Tribunal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Page 8702

1 --- Upon commencing at 10.07 a.m.

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25 (The witness entered court).

Page 8740

1 JUDGE JORDA: What is his name, Mr. Cayley?

2 Of course, he'll tell us.

3 Do you hear me, Captain?

4 THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.

5 JUDGE JORDA: Please remain standing for as

6 long as it will take to read the solemn declaration

7 handed to you by the usher.

8 Read it, please.

9 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will

10 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the

11 truth.

12 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Please tell us your

13 rank, your first and last name.

14 THE WITNESS: My name is captain Eric

15 Liebert.

16 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.

17 The Prosecutor -- as you know, Captain, you

18 have been called before the International Tribunal as a

19 Prosecution witness in the case against General

20 Blaskic.

21 The Prosecutor has summarised your testimony,

22 so I ask you to focus on the particular points of

23 interest after which, of course, questions will be put

24 to you by the Defence counsel and possibly by the

25 Judges.

Page 8741

1 Mr. Cayley, will you begin, please?

2 MR. CAYLEY: Two points before I begin the

3 examination-in-chief, Mr. President.

4 This witness, I will have to direct more than

5 I know has become convention in the courtroom. That is

6 because his evidence is relevant to certain dates,

7 unless you want to hear the entire history of his tour

8 from May of 1993 until October of 1993.

9 I think it's a more effective way of

10 proceeding.

11 Secondly, the witness does have two

12 contemporaneous notebooks, very much in the way of a

13 police officer's notebook, which he will refer to. I

14 have not read them, but in order to give specific

15 details about certain matters he will need to look at

16 those notebooks.

17 Q. Captain Liebert, am I correct in saying that

18 you joined the Canadian Army as an officer cadet in

19 October, 1985?

20 A. That is correct.

21 Q. And I think you were commissioned into

22 Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in 1989?

23 A. That's correct.

24 Q. And I think you've held various junior

25 command and training command positions; is that

Page 8742

1 correct, in your career?

2 A. That's correct.

3 Q. I think in July of 1992 you went as an

4 exchange officer from your registerment to the Royal

5 22nd Regiment of Canada?

6 A. Yes, I did serve with the 2nd Battalion of

7 the Royal 22nd Regiment as the PPCLI exchange officer.

8 Q. Something needs correcting in the

9 transcript. This isn't a particularly important point,

10 but you joined the Canadian Army as an officer cadet in

11 1985, not 1995?

12 A. No, 1985 is the date.

13 Q. Thank you. Now, I think that regiment, the

14 Royal 22nd Regiment was actually assigned by the

15 Canadian Government as part of the UN protection force

16 in, I believe, April of 1993; is that correct?

17 A. Yes, we received our warning orders

18 approximately four to six months ahead of that. We

19 were deployed as part of UNPROFOR from April, 1993

20 through until early November, 1993.

21 Q. And I think you arrived in the Republic of

22 Croatia in April of 1993 and you arrived in

23 Bosnia-Herzegovina on the 30th of April, 1993?

24 A. That is correct.

25 Q. And you remained in-theatre until November,

Page 8743

1 1993?

2 A. Early November, 1993.

3 Q. Now, during your tour in Bosnia-Herzegovina,

4 am I correct in saying you were the senior liaison

5 officer for the battalion?

6 A. That is correct.

7 Q. Can you briefly explain to the court your

8 responsibilities as the senior liaison officer?

9 A. My responsibilities as the senior liaison

10 officer can be described as follows: My primary

11 responsibility would be the coordination of my

12 activities and the activities of the officers, the

13 liaison officers that served underneath me.

14 My primary responsibilities focused on

15 coordinating my battle group's operations with the

16 operations of the UNHCR and the International Red Cross

17 in support of our mandate, which was basically to

18 provide protection for those organisations and the

19 other non-governmental organisations that were

20 operating in-theatre at that time.

21 I also performed liaison functions with

22 flanking units and headquarters, and I carried out

23 other specific duties as were tasked to me by my

24 battalion commander.

