1 Monday, 16th November, 1998
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 3.48 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Have the
5 accused brought in, please.
6 (The accused entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: First of all, the Trial Chamber
8 would like to offer its apologies. This has been a
9 special day. Perhaps I might tell you that this delay
10 today will be made up for by the fact that there are
11 new Judges that have arrived, pursuant to the action
12 taken by the Security Council to accelerate our
14 First, good afternoon to the interpreters and
15 I'll be sure that everybody can hear me. Good
16 afternoon to the Prosecution and to the Defence and to
17 the accused. We can now resume.
18 Registrar, we're about to bring in a witness
19 who was not protected. I believe it was Mr. Mladen
21 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, the witness's name is
22 Mladen Holman.
23 JUDGE JORDA: And I believe Mr. Nobilo will
24 be conducting the examination; is that correct?
25 THE REGISTRAR: That's correct.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Let us have the witness brought
2 in, please.
3 (The witness entered court)
4 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Mladen Holman, do you hear
6 THE WITNESS: Yes.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. We're going
8 to resume with the direct examination conducted by the
9 Defence. Let me remind you that you are still under
11 Mr. Nobilo, please proceed.
12 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
13 WITNESS: MLADEN HOLMAN
14 Examined by Mr. Nobilo: (Cont'd)
15 Q. Mr. Holman, before we continue, let us try to
16 reach an agreement. Let us speak as slowly as we are
17 speaking now so that the interpreters could exactly
18 interpret what you and I wish this Court to hear.
19 Last time we talked about HOS. In two or
20 three sentences, we are going to repeat a few things in
21 order to refresh our memories; after all, eight days
22 have gone by.
23 Tell me, the HOS in Zenica was within the BH
24 army in 1992 until April 1993; is that correct?
25 A. Yes, that's correct.
1 Q. When did you decide, as a HOS unit, to
2 transfer from the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the
3 Croatian Defence Council?
4 A. After many incidents that occurred in Central
5 Bosnia with Muslim units, everything seemed to be
6 showing that there would be a clash between the Muslims
7 and the Croats, that is to say, between these two
8 components, that is, the BH army and the Croatian
9 part. There were various incidents in Central Bosnia;
10 however, the culmination came at the end of January
11 1993 when Croats in Central Bosnia were massacred in
13 Since then, we started giving serious thought
14 to transferring HOS units to the Croatian Defence
15 Council. One could see on the ground that our people
16 were in more and more trouble, that there was a great
17 danger looming over them. So these were the
18 fundamental motives that made us consider transferring
19 to the Croatian Defence Council.
20 There is a proverb in our language saying
21 that every bird flies to its own flock, and what does
22 that mean? That means that we are going to follow our
23 own people, and there is no other choice but to be with
24 our own people.
25 Q. We have to wait for the interpretation to be
1 over, and then to continue, we discussed this, and let
2 us go back to this: When was this decision made and
3 when was it carried out?
4 A. On the 5th of April, 1993, a decision was
5 reached for the HOS units to move to the Croatian
6 Defence Council. On the 10th of April, that is to say,
7 five days later, it was published or, rather, it was
8 broadcast on Zetel television and also a Bosnian
9 television broadcast that the HOS unit had transferred
10 to the HVO.
11 Q. Tell me, concerning this transfer, did you
12 inform your higher command, that is to say, the main
13 staff of HOS in Zagreb, and the president of the
14 Croatian Party of Rights, Mr. Paraga?
15 A. Well, we did inform them. We also sent
16 reports from the ground on the difficult situation on
17 the ground and the difficult position of the Croatian
18 people and their suffering.
19 Dobroslav Paraga was in Zagreb, and it was
20 very hard on him to receive such reports. So I had to
21 take the coordinator of his party for Bosnia and my
22 deputy, and I also had to take some newspapers along to
23 show how much the Croats in Bosnia were suffering,
24 especially in Central Bosnia.
25 I went there. The president, again,
1 protested when he heard this; however, the president of
2 the parties said, "Well, President, we have to
3 appreciate this because these people are coming from
4 the ground."
5 Q. All right. Tell me, on the 10th of April,
6 you made official this transfer, and sometime on the
7 16th of April, conflicts broke out between the army of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Croatian Defence Council in
9 Central Bosnia. Tell me, in those five days, did you
10 manage to fit into one of the brigades of the Croatian
11 Defence Council? Did you manage to carry out this
12 transformation fully, and did you manage to become an
13 organic part of the Croatian Defence Council?
