1 Wednesday, 17th February, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 1.38 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Registrar,
5 have the accused brought in, please.
6 (The accused entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: First of all, I would like to
8 be sure that the interpreters can hear me. Good
9 afternoon to the interpreters, to the court reporters,
10 to be sure that we're not having any technical
11 problems. Good afternoon to both Defence and
12 Prosecution counsel and to the accused.
13 We will now continue with our testimony, and
14 I give the floor either to Mr. Hayman or to
15 Mr. Nobilo.
16 MR. NOBILO: Good afternoon, Mr. President
17 and Your Honours. I call General Tihomir Blaskic to
18 testify, and I suggest that we proceed immediately with
19 his examination-in-chief.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. We're going to ask
21 the accused to become a witness and that he take his
22 place at the witness stand so that his testimony can
23 begin, and we will start with the
25 Please remain standing. Give the General his
1 headset. Do you hear me? Do you hear me?
2 THE ACCUSED: Yes, Mr. President, Your
3 Honours, I can hear you very well.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please remain standing for a
5 few moments. Tell the Judges and the Court your name,
6 your first name, your rank in the army, your last
7 residence at the point when, of your own volition, you
8 came to The Hague, and then you'll take an oath
9 according to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence in
10 force at this Tribunal. Please proceed.
11 THE ACCUSED: Mr. President, Your Honours, I
12 am General Tihomir Blaskic. My last residence was
13 Zagreb, and I decided voluntarily to surrender from
14 Zagreb to the Tribunal.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Please tell us your place and
16 date of birth.
17 THE ACCUSED: I was born on 2nd November,
18 1960 in Kiseljak, municipality of Kiseljak.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Thank you. Please
20 be seated. Actually, take the oath first and then
21 you'll be seated.
22 THE ACCUSED: Mr. President, Your Honours, I
23 solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the whole
24 truth, and nothing but the truth.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. You may now be
1 seated for a rather long amount of time, according to
2 your Defence counsel.
3 Let me remind you that you have been indicted
4 at the International Tribunal for three charges covered
5 in our Statute, that is, Article 2, grave breach,
6 Article 3, violations of the laws or customs of war,
7 and Article 5, crime against humanity. In addition to
8 our Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Rule 85 states
9 that if he so desires, the accused may appear as a
10 witness in his own defence.
11 The Tribunal will not judge as to the
12 appropriateness of this method of defence, which is the
13 strategy which your Defence counsel have set into
14 place, and having said this, you move from the accused,
15 for the time you will testify, to a witness, like
16 another witness, subject to the same obligations as
17 another witness, including everything that has to do
18 with truth of the testimony.
19 Now, I think that we can begin. The Judges
20 have agreed to the request of your counsel that the
21 guards be at an appropriate distance so that you can be
22 comfortable. Let me remind you that you must not speak
23 too quickly; otherwise, the interpreters have
24 difficulty following you. If necessary, you can use
25 notes, but you cannot make statements. Perhaps you can
1 do that at another time, but not general statements,
2 but simply consult notes in order to refresh your
3 memory. Relax, you are a witness like any other
4 witness at this point, and you will now either begin
5 with your free testimony or giving answers to the
6 questions asked by your Defence counsel. As you know,
7 you will then be cross-examined by the Prosecution.
8 Mr. Nobilo, please proceed.
9 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. Since
10 you mentioned the notes, I would like to start off with
11 a preliminary question.
12 WITNESS: GENERAL TIHOMIR BLASKIC
13 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
14 Q. General Blaskic, could you describe to us or
15 clarify to the Trial Chamber, in what way did you
16 prepare for today's testimony? What did you
17 contemplate using? What documents?
18 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, at the time when
19 I learned about the indictment which was issued against
20 me, which was in November of 1995, I started preparing
21 certain notes. Those were personal notes on the basis
22 of the documents to which I had access. At the time,
23 these were the war logbooks and certain orders which I
24 had access to, and I noted down the dates and certain
25 events with a special emphasis to the participants of
1 those events.
2 After having drafted these notes, I arrived
3 here sometime in April of 1996 expecting that my trial
4 would start on the 2nd of June, 1996. So in June of
5 that year, I started giving a statement to the Office
6 of the Prosecutor; however, the position of my Defence
7 was that we should stop with that, and so I started
8 working on my own statement based on the notes, and
9 what I have in front of me is not my own statement.
10 These are just dates and certain notes which I have
11 here to refresh my memory regarding certain events in
12 these two or three years of war.
13 Q. Very well. So the first area which I would
14 like to ask you about, I would like you to give the
15 Trial Chamber a brief account of your training and your
16 career up until the point when you decided to go to
17 Bosnia and Herzegovina?
18 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, I will attempt
19 to give you the information about my career, and I have
20 to say that I regret that the best that I could come up
21 with is not enough.
22 As I said, I was born on the 2nd of November,
23 1960 in Kiseljak. This is in Kiseljak municipality. I
24 come from a working-class family. My father was a
25 miner and, later on, a driver. I also have a sister
1 called Zrinka, she was born in 1966, and brother Mario
2 who was born in 1972. He is disabled, and he still
3 requires care.
4 I lived in the local commune of Brestovsko,
5 which is a local commune within the Kiseljak
6 municipality. My neighbours were Bosnian Muslims.
7 There were some Gypsies, there was one hamlet, and
8 there were also Serbs. In this local commune, I
9 completed my elementary schooling, and I lived there
10 until I was 15, until 1975.
11 After I completed elementary school, I
12 continued my schooling in Zagreb, and I spent two years
13 in Zagreb in school, and I specialised in chemical and
14 technological studies. It was a civilian school. For
15 my family, my schooling in Zagreb was a great financial
16 burden because just the boarding costs were 115.000
17 dinars at that time, and my father's salary at that
18 time was 130.000 dinars a month. So this financial
19 situation and other reasons caused me to continue my
20 school in the military high school called Fraternity
21 and Unity in Belgrade. This is where I completed the
22 third and fourth years of my high school in the years
23 of 1966 and 1967.
24 Q. General, let me interrupt you for a moment.
25 You said that the military academy or high school was
1 called Fraternity and Unity. Can you explain to the
2 Judges, who are not familiar with the local culture,
3 what this name meant in the JNA doctrine and in the
4 former Yugoslavia?
5 A. The former Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic
6 community. There were over 25 ethnic groups who lived
7 in this territory, and this name, "Fraternity and
8 Unity," meant some kind of equality in every respect,
9 including participation of different ethnic groups and
10 full respect of freedoms of every ethnic group to live
11 its own culture, its own religion. For the JNA, it was
12 considered as a foundation of the JNA set-up, and it was
13 the basis of its morale and everything else that makes
14 up an army.
15 Q. Very well. Go on now.
16 A. After I completed this military high school,
17 I was looking to apply to one of the military
18 academies, and I decided to go to the military academy
19 in Belgrade, which was for the army, and I chose to
20 specialise in infantry. So I spent the first three
21 years in Belgrade and the fourth year in Sarajevo, and
22 on the 30th of July, 1983, I graduated at a common
23 ceremony in Belgrade.
24 Our training was structured as an
25 eight-semester training. For the first two years,
1 these were mostly general courses without specialising
2 in any particular military disciplines, and in the
3 third and fourth year, we had specialised courses for
4 the most part. For one semester in the first year, we
5 also had a military law course.
6 Throughout my training at the military
7 academy and my separation from my family between 1975
8 and 1983, I spent time in a boarding school, that is, I
9 was in student homes and dormitories where I usually
10 shared it with a Croat, a Slovenian, a Macedonian, an
11 Albanian, and a member of another ethnic group,
12 depending on whether the rooms were with two beds or
13 four beds.
14 After I completed school, between '83 and
15 '87, I lived in the military hotels for singles, and
16 we, again, had the same sleeping arrangements. There
17 would be two or three beds per room. There would be a
18 Croat, a Slovenian or a Muslim, and a Serb there.
19 Throughout the schooling, we had internships where we
20 were placed in different roles. At one point, I was in
21 Ohrid in 1983 as just a simple conscript, and I spent
22 two months there undergoing basic infantry training as
23 a regular soldier.
24 The next type of practical course was in
25 1982, I believe this could have been in April, in
1 Belgrade, in the then Socialist Republic of Serbia.
2 There, I was a commanding officer of a squad.
3 The final practical course was in Niksic
4 which was in the former Socialist Republic of
5 Montenegro in April of 1983 where I had the duty of a
6 commander of a platoon.
