1 Tuesday, 29th September, 1998
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 10.12 a.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Registrar,
5 have the accused brought in.
6 (The accused entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: First of all, I would like to
8 say good morning to the interpreters and be sure that
9 everybody can hear me. Do the booths hear me? The
10 Judges have exceptionally agreed to have a photographer
11 from the agency here, conditional on the approval of
12 the accused who did agree to the photographers being
14 Now we can resume our work and continue with
15 the questions being asked of the General. Perhaps he
16 should come in first.
17 (The witness entered court)
18 JUDGE JORDA: Brigadier, do you hear me?
19 THE WITNESS: Yes, I can hear you.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. We're going to
22 Mr. Nobilo, continue, please. You still have
23 the floor.
24 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
25 WITNESS: SLAVKO MARIN
1 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
2 Q. Brigadier, yesterday, we saw several combat
3 reports. In the hours to follow, we will see more of
4 such reports relating to the April war. I would like
5 you to tell the Tribunal, with a five-year perspective,
6 were all these reports reliable, or were there
7 sometimes some pieces of information in them that were
8 not so correct?
9 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, the contents of
10 the reports which we're addressing today was not always
11 very accurate, and the reasons for it are as follows:
12 When I talked about the organisation, I pointed out the
13 deficiency of fully trained personnel, and this
14 reflected on the reports. Let's say a report that came
15 from a subordinate commander into the command depended
16 on the training of these officers.
17 There will be examples where we will have
18 reports written by a better trained officer. We will
19 have such reports, but, for instance, the report from
20 the Travnik Brigade written by Zvonimir Macic, if I'm
21 not mistaken, this is the kind of language that he
22 uses. He was a journalist. This posed a problem for
23 us at the time, but those are the only reports which we
24 had available at the time.
25 Q. You talked about this organisation. The fact
1 that there were some relations or friendly relations,
2 did that have any effect?
3 A. Yes. As I said, the organisation of the HVO
4 was based on the territorial principle in villages, so
5 friends and relations were part of these units. These
6 reports reflected that. In other words, they were not
7 always fully accurate. They did not always reflect the
8 actual situation on the ground.
9 Q. Yesterday, we saw the reports of the Viteska
10 Brigade from different points in the field, and I would
11 now like to show you one that came from the village of
13 MR. NOBILO: Would the usher please help me
14 distribute this document which was compiled on the 16th
15 of April? It refers to the village of Ahmici.
16 THE REGISTRAR: This is D280, D280A for the
17 French version, and D280B for the English version.
18 MR. NOBILO: I'll read it. It is short.
19 THE INTERPRETER: Excuse me. Before counsel
20 starts, the English booth has not received its copy.
21 Hold on just a second, please.
22 MR. NOBILO:
23 Q. It is addressed to Central Bosnia Operative
24 Zone. It is dated the 16th of April, 1993, and the
25 body of text runs as follows: "Acting in accordance
1 with your order number 01-04-243/93 of 16 April, 1993,"
2 even though "1993" is not clear, something is crossed
3 out and then "1993" has been entered, "we hereby report
4 the Muslim armed forces attempted to launch an attack
5 on the military police units located in the Bungalow in
6 the early morning hours. The attack met with response,
7 and combat procedures and actions were undertaken to
8 expel the same.
9 The Muslim armed forces, MOS, barricaded
10 themselves in a mosque in Ahmici and in a primary
11 school, from where they have been firing from small
12 arms weapons and snipers. They have been opening light
13 fire from the direction of the villages of Vrhovine and
14 Pirici, and snipers have been constantly firing from
15 the woods and clearings above the village.
16 So far, three policemen have been killed and
17 three wounded, one of whom seriously. The personnel is
18 in the field," and then "Commander," and a signature
19 and a stamp.
20 First off, Brigadier, did you receive this
21 document on the 16th of April, 1993?
22 A. Yes. We received this document on 16 April,
24 Q. Is this the signature of the commander or
25 somebody else's?
1 A. This is not the signature of the commander of
2 this unit. I believe that it may have been signed by
3 the duty officer of the unit. It is of the 4th
4 Battalion of the military police.
5 Q. Does this copy fully correspond to the
6 original which you received from Ahmici?
7 A. I said that I recalled this report, and on
8 that basis, I say that this is an exact copy of the
9 original which we had received on 16 April, 1993.
10 Q. Let me take you to the preamble of this
11 report. It refers to a previous order number. What is
12 that in reference to?
13 A. I talked about the conflicts which erupted in
14 the Vitez and Busovaca municipalities --
15 Q. It is not necessary to go into that, because
16 we saw that slide yesterday.
17 A. We saw that there was a conflict on the road
18 near Ahmici. The commander of the Operative Zone
19 received this information, but he was interested in the
20 follow-up. He wanted to know what would happen later.
21 As we were receiving reports from the military police
22 only occasionally, the commander of the Operative Zone,
23 in order to receive full information about what was
24 going on on the Vitez-Busovaca road, issued an order
25 which was numbered 01-04-243/93, in which he ordered
1 the commander of the military police unit to fully
2 report on the developments. The report itself is in
3 response to this order.
4 MR. NOBILO: Very well. Can we have the next
5 document, please?
6 Q. While we're waiting on this document,
7 Brigadier, could you please tell the Court, apart from
8 this report, did any other report arrive at the command
9 of the Operative Zone from the military police
10 battalion in Ahmici on the 16th of April?
11 A. No.
12 THE REGISTRAR: This is D281, D281A for the
13 French version, and D281B for the English version.
14 MR. NOBILO:
15 Q. Brigadier, so far we have been going through
16 reports of the 16th. This is an order dated the 16th
17 of April, 1993; time, 1945 hours. It is a combat order
18 for the defence of Kuber, and it was to be delivered to
19 the commander of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade in
20 Busovaca. The text reads: "1) The extremist Muslim
21 forces are advancing from the direction of Gornja
22 Zenica toward Kuber with the objective of completely
23 capturing it and cutting it off. 2) Your task is as
24 follows: To reinforce the defence of Kuber with your
25 best prepared and most able forces and to persist in
1 its defence. The minimum strength of the forces is to
2 be one company, 120 soldiers. 3) You are to coordinate
3 your actions with the Viteska Brigade and ensure that
4 Kuber does not fall. 4) After holding the defence
5 lines, you are to report to me in writing," and it is
6 signed by Colonel Blaskic, and there is a stamp affixed
7 to it.
8 First, does this copy fully reflect the
9 original combat order of the 16th of April at 1945
11 A. Yes. This is a copy which fully reflects the
12 original document which was drafted on the 16th of
13 April, 1993 at 1945 hours. I recognise the signature
14 of General Blaskic. I recognise the stamp of the
15 Operative Zone. The handwriting in the top corner is
16 my handwriting on the orders of the commander of the
17 Operative Zone, because we had problems with
18 communications with certain units. This is a verbal
19 warning for implementing and submitting reports on the
20 combat order.
21 Q. What was the goal of this?
22 A. What we wanted to ensure is, besides the
23 written order, we wanted to verbally warn them and to
24 emphasise, because we wanted to know what was really
25 going on on the ground so that we could counter with
1 the proper action. On verbal orders of the commander,
2 I wrote this down in handwriting, and this is reflected
3 in the copy.
4 Q. Brigadier, why are we dealing so much with
5 Kuber here? What was so important about Kuber, and
6 which units were supposed to go there to this hill or
8 A. Mount Kuber is a key feature in the Lasva
9 River Valley for both the defensive communication lines
10 in the settlements in the valley. Yesterday, Your
11 Honours, I spoke about the main directions of attack of
12 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and one of them was
13 from Zenica directly across Mount Kuber. So --
14 Q. Brigadier, it would be very good if you
15 could, again, point on the scale model, if you could
16 show us Mount Kuber, Gornja Zenica, and where these
17 troops could have gone if they captured Mount Kuber?
18 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, this is Mount
19 Kuber (indicating). It is situated exactly between
20 Zenica, a large city, and the Lasva Valley. Its
21 foothills are right next to the Vitez-Busovaca-Zenica
22 road. If you have your forces positioned on this
23 mountain, you have full control over this road and,
24 thereby, you're always in a position, with smaller
25 forces, to cut communications along this road and
1 interrupt traffic.
2 That is why this mountain has such
3 importance, and that is why the commander of the
4 Operative Zone decided to insist, in particular, on the
5 defence of this mountain.
6 As you probably noticed in the text, it says,
7 "Kuber must not fall." In military terminology, if
8 you give such an order that something must not fall, it
9 means that forces must not withdraw from there, even at
10 the cost of life. If a soldier is given such an order,
11 he knows what he has to do.
12 Q. Brigadier, will you please explain to the
13 Court, Mount Kuber is exposed to which forces, the
14 attack of which forces, and where would those forces
15 have to come from to attack Mount Kuber? If you do
16 hold Mount Kuber, which are the spots where it is easy
17 to intersect the main communication line?
18 A. The main forces we expected to come from
19 Zenica, Zenica (indicating), and their task was to
20 follow this direction, Zenica-Kuber-Vitez, to move
21 along those lines and attack these locations. That was
22 their task, to cross over Mount Kuber and to link up
23 with local forces in the Muslim Bosniak villages in
24 Vitez municipality.
25 The best chance for intersecting the
1 Vitez-Busovaca road is around Kaonik and in the
2 vicinity of the village of Ahmici.
3 MR. NOBILO: Could the usher please assist
4 the witness?
5 Q. Brigadier, tell us, please, why did Blaskic
6 give this order as late as 1945 hours for the defence
7 of the Lasva region?
8 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, if you recall my
9 presentation yesterday, I was speaking about the group
10 of officers from the Operative Zone command and
11 representatives of the BH army, they held a meeting at
12 the UNPROFOR base where they agreed on a complete
13 cease-fire. On the basis of that report, the commander
14 of the Operative Zone issued an order to halt fire and
16 However, reports from the field indicated
17 that the BH army, far from suspending action and
18 respecting the agreed cease-fire, was actually
19 mobilising strong forces from Zenica with a view to
20 fulfilling its plan, and that is, to gain full control
21 of the territory of the municipalities of Busovaca and
23 Therefore, the engaged forces are expanding
24 their initial goal. From the roots they were
25 following, it was evident that the territory of
1 Busovaca municipality was at stake. In such a
2 situation, the commander of the Operative Zone had no
3 other choice but to issue such a strong-worded order to
4 defend that mountain with all available forces.
5 Q. Brigadier, you're a military man, so let me
6 ask you a military theoretical question: If an attack
7 had been planned on the Muslim forces in the Lasva
8 Valley, would the commander have, in advance,
9 positioned 120 soldiers on Mount Kuber as security?
10 A. Certainly that is the only reasonable logic
11 to follow.
12 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Next document,
14 THE REGISTRAR: D282, D282A for the French
15 version, D282B for the English version.
16 MR. NOBILO:
17 Q. We are reading parts of the document numbered
18 282. The command of the Operative Zone of Central
19 Bosnia or, rather, Colonel Tihomir Blaskic, on the 16th
20 of April, 1993, at 1940 hours, writes to the commander
21 of the 4th Military Police Battalion and the commander
22 of the Travnicka Brigade for Information. The heading
23 is "Withdrawal of Troops of the Travnik Military Police
24 Company to Vitez." The text: "Due to the intensified
25 combat by Muslim forces in the region of Vitez
1 municipality and the need to provide reinforcement to
2 the troops of the Viteska Brigade, I hereby order: 1)
3 The unit from the 4th Military Police Battalion,
4 currently stationed in the city of Travnik, shall be
5 immediately transferred to Vitez. All activities
6 related to this transfer shall be carried out in utmost
8 We won't read the rest, because I do not
9 consider it to be relevant. What does this mean,
11 A. This order was drafted in the Operative Zone
12 command of Central Bosnia on the 16th of April, 1993 at
13 19:40 hours. I personally drafted this order and it
14 was signed by General Blaskic. It was addressed to the
15 commander of the 4th Military Police Battalion. Due to
16 the intensified combat operations and movements of
17 strong forces from Zenica towards Vitez and because the
18 units of the Viteska Brigade were not ready, in order
19 to assist them the commander of the Operative Zone
20 issued the order that units of the military police that
21 had been in Travnik should be transferred to Vitez to
22 assist the Viteska Brigade in defending the town of
24 One can also infer from this order that the
25 commander of the Operative Zone had planned an attack
1 of the BH army on Vitez. These forces would have been
2 transferred earlier rather than on the 16th of April at
3 19.40 when the situation was already extremely
4 complicated, unfavourable and uncertain with regard to
5 the towns of Vitez and Busovaca.
6 MR. NOBILO: There appears to be an error in
7 the transcript as Colleague Hayman tells me. It says
8 that the commander had planned the attack, but you said
9 if the commander had planned the attack. So could the
10 transcript be corrected because it is a key word. Let
11 me ask you the question again.
12 Q. What do you conclude from this order in
13 connection with the planning?
14 A. If the commander of the Operative Zone of
15 Central Bosnia had planned a conflict with the BH army,
16 if he had planned to attack the BH army in Vitez, he
17 would have transferred these forces earlier on. As he
18 didn't do that and as he hadn't planned an attack on
19 the army of Bosnia-Hercegovina in the area of Busovaca
20 in Vitez, he found himself in the situation that on
21 16th of April, after the attack of the BH army in the
22 territory of Vitez and Busovaca and because of the
23 movement of strong forces, he issued such an order to
24 defend Vitez and Busovaca.
25 Q. When you are seeking assistance from other
1 units from another area, does that mean that you are
2 weak where you are?
3 A. Yes, that is precisely why assistance was
5 Q. Thank you, next document.
6 THE REGISTRAR: 283, 283A for the French
7 version, 283B for the English version.
8 MR. NOBILO:
9 Q. Brigadier, we have an order by Colonel
10 Blaskic of the 16th of April, '93, on 2015 hours
11 addressed to the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade in
12 Novi Travnik. The subject heading is, "Order for
13 Increased Control of Territory." The preamble reads:
14 "Proceeding from intelligence information on possible
15 routes for the transfer of Muslim forces to the
16 territory of Vitez municipality, Gornja Veceriska and
17 Veceriska and with the objective of detecting in a
18 timely fashion and preventing the said forces from
19 crossing, I hereby order." The order has to do with
20 the deployment of units of the Novi Travnik Brigade and
21 ends with item 4, which says, "Send me a report on the
22 execution of this order by 2400 hours on 16th April,
23 1993." Please tell me, first, whether this copy is a
24 faithful copy of the original document written by
25 Colonel Blaskic on the 16th of April at 2015 hours?
1 A. The copy is faithful to the original. I
2 drafted it and it was signed by General Blaskic.
3 Q. Tell me, where were those forces being
4 transferred from? Could you perhaps indicate on the
5 relief Gornja Vecerska and Donji Vecriska and how those
6 forces were expected to be infiltrated into the
8 A. Let me just say that the infiltration of
9 those forces would come from an auxiliary route.
10 Mr. President, Your Honours, Novi Travnik,
11 the town of Novi Travnik is here and the area of the
12 Novi Travnik municipality is here. According to this
13 order and on the basis of intelligence reports, the
14 commander of the Operative Zone expected BH army units
15 to come from Novi Travnik and to transfer a part of
16 their forces along this route, Buckka Ravan towards
17 Gornja and Donji Vecerska, whereby it would link up
18 with the forces in the area of Donji Vecerska and in
19 the area of Kruscica.
20 Q. Did the BH army already have its forces in
21 Donji Vecerska and Kruscica?
22 A. Yes, the BH army already had local forces in
23 Donji Vecerska and in Kruscica in addition to --
24 additional to local forces, it also had the forces that
25 had arrived there on the 14th or the 15th that we
1 mentioned previously.
2 Q. Donji Vecerska as a locality, why was it
3 particularly important in Vitez municipality?
4 A. Donji Vecerska, which is here, was important
5 for two reasons: One, is that that village was right
6 next to the fence of the explosives factory. This is
7 the explosive factory and it was right next to the
8 compound. And because at a distance of 1.5 kilometres,
9 close to those forces were significant forces of the BH
10 army at Grbavica, which already had control of this
11 road passing through Grbavica. And this is the main
12 road linking Vitez and Novi Travnik with Travnik.
13 Q. Thank you. Brigadier, tell us, did the BH
14 army have the greater chances of manoeuvring from
15 Novi Travnik as it didn't have a front against the Serb
17 A. Yes, the BH army had a whole brigade in
18 Novi Travnik, which was not engaged on the front-line of
19 defence against the army of Republika Srpska in the
20 area of Novi Travnik.
21 Q. And who held the frontlines in the area of
22 Novi Travnik towards the army of Republika Srpska?
23 A. The defence lines against the army of
24 Republika Srpska from March, 1992, that means for
25 almost a year, were held by HVO units.
1 Q. Tell us, do you know which municipality those
2 HVO units were from?
3 A. I'm sorry, I didn't quite get your question.
4 Q. Do you know which municipalities the HVO
5 units came from that were holding the fronts against
6 the Serbs?