25 Q. I think when you referred to flanking units,

Page 8744

1 you're speaking specifically of other regiments from

2 around the world that were part of the UN protection

3 force?

4 A. That is correct.

5 Q. Did you have a lot of contact with the

6 British battalion in Vitez?

7 A. That was my specific area of interest when it

8 came to flanking units.

9 Q. If the witness could be shown the first

10 exhibit? I'm not certain what the number of the next

11 exhibit is, Exhibit 362?

12 MR. DUBUISSON: Yes, that is Exhibit 362.

13 MR. CAYLEY:

14 Q. Captain Liebert, can you explain to the court

15 what this map represents?

16 A. This map, the shaded area anyway, represents

17 the Canadian battalion area of operations during my

18 tour, as well as I could with the resources available.

19 As you can see, the Canadian area of

20 operations extends from the town of Tarcan in the south

21 up through to an area an opstina known as Olovo to the

22 north.

23 Separate to our principal area of operations

24 was the enclave of Srebrenica in the east. We had two

25 companies in this enclave throughout on the tour.

Page 8745

1 Q. Now, the presence of two infantry companies

2 in Srebrenica, these troops were physically dislocated

3 from the battle group's headquarters in Visoko; is that

4 correct?

5 A. That is correct. There was a physical

6 separation of more than 100 kilometres.

7 Q. Was it possible to easily travel by road from

8 Visoko to Srebrenica?

9 A. No, it wasn't. We were able to do so once

10 every six weeks or so with successful cooperation with

11 the Bosnian Serb forces ahead of time.

12 In order to move to Srebrenica, we had to

13 move north through to Tuzla, basically across to

14 Zovornic and then down south to the Srebrenica enclave.

15 Q. How did the commanding officer of the battle

16 group in Visoko remain contact with Srebrenica?

17 A. On a day-to-day basis we used the radio and

18 satellite telephone to maintain communications on a

19 minute to minute, hour to hour basis.

20 In addition to that, I believe on three or

21 four occasions during my tour the commanding officer

22 visited the enclave.

23 In most cases, those visits were conducted by

24 helicopter, rather than road.

25 Q. Now, the fact that the commanding officer of

Page 8746

1 the battle group rarely visited Srebrenica, did he ever

2 regard that area, the commanding officer, as not being

3 under his command?

4 A. Negative. It was always under his command.

5 JUDGE JORDA: Captain, when answering the

6 questions, will you please face the Judges?

7 THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.

8 MR. CAYLEY:

9 Q. Captain Liebert, is it fairly usual in

10 military operations that parts of a force become

11 dislocated from a main headquarters?

12 A. I would say, in my opinion, that it is a

13 normal aspect of both military and United Nations

14 operations.

15 Q. Have you ever, yourself, been involved in

16 other United Nations operations where you have been

17 physically dislocated from your headquarters and been

18 unable to easily travel back to your superior

19 headquarters?

20 A. Yes. In 1990 when I was deployed on the

21 Island of Cyprus, I served in the area known as the

22 Lower Gina pocket. I was physically separated from my

23 company headquarters by a distance of about 26

24 kilometres and, from my battalion headquarters, with a

25 distance of about 34 kilometres.

Page 8747

1 In between me and both those headquarters

2 were various checkpoints controlled by either the Greek

3 Cypriots, or the Turk Cypriots, and movement at night

4 was difficult as it had to be coordinated.

5 Q. Let us move back to the Republic of Bosnia

6 and Herzegovina. Can you relate to the court your

7 first formal dealings with commander Rajic at the HVO

8 headquarters in Kiseljak and with Lieutenant Vinko

9 Lucic?

10 A. I probably made my first visit to that

11 headquarters either as part of our handover at the very

12 beginning of my tour or shortly thereafter.

13 One of the first impressions that I can

14 recall from my work with that headquarters was the

15 attitude of Mr. Rajic and his staff. I was given the

16 impression that they had a disregard for the welfare of

17 the Bosnian Muslim population in the areas under their

18 control. I was given that impression because of some

19 concerns I expressed, and the response that I

20 received.

