1 Tuesday, 30th June 1998
2 --- Upon commencing at 9.58 a.m.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Have the
4 accused brought in, please?
5 (The accused entered court)
13 Pages 9524 to 9552 redacted - in closed session
14 (Open session)
15 MR. HARMON: Thank you, Mr. President. The
16 next witness is a Bosnian Muslim who was a former
17 member of the Bosnian army. He belonged to a unit of
18 that army that was stationed near Mostar along the
19 confrontation lines with the Serbs. He will testify
20 that fighting between the HVO and the Muslims occurred
21 in Mostar in May of 1993, and he will testify further
22 that on the 13th of June, 1993, the HVO ordered that
23 his unit be disbanded, and there was some resistance to
24 this order by the HVO.
25 The HVO then threatened to kill members of
1the families of those people who failed to surrender.
2 As a result of that threat, he and other members of his
3 family surrendered to the HVO. This witness remained a
4 captive of the HVO from the 13th --
5 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, Mr. Harmon. Could
6 you repeat what you just said? The dismembering or the
7 dismantling of the unit. Was that the HVO who asked
8 that the unit be dismantled, of the Bosnian army? Is
9 that what you said?
10 MR. HARMON: Yes, that's correct. The HVO
11 asked that the unit be disarmed. Now, this witness,
12 Mr. President, remained captured --
13 JUDGE JORDA: I understand.
14 MR. HARMON: From the 13th of June, 1993
15 until the 22nd or 23rd of March of 1994. During this
16 period, he and thousands of civilians, and as well as
17 some prisoners of war, and he technically was a
18 prisoner of war, were incarcerated in the Heliodrom
19 located near Mostar. His testimony will relate
20 primarily to his nine months in captivity at the
21 Heliodrom. He will describe the systematic forced
22 labour of civilians and prisoners of war, including
23 trench digging at front-line positions that resulted in
24 numerous deaths and injuries of detainees. He will
25 also describe the presence of Croatian military units
1that he observed in and around Mostar, including the
2 First Guards Brigade from Zagreb, they were known as
3 the Tigers and the Second Guards Brigade from Zagreb
4 known as the Thunderbolts. He will testify that he was
5 force to do a number of things, including forced labour
6 in the presence of and at the request of these
7 particular HV units, these Croatian units. He will
8 testify further that he observed these Croatian army
9 units engaged in combat with the army of Bosnia and
11 Lastly, Mr. President, he will describe how
12 he and other prisoners, including civilians, were used
13 as human shields.
14 Now, in respect of the indictment, Mr.
15 President, his testimony is relevant to show that
16 certain acts in the indictment were widespread and
17 systematic, and this is relevant to crimes against
18 humanity, specifically paragraph 5.2 of the indictment
19 and Count 1 of the indictment. His testimony is also
20 relevant to the existence of an international armed
21 conflict between two sovereign states, Croatia and
22 Bosnia, and this, therefore, is relevant to paragraphs
23 5.0, 5.1, and 5.3 of the indictment and to all alleged
24 violations of the Geneva Conventions that are contained
25 in counts 5, 8, 11, 15, 17 and 19. That concludes my
1summary, Mr. President.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. As I did with
3 Mr. Cayley, I would like to congratulate him for his
4 concision, he's not here but you can congratulate him
5 for me. If I understand you correctly, the witness
6 spent several months in captivity. I would ask you,
7 Mr. Harmon, to concentrate your questions on the three
8 points which seem to be the most important to us,
9 subject to, of course, what the witness will say, that
10 is, the captivity, the engagement of the Croatian army
11 and the human shields. Try to focus on those points.
12 Of course, if you feel there are other important
13 points, don't hesitate to ask questions about them.
14 But, according to your summary, these are the three
15 points which seem to be what you expect the witness to
16 speak about. All right, we can have Witness VV brought
17 in now.
18 (The witness entered court)
19 JUDGE JORDA: Witness VV, do you hear me?
20 We're going to call you Witness VV. You are under
21 protection measures. First identify your name on the
22 document that the usher is going to show you. Is this,
23 in fact, your name? Is that your name? Don't say it,
24 just tell us whether that is your name.
25 THE WITNESS: Yes, that is my name.
1JUDGE JORDA: Remain standing for a few more
2 moments, as long as it takes to take the solemn
3 declaration. You are going to read the document which
4 is the usher is giving to you here. Please read it out
5 loud in your own language.
6 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I shall
7 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
9 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. You may be seated.
10 Please get comfortable. Relax. We're going to call
11 you Witness VV because you are a protected witness, at
12 your request and with the agreement of all the
13 parties. You have agreed to come to testify at the
14 request of the Prosecutor. We have a general idea
15 about what the Prosecutor expects from your testimony.
16 You are going to answer a few of his questions, and to
17 say very simply to us what you experienced. Mr. Harmon
18 is going to ask you first some questions and then you
19 will testify freely using your own words before the
20 Judges. Please settle in, relax, feel comfortable.
21 Mr. Harmon?
22 Witness VV
23 Examined by Mr. Harmon:
24 Q. Good morning, Witness VV.
25 A. Good morning.
1Q. Are you a Bosnian citizen and a Muslim by
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. In June of 1993, were you a member of the
5 Bosnian army?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Can you tell the Judges the approximate month
8 when the fighting started between the HVO and the
9 Muslims in the town of Mostar?
10 A. In May 1993.
11 Q. Were you taken prisoner by the HVO in June of
12 1993 and did you remain in captivity until
13 approximately the 22nd or 23rd of March, 1994?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Now, before we start your testimony, if I
16 could have the assistance of the usher, I'd like to
17 have Prosecutor's Exhibit 401 placed on the ELMO.
18 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, counsel, Your
19 Honours, 401 is -- I'll describe this. This is a map
20 on which Witness VV has indicated and marked certain
21 locations that will be relevant to his testimony. And
22 this is really an aid to Your Honours when he refers to
23 certain locations, Your Honours can refer and counsel
24 can refer to those locations that have been mapped --
25 marked on the map. Now, let me have this exhibit
1placed on the ELMO.
2 Q. Witness VV, can you just take a look at that
3 and tell the Judges whether these marks are marks that
4 you indicated and then I subsequently marked on this
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Thank you. Now, when you testified today,
8 Witness VV, I'd like you to tell your story in your own
9 words in a narrative form to the Judges. And let me
10 begin, if I can, by asking you to tell the Judges about
11 the unit of the Bosnian army in which you were a
12 member, where they were stationed, and the
13 circumstances of your becoming a prisoner of war.
14 Could you tell the Judges in your own words the answers
15 to those questions?
16 A. My unit was located in Rotilja. It's a place
17 on the border of Stolac and Mostar. We held positions
18 against Serb units. We were together with the HVO
19 units. To the left and to the right of our position
20 were HVO positions, also facing the Serb units. After
21 the fighting broke out in Mostar on the 13th of June,
22 those HVO units were reinforced and they were under the
23 orders to disarm our unit. After a brief fighting of a
24 platoon, a part of the unit was able to retreat to
25 Mostar and to connect linkup with the Mostar units.
1And the other part of the unit remained blocked there,
2 surrounded. And after the threats of the HVO soldiers
3 that they would kill our families located on certain
4 buses, it turned out that it was not true that they
5 were on those buses, that part of the unit
6 surrendered. I was among them.
7 The very same day, we were taken to the
8 prison in Gabela, and then on the same day to the
9 Heliodrom prison.
10 Q. Now, just very briefly, what was your role in
11 the Bosnian army? What was your position? What were
12 your duties?
13 A. That unit had just been founded, and formal
14 appointments were not made. I was in charge of four or
15 five men who were in charge of communications.
16 Q. Now, could you please tell the Judges where
17 you were held prisoner and the conditions of your
18 captivity, and while describing those experiences, what
19 happened to you and what happened to other people who
20 were prisoners, can you also describe your contacts
21 with members of the Croatian army and Croatian army
22 units? Just start at the beginning, then, once you
23 were taken prisoner and carry us all the way through
24 the time of your release, if you would.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Just a moment, please. Before
1the witness begins to tell the story of his captivity,
2 rather than interrupt him in the middle of his
3 description, we're going to take a 20-minute break. We
4 will now adjourn the hearing.
5 --- Recess taken at 11.13 a.m.
6 --- On resuming at 11.35 a.m.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Have the
8 accused brought in.
9 (The accused entered court)
10 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Harmon and Witness VV, you
11 may now proceed with the account of your captivity.
12 MR. HARMON:
13 Q. Witness VV, before we left, the question I
14 had asked you is if you could kindly tell the Judges of
15 the conditions under which you were held a prisoner,
16 where you were held prisoner, relate those experiences
17 and the experiences of others, if you would. Would you
18 kindly also describe to the Judges your contacts with
19 soldiers from the Croatian army and, particularly,
20 identify Croatian units?
21 A. Immediately after the capture, we were taken
22 to Gabela, that was a former depot of the Yugoslav
23 People's Army, and we were kept there for several
24 hours. After those several hours, we were transported
25 to the Heliodrom. The "Heliodrom" is the term used for
1centre which was -- actually, it was a school for
2 airmen, air personnel, in the former Yugoslav People's
3 Army. There were lots of buildings. There was a gym
4 there. One of the buildings became a prison, and we
5 called that building the prison. And that's where we
6 were located, in the basement in that building, and
7 that's where we remained for 20 days.
8 A little while later, the army of Bosnia and
9 Herzegovina managed to break through towards the north
10 and they managed to liberate the area of Bijelo Polje
11 and Sjeverni Logor, northern camp. Immediately after
12 that in our prison, in the gym and the buildings,
13 civilians from Mostar were brought to those rooms.
14 A few days later, we started to work. I
15 spent about nine months in the Heliodrom. Various
16 trucks of various HVO units came every day, and they
17 took prisoners, as many as they needed for the works,
18 took them to the location where they were supposed to
19 do the labour, and that was at the HVO positions. In
20 the evening, most often they would return them to the
21 prison, although there were cases when we would stay
22 several days or even several weeks at the positions of
23 those units.
24 Since we were young and strong during the
25 nine months, we worked virtually every day. The jobs
1what we did were various. At the frontlines, we would
2 carry sacks with sand or dug trenches or unload the
3 ammunition. And we also loaded and unloaded timber,
4 that was in the rear.
5 The first contact with the soldiers of the
6 Croatian army occurred approximately in August 1993 in
7 the village of Bijelo Polje. The HVO took a group of
8 prisoners, including myself, to Bijelo Polje and that's
9 where we stayed for seven days. On one of those seven
10 days, I was digging side trenches on the position next
11 to the main route, the Sarajevo-Mostar main route.
12 That location on that day was held by a platoon
13 strength unit of the Croatian army. I don't know what
14 unit of the Croatian army those soldiers belonged to,
15 but they talked to us, since they were from Slavonia.
16 They were soldiers of the Croatian army. And
17 during the fighting with the Yugoslav People's Army in
18 Slavonia, they were captured as members of the Croatian
19 army. And then when they were exchanged and brought
20 back to Croatia, they again joined the Croatian army,
21 and it was interesting for them to compare their
22 experience as prisoners of war with our experience.
23 On that day, there was sporadic exchange of
24 infantry weapons fire. And the next encounter was on
25 the hill of Kicin near Blagaj. It was approximately in
1September or maybe early October 1993. Since there
2 were no roads on that hill, we were forced to carry
3 crates with infantry ammunition to the top of that
4 hill. These positions were also held by the units of
5 the Croatian army. I don't know what unit that was.
6 We went there a couple of times. Actually, I climbed
7 three times up that hill carrying a load of about 30
8 kilos. The soldiers of that unit told us that on that
9 day, an officer of the Croatian army who was doing
10 artillery reconnaissance, that he was captured by the
11 BH army.
12 Approximately seven days after that, we were
13 taken to a mortar position held by the Croatian army.
14 That was the Second Guards Brigade, Thunder Bolts.
15 That was a mortar position in placement 72 and 120
16 millimetres -- 82 millimetres, I apologise. I went
17 five or six times to that position during the next 10
18 or 20 days. They would take us there every time from
19 the Heliodrom prison and bring us back the same day
20 after we carried out our tasks.
21 During the last three months of my detention
22 in the prison, I worked in the Heliodrom compound in
23 the rooms occupied by the members of the Croatian army
24 unit of Tigrovi, that's the Tigers, the First Guards
25 Brigade from Zagreb. While I was there, I mostly
1worked in the kitchen or I was cleaning the pots and so
3 In between those events, we worked with the
4 Croatian Defence Council for them almost every day.
5 All those tasks involved great risks working at the
6 front-line, and prisoners were often wounded. During
7 the first days of my detention in Heliodrom, we went to
8 work -- it was only us members of the BH army who went
9 to work in those early days. Our uniforms of the BH
10 army, we had to take them off, and we were given old
11 blue former JNA uniforms. And we were, thus, marked as
12 members of the BH army so that it was easy to notice
13 us, even when we were working in the town, when there
14 was street fighting going on.
15 However, when civilians were brought into the
16 prison, since the number of imprisoned soldiers was
17 small and they had great needs to have people to work,
18 everybody went to work. When we were building bunkers
19 in abandoned apartments in the town where the street
20 fighting was going on, we found certain items of
21 clothing, shirts and trousers. And over the next month
22 or so, we managed to change from those uniforms
23 gradually, and we blended into that mass of civilians.
24 So from the second month onwards, there was no
25 difference in our status of us prisoners of war,
1members of the BH army, and the civilians.
2 In March 1993, I was exchanged.
3 Q. You said just a moment ago in March of 1993,
4 you were exchanged. Did you mean March of 1994?
5 A. I apologise. Yes, it was March 1994.
6 Q. Witness VV, before I turn to a different
7 subject, let me just ask some questions to clarify some
8 of your testimony. Do you see in front of you
9 Prosecutor's Exhibit 401? You have mentioned the
10 Heliodrom. Is the location of the Heliodrom indicated,
11 marked in orange, on Prosecutor's Exhibit 401, and
12 could you point to it, please?
13 A. This is the area that is marked on the map at
14 Jesenica. This is in the southern part of Mostar. On
15 the right side of Neretva, the river Neretva, and there
16 was the barracks Heliodrom. (Indicating).
17 Q. Can you tell the Judges approximately how
18 many prisoners you estimate were present at the
19 Heliodrom during your nine-month stay?
20 A. We prisoners, we thought that there were
21 between 3.000 and 4.000.
22 Q. To the best of your knowledge, how many of
23 those prisoners were prisoners of war and how many of
24 them were civilians?
25 A. Mostly a hundred prisoners of war.
1Q. Were the remainder of the prisoners, in your
2 opinion, civilians?
3 A. At least a hundred people were captured in
4 the uniforms of the BH army. The others were
5 civilians, among them also people who were able to
7 Q. Can you tell me, were the people who were
8 prisoners detained with you and others Muslims?
9 A. Yes. There were mostly Muslims. There were
10 also two Serbs that I know of.
11 Q. Were there women detained as well?
12 A. On the last floor, there were a few women.
13 Q. Can you tell the Judges the range in ages of
14 the men who were detained at the Heliodrom?
15 A. There were men aged 16 to 17 to over 60.
16 Q. Now, you described being taken to dig
17 trenches. Were you and the others taken to, not only
18 front-line positions, but positions within the city of
19 Mostar where fighting was occurring?
20 A. Yes. When I say "lines, frontlines," I mean
21 Mostar and the surrounding because this line was very
22 broad. There were street fights in Mostar, and it was
23 most dangerous to work there.
24 Q. Now I'd like to turn your attention to the
25 area that is marked on the map in pen, Bijelo Polje.
1You described first coming into contact at that
2 location with members of the Croatian army. Can you
3 tell the Judges, were they wearing uniforms that
4 indicated they were members of the Croatian army? Were
5 they wearing insignia that indicated that they were
6 members of the Croatian army?
7 A. I can't remember regarding this unit, the
8 insignia exactly, but I can remember the conversation
9 we had with them where they confirmed that they are
10 members of HV, especially their experience with regard
11 to their capture in Slavonia and exchange.