7 A. The HVO units were local units from
8 Novi Travnik. I am referring to HVO units, of course.
9 Q. Yes, next document, please.
10 THE REGISTRAR: This is document D284, 284A
11 for the French version and 284B for the English
13 MR. NOBILO:
14 Q. The document was drafted in the night between
15 the 16th and the 17th of April of 1993. The time
16 indicated is 0400 hours. It was written by Colonel
17 Blaskic, addressed to the Busovaca and Viteska Brigade;
18 therefore, in two municipalities and it reads: The
19 heading, "defence of consolidated positions order:
20 Based on our information in the course of the day the
21 enemy will make intense military preparations for an
22 offensive." That is the first sentence.
23 In the third paragraph it says: "The
24 survival and the life of Croatian inhabitants of the
25 Lasva Valley is at stake and it is being resolved
1 today, maybe for the last time." We are leaving out
2 two paragraphs and then we come to the next one, which
4 To the Busovaca Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade
5 the focus of the defence is on Kuber, which is to be
6 defended by unarmed soldiers if necessary as
7 reinforcements. Other access roads are to be blocked
8 and full control is to be taken of Gornja Rovna and
10 To the commander of the Viteska Brigade:
11 "Use main forces to defend access roads to and from
12 the town, especially from the direction of Poculica and
13 Pirici and towards Vranjska. To this end, link up with
14 military police forces and with auxiliary forces keep
15 under blockade the forces in the areas of Viteska. If
16 possible, seize Donja Veceriska. The fire brigade
17 centre, Kruscica and Vranjska." And underlined, "the
18 blockade being a priority." And, finally, the last
19 sentence of this order: "We have accomplished 80
20 percent of our task and we need to exert special
21 efforts today. Special caution should be addressed to
22 soldiers about the treatment of civilians (the elderly
23 women and children who are not to be killed because
24 that is a crime)." The word "crime" is in blocked
25 capitals. Signed "Commander Colonel Tihomir Blaskic".
1 Brigadier, have you seen this document before
2 and is this photocopy a true replica of the original
4 A. I have seen the document. I saw it on the
5 17th of April when I woke up in the morning. This copy
6 is a faithful copy of the original document drafted in
7 the Operative Zone command. It was signed by General
8 Blaskic. He personally drafted it. The stamp is of
9 the Operative Zone command. Obviously he didn't have
10 anyone to type it. It was hand-written, typed on
11 Packet, given to him to sign and then it was dispatched
12 to the indicated addressees.
13 Q. When you said "he typed it on Packet," you
14 mean the computer software that you called Packet
16 A. Yes, that can be seen from the letters which
17 are obviously printed with a computer printer.
18 Q. How were most of your documents written?
19 What devices did you have?
20 A. Our command was in very short supply with
21 office equipment. And as can be seen, we had a small
22 mechanical typewriter and we had a larger mechanical
23 typewriter. That's all we had at our disposal.
24 Q. Will you please concentrate on the third
25 paragraph from the bottom with instructions to the
1 Viteska Brigade command.
2 A. Obviously the commander of the Viteska
3 Brigade had the task of defending the approaches to the
4 town with his main forces and especially from the
5 directions of Poculica and Preocica and toward
7 Q. Could you perhaps get up and show Their
8 Honours which is the main direction that the commander
9 is expecting forces to come from on the 17th and why he
10 is issuing these orders to the Viteska Brigade?
11 A. Poculica and Preocica and towards Vranjska.
12 This is Poculica. This is Poculica an inhabited
13 locality on the main road, linking Vitez, via
14 Vjetrenica to Zenica.
15 Q. Tell me, whose forces were in Poculica on the
17 A. Local forces of the BH army which were to
18 link up with the main forces coming from Zenica and
19 then to continue on from Poculica via Preocica -- this
20 is Preocica, which is another village where the BH army
21 had its forces. So this was the route, Poculica,
22 Poculica towards Vranjska and they would intersect the
23 road at the railway station in the Town of Vitez and
24 thereby they would gain control of a part of the Town
25 of Vitez and link up with forces in Vranjska. So this
1 is the route, the shortest route.
2 Q. Tell the Court in Vranjska, were there any BH
3 army forces there?
4 A. There were both local forces and forces
5 brought in as reinforcements on the 13th or the 14th
6 that we have already discussed.
7 Q. Please go back to your seat. Thank you.
8 Will you please look at the last sentence. Blaskic is
9 cautioning, especially about the treatment of
10 civilians, and says they must not be killed because
11 that is a crime. Why does Blaskic say this after the
12 first day of battle at dawn at 0400 hours in the night
13 of the 17th? Why is he cautioning fighters that it is
14 a crime to kill civilians? Why does Blaskic put this
15 in a combat order?
16 A. We know that on the 16th a meeting was held
17 in the UNPROFOR base and that the meeting was attended
18 also by members of the Operative Zone command. On the
19 road from Vitez to the UNPROFOR base in Bila, members
20 of the Operative Zone command, together with UNPROFOR
21 officers, noticed or rather saw two or three bodies,
22 corpses of civilians. I assume that members of the
23 Operative Zone command informed the commander of the
24 Operative Zone of this. And I believe that that was
25 the reason which prompted the commander of the
1 Operative Zone as early as 0400 hours of the 17th to
2 add in addition to combat orders this reference to this
4 Another reason, in my view, why this was done
5 by General Blaskic is that General Blaskic was aware
6 that units of both the BH army and the HVO organised in
7 villages intermingled with the civilian population and
8 that such a danger was a serious possibility.
9 And another reason why I insisted on this was
10 General Blaskic's personal character and integrity and
11 honour as an officer of the HVO.
12 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please.
13 THE REGISTRAR: This is 285, 285A for the
14 English version.
15 MR. NOBILO:
16 Q. So after this warning overnight, we are going
17 to attempt a reconstruction of the events of the 17th
18 of April. At 600 hours a report arrives in the Central
19 Bosnia Operative Zone command and the subject is a
20 regular combat report. It arrived on 17th April at 600
21 hours. The body of the text reads as follows: "The
22 night was quiet on the territory Novi Travnik
23 Municipality. We received no notification of potential
24 conflicts with the BH army. There were no combat
25 activities by Chetniks on the defence line in the zone
1 of our responsibility" and it is signed by the
2 operations duty officer, Ivica Fabris.
3 Brigadier, does this copy fully reflect the
4 original which you had received at a command of the
5 Operation Zone?
6 A. Yes. From the stamp you can see that it was
7 received by us. It was properly registered. It was
8 signed by Ivica Fabris, whom I personally know and I
9 recognise his signature. And I fully recall the
10 contents of this report.
11 Q. Brigadier, there was fighting in Vitez and
12 Busovaca in Kuber there is no withdrawal, now how about
13 Novi Travnik? How do you explain this report?
14 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, from this report
15 we can glean that the commander of the Operative Zone
16 had not planned a war with the BH army. Had he planned
17 the war with the BH army, in the time period which
18 we're dealing with, he would have ordered certain
19 combat actions in Novi Travnik as well and there would
20 have been conflict in Novi Travnik as well. There was
21 no conflict in Novi Travnik because the BH army did not
22 attack at Novi Travnik and so the HVO had no task
24 And you can see that the command, the
25 commander of this Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade is dealing
1 with a situation of the defence line against the
2 Serbian forces. And when we put that in the context of
3 the entire situation, you see the complexity with which
4 the commander of the Operative Zone needed to deal
5 with. I am going to just point out several key
6 elements of the situation on that day. They are as
7 follows: One, we have large BH army forces in the area
8 of Vitez and Busovaca. We have very large scale
9 conflict. The Viteska Brigade is not fully organised.
10 You may recall that Cerkez received the order to
11 organise the Viteska Brigade only shortly before this.
12 We saw the panic. We saw the disorganisation. Then
13 let me also remind you of the map in 1992, April and
14 March. The main forces, the main weapons are placed
15 towards, deployed towards the Republika Srpska, of
16 Zepce, Usora and all the other defence lines held by
17 the HVO towards the army of Republika Srpska. I recall
18 very well the situation. It was a problem that we had
19 no solution for and we were really in a very difficult
20 situation, especially given that on the 16th of April
21 we were attacked and we were completely surprised by
22 the attack of the BH army.
23 Q. Next document, please.
24 THE REGISTRAR: This is D286, D286A for the
25 English version.
1 MR. NOBILO:
2 Q. Brigadier, on 17 April at 600 hours, you
3 received another report, this time from Zepce, from the
4 111th XP Brigade. Ivo Livancic, in item 3, says, "The
5 relations with the BH army are on a satisfactory
6 level." In item 2, it says, "Our forces are firmly
7 holding the lines of defence. Shifts were changed
8 properly." This is all towards the army of Republika
10 Brigadier, did you receive this document from
12 A. Yes. You can see that from the stamp of
13 receipt. We were expecting these reports with great
14 expectations so that we would know what the situation
15 was in a wider area.
16 Q. How do you understand this item 3, that the
17 relations with the BH army were on a satisfactory
19 A. The BH army had not attacked the 111th
20 Brigade, so the situation was quiet.
21 MR. NOBILO: New document, please?
22 THE REGISTRAR: This is D287, D287A for the
23 English version.
24 MR. NOBILO:
25 Q. In contrast to these two reports on a quiet
1 front, you received another report on 17 April at 600
2 hours. Let me read it for you. It's a combat report,
3 and I will start with the third paragraph: "Several
4 times during the night, we received information about
5 the regrouping of Muslim forces, whereby we could
6 conclude that they will make an attempt at a
7 breakthrough from the direction of Vrhovine and in the
8 Santici-Ahmici direction in order to cut off the
9 Vitez-Kaonik communication and join with Rovna.
10 If they realise their intentions, any traffic
11 communication between Vitez and Busovaca will become
12 impossible. We are doing our best to thwart their
13 efforts. In the area of Grbavica, sizeable forces are
14 concentrated and, according to incoming information,
15 they received troop reinforcements from Bukve, among
16 whom are some Mujahedeen.
17 The Muslim population was evacuated from
18 Grbavica and Divjak. There are indications that Muslim
19 forces may try to cut off the road to Donja Veceriska.
20 With this operation, they hope to establish a corridor,
21 Donja Veceriska-Divjak-Grbavica-Bukve.
22 Our unit in Lovac is under enemy siege and we
23 have no communication with them and no option of
24 logistics support. We are trying to come up with
25 appropriate solutions. Fatigue can be observed among
1 the soldiers but the morale is good. Our wounded have
2 been given medical care." It was signed by Zvonimir
3 Cilic, duty officer.
4 First of all, Brigadier, is this a faithful
5 copy of the original you received on the 17th at 600
7 A. Yes. I confirm that on the basis of my
8 remembering this document, which we received at the
9 Operative Zone command. I also personally know
10 Zvonimir Cilic, and I recognise his signature.
11 Q. Brigadier, let's go back to the scale model
12 so that we can get a better idea of where these
13 locations are that we're talking about.
14 Brigadier, would you please point what the
15 direction of attack was from Vrhovine to Santici and
16 Ahmici in order to cut off the communication line
18 A. This is the village of Vrhovine
19 (indicating). This is the village of Santici
20 (indicating), and this is the village of Ahmici
21 (indicating). Both Ahmici and Santici are on the road,
22 that is, along the road that leads from Vitez to Kaonik
23 and Busovaca.
24 Q. Could you please tell the Court what forces
25 were in Vrhovine at that time and throughout the
1 Muslim-Croat war?
2 A. Vrhovine had the local forces and were
3 reinforced by forces which arrived from Zenica, and
4 their task was to direct their assault operations
5 towards Santici and Ahmici, to cut off the
6 communication line, and to link up to their other
7 forces at Rovna.
8 I would also like to point out to the Trial
9 Chamber that this area of Ahmici and Santici, if you
10 look at it in relation to Rovna, it is no more than 1.5
11 kilometres wide as the crow flies. The enemy forces,
12 if you are not fully alert and prepared, could take it
13 very easily. I'm pointing out that it is a very narrow
15 Q. Apart from this focus of conflict, could you
16 also point out the other flash point, Grbavica and
17 Divjak? The reinforcements from the village of Bukve,
18 could you point out those and the directions from which
19 the Vitez municipality could be threatened?
20 A. The village of Grbavica is along the road
21 leading from Vitez to Novi Travnik. The village of
22 Bukve is located about two kilometres from the village
23 of Grbavica due north-east, and you can see what the BH
24 army opted for. Realising the importance of the road
25 that passes through the village of Grbavica, they had
1 already brought their reinforcements there, the forces
2 which they had in Bukve, and these local forces were
3 reinforced by the unit called the Mujahed.
4 Continuing on from Grbavica, they would go to
5 Donja Veceriska and Divjak. Again, let me point out
6 that the distance here is 1.5 to 1.8 kilometres. They
7 are all very narrow strips of land, and if the opponent
8 is not extremely alert and cautious, this task becomes
9 very possible.
10 If you look at Grbavica, Divjak, and Donja
11 Veceriska, if you took all these positions, this
12 explosives factory in Vitez could also be seized, which
13 was one of the strategic goals of the BH army during
14 the war in Central Bosnia.
15 Q. When you point out the corridor of Bukve,
16 Donja Veceriska, Divjak, does that mean that the key
17 communication line leading from Vitez to Travnik and
18 Novi Travnik would be cut off?
19 A. Yes. It was already cut, and that was the
20 reason why we had to take steps to find an alternate
21 road along the terrain where there was no road
22 previously, so that we could keep the communication
23 open between Vitez and Novi Travnik. These forces were
24 tasked to reinforce the forces which had already cut
25 off that communication line, and that made the whole
1 situation much more complex.
2 Q. At the end, the bottom of the report, it
3 says, "Our units in Lovac are under enemy siege, and we
4 have no communications with them and no options for
5 logistics support." Where were they besieged? Where
6 was it?
7 A. The facility of Lovac was in Kruscica, and
8 this was a mixed Croat-Muslim village. This was a unit
9 which was a volunteer unit composed of hunters, local
10 villagers. Given the surprising nature of the attack,
11 this unit had remained in Kruscica.
12 Q. What forces were controlling Kruscica at that
13 time and throughout the war?
14 A. Eighty per cent of the settlement of the
15 village of Kruscica was controlled by the BH army.
16 Your Honours, the village of Kruscica is one of the
17 larger communities in that area.
18 Q. What does the information mean, that 15 men
19 which were there had no chance against a much superior
20 force? What was their situation?
21 A. The people who remained, these 15 to 20 men,
22 this group, again, points to the fact that the HVO was
23 surprised by the BH army attack, that had we planned an
24 attack, we would have pulled out those men from that
1 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, it is now twenty
2 after eleven. We are going to take a 20-minute break
3 and we'll resume at 11.40. The hearing is suspended.
4 --- Recess taken at 11.20 a.m.
5 --- On resuming at 11.45 a.m.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Before we resume, Mr. Nobilo,
7 where are we now in respect of the time that you're
8 going to spend with this witness? I know he is very
9 important for you. How is our work going to go
10 forward? You know tomorrow morning is an initial
11 appearance, how do you see things? Because I think
12 that the Prosecutor will have cross-examination to
13 conduct and the judges will have some questions to
14 ask. Perhaps it will be the entire week that we're
15 going to devote to this witness. Please tell us where
16 we are Mr. Nobilo and Mr. Hayman?
17 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, we are at 17
18 April 1993 and we will attempt to make a full
19 reconstruction through April 23, 1993. And let me
20 point out that the combat activities after 19th and
21 through the 24th, the combat activities were subsiding
22 diminishing, and the negotiations were increasing.
23 We will also show the documents showing the
24 Geneva Convention provisions and we will also produce
25 some evidence concerning January 1993. If I am looking
1 at the boxes which I have here, we have emptied about a
2 third of a third box out of five and a half boxes.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Well, he is your witness, Mr.
4 Nobilo. I am just trying to organise things and to see
5 where we are. Therefore, you can consider -- how long
6 do you expect to be working with this witness?
7 MR. NOBILO: This witness will, of course,
8 stay here as long as the Trial Chamber needs him. I
9 believe that it is very important that the Trial
10 Chamber finds out everything they need from this
11 witness. I think that we need another day, day and a
12 half, so I believe that by Thursday morning we could
13 finish with it.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Thursday morning. Thank you.
15 Turning to the Prosecutor, about how long do you expect
16 to cross-examine, Mr. Kehoe? I suppose you have a lot
17 of questions you're going to ask?
18 MR. KEHOE: Well, I have a couple of
19 questions, Mr. President.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, we thought so. How long
21 will it take?
22 MR. KEHOE: In all honesty, I can't believe
23 that if we finish on Thursday morning, that I'll be
24 finished cross-examination by the end of the week. I
25 mean we have, as you can see, I am not giving a rough
1 estimate, 100 exhibits so far --
2 JUDGE RIAD: Two-hundred.
3 MR. KEHOE: Two-hundred exhibits.
4 JUDGE RIAD: It will be 200.
5 MR. KEHOE: It will be 200, whatever. But by
6 the time we finish, Judge Riad, that's 200 exhibits,
7 plus, obviously, the Brigadier's testimony. I am not
8 trying to be vague here, but it will be extensive.
9 JUDGE RIAD: The witness will stay until next
11 MR. KEHOE: Yes.
12 JUDGE JORDA: All right. I suppose that my
13 colleagues will also have some questions. Registrar,
14 could we have a private session for just a few
16 (In private session)
15 (In open session).
