1 Monday, 28th September, 1998
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 2.10 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Good afternoon. Mr. Registrar,
5 have the accused brought in, please.
6 (The accused entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: Let me say hello to the
8 interpreters. This is also a way of checking whether
9 everyone is ready. I hope everyone had a nice
10 weekend. I, of course, say good afternoon to the
11 Prosecution and to the Defence. We are ready to
12 continue with our witness and his examination-in-chief,
13 which has not been completed.
14 You will remind me of his name, General
15 Slavko ...
16 MR. NOBILO: Slavko Marin.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Nobilo. I think
18 that the witness may be brought in.
19 (The witness entered court)
20 JUDGE JORDA: General, can you hear me?
21 THE WITNESS: Yes, thank you.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. We are going to
23 continue with the examination-in-chief by Defence
24 counsel for the accused, Mr. Nobilo. I remind you that
25 you are still under oath.
1 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
2 WITNESS: SLAVKO MARIN
3 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
4 Q. Good afternoon, Brigadier. Today, we should
5 like to begin with a reconstruction of the events of
6 the April war, at least the key ten days of that period
7 which are covered by the indictment.
8 Before that, I should like to hear your
9 opinion. You're an officer of the Army of the
10 Federation. Can you now, from this time distance,
11 explain to us what you think was the cause of the
12 conflict between the Croats and the Muslims in Central
13 Bosnia, in the first place, where you were working at
14 the time?
15 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, the causes of
16 the conflict between the Croats and Muslims or Bosniaks
17 in Bosnia and, therefore, in Central Bosnia as well, in
18 my personal opinion, are multi-fold. On this occasion,
19 I should like to highlight only a few.
20 The first cause of the conflict, which I
21 should like to point to, is a concept of defence that
22 differed from that of the former JNA and the initial
23 wavering on the part of the Muslims during the
24 aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina. I have repeated
25 several times the statement by a member of the
1 presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, that is, Mr. Alija
2 Izetbegovic. Following the aggression on the village
3 of Ravno, he said, "This is not our war."
4 Such an approach among the Croats in
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina caused a distrust with regard to the
6 Territorial Defence of the time and certain
7 reservations with respect to whether the Muslims would
8 participate in the defence of the sovereignty of
10 I shall try to recall and indicate only a few
11 of the places which were attacked at the beginning of
12 1992 and which the HVO, suffering considerable
13 casualties, managed to halt the aggression by the army
14 of Republika Srpska. Among those places are Kupres,
15 Ravno, Livno, Novi Travnik, Jajce, Travnik, Zepce and,
16 in eastern Herzegovina, the Neretva River Valley where
17 the HVO actually took upon itself the initial blow, the
18 initial strike.
19 What else was happening at that time? In the
20 parts of northwestern Bosnia and the localities of
21 Petrovac, Kluce, Krupa, Sanski Most, Donji Vakuf, and
22 other places, the Muslims/Bosniaks represented a
23 relative majority of the population, and the Croats, an
24 absolute minority. Where the HVO was not organised,
25 those places fell under the control of the army of
1 Republika Srpska within a day or two, and the entire
2 population was expelled from those places, including
3 women, children, old people, and soldiers.
4 In view of these facts, it was natural that
5 the people that were suffering casualties set up its
6 defences against the army of Republika Srpska and
7 developed a certain degree of mistrust.
8 Another element that I consider to be
9 important is that, in virtually all the municipalities
10 in Central Bosnia, the positions of commanders of the
11 municipal Territorial Defence were Muslims/Bosniaks.
12 This also applied to the district headquarters of
13 Territorial Defence, in which the commander was also a
14 Muslim. But we had a similar situation at the level of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina as a whole, where the commander of
16 the republican headquarters was also a Muslim/Bosniak.
17 As a result, the Croats felt suppressed, and
18 the Territorial Defence was the first form of
19 organisation in resisting the onslaught of the army of
20 Republika Srpska.
21 A third reason, in my view, is avoidance to
22 organise the defence from the very moment of the attack
23 by the Serbs and the pushing of the Croats into the
24 frontlines. I have already explained this by what I
25 have said so far.
1 Furthermore, another reason is that Muslims
2 opted for playing the part of the victim and using that
3 part as a form of resistance to present themselves, to
4 the International Community as a victim and wait for
5 the destiny of Bosnia-Herzegovina to be resolved by the
6 International Community, rather than defending it with
7 a force of arms.
8 Another very significant problem that
9 encompassed Central Bosnia was the Bosniak refugees
10 expelled by the Serbs from the municipalities I have
11 mentioned in northwestern Bosnia, which settled in
12 areas with mixed populations and, thereby, upset the
13 delicate balance of interethnic relations. The Croats
14 felt in jeopardy, and there are growing rumours among
15 the population that the Muslims are sufficiently strong
16 to defeat the Croats in Central Bosnia, but for the
17 Serbs, that will have to wait. As a consequence of the
18 large number of displaced persons, among whom were
19 able-bodied men, mobile refugee brigades were set up
20 which would, later on, be used for a struggle for
21 living space.
22 The next reason, in my personal opinion, is
23 the presence of extremists and fundamentalists and the
24 formation of units based on religion. A case in point
25 is the 7th Muslim Brigade, the El Mujahed units, which
1 caused fear and reaction among Croatian extremists.
2 Another reason is that, as a result of the
3 structuring of units on the basis of religion, parts of
4 those units were brought to fringe areas of Muslim
5 villages linked to Croatian villages so as to influence
6 the behaviour of local Muslims and, as a result,
7 intimidate the Croats. Examples of this are Guca Gora,
8 Slimena, Ravno Rostovo (phoen) and Han Bila.
9 Another reason for the conflict between the
10 Croats and Muslims in Central Bosnia is the deployment
11 of the BH army units into the depth of the territory,
12 rather than the frontlines with the Serbs, which upset
13 the balance of forces in space. We saw a map of this
14 on Friday on the easel, from which it was possible to
15 see to what extent HVO forces were engaged on the front
16 against Republika Srpska, whereas the BH army units
17 were deployed within the territory, that is, in
18 villages and areas where there was no front against the
19 Republika Srpska Army.
20 When I say "upsetting the balance of forces
21 in space," I wish to draw attention to a fact that was
22 reality in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In a situation that we
23 found ourselves in, the Croats saw the HVO as their own
24 army; the Serbs, the army of Republika Srpska as their
25 army; and the Muslims/Bosniaks saw the army of
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina as their army. So that the events
2 that followed were linked to this problem, because
3 virtually each people was linked to one of these three
4 mentioned armies.
5 I believe that if we were to go into greater
6 details, we would be able to find other reasons, but I
7 think that these will be sufficient to clear up this
9 Q. Thank you, Brigadier. Let us now move on to
10 some of the events that preceded the 16th of April,
11 that is, the actual armed conflict between the Muslims
12 and Croats in the Lasva Valley.
13 MR. NOBILO: May I ask the usher for his
14 assistance to distribute these documents?
15 THE REGISTRAR: D259, D259A for the English
17 MR. NOBILO:
18 Q. Brigadier, will you please look at this
19 document, its signature and the incoming stamp of the
20 fax? Can you authenticate this document?
21 A. I recognise the incoming stamp. It was
22 received in the communications centre of the Operative
23 Zone signed by the operations duty officer, Mujo
24 Drago. I know him personally. He was head of the PZO
25 in Nikola Subic-Zrinski, and this document did reach
1 the brigade headquarters.
2 Q. Was this an example of a routine daily report
3 to the Operative Zone where there were no combat
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Could you comment on item 2? Why was this
7 specifically stated, "The Busovaca-Kiseljak road is
8 still not in use"?
9 A. In a routine daily operative report, if there
10 are no significant events in the area for which the
11 particular unit is responsible, the unit sending the
12 report, then it is customary to point to the basic
13 problem. In this case, it was the fact that
14 Busovaca-Kiseljak was still not open for use.
15 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Can we proceed to
16 the next document, please?
17 THE REGISTRAR: D260, D260A for the English
19 MR. NOBILO:
20 Q. Brigadier, another report, this time dated
21 the 12th of April, that is, four days before the
22 conflict. Can you identify or confirm the authenticity
23 of this report? If so, on what grounds?
24 A. Yes. That's the incoming stamp from the
25 communications centre. The document was drafted in the
1 Nikola Subic-Zrinksi Brigade. That can be seen from
2 the stamp. Zarko Petrovic is someone I know
3 personally. He was the operations duty officer that
5 Q. How would you comment on item 4, "New
6 entrenchment of the enemy was observed in the Kula
7 sector, the region from the pool to Krvevine." Who was
8 digging in there?
9 JUDGE JORDA: Just a minor point of
10 clarification, you're asking the witness to
11 authenticate this. In French legal terms, that means
12 to confirm that it is the original. I prefer for him
13 to say that he recognises it, that it is a copy, that,
14 apparently, it is a copy of the original. This is a
15 minor shade of meaning that I should like to draw
16 attention to.
17 Perhaps, one day we will have a real debate
18 in this Tribunal on the nature of originals and on the
19 nature of copies. So I would prefer, instead of asking
20 the witness, "Can you authenticate the document," he
21 can certify that the copy appears to be faithful to the
23 Do we agree on that?
24 MR. NOBILO: Yes, indeed, Mr. President.
25 Q. Brigadier, is this an authentic copy of the
1 original document dated 12th April, 1993? If so, how
2 can you tell?
3 A. Yes. It is an authentic copy. The document
4 was received in the command of the Operative Zone. The
5 stamp is that of the Nikola Subic-Zrinkski Brigade, and
6 the operations duty officer is someone I know
8 Q. Brigadier, can you tell us what item 4
9 means? Why was it included in this report and what was
10 it a signal of? Allow me to read it: "New
11 entrenchment of the enemy was observed in the Kula
12 sector, the region from the pool in the direction of
14 A. It is clear from item 4 that the army of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina is undertaking certain measures,
16 certain activities, in this case, digging in in the
17 area of Kula. But why in Kula? Kula is one of the key
18 land features for the defence of Busovaca. That is why
19 this operatives duty officer wanted to underline and
20 draw attention to these activities on the part of the
21 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
22 It is also important to point out that, after
23 the conflict ended in January, a truce was agreed to, a
24 cease-fire, and an agreement was also reached not to
25 undertake any entrenchments or movement of forces along
1 the confrontation lines within the territory of
2 Busovaca municipality.
3 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Next document,
5 THE REGISTRAR: Document D261, D261A for the
6 French version, D261B for the English version.
7 MR. NOBILO:
8 Q. Brigadier, let me read just a couple of
9 sentences. It is addressed from the Operative Zone of
10 Central Bosnia to the commander of the 3rd Corps of the
11 BH army, Enver Hadzihasanovic. It has no number, but
12 we see the date, 29th of March, 1993: "Protest. In
13 connection with the murder of members of HVO military
14 police. On the 28th of March, 1993, around 2140 hours,
15 at the military police checkpoint in the village of
16 Cajdras, Bernard Kovacevic and Ivan Laus, members of
17 the HVO military police, the Jure Francetic Brigade,
18 were brutally murdered. The murder happened as the
19 above-mentioned persons were on regular duty checking
20 goods and vehicles.
