
3 I took -- as it turned out, rightly -- to mean not war
4 in Mostar as there had been over the past few months
5 but war within Mostar between the two erstwhile
7 We went around the town to find that the HVO
8 had done something else. They had taken all the Muslim
9 refugees out of their places of refuge and insisted
10 they go to HVO headquarters to get new papers issued by
11 the HVO and stamped by the HVO, if they wished to
12 continue to remain sheltered in Mostar. These were
13 mostly Muslims from areas now under Serb control.
14 We completed our visit by going to see the HVO
15 commander at his headquarters which was, and I remember
16 this, bristling with new weapons. You go into the
17 barracks and there is a few guns lying around and
18 everybody has a gun. There was a lot of boxes of
19 ammunition being piled up, new sand-bagging around the
21 We sat down with the commander, Lasic, who
22 poured us some rather good scotch, as I recall, and
23 explained to us that the HVO was now -- and I took
24 a note of this, I thought it interesting -- "The sole
25 civilian military authority in the town, in the city".
1 I was interested in this entwinement of the
2 terms "civilian" and "military".
3 It was also that remark was interesting
4 because it echoed almost exactly what Mr. Skopljak had
5 said back in Vitez, a long way away.
6 Commander Lasic then said that there would be
7 again: "No legal Muslim representation in Mostar" from
8 thereon in. Then we asked him: "What about the army?"
9 He said: "The army should disarm and I am inviting them
10 to remove themselves from the front-lines".
11 This was particularly ironic. He was arguing
12 that the HVO would be better off defending Mostar from
13 the Serbs if the Bosnian Army were to be removed from
14 the front-lines. We knew that the Bosnian Army
15 positions to the east of Mostar were quite a long way
16 forward from those of the HVO, so it was military
17 nonsense that they would be stronger for withdrawing
18 them, because the front-line would come back towards the
19 city, if the Serbs cared to take up the opportunity.
20 Again, so in the back of one's mind, the
21 spectre of this carve up re-emerges because the border
22 between what was supposed to be the Muslim -- the deal
23 between the Serbs and the Croats was that -- was meant
24 to be Mostar.
25 Anyway, in conclusion, we left Mostar
1 disheartened by all this, disheartened by the
2 similarity of the rhetoric, this was happening -- it
3 was coherent, same thing was happening in Mostar,
4 Vitez, Novi Travnik and we did not know where else.
5 The timeframe was alarming in its speed. We were only
6 still two or three days away from Mr. Boban's visit to
7 Travnik, from the first shot at a gas station had
8 suddenly become this. By its apparent coherence.
9 I think we sort of tried to pretend it was
10 not happening, frankly, but we now had a war between
11 the people who had been allies.
12 Anyway, we were heading back to Split and
13 thought: "Hang on, there is a conversation we need to
14 have about all this, and it is with Mate Boban", so
15 we -- we decided to reroute through Grude, although it
16 is getting late, and to find Mate Boban again.
17 We went to Grude --
18 Q. Can you give us a date on this?
19 A. 24th October, a Saturday, as I recall.
20 October 24th.
21 We go to see Mate Boban again. "We" this
22 time is myself and a guy from Reuters.
23 We went to Grude, he had moved headquarters,
24 he moved to an expanded seat, he was now in a hotel
25 across the road from his old office. I think it was
1 called Hotel Grude, but I am not absolutely certain of
3 We went to the basement where there was a lot
4 of activity, there was a buzz going on, something was
5 happening. Lots of people chatting, quite hostile
6 towards us at first. We asked to see him, we insisted,
7 we said we had a lot to talk about with Mr. Boban. He
8 was having a meeting with some people behind a curtain,
9 the curtain was drawn back, the people left and we got
10 to speak to him. He said: "I have just been made the
11 president of the HDZ Party in Bosnia". We
12 congratulated him, it seemed to be appropriate, polite
13 at least. He congratulated us in turn for having the
14 first exclusive interview with the new president of the
15 HDZ in Bosnia-Herzegovina which we were about to have,
16 so we sat down.
17 Stop me if it is a digression, but in
18 parenthesis, I just want to say where Mate Boban at
19 that time stood within the HDZ. The HDZ was the Party
20 founded by President Tudjman of Croatia. He was the
22 The HDZ, BiH -- BH was the Bosnian branch of
23 its sister Party in Bosnia-Herzegovina, part of the
24 same pyramid but obviously separated by what Mr. Boban
25 had called "this unfortunate historical circumstance".
1 The President of the Party had until that
2 time been a man Stejpan Kujic. Now, Kujic lived in
3 Sarajevo. He recognised the authority of the Sarajevo
4 government and he was, although not a member of the
5 Government, he was not a member of the ruling Party, he
6 was a sort of, a loyal Croatian opposition or a loyal
7 Croatian slice of what had been the Muslim/Croat
8 alliance, if you like.
9 He was critical of the Government but
10 supported it in the war. Most importantly, he said he
11 believed Bosnian Herzegovina should be one country
12 shared by the three ethnic groups, in which he saw his
13 Party as representing the best interests of the Croats.
14 This was in diametric opposition to what
15 Mr. Boban had outlined to us in August. Unbracket --
16 not unbracket, forgive me, Mr. Kujic, who I saw later --
17 who I saw the following year, he recalled that day
18 well, he said it was a putsch, he said he had been
19 kicked out, Boban's people had taken over the Party and
20 it had been on Zagreb's instruction. That is
22 We sat down to talk to Mate Boban. This is
23 a briefing I will not forget. He had something to say
24 and he wanted us to repeat it. He started off by
25 talking about the Croatian Community, itself. He said
1 that, and I quote -- notes taken in shorthand by the
3 "Not a single Croatian will participate in
4 the Geneva talks [then under way] other than those you
5 see in my company or authorised by my signature. Mate
6 Boban is going to become the voice of the Croats at the
7 Geneva peace talks", which were then in process.
8 As you see, nobody else was going to take
9 part except for his people.
10 He said of the HDZ: "We have our political
11 platform and anyone who disagrees with it will either
12 step down or leave in some other manner."
13 Not much misunderstanding that. He is in
14 charge and there is no dissent. It is becoming
15 a monolith. He then developed his arguments,
16 I remember quizzing him on the point earlier in the
17 year about not recognising the Sarajevo Government or
18 the constitution. I asked him about the army, and what
19 we had been seeing in Mostar, Vitez and Novi Travnik.
20 He said he did not recognise the army of Bosnian
21 Herzegovina either. He called it "a purely Muslim
22 militia", which proved to be true in the long term but
23 was not then.
24 He said the HVO was: "The only effective army
25 in the free territory". The free territory meant all
1 territory not under Serb control, including Tuzla,
2 all places he had not been for a long time. He said
3 the HVO was: "Ready to assume control of
5 I asked him about Mostar. He said: "Only
6 the HVO can have an armed police in Mostar" -- that did
7 not mean to arrest traffic offenders, to fight units.
8 No Bosnian Army.
9 His last point was at the time, I thought
10 pretty irrelevant, but in retrospect extremely
11 important. He fine-tuned all the stuff about cantons
12 and provinces. He said he thought Bosnia-Herzegovina
13 should be divided to three constituent parts and those
14 parts should be sub-divided into nine provinces. This
15 is October 24th. The Geneva talks are under way, Lord
16 Owen and Cyrus Vance were negotiating with parties, but
17 were still three months from publishing what would
18 become called the Vance-Owen Plan.
19 With hindsight, this was an extraordinary
20 remark, because the number of provinces is out by only
21 one, the three constituent parts is bang on.
22 I remember, if I may jump ahead, that when the
23 Vance-Owen Plan was finally published, we joked about
24 whether the author was Lord Owen, Cyrus Vance or Mate
25 Boban, so close was it to his notions, his ideas.
1 Actually, there was a good joke around at
2 that time; what does HVO stand for -- "Harla
3 Vance-Owen", which means, "Thank you, Vance-Owen".
4 So that -- although I did not think much of
5 it at the time -- was rather ironic with hindsight and
6 much written about as well.
7 Coming away from that meeting, I remember we
8 talked about it and we were quite disturbed. Still the
9 man from Reuters. On reflection it was (1), an
10 assumption of absolute authority within the Croatian
11 community, within its polity.
12 It was an assumption of absolute command and
13 authority within the Croatian military, which up until
14 that time, had been -- while the HVO was the
15 mainstream, there had been a number of militias on the
16 outskirts, I mentioned the HOS was the main one. But
17 this was HVO now assuming, as he put it, control of
19 It was also an assumption of authority and
20 command over his erstwhile allies in the Bosnian Army
21 and on the Muslim side. So we were left really in no
22 doubt that there was now only one chain of command and
23 at the top of it was Mate Boban. There was certainly
24 no room for any dissent; as he made clear, "step down
25 or leave in some other manner"; I do not think anyone
1 would misunderstand that.