12 Q. Now, at this particular location, how far
13 away were you and the other prisoners from the
14 frontlines with the Bosnian army?
15 A. Between 100 and 200 metres.
16 Q. While you were at that particular location,
17 did the members of the Croatian army engage in fighting
18 with members of the Bosnian army?
19 A. Yes, there was some exchange of infantry
21 Q. Now I'd like to turn your attention to the
22 second location where you observed Croatian soldiers,
23 that is, the area marked on the map as "Blagaj." I'd
24 like to ask you some specific questions about that
25 particular unit. Did that unit of Croatian soldiers
1appear to be an organised unit?
2 A. Yes, with their command and with their
3 complete unit.
4 Q. Were they wearing some kind of an insignia
5 that indicated that they were from Croatia?
6 A. With regard to these soldiers, I don't
7 remember that they had any insignia. I remember that
8 an officer visited them and he had an insignia of the
9 Croatian army.
10 Q. Do you remember what that insignia was or did
11 you later see that officer in another location and then
12 did you know what unit he was a member of?
13 A. Yes. Later on when I worked in the kitchen
14 with the unit, the Tigers, I saw that this officer is
15 their superior and that he is a colonel.
16 Q. So this particular officer you remember
17 visiting the unit, the Croatian unit, that was
18 stationed at Blagaj?
19 A. That they were located at the positions
20 towards Blagaj. Blagaj is a place that was under the
21 control of the BH army and this is the hill Kicin near
23 JUDGE RIAD: Mr. Harmon, just a second, the
24 unit, the Tigers, is a Croatian unit.
25 MR. HARMON: Yes, I see an error that I've
1made, Judge Riad. Let's just clarify that.
2 Q. The Tigers, that was a unit of the Croatian
3 army; is that correct?
4 A. Tigers, yes, it's the First Guards Brigade of
5 the Croatian army.
6 Q. Now, I'd like to turn your attention to
7 Hodbina, and that is an area that is also marked on
8 Prosecutor's Exhibit 401, and that is the third
9 location where you saw soldiers from the Croatian
10 army. Just to clarify one point, you said these were
11 the Second Guards unit known as the Thunder Bolts. Do
12 you know from which city the Thunder Bolts came?
13 A. The Thunder Bolts are, as far as I know, the
14 Second Guards Brigade from Zagreb.
15 Q. While you were in the presence of the Thunder
16 Bolts, what kind of work did you do? What kind of work
17 were you forced to do?
18 A. We were cleaning the mortars. We were
19 bringing the munitions.
20 Q. Did you personally observe the members of the
21 Croatian army, the Thunder Bolts, fire on Bosnian army
22 positions with those mortars?
23 A. Two times I was there when they were shooting
24 from the -- when there was mortar shooting from these
25 positions towards the Bosnian army.
1Q. Did you see the impacts of those mortar
2 rounds on Bosnian frontlines?
3 A. We could see that -- I could see that one
4 house was hit.
5 Q. Now, you testified that you had returned to
6 the Heliodrom, and then in the morning you would be
7 picked up and brought back to various positions,
8 including this position; is that correct?
9 A. Yes, that is so.
10 Q. Can you describe the vehicle which
11 transported you from the Heliodrom to this particular
12 Croatian army position near Blagaj?
13 A. These were vehicles that belonged to the JNA,
14 former JNA, normal trucks. They had shields of the
15 Croatian army -- number plates of the Croatian army.
16 Q. Now, did the soldiers who you saw, who were
17 members of the Thunder Bolts, also have Croatian army
18 insignia on them?
19 A. Yes, they had the insignia of the Thunder
21 Q. I'd like to turn your attention to the fourth
22 time you were in the presence of Croatian army
23 soldiers, and you testified that that was when you
24 worked in the kitchen at the Heliodrom. And you worked
25 in the presence of the first guards brigade known as
1the Tigers who was also from Zagreb. Let me ask you
2 some questions. Did this unit appear to be an
3 organised unit, functioning as an organised unit?
4 A. Completely organised unit.
5 Q. You were in their presence for three months,
6 approximately; is that correct?
7 A. Approximately three months. Every morning I
8 went to work there, and every evening I went back to
9 the prison to sleep.
10 Q. To your knowledge, Witness VV, did members of
11 the Tigers engage in combat against Bosnian army units?
12 A. I never saw that. I heard that the Major of
13 their army, of the Tigers, explain what an important
14 role the Tigers had as an intervening unit at stopping
15 the BH army in taking the hill Hum which was close to
17 Q. So you had the opportunity to hear the
18 Croatian soldiers talking about combat activities that
19 they had engaged in; is that correct?
20 A. Yes, I heard about those activities regarding
21 the hill Hum.
22 Q. Now, let me ask you, you've described being
23 taken, you being taken, to various front-line positions
24 and engaged in forced labour, and civilians also having
25 to engage in that same kind of labour. Were you aware
1of any prisoners of war and civilians who were killed
2 or wounded as a result of being placed in those
3 dangerous situations?
4 A. I was there when some civilians were wounded
5 and killed, yes.
6 Q. Now, where is "there"? Can you just describe
7 in your own words what you saw, who took you there,
8 what occurred?
9 A. One of the worst cases that I saw was in the
10 street Santic in Mostar. That is a street where the
11 street fighting was heaviest or worst. It happened
12 very often that the positions of the HVO and Bosnia and
13 Herzegovina were in the same building. One day, the
14 HVO units took us to work there, me and another four
15 prisoners, and they forced us to push a wreck of a car
16 to a cellar window for building where there were the
17 positions of the BH army. The distance from us and
18 this window was about 15 metres, and the wreck of the
19 car had no motor, so that --
20 THE INTERPRETER: Sorry, could the witness
21 repeat the sentence? We had --
22 A. It was very clear to us that we could do
23 nothing about it, that this was a very difficult task.
24 At that moment, the HVO soldiers were shooting above
25 our heads, and they were threatening that they would
1kill us if we don't do it. We tried to turn the car
2 for the first time, and the BH army started shooting at
3 us from their bunker. One prisoner was dead
4 immediately, and two were heavily wounded. One of
5 those seriously wounded was a civilian. I know that
6 for sure because he was sleeping in my room. And the
7 second one who was wounded and killed, I didn't know
9 MR. HARMON:
10 Q. Now, you said that he was in your room. How
11 many people, how many other prisoners, were in your
12 room? And out of that number, how many were killed or
13 injured as a result of being shot for their activities
14 at the frontlines?
15 A. In the room where I was, there were 80 to 100
16 people. Now I can remember four or five of them that
17 were wounded or killed.
18 Q. Can you tell the Judges as well about a time
19 that there was a human shield event that took place
20 near the village of Rastani?
21 A. In autumn '93, BH army took over the place
22 Rastani. It is actually the northern suburb of
23 Mostar. Immediately, the day after, the HVO units
24 tried to take that again. In these fights, they had
25 wounded and dead people. The side from which they were
1trying to conquer, Rastani, was a very difficult one.
2 They couldn't carry out all of their wounded and dead.
3 So they prepared a group of prisoners, I was among them
4 as well, and they had to go towards the place where the
5 fighting was. And our movement was controlled from the
6 positions above us.
7 When we came close to the line, we saw or met
8 two groups of HVO soldiers who divided our group into
9 two groups. They lined us up, four next to each other,
10 and then they forced us as a human shield to move
11 towards the area where they could look for a secure
12 shelter or position for themselves. During that
13 movement, they were completely hiding behind our
15 From my group, no one was wounded or killed
16 on that occasion. From the second group, some
17 prisoners were declared later on missing. For some of
18 them, we don't know even today what their fate was.
19 And some managed to run over to the BH army.
20 MR. HARMON:
21 Q. Lastly, Witness VV, you spent nine months in
22 captivity. How much weight did you lose as a result of
23 remaining in captivity?
24 A. When I was captured, I weighed about 90
25 kilograms, and when I left, I had 72.
1MR. HARMON: Mr. President, I have no
2 additional questions of Witness VV. I would move to
3 admit Prosecutor's Exhibit 401 into evidence.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. No comments from
5 the Defence? Witness VV, you are now going to be asked
6 some questions by General Blaskic's Defence counsel.
7 General Blaskic is the accused in this courtroom here
8 today. Mr. Nobilo, you can begin now.
9 Cross-examined by Mr. Nobilo:
10 Q. Good morning, Witness VV. You said that you
11 were a member of the BH army. Can you please tell me,
12 is it true that your unit was seconded or attached to
13 the HVO in that particular sector or area?
14 A. I can't say exactly that that was the case.
15 At that part of the front, it is true that at that part
16 of the front, the position of our unit was established
17 after the HVO didn't allow us to be in Stolac. So
18 after we had several discussions and negotiations, we
19 find such a compromising solution.
20 Q. The municipality of Stolac was held by
21 Serbs --
22 JUDGE JORDA: Witness VV, when you hear the
23 questions, please look at Mr. Nobilo who is on your
24 left. But when you answer them, please look at the
25 Judges. Thank you very much.
1THE WITNESS: I apologise.
2 MR. NOBILO:
3 Q. So my next question is whether the
4 municipality of Serbs (sic) was held by Serbs?
5 A. At the beginning of the war, yes.
6 MR. NOBILO: It seems that there is an
7 interpretation error. I will repeat the question.
8 Q. So the municipality of Stolac, was it held by
9 Serbs? Was it controlled by the Serbs?
10 A. At the beginning of the war, yes.
11 Q. You said that in May, the conflict between
12 the HVO and the BH army broke out in Mostar. And there
13 where you were at the frontlines, the ultimatum for the
14 surrender of weapons and the conflict itself, it all
15 happened a month later; is that correct? So is it true
16 that between May and June, your area was peaceful?
17 A. There was no fighting between the BH army and
19 Q. You said that there were threats against
20 soldiers' families. I fail to understand whether this
21 threat was real. What happened later? What did you
23 A. Later on, we realised that they were not real
24 threats but they had, as a consequence, the surrender
25 of my unit.
1Q. You said that in the BH army unit, you were
2 in charge of a unit that was working on
3 communications. Can you tell me at what level? Was it
4 battalion, brigade, corps?
5 A. Our unit was a brigade, but as far as the
6 numbers are concerned, we couldn't call it a brigade.
7 Q. You said, furthermore, that civilians,
8 including women, were transferred to the Heliodrom.
9 Did they stay there for a longer time or were they
10 returned to Mostar?
11 A. No, they were there for a longer time.
12 Q. The civilians who were captured, can you
13 please tell us, could we define them as civilians that
14 were of a military age?
15 A. No, not all of them.
16 Q. So what would be the ages that you would
17 consider as not being eligible to do military service?
18 A. There were people who were not of full age,
19 and there were also older people who, according to
20 their physical condition, with regard to their age and
21 their physical condition, could not be able to fight.
22 Q. Are you familiar with the offer made by the
23 HVO to people who were detained in Heliodrom, that they
24 can leave the place under the condition that they leave
25 Bosnia and Herzegovina?
1A. Yes, I know of that.
2 Q. Was that offer accepted by anyone from the
4 A. Some prisoners accepted it.
5 Q. In order to keep things clear, your brigade
6 belonged to the fourth corps?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. You said that you encountered soldiers who
9 talked amongst themselves that they were members of the
10 Tigers, but that you did not see the insignia. Can you
11 please tell me, did they speak about having come there
12 under somebody's orders or did they volunteer? Do you
13 know anything about the way in which they arrived in
15 A. I don't know which meeting you mean. The
16 last month when I worked with the Tigers, I could see
17 their insignia very clearly.
18 Q. I meant the first encounter. But,
19 nevertheless, in the conversations that you had with
20 the Tigers or the Thunder Bolts, did you learn, did
21 they tell you, whether they were volunteers?
22 A. No, I couldn't conclude by anything that they
23 are volunteers.
24 Q. Did you ask them?
25 A. No, the prisoner is not in the position to
1ask such questions.
2 Q. You indicated several positions where you dug
3 trenches, and you saw some members of the Croatian army
4 on some of those positions. Can you please tell me, at
5 what distance were Serb positions from those
7 A. The position in Hodbina, they were away for
8 about three or four kilometres from these positions.
9 Q. And Blagaj?
10 A. Hodbina is close to Blagaj. The Croatian
11 army could not hold the positions in Blagaj because
12 Blagaj was kept by the BH army.
13 Q. What was the nearest Serb position to
15 A. A few kilometres away.
16 Q. Before you were captured, while you were
17 still together with the HVO holding the front-line
18 against the Serbs, did you see Croatian soldiers or
19 officers there?
20 A. No, I didn't.
21 Q. How much do you weigh now?
22 A. Ninety-three kilograms.
23 MR. NOBILO: I have no further questions,
24 Mr. President.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Mr. Harmon, have
1you any additional questions?
2 MR. HARMON: I have none, Mr. President.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Very well, thank you. Judge
5 JUDGE RIAD: Good afternoon, Witness VV.
6 A. Good afternoon.
7 JUDGE RIAD: I want to ask you a few
8 questions just to make things clearer in my mind. You
9 spoke about the Thunder Bolts. This is a Croatian
10 brigade or a Bosnian Croatian brigade?
11 A. That is a brigade of the Croatian army.
12 JUDGE RIAD: Completely. And you said that
13 they were shooting on the Bosnian army positions.
14 Where were they shooting from? Was it from Croatia or
15 were they inside Bosnia?
16 A. They were on the territory of Bosnia and
18 JUDGE RIAD: And you spoke also of the Tigers
19 whom you saw when you were working in the kitchen.
20 Where was that? Was it in Mostar? Where was that?
21 A. That was in the Heliodrom in the barracks
22 which are the southern suburbs of Mostar.
23 JUDGE RIAD: It was HVO barracks?
24 A. Yes, these were HVO barracks.
25 JUDGE RIAD: But the Tigers were Croatian?
1A. Yes, yes, it is a unit of the Croatian army.
2 JUDGE RIAD: So there were units from the HVO
3 and the Croatian army together?
4 A. Yes, within the area of these barracks.
5 JUDGE RIAD: You mentioned also that you
6 heard that the Tigers prevented the HV army from taking
7 the hill Hum. Where is that?
8 A. The hill Hum is a hill that dominates
9 Mostar. Actually, the lobes of that hill are actually
10 the centre of Mostar almost.
11 JUDGE RIAD: When you say "the Tigers," it
12 means the Croatian unit?
13 A. Yes, I mean the Croatian army units.
14 JUDGE RIAD: The Croatian army unit. You
15 also mentioned that the soldiers had to hide behind the
16 bodies of the prisoners to reach a secure area and to
17 use you as human shields. What soldiers were they?
18 Were they Croatian or were they HVO?
19 A. These were HVO soldiers.
20 JUDGE RIAD: They were HVO.
21 A. Yes, HVO.
22 JUDGE RIAD: Finally, you lost something like
23 20 kilograms. You said you lost from 90 to 72
24 kilograms in captivity. Were the conditions so bad?
25 Did you have food? Why did you lose such weight?
1A. No, we didn't really starve. I think I lost
2 so much weight because I was working so much every day,
3 physically working.
4 JUDGE RIAD: Was there any beating, any
6 A. Several times, I got a few blows, but other
7 prisoners were not that lucky.
8 JUDGE RIAD: They had more than that. What
9 did they have?
10 A. My colleague had to hold his hands on his
11 head and close his eyes, sitting on the earth, while a
12 group of soldiers was torturing him, beating him. He
13 was completely blue afterwards.
14 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Witness VV. I
16 myself have no questions. The Tribunal thanks you for
17 your testimony. You may now go back to your home, if
18 you still have a home. We can ask the usher to
19 accompany Witness VV out of the courtroom, thank you,
20 and then we will hear the programme for the rest of the
22 (The witness withdrew)
23 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President?
24 JUDGE JORDA: Yes.
25 MR. KEHOE: We have two additional witnesses
1for today, but I did think that we would go to lunch
2 with the two that we had. And I think we can start
3 earlier after lunch, because I'll get the witnesses
4 here, but I have two more witnesses. We will get
5 through them --
6 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, you never have faith
7 in your own synthesising efforts, you see. You are a
8 synthetic type person and you move more quickly than
9 you believe you can. You just don't believe in your
10 own skills which means we don't have any witnesses
11 right now.