21 The investigation and the information
22 gathered so far indicate that this crime was,
23 indisputably, committed from the immediate vicinity by
24 members of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Several
25 leads suggest that the perpetrators of this act are
1 members of the 7th Muslim Brigade based in Zenica."
2 It is stated that Colonel Tihomir Blaskic
3 drafted this document, but it was not signed.
4 My question, Brigadier, is do you remember
5 this letter or, rather, this event? What do you
7 A. I remember the event because we were informed
8 about the same by the Jure Francetic Brigade in
9 Zenica. I remember that the commander of the Operative
10 Zone, General Blaskic, addressed a letter to the
11 commander of the 3rd Corps of the BH army, Mr. Enver
12 Hadzihasanovic, in person in order to protest this
14 Q. Specific mention is made of the 7th Muslim
15 Brigade. What can you tell us about that Brigade,
16 especially in connection with this and other similar
17 events that occurred later?
18 A. At the time, the 7th Muslim Brigade virtually
19 participated in each and every incident that occurred
20 in the Lasva Valley. Also, that brigade, as can be
21 seen from this report, represented a problem for the
22 commander of the 3rd Corps.
23 Furthermore, at the time, we, in the command
24 of the Operative Zone, were not sure whether the 3rd
25 Corps commander really did have control and command
1 over the 7th Muslim Brigade, but because of our own
2 assessments at the time, and in order to initiate
3 certain activities by the 3rd Corps in the direction of
4 the chief of staff of the Bosnian army, so that it
5 might be known who was in command of this brigade, we
6 said, in this report, that we know that this brigade
7 was under the command of the 3rd Corps.
8 Also, the problems that occurred from January
9 until the date of this protest, we recognised this
10 brigade as a threat to the good relations, a threat to
11 relations between the HVO and the BH army. In the last
12 paragraph, the commander of the Operative Zone is
13 asking that the brigade be urgently dissolved, because
14 it harbours confirmed enemies of the Croatian people
15 and that appropriate measures be taken against the
16 command of this brigade.
17 However, as far as I know, no reply was
18 received to this protest.
19 Q. Brigadier, but was this protest sent to the
20 3rd Corps?
21 A. Yes, it was. I'm quite sure of that.
22 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please, dated the
23 14th of April, 1993.
24 THE REGISTRAR: D262, D262A for the French
25 version, D262B for the English version.
1 MR. NOBILO:
2 Q. Brigadier, before we read several excerpts
3 from this document, could you please review it, and
4 could you confirm that this is an authentic photocopy
5 of the original document of 14 April, 1993?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. On what basis do you say that?
8 A. I know Zarko Petrovic, and I know that this
9 information did arrive at the Operative Zone command.
10 Q. Do you recognise this signature?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. I would like to read some excerpts from this
13 report. This is a report to the Security Information
14 Service in Busovaca. It's dated 14 April, 1993, and it
15 reads: "On April 11, 1993, DL," the initials "DL," "a
16 fighter in a 2nd Battalion contacted us and conveyed to
17 us the information which he obtained through a
18 conversation of Vinko Ljubicic from Zenica regarding
19 alleged army BH intentions towards the Busovaca HVO
20 units. Namely, Ljubicic recounted to DL that, in
21 Zenica, they circulated the news that the army of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina is prepared to sacrifice between
23 3.000 and 5.000 people in order to capture the
24 territory of the Busovaca municipality."
25 Brigadier, were such intelligence reports
1 arriving at the Operative Zone command on the eve of
2 the April war in 1993?
3 A. Yes, these kinds of reports and similar
4 information did arrive, and they kept arriving starting
5 as early as 9 April 1993.
6 MR. NOBILO: Can we please have the next
8 THE REGISTRAR: Document D263, 263A for the
9 French version and 263B for the English version.
10 MR. NOBILO:
11 Q. First question, Brigadier: Is the document
12 that are you holding in your hand an authentic
13 photocopy of the original document?
14 A. Yes, this is an authentic photocopy of the
15 original document, because I drafted this document and
16 signed it on behalf of and by authorisation of the
18 Q. What is this document? How did it come to
19 be, and what does it consist of?
20 A. This document was drafted on the basis of the
21 arrest of three officers and a driver from members of
22 the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade in a situation where
23 three officers, along with the driver, were returning
24 from the frontlines which were held by the Stjepan
25 Tomasevic Brigade towards the army of Republika Srpska,
1 and on that occasion they were captured by the
3 In order to arrive at the real truth and
4 facts of this matter, the Operative Zone commander
5 tasked me with drafting this command, and it is all
6 itemised here.
7 Q. You said they were captured. Were they kept
8 in some kind of prison, detention, or where?
9 A. To me, it was more like a kidnapping, because
10 these officers were carrying out a task which they were
11 given, and they were taken from there, and we did not
12 know where.
13 Q. Very well. I would now like to show a
14 videotape of another kidnapping of another officer, and
15 I must say, there is some very graphic scenes, and I
16 would just like to warn any members of the public in
17 the gallery.
18 This is part of D38A. This is an exhibit
19 that was already presented by the Defence, but as this
20 incident occurred on 15 April 1993, on the very eve of
21 the conflict, I would like to reoffer it here.
22 (Videotape played)
23 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
24 Q. Brigadier, can you tell the Trial Chamber
25 what is the scene we just saw, what does it represent?
1 A. The videotape shows a kidnapping of an
2 officer of the Jure Francetic Brigade, who is now
3 Brigadier Zivko Totic.
4 Q. And what are the dead bodies there?
5 A. The dead bodies are the corpses of the
6 escorts of the brigade.
7 Q. Had you seen this videotape before?
8 A. I had an opportunity to see this videotape on
9 television as part of an evening newscast.
10 MR. NOBILO: Can I have the next document
11 distributed please?
12 Q. In your recollection, when did this
13 kidnapping take place?
14 A. I believe, in my recollection, I believe it
15 was on 15 April 1993.
16 THE REGISTRAR: Document D264, 264A for the
17 English version.
18 MR. NOBILO:
19 Q. Brigadier, can you first review the document,
20 please? And then tell us whether it is an authentic
21 photocopy of the report which arrived at the Central
22 Bosnia Operative Zone command from the forward command
23 post in Vitez on 15th April in the morning?
24 A. Yes, it is a true copy. I know Zvonimir
25 Maces, it arrived by the packet, it was registered by
1 the communications service, as well as the general
3 Q. I'm going to read the 4th paragraph. It
4 says, "Our allies were not quiet tonight, either.
5 Blasts could be heard in town until the 0020 hours when
6 there was a lull. Around 2315 hours the bridge by the
7 village of Sarici located in the zone of the Frankopan
8 Brigade was destroyed."
9 And then the second to the last paragraph,
10 "The Muslims have promised to return our flags today
11 between 1200 and 1400 hours from the place they were
12 taken down."
13 I would like to ask you first: What does it
14 mean that blasts could be heard in town? Did that
15 signify war to you, or something else?
16 A. The blasts, as they were represented here in
17 this document, were a result of the violent actions of
18 the members of the BH army, and intimidating of the
19 population of the town of Travnik.
20 Q. And what about the flags?
21 A. The flags which are mentioned here in the
22 next to the last paragraph were the flags of the
23 Croatian people which were hoisted in certain locations
24 in Travnik, but certain extremists had taken them all
25 down several days before. And after a discussion
1 between the leadership of the Bosnian and Croatian
2 sides in Travnik, the Bosnian Muslim side guaranteed
3 they would be taken back.
4 Q. My client has reminded me that Zivko Totic's
5 kidnapping has not been placed in terms of location.
6 Where did it happen?
7 A. The commander of Jure Francetic Brigade was
8 kidnapped when he was going to his command post, to his
9 headquarters. In other words, when he was going to
10 work. It took place in the vicinity of Zenica, near
11 the command post of Jure Francetic Brigade. I'm not
12 sure if that neighbourhood is called Bikosi. I'm not
13 sure of that. But it is definitely in Zenica. And I
14 would like to also add that this was in the immediate
15 vicinity of this command post.
16 Q. Thank you. The blasts which were mentioned
17 in Travnik, when you say blasts, does it mean
18 explosives or firearm fire?
19 A. The word is detonation. It could cover both
20 the explosives and small arms weapons. Mr. Maces did
21 not have formal military training, so he used a word
22 that is more vague.
23 THE REGISTRAR: The next document is D265,
24 D265A for the English version.
25 MR. NOBILO:
1 Q. Brigadier, please review this handwritten
2 document. Can you tell me whether this is an authentic
3 photocopy of the special report which arrived in the
4 command post?
5 A. Yes, it is. It arrived from the Nikola
6 Subic-Zrinjski Brigade, and it was signed by Mato
7 Lastro, I know this person, and it arrived by telefax.
8 Q. I'm going to read just the top of it: "On 15
9 April 1993, at 1505 hours, precisely, in the region of
10 Saracevici, two members of our units were wounded."
11 Do you recall that on the 15th you received a
12 report on the wounding of two HVO members?
13 A. Yes, I do, and this is a special report, it's
14 not a regular report.
15 Q. Very well. The next document, please.
16 Do you know by whom these HVO soldiers were
18 A. The wounded HVO soldiers were wounded by the
19 members of the BH army, because the area where the
20 incident occurred, in that area the HVO and the BH army
21 forces had been separated since the January conflict.
22 THE REGISTRAR: Document is D266, D266A for
23 the English version.
24 MR. NOBILO:
25 Q. Here is another document which arrived a day
1 before the conflict of 16th April, and I would now like
2 to ask you whether this is an authentic photocopy of
3 the report which arrived to the Central Bosnia
4 Operative Zone by the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade on 15
5 April at 1800 hours?
6 A. Yes, I know Bosu (phoen) Sekic, the brigade
7 duty officer, because I, myself, am from Novi Travnik.
8 The report arrived by telefax and it was received in
9 the brigade headquarters.
10 Q. I will read you some excerpts. In the first
11 paragraph it says, "The new political situation in the
12 Travnik municipality is still very complex. The
13 investigation on the missing officers was continued
14 today, but it has not yet produced any results."
15 And then the last paragraph, "All roads in
16 the Novi Travnik municipality continue to be blocked.
17 We would like to note that we managed to get through
18 the food for members of our units located on the
19 defence line against the Chetniks."
20 Could you comment on this, please?
21 A. The first portion of the report details the
22 results of an investigation which was launched
23 regarding the kidnapping of these missing officers, and
24 it states that no firm facts of this had been produced
1 And then the last part was something that was
2 very important for us at the time which concerned how
3 to continue to supply the members of our units which
4 were on the defence lines against the Chetniks. And in
5 order to resupply these troops, we had to go through
6 the area which was controlled by the BH army.
7 Due to the skills and resourcefulness of the
8 officers of this brigade, they were able to resupply
9 food and other provisions to the units at the frontline
10 without the knowledge of the BH army.
11 Q. Do you know why the BH army had blocked the
12 roads leading to the defence lines which were held
13 against the Serbs?