16 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, please proceed.
17 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. As we
18 said, we are still at April 17. Can I please have the
19 next document distributed.
20 JUDGE RIAD: I would like to ask the witness,
21 as regards Kruscica, what was the proportion of the
22 population? What were the different proportions of the
23 different groups in that population?
24 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone to the witness,
1 JUDGE JORDA: Please turn the microphone on.
2 Brigadier please put the microphone on, please. Thank
4 A. My apologies. Mr. President, Your Honours,
5 as far as I know, Kruscica was inhabited by Croats,
6 Bosniak Muslims, Serbs and a certain number of
7 Romalija. The most numerous segment were the Bosniak
9 JUDGE RIAD: I'm sorry, could you repeat
10 that? The last sentence?
11 A. The most numerous part of the population in
12 Kruscica were the Bosniak Muslims.
13 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Judge Riad. Thank
15 you, Brigadier. Mr. Nobilo, will you please continue.
16 THE REGISTRAR: The following is 288, D288A
17 is the English version.
18 MR. NOBILO: Brigadier, the Document 288 is
19 basically a report of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade
20 from Busovaca on the 17th of April, 1993. I will read
21 it, it is very short, even though the copy is a poor
22 one. It is addressed by to the command of the Central
23 Bosnia operative zone, "Muslim Armed Forces, MOS
24 launched an attack at 525 hours from Dvor and Grabalj
25 or Gavrine Kuce, Putis and Jelinak. Fighting --"
1 THE INTERPRETER: Your Honour, the transcript
2 doesn't seem to be working. Please go on.
3 MR. NOBILO: We had some problems with the
4 transcript, but it has caught up with us now and
5 everything is fine. So let me repeat.
6 Q. "The Muslim armed forces launched on attack
7 on 0525 hours from Dvor and Gavrine on Gavrine Kuce
8 Putis and Jelinak. Fighting is still in progress. At
9 the moment we are successfully defending ourselves.
10 Similarly they are regrouping their forces in the
11 region of Kuber and Saracevici. The other lines are
12 stable. Information has been received that six buses
13 and two vans have arrived from Kakanj. Everything else
14 okay. Brigade commander, Dusko Grubesic."
15 Brigadier, is this photocopy a faithful
16 replica of the report you received in the morning of
17 the 17th April, 1993, from the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski
19 A. Yes, I remember the report, the Operative
20 Zone commander had received it. It was sent by the
21 Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade and it was registered in
22 the command.
23 Q. Is this a faithful copy?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Will you now please show the Court this new
1 attack? Where was it launched from? The attack that
2 started at 525 hours in the territory of Busovaca
3 municipality. Will you show us on the relief the
4 direction of that attack against Busovaca
5 municipality? Let me repeat, the attack came from Dvor
6 and Gavrine Kuce Putis and Jelinak.
7 A. Gavrine Kuce, this village is on the slopes
8 of Mount Kuber. On this side of the mountain, Gavrine
9 Kuce is here. And Jelinak and Putis are on the
10 left-hand side in relation to the road going from
11 Kaonik to Zenica. If you're going in the direction of
12 Zenica on the left-hand side on the slopes of Mount
13 Kuber are the village of Putis and Jelinak. And on the
14 right-hand side are Gravina Kuce and Gravi.
15 Q. What was the aim of that attack in your
17 A. The aim of the attack was to intersect the
18 road at the intersection of roads, Zenica Busovaca and
19 Vitez Busovaca in the area of the inhabited locality of
20 Kaonik as I have already mentioned.
21 Q. Thank you. Brigadier, the last sentence
22 says: "Information has been received that six buses
23 and two vans have arrived from Kakanj." What does that
24 mean, six buses and two vans? Was somebody in those
25 buses and vans and who?
1 A. The buses that came from Kakanj, according to
2 this report, brought with them members of the BH army
3 who were to have been engaged in the offensive
4 operations that were to be carried out in the area of
5 Busovaca municipality. May I add that we often mention
7 Mr. President, and, Your Honours, for a
8 better understanding of the balance of forces in the
9 Lasva Valley I wish to tell you the following: Zenica,
10 as a town, had more inhabitants than the whole of
11 Busovaca, Vitez and Novi Travnik together. So that the
12 forces that were in Zenica were more numerous than if
13 we were to add up all the forces that we had. In Novi
14 Travnik I am talking about BH army units even in
15 comparison to the HVO forces in Vitez, Busovaca and
16 Novi Travnik.
17 So, in addition to the forces that were in
18 Zenica and the local forces in the territory of Vitez
19 and Busovaca, I mean BH army forces, reinforcements
20 were coming from Kakanj and Visoko.
21 Q. When the report says six buses, how many men
22 is that for a soldier?
23 A. That would be about 300 men. And in view of
24 the organisational level of the BH army, that could be
25 described as the strength of a battalion.
1 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please.
2 THE REGISTRAR: Document 289, 289A for the
3 English version.
4 MR. NOBILO:
5 Q. Brigadier, we all have before us a report of
6 the Zrinski Brigade from Busovaca dated the 17th of
7 April, 1993, but now at 830 hours. The officer on
8 duty, or rather the Brigade commander, Dusko Grubesic
9 says: "Units from Zenica have lost their positions on
10 Kuber. And they separated from the units of the
11 Zrinski Brigade elevation point 897 and grid points
12 Seracivici are under the control of the BH army. You
13 will be informed of any further activities. Brigade
14 commander, Dusko Grubesic."
15 Tell us whether you recall this document and
16 whether it is a faithful copy of the original document
17 that you had in your hand on that day?
18 A. I remember the copy, the copy does correspond
19 to the original. It was received by Packet link and it
20 was entered in the register of the Central Bosnia
21 Operative Zone command. As we are talking about events
22 of the 17th, I had prepared a map indicating all the
23 major conflicts and artillery operations in the Lasva
24 Valley that had occurred in the course of the 17th of
1 MR. NOBILO: Can we ask the usher just to
2 take away the cap from the projector so that we can
3 have the map shown?
4 Q. Until we come to that map, tell us, you told
5 the Court that Kuber was of strategic importance. What
6 does it mean that the HVO, that units from Zenica, had
7 lost on Kuber the elevation point 897 and grid point
8 Saracevici, and that they were taken over on the 17th
9 of April at 0830 hours by the BH army? What did this
10 mean for the military position of the HVO in the Lasva
12 A. From the order of the commander of the
13 Operative Zone addressed to the commander of the Nikola
14 Subic-Zrinjski Brigade saying that Kuber must not
15 fall. In spite of such an explicit order, HVO units
16 did lose a part of Kuber, a part of Kuber. They lost
17 elevation point 897 and a part of the mountain called
18 Saracevica, which means that the road was endangered at
19 Kaonik, and this also shows that HVO units in the Lasva
20 Valley in the territory of Busovaca and Vitez
21 municipalities were endangered by BH army attacks.
22 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please.
23 THE REGISTRAR: The map that is being
24 projected has been marked D290.
25 THE WITNESS: If possible, can we have it
2 MR. NOBILO: We'll come to the map later.
3 For the moment, we'll look through all the reports, and
4 only then will we look at the map, towards the end of
5 the day. Let's first examine all the reports.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Document D291, D291A for the
7 French version, D291B for the English version.
8 MR. NOBILO:
9 Q. Brigadier, for the first time, we see a
10 report by the HVO from Zenica. Something is obviously
11 happening there, so I'll read some key parts. The
12 command of the HVO Zenica and the forward command post
13 of Zmajevac, the date is the 17th of April, 1993, 1020
14 hours. It is addressed to the command of the Central
15 Bosnia Operative Zone, and the heading is "Request."
16 "1) HVO members in the village of Stranjani are under
17 a complete siege, may have been given an ultimatum to
18 surrender their weapons. I have ordered a breakthrough
19 towards the villages of Janjac and Osojnica. Morale is
20 increasingly declining; therefore, I am not certain
21 that the order will be executed. 2) Muslim forces are
22 increasingly surrounding Zmajevac, Cajdras, and
23 Stranjani. They have broken up our sparse forces into
24 groups, and they are trying to disarm and destroy
25 them. 3) Displaced persons are coming to Cajdras.
1 However, Cajdras is being encircled. 4) I will try to
2 reach the village of Cajdras. 5) Please issue urgent
3 instructions for further action and provide us with any
4 assistance as the morale of the fighters is very low."
5 Signed, "Commander Vinko Barisic."
6 First, Brigadier, tell us whether this
7 photocopy is a faithful replica of the original
8 document that reached you from the HVO Zenica at 1020?
9 A. Yes. It is a faithful copy, and this can be
10 seen from the incoming stamp of the communications
11 centre. All the hand-written notes were written by
12 General Blaskic, and those of us who were working on
13 these documents had certain instructions to go by.
14 Q. Tell us, Brigadier, it says "Commander Vinko
15 Barisic." Wasn't Zivko Totic the commander of this
16 brigade? Let us remind the Court.
17 A. This document, as can be seen, was issued on
18 the 17th of April, 1993. Prior to that date, as we saw
19 yesterday, the commander of the Zenica Brigade, today
20 Brigadier Zivko Totic, was abducted and his escort was
21 killed. So that in the case of the Zenica HVO, the
22 first task had been accomplished. The leaders had been
23 removed, so the position of commander is taken over by
24 Vinko Barisic.
25 Q. In item 1, Vinko Barisic says that he is not
1 sure that the order will be carried out, his order to
2 make a breakthrough towards Janjac, because of the fall
3 in morale. Why do you think this unit suddenly lost
4 its combat morale, and we will see later on that it was
5 eventually put out of action?
6 A. The decline in combat morale occurred because
7 the soldiers of the HVO in the village of Stranjani,
8 let me show you where it is, this is next to Stranjani,
9 right next to Zenica. It is a settlement with a
10 majority Croatian population, and they found themselves
11 totally surrounded, under siege.
12 Q. In addition to this encirclement, was their
13 morale also affected by the fact that their commander
14 had been abducted?
15 A. Certainly. This affected the whole chain of
16 command when it comes to HVO forces in Zenica.
17 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please.
18 THE REGISTRAR: This is document 292, 292A
19 for the French version, 292B for the English version.
20 MR. NOBILO:
21 Q. Brigadier, this document was received by you
22 from the Busovaca Brigade at 12.00. It is brief. It
23 is self-explanatory. There were no important events,
24 so I won't read this document. I should just like you
25 to tell the Court whether this is a faithful photocopy
1 of the original document that you received from the
2 Busovaca Brigade at 12.00?
3 A. Yes. It is a faithful copy. The document
4 was sent from the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade. It
5 reached us by Packet. It was entered in the register
6 of the Operative Zone command.
7 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please?
8 THE REGISTRAR: Document 293, 293A for the
9 French version, 293B for the English version.
10 MR. NOBILO:
11 Q. Brigadier, I will read this document, though
12 the copy is rather dark and is hardly legible, but
13 we'll do our best. The Croatian Defence Council, from
14 Vitez, on the 17th of April, 1993, at 1430 hours, to
15 the Central Bosnia Operative Zone command, is sending a
16 combat report which reads:
17 "In the zone of responsibility of the
18 Viteska Brigade, during the day today, extremist Muslim
19 forces continued to provoke in all areas of the
20 municipality. Last night, Muslim forces constantly
21 conducted regrouping of their forces in order to
22 realise their sinister aims, that of destroying the
23 Croatian population in these parts and the Croatian
24 Defence Council, the only legal and legitimate armed
25 force which has, so far, already contributed greatly to
1 protect these lands from Chetnik conquest and
2 destruction of Croatian, as well as Muslim, property
3 and lives.
4 In the early morning hours, after evacuating
5 their own population, Muslim forces opened infantry
6 fire on our forces and around 0500 hours started
7 shelling the town. Our forces did not respond to all
8 the Muslim forces' provocations during the night, and
9 they respected the order issued by the Central Bosnia
10 Operative Zone command.
11 After the provocations became more frequent
12 and considerable material damage was incurred to our
13 population's property, our forces responded fiercely
14 and forced the Muslim forces to abandon their sinister
16 During the day today, our forces merely
17 responded to Muslim provocations, aiming exclusively at
18 military targets in order to protect their civilian
19 population from the suffering which they are being
20 subjected to by their extremist leaders.
21 The total number of those killed among the
22 Croatian population in conflict so far is 7 HVO members
23 and 11 HVO members wounded, while the number of
24 civilian casualties is not known. The Muslim forces
25 are continuing to burn our houses in the inhabited
1 areas of Poculica and Gornja Dubravica, from where our
2 population has been expelled."
3 This is hardly legible, because there's a
4 stamp covering the text, and then it goes on to say:
5 "A considerable number of our citizens were
6 arrested, so that in Poculica alone, about 45 citizens
7 have been arrested, among whom there are mothers with
8 small children from the age of two days.
9 We received information in the early
10 afternoon hours that Muslim forces are moving from the
11 direction of Opara village in Novi Travnik in the
12 direction in the village of Zaselje which is gripped by
13 fear and panic among our population. The same are
14 moving out in the direction of Veceriska.
15 We informed Zeljko Sabljic, commander of the
16 Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade, immediately about this." It
17 is signed by Mario Cerkez, commander of the brigade,
18 though it cannot be seen exactly who drafted this
20 Tell me first, Brigadier, whether this
21 photocopy, in spite of it being a poor one, corresponds
22 to the original report received from the Viteska
23 Brigade on the 17th of April at 1430 hours?
24 A. The copy does correspond to the original.
25 The document was drafted in the Viteska Brigade. It
1 reached the Central Bosnia Operative Zone. It was
2 entered in the register.
3 Q. We have a specific style of writing here, for
4 instance, reference to the Muslim forces' sinister
5 aims. Is this an example of the type of reporting you
6 referred to in the morning?
7 A. Yes. A part of the text in this report is an
8 eloquent example of the kind of reports I was referring
9 to, because commanders or members of brigade commands,
10 due to lack of military training, would write this kind
11 of combat report using terms which are not important
12 for military terminology.
13 Q. Tell the Court, as far as you know, what was
14 the educational background of Mario Cerkez?
15 A. Mario Cerkez, as of March 1992, was the
16 commander of the Viteska Brigade. As for his
17 education, as far as I know, he had completed a school
18 for qualified workers. This is a three-year school
19 following obligatory secondary education.
20 Q. Let me draw your attention to the paragraph
21 on the second page, which I will repeat: "This text
22 was drafted on the 17th of April at 1430. During the
23 day today, our forces only responded to Muslim
24 provocations, aiming exclusively at military targets in
25 order to protect their civilian population from the
1 suffering which they are being led into by the
2 extremist leaders."
3 What do you think? What is the message of
4 this report? Why is this included in his report of the
5 17th of April at 1430 hours?
6 A. If we remember the order of General Blaskic
7 written in the night between the 16th and 17th and the
8 sentence when he emphasised in block capitals that the
9 civilian population must not be killed, because that is
10 a crime, this commander who wrote this report had
11 received that order, and he is informing his commander
12 that he had conveyed this order to his own
14 Q. I think there is no need to dwell further on
15 this document, because it is self-explanatory.
16 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please?
17 THE REGISTRAR: Document D294, D294A for the
18 French version, D294B for the English version.
19 MR. NOBILO:
20 Q. So we have before us document D294. I will
21 read parts of it because this is a report sent by the
22 Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade from Busovaca on the 17th
23 of April, but this time at 1800 hours, addressed to you
24 in the Central Bosnia Operative Zone. "1) During the
25 day in the zone of the Zrinsjki Brigade Busovaca,
1 Muslim extremists combat activities continued. At 530
2 hours, a fierce infantry attack was launched by Muslim
3 extremists and oppositions in the region of Kuber and
4 Obla Glava. Muslim fanatics attacked our positions all
5 day with sizeable artillery support from the territory
6 of Zenica municipality.
7 As mortar shells started landing on the
8 centre of the town of Busovaca, a general alert was
9 sounded at 1000 hours as a precaution in order to avoid
10 unwanted consequences. Our positions in the villages
11 of Bare and Dornja Rovna was also under fire all day
12 from the direction of Pezici and Gornja Rovna. There
13 was some occasional fire from the village of Merdani on
14 oppositions in the region of the villages of Strane,
15 Gavrine Kuce, and Podjele" .
16 I will not read the rest of this report, but
17 I should like to ask you whether you recall this report
18 and whether this copy is faithful to the original?
19 A. I remember the report. This is a faithful
20 copy of the original. It was sent from the Nikola
21 Subic-Zrinjski Brigade. It was signed by Ljubo Lovric,
22 whom I know. It bears the stamp of the Brigade and the
23 incoming stamp of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone
25 Q. How was it sent? By fax?
1 A. This document was received by fax. As can be
2 seen from the indication on the stamp, it says TLF,
3 which means telefax.
4 Q. Tell me, Oblaglava, you've already told us
5 about Kuber, where is Oblaglava?