2 The other thing, it certainly explained --
3 the rapid events of the past week were less than a week
4 away from his trip to Travnik, five days away from the
5 first shoot-out in Novi Travnik. It is extraordinary
6 but that is the case. The coherence of his briefing
7 explained the coherence of everything that happened
8 over the past few days. The whole thing had been
9 transformed in those few days. The landscape had been
10 transformed, the alliances had been ruptured and
12 But the worst fear, and I remember us talking
13 about this, that we had heard this language from the
14 Serbs in eastern Slovonia, around Vukovar and Borovo
15 Selo in the first war, we heard it from the Serbs in
16 the Krajina of Croatia, we heard it from the Croats in
17 some parts of Croatia. Above all, we heard it from the
18 Serbs in the Drina Valley and around Prijedor and Banja
19 Luka. In every one of those instances these were
20 followed by attacks against civilians with the
21 intention of either killing or removing them.
22 I think that is the first time it dawned on
23 us as we left Boban that night: are Muslims supposed to
24 remain in Herceg-Bosna. If so, how? We thought
25 perhaps they probably were not.
1 Those fears were confirmed. The first fears
2 were confirmed horribly quickly. We returned to --
3 overnight somewhere in northern Croatia, just near the
5 We went through the next day, through
6 a little town called Prozor, and it was a Sunday.
7 Everything was apparently normal. We went with the
8 British Army the following day, who were trying to
9 stake out an aid route through to Sarajevo. They were
10 turned back -- oddly enough, not by the Serbs, who were
11 de-sieging Sarajevo, although they might well have
12 been, probably would have been -- but by the Croats
13 who, for some reason, did not want this aid route which
14 would have used tarmac roads through Tarcine, to the
15 east, to work.
16 Then we found out why.
17 We went back up through Prozor on Tuesday,
18 27th, two days after it had been calm, to find the town
19 a different and terrifying place.
20 Coming up to it, we saw HVO tanks and heavy
21 weapons were vetted into the ground near a place called
22 Romboci. Coming down on the tarmac road to Prozor was
23 written in huge writing, fresh paint, English "Cro
25 Got into the main street and every other, or
1 thereabouts, building in the main street had been
2 burned out --
3 Apologies to the interpreters.
4 The main street of Prozor, which had been
5 full of people having a coffee on Sunday, every other
6 building, say one in three at minimum, had been burnt
7 out or destroyed in some way. There were signs of
8 shelling. There were signs of heavy gunfire and small
9 arms fire. There was looting going on, there were
10 gangs of soldiers around the streets, helping
11 themselves to the contents of the shops and the
13 The oddity, I had never seen this before, was
14 that every soldier -- some had HVO patches on, some did
15 not, but every one had a red ribbon tied to his
16 epaulette. I had never seen this before, I did not
17 know what it meant.
18 As you come out of Prozor, we did not want to
19 stop to ask, we were the only car on the road. It was
20 strange because in the outskirts of the -- behind what
21 I think is probably the Croatian side, kids were
22 playing, sitting on walls, messing about on the
23 streets. By the time we got to the centre the place
24 was completely empty. We did not want to stop. When
25 you leave the town you go past a mosque on the left and
1 the road turns round to the left and starts to climb
2 a hill. That is what I took to be the Muslim quarter
3 or mainly Muslim quarter, probably mixed, but where the
4 mosque was. The minaret was not down but it was
6 More importantly, most of the buildings
7 around it were damaged either by shell fire or more
8 usually by burning, again a sign of small arms fire.
9 There was a dead horse lying in the road. No other
10 sign of human bodies or anything, just this dead
12 Up the hill, and on the top of the hill,
13 there is a ski chalet mountain building which had been
14 transformed into a garrison. The place was crawling
15 with soldiers --
16 Q. These are HVO soldiers?
17 A. Yes, HVO, but they have this ribbon on which
18 I do not understand now, all wearing this ribbon on
19 their epaulettes.
20 As we drove on, new road blocks in what had
21 previously been secure allied territory and bunkering
22 down either side of the road which proceeds to Gornji
23 Vakuf. There is a movement going on, this is a push,
24 this is not free-booting around a town looting, this is
25 a military operation and a quick and efficient one at
2 But, the most important thing is that
3 apparently the Muslims appeared to have gone from the
5 I would like to just, if I may -- stop me if
6 you think it is irrelevant -- Prozor has very important
7 strategic significance. It is -- Prozor means
8 "window". Prozor is, as it were, the window -- it is
9 the gateway between Herzegovina and Central Bosnia. It
10 is in a dip in a valley. Prozor, if you want to
11 control Central Bosnia, as we now know Mate Boban and
12 the HVO very much wanted to do, Prozor was your first
13 stop up the line. Whoever controls Prozor is the
14 keeper of the gate from Herzegovina, where the petrol
15 is, where the access to the coast is, where some
16 attempt at normal life is, and Central Bosnia.
17 There is a second, even more important reason
18 why Prozor was strategically important to a coherent
19 military operation. It was the pivotal point on what
20 we were calling "Route Diamond", what the British
21 Army -- the UN -- British UN army was calling Route
22 Diamond. Route Diamond was a road being built out of
23 a track by the Royal Engineers running from
24 Tomislavgrad, Duvno on some maps, up through Prozor,
25 Gornji Vakuf to Vitez. It was the aid lifeline for
1 Central Bosnia. The tarmac roads from the east through
2 Mostar and the left through Livno were exposed to
3 Serb artillery.
4 For some months now they had been building
5 this road since August -- what other people called
6 "salvation road". If you controlled Route Diamond,
7 you controlled the aid tap into Central Bosnia. There
8 were even times when control of Route Diamond also
9 meant control of all aid into the capital of Sarajevo,
10 where hundreds of thousands of people, as everybody
11 knows, were still entrapped, because other routes into
12 Sarajevo were closed and you had to get up Route
13 Diamond even to go down through Kiseljak and a Serb
14 checkpoint at Ilidza into the capital.
15 Prozor was, if you like, the bone in the
16 throat, of this aid respiratory apparatus. One man's
17 aid route is also another man's military supply route.
18 The HVO needed to control Route Diamond, Prozor, ergo
19 Route Diamond, it seemed to anyone with a half a brain,
20 because if you controlled the aid tap you also had
21 a road up, you could run your troops, tanks, anything
22 else you wanted into Central Bosnia.
23 It made -- it was militarily obvious that the
24 Croatians needed to control Prozor. However, all this
25 was for talking about another time.
1 We did not want to go back through Prozor, it
2 was getting dark, we decided to risk it, go through
3 Novi Travnik -- which was thoroughly unpleasant because
4 there was shooting going on -- to Travnik, where at
5 least we knew we could get a bed, which we did.
6 We want to the commander of the Bosnian Army
7 in Travnik, a man called Haso Ribo, who was usually
8 quite a sort of genial guy. He was angry and he was
9 mad. I had never seen him before like that, never seen
10 him like that since.
11 He said, and we wrote this down and
12 transmitted it later on, he said: "All we want to do
13 is fight with these people against our common enemy,
14 the Serbs". He said this in rather sort of a
15 statuesque way. There were not many journalists
16 hanging around Travnik that night. He said: "I appeal
17 to whoever is giving these orders to stop". He said:
18 "My reports are that 5,000 Muslims are now missing
19 from Prozor. We do not know where they are, it is
21 Well, next day we wake up. Only one thing to
22 do, fairly obvious, try to find the 5,000 Muslims.
23 Back down from Gornji Vakuf to Prozor. They are not
24 there. We set off along a road from Prozor towards the
25 town of Jablanica. It was raining very heavily.
1 This is now the 28th October, only eight days
2 after Mate Boban's visit to Travnik, and seven days
3 after the shoot-out, of one bullet, at a petrol
5 We set out on this road. We found the
6 first -- we set out along the road out of Prozor
7 towards Jablanica and found the first stragglers on the
8 road, women and children. One woman in her bedroom
9 slippers, I recall, in the rain. We stopped the car,
10 got out and said: "who are you and what has happened?"
11 They said they had been spending the night
12 looking for caves in which to hide, because groups of
13 soldiers were out killing people who were wandering
14 around the woods and the countryside.
15 We were taking these notes when an old
16 minicab appeared and a man got out and we said we were
17 journalists, he said to -- some of, he could not fit
18 them all, he said, "Get in my taxi and you people
19 follow me". Actually we put some of the people in our
20 car as well. We drove behind the minicab. He took
21 a track off the road up into the hills. This is to the
22 east of Prozor, south-east of Prozor.
23 We drove quite a long way behind him and as
24 the countryside opened up -- I will never forget this,
25 it was an extraordinary sight -- there were people
1 moving around in fields, sitting by the road, in the
2 doorways of little houses, and here were the Muslims of
3 Prozor wandering around the mountains.
4 We stopped and interviewed people. There was
5 one woman called Nadia who said that the shelling --
6 first of all her Croat neighbours had begun to leave
7 without explaining why over the weekend. Then on --
8 I am afraid it was either the Sunday or the Monday
9 night, I did not take a note of that. I think it was
10 the Sunday night -- the Monday night sorry, going into
11 Tuesday dawn, but it was not clear whether she meant
12 Sunday going into Monday dawn, the shelling had begun
13 at night and they spent the night in the cellar.
14 At dawn soldiers came into the town shooting
15 and some people had been killed. She had managed to
16 run away in her night-dress along a ditch.