7 Q. You said that you that you carried out
8 practical courses in three different republics of
9 Yugoslavia, and you were a Croat from the fourth out of
10 six former republics?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. You said that in your room, in your dorm
13 room, you would always have members of different ethnic
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Were these practical courses and this
17 regiment, were members of different ethnic groups
18 always mixed together, or was this something that was
19 accidental or was that something that was part of the
21 A. That was not accidental at all, especially
22 not in the military high school and then the military
23 academy. I also have additional experience of having
24 lived in military hotels for single people the
25 following four years. So that was definitely part of
1 the JNA doctrine because they wanted to implement this
2 equality, equal participation of different ethnic
4 A similar criteria also existed in the JNA
5 units where, in commissions which were in charge of
6 accommodation of new recruits, this was also taken into
7 account, so that all ethnic groups who lived in the
8 territory of the former Yugoslavia would participate.
9 Q. Did this approach contribute to a particular
10 sense within the JNA?
11 A. Of course. Some of my colleagues were
12 admitted at the age of 14, 15, at a time when they were
13 still in their formative years, and this was a way for
14 different ethnic groups to meet each other, and in the
15 context of the army, this contributed to better
16 understanding and to reaffirming of these basic
17 principles of equality and rights, but also
18 obligations, for everyone.
19 Q. After you completed your training and after
20 you graduated, what was your first job?
21 A. I was assigned to service in the 9th Army
22 Corps of the armed forces of the former Yugoslavia
23 which covered the area of the former Socialist Republic
24 of Slovenia. My first post was the garrison in
25 Ljubljana and later Pivka and then Postojna.
1 In Ljubljana, I became commander of the
2 cadets in the school of reserve officers, which was the
3 size of a company, and it trained officers for the
4 Territorial Defence units in Slovenia.
5 After a period of time, the former JNA was
6 reorganised, and in 1985, this unit was dissolved; in
7 other words, it was reformed, and then I assumed the
8 post of the assistant of the political science school
9 in Ljubljana teaching the All People's Defence, and I
10 was in this post until March of 1986.
11 I was an assistant for certain courses there,
12 it was for tactical topics, and I worked with Anton
13 Tovornik, who was a major, and the fact that I spent a
14 certain amount of time in the command of the 9th Army
15 provided me access to some of the high-ranking officers
16 in the 9th Army; and in conversations with them, I
17 learned that I was designated to be transferred to the
18 new garrison in Postojna.
19 Around 28 December, 1985, I was invited by
20 the chief of personnel from my former unit, this was
21 the 14th regiment in Ljubljana, and he told me that I
22 was designated to be transferred to the Postojna
23 garrison where special forces were being established,
24 they were known as "ready forces," and one of these
25 units was supposed to be sent down to Kosovo.
1 Q. Can you tell me -- I believe at that time
2 this region was called the Autonomous Province of
3 Kosovo within the Socialist Republic of Serbia. What
4 was going on down there? Why were these ready forces
5 supposed to go down there and what would be their task
6 down there?
7 A. Yes. Its exact name was the Socialist
8 Autonomous Province of Kosovo, and this was a periodic
9 practice by the JNA up until the time when the Pristina
10 corps was formed.
11 As early as 1979, and maybe even earlier,
12 certain military units were sent to the Kosovo
13 territory, and these units were primarily used to carry
14 out predominantly police type of tasks. It was to be a
15 demonstration of force for the purposes of intimidation
16 of the local population, and I had some information
17 about this from the chief of staff of the
18 14th proletarian regiment, Mr. Djilas, who, for a
19 while, was deployed there with his unit. He had been
20 transferred there from Bovec.
21 Q. What type of information did you get? Why
22 was this intimidation needed? What was the ethnic
23 background of the population there? Can you shed more
24 light on the events in Kosovo at that time?
25 A. For the most part, the population was
1 Muslim. They had identified themselves as Albanians.
2 They were not happy with the arrangements and the
3 rights which they had as a minority, they were
4 demanding more freedoms, and at that time, their
5 political representatives were expressing their
6 disagreement with the policy which was dominant in the
7 Socialist Republic of Serbia.
8 The role of the unit was a demonstration of
9 force in a way and probably the use of force depending
10 upon the developing situations, because I know that
11 occasionally it was used, and it was also to instil
12 fear among the population in a sense that they would be
13 much more cautious and that they would be aware of what
14 could happen should such events escalate, that is,
15 demonstrations and other activities.
16 Q. In this type of security atmosphere which you
17 described to us, which I think is linked to what is
18 going on there today, what was your reaction? Did you
19 accept that assignment or not?
20 A. I immediately, in this first conversation
21 with the chief of service, the chief of personnel in
22 the 14th regiment, I said immediately that I did not
23 want to accept this post, and I publicly let him know
24 that I did not want to be a part of this force which
25 was to be sent to Kosovo, regardless of the
1 consequences I might suffer. At that time, he said
2 that this would be an act of disobedience,
3 insubordination, and that I could be sanctioned for it.
4 Following this conversation, I was again
5 called in by his deputy, and the conversation was
6 almost the same. I later talked to the assistant for
7 morale in the 14th regiment, and my departure, that is,
8 my discussion about my leaving for that assignment went
9 on all the way until March of 1986.
10 In the meantime, I had an official
11 conversation with the commander of the battalion, with
12 the deputy commander of the regiment itself, Major
13 Uzelac. I made it very clear to everyone that I, under
14 no circumstances, wanted to take on this assignment and
15 take part in the units that would go to Kosovo.
16 Q. Can you explain to the Trial Chamber, how was
17 the tour of duty in Kosovo treated in terms of
19 A. Yes, I can tell you that the increase in
20 Sarajevo was automatic. I know that units that were
21 deployed in Kosovo in the '80s had a wartime
22 supplement, that is, a supplement in salary which
23 people would receive in case of war.
24 There were additional benefits, such as
25 additional vacation time, then advancement in career,
1 accelerated promotion, and in some ways also priorities
2 in getting apartments and preferred postings.
3 Despite all these benefits, I could not
4 accept assuming such a duty and taking such a post.
5 Q. Could you tell the Court, please, whether you
6 did go or whether you were able to side-step this
7 assignment and what your career was like after that?
8 A. No, I did not go on that assignment. I was
9 transferred on the 6th of March, 1986, to the Pivka
10 garrison, and I remember my first contacts very well.
11 In that garrison, on the morning when I reported for
12 duty for the first time, I met the chief of staff in
13 the garrison, the Pivka garrison, he was Lieutenant
14 Colonel Reljanovic, and he asked me on that morning,
15 and I quote verbatim: "What have you done wrong to be
16 sent to us here?" End of quotation. I reported to the
17 commander, and I took over my duties. I was commander
18 of the 2nd company in the 1st Battalion. What I
19 noticed at that time --
20 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me for interrupting
21 you. What rank did you have at that point? Were you a
22 captain? Were you a lieutenant? Perhaps I didn't
23 listen carefully enough. I apologise.
24 A. Mr. President, at that time I was a
25 lieutenant, first lieutenant.
1 JUDGE JORDA: First lieutenant. All right.
2 Thank you very much. I apologise for interrupting you.
3 A. As I said, I reported for duty at Pivka, and
4 the commander of the company who was to give me my
5 assignments was visibly surprised and was caught
6 unawares with that kind of situation. He didn't expect
7 to hand over his duties. His name was Jasmin
9 When I took over my duties, I spent my time
10 in Pivka until July 1988, and at the time, there was a
11 reorganisation, and my particular unit, including the
12 1st Battalion, was transferred from the Pivka garrison
13 to the Postojna garrison, and together with my unit, I
14 went into this new garrison, and I was there until the
15 12th of August, 1991.
16 My duties as commander of the company, I gave
17 over to the new commander, and he was Mr. Surkota,
18 first lieutenant in Postojna. I think that that was in
19 1989, in February of that year, or perhaps in 1990. I
20 took over my duties, I was the deputy commander of the
21 1st Battalion and, at the same time, assistant for
22 matters of morale, and I performed those duties up
23 until I left the Yugoslavia People's Army, that is to
24 say, until I was no longer an active soldier.
25 When I completed the military academy and
1 graduated, we were given ranks by way of an automatic
2 system, and so we all got our first rank on the 30th of
3 July, 1983, and we were either lieutenants, we were all
4 lieutenants, those were the ranks we were given, and
5 those cadets who had gone to technical military
6 academies were given the rank of first lieutenant. I
7 obtained the rank of first lieutenant on the 30th of
8 July, 1984, and this was also the next rank, that is to
9 say, having spent one year as a lieutenant, I was
10 promoted to a first lieutenant.
11 Three years later, on the basis of
12 assessments by my seniors, I was given the rank of
13 captain on the 30th of July, 1987. Once again, I was
14 professionally assessed on the 30th of July, 1990, and
15 I received the rank of captain first class, and this
16 was an extraordinary promotion, on the 22nd of
17 December, 1990.
18 Q. Tell us, please, what an extraordinary
19 promotion means? What does this term mean in the
20 Yugoslav People's Army? What is a regular promotion
21 and this extraordinary early promotion?
