1 Wednesday, 16th December, 1998
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 2.12 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Have the
5 accused brought in, please.
6 (The accused entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: Good afternoon to the
8 interpreters and to everybody else who is involved in
9 our hearing this afternoon. First of all, I would like
10 to apologise, on behalf of the Trial Chamber, to the
11 Office of the Prosecutor. They know that we would
12 begin today at 2.00 and not at 5.00. Therefore, excuse
13 us. The Defence was better informed than the Office of
14 the Prosecutor, which shows that that can happen, you
16 We're going to resume, and we have confidence
17 in the Prosecution for cross-examination of the
18 witness. If you have any problems, any slight
19 problems, I say slight problems, if you have any
20 problems at all, the Trial Chamber will try to take
21 note of that.
22 Is it Mr. Nobilo who is going to speak now?
23 MR. NOBILO: Yes, Mr. President. The next
24 witness will be testifying in open session, without any
25 protective measures.
1 JUDGE JORDA: All right. So that I can refer
2 to your summary, would you tell us the name of the
3 witness? Of course, I'll ask him to repeat it, but
4 what is his name?
5 MR. NOBILO: It is Mrs. Palic-Mitrecic
6 Silvia. So her name is Silvia Palic-Mitrecic.
7 (The witness entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Prosecutor, are you ready?
9 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Do you hear me, Madam? Please
12 remain standing. Tell us your name, your given names,
13 your age, your profession, your last residence and then
14 you will take an oath.
15 THE WITNESS: My name is Silvia
16 Palic-Mitrecic. I was born in 1956. I'm from Zagreb.
17 I have graduated from the Political Science Faculty.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Do you still live in Zagreb?
19 THE WITNESS: Yes, I live in Zagreb.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Would you help the witness with
21 her headset, please? That's better. Do you hear me?
22 All right. You're going to take an oath now.
23 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will
24 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
1 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much. You may
2 be seated. You have agreed to testify in the trial at
3 the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
4 Yugoslavia, initiated by the Prosecutor, who is in the
5 courtroom, against General Blaskic, who at the time was
6 a Colonel, who is on your left. You're going to first
7 testify by answering the questions of the party that
8 asked you to come, the Defence, Mr. Nobilo.
9 All right. Mr. Nobilo, proceed, please.
10 WITNESS: SILVIA PALIC-MITRECIC
11 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
12 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
13 Q. Mrs. Palic, you said that you were born in
14 1956 in Zagreb and that you graduated from the Faculty
15 of Political Science. Tell us, please, before the war
16 broke out where were you employed?
17 A. I worked in the school for health technicians
18 as a professor there.
19 Q. We're going to make breaks between the
20 question and the answer for the benefit of our
22 At one point did you join, as volunteer, the
23 Croatian army?
24 A. Yes, I did.
25 Q. Could you tell us when that was and where you
1 were, what duties you performed, what units you were a
2 member of?
3 A. In 1992, as a volunteer, I entered the
4 Croatian army, the units of the Croatian army in the
5 153rd Brigade, and that was up to 1994. In 1994, in
6 July, I went to the area of Zagreb as a counsellor.
7 That is I went -- was in the independent reconnoitring
8 unit, and up until 1995, that is to say, April of 1995,
9 I was in the Zagreb area as counsellor for sports and
11 Q. You were in the Croatian army as a volunteer,
12 and like many other women in Croatia you hold a rank?
13 A. Yes, I am a Warrant Officer in the Croatian
15 Q. What would the equivalent be in the JNA?
16 A. It would be First Lieutenant.
17 Q. Are you still in the Croatian army?
18 A. No, I'm not.
19 Q. Do you work somewhere privately or do you
20 work for the state?
21 A. I have my own company, and I work in that
23 Q. As we're going to see from your testimony,
24 you organised a number of activities geared towards the
25 so-called Bihac pocket or the Bosanska Krajina region
1 of Western Bosnia. Could you describe to the Court how
2 you began your work and what you duties you performed
4 A. When I joined the Croatian army as a
5 volunteer, I was given an assignment by my commanding
6 officer to organise a humanitarian convoy, and to join
7 the community of Croats and Muslims who would help me
8 to organise that humanitarian convoy. Assistance in
9 organising it itself was given to me by the students
10 from Bosnia, Muslim students, and they were part of
11 this Bosnian and Croat community, and they helped me to
12 load and unload, and generally in the organisation of
13 the humanitarian convoy.
14 Q. Could you give us a date? When was this?
15 A. It was in 1992, in May.
16 Q. Your involvement, geared towards Western
17 Bosnia, was -- is it finished with that convoy, or did
18 it become something else, did it grow into something
20 A. Yes, it grew into something else. First of
21 all, the students expressed the desire in organising
22 the humanitarian convoys to go to Bihac. Second, I was
23 given an order by my commanding officer that I -- I was
24 given the go-ahead to organise these young people and
25 to send them to Bihac.
1 Q. When you said to organise and send to Bihac,
2 what do you mean? How was this organised and why were
3 you sending them to Bihac?
4 A. Well, I collected up these young people, I
5 sent them for military training, I equipped them, and
6 then sent them there for the purpose of fighting,
7 because there was a lot of fighting going on in the
8 Bihac area at that time. There was an armed conflict
9 going on.
10 Q. And these young people, these students, were
11 they mostly Muslims?
12 A. Yes, mostly Muslims. That is to say, in that
13 first group they were exclusively Muslims.
14 Q. Could you describe the first group for the
15 Court? When did you organise this first group and how
16 did you train the first group, the first group of
17 Muslims who were sent from Croatia to Bosnia, and when
18 did that occur?
19 A. The first group was made up of 23 young men,
20 students, Muslims, and I talked to them first of all, I
21 interviewed them and put them up at the barracks at
22 Jastrebarsko belonging to the Croatian army, and the
23 officers of the Croatian army, four of them, trained
24 and prepared these young people. They were given
25 complete sets of weapons from the Croatian army,
1 whereas their uniforms and boots they obtained from the
2 people they knew and who worked in Germany, Austria and
3 so on. They would come in and organise fashion, buy
4 this equipment and hand it over to these young people.
5 Q. Once you had rallied them, how long did the
6 training last?
7 A. Well, as I say, I rallied them immediately
8 after the first convoy left, and this was on the 20th
9 of May. The first group was set up on the 20th of
10 May. Training lasted approximately 25 to 30 days.
11 Q. Where were they lodged? Was this at the
12 expense of the Croatian army, and their food as well?
13 A. Yes, everything was paid for by the Croatian
14 army and everything took place in Jastrebarsko, the
15 Croatian army barracks which was in the vicinity of
16 Zagreb. Their lodging and food were paid for by the
17 Croatian army.
18 Q. So these 23 volunteers, these were all
19 Muslims, were they not?
20 A. Yes, they were.
21 Q. How did you transport this group? Could you
22 describe this for the benefit of the Trial Chamber, and
23 how -- which territory did they have to pass through?
24 A. While they were doing their training at the
25 barracks, I contacted the commander of the student
1 regiment of the Croatian army, and I asked them to send
2 scouts to take over these young people and transport
3 them to Bihac. The route from Slunja to Bihac is 105
4 kilometres, and it goes by Serbian territory, on foot.
5 Q. Did they perform their job properly?
6 A. Yes, they did.
7 Q. And these young men, the young men you
8 organised, future members of the HVO and another five
9 Muslims went with them; is that correct?
10 A. Yes. When talking to the commander of the
11 Slunja regiment, I was given an order to include nine
12 other individuals who were in the Slunja regiment
13 itself and who were to go to Bihac, and I accepted
14 these nine people. As I say, there were nine of them,
15 and four or five were Muslims, the rest were Croats.
16 Q. But the first group was not the last group.
17 This was just the beginning. Could you describe how
18 the second group was established and what you did and
19 how you trained the second group?
20 A. The second group was a much larger group. As
21 I say, in addition to the 23 plus 9 men that the first
22 group had, which is a total of 32, the second group
23 numbered about 200 individuals, and they either came
24 from other battlegrounds to Croatia, also as members of
25 the Croatian army, where they were released from the
1 Croatian army in order to be transferred to Bihac.
2 These were all people from that part, from that
3 region. Or they came on their own BAT. I took them
4 in, organised them, once again with the help of my
5 command, and I organised lodging for them, equipment,
6 weapons and so on.
7 Q. The Croatian soldiers who were released to go
8 to -- to be able to go to Bosnia and the battleground
9 there, were they Muslims?
10 A. Yes, they were.
11 Q. And they joined the Territorial Defence of
13 A. Yes. Once they arrived in Bihac they joined
14 the Territorial Defence of Bihac, the TO there.
15 Q. How long did training last for this second
17 A. Training lasted approximately 20 days, 15 to
18 20 days. These were people who had some war
19 experience, previous war experience.
20 Q. What about their instructors? Who were the
22 A. They were members of the Croatian army.
23 Q. Can you tell us the locations where the --
24 the localities where training took place?
25 A. It took place in Boronjaj, that is a barracks
1 belonging to the Croatian army. It is in Zagreb.
2 Zutica in the vicinity of Zagreb, it is a wood where
3 there was a smaller barracks. Zazine was next, on the
4 road towards Sisak, Jastrebarsko and Zdencina. Those
5 were the localities.
6 Q. What about equipment? How did you -- what
7 about equipment, supplies and quartermaster supplies?
8 A. The military part, that is to say weapons,
9 were organised in such a way that the Croatian army,
10 from its barracks, would give me the weapons, hand them
11 over to me, and I would equip these people, whereas the
12 quartermaster supplies were obtained from abroad, by
13 people from abroad, people from Bihac and the
14 surroundings of Bihac, who found themselves outside the
15 country when the war broke out.
16 Q. So this second group of some 200 members, how
17 were they transported to Bihac and when?
18 A. This second group with exactly 242 men,
19 started out on the 26th of July. There were 11 buses
20 and 2 trucks. They went to Ogulin, and later on they
21 were taken over by the scouts of Ogulin, that is to
22 say, members of the Slunja regiment, scouts of the
23 Slunja regiment, and they were transported to Bihac.
24 Q. Ogulin was free territory in Croatia under
25 the command of the Croatian army?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Could you tell the Court whether a third
3 group was formed ultimately?
4 A. Yes. And there was some interesting things
5 that happened to this third group. In Zagreb a club,
6 local club called Una was set up, a national club,
7 which tried to do something on their own initiative.
8 They tried to do similar work to my own. They would
9 rally anybody who was willing to go to Bihac, and the
10 age span of these individuals was from 18 to 65 years
11 of age.
12 They came to ask me, because they had
13 problems with their lodgings, they wanted me to put
14 them up, and there were 400 people approximately. So
15 with the help of the Zagreb command district, they were
16 put up in Zdencina, that is to say, the environs of
17 Zagreb, where they tried to organise their life and
18 training there. They did not find this very easy, and
19 at the same time, at that same period, another group of
20 young people came to me, they were members of the 101st
21 Brigade of the Croatian army which was located in
22 Posavina, which had been released from the Croatian
23 army with the desire to be transferred to Bihac.