21 My concerns were met by what I interpreted as

22 callous jokes. My concerns about what was happening to

23 civilians in that area were met with jokes about the

24 fact that this would basically improve the situation in

25 the end. That is what clearly sticks in my mind at

Page 8748

1 this time.

2 JUDGE RIAD: Excuse me, what would improve

3 the situation in the end?

4 A. The departure of the Bosnian Muslim civilians

5 that were living in that area would improve the

6 situation from their point of view.

7 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you.

8 MR. CAYLEY:

9 Q. Captain Liebert, what position did you

10 understand that Mr. Rajic occupied at the headquarters?

11 A. Mr. Rajic was obviously the commander, and

12 from what I witnessed there, maintained an effective

13 control over the soldiers in his areas under his

14 control.

15 Q. Who was Mr. Vinko Lucic?

16 A. Mr. Vinko Lucic was, what I would call, a

17 public affairs officer, to use the Canadian term to

18 describe his position. He was a spokesman of sorts,

19 both for Mr. Rajic and also for senior HVO commanders

20 above Mr. Rajic.

21 Q. And when you first met Mr. Lucic, what was

22 his attitude towards the Bosnian Muslim civilian

23 population?

24 A. Mr. Lucic shared the attitude that Mr. Rajic

25 and his staff held at that time.

Page 8749

1 Q. Are you aware of the subordinate headquarters

2 that fell under the HVO command in Kiseljak?

3 A. My recollection of that arrangement was that

4 there were basically three brigades that fell under

5 Mr. Rajic's command.

6 One of those brigades basically operated in

7 the area of Fojnica Kresevo. That was commanded by a

8 Mr. Bronko Stanic.

9 There was a second brigade that operated in

10 the area of Kiseljak proper. I don't recall the name

11 of that commander. I had very little contact with

12 him.

13 And there was a third brigade that operated

14 in the area of Vares. I believe it was called the

15 Bobovac brigade and it was commanded by a man named

16 Emil Herik.

17 Q. Did the British battalion inform you who the

18 superior commander in Kiseljak was?

19 A. My understanding was that Mr. Blaskic was a

20 superior commander and, in fact, Mr. Rajic's superior.

21 That belief was formed on information given

22 to me by the British.

23 Q. If the witness could be shown Exhibit 363.

24 Now, this is a diagram that you drew for me at my

25 request and which has now been computer generated. Is

Page 8750

1 this accurate in all respects with the chain of command

2 that I asked you to draw out?

3 A. Yes, it is accurate.

4 Q. Can you explain to the court the views of

5 Mr. Emil Herik and then the role and views respectively

6 of Mr. Zvonko Dusnovic?

7 A. Mr. Herik was the commander in the Vares

8 area. Of all the Bosnian Croat commanders that I dealt

9 with, he was the most moderate of the Bosnian Croat

10 commanders. He was in a very difficult position

11 militarily in that Vares was almost completely

12 surrounded by either Bosnian Muslim forces or Bosnian

13 Serb forces.

14 I never had any indications that he shared

15 the views of the other officers noted here. It is for

16 that reason, I believe, that Mr. Zvonko Dusnovic was

17 employed in the Vares area. He was the head of a

18 security force that operated on a separate chain of

19 command. He did not work for Mr. Herik, and, indeed, I

20 was given the impression through my dealings with

21 Mr. Herik that the security force intimidated him and

22 threatened him. Maybe not directly, but there was

23 obviously a concern on his part about those people.

24 My interpretation of the situation is that

25 this security detachment was in place to compensate for

Page 8751

1 the moderate views of Mr. Herik and to ensure that he

2 complied with the direction from above.

3 Q. What views did Mr. Dusnovic express to you

4 about the Bosnia people?