22 A. Well, the difference was that you got a
23 promotion after a shorter period of time, an early
24 promotion, and the criteria for this promotion, which
25 had to be fulfilled, were that the last two marks were
1 excellent, with particular excellence, and those were
2 the top marks given at that time within the armed
3 forces of Yugoslavia. In my case, I was the commander
4 of a company, and I had to have spent at least three
5 years as commander of the company. I fulfilled that
6 three-year time period, and this early promotion that I
7 was granted for the most part was on the basis of my
8 work results or as a stimulative measure. If anybody
9 had scored any particular success, any officers.
10 Q. So along with this purely military career of
11 a career officer, you probably continued your
12 education. Could you tell us something about that?
13 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, at my first year
14 at the military academy, I decided that I was going to
15 do additional training and go on with my education, but
16 there were a lot of extenuating circumstances so that I
17 was not able to enrol in my studies at the beginning.
18 We had to do field work in the course of my education
19 and training. When I say "field work," this was
20 outside the centres where the high military schools and
21 academies were located. I told you of the places where
22 I did my internship or training, but, in fact, what we
23 did was we travelled throughout Yugoslavia, practically
24 the whole of Yugoslavia, so I didn't have time, during
25 my education at the military academy, to enrol in any
1 other civilian studies.
2 In 1987, I enrolled in postgraduate studies
3 at the university in Banja Luka for business and
4 legal informatics, that was the course I took, and in
5 April 1989, I graduated, I completed my studies there,
6 and sat for my oral examination for an MA, master's
7 degree; however, I was not able to present my written
8 topic because of the war conditions, so that I never
9 received a diploma, although I have a certificate
10 saying that I attended the four years of study and that
11 I passed my oral examinations for my MA
12 My intentions to further my education and to
13 enrol at the faculty was, in a way, linked to what I
14 planned to do, that is to say, I did not wish to
15 continue my military career. A little beforehand, I
16 had decided to leave active military service, but I was
17 duty-bound to spend double the time that I had spent
18 doing my education working as an active military man in
19 the armed forces, and as I had spent six years doing my
20 training and education, I had to spend 12 years working
21 as a career military officer.
22 After that, when I had completed those 12
23 years, I had gained the right to cease my military
24 service, active military service.
25 Q. Now, you were a successful career military
1 officer. Why did you decide to become a civilian?
2 What were your motives for making that decision?
3 A. There were a number of reasons for this.
4 Already since 1979 and onwards to 1980, there was a
5 greater engagement and activation of the army on
6 assignments, such as the Kosovo assignment. Later on,
7 there was a reorganisation, that was implemented within
8 the frameworks of the Yugoslav People's Army, and they
9 indicated that individual cadres were being promoted.
10 Q. When you say "individual cadres," you have in
11 mind a certain ethnic group?
12 A. Yes, I do, so that there was an imbalance
13 within the Yugoslav People's Army, the basic principle
14 of unity or equality was being upset in this way, and
15 already in 1985, this was particularly visible. All
16 you had to do was to look at the commanding structure
17 of any army, whichever army, and if you looked at the
18 command and all the key posts, these were predominantly
19 or, for the most part, uni-national in character.
20 Q. Can you tell us which ethnic group became the
21 dominant ethnic group at that time?
22 A. According to criteria, that is to say, if you
23 had a direct approach to this, the ethnic group was
24 predominantly the Serbs, but not only the Serbs. There
25 were Serbs from Bosnia-Herzegovina, from Serbia proper,
1 and from all the areas of the former Yugoslavia.
2 For example, in the battalion in which I
3 served, the commander of the battalion was a Serb, and
4 then the commanders of the companies were also
5 predominantly Serbs. The commander of the brigade was
6 also a Serb, as well as the chief of staff and a deputy
7 commander, and the top commanding posts were almost
8 uni-ethnic at that period, occupied by one ethnic
9 group, and this, indeed, made me firmer in my resolve
10 to stop being a career military man.
11 In 1987, I tried, together with my parents
12 and my in-laws, to open a business of my own which
13 would employ some 40 workers, and we obtained all the
14 necessary papers from the municipality of Cerknica in
15 the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, and from the
16 Postojna municipality, we got through all the red tape,
17 but we needed a customs declaration for the import of
18 the machinery that I was going to deal in, so I had to
19 give up that project.
20 The enrolment of my postgraduate studies,
21 something that was paid for exclusively by my own
22 family, that is to say, myself and my wife, was geared
23 towards my future profession once I had left the army.
24 Q. How long did you stay in the JNA? When did
25 you actually decide that it was time for you to leave?
1 Can you explain this to the Trial Chamber?
2 A. I made a definite decision already at the end
3 of June 1991 during the open conflicts that took place
4 in the Republic of Slovenia; however, I, myself, like
5 many of my colleagues, were there when the order was
6 given by the chief of staff of the armed forces, which
7 came sometime at the end of June and the beginning of
8 July, which proclaimed a state of alert for us. A
9 state of alert was proclaimed, and the decision was
10 made that we could not avail ourselves of the rights
11 and the rule of the governing armed service to cease
12 military service, so that this order by the head of the
13 general staff suspended our legal rights, and the order
14 was in force until the end of July.
15 Later on, it was withdrawn, and on the 12th
16 of August, 1991, I tendered in my request for cessation
17 of active military service, and on that same day, I
18 left the Postojna garrison and left to -- in fact, I
19 used the holiday that I had coming to me and the free
20 days that I had earned during my military service, and
21 I did not wait for an actual permit to reach me. I
22 hoped that this would come in the next month or two,
23 which is the amount of time that I had for my free days
24 and my holiday, a dispensation from the army in written
1 Q. Would you explain to the Trial Chamber what
2 the conflict in Slovenia was about?
3 A. In Slovenia, there was a conflict between the
4 Territorial Defence of the then first stage towards the
5 creation of the armed forces of Slovenia and MUP on the
6 one side; on the other hand, there were the forces of
7 the Yugoslav People's Army. The first stage was the
8 forces of the MUP. That is what they said they were.
9 That's how they represented themselves. This conflict,
10 for the most part, was linked to power and authority at
11 the border crossings, who would be in control, and
12 everything occurred after the assembly of Slovenia had
13 made a decision to proclaim Slovenia a republic, that
14 is to say, a sovereign independent and autonomous state
15 in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
16 Q. At that time, therefore, when the conflict
17 broke out between the JNA and, in all practical terms,
18 the Slovenian people and their armed formations, you
19 left. Is it true that you went to Vienna, Austria?
20 A. Yes. Together with my wife -- my wife had
21 left a little earlier, she had gone to Vienna before
22 me, and I went to her sister, to my sister-in-law. She
23 is an Austrian citizen. She has Austrian citizenship.
24 My wife Ratka, her maiden name is Baresic, she is
25 Baresic-Blaskic, she was born in 1970 in Austria, and
1 she spent most of her time living with her parents in
2 Austria and Germany. Her entire family, her mother
3 still lives in Austria today, her parents live in
4 Austria today, and so the two of us went to Vienna, and
5 for the first month or so, we lived in an apartment
6 owned by her sister. We had two rooms to ourselves
7 there in that apartment, and after that month had
8 elapsed, we managed to rent a small apartment for
10 Q. Please continue. What was your life in
11 Austria like? Were you able to organise your life in
13 A. At the very beginning, my wife found
14 employment. She finished her schooling in Austria,
15 most of her education in Austria, and she knew the
16 language well, and our son Dean was born in 1988, and
17 he was staying with my in-laws, with his grandparents.
18 At the beginning of 1992, he went to kindergarten in
20 At that time, I spent most of my time
21 studying the language, learning the language, and I
22 also tendered in the documents necessary to obtain a
23 work permit. I worked from time to time, and we
24 succeeded in organising our life in Austria very
25 quickly, particularly as we had good living conditions,
1 and we had succeeded in transporting most of our
2 effects and belongings to Austria and to furnish our
3 apartment, which allowed us to live a decent life.
4 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Would it be convenient,
5 in this sequence, for you to get the witness to put on
6 the record when he got married, unless that has already
7 been said?
8 MR. NOBILO: Quite right, Your Honour. I was
9 thinking of doing this in the course of the witness's
10 testimony and wanted to interrupt him, but then I
11 thought, let us leave it to the end, but this brings us
12 to the decision to go to Bosnia.
13 Q. Now I'd like to ask you, General, a little
14 bit about your family life. When did you marry your
15 present wife? When were your children born, the first
16 child, your second child? Could you tell us a bit
17 about your family life?