12 Very well. Then we are going to adjourn,
13 that will be fine for the interpreters, who often do a
14 bit more than they really have to, so that will be a
15 good thing. We will resume at 2.30. And we will
16 conclude our work on Friday in the late morning.
17 You were able to carry out your examination
18 the way you wanted to, but getting to the essential,
19 and I ask that you continue in that same way. I ask
20 the same thing of the Defence which tried to
21 concentrate its questions in relation to the
23 Having made this congratulations and having
24 thanked the interpreters, I repeat that we will resume
25 at 2.30. The hearing is now adjourned.
1--- Luncheon recess taken at 12.23 p.m.
2 --- On resuming at 2.42 p.m.
3 (Open session)
4 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the
5 hearing. Have the accused brought in, please, General
7 (The accused entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, you will be the one
9 who is conducting the questioning now; is that
11 MR. KEHOE: That's correct, Mr. President.
12 Mr. President, good afternoon. Good afternoon, Your
13 Honours. The next witness that we have is a
14 non-protected witness. He will have no protections at
15 all. He will be talking about an area in and around
16 Mostar, and if I could highlight the ELMO just briefly,
17 this is Exhibit 306 that the court has. And as the
18 court notes, there is a Mostar highlighted in green.
19 That's fine, Mr. Usher, if we can. And going just left
20 -- down and left of Mostar is a town called Rodoc.
21 Rodoc is the area that Your Honours heard described
22 this morning as the Heliodrom. The Heliodrom is
23 located in Rodoc. That's very good.
24 JUDGE JORDA: How are you pronouncing it? I
25 see Rodoc. How do you say it.
1MR. KEHOE: Rodoc.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
3 MR. KEHOE: If we continue to move left and
4 down of Rodoc, there's a town called Citluk. That is
5 another location that we will be talking about. The
6 witness that you are about to here, Mr. President, Your
7 Honours, his name is Dragan Becirovic. At the time of
8 the events that he will describe to you, he was about
9 14 years old, he and his twin brother. And they will
10 discuss some events that took place just prior to the
11 outbreak of hostilities between the HVO and the army of
12 Bosnia-Herzegovina which commenced on the 9th of May of
13 1993. He will talk to you about the presence of forces
14 from the Republic of Croatia known in the terminology
15 and the parlance before this court as HV troops. He
16 will talk to you about having seen HV soldiers in
17 cafes, the HV soldiers in the Heliodrom, HV plates on
18 automobiles and trucks moving throughout the Mostar
19 area. And then he will discuss with the court the
20 events after the outbreak of hostilities on the 9th of
21 May, 1993, the arrest of Bosnian Muslims, several
22 thousand, estimates to 8.000 to 9.000 arrested, their
23 incarceration in various camps, including the Heliodrom
24 in and around the Mostar area.
25 He will then talk about the blockade that
1existed in and around Mostar between the 9th of May,
2 1993 and the 30th of June, 1993. And then he will talk
3 about what happened after the 30th of June, 1993 when
4 the cleansing of Bosnian Muslims from West Mostar
5 commenced in earnest and how the HVO -- initially, the
6 HVO military police went house to house rounding up men
7 and taking them from their various homes and flats in
8 the Mostar area. During one of these encounters on the
9 30th of May, at approximately 5.00 p.m., his father was
10 taken out.
11 Thereafter that evening, about 10.00 in the
12 evening of the 30th of June, and I think it's
13 interesting to note just ironically, if nothing else,
14 that it's five years to the day of this event, the HV
15 military police, not the HVO, the military police of
16 the Republic of Croatia came back to his flat and took
17 his oldest brother, his mother, Dragan, and his twin,
18 Goran, out, placed them in a vehicle, and took them to
19 a garbage dump in the area of Citluk and, at that
20 point, commenced to execute them at point-blank range,
21 maybe not point-blank range, but at several metres
23 His mother was executed by these HV troops.
24 His brother was executed by these HV troops, and his
25 brother Goran was severely wounded and Dragan, while
1wounded as well, was able to pull himself out of a
2 garbage dump heap and tried to get some help, which he
3 did. He will explain to you exactly what had -- how he
4 got that help and how his brother's life was saved by
5 being brought to a hospital in Mostar.
6 He will then talk about the continued -- or
7 visits by HV troops to him once they had learned that
8 the two twins, Goran and Dragan, were still -- or
9 hadn't been killed on the night of the 30th. And
10 interestingly, there is a visit from a SIS colonel or a
11 Secret Service colonel in the service of the Republic
12 of Croatia who comes to the hospital to ask questions
13 of these particular boys.
14 In addition to those particular matters, he
15 will talk about the prisoners that were brought in to
16 this hospital over the course of time he was there. As
17 the witness this morning noted, the witness noted a
18 street in Mostar called Santic street, which was a
19 dangerous street on the front-line, where various
20 Bosnian Muslims were taken to work and shot. These two
21 boys were back in the hospital recovering from those
22 wounds when these Bosnian Muslims who had been taken to
23 the camps and then taken out to dig in Santic Street
24 were brought in with their wounds.
25 He will talk about some discussions with some
1of these individuals that had been brought from as far
2 away as Maglaj and had been taken out to dig trenches
3 not only in Mostar but also for various HV positions.
4 He will talk about the existence of the
5 Tigers, an HV unit that was discussed this morning, and
6 the participation of the Tigers in a retaking of a
7 feature called Hum, as Your Honours heard this morning,
8 which had been attacked by the army of
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Tigers, this HV unit, assisted
10 in the retaking of that feature.
11 Lastly, he will talk about the actual leaving
12 of Mostar, their escape from Mostar through Zagreb with
13 the assistance of UNHCR, and then their ultimate
14 departure through a third country.
15 The evidence to be addressed by this witness
16 will focus on various counts in the indictment. As my
17 colleague, Mr. Harmon, mentioned this morning with the
18 other witness, the charges in Count 1 encompass a
19 persecution charge which envisages of proving of
20 widespread and systematic persecution of the Bosnian
21 Muslim population. His testimony will go to the
22 persecution charge as far as this widespread and
23 systematic persecution of the Bosnian Muslim population
24 as set forth in Count 1. Likewise, as my colleague,
25 Mr. Harmon, mentioned this morning, the article 2
1charges set forth in the indictment require approving
2 of an international armed conflict. The evidence
3 presented by this witness concerning the participation
4 of HV troops, troops belonging to the Republic of
5 Croatia, is further evidence of the internationality of
6 this conflict or the fact that it was an international
7 armed conflict.
8 So, Mr. President and Your Honours, that is
9 the basic outline of the witness's testimony and the
10 particular counts in the indictment that his evidence
11 will address.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Kehoe. I've
13 checked on the problem about the oath. He is a Major
14 now, is he?
15 MR. KEHOE: Yes, I believe he was 14 at the
16 time, so that was five years ago, Mr. President. I
17 believe that he is over the age of majority, assuming
18 the age of majority is 18.
19 JUDGE JORDA: I see. This is the question
20 that I'm asking to know, what is the age that one has
21 -- the legal age? What are the general provisions.
22 THE REGISTRAR: As regards to the age of the
23 witnesses, I do not think that it is specified.
24 JUDGE JORDA: No, it's in Rule 90. In Rule
25 90, it says that a child can testify, but it doesn't
1actually say anything in particular about this. In the
2 former Yugoslavia, Mr. Nobilo, what is the age when one
3 becomes -- what is the legal age?
4 MR. NOBILO: 18 years of age, Mr. President.
5 JUDGE JORDA: How old is he now?
6 MR. KEHOE: I believe, Mr. President, he is
7 19, maybe 20 years of age, something in that range.
8 He's over 18 years of age.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Fine. All right.
10 He will take an oath under normal conditions. I just
11 wanted to check on this point. We can now have the
12 witness brought in. This is an open session. This is
13 Dragan Becirovic.
14 MR. KEHOE: That's right, Mr. President.
15 (The witness entered court)
16 JUDGE JORDA: You have your headset on. You
17 are Mr. Dragan Becirovic; that's correct, isn't it?
18 THE WITNESS: That's correct.
19 JUDGE JORDA: How old are you, please, and
20 what is your profession? How old are you?
21 THE WITNESS: I'm 20 years and I'm a
23 JUDGE JORDA: Before you sit down, you are
24 going to read the solemn declaration which is the oath
25 that you have to take before this Tribunal.
1THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I shall
2 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. You have
5 come here at the request of the Office of the
6 Prosecutor to testify for the Prosecution as part of
7 the trial before the International Criminal Tribunal
8 for the former Yugoslavia, the trial of General
9 Blaskic, the accused who is sitting here in this
10 courtroom. Speak without fear, without hatred about
11 the difficult events that you experienced. If you need
12 to take a break, please don't hesitate to ask for some
13 time. You'll make your -- give your testimony freely.
14 The Prosecutor has explained generally to us what
15 you're going to speak about, but be free to say what
16 you want, to say in your own words and according to
17 your own sensitivities about these events. The
18 Prosecutor will ask you several questions, and after
19 that, you will testify -- after that, you know or you
20 must have been told, the Defence attorneys will also
21 most likely ask you some questions within the scope of
22 the cross-examination, and the Judges will also have
23 some questions to ask you. Mr. Kehoe, please proceed.
24 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. President.
25 Dragan Becirovic
1Examined by Mr. Kehoe:
2 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Becirovic.
3 A. Good afternoon.
4 Q. Mr. Becirovic, you just told the court that
5 you are 20 years of age; is that right?
6 A. Yes, that's correct.
7 Q. And you are a Bosnian Muslim; is that
9 A. That's correct.
10 Q. Prior to the outbreak of the war in May of
11 1993, you lived in Mostar with your father and your
12 mother, your older brother and your twin Goran; is that
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Dragan, can you tell the court in your own
16 words what happened to you and your family in Mostar
17 shortly before the outbreak of hostilities where you
18 observed HV troops in the area. What happened when the
19 hostilities broke out on the 9th of May through the
20 30th of June, and then what happened on the 30th of
21 June and thereafter until you left the city of Mostar
22 in September of 1993? Could you do that in your own
23 words? Just look at the Judges and tell them that
25 A. All right. On the 9th of May, an attack by
1the Croatian units occurred against the units of the
2 Bosnian army. That was in the morning. I was, at the
3 time, with my family in our apartment. The attack
4 began around 5.00 a.m., and around 9.00, the Muslim
5 population, that is, the Bosniaks started to be picked
6 up from their apartments and they were all taken to the
7 stadium. And from there, they were taken to the
8 Heliodrom camp. Our apartment, our building was
9 protected by a person whose name I don't know, so that
10 nobody was taken out from our building, but from other
11 buildings, and that was all over Mostar, over 8.000
12 people were taken out. Later on, when Croats, the
13 Croatian units, realised that even the sick people were
14 taken away, during the next two or three days, they
15 started to release those people of whom they had no
16 evidence that they belonged to the BH army or that they
17 had resisted the Croatian forces in any way.
18 Q. Let me interrupt you for a moment.
19 JUDGE RIAD: I just want to interrupt. Could
20 the witness clarify whether he means Croatian units or
21 HVO, if he knows the distinction.
22 MR. KEHOE: I was going to ask him the same
23 question, Judge.
24 Q. Did you understand what Judge Riad asked you,
25 if you can make a distinction between HVO troops and HV
1troops to the extent that you know the distinction.
2 And when you're giving your narrative, if you could
3 make that distinction, I think it would be helpful.
4 A. Well, the attack was carried out by the HVO.
5 That was from the western side of the river against the
6 BH army forces located in the city centre. This is
7 where the command of the BH army was located. After
8 this command fell, the attack spread to the whole of
9 the city of Mostar, and then lines were set up and
10 sniper shooting began, so that many people who did not
11 know those frontlines were set up, when they crossed
12 from the left side to the right side, they were fired
13 on by snipers and many people were killed in this
15 These were mostly Croats who were unaware of
16 that fact. So that was an absurd situation. Later on
17 -- so this attack was carried out by HVO troops.
18 Since they saw within the next two or three days that
19 they could not take Mostar without suffering large
20 casualties and that they needed more forces, then they
21 adopted new tactics. The eastern part of Mostar, which
22 was controlled by the BH army, was blocked, and that
23 was a form of pressure. They wanted to pressurise them
24 into surrendering themselves without any casualties.
25 Later on, they picked up Muslim population
1from the western part of the town which was controlled
2 by them. They gathered them all in camps, and then
3 they separated them in categories according to their
4 own criteria which they set up themselves, whether
5 somebody would be sent to prison, that is, members of
6 the BH army went to the military prison, and the rest
7 of the civilian population was placed in hangars
8 located in the Heliodrom compound.
9 As I said, during the next few days, some
10 people were released. People who were sick, who
11 required medical treatment, they were released to go
12 back to their homes, into the city. And later on,
13 under pressure of the international community and other
14 factors, they slowly started to release the rest of the
15 population. I can't tell you what the number was, but
16 I can give you an approximation, about 7.000 people
17 were released out of the 8.000. In those days, my
18 family was in a state of complete confusion. All of a
19 sudden, we had to hide the fact that we were Muslim
20 because we would be in trouble otherwise. You can
21 compare that to the Jews under the Third Reich. So we
22 continued to go to school, my twin and myself. We had
23 to speak Croatian language because there are
24 differences between Croatian language and the language
25 that I speak, my language, so as not to be discovered.
1And this situation went on until the 30th of
2 June. This is when members of the military police
3 arrived --
4 Q. Dragan, let me stop you before you start
5 talking about the 30th of June. You said that you had
6 to hide the fact that you were a Muslim. Tell the
7 Judges why.
8 A. Yes, that's correct. We had to hide that
9 fact, because if you were to show the fact that you
10 were a Muslim, anyone could kill you right there on the
11 spot, and he would not be responsible to anyone. He
12 would not be prosecuted before any court. At that
13 time, they had the free hand. They could do whatever
14 they wanted to. The police did not function. The
15 police functioned superficially, but it wasn't
16 functioning in any real way. For instance, they came
17 to our apartment on one occasion to take away our car,
18 and they said that they needed it. And when the police
19 came, and when they met those people who were about to
20 take our property away, the car, I mean, they did
21 nothing. This is just proof that the police did not
23 And then later on, this situation with the
24 Muslims became untenable. It was impossible to live
25 like that anymore. You can't just keep hiding all the
1time. You can really compare that to the situation
2 with the Jews. I can't really describe it. However,
3 there was no mistreatment, but one had to hide.
4 Later on in the middle of that period, from
5 the 9th of May until the 30th of June, two military
6 police officers came to a person, since they found out
7 that that person was a member of the BH army military
8 police, and they learned from him that my older
9 brother, who was a member of the Bosnia-Herzegovina
10 MUP, ministry of the interior, and he worked at the old
11 bridge. He worked there as an interpreter. He led the
12 journalists around the town. He explained to them what
13 the town looked like and so on. He got that job
14 through my mother who was a MUP inspector.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me. This was another
16 one of your brothers? I'm not sure I caught that.
17 Excuse me. Your twin brother or was it an older
18 brother? I have a translator saying elder brother.
19 A. Yes, that's correct, my older brother, since
20 my twin brother was 14 at the time.
21 JUDGE JORDA: So you had another brother; is
22 that right?
23 A. Correct.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Please continue.
25 A. My brother had to join the armed forces
1because people who were not mobilised were taken
2 directly to the frontlines. And since my mother worked
3 in the ministry of the interior, she was able to find
4 him a job in the rear so as to avoid any possibility,
5 any danger of his getting killed, since it was really
6 much more difficult to be at the frontlines. So my
7 brother found a job as an interpreter with the ministry
8 of the interior at the checkpoint at the old bridge.