5 A. Mr. Dusnovic was the most extreme person I

6 met working with the Bosnian Croat forces in central

7 Bosnia.

8 On at least one occasion we had a discussion,

9 a rather one-way discussion, where I was lectured on

10 the need for the Bosnian Muslims to be forced out of

11 the area. And the reason why the conflict was

12 necessary. Mr. Dusnovic believed that Bosnian Muslims

13 were a lesser breed of people, so to speak, and, in

14 fact, the term he used to describe them, he never

15 referred to them as Muslims, he referred to them as

16 Turks.

17 Q. Now, returning very briefly to the

18 headquarters in Kiseljak, the HVO headquarters, how

19 well organised was it from your military experience?

20 A. My initial impressions of that headquarters

21 was that it was quite well organised. The barracks

22 that it was situated in were purpose built, they were

23 built by the old Yugoslavia army to serve as an army

24 barracks.

25 It was well organised in that when I would

Page 8752

1 arrive at the front gate I would be met by a guard who

2 would call up either an escort or the person I was

3 there to visit. I would be escorted into their office

4 complex, which was set up much like an office would be

5 in Canada or elsewhere. That office was served by a

6 staff. There were secretaries present. There were

7 other subordinates present to assist.

8 And Mr. Rajic was served by a subordinate

9 staff, including a chief of staff that helped him

10 exercise his authority.

11 So I would describe it as a fairly normal

12 setup as far as command and control is concerned.

13 MR. CAYLEY: Mr. President, this brings me to

14 the next section of the testimony, and the next section

15 is quite lengthy. Because of time, if you wish me to

16 stop at this point, I can.

17 JUDGE JORDA: No, we will go on until a

18 quarter to six because we started at 2.45, so perhaps

19 you can proceed to your next section.

20 MR. CAYLEY: Fine. Thank you,

21 Mr. President.

22 Q. Captain Liebert, in early May, I think you

23 had the opportunity to visit the village of Rotilj and

24 Visnjica and I wonder if you can narrate that visit to

25 the court, with the aid of the next exhibit, which is

Page 8753

1 Exhibit 364.

2 Now, this, I think, is, again, an exhibit

3 which you prepared and which has, again, been converted

4 by the computer. If you could explain to the court

5 your entry route into the village and what you found in

6 circle 1 and then the journey you took around Visnjica

7 and what you sighted as you went on this circular

8 route.

9 A. Yes. What you have before you is an aerial

10 photograph, and I'm going to try my best to point the

11 route out that I took on my first visit to this area.

12 Starting off in the town of Kiseljak, I and I was

13 accompanied by my counterpart. We approached the town

14 or the village of Rotilj from a road that started in

15 Kiseljak, moved up through a checkpoint, roughly in

16 this location. That checkpoint was manned by HVO

17 soldiers, and at this stage of my tour, we still had

18 significant freedom of movement, so we moved through

19 that checkpoint without too much difficulty and into

20 the area that's circled here.

21 At that location, I encountered the first

22 damaged, visibly damaged houses in the area, and it was

23 my first exposure to the effects of what had happened

24 there. The impression it left with me is very vivid

25 and very striking, because I was taken back by the

Page 8754

1 surgical nature of the damage, and I use that term

2 because, as you drove through this area, there would be

3 houses that were burnt out. There would be one or two

4 or three, and right in the middle of them, you would

5 see another house that was still intact and, indeed,

6 inhabited. And then a little further down the road,

7 there would be more destroyed houses. There was no

8 pattern to this or no immediate pattern and upon

9 talking to the inhabitants, it quickly became clear

10 that the damaged houses were basically the property of

11 Bosnian Muslim civilians, and, in a lot of cases, the

12 undamaged ones were the property of Bosnian Croats.

13 Now, there still were some houses in this

14 area that were habitable and either undamaged or only

15 lightly damaged that belonged to Bosnian Muslims, but

16 it was very stark and surprising on how this damage had

17 been inflicted.

18 Based on my experience in Cypress, which was

19 all I had to draw on, the way in which these houses

20 were damaged was somewhat surprising as well. In most

21 cases, or at least in many cases, the four walls of the

22 building were intact, and there was a lack of what I

23 would describe as battle damage, that you could see in

24 the buffer zone in Cypress, the zone that I operated

25 in, when I was there.