18 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, I married in
19 1987. I married Ratka Blaskic. She was born in 1970
20 in Austria. She is, by profession, a traffic
21 technician and was not employed up until -- then she
22 gave all her time to our family. We have two
23 children. Asan Dean was born in 1988 in Postojna, the
24 Socialist Republic of Slovenia, in July, and our second
25 son, Ivan, was born in March 1996 in Zagreb.
1 Q. As we're talking about Ivan's birth, could
2 you tell us the reason for which you came to The Hague
3 on the 1st of April and not one or two months earlier
4 when you heard about The Hague indictment?
5 A. Well, the reason was precisely because my
6 wife had had a difficult pregnancy, and she had to be
7 cared for by her physicians throughout her pregnancy,
8 and I have the necessary documents on that score.
9 Our first child, that is to say, our first
10 child was not born because of that. She was pregnant,
11 but she lost her first baby, and then both our next
12 sons, Dean and Ivan, she was under the constant control
13 of physicians.
14 From November up until March, this was the
15 time that I spent together with my wife taking her to
16 medical examinations and check-ups during her
17 pregnancy. In Zagreb, I think the hospital is called
18 Petrova Hospital, it is the maternity department
19 there. That is the basic reason why I did not come to
20 The Hague immediately and place myself at the disposal
21 of this Honourable Court.
22 Q. So what you want to say is you did so as soon
23 as your child was born?
24 A. Yes. My wife left hospital on Monday
25 morning, and on that particular Monday afternoon, I
1 left for The Hague.
2 Q. Let me take you back to your stay in
3 Austria. You said that you were working on setting up
4 conditions to live normally there, just like anywhere
5 in western Europe, without particular stress or
6 problems; however, you still decided to go to Bosnia
7 where there was a war. Can you explain to the Trial
8 Chamber your motives, why leave such a quiet, normal,
9 regular life to go to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to
10 this war which was about to begin, in fact, which had
11 just begun? What were your motives?
12 A. First of all, it is correct that I managed,
13 along with my wife, and primarily thanks to her family
14 and also her own knowledge of language, we managed to
15 secure a fairly decent and, I could say, pleasant
16 lifestyle, at least as comfortable as it was in the
17 former Yugoslavia; however, my own parents remained
18 back in that area. When I say "that area," I mean
19 Bosnia and Herzegovina, so my parents and relatives
20 were there.
21 Then I was also aware of the fact that
22 similar destruction may visit Bosnia and Herzegovina,
23 just as it did Slovenia and Croatia. I received a
24 number of calls, both from my relatives and from the
25 representatives of the authorities in Kiseljak, and my
1 basic motivation was that I felt a moral obligation to
2 assist, and I knew and I was aware of the fact that I
3 had the requisite expertise and that I could help
4 prepare the defence against the aggression with which
5 Bosnia was threatened.
6 Q. Now, who threatened Bosnia? Who was your
7 potential enemy?
8 A. It was obvious when the JNA forces were
9 transferred, that is, what we called the "crack"
10 forces, the majority of this force was transferred to
11 Bosnia and Herzegovina. The same was done with large
12 numbers of troops which were being transferred from the
13 Republic of Croatia. What may not have been as
14 apparent, at least not publicly, was a huge amount of
15 materiel which was also being transferred to some
16 larger centres.
17 Q. When you say "materiel," can you clarify that
18 because I think that you're about to use it quite a
20 A. I mean the ammunition of all kinds,
21 ordinance, artillery, infantry, and so on, explosives,
22 mines, so combat materiel, then spare parts and
23 everything else that a military formation can use in
24 order to be effective and to have the maximum power,
25 including armaments.
1 Q. When you reached this decision in Austria to
2 go back, was it very clear to you that there would be a
3 bloody conflict between the JNA and people in Bosnia
4 and Herzegovina, primarily the Croats and Muslims?
5 A. For a long time, I had a dilemma what to do.
6 It was clear to me that the conflict would take place,
7 but I could not even imagine that it would be of such
8 proportions. I expected a conflict to happen and I
9 expected some combat, but when I talked to my wife
10 about it and when I told her about this option to go,
11 she disagreed. She believed that we were to seek our
12 future in the country where she was born.
13 So this decision of -- I delayed my decision
14 until late March of 1992 when, in a conversation with
15 an official from the municipal crisis staff, I agreed
16 to come and set one condition only, which was that my
17 involvement be temporary and that it last no more than
18 two months.
19 Q. Just to clarify. Can you define -- did you
20 imagine that the parties to the conflict would be
21 Bosnia and Herzegovina, regardless of the length or the
22 size of the conflict?
23 A. I believed that on the one side there would
24 be the Yugoslav People's Army, regardless of how it may
25 be transformed and what name it may assume, because the
1 other side was already left without arms and without
2 equipment due to the orders issued by the supreme
3 command to transfer all the arms belonging to the
4 Territorial Defence to the JNA.
5 So, on the other side, I thought that it
6 would be Croats and Bosnian Muslims in Bosnia and
8 Q. You said that you received a call from the
9 municipal crisis staff. Could you say from which
10 municipal crisis staff, from which person, and when you
11 left for Bosnia and Herzegovina and what happened
12 during your journey?
13 A. It was not a single call that I received,
14 they came continuously, and so as I kept prolonging my
15 decision, I received a number of calls by Mr. Pero
16 Madzar on behalf of the municipal crisis staff, this is
17 how he introduced himself, and after I reached my --
18 Q. What town?
19 A. Kiseljak.
20 Q. Was this the town where you were born?
21 A. Yes, this is the municipality where I was
22 born and this is my hometown. So this also contributed
23 to my decision to go back and help my hometown.
24 MR. NOBILO: Very well. Now we are moving
25 towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. This may be a good
1 time to break.
2 JUDGE JORDA: All right. The afternoon is
3 long. We are going to take our first break, and we
4 will return in 15 or 20 minutes.
5 As regards the arrangements here, things are
6 going to change a little bit. Be sure that the
7 accused/witness be taken to the location which is
8 appropriate to him. However, when the Court returns,
9 we would like the witness to be in the courtroom.
10 Thank you.
11 --- Recess taken at 2.45 p.m.
12 --- On resuming at 3.10 p.m.
13 (The accused/witness entered court)
14 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the
15 hearing. Please be seated.
16 Mr. Nobilo, you may continue.
17 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
18 Q. We left off at your decision to go back to
19 Bosnia and Herzegovina and to take over one of the
20 military duties in the defence of Kiseljak for two
21 months. However, your trip to Kiseljak did not run as
22 smoothly as expected, so can you tell the Trial Chamber
23 what happened and put it in a time frame, please?
24 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, I left on 5th
25 April from Vienna via Zagreb to Kiseljak. In Zagreb, I
1 spent the night. I used the opportunity to visit my
2 brother on the evening of the 5th. On the 6th, in the
3 morning, I also stayed with my brother in the Slava
4 Raskaj school centre in Zagreb, and then along with him
5 and another friend, we took the Podrevska highway via
6 Bosanski Samac to Kiseljak. This road was a longer one
7 than usual.
8 There were a number of checkpoints on this
9 road, both through Croatia and through Bosnia and
10 Herzegovina. At one of these checkpoints, somewhere
11 between 14.00 and 15.00 hours in the afternoon on the
12 6th, we were stopped by the reserve police force of the
13 Bosnian MUP. These police were Serbs; I could gather
14 that from the dialect and also by the fact that they
15 were deployed in the immediate vicinity of the military
16 police forces of the JNA.
17 They searched our vehicle, and in the
18 driver's side door, they found a small handgun, and in
19 the driver's pocket, they found prayer beads. The
20 policeman asked the driver whether he had a permit for
21 the handgun, and the driver said, since this was a
22 small-calibre handgun, he believed that he did not need
24 After this, we were detained to an elementary
25 school building, and there was a sign over the entrance
1 of the elementary school which helped me locate the
2 place, but it was Podhovlje near Doboj. I had never
3 been there before. There we were questioned, our
4 IDs were thoroughly checked, and we were even
5 physically mistreated to a degree until 21.00 hours.
6 Then, at 21.00 hours, we were placed into the APCs of
7 the military police, and we were transferred to the
8 Doboj barracks belonging to the JNA. There the
9 questioning was resumed until late into the night, and
10 that night we spent in the military detention unit
11 which was part of this garrison.
12 The next morning, myself and my friend, whose
13 name was Mladen Coric, who drove me, were transferred
14 to the Tuzla garrison. This was the headquarters of
15 the Tuzla corps of the JNA. The barracks where we were
16 brought were called the Husinjski Miners' barracks
17 which I was able again to identify by the sign over the
18 gate. I also had never been there before.