14 A. My duty was to coordinate between the HOS and
15 the HVO in Zenica. We didn't manage to do a thing.
16 There were various ideas that were floating around but
17 basically we didn't manage to do a thing in terms of
18 restructuring the units.
19 Q. That is to say, you are saying that you did
20 not manage to carry out this transformation to become
21 part of one of the brigades of the Croatian Defence
22 Council; is that right?
23 A. We didn't have time, and we were not in a
24 hurry because we did not think that the Muslim forces
25 would hit us so fast, only after five days of this
2 Q. Now we are going to move on to the
3 reconstruction of your memories, from the 15th of
4 April, 1993 until the 18th of April, 1993, when you
5 were arrested and when you were taken to the Zenica
6 prison. Please try to remember, how did these
7 developments unfold? What left a particular lasting
8 impression on you as of the 15th of April, 1993?
9 A. Your Honours, on the 15th of April, I was
10 spending the night in a village by the town of Zenica.
11 I spent the night with relatives because I did not feel
12 safe in Zenica. Somebody banged at the door all of a
13 sudden, I was getting ready to go to the command
14 anyway, and as the door was banged, my wife opened the
15 door and a young man, about 25, wearing civilian
16 clothes told me that he just got out of a bus that he
17 was driving and that the commander of the brigade,
18 Mr. Zivko Totic, had just been abducted and all of his
19 escorts were killed.
20 Q. After receiving this information -- we're not
21 in a hurry, so let's take it one thing at a time.
22 After you received this information that
23 Totic was abducted and that his escorts were killed,
24 did you go there to the actual site and, if you did,
25 what did you see there?
1 A. Your Honours, I took my car, the vehicle I
2 used as the commander, and I went to the actual site
3 immediately. This was sometime around 8.00 in the
4 morning, give or take a few minutes, but it was around
6 I saw that vehicle there. I saw quite a few
7 people there. It was an ugly sight. This man did not
8 have half of his face or his eyes weren't there
9 anymore. They were hit in the head from automatic
10 rifles from a very short distance. I also saw two U.N.
11 monitors there. I noticed two investigating judges
12 from the Military Prosecutor's Office in Zenica. On
13 the other hand, my escorts came too. They had probably
14 heard about what had happened too, and they knew that I
15 went up there to spend the night.
16 Q. After this, what is the next piece of
17 information that attracted your attention on this day,
18 the 15th of April, 1993?
19 A. I went to the faculty of machine engineering
20 with my escorts, and that was part of our barracks
21 called Eugen Kvaternik, and the guards informed me
22 immediately that a Kombi van had hit the pharmacy
23 called the 12th of April, that something strange had
24 happened there, but they didn't want to react. They
25 didn't want to take any action outside the compound of
1 the military barracks, so they didn't react in any
3 I had already assumed what all of this was
4 about. I had thought that Commander Zivko Totic could
5 have been there, so I went to my office. In my office,
6 it was around noon, I made various telephone calls, and
7 around noon a man called me and said that his name was
8 Kristo, and I said, "Would you give me your full
9 name?" And he said, "No." He said that he was calling
10 from Bilivode or from that area, generally speaking,
11 and he said that MOS was attacking them, a MOS company,
12 roughly, that they were attacking them, and he wanted
13 to inform me about it.
14 Q. Who was the commander of this company of MOS
15 that was moving towards this man who had telephoned
17 A. Kristo probably belonged to HOS earlier on
18 but he didn't want to say so because he recognised
19 Kahriman Beco. "Beco" is a nickname. His real name
20 must be Becir, but "Kahriman" is definitely his name.
21 He recognised this company from the 7th Muslim unit,
22 and this Beco had taken his weapons from my HOS unit
23 and he joined the 7th Muslim unit. So according to our
24 intelligence reports, that's what the situation was.
25 Q. After this conversation, Tihomir Blaskic
1 called you from Vitez; is that correct?
2 A. Yes. At that time, the Colonel called me.
3 At that time, he was a Colonel.
4 Q. And what did he ask you? What was the
5 conversation about?
6 A. Mr. Blaskic asked me what was going on. He
7 said that there was lots of information, serious
8 information, coming in, that he was being bombed by
9 this information, so to speak, but he needed real
10 information to know what exactly was going on.
11 I told him what the situation was, that I
12 personally was there or, rather, that I saw the site
13 where this happened, where the commander of the brigade
14 was abducted, and that I received information that
15 Muslim forces are moving towards Zenica. I told him
16 what Kristo had told me on the phone.