9 So to go back to my story, that person who
10 said that my brother belonged to the ministry of the
11 interior was arrested, together with my brother. I
12 don't know the exact date, but it was in the middle of
13 that period, between the 9th of May and the 30th of
15 On that very same day, my brother was
16 arrested and taken to the military police headquarters
17 in Mostar. That was at the faculty there. He was
18 detained there. And since my father had some people
19 that he knew privately, our family friends, who worked
20 in those places, who were members of the Croatian
21 Defence Council military police, he intervened. And
22 since my brother was merely an interpreter, he was not
23 an important person for the military police of the HVO,
24 he was released and he was free to go home.
25 So we come now to the 30th of June. On the
130th of June, the attack of the BH army began on the
2 positions of the HVO in the northern camp. That's in
3 the northern part of Mostar. In order to lift the
4 siege and in order to make communications with
5 Sarajevo, because people who lived in the eastern part
6 of Mostar, they were starving. They knew what hunger
7 was, and they were not able to survive anymore.
8 Q. Let me clarify a point. Was East Mostar at
9 this point a predominantly Muslim area of Mostar?
10 A. No, that's not correct. All of the city of
11 Mostar had about 70 per cent Bosniaks and Muslims, and
12 the rest, the surrounding area was held by Croats.
13 Those villages in the surrounding area, they made it
14 equal, the number of people, the percentages of the
15 population was equal. But in the centre of the city,
16 it was mostly Muslims who lived there. Let me give you
17 an example of my building. Out of 12 families who
18 lived there, two were Croat families and four Serbian.
19 The rest were all Muslim families. So the city of
20 Mostar itself, the centre of the city, had the majority
21 Muslim population.
22 Q. Let's move, if you will, to the events of the
23 30th of June, 1993.
24 A. On the 30th of June, the army launched the
25 attack, and then later on when some units of the
1Croatian Defence Council crossed over to the side held
2 by the BH army, the first battalion -- actually, that
3 brigade was responsible for the northern part of
4 Mostar, it had the 70 per cent of Muslims, maybe less,
5 maybe more. Those Muslims voluntarily crossed over to
6 the Bosnian army side, and then they liberated Bijelo
7 Polje later on. That's north of Mostar, and crossed
8 over to the right side. That's the area of Rastane.
9 This all happened within the time period of two or
10 three hours. And then the Croat forces stabilised
11 themselves and started to set up lines, frontlines.
12 And then when the frontlines were stabilised once
13 again, people were gathered again, picked up again.
14 This time it was a selective process, just the Muslim
15 population. If you were older than 16 and younger than
16 68, you were picked up and taken away. Even if you,
17 for instance, belonged to the Croatian Defence Council
18 units or some other Croatian armed forces units.
19 On the 30th of June, our building was not an
20 exception anymore. They started to pick up people from
21 our building again. They gathered the people who lived
22 there too. Since we knew that my older brother had
23 already been arrested by the military police of the
24 Croatian Defence Council, my father and my mother hid
25 him in the balcony, in a cupboard located in the
1balcony, in order to avoid another arrest. Because if
2 he would have been arrested again, he probably would
3 not have returned. So the two of us, when I say "the
4 two of us" I mean my twin brother and myself, since we
5 were 14 years of age, we were not taken away. We had
6 our birth certificates, and we showed that to the
7 military policemen who came to our door. And only our
8 father went away with them. Not my father, but the
9 rest of the people were abused, physically or
10 mentally. For instance, some people had their ears cut
11 off. I saw that personally from the window of my
12 building, and so on.
13 People gathered in front of the buildings,
14 and then buses would arrive and then they were taken
15 away to the Heliodrom. As I said already, my father
16 was taken away and the four of us, my mother, my twin
17 brother, my older brother, we remained in the
18 apartment. And on the very same day, the 30th of June,
19 this gathering of people, this all happened in the
20 period from 3.00 to 5.00 in our neighbourhood. And in
21 other neighbourhoods, this action lasted until
22 midnight. Since we're talking about 8.000 people,
23 that's a lot of people to gather in just one day. So
24 that on that very same day, around 10.00 p.m., the four
25 of us, we were all in one room, we heard some noise
1coming from the area in front of our house. When we
2 looked through the window, we saw four soldiers. We
3 did not see the insignia at that time. Since we were
4 watching them from the sixth floor, we saw them knock
5 or beat at the next door building.
6 Since that building had the number 35, and
7 our building was 35A, they must have made a mistake,
8 thinking that they had the right building. And then
9 they didn't see that there should be a letter A. So
10 they beat on the door, and then a man, I don't know who
11 it was, opened the door on our building and invited
12 them in.
13 They went in and went directly to the sixth
14 floor. This is where we lived. And on the sixth
15 floor, that shows that they had an address. Since they
16 went directly to the sixth floor without stopping
17 anywhere, they weren't looking for names, they knew in
18 advance which floor we lived in. And the three of us,
19 the three brothers, our mother told us to get into the
20 bed and to pretend that we were asleep. And she opened
21 the front door to our apartment. Those four men barged
22 in. We were in the room. When they got in, they did
23 not allow us to switch on the lights. They entered
24 with their own torches and lit their way with
1When they entered our room with their rifles
2 at the ready, they ordered us to get up. When we asked
3 them whether we could switch on the lights, they
4 allowed us to do so. We then realised that these were
5 four young men, aged between 20 and 25, with a
6 crew-cut. They were tall and thin, and they had the
7 insignia of the HV, so HV, not HVO, military police.
8 They had white bands and that indicated that they were
9 the military police of the HV. When they started to
10 talk to us, when they told us to get dressed, I
11 recognised the accent of the city of Split which is
12 different from the Bosnian accent and from any other
13 accent. So that I recognised them, that they were not
14 from Mostar, that they were from the outside. When I
15 mean the accent from Split, I mean the Dalmatian
16 accent, because you can't really say whether they were
17 from Split or somewhere else in Dalmatia.
18 At any rate, they told us to get dressed, and
19 since we pretended that we were asleep, they told us to
20 put on our shoes. Then we had to search the apartment
21 at their behest. They were doing that because they
22 were afraid of some bombs, some explosions, some trip
23 wire or boobytraps, so that we had to take all the
24 clothes out of the cupboards and they were watching us
25 while we did that. They were actually looking for
1money, for German marks. They asked, "Where are the
2 German marks?" Since we didn't have any money at the
3 time, any German marks, we said, "No, we don't have
5 After that, they said, "Put on your shoes and
6 get ready." My mother asked one of those soldiers
7 whether she could take my medication, because I was on
8 medication at the time. She thought that we would be
9 going for questioning, that we would be questioned.
10 And then when we got dressed and went down to the front
11 door to the building, we came to a white van with
12 yellow license plates. These were the license plates
13 of the HV, not HVO, because HVO license plates were
14 white. And on that vehicle, it was written VPHV,
15 that's military police of the Croatian army. And it
16 was -- the sign was made with tapes -- it was taped
18 We entered into the vehicle. One of them was
19 with us, and the other three went back to the
20 building. They returned after about 20 minutes. When
21 they returned, they asked the one who stayed with us,
22 who was taking care of us, they asked, "Where shall we
23 take them? Shall we take them to the northern location
24 or to the southern location?" Later on I found out
25 that they actually meant, should we take them to the
1northern location where there was a mine, where people
2 were also killed, a coal mine, or to the south
3 location, and they decided they would take us to the
4 southern part.
5 Later on, when everyone got into the van,
6 they wanted to go to the faculty where there was the
7 headquarters of their military police of HV. As they
8 didn't know the route to the headquarters of the
9 military police, they asked us. So we were actually
10 the ones who were explaining them, and we were showing
11 them where they have to turn and how to drive. And
12 when we arrived in front of the military police, HV,
13 one of them left the van and I guess he didn't want to
14 be present. He went out and he went towards the
15 building of the faculty where the headquarters were.
16 Q. Dragan, let me ask you a couple of questions
17 before you move away from the university. You noted
18 that the license plates that you saw on that vehicle
19 were HV military police license plates in yellow; is
20 that right?
21 A. Yes, that's right. Yes, I saw it because we
22 were entering from the rear side of the car, and I
23 could exactly see it. And as the colour of the car was
24 white, it was very visible, that the plates were
1Q. Dragan, had you seen those types of license
2 plates, yellow HV license plates, in Mostar before the
3 30th of June, 1993?
4 A. Yes, I did. I saw different cars with such
5 license plates. They were driving around the western
6 part of Mostar because the Mostars were allowed to walk
7 in these parts. We could walk where we wanted, but not
8 outside the city. And I also saw members of the
9 Croatian army who were freely spending their free time
10 there, I guess, when they weren't at the front-line,
11 they were in Mostar. And they would go to the cafes
12 where we would also go when we were children.
13 Q. So during this time frame, you saw HV
14 soldiers in Mostar as well as vehicles with HV license
15 plates; is that correct?
16 A. Yes. And they were not hiding. They were
17 not hiding that the Croatian army was in Mostar city.
18 That was not a secret at that time at all.
19 Q. Now, Dragan, on the 30th, you told the Judges
20 that between 3.00 and 5.00 in the afternoon, your area,
21 in your area, Muslims were being arrested, including
22 your father; is that right?
23 A. Yes, that's right. I already mentioned why
24 my brother was not arrested, as he -- my mother and my
25 father were hiding him.
1Q. Now, during those arrests on the afternoon of
2 the 30th of June, were those arrests done by the HVO?
3 A. This was done by the soldiers of the HV
4 military police. They did it that way, that they would
5 first enter first with heavy weapons into the
6 apartments, HV military police. And after them, normal
7 police of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they tried to prevent
8 any kind of, maybe, fighting or resistance in that way,
9 because first came heavy armed forces and then heavy
10 armed HVO forces and then normal police.
11 Q. Dragan, I think you said in the transcript
12 that HV military police participated in the arrest of
13 your father. Was that HV or HVO military police?
14 A. Could you please repeat the question? I
15 haven't understood it.
16 Q. Let me attempt to clarify an answer that you
17 gave, Dragan. When your father was arrested on the
18 afternoon of the 30th, was it HVO military police that
19 participated in the arrest?
20 A. He was arrested by the military police of
22 Q. Now, when you were arrested with your family
23 at 10.00 that evening, were those HV military police or
24 HVO military police?
25 A. That was military police HV, Croatian army.
1They spoke with the Dalmatian accent. And it was also
2 proof that they were coming from Croatian and not from
3 Bosnia and Herzegovina.
4 Q. Dragan, one last question on this area before
5 we allow you to continue your story. When your father
6 and the other individuals were arrested and put in the
7 buses, were the people that were arrested all Muslims?
8 A. Yes. These were all Muslims 16 years of age
9 to 68.
10 Q. Now, let's continue with your story and I
11 interrupted you at the point where the HV vehicle with
12 these four individuals had come to the HVO police
13 location at University of Mostar; is that right?
14 A. That's right, and further on, that man left,
15 that soldier, he left the car, and we continued our
16 travel to the route towards Citluk outside of Mostar.
17 At several checkpoints that are outside of the city of
18 Mostar, two or three, I don't know the exact number, we
19 were not stopped by the soldiers who were there at that
20 moment on duty. The vehicle would slow down, greet the
21 soldiers that were on duty at that time. I guess they
22 knew each other because they didn't show any
23 documents. They didn't have to prove who they were.
24 They just asked, "How are you doing," and they
25 continued travelling.
1When we started leaving Mostar, the city
2 itself, we went towards Citluk, Brkanova Birla (phoen),
3 over Brkanova Birla to correct myself. And there's a
4 curve on the road. It's somewhere between Mostar and
5 Citluk and there we turned on a route, a Makadem
6 (phoen) route. Until then, we were not particularly
7 upset because we didn't really know what to expect. We
8 just thought that they would interrogate us. We knew
9 that we were no kind of danger to the Croatian army.
10 We didn't know what they would want from us. So when
11 we turned onto this Makadem road, we realised what
12 would happen to us, because it was dark, 12, 10.00 in
13 the evening. There were no facilities, not a kilometre
14 around, and you immediately know what will happen to
15 you. We were panic-stricken. We started panicking.
16 We started asking, "Where are you taking us," and
17 questions like this. So this route, this Makadem
18 route, leads to a garbage dump heap where you threw
19 garbage into -- it was a kind of cliff through which
20 you throw the garbage.
21 We stopped some 100 metres close to that
22 cliff, and from that, we were ordered to leave the car
23 and to walk towards this garbage dump. So we started
24 panicking simply, because when you have to walk into
25 the darkness, you know what will happen. And my twin
1brother asked one of these soldiers, "Why are you doing
2 this to us? I went to school yesterday and you want to
3 kill me now. Why are you doing this?" And he was very
4 rude, and he said, "This is for the Central Bosnia,"
5 because at that time in the Croatian media, Central
6 Bosnia was mentioned and spoken about all the time,
7 because their media would mention at that time that
8 Croats were butchered and killed in Central Bosnia,
9 which was not true at all.
10 And when we were then close to this garbage
11 dump, they ordered us to sit down, to kneel down, what
12 is a typical position for being shot at, for being
13 executed. And when we did this, one of them, all three
14 of them, actually, went away from us, two metres, one
15 metre, and they discussed something. This discussion
16 lasted for about five seconds. And after that, one of
17 them comes forward and prepares his gun. That was an
18 automatic gun, rifle, and shoots at the four of us.
19 And it was a burst and the intention to kill us.
20 My older brother and my mother, when they saw
21 that he is preparing the rifle, repeating the rifle,
22 they got up and walked towards them, and all these
23 bullets, they actually collected all the bullets with
24 their bodies, so that's how they saved our lives. And
25 the remains of the bullets by which we were hit, the
1remaining bullets, we both fell down off this cliff
2 where you throw the garbage into, and my brother -- my
3 older brother and my mother remained on the top of
4 the ravine because they walked towards them so they
5 couldn't fall down.
6 I don't know. I can't explain that. I was
7 unconscious maybe for five seconds, but the moment when
8 I was conscious again, I was calling my brother, my
9 twin brother. He did the same. I don't know,
10 actually, why I did this, I just knew that he was
11 alive. I had that feeling that he is alive, that my
12 twin brother is alive.
13 So we called each other and we started
14 climbing up. It was about ten metres, the ravine was
15 about 10 metres high. And when we finally arrived up
16 there, during that time, while we were unconscious and
17 while we were climbing, these soldiers who committed
18 that crime left that place thinking that we were dead
19 as well. As we fell down, no one doubted that -- they
20 thought that we were dead as well.
21 So the two of us climbed up. I must say, we
22 almost walked over the corpses of my older brother and
23 my mother. We didn't really look at them because if I
24 had seen that, I would not be now in front of this
25 court, because a normal person cannot survive this.
1The closest family member full of blood, you can't. So
2 we continued walking towards the main road, and after
3 ten metres, my brother fell as he was hit by five
4 bullets into his legs. After the first few seconds, he
5 could walk because the wounds were still warm, so he
6 couldn't feel the pain, so he could walk. So it was
7 only after a minute that he fell down and he couldn't
8 continue walking.
9 As I was only lightly wounded in the area
10 where my kidneys are, only by one bullet, I could
11 continue walking. I started looking for help, and as
12 the closest road where there was heavy traffic was the
13 road to Citluk, I started walking towards that road,
14 and I stopped one car. It was a carriage or it was a
15 type of truck with no license plates, and I was all in
16 blood as my trousers were bloody. I showed this man
17 that I was wounded, that my brother is lying down
18 there. I thought at that time that my brother was dead
19 because I didn't know what the wounds were like. I
20 told him that my brother was lying down there. I asked
21 him for help and to call for help. And he answered
22 very rudely, "Are you still alive?" And offensive
23 language, you Muslim bastard, something similar to
24 that. I saw that there was no further reason to stop a
25 car, because if I would expose myself to some further
1danger, if they did not finish up, maybe someone else
2 would finish what these soldiers left.
3 I started walking towards the top of the hill
4 because that was somewhere in the middle of the hill,
5 so I started walking towards the top, because I
6 couldn't really orientate myself where Mostar was. And
7 from there I saw into which direction it is, and then I
8 started walking towards Mostar.
9 When I was going down, I could hear how my
10 brother was calling for help. And if a car would pass
11 this main road, then my brother, as he was lying on the
12 earth, he would call, "Help me, help me, I'm here."