19 I spent a period until the 13th of April
20 there, and there I was again subjected to questioning,
21 and we were accused of a number of things, including
22 that I had deserted the former JNA, that I had worked
23 for some intelligence agency in the West because I also
24 had a German dictionary on me and a notebook in which I
25 made notes.
1 On the 13th of April, we were told that we
2 would be exchanged for some people in prison in
3 Mitrovica, and in the early afternoon, we were released
4 from the garrison. We did not go to be exchanged in
5 Sremska Mitrovica, and we only had problems in
6 retrieving the documents which would allow us -- the
7 car documents which would allow us to continue the
8 journey. But later on we were able to retrieve the
9 documents because the JNA forces were there in this
10 garrison which earlier had been stationed in Postojna,
11 so in a way, these were acquaintances of mine. These
12 were people who knew me.
13 From the Tuzla garrison, we left there at
14 around 9.00 p.m. and went through Tuzla. Again, we
15 went to Doboj and we were searched. At different
16 checkpoints, we were searched all the way through until
17 we left to Zenica. We wanted to reach Busovaca, but
18 members of the MUP reserve forces, that is, the Bosnian
19 MUP reserve forces, told us -- this was in Drivusa,
20 that the road was closed and that we could only use the
21 road Kakanj-Visoko-Kiseljak. So this is the road that
22 we too, and after midnight sometime on the 14th of
23 April, 1992, we finally reached our destination.
24 Q. Very well. So you reached Kiseljak on the
25 14th of April, 1992. Tell me, who did you report to,
1 what conversations did you have, and what was your
2 understanding of the situation there?
3 A. On 14 April, sometime in the afternoon, I
4 reported to the president of the Kiseljak municipality,
5 Josip Boro. This is the first time that we met. Until
6 that time, I had never been to the president's office,
7 and I did not know about these political structures
8 because I had been gone since '85. I would only come
9 back briefly during vacation.
10 He briefed me on the situation in this area
11 and let me know that he expected my arrival and that
12 now he was on duty as the president of the municipal
13 crisis staff and that the municipal assembly had seized
14 its work. In its last session, it appointed the
15 municipal crisis staff in which both Muslims and Croats
16 equally participated and that this crisis staff took
17 over all civilian and military affairs in the territory
18 of the Kiseljak municipality.
19 I let him know that I did not intend to stay
20 beyond those two months but that I was willing, in the
21 period of those two months, to provide my expert
22 experience in order to prepare the territory and men to
23 defend the territory against the attacks of the forces
24 of Republika Srpska and that I believed that those two
25 months should be enough to organise the defence in this
2 I stressed that I did not expect any
3 remuneration, any compensation, and that my driver was
4 going to be a relative of mine, and so I therefore did
5 not even need a vehicle or any other benefits or
7 Several days later, I had an opportunity to
8 attend certain meetings of the municipal crisis staff,
9 even though I never was a member of the Kiseljak
10 municipal crisis staff. What I noticed was that the
11 military structure of this military crisis staff was
12 very vague. A member of the municipal staff was the
13 president of the People's Defence Affairs department,
14 which was a civilian function, and it was Mr. Vojislav
15 (sic) Trutina who was on this duty, and there was also
16 the commander of the Territorial Defence staff.
17 Q. Tomislav is the name. This was a
19 A. Yes, his name was Tomislav Trutina. So the
20 other part of this military body was the command, and
21 that is the commander of the Territorial Defence staff
22 of Kiseljak, Sead Sinahbasic.
23 Q. He was a Muslim?
24 A. Yes, he was a Bosniak.
25 Q. And Tomislav Trutina is a Croat?
1 A. That is correct. The joint command was also
2 part of this military political body, and as early as
3 late April, I was on duty as the commander of the armed
4 forces for the Kiseljak municipality on behalf of the
5 Croatian community, and along with me, the commander of
6 the armed forces of Kiseljak municipality was Bakir
7 Alispahic on behalf of the Muslim community.
8 Q. In addition to this undefined military
9 structure, what was your perception of this municipal
10 structure? Were they somehow linked to the higher
11 authority within the republic?
12 A. No, it was not linked to some higher
13 governing body. In fact, the municipality sort of kept
14 all its previous functions and also, because of the
15 situation that existed, it also took over some
16 prerogatives of a state, so that it was, in a way, a
17 mini-state, which was a state within the boundaries of
18 the municipality territory. All the problems which
19 were dictated by this current situation were resolved,
20 or at least attempted to be resolved, at the level of
21 the municipality.
22 Q. So in addition to this municipal government
23 which had both political and military aspects, what
24 were the additional military formations which you found
25 in the territory of the municipality at the time when
1 you arrived there?
2 A. I expected to find certain formations, that
3 is, the Territorial Defence formations there, or
4 something similar, something that would be similar to
5 what the case was in the Republic of Slovenia.
6 However, in the territory of Kiseljak municipality,
7 after a short while, I was able to see that there were
8 villages which were armed and where the inhabitants
9 had, in different ways, acquired weapons. Further,
10 there were private units where some of the wealthier
11 persons in the municipality had armed their own units,
12 some of which were to protect their property from the
13 criminal gangs which were operating in the area. In
14 short, there were some private units.
15 Then there were groups of hunters, people who
16 already had legally-acquired weapons from before and
17 who organised themselves. I also noticed, at the level
18 of villages again, that they all had a great degree of
19 autonomy. Their commanders or representatives were, in
20 fact, sort of mouthpieces of positions that the
21 villagers had taken and not part of any military
22 structure in the villages.
23 In addition to these village forces, there
24 were nine civilian police stations which had been
25 mobilised in case of war. They had 25 to 50 reserve
1 policemen each, and there were nine of these reserve
2 police stations.
3 In addition, there were MUP forces, which was
4 the civilian police station in Kiseljak. Then there
5 were the Patriotic League forces which had their
6 headquarters at one time at the Hotel Dalmatia in
7 Kiseljak and later on in the elementary school in the
8 town of Kiseljak. Further, there were Territorial
9 Defence units.
10 In Lepenica, there were small groups of Black
11 Swans. There were also groups or units of HOS. This
12 was in the town of Kiseljak and in the local commune of
13 Lepenica. Then there were groups of HVO. Further,
14 groups of armed displaced persons or refugees which had
15 passed through Kiseljak, Kiseljak being one of the
16 points of transit, and then there were the JNA units,
17 that is, from before. There was an artillery battalion
18 stationed there which had high artillery power,
19 128-millimetre guns, and a military police company
20 which had been transferred from the Marshall Tito
21 barracks in Zagreb to the Kiseljak barracks. There
22 were also crews of the radio relay in Cubren. They
23 also belonged to the former JNA. In short, there were
24 a number of armed groups in a relatively small area.
25 Q. Tell us, please. You said that there were
1 many armed groups. What was the basic characteristic
2 of those groups and what did you do in that situation?
3 Did you succeed in imposing yourself on these groups or
4 didn't you?
5 A. The basic characteristic and activity of
6 these groups, with the exception of the forces of the
7 Yugoslav People's Army which were still present in the
8 municipality of Kiseljak, they would parade around
9 brandishing their weapons and uniforms, they would go
10 around the centre of town. Those groups which were
11 nearer to the main roads of communication also engaged
12 in setting up barricades, roadblocks, or checkpoints in
13 order to ensure material benefit from them.
14 I, myself, was not accepted by those groups,
15 they did not accept me as their commander, except when
16 they needed my professional aid and assistance. So
17 from time to time, I was able to function as a
18 commander when my skills and expertise were needed, but
19 it was very difficult to ensure any genuine authority
20 over them, and I had the impression that I would need a
21 great deal of time to deserve this right and to ask
22 them to heed my orders.
23 Q. In a situation of this kind, which was not
24 the usual type of army relationship according to your
25 experience and what you were used to up until then,
1 what methods of work were you able to apply? Were you
2 able to apply what you learnt previously with regard to
3 command or did you have to apply any other methods,
4 and, if so, describe, for the benefit of the Trial
5 Chamber, what methods you applied?
6 A. Well, quite right, I was not able to apply
7 the doctrine of command that I had been taught because
8 I did not have the subordinate elements in the chain of
9 command. Let me explain this with an example of
10 villages. If, for example, a village had 25 recruits,
11 then it would have one representative who would be
12 replaced several times a day, depending on how
13 successful he was in representing the interests of the
15 If the village was one that had 200
16 inhabitants, once again, it would have just one
17 representative, and I, as the commander -- what
18 happened once was that one of these villages would call
19 me to attend the meeting at which they would elect
20 their commander and relieve him of his duty, and I
21 would be told in advance that I did not have the right
22 of decision making or taking part in the discussion and
23 that all I could do was to be there in the capacity of
24 a guest, and this happened to me in the village of
25 Lepenica in the Kiseljak area.
1 In the command structure, there were
2 different types of weapons. Generally, there were
3 different calibre and small arms, some of them that
4 dated back to the Second World War, others that had
5 been manufactured by hand, hand-crafted weapons, but,
6 for the most part, I applied three types of methods in
7 my work, and I was fully conscious of the fact that I
8 could not expect my commanding to be effective, and I
9 decided to hold oral lectures and to convince people,
10 by speaking to them and by convincing the formal or
11 informal leaders of the different villages, and I
12 differentiated between the two, and I also would select
13 representatives from the individual villages, and I
14 would go with them on visits to the positions that I
15 thought were crucial and that we should visit in order
16 to set up a defence line.