17 In response, Mr. Blaskic told me that I
18 should send all the troops I could afford in the
19 direction of Kuber. I said that I would carry out this
20 order but that I did not have very many people.
21 Q. Just a minute, please. When Colonel Blaskic
22 told you to send men from the town of Zenica to Kuber,
23 could you please explain to the Court what Kuber is,
24 and also explain, why did he tell you to get your
25 forces out of Zenica and towards Kuber?
1 A. Your Honours, in Zenica, we were much, much
2 weaker than the Muslim forces. The BH army outnumbered
3 us. Mr. Blaskic knew this. Mr. Blaskic, as a
4 strategist, realised that who would take Kuber would
5 dominate the entire area because this would be a
6 distinct strategic and operational advantage in this
8 Q. Please tell the Court what Kuber is.
9 A. Well, Kuber is a hill. It's a plateau. It
10 is dominant. It dominates the area.
11 Q. Is Kuber in the direction of Vitez, viewed
12 from Zenica?
13 A. Kuber is in the direction of Vitez and
14 Busovaca. Busovaca is on the left-hand side and Vitez
15 is on the right-hand side, if you're standing in
17 Q. Do you agree with me that Kuber is the best
18 way of protecting any attacks on Vitez and Busovaca?
19 A. Yes, yes. Whoever holds this position
20 dominates the entire area.
21 Q. Tell me, at the request of Colonel Blaskic,
22 how many men did you send to Kuber? How many could you
23 rally together?
24 A. First of all, I should say that I wanted to
25 send as many men as possible. However, at that time,
1 after Blaskic's call, people came to me with their
2 jackets torn, with their insignia torn off. They were
3 trying to report to our barracks, and they told me that
4 certain Muslim units were tearing their jackets,
5 beating them up, taking their guns away from them,
6 tearing off their insignia, et cetera.
7 At that time, I could not get more than one
8 platoon. I didn't have any transportation either. On
9 the first occasion, I sent 15 men, and on the second
10 occasion, I sent 12 men. That is a total of 27, so it
11 is not even a full platoon.
12 Q. And all of this happened on the 15th of
13 April, 1993; right?
14 A. Yes, 1993.
15 Q. Tell me, you said that people came with their
16 sleeves torn off. Why were their sleeves torn off?
17 Who was tearing their sleeves off and for what reason?
18 A. The members of the Muslim units were tearing
19 their insignia off because these were Croatian
20 insignia. They were not HVO, but they were still HOS
21 insignia, and the Croatian coat of arms is on these
23 Q. Very well. Tell me, in town, were there any
24 movements of the BH army? Were there any new
25 checkpoints? What did the town of Zenica look like on
1 the 15th of April, 1993?
2 A. Well, I already said that, according to the
3 reports of these soldiers, these men who were coming in
4 and who were giving us reports by telephone, there were
5 some new points as well. The 7th Muslim unit held
6 under their control the bridge over the Bosna River.
7 On the other hand, the military police forces
8 controlled the other bridge on the outskirts of Zenica,
9 so it was very risky to move around town. You never
10 knew where you could get hurt. So we didn't really
11 walk around town.
12 Q. After you saw that the army of
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina had set up a series of checkpoints
14 at these strategic points in the town, as did the
15 Muslim police force, what did you personally do? Did
16 you set up checkpoints, yourself?
17 A. Well, I remember that the cinema, the central
18 one at the junction, that is where their main
19 checkpoint was located. We set up our own checkpoint
20 in order to protect the barracks at the Glinesti
21 (phoen) uphill street, which is the 20th of April
22 Street, and that is where we set up our checkpoint.
23 Q. On several occasions you mentioned the word
24 "barracks" or "bojadna." You said the Eugen Kvaternik
25 barracks. Tell me, please, were the forces lodged
1 there? Did they sleep there and live there or were
2 these barracks used for another purpose?
3 A. Well, the right wing of the machine
4 engineering faculty was the barracks, Eugen Kvaternik
5 barracks, and the right-hand side was used by us, the
6 staff and the administration. Only one platoon could
7 be lodged there, put up there. There was a large
8 courtyard where we held some of our ceremonies but only
9 one platoon could be situated there. There was enough
10 room for one platoon.
11 Q. And how many people does one platoon make up?
12 A. Thirty men.
13 Q. Tell me, on the 15th of April, 1993, at some
14 time in the evening, you disbanded the checkpoint that
15 you had set up. Why did you do this?