14 A. At that time, and to date, when I reflect on
15 this situation, I, myself, do not know how in a
16 situation like this a partner who was an ally was
17 acting in this way, especially given that this line
18 which was toward the Serbs was the line in front of the
19 Muslim villages.
20 Q. Very well, Brigadier. I would now like to
21 show the next document drafted by Mr. Blaskic, one day
22 before the break out of the conflict that was on April
24 THE REGISTRAR: Document D267, D267A for the
25 French version, and B for the English version.
1 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, this document is
2 longer than one page, but it is a key document
3 regarding these proceedings, on the basis of which a
4 number of actions were carried out which later have
5 been made part of the indictment. So, I would like to
6 read the entire document so that both the Trial Chamber
7 and the public can be fully familiarised with its
8 contents, if you agree with it.
9 Q. The date is 15th April 1993, 10.00, and the
10 heading is "Preparatory combat command for the defence
11 of HVO and the town of Vitez from extremists Mujahedin
12 Muslim forces." It is addressed to the commanders of
13 all brigades, 1 through 12, and the commanders of
14 independent units, including the 4th LTRD, military
15 police, and so on.
16 "1: According to reliable data, extremist
17 Muslim forces continue their sabotage terrorist combat
18 activities against members of the HVO, and especially
19 against the command cadre with the goal of frightening
20 the military... and the next word is illegible,
21 "...liquidating the military commanders, bringing in
22 confusion among the HVO ranks..." and, again, the next
23 word is illegible, "... military breakup of the HVO
24 formations and ethnic cleansing of the territory from
1 Second paragraph. "Until now, five acts of
2 liquidation of commanders have been carried out. Only
3 once..." and then I can't read the next couple of
4 words, "... out of five attempts, and two attempts at
5 liquidation of the commander of the Central Bosnia
6 Operative Zone and the chief of the HZHB, HVO.
7 Probable intentions of further combat activity will be
8 to occupy the structure of Kuber, and cut it off from
9 Vitez, and then connect with their own forces through
10 Poculica and Kuber with the forces in Vranjska and
11 Kruscica. Occupied TT 661 Svinjarevo, Modenovic
12 (phoen), Gomionica, and connect through Visnjica with
13 the Muslim armed forces, the Mos forces, and then split
14 the territory of the Kiseljak municipality and break up
15 the HVO sources. To the auxiliary forces, they will
16 exhibit activities in the directions already known with
17 the goal of hiding their true intentions and connecting
18 with parts of their forces. By biased information
19 campaign, the forces for psychological propaganda
20 activity will create a space for justification of
21 actions, because their untruths will create a
22 conviction that the Muslims are threatened in the
23 territory under the HVO control. One of the main
24 tasks, of course, is the liquidation of the Operative
25 Zone command, and considering their sabotage
1 activities, its complete destruction for which in the
2 night of 14 April 1993 forces were brought to the
3 facilities of the fire station in Vitez, the school in
4 Kruscica, villages of Nadioci and Ahmici in order to
5 set up a blockade, and to Gornja Rovna and Bezici in
6 order to prevent any assistance for reaching those
7 places; and on 8 April 1993, Krajisnik units were
8 brought to Travnik for interventions.
9 2. Tasks of our forces. To prevent the
10 politically extreme Muslim forces from carrying out
11 their tasks and be in a state of preparedness for
12 intervention with specific assignments.
13 2.1: 4th Battalion of the military police.
14 The commander of the 4th Battalion of the military
15 police is directly responsible for the security of the
16 forward command post in Vitez. He must carry out an
17 evaluation of the conditions and reinforce the security
18 in order to prevent any surprises.
19 The Busovaca-Vitez-Travnik road must be free
20 for unobstructed flow of traffic to all persons and
21 military formations, and any setting up of barricades
22 on the part of the Muslim armed forces is to be
23 prevented using the regulations of the military police
24 for regular policing.
25 In the event of a very strong attack by the
1 Muslim extremist forces from the direction of the
2 villages of Nadioci, Ahmici, Sivrino Selo and Pirici,
3 inform me of this, and if the fire is opened directly
4 at you, return it and neutralise the attackers. Pay
5 special attention to the security of the command post
6 and the commander."
7 Next is item 2.2. "The special purpose
8 battalion, Vitezovi, shall act on special task in the
9 event of a breakthrough of the defence line. Its task
10 is to prevent enemy advance, in particular from the
11 direction of Stari Vitez, where the military police of
12 the BH army is located; the civilian Muslim police; and
13 anti-sabotage platoon, the PDV of the BH army, which
14 may act against the command of the Operative Zone. The
15 key task is to carry out the blockade of the above
16 mentioned forces and prevent them from attacking the
17 command. Be prepared to intervene on the basis of
18 these tasks."
19 Next, 2.3. "Tasks of the HVO brigades.
20 Carry out the defence in your given zone of
21 responsibility and prevent the extremist Muslim forces
22 from realising the goal of cleansing of the territory,
23 the genocide against the Croatian people, and full
24 realisation of their objectives. Be prepared to carry
25 out the decisive defence of the territory of the
1 Croatian people. The pull out of forces shall be
2 carried out only after the population has been
3 evacuated and provided for, and upon my approval." And
4 the signature, Colonel Tihomir Blaskic, and signed.
5 Brigadier, will you please look at the last
6 page of this text and tell us whether you recognise the
7 stamp of the Operative Zone and the signature of
8 Colonel Blaskic?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Will you please look at the first page and
11 look at the heading and tell me whether this copy
12 differs from an original preparatory combat order?
13 A. As far as I can notice, there is no stamp of
14 receipt, which should have been indicated. I don't
15 know why it's missing.
16 Q. Apart from that, there is no number on it,
17 this document that you have before you; does it differ
18 in any other way from the document compiled in the
19 Operative Zone headquarters on the 15th of April 1993
20 at 10.00?
21 A. No. And I confirmed that because I received
22 this document, as can be seen from the last page. My
23 department was called ONO, the abbreviation is
25 Q. What does ONO mean?
1 A. Operations and training department.
2 Q. The interpreters have said that the incoming
3 stamp was missing, but the witness said that the number
4 of the document is missing. For the benefit of the
5 record, let us repeat: Is it correct that in relation
6 to the original document which you received at the
7 time, the only thing that is different is this absence
8 of the number of the document; is that correct?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. The heading is preparatory combat command;
11 what does that mean in military terminology?
12 A. In military terminology, preparatory combat
13 command means an assignment to the commanders to whom
14 it is addressed, that in view of the activities of the
15 enemy, they should undertake the appropriate steps and
16 activities within their units in order to prevent the
17 enemy or the opponent realising his intentions.
18 Q. In addition to this prepatory combat command,
19 what other command exists?
20 A. There is the executive combat command when
21 the specific measures and activities are indicated and
22 the deadlines set for the beginning of those
24 Q. Brigadier, could you tell us what can be
25 inferred from this command? What was the reason for
1 issuing such a command?
2 A. In addition to a series of incidents that we
3 saw reference to in previous reports, and I shall
4 repeat only some of them, the kidnapping of the
5 commander of the Jure Francetic Brigade and the murder
6 of his escort, the kidnapping of three officers of the
7 Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade and their driver, the
8 wounding of a soldier belonging to the Nikola
9 Subic-Zrinski Brigade at the frontline, the
10 entrenchment of BH army units in the Kula region,
11 explosions and disorderly behaviour in the town of
12 Travnik, and various other incidents that we have
13 confirmed in previous reports.
14 In addition to what was written under item 1,
15 where it says, "According to reliable data, extremists
16 Muslim forces are continuing their sabotage, terrorist
17 combat activities against members of the HVO and
18 especially against the command cadre with the goal of
19 frightening the military," and then there is a word
20 illegible, "liquidating the military commanders."
21 Q. In addition to what we would like to describe
22 as terrorist activities, does this command also mention
23 the probable lines of attack towards the Busovaca-Vitez
25 A. Yes. It can be seen from the part of the
1 text which reads: "The probable intentions for further
2 combat activity," then there's a word that is
3 illegible, "to occupy the feature Kuber and cut off,"
4 then a word cannot be read, but it is "Busovaca from
5 Vitez, then to connect with their own forces across
6 Poculica and Kuber with forces in Vranska and
7 Kruscica. Also, occupy grid reference 661," which is a
8 key feature for the defence of these
9 localities, "Svinjarevo, Madinovac, Gomionica, and
10 across Visnica, connect with the MRS forces, then split
11 the territory of Kiseljak municipality and break up the
12 HVO forces."
13 So let me repeat: Arrest the commanders,
14 incapacitate the units, and then head towards the
15 ultimate goal that I have just read out.
16 Q. Tell us, Brigadier, these lines of attack
17 that are referred to in the first part of this command,
18 are they the same lines that you saw from operative
19 reports on the ground?
20 A. Yes. It is along these axes that the key
21 features are situated, without which the territory of
22 the enclave in the Lasva Valley cannot be defended.
23 Q. You were just speaking about the main axes of
24 attack, but this command also mentions supplementary
25 axes of attack. What is the difference between the
1 main and the ancillary lines of attack, and what is the
3 A. The bulk of the forces are reserved for the
4 ultimate goal, and that is the main assignment which is
5 indicated here, and that is, to gain control of the
6 indicated territory and to break up HVO forces in that
7 territory. The supporting forces are meant to support
8 the task of the main forces. Those supporting forces
9 can be engaged in blockades, in protecting certain
10 localities, and for intervention purposes.
11 Q. For the benefit of the record, to make it
12 quite clear, whose main directions of activity are
13 mentioned here? Are they the axes of activity of the
14 BH army or of the HVO?
15 A. In this item and in this text, the reference
16 is always to the enemy. This can be seen, that the
17 main directions of attack that are referred to are
18 those of the BH army, and the auxiliary forces are also
19 those of the BH army.
20 Q. Did I understand you correctly, that item 1
21 of the command describes the expected intentions of the
22 BH army?
23 A. Yes. That is the rule in all armies.
24 Q. The sentence, "To the auxiliary forces, they
25 will exhibit activities in the directions already known
1 with the goal of hiding their true intentions and
2 connecting with parts of their forces," tell me, to the
3 best of your knowledge, where were those auxiliary
5 A. They were linked to the blocking of
6 communication lines and, thereby, it would be possible
7 for the main forces to carry out their main task
8 unhindered, because HVO forces from neighbouring
9 localities would not be able to come to their
10 assistance, nor would the commander be able to engage
11 forces to help halt the main forces of the opponent.
12 Q. According to your assessments at the time,
13 where could the road have been blocked so as to prevent
14 the arrival of units from neighbouring municipalities?
15 A. As far as we knew, and this was conditioned
16 by the relief itself, the relief of the Lasva Valley,
17 the terrain there, our assessment was that the road
18 could be blocked from Kuber at Kaonik, then in the area
19 of the village of Ahmici, and in the area of the
20 village of Grbavica.
21 Q. Let us go on to item 2, where it says that
22 certain forces on the night between the 14th and
23 15th --
24 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, I was hoping that
25 we could finish with this document, but we need to take
1 two breaks. So if you have not finished, let us have a
2 10- or 15-minute break. We will resume in 10 to 15
4 --- Recess taken at 3.23 p.m.
5 --- On resuming at 3.44 p.m.
6 JUDGE JORDA: We will resume. Please have
7 the accused brought in.