17 Q. Before you go on to explain how you set up
18 your defence lines, could you tell us, who were you
19 defending the Kiseljak municipality from? Who did you
20 expect to attack the territory of the Kiseljak
22 A. We organised a defence for the municipality
23 of Kiseljak, a defence against the forces of what was
24 still the Yugoslav army and which later became the army
25 of the Republika Srpska from the Ilidza municipality
1 and area, because in April, there had already been
2 attacks by these forces in the Rakovica area, which is
3 the first village bordering on the Kiseljak
4 municipality, the first neighbouring place from which
5 about 300 Muslim Bosniaks were expelled. This was the
6 first large influx of displaced persons at the time who
7 were taken into the Kiseljak area, so we defended the
8 municipality of Kiseljak from the attacks by the army
9 of the Republika Srpska.
10 Q. Would you explain to the Court what your
11 work, in fact, comprised, your work with the
12 representatives of the villages or these armed
13 individuals from the villages? What did you, in fact,
14 discuss with them?
15 A. Usually in the mornings, together with
16 Bakir --
17 Q. Who is Bakir?
18 A. Bakir Alispahic.
19 Q. He was the Muslim commander, was he not?
20 A. Yes, he was. He was the Muslim commander who
21 I met with daily. I had a daily meeting with him, a
22 briefing, and we would decide which one of us would go
23 to which village. They were villages bordering on the
24 Lepenica and Brnjaci area, and, Mr. President and Your
25 Honours, if necessary, I can show you on this relief
2 Q. It will be much clearer, I think, if you do
3 so. Could you show us the defence lines and where you
4 expected the attacks to be launched?
5 JUDGE JORDA: Can the cameras focus on the
6 model so that the people in the public gallery can
8 MR. NOBILO: And microphone, please.
9 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, Mr. President.
10 JUDGE JORDA: You can approach. It's a
11 little complicated because the Judges have to be able
12 to see, the public gallery has to be able to see, the
13 witness has to be able to express himself, and the
14 parties have to be able to supervise. We have to try
15 to organise things. I think at the beginning we were
16 able to do that with the model.
17 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, perhaps it would
18 be helpful if we have multiple jacks installed over
19 here for the benefit of all counsel to approach this.
20 It's difficult for us to see. There's only one jack
21 over here. We can't understand Colonel Blaskic without
22 translation, and from this distance, we can't approach
23 the exhibit without translation.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. I have no problem with
25 that, but, of course, when you're all around the model,
1 the only ones who won't be able to see will be the
2 Judges. Well, let's try. All right. Approach the
4 MR. NOBILO:
5 Q. General, perhaps, for the beginning, it would
6 be a good idea to tell us where the larger towns are
7 located on this model.
8 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, I am pointing to
9 Kiseljak (indicating). That is the place where I
10 arrived on the 14th of April.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Okay. We can see very
12 clearly. Thank you.
13 A. I arrived there on the 14th of April.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Where are we in relation to the
15 map that I have? Can you show us?
16 A. This is north (indicating). Your Honours,
17 north is towards this point (indicating). That is
19 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Continue, please.
20 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, Kiseljak, where
21 I arrived on the 14th of April, 1992, is located here
22 (indicating). My work throughout the entire time, that
23 is to say, in April and May, took place in the area
24 around Kokoska, the Kokoska facility. This is the
25 range, mountain range, north of the main road running
1 from Kiseljak to Rakovica, Ilidza, and on to Sarajevo.
2 Sarajevo is in that direction (indicating).
3 Then we have the Kobiljaca mountain pass, and
4 the position here is the trigonometry reference 651 or
5 the high ground referred to by the figure 651. Then we
6 have the Pljesevac feature, and this whole feature is
7 called Besovac. This pass between the Pljesevac
8 feature is called Ravne Njive. I'm indicating Ravne
9 Njive (indicating) and the feature Ostrik.
10 To the right of the feature Ostrik, we have
11 the mountain range which is called Koscan. This is
12 where the forces of the Territorial Defence from the
13 Kiseljak municipality were located. On the Ostrik
14 feature, Pljesevac and the Kobiljaca pass with the 651
15 high ground feature and Kokoska, these were the HVO
16 forces. Further on, we have the forces of the
17 Territorial Defence of Visoko.
18 MR. NOBILO:
19 Q. You have now described the frontline towards
20 the Serbs. Tell us, please, in simplified terms for
21 layman purposes, what was your activity in these
22 mountain ranges, features, passes, and so on? What did
23 you teach the locals there?
24 A. I would go to these villages every day. They
25 are villages bordering on this area. They are the
1 village of Azapovici, Dugandzica Kuce. They are the
2 bordering villages along this line here, and I would
3 select or I would pinpoint the leaders of these
4 villages, and together with them, I would go on foot
5 every day and visit these positions, Ostrik, Pljesevac,
6 Kobiljaca, Kokoska, and would show the locals, the
7 local villagers, where to dig trenches and
8 fortifications, communicating trenches, and other types
9 of fortification and, in the engineering sense, how to
10 set up the frontlines, the defence lines.
11 Having shown them where this work to fortify
12 the lines should be done, I would move on to another
13 area to check and see whether what I had ordered had
14 been carried out, and this was repeated time and again
15 over a long period of time because they were slow in
16 undertaking this kind of work. Nobody was actually
17 delighted in having to go trench digging.
18 Q. This defence line, was it a mixed
19 Croat-Muslim defence line, and did you work both
20 together with the Muslims and Croats? How was this
21 work organised?
22 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, I have already
23 stated that the Koscan position and Mokrine and further
24 on were held by the forces of the Territorial Defence
25 from Kiseljak and Hadzici and, from time to time,
1 manned by people from Jablanica as well. From Koscan
2 feature on towards the villages of Kralupi, Godusa,
3 those were forces belonging to the Territorial Defence
4 of Visoko.
5 I toured all these villages, and, in fact, at
6 the beginning, I wasn't interested in which village was
7 Croatian and which was Muslim, unless I was told this
8 expressly by the locals. At the beginning, I would go
9 to Zabrdje, Brkovica, Mokrine, to Tulica, and also to
10 the village of Grahovci, and I toured all these
11 positions in the area, and I never differentiated
12 between the villages and distinguished between the
13 Croatian villages and Muslim villages, but I would
14 check these lines and, together with the locals and the
15 villagers, I would explain how, in engineering terms,
16 this terrain should be organised for defence purposes.
17 I already said that Bakir and myself, that is
18 to say, Bakir suggested to me or I would suggest to
19 Bakir, we would go together to visit some of the
20 villages, so that we would make a public display for
21 the villages and show them that we were not divided,
22 regardless of the fact that, conditionally speaking, we
23 had HVO positions here and TO positions there, and from
24 Kokoska to the River Bosna, we, once again, had the
25 Territorial Defence forces of Visoko.
1 Q. In addition to determining the defence lines
2 and positions and the engineering terms of
3 organisation, did you try to tell the villagers the
4 importance of training, and did you explain the ways in
5 which the Republika Srpska could attack and how to
6 defend against these attacks?
7 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, during my
8 training at the military academy, I underwent tactical
9 drills at company level on the Rakovica position, and
10 we would elaborate defence plans towards Sarajevo, a
11 defence set up to an enemy attacking the Lepenica
12 valley towards Sarajevo.
13 Using the knowledge and experience that I had
14 gained and the experience gained from tactical courses
15 and activities within the JNA, I, together with the
16 representatives of the villages, toured some of the
17 positions and tried to explain to them -- first, I
18 would do this orally, and I'd explain the stages of
19 attack that the army of the Republika Srpska would
20 undertake and what we can expect, the kind of tactics
21 we could expect from them, and what we should do in
22 retaliation. Together with them, I would set up
23 reserve posts and positions which were, for the most
24 part, on the slopes of Cubrena and above the villages
25 in the Lepenica valley.