13 And I could hear those calls, and I knew when a car was
14 arriving in that way. So that I could hide. I could
15 not be seen from the road. So I was going down like
16 this for about an hour until I arrived to some suburbs
17 of Mostar, and I saw lights in front of the house.
18 People were probably celebrating something. You could
19 see that they were drinking and eating while I was
20 dying there. They were celebrating and I went down and
21 I told them who I was and what happened. I had to
22 explain that I was not a member of the BH army, that
23 I'm coming from the city. I don't know what I was
24 really talking. I was just saying things.
25 They called or they sent one boy to one
1checkpoint where there was the village police. This
2 was not the normal police. These were only people who
3 organised themselves, they organised their own police,
4 their guards. So they sent this boy, and afterwards,
5 two men arrived after about ten minutes. They took me
6 and said, "Let's go down to the checkpoint," to the
7 place where they were. And when we got down, at that
8 time, they called the ambulance. These people helped.
9 They did as much as they could. So they called the
10 ambulance, and after ten, fifteen minutes, the
11 ambulance arrives. The driver who was driving this
12 ambulance asked me, "Do you want me to take you to the
13 new hospital or to the old hospital?" And I said, as
14 he was -- as there was an acquaintance of the family, a
15 doctor lady who worked in the old hospital, she worked
16 in that old hospital, I decided for the old hospital.
17 I forgot to mention something beforehand, that in the
18 period during the 9th of May and the 30th of June, when
19 most of the Muslim population was released from the
20 camps, when they were collecting people on the 9th of
21 May, there is a new tactic introduced by the HVO.
22 People were gathering from buildings and they were
23 divided into groups, men, old people, women, and
24 children, and all the others who could not fight, the
25 population who could not fight.
1That population was taken to the left side of
2 the river and to quicken this process of the blockade,
3 as many hungry mouths as possible that was good for
4 them. And those who were capable to fight, they were
5 taken back again to the Heliodrom against the protest
6 of the international community. And while we were
7 going from the right side to the left side, there was
8 some shooting, there was shooting at people who were
9 going from the right side to the left side. And a lot
10 of people died in that way. That's how there was fear
11 in Mostar. If they take you, you will probably end up
12 between the right and the left bank when you are
13 crossing the line.
14 So, we, as a family, when our turn came, when
15 our building had to be taken to the left bank, we were
16 hiding in a doctor's apartment, I guess, her place, and
17 she was working at the old hospital, and she had some
18 connections to the HVO, and her apartment was under the
19 protection of the HVO. We were hiding there for five
20 days and after that, the situation in Mostar improved,
21 and we were able to return to our apartment again.
22 Q. Now, Dragan, the events you've just talked
23 about, about going to the left bank and the assistance
24 of this doctor, that took place during the 9 May, 30
25 June time frame; is that right?
1A. I have to correct you. We did not go to the
2 left bank of the Neretva river, to the place of that
3 doctor, it was on the right bank. But that house was
4 protected by the Croatian Defence Council. That's was
5 the reason why the HVO troops never entered that
6 building, but it did happen in that period, between the
7 9th of May and the 30th of June.
8 Q. And the connection to your story is that this
9 doctor worked at the old hospital and that's one of the
10 reasons why you chose to go to the old hospital after
11 you were shot on the 30th of June; is that right?
12 A. Yes, that's correct. It's only logical that
13 you should go to see those people who have already
14 helped you. When I arrived in the old hospital, I was
15 admitted by the medical personnel there, and I received
16 medical treatment for my wounds. After that, members
17 of the security in that hospital, these were mostly
18 people from Mostar, who did not want to fire at their
19 own people, at the people that they knew from the right
20 bank, these were Croats who refused to shoot at their
21 erstwhile friends with whom they had lived their whole
23 At any rate, these soldiers who provided
24 security in the hospital were people from Mostar. I
25 recognised one of them. He was a friend of my older
1brother's, and after I explained to him what had
2 happened and that my brother is still lying there at
3 the scene where this whole thing had happened. I did
4 not have any hopes that my brother would survive at
5 all. I just explained to him where this location was,
6 the place where my brother was lying. Since I was not
7 familiar with the environment of the city, I was only
8 able to describe to him what this place looked like,
9 and he drew the conclusion as to where that place
10 actually was.
11 He then went with two of his friends, who
12 also were in the security of the hospital, in an
13 ambulance to search for my brother. After a few hours,
14 he was also brought to the hospital. Actually, it
15 wasn't hours. He was brought within half an hour to
16 the old hospital. This is the same place where I was.
17 When I saw him, it is only then that I lost
18 consciousness. Somehow, things were easier for me, and
19 I simply let go. I was drained of all strength. My
20 brother, he was seriously injured, and he was placed in
21 the intensive care, the place where the most seriously
22 wounded people were put, and I was in a normal room.
23 And all this time, my father was in the camp, and he
24 was not aware of what had happened to us, to the rest
25 of his family. Since they realised again that they had
1picked up the sick people from those buildings and they
2 brought the sick people to the camp, when I say "they,"
3 I mean the Croatian troops, they set up a medical
4 commission, and this medical commission would release
5 people on the basis of their diagnosis. They let them
6 go back home or they would even refer them to a
8 Since this commission released my father, he
9 had had the kidney surgery, he had renal stones and he
10 had been urinating blood. That was the reason why he
11 was allowed to go to the hospital, and he was released
12 from the camp.
13 Naturally, he went straight home to see where
14 his closest relatives were. When he came home he saw,
15 in front of the entrance to the building, many women
16 whose husbands or sons had been taken away on that day
17 by the Croatian troops. And since, of course, those
18 mothers wanted to know where their husbands were,
19 whether they were alive and well, they asked my father,
20 and he actually wanted to avoid that, because any large
21 gathering of the Muslim population would be dangerous,
22 not only for him, but also for the others, women, and
23 all those people who wanted to get that information.
24 He decided to send a lady neighbour from the
25 next door building because he had entered the building
1next door. He did not go straight to our house, to
2 check whether our door, the door to our apartment was
3 locked, because if it had been locked, it would mean
4 that we had gone to the place of that lady doctor who
5 hid us in that period up until the 30th. Or if the
6 door had been broken down, then that would mean that we
7 had been picked up. The neighbour checked this and she
8 told him that the door was locked and that nobody
9 answered the door, but it was just locked.
10 My father hoped that we were safe. He
11 thought that we had gone into hiding in the doctor's
12 place. And since she worked in the old hospital, he
13 went to visit her at her work place. And when he came
14 there, he learned from her what had happened, what had
15 happened to us.
16 Q. Dragan, prior to that time, did your father
17 know that your oldest brother and his wife, your
18 mother, had been murdered?
19 A. He learned of my brother's and my mother's
20 deaths from that lady doctor, since she worked at that
21 place where we were admitted. That was five days after
22 the crime had occurred.
23 Q. Now, during the five-day period of time after
24 the crime and when your father came to the hospital,
25 were you and your brother visited by any HV troops that
1came looking for you?
2 A. From what the doctors knew in that five-day
3 period, and since my brother saw one of the soldiers,
4 he, again, recognised the soldiers who had arrived on
5 the 30th of June to take us to be executed. They came
6 there to finish what they had started. Through the
7 intervention of the Mostar doctors, they were prevented
8 from doing that, and since, I assume, there were many
9 witnesses, they postponed doing that for some other
10 day. In that five-day period, while my father was
11 away, they came on one occasion to take us away, to
12 finish their task. When my father learned from the
13 doctor what had happened, and since he already had the
14 referral slip for that hospital, he was given that by
15 the medical commission, he was admitted to the hospital
16 and he remained there with us in the same room.
17 Twenty days later, a member of the Croatian
18 forces came to that room, the hospital room.
19 JUDGE RIAD: Excuse me, again, Croatian or
21 MR. KEHOE:
22 Q. Who came to your room and what force did he
23 belong to?
24 A. The same persons who came to commit that
25 crime on the 30th of June. Those were the members of
1the military police of the Croatian army.
2 Q. The HV? Continue.
3 A. Twenty days after that event, one of them
4 came again. This time, it wasn't a person that we
5 knew. It was a member of the Croatian forces dressed
6 in a black uniform. As soon as he came to the door of
7 the room, he immediately approached my father, pointed
8 at him with his index finger, and said to the nurse who
9 happened to be in the room at the time, "If this guy
10 disappears," meaning my father, "you will be
11 responsible." And then he left the room, probably in
12 order to talk to the doctor again. We learned later
13 just from some people that on that day, because a
14 doctor asked my father whether he wanted to go to the
15 funeral that was taking place on that very same day or
16 not -- first of all.
17 Q. The funeral for whom, Dragan?
18 A. The funeral for my older brother and my
19 mother, the funeral rites since they were in the morgue
20 of the new hospital. He asked my father whether he
21 wanted to attend the funeral, and since my father knew
22 that this would be no funeral in accordance with the
23 Muslim rights, since he knew that the Muslim priest,
24 the Hodza, wouldn't be there, and since he didn't want
25 to leave us again, he had left us once before, and the
1misfortune befell us. This was the reason why he did
2 not want to go. And it turned out later that these men
3 had been waiting for my father and for us at the
4 funeral, because if we had left the hospital, it would
5 have been easy for them to pick us up.
6 When they saw that we would not be attending
7 the funeral, they went to the hospital in an attempt to
8 take us away again. The Mostar doctors intervened once
9 again. They had already called the police. The police
10 arrived in a few minutes. The police confronted those
11 people who wanted to take us away. At that time, the
12 police was not carrying out its duties. Any normal
13 police would, of course, arrest those people. They did
14 not know what to do. In fact, because the police in
15 that area turned a blind eye on anything. They
16 approved of everything. If somebody killed a Muslim,
17 the police never intervened.
18 At any rate, these police officers, for
19 reasons unknown to us, removed those persons from the
21 Q. And these were HVO police officers?
22 A. Normal police -- normal members of the HVO.
23 Q. And they removed HV soldiers from the
25 A. No, no, no. There has been a
1misunderstanding. The people who came to pick us up,
2 to take us away, these were members of the HVO, HVO.
3 Other people, not those people who committed the
4 crime. And they were removed from the hospital by the
5 normal police of the Herceg-Bosna. So this incident
7 Q. Dragan, did you get a visit at any point
8 during this time from any member of the intelligence
9 service of the Republic of Croatia?
10 A. I forgot to mention the fact that between the
11 first and the second arrival of those people, of those
12 forces, the soldiers that wanted to take us away, a
13 member of the SIS, Security Information Service, came.
14 First he asked the two of us to accompany him to the
15 hospital corridor. When we left, he told us that he
16 was a colonel in the SIS, and he showed his ID card. I
17 can't now recall his name. He asked us whether we knew
18 anything about a crime that had happened. I assume,
19 since the crime was probably or definitely committed by
20 the Croatian army, they sent in their intelligence
21 officer to see whether we were dangerous for them at
22 all, whether we knew that these people were Croatian
23 army or not, because at that time, in the media, there
24 were reports about the Croatian army soldiers having
25 been noticed, seen in Bosnia. He wanted to check
1whether we knew that these were Croatian army soldiers.
2 Q. When you say "Croatian army soldiers," you
3 mean HV soldiers?
4 A. That's correct, members of the HV. After
5 that, since I realised that it would serve no purpose
6 for me to say that these were Croatian army soldiers,
7 that I would be bringing myself into an unnecessary
8 risk if I were to admit that these were Croatian army
9 soldiers, that way I would pose a risk for them.
10 That's why I said that these were uncontrolled groups
11 of soldiers who committed that crime. I said that I
12 did not know who they were precisely, but that this was
13 simply some soldiers who were acting independently, and
14 they were not under anyone's orders.
15 He then was under the impression that I did
16 not know anything and the actual situation was on the
17 contrary. I knew everything. He was happy with the
18 answer. He said, "All right, guys, if we learn
19 anything about who had done that, we will let you
20 know," and he left. And that's how this case was
21 closed, in fact. Then 20 days later after the second
22 arrival of those men, when they wanted to take us to
23 finish us off, there was a mass arrival of wounded
24 Muslims in the hospital where we were. Those wounded
1JUDGE JORDA: Just one moment, please.
2 Mr. Kehoe, perhaps we could take a break. These are
3 very painful events that are being told by this young
4 man. Perhaps we can stop now and then start up again
5 at 4.30, all right?
6 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
7 --- Recess taken at 4.08 p.m.
8 --- On resuming at 4.37 p.m.
9 JUDGE JORDA: We can now resume the hearing.
10 Please have the accused brought in.
11 (The accused entered court)
12 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Dragan Becirovic, are you
13 all right? Do you feel okay?
14 THE WITNESS: Yes.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Did you rest up a
16 little bit?
17 THE WITNESS: Yes.
18 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We can resume.
19 Mr. Kehoe, proceed, please.
20 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. President, Your
22 Q. Mr. Becirovic, you were just about to talk to
23 the period of time when there was a large influx of
24 wounded coming into that hospital. Before we talk
25 about that, let me just ask a few clarifying questions
1that have been noted by my colleagues. The first
2 question that I would like to ask you is: You
3 mentioned after you were arrested, your older brother,
4 your mother and your twin Goran were arrested, by the
5 HV soldiers, you passed through various checkpoints,
6 and you noted that the people at the checkpoint must
7 have been familiar with these HV soldiers because they
8 waved them through quite easily; is that right?
9 A. Yes, that's right.
10 Q. Were these soldiers at the checkpoints HVO
11 soldiers or HV soldiers?
12 A. These were HVO soldiers, together with
13 members of the police of Herceg-Bosna.
14 Q. The next point of clarification has to deal
15 with the HV soldiers driving to a military headquarters
16 at University of Mostar. Was that the HVO headquarters
17 or HV headquarters?
18 A. That was the headquarters of the HVO military
19 police, not HVO, but military police.
20 Q. The HVO military police?
21 A. HVO, yes.
22 Q. The last point of clarification, and this is
23 a minor clarification, has to deal with the distance
24 between the van at the location at the garbage dump and
25 where you were shot. I believe the transcript had
1noted it was 100 metres away. Was it less than 100
2 metres or --
3 A. When I said "100 metres," I meant 10 metres.
4 I actually mean 10 metres.
5 Q. Let's go back to your story. Sir, did there
6 come a time when there was a large influx of wounded
7 when you were transferred to another section of the
9 A. At that time, while we were in the old room
10 where we arrived on the 30th of June, a lot of wounded
11 people were brought to the hospital. Some of them were
12 even lying in the corridors because the hospital didn't
13 have enough beds for all of them. Later on, the
14 doctors suggested, because it was safer for us and
15 because they would get some free beds, we were taken to
16 another part of the hospital which was not used.
17 Because it could be shelled, because of that, we were
18 transferred to this part of the hospital.
19 In the meantime, that Friday we called Black
20 Friday, because around 30 to 35, maybe even more,
21 patients were taken care of even in the corridors. We
22 didn't have enough doctors. The nurses helped to heal
23 the wounds. At that time, these people arrived to the
24 hospital, they were taken care of, and all of those who
25 were only slightly wounded by maybe some shrapnel, they
1could be released. The heavily wounded, the seriously
2 injured people stayed at the hospital.
3 We were very close to that place. We could
4 talk to these prisoners. These prisoners were
5 explaining that they were digging -- not digging. They
6 were making a kind of shelter for the Croatian soldiers
7 in this Santic Street. In this Santic Street, the
8 street fights were very heavy. They were fighting one
9 house after the other.
10 Q. Dragan, let me clarify certain things. The
11 prisoners that were brought in that were wounded, were
12 they Bosnian Muslim prisoners that were doing this work
13 when they were wounded?
14 A. Yes, these were Bosniak Muslims, only Bosniak
15 Muslims. Later on, these prisoners --
16 Q. Hold on. One more question, Dragan, by way
17 of clarification. You noted in the transcript that
18 they were making a kind of shelter for the Croatian
19 soldiers. Were these HVO soldiers that they were
20 making the shelter for when they were wounded?