17 A soldier said that he had seen bodies being
18 loaded up on to a cart and towed by tractor out of the
19 town and he -- the same guy, his name was Senad,
20 I think, he said he had been in the Bosnian Army and he
21 said: "but we had accepted the flag of Herceg-Bosna in
22 our town, we accepted their stamps on our documents" --
23 this is a country where everything is rubber-stamped
24 several times. Still this happened.
25 So left them -- I think we gave them our
1 petrol, as I recall. Left them to head back through
2 Prozor, just outside the town a car was -- had not been
3 there before, was on the side of the road, parked.
4 Bullets in it, no sign of anybody. Just clearly had
5 been shot at as it drove down the road. Did not like
6 the look of that. As we drove back through the town,
7 the men were still helping themselves to the contents
8 of shops and making sort of home videos of their handy
10 Q. Again, were these HVO soldiers?
11 A. Yes, everybody HVO, and still with this
13 The track, which is all Route Diamond was at
14 that time, back to Tomislavgrad, there were three or
15 four trucks full of soldiers, all with the epaulette,
16 HVO patches, all singing, they had drink on board, all
17 songs I knew by that time, songs of the old Ustasha,
18 from the Second World War. So it was interesting, here
19 was these people who came up the line from
20 Tomislavgrad; they were now going back -- some of them,
21 plenty still left up on the hills, I suppose maybe the
22 local people remained.
23 In Tomislavgrad, the atmosphere was
24 extraordinary. Troops everywhere. We went to the
25 Tomislavgrad Hotel to use the telephone, where also you
1 had been able to stay, but now could not, but we
2 managed to bargain a room and use of the phone because
3 the ECMM, European Community Monitoring Mission man was
4 working there out of the hotel.
5 We told him what had happened. He was
6 insistent that we meet with the commander of the HVO in
7 Tomislavgrad, a man called Zelig. He came down. He
8 was an old man. All I can remember about this long
9 dinner was that every now and then there would be
10 a rasp of machine-gun fire out in the street and we were
11 slightly alarmed. He said: "Do not worry, only night
12 games". These were the celebrations going on.
13 He produced these maps and rather wildly took
14 us at great length through the significance of each
15 map. It was a map of Croatia, down the centuries. He
16 described in great detail each map, celebrating that in
17 which Croatia expanded and lamenting that in which
18 Croatia shrunk.
19 The last map, number 12, was captioned
20 "future Croatian Federation" and showed all, if not
21 most, of Bosnia-Herzegovina to be part of Croatia. He
22 was very excited about this.
23 Our attention was immediately distracted by
24 the next disaster, which was the fall of the town of
25 Jajce. 40,000 people came over the mountains and hills
1 under fire. The Serbs had taken Jajce. It was an
2 extraordinary day, they came to Travnik, it was like
3 something out of Tolstoy that day, with horses and
4 carts and sheep, a defeated army.
5 For the purposes of this incident, the
6 interesting incident that day was that the soldiers
7 from what had been an allied defence of Jajce, of
8 Muslims and Croats, were told to report to their
9 respective headquarters in Travnik, HVO or
10 Bosnian Army.
11 We went to both. At the Bosnian Army
12 headquarters there were a lot of Croats reporting.
13 They had a patch on their arms which I had not seen
14 before, which was -- which had the lilies of Bosnia in
15 the top right-hand quarter and the chequer-board of
16 Croatia in the bottom corner, left-hand corner of the
17 shield, a short of gesture of alliance, if you like.
18 These men were absolutely furious. They
19 said: "We could have defended Jajce". They were
20 saying -- rightly or wrongly, I have no way of judging,
21 this: "There has been a deal between Boban and
22 Karadzic, we were pulled off the lines, there was no
23 reason for us to be pulled off the lines. We could
24 have hung on".
25 I have no way of judging whether this was
1 true or whether the defence of Jajce, as is also
2 possible, had simply become insupportable and they
3 decided to concede the town.
4 There were the soldiers saying: "I am not
5 going to fight for Mate Boban against my Muslim friends
6 any more". I thought that was quite interesting.
7 That is the last I had to do with this
8 particular element of the story in 1992, but it goes
10 I next went back into the area in late
11 January 1993. This was to make a film for the BBC.
12 Q. Mr. Vulliamy, before you go into that, in the
13 Prozor area in October of 1992, were you familiar prior
14 to that time with a HOS checkpoint at Romboci.
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Can you tell the court about your
17 observations after your conversation with Boban
18 concerning that checkpoint?
19 A. Yes. This takes us back to that eventful
20 week of October 20th onwards in 1992. Checkpoint
21 etiquette was crucial in Bosnia, you had to know how to
22 play it. Everybody had checkpoints, you were going
23 through them all the time. We were driving -- I was
24 driving, with whoever I was working with, a rather
25 easily-identified English, British registered Citroen
1 car which had been comandeered from the literary
2 editor, company car, for the war effort. It had
3 a Union Jack on the bonnet of the car.
4 It was quite well known by some of the men
5 manning the road blocks, at least the regular ones
6 because they thought it was funny, and would joke about
7 how no-one would want to steal the car because the
8 steering wheel was on the wrong side -- nor do I blame
10 There was one checkpoint just before Romboci,
11 south-west of Prozor, which was run by the HOS, not by
12 the HVO. It had "HOS" written on the side of the
13 little hut they had and they were always wearing
14 a black T-shirt to distinguish themselves from the
15 HVO. It was around -- it was during that week, the
16 week before Prozor, during the Novi Travnik -- it was
17 either one of the Prozor journeys or it was the
18 Novi Travnik return journey when, during that week,
19 when we got to that road block and they all had new HVO
20 uniforms with HVO patches on the side.
21 We joked about it with them. I said: "What
22 happened to HOS, no HOS any more?" There was joking
23 about the smart new uniforms and they had not got the
24 black T-shirts -- this was mainly the translator having
25 the jokes, not me. We knew the guys, they had been
1 HOS, they were not any more, they were HVO.
2 That was the actually last time I saw any
3 other militia. In the summer of 92 there had been
4 a plethora of these militias. By the end of October
5 they had gone. That HOS checkpoint was the only one
6 that seemed to survive into October. They, in the end
7 to the general mirth of everybody, had gone to the HVO
8 and had their new uniforms.
9 Q. Before we move to January, Mr. Vulliamy, by
10 the end of October, you had observed what had happened
11 in Vitez and in the Hotel Vitez. You had observed what
12 happened in Mostar in the disarmament order as well as
13 the comments of HVO command. You observed what
14 happened in Prozor. You observed what happened with
15 the transformation of the HOS unit to the HVO?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. What had you concluded?
18 A. Well, that everything that Mate Boban had
19 predicted at his first and second meeting was being
20 implemented with great efficiency. It was coherent, no
21 dissent, everything going to plan. There was only one
22 chain of command and it was working, people was obeying
23 the orders.
24 Q. Continue on, sir.
25 A. January 1993, I go back to make a film. This
1 is working for the BBC, which is easier, because you do
2 not have to drive a Citroen car, you get an armoured
3 vehicle, and we needed it, because the landscape had
4 changed. Route Diamond was now shut. We had to use an
5 alternative route up country through Kiseljak and there
6 were new road blocks all along the road between
7 Kiseljak, up towards Vitez through Busovaca. Mostly
8 HVO, but also Bosnian Army. At certain points -- two
9 anyway, at least two points along the way.
10 There were burnt-out houses along the road in
11 territory controlled by both sides, which had not been
12 the case before. There was a war going on. There was
13 tit-for-tat ethnic cleansing immediately visible before
14 you started asking questions.
15 Before we could get past Vitez we -- before
16 we could get past Vitez we went to Travnik,
17 a frightening journey back, cars shot off the road, we
18 were shot at Busovaca. It was a very, very menacing
19 atmosphere indeed, that which began in October had
20 descended or progressed or however you want to say.
21 This film was about Muslims in Travnik and
22 does not concern us particularly, except that there was
23 one episode that I think was very important. The
24 commander of the HVO in Travnik had changed. It was
25 not the young man Prokrajcic any more, but it was
1 another man who appeared to share his views. This man
2 was called Filip Filipovic.
3 Now, we are many months into the war between
4 the army and the HVO, but Filipovic would have none of
5 it. Mate Boban was not getting much luck in Travnik.
6 We had a camera, nobody had had a camera in Travnik for
7 a fairly long time, I think, at least not for any
8 length of time. Commander Filipovic said that he had
9 daily contact with his Muslim opposite, whose name was
10 Ahmed Kulenovic. He wanted us to go up Mount Vlasic
11 just outside Travnik, with him and the Muslim commander
12 Kulenovic, because he was interested in the viability
13 of attacking the top of the mountain on which the Serbs
14 held an radio antennae which had telecommunications
15 over all the area, which controlled telecommunications
16 over all the area.
17 Filipovic wanted to take it and knew he could
18 only do that with help of the Muslims. He wanted us to
19 film him walking up the mountain to within just under
20 the noses of the Serbs, a very dangerous walk, with the
21 commander of the Bosnian Army.