6 A. The places of the conflicts referred to in
7 this report are all in the territory of Mount Kuber and
8 I will show them to you on this map. So you see
9 Oblaglava, Kuber is a large mountain where we have both
10 Obla Glava at the foot of which is the village of
11 Jelinak, the village of Putis, then Saracevici. So
12 this is the area where BH army units launched a strong
13 attack. But this report as it was written at 1800
14 hours, so we must remember the previous reports and the
15 forces coming from Kakanj and Zenica. And we now have
16 on the ground the results of those activities by forces
17 of the BH army brought from Zenica and from Kakanj,
18 which is off the map.
19 Q. Brigadier, let us now read the last report of
20 the Viteska Brigade issued on 2400 hours on the 17th of
21 April and after that we shall try to summarise your
22 recollections with the help of the map to indicate
23 where the clashes were. This is the last document
24 dated the 17th of April at 2400 hours.
25 THE REGISTRAR: This is 295, D295A is the
1 English version.
2 MR. NOBILO: This is 17th April, report of
3 17th April.
4 THE INTERPRETER: Excuse me the English booth
5 did not receive its copy and there is none projected on
6 the ELMO. Can we please have one or the other?
7 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, counsel, nothing that
8 counsel is reading is being translated because they are
9 unable to read it. So if you can just wait until they
10 either get a copy or -- I take it that's the problem in
11 the booth? So if counsel could...
12 MR. HAYMAN: It was on the ELMO, Mr.
13 President, just the video monitor is showing the map
14 and not the document on the ELMO. That's why they're
15 not seeing it.
16 THE INTERPRETER: Thank you it is fine now.
17 Thank you.
18 MR. NOBILO:
19 Q. I will read from the top: "This is the
20 Viteska Brigade command of 17th April, 1993, at 2400
21 hours. It is sending its report to the Central Bosnia
22 Operative Zone command." And here we come from the
23 body of text.
24 "During the afternoon hours and especially
25 in the evening hours, after regrouping its forces, the
1 enemy launch infantry attacks from several directions
2 as follows:
3 1) From the direction of Zenica towards Kuber
4 it was observed that Mujahedeen and other extremist
5 Muslim forces were on the move. Their task was to take
6 control in the Kuber region and then with the support
7 of artillery pieces, make a break through on the
8 stretch Gola Kosa --" I can't read the next word.
9 "Join with Muslim forces in the village of Ahmici and
10 cut off the Kaonik Travnik communication line and join
11 Muslim forces in the Rovna region.
12 Our forces have been trying to withstand
13 fierce attacks from Muslim forces and unable to offer
14 the appropriate resistance. They carried out a
15 temporary retreat to reserve positions. However, upon
16 the arrival of fresh forces, they have successfully
17 retaken the lost positions and the control of a new
19 The retreat of our forces provoked a
20 temporary drop in morale among a number of soldiers.
21 However, this lost self-confidence soon returned and in
22 the end it resulted in their return to the previous
24 2) In the region of Santici village, combat
25 activities were conducted almost throughout the day.
1 The intensity of combat activities was especially
2 pronounced after Muslim forces joined in from the
3 Sljivcica, Sivrino Selo and Pirici direction with
4 constant artillery support from the direction of
5 Poculica and Vrhovine villages. The goal of Muslim
6 attack was to take control of the Santici region and
7 provide support to Zenica and cut off the Kaonik
8 Travnik portion of the road and join in with the Muslim
9 forces in the region of Rovna, Vranjska and Kruscica.
10 3. Forces of the BH army located in the
11 region of Kruscica village --" I can't read the next
12 couple of words, but it says, "Open intense fire
13 towards the region of Vitez and fired several mortar
14 missiles from the region of Sivrino Bukve to the
15 village of Donja Veceriska, killing two of our
16 soldiers. And in the Kruscica village one soldier was
17 killed and several were seriously and slightly
18 wounded. The material damage incurred to civilian
19 buildings was significant, especially the property of
20 Muslims who sought protection --"
21 THE INTERPRETER: Could the usher please move
22 to the next page. A bit further down, please.
23 MR. NOBILO: "The Muslims who had sought
24 shelter and served as a special purposes production.
25 According to the information received from our
1 reconnaissance group there was mortar fire from
2 elevation point 536 on the Rovna and Donja Rovna region
3 in the area of Busovaca municipality.
4 4) From the Preocica village where the
5 majority of Muslim forces, mostly those who have come
6 from outside of the region have been concentrating and
7 there was an attempt to launch infantry attacks in two
8 directions as follows:
9 The main attack direction was in the village
10 of Tolovici, which they had taken earlier and in the
11 direction of the villages Krcevine and Dubravica with
12 the goal of cutting off the defence line, destroying
13 our positions as well as the civilian population and
14 material goods and breaking through to the Vitez
15 Travnik communication line, taking control of it and
16 further advancing towards Stari Vitez.
17 Auxiliary l forces have been sent in the
18 direction of Poculica village and they joined with the
19 forces in Sljivcica and Vrhovine. This break through
20 of Muslim forces was thwarted and thanks to the high
21 morale of our soldiers, who are mostly from this area,
22 and who are determined to defend these Croatian lands,
23 the enemy's attack was repelled.
24 5) The part of extremist Muslim forces that
25 have come from outside of the region and local members
1 of Muslim forces from the village of Preocica,
2 Moratovici (phoen), Bukve and Pukovici, as well as part
3 of forces from the village of Klaka (phoen) joined in a
4 fierce infantry attack on the Brdo village where one of
5 our smaller units is located. Considering that the
6 enemy was far superior, both in the strength of troops
7 and materiel and equipment, our units were forced to
8 retreat in the direction of the village of Zabilje.
9 There were no casualties among our troops; whereas the
10 enemy casualties were not reported.
11 6) Late in the evening, the enemy continued
12 with further acts of provocation along our positions,
13 especially prominent among the enemy activities was
14 sniping on all parts of our municipality. So that we
15 warned our population to be on full alert while in
16 their homes." The signature is illegible so I can't
17 read it. Somebody signed it on behalf of the commander
18 but I can't read the signature. But let me ask you:
19 Can you assist us in this, did you see this document
20 when it arrived from the Viteska Brigade?
21 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone to the witness,
23 A. Apologies.
24 MR. NOBILO:
25 Q. Again let me repeat this question, do you
1 recall this document and did you see it on 17th April,
3 A. I did see this document, it arrived in the
4 Operative Zone command. I remember the contents of the
5 document even though the signature is illegible, I can
6 recognise it. It is Borislav Jozic's signature and he
7 signed it on behalf of the commander Mario Cerkez.
8 Q. Thank you. Let me now again ask you to come
9 to the scale model in order to try to reconstruct the
10 fighting on the 17th of April in the Vitez municipality
11 because this is a document that was drafted at the very
12 end of that day. The judges can see where this
13 fighting took place. First, this is from the direction
14 of Zenica towards Kuber and the Mujahedeen forces were
15 observed, which we are trying to take control of
17 A. Mr. President, I have already pointed this
18 direction towards Kuber and the forces which were
19 dispatched before this time of reporting were not
20 sufficient, so additional forces were brought in to
21 complete the task. See, it is from this direction of
23 Q. Second, the report says that the fighting
24 went on throughout the day in Santici and then
25 Sljivcica, Sivrino Selo and Pirici?
1 A. The village of Santici is along the road
2 between Vitez and Kaonik. That is Busovaca Vitez
4 Q. Brigadier, is this the first neighbouring
5 village to Ahmici?
6 A. Yes, it is the neighbouring village. The
7 village of Santici is directly on that main direction
8 of attack of the BH army with the objective of linking
9 up with their forces in Vranjska.
10 Q. Further, the report states that the Muslim
11 forces from the area of Sljivcica, Sivrino Selo and
12 Pirici joined in the fighting?
13 A. This is Sljivicica and Sivrino Selo and
14 Pirici are neighbouring villages to Santici and
15 Ahmici. All this is within an area of one square
17 Q. Can we say that Sivrino Selo, Pirici and
18 Sljivcica were all on a higher ground than the villages
19 of Santici and Ahmici, which are both closer to the
21 A. Yes, you can see from this model that the
22 Sivrino Selo is leaning on Sivrino Selo which is
23 actually a hill. And also the village of Pirici is
24 sort of a continuation of Sljivcica. I cannot recall
25 the name of this hill here, but you can see clearly the
1 relations between those.
2 Q. Further on, the report says that the forces
3 which were at these two villages are trying to link up
4 to these other two villages, Kruscica, Rovna, and
5 Vranska. Where are Pirici, Sivrino Selo and Sljivcica
6 in relation to that?
7 A. The Sljivcica hill, Sivrino Selo, and Pirici
8 are to the left, moving from Vitez to Kaonik. The
9 villages of Vrhovine, Rovna -- no, no, I mean, Rovna,
10 Vranska -- my apologies. The villages of Kruscica,
11 Rovna, and Vranska are to the right of the road going
12 from Vitez to Kaonik, and this is where the positions
13 of the HVO were.
14 The HVO positions were squeezed --
15 JUDGE JORDA: It is to the right of the
16 villages where, you're saying, Vitez is? Are you sure
17 about that? I'm looking at this map here. You're
18 talking about Sivrino Selo and Pirici; is that correct?
19 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, in order to
20 follow what I'm pointing at on the scale model, I'm
21 also going to try to point it out on the map which we
22 have on the easel.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, but I want to
24 understand you. On the map, when you go from Vitez to
25 Kaonik, we have the impression that Ahmici and Nadioci
1 are to the left. Santici, I don't see very clearly, at
2 least that's what it seems to me, looking at this map
3 and looking at this one as well.
4 MR. NOBILO: That is correct. That is
5 absolutely correct.
6 Q. Brigadier, could you show the villages on the
7 large map on the easel, Sivrino Selo, Sljivcica,
8 Ahmici, Santici. Going from Vitez towards Busovaca, on
9 which side of the road are those villages?
10 A. Sivrino Selo, Ahmici, and Santici are in this
11 circle (indicating). It's here.
12 Q. Which side of the road is that?
13 A. That is the left side of the road going from
14 Vitez towards Kaonik, that is, towards Busovaca.
15 JUDGE JORDA: To the left then, correct, to
16 the left?
17 MR. NOBILO: That is correct, Mr. President.
18 That is one group of villages where the Muslim forces
20 Q. Now, the other group, please, could you show
21 Rovna, Kruscica, where they are going from Vitez to
23 A. These villages are on the right-hand side,
24 and this is the village of Vranska here (indicating),
25 Kruscica, Vranska, Rovna. These villages are in this
1 circle. I'm going to try to mark them with this
2 pointer. They are situated within a square area of
3 about three square kilometres.
4 Q. On which side of the road going towards
6 A. The village of Vranska, Kruscica, and Rovna
7 are on the right-hand side of the highway going from
8 Vitez towards Kaonik.
9 Q. Looking at the map and looking due north and
10 south, Ahmici, Santici, Pirici, where are they?
11 A. Ahmici, Santici, and Pirici, looking in
12 relation to the Vitez-Kaonik road, are on the north
13 side. Kruscica, Rovna, and Vranska are on the south
14 side of the road.
15 Q. Thank you. Turn to channel 6 for your
17 For the Court, we have forces attacking from
18 the north towards the road. Then we have some forces
19 attacking from the south towards the road. In this
20 combat situation, what, do you infer, is their
22 A. The main objective of forces which were
23 attacking in this way is to cut off the communication
24 line, to destroy the command of the Operative Zone, and
25 taking control of the explosives factory in Vitez.
1 Q. Brigadier, is this development something that
2 corresponded to the intelligence reports which we
3 received and about which the previous witness had
4 talked about?
5 A. This report corresponds fully with the
6 information which was furnished to us by our
7 intelligence unit in the area of Busovaca and Vitez
9 MR. NOBILO: Can we have the maps
10 distributed, please? This is Exhibit D290. In other
11 words, the map had already been marked for
12 identification. We have it up on the easel, but we
13 also have provided hard copies, and it shows the combat
14 situation on 17 April.
15 Q. I would like you to analyse the combat
16 situation on the 17th of April, to your best
17 recollection, once we have all of these copies
19 THE REGISTRAR: The map is Exhibit D290.
20 MR. NOBILO:
21 Q. Brigadier, first, who made this map?
22 A. I did.
23 Q. What does it represent?
24 A. It represents the development of combat
25 operations in the municipalities of Busovaca, Vitez,
1 and Zenica on 17 April, 1993.
2 Q. Do you agree that the circle would represent
3 the area of combat, the arrows where the artillery
4 shells or projectiles would fall, and the elliptical
5 shape would be where the HVO forces and Croatian
6 civilians were surrounded?
7 A. Yes. Those are the symbols used in this map.
8 Q. Brigadier, could you please describe this map
9 in your own words. If you can just summarise your
10 recollections of the day, you don't need to go into
11 every detail. What were the main developments and what
12 were the main problems on the 17th of April, 1993?
13 A. On the basis of the reports which were
14 presented, we have been able to see what the size of
15 the conflict was, the size of the forces deployed by
16 the BH army, and the key areas where the most intense
17 fighting took place.
18 The key problem, the key difficulty, for the
19 Central Bosnia Operative Zone command was the
20 following: The fate of the Stranjani and its
21 inhabitants; also, the fate of the HVO troops and
22 civilians in Podbrijezje, a village, and then the hill
23 of Zmajevac and the village of Cajdras. All this, we
24 can see from the reports of the new commander of the
25 Jure Francetic Brigade, Mr. Vinko Barisic. Also, we
1 did not know the fate of the Zenica Brigade commander.
2 Because of this situation, we had the influx
3 of refugees from the Zenica municipality to the
4 Busovaca municipality. As far as the Vitez
5 municipality is concerned, it can be seen that the
6 local forces in the area of Vitez municipality had
7 linked up with the main forces which had arrived from
8 Zenica, and they linked up with the Mujahedeen unit and
9 with the units of the 7th Muslim Brigade.
10 The most significant fighting has been marked
11 here, and I'm going to go in order. It is the villages
12 of Brdo, which, on that day, the army of the BH took
13 control of.
14 Q. Brigadier, could you show the village of Brdo
15 on the map?
16 A. Yes. It is here (indicating), and it was an
17 exclusively Croatian village. Its inhabitants were
18 exclusively Croatian. The army of BH attacked it. The
19 local troops which were there had to retreat to the
20 neighbouring village of Zabilje, another Croatian
22 The next flash point, also very important,
23 was the attack of the BH army units against the troops
24 in the village of Krcevine which is also a village with
25 a full Croatian population.
1 The further attack which took place in the
2 Vitez municipality was Donja Dubravica. This is Donja
3 Dubravica (indicating). Again, this is the attack of
4 the BH army from the direction of Poculica village and
5 Gornja or upper Dubravica. Let me remind you that
6 there's an upper Dubravica and a lower Dubravica.
7 Donja Dubravica was controlled by the HVO, and Gornja
8 Dubravica, upper Dubravica, was controlled by the BH
10 The next flash point was a conflict in the
11 village of Santici, Sivrino Selo, and the village --
12 just a moment, Santici, Sivrino Selo, and Pirici.
13 These villages are directly along the road and near the
14 village of Ahmici. From those villages to the village
15 of Vranska, to the village of Kruscica and Rovna, the
16 distance, that is, the area separating the two forces,
17 Santici and Sivrino Selo, that is, the forces which are
18 at Vranska and Kruscica, is no more than 1.5
20 The next flash point is Obla Glava, Jelinak,
21 Putis. Those are all on Mount Kuber. I recall that
22 the units of BH army took control of both the villages
23 of Jelinak and Putis.
24 The next flash point is the village of Strane
25 and the village of Podjele, the area between Ravno and
1 the village of Bare, and we have constant intense
2 shelling which is shown by these arrows. In other
3 words, Donja Veceriska was shelled; the town of Vitez
4 was shelled; the town of Busovaca and the village of
5 Donja Polje. There was more artillery shelling, but I
6 only marked the very intense powerful shelling on this
8 Also, another characteristic of that day was
9 steady sniper fire from the area controlled by the BH
10 army and sniping of the town of Vitez where the HVO
11 units were located.
12 Q. In closing right now, are these circles only
13 the main flash points, not any points where the
14 fighting took place on that day?
15 A. That is correct. These are only the major
16 flash points, but the fighting took place along the
17 entire line of defence where the HVO and the BH army
18 units were.
19 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, it is 1.00. I
20 think it's time for our break.
21 JUDGE JORDA: All right. The hearing is
22 adjourned. We will resume at 2.30.
23 --- Luncheon recess taken at 1.02 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.35 p.m.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Please have Colonel Tihomir
3 Blaskic brought in please. Mr. Nobilo.
4 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
5 Q. Brigadier, we had stopped with this map that
6 you compiled and you said that the arrows indicate the
7 places where artillery shells fell. Were they only
8 mortar and artillery shells or were there any other
9 shells as well?
10 A. In addition to the artillery and mortar
11 shells, the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina in its attack on
12 Vitez and Busovaca also used two tanks which were
13 situated in the village of Poculica here. Here.
14 Here, this here.
15 Q. On the 17th of April, were the tanks there
16 and operating?
17 A. Yes, the tanks were in the village of
18 Poculica and they were firing on the Town of Vitez.
19 And not selectively, that is without selecting the
20 targets, but shelling the Town of Vitez as such.