21 A. Yes. As at the beginning, the BH army would
22 allow that the prisoners would make a kind of shelter
23 for the Croatian army so that they could take some
24 buildings without any losses. But when they realised
25 that the Croatian soldiers could come forward very
1quickly in that way, they started to wound these
2 prisoners. They wanted just to wound them, to injure
3 them. They shot at their hands or their legs so that
4 there were no serious injuries.
5 Q. Again, Dragan, the word that's coming off in
6 the transcript is "Croatian soldiers." Were these HVO
7 soldiers that were using the prisoners to dig these
9 A. These were HVO soldiers. As the lines in
10 Mostar, in the city, were kept by -- the positions were
11 held by HVO. And members of the Croatian army, they
12 used them when they needed help. That's what I found
13 out from one patient whose cousin came to visit, and
14 that cousin of that patient who was lying together with
15 us was a policeman, a policeman of the Herceg-Bosna
16 Police. He was bragging about the Tigers that were
17 special units of the Croatian army who were coming from
18 Zagreb, that they have taken one hill in ten minutes
19 that the army had taken already before.
20 That's how I found out that members of the
21 Croatian army, not that they were only in Mostar, but
22 that they also took part in the fights for Mostar,
23 around Mostar. From that, you can see that these
24 soldiers were used for some special actions. When they
25 realised that the soldiers of the HVO army were not
1capable enough to do something alone, to take something
2 or to defend something, then special units of the
3 Croatian army, I think they are HV, special units
5 Q. Was one of these special units that assisted
6 the HVO the Tigers?
7 A. Yes, Tigers from Zagreb. They didn't fight
8 only in Mostar. They fought all over in Bosnia where
9 it was necessary, where the BH and the HVO were
10 fighting. So to come back to my story with the
11 prisoners, HVO soldiers were using prisoners in that
12 way, that they would be a kind of shelter, and then
13 they would come forward and take building by building.
14 These same prisoners --
15 Q. Excuse me. In the translation, are you
16 saying that they used these prisoners as a shelter or
17 used them as a shield?
18 A. They were using them predominantly to make
19 shelters. But when the BH army would attack some
20 buildings that the HVO army would control, then they
21 would use them as shelter, as a shield so that they
22 could not take that building.
23 I can give an example. The hotel called Ero
24 where older people used to live, it was a nursing home,
25 it was attacked by the BH army. And by using these
1people as human shields, they prevented this hotel from
2 being taken. That's one of the examples how they would
3 use people as human shields. Otherwise, they would use
4 these people to make shelters or a kind of protection
5 or fortification out of which then these soldiers would
6 shoot at the BH army.
7 At that time, a lot of people lost their
8 lives, they weren't only injured as the Croatians. I
9 think by that, the soldiers of the HVO army, these
10 people were dying, and that they were from Mostar. And
11 people knew each other, and they knew that they would
12 have to continue living with these people afterwards.
13 They started using people from other places, like, for
14 example, from Blagaj, from Bosna. I could find out
15 about that from people who would arrive to the hospital
16 and who were from Blagaj.
17 When I said "Blagaj," I meant Maglaj. Blagaj
18 is a completely different place than Maglaj. I meant
19 Maglaj. Maglaj is in the north of Bosnia and
20 Herzegovina. These prisoners were captured by Serbian
21 soldiers who were fighting at the Maglaj front. Later
22 on, these prisoners, I don't know why, these prisoners
23 were given to the HVO soldiers, and then they would
24 transfer these people to the camps, to Heliodrom and
25 other camps, in the west of Herzegovina.
1These people, as they were not registered at
2 the International Red Cross, there was actually no
3 trace in international organisations, these people were
4 used as human shields. And it was mostly them that
5 would get killed. This was continued. This lasted all
6 the time.
7 The hospital was only 200 metres away from
8 the first front-line, 200 to 300 metres, where these
9 human shields were being used. I mean by that, the
10 Santic Street. These wounded people would be taken
11 immediately to the hospital. So chaos occurred in
12 these hospitals in the western side of Mostar. Later
13 on, to calm down the situation, they didn't attack
15 Q. Let me ask you a couple questions, Dragan,
16 about this issue. Were the people that were being used
17 as human shields Bosnian Muslims?
18 A. Yes, these were Bosnian Muslims. Later on,
19 those people from Maglaj that were used, they were also
20 Bosnian Muslims.
21 Q. Did the HVO use any methods to make sure that
22 these Muslims did not run away when they were working
23 on the front-line?
24 A. There was always a danger that the prisoner
25 could escape to the side of the BH army as he is going
1as the first one. And then ten metres behind him,
2 there is a Croatian soldier, and it is easy for him to
3 run away to the Bosnian side, I mean, to the BH army
4 side. That's why the Croatian soldiers invented the
5 following: That they had a chain, and people were
6 chained around their necks, and they were then led to
7 make those shelters. They couldn't run away as they
8 were tied with these chains.
9 That's some examples that happened. For
10 example, one of the prisoners ran away in that way
11 because he took off this chain that he had around his
12 neck. I don't know how he did it. He tied that chain
13 around a certain tree and that's how he ran away. The
14 Croatian soldier thought that he was on his chain, as
15 he was pulling, and he could see that he could tighten
16 up the chain, and that's how people ran away.
17 The other way was people, they would use a
18 father and a son as a kind of guarantee that somebody
19 would not run away. For example, you keep the son on
20 the Croatian side and you send the father to make those
21 shelters or fortifications. And then if the father
22 would run away, they would kill the son. So no per
23 cent of people -- zero per cent of people would run
24 away. These are all examples of how they tried to
25 secure that people don't run onto the Bosnian side, I
1mean by that, the BH army side.
2 Q. Now, you just mentioned that some Bosnian
3 Muslims from Maglaj were also wounded while they were
4 digging on the frontlines; is that right?
5 A. Yes. During the first period, when they
6 started using these human shields, it was mostly people
7 from Mostar. Later on, as I said, they used people
8 from Maglaj and they spared the people from Mostar.
9 These people from Blagaj, they came to the hospital and
10 they would tell us these stories, and that's how I know
11 what happened on the front-line, how people managed, how
12 they ran away, how they -- for example, a Croatian
13 soldier, he would throw away a piece of bread, he would
14 throw it among them, and then they would fight for this
15 piece of bread. All these stories how a human being
16 was tortured. These prisoners had no rights anymore.
17 They were not registered at the International Red
18 Cross. There were no signs of their lives. Everybody
19 could do with them what they wanted.
20 Q. Dragan, did you receive any information from
21 any of these Bosnian Muslim wounded from Maglaj that
22 they were digging trenches for the HV?
23 A. As these prisoners were arriving, they came,
24 they were dirty, and they had blood on their clothes.
25 As we were healthy, we would help them to change their
1clothes, to put on clean clothes, underwear. And from
2 their stories, from what they saw, they told us what
3 was happening. All that information that I have about
4 the human shields comes from these people.
5 Q. Did they ever inform you that they were
6 digging trenches for the HV?
7 A. No, not only did they tell me that, but they
8 were also explaining how they were digging and how they
9 were used by the HVO to be used as a human shield or to
10 make shelters for the Croatian soldiers so that they
11 could shoot later on onto the soldiers of the BH army.
12 Q. Now, before we end before your departure, let
13 me ask you: During this time period when you were in
14 this other wing of the hospital, did the HVO military
15 police come to you concerning an investigation of the
16 murder of your older brother and your mother and, if
17 so, what happened?
18 A. I don't know the exact day when that
19 happened, but it was in the morning. Two policemen
20 entered into our room, HVO military police, and they
21 had a kind of order that we should go with them to make
22 a testimony so that we could witness for a certain
23 reason. We don't know why. Later on, we decided with
24 our father -- later on, we found out what they wanted,
25 but we agreed with our father if there would be a
1certain trial, that we had to go there, because one
2 person was accused, among other things, for the murder
3 of two HVO soldiers on the front-line. That person was
4 also a member of the HVO.
5 They wanted to find this person guilty for
6 our crime so that they could indict him for our crime,
7 and it wasn't him who did that. That's why we had to
8 go with them to the military court. That was at the
9 headquarters of the military police at the university.
10 Among those buildings, there was also the military
11 court. Before we left, we agreed with our father that
12 if we would recognise this person, that he was the one
13 who committed the crime, we would say that it was not
14 him. Because if we would become witnesses again in a
15 certain situation where the war was still going on,
16 nobody could guarantee our safety for our testifying in
17 front of a court. Because of that, we decided, even if
18 we would recognise this person, we would say that it
19 was not that person and that we don't know him. That's
20 what we agreed with our father beforehand.
21 When we arrived at the court, we were
22 introduced to a certain person that we saw for the
23 first time in our life. According to them, we had to
24 testify, each individually. That means one had to stay
25 outside in front of the door of the court and the other
1one had to say if it was him or not virtually (sic).
2 I talked to the soldiers, and I heard from
3 them when my brother testified while I was waiting
4 outside -- from the soldiers who guarded me, I learned
5 that that soldier had killed Croatian soldiers.
6 Q. Two HVO soldiers or HV soldiers?
7 A. HVO soldiers. To the north of Mostar, at the
8 front-line there, there had been a quarrel, and two HVO
9 soldiers were killed by that person. They said that he
10 had committed several other murders, murders of Muslims
11 and Serbs. There was also a Serb waiting there. He
12 was also supposed to testify whether that was the
13 person who committed the crime against a Serbian
15 At any rate, that person was not tried for
16 the Muslims or Serbs that he had killed. He was being
17 tried exclusively for having killed two Croatian
18 soldiers. Since there was an international pressure on
19 the Croatian side to solve those crimes, they wanted to
20 pin all those crimes to a single person in order to
21 show to the international community certain results, as
22 if some of the crimes that had been committed were
23 solved and that people were punished for those crimes.
24 That person that was presented to us was not
25 the perpetrator of the crime against my family. There
1were three people who participated in that crime
2 anyway, not just one. The name of that person who was
3 accused of the killing, I don't know his name, but my
4 father knows his name. When we said that we did not
5 recognise that person as the killer of our brother and
6 mother, they let us go and we returned to the
8 This trial was a farce. It was a travesty.
9 It was held just to show to the international community
10 that something was done about those crimes. They
11 simply wanted to pin all the crimes onto one person.
12 That person had already killed two Croatian soldiers,
13 and they wanted to solve all of this very quickly.
14 They wanted to sentence him either to life imprisonment
15 or even to death penalty, and they simply wanted to pin
16 all the crimes on him.
17 When we testified and we said that this was
18 not the person, as, indeed, he wasn't, we were returned
19 to the hospital. In the meantime, my father waited for
20 four hours for us to return. He went through all those
21 things that a parent can go through, all the worries.
22 "Where are my children? Why did I let them go?" All
23 those concerns of a parent, he had to go through all
24 that. He did not accompany us, because he thought if
25 we were to be taken away to be killed, if all of us
1were to be killed, then there wouldn't be any
3 Q. Dragan, let me just take you back. When you
4 got back to the hospital, you stayed in the hospital
5 until about the 27th of September; is that right?
6 A. 27th of September, approximately. I can't
7 recall the exact date.
8 Q. Let me just ask you another question,
9 Dragan. Shortly before that, did the HVO make a
10 decision that the patients in the hospital would be
11 removed back to the Heliodrom?
12 A. The patients from the hospital, not only were
13 there the wounded, the ones that had been used as human
14 shields, but you also had normal patients, people who
15 had usual illnesses, such as the renal stones. All the
16 prisoners who were brought in to be treated in the
17 hospital, they were picked up by the Croatian Defence
18 Council as soon as they got well. They had no
19 protection from the doctors. They did not have any
20 special treatment. They were treated as prisoners.
21 You mentioned sick people being picked up.
22 That was the reason why we left the hospital. Because
23 the hospital, for us, was like the house of Anna Frank,
24 that's where we hid from the Croatian soldiers, because
25 as soon as we left the hospital, we would be taken away
1and caught by those people who committed those crimes.
2 Q. So, Dragan, let me ask you: Based on the
3 fact that the patients were being sent back out to the
4 Heliodrom, did you, with your father and your twin
5 brother, make a decision that it was time to leave
7 A. That taking away of prisoners, it was not
8 something that was done en masse. That was the
9 cleansing. That's what I call it. The hospital was
10 cleansed of all the Muslim patients, and that's what
11 happened two days before we were to leave for a third
13 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Becirovic, so that the
14 Judges can follow you more easily, when you're asked a
15 question, try to answer it precisely. There's a
16 precise question. Try to answer precisely. I know
17 it's difficult. These were very, very hard experiences
18 for you, but so that the Judges can understand you and
19 follow you, and the Defence as well -- you are telling
20 a story. You're asked a question. Please answer the
21 question as precisely as possible, all right? Thank
23 Mr. Kehoe, would you ask your question again,
24 please, the one having to do with the prisoners, the
25 way that they left the hospital.
1MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
2 Q. Now, after you observed these prisoners being
3 sent back to the Heliodrom from the hospital, you and
4 your father and your brother made a decision to leave
5 Mostar; correct?
6 A. Yes, that's correct. I would just like to
7 say something. Those prisoners were taken away to the
8 Heliodrom immediately, and the cleansing of the
9 hospital took place during just one day. The whole
10 hospital was cleansed of all the Muslim patients. And
11 the taking away of prisoners to the Heliodrom, that
12 happened every day. This was the first time, however,
13 that all the patients were taken to the Heliodrom, I
14 mean, the Muslim patients. Even though they were on
15 stretchers, even though they had I.V. lines in or they
16 had some serious medical conditions -- I even know a
17 person who was taken away even though he had had
18 surgery just one day before that, and he had an open
20 Those people who were taken away were Muslim
21 patients who were in the hospital. With the exception
22 of the three of us, we were able to remain there,
23 myself, my brother and my father, and another lad whose
24 relatives worked in the hospital. That's how he stayed
25 in the hospital. The reason why we stayed in the
1hospital was because the doctors had intervened on our
2 behalf. They did not let them take us away.
3 Q. Dragan, so ultimately, on the 27th of
4 September, you left Mostar, went to Zagreb with the
5 assistance of the UNHCR, and then you and your father
6 and your brother emigrated to a third country; is that
8 A. That's correct.
9 MR. KEHOE: Dragan, thank you very much. I
10 have no further questions. Thank you Mr. President and
11 Your Honours.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Kehoe. Turning
13 to the Defence, Mr. Nobilo?
14 Cross-examined by Mr. Nobilo:
15 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
16 Q. Good afternoon. Well, actually, good
17 evening. You testimony was rather long, and now I will
18 ask you a general question.
19 What you told us this afternoon, is this what
20 you know, what you knew at the time when this was
21 happening in 1993 when you were a student aged 14, or
22 did you combine that knowledge with the information you
23 received later? So are you speaking purely from what
24 you knew at the time or did you add something that you
25 learned later?
1A. Well, all the things that I know and which I
2 presented here, this is my personal experience. I have
3 no knowledge from a third person, that is, the
4 knowledge of some other events where I was not
5 present. I learned about that directly from those
6 persons who were present while those events were taking
8 Q. Well, the first matter that I have to ask you
9 about: You say that civilians were released under the
10 pressure of the international community, that 7.000
11 civilians were released. You are a 14-year-old boy.
12 You are hiding like Anna Frank in apartments. How do
13 you know that the Croatian authorities in Mostar made
14 the decision because of the pressure of the
15 international community, and how do you know that 7.000
16 civilians were released?
17 A. The 7.000 people, that's only in comparison
18 to the 8.000 people. I don't know the exact number,
19 but out of the 8.000, 7.000 were released. So that's
20 the ratio. That's what I stated. So how many people
21 were actually released?
22 Q. But my question was different. How do you
23 know how many people were released and how do you know
24 that the HVO authorities released those people under
25 the pressure of the international community?
1A. That was because it was on TV. The Spanish
2 TV filmed people being taken away to the stadium, and
3 then from the stadium to the Heliodrom on the 9th of
4 May. That's why the international community exerted
5 pressure, to have these things stopped so that these
6 people can go back to their homes. The reason why they
7 were taken away is because they were Muslims and not
8 because they posed any risk to the Croatian side. The
9 only reason was the fact that they were Muslim.