22 We talked a lot about it on the way up. This
23 was the third time I heard Colonel Blaskic's name
24 mentioned. I had heard it mentioned -- I had not met
25 him. I had heard it mentioned twice by one officer in
1 the Cheshire Regiment and a man from the UNHCR when
2 they had been talking about a cease-fire agreement that
3 they had been obliged to sign by Colonel Blaskic. They
4 did not particularly want to sign it, but he and his
5 Muslim counterpart, who I think was Hadzihuseinovic,
6 I think, obliged him to sign it. They were both
8 Anyway, this was the third time I heard his
9 name, because Colonel Filipovic -- I think it was
10 Colonel, maybe Major, Filipovic cursed Mate Boban and
11 Colonel Blaskic. He said: "They are putting me in
12 a position I do not want to be in. They are making
13 me" -- this was the expression -- "walk the edge of
14 a knife".
15 By that, I think he meant that -- if you fell
16 it would be extremely painful, but that he was either
17 going to have to go over one side of the knife and join
18 in with the Muslims -- thereby disobeying orders and
19 renouncing his orders -- or he was going to have to
20 fall the other side of the knife, adopt a hostile
21 relationship to his Muslim counterpart and do something
22 he did not want to do, for reasons that were personal
23 and, as he was showing us only too clearly, military as
24 well. He chose this little PR exercise, this little
25 walk with the Muslim counterpart on television on
1 television, under the noses of the Serbs, to say this.
2 I, with hindsight, find that very
4 There was another point that was interesting
5 about that time. Despite the hardships -- lack of
6 water, electricity and so on -- work had begun on
7 a telephone system now. Now I am going to jump ahead
8 of myself a bit, this takes about a year to complete.
9 Around this time from the post offices in
10 Central Bosnia you could begin to start making
11 telephone calls, land-line, non-satellite telephone
12 calls. I admit that in January, February and now we
13 are into the February with the Filipovic episode, it is
14 mid to late February by now, I do not know the date,
15 I am afraid.
16 In February 1993, it is difficult to try to
17 make the telephone calls. Within a few months you can
18 phone any Croat-held town, to Kiseljak or Emotske, but
19 you cannot phone Zenica, you cannot phone Sarajevo.
20 The significance of this, I thought, was that the area
21 code, the country code, although we were well into
22 Bosnia, is 385; the country code for Bosnia-Herzegovina
23 is 387. That was not it. It was an exact mirror of
24 what was happening in the Serb areas where the
25 country code is 381, which is Yugoslavia.
1 These little bits of infrastructure seemed to
2 be important in a place where there was almost no
3 normal life going on. Also, despite the hardships,
4 they had embossed, nice and expensively manufactured
5 number plates, Herceg-Bosna number plates. Every car
6 which -- they used to just paint out the red star of
7 Yugoslavia, but they now had their special number
8 plates with a proper indented crest of Herceg-Bosna on
9 all cars in the area. January to February 1993.
10 I thought that was both impressive but rather ominous.
11 It was not until the following summer I was back to
12 Bosnia, after that.
13 During that time, the Vance-Owen Plan had
14 been eagerly signed to by the Croats -- for obvious
15 reasons, I do not think I need go over that again -- in
16 my view, incomprehensibly by the Muslims, had been
17 rejected by the Serbs and some of the worst violence in
18 Central Bosnia had taken place.
19 I remember reading about how the HVO had
20 unilaterally said: we are setting up our interpretation
21 of the Vance-Owen Plan anyway, and Herceg-Bosna was
22 effectively up and running as an institution by the
23 time I returned, and this was in July 1993.
24 I was only very briefly in Central Bosnia
25 this time, but if I said the landscape had transformed
1 between October and late January and February, it had
2 transformed more so now. There was fighting almost
3 everywhere. Bugonjo was under heavy attack -- at
4 least, they were fighting for Bugonjo. Gornji Vakuf
5 was a battlefield with the front-line running right
6 through the town. There was even a sniper from the
7 Bosnian Army on the hill above where we were staying in
8 Vitez next to the British base and the sniper used to
9 shoot down into the garden at us when we were trying to
11 This is the only time I met Colonel Blaskic,
12 now General. I wanted by now -- by now our passes
13 had -- a pass that you used to have that was good for
14 Sarajevo, Mostar, Split and Zagreb, was invalid. You
15 had to have a special pass for Mostar, HVO pass for
16 Mostar, which I did not have, to get past a village
17 called Nova Bila on the way to Travnik where I needed
18 to go. They said: "You cannot come, you will have to
19 go to Hotel Vitez". At the Hotel Vitez they
20 said: "Only Colonel Blaskic can give you a special
22 I hung around for a while and I asked him if
23 he could give me such a letter. I fully understand he
24 had other things to think about and gave this half
25 a second's attention. The aide to whom I was referred
1 did not gave me the paper, but it was possible to get
2 through, because you simply got up at 5 o'clock in the
3 morning when there was no-one of the road blocks to get
4 in. Anyway, that was the only time I met him and
5 I fully understand him not wasting his time with my
7 The matters of urgency at this point, though,
8 were elsewhere in Herceg-Bosna. There were reports of
9 ethnic cleansing on a dramatic scale going on in the
10 Mostar area and of fighting, severe fighting within
11 Mostar itself. We went back to Mr. Boban's headquarters
12 in Grude. He had moved again, now into a sort of
13 industrial premises on the outskirts of town. We asked
14 to go to Mostar, east Mostar, the Muslim quarter as
15 well. For access, the answer was: "No. No-one would
16 get through there for another two months".
17 We asked to go to a place called Capljina.
18 We were told: "No". We said: "Why no?" -- it is not
19 Mr. Boban, he would not see us, it is his spokesman,
20 George, Canadian, I do not know the second name, I am
21 afraid, I will just have to call him "Canadian
22 George". He said we no, we could not go to Capljina
23 because it was an action zone. "How come an action
24 zone?", we said, "It is 10 miles from the front-line".
25 "Never mind, you cannot go there".
1 Obviously we have to go to Capljina. If you
2 are not allowed to go there, there must be a reason.
3 We got turned back at the checkpoints. There we had
4 a rather good idea. We got the translators, a guy from
5 the Washington Post and I. We got the translator's
6 beat-up old car, lounged around in the back reading
7 Croatian newspapers and a flysheet that had been handed
8 out in Grude, made a point of putting our feet out of
9 the car and spitting out of the window. This was
10 enough to get you waved through. So we got into the
11 town. This was frightening and familiar from the
12 Serb days, the days around Prijedor and Banja Luka.
13 There were troops all over the streets. It
14 was not like Prozor but there were bombed out and
15 burnt-out shops all over the main street, selected
16 houses destroyed, burnt out, graffiti painted on them.
17 We found an old man, the only civilian was an
18 old man and the translator asked him what is going on.
19 He said: "My sons have been taken away". Then a lady
20 appeared and pointed to the mosque, so we went to the
22 There was the imam with some very distressed
23 women. He told us that since July 4th, and we are now
24 by the way on July 18th 1993, since July 4th, the
25 steady apprehension of all the Muslim men in the town
1 had begun and was now more or less complete. They had
2 gone. And the women were starting to be moved and
3 those women who remained, including those who were in
4 the company of the imam, did not know where their men
5 folk were.
6 One of them said that her husband had been
7 taken while playing for his soccer team, practising for
8 his soccer team. Others said that they had been taken
9 from the front-lines, while they had been fighting with
10 the HVO. In this area -- the Bosnian Army did not
11 really exist, only the HVO and a lot of Muslims were
12 still fighting, unbelievably, in the HVO, against the
13 Serbs. They had been apprehended on the front-lines and
14 taken -- they did not know where, but the women had
15 heard of the names of two camps: Dretelj and Gabela.
16 They said they tried to find, to locate their husbands,
17 to go to the places but they had not been able to go to
18 the places. This was all horribly familiar.
19 I am not here to testify on what was
20 happening around Prijedor and Banja Luka the previous
21 year but it was the pattern. You arrived in these
22 places, the womenfolk were distraught, the men had
23 gone, they did not know where, word of camps, the whole
24 thing was utterly depressing and familiar.
25 Back to Mate Boban's headquarters and
1 Canadian George. Mr. Boban does not want to see us
2 again. We say we have just been to Capljina and
3 Canadian George says: "Impossible, you are not allowed
4 into Capljina". We said: "Tough, we have been there,
5 what the hell is going on? Where is Dretelj, what is
6 Dretelj?" He said: "You cannot go to Dretelj, it is
7 in an action zone." We said: "Come on, it is miles from
8 anywhere. What about Gabela, what is that?" "You cannot
9 there either, that is another action zone"; Gabela is
10 down on the Croatian border.
11 Anyway, so we then returned to the UNHCR and
12 asked them more about this. This was the UNHCR office
13 in Medzugorje where the nearest hotels were --
14 MR. KEHOE: Before we go into this briefing,
15 Mr. President, are you nodding to me --
16 JUDGE JORDA: I think we will take a break
17 now. We will resume 15 minutes.
18 (4.10 pm)
19 (A short break)
20 (4.30 pm)
21 JUDGE JORDA: The court is now in session.
22 Please bring in the accused.
23 (The accused entered court)
24 JUDGE JORDA: Prosecution.
25 MR. KEHOE: Yes, thank you, Mr. President.
1 Mr. Vulliamy, we were just about to move to
2 the UNHCR briefing in Medugorje. Prior to that, if
3 I might ask about the trip to Capljina. When you were
4 there, you said there were troops in the area, in the
5 town, those were HVO troops?