Page 8755

1 We proceeded along the road through the

2 second part of the village. The damage at this end of

3 the road was much less extensive, and basically

4 followed a route around into the area of Visnjica down

5 here. (Indicating). In Visnjica at the very edge of

6 the screen, there were a number of houses that were

7 still intact, and myself and Captain Lambert, the

8 officer that was with me, stopped there for coffee. We

9 had coffee with a couple men that turned out to be

10 Bosnian Croats and we basically took a few minutes

11 there to just relax and have some more contact with the

12 villagers.

13 In the course of this meeting, the two

14 elderly Bosnian Croat men that I was visiting with

15 advised us or told us that they had helped burn their

16 neighbour's villages. Now, I found this somewhat

17 surprising, because they were quite elderly. I would

18 guess somewhere between 55 and 65 years old, and

19 secondly, my understanding of the history of the area

20 led me to believe that they had been living together

21 with these people for approximately 30 years or so. So

22 our first question was, why did you do this if you've

23 been living together with these people so long? Their

24 answer to me was it was time for them to go. That

25 pretty well broke up coffee and we decided to carry on

Page 8756

1 with our trip.

2 We continued to move down the road and into

3 the area that is circled there and identified by the

4 number 2. At one end of that, at the extreme right, is

5 the Visnjica Mosque which was burned out and destroyed

6 by the time I arrived there, and there were several

7 houses in much the same state as the houses I saw when

8 I first entered the village. Again, the pattern of

9 destruction seemed to be quite discriminant, in that

10 there were destroyed houses located in close proximity

11 to undamaged houses. We completed our circuit and I

12 can't recall exactly where we came out, but we moved

13 back out onto the road and returned to the camp. That

14 was my first visit to the Rotilj/Visnjica area.

15 Q. How extensive was the destruction that you

16 saw?

17 A. The destruction, as you can see here, was

18 quite spread out. It wasn't concentrated, but the

19 affected areas were very noticeably damaged. There

20 were houses on either side of the road, destroyed, and

21 those houses that were destroyed were uninhabitable.

22 They were basically burned out.

23 Q. Were you made aware of when this burning took

24 place?

25 A. The briefing that I received from Captain

Page 8757

1 Lambert and other briefings I received by Captain

2 Lanthier, led me to believe that this damage had been

3 inflicted approximately two weeks previously. I did

4 not witness any of the damage that was done in the area

5 at this time.

6 Q. So you're not aware who actually carried out

7 this burning of all of these houses, are you?

8 A. Exactly.

9 Q. Now, at this time, did you have occasion to

10 see the Mosque in Kiseljak?

11 A. If I remember correctly, either on this visit

12 or shortly thereafter, I saw the Kiseljak Mosque, and

13 if my recollection is correct, I recall seeing that

14 Mosque damaged by the time I got there. It was burnt

15 by the time I arrived.

16 Q. And this was all in early May of 1993?

17 A. That is correct.

18 Q. Can you tell the court, your knowledge of the

19 activities of Radio Kiseljak?

20 A. Obviously my direct knowledge of Radio

21 Kiseljak is limited, because the bulk of their

22 transmissions were in Serbo-Croat and unintelligible to

23 me. However, I am led to believe that Radio Kiseljak

24 played a very active role in terms of propaganda for

25 the HVO or HDZ, the Bosnian Croat forces. The reason

Page 8758

1 why I'm led to believe that is I, on a separate

2 occasion in another area, was interviewing people

3 outside of the Kiseljak pocket or the zone controlled

4 by the Bosnian Croats. The people I was interviewing

5 wanted me to pass some information to their relatives

6 about their welfare, that they were okay. As this

7 information had no military significance, I passed this

8 information to a staff officer in the UNPROFOR

9 headquarters in Kiseljak. The information was

10 subsequently passed to the people in Kiseljak over the

11 radio. The next time I visited these people, they were

12 very upset at me because this information had been

13 broadcast over that radio, and they made it very clear

14 that they felt that I had placed their relatives at

15 risk by passing the information that way. It was not

16 something I expected to happen, and I was quite taken

17 aback by their reaction.