1 In addition to work of this kind, I also
2 endeavoured to organise training courses, that is, basic
3 training teaching the people how to handle weapons, the
4 kind of weapons that they had, the armed peasants and
5 villagers, basics in weapons handling, but there were a
6 great deal of problems there because sometimes ten
7 people would have ten different types of weapons. The
8 other problem was that each individual thought he was
9 trained in the handling and manipulation of weapons
10 just because he knew how to place ammunition, how to
11 charge the weapon, how to load the weapon.
12 I would also go to the individual villages,
13 usually in the afternoon hours or towards the evening,
14 and I would have discussions and talks with the locals,
15 and I would try and convince them that all these
16 preparatory measures were a good thing and should be
17 done because I tried to bear upon them that
18 organisation was a good thing, particularly with the
19 winter advancing in these mountain regions, and the
20 winter is very harsh in these areas, and so we should
21 try and predict the intentions of the enemy and the
22 army of the Republika Srpska.
23 Q. You said that some of the villages in these
24 border areas next to the frontline, that some of the
25 villages were Muslim villages and others were Croatian
1 villages. What about the TO, was it completely Muslim
2 or mixed? What about the HVO, was it an expression of
3 Croatian military organisation?
4 A. To a certain extent, the majority, yes,
5 although both in the HVO, there were some Bosniak
6 Muslims, and the complete composition of the Patriotic
7 League within the HVO, yes, they were Bosniak Muslims.
8 We had certain difficulties in that respect because
9 certain members of the Territorial Defence expressed
10 their readiness to join the HVO, which sometimes meant
11 the possibility of avoiding any kind of responsibility,
12 and this is what happened amongst the HVO ranks as
13 well. For example, for one week, people would be
14 members of the HVO, and the next week, something else,
15 depending on what the responsibility and duty was.
16 Q. Apart from these exceptions, generally
17 speaking, can we say that the Territorial Defence was
18 an organisation of the Bosniak people and the HVO was
19 an organisation of the Croats?
20 A. Yes, that was true, except the exceptions
21 which occurred, for the most part, when operations to
22 deblock Sarajevo were launched and which were the
23 result of the fact that the TO had lost its membership,
24 but the TO was Bosniak Muslim, and the HVO was made up
25 of Croatian recruits.
1 Q. Perhaps, General, you can go back to your
2 seat and we can continue from there.
3 Therefore, your activity was the organisation
4 of a defence line. Who saw to the safety and security
5 of the territory in-depth, that is, the security of the
6 people living there and their property in the
7 municipality of Kiseljak?
8 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, I have already
9 said that the municipality had nine wartime police
10 stations of a reserve police force. These police
11 stations were set up, as far as I know, already in
12 1991, at the end of 1991, in fact; and, together with
13 the active formation of the civilian police force, they
14 were in charge of public law and order and safety and
15 security throughout the territory of Kiseljak. They
16 were well-armed at the time, and they set up
17 checkpoints in front of their wartime police stations,
18 for the most part, which were located on the main roads
19 leading towards the Kiseljak municipality, into the
20 municipality from the local communities.
21 Q. Can we say, therefore, that the civilian
22 police was in charge of security throughout the
24 A. Well, yes, it had complete control of
25 security throughout the territory, all the more so as
1 the fact that the commander of the civilian police
2 station, the chief of civilian police, by virtue of his
3 function, was included, was a member of the municipal
4 crisis staff, that is, he was a member of the civilian
5 and military authorities at the municipal level, and
6 this structure of the police station was very
7 well-balanced. When I say "well-balanced," I mean that
8 the commander, the chief, was a Croat, his deputy was a
9 Muslim Bosniak; the commander of the police station,
10 the civilian police station in Kiseljak was a Muslim
11 Bosniak, his deputy was a Croat; and it was their task
12 to control the territory behind the frontline in the
13 Kiseljak municipality.
14 Q. Was there civilian protection? If there was,
15 was it unified, and what was the civilian protection
16 like at the time when you arrived there?
17 A. Immediately upon my arrival, maybe a week
18 later, this would be around the 26th of April, the JNA
19 air force, or the air force of the Republika Srpska,
20 bombed Busovaca, and several days before, there were
21 flyovers, even though they did not drop any bombs.
22 At that time, I asked whether any measures
23 had been taken, and I asked to meet with the person in
24 charge of the civilian protection to discuss the
25 measures for protection of the civilian population. So
1 I met with the commander and the chief of the civilian
2 protection. At that time, we agreed that the shelters
3 should be marked clearly again and some other measures.
4 The civilian protection in these
5 circumstances was trying to be operational to the
6 extent that it was possible. However, I recall very
7 well this meeting with the commander of the civilian
8 protection for two reasons: When I first asked him, I
9 was interested to know where the evacuation routes were
10 for the civilians in case of attack, and he said that
11 it was in the direction of Ilidza, that is down the
12 Lepenica valley, which would be from Kiseljak towards
13 the frontline. So the civilians would be evacuated
14 towards the frontlines. And I told him that this was
15 not right at all.
16 Q. Could you just slow down, please?
17 A. This would mean that the evacuation is being
18 conducted towards the frontlines, and he said that
19 these actions were set down in the rules, in the
20 handbook which he received, and that he could not
21 change it until such change was agreed to by his
22 superior at the republican level. We found a
23 compromise so that he would not change the rules in the
24 handbook but that the evacuation would not be conducted
25 towards the frontline.
1 The second issue was the distribution of
2 duties for the civilian protection between the HVO and
3 the TO. I gave him my position, that there is no need
4 for such a distribution of duty because the entire
5 population should be covered in the territory of the
6 Kiseljak municipality, including both sides; that is,
7 both Muslims and Croats and members of other ethnic
8 groups and minorities which lived in the Kiseljak
10 Q. So in conclusion, before we move on to the
11 next area: If you were to sum up the methods which you
12 used, did you operate as a military commander in
13 relation to soldiers or was it something else? How
14 would you qualify this?
15 A. No. In fact, I suspected and I sincerely
16 hoped that I would find some kind of military structure
17 in place there, but in reality, what I found were armed
18 groups, and these working men and these villagers I
19 perceived as men who had taken up arms, who had put on
20 uniforms and who were prepared to, instead of going to
21 the factory, would be prepared to play a role given
23 I was not in a position to issue any orders
24 and expect that somebody among my direct subordinates
25 would carry them out because I did not have any kind of
1 a structure upon which I could rely.
2 Q. So there was not a structure established in
3 the downward sense, in a subordinate way, but how was
4 the military structure upwards, so to speak; in other
5 words, were there any superiors to you at the HVO
7 A. At the session of the municipal crisis staff
8 around the 23rd of April, 1992, I was appointed the
9 commander of the armed formations by the municipal
10 crisis staff in Kiseljak, and I was not, either in the
11 first contact or later, led to believe that there was a
12 military structure superior to the municipality from
13 which I was to seek either approval or which was to
14 verify this appointment of mine.
15 Also, as far as my work is concerned, I never
16 was aware of any superior structure, something that I
17 could relate to my previous work, in other words, an
18 entity to which I would report on my daily activities.
19 I would only occasionally inform members of the
20 municipal crisis staff in Kiseljak on my activities or
21 members of the HVO headquarters in Kiseljak, and there
22 was no superior military structure in existence at the
23 time above this.
24 Q. When and in what way did you meet someone who
25 at least theoretically may have been your superior?
1 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, sometime in
2 early May 1992, around the 5th of May, the commander of
3 the municipal headquarters of the HVO, Tomislav
4 Trutina, proposed that I accompany him on a trip to
5 Busovaca on a fact-finding mission, that I accompany
6 him during this trip.
7 I went along, and we arrived at Motel Tisa,
8 which is on the approaches to town, and here in this
9 motel I met and I greeted Mr. Pasko Ljubicic, and we
10 had an informal conversation which lasted for several
11 minutes. This was at the reception desk in the motel.
12 And then I sat down with Tomo in a restaurant. We sat
13 down at a table.
14 Q. Could you tell me what you were told? What
15 was Pasko Ljubicic's post?
16 A. At that time, Tomo told me, "Here, you see
17 this man? This is Pasko. He's the commander of the
18 regional headquarters of the HVO for Central Bosnia."