6 A. Absolutely.
7 Q. If you can continue to tell the court the
8 story from the time you go to the briefing? Again,
9 give us some time frames here on dates, when it took
10 place in Medugorje with UNHCR?
11 A. This is July 18th, 1993. We have spent the
12 best part of the afternoon in Capljina, talking to
13 these women. There is always the details that stay
14 with you. I remember one woman describing how the HVO
15 guys had come around to take all the jewellery and money
16 and anything they wanted from her house. She had her
17 money in her knickers but, as she said, they found it
18 in the end.
19 Capljina, no Dretelj, cannot go, but there
20 are camps out there. We went that night to the office
21 of the UNHCR in Medugorje, where you could get a bed.
22 There were two people there, one of them --
23 they gave us a very interesting briefing. They said
24 yes, they had heard about what they called a mesh of
25 camps, to which they thought 10,000 or so men had been
2 They confirmed the names, Dretelj and Gabela
3 and added another, Rodoc, outside Mostar.
4 They then told us an extraordinary story
5 about a meeting they had been obliged to go to in the
6 Croatian coastal town of Makarska, the previous week.
7 They had been told there by the Herceg-Bosna
8 authorities that what they wanted to do was to deport
9 some 50,000 men to third countries via a transit camp
10 that they planned to establish at a town called
11 Ljubuski near by --
12 Q. 50,000 Bosnian men?
13 A. Bosnian Muslim men from Herceg-Bosna.
14 Through a transit camp capable of holding
15 50,000 people in Ljubuski nearby. The UNHCR officials
16 told us how amazed they were by this notion, but not as
17 amazed as they were by the fact that Mate Granic, the
18 Croatian Foreign Minister from Zagreb, Croatia proper,
19 was at this meeting and said his Government would
20 cooperate with the UNHCR if they wished to become
21 involved in this plan.
22 This was also familiar from what was now
23 a year ago, because when we were covering the Serb
24 violence against the Croats and the Muslims in north
25 western Bosnia, what Radovan Karadzic and his people
1 had succeeded in doing was to put the UNHCR -- and this
2 is what we thought, and this is what they said, and
3 told us again that night in Medzugorje -- in
4 a grotesque Catch-22 situation, whereby you could
5 either cooperate with the ethnic cleansing as a full
6 participant and help these people achieve their aims,
7 or you could allow these men to fester in camps, the
8 existence of which you knew about, but into which the
9 Red Cross -- the International Red Cross -- was still
10 not allowed to go. Hobson's choice, as we say in
11 English; choice between two evils.
12 The UNHCR in Medugorje was at that time
13 caught in exactly the same appalling dilemma as that
14 which their colleagues had been caught in Prijedor and
15 Banja Luka during the tempest of violence there. There
16 was no end to that conversation.
17 There was an interesting little code
18 although; we asked about Capljina and the mayor -- who
19 we had been unable to find and did not want to spend
20 too much time looking for -- they said his name was
21 Pero Markovic and told us that they had seen a document
22 but did not have it -- I stress that -- a document
23 which he had been the author of, which suggested a --
24 what he called -- breeding programme for Muslims,
25 arguing that Muslim women in the town not be admitted
1 to hospital to have children because they tended to
2 breed what he called -- I am quoting the UNHCR
3 "antisocial and antiauthoritarian elements" when they
4 gave birth to children.
5 With that, I left Bosnia for what I hoped
6 would be the summer to write a book, but my plan was
7 cut short towards the end of August, when a convoy --
8 the first convoy -- got into east Mostar and, sometime
9 around then, the first television cameras too. The
10 scenes that I saw on the television were appalling and
11 there was nothing for it but to go back and to go to
12 east Mostar.
13 Back to Medjugorje and there were two matters
14 of urgency, requiring attention: east Mostar but also
15 Dretelj. Amazingly, it was now September and no-one
16 had been to Dretelj.
17 Q. September of 1993?
18 A. September 1993.
19 Q. I am sorry, go on.
20 A. Dates -- I think it is the second week of the
21 month. I am not quite sure what day I arrived in
22 Medjugorje, but it is fairly early on, around the
23 second week of the month.
24 Dretelj was still there, it was still
25 uninspected. The Red Cross had not even been in
1 there. But, there had been articles in newspapers
2 about the first prisoners released from Gabela and
3 Rodoc. According to a report in my paper by
4 a colleague, these men were being sent naked across the
5 no-man's-land into their own territory at Jablanica and
6 shots fired -- I think actually over their heads -- as
7 they were scrambling, naked, down these tracks. I do
8 not know if anyone was killed, but that was the report,
9 and so Dretelj became a matter of urgency.
10 I went to Grude. Canadian George -- again
11 apologies for the lack of a surname -- "Want to see
12 Mate Boban." "Mate Boban does not want to see you".
13 "Want to go to Dretelj". "Do not be silly, you asked
14 that a couple months ago, no."
15 Went to stay the night in Grude, wanted to
16 try again in the morning; went back in the morning.
17 Mr. Boban did not want to see. In came Slobodan
18 Praljak, a face we all knew; he was the commander of
19 the HVO. We though: Well, let us ask him. To my
20 absolute amazement, he said, "Yes" --
21 Q. Prior to this conversation with Praljak, had
22 there been any articles in the newspaper from
23 President Tudjmann to individuals in Herceg-Bosna
24 concerning these camps?
25 A. Yes, I was going to say that. The reason why
1 I think he said "Yes" is because that morning in
2 a paper, Slobodan Dalmacija, I think, although I do not
3 recall exactly which one, there was a front page story
4 which the translator read. It was very interesting.
5 It said that President Tudjman of Zagreb had written
6 a letter to Mr. Boban insisting that he "take all
7 measures to implement humanitarian law in the camps".
8 After two months since the establishment of
9 these camps, this seemed strange, except that what was
10 around, on the diplomatic level, was that Britain and
11 the United States were threatening Zagreb with
12 sanctions if the Bosnian Croats did not comply with
13 international law over these camps. Croatia at that
14 time needed sanctions like a hole in the head. There
15 was, I think, some pressure on Boban; there was a panic
16 in Zagreb. I know that the Americans were particularly
17 pushing that if Croatia did not clean up the act in
18 Bosnia -- in Herceg-Bosna, sanctions would be debated
19 at the UN.
20 So, I suspect that is why Praljak, to my
21 amazement, to my colleague's amazement, said: "Yes, you
22 can go to Dretelj". Certainly, the secretary who typed
23 out the order paper, for which we asked, was pretty
24 amazed, as was the century when we arrived a little
25 later at Dretelj. It was deja vu for me because I had
1 not known, when we were talking about Dretelj, that
2 this was the HOS camp I had visited when it was full of
3 Serbs almost a year ago, in August 1992, on the day
4 I first met Mate Boban, in fact.
5 Anyway, here we were in Dretelj a year later,
6 this time the prisoners Muslim. In we went. We were
7 greeted by the commander of the camp, a man called Tomo
8 Sakota and the tour began in the hospital quarters.
9 A euphemism. It was a room in the baking heat of what
10 was a very hot summer. The men were two to a bed,
11 rough beds, under blankets. Bones protruding from
12 shoulders; dry parchment skin, hollow eyes, watered
13 eyes, weeping sores; very ill. They were being tended
14 by three Muslim doctors, who were prisoner doctors, who
15 said that they had been trying to treat malnutrition,
16 broken ribs and some men had died from natural causes
17 and they made gestures as to indicate this was intense
18 heat without proper hydration.
19 Our tour continued. The rules of engagement
20 were established by the commander. We were allowed to
21 interview prisoners only in his presence and through
22 our interpreter, and he had to be present. There were
23 to be no interviews outside his earshot in German or in
24 English, one to one.
25 We went into some sheds, single-storey sheds
1 in which, during my previous visit in August 1992 had
2 been full of Serb women, when it was a HOS camp.
3 Now it was an HVO camp and occupied by Muslim men.
4 They were so cramped that they were not able to lay
5 down. They were crouching or squatting on the floor in
6 the heat and they had hung their little plastic bags of
7 belongings on the rafters above so they would not take
8 up any space on the floor.
9 We were able to break the rules quite quickly
10 and easily by fanning out so there were -- there were
11 three of us in the party, the BBC and Daily Telegraph
12 were along. We fanned out, so we could pick up
13 information independently.
14 I spoke to a disc jockey from a place called
15 Stolac who told me during the summer the doors were
16 locked for up to 72 hours at a time during which they
17 spent a lot of effort trying to get excreta out of the
18 windows just above head height so the smell would not
19 be too intolerable. They would be obliged -- there
20 would be no water or food during that period that the
21 doors were shut and they would be obliged to drink
22 their own urine in pursuit of hydration.
23 We continued on to a bit of the camp I had
24 not seen before, which the HOS had hidden from us.
25 This was two hangars built into mounds opposite each
1 other with a bit of ground in between, they were
2 effectively underground, going into the ground with
3 metal sliding doors.