24 Q. Could you will tell us, before we move on,
25 the first group that was collected by the club that was
1 called Una and the other group that had left the
2 Croatian army, were they all Muslims as well?
3 A. In 99 per cent of the cases, yes, they were.
4 Q. What happened next with this third group?
5 A. The third group tried to establish itself in
6 a military fashion, but this proved impossible because
7 of the average age of individuals from Zdencina, and so
8 we tried to organise their transfer to Bihac, which was
9 done successfully, but this first group was a large
10 group, and unfortunately, it did not manage to cross.
11 Q. Before we go on to say how this happened,
12 tell us, were they trained by instructors of the
13 Croatian army, and did they get the weapons and other
14 equipment from the Croatian army?
15 A. Yes, because there were no other
16 possibilities to this.
17 Q. When did this group start out across occupied
18 enemy territory?
19 A. On the 25th of August, 1992.
20 Q. How were they killed?
21 A. Because of the second group, which was able
22 to cross this enemy territory without a single bullet
23 being shot, the Serbs organised traps and minefields,
24 ambushes; and they encountered these minefields, there
25 was fighting, and unfortunately the group was wiped
2 Q. Was it true that there were eleven dead and
3 54 taken prisoner?
4 A. Yes, that is correct.
5 Q. And they, then, the others went and became
6 members of the BH army; is that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 MR. NOBILO: May we have the lights dimmed
9 now, please, because we have two videotapes, amateur
10 videotapes to show you.
11 And while we're looking at the videotapes,
12 could you describe what is happening on them and where
13 the pictures were taken.
14 (Videotape played).
15 Q. Could you describe where this tape was made,
16 if you recognise it?
17 A. This group is in Zdencina. These are people
18 who were formed, a group formed by the local club, Una.
19 Q. So this is what you were just talking about?
20 A. Yes, and this group did not survive.
21 Q. While crossing?
22 A. Yes, that's right.
23 Q. While the tape is running, and before we move
24 to the tape of another group, could you please tell me
25 whether or not at that time in 1992 you had cooperation
1 with Fikret Abdic?
2 A. Fikret Abdic, at his invitation from Rijeka,
3 because that's where he was staying, I arrived there
4 and we tried to agree on him also forming a group which
5 would be sent to Velika Kladusa. Because of the volume
6 of my work I could not accept that, and by force he
7 imposed a group on me which he sent to me on November
9 I did not work personally with that group,
10 but I did accept it on the border between Slovenia and
11 Croatia, because that group was formed in Slovenia.
12 That is where it was trained, that is where it was
13 armed, and it was my business to accept the group,
14 receive the group and possibly send them to Bihac.
15 Q. These were Muslims?
16 A. Yes, these were all Muslims, these were
17 people who worked in Slovenia and wanted to go back to
18 their places of residence.
19 Q. Could you tell us in two or three sentences,
20 who was Fikret Abdic at that time?
21 A. Fikret Abdic was the elected president of
22 Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also member of the
23 presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
24 Q. Did Fikret Abdic tell you where this group
25 was supposed to go?
1 A. Well, no, not exactly.
2 Q. Did anybody arrive from that group to Bihac?
3 A. Because the big group in August did not make
4 it, I did not dare to transfer this other group because
5 I had information there were ambushes and more
6 minefields; so, because of the safety of those people
7 this group was not, this group was disbanded. The
8 weapons were given to me and the weapons were
9 transferred to a port warehouse. The warehouse
10 belonged to the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bihac
11 Territorial Defence.
12 Q. In Zagreb?
13 A. Yes, in Zagreb.
14 Q. Was it true that 21 men went to Bihac anyway?
15 A. Yes, they went there without my knowledge on
16 their own initiative, and they arrived there, I heard
17 they did get there.
18 Q. Are you familiar that in 1993 two groups,
19 mainly of future officers of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
20 were formed and they were transferred to Bosnia and
22 A. Yes, these people reported to me with the
23 request, not with the desire, but with the request that
24 they wanted to be transferred to Bihac, which is what I
1 Q. Did these people leave the Croatian army?
2 A. Yes, they had all been members of the
3 Croatian army, and upon arrival to Bihac they took over
4 command duties, as far as I heard.
5 Q. Is it true that the first group went in March
6 1993 and the second group in May of 1993?
7 A. Yes, this is true.
8 Q. After that you stopped forming groups which
9 were being transferred to Bihac. What was the reason
10 to that?
11 A. This was because the commander of the
12 Territorial Defence, or the army of BH of the 5th Corps
13 from Bihac, said that these people, upon arrival to
14 Bihac, were going to their homes, they were hiding
15 their weapons and were defending their villages,
16 meaning that they were not participating, not all of
17 them, but some of them were not participating in the
18 general defence.
19 Q. So, the letter, what did it say? Was there a
20 problem with manpower or logistics?
21 A. The problem was in logistics. Personnel was
22 not a problem.
23 Q. After that did you start cooperating with the
24 logistics groups of the army of BH who were in Croatia?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Are you familiar with a senior officer of the
2 JNA, his name is Mustafa Porobic, he is a Muslim,
3 former JNA officer, and he formed a military unit from
4 Rijeka which he sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina?
5 A. Yes, I know Mr. Porobic, he called me on the
6 telephone, asked me whether it would be, saying would
7 it be good to us to meet so I could help him in his
8 work because of the experience I had. But I had to
9 refuse that because I had other obligations.
10 Q. Do you know anything about Fikret Cuskic,
11 that he wanted to leave the Croatian army to go to
12 Travnik, Central Bosnia?
13 A. Yes, I know Fikret Cuskic personally, we had
14 contact two or three times. He personally requested to
15 me to transfer him to Bihac. I could not do that.
16 Q. While he was a commander in Travnik, do you
17 know that his family was in Croatia the whole time?
18 A. Yes, yes.
19 Q. If we wanted to summarise this information,
20 this data, could you tell us, how many people in total
21 did you help to go to Bosnia and Herzegovina and join
22 the ranks of the Bosnia and Herzegovina army? How many
23 weapons? What are the figures?
24 A. There were 1.240 people. And as far as
25 weapons and equipment, I can read that, may I read my
2 Q. Yes, go ahead.
3 A. Sniper rifles, M-74, there were 34.
4 Automatic rifle -- I don't want this to be confusing,
5 because some people were taking two or three rifles.
6 Makarov guns, 32 pieces; automatic Scorpion guns, 19
7 pieces; submachine guns, 50 pieces; submachine guns
8 M-72, 38 pieces; Zolja hand launched launchers, 47
9 pieces; hand grenades, 3.484 pieces; semi-automatic
10 rifles, 7 pieces; M-48 rifles, 3 pieces; compasses 107
11 pieces; 76-milimetre bullets, 600.000 pieces; 7-9
12 bullets, 300.000.
13 Q. So, this is what these soldiers of the army
14 of Bosnia and Herzegovina took with them when they went
15 to Bosnia and Herzegovina. You mentioned your group,
16 then later you mentioned Mustafa Porobic's group, who
17 was sending Muslim soldiers from Croatia to Bosnia and
18 Herzegovina; is there a third group that did the same?
19 A. Yes. There was a group of people from
21 Q. Is that the Islamic religious community in
23 A. Yes, that's right, which organised in the
24 mosque in Zagreb, it organised groups of people and
25 sent them to Travnik.
1 MR. NOBILO: Could we see another film,
2 please, another tape?
3 (Videotape played)
4 A. This is still in Zdencina, the same big group
5 of people which was organised by the local club, Una.
6 Q. They are now leaving?
7 A. Yes, they are leaving. This is shortly --
8 this is about ten days before they set out.
9 Q. Zdencina, how far is that in relation to
11 A. It's about 18 kilometres from Zagreb, towards
13 Q. Thank you. We will not watch this until the
15 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, we have finished
16 our direct examination, and we submit this tape as
17 Defence Exhibit.
18 MR. KEHOE: No objection.
19 JUDGE JORDA: No objections? All right it,
20 will be admitted.
21 THE REGISTRAR: This is D490A to the first
22 part that was shown, and B to the part we have just
24 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe?
25 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President, thank you.
1 Cross-examined by Mr. Kehoe.
2 Q. Good morning Mrs. Palic-Mitrecic. My name is
3 Greg Kehoe and my colleague Mark Harmon is beside me to
4 my right, welcome.
5 You mentioned at the end of your testimony
6 that you assisted 1.240 soldiers, a series of arms.
7 This was going into the Bihac pocket; wasn't it?
8 A. That's right, yes.
9 Q. And all you've told us about was going into
10 the Bihac pocket, your assistance; was it not?
11 A. That's right.
12 Q. And you mentioned just lastly this mosque was
13 gathering people to send them to Travnik. When in 1992
14 was that?
15 A. I can't tell you the exact date to the simple
16 reason that I had a lot of other work to do. But I do
17 know that they did this.
18 Q. Was it when you were --
19 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, do you have an
21 MR. NOBILO: In fact, yes, the way in which
22 the answer, the question was posed. He said "when was
23 that," and then he said the Prosecutor said "1992,"
24 which the witness never mentioned. So, this is an
25 attempt to lead the witness, because she does not know
1 when they sent the group.
2 JUDGE JORDA: But the witness should be able
3 to answer this kind of question, to overcome that kind
4 of a problem. But anyway, Mr. Kehoe, ask your question
5 a different way, please.
6 MR. KEHOE:
7 Q. Ma'am, did this take place when you were
8 assisting the rest of these people to go to Bihac in
9 1992? Is that when the mosque was getting these people
10 to go to Travnik? Was it during that same time frame?
11 A. Both during 1992, the second half of 1992 and
12 in 1993.
13 Q. Okay. When in 1993 was this mosque bringing
14 people together to go to Travnik?
15 A. I can't give you an answer to that to the
16 simple reason that I had other assignments to work on.
17 But I know that the mosque did this, but I did not
18 participate in it directly, so I can't actually tell
20 Q. And who was it in this mosque that was
21 gathering these troops to send them to Travnik in 1992
22 and 1993?
23 A. They were all stories, rumours, but I don't
24 know the individuals myself, so I don't know the names,
1 Q. So, it would be accurate to say that this was
2 a story that you heard and you don't have any
3 first-hand knowledge about it?
4 A. Not first-hand knowledge, no, because I
5 didn't work with them, as I said.
6 Q. So, is that the reason why you don't exactly
7 know when these troops were going to the Travnik area?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Now, lastly, you mentioned Fikret Abdic. And
10 Fikret Abdic, I believe sometime in the fall, well
11 maybe the winter, I think you said November of 1992,
12 Fikret Abdic came to you to train some troops; is that
14 A. In August.
15 Q. I'm sorry, maybe I misheard you. August of
16 1992. Now, this was before he had broken with the
17 Sarajevo government, and this was before he had joined
18 with the army of the Republic of Serb Krajina; isn't
19 that right?
20 A. I can't answer that, because it was not one
21 of the things I thought about.
22 Q. Thank you, Ma'am. I don't think I have any
23 other questions, let me just talk to my colleague to
24 one moment.
25 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, Judge
1 Shahabuddeen, no further questions.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Shahabuddeen?
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Madam, would you confirm
4 my impression that the second clip which we saw bore
5 the date of August 1992?