21 Q. Tell us, Brigadier, on the 17th of April,
22 they used two tanks, how many tanks did the HVO have in
23 Central Bosnia?
24 A. In Central Bosnia, the HVO had no tanks.
25 Q. You said that on the 17th of April in the
1 vicinity of Santici, Pirici, there were clashes
2 according to reports. Tell me, near the village of
3 Ahmici where was the front-line on the 17th of April and
4 could you show us on this map where the front-line was
6 A. On the 17th of April, 1993, a front was
7 established about 50 metres or so from the village of
8 Ahmici or more precisely near Alangji (phoen). That
9 position of the HVO on the 17th of April is about 500
10 metres from the Vitez Kaonik Busovaca Road. I shall
11 try and point it out with this pointer.
12 Here, where the pointer is, that would be the
13 front-line established by the HVO on the 17th of April.
14 That is 50 metres from the last house in Ahmici in
15 Barin Gaj.
16 Q. And how many metres from the HVO front-line,
17 and you said that that front-line was 50 metres from the
18 last house in Ahmici, and how far was the front-line of
19 the BH army from the last house in Ahmici?
20 A. The distance between the HVO positions and
21 the BH army positions was about 150 to 200 metres,
22 which depended on the location on the ground, so that
23 the front-line was in Barin Gaj outside the village of
25 Q. That's north of Ahmici, about 200 metres
1 north of Ahmici?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Tell us, did this front-line move at all until
4 the end of the war?
5 A. The front-line established on the 17th of
6 April, 1993, between units of the HVO and the BH army
7 remained unchanged until the Washington Agreement.
8 Q. Is it your opinion that that line was held by
9 local forces from Ahmici or did they receive
10 reinforcements? Did fresh forces come to the
11 assistance of the local forces in Ahmici outside Vitez
13 A. In explaining the combat situation on the
14 17th and the 16th of April, I had mentioned that forces
15 from Zenica had come to the assistance of the local
16 forces in the villages and, therefore, the local forces
17 in the village of Ahmici itself. Those forces arrived
18 and together with those forces, units of the BH army
19 established at the front-line in Barin Gaj in relation
20 to the HVO units.
21 Q. Thank you. Can we now distribute the next
22 document, please.
23 JUDGE RIAD: Brigadier Marin, when you say
24 local forces in Ahmici, what do you mean by the local
25 forces in Ahmici?
1 A. The local forces in Ahmici were units of the
2 BH army, a unit which roughly the strength of a company
3 because when talking about the organisation of both the
4 HVO and the BH army was that the basic premise was that
5 units should be formed in villages: One village; one
6 unit. If the village was inhabited exclusively by
7 Bosniak Muslims then there would be a unit of the BH
8 army. If a village was inhabited by Croats then there
9 was an HV unit there. If there were mixed villages,
10 such as Ahmici was up to an extent, the Croats joined
11 HVO units and the Bosniak Muslims joined BH army
13 Q. The transcript says "HV units", the Brigadier
14 said HVO units, so could the record be corrected,
15 please. Let me ask you once again, were there any HV
16 units there or HVO units, the Croatian Defence Council
18 A. In Central Bosnia, during the war, there were
19 never any units of the Croatian army. In Croatian
20 villages, in Central Bosnia, there were units of the
21 HVO, the Croatian Defence Council.
22 Q. Thank you. Next document. Can we have the
23 number, please?
24 THE REGISTRAR: D296, 296A for the French
25 version, 296B for the English version.
1 MR. NOBILO:
2 Q. So we have before us, Document 296. Now we
3 will be seeing a series of orders by Colonel Blaskic of
4 the 17th of April. Up until now we were reviewing the
5 reports he received and now we're looking at the
6 orders. Let me read, "Central Bosnia Operative Zone
7 command, the 17th of April, 1993, at 1850 hours. An
8 order is issued to the Viteska Brigade, the Zrinski
9 Brigade and the 4th Military Battalion. Three units
10 are affected by this order." Preamble: "Because of
11 the intensified attacks by Muslim forces in the area of
12 Kuber and because the safety of the Kaonik Vitez Road
13 may be called in question with the objective of
14 preventing the enemy from seizing and taking control of
15 the said road, I hereby order:
16 1) With the forces of the Viteska Brigade,
17 the Zrinski Brigade and the 4th Military Police
18 Battalion form a defence line in the wider area of
19 Kuber and link up with forces from Vidovic, grid point
20 514 to grid point --" I would say it was 646, "Jelinak
21 and Oblaglava, with the following task: To organise a
22 decisive defence on the above-described line and to
23 prevent the enemy advance toward Kaonik and Nadioci at
24 all costs."
25 Item 3 in the second sentence says: "Report
1 to me immediately about all significant changes on the
2 said defence line.
3 4) Report to me about the execution of this
4 order by 2400 hours." First it said 11 or 77 of April,
5 1993. Obviously there was some typing errors in the
6 original. "Signed, Commander Colonel Blaskic."
7 Tell me, Brigadier, first, whether this
8 photocopy is true to the original order written by
9 Colonel Blaskic on the 17th of April at 1815 hours?
10 A. Yes. It is a faithful copy. I personally
11 drafted the document. It was signed by General
12 Blaskic. It bears the stamp of the command of the
13 Operative Zone. The letters ONO refers to me because I
14 followed the implementation of this order.
15 Q. Can we say that in items three and four
16 emphasis is laid on the need to report back?
17 A. Yes, especially in Item 4 because both the
18 time, the day and the hour is indicated. That is a
19 deadline for reporting because the situation
20 underground was very complicated and difficult and the
21 commanders sought in every possible way to obtain
22 information as to what was happening.
23 Q. Brigadier, could you use the pointer to show
24 us the front-line according to this order? Could you
25 show it to us on the relief, please?
1 A. Yes, I can.
2 Q. Please do so. Will you show us Vidovici and
3 the grid reference point 514 and grid reference point
4 646 Jelinak, Oblaglava?
5 A. This is Vidovici, just above Mahala, which is
6 not mentioned here but it is important to prevent
7 infiltration into Nadioci and the slopes of Kuber and
8 here is the village of Jelinak and Oblaglava. It is
9 rather difficult to show because the line is a winding
11 Q. Brigadier, tell us, is it true that the line
12 was established on the southern slopes of Kuber between
13 the main road or the Lasva River and Kuber?
14 A. Yes, the line was established on the southern
15 slopes, actually at the very foot of Kuber right next
16 to the road. More simply speaking from the road to the
17 locality called Gavrine or Jelinak. It may have been a
18 kilometre and a half or two kilometres as the crow
20 Q. Does that mean that on the 17th of April at
21 1815 you had actually lost Mount Kuber and the most
22 dominant features on that mountain?
23 A. Yes, that can be seen from this order. That
24 we had totally lost the feature Kuber and that it was
25 under the sovereign control of the army of
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina. This entire mountain plateau was
2 in their hand, so that the road that we insisted on
3 defending was in jeopardy. And here it says a decisive
4 defence, which means there can be no withdrawal, it has
5 to be defended at all costs. And now the Vitez Kaonik
6 Busovaca Road was endangered.
7 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Next document,
8 please. Can we distribute it?
9 THE REGISTRAR: This is document 297, 297A
10 for the French version and 297B for the English
12 MR. NOBILO:
13 Q. So the commander, Colonel Blaskic, on the
14 17th of April, 1993, at 2000 hours is addressing the
15 commander of the Stjepan Tomasevic and Viteska Brigades
16 with an order for reinforcements to Vitez forces. And
17 he says: No. 1, for the needs of the Vitez defences,
18 immediately dispatch a unit numbering 25 to 30 men with
19 the task of preventing the advance of Muslim forces
20 from the direction of the village of Krcevine towards
22 First, Brigadier, is this photocopy faithful
23 to the original? Does it correspond to his order of
24 that day and hour?
25 A. This order was also written by me. And there
1 is the stamp of the Operative Zone and the signature of
2 the commander of the Operative Zone, General Blaskic.
3 Q. Can you show us with your pointer on the map
4 the village of Krcevine and which is the access which
5 is endangered from the village of Krcevine to Vitez?
6 A. Here is the village with a majority Croat
7 population. BH army forces are attacking towards the
8 Krcevine village. If they managed to break through,
9 they would reach the road, link up with the forces in
10 Stari Vitez, endanger the Town of Vitez and link up
11 further with their forces in Kruscica.
12 Q. The commander is requesting assistance
13 numbering 25 to 30 men, don't you think that this is a
14 very small number in view of the ongoing combat
16 A. This figure best testifies to the quality of
17 the organisation of the HVO. If the HVO had been
18 structured as a well-organised army, the commander of
19 the Operative Zone would never order a subordinate
20 commander to send him 25 or 30 men or he would send me
21 a company or a battalion or two battalions. So this is
22 an eloquent indication of the state of the HVO in terms
23 of organisation. And it corroborates what I said on
24 the first day and that is that in HVO brigades we
25 didn't have ready, rapid deployment units.
1 THE REGISTRAR: Document 298, 298A for the
2 English version.
3 MR. NOBILO:
4 Q. Here we have another order by Colonel Blaskic
5 dated the 17th of April, 1993, at 2000 hours. The
6 order is addressed to all Brigades, all independent
7 units, the Vitezovi and the communications company.
8 The subject heading is, "Maximum Combat Readiness of
9 the Units." And I am reading: "In keeping with the
10 order of the HVO main staff commander and then
11 hand-written number 02-2/1-01 --" and the rest is
12 illegible. "And due to the open aggression of Muslim
13 forces against the HVO and the Croatian people," then
14 again we see the date written in by hand, "the 17th of
15 April, 1993. I hereby order:
16 1) All HV units in the zone of responsibility
17 of this command shall raise combat readiness to the
18 highest level. 2) To terminate all R&Rs and prohibit
19 all leaves; to include all able-bodied manpower in the
20 zone of responsibility capable of military service
21 should participate in the zone structure. 3) To break
22 and repel the attacks and the aggression of Muslim
23 forces with all available forces and equipment; to
24 engage all available potentials in the zone of
25 responsibility for the defence and, if necessary, use
1 force. 4) To dig in on the established frontlines and
2 prepare a counterattack. 5) To submit written reports
3 to me every four hours by Packet communications as of
4 the 18th of April, 1993 at 0600 hours. 6) This order
5 shall take effect immediately and unit commanders shall
6 be personally responsible to me for its execution.
7 Commander, Colonel Tihomir Blaskic."
8 Brigadier, can you confirm that this
9 photocopy is faithful to the original and signed by
10 Colonel Blaskic on the 17th of April at 2000 hours?
11 A. Yes. I can confirm it because I drafted the
12 document. General Blaskic signed it, and there is the
13 stamp of the Operative Zone command.
14 Q. Brigadier, could you explain to the Court,
15 how it is possible that on the 17th of April, the
16 second day of the war, at 2000 or at 8.00 p.m., Colonel
17 Blaskic is ordering maximum combat readiness of units
18 in the sense of banning all leaves and raising combat
19 readiness to a maximum? How can this be explained?
20 A. When the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina launched
21 its attack on HVO units on the 16th of April, certain
22 negotiations were conducted, and we, in the HVO or,
23 rather, in the Operative Zone command, expected the
24 agreed cease-fire to be observed. However, as time
25 went by, the attacks by the BH army gained in
1 intensity. The BH army engaged very large forces. The
2 intensity of the fighting increased. So that on the
3 17th of April, the commander analysed the situation and
4 opted in favour of such an order.
5 This order also shows, very convincingly,
6 that the commander of the Operative Zone had not
7 prepared attacks on BH army units on the 16th of April,
8 because if we had prepared for an attack against BH
9 army units, we would have, before the 16th, in fact,
10 before the 15th, carried out a general mobilisation.
11 All the things indicated under item 2, we would have
12 terminated vacations and prohibited taking leaves and
13 engaged all our available effectiveness for the attack.
14 However, the gravity of the situation
15 required that the commander should say in item 3 that
16 all available resources should be used to repulse the
17 attack, because we were in a situation of waging a
18 decisive battle, because a step forward in attaining
19 the goal of the BH army, that is, to intersect the
20 road, to destroy the command, to reach the ammunitions
21 factory, and place the whole Lasva region under their
22 control, would lead to the disbanding and disarming of
23 HVO units ultimately.
24 Q. Let us recall how many command staff members
25 managed to reach the command of the Central Bosnia
1 Operative Zone on the 16th?
2 A. I said that on the 16th of April, there were
3 seven members of the command staff, and that by the
4 17th, which we are now discussing, no new arrivals had
5 come, because the road through Grbavica was still
6 blocked, and passage from Busovaca was very dangerous
7 because of constant fire. Members of the command staff
8 who were not in the headquarters on that day did not
9 arrive. The command continued to function with only
10 seven members of its staff present.
11 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Can we proceed to
12 the next document, please?
13 THE REGISTRAR: Document D299, D299A for the
14 English version.
15 MR. NOBILO:
16 Q. Brigadier, let me take you back a little bit
17 in time. We had reached the evening of the 17th of
18 April, but now we're going back to the morning of the
19 same day at 0910 hours. Colonel Blaskic is issuing a
20 preparatory combat order for the tying up of a part of
21 the Muslim forces which were attacking the HVO. It is
22 addressed to the commander of the Ban Jelacic Brigade
23 in Kiseljak. This is an order from the 17th of April.
24 "1) The enemy is continuing the intense
25 attack against the forces of the HVO and is trying to
1 completely ethnically cleanse the region of Croats and
2 destroy all the HVO institutions in the Lasva River
3 Valley. The probable objective of the aggressor is,
4 after an accord with the Chetniks regarding the
5 surrender of Srebrenica and other regions, to
6 militarily defeat the HVO and included our regions to
7 some kind of greater Serbia or a new Yugoslavia.
8 In the combats which raged yesterday, the
9 enemy used a much-used method of the Chetniks, keeping
10 women and children in front and using them as human
11 shields, and then occupying the main strategic
12 objects. Nevertheless, they did not succeed, and the
13 enemy forces are concentrating on Jablanica, Konjic,
14 Vitez, and Busovaca.
15 2) The mission of your troops: Is to tie up
16 the forces of the aggressor in the following way: A)
17 Engage in the blockade of Visnjica and other villages
18 that could be used by the enemy to launch an attack.
19 B) Take control of Gomionica and Svinjarevo after a
20 strong artillery support by the VBR and mortars. The
21 attack of the main forces shall be made from Sikulje
22 and Hadrovci."
23 Then in handwriting, it is added, "Establish
24 a line of defence and keep the troops together." "C) In
25 sector number 5, reinforce the troops at the feature of
1 Badnje (one company) and at the feature of Pobrde (one
3 3) All the attacks of the aggressor have been
4 repelled. The city of Vitez is under our control, and
5 the forces of the Viteska and Busovacka Brigades have
6 taken complete control of the Kuber and Saracevica
7 features, and they have repelled the aggressor's
8 attacks from Zenica.
9 4) Keep in mind that the lives of Croats in
10 the Lasva River Valley depend upon your mission. This
11 region could become a tomb for all of us if you do not
12 show enough resolve.
13 5) The time to start this mission will be
14 sent to you from the command upon the receipt of
15 reports stating your preparedness which should be
16 submitted before 2330 hours on the 17th of April,
18 Brigadier, is this a faithful copy of the
19 order which Colonel Blaskic issued on 17 April at 0910
21 A. Yes. I recognise this as Colonel Blaskic's.
22 I recognise his signature and the stamp.
23 Q. On page 1, something was added in
24 handwriting. Can you recognise that handwriting?
25 A. That is the handwriting of General Blaskic.
1 It is a similar case as we had in some other
2 documents. If he had any comments to make, he would
3 immediately, directly add those comments in
4 handwriting, and the document would then be dispatched
5 in that form.
6 Q. Brigadier, can you tell me, there are many
7 typographical errors. There are lots of errors. Why
8 did you not retype them?
9 A. It would have taken us too much time. We had
10 a member of the command of the Zrinjski Brigade who was
11 not a professional typist and, additionally, we had
12 combat operations going on at the time, so we were in a
14 Q. Now, can you tell us why the Visnjica village
15 was to be blocked and Svinjarevo and Gomionica were to
16 be taken?
17 A. On the basis of the intelligence reports
18 which we had, the BH army units were in the largest
19 concentration in the entire municipality of Kiseljak in
20 the village of Gomionica. By taking control of these
21 villages, we would prevent cutting off those enclaves,
22 and we would defend the HVO units in the Kiseljak
24 You may recall that the BH army was bringing
25 in reinforcements from Visoko and Kakanj. These
1 preparations were done in order to tie up those forces,
2 the reinforcements, so that we would, sort of, bring
3 relief to the HVO units in the Lasva River Valley so
4 that they could better defend Vitez and Busovaca.
5 Q. I'm going to read you another item from this
6 order, and it doesn't sound very military to me. It's
7 on page 2 of this report after a very dramatic
8 statement of the situation which you give. It says
9 under number 4: "Keep in mind that the lives of Croats
10 in the Lasva River Valley region depend upon your
11 mission. This region could become a tomb for all of us
12 if you do not show enough resolve."
13 Why did General Blaskic need to order the Ban
14 Jelacic Brigade into action in such a dramatic way,
15 such an emotional way? Why didn't he just order, "Go
16 ahead. Do such and such a thing"? Wouldn't that have
17 been militarily more proper?