4 The doors were open, obviously for our visit,
5 and we began to wander round. By now the rules had
6 rather sort of fallen apart. We were surprisingly free
7 to talk to people.
8 They said that thing had improved a bit since
9 Mr. Sakota had arrived, that the worst treatment had
10 been earlier in the summer. One time, in particular,
11 when the doors were locked, again up to 72 hours at
12 a time -- no chance of removing excreta, this time, of
13 course, because they were in pitch black and there were
14 no windows. Again, drinking their own urine. They
15 described a night during which the guards had had
16 a booze up and starting firing their machine-guns
17 through the doors; estimates of those killed during
18 that night were 10 to 12, and there was evidence to
19 backup what they said because there were bullet holes
20 in the door and the metal very clearly gnarled inwards
21 and pock marks across the back wall.
22 There were other stories of maltreatment, but
23 the most interesting thing concerned the visit of the
24 Red Cross, which we found out at that time had happened
25 the previous day.
1 Now the men were in disagreement with each
2 other as to whether conditions had improved when
3 Commander Sakota had taken over, a few weeks before
4 somewhere in July or in the past few days, opinions
5 varied. One man told us that 120 of the prisoners in
6 the worst condition had been removed before the Red
7 Cross had arrived and we asked Commander Sakota about
8 this. He said: "No, but" -- this is an odd defence --
9 "Mate Granic, the Croatian Foreign Minister,
10 telephoned me two days before the Red Cross was due to
11 come into the camp and asked me to" -- and I use his
12 words "make these peoples' lives a little easier", in
13 preparation for their visit.
14 The tour of the camp continued -- very
15 humiliating eating conditions, men made to line up in
16 a group of, I think, between 20 and 30, to jog across a
17 stretch of land, collect their watery stew in a metal
18 bowl, crouch on the ground under armed guard while
19 eating, wash the bowls, return to the line and back to
20 the hangar.
21 I was particularly struck by the reluctance
22 of a lot of the prisoners to come out into the area of
23 the hangar, which was lighter, towards the door; just
24 sitting at the back in the darkness, as though they
25 were blind. When we asked them why they were not
1 taking advantage of the opportunity of the open door,
2 they said: "We are not really allowed out anyway, and
3 we are too scared to go out into the yard".
4 Well, that was Dretelj. We left and --
5 a little episode on the road, we took a shortcut back
6 to Medzugorje and as we did so a car came up alongside
7 us with HVO number plates and side-swiped me. It was
8 not very pleasant. It did not push me into the ditch,
9 it did not stay with me like it might do in the movies,
10 but it gave me a good bash on the side, overtook and
11 carried on. Coming from the camp, a clear message of
12 what the guards thought of our visit, I expect.
13 Bosnia was comparative nightmares, sort of
14 difficult to measure but I think one has to try to
15 measure these things if it is useful. I had been to
16 a number of camps over on the other side, on the
17 Serb side; Omarska, Trnopolje. I did not go to
18 Keraterm, I went to a prison called Kula, near
20 It is grotesque, but I will try to evaluate
21 Dretelj on a scale for you. I think it is fair to say
22 that it was -- Trnopolje was in north-western Bosnia
23 near Prijedor. I think it was probably on a par with,
24 if not marginally worse, than Trnopolje , but nowhere
25 near as bad as Omarska. This is not a language
1 I particularly enjoy, but it was a very bad place. It
2 was nothing like Omarska, I would not want to make
3 a comparison to Omarska, which was the nearest Bosnia
4 had to a death camp, not a word I like to use, because
5 of the echoes, but Dretelj was I think as bad as the
6 Croats meted out and, measured in Serb terms -- not
7 an exercise I think is particularly justifiable, but if
8 it helps -- it was as bad as, if not slightly worse
9 than Trnopolje.
10 The UNHCR was the next port of call, for
11 obvious reasons. The Red Cross did not want to talk
12 about it, and that is their prerogative. The UNHCR
13 said: "Yes, Dretelj, we can confirm everything you have
14 been talking about from what we have heard, although we
15 have not been in". Commander Sakota had put the
16 numbers of internees at 1400, the UNHCR said that
17 sounded about right but that earlier in the summer
18 there had been between 2,000 and 2,500 men in that
19 camp. Honestly, the idea of those conditions being
20 worsened by a crowding factor of -- what would it be --
21 40 per cent or whatever, was pretty horrifying.
22 Now, these Herceg-Bosna authorities were
23 pretty hard to get to see nowadays, but -- certainly
24 they made little effort to talk to us. The next day
25 something quite extraordinary happened: they came to us
1 en masse, the press was that holed up in Medzugorje at
2 the time and a platoon of Herceg-Bosna leadership
3 descended on the town, for our convenience, to hold
4 a press conference. I had never known anything like
5 that happen before or since.
6 Boban was not there, nor was Praljak. The
7 star turn was Kresimir Zubak. Then I think -- he was
8 introduced as Vice President of the HVO. I do not know
9 how to interpret that. He later became President of
10 the Federation. He insisted that the internment of
11 these men was an "imperative", his word, because
12 Muslims of a militarily-capable age had to be, as he
13 put it, "isolated".
14 He conceded, however, that the provisions of
15 the Geneva Conventions had not been met in these camps
16 but excused himself by saying that this was because of
17 the numbers which had been interned in them at such
19 We asked him what was the excuse for this
20 maltreatment. He gave the time-honoured answer that no
21 order had been given to maltreat prisoners but
22 maltreatment may have resulted from the actions of --
23 he put it -- "irresponsible individuals", but that no
24 report had been received by HVO command of the
25 maltreatment of prisoners.
1 For what my opinion is worth, given that Mate
2 Granic had been on the phone from Zagreb asking them to
3 clean up the act and given that these camps had been
4 established for two months and the Red Cross refused
5 access, I did not believe him.
6 JUDGE RIAD: What do you mean by "clean up
7 the act"?
8 A. Sorry, sir, I was referring to Commander
9 Sakota's report of his phone call from Foreign Minister
10 Mate Granic in Zagreb asking him to -- and his report
11 of Granic's word was to "make these peoples' lives
12 a little easier". Sorry, I did not mean to paraphrase
13 in slang.
14 With Zubak at that event was a man called
15 Barislav Pusic, who introduced himself as the
16 Herceg-Bosna president for prisoner exchange. He said
17 that he thought that the camp perfectly met what he
18 called "international principles" and said that if the
19 hangars were good enough for JNA soldiers, why were
20 they not good enough for Muslim prisoners; did not even
21 bother to get into the argument about the fact that JNA
22 soldiers would have been on beds and that they were not
23 locked in the hangars. Dretelj had been a barracks
24 before the war.
25 On to the other pressing matter of Mostar.
1 Dretelj answered the question: where had the men gone?
2 Where were the women and children? The answer was
3 horrific, east Mostar.
4 The Spanish had left Mostar the day before --
5 the Spanish UNPROFOR contingent had left the town,
6 I would say fled the town. The day before a Croat
7 offensive had begun, on May 9th. They were in
8 Medzugorje as well and running a twice weekly or maybe
9 every other day patrol into town and taking passengers,
10 not many volunteers.
11 Again, I am forced to make comparisons for
12 your benefit, if you think it is useful. All these
13 sieges were dreadful. Sarajevo was famously dreadful.
14 Srebrenica, Sepa -- God only knows what they were like,
15 could not get there through the worst of it.
16 But east Mostar was one of the most
17 frightening places I went to during the entire war.
18 Only the Muslim half of a little village called
19 Bosanska Krupa, which was being besieged by the Serbs
20 at close range was worse. Mostar was far worse than
21 Sarajevo. As a brain surgeon who had made his way to
22 help at the pitiful hospital, readily conceded, he had
23 come from Sarajevo and he said that Mostar was that bad
24 because of "the concentration of wounded people, women
25 and children".
1 The population of the little Muslim pocket on
2 the east side of the Neretva River, which is basically
3 just a main street with a little village called Blagaj
4 south and a few tower blocks at the north, a bit like
5 old Beirut, and some criss-crossed streets off it down
6 to the river, that is about it. The population of that
7 pocket had been about 10,000 when the siege began in
8 May 1993. By the time we got there in September, the
9 population was estimated at about 50,000.
10 Of the increase, were large numbers of
11 elderly people, women and children. Basically, herded
12 in there, across the no-man's-land of Blagaj to the
13 south and across the bridge into an artillery shooting
14 gallery. By the time we got there, 400 people had died
15 in the then subterranean hospital alone, that is
16 excluding those killed on the streets.
17 The man who was trying to run the hospital,
18 told us that he had taken 50 direct tank hits from the
19 other side, although of the -- of the river, although
20 his roof was clearly marked with a Red Cross. The
21 damage had been done mainly to his medicine store
22 which, perhaps rather stupidly, had been in the attic.
23 Carpenters who had tried to repair the roof had been
24 shot at by snipers and had been forced to cease work.
25 There was no water, people had to go to the
1 river to try and get it. The day before we arrived,
2 a mother and her two children had been killed trying to
3 get water out of the river by an anti-aircraft missile
4 fired straight at them.