18 Q. The people that you were assisting by passing

19 this information, were Bosnian Muslims?

20 A. That is correct.

21 Q. If we can move forward now, in time, to the

22 13th of May 1993, when you had a meeting in Zenica

23 which I think was your first meeting as a liaison

24 officer with the non-governmental organisations at work

25 in central Bosnia, and if you can state to the court

Page 8759

1 what was discussed at that meeting?

2 A. Okay. The date of the meeting was 3 May and

3 not 13 May.

4 Q. I'm sorry, 3 May.

5 A. This was my first meeting in Zenica. This is

6 what we described as an NGO meeting or non-governmental

7 organisational meeting. It was chaired by the UNHCR

8 and attended by all the non-governmental organisations

9 and the international committee of the Red Cross. Also

10 present were a representative from the Canadian

11 battalion, a representative from the British battalion,

12 usually also a representative from the dutch transport

13 battalion, and when possible, a representative from the

14 UNPROFOR headquarters in Kiseljak. At this particular

15 meeting, I'm referring to the notes I made at the time,

16 the following topics were discussed. The first point

17 that was brought up and likely brought up by a Ms.

18 Margaret Green who was a legal officer in Zenica at the

19 time, was that the ethnic cleansing that had been

20 experienced in the area was likely to continue. That

21 was a general comment applied to basically the whole of

22 central Bosnia.

23 Also stated was that displaced people were

24 likely to be found in Visoko and Kiseljak and that

25 there was little information available on the actual

Page 8760

1 numbers of those people and their state at that time.

2 I was also informed that the HVO had begun to issue

3 eviction notices in their areas. They had not received

4 any reports of the same activity happening in areas

5 controlled by the ABiH. There was a report of Bosnian

6 Serb activity in the area of Banja Luka, also, again,

7 involving ethnic cleansing and the unconfirmed report

8 of approximately 2,000 displaced people moving towards

9 Novi Travnik. There was a report that approximately

10 1200 displaced people had moved from Kiseljak to

11 Visoko, and then there were various other

12 administrative points discussed.

13 Q. Now, the eviction notices that were being

14 issued by the HVO, were these being issued to Bosnian

15 Muslim civilians in Kiseljak?

16 A. That is my understanding, yes.

17 Q. And the people, the 1,200 people that were

18 moving from Kiseljak to Visoko, were these Bosnian

19 Muslim people?

20 A. That is my understanding. This is

21 information reported to me and not information that I

22 witnessed myself.

23 Q. And the ethnic cleansing taking place, this

24 was being directed at the Bosnian Muslim population in

25 central Bosnia?

Page 8761

1 A. At this particular stage of the conflict,

2 that is my understanding, yes.

3 Q. And this was a general understanding of all

4 of these people sitting at this table from all these

5 NGO's?

6 A. That was, basically, information that was

7 presented to the group as a whole. Now it may not have

8 been presented by the same person, but those were

9 points that were discussed in front of the group.

10 MR. CAYLEY: Mr. President, we are now moving

11 to a major new area now, which is going to take longer

12 than five minutes. I can begin if you wish or cease at

13 this point.

14 JUDGE JORDA: That is right. We are going to

15 stop now. It is quarter to six. I have been told that

16 tomorrow morning when we begin at 10.00, that we will

17 be moving to courtroom number 1. Is that so,

18 Mr. Registrar?

19 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour.

20 JUDGE JORDA: For the whole day?

21 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, as well as Thursday.

22 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. So this incursion

23 to courtroom 2 will end. We're going back to our

24 original courtroom. We will adjourn and resume

25 tomorrow at 10.00 in courtroom number 1.

Page 8762

1 --- Whereupon hearing adjourned at 5.45 p.m.

2 to be reconvened on Wednesday, the 13th day of May,

3 1998 at 10.00 a.m.

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