18 A. Yes, that's correct. It would have been more
19 proper in military terms. However, as I mentioned,
20 there were very, very few militarily educated officers
21 with proper military training and enough experience.
22 In order to phrase a task in such a way, by
23 using such words, the commander intended to bring home
24 to the officers the seriousness of the situation. This
25 was to find a way for an officer to understand the
1 situation in the Lasva River Valley and the
2 municipalities of Vitez and Busovaca and to act
4 Q. Does this order sound a little bit like
6 A. It reflects the situation in which the HVO
7 troops found themselves in Vitez and Busovaca, and
8 it is, sort of, imploring. It is the call of a person
9 who is in desperate straits.
10 MR. NOBILO: Very well. Let me show you
11 another document now.
12 THE REGISTRAR: Document D300, D300A for the
13 French version, and D300B for the English version.
14 MR. NOBILO:
15 Q. Brigadier, this is an order for combat
16 operations of the 17th of April, and the time of this
17 order is 2345 hours. The Defence has received this
18 document from the Prosecution, as can be seen from the
19 number. Can you tell me, do you recognise the stamp
20 and the signature?
21 A. I drafted this document. I signed it on
22 behalf of Colonel Blaskic. This was being drafted all
23 day while he was next door.
24 Q. Can you tell me, is this order linked to
25 Exhibit 299, the document which we just read?
1 A. Yes. That can be seen from the orders that
2 were issued to the individual units.
3 Q. Is the goal the same as it was for the
4 preparatory order, in other words, to tie up and
5 alleviate the pressure on the HVO?
6 A. Yes. That was the key interest of ours at
7 the time.
8 Q. On the basis of this report, does it anywhere
9 state that, in order to carry out this task, civilians
10 should be killed or private property destroyed?
11 A. No.
12 MR. NOBILO: Very well. Next document,
14 THE REGISTRAR: Document D301, D301A for the
15 French version, and D301B for the English version.
16 MR. NOBILO:
17 Q. We're reading document 301. This is an order
18 of Colonel Blaskic drafted on 17 April, 1993 at 2210
19 hours. It is addressed to the commander of the Viteska
20 Brigade and the subject heading is "Organisation and
21 Conduct of Vitez Defence. Order: 1) The Enemy:
22 Wielding overt aggression against the Croatian people
23 and territories, the enemy, the Muslim forces, are
24 trying to completely destroy the HVO and all its
25 installations in the areas of the Lasva Valley,
1 applying the most brutal methods of combat directed
2 against anything Croatian. So far, the enemy has not
3 been very successful but has made extensive use of its
4 advantage in numbers.
5 2) The task of our forces is as follows: To
6 deploy forces on defence lines and organise a decisive
7 defence; to prevent the enemy from entering the town of
8 Vitez and taking control of the Kaonik-Vitez-Bila road;
9 to organise the defence according to sectors as
11 Sector 1: Zabilje-Brdo-Jardol-Krcevine, grid
12 point 356; Commander of the Viteska Brigade shall name
13 the commander of the sector.
14 Sector 2: Vidovici, grid point 514, grid
15 point 646, Jelinak-Obla Glava; Commander of the Viteska
16 Brigade will also appoint the commander of the sector.
17 Additional sector of Kruscica: To secure the
18 rear guard, Besce, grid point 511, and Baskarad.
19 3) To carry out 1st level engineer work in
20 the sectors (to dig standing trenches). Deadline is
21 0500 hours on 18 April, 1993.
22 4) To organise coordination between the
23 sectors; to make contact in Sector 1 in the left flank
24 of the defence with the Frankopan Brigade units; to
25 apply all measures of combat security while carrying
1 out these activities; to replenish units with weapons
2 to carry out the defence activities; to supply soldiers
3 with two combat sets. In the event of a deficit of
4 formation weapons, appropriate the arms from the other
5 population who is not eligible for military service and
6 use them for this purpose.
7 5) Commanders of the sector are subordinated
8 to the Viteska Brigade commander. Send reports every
9 four hours with the exact date on the positions of our
10 forces and enemy forces, as well as emergency reports
11 as needed.
12 6) Commander of the Viteska Brigade is
13 personally responsible to me for the execution of this
14 order. Send me reports about the execution of these
15 orders by 1000 hours on 18 April, 1993.
16 Commander, Colonel Tihomir Blaskic."
17 Brigadier, could you tell me, is this
18 photocopy a fair reflection of the original of the
19 organisation and conduct of the Vitez defence order of
20 17 April, 1993 at 2210 hours?
21 A. Yes. I compiled this order on the orders of
22 the commander of the Operative Zone and under his
24 Q. Now we will move on to 18 April and see where
25 the defence lines were established on that date.
1 First, let's clarify something. In item 3, he's
2 mentioning "1st level engineer work." What does that
4 A. That means that the trenches had to be deep
5 enough so that a soldier could stand in it, in other
6 words, that his body would not be exposed anymore, as
7 well as shelter facilities, which means that they have
8 to be covered with earth and wood and any other
9 construction material which was available in the area.
10 Q. On page 2, he says: "Replenish the units
11 with weapons for defence activities and supply soldiers
12 with two combat sets." What does that mean?
13 A. The combat set depends on the type of weapons
14 that the soldiers have. If it is an automatic rifle, a
15 combat set would be 300 bullets, 300 rounds. If it's a
16 semi-automatic rifle, it would be less; if it were an
17 M-48 rifle, then even fewer rounds of ammunition.
18 Q. What does it mean for the population which is
19 not eligible for military service, appropriate
20 weapons -- first of all, what are formation weapons?
21 A. Formation is what a soldier should be issued,
22 given his position in his unit. If we did not have
23 enough, we would probably use something like a hunting
24 weapon, because those were available in the area.
25 Also, you can see that the personnel, which
1 were listed as belonging to the Viteska Brigade, did
2 not all have weapons. We had between 55 and 60 per
3 cent of the weapons that covered the units in Vitez,
4 Busovaca, and Kiseljak. So what we would do, we would
5 then supplement it with hunting weapons.
6 Q. In 5, it says: "Communications between the
7 sectors are to be organised in accordance with the
8 available communications equipment." Is that also
9 military? Do units usually have a type of
10 communications equipment that is issued to it by
12 A. Yes. At every level of unit, you have
13 particular communications equipment. Different types
14 of equipment are used for battalions, different
15 equipment for companies, and so on. We used whatever
16 we had in the area. If, in one sector, you had a
17 certain type of equipment, the other sector may not
18 have had it, so they had to coordinate, in the best way
19 they could, how they would establish the link, how they
20 would keep the communication lines open.
21 I would just like to clarify a term that is
22 being used. It's the term "sector," and this order is
23 a bit more detailed than usual. We saw, at the level
24 of brigades in the Viteska Brigade, that was around the
25 20th of March, 1993, the command of this Viteska
1 Brigade was not yet enabled to fully operate in the
2 event of combat operations in this area.
3 Given the continued attacks by the BH army, I
4 was given an order by the commander to spell out
5 additional details in this order and even draw how
6 certain things should look in the field and which lines
7 should be occupied.
8 Q. The Viteska Brigade had to have had
9 battalions; battalions had to have had companies; they
10 all would have had to have soldiers. Now you're
11 talking about sectors. You're saying that the brigade
12 commander had to assign the sector commanders. Isn't
13 that a step backwards?
14 A. Yes. That was the case, but at that time,
15 the Viteska Brigade had only one battalion which was
16 fully organised. The area of the Viteska Brigade was
17 too large for just a single battalion. So what we did
18 is we started out with having the units in the
19 villages. In other words, there were units deployed in
20 the village. We linked up a number of villages, and
21 from those villages and the area which was covered by
22 these villages, they were then linked together and
23 called a particular sector.
24 It may be best if I can illustrate this by
25 showing you on the map, and let me try to do it from
2 If we had a village here (indicating), and we
3 had Krcevine, Dubravica, and Santici, and we said that
4 the area covered by these three villages, this would be
5 to one hill here and another hill over there, that
6 would be one sector. The forces that are supposed to
7 occupy this sector would be the units from the local
8 villages, from Santici and the others. This is how we
9 organised the defence throughout the Vitez
10 municipality, because in the Vitez municipality, we had
11 been completely surrounded.
12 As I said, we had the BH army units which
13 were deployed here in Kruscica, Vranska, and Rovna.
14 It's this area here (indicating), and the BH army units
15 which were here Barin Gaj, Sljivcica, Krtina-Mahala,
16 and Kuber.
17 Where are the HVO units now? They are pretty
18 much right next to the road, to the right and left of
19 the road. From both the north and south side were the
20 BH army units. In a situation like this, the only
21 possibility was to organise the brigade in this way and
22 to defend the town of Vitez.
23 Q. Brigadier, are you telling us that the
24 companies and battalions were not actually acting but
25 only the villages and units in those villages?
1 A. Yes, that is just what I said. We are
2 telling the Brigade commanders to appoint sector
3 commanders because it means that only on the 17th of
4 April was someone to be appointed as commander of the
5 sector to organise defences there. We did not have a
6 commander of battalions or company commanders, which
7 would have been logical and normal in any organised
9 Q. Brigadier, could you please come to the --
10 approach the relief and bring with you this document
11 that you wrote yourself and show to the Court where
12 were the defence lines for Vitez municipalities on the
13 evening of the 17th April, 1993.
14 A. I will start from the sector -- from Sector
15 1, the village of Zablje, which is here from the
16 village of Zablje, there is a road for the sake of
17 orientation this Village Zablje is next to the Bila,
18 Han-Bila Road. So we're going from the left to the
20 Q. Could you please put the little flags there
21 to show where Zablje is. The village of Zablje, the
22 green flag in front of the village of Zablje, not in
23 the village, but in front of it where the Muslim forces
24 were positioned. That's one point.
25 A second, Jardol. Take another green flag
1 and place it in front of the village of Jardol where
2 the Muslim forces were. Krcevine, another green flag
3 in front of the village of Krcevine, please.
4 A. Then TT356. This is a feature, a hill, that
5 cannot be seen here, but it is within the area of
6 Krcevine village. So that is one sector. That is one
7 sector. It is the area here. Then there is a second
8 sector, Vidovici.
9 Q. Place a flag there, please.
10 A. Here it is Vidovici. TT514646. This is the
11 position near Mahala. Just a moment, please. Then
12 Jelinak, Obla Glava, which is here. Then we have an
13 additional sector Besce, grid reference point 511,
14 Baskarad. Kruscica.
15 Q. So, the flags are now indicating the
16 front-line between the Croats and the Muslims on the
17 17th of April.
18 THE REGISTRAR: Document 302, 302A for the
19 English version.
20 MR. NOBILO:
21 Q. Brigadier, we won't be reading this
22 document. Will you just tell us what it's about?
23 A. This is a medical finding for Zoran Pilicic,
24 who was a member of the command of the Operative Zone
25 and he was wounded on the 17th of April, 1993, together
1 with Marco Prskalo, returning from negotiations at the
2 UNPROFOR base and leaving the warrior in front of the
3 main entrance of the building where the headquarters of
4 the Operative Zone was housed. He was wounded.
5 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please. We are
6 going on to the 18th of April and we will see the kind
7 of reports that arrived on the 18th of April.
8 JUDGE JORDA: A small clarification, Mr.
9 Nobilo, you are not presenting all the reports on a
10 particular day. You understand my question? Because
11 the reference numbers of the reports do not follow one
12 another in consecutive order. I assume that you're
13 showing us some of the reports because you just said we
14 are now going to see the reports for the 18th of
15 April. You mean some of the reports for the 18th of
16 April, I assume? Very well.
17 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, I am thinking of
18 all the reports that the Defence managed to obtain.
19 Naturally, there must have been many more documents
20 circulating in the headquarters. They may have been
21 reports, information, orders, but these are the reports
22 that the Defence has found.
23 JUDGE JORDA: So I was just commenting
24 because of the reference numbers. Because very often
25 those reference numbers do not follow one another in an
1 uninterrupted fashion. So I assume that in between
2 there must have been other reports. That was the
3 purpose of my question.
4 THE REGISTRAR: The next document is 303,
5 303A for the English version.
6 MR. NOBILO:
7 Q. Talking about these numbers, Brigadier, can
8 you explain to the court how the records were kept; how
9 these numbers were placed on the documents leaving the
10 command and those being received by the commands,
11 internal documents and so on?
12 A. A record of arriving documents, if they came
13 through communication, that is by telefax or by Packet
14 links, those documents would be entered in the
15 communications centre in a register. Those documents
16 would reach the commander. The commander would study
17 it, give assignments to one of the officers in the
18 command and then the document would be entered in the
19 register of the command. The document drafted in the
20 command itself would also bear a number and these
21 reference numbers would follow one another.
22 However, in the case of the 16th, 17th and
23 even the 18th of April, I was telling you of the
24 problems we had in the processing, the person who was
25 the typist also kept the files, so that on some days we
1 didn't have time to register them because we had far
2 more complicated work to do than simply registering
3 documents. So that there may be some lack of order and
4 logic regarding the time a document was received when
5 it was issued and the reference number that figures on
6 the document. I wish to underline that this procedure
7 of filing was not standardised, it was not regulated by
8 the defence ministry, but members in the headquarters
9 and I personally participated on the basis of my own
10 personal experience from the pre-war period, we tried
11 to establish a certain system of bookkeeping
13 Q. Are you telling us that the incoming stamp
14 would be filled in several days subsequent to the event
15 to the day it was actually received or sent?
16 A. Yes, that is so.
17 Q. Do you know what the number figuring on the
18 documents issued by Colonel Blaskic consisted of? Do
19 you remember?
20 A. The first number 01 meant that it was a
21 document of the commander. The second number would be
22 the date and the year -- no, no, the date then the
23 number under which it was registered and then the
25 MR. NOBILO: I am not quite sure that I
1 remember this. Maybe we'll analyse one of the
2 subsequent documents from that standpoint to see if you
3 can remember. So we have now another document, has it
4 been given a number, Mr. Registrar? What is the number
5 of this document, please?
6 THE REGISTRAR: It is 303.
7 MR. NOBILO:
8 Q. So this is a document dated the 18th April at
9 0100 hours, report of the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade to
10 the commander of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone.
11 And the subject is: Disappearance of officers of the
12 Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade. Tell us, in the area of
13 Novi Travnik, was there any fighting on that day, or
14 were they still primarily concerned with the
15 disappearance of their officers?
16 A. On the day on which this report was written,
17 there was no fighting between the HVO and the BH army.
18 The key problem for the Brigade was the kidnapping of
19 three officers and their driver, who were taken away in
20 an unknown direction.
21 JUDGE RIAD: Would the interpreter please say
22 question and answer. Sometimes we don't know who was
23 speaking. Thank you.
24 MR. NOBILO:
25 Q. In Novi Travnik, let us repeat, was there any
1 fighting between units of the BH army and the Croatian
2 Defence Council?
3 A. No.
4 Q. Next document, please.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Document 304, 304A for the
6 French version, 304B for the English version.
7 MR. NOBILO:
8 Q. I will read a part of this operative report
9 issued by the command of the Viteska Brigade on the
10 18th of April, 1993, at 1845 addressed to the command
11 of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia. And it says:
12 "At 1730 minutes, a terrible explosion occurred whose
13 exact location can still not be determined, but it
14 happened between the municipal enterprise Vitkom and
15 the store, Borac. According to data at our disposal
16 and the strength of the detonation, most probably there
17 was an explosives warehouse in one of the houses in the
18 immediate proximity of the store. Because fierce
19 battles were being waged at that time, it can be
20 assumed that the warehouse was hit by a mortar shell,
21 which activated the explosives. On the basis of the
22 intensity of the explosion, one can conclude that it
23 was a matter of a large quantity of explosives. We
24 have no information about any casualties, but one can
25 already affirm that huge damage was incurred. I cannot
1 see the name of the operations officer on duty."
2 Tell us, Brigadier, did you receive this
3 operative report on the 18th of April at 1845 hours
4 from the Viteska Brigade?
5 A. Yes, and I remember the contents.
6 Q. Is this a faithful copy of the original
7 report you received?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Thank you. Do you know anything about this
10 explosion that is referred to in this report?
11 A. As far as I am aware, this explosion occurred
12 a little earlier than this report was written, a day or
13 two before then. And the place where it occurred was
14 inaccessible for HVO units because it was a place in no
15 man's land between HVO and BH army forces, so that we
16 were not able to establish on the spot the scope of the
17 damage as a result of the explosion. And also my
18 duties in the command on the 16th, 17th and 18th did
19 not give me time to think about this or to analyse this
20 particular event in any detail.
21 Q. Thank you.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, have you finished
23 with this document?
24 MR. NOBILO: Yes, yes.
25 JUDGE JORDA: In that case we shall have a
1 break and adjourn until ten past four.
2 --- Recess taken at 3.42 p.m.
3 --- On resuming at 4.17 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Have
5 the accused brought in, please.
6 (The accused entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, please continue.
8 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. We
9 can now start with a new document.