6 A. Yes.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, madam. That's all
8 we need you to do. The Tribunal would like to express
9 its gratitude to you for having come to The Hague, and
10 now send you back to the responsibilities as the head
11 of your private company. Very well, thank you very
13 This is a long afternoon, so we might take a
14 short break now if there is no problem with that,
15 Mr. Registrar? All right, we're going to take a
16 10-minute break. Let the Judges leave the courtroom
17 and then someone will take care of you, madam. We will
18 resume in about ten minutes.
19 --- Recess taken at 2.51 p.m.
20 --- On resuming at 3.19 p.m.
21 JUDGE JORDA: We can now resume the hearing.
22 All right. Mr. Hayman, I just wanted to say that by
23 Friday, at the end of our hearing, the registrar will
24 tell us how much time you have left, how many witnesses
25 we've heard and we'll try to evaluate how things stand
1 for January, all right? Is it possible? But of
2 course, the list that you have will remain
3 confidential. Thank you. We can move to the next
4 witness now. Mr. Nobilo or Mr. Hayman?
5 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, Dusko Lukovic, or
6 Dusan Lukovic will be our next witness.
7 (The witness entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: Do you hear me, Mr. Lukovic?
9 You are at the International Criminal Tribunal. Please
10 tell us your name, your given age, your given name,
11 your age, your residence, and then remain standing for
12 a few more moments, as long as it takes to read the
13 oath. Please go ahead.
14 THE WITNESS: I am Dusan Lukovic. My father
15 was Bosko. Born on 22nd of September, 1935 in Banja
16 Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina. I am a Serb by nationality,
17 an atheist. By vocation I am a sociology professor and
18 I have been living in Vitez for a full 40 years, since
19 1958. I am retired, I have -- I became a pensioner on
20 the 1st of May, 1996.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Please take the oath.
22 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will
23 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
25 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. You are at the
1 International Tribunal. You've been called by the
2 Defence. You can be seated.
3 You have been called by the accused's
4 counsel, who is in this Tribunal. We thank you for
5 coming. First you're going to be asked some questions
6 by the Defence counsel, then by the Office of the
7 Prosecutor, and possibly the Judges may have a few
8 questions to ask you as well. Proceed, please,
9 Mr. Nobilo.
10 WITNESS: DUSAN LUKOVIC
11 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
12 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
13 Q. Mr. Lukovic, let us repeat: You were born in
14 1935, were you not?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. You are a Serb by nationality and an atheist
17 with regard to religion. Can you explain to the Court
18 up until the war, that is to say, the war in
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992, what duties did you
20 perform? What was your work in Vitez and other places
21 as well perhaps? Explain it to the Trial Chamber,
23 A. I performed several important duties, and I'm
24 going to enumerate the more numerous ones. I was
25 director of the Workers' University.
1 Q. Would you explain what Workers' University is
2 and where it was located?
3 A. The Workers' University was located in Vitez,
4 in the cultural centre there. It is educational
5 institution for adults. It engaged in cultural
6 activities and various forms of professional training
7 for workers.
8 Then I was the director of a secondary school
9 centre in Vitez, and one of the directors of the
10 military factories, Slobodan Princip Selo, and in the
11 interim periods from 1976 to 1980 I was the
12 Vice-President of the municipal assembly of Vitez, or
13 as you would say, deputy mayor, as you would say
15 In 1983 and 1984 I was president of the
16 municipal assembly. That was the first mandate, and
17 the second mandate was in 1984/1985, once between
18 president of the municipal assembly.
19 Q. Of Vitez you mean?
20 A. Yes, of Vitez. In 1984 I was president of
21 the community of the municipality of Travnik, Novi
22 Travnik and Vitez, and as I said at the beginning, I
23 have been living in Vitez for 41 years now. This is my
24 41st year and I know the conditions prevailing in Vitez
25 very well. So much in answer to your question.
1 Q. May I ask you to make breaks between the
2 questions and answers?
3 In 1993, when the war conflicts broke out in
4 the Vitez municipality, how old were you?
5 A. I was -- I was born in 1935, which makes me
6 58 years old at the time.
7 Q. Were you ever in the combat units of the
8 Croatian Defence Council? Were you involved in that?
9 A. Yes, I was member of a work platoon.
10 Q. And what about the combat units?
11 A. No, I was not, because I was over 55 years of
12 age and I -- my military duties went up to the age of
14 Q. Tell us what you know about the work
15 platoons. You said you were engaged in a work
16 platoon. Can you tell us when this began, what tasks
17 you were assigned, who organised the work platoons and
18 what kind of jobs you did? Would you explain this to
19 the Trial Chamber, please?
20 A. I am one of the participants of a work
21 platoon, and so my testimony will go along the lines of
22 what you've just asked me. Work platoons in Vitez were
23 organised by the defence department of Vitez and the
24 Civil Defence service.
25 Q. You can, of course, use your notes, but
1 please try and speak a little more slowly, please, and
2 make pauses.
3 You mentioned the Civil Defence and the
4 defence department. Can you tell the Court whether
5 this represents civilian organs in Vitez power and
7 A. Yes, these were civilian organs. And while
8 civil protection had work, they had work platoons --
9 MR. HARMON: Excuse me, Mr. President. I'm
10 going to object to the witness reading from notes
11 unless he needs those notes to refresh his
13 JUDGE JORDA: Do you need your notes in order
14 to refresh your memory, Mr. Lukovic, or is this a
15 declaration or a statement which you've already
17 A. I'm going to use them very briefly, just to
18 systematise what I want to say.
19 JUDGE JORDA: The Tribunal would appreciate
20 your answering questions from memory. You carried out
21 your responsibilities for 40 years, therefore, you must
22 be very familiar with that subject. You can consult
23 documents for notes or figures, for example, which you
24 may not have in your mind, but it is not proper for you
25 to read a statement because it would distort the
1 proceedings. In most legal systems, that is civil law
2 or common-law, the witness testifies, and if he bases
3 his comments on documents, which have to be provided to
4 the opposing party, or asks for authorisation for
5 documents in order to refresh his memory, which is
6 normal, and if you so wish, we will authorise you to do
7 so, but if you don't mind, please answer spontaneously
8 when the questions are asked. Thank you.
9 A. Yes, I can and I apologise. Thank you very
11 JUDGE JORDA: No, no no, you don't have to
13 A. So the work platoons, the work platoons that
14 were established by the department for defence had, as
15 their task, to assist the armed component in the field
16 to perform trench digging, communicating trenches,
17 dugouts and to prepare the terrain for defence, in
18 fact, the defence of those units, so that the frontline
19 could be defended and so as to ensure as little human
20 casualties as possible.
21 Q. Tell me, you were involved in the work
22 platoons. When were you asked to join a work platoon
23 for the first time?
24 A. In June, 1993.
25 Q. When you were called up, was this a
1 uni-national platoon or multi-ethnic?
2 A. I travelled around several places, but they
3 were all multi-ethnic work platoons. They were not
4 only made up of the Croats, or Serbs or Muslims, but
5 the ones that I participated in we had both Croats, and
6 Serbs and Muslims, and there were some Romanies as
8 Q. Could you explain to the Court how you came
9 to make up one of these work platoons? Who invited you
10 to join them and who told you that you would go trench
12 A. One day the Military Police came to my front
13 door and they asked, "Lukovic, Dusan?" I identified
14 myself, and they told me to report urgently to the city
15 library, which is where I went, and they told me that I
16 was mobilised into a work platoon and they said that we
17 should go to our assignment.
18 Q. Tell the Court, please, how did you
19 understand this, that it was on a voluntary basis, that
20 it was compulsory? What did you think?
21 A. Well, I knew the regulations fairly well, and
22 I knew my duties as a military recruit, so that I
23 accepted this as a military duty, and I considered that
24 mobilisation, this act was an act where I, as a
25 citizen, would have to respond to the act. If I did
1 not, sanctions would be applied. So I accepted this as
2 my duty, as the duty of each and every citizen who has
3 not reached the age of 60.
4 Q. Could you explain to the Court the locations
5 you went to? First of all, let us enumerate the places
6 where you did this trench digging.
7 A. I said a moment ago I went to Zvijezda, that
8 is a locality where there is a mountain centre,
9 mountaineering centre, and then Zaselje, which is a
10 little lower down from Zvijezda, which is at a higher
11 altitude. Then we have Bobasi. That was the
12 borderline toward Kruscica. Then Brdjani. That is
13 also in the vicinity of Bobasi. Lazine, which is by
14 the village of Tolovici. Barin Gaj, that is near the
15 village of Ahmici. After that part, our work platoon
16 was used for omni purposes.
17 In November 1993 I was once again called up
18 for mobilisation by the Civil Defence department was
19 engaged once again in the general purpose units.
20 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. We're now going to
21 hand out a photocopy of two documents that you gave me,
22 so may we have it placed on the -- they are two ID's,
23 and we'll try and read it out with the help of our
25 We have two documents. First of all, the
1 individual, that is to say, the first page of the ID
2 card and the reverse side of it.
3 THE REGISTRAR: This number -- this document
4 is 491.
5 MR. NOBILO: Could you please have copies
6 given to the interpreters? I think there is a
7 sufficient number of copies. May we have the ELMO
8 switched on, please, and have it enlarged, a close-up
9 of the document, please? The second document, the
10 second paper. It comes first. Yes, another paper.
12 Q. I'm going to read the text. It is: The
13 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is on the
14 left-hand side. The Croatian Community of
15 Herceg-Bosna. The Croatian Defence Council.
16 Identification: Dusan. The father's name Bosko.
17 Surname Lukovic. Born in 1935. And the ID number is
18 824. It is the department for defence of Vitez, that
19 is the stamp. On the right-hand side the same
20 identification, except that it says "Dusko" instead of
21 "Dusan ." All the other elements are the same.
22 On the reverse side, on the left-hand side we
23 have -- it is the civil ID, which is a public document,
24 which proves membership in the Vitez municipality and
25 its defence, and it says Civil Defence and work
1 platoon, the name it had was Kolonija. Below that it
2 says a member, and it is signed by the authorised
3 individuals. The date is the 14th of January, 1994,
4 whereas on the right-hand side we have the same text.
5 It is once again that the ID is a public document which
6 shows that it was issued by the Vitez department, and
7 it says work platoon-Kolonija. It says member once
8 again, and the date is the 20th of July, 1993.
9 Tell us, please, is this your ID as a member
10 of the work platoon?
11 A. Yes, it is, but it lacks a photograph which I
12 have used, but I do have the original, which I have
13 brought with me. It was used if we were to return from
14 the terrain. This would be an ID for us we encountered
15 any checkpoints or controls.
16 Q. Tell us, the work platoon named Kolonija,
17 that is the name of your particular unit? What was it
18 named after?
19 A. The town of Vitez is small, and as there was
20 a military factory there which built these houses for
21 their workers to reside in, it was called the Kolonija,
22 so this is a name that dates back to 1957 when the
23 Kolonija buildings were built.
24 Q. So, in fact, it is an area of Vitez, a
25 district of Vitez.
1 A. Yes, that's right.
2 Q. Tell the Court, please, what the working
3 conditions were like on the frontlines. What did it
4 look like in practical terms?