16 A. According to an agreement of the head of the
17 Croatian people in Zenica and the leaders of the Muslim
18 people, the two sides' leaders, and the U.N. observers
19 reached an agreement, and I was informed that at around
20 8.00 p.m. I should dismantle the checkpoints, that an
21 agreement had been reached of some kind and that
22 tensions should be reduced between the Croats and the
23 Muslims, and that is what I did.
24 I executed those orders, together with Vinko
25 Baresic, but I told Vinko Baresic on the occasion that
1 I would put this order into effect, but that our people
2 in Upper Zenica, that is to say, I had seen a little
3 earlier at about 3.00 p.m. and 5.00 p.m. that large
4 columns of refugees were moving in the direction of
5 Cajdras or Vitez and that they had attacked us.
6 Regardless of that, Vinko said, "Dismantle the
7 checkpoints," and I had to follow orders because Vinko
8 was my commanding officer at that time. He was
9 superior to me.
10 Q. All this took place on the 15th of April,
12 A. Yes, that's right, 1993.
13 Q. So on that day, at the end of the 15th of
14 April, you dismantled the checkpoints. Was it a quiet
15 night? Did you sleep normally?
16 A. After the information we received, I
17 remained, perhaps half an hour after 8.00 p.m., at the
18 headquarters. And two of the officers, one Croatian
19 and one Muslim officer, I told them that they should
20 take over the watch and take shifts because I was a
21 little tired. I gave them my telephone number where I
22 would be staying because I used some premises nearby,
23 and I went there and asked them to inform me if there
24 were any significant changes, and that is how the 15th
25 of April came to an end.
1 Q. When you saw this column of refugees,
2 civilians, what did you conclude? What place were they
3 coming from?
4 A. Looking at this from the barracks, and as
5 Mr. Blaskic had asked for the young men, they went up
6 an asphalt road, and I noticed from the direction of
7 the barracks there, that on my left-hand side, refugees
8 were coming in and that they were moving diagonally at
9 an angle of 45 degrees, which could have been in the
10 direction of Cajdras or Vitez.
11 Q. So that is the direction they were moving
12 from but could you tell us which place they were coming
13 from, where they were coming from?
14 A. I concluded that they were coming from the
15 left-hand side, which meant the upper regions of Zenica
16 and the villages in that area.
17 Q. Let us now move to the 16th of April, 1993.
18 On the 16th of April, you came to the 12th of April
19 Street once again, which is where your headquarters
20 were located, and what did you find when you got there?
21 A. When I returned to the headquarters and where
22 Travnik Street joins the 12th of April Street, I
23 noticed that shelters had been dug out with some steel
24 boulders, which had formerly served as railway lines,
25 and I immediately thought that the agreement was not
1 going according to plan and as I, myself, had been
2 informed. That is to say, we had dismantled the
3 checkpoints from the 12th of April Street, whereas they
4 had reinforced their points.
5 Q. When you say "they," do you have in mind the
6 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
7 A. Yes, I mean the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
8 and it was the 314th Motorised Brigade, which was
9 located nearest, and they had set up this checkpoint.
10 Q. Nonetheless, you entered your headquarters,
11 and could you now please tell the Trial Chamber, up
12 until noon, what did you see looking out from your
13 building? What did you see around the building and the
15 A. Well, we no longer had our checkpoints on the
16 streets. They had their own checkpoints, and I told my
17 men that they should view the situation from the floors
18 above to see what was happening in the vicinity. I,
19 myself, went up to one of the top floors and looked out
20 of a window into the courtyard of the machine
21 engineering faculty and towards the school of economics
22 where the 314th Motorised Brigade of the BH army was
23 located, and I saw that soldiers were running across
24 the road. From that, I was able to conclude that they
25 wanted to surround us, and I said to the two officers,
1 to the Croat and Muslim officers, that something like
2 that could happen and that I was going to try and go
3 out with an escort to try and escape from that
4 situation. And I told them that if they found that
5 this encirclement was becoming stronger, because all
6 this was in the suburbs of the town of Zenica, these
7 two streets are at the exit to the town of Zenica --
8 Q. Tell us, please, on the 16th of April, 1993,
9 you left your headquarters, together with your escorts,
10 and what was the situation that you encountered when
11 you left the building?