10 THE REGISTRAR: Document D305, D305A for the
11 English version.
12 MR. NOBILO:
13 Q. Brigadier, we have seen the preparatory order
14 issued by the commander to the brigade in Kiseljak on
15 the 17th of April. We saw the executive combat order
16 sent to Kiseljak by the commander, also on the 17th of
17 April. Now we're going to read the regular combat
18 report coming from Kiseljak on the 18th of April as of
19 1000 hours. It is addressed to the command of the
20 Central Bosnia Operative Zone, and it says:
21 "1) Enemy. A) Chetniks. There are no
22 actions within the zone of responsibility of the HVO
23 and Croatian villages, but Koscan has been attacked
24 severely with artillery. A lot of houses are on fire
25 in Bukovica. B) Muslim armed forces, MOS forces which
1 are fulfilling their tasks in the village of Gomionica,
2 are under attack. They are mostly using snipers. A
3 large number of troops have left Gomionica and pulled
4 out towards the village of Stojkovici.
5 2) Our forces: Tasks are being carried out
6 according to orders. We have reached Mlava," which is
7 a river. "Fierce fighting is ongoing. We are using
8 artillery and anti-air defence as support. Jahovac,
9 Gromljak, as far as Mlava and Palez, have been
10 disarmed. We have wounded men. We are continuing with
11 the execution of our tasks. We have received zip from
12 the Fojnica Battalion. Everything is ready. They are
13 asking for negotiations. At this moment, the UNPROFOR
14 has come to the commander.
15 3) Suggestions: None.
16 4) Requests: Send us reports on situations
17 in the zones of responsibility of other brigades."
18 Signed, "Officer on Duty, Mato Lucic."
19 Tell us, Brigadier, is this a faithful copy
20 of the report you received from Kiseljak, and how did
21 it reach you?
22 A. We received the report from Kiseljak by
23 Packet link. This is a faithful copy of the original.
24 I remember the contents. I know Mr. Mato Lucic
1 MR. NOBILO: We will distribute another
2 document, and then we will say a few words about the
3 events of the day in Kiseljak.
4 THE REGISTRAR: Document D306, D306A for the
5 English version.
6 MR. NOBILO:
7 Q. Document D306 is another report coming from
8 Kiseljak with the same date, the 18th of April, 1993,
9 and the time is 1645 hours. It is addressed to the
10 commander, Tihomir Blaskic, by the brigade commander,
11 Mijo Bozic. The subject heading is "Report. The
12 situation is as follows: The conflict has spread to
13 the villages of Rotilj, Visnjica, Doci, Hrcezi, and
14 Brestovsko. We have lost Zavrtaljka. We did not
15 manage to handle Gomionica, but we did take around 1
16 kilometre on both sides around Gomionica. Heavy
17 fighting is in progress.
18 We have had three killed and four wounded.
19 The number of missing is unknown."
20 Brigadier, did you receive this document on
21 the 18th of April from Kiseljak?
22 A. Yes. We received this document from
23 Kiseljak. This is a faithful copy of the original.
24 The document was received by Packet link, and I know
25 the brigade commander in person.
1 Q. On that day, the 18th of April, one report
2 was received at 10.00, another one at 1645 hours.
3 Outside the facts mentioned in these reports, do you
4 have any other recollections about events in Kiseljak
5 municipality or was your knowledge limited to the facts
6 indicated in these two reports?
7 A. All we knew about events in Kiseljak was what
8 was written in these two reports.
9 Q. Were these reports linked to the orders
10 received from you on the 17th of April, the previous
11 day, therefore?
12 A. Yes.
13 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Let us proceed to
14 the next document, please.
15 THE REGISTRAR: Document D307, D307A for the
16 French version, D307B for the English version.
17 MR. NOBILO:
18 Q. Brigadier, I will read document D307,
19 actually, a report by the Viteska Brigade of the 18th
20 of April at 0600 hours, and the heading is:
21 "Operations Report for the period between 0000 and
22 0600 hours. During the night, there were almost no
23 combat activities. We were constantly under
24 intermittent fire from infantry weapons.
25 In the second part of the night, it was
1 observed that Muslim forces were regrouping in all
2 parts of the municipality where their forces are
3 concentrated, and new arrivals of Muslim forces from
4 Zenica were registered, and they are being taken into
5 the regions of Preocica, Brda and Zabilje.
6 During the night, the Muslim population from
7 the village of Donja Veceriska was evacuated in the
8 direction of Bila, Han-Bila. They were evacuated
9 through the mediation of UNPROFOR.
10 In the early morning hours, to be more
11 precise, at 0555 hours, Muslim forces attacked the
12 Croatian population in the village of Divjak. The
13 attack was launched from infantry weapons and three
14 civilians were wounded.
15 Our forces did not open fire and did not
16 respond to provocations by Muslim forces, but, instead,
17 they further fortified the positions taken in
18 accordance with orders from the superior command.
19 Operations Duty Officer, signed," and it doesn't say by
21 Brigadier, is this a faithful copy of the
22 operations report that reached the headquarters at
23 about 600 hours on the 18th of April?
24 A. Yes. I remember the report and its
25 contents. The command of the Viteska Brigade was far
1 removed from the headquarters of the Operative Zone, so
2 these messages reached us by messenger. Here, we do
3 not have the stamp of the communications centre. So
4 when we come across a report of this kind, it meant
5 that it was carried by messenger to our headquarters.
6 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Next document,
8 THE REGISTRAR: Document D308, D308A for the
9 French version, and D308B for the English version.
10 MR. NOBILO:
11 Q. This is another operations report of the
12 Viteska Brigade on the 18th of April, but now at 8.30
13 hours. The duty officer of the Viteska Brigade has
14 sent it, and it says: "This morning, on the 18th of
15 April, 1993, we have, again, received information on
16 incomprehensible actions by Muslim extremists.
17 According to information from our citizens,
18 who managed to flee their frenzied neighbours, informed
19 us that Muhamed Sivro arrested Marica Kristo, Anto
20 Kristo (taxi driver), his wife and his sister. All the
21 prisoners are from Poculica who fled towards Krizancevo
22 Selo after fierce attacks by Muslim forces.
23 The reason for this arrest, as we have
24 learned, was the alleged disappearance of Muhamed
25 Sivro's son. His son is a soldier in the Muslim
1 forces, and we have established that he was not among
2 those taken captive. This was most probably nothing
3 more than a justification for the incomprehensible
5 The prisoners have been "accommodated" in
6 rooms in the cellar of Muhamed's house where the
7 conditions are intolerable. In this part of Kruscica
8 in the region of Crna Kuca, two Croatian families, who
9 did not manage to pull out, along with our unit located
10 in Lovac, stayed behind.
11 These are the families of Sinisa Jozic (wife
12 and two children) and Jozo Kalemba and his wife. There
13 are indications that they are being held in," and,
14 again, this is hard to read, "a house."
15 We can't really read what it says. "We
16 believe that representatives of UNPROFOR, UNHCR, and
17 Red Cross should be immediately informed about this.
18 Duty Officer of the Viteska Brigade."
19 Brigadier, is this a faithful copy of the
20 operations report of the Viteska Brigade of 830 hours?
21 A. Yes. I remember the report and its contents,
22 and it reached us by courier, like the previous report.
23 Q. These private arrests, were they typical of
24 those times and those areas in the Lasva Valley? We
25 see that Muhamed Sivro believes that the Croats
1 arrested their son, and so he, in return, arrested some
2 Croats, probably for the purpose of exchange. Was this
3 typical for both sides?
4 A. Such an event fully reflects the situation
5 that prevailed in the Lasva Valley during the war
6 between the BH army and the HVO in the Vitez and
7 Busovaca municipalities. There were several such
8 incidents, and we can see from this report, there was
9 such behaviour by BH army members, but similar such
10 actions taken by members of the HVO.
11 Q. These terms "private arrests, private
12 exchanges," were these terms regularly in use in those
14 A. Yes. There were such occurrences on both the
15 side of the BH army and the HVO. I wish to point out
16 that the village of Poculica had no HV units in it but,
17 rather, BH army units. Those arrested were living in
18 that village. So there wasn't any conflict, but an
19 arrest did occur for the reasons that the duty officer
20 has given in this report from the Viteska Brigade.
21 THE REGISTRAR: The next document is D309,
22 D309A for the French version, D309B for the English
24 MR. NOBILO:
25 Q. Brigadier, this document consists of a single
1 line, and it says: "Urgent to Operative Zone in
2 Central Bosnia. This morning around 5.30, the
3 headquarters had been attacked from three directions.
4 We are surrounded. Commander Vinko Baresic." It was
5 received on packet. It was received on the 18th of
6 April. Can you also tell me whether you recall this
7 message? Can you refresh your memory? Who is Vinko
9 A. I recall this message. It was received
10 through the packet radio communications. This is a
11 copy of the original. It was received on the 18th of
12 April at 0608 hours. Commander Baresic replaced the
13 abducted Zivko Totic, who was commander of the Jure
14 Francetic Brigade in Zenica. He was in the village of
15 Cajdras. Let me show it to you.
16 Q. What municipality was this in?
17 A. This was in the municipality of Zenica. Both
18 the command and the members of the HVO units are
19 completely surrounded. This is in the village of
20 Cajdras which has a majority Croatian population.
21 Q. This is the command of the HVO brigade in
23 A. Yes, it is. The very brief wording of the
24 report speaks of the difficult situation in which the
25 commander and his unit had found themselves in.
1 MR. NOBILO: Very well. Next document,
3 THE REGISTRAR: Document D310, D310A for the
4 French version, D310B for the English version.
5 MR. NOBILO:
6 Q. Very well. The Viteska Brigade command at
7 1300 hours, and the date is not given, but in
8 handwriting was added "18 April, 1993," sends a report
9 to the Central Bosnia Operative Zone command in Vitez.
10 Again, the body of text is hardly legible, but here it
11 is: "Provocations and attacks by extremist Muslim
12 forces have continued during the day. Croatian houses
13 have been looted and destroyed and the elderly people,
14 women, and children who are exhausted have been taken
15 in an unknown direction. During the day today, 20 to
16 25 Croatian citizens, mostly children, women, and
17 elderly, were arrested in the Grbavica village and
18 taken in an unknown direction.
19 The precise number of those arrested cannot
20 been established because these Croatian houses were,
21 for the most part, located in the village of Grbavica,
22 which is populated mostly by Muslims. The Muslim
23 extremists continue to realise their sinister plans,
24 especially prominent have been sniper activities which
25 are destroying anything that moves throughout the
1 territory of the municipality.
2 The Muslim forces are also still in the
3 process of regrouping. New forces from outside the
4 region are being brought in. A unit of Muslim forces
5 was observed moving from the village of Opara in Novi
6 Travnik along the Has area -- this is probably some
7 kind of mistake -- towards Vitez where they intend to
8 join with the Muslim forces with the villages of
9 Vranska and Kruscica.
10 Last night, one of our members, Josip
11 Livancic, was killed in the Kuber area while Jako
12 Opacak is considered missing and is now believed to
13 have been killed. Our forces are still holding the
14 defence positions under firm control and are not
15 allowing the further advance of Muslim forces. Morale
16 among our soldiers is good," and it was signed by the
17 brigade duty officer, Ivan Sucic.
18 Brigadier, do you recall this document? Is
19 this copy a true reflection of the original?
20 A. Yes, it is. I do know Ivo Sucic, the brigade
21 duty officer, and this is his signature.
22 Q. The text is self-explanatory, but I want to
23 draw your attention to the snipers. Were snipers a
24 serious problem on that day and could you tell us
25 something more about the activities of snipers in the
1 Lasva River Valley?
2 A. The sniper activities in the Lasva River
3 Valley in the period we are concerned with was the
4 strongest in the Vitez area which was controlled by the
5 HVO units in the villages of Krcevine. We had
6 significant losses through these activities, both in
7 Krcevine, the town of Vitez, and at Grbavica. I can
8 recall some names, names of persons who were killed by
9 such snipers. For instance, Franjo Nakic's mother,
10 Franjo Nakic was chief of staff. And then a person
11 called Dzambas who was from the unit which came in
12 support to the brigade at Krcevine. A member of the
13 command was killed by sniper. Mr. Borislav Josic,
14 whose report we read here, he was killed in the town of
15 Vitez by sniper fire. Those are the details that I
17 Q. Brigadier, did the snipers operate from Stari
18 Vitez, from old Vitez, and which units did it belong
20 A. When I talked about these snipers in Vitez, I
21 was referring to the old Vitez which was under the
22 control of the BH army. So they were operating in the
23 direction of the town of Vitez and were targeting
24 civilians who were in the area controlled by the HVO.
25 All this was at a distance of about 100 metres, so this
1 sniper fire was very efficient.
2 Also, in the case of Grbavica, which was
3 populated partly by Croats, and also in the village of
4 Krcevine, where there were lines held by both the BH
5 army and the HVO, so the sniper fire was used
6 especially where the demarcation lines were very close
7 to one another. In all these three locations, the
8 demarcation lines were less than 100 metres away from
9 one another. So you had the BH army soldiers on the
10 one side and the HVO soldiers on the other side, and
11 they were in places less than 100 metres away from one
12 another. So this sniper fire was very efficient.
13 Q. Brigadier, can you tell me about Vitez? Were
14 civilians or the soldiers more -- were more casualties
15 amongst civilians than amongst soldiers?
16 A. The civilians were targeted much more, and
17 there were much more casualties of the sniper fire. I
18 also know that in Grbavica, some children were
19 targeted. They were coming back from the Sunday mass,
20 from church, and they were targeted.
21 Q. How about the Town of Vitez, did you have to
22 pull a string across the street and cover it with
23 blankets so that citizens could pass through?
24 A. Yes, we had to put such protective walls. We
25 had to put them up from the region of the primary
1 school along Tromnice, which is the region separating
2 the village of Komasin (phoen), or rather locally known
3 as the village of Marica. And the section of Old Vitez
4 called Mahala because it was the only path we had
5 available if we wanted to go towards Novi Travnik.
6 Because sniper fire was very dangerous for the main
7 road as well, which was under the HVO control and I'll
8 try to show here. Here is Vitez and the main road.
9 The blue line is the Lasva River. And the road was
10 built here. It's along the river. So from Old Vitez,
11 snipers targeted anyone who passed along this road
12 regardless of whether they were civilians or soldiers.
13 Also, throughout the war the sniper fire was
14 used all the time from Sivrino Selo and the Vitez
15 Kaonik Road was targeted there. And a number of people
16 were killed by this sniper fire. I will try to recall
17 who these people were. For instance, the chief of the
18 civilian police was one among them.
19 Q. Was there a big canvass which was stretched
20 in the street?
21 A. Yes. And it was there until the day of the
22 Washington Accord, so it was there for a full year.
23 MR. NOBILO: Very well, let's move on to the
24 next document, please.
25 THE REGISTRAR: Document D311, D311A for the
1 French version, D311B for the English version.
2 MR. NOBILO:
3 Q. The next report is from the Zenica HVO. This
4 is also from 18 April, 1545 minutes. And it says:
5 "Military secret, urgent, urgent." So underscored
6 urgent. "Through their aggression, political deceit
7 and deceased in the media. The Muslim force have
8 managed to instil anxiety and fear in a great number
9 of our members. A very complex tactical position of
10 our units is a loss contributed to this. Personnel
11 from the 3rd Battalion of the Second Brigade has
12 already agreed to an agreement with the Muslim forces
13 and the frightened population on the territory of the
14 1st and the 3rd Brigade will most probably accept
16 In the Jure Franatic Brigade, the 1st
17 Battalion with about 100 armed troops is controlling
18 the region around the village of Cajdras as follows:
19 The intersection Cajdras, Paljike, Serusa, Strpci,
20 Osredak, Jezero, Tomnice. It is very hard to hold such
21 a long line with only 200 weapons. The 2nd and 3rd
22 Battalions are under siege and will most probably
24 At the time of this writing this report, I
25 received information that the Muslim radio is inviting
1 the refugees to return to their homes and the HVO was
2 given an ultimatum to surrender their weapons by 1800
3 hours. This announcement, this decree, has completely
4 shaken the morale of the remaining soldiers. The
5 troops from Zmajevac are abandoning their positions."
6 And there is an illegible word. "And this will put the
7 village of Cajdras in a very difficult position. Some
8 other officers and myself do not want to surrender. If
9 we were to surrender, I am sure that we would be
10 executed. If it should come to it that the army does
11 surrender, please request our transfer to Vitez or
12 Busovaca through the auspices of UNPROFOR. Here in
13 Cajdras, I saw Colonel Stewart who was willing to do
14 this. It would, therefore, be good if two of his
15 armoured personnel carriers could be here tonight.
16 Please send us urgent instructions what to do.
17 Commander Vinko Baresic."
18 Brigadier, is this photocopy a faithful copy
19 of the original which you received on 18 April at 1545
20 from Zenica?
21 A. Yes, I know Vinko Baresic. This report was
22 received through Packet radio link and it speaks of a
23 very, very difficult situation in Cajdras on that day.