5 A. Those of us who were members of a work
6 platoon, whenever we came to the locality where we did
7 our work we would be transported either by a Kombi van
8 or a small bus, especially when we went to Bobasi,
9 Zaselje, Zabrdje and even up to Tolovici, and when
10 there was no fighting going on.
11 Furthermore, when we were on location we were
12 supplied with food, we were given food, and we had
13 three meals, we were given three meals. Most
14 frequently, we would take our meals with the members of
15 the HVO, the armed component of the HVO.
16 If we stayed for one day and then went back
17 at night, we would usually stay one day, but sometimes
18 we would stay three or five days, and then we were put
19 up. We were ensured rest, we were able to sleep. Of
20 course, these were not comfortable houses, they were
21 weekend cottages that had been slightly destroyed, or a
22 house that could be used for that purpose, but the main
23 thing was that we were put up there and we could have a
24 rest and sleep.
25 Furthermore, the terrain where we did our
1 work was secured, and the members of the HVO
2 endeavoured to make it a secure area. They introduced
3 us to the terrain and told us of the positions of the
4 other side, the hostile side to the HVO, where you
5 could die from being hit by a sniper or some other
6 weapon, and they explained to us how we should move
7 about to avoid being hit by the enemy.
8 We were given our tasks and the commander of
9 the frontline would always tell us what we were
10 expected to do, what kind of work. And the essential
11 thing is, in addition to what I already said, was that
12 we were not forced to work beyond endurance. Although,
13 we had to dig with various tools that we had, it often
14 rained, we had picks and axes and shovels and so on.
15 Therefore, I think that the danger at these
16 frontlines, there was a danger at some places, like
17 Bobasi, and then we would stop working; but in other
18 localities this danger did not exist so we were able to
19 perform our work.
20 Q. Tell us, did you gain the impression that the
21 members of the HVO, the soldiers, were correct in their
22 conduct to you; or didn't they care less what happened
23 to you?
24 A. As I said, when we were brought on the spot
25 the commander of the frontline would take us over, so
1 he was the commanding officer of all the HVO members,
2 as well, and would assign tasks to us. He would also
3 give us some soldiers to watch over us, and they
4 ensured our safety and security so that nothing would
5 happen. I have several examples.
6 We dug trenches at Zabrdje, and one day we
7 were digging, and we continued the following day and
8 around about noon we were told to interrupt our work
9 and to withdraw urgently and that we would be going
10 back home because they received reports that members of
11 the BH army were preparing a surprise attack on
12 Zabrdje. And then they engaged four soldiers, I think
13 four, perhaps five, with automatic rifles who escorted
14 us to a place of safety, to Zazine.
15 A similar case occurred when we went trench
16 digging during the night and dugouts in Bobasi, and in
17 the morning there was an attack by the BH army and we
18 withdrew on that occasion from that locality to a
19 weekend cottage area and we were allowed to go home.
20 Or another example which took place in
21 Tolovici or Lazine where we were engaged in expanding
22 the trenches and communicating trenches and dugouts.
23 But as this was very close to the BH army positions,
24 they told us that we would have to get up earlier and
25 work until there was, until the mist and fog lasted,
1 because this prevented them from seeing us and shooting
2 at us from snipers. As soon as the mist lifted we
3 would interrupt our work and be taken to places of
5 While we were working, members of the HVO who
6 had time on their hands because there was no fighting
7 actually on the frontline, they, too, would take up the
8 picks and shovels and help us dig the trenches.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Would you please speak more
10 slowly for the sake of the interpreters? Thank you.
11 Q. Could you please tell the Court whether you
12 noticed any inequality in treatment in terms of the
13 members of different ethnic groups? Was one ethnic
14 group sent to more dangerous positions and the other
15 part of the work platoon that belonged to different
16 ethnic groups, were they spared? Did you notice that
17 kind of treatment?
18 A. No. That was not the kind of treatment that
19 was accorded to all of us. They tried to protect all
20 of us. We tried to do our work as quickly as possible
21 so that we could be off afterwards and then we could go
23 I worked with the Muslims the most, and I did
24 not notice any insults or any mistreatment or any
25 difference, really. I don't know, perhaps I was older
1 than others and therefore more responsible, but it
2 seemed to me that I worked harder than the younger
3 people. It was a strenuous job, but it wasn't
4 exhausting altogether, and we took breaks, so there was
5 no discrimination.
6 Q. Please tell the Court, was it dangerous,
7 nevertheless, to dig these trenches? What was the
8 danger involved? You have described some of this
9 already, but did you feel safer in Vitez or at the
11 A. When you say frontline, it means danger. But
12 when speaking of Vitez and the fighting that took place
13 in Vitez, it is very difficult to define what the
14 frontline actually is. It is true that the frontline
15 was the first line that divided the two sides.
16 I must say that in Bobasi when the attack
17 took place, we withdrew quickly, and I think that only
18 one person was wounded, although there was over a
19 hundred of us, there were even more Croats than others
20 in Bobasi.
21 At the other places it was not dangerous.
22 I'm even prepared to claim that it was more dangerous
23 for me to be in Vitez when I was off, when I didn't go
24 to work, because Vitez was shelled very often by
25 mortars and tank grenades.
1 For example, I lived in a three-room
2 apartment, and two of my grandsons were injured when a
3 shrapnel got into the bedroom where my wife was, too,
4 and all the glass on the windows broke. And this also
5 happened in the villages, in Vitez even, eight children
6 were killed by shells and grenades, and a child was
7 killed in his father's hands, in his father's arms.
8 So, to be fair, it was even safer at the
9 frontline, but it was more difficult. There was more
10 hardship involved, that's what I'm trying to say, but
11 it was better. In town and in the villages it was
12 considerably more difficult, only if the fighting
13 actually broke out, then; but then there were no
14 civilians around.
15 Q. Tell me, in terms of status, how did you
16 regulate this? You did contribute in a way to the
17 defence of Vitez, not with a rifle in your hands, but
18 you worked and you fortified the necessary facilities;
19 so, how was your status regulated in terms of
20 participation in the defence of Vitez?
21 A. All of us who took part in the work platoons,
22 I'm talking about work platoons, and the same goes for
23 the members of the HVO, all of those who were engaged
24 in combat and in work platoons, these are counted as
25 years of service.
1 So, if you were at frontline either as a
2 member of the work platoon or in a combat unit, your
3 years of service were doubled, and since I was a
4 pensioner already, this became part of my pension, as
6 Also recently we received documents where
7 part of our military pay, as it is called, was given to
8 us, actually all of us who were in the work platoons
9 and those who were in the armed units. When I say all,
10 I'm saying that the Serbs, the Romanies, the Muslims,
11 the Croats, all of those who participated got equal
13 Q. So, can we conclude that your participation
14 in the war with a shovel in your hands, in terms of
15 status, in terms of your retirement entitlement and
16 years of service et cetera, has been made equal to that
17 of an HVO who fought with a rifle in his hands?
18 A. (No audible response).
19 Q. Could you please repeat your answer into the
21 A. Yes, it was quite equal.
22 MR. NOBILO: That will be all, Mr. President,
23 as far as the examination-in-chief is concerned. We
24 would like to offer these IDs, D491, as a Defence
1 JUDGE JORDA: (Interpreter's microphone not
3 MR. HARMON: Thank you very much,
4 Mr. President, Judge Shahabuddeen, good afternoon,
6 Cross-examined by Mr. Harmon:
7 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Lukovic, my name is Mark
8 Harmon, I'm one of the Prosecutors in this case, and
9 sitting to my right is Mr. Gregory Kehoe, welcome to
10 The Hague.
11 Mr. Lukovic, I'm reviewing my notes and your
12 testimony; you indicated that the work platoon, which
13 you became a member, started in June of 1993; is that
15 A. Perhaps you didn't understand me. I came to
16 participate in the work platoon only in June, 1993.
17 Until then I was not engaged by anyone, I was in the
18 records listed as a reservist. But the work platoons
19 were established somewhat earlier, as soon as the
20 fighting started the work platoons were established.
21 Q. When were the work platoons established, and
22 how were they established? Were they established by
24 A. I cannot give you the exact date when they
25 were established, because I was asked to join in June.
1 But as far as I managed to find out later, they were
2 established as soon as the fighting broke out between
3 the HVO and the members of the army of Bosnia and
5 This subject matter was regulated in the law
6 on national defence earlier on, before. None of this
7 was new, the civilian defence has work platoons and the
8 military component has work platoons.
9 Now, I accepted this as my duty and my
10 obligation, and in Vitez during the period of the
11 political government of the HVO this was regulated by a
12 decree, a decree on the armed forces of the Croat
13 community of Herceg-Bosna. So with your permission I
14 could read out a few details.
15 Q. Mr. Lukovic, let me ask you some questions
16 and I will come to that decree perhaps later in my
18 Mr. Lukovic, in April of 1993, were you aware
19 that a number of Muslim civilians were detained at the
20 Dubravica elementary school?
21 A. The colleagues that I had, a professor of
22 sociology and other friends of mine, were detained at
23 the adult education centre. I worked in Vitez, so I
24 can't really tell you about Dubravica or other
1 They told me when the fighting broke out and
2 the shelling started that there was a certain division
3 in this group, and I cannot really assert anything as
4 far as Dubravica is concerned, and I don't want to give
5 you half truths; but I did hear that in Dubravica a
6 number of Muslims from that area were kept there.
7 Q. And were you, you told us you were informed
8 that a number of Muslims were detained at the Vitez
9 cinema complex; is that correct?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Were you informed that Muslims were also
12 detained at the Vitez veterinary station?
13 A. Yes, I heard about the veterinary station
15 Q. Were you informed that the HVO detained
16 Muslims civilians in the SDK offices in Vitez?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Were you informed that the HVO detained
19 Muslim civilians in a few houses in the village of
21 A. I didn't hear that.
22 Q. Were you informed that the HVO detained
23 Muslim civilians in the Kiseljak barracks?
24 A. No.
25 Q. Were you informed that the HVO detained
1 Muslim civilians at the municipal building in Kiseljak?
2 A. No, no. I can really speak of Vitez only,
3 but I'm sorry, when I said that I heard of these other
4 things, I heard about all of that from my friends. I
5 heard about Dubravica, the SDK, and also a colleague of
6 mine who was at the adult education centre told me
7 about this. I was director of that establishment
8 before and he told me they were kept in the cinema of
9 that centre.
10 Q. Lastly, and tell me if you know this, were
11 you informed that the HVO detained Muslim civilians a
12 the Kaonik prison?
13 A. I heard about Kaonik. I also have some
14 friends who were in HVO units who were also sent to
15 prison in Kaonik, and they spent 10 to 15 days there,
16 because they had committed certain misdemeanours at the
17 frontlines. So, that is how I came to the conclusion
18 that this was a prison, both for members of the HVO who
19 violated military rules.
20 Q. Mr. Lukovic, were you aware that the HVO
21 forced those Muslim prisoners who were detained at
22 those locations which I have identified to go to
23 frontline positions where combat activities were taking
24 place and forced them to dig trenches?