12 A. Well, Your Honours, going out of the
13 headquarters building moving along the 12th of April
14 Street, we moved two vehicles. We were moving very
15 slowly because, at those checkpoints, the members of
16 the BH army from the 314th Motorised Brigade were
17 already located there, and they had their rifles
18 pointed at us. My escorts from the vehicles had their
19 own rifles pointed at them, so we moved very slowly
20 using second gear. Any precipitous action or movement
21 could have meant a bullet which would have meant death
22 for either our side or their side, but we were in the
23 more difficult situation because they were sheltered.
24 So moving very slowly in this way, we reached
25 the junction into Travnicka Street, and it was a very
1 tense situation. It seemed as if time stood still, the
2 very air stood still, but we succeeded in emerging from
3 that situation, and I moved towards the suburbs of
4 Zenica and on towards the surrounding villages in the
5 western and southwesterly reaches. I wanted to see
6 what had happened to the HVO units, and I called them
7 previously but there was nobody to answer. Nobody
8 answered the telephone when I rang them. I was not
9 able to make any connection with them, and I had to see
10 what was happening behind my back, so to speak.
11 Am I speaking too quickly? Can you follow
13 Q. Well, you could slow down a little bit and
14 please stop between sentences. Well, we have
15 understood that you were not able to find the HVO
16 units. Did you come to realise that the BH army was,
17 in all practical terms, in control of the town?
18 A. When looking for the HVO units, the Zenica
19 HVO units, it was very difficult for me to find any
20 units of this kind. They were not even at their
21 reserve posts where we had agreed that they should be.
22 So moving around along the suburbs and the villages
23 surrounding the town, up in the hills, I encountered
24 two or five or eight, never more than ten, soldiers,
25 and I saw that there was something fishy, that
1 something was not quite right.
2 Q. When you say that you encountered three
3 soldiers or five soldiers, you're thinking of HVO
4 soldiers; is that right?
5 A. Yes, the HVO soldiers whom, in my view, were
6 not organised.
7 Q. Could you please tell the Trial Chamber
8 whether, in seeking and searching for the HVO soldiers,
9 you were able to move around freely or did you have to
10 do this secretly in a clandestine manner and very
12 A. I had to be very careful all the time because
13 I never knew when I would encounter a unit of the BH
14 army or, perhaps, that somebody would shoot at us from
15 one of the houses that we were passing. So in this
16 search and in using the backstreets, I went back down
17 to the 12th of April Street, moving across Travnicka
18 Street, and at dusk, I think that this was from the
19 machine engineering faculty, there was firing, a burst
20 of gunfire, on our vehicles. I think it came from the
21 direction of the university, and so we had to take
22 shelter in the backstreets. It was already dark, and I
23 told my escort that one man should remain with me and
24 that the others should go on ahead. It was already
25 dark and time was going by, and we decided not to move
1 around anymore because we didn't know what we would
3 Q. Thank you. Now let us go to the day before
4 the HVO had surrendered. Tell the Court, please,
5 briefly what happened to you? Were you able to make
6 contact with the HVO units and, if you did so, when?
7 When were you able to reach a larger concentration of
8 Croats and a larger HVO unit?
9 A. On the 17th in the morning, I moved towards
10 the right-hand side, that is to say, towards the
11 headquarters of the 6th Battalion, but I did not
12 encounter anybody, and I went back to the 12th of April
13 Street, which is where the military police unit was
14 located. And there was a sports ground there, and, in
15 fact, it was a school and a school sports ground, and
16 we parked our vehicles there and, if necessary, we saw
17 that we would be able to make a hasty retreat. In
18 fact, the same thing happened there, but they were able
19 to get a better target of us. When we left the
20 vehicle, I saw one bullet hit the asphalt road right by
21 my leg --
22 JUDGE JORDA: Could you go a little more
23 slowly, please? You're speaking very quickly. Thank
24 you very much.
25 MR. NOBILO:
1 Q. If you could, would you please speak more
2 slowly. I know that one's temperament gets the better
3 of one, but would you try to speak slowly and to make
4 pauses between sentences and between my question and
5 your answer. Thank you.
6 A. Your Honours, when I got out of the car, a
7 bullet hit the road by my leg, and I concluded that the
8 firing was coming from the machine engineering faculty
9 because the bullet came from the top, a higher up
10 region, down to the road and to where we were.
11 Q. Without going into the whole of that day,
12 tell us, please, when were you able to reach Vinko
13 Baresic, the commander, and the HVO unit, and where did
14 you find them? Where were they?
15 A. Once again, there were different manoeuvres,
16 and on that particular day, the 17th of April, I
17 succeeded in reaching the command of the Francetic
18 Brigade, and I found the commander, Vinko Baresic,
20 Q. The Francetic Brigade is an HVO Brigade, is
21 it not? Where was the command, in what village was
22 that located?