8 (The accused entered court)
9 JUDGE JORDA: Let us resume, Mr. Nobilo, with
10 the examination of document D267A.
11 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
12 Q. Brigadier, we were discussing the last
13 paragraph of item 1, which is devoted to the intentions
14 of the opponent, that is, the army of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina. The last paragraph says that
16 certain forces had been brought in in the night of the
17 14th to the 15th of April, 1993 to the Fire Brigade
18 Centre in Vitez. Will you tell us where it is?
19 A. The Fire Brigade Centre in Vitez is in the
20 downtown area of Vitez, about 100 metres from the place
21 where the command of the Operative Zone of Central
22 Bosnia was situated.
23 Q. Am I right in saying that this part of Vitez
24 is called Stari Vitez or Mahala?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. What was situated in the Fire Brigade Centre?
2 A. The Fire Brigade Centre housed the
3 headquarters of the brigade, the civilian and military
4 police, and these forces that were brought in, that is,
5 parts of anti-sabotage units.
6 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, may we approach
7 the relief for the Brigadier to show which were the
8 directions of the attack according to this document?
9 Q. Brigadier, could you show us where the Kuber
10 feature is, and where were the forces to be linked up
11 coming from Poculica and Kuber with the forces in
12 Vranska and Kruscica? Where is the main direction of
13 the attack?
14 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, the Kuber
15 feature is this mountain here (indicating). This is
16 the Kuber feature, the place where forces were to be
17 linked up coming from Poculica and Kuber and those from
18 Vranska and Kruscica. Kuber --
19 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
20 A. This would be the axis.
21 MR. NOBILO:
22 Q. Can we define that as the main direction of
23 the attack?
24 A. That is what is stated in the document.
25 Q. Where were those forces supposed to come
2 A. The forces that were to have crossed Kuber
3 would be coming from Zenica.
4 Q. Brigadier, can you show us now where,
5 according to you, the auxiliary forces were to block
6 the road, the communications?
7 A. The auxiliary forces for the execution of
8 this main task of the bulk of the forces were to have
9 blocked the road in three spots, in three places, at
10 Kaonik. This is the intersection of the
11 Vitez-Busovaca-Zenica roads. The other locality where
12 the forces were to block the communication line, that
13 is, near the village of Ahmici. The third spot where
14 the road was to be blocked was at Grbavica village.
15 JUDGE JORDA: I wish to draw the attention of
16 my colleagues and all parties that the public gallery
17 has no picture on the screen. We're very sorry. We're
18 going to repair the fault, but please continue, Mr.
20 Thank you, Mr. Registrar.
21 MR. NOBILO:
22 Q. For the benefit of the record, all those main
23 directions of attack, as well as the auxiliary attacks
24 intended to block the roads, were to be carried out by
25 which army?
1 A. Both the main attack and the blocking of the
2 road were to be carried out by the units of the army of
4 Q. Let us go on to item 2 of this order,
5 document 267. Item 2 speaks about the tasks of the HVO
6 forces. Tell us, what were the two tasks of the
7 military police?
8 A. The military police was assigned two tasks,
9 and those are to strengthen the security of the command
10 post building of the Operative Zone command in Vitez,
11 and the second task was to make sure that the
12 communication line remain open.
13 Q. Which one?
14 A. The Busovaca-Vitez-Travnik road.
15 Q. The Special Purpose Unit Vitezovi, what was
16 their task, according to this order?
17 A. The Vitezovi Special Purpose Unit was tasked
18 with preventing the advance of the enemy coming from
19 the direction of Stari Vitez, where the military police
20 of the BH army was situated, the civilian Muslim
21 police, and the anti-sabotage platoon of the BH army.
22 Q. Where were they to attack from Stari Vitez?
23 A. According to our expectations, they were to
24 gain control of the headquarters of the Operative Zone
25 of Central Bosnia, which was only about 100 metres
1 away. In this way, they would have liquidated the
2 command of the Operative Zone.
3 Q. You mean gain control of the Vitez Hotel?
4 A. Yes. If I may add to that, the main task of
5 the Special Purpose Unit Vitezovi was to block the
6 above-mentioned forces. I underline this, to block
7 those forces.
8 Q. Brigadier, what about the brigades, the
9 Viteska Brigade, what was its task?
10 A. We can see from item 3 that the task of the
11 brigades was the same, and it is visible from the title
12 of this order, that it was addressed to all the
13 brigades coming under the Operative Zone of Central
14 Bosnia. The Viteska Brigade did not have any specific
15 tasks separate from others, according to this order.
16 The task was "... to carry out the defence in your zone
17 of responsibility and prevent extremist Muslim forces
18 from affecting open cleansing of the territory and
19 genocide of the Croatian people and the realisation of
20 their goals; to be in a state of readiness to carry out
21 a decisive defence of the territory of the Croatian
22 people, and pull out the forces only after the people
23 have been evacuated and provided for, and only upon my
25 Q. Brigadier, you're an officer of the
1 Federation Army, a person with wartime experience. You
2 were present in the headquarters when these orders were
3 written. Tell the Court, according to this order and
4 according to the worst possible interpretation of this
5 order, could it be possible to murder civilians and
6 torch civilian homes?
7 A. No, under no circumstances.
8 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Which document are we talking
10 about? I'm asking the interpreters. I must say that,
11 indeed, the French translation is not very good.
12 THE REGISTRAR: The next document is D268,
13 D268A for the French version, D268B for the English
15 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, we have been
16 informed that, grammatically, the translation is not
17 ideal. So if you agree, we would ask the court
18 interpreters to improve upon the translation.
19 The next order, Mr. President, was issued
20 also on the eve of the conflict between the Muslims and
21 Croats, on the 15th of April at 1545. I propose to
22 read it in its entirety, because it is also a key
23 document in these proceedings.
24 Q. "Central Bosnia Operational Zone
25 Headquarters." Again, there is no reference number.
1 The date is the 15th of April, 1993. The time is
2 1545. The name of the order is "Order to Take
3 Action." It is addressed to the brigade commanders
4 listing the names of the brigade and, by hand, Ban
5 Jelacic of Kiseljak is added.
6 Item 1 is entitled: "Enemy. Forces of the
7 7th Muslim Brigade have intensified their diversionary
8 terrorist activities within the Operational Zone of
9 Central Bosnia and have been acting in a most brutal
10 way (murders, abductions of command personnel, threats
11 to HVO officials, blocking passage on roads, et
12 cetera). These activities have been planned,
13 organised, and promptly executed with the purpose of
14 causing confusion within the HVO units and in order to
15 prepare preconditions for offensive action and for
16 capturing Croatian territory.
17 The 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade, together
18 with the command post in the area of Bilmiste, with the
19 strength of about 1.350 soldiers is organised into
20 three battalions, combat support companies, companies
21 for logistics support, and military police companies.
22 One battalion consisting of troops from Zenica is
23 located in the area of Bilmiste. The 2nd Battalion is
24 located in the area of Han Bila and is composed of
25 soldiers from the Lasva region. The 3rd Battalion is
1 composed of soldiers from Kakanj and Zenica, and a part
2 of this battalion is located in Kakanj, while the other
3 is located in Zenica.
4 The military police units are located in the
5 music school. This brigade enjoys a special status
6 regarding the control and command ideology, supply, and
7 purpose. Interest to join this brigade is particularly
8 strong. Most of the dirty jobs, especially against the
9 HVO, is carried out by this unit. Among the members of
10 this unit are foreigners. The Corps Command has
11 control over this brigade," and then it is added by
12 hand, "but does not take responsibility for their
14 2) Tasks of our forces. 2.1) In all units
15 within the zone of responsibility of brigades and the
16 4th Battalion of the military police, combat readiness
17 shall be raised to the highest level, and they shall be
18 prepared to take defensive action.
19 2.2) EDG diversion and reconnaissance groups
20 composed of 15 soldiers are to be formed in the
21 brigades with the following duties: Take prisoner and
22 destroy, by quick and energetic actions, the
23 diversionary groups of the 7th Brigade, destroy
24 accommodation facilities in the brigade zone of
25 responsibility and, without accepting combat, pull out
1 towards the base. The deadline should be determined by
2 the brigade commander.
3 2.3) The time limits. Within the zone of
4 responsibility of the 4th Battalion of the military
5 police, an anti-terrorist platoon is to be engaged in
6 combating sabotage terrorist groups of the 7th Muslim
7 Brigade within areas of operation and accommodation of
8 the units (paragraph 1 of this order) with the
9 following task: Take prisoner and destroy, by quick
10 and energetic actions, sabotage terrorist groups of the
11 7th Muslim Brigade, destroy accommodation facilities,
12 and return to base without accepting combat.
13 The focus of activities should be in the
14 following municipality areas: Busovaca, Zenica,
15 Travnik, Novi Travnik, and Vitez. Time limits and
16 deadlines to be determined by the commander of the 4th
17 Battalion of the military police.
18 2.4) In the headquarters of all units,
19 teamwork should be ensured and substitutes provided for
20 all members of the staff on a 24-hour basis.
21 2.5) Monitoring of movements of Muslim
22 forces, sharing information, territory control, and
23 especially control of communication lines shall be
25 3) Security and protection measures.
1 Security measures of command posts and commanding
2 officers are to be strengthened. All unnecessary
3 movement of officers members of the command shall be
4 banned. Ensure complete protection of the flow of all
5 information between the superior and subordinate
7 4) Information and propaganda activities. In
8 all units, members should be informed on a regular
9 basis about developments within the zone of
10 responsibility and beyond. In order to secure more
11 expeditious and efficient flow of information, achieve
12 full cooperation with the officer for the information
13 and propaganda activities in the headquarters of the
14 Operational Zone for Central Bosnia.
15 5) Logistics. All materiel and supplies and
16 their consumption are to be placed under strict
17 control, especially fuel consumption, and rationing is
18 to be introduced.
19 6) Control and command. Secure an
20 uninterrupted system of control and command at all
21 levels. Regular reports shall be sent by 1800 hours in
22 the evening and 600 hours in the morning and
23 extraordinary reports as necessary." It's typed in ten
24 copies, "Commander, Colonel Tihomir Blaskic," signed
25 and stamped.
1 Brigadier, tell us, please, did you see this
2 document on the 15th of April, 1993?
3 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, this is the
4 document that I, myself, prepared, as can be seen from
5 the initials on page 2 in the bottom left-hand corner.
6 I remember the document, and it was drafted in the
7 command of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone. The
8 document was signed by the Commander, General, or,
9 rather, Colonel at the time, Tihomir Blaskic.
10 Q. Brigadier, tell me, did that document have a
11 reference number at the time?
12 A. The document did have a reference number, and
13 it had to have one.
14 Q. Somebody has added a few things by hand. For
15 example, it says "ONO" at the top of the page. Who
16 wrote that?
17 A. I did. This is a sign that this document
18 will be handed to me personally.
19 Q. Somebody also wrote in by hand "Ban Jelacic
20 Kiseljak" in a black pen. Who wrote that?
21 A. This was written in by General Blaskic
22 himself and in my presence when I brought him the
23 document for his signature.
24 Q. Somebody, at the end of item 1, also added in
25 black ink and by hand, "But will not assume
1 responsibility for their behaviour." Who wrote that?