5 The cross streets were so dangerous that they
6 had built a little sort of main road running around
7 through what was left of peoples' houses. So that you
8 left the main road, at the most dangerous junction and
9 literally were walking through peoples' kitchens,
10 bathrooms, front rooms, through a sort of maze of
12 It was quite extraordinary; the whole town
13 was walking through these peoples' houses. A women had
14 set up a hairdressing business. You could get your
15 hair cut for a cigarette. I think we paid a couple of
16 packets, but it was a good hair cut. I will limit
17 myself to conditions in Mostar and you can question me
18 if you like further.
19 The European Union at that time had tried to
20 suggest that Mostar be divided between the two
21 communities; Muslim on the east and Croatia to the
22 west. Mr. Boban had been quoted on the radio saying:
23 "No question of Mostar being divided; it is the
24 capital of Herceg-Bosna and only that."
25 One little detail, the Croats had put large
1 amplifiers on the other side of the river which were
2 blaring out a mixture of heavy metal music and old
3 Ustasha songs, which you could hear audibly on the
4 other side. Two purposes, I supposed: listen to this
5 dreadful racket, it will drive you crazier than you are
6 already; but also we have electricity, ha, ha, ha.
7 I have only one more thing to talk about; one
8 more episode. This is February the following year,
9 1994, when I went back to east Mostar.
10 I met Mate Boban at Split airport -- sorry,
11 at Zagreb airport on the way down to Split. I was with
12 a colleague from the Washington Post, to whom we did
13 talk, he knew who I was, did not want to talk to me
14 very much, except during the conversation, we asked
15 about Mostar and he said: "Mostar will never be
16 divided. It is the capital of Herceg-Bosna."
17 By now, the UNHCR, in Medzugorje were running
18 arm and armoured vehicle into the pocket and
19 a remarkable man, called Jerry Hume, was taking
20 passengers. Greeted like a sort of saviour by the
21 people as he got out of the vehicle when we arrived.
22 He later died soon after of cancer. I think he
23 probably realised it did not really matter which way he
24 went, whether it was cancer or east Mostar; he was
25 going to go anyway. He was a great man. Anyway
2 We got to Mostar again. The first thing
3 Jerry Hume wanted to do was to go and inspect some
4 medical supplies at a new hospital he was hoping to
5 establish. As we arrived, they began opening fire on
6 us from the other side of the river, anti-aircraft,
7 ground to ground, again, and the medicines caught
8 fire. When the fire engine -- that is to say a car
9 with buckets of river water in it -- came to try to put
10 out the fire, they started shooting at that as well.
11 We spent most of the time, three days, in
12 a cellar while the shells came in. It is a very rough
13 estimate, and I always hate numbers in this war, but
14 I think about 1 in 40 people in that pocket were
15 killed. So far as I can gather, the casualties were
16 something around 1,000, if not a little over, dead and
17 obviously many more wounded, a disproportionate number
18 of women and children among them.
19 Q. This number is between May and February?
20 A. This is May 9th right up through to February
21 1994, so you stood a 1 in 40 chance of living. We were
22 in the cellar most of the time, at the entrance to
23 which was a little vase for an Italian film crew that
24 had been killed by a mortar some weeks before which
25 they tended with flowers, which was a nice touch,
1 I thought. Otherwise it was a cat and mouse game. You
2 had to stop at the corner of a road that gave you
3 a sight line of the other side of the river, run,
4 crack, crack, other side, carry on the down the road
5 that way. I made a trip across the river.
6 Unbelievably, there was a two-block promontory on the
7 west side of the river that the Muslims still held.
8 The bridge, the famous arched bridge of
9 Mostar had by now been destroyed by the Croatian
10 gunners and a metal bridge had been built to replace
11 it, across which you had to run. It sort of bounced up
12 at you; quite frightening. You got shot at as you
13 ran. Over on the other side were buildings basically
14 propped up by sandbags, more sandbags than masonry.
15 As I was being led through very quickly by
16 a guide called Elvira, I saw smoke coming up through
17 the floor. I said, "Who's down there?" He
18 said, "There are people living down there."
19 I said, "Can we go and talk to them?" He said, "Don't
20 be stupid, just quickly, you want to see this front-line
21 and you want to get back." I looked through one of the
22 sniper's holes in the sandbags. The front-line was the
23 width of a street. There were bodies in the street and
24 the Croats were literally on the other side. It is
25 a front that line had held for nine months, and back to
1 the other side; very frightening.
2 We stayed in east Mostar on the night of
3 22nd February in the cellar and, in the meantime, out
4 in the big wide real world, an American diplomat,
5 Charles Redman, had been negotiating a peace between
6 the Bosnian Army and the Croats, successfully. Word
7 reached us in Mostar that day, the 22nd, that this
8 peace was due for any minute now. I remember we were
9 sitting in the cellar, "Can it hold? No, it cannot; it
10 is impossible; how can it? It's ridiculous," said
11 everybody. We thought we needed to get out and find
12 out about this peace deal.
13 So, we left. The next day, the day that the
14 peace was due to come into effect -- and that is the
15 24th February -- we went into west Mostar. The first
16 thing that I noticed was the contrast between west and
17 east across the distance of a river. Petrol, cars,
18 cafes open, soldiers chatting up the girls over
19 coffee. Then the next thing one noticed was the
20 extraordinary silence; there was no firing. Whatever
21 treaty had been worked out in Washington and Zagreb had
23 We went to the HVO headquarters where we had
24 to wait for, and speak to, a man called Veso Vegar who
25 was the spokesman for the whole of the HVO in Bosnia.
1 We asked him, "Is this really going to work? He said:
2 "Yes, the cease-fire will be observed, the artillery
3 is going to be redeployed in the case of" -- he used
4 the term "recommencement" which I found interesting in
5 itself -- "recommencement of hostilities with the
6 Serbs". He reminded us that the HVO did not accept two
7 armies in Mostar, but that the cease-fire and the
8 agreement would be imposed and observed.
9 We had some difficulty believing him and he
10 said: "Come with me". He took a guard -- he did not
11 actually come, he got a guard to drive us up to
12 a mortar position. Quite apart from the fact that it
13 was extraordinary to watch where we had been literally
14 the morning before, under repeated shell fire, in the
15 silence of a rather beautiful afternoon, was odd. The
16 mortars were covered with caps -- leather caps. It was
17 not that the crew were happy with it, one man said: "It
18 is our town and I will take it apart rock by rock with
19 my bear hands if I have to", but anyway the mortar was
20 covered. The extraordinary thing was that that day
21 this war, that began all the way back then in
22 Novi Travnik, had ended.
23 It was remarkable. We got back to
24 Medzugorje and heard from colleagues that the same
25 thing had happened in Vitez, Novi Travnik, all around
1 the rest of Herzegovina, Tomislavgrad, all over, the
2 whole thing had stopped; like turning a tap, flicking
3 a switch. Even more quickly than it had been ignited,
4 after the shot at the fuel station in Novi Travnik all
5 that time ago, it had literally been turned off like
6 a tap.
7 The conclusion was unavoidable, a single
8 chain of command, this machine worked, it worked well,
9 it had work disastrously in October 1992, but
10 efficiently, and it had worked -- thank God --
11 efficiently in February 1994, in ending the war.
12 Barely a shot was fired since. One was then grateful
13 for the coherence, cogency, and efficiency of that
14 chain of command; it worked.
15 I left Bosnia for a year in March 1994 and
16 returned only some 10 months later to work on
17 a retrospective series which backup a whole lot of
18 other things.
19 Q. With the court's permission, if I can ask you
20 some -- a very few follow-up questions concerning your
21 testimony, Mr. Vulliamy.
22 The first question I would like to direct you
23 to is to the exhibit that is on the easel to your
25 Mr. Dubuisson, that is Exhibit 29.
1 THE REGISTRAR: It is 29L.
2 MR. KEHOE: Using this particular blue marker
3 and if I can ask -- with the assistance of the usher --
4 if we could take this off the easel. If you could mark
5 the town of Prozor and mark out the road that you
6 described as Route Diamond; could you do that for us,
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. I think you might have to pull it up on the
10 easel a bit so you have something to lean on?
11 A. I talked a lot --
12 Q. Excuse me, you have to put that microphone on
13 if we could.
14 A. I am sorry.
15 I talked about Tomislavgrad. I am sorry, my
16 back is to you --
17 JUDGE JORDA: Please continue. Choose one or
18 the other. Please continue, go on.
19 A. This is the town of Prozor. (Indicating on
20 map). (Inaudible due to witness microphone not
22 Coming from Tomislavgrad, along here, there
23 is Rumboci, which I mentioned. It becomes tarmac
24 around here. Into Prozor and Route Diamond continues
25 north from Prozor. It is a rough road here, but
1 tarmac. Into Gornji Vakuf, turns off the main street
2 of Gornji Vakuf, then becomes little more than
3 a mountain track at this point, which improved during
4 the war.
5 Going north. (Indicating on map). Roughly
6 like this, following these little communities, this old
7 mountain track up into what is on this map called
8 Pucarevo, which I have been calling by its new name,
9 Novi Travnik.
10 It comes out -- it comes out on the main road
11 just to the north of Nova Bila there. Vitez is there.
12 (Indicating on map).
13 Q. You have marked that in blue on Exhibit 29L;
14 is that right?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Okay.