23 A. Yes. I managed to reach the village of
24 Podbrezje, and in the Vatrostalna company was where the
25 headquarters and the staff of the Jure Francetic
1 Brigade was located.
2 Q. The commander, during the absence of Zivko
3 Totic, was Vinko Baresic. What did Vinko Baresic tell
4 you? What was the situation like?
5 A. Well, when I came there, Vinko told me that
6 he was not able to make any connection with the units,
7 nor were they responding, replying, to set up defence
8 lines. He said that he was not able to contact
9 anybody. To make a long story short, he said that our
10 position was very bad and that he was not able to
11 organise the men in practice.
12 Q. This position of defence of the HVO in
13 Zenica, can we call it chaotic? Can we say that it was
15 A. Well, I told Vinko, and when I made my report
16 and everything that Vinko tried to do and organise, we
17 came to the conclusion that our position was very bad,
18 that is to say, that our situation was, indeed,
20 Q. At that particular time, you received
21 information that people were calling you from your own
22 headquarters. What did they tell you?
23 A. Yes, that's right. At the headquarters of
24 the Francetic Brigade, immediately after this talk,
25 they told me that they had been trying to reach me
1 throughout the day on the 17th of April, that they were
2 calling me from the Oganj Krotanik (phoen) barracks and
3 the command there and that they had been surrounded,
4 that they were surrounded, and that they had received
5 offers to surrender. I phoned them and they confirmed
7 Q. What did they say? Who had surrounded them
9 A. They said that they had been surrounded by
10 the 7th Muslim MOS Brigade and parts of the 314th or
11 one battalion called the Green Legion Battalion.
12 Q. The Green Legion and the 7th Muslim, were
13 they the most extremist part of the BH army forces?
14 A. The 7th Muslim and the Green Legion were,
15 quite certainly, the most extremist units in the army
16 of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
17 Q. So what did you do, faced with a situation of
18 this kind?
19 A. Your Honours, in making my way, using
20 different routes, and in reaching the Francetic
21 Brigade, I saw a lot of police military forces of the
22 BH army. I decided to take one of them prisoner, and I
23 set out from the Francetic headquarters with this
24 intention in mind in order to be able to gain the best
25 possible conditions for my men who had been captured.
1 Q. You use the term "military police forces,"
2 the Adustrija (phoen) forces. Was that the military
3 police or was it the civilian police that you wished to
4 take captive?
5 A. These military police forces, I was
6 acquainted with them while we were together. Before
7 the conflicts between the Croats and Muslims broke out,
8 they were the MUP forces but they also went up towards
9 the defence lines.
10 Q. But organisationally speaking, they
11 considered themselves to be the civilian police force?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Now, very briefly, what did you do faced with
14 a situation of that kind?
15 A. Well, a patrol came towards me of these
16 military police -- of these police forces, and I took
17 them captive. I captured them. I wanted to capture --
18 I captured two. I wanted to take more, and as it was a
19 question of time to save my men down below, I thought
20 that these two captured soldiers would give me enough
21 leeway to gain better conditions for my men, my
22 captured men.
23 Q. Who did you call and what did you agree upon?
24 A. Well, Your Honours, I called the head of the
25 security service, Mr. Asim Fazlic, and I called the
1 commander, the MUP commander, who was Fadil Jaganjac.
2 I said that I had taken two of their men captive and
3 that they should see that nothing bad was to happen to
4 my own men, to the members of my own unit, and that
5 nothing bad would happen to the policemen that I had
6 captured if he saw to it that my men were taken care
8 Q. What did you propose?
9 A. Well, had I had more men captive, I would
10 have suggested that they let my men go, and I would let
11 their men go. But as I had less men, and they were
12 holding 20 or 30 of my own men, together with the
13 administrative staff, I proposed that the MUP units,
14 that is to say, the military police forces, should take
15 over my own people because I was afraid that they would
16 fall into the hands of the 7th Muslim unit and the
17 Green Legion because, as I said, they were extremists,
18 and they could do many bad things to my own men.
19 They said that they would undertake measures
20 to see that my men were not harmed, and I said that I
21 had captured these two men.
22 Q. Well, we're going to speak about the
23 characteristics in the ethnic sense of your men later
24 on. So this exchange was successful and there were no
25 victims in your unit; is that correct?