2 A. General Blaskic wrote this at the same time
3 as he entered the name of the Ban Jelacic Brigade.
4 Q. In every other respect does this photocopy
5 fully correspond to the document you compiled on the
6 15th of April 1993, somewhere around 1500 hours?
7 A. Yes, it does.
8 Q. Tell me, it says here, "Order to take
9 action"; obviously there's a difference between this
10 document and the previous document, which I think was
11 headed "Preparatory combat order." What does it mean?
12 A. The heading in this document means the
13 putting into practice the activities that need to be
14 taken. It was compiled because through intelligence
15 information we had more complete knowledge than we had
16 at the time of the preparatory order, and also we had
17 more information regarding the general mobilisation in
18 Zenica and the preparation of very strong forces in
19 Zenica which we expected to arrive via Kuber.
20 Q. Tell me, Brigadier, does this order for
21 action, in the area dealing with anti-terrorist
22 activities, is based in the preparatory command which
23 has been marked D267, and it was issued on the same day
24 but at 1000 hours?
25 A. Yes, that is obvious from the whole text of
1 this order.
2 Q. In item 2.3 mention is made of engaging an AT
3 platoon in the zone of responsibility of the 4th
4 Battalion, it gains terrorist groups; did this
5 anti-terrorist platoon have a special name?
6 A. The AT platoon, as far as I recall, was known
7 as "Jokery," Jokers.
8 Q. Please look at 2.5, which says what should be
9 intensified, and special emphasis is placed on roads.
11 A. 2.5 calls for the monitoring of movement of
12 Muslim forces with special particular attention to
13 communications. When we look at the relief, and it is
14 generally known anyway that in Central Bosnia the
15 forces that have control of the roads, in fact, have
16 control of the entire territory. And for this reason,
17 particular attention is focused on communication lines,
18 especially as the Lasva enclave, its life and destiny
19 depended on those communications.
20 Q. Will you please observe the last line of item
21 1 where reference is made to the 7th Muslim Brigade,
22 and where it says that the corps command does have
23 control over this brigade, but distances itself from
24 their actions.
25 According to your knowledge at the time, and
1 later on, was there a clear or unclear chain of command
2 in relation to this brigade?
3 A. As far as I know, with respect to the 7th
4 Muslim Brigade, the chain of command was not quite
5 clear, at least not to me.
6 Q. Could it be said that in the case of the 7th
7 Muslim Brigade, the main military principle of unity of
8 command had been violated?
9 A. According to the knowledge we had, yes.
10 Q. Next document, please.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Document D269, D269A for the
12 French version, and B for the English version.
13 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, this is the third
14 and last combat order which was compiled a day before
15 the combat, in fact, it was also past midnight; and I
16 would also like to read it in its entirety, because I
17 believe it is also very important.
18 Q. Again, this is the Central Bosnia Operative
19 Zone command, the date is 16 April, time is 0130 hours,
20 and the heading is "Combat command, order to prevent
21 attack activities by the enemy (extremist Muslim
22 forces), and blockade of the wider area of Kruscica
23 Vranska and Donja Vecerska." It is addressed to
24 Mr. Cerkez, the commander of the HVO brigade in Vitez,
25 and to Komertko (phoen), special purpose units.
1 "Item 1: On the basis of the main
2 headquarters of the HVO, and the assessment we have
3 made, we expect an enemy attack in the direction of
4 Kruscica downtown, and Vranjska downtown with a
5 probable objective to, after carrying out the planned
6 terrorist attack, engage in open offensive action
7 against the HVO and destruction of anything Croatian.
8 The enemy will probably use infantry units,
9 and the main forces will be directed against the
10 command and other HVO structures. The task of your
11 forces is to occupy the sector of the defence, block
12 the villages and prevent all entrances and exits from
13 these villages.
14 In the event of an open attack by the
15 Muslims, use small arms weapons, this is what the PN
16 abbreviation stands for, to neutralise them and prevent
17 their movement. The time of preparedness is 0530 hours
18 on 16 April 1993.
19 Combat formation, blockade forces,
20 (observation ambush), and the reception was added in
21 handwriting. Then the search forces and the forces for
22 offensive actions.
23 Number 3. In front of you shall be the
24 forces of the 4th Battalion of the military police;
25 behind you, your forces; to the right of you are going
1 to be the forces of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski unit; and
2 to the left the forces of the civilian police.
3 Four: The commander of the Vitez HVO
4 Brigade, Mr. M. Cerkez, shall be personally responsible
5 to me for the execution of this task."
6 Five other points of the command conform to
7 earlier specified instructions. And then it is signed
8 by the Commander Tihomir Blaskic, and the document is
9 also stamped.
10 Brigadier, this was drafted at 0130 after
11 midnight on the night of 15th to 16th of April. Were
12 you present when this document was drafted?
13 A. At this time I was already in my room in the
14 Vitez Hotel and I was not present when this order was
16 Q. When a document is compiled at such a late
17 hour, what was the procedure? Did you have typists on
18 duty or did you have another procedure? How was it
20 A. Outside of the regular hours, which means
21 after 1500 hours, we did not have a typist, a duty
22 typist in the command post. A typist may have stayed
23 normally an hour or two later, but this particular
24 document was compiled in this way: Colonel Tihomir
25 Blaskic may have wrote it by hand and his
1 communications person could have sent it by packet.
2 And you can see that this was typed, then, and then it
3 was taken back to be signed and stamped. And for
4 instance, you can see that the reception desk was added
5 in handwriting.
6 Q. Do you recognise the signature?
7 A. Yes, I do.
8 Q. When you woke up on the 16th of April, did
9 you see this document?
10 A. Yes. This document, as all the others, were
11 sent to me, and I did see it.
12 Q. Did this document have a reference number or
13 registration number?
14 A. I believe it did have one.
15 Q. The heading of this document is "Combat
16 Order, to prevent attacks by the enemy extremist Muslim
17 forces and blockade of the wider area of Kruscica,
18 Vranska and Donja Vecerska." What does a blockade
19 mean, the blockade of the villages to prevent an army
20 from entering and leaving the villages and so on?
21 A. The control of movement and blockade of
22 villages, in the circumstances under which we were,
23 meant that you would deploy forces before or in front
24 of a Croatian village. They were tasked to stay there,
25 to be armed, not to move about, but to control
1 movements, to end, to prevent that entrance and exit to
2 the village.
3 Q. Whom?
4 A. Because they were protecting or standing in
5 front of the Croatian villages, it would be anybody who
6 would attempt to enter there. And at that time, and I
7 don't know, this was midnight, this was the middle of
8 the night, I don't know what information the commander
9 had at that time.
10 Q. So, he may have had additional information,
11 so he may have had information that it would be the
12 members of the BH army. However, it also specifies
13 that this, the area, the wider area of Kruscica,
14 Vranska and Donji Vecerska; who lived, predominantly,
15 that is, in those villages?
16 A. It was absolutely -- it was an absolute
17 Muslim majority, in all these three villages, and as
18 far as the proportions, there would be about 50 to 60
19 per cent.
20 Q. Did the forces of the army of
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina exist in these three villages?
22 A. Yes, they existed in all three villages, and
23 additional forces were brought into that area, which
24 was reflected in a preparatory order. We identified
25 those additional forces which had been brought to these
1 three villages.
2 Q. This order, which was issued on 0130 hours on
3 16 April 1993, was this combat order based on the
4 preparatory order which was issued on 1000,
5 approximately, on the 15th of April?
6 A. Yes, it was, but it specified this task of
7 blocking these villages. And that is deployment of
8 stationary troops. It does not mean mobilising
9 forces. It was a passive defence with respect to the
10 BH army forces.
11 Q. And as an executive combat order, was this
12 order based on the preparatory order which was issued
13 at 1000 at night on the 15th?
14 A. Yes, you can see that from the point where
15 these points are referred to, this is a document that
16 only specifies the area and the actual time of the
17 these activities.
18 Q. Let us remain in this area now. Commander
19 Blaskic is telling Commander Cerkez that in front of
20 them is the 4th Battalion, to the right are the Nikola
21 Subic-Zrinjski units, and to the left are the forces of
22 the civilian police; what does that mean?
23 A. That means that the deployment of forces was
24 such as is reflected here. That means that in the
25 Busovaca area there were, that the Vitez brigade had to
1 its right the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski, to the left the
2 forces of the civilian police.
3 Q. But where, exactly?
4 A. That is the Vitez-Novi Travnik-Busovaca road.
5 Because the military police had their own camp at a
6 location called the Bungalow. This is in the area of
7 the village of Nadioci.
8 Q. Brigadier, I'll ask you the same question
9 that I asked for the previous two orders, and I want to
10 ask for all three orders: Was implementation of these
11 three orders possible so that all of these orders could
12 be carried out, and yet that attacks on civilians and
13 burning down of their houses and so forth would be
15 A. No.
16 Q. Brigadier, based on your recollection, on
17 15th April, apart from these three orders, that is one
18 preparatory and two executive combat orders, did
19 Commander Blaskic issue any other oral or written
20 orders which would have changed the meaning of these
21 three orders which we have presented to the Trial
23 A. No, because had he issued any such order, I
24 would have had to know this, given the duty that I was
25 occupying at the time.
1 Q. We will now move to the events of the 16th of
2 April. But before we do so, in order to make it quite
3 clear, what was your duty on the 16th of April, that is
4 the first day of hostilities, until the end of April,
5 1993? In other words, what was your post at the time?
6 What was your duty?
7 A. I was on duty of the head of the operations
8 training department and the deputy commander of the
9 staff. Starting on 19 April 1993, I was also the Chief
10 of Staff of the Operative Zone command, because Franjo
11 Nakic was not able to reach the command post after 16
12 April 1993; because on 15th April he went home to
13 sleep, and the communication line at Grbavica was
14 blocked, and there was no other way to reach Vitez.
15 And for that reason, as head of the
16 operations training department, I also worked in the
17 post of the, I worked as the Chief of Staff of the
18 operations zone command.
19 Q. Can you tell me what those functions are of
20 the Chief of Staff?
21 A. The Chief of Staff is the key person in any
22 command structure. It is the person who organises the
23 work of the command, has the full insight into all the
24 activities there, because through the Chief of Staff a
25 commander transmits his orders to the subordinate
2 Q. Brigadier, is it possible to issue any kind
3 of combat command or receive any kind of relevant
4 military report without Chief of Staff of the command
5 not being aware of it?
6 A. No, that case is not possible, regardless of
7 how well he performs in his post.
8 Q. On the 16th of April the conflict began in
9 the area of Vitez. We're now going back to your
10 recollections, and then later on we shall try and
11 reconstruct events on the basis of documents.
12 What is it that has been imprinted in your
13 memory regarding the 16th of April 1993? Will you tell
14 the Court, please?
15 A. On the 15th of April 1993, after completing
16 all my duties for the day in the command headquarters,
17 and because night had fallen, and because of the lack
18 of safety for the movement of officers at night-time,
19 because we had learned of various incidents, and my
20 family and home was in Novi Travnik, which is about 15
21 or maybe 20 kilometres from Vitez; I spent the night in
22 Vitez Hotel where I had my own room, and it was
23 something I had done frequently, before.