10 Let me answer your question about the 7.000
11 and 8.000. As I said, I can't give you an exact number
12 of how many prisoners there were. Not even Croats know
13 that. They just picked up everyone, all those people
14 they didn't like. You can't keep records of that,
15 because all the people -- some of the people who were
16 sick were released immediately the same day or after
17 five days, after ten days. So I just gave you some
18 kind of a ratio, the proportion. Out of 8.000, 7.000
19 were released and another thousand remained in prison.
20 These were mostly people who posed some kind of risk to
21 the Croatian Defence Council.
22 Q. So the decision of the Croatian authorities
23 is something that you reconstructed in accordance with
24 the things broadcast on TV?
25 A. No, that was my conclusion. It's only
1logical that if you see something on TV, if you see
2 that people are being taken away to an unknown fate
3 into the camps, the international community, of course,
4 feels that if has to intervene against such actions
5 undertaken by the Croatian side. It's only natural
6 that there was enormous pressure, because only Hitler
7 did things like that in 1941. You know that, of
8 course, but --
9 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Becirovic, when you answer,
10 please turn to the Judges. Listen to Mr. Nobilo's
11 questions, but then you answer facing the Judges, all
12 right? I didn't get the answer to that. I didn't have
13 an interpretation for the answer.
14 A. I was waiting for the interpretation. I
16 JUDGE JORDA: I was asking you to be sure
17 that when you answer Mr. Nobilo's questions, you turn
18 to the Judges, that you are answering directly to the
19 Judges, all right? Thank you.
20 A. This pressure by the international community
21 had to be exerted because it was already official. It
22 had already been broadcast on TV. The Spanish teams,
23 the Spanish journalists, they recorded all that. It
24 was in all the media in Europe, even in the United
25 States. And that was the reason why these governments
1exerted pressure to have these people released.
2 What would be the reason, otherwise, for the
3 Croatian authorities to release those people they had
4 picked up and taken to the camps? Because there is no
5 reason why you should arrest somebody and release him
6 the next day. They wanted to have those people
7 detained over a prolonged period of time because it
8 would be easier for them to control these people, and
9 that's why the camps were set up.
10 MR. NOBILO:
11 Q. You said it was in all the media in Europe
12 and the United States. You saw that as a 14-year-old
13 boy in Mostar caught up in the war?
14 A. Well, among other things, it was on HTV.
15 Maybe you don't know that --
16 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Becirovic, I would like to
17 interrupt. I feel there's some difficulty here and I
18 would like to clear it up. You've been called by the
19 Prosecutor to testify about what you experienced, and
20 it was very painful to you. What are you studying
21 now? You say you're a student. What are you studying?
22 A. Yes, I'm getting ready to study at the
23 Faculty of Economics. Then when I get my diploma, I
24 will be able to enrol in the Faculty of Economics.
25 JUDGE JORDA: I certainly hope that you are
1successful. You're helping the Judges through your
2 testimony. You must understand that it's necessary,
3 and I know it's hard, you have to try to separate what
4 you experienced yourself, and Lord knows that you
5 experienced very, very difficult things, but as much as
6 possible, try to isolate all of the knowledge that you
7 have or all the judgements that you've made, all your
8 opinions, you have a right to your opinion, of course,
9 and they are respectable opinions, but try, please --
10 you cannot testify in front of any court, whether it be
11 here today or in another place tomorrow in your own
12 country, you cannot testify about something that you
13 haven't experienced yourself or perceived yourself.
14 If occasionally you give an opinion, that's
15 normal, but you have to remain, as much as possible,
16 within the framework of what you yourself experienced.
17 You are a witness to something. Would you try to do
18 that, please? Very well. We're going to continue the
19 cross-examination, but try to make the distinction
20 between what you yourself experienced and what you want
21 to say about the conflict.
22 I'm sure you have many things you would like
23 to say, but for the time being, you are a witness to
24 certain events, and it's about those events that the
25 Prosecutor has asked you to testify. I've spent a
1little time on this, but it's for your own interests
2 and in the interests of justice.
3 All right, Mr. Nobilo, will you continue,
5 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
6 Q. In the examination-in-chief, you said to the
7 Prosecutor that you were going to school and that you
8 had to hide the fact that you were a Muslim, that you
9 had to speak Croatian in order to hide that fact. Did
10 you go to the same school with the same teachers and
11 the same colleagues or did you change the school?
12 A. I continued to go to the same school, that's
13 the Fifth Primary School on the other bank, but
14 normally -- I can't really recall which primary school
15 it was, but that school was shut down because it was
16 close to the frontlines, and that's why I went to the
17 Fifth Primary. Otherwise, in that school that I went
18 to before, we did not have Croatian language as a
19 subject. And now I had to go to that school where I
20 had Croatian as the subject, and I had to speak
22 Q. My question was whether you had the same
23 students (sic) as your colleagues and the same
25 A. Yes.
1Q. How did you then manage to hide the fact that
2 you were a Muslim, since both the teachers and the
3 pupils knew you?
4 A. I did not hide that from the teachers, since
5 the teachers knew us, but I hid that from other
6 pupils. When they moved to the school, I met a lot of
7 new pupils. I had to hide the fact that I was a Muslim
8 from them in order to avoid any difficulties.
9 Q. You said to the Prosecutor, furthermore, that
10 anyone could kill a Muslim without being held
11 responsible for that. How do you know that? Can you
12 give us an example of a person being killed that you
13 witnessed yourself, that you knew who the perpetrator
14 was and that he was not held responsible?
15 A. I did not see any killing, because if I had,
16 it's possible that I maybe wouldn't be here. At any
17 rate, I did not witness any killings. But I knew about
18 that theory, that any Croat could kill a Muslim without
19 being prosecuted for it on the basis of an example that
20 happened in the period between the 9th of May and the
21 30th of June when Muslims were found at garbage dumps.
22 And although the murderer was known, he went away scot
23 free, not because the police were unable to arrest him,
24 but because they did not want to arrest him, although
25 they knew his address. I forgot now the name of the
1killer and the name of the victim.
2 Q. So you don't know the name of the victim or
3 of the killer?
4 A. I forgot. I don't know. I just forgot,
5 because there are so many incidents in that period, and
6 I simply forgot about that.
7 Q. You said that your brother was employed in
8 the MUP, Ministry of the Interior, and that your mother
9 used to work for the MUP before the war. Can you
10 explain to the Judges what is MUP?
11 A. MUP is the Ministry of the Interior. That's
12 the police of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
13 Q. What did your father do?
14 A. He worked on road construction, Nisko Gradna
15 (phoen). That's the construction company.
16 Q. Now, when talking about the events on the
17 30th of June, you said that people in Eastern Mostar
18 were hungry. How do you know that they were starving?
19 A. Well, why would people be throwing packages
20 of food from planes into Eastern Mostar if they were
21 not starving.
22 Q. Why would they starve then if they had those
24 A. Because that was not enough for all those
1Q. How do you know how many packages were
3 A. When the planes -- when those packages were
4 thrown from the planes, I saw that personally. It was
5 not enough to supply all the population there. I'd
6 think that you would need several thousand planes to
7 supply 50,000 people.
8 Q. Do you know, was that the only source of
9 supplies, whether they were UNHCR convoys?
10 A. Convoys were let go if the HVO decided to do
11 so. They were at the mercy of the HVO. When they saw
12 that they did not have enough food to survive, and when
13 the international community exerted a lot of pressure
14 to release those convoys, then they had to do it, not
15 because they wanted to, but they had to.
16 Q. How do you know that they didn't want to do
17 that out of their desire to help people?
18 A. Mostar was blocked. Why didn't they allow
19 people to leave Mostar?
20 Q. You described that a battalion of HVO
21 containing mostly Muslims went over to the area
22 controlled by the BH army and that they managed to
23 liberate Bijelo Polje in this manner. Can you please
24 tell me, how do you know that? Is this something you
25 learned in Mostar during the time that you were in
2 A. I know this information because one Muslim
3 who was a member of the HVO was there during the
4 attack. He was at the northern camp at that time, and
5 that was the target of the attack of the BH army, and
6 he managed to get back to the right bank. And from his
7 story, I know he came the same day, the 30th of June.
8 From his story, I know that a lot of soldiers of
9 Bosnian nationality, I mean by that Muslim soldiers, HV
10 soldiers, that they became members of the Bosnian
11 army. That's how I know. So that's how this
12 surrounding was broken within two hours.
13 Q. So when this surrounding was broken, do you
14 know if there was any communication with Sarajevo?
15 A. Yes, I think so.
16 Q. Do you know, is it familiar to you, that
17 there was mobilisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
18 A. I think that there was that because there was
19 war going on.
20 Q. Do you know how old the men had to be?
21 A. From 18 further on to a certain age. I don't
22 know how old.
23 Q. You said that on the night of the 30th of
24 June until midnight, about 8.000 Muslims were
25 collected. How do you know that? How do you know that
1that action was over at midnight? How do you know that
2 it was 8.000 people and not 7.000 or 6.000?
3 A. It was the same number that was on the 9th of
4 May, and I know that this action of gathering people
5 lasted, because along that road to Citluk, there were
6 buses passing by, buses who were taking those
7 prisoners. They were transporting them. As I was
8 walking down after the crime into the city, I saw those
9 buses, how they were still passing by. That's how I
10 could conclude that this was going on until midnight.
11 Q. You said that these soldiers, these HV
12 military policemen, who took you, your twin brother,
13 your mother and your older brother, you said that these
14 were HV insignia. What kind of insignia were these?
15 A. These insignia, they were white, and it says
16 "HV military police." They had badges on which --
17 it's something similar to the police badges with which
18 you can present yourself and say that you are HV
19 military police.
20 Q. You also said that these HV military
21 policemen were from Dalmatia and that you can recognise
22 their accents. Can you recognise out of which region I
24 A. No, I cannot recognise you personally. I can
25 only guess. I know the Stikalan (phoen) dialect, I
1can't say, but in Mostar, there were a lot of people
2 who would come from Split, and that's how I knew
3 because very good friends. A brother from one of the
4 neighbours was personally coming from Split, so that's
5 why I could recognise that accent. According to your
6 question about your accent, I can't answer that. I was
7 born in Split. I didn't know that.
8 Q. Further on, you said that their propaganda,
9 HVO propaganda, was saying that in Central Bosnia the
10 Croats are being killed and that that was not true at
11 all, that that was far away from the truth. Can you
12 tell us, what do you know about the Central Bosnia,
13 because we are trying to figure out for a year now what
14 was going on in Central Bosnia?
15 A. I know what I know from the media, because I
16 was not in Central Bosnia, but I guess -- I don't
17 guess, I know that these crimes, so many crimes, could
18 not be committed with regard to how many crimes were
19 committed against the Muslim population. Because if
20 these crimes had been so serious, then there would be
21 no Muslims in Herzegovina. That's how harsh the
22 reaction would be in Herzegovina.
23 Q. That truck that stopped after they killed
24 your family, and that driver cursed you or was rude
25 towards you, was that driver a civilian or a soldier?
1A. He was a soldier, because the civilians could
2 not move at that time. It was curfew.
3 Q. Further on, you said that normal police,
4 Herceg-Bosna police, protected you in a way at the
5 hospital. Can you tell me, what do you mean by "normal
6 police"? Do you mean civilian police?
7 A. Yes, that's what I mean, civilian police.
8 They had to protect us because they had arrived there.
9 They couldn't allow that in front of them somebody
10 could be taken and killed within an hour. I know of no
11 police in the world that would allow such a thing.
12 Q. This colonel that came to visit you, did he
13 show any kind of identification to you?
14 A. He identified himself with some kind of a
15 document. I can't remember now. But since we were
16 just boys, we did not look at the document, at the ID.
17 But I did know that this was a SIS ID. I recognised it
18 as a SIS ID. It's not that I knew that from before. I
19 just recognised it there at the time.
20 Q. Was he nice to you?
21 A. Yes, he was.
22 Q. He tried to determine, to learn from you, who
23 it was that did that crime, whether they were members
24 of the Croatian army -- please allow me to finish the
25 question and then you will give me your answer.
1Why did you conclude or why didn't you
2 conclude that he is really trying to conduct an
4 A. I don't know why a colonel of SIS would come
5 to us, to the hospital, because there were also other
6 organisations who could do that, who could find out the
7 facts, not a SIS colonel who has got completely given
8 tasks. Was that a danger to the Croatian nation? I
9 apologise for my expressions.
10 Q. Don't you know what SIS is? That's the
11 Security and Information Service, and the main task of
12 the SIS is to protect the security of the army. So
13 that's why they conduct investigations of crimes
14 committed by soldiers?
15 A. I don't know about the security of the
16 soldiers, how their lives were endangered. These were
17 civilians, crimes committed against civilians, and
18 that's why I thought it was up to them to ...
19 Q. So that's why you decided it was not an
20 investigation but something else?
21 A. Yes.
22 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, I would just ask that
23 counsel allow the witness to finish his answer before
24 he interrupts with another question, which has
25 happened. The question he was given was cut off at the
1end, and, as you can see from the
2 transcript, "... that's why I thought it was up to them
3 to ..." then an ellipses when counsel breaks in with
4 another question. I simply ask that counsel allow the
5 witness to answer the question.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, please allow the
7 answer to be given.
8 MR. NOBILO:
9 Q. Without mentioning any names, can you tell me
10 whether in your neighbourhood, in your street, were
11 there any other cases of such executions as there was
12 in your family? Any of your neighbours, were they
14 A. To my personal knowledge, I know from a
15 school colleague of mine that his parents were --
16 actually, his grandparents, that they were in the same
17 way, even in a worse way, killed. There are many
18 examples that I can't remember today, but I remember
19 that example because that boy went to the same school
20 with me.
21 MR. NOBILO: Your Honours, Mr. President, I
22 don't know if it's appropriate, but I would like to get
23 some names for identification purposes so that we can
24 conduct an investigation. We did not have the
25 statement of this witness in advance. So that we can
1present evidence during our case. So if you feel that
2 this would endanger anyone, we can now go into closed
3 session. I would like to just learn some names of the
5 JUDGE JORDA: No objections?
6 MR. KEHOE: I don't have any objections to
7 that. Of course, we will have to vacate that area
8 there, or if you go into private session, I suppose
9 there's no need to vacate.
10 MR. NOBILO: Actually, it would be sufficient
11 to switch off the tone.
12 MR. KEHOE: That's a private session.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Private session. We can do
15 THE REGISTRAR: In this courtroom, that isn't
16 possible. We can't have private sessions in this
17 courtroom. It has to be closed here.
18 MR. KEHOE: Then it's closed. We're back to
19 square one.
20 MR. NOBILO: In that case, Mr. President, at
21 the end of my cross-examination, we can ask all those
22 questions, so we can go into closed session at the end
23 of my examination.
24 JUDGE JORDA: That would be the best
25 solution. About how much time do you still need, Mr.
2 MR. NOBILO: Not too much, fifteen minutes,
4 JUDGE JORDA: All right. That would be the
5 best solution then. Then we'll have a closed session
6 for the last questions in your cross-examination, and
7 then we will go back to public session.
8 MR. NOBILO:
9 Q. You told us about human shields in the Santic
10 Street in the defence of the Ero Hotel. Can you please
11 tell us, how do you know about that, who told you about
12 that, and which people were used as human shields?
13 A. That information I got from prisoners who
14 would get wounded while they were used as human
15 shields, for example, a human shield for the protection
16 of the Hotel Ero. I don't know their names because I
17 didn't write down in my diary, write down their names.
18 Q. How do you know that the people who were
19 arrested in Maglaj, that they were not registered with
20 the Red Cross?
21 A. Because that's what they told me.
22 Q. Who told you about the use of the chains as
23 the security device to prevent the prisoners from
25 A. That's also what the prisoners told me,
1because I was taking care of these prisoners. They
2 needed help to clean themselves. They were dirty. We
3 would give them our own clothes so that they could
4 change. That's how we started talking with them, and
5 that's how I found out about these events.
6 Q. Can you tell us the name of the person who
7 told you that and who was tied up with the chain?