25 A. No, no, I have not been informed of that, so
1 I cannot confirm that for you. I mean, I was there
2 where there was shooting, but no one would dig where
3 there was shooting. And you know, I'm a Serb and I
4 stayed there, and perhaps some of the Muslims stayed
5 with the Croats, and then perhaps somebody could have a
6 different view of all of this.
7 But I consider this to be my obligation, and
8 perhaps some of these Muslims who were digging out
9 there together with me, one of them was the president
10 of the municipal assembly before that, another one was
11 a colleague of mine, a teacher, and another one was a
12 musician, and also there was a Muslim who was sleeping
13 indoors on a sofa, and perhaps my story is different
14 and perhaps his story is different. Because as soon as
15 he got an opportunity he left HVO controlled territory,
16 it is only natural, he joined his own people. I'm
17 sorry made this digression.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Please answer the Judges. When
19 you answer, would you look at Judges, please?
20 Q. Mr. Lukovic, it's all right to look at me
21 when I ask the questions, but when you give your
22 response would you please look toward the Judges in
23 giving your responses?
24 Were you aware, Mr. Lukovic, that on April
25 16th of 1993, and through a considerable period
1 thereafter, that Muslim civilians who were detained at
2 those locations were forcibly kept at frontline
3 positions and forced to dig trenches in exceedingly
4 dangerous conditions?
5 A. You know what? I'm talking about work
6 platoons, but I shall answer your question. All of
7 those who were at the adult education centre, none of
8 them went out to dig trenches while they were detained
9 in that building. This was a moment when an all out
10 attack was launched, and the shelling of Vitez, and
11 shooting, et cetera, et cetera; and in that kind of a
12 situation the military authorities probably know why
13 they did that, because children and women were not
14 engaged, only military aged men. I assume that this is
15 done in other situations, too, and it is very hard to
16 define what kind of a war this was.
17 Until only the other day we were colleagues
18 and friends and we lived together and then the shooting
19 started, and then there was a dilemma; where people
20 would go and what side they would take. I dare not
21 claim this, but perhaps the fact that some of the
22 Muslims were kept in a certain place prevented
23 irresponsible individuals from committing a crime.
24 Q. Mr. Lukovic, your testimony was, and I am
25 quoting it, that "None of them," referring to the
1 Muslims at the cinema building, "went out to dig
2 trenches while they were detained in that building."
3 Did you go to the Vitez cinema building between the
4 time period of April the 15th to, say, the second week
5 in May?
6 A. To be quite honest, when the fighting began I
7 stayed with my grandchildren and my wife and my
8 daughter-in-law and tried to save my life, to tell you
9 the truth. My son was already at the frontline, and he
10 fought with weapons. So I didn't go there, and to be
11 quite frank, it didn't even cross my mind to leave the
12 apartment. You don't know what it was like for us
13 elderly people who were civilians out there.
14 Later, and later, I was told by the people
15 who were there who worked with me in the factory or
16 wherever, that they were treated fairly, that they were
17 not mistreated, that they were grouped, that is a fact,
18 but they were staying in that building.
19 Q. So, not having been to the Vitez cinema, and
20 I take it not having been to the frontlines where
21 active combat was taking place, you don't know whether
22 or not those people who were detained in the Vitez
23 cinema building were forcibly taken out against their
24 will to go dig trenches; do you?
25 A. Everything I told you about the cinema and
1 about all these other places is hearsay. That is what
2 my Muslim colleagues and friends told me. Those who
3 were there. None of them told me they went out to dig
4 trenches. And afterwards, after a certain period of
5 time when they were returned to their homes, those who
6 remained in Vitez and did not leave Vitez, some went to
7 Travnik, Zenica, and Croats came from Jajce, et cetera,
8 and from Zenica. This was a migration, simply. A
9 large migration, at that.
10 So, whoever remained probably had to join the
11 work platoon because they were military aged men and
12 they had, and they were citizens of Vitez. I'm not a
13 Croat, either, and they were Muslims. But we had to
14 carry out our work duty, and that is the way I
15 understood it.
16 Q. Mr. Lukovic, between April 16th, 1993 and the
17 second week of May, 1993, do you know how many Muslim
18 civilians were wounded or killed at the frontline while
19 they were being forced to dig trenches by the HVO?
20 A. I don't know. I really don't know. I told
21 you that I knew about my friend Galijasevic, who was
22 wounded in Bobasi, and I know that a Croat was killed
23 in Barin Gaj by Ahmici. So there were killings and
24 woundings on all sides, not only Serbs and Muslims, my
25 son was also wounded at the frontline. I don't know.
1 I really don't know. And what I do know, I told about
3 Q. Let me just stay with that point for just a
4 minute, Mr. Lukovic. You described the conditions that
5 you experienced as a member of a work platoon from the
6 time of June of 1993 onwards. Do you know about the
7 conditions that the Muslim civilians that were forced
8 to dig trenches experienced between April 16, 1993 and,
9 say, the second week of May 1993?
10 A. I don't. I don't know. I only told you
11 about the places where I was and where I can make
12 assertions, and tell the truth and tell you about what
13 it was like where I was.
14 Q. Now, let me -- could I have the assistance of
15 the usher in getting the easel? I'm going to put a map
16 up on the easel, and I'm going to ask you to please,
17 with a coloured pen, please mark the locations where
18 you, as the member of a work platoon went to dig
19 trenches, but while that's being set up let me ask you
20 some additional questions.
21 When you say that in June of 1993, the
22 Military Police came to your residence and advised you
23 to report to a particular location, in other words, you
24 were mobilised, you said that you believed that you had
25 a duty and a responsibility to fulfil whatever
1 obligations existed upon you. Do you remember that
3 A. I didn't say whatever obligations. I was
4 told that I should urgently report at the city library,
5 and I found people who work in the civilian defence, I
6 found them there, and they know me. They said to me,
7 "Dusan Lukovic, you have been mobilised and you are a
8 member of the work platoon Kolonija."
9 Q. Now, after you were informed that you were a
10 member of the work platoon Kolonija, did you stay with
11 that particular work platoon and perform the duties
12 that you've described at the frontlines exclusively
13 with that work platoon Kolonija or did you work with
14 other work platoons?
15 A. Well, yes, Kolonija is big, so depending on
16 what was needed on the ground -- I'm sorry. I worked
17 at Zabrdje only for two days, and Zaselje only one day,
18 one day, in Bobasi two days, in Brdjani three days. So
19 it really depended on the necessity involved and on the
20 situation on the ground, on what the situation was like
21 in terms of dugouts, trenches, communication trenches,
22 et cetera.
23 Then only in November 1993, because I was
24 sick for a certain period of time, I caught a cold at
25 Zabrdje, so I had sick leave for about one month. I
1 had an inflammation, and I was under medical control
2 all the time, and a doctor treated me. So that's what
3 I can tell you. But if we are talking about Muslims,
4 Bosniaks, I know them very well. Some of them were my
5 students, just like there were some Croat soldiers who
6 were my students too, et cetera.
7 So for this period, while I was there and in
8 the places where I was, no one was mistreated, really,
9 but you just had to work. Perhaps I didn't elaborate
10 on this, I just talked about transportation, et cetera,
11 but you have to understand the war conditions. In
12 spite of all the high offices I held, I complied with
13 this without any objections. They could have offered
14 me to do something in the civilian defence. I wouldn't
15 have been a commander or whatever, but if they asked me
16 to work I did work. I even understood that if I worked
17 this way, it will help the young people, less young
18 people would get killed. So that is what I had in
20 Q. Mr. Lukovic, beside the work platoon Kolonija
21 were there other work platoons that had other names?
22 A. Yes. Most of these work platoons were called
23 by the place that the people came from. So Donja
24 Veceriska, Nadioci, et cetera. The name of the work
25 platoon coincided with the name of the village. So I
1 live in Kolonija, which is actually a certain part of
2 the town, and that is why my work platoon was called
4 Q. Do you know the other names of the work
5 platoons beside the platoon Kolonija?
6 A. Well, I just told you. Nadioci work platoon,
7 Donja Veceriska work platoon, Stari Bila. I cannot
8 remember right now, but it -- all of these were
9 villages on HVO controlled territory, and that's where
10 the armed forces of the HVO were too.
11 Q. Now, let me ask you briefly, what would
12 happen to you, if you know, if you refused to
13 participate in a work platoon? What was the
15 A. Well, as I was describing this decree, I said
16 that it existed, and then there's also a law, and any
17 non-compliance with the law and non-compliance with the
18 military obligation -- everybody, every citizen has
19 military duties, and if they do not fulfil them then
20 this is a misdemeanour. So I would have been taken to
21 a municipal Judge, and perhaps I would have even been
22 taken to prison, depending on how -- on how my offence
23 was judged and whether I should spend time in gaol
25 Q. Now, will you assist me please, Mr. Lukovic,
1 I'm going to have the usher give you this pen, and you
2 have testified that you went to various locations where
3 you dug trenches. Would you take this pen and please
4 mark those locations where you dug trenches? There is
5 a map.
6 A. I don't know how well I'll do on this map,
7 you know, because this is a photocopy. I don't know.
8 I'll do my best, but could somebody please show this to
9 me and--
10 MR. HARMON: May I assist the witness,
11 Mr. President?
12 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps Mr. Nobilo would like
13 to approach the map as well.
14 MR. HARMON:
15 Q. Let me assist you, please. Here is Vitez.
16 A. Vitez -- (not audible). Can I underline
17 this? May I underline this? Tolovici, Persinje,
18 Alinja, Bukve, Preocica. Kruscica is down here.
19 Zabrdje is down here. Zabrdje, Zaselje is over here.
20 Zabrdje is somewhere here. Is it possible that Zabrdje
21 isn't on the map? Zvijezda is above Zabrdje.
22 Kruscica, Hrasno Sivrino Selo, Ahmici. I was here in
23 Barin Gaj. Bobasi should be somewhere in this region.
24 Kruscica. It should be somewhere here.
25 Q. Why don't you put a line in the area where
1 you can best approximate where you dug trenches?
2 A. Bobasi, Brdjani.
3 Q. Put a line where you --
4 A. It's from Vitez towards Kruscica, along the
5 boarder. Attacks came from this side. Does that
6 satisfy you?
7 Q. Well, let me ask you. You said Bobasi, and
8 is this the line that -- this is Bobasi?
9 A. Here, yes.
10 Q. Where is Lazine?
11 A. Lazine, Tolovici. Laizne is Tolovici.
12 Q. Barin Gaj?
13 A. Zasilje, and we remained here at Zabrdje.
14 This was the mountaineering hut. Zabrdje, Zaselje
15 Bobasi, Brdjani, Barin Gaj, Tolovici and Lazine.
16 Q. Are these marks in orange all the locations
17 where you, as a member of the Kolonija work platoon,
18 went to dig trenches? Let me ask you that question
19 again. Are these the locations in orange -- do these
20 represent all of the locations where you, as a member
21 of the Kolonija work platoon, went to dig trenches?
22 A. Yes, that's right.
23 Q. Please have a seat again. Thank you.
24 Thank you for assisting me in that,
25 Mr. Lukovic. Let me ask you, you said, as well, in
1 your experiences at these frontlines, that you went up
2 to these particular locations on a number of
3 occasions. How many times did you go to dig trenches,
4 to the best your recollection, during the time that you
5 were a member of the work platoon?