17 A. Route Diamond in blue, roughly.
18 Q. If I could ask you, Mr. Vulliamy, to have
19 a seat again and we will move to the next exhibit
20 quickly --
21 A. It was intended to continue up north to
22 Tuzla, but that is off this map and outside the scope
23 of my direct knowledge.
24 Q. I am not necessarily going in the chronology
25 that you talked about, but we have a map of the Mostar
1 area, which Mr. Dubuisson has before us. I believe that
2 is Exhibit 306. (Handed).
3 Now, Mr. Vulliamy, what you and I have done
4 for clarification sake for the court is to mark some
5 locations that you have discussed during your
6 testimony; is that right, sir?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. We have the three cities or towns marked in
9 orange down the centre. I believe those three
10 represent the three camps that were controlled by the
11 HVO that you discussed; is that right?
12 A. Yes. They are in -- yes, they are in orange,
13 Rodoc is the one south of Mostar, Dretelj just above
14 Capljina and Gabela near the Croatian border.
15 Q. You mentioned that, in July of 1993, you had
16 gone to the town of Capljina, that is designated just
17 below Dretelj; is that right?
18 A. That is Capljina.
19 Q. You also mentioned that you had met several
20 individuals in -- Bosnian Muslim men in a camp in
21 Dretelj from Stolac. That is marked on the right-hand
22 side of the map, the lower right-hand corner; is that
24 A. The men said they came from there. I never
25 went there myself. That is Stolac on the right.
1 Q. Now, above Capljina and Dretelj was your main
2 location in Medjugorje; is that correct?
3 A. Medjugorje here. (Indicating).
4 Q. You talked to us about a meeting in UNHCR --
5 that UNHCR discussed a conference on the Dalmatia Coast
6 with the Republic of Croatian authorities and the
7 Herceg-Bosna authorities, concerning the transfer of
8 50,000 Bosnian Muslim men to third countries; do you
9 recall that?
10 A. Yes, I do.
11 Q. Where was that collection point supposed to
13 A. The transit camp, as they called it, was
14 supposed to be here in Ljubuski on the left of the
16 Q. We have that marked in green on the left of
17 the map.
18 We offer that as a frame of reference
19 location, based on the testimony.
20 If I can just address your attention to
21 a couple of other matters you talked about.
22 If I can turn my attention first to
23 Exhibit 80/4. If we can put that on the ELMO.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Which number is this?
25 THE REGISTRAR: The map is 306.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much.
2 MR. KEHOE: I have that listed as 80/4.
3 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit 80/6.
4 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Vulliamy, naturally I am not
5 asking you questions about everything you discussed,
6 but you mentioned, in a conversation that you had with
7 the BiH army commander, Kulenovic, and the HVO commander,
8 Filip Filipovic, on top of Mount Vlasic in mid to late
9 February of 1993?
10 A. Yes, that is right.
11 Q. Is the individual that you were talking to
12 Filip Filipovic, is he depicted in Photograph 80/6?
13 A. Yes, he is the man with the silver coloured
14 hair there. (Indicating).
15 Q. Is he sitting next to the defendant,
16 Colonel Blaskic?
17 A. Yes, he is, yes.
18 Q. Now, you noted during your testimony that he
19 said that he cursed Blaskic and Boban --
20 A. By name, yes.
21 Q. By name.
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. He said that he was walking on the edge of
24 a knife?
25 A. Yes, he did.
1 Q. What did you conclude that he was concerned
3 A. I concluded that he felt that he was being
4 pushed; that these two men he named had made him walk
5 the edge of a knife. By that, I took him to mean that
6 he was being pushed by them to adhere to -- to obey
7 orders that were, as I think he put it at another time,
8 coming up the valley at him from Boban, from Vitez, to
9 engage in a war against what he regarded as his Muslim
10 allies, that he did not want to wage.
11 Q. We are going to shift, once again, towards
12 the end of your testimony. I want to show you, if you
13 could, a document that has been received in evidence
14 already as Exhibit 25, Mr. Dubuisson.
15 This is an article, Mr. President, and your
16 Honours, that has been previously submitted way back
17 when, when Mr. Donia came into evidence. It is an
18 article from Slobodan Dalmacija. The author of this
19 article is an individual -- the by-line is given by the
20 name of Veso Vegar. (Handed).
21 Now, Mr. Vulliamy, you noted during the course
22 of your testimony that, in the spring of 1993, after
23 the Vance-Owen Plan was rejected by the Serbs, that
24 there was a plan on behalf of the Bosnian Croats to
25 implement their own plan?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. As a matter of fact, I believe you mention
3 that in your book?
4 A. Indeed, I was following these events very
5 closely from my neglected posts in London and in Italy,
7 Q. You did not have this particular article
8 published in Slobodan Dalmacija and authored by Veso
9 Vegar, did you?
10 A. No, I did not.
11 Q. Did you pick it up from a wire service
13 A. So far as I know, to the best of my
14 recollection, Reuters reported this quite widely. They
15 did not report the by-line or the origin of the paper,
16 but they reported the point that it was making, which,
17 as I said before, was that the HVO, now that the
18 Vance-Owen Plan had been rejected by the Serbs, was
19 going to unilaterally implement it -- or its
20 understanding of it anyway.
21 Q. This particular article is written by
22 Veso Vegar; is that the same Veso Vegar that you spoke
23 to on February 23rd -- February 24th of 1994?
24 A. I would be amazed if I was wrong in presuming
25 so, yes. Veso Vegar is the man that we had to see in
1 west Mostar on the day that this war -- this bit of the
2 war ended.
3 Q. Was Veso Vegar a public information officer
4 that a business would have or is this person an armed
5 member of the HVO?
6 A. Veso Vegar was the spokesman for the HVO, and
7 a powerful figure. No, he was not a PRO in a suit and
8 tie. He was a man in military uniform and armed.
9 Q. The individual that wrote this article on
10 4th April of 1993, in Slobodan Dalmacija, is the same
11 individual that you see on February 23rd or 24th of
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Did events play out exactly as he said they
15 were going to play out when he told you that the firing
16 would stop?
17 A. Absolutely and mercifully so. He guaranteed
18 the cease-fire would hold; it did.
19 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. Vulliamy.
20 Mr. President, and your Honours, I have no
21 further questions of Mr. Vulliamy.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, now in order to
23 organise our work -- I do not want to interrupt these
24 proceedings in an untimely manner -- perhaps I might
25 ask you how much time you think you would need, and
1 please state quite frankly how much time you feel you
2 need, or else we will have to ask the witness to come
3 back next week or another time. The judges also
4 obviously have questions they would wish to ask.
5 MR. HAYMAN: I would be surprised if I can
6 conclude in less than one hour.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. I wanted to know
8 whether you needed another hour. Very well.
9 I am sorry, sir, but would you be able to
10 come back to appear here before this Tribunal on a date
11 that will be decided later on?
12 A. If it please the court, yes, I would.
13 JUDGE JORDA: I wanted to say that it is
14 necessary. You do not have much choice on this
15 matter. This is in order to clarify the proceedings.
16 I did not want to interrupt the cross-examination. The
17 Defence stated that he needs an hour, so even we had an
18 entire afternoon, I was willing to go until 6.00 or
19 6.10, but I do not want for the colleagues and myself
20 to have to be cut off as far as our questions are
22 The judges, therefore, have decided to
23 postpone the cross-examination and their own questions
24 to a later date.
25 There are, of course, transcripts, so we will
1 have these to refresh our memories. I think this is
2 much clearer. The witness has a great number of things
3 to say. I do not want for the cross-examination,
4 Mr. Hayman, to be forced. Therefore, I ask the
5 Prosecution to try to find a later date that would be
7 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
8 Before we conclude, I would remiss if I did
9 not offer Exhibits 29L and 306 into evidence.
10 MR. HAYMAN: We have no objection. I would be
11 remiss in not asking for a copy of the witness's notes
12 from which he has read in conducting his testimony --
13 A. No problem --
14 MR. KEHOE: This is a point of interest
15 because what the witness was informed of was that if he
16 made his own notes, that was not shown to either the
17 Prosecutor or the Defence, that he would be able to
18 keep his notes. That was a ruling, I believe,
19 Mr. President, that your Honour made some time ago.
20 Mr. Vulliamy has made his notes. He has not
21 shown them to the Prosecutor. There is no need to give
22 them over to anyone.
23 MR. HAYMAN: Actually, Mr. President, the prior
24 ruling of the court was that notes that were referred
25 to from time to time were one thing. This is
1 a statement that has been out. The court has seen the
2 witness, the great detail, the dates, the constant
3 reference to the notes. I think it is on the other
4 side of the line. I will submit the matter.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Let me consult with my
6 colleagues on this issue because we all have our own
7 practices in our own state systems. I come from
8 a country which has its own criminal law system, in
9 which a witness is interviewed or questioned without
10 notes. But, of course, there are other systems that
11 exist, so let me consult with my colleagues. (Pause).
12 The Trial Chamber considers that these are
13 private notes that need not be disclosed.
14 The Chamber now stands adjourned.
15 (5.25 pm)
16 (The hearing adjourned until 2.30 pm on
17 Monday, 27th April 1998)