8 A. The person who told me this didn't tell me
9 his name. And even if he had told me his name, I would
10 not remember it; I couldn't remember it.
11 Q. The case when father and son were used as a
12 method, where one would be under the control of the HVO
13 and the other one would go to no-man's land. Can you
14 tell me who told you that and who were these people,
15 the father and son?
16 A. These people were unknown to me, but I know,
17 again, from their own stories, because one son came to
18 the hospital seriously injured, and he was with me in
19 the room. From his story, it was explained how he was
20 wounded, how he got onto this line, and how they used
21 this method, father/son. I can't say their names
22 because I don't know their names.
23 Q. You testified before the court in Mostar, the
24 military tribunal. It was for the identification?
25 A. My guess is it was the military court,
1because this was a court that was inside a military
2 facility, so it could be only military court.
3 Q. You said that those people were tried for the
4 murder of two Croats, not for the murder of Muslims,
5 because Muslims could be killed freely. Why is it that
6 you were called to identify those persons and to charge
7 them with killing your family?
8 A. First of all, these were not people, but one
9 person, one man that was accused for the murder of our
10 family. These people, we had to go and recognise,
11 because they wanted to solve these cases that were
12 still open. And this was a good opportunity, that
13 there was one Croatian soldier who killed two Croatian
14 soldiers, and because of that, they tried to pin it on
16 Q. How do you know what the Judges and the
17 Prosecutors wanted?
18 A. The Judges -- first of all, I didn't have a
19 lawyer. They told me, "Is this the man or not?" I
20 said no, as it was the case, but the information that
21 he killed two soldiers, I found that out from the
22 soldiers who were taking care of me while my brother
23 was testifying.
24 Q. Do you know what the fate of that soldier
25 was, whether he was acquitted for the murder of your
2 A. I don't know anything about that soldier. I
3 think what I've heard is I was interested in it. When
4 I visited Mostar during the summer, that together with
5 him, there was one Muslim prisoner who was in the same
6 cell, that he still remained in the prison cell
7 afterwards. According to this Muslim prisoner, and
8 what I have heard from him was this winter -- summer,
9 summer, I think, when I returned to Mostar.
10 Q. So your conclusion that this trial was
11 a travesty, that's what you said, and that it was just
12 because of the international community. What do you
13 base your conclusion on? What do you know about the
14 trial, except for entering the courtroom and failing to
15 recognise that person? What is it exactly that you
16 know about that case that enables you to draw the
17 conclusion that this was a travesty because of the
18 international community?
19 A. This trial was a farce because this man could
20 not have committed all of the crimes he was accused
21 of. His crimes were chosen really -- I don't know how
22 he could have committed this crime. There were three
23 people, how he could have done it on his own. Because
24 there were three men in our case, and there was only
25 one, it was only him.
1Q. Can you tell us whether that person, that
2 man, at that time was formally charged with the murder
3 of your mother and brother?
4 A. We arrived to testify. To recognise this
5 man, if it was this man who committed that crime, that
6 killing of our family, I didn't know. I don't know if
7 he was accused of it, if he was indicted.
8 Q. You said that you were at the hospital just
9 like Anna Frank, and you used that comparison very
10 often, like Anna Frank in her house. You wanted to
11 suggest that you were in hiding in that hospital. Can
12 you please explain to me how it is that you were in
13 hiding when the SIS colonel comes to your room, the
14 police comes to your room, the Croatian soldier in the
15 black uniform comes to your room? How is it that you
16 were in hiding?
17 A. Just to give you an example. For example,
18 when these Muslim patients were taken away from the
19 hospital, it was two or three times when a truck
20 arrived to pick us up, the rest of us, the four of us,
21 four patients that stayed there, they came again, so
22 that's why we had to hide in the doctors' rooms so that
23 they couldn't find us. Because if they had found us in
24 the patients' room, they would have taken us. That's
25 why we had to hide in the doctors' room. I used the
1example of Anna Frank so you could make a picture of
2 what it was really like. I didn't want to compare it
3 to Anna Frank, it was worse than that, because I saw
4 personally eye into eye, this criminal.
5 Q. In the last portion of your testimony, you
6 said that patients were brought back to the Heliodrom,
7 but that the last day, virtually, the whole hospital
8 was cleansed, and that all the patients, even those who
9 were on stretchers were taken to the Heliodrom. How do
10 you know that these patients were taken to the
11 Heliodrom and not to some other hospital?
12 A. They were not taken to hospital because they
13 were put rudely onto the truck because there would have
14 been an ambulance and I don't know that people are
15 taken by trucks to hospitals. And I know these people
16 that were fatally wounded, they were returned from the
17 Heliodrom to the hospital. That's how I know that they
18 were at the Heliodrom, because not all the people, but
19 maybe one-third that were seriously injured, that
20 needed care, they came back to the hospital.
21 Q. Your father advised you before you were going
22 to testify not to tell the truth. Now, what I want to
23 know, after the first discussion, interview with the
24 Prosecutor, did anyone advise you how to testify here
25 and briefed you, trained you, coached you?
1A. No, nobody told me. Only as far as it was
2 permitted, I was told how I would stand in front of
3 this court, how I would solemnly declare that I would
4 speak the truth, only that I gave my statement to the
5 Prosecutor. That was all.
6 Q. I did not mean the Prosecutor. I meant
7 before you were approached by the Prosecution, I know
8 that they are very correct in their behaviour, so
9 somebody else outside of the Office of the Prosecutor?
10 A. I don't know who else could come. I could
11 only share my experiences with my brother who
12 experienced the same. I don't know who else, except my
13 father, could give me advice what to say.
14 Q. Who contacted you first about testifying
15 after leaving Mostar in 1993?
16 A. In the sense, we went to the embassy of
17 Bosnia-Herzegovina who was responsible for making a
18 list of those criminals. We cannot forget these
19 criminals, and they have helped me a lot to present
20 this case now in front of The Hague court, Tribunal.
21 Q. So did you give a statement to them? Did you
22 talk to them, this section for war crimes at the
23 BH embassy?
24 A. Because of some benefits that I could get,
25 that I could get my passport quicker, because all of
1those people whose lives were endangered, that they
2 would have to spend several days in Zagreb, they were
3 immediately given a passport to go to a third country.
4 That's my answer.
5 Q. Did you want to add something?
6 A. That's my answer.
7 Q. When did you give your first statement to the
8 Office of the Prosecutor?
9 A. On Wednesday, last Wednesday, in my place.
10 Q. When did you first get in touch with the
11 Office of the Prosecutor?
12 A. On Tuesday, last Tuesday. It could have been
13 also Monday. I'm not sure.
14 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, two brief
15 questions in closed session and we're done.
16 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We will have a
17 closed session.
18 (Closed session)
23 (Open session)
24 JUDGE RIAD:
25 Q. Mr. Becirovic, good afternoon.
1A. Good afternoon.
2 JUDGE RIAD: I want to follow the whole --
3 A. Excuse me. I couldn't hear your question
4 from the beginning. I couldn't hear the beginning of
5 the question because there was no interpretation.
6 JUDGE RIAD: All right. You mentioned that
7 the soldiers came at your building to take you, and
8 then they proceeded as you described to this horrible
9 execution of your mother and brother. And you
10 described them as HV soldiers, as Croatian. And that
11 one of the signs was the accent, they had the accent of
12 Split. Were they also dressed as HV soldiers or as
14 A. They were dressed as HV soldiers. They had
15 documents, badges, that can't be falsified, of HV
16 military police. Among others, they also had the
17 license plates that were yellow, and these were only HV
18 license plates. Not knowing the city of Mostar showed
19 that they came from the outside. According to their
20 accent, I guessed that they were come from Dalmatia,
21 Split, because there were a lot of soldiers from
23 JUDGE RIAD: So they were military police and
24 they carried the insignia of HV. Were there many
25 military police, HV military police, in the area or was
2 A. I saw for the first time military -- HV
3 military police when they came at our door, but I saw
4 before HV soldiers. I saw HV military police for the
5 first time.
6 JUDGE RIAD: Could you say that they had a
7 controlling attitude, that they were the masters of
8 this situation, and obeyed around?
9 A. When someone tells you what to do, that you
10 should get dressed, that you should search on your own,
11 of course, they were the masters of the situation.
12 They could do with us whatever they wanted to do.
13 JUDGE RIAD: Not with you, not with you, with
14 other soldiers. You said when you passed through the
15 checkpoints, they were respected by the other
16 soldiers. So they had a leading position; would that
17 be right?
18 A. I could just see that they had no problems
19 while passing those checkpoints. They didn't have to
20 show any documents. They could move at that time.
21 They were on their duty. They didn't use any kind of
22 documents, so I concluded that they knew those
23 policemen, those soldiers, at these checkpoints.
24 JUDGE RIAD: Now, when you spoke of what you
25 called the cleansing of the hospital, was this
1cleansing done also by HV military police, by HV
2 soldiers, if you remember rightly, or was it the HVO?
3 A. That was the force -- the HV forces -- it was
4 the Fifth Brigade that was in the suburbs of Mostar,
5 and the Fifth Brigade, I could recognise them by their
6 truck because it said on the truck, "The Fifth
8 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter has the
9 question that I didn't understand clearly whether it
10 was HV or HVO.
11 JUDGE RIAD: I think that's all. Thank you
12 very much.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Shahabuddeen?
14 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, Mr. President, I think
15 there's a clarification that the interpreter wanted
16 that was just put on the record. If I may, I believe
17 the interpreter, Judge Riad, with all due respect, I
18 think the interpreter has some difficulty as I read the
19 transcript and as I hear it, on either the answer or
20 the question; I'm not sure which.
21 THE INTERPRETER: I didn't understand whether
22 the answer was HV or the HVO. The Fifth Battalion that
23 was being mentioned, whether it was HV or HVO. It was
24 not said clearly.
25 JUDGE RIAD: Could you explain that? The
1Fifth Brigade, was it HV or HVO?
2 A. HVO.
3 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you.
4 A. Fifth HVO Battalion.
5 JUDGE JORDA: All right, Mr. Kehoe? Let me
6 thank Judge Riad for having asked that question, which
7 I myself wanted to ask. I want to really thank him
8 because, in fact, since the very beginning of this
9 testimony, there has been a great amount of confusion
10 between HV, HVO, HV or HVO military police, HV or HVO
11 troops. Therefore, I want to thank my colleague for
12 having attempted to clarify all of these questions.
13 Excuse me, Judge Shahabuddeen, because I interrupted
14 you. Excuse me. You are now going to ask some
15 questions, if you like.
16 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You mentioned some
17 soldiers who refused to fire at their erstwhile
18 friends. Were they HV soldiers or HVO soldiers?
19 A. Those were HVO soldiers since they were the
20 only ones to have friends in Mostar. Because the HV,
21 they come from the outside, they can't have friends in
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Is my impression correct
24 that from all that you have said, it appears that there
25 were occasions when kindness was shown to you and
1surviving members of your family by Croats?
2 A. Well, if they are your friends, of course
3 they will show kindness to you. All of those crimes
4 that were committed, they were not committed by my
5 friends, that's for sure. Since we were not the kind
6 of family to be on bad terms with anyone, to quarrel
7 with people, we had a lot of friends and they all
8 helped us. Among other things, I think that all the
9 doctors in the Mostar hospital, they are the reason why
10 we are still alive today, since my father and my
11 mother, as a young couple, everybody knew them in
12 Mostar, since they used to walk around together,
13 everybody knew them in the street as a couple.
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Would I be correct in
15 supposing that these Croats who helped you and
16 surviving members of your family knew that you were
18 A. Well, not only did they know, they helped us,
19 precisely because of that reason, because we were
20 Muslim. They were the only ones in the position to
21 help us. We needed any form of assistance we could get
22 and, of course, they knew that we were Muslim.
23 Everybody knew us. All those who knew us helped us,
24 and that was the reason why the doctors helped us too.
25 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Can you help the
1Tribunal by telling us whether there were other cases
2 in which Muslims were helped by Croats?
3 A. There were many cases of the neighbours who
4 protected Muslims by hiding them in their homes when
5 people came to collect them, it was the family Culjak,
6 and other families, Doctors; we know a lot of such
8 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: And what are your
9 relations now with Croats who had proved to be helpful
10 to you in your time of need?
11 A. Well, our relations are very good, just as
12 they used to be before the war. Nothing's changed.
13 They even proved themselves as true friends to us
14 through providing assistance to us. All those people
15 who helped us, we are very grateful to them.
16 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Witness, I thank you.
17 JUDGE JORDA: I'm sure that my colleague has
18 one or two more questions.
19 JUDGE RIAD: I just want to add a question to
20 the questions asked by my very eminent colleague, Judge
21 Shahabuddeen. You are, apparently, a very educated,
22 young student. Did you notice that the danger in which
23 the Muslim population of Mostar, the danger which
24 threatened them, was coming only from the military HVO
25 or was the civilians, the Croat civilians, involved in
2 A. Not only did they threaten, but I learned
3 that all the Muslims in Mostar, since they didn't like
4 the fact that they existed in Mostar, they wanted to
5 move them to Zenica. Zenica is a town in Central
6 Bosnia which has a majority Muslim population. They
7 wanted to move them all to Zenica. They had such
8 plans. It doesn't mean that the plans were realised.
9 They simply existed. That's what they were talking
10 about amongst themselves, the Croats. That's how I
11 heard it. But in Mostar, there was no room for
12 Muslims. There was only room for Croats of Islamic
13 faith, and that's a huge difference. The symbol of the
14 city of Mostar, the old bridge, was destroyed by the
15 Croatian Defence Council, because it was the symbol of
16 Islam, and that was the foundation on which Mostar was
18 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. We're finished. I
20 have no questions to add to those of my questions.
21 Mr. Dragan Becirovic, everything you've experienced was
22 very painful. You have many years of life ahead of
23 you. As Judge Riad said, you are studying now, and you
24 will one day be able to make further judgements about
25 what has happened. You have a great mission in front
1of you, a great task. The Tribunal thanks you for
2 having come to us at the request of the Prosecutor.
3 The usher will now accompany you out of the courtroom.
4 (The witness withdrew)
5 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Harmon, Mr. Kehoe, this is
6 the end of the afternoon. I would like to know how you
7 see the rest of the week in light of what we said
8 yesterday about the witnesses which you are supposed to
9 call. We will finish at the end of the morning on
10 Friday, as you know. What does the rest of the week
11 look like, please?
12 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, we have a witness,
13 the next witness that I informed counsel of. I don't
14 mention his name simply because he's a protected
15 witness, and then there is a possible next short
16 witness after that which is the other individual that
17 we previously discussed. And then we have a series of
18 documents that my colleague, Mr. Cayley, will be
19 discussing. That's tomorrow. We then have another
20 witness that my colleague, Mr. Harmon, will be leading
21 on Thursday, and I would suspect that that witness will
22 go into Friday, but I will turn it over to Mr. Harmon,
23 and I would think that he would be more available to
24 answer that question accurately.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Harmon?
1MR. HARMON: Mr. President, we anticipate
2 concluding on schedule, Friday, as previously indicated
3 by the published schedule.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. I would like to
5 thank you, Mr. Harmon, for using your time properly.
6 Of course, we're not counting every minute, but the
7 days are counted, as you know, applying this measure
8 rather broadly.
9 I would also like you to think about the
10 remainder of your work up to the end of July when you
11 will have completed the presentation of your evidence.
12 I believe that should be the 29th of July. I think
13 that's right. Mr. Dubuisson?
14 MR. DUBUISSON: Yes, that's right, the 29th
15 of July.
16 JUDGE JORDA: We have now only to thank the
17 interpreters. I do it every day, but I particularly
18 want to do it today, and so we will meet again tomorrow
19 at 9.45, because the registrar asked us to begin at a
20 quarter -- reasons of the detention facility and the
21 arrival of the various accused. Thank you. Good
22 evening, everybody. The court stands adjourned.
23 --- Whereupon hearing adjourned at
24 6.11 p.m. to be reconvened on Wednesday,
25 the 1st day of July, 1998 at 9.45 a.m.