24 That night, as far as I can recollect, I went
25 to bed about 2200 hours. During the night, in the
1 morning, as far as I can recollect, it could have been
2 between 0430 and 0500 hours, I was awakened by the
3 sound of explosions, of shells which were falling in
4 the immediate vicinity of the hotel and on the hotel
6 In view of this, I got up, I left the room
7 and went down to the operative officer on duty. I
8 asked him whether he knew what was happening. He
9 couldn't give me an answer. I gave him the assignment
10 that he should contact all commanders that he can
11 communicate with in order to check and see what was
12 happening and where the shells were coming from, the
13 shells which had caused the explosion around the Vitez
15 After that I went to the office of the
16 commander, General Blaskic. I knocked on the door and
17 it was locked, because the commander, General Blaskic,
18 used to work and sleep in that office. I woke him up
19 and asked him whether he had heard the explosions.
20 He had already got up, and because of the
21 shells, and the hotel was not a protected building,
22 because the premises where our operation centre was,
23 was directly facing the fire brigade centre, and in the
24 interests of the security of people working in the
25 operation centre, I asked the commander whether I had
1 his permission to relocate that centre to the basement
2 in the hotel where there used to be a cafe bar.
3 Q. Let us clarify something immediately.
4 Colonel Blaskic, did he always live and sleep in his
5 office, or did he have a house or apartment in Vitez,
6 so only exceptionally on this night he spent the night
8 A. General Blaskic didn't have a house or an
9 apartment in Vitez. All he had was the office where he
10 worked and slept. It is a room of about 4 by 6 metres
11 in size, as far as I can recollect the space where he
12 lived and worked.
13 Q. Continue, Brigadier. So, you were given
14 permission to relocate to the basement. What happened
15 in the basement?
16 A. Yes, I was given permission by the commander
17 to organise the relocation of the operation centre from
18 its previous base to the basement. And through the
19 corridors of the hotel, I reached those premises where
20 previously these premises had been used for a cafe
21 called the 55 Cafe. The previous night there was a
22 discotheque there.
23 I tried to open the door, the door was
24 locked. I broke in the door, I entered the room, and
25 the owner of the cafe was sleeping there. I told him
1 what my intentions were, and I asked him to remove and
2 clear up the tables and the empty bottles, everything
3 he would find in a cafe, so that I could locate the
4 operation centre there.
5 This premise, because of its position and the
6 fact that it was dug in underground, it provided
7 greater protection against the shells that were falling
8 around the hotel, even though it was not absolutely
10 Q. Brigadier, let us stop there for a moment.
11 Please remind Their Honours how many members of the
12 Operative Zone of Central Bosnia command staff had?
13 A. On the 15th of April 1993, as members of the
14 command, we didn't have any particular assignments
15 given to us by the commander of the Operative Zone.
16 The officers who had completed their work during
17 working hours had left home.
18 As far as I recall, in the command building,
19 that night there were a total of seven officers, me
20 included. There were two officers from Kiseljak, who
21 after the conflict did not go home. There was one
22 officer from Bugojno, one from Kotor Varos and one from
24 Q. And what was the total number of staff in the
25 command building before the conflict?
1 A. Before the conflict, when I was talking about
2 the structure and organisation of the Operative Zone
3 command, I said that there was a total of about 25
4 employees, rather than officers, because we didn't have
6 Q. So, out of the total of 25 staff members,
7 there were 7. You also found the owner of the cafe bar
8 in the basement, because he was sleeping there. Was
9 there any waiter or any hotel staff around; do you
11 A. The hotel staff, depending on the activities
12 they engaged in, because we also had our meals at the
13 hotel, they still hadn't arrived. The only people in
14 the hotel were only the security officers of the
15 military police, the security for the command building;
16 and that morning I also saw and met the commander of
17 military police, Mr. Vlado Santic.
18 Q. Do you remember those young men from the
19 military police? Do you know them?
20 A. After all, I was at the level of command of
21 the Operative Zone, so I didn't really know each and
22 every policeman. So I didn't know the policemen to be
23 able to recollect a particular name, because this
24 security was not provided within the building, but
25 around the building. In the building itself, there was
1 just a reception desk to the Operative Zone command,
2 and when you wanted to see the commander, you would
3 have to report at the reception desk for the policeman
4 to escort you there.
5 Q. Do you know how many soldiers, how many
6 military policemen, were positioned around the hotel?
7 A. Because of the situation that we had observed
8 from the previous documents, the sabotage and terrorist
9 activities of the 7th Muslim Brigade, the forces
10 brought into the Fire Brigade Centre, and the knowledge
11 about the intentions of the BH forces in relation to
12 the command post, the commander of the military police
13 had tripled security of the building. Where regularly,
14 under normal conditions, there was one policeman, now
15 there were three and also a certain number of policemen
16 who were resting, because they were working in shifts.
17 Some of them were resting while others were on duty.
18 Q. When did the commander enter the basement?
19 A. After preparing those premises, I asked that
20 the communication system be established immediately,
21 that is, telephone lines. And through the policeman at
22 the reception desk, I asked him to check whether the
23 other officers were awake, and they were, and that he
24 should tell them that they should all come to the
25 basement. After I had reached the basement and cleared
1 it up and set up the premises, I told the commander
2 that the operations centre was ready and that he could
3 come down if he wished to. I think this must have been
4 between 6.30 and 700 hours.
5 Q. Tell us, Mr. Blaskic and the rest of you from
6 the command got together in the basement about 6.00 or
7 7.00 in the morning. As far as you can recollect, tell
8 us, in broad lines, what happened? Where was the
9 information coming from?
10 A. After telephone lines had been established,
11 the commander of the Operative Zone ordered the
12 operative officer on duty to call up all the brigades
13 to see what was happening on the ground. In the
14 command itself, the situation was as follows: Because
15 of the shelling and the situation provoked by the
16 shelling, citizens were calling up the command. There
17 were a large number of calls. People were asking what
18 was happening because, for us, this was a complete,
19 complete surprise.
20 MR. NOBILO: Could I ask for the usher's
21 assistance to distribute another document?
22 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps, Mr. Nobilo, we could
23 have a quarter-of-an-hour break before you present that
24 document or, perhaps, if you prefer, distribute the
25 document first, and then we will have a break after
1 that. So, please, distribute the document so as to
2 save time.
3 MR. NOBILO: As you say, Your Honour. We can
4 distribute the document during the break, Your
6 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, fine. We will resume our
7 work at 5.00 p.m.
8 --- Recess taken at 4.44 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 5.07 p.m.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Let us now resume. Will the
11 accused please be brought in?
12 (The accused entered court)
13 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. You have the floor.
14 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. As
15 announced, we distributed the document D270, and I
16 don't believe that the Prosecution has a copy.
17 It's a short document. I will read it in its
18 entirety. "Central Bosnia Operative Zone." The
19 reference number is 01-8-240/93. It is issued as an
20 information to the commanders of brigades and
21 independent units.
22 The body of text reads as follows: "This
23 morning, 16th April, 1993, at 0545 hours, an artillery
24 and infantry attack by Muslim forces was launched
25 against Vitez with the aim of destroying the Croatian
1 Defence Council in Vitez and the Central Bosnia
2 Operative Zone command. Inform your commands and
3 troops of these developments and act according to our
5 In my original, the signature is not clear.
6 However, the stamp is clear, as well as the incoming
8 Q. Brigadier, could you please tell me, first,
9 whether this copy is representative of the document
10 which you saw?
11 A. Yes. This is a copy that looks like the copy
12 which I received at the command.
13 Q. They are talking about artillery attacks.
14 Were you attacked by artillery?
15 A. The shells which landed around the Hotel
16 Vitez. Those two shells hit the Hotel Vitez directly.
17 The traces of that can still be seen today. One of
18 them hit the wall near the main entrance, and the
19 second rocket, which was launched from a rocket
20 launcher, hit the back entrance which led to the
21 operations centre which was located in the basement
22 where Cafe 55 used to be.
23 Q. If you were hit by a rocket and/or by a
24 shell, does that mean that those guns first had to be
25 trained on you and then the coordinates picked up?
1 A. In order to launch artillery attacks, either
2 from mortars, I don't know what calibre it was, 80, 82,
3 or 120, or from a rocket launcher or from any other
4 artillery piece, for any of this, you need
5 preparations. These preparations take a certain amount
6 of time, because the coordinates need to be
7 established. The hits which were made shows clearly
8 that these coordinates were taken in a very accurate
9 manner, and also it shows that this artillery attack
10 had been prepared in advance.
11 MR. NOBILO: Very well. Can we have the next
12 document distributed, please?
13 THE REGISTRAR: Document D271, D271A for the
14 English version.
15 MR. NOBILO:
16 Q. It's another brief document that I'm going to
17 read. This is dated the 16th of April, 1993. The
18 command of the Operative Zone is writing to the
19 commanders of brigades and independent units. It is a
20 report. "We are communicating to you," referring to
21 the number 01-88-240/93, "that the situation is under
22 our control and that we are making all efforts to
23 confine the conflicts which have broken out."
24 Now, Brigadier, have you seen this document
25 before? Do you recognise the signature of Vid
2 A. I do recognise it. I have taken part in its
3 compilation. I know Vid Jazbinski, the officer, and
4 the abbreviation that you see here is my own because I
5 used this document.
6 Q. Am I right in saying that this document, by
7 reference number, is referring to the previous
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Can you say what this formulation means, "we
11 are making all efforts to confine or localise the
13 A. As I have said before, this was a report
14 which was meant to inform all the brigades that the
15 town of Vitez had been attacked. After such an
16 information, the commander then tasks the operations
17 duty officer to notify, in writing, so this is an
18 additional report or information which is sent to the
19 brigades, that we have the situation under control and
20 that we are making all efforts to localise these
22 That same morning, the commander of the
23 Operative Zone is trying to find ways to stop the
24 hostilities and confrontation with the army of
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina and stop its advance in that area.
1 MR. NOBILO: May I have the next report
2 distributed, please?
3 THE REGISTRAR: The next document is D272,
4 D272A for the English version.
5 MR. NOBILO:
6 Q. Brigadier, I'm going to read certain excerpts
7 which I think are significant, important, for these
8 proceedings. This is document D272, which was sent
9 from the command of the Operative Zone at 7.00 in the
10 morning on the 15th of April. This is the operations
11 report. "1) On 15 April, 1993 at 1600 hours, we
12 assumed the post of duty officers at the Viteska
13 Brigade. The afternoon and evening hours were quiet,
14 but we received a certain amount of information, both
15 from the brigade members and the civilian population,
16 about the steady movements and regrouping of the BH
17 army forces, especially in Kruscica (the region of Crna
18 Kuca) and around the fire station where the command of
19 the BH army is located. The hours after midnight were
20 quiet and we received no information about any
22 At 0547, two powerful explosions were heard,
23 the directions of which we could not determine, and two
24 minutes later, additional blasts could be heard from
25 the direction of Rovna, immediately followed by
1 explosions and gunfire from all sides. Information
2 started coming in that the small arms fire and mortars
3 of all calibres were being fired against our positions,
4 and we issued an order not to return fire, except when
6 2) At that time, the brigade commander was at
7 home, and even before we called him, he was on his way
8 to the command because he had been awakened by the
9 powerful explosions. Along with the two officers on
10 duty in our brigade, there were four more brigade
11 policemen acting as duty officers. When the attack was
12 launched against our units and positions, two of them
13 were sent to the regional police command. Since then,
14 we have lost any trace of them, and they have not
15 returned. As far as we know, they never reached the
16 police either. The citizens are in a state of panic
17 and are constantly requesting any information and
18 advice. We had no contacts with the representatives of
19 civilian authorities and civilian protection because
20 they had not reached their work places, and they are
21 not answering their telephones at home, we assume,
22 because they are in shelters.