6 A. I can't tell you exactly. I would stay for
7 15 days at some places, and for three days, for
8 example, we would go home and then be taken back. In
9 Barin Gaj for example, I think I spent 18 days at Barin
10 Gaj. In Zaselje I spent two days. In Brdjani I spent
11 three days.
12 So it wasn't a continuous period that I spent
13 in the work platoons. You would do the work and then
14 go home, and then they would call you up again to the
15 same work platoon or they would add some men to the
16 work platoon. Somebody would be ill and then they
17 would send you somewhere else. But regardless of what
18 they wanted me to do, I went to all these different
19 locations which were under HVO control.
20 Q. And throughout the period of time you were a
21 member of the work platoon Kolonija, how many people
22 were killed or injured while digging at frontline
24 A. I was witness to one killing by sniper fire,
25 and he was a Croat. I think his name was Anto.
1 Whether it was Zeko or Zekic I don't remember exactly.
2 Also, Galijasevic Senad was wounded, my friend, but he
3 was transferred immediately to the war hospital at Nova
4 Bila and was treated there. His life was saved. And
5 there was another, Karadza, had some light injuries,
6 some scratches, Ahmed, and he was also transferred to a
7 medical unit. That is as far as I know, the ones I
8 witnessed in the work platoons myself.
9 Q. Now, Senad Galic, what is his ethnic group?
10 A. Galijasevic is a Muslim.
11 Q. Ahmed Karadza who was injured, what was his
12 ethnic group?
13 A. Also a Muslim.
14 Q. How old was Senad Galic? How old was he?
15 A. He is Sead. Senad is a musician Zagreb,
16 Senad of Bosnia. This is Sead. He was about 40. I'd
17 also like to mention, if I may, before I was --
18 Galijasevic was wounded, I was on the spot at exactly
19 the position he was digging, and I went outside the
20 trenches because I had to sign for the number of meals
21 we were given. I could have been the victim on that
22 particular occasion. The sniper could have hit me.
23 But he was digging, he probably stood up and was hit by
24 a sniper. As I say, he was not killed. He was given
25 excellent medical assistance so he's quite well now and
1 there are no consequences of that wound.
2 Q. Now, did I understand your testimony,
3 Mr. Lukovic, that one of the people who was in your
4 work platoon was the President of the municipal
5 assembly, or did I misunderstand that portion of your
7 A. Yes, yes, you understood it correctly. He
8 replaced me when my mandate expired. His name was
9 Viteskic Mirsad. I think he resides in Germany now.
10 Before that he was secretary of the Committee of the
11 League of Communists of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He was
12 there with me. There was another musician, Dzevad
13 nicknamed Dzedzo. He was president and we dug
14 together, we dug a trench together.
15 Q. That was the individual who was the former
16 president of the municipal assembly. Was he a Muslim,
17 a Croat or a Serb?
18 A. He was a Muslim.
19 Q. Now, you testified that the various groups
20 that were work platoons were integrated, they included
21 Muslims, Serbs, Croats. Were there work platoons that
22 were work platoons consisting of exclusively of
23 Muslims, exclusively of Croats, exclusively of Serbs,
24 if you know?
25 A. I'm not aware of that. The work platoons
1 where I was engaged, they were all multi-ethnic in
3 Q. Now, in part you testified that at the
4 conclusion of your service in the work platoon -- first
5 of all, when did that end? First of all, can you tell
6 us when you stopped working in the work platoon?
7 A. I stopped working in the work platoon -- I'll
8 have to look at my notes. May I do so--
9 Q. Please.
10 A. -- to refresh my memory. Thank you. It was
11 in Barin Gaj. I was there from the 11th to the 23rd of
12 October, 1993. From November I was transferred to the
13 Civil Defence work platoon, where I worked as a guard
14 and guarded the Red Cross vehicles and other vehicles
15 which were used to bring in the dead and wounded.
16 There was a mortuary there and some building material.
17 I was there from November until April, because I
18 suffered from influenza and I was ill, and I was older,
19 and so they gave me this post in the town of Vitez
21 Q. Now, if a member of a work platoon did not
22 want to go to the frontlines where the enemy was a
23 short distance away, could he refuse to do that?
24 A. Well, he could refuse but sanctions would
25 have been applied. He didn't have to go, they wouldn't
1 make him go and use weapons to compel him to go. As I
2 said a moment ago, had I not accepted work in the work
3 platoon, once again the civilian authorities would have
4 written a report and I would have gone before a
5 magistrate and perhaps I would have gotten 7, 10, 15
6 days in prison as punishment, and they would ask me
7 once again at a later date to perform my duty. But
8 nobody was compelled to do so, that is to say, at
9 gunpoint. Nobody did that.
10 Q. Now, while you were at these various
11 locations digging trenches, did you see any high
12 ranking members of the HVO military present?
13 A. First of all, if you mean a colonel, a
14 general or something of that rank --
15 Q. Can you tell us which high ranking members of
16 the HVO were present when you and other members of the
17 work platoon were digging trenches at frontline
19 A. Usually they were commanders of the
20 frontline. Whether they were corporals or first
21 lieutenants or something. Azinovic Ilija, for example,
22 was a captain. He had a bigger frontline to command.
23 He enabled us to go to one of these houses, the last
24 house that remained in Ahmici, and we spend the night
25 there. So there were always commanders. Whether they
1 were privates first class or whether slightly higher
3 Q. Mr. Lukovic, did you see any ranking officers
4 of the HVO present at locations where you and other
5 members of the Colonial work platoon were digging
7 A. I said if you think that a -- if you're
8 thinking of a colonel or a major or general, I did not,
9 but I saw captains, those with the rank of captain. He
10 was captain in Barin Gaj and he was there permanently.
11 We go for consultations to Vitez and then return to
12 Barin Gaj, and he would tour the frontlines, as would
13 the others. But they were commanders of 10 or 30 men,
14 but they were given the task of organising the work
15 platoons and seeing to our welfare and safety.
16 Q. And so when you were at the frontline
17 positions, you were guarded, I take it by members of
18 the HVO; is that right?
19 A. They guarded us in the sense of preventing us
20 from being in the line of fire of the other side, so
21 they would task the HVO soldiers to caution us and tell
22 us where not to go, where to go, where to be wary of
23 snipers, where to be wary of mortar fire. They would
24 say if you go to have lunch you must pass along a
25 protected zone and so on.
1 So they indicated the hot spots, so to speak,
2 the dangerous areas, so that we were very well-infomed
3 and I remain standing to this day. I was not wounded,
4 whereas there was heavy fighting going on, in Bobasi
5 for example.
6 Q. When you were at the frontlines, did you see
7 other units such as the Vitezovi at the frontlines,
8 where you were taken to dig trenches?
9 A. Where I was I did not see the Vitezovi. And
10 when I did my digging I did not see them.
11 Q. Now, were you considered to be part of the
12 HVO as a member of the work platoon?
13 A. Yes. And in my document it states, "Member
14 of the 92nd Home Guards Regiment." And when I received
15 this document, this was after -- my documents after the
16 war, I was a member and belonged to this military
18 Q. Now, when you were at these various frontline
19 positions as a member of the work platoon, could you
20 tell the Court how the HVO communicated with each other
21 and how they communicated to their positions in the
23 A. I don't think this is within the frameworks
24 of what I was saying. As a member of the work platoon
25 I didn't enter into these matters, and I don't think we
1 ought to have been informed as to communications and
2 links. This is a military matter. We did not meddle
3 in military matters of that kind, but quite naturally
4 they probably did maintain communication lines, but I
5 really didn't see any devices of that kind. I would
6 tell you if I had. I didn't have the possibility of
7 going there probably. And every army has a system of
8 communications, if it is an army. If it is an army it
9 must know how to organise itself. And later on we
10 heard that both sides had communicating systems and
11 lines and everything else that they needed.
12 Q. How was it the information was passed to your
13 work platoon that an attack was imminent? How did the
14 HVO receive that information, if you know, and how did
15 they then convey that to you?
16 A. I'm not aware of how they received this
17 information, but the commander of the line came to us
18 and told us to pick up our picks and shovels, and to
19 return the equipment to where it came from and we
20 should go home, because they had received information
21 that an attack was being prepared, and then they gave
22 us four or five soldiers to escort us, with weapons, to
23 take to us a place of safety where a bus would be
24 waiting for us to take us home.
25 Q. While you were at the various frontline
1 positions that you've identified for us on the map, did
2 you see any members of the HVO who were Muslims?
3 A. No.
4 Q. Are you familiar with the events at Ahmici
5 that occurred on April 16, 1993?
6 A. Only inasmuch as I was able to read in the
7 papers, and I saw Ahmici when I went to the work -- in
8 the work platoon to dig at Barin Gaj. That's when I
9 saw Ahmici. And if any of us -- any of you have been
10 there, well, the houses were is destroyed and so on,
11 but I don't know anything else. I wasn't a
12 participant, I just know what I read from the
13 newspapers and so on. That's what I can tell you.
14 Ahmici was destroyed, but there were several
15 houses standing, and we even spent the night in one
16 house in Ahmici, and it still has a roof and it had a
17 couch to lie on and so on, and we slept there for one
19 Q. And do you know about the circumstances of
20 the destruction of Ahmici? Did you hear about that
21 while you were either in Ahmici digging trenches or
22 near Barin Gaj digging trenches? Did you ask the HVO
23 soldiers what had happened?
24 MR. HAYMAN: Mr. President, we just object to
25 our time being used for matters that are wholly
1 unrelated to the testimony. We don't object to the
2 fishing but we object to our time being used. I want
3 to make that clear.
4 JUDGE JORDA: All right. The objection is
5 sustained. That's outside the scope.
6 THE WITNESS: I should also like to ask, if
7 possible, for you to ask me whether I was a
8 participant. That is something that I can talk about.
9 But anything that I read or heard about, anybody can
10 tell you information.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, you are absolutely right,
12 Mr. Lukovic. Please change your question, Mr. Harmon.
13 MR. HARMON: I will, Mr. President.
14 Q. Let me just ask one more question of you
15 Mr. Lukovic. I just have a point of clarification.
16 You said you were engaged in -- the translation I had
17 was a "general purpose unit". Is that different than a
18 work unit?
19 A. In Civil Defence they have what they call
20 these general purpose units which are regulated by law,
21 and the law on national defence speaks of platoons.
22 Now, these general purpose units for Civil Defence,
23 they include the sanitary units, the anti-fire units,
24 the units to clear up the terrain. They include
25 work -- they are also work platoons, but in fact, work
1 platoons or units which, for example, if there was a
2 flood, earthquake, fire breaking out, a grenade, an
3 explosive, to see to the town's hygiene under such
4 conditions, to ensure heating for the population.
5 There was done by these Civil Defence work platoons or
6 units. And also, food had to be dispatched and handed
7 out. When it was war, they wanted to restrict movement
8 around Vitez because there was a lot of shelling and
9 mortar fire and a lot of casualties. So that it was
10 these units, these sort of work platoons, and they were
11 the sort of general purpose units, several units, and
12 this matter was regulated by law.