1 A. That is correct. They surrendered themselves
2 to the MUP. Mr. Fazlic had reacted. They surrendered
3 themselves to the MUP and to the Green Legion, and I
4 gave these two policemen their vehicles back and their
5 guns, and I only kept their rifles. I said that if
6 there was no more fighting, I would give them back
7 their rifles. And when they brought me to trial as a
8 prisoner, they appeared as witnesses.
9 Q. So you set them free; is that correct?
10 A. Yes. I set them free and I saw them off.
11 Q. Soon after that or at the same time, a
12 proposal came for an overall surrender by the HVO on
13 that day?
14 A. Yes, that is correct. The command of the
15 314th Motorised Brigade asked to speak to me personally
16 on the phone. They talked to Vinko but they wanted to
17 talk to me personally on the phone, and they asked for
18 us to surrender. I said that I saw no reason why we
19 should surrender. "We didn't attack you," I said, "you
20 attacked us," and, "I didn't come to your command. You
21 came to mine."
22 Q. However, the next day on the 18th of April,
23 the last day of your freedom, at 5.30 you were awakened
24 abruptly. What happened?
25 A. I went to bed very late, around midnight. In
1 the morning at 5.30, this Islamic thing, whatever it's
2 called, this -- yes, it was the hodza who started his
3 prayer, and this was at 5.30 in the morning. But
4 shelling began around the headquarters of the Francetic
5 began, and shells started falling around our
7 Q. Where did the unit withdraw?
8 A. Vinko Baresic, who was the commander, issued
9 orders that we should retreat to our reserve command
10 positions on the hill of Zmajevac.
11 Q. Before your withdrawal, did you establish
12 contact with their infantry? Did you hear any
13 shooting? Did you hear any battle cries?
14 A. After the shelling came an infantry attack.
15 Vinko and these other guys went to this command post on
16 the hill of Zmajevac, and I remained down there with
17 five of my escorts and members of the HVO, so there
18 were about 30 people there all together, one platoon.
19 We were protecting the civilians who were withdrawing
20 as well.
21 By the first houses near the road, near the
22 steelworks, we heard their battle cries, "Alahu Ekber."
23 Q. What happened to these thousands of civilians
24 who were with you from Podbrezje?
25 A. Well, people were running away because they
1 were afraid. They were running towards the hill of
2 Zmajevac, and I got out there with those people. We
3 were among the last to reach the hill of Zmajevac.
4 These people continued towards Cajdras, the civilians
5 did, and I found Vinko Baresic, our commander, up
6 there, and we remained on that hill, Zmajevac.
7 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, shall we work
8 through the afternoon or do you have other business to
9 attend to?
10 JUDGE JORDA: We have some meetings with the
11 Judges. My colleagues and I have decided that we would
12 continue until a quarter to five and that would be all
13 we would do this afternoon. So thank you for having
14 thought about that, Mr. Nobilo, but the afternoon is
15 going to be short, so you can go on for another 10 or
16 15 minutes.
17 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
18 Q. In Cajdras, you said that from Podbrezje to
19 Zmajevac towards Cajdras, that you had about a thousand
20 civilians with you. Did you notice how many Croat
21 civilians were there in Cajdras in this relatively
22 small area?
23 A. We received orders to move to Cajdras. These
24 orders were issued by Vinko Baresic, our commander, to
25 leave the hill of Zmajevac, and we were moving towards
1 Cajdras, and civilians were flooding the area from all
2 sides. According to my estimate, it could have been
3 about 5.000 civilians altogether.
4 Q. In your estimate, 5.000 civilians, to the
5 best of your knowledge, had assembled in Cajdras;
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. At some point, did U.N. vehicles come to see
9 these civilians?
10 A. Yes. As soon as we arrived in Cajdras, the
11 U.N. observer vehicles came. They recognised Vinko.
12 They stood there and they talked to him. This was
13 Colonel Stewart, that is what Vinko addressed him as,
14 and Colonel Stewart or the interpreter said, "Are all
15 of these people Croats?" I remember that for sure, and
16 Vinko said that yes, they were, and then he said that
17 this was ethnic cleansing.
18 Q. At some point on that day, the 18th of April,
19 1993, in Cajdras, Vinko Baresic and Dzemo Merdan
20 established contact, Dzemo Merdan being the commander
21 of the 3rd Corps of the BH army. Tell me, what was
22 discussed on that occasion?