24 Q. Next report, please.
25 THE REGISTRAR: Document D312, D312A for the
1 French version and Document D312B for the English
3 MR. NOBILO:
4 Q. Brigadier, this is the report of 18 April,
5 1993 of 1600 hours sending central Bosnia Operative
6 Zone command in Vitez. There is no name, just the
7 signature and it's the operations report. "During the
8 afternoon hours yesterday the enemy continued with
9 activities from the Muslim bases mentioned earlier and
10 snipers kept up continuous activity throughout the
11 municipality. The current situation on the defence
12 line is as follows: First, in the Kuber region our
13 defenders are firmly holding the fortified positions.
14 There has been no major combat activity, but an ever
15 larger regrouping of the enemy forces has been
16 observed. We, therefore, need greater support from the
17 HVO Busovaca to assist our defenders in halting enemy
19 2) In the Gornij Santici Mahala hamlet there
20 is heavy fighting against far superior Muslim forces
21 who have intensified their attacks from the region of
22 Strpci and Bresce. The villages of Santici, and
23 Dubrava Dubravica are under constant fire by Muslim
24 forces from the villages of Sivrino Selo and Sirotici.
25 We therefore need support of the multiple rocket
1 launchers in order to try to neutralise the most
2 exposed fired positions in the village of Sivrino Selo
3 and thus halt the activities of the Muslim forces.
4 The defence lines on the stretch Krizanicevo
5 Selo, Krcevine and Jardol remain unchanged and there
6 are no major combat activities with the exception of
7 occasional acts of provocation by the Muslim forces
8 from small arms weapons.
9 4) In the region of Divjak and Bila, our
10 population is exposed to constant shelling and sniper
11 fire from the region of Grbavica. So the move by
12 members of the UN to block our areas in a direction and
13 prevent us from retaliating against the enemy is
14 baffling. It is necessary to send a protest, an urgent
15 protest to the UN forces regarding this behaviour and
16 request of them to treat the Muslim forces and this and
17 other areas in the same way.
18 5) The region of Kruscica continues to be
19 under attack from Muslim forces from the villages of
20 Vranjska and Gornij Rovna. Negotiations are in
21 progress and we are awaiting results.
22 6) There is no information from the Brda
23 Zabilje villages since communications with this area
24 have broken down completely. We have requested the UN
25 to visit the region and protect the population from a
1 massacre by the extremist Muslim forces. We have
2 received information that two more defenders have lost
3 their lives and several civilians were wounded.
4 Something is illegible and it probably means that the
5 casualties of the enemy are not known." And it is
6 stamped and signed.
7 Now, Brigadier, do you know, is this a
8 faithful copy of the original which we received on 18
9 April at 1600 hours?
10 A. Yes, I recall this report. I recalled
11 receiving it. I remember its contents. All the
12 underlined parts shows that we analysed this report and
13 it has the stamp of the Viteska Brigade.
14 Q. Yesterday we read and today we have had a
15 number of reports. Can you tell me, Brigadier, did you
16 have any offensive attacks in those days in April of
17 1993 or do these reports truthfully reflect the
18 situation in which you found yourself?
19 A. In these days, from 16th to 18th April, the
20 HVO units did not undertake any offensive operations
21 because we had no forces to use them in such a way. We
22 were defending ourselves and these reports all reflect
23 the situation that the HVO units were in and the
24 circumstances under which the Operative Zone command
25 worked under.
1 Q. The locations that are mentioned here, are
2 they the sector that we referred to before the break?
3 So we don't have to show them again.
4 A. Yes, the operations officer on duty has
5 adjusted his report to the order he received on the
6 establishment of sectors so as to describe in detail
7 the situation in each sector and each village within
8 the sector.
9 Q. Let us proceed to the next report, please.
10 THE REGISTRAR: Document 313, 313A for the
11 French version, B for the English version.
12 MR. NOBILO:
13 Q. Now we have a report from the Busovaca
14 Brigade and the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade on the
15 18th of April, 1993, at 1800 hours to the central
16 Bosnia Operative Zone command in Vitez. Text: "The
17 situation in the zone of responsibility of the Zrinski
18 Brigade has remained unchanged since our last report.
19 The Muslim forces continue with their combat activities
20 on our positions in the region of Kuber and the
21 villages of Barin Donja Rovna. An anti-air machine gun
22 fired from the region of Crna onto our positions in the
23 Strane village. At 1750 hours an entire heavy attack
24 was launched by Muslim forces on our positions. There
25 were no casualties. All defence lines continued to be
1 quite stable and the morale of soldiers and the
2 logistic support are satisfactory. There are no other
3 observations." Signed "operations officer on duty." I
4 can't read very well his name. I think it's Rajic.
5 Tell us, Brigadier, do you recognise this
6 report? Did it reach your headquarters on the 18th of
7 April and is this a faithful copy of the original?
8 A. I do remember the report and its content.
9 This is a faithful copy of the contents of the report
10 that reached us from the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade.
11 It reached us by Packet link.
12 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Next document,
14 THE REGISTRAR: This is document D314, 314A
15 for the French version, 314B for the English version.
16 MR. NOBILO:
17 Q. It's a report on the implementation of Order
18 No. 01-4-323/93. Dated April 18, 1993, from Busovaca.
19 Let me repeat in any case. It is a report from the
20 Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade dated 18 April, 1993, and
21 it has to do with the implementation of Order No.
22 01-4-323/93 addressed to the command of the Central
23 Bosnia operative zone in Vitez and it reads: "Further
24 to your Order No. 01-4-323/93 of 17 April, 1993, we
25 would like to report to you the following: We
1 immediately issued to all our units an order reference
2 No. 774/93 on 17th of April, 1993 at 2100 hours.
3 1) The combat readiness of the Zrinski
4 Brigade has been raised to the highest level of
6 2) All recreation privileges for soldiers
7 have been cancelled and all absence forbidden.
8 3) All available forces are engaged in combat
9 against the onslaughts on our forces by Muslim
11 4) Entrenchment has been carried out on all
12 defence lines in order to organise the defence from the
13 enemy as efficiently as possible.
14 Last night was relatively quiet in the zone
15 of responsibility of our Brigade. The enemy was
16 provoking from infantry weapons and all defence lines.
17 Our units did not respond to the provocations. There
18 were no casualties. Brigade Commander, Dusko
20 My first question, Brigadier, is this a
21 faithful photocopy of the original report you received
22 from Busovaca on the 18th of April, 1993?
23 A. Yes, we received the document by Packet link
24 from the command of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade
25 and it is a report on the implementation of the order
1 issued by the commander of the Operative Zone to
2 brigade commanders and the actions that are taken by
3 the brigade can be seen from the content of the report.
4 Q. Is that the order of the commander of the
5 Operative Zone regarding the abolition of rest and
6 recreation and leave of absence and the raising of
7 combat readiness?
8 A. Yes, this order also meant carrying out a
9 general mobilisation of all able-bodied men capable of
11 Q. Let us look at the heading which has
12 reference to a number. So let us try and explain to
13 the Court how this reference number was formed in the
14 command of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone?
15 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, we can see from
16 this number the following: That this reference number
17 of documents consists of the following: 01 is an
18 indication that the document comes from the commander
19 of the Operative Zone. Four, the second number, is an
20 indication of the month. 323 is the number from the
21 files. Slash 93 indicates that the document was
22 drafted in 1993.
23 Q. Tell me, this number, which is mentioned in
24 the report of the Busovaca Brigade because the Brigade
25 is referring to it, it is the number of the commander
1 of the Operative Zone. Were only orders filed under
2 this number or all documents signed or issued by the
3 commander Tihomir Blaskic?
4 A. This number 01 was placed on all documents
5 signed by the commander of the Operative Zone of
6 Central Bosnia, at the time Colonel Tihomir Blaskic.
7 Q. My colleague has indicated in yellow the
8 number we are referring to. And that is the code used
9 by Colonel Blaskic. But, tell me, let us look at the
10 number of the Busovaca Brigade. That number does not
11 apply the same system of numbering. It could have had
12 0304 or something. It just has a reference number,
13 slash 93. This number has now been coloured in
14 orange. What does it mean?
15 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, we can see from
16 this that in the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia,
17 there was no standardised procedure for marking
18 documents with a reference number. Therefore, in the
19 Operative Zone command we applied this system. As for
20 the command of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade, it
21 used an entirely different system as can be seen from
22 their reference number, which means there was no
23 standard. And this is also an illustration of the
24 level of development of the HVO organisational
1 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, just for the sake
2 of clarification, don't answer straight away. Are you
3 wishing to tell us when did this system of numbering
4 begin? It is not urgent that you give me the answer
5 today. For example, the organisation in October, 1992,
6 there was simply the date and the signature of Colonel
7 Blaskic. You don't have to answer me now, I should
8 just like a clarification, when did this system begin
9 to be applied 01-4 and so on? But I am not asking you
10 to answer it straight away.
11 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, I don't know
12 because I wasn't there, but I can ask the witness or
13 someone else.
14 JUDGE JORDA: I wasn't there either, so I am
15 asking you to assist us.
16 THE REGISTRAR: The next document is D315,
17 315A for the French version and 315B for the English
19 MR. NOBILO:
20 Q. Brigadier, we have another report from the
21 Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade from Busovaca, dated 18th
22 of April, 1993, but at 2200 hours. And since we had
23 several reports on the same day, I am not going to read
24 it. The document speaks for itself. Their Honours
25 will read it. Just tell us whether this photocopy is a
1 faithful copy of the original document that reached the
2 Operative Zone command after 2200 hours on the 18th of
4 A. Yes, it reached us by Packet and it was
5 received by the command of the Operative Zone.
6 MR. NOBILO: Next document, please.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Document D316, D316A for the
8 French version, D316B for the English version.
9 MR. NOBILO:
10 Q. We have a document of the main headquarters
11 of the HVO in Mostar, dated the 18th of April, 1993,
12 addressed to the Operative Zones of Central Bosnia,
13 Bosanska Posavina, Northwest Herzegovina, and Southeast
14 Herzegovina. The subject heading is: "Cessation of
15 Hostilities Between the BiH Army and the HVO. Order:
16 On the basis of the conclusions reached after talks
17 between Mr. Mate Boban and Mr. Alija Izetbegovic, which
18 took place on the 18th of April, 1993 in Zagreb, and in
19 accordance with point 3 of the agreement, I hereby
21 1) All HVO units shall immediately cease
22 hostilities with the BH army units.
23 2) The exchange of prisoners, both solders
24 and civilians, shall start immediately.
25 3) The wounded shall be cared for, regardless
1 of which forces they belong to.
2 4) Reliable information shall be gathered
3 concerning the protagonists of the conflict, the
4 expulsion of the civilian population, the killing of
5 captured soldiers and civilians, the torching of houses
6 and other buildings.
7 5) Contact shall be established with the BH
8 army command, asking them to implement the same order.
9 6) All HVO units shall be familiarised with
10 this order.
11 Chief of Staff of the HVO Main Headquarters,
12 Brigadier Milivoj Petkovic."
13 Brigadier, did you receive this order on the
14 18th of April, 1993 in the headquarters of the
15 Operative Zone?
16 A. Yes. That can be seen from the stamp of the
17 communications centre. It reached us by packet.
18 Q. Could you tell us, in view of the fact that
19 you knew Colonel Blaskic, could it be possible for him
20 not to implement a command of the chief of staff of the
21 main headquarters?
22 A. That could never happen. As far as I
23 remember, on the basis of this order, we issued our own
24 order for all subordinate commanders. General Blaskic
25 carried out orders of the chief of staff of the main
1 headquarters, to the letter, as they were issued.
2 MR. NOBILO: My client is telling me that
3 "HV" has been entered in this transcript, and the
4 whole text has to do with the HVO, the Croatian Defence
5 Council, not the HV. May that be corrected, please?
6 Q. Tell us, Brigadier, we've been talking about
7 the 18th. We've been dwelling, at some length, on the
8 18th. Could you tell us, on this map, where the places
9 of conflict were on the 18th of April, to the best of
10 your recollection?
11 We will distribute the maps in the meantime.
12 Just wait a moment for us to do that.
13 THE REGISTRAR: The map bears the number
15 MR. NOBILO:
16 Q. Before we proceed with a viewing of this map,
17 you mentioned that, on the basis of the order you
18 received from Petkovic, you issued a new order.
19 MR. NOBILO: I should like to ask my
20 colleague, Hayman, to read that order and distribute
21 it, because it was issued originally in the English
22 language, among others, in English and Croatian. We
23 only have a signed and stamped English language
25 Could this document be distributed too,
2 THE REGISTRAR: This is document D318.
3 MR. HAYMAN: The document is titled "The
4 Cease-Fire Between the HVO and ABiH Units, Vitez, April
5 18, 1993," and is addressed to "Commanders of all HVO
6 Units in Operative Zone Middle Bosnia, UNPROFOR,
7 BRITBAT Commander Colonel Robert Stewart, European
8 Monitoring Mission, 3rd Corps ABiH Zenica. On the
9 basis of the orders given by the HVO head of staff,
10 Herceg office number," number is given, "dated April
11 18th, in order to completely, I command:
12 1) All the," appears to be, "subordinate HVO
13 units are to stop immediately all combat actions
14 against the units of the ABiH.
15 2) Exchange the detained soldiers and
16 civilians at" and then an illegible word.
17 "3) Take care of all the wounded, no matter
18 what army they belong to.
19 4) Gather the relevant data about the actors
20 of the conflict, the causes of banishing people,
21 murdering civilians and soldiers, burning houses and
22 other buildings.
23 5) Make contacts with ABiH commands and ask
24 for the adequate command to be given and obeyed
1 6) This command is to be presented to all the
2 subordinate HVO units. Signed, Commander Colonel
3 Tihomir Blaskic."
4 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
5 Q. Brigadier, will you please look at the stamp
6 and signature? Do you recognise the signature of
7 Colonel Blaskic?
8 A. Yes, I do. This is the signature of General
9 Blaskic. The stamp is of the Operative Zone command.
10 The document was drafted in the Operative Zone, and it
11 was drafted on the basis of the order we received from
12 the main headquarters of the HVO. Its contents shows
13 that all the activities and actions ordered by the
14 chief of staff of the HVO were passed on to our
15 subordinate units for implementation.
16 Q. Do you remember, Brigadier, whether this
17 document was also drafted in Croatian, as well as in
19 A. Yes. I remember that there was a Croatian
20 version of the document as well.
21 Q. If we have enough time in the next four
22 minutes that are left, if you could indicate on this
23 map of the 18th of April, 1993 --
24 MR. NOBILO: Could the registrar give me the
25 number of this map? The number is D317. Thank you.
1 Q. Could you indicate to us, on the 18th of
2 April, where were the areas of conflict between the HVO
3 and the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
4 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, on the 18th of
5 April, 1993, the fiercest clashes in the Lasva Valley,
6 that is, the municipalities of Busovaca, Vitez, and
7 Zenica, between HVO units and the BH army were in the
8 following places:
9 In the Zenica municipality, there's a place
10 called Cajdras. We saw, from the report of the Jure
11 Francetic Brigade in Zenica, what was happening there
12 and what the situation was in the village of Cajdras.
13 In the area of Kuber, and we are now talking
14 about the foothills of Kuber, the villages of Jelinak,
15 Putis, no longer on the mountain itself, because the BH
16 army had gained control of the mountain, but on the
17 slopes of that mountain near the road, there was fierce
18 fighting between HVO units and BH army units.
19 Then, also, Gornji Santici, this is a village
20 in the immediate vicinity of the village of Ahmici.
21 When we were referring to the 17th of April, a
22 front-line had been established there between the BH
23 army and the HVO.
24 In the region of Dubravica, between Poculica
25 and Dubravica, again, a front-line had been established
1 between the HVO and the BH army.
2 In Donja Veceriska, you saw the report that
3 UNPROFOR had evacuated the civilian population, that
4 is, the Muslims/Bosniaks from Donja Veceriska.
5 Then in the area of Divjak, which is a
6 locality next to Grbavica where BH units had
7 considerable forces, in the territory of Busovaca
8 municipality, the area of Gornja Rovna, and the village
9 of Bara, those would outline the places of conflict.
10 Let me now show you the places exposed to
11 heavy shelling on the 18th of April, 1993. The town of
12 Busovaca itself, the locality called Bara, Rovna. In
13 Rovna, part of the population were Bosniak Muslims in
14 Gornja Rovna, and in Donja Rovna were Croats. It was
15 exposed to shelling. Then Grbavica or, to be more
16 precise, this area of Divjak where the conflicts were,
17 and the inhabited area of Stara Bila, those would be
18 the most important localities which were under
19 shelling, fierce shelling, on the 18th of April.
20 In addition to these cases of shelling, I
21 have already reported on sniper fire activities which
22 continued to be most pronounced in the area of the town
23 of Vitez from Stari Vitez, where BH army units were
24 stationed, towards Vitez, where the HVO were situated,
25 and the villages along the road from Vitez to Kaonik,
1 and from Grbavica to inhabited areas of Stara Bila.
2 Q. Did you, yourself, make this map?
3 A. Yes, I did. We can see from the key, from
4 the legend, what it shows.
5 MR. NOBILO: Your Honour, Mr. President, if
6 this is a convenient time, we could adjourn now.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. We'll adjourn the
8 hearing and resume tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2.00 p.m.
9 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
10 5.30 p.m., to be reconvened on
11 Wednesday, the 30th day of September,
12 1998 at 2.00 p.m.