13 Q. And lastly, Mr. Lukovic, how many members
14 were there in the work platoon Kolonija?
15 A. I don't know the exact number. Possibly 70,
16 but when we went on our job it was between 15 and 25
17 depending on the need. The Kolonija work platoon, part
18 it have was sent to one locality, another portion to
19 another locality. So there would usually be between 15
20 and 25 of us, and they were multi-national or
21 multi-ethnic in character the platoons.
22 Q. Mr. Lukovic, thank you very much.
23 MR. HARMON: I've concluded my examination,
24 Mr. President. I would ask that the map that has been
25 marked by Mr. Lukovic, and I don't have a number, be
1 admitted into evidence.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Registrar, number, please?
3 THE REGISTRAR: This will be 561.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, do you have
5 anything to add?
6 MR. NOBILO: Yes, Mr. President, but just a
7 few questions.
8 Re-examined by Mr. Nobilo:
9 Q. Mr. Lukovic you said later on you were
10 acquainted with members of the 92nd National Guard
11 Regiment. When was this?
12 A. This was in 1996.
13 Q. And during the war it did not exist, the 92nd
14 did not exist?
15 A. No, it was just to regulate matters.
16 Q. But in the war, when you were in the civil
17 defence platoons and this -- the organisation of civil
18 defence and the work platoons, was it under the
19 civilian structures of the municipality?
20 A. Yes, the platoon I was in, in the civil
21 defence platoons, were under civil defence authority,
22 but the documents were issued later on in 1996.
23 Q. The decision to mobilise you to a work
24 platoon and dispatch you, who took this decision,
25 civilian or military authorities?
1 A. Exclusively the civilian authorities.
2 Q. Did you have the possibility of going on sick
3 leave when you were ill?
4 A. I was given a 30-day sick leave period. I
5 had a cold and various inflammations and they thought I
6 might have jaundice as well, so I had to go for regular
7 checkups and examinations to my physician. When the
8 team of physicians said that I was healthy I was taken
9 back to the work platoon.
10 This related to all the members of the work
11 platoon, there was always a very high level of medical
12 care and protection, of course under the prevailing
14 Q. You mentioned your work platoon Kolonija,
15 Nadioci, Donja Veceriska; can we say that every village
16 on the territory under HVO control had its own work
18 A. I think it did, yes.
19 Q. And tell the Court, please, in view of the
20 population structure, may we conclude that most of the
21 members of the work platoons were Croats?
22 A. We cannot say that this is true for all the
23 work platoons.
24 Q. But take an overall for the municipality.
25 A. Yes, overall, yes.
1 Q. Apart from the captain, all the other ranks
2 that you saw, what were the most frequent ranks that
3 contacted with you? What level of rank? What military
4 ranks did these commanders hold?
5 A. Well, whether they were sergeants or lance
6 corporals, I don't know. I just mentioned the man whom
7 I know to have held the rank of captain; but otherwise
8 they were these people in charge of the trench and the
9 command of 10 to 30 people, and they would assign tasks
10 to us.
11 MR. NOBILO: That's all, Mr. President. That
12 concludes the direct.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Nobilo. The
14 Judges will ask you questions now. Judge
16 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Mr. Lukovic, you
17 mentioned a law which regulated the duty of people to
18 give labour and which provided for sanctions in case
19 they refused to do so. What was that law? When was it
20 passed? Who passed it?
21 A. At the beginning of the war the law on
22 national defence for Bosnia-Herzegovina existed, and I
23 think they all took it over and began to use it. But
24 in wartime situations additional regulations were
25 adopted concerning mobilisation. I have a quotation
1 from the regulation concerning mobilisation and the
2 duties of individuals, conscripts, in that regard.
3 So, I think it was the law on national
4 defence that was in force, because we had been
5 organising various exercises according to that law, and
6 probably the HVO took it over but with additional
8 The regulation is also based on the
9 provisions of that law, and in my time, when I was
10 president of the municipal assembly, the same sort of
11 work platoons existed, tied to the military component,
12 and others tied to civil defence. There was a large
13 scale exercise when I was mayor in the Zenica region
14 which incorporates 12 municipalities, and I was the
15 civilian president commanding that exercise.
16 We also engaged these general purpose units
17 that I mentioned earlier on, and this is how it
18 functioned for the entire area; and therefore, I do
19 know something about this, although many years have of
20 course gone by and I have forgotten some of it.
21 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You remember a great
22 deal, and I'm grateful to you. This was, the law on
23 national defence was a law of the central government of
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina; do I understand you correctly? And
25 when the HVO took power, they took over that law and
1 applied it; is that what happened?
2 A. They also passed a decree on the armed forces
3 of the Croat community of Herceg-Bosna, and that decree
4 exists, and it is practically a copy of that law. I
5 mean, it was literally rewritten, that every person of
6 military age has the duty to carry out work duty,
7 military duty, take part in civil defence, and also in
8 observation services. And also there are material
9 obligations involved, and that is the same as when I
10 was president of the municipality.
11 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So, the HVO would be
12 operating that law and would be applying that law?
13 A. I don't know how to answer this question.
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Yes or no, or qualify
15 your answer. I repeat --
16 A. The law is far broader, and I just pointed
17 out this aspect of the armed forces related to the
18 military obligation and work platoons, and that is why
19 it was adjusted to the conditions involved. Also there
20 were sanctions envisaged for those who did not carry
21 this out, because the law did have to be adjusted.
22 The law pertained to the Socialist Republic
23 of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the war broke out and
24 one had to have normative acts, laws in order to act.
25 That is what I think, at least.
1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Were there people in
2 your area who did not recognise the HVO as a legitimate
4 A. As far as I know, there were no such people.
5 The territory --
6 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, you went on various
7 trench digging exercises and you were a member of
8 groups which comprised various nationalities, including
9 Muslims; is that right?
10 A. Yes.
11 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, to your knowledge,
12 were any of those Muslims people who had been detained
13 at the Vitez cinema, or any of the other places where
14 Muslims were detained?
15 A. I cannot assert that; but there were some
16 younger men who were with me on the work platoon,
17 because I went only in June; so I imagine that there is
18 the possibility of having such people having been
19 there. So not from the adult education centre, but
20 only when they went back to their homes, then they were
21 engaged in the civil defence units and the work
22 platoon. And the Red Cross, too, there were Muslims
23 and Croats and Serbs there, just as in the work platoon
24 within the military component.
25 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You mentioned one Muslim
1 who rested I think on a couch, and as soon as he found
2 an opportunity he left the area.
3 A. Yes, yes.
4 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: He was a member of your
5 trench digging platoon; was he?
6 A. If you are referring to this man, Topcic, he
7 was with me, and we slept on the same couch. However,
8 when he had an opportunity to go to Zenica, he did go.
9 Now, for what reasons? He probably wanted to join his
10 own people, you see, and I had no need to do that,
11 because I had spent over 40 years there, so although
12 I'm not a Croat, I stayed.
13 I have no objections as far as this young man
14 is concerned, and he worked with me at 4 or 5 different
15 places, he and a few other men.
16 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: While he was digging
17 with you, did he ever protest or utter any words or
18 show any signs of dissatisfaction?
19 A. Well, he didn't show any signs of
20 dissatisfaction towards the HVO or whatever, but
21 vis-a-vis a situation that took us all by surprise and
22 this senseless situation where he as a young man was
23 forced to dig, and as we would put it in Bosnia, he
24 tried to find a way for him to save his life, to save
25 his head, as we would put it. He never said anything
1 about the HVO or anything, he simply spoke of this
2 senseless war.
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You said he was forced
4 to dig. What would you say to this: Was it possible
5 that there were other people who were digging trenches
6 who were not happy with being forced to dig trenches,
7 but who, nevertheless, thought it wise not to protest?
8 A. To be quite honest, I didn't like to dig
9 trenches, either. I'm a professor of sociology, at
10 that time I was 58 years old. Very few people would
11 take a pick or a shovel in that kind of rain and in
12 weather that was even less cold than it was then, but I
13 imagine that that's the kind of person I am, in terms
14 of temperament, in terms of my moral views, that it was
15 my military obligation. And that is why I took this
16 with a feeling of responsibility, it's not that I was
17 pleased by it or that I looked forward to it. I
18 imagine that's the way others felt, too.
19 But when we were there on the ground we
20 worked hard. When we saw these young people on this
21 side that I was on, and also there were young people on
22 the other side, too, and perhaps all of them were
23 workers whose director I had been. You know, this is
24 really, it weighed on my mind, psychologically
25 speaking, and it's a great responsibility.
1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: In other words, you saw
2 it in terms of discharging your civic responsibilities
3 as a good citizen. This was what you were required to
4 do, and this is what you did.
5 A. Exactly. And may I just add one more thing?
6 If I were on the side of the army of Bosnia and
7 Herzegovina, and if I had stayed there, I would have
8 been under a military obligation there, too. And I
9 would have accepted that, too, as my civic
11 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, if a member of your
12 platoon were so ill-advised as to utter any words of
13 protest and he was overheard by the guards, would any
14 action be taken?
15 A. Well, it depends on what he would say and how
16 he would say it. But I believe that if he would
17 protest simply by saying, "Why am I digging, what am I
18 doing, this is senseless" I don't think he would be
19 held responsible at all. And amongst ourselves, we did
20 talk. And if we were assigned a task we tried to
21 complete it as soon as possible so we would get home as
22 soon as possible.
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Suppose he were to say,
24 "Well, I've had enough, I'm done with tools, I'm done
25 with it" and the guards overheard him and saw what he
1 was doing; would anything happen?
2 A. Well, they would have done the same thing
3 they would have done to me if I had said that. They
4 wouldn't have done a thing, because that guard was not
5 supposed to listen to what we were saying. That was
6 not their duty. They were members of the HVO. They
7 were holding their positions, and they were supposed to
8 protect us, not to listen to what we were saying. So,
9 we could have said it. And even if I would have said
10 "I've had enough" and I wouldn't have shown up the
11 next day, then the military police would have come to
12 pick me up and they would have taken me to a judge, and
13 as I said, sanctions would be imposed.
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, the judge would
15 impose sanctions even if you said, "Well I don't want
16 to go to that place to dig trenches because it's a
17 dangerous area, it's too near to the frontline, and the
18 sniper may get me." Suppose you said that to the
19 judge; you have been a civic leader, would the judge
20 sanction you still?
21 A. If you're asking me, I wouldn't have said it,
22 because in my statement, I mentioned that even at the
23 frontline I was safer than in my very own home in the
24 town of Vitez that was constantly being shelled. And
25 this was physically strenuous, but it was safer, as I
1 said, with the exception of Bobasi where we had
2 withdrawn, and I said there was only one wounding and
3 one person was just scarred.
4 And also, in Baringaj, when I was there, the
5 captain said to me, "Dusko, watch out, snipers are
6 active here, so duck." And then a bullet actually went
7 above my head. And when this same -- when this same
8 captain went to oversee the frontline a bullet had
9 grazed his neck, right over here (indicating). A
10 sniper is dangerous. You can imagine how many people
11 were killed in Vitez by sniper, over 100 citizens and
12 children. I know that. I don't know, I wasn't at the
13 other side, so I don't know what the situation was like
14 over there.