23 The majority of officers members of the
24 battalion and brigade command have not yet arrived at
25 the command, and we are completely disorganised here.
1 We are under attack from all sides, and we have no
2 orders or instructions to follow.
3 3) Since this is a sudden and unexpected
4 attack, some of the soldiers, of whom the majority are
5 young and inexperienced, are panic-stricken. We fear
6 that they will abandon the command out of a desire to
7 make contact with their families, which would reduce us
8 to a situation where we would be left without any
9 security." It was signed by Srecko Petrovic, the
10 operations duty officer at Viteska Brigade.
11 First of all, I want to ask you, Brigadier,
12 whether this is a true copy, an authentic copy, of the
13 report which you received on the 16th of April at 0700
15 A. Yes. This is an authentic copy of the
16 original document. It was signed by Srecko Petrovic as
17 the operations duty officer of Viteska Brigade. I know
18 Srecko Petkovic personally. I recognise his signature,
19 and I personally received this report at the Operative
20 Zone command.
21 Q. Is this report a typical report which you
22 received from the field? Can you tell us something
23 about its contents?
24 A. The contents, and this can be gleaned from
25 the text, are concerning certain combat operations, the
1 shelling of the town of Vitez, above all, then it
2 addresses a very unsatisfactory situation at the
3 Viteska Brigade, because they were caught by surprise,
4 they did not expect such a powerful attack. And it
5 also refers to the fact that during the night, until
6 the hour which is referred to in the report, everything
7 had been quiet, except, and this is in item 1, certain
8 movements and regrouping of the troops of the BH army
9 were observed in Kruscica in the region of Crna Kuca.
10 It is an area locally known as Crna Kuca, or black
12 Q. For the most part, were the majority of
13 soldiers of the Viteska Brigade, which was just being
14 established, were they young and inexperienced?
15 A. Yes, they were young, inexperienced soldiers,
16 and they were providing security at the brigade. Since
17 there was not enough police forces the command of the
18 Viteska Brigade tasked these young, inexperienced
19 soldiers with this duty.
20 Q. So, what does the expression young soldier
22 A. The young soldier actually means that it is a
23 soldier who had not yet undergone military training,
24 full military training and service. The only such
25 institutions at that time would have been the JNA who
1 provided this.
2 Q. Very well, I have the next document.
3 THE REGISTRAR: Document 273, document D273A
4 for the English version.
5 MR. NOBILO:
6 Q. Brigadier, have you looked at this document?
7 It is another combat report received on the 16th of
8 April 1993, but this one is of 0900 hours, and I'm
9 going to read the pertinent parts.
10 "Attacks by Muslim forces are becoming more
11 and more ferocious and beastial. We have received
12 information that Croatian houses were hit by mortar in
13 Krcevine and Nadioci, and mortar shells have also been
14 landing in the immediate vicinity of our own command.
15 Mortar shells, most probably of 120
16 millimetre calibre, were most probably fired from the
17 village of Preocica and landed next to the post office
18 building and the building of the Central Bosnia
19 Operative Zone command; whereby, our own command has
20 become a target for Muslim attacks.
21 We have received information that attempts
22 have been made to break through by Muslim infantry
23 forces in the Mlakici region, the middle section of
24 Vitez, Mahala and Kruscica, and the aim is to take
25 control of the territory controlled by our units and
1 destroy our property and personnel.
2 Snipers also have fired on members of our
3 units from several locations in town and suburbs. From
4 the direction of Vjetrenica and Vrhovine the Muslim
5 forces are firing on the Croatian houses in Poculica.
6 The inhabitants of this village have been
7 calling to ask what to do, as their homes have no
8 cellars, and they were in a state of panic and very
9 frightened. The building of the primary school
10 Dubravica, where the Vitezovi are billeting is being
11 fired from Preocica.
12 The Muslim forces have opened heavy artillery
13 fire on our villages and units from Vranjska Rom
14 (phoen) and Besici. At 0815 hours a mortar shell fell
15 on a prefabricated building on the grounds of the
16 football stadium, and some houses in Kamenjace were
17 hit, too.
18 Croatian citizens have been calling from
19 various locations and asked what is going on, what they
20 should do, and whether they should leave their homes."
21 And this is signed by the duty officer at the
22 command, and the signature is not legible.
23 Is this a copy, an authentic copy of the
24 original document you received at 0900 hours on the
25 16th April 1993?
1 A. Yes, it is an authentic copy, and what you
2 see in handwriting in the corner is my own signature.
3 Q. Can you tell me, what are the mortars in the
4 village of Preocica doing there? Can the Serb position
5 be fired upon from the location in the village of
7 A. Given the distance between the village of
8 Preocica and the frontline, that is, the lines where
9 the army of the Republika Srpska was, it is impossible
10 to fire on the positions of the army of the Republika
11 Srpska from the village of Preocica on 16 April 1993.
12 And in order to better understand the
13 situation and the development of the situation, I
14 prepared a map, and I would ask if it could be placed
15 on the ELMO.
16 MR. NOBILO: Very well, I would just like to
17 ask the usher to please remove the cap from this
19 Q. Before we move on to the complete
20 reconstruction of the event of that day, what
21 conclusion have you drawn from the fact that large
22 calibre mortars were placed in Preocica from where you
23 could not reach the Serb lines and they were firing in
24 the early morning hours of the 16th of April?
25 A. That means that the attack activities in that
1 area had been planned by the BH army, because it would
2 not have been possible to organise and use artillery
3 fire without such preparation having taken place much
4 ahead of time.
5 Q. Let us now go on to this map. Tell us what
6 it represents, please. It can also be seen on the
7 monitor. And we will distribute copies of the map.
8 Will you tell us who made this map, on whose
9 instructions and what it represents?
10 A. I made the map on the basis of my
11 recollection and the reports I had. It shows the
12 locations of the conflicts and the localities which
13 came under artillery fire on that day. In the key, we
14 see that the circles indicate the areas of conflict,
15 and the arrows show the places which were most heavily
16 shelled on that day.
17 Q. By whom?
18 A. By the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
19 THE REGISTRAR: This map has the number D274.
20 MR. NOBILO:
21 Q. Brigadier, can you explain to the Court, on
22 the 16th of April 1993, according to your recollections
23 and the reports that we have tendered, where did the
24 conflicts break out?
25 A. On the 16th of April 1993, the conflict broke
1 out in the following places: Grbavica; Jardol;
2 Krcevine; Stari Vitez; Kruscica; Donja Rovna; Bare,
3 within the municipality of Busovaca; the road near the
4 village of Ahmici; and the Kuber feature, or more
5 specifically the peak called Obla Glava.
6 The following places were exposed to
7 shelling: Poculica, where there were absolutely no HVO
8 units, it was a place with a mixed population of
9 Muslims and Croats; the area of Krcevine; the area of
10 the town of Vitez and the command building; the area of
11 Kamenjace; and the area of Nadioci. Those were the
12 places that on the 16th of April were most heavily
14 Let me add, Mr. President, Your Honours, the
15 places where only one or two shells fell has not been
16 indicated on this map, but only the places that were
17 exposed to heavy artillery fire.
18 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please.
19 THE REGISTRAR: D275, 275A for the English
21 MR. NOBILO:
22 Q. Brigadier, the next document was sent by the
23 111th XP Brigade, the date is the 16th of April, 1993.
24 It is addressed to Commander Blaskic, Central Bosnia
25 Operative Zone. The report says, "Chetniks have
1 continued to provoke along the entire defence line."
2 And in the 5th line from the bottom it says, "In Zenica
3 they are continuing with preparations with the
4 intention of overpowering the HVO from Travnik to
6 What does this document tell us? And did
7 other reports reach you outside the Vitez municipality
8 and outside the Viteska Brigade.
9 A. The reports from other brigades came
10 irregularly, but at 2400 hours we received one report
11 each from Zepce and Kiseljak.
12 From the first sentence in this report we can
13 see that in the territory of Zepce municipality,
14 Chetniks, or rather the army of Republika Srpska, are
15 provoking and firing along the defence line which was
16 held by the 111th Zepce Brigade, facing Republika
18 We see from this line what a delicate
19 position the commander of Central Bosnia is, that is
20 General Blaskic, as well as the difficult positions of
21 all the HVO units in Central Bosnia.
22 The other sentence you referred to tells us
23 that they have certain intelligence information in
24 Zepce about the ultimate goal of the army of
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina in relation to the HVO.
1 Q. Brigadier, can you confirm that this copy is
2 a faithful copy of the original? If so, tell us on
3 what grounds.
4 A. I can confirm that this copy corresponds to
5 the original, because I am familiar with the signature
6 of Ivo Lozancic, and I am also familiar with the stamp
7 of the 111th Brigade from Zepce.
8 Q. And you also have the stamp confirming
9 receipt from the Operative Zone?
10 A. Yes, the communication centre.
11 MR. NOBILO: And it has been entered into the
12 register of the Operative Zone.
13 Next document, please. After having told us
14 where the conflicts broke out, let us now try and see
15 what Colonel Blaskic tried to do in that situation.
16 So, please look at the first document that will be
17 shown to you.
18 JUDGE RIAD: I would like to ask the
19 witness: In this document, at the end of the report,
20 you referred to fundamentalists, and I shall read it.
21 It says, "The fundamentalists," and then in brackets,
22 "BH Bosnia-Herzegovina Muslims"; do you consider all
23 the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina as being
24 fundamentalists, who are constantly advocating peace?
25 Who are those fundamentalists advocating peace?
1 A. I do not consider the Muslim Bosniaks living
2 in Bosnia-Herzegovina to be fundamentalists, they are
3 certainly not; but within the framework of the Muslim
4 Bosniak people, there were certain groups which by
5 their behaviour and actions demonstrated such
6 characteristics, such tendencies.
7 JUDGE RIAD: And they were the ones who were
8 advocating peace?
9 A. No.
10 JUDGE RIAD: In any event, that is what the
11 document says. Thank you.
12 MR. NOBILO:
13 Q. The next document has been marked as D276,
14 276A for the English version. It is a brief one, but I
15 consider it to be important.
16 So, Colonel Blaskic, on the 16th of April
17 1993, writes: "To the 3rd Corps of the army of
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina in Zenica." And the heading is
19 "Cessation of offensive operations. Demand: This
20 morning your forces launched an attack on the Central
21 Bosnia Operative Zone command. We are surprised and
22 outraged by such an act which came on top of everything
23 else that your members have recently done. We do not
24 want conflict, but this morning we were forced to
25 respond to the attack launched by your members."