23 A. Vinko Baresic and the deputy commander of the
24 3rd Corps did talk. As night was already falling,
25 Vinko asked for the attacks of the 3rd Corps of the BH
1 army to be halted, that night was falling and we had
2 many civilians, women, children, other civilians coming
3 in, and Vinko asked Dzemo Merdan to stop these attacks
4 of the 3rd Corps against us. But Dzemo Merdan said,
5 "Unconditional surrender; otherwise, we are going to
6 attack you, and you're all going to get killed."
7 I had opposed the surrender, but Vinko issued
8 orders for us to surrender. And in the evening, around
9 8.00 or 9.00 p.m. we did surrender on the 18th of
11 Q. So the Zenica HVO surrendered on the 18th of
12 April, 1993 at 9.00 p.m., and you were taken to the
13 well-known prison in Zenica. Tell me, were you treated
14 as a prisoner of war or did they initiate criminal
15 proceedings against you?
16 A. Let me just say one more thing. It was
17 fortunate for us if we surrendered to this police, and
18 then they took me to the MUP and then to the prison.
19 At first, I was treated as a prisoner of war; however,
20 they withdrew that. They said that I was an enemy
21 soldier, according to some kind of article, and that is
22 why they wanted to bring charges against me because the
23 HVO was still a component of the BH army. And then
24 they said that couldn't pass. So then they said that I
25 would be a prisoner because I had taken their policemen
2 Q. You said that the HVO was a component of the
3 BH army. You probably wanted to say that it was a
4 component of the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
5 A. Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes, definitely. That is
6 what I wished to say. It consisted of the army of BH
7 and the Croatian Defence Council. Yes, that's what I
8 wanted to say.
9 Q. Is it true that an investigation was carried
10 out against you for armed rebellion but that you were
11 ultimately sentenced because you attacked an official
12 who was acting within the scope of his official duties;
13 is that correct?
14 A. Yes, that is correct.
15 Q. And what was your term of imprisonment, and
16 how much time did you spend in prison altogether?
17 A. I was sentenced to one year and four months
18 in prison, and I spent one year and five days in
19 prison, and after that I was exchanged.
20 Q. You were in the well-known prison in Zenica.
21 Tell me, what were the conditions like in this prison?
22 Please describe these conditions a bit, and tell me
23 whether you took any action in terms of changing the
24 living conditions in that prison.
25 A. The conditions were very bad. We did not
1 have any rights whatsoever. They beat people all the
2 time. I heard screams all the night through. I know
3 that they beat Vinko Vidovic a lot, and I was present
4 on one occasion when they broke his ribs.
5 I was often kept in isolation, and one
6 morning they sprayed tear gas into my eyes, and then
7 they really beat me up badly. The food was terrible.
8 I ate rice boiled in water for six months. Sometimes
9 they would just add a bit of flour to it and that would
10 be it. During the winter, I would get a bit of cabbage
11 too. I felt very bad because of this poor food, and it
12 was a holiday if we would get beans, for example.
13 From the camp, sometimes we would receive, in
14 this area of isolation, this was part of the detention
15 facility, and sometimes some of these people would come
16 in, and they were telling us that there were 500 of
17 them there in the camp and that they were beating them,
18 and they tried to force them to mobilise. I met the
19 Cobanovic brothers there, and they told me that they
20 had beat them a lot because they didn't want to sign
21 papers showing that they were joining the BH army.
22 Q. And what about the Red Cross, did they
23 register you?
24 A. Because of this bad situation, we went on a
25 hunger strike three times, and that is when the Red
1 Cross came to see us. I remember that the Red Cross
2 team was headed by a lady called Beatrice.
3 MR. NOBILO: We're just going to take a look
4 at a document now, and we are going to say that this is
5 a certificate of a certain nature, and we probably
6 don't have much more time.
7 THE REGISTRAR: This is D436.
8 MR. NOBILO:
9 Q. Just tell me whether this is a document
10 corroborating your status. Did we get this document
11 from you?
12 A. Yes, yes, that is that document.
13 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, we have thus
14 taken care of this particular area of questioning, and
15 perhaps we could leave a bit more for tomorrow.
16 JUDGE JORDA: All day or only in the
17 morning? All of tomorrow or only in the morning?
18 MR. NOBILO: We will finish with this witness
19 in about 20 additional minutes tomorrow. Tomorrow,
20 we're going to use about 20 minutes more to conclude
21 our questioning of this witness.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Let me consult with my
24 We're going to stop now and resume tomorrow
25 at 10.00.
1 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
2 4.45 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday,
3 the 17th day of November, 1998 at
4 10.00 a.m.