15 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Do allow me to say that
16 you would have acted in that way because of your wise
17 judgment that perhaps it was just as safe to be digging
18 trenches as to be at home. But you're a professor, and
19 you would be familiar with the proposition, I take it,
20 that two equally reasonable people could reasonably
21 come to different conclusions on the basis of the same
23 Suppose another equally reasonable person
24 like you said, "No, that's too dangerous, I'm not going
25 there"; would the judge acquit him or still convict
2 A. I can't say. I don't know how the judge
3 would behave. But fortunately, probably there will be
4 no more wars, but if I were to be engaged in a work
5 platoon again, I would go. I would go to save my
6 family, my friends, et cetera, to fight for peace, so
7 that later we could try to live next to each other, if
8 nothing else, without war. Because man wants to defend
9 himself, to defend his family, and I think that is what
10 was done. The work platoons and our efforts, that was
11 indispensable, so I have no objections to that, and
12 believe me, I didn't go singing, I went there quite
14 And you know, it was very bad for me when my
15 son went to the frontline. His son would follow him
16 for 50 or 100 metres and come back in tears. And I had
17 to go. But this was a crazy war, it was a crazy war,
18 and this is unheard of, I think, in the history of
19 wars. That's the way it seems to me, because I've
20 lived through the Second World War, too, but this was
21 great psychological pressure, among other things.
22 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Professor, I think I owe
23 it to you to say that I've asked you the last question
24 fully appreciating that you have not claimed to be a
25 legally trained person, but I respect you as a civic
1 leader, and I assume you would be acquainted with some
2 of the elementary patterns of conduct to be expected of
3 your judicial system.
4 So, let me ask you one final question which
5 arises out of your characterisation of the war as a
6 crazy war. Would you say, Professor, that there is any
7 prospect of these various people living in harmony with
8 one another again?
9 A. By nature I am an optimist to the bone, and I
10 always find something bright, even in the blackest; and
11 Muslims are coming to Vitez, they are coming to the
12 town library, Croats are passing through Mahala, which
13 is the Muslim part of town, they have already submitted
14 requests for apartments and everybody is going to get
15 his apartment back if he did have a tenant right to the
16 apartment and if he purchases that apartment.
17 I think that we are going to continue our
18 relationship, perhaps not from the same point where we
19 had stopped, but there has to be a degree of tolerance
20 because we have to live together. In my opinion, again
21 I'm saying it is my very own opinion, we have all lost
22 something in this war. We are all losers in this war.
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Professor, I highly
24 respect your closing words and I thank you.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Professor, I won't ask you many
1 questions. The experience that you went through is a
2 surprising one as regards service obligations. Until
3 what age did one have these obligations, 50, 55?
4 A. Up to the age of 55 men could have been
5 mobilised and sent to serve in the armed component, and
6 from the age of 55 to 60 they could have been engaged
7 in work platoons. This is regulated in the decree and
8 in the law I mentioned. However, I was a witness of
9 what happened in Barin Gaj. Croats who were even
10 older, 65 or 67 years of age came there as volunteers.
11 And I'm also speaking about Nadioci.
12 My daughter-in-law's father came and his
13 relatives came, and they saw me and they said, "We came
14 to help." So they were not duty bound. They were over
15 60 years old but they did come. But of course, if
16 there were such people who volunteered, then they were
17 given lighter tasks, to cut branches, to bring water,
18 et cetera, not exactly to dig with a shovel.
19 JUDGE JORDA: As regards yourself, were you a
20 volunteer or were you not? That's what I didn't
21 understand. Were you a volunteer or were you not a
23 A. I was not a volunteer and I never said that.
24 I was a responsible citizen, a law-abiding citizen, and
25 I accepted this because I knew that this was my duty
1 according to the law and the civilian authorities had
2 the right to engage me. I said very few people would
3 have volunteered to take a shovel or a pick and to go
4 to the frontline. But staying at the --
5 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, you said that to us. Let
6 me ask you my question Mr. Lukovic, and then you can
7 answer it specifically. I have rarely seen -- unless
8 I'm wrong, I have rarely seen anybody who goes to dig
9 trenches with such goodwill, with such a concern for
10 doing the right thing.
11 I have another question I'd like to ask you.
12 You did your military service as part of the JNA? I
13 suppose you did. You're at an age, I suppose, that you
14 did your military service.
15 A. Yes, I did.
16 Q. What was your speciality? Were you a trench
17 digger, or were you a professor or you were a
18 technician? What was your specialisation? All of us
19 have a specialisation when we do our military service.
20 A. I did my military service in 1955 and 1956,
21 and I was in a special signals battalion in Novi Sad,
22 so I was in the signal corps. Not a trench digger, but
23 in the army one doesn't dig trenches, this is only part
24 of -- all right. Sorry.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Thank you. What I don't
1 understand very clearly is that you were -- in fact,
2 I'm asking: You were a part of the HVO; is that
3 correct? I think that's what you said.
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. The HVO, which the accused was trying to set
6 up in a rational way, found nothing else to suggest
7 that you do except to dig trenches, but there were
8 transmission problems, there were specific problems,
9 specific education had to be-- people had to be trained
10 in specific education, but you dug ditches without
11 asking any questions. There was no problem for you?
12 A. Well, I did not take it very hard. It was a
13 bit strange, but it is only natural that the HVO would
14 organise it. And Croats were there, it is only
15 natural, because these were these key positions. It is
16 not to say that my son -- for example, my son did not
17 dig trenches, but together with Croats he fought at the
18 frontlines. So there was no discrimination against
19 him. And I didn't take it that way either. But since
20 I had been an office holder, I was president of the
21 municipality, and then in those days there was also the
22 League of Communists, et cetera, so they knew about all
23 of that, but nobody mistreated me.
24 Q. What city were you the mayor of? I didn't
25 quite catch it.
1 A. Vitez.
2 Q. Vitez. Couldn't the HVO find anything else
3 to suggest to the mayor of Vitez than to dig trenches?
4 Could you explain that initially because you were Serb?
5 A. Well, yes. No. No. No, no, no. There were
6 Croats who were also directors. There was a director
7 of the military factory, and he was also at the
8 frontline and there was also a Croat director who was
9 digging trenches together with me. So no, no, no, I
10 don't think that was the problem at all.
11 JUDGE JORDA: All right. That's all we have
12 to say about that. I'm sure that you will agree with
13 me when I say that bearing arms, or digging trenches or
14 occupying other specific functions is something that
15 seems a bit strange, that is to ask the mayor of Vitez
16 to go to dig trenches, but I won't ask you anything
17 else about that. You've tried to answer.
18 I would like to ask you another question
19 now. You did this, if not with enthusiasm, at least
20 with a degree of goodwill. It must have been difficult
21 for you, because I suppose you were digging trenches
22 all day long. Is that correct?
23 A. Not all day long. We would start around
24 7.00, from 7.00 to 12.00 with breaks. Naturally, one
25 person would be digging, the other person would be
1 taking the earth away, so you could sit down every half
2 hour or hour, and then we would go for lunch, and then
3 we would continue digging. I don't know, perhaps for
4 another three or four hours.
5 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Then you found
6 yourself in that very strange position, that is you are
7 a member of the HVO, you're a Serb, a member of the
8 HVO, the mayor of Vitez, you're sent to dig trenches.
9 The thing I'm wondering about is how were you perceived
10 within this squad in which there were Muslims? I
11 believe it was the time of multiculturalism. Were you
12 perceived as a double agent, or did the guards ask you
13 to do small favours for them, or to give them
14 information about what the Muslims were saying or not
15 at all? You just dug trenches like everybody else?
16 A. No. I told you, I lived there for 40 years
17 and I know Croats as well as I know Muslims. They were
18 my students, and they tried to be even fairer to me.
19 For example, this member of the HVO would sometimes
20 take a shovel from me and he would dig instead of me.
21 So no, they didn't talk about spying or anything like
23 I'm just talking about where I was. Where I
24 was there were no problems. Everybody was treated very
25 fairly, except that the work involved was not the kind
1 of work that people liked to do, but we don't like the
2 war either, but we had to choose between two evils,
3 whether we would try to prevent it or have even graver
4 consequences. But I took stoically that I was mayor, I
5 was a director, et cetera. It was the times of war,
6 and I thought that as soon as I got it over with the
8 Q. JUDGE JORDA: Well, yes. That was my last
9 question. You considered this task one which was
10 necessary in order to defend your country, your
11 homeland; is that correct?
12 A. Well, I wouldn't say "homeland." I would say
13 that part of Vitez, because it is relative what
14 homeland is. My homeland is Bosnia-Herzegovina because
15 I was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina. When this
16 disintegration took place, then everybody fought for
17 the territory that they were in, and then now we are
18 going to try to rectify certain things and let us learn
19 from our mistakes.
20 JUDGE JORDA: I see. You who are more an
21 intellectual than a worker, even if you were in a
22 workers' faculty, what political regime, system, seemed
23 legitimate to you at that point? Was it the HVO that
24 you found legitimate or was it the authorities in
1 A. It is hard for me to say who was legitimate
2 and who was not, because there was a war going on and
3 there were encirclements on all sides. We in Vitez had
4 surrounded Mahala, and then the members of the army of
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina were around our area, and then
6 Karadzic's Serbs had encircled the Croats or the
7 Muslims, and you did not even know who was encircling
8 who, and we tried to make the situation more bearable
9 and to have less casualties in the area where we lived.
10 JUDGE JORDA: But you did take sides, did you
11 not? When you were in the HVO you had taken sides.
12 A. I took sides by remaining in Vitez. I have a
13 family. As I said, my son, my daughter-in-law, my two
14 grandchildren, my wife and I. We have our apartment
15 there. My son was born in Vitez I like Vitez very
16 much. I could have left Vitez and gone to Serbian
17 territory, but it is not Serb territory that is my
18 homeland, Karadzic's territory. I stayed with my
19 friends. I have quite a few Croat friends. I have
20 also colleagues and friends who are Muslims, colleagues
21 from the university, et cetera. So I looked at it from
22 another point of view. I stayed and I'm duty bound as
23 a man, as a parent and a grandparent to defend this
24 territory together with the Croats. Later on when
25 peace would come and when people would sit at the
1 negotiating table, things would be worked out.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Professor. You have
3 tried to answer all the questions that you were asked.
4 The Tribunal is appreciative of that and hopes you
5 continue to live in Vitez under conditions that match
6 your wishes and your ideals. Thank you once again.
7 We will now suspend the hearing for about 15
8 minutes and then we will resume, unless you have no
9 further witnesses. Mr. Nobilo?
10 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, we have no
11 further witnesses for today, because we thought that
12 the cross-examination of the previous witness would
13 take longer. So we could bring in our next two
14 witnesses tomorrow.
15 THE WITNESS: Mr. President, I wish to thank
16 you for your kind words.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. All right. We will
18 adjourn now and we will resume tomorrow at 10.00.
19 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned
20 at 5.14 p.m., to be reconvened on
21 Thursday, the 17th day of December, 1998
22 at 10.00 a.m.