1 We are in possession of information that you
2 are moving strong forces from Zenica towards Vitez. If
3 you are really members of the army of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina, we request that you stop the
5 attack. We are convinced that the Muslim nation is not
6 in favour of conflict with the Croats. Commander of
7 the Central Bosnia Operative Zone, Colonel Tihomir
8 Blaskic," signed and stamped.
9 We received this document from the
10 Prosecutor's office, but regardless of that, Brigadier,
11 do you recognise the signature, and do you recognise
12 the content of this document?
13 A. I recognise General Blaskic's signature and,
14 in drafting this text, I personally participated.
15 Q. Is there any difference between this
16 photocopy and the original?
17 A. No. But I would like to explain the
18 circumstances in which this report was drafted. It was
19 drafted when, on the basis of reports, we learned the
20 large number of places where conflicts had broken out,
21 as can be seen from this map; when General Blaskic
22 realised the size of the effectives engaged by the BH
23 army in these conflicts; also, when we learned and
24 established how fierce the conflict was and the
25 strength of the shelling by the BH army of the town of
1 Vitez itself, and the other localities as indicated on
2 this map; when we realised the nature of the conflict,
3 that this was a conflict between two armies; also, when
4 we learned about all the places that were in jeopardy
5 within the territory of the Lasva Valley.
6 Q. Did you have a personal assignment in
7 connection with the cease-fire as early as the 16th of
8 April, 1993?
9 A. Even before we sent this letter, because we
10 felt that some time was required for this letter to
11 reach the command of the 3rd Corps, General Blaskic
12 personally tasked me to contact the command of the 3rd
13 Corps by telephone. I did so on two occasions. I
14 spoke to the operative officer on duty in the command
15 of the 3rd Corps. I introduced myself, giving my name
16 and the position I held at the time, and I said that I
17 was calling on behalf of General Blaskic and conveyed
18 his message: "General Blaskic is requesting that your
19 commanders halt operations, contain the conflict and,
20 in this connection, we are sending a written request
21 which will reach you shortly."
22 In answer to my demand, the reaction was
23 positive, but the situation on the ground did not
24 change. In fact, the conflict intensified.
25 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please?
1 THE REGISTRAR: Document D277, D277A for the
2 English version.
3 MR. NOBILO:
4 Q. Brigadier, I will read several sentences from
5 this document. It is the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade
6 sending a report on the 16th of April, 1993 on the
7 situation in the brigade zone of responsibility at 1700
8 hours to the Central Bosnia Operative Zone. It's a
9 poor copy, but we will do our best.
10 "During the day in the zone of
11 responsibility of the Zrinjski Brigade of Busovaca,
12 combat activities by Muslim extremists continued. At
13 0530 hours, a fierce infantry attack was launched from
14 the region of Gornja Rovna and Pezici on our positions
15 in the villages of Donja Rovna and Bare. Our units
16 have responded vigorously. There were some combat
17 activities in the region of Kuber and Obla Glava but of
18 lower intensity.
19 During the combat activities, three of our
20 soldiers were killed, two are listed as missing, while
21 we have nine wounded, of whom two seriously."
22 First, this photocopy, is it a faithful copy
23 of the document which the Operative Zone received
24 sometime after 1700 hours on the 16th of April?
25 A. Yes. It is a faithful copy of the original,
1 and I can confirm it because I remember this report,
2 and I can confirm it on the basis of the stamp of the
3 communications centre and the stamp in the registry of
4 the Operative Zone.
5 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please?
6 A. I should just like to add a few words with
7 respect to this document, though it can all be seen
8 from the contents. But it is clear from this document
9 that the attack was not only targeting Vitez, but also
10 Busovaca municipality, that is, the entire enclave.
11 Forces had been mobilised towards the whole enclave.
12 THE REGISTRAR: Document D278, D278A for the
13 French version, D278B for the English version.
14 MR. NOBILO:
15 Q. Brigadier, you have received the text?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Let us wait for a moment for the interpreters
18 to get a copy. It is the Operative Zone of Central
19 Bosnia or, rather, the Commander, Colonel Tihomir
20 Blaskic, on the 16th of April, 1993 at 1530 hours,
21 writes to the General Headquarters of the Croatian
22 Defence Council in Mostar. This is a report on a
23 meeting with Muslim forces. The first sentence says:
24 "Upon the initiative of the British Battalion at the
25 UNPROFOR headquarters in Bila, a meeting was held today
1 with enemy representatives starting at 12.30.
2 Presiding at the meeting was commander of the British
3 Battalion, Major Brian. The HVO representatives were
4 Marko Paskalo and Zoran Pilicic. Representatives of
5 the BH army were Sefkija Djidic and Safet Sivro.
6 Topic of the meeting: Cessation of fire in
7 Vitez. HVO requirements. Offensive operations/actions
8 by Muslim forces in Vitez are to be stopped. Release
9 of the abducted commander of the Jure Francetic
10 Brigade, Mr. Zivko Totic from Zenica; release of
11 abducted members of the HVO brigade headquarters from
12 Novi Travnik.
13 The most important piece of information came
14 from Colonel Stewart, namely, that Commander Totic was
15 alive and may be expected to be released, perhaps, this
16 very day, this being taken care of by UNPROFOR in
18 Conclusions reached at the meeting:
19 Cessation of fire, separation of forces, release of
20 prisoners, care for the wounded, UNPROFOR patrols in
21 towns and surrounding villages. Meeting to be held
22 tomorrow on the 17th of April at 900 hours.
23 HVO representatives pointed out that these
24 conclusions would be carried out on our part if the
25 Muslim forces discontinue their offensive actions.
1 Commander Tihomir Blaskic."
2 Were you familiar with this meeting? Do you
3 know the members of the delegation, and do you know the
4 conclusions that were reached at the meeting in Bila?
5 A. This document is a faithful copy of the
6 original, and I can claim that on the basis of the
7 signatures I recognise, that of General Blaskic, the
8 stamp of the Operative Zone command. It was written by
9 Marko Prskalo as a member of the delegation attending
10 the negotiations, and Vid Jazbinski wrote the
12 Why am I underlining this? Because we were
13 surprised. Even the typist couldn't reach the office,
14 so that command officers typed documents themselves so
15 that the correspondence could continue with
16 subordinates and international organisations.
17 I'm familiar with the members of the
18 delegation. Mr. Marko Prskalo was assistant commander
19 for information and political affairs, and Mr. Zoran
20 Pilicic was assistant for personnel, but in this
21 situation, he acted as coordinator with the UNPROFOR
23 The time and place of the meeting is
24 something I'm aware of. I'm familiar with the
25 conclusions reached when the officers returned from
1 that meeting, because I had this document in my files
2 that very day.
3 However, what else does this document tell
4 us? You saw the letter written by General Blaskic to
5 the commander of the 3rd Corps, so this is an
6 initiative to stop the war. I know this because I was
7 constantly with General Blaskic on that day and all
8 other days. Throughout the year, General Blaskic had
9 sought to avoid a conflict between the BH army and the
10 HVO. General Blaskic, even then, after these
11 operations, did not consider the BH army in the full
12 sense of the word "an opponent of the HVO," but rather
13 the forces within the 7th Muslim Brigade, the
14 Mujahedin, and other units of such tendencies, as the
15 enemy of the HVO.
16 Under those circumstances, we sent our
17 delegation to these talks and immediately informed our
18 superior command as to what we had done to achieve a
19 cease-fire with the BH army units.
20 Q. Could you, Brigadier, tell the Court, the
21 negotiators, Marko Prskalo and Zoran Pilicic, what
22 happened to them on their way back from these talks?
23 A. Yes. I forgot to mention that. Returning
24 from the negotiations, Marko Prskalo and Zoran Pilicic,
25 outside the entrance to the command building, they were
1 brought there by a warrior of the British battalion of
2 the U.N. Getting out of this vehicle, the warrior
3 could be seen well from Stari Vitez and Mahala and from
4 the Fire Brigade Centre. These two officers or,
5 rather, members of the Operative Zone command, both of
6 them were wounded.
7 Q. This was when they were returning from the
8 second meeting, the next day on the 17th?
9 A. Yes. I've mixed up the days, but I know that
10 they were wounded upon returning from negotiations. I
11 know that they were driven back by the UNPROFOR in a
12 warrior, and this can be confirmed by the UNPROFOR.
13 MR. NOBILO: The next document, which was
14 issued immediately after the cease-fire, it is a
15 document issued by Blaskic and addressed to his
16 subordinate units.
17 THE REGISTRAR: Document D279, D279A for the
18 French version, D279B for the English version.
19 JUDGE JORDA: We will end after studying this
20 last document, Mr. Nobilo.
21 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
22 Q. The document is brief, but it is linked to
23 these negotiations that we have been referring to. The
24 command of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia,
25 Commander Colonel Blaskic, on the 16th of April, 1993,
1 the first day of the conflict, at 1600 hours, he issued
2 the following order: "Discontinuation of Combat
3 Activities. Order." It was addressed to both the
4 Viteska Brigade and the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade.
5 "Discontinuation of Combat Activities.
6 Order: Based on the agreement reached between
7 representatives of the Croatian Defence Council and the
8 Muslim forces under the organisation and supervision of
9 UNPROFOR representatives, and in order to carry out the
10 obligations assumed by signing this agreement, as well
11 as to contribute, ourselves, to easing the situation
12 and reducing tensions between units of the HVO and the
13 Muslim forces, I order: 1) All units in your zone of
14 responsibility are to be immediately ordered to
15 discontinue and cease all combat activities against
16 Muslim forces. 2) Inform all members of HVO units
17 under your command with the contents of this order.
18 3) All problems in connection with the execution of
19 this order are to be regularly reported to me. This
20 order enters into force immediately, and the brigade
21 commander will be accountable to me for its
22 execution." Signed, "Commander, Colonel Tihomir
24 Are you aware of this order? Do you
25 recognise it, and does this copy correspond to the
2 A. The copy does correspond to the original. It
3 was signed by General Blaskic. I recognise the
4 signature. I'm familiar with the content because I
5 typed it, as can be seen by my initials "SM." Zvonko
6 Vukovic actually drafted it.
7 Q. Was this order carried out? Were hostilities
9 A. We saw that this order was drafted following
10 the agreement reached on the cessation of hostilities.
11 After the members of our delegation, who participated
12 in the talks, returned to the command post and reported
13 to the commander what had happened, the commander
14 issued this order.
15 This order reached our subordinate units.
16 Our units discontinued combat operations, but, as will
17 be seen from the events that followed in the next few
18 days, the BH army used the negotiations as a method and
19 as a means of reaching certain agreements but avoiding
20 respecting them.
21 In this particular case, after the meeting in
22 the UNPROFOR base, the activities of the BH army were,
23 in fact, intensified and were fiercer than prior to the
25 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Brigadier. We have
1 completed our examination for today.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. We will suspend the
3 hearing today.
4 Tomorrow, General, you will come back and we
5 will resume the hearing, as we do regularly on Tuesdays
6 and Thursdays, at 10.00.
7 The hearing is adjourned.
8 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
9 6.05 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday,
10 the 29th day of September, 1998 at
11 10.00 a.m.