19 We sat down in this restaurant. Pasko, for a while,
20 went away to make some telephone calls, and we were
21 joined by a gentleman, whom I later learned that his
22 name was Filip Filipovic and he used to be a colonel in
23 the former JNA, and Lieutenant-Colonel Filipovic
24 briefly gave us his impressions about the operation at
25 Slimena. This was an operation in which the HVO forces
1 were involved. I'm not sure whether the TO was also
2 involved in it. This was in the territory of Travnik
3 municipality where a warehouse was surrounded with the
4 weapons of the Territorial Defence for the
5 municipalities of Busovaca, Novi Travnik, Travnik, and
7 Q. When you say "Territorial Defence," was this
8 the Muslim Territorial Defence or the Territorial
9 Defence which was still under the JNA control?
10 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, what I am
11 referring to is the Territorial Defence which was part
12 of the structure of the armed forces of the former
13 Yugoslavia; in other words, under the control of the
14 Yugoslav People's Army, not -- I do not refer to the
15 Territorial Defence established by the leadership of
16 Bosnia and Herzegovina.
17 Q. How were the weapons distributed?
18 A. I did not review the documents to see how the
19 weapons were distributed except there, at the
20 restaurant, I listened to what Filipovic was saying,
21 and he pointed out that about 75 per cent of the
22 weapons ended up in the hands of Bosniak Muslims and
23 about -- that is, of the total weapons -- 25 per cent
24 went to the Croats. He also said that the HVO members
25 had casualties during this operation, there were both
1 killed and wounded, but he also said that he managed to
2 reach an agreement with the TO representatives and that
3 this distribution was to be balanced approximately
4 50-50 per cent. However, he told us that he had agreed
5 to this distribution.
6 Q. Can you tell me about this meeting? Did you
7 receive any instructions, any orders, either by Pasko
8 Ljubicic or Filip Filipovic?
9 A. No. I was surprised at that time because I
10 had expected that the meeting was about to start and
11 that this discussion could have been an expose by
12 Colonel Filipovic. It was just kind of a briefing to
13 let us know what had happened. However, at one point,
14 the commander, Tomislav Trutina, told me that it was
15 time for us to start going back, and so we returned to
16 Kiseljak without any orders, information, or any kind
17 of military report. This is how my first contact with
18 these, let's call it "formerly superior officers,"
20 Q. Let me just sum up. Pasko Ljubicic was
21 formerly your first commander, and this is the same
22 Pasko Ljubicic who was to be the commander of the
23 military police in Central Bosnia?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Could you now describe the next meeting which
1 you had with superiors at the HVO?
2 A. The next meeting was sometime towards the end
3 of May of '95. I think that, more precisely, it was on
4 the 23rd of May, 1992. My commander, Tomislav Trutina,
5 and I again left Kiseljak en route to Busovaca. I know
6 that we were supposed to see whether they had any
7 anti-armour weapons because there was a threat of a
8 tank attack against Kiseljak.
9 In a motel, and I believe it's called Villa
10 Titovac in Busovaca, I met a brigadier who introduced
11 himself as Brigadier Zarko Tole. He was accompanied by
12 two uniformed men, one was his driver and the other one
13 was probably his escort.
14 Q. What was Zarko Tole's duty?
15 A. I only know that he told me, when he
16 introduced himself, that he was the commander of the
17 regional headquarters for -- regional staff for Central
19 Q. Just one more comment. Does that mean that
20 Zarko Tole had meanwhile replaced Pasko Ljubicic?
21 A. Yes, that would have meant that we had a new
22 commander, that Zarko Tole was a new commander.
23 JUDGE JORDA: All right. I suggest that we
24 take a 15-minute break and then we'll resume at 4.30.
25 --- Recess taken at 4.15 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 4.37 p.m.
2 (The accused entered court)
3 JUDGE JORDA: We will resume the hearing
4 now. Please be seated.
5 Mr. Nobilo?
6 MR. NOBILO:
7 Q. At the break, we left off when you, sometime
8 on the 23rd of May, arrived at a meeting with the HVO
9 staff commander and you realised that there was a new
10 commander in place, Mr. Tole. Could you describe your
11 conversation with him a little bit?
12 A. Yes. This was a new commander whom I met for
13 the first time that afternoon, and he informed us on
14 the events mostly focusing on the Kupres front and on
15 the probable intentions of the army of Republika Srpska
16 in the area of Bugojno, Gornji Vakuf, Prozor,
17 Tomislavgrad, and Novi Travnik, Travnik, and Jajce.
18 However, he also said that on that day, at 19.00 hours,
19 a meeting was set up with the civilian and military
20 authorities in the Busovaca municipality conference
21 room and that it would be good if we also attended this
22 meeting. He stressed that this meeting, which was to
23 be held in the Busovaca municipality building, will be
24 attended by representatives of both the Muslim and
25 Croatian communities.
1 Tomislav Trutina and I stayed on for that
2 meeting, and in this meeting, Commander Tole spoke for
3 the most part, and he described his own view of the
4 military situation and he said that the representatives
5 of both the Croatian and Muslim communities in Busovaca
6 municipality should overcome certain disagreements and
7 differences and that they should focus their forces for
8 the defence against the upcoming attacks by the army of
9 the Republika Srpska.
10 He particularly emphasised the need for a
11 joint defence and informed us that a joint command had
12 already been established which was focusing on the
13 developments on the Kupres front. However, this
14 meeting too ended up without any firm orders for us by
15 this new commander except for the usual military
16 information, that was the standard military information
17 that was given about the current situation. Nothing
18 else was given. He also stated that a meeting had been
19 held in Travnik with representatives of the Croatian
20 and Muslim communities, and as far as I can recall, it
21 may also have been held in Vitez and perhaps in Novi
23 After this meeting, I returned to the
24 municipal headquarters in Kiseljak and continued my
25 daily activities.
1 Q. Did you receive any combat order from your
2 superior commander Tole?
3 A. No. Apart from this information, this
4 briefing, which really dealt with how he saw the role
5 of the civilian representatives in terms of assistance,
6 logistics, and everything else relating to the defence
7 and creating a line of defence in Central Bosnia, at no
8 point did he issue any kind of task or order, nor did I
9 receive any from him.
10 Q. When did you next meet with your commander?
11 A. The next meeting, and then this was again a
12 new commander for the regional headquarters for Central
13 Bosnia, was on the 5th of June, 1992 in Gornji Vakuf.
14 Q. Who was the commander at the time? This was
15 a new commander or was this the old commander Tole?
16 A. No, it --
17 MR. KEHOE: I'm sorry. I think it was
18 translated "the 5th of June," and it's come out "the
19 15th of June." I don't know, in terms of the
20 testimony, if that's of any consequence, but for
21 accuracy's sake, I point that out.
22 MR. NOBILO:
23 Q. The 5th of June, the 5th; is that correct,
25 A. Yes.
1 MR. NOBILO: Thank you for your
3 Q. So the meeting was held on the 5th of June.
4 Who was there? Who was now the commander of this
5 regional headquarters for Central Bosnia?
6 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, we assembled for
7 this meeting a little bit early on that occasion, and
8 again we met with our now new commander. This was a
9 commander who introduced himself as Zulu. He did not
10 give us his full name, and I assumed that this was
11 his nom de guerre.
12 In this meeting, Commander Zulu, after he
13 introduced himself as the new commander of the regional
14 headquarters for Central Bosnia, informed us again
15 about the current events on the Kupres front,
16 predominantly, the development in the Gornji Vakuf,
17 Bugojno, Novi Travnik, and Jajce areas, and this
18 meeting was suddenly interrupted by the arrival of a
19 soldier who brought a message to the commander.
20 Fifteen to twenty minutes later, we learned
21 the reason for this interruption, and the commander
22 told us only that he, himself, was calling the next
23 meeting for the 9th of June, 1992, again in Gornji
25 Q. Did this new commander issue you any orders
1 or did he establish a chain of command, a chain of
3 A. No, he did not. He did not issue any
4 orders. He didn't even ask us to give him our names so
5 that he would know who attended this meeting and which
6 commanders attended. He, in no way, issued any orders,
7 let alone any combat orders. This was a very brief
8 meeting, and it consisted only of his speech about what
9 he thought was going on. There was a big difference
10 between the briefing of the previous commander Tole and
11 Commander Zulu.
12 Q. Let us leave aside for the moment your
13 contacts with your immediate superiors, until the time
14 when you, yourself, became the superior officer there.
15 Could you just give us, very briefly, your comments on
16 the civilian authorities in Kiseljak, how you saw them
17 after two or three months of being there?
18 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, my arrival in
19 Kiseljak and my reporting to the local civilian
20 authorities was my first direct contact with the
21 civilian authorities. As a cadet during my military
22 training and later on as a professional officer, I
23 lived in a system which was completely insulated from
24 the civilian government. Only when I needed to report
25 my residence, which was in Postojna and Ljubljana, did
1 I have any dealings with any civilian authorities, and
2 the former JNA had all other services militarised.
3 I realised that the supreme power in the
4 Kiseljak municipality was held by the municipal crisis
5 staff and that all of the military and civilian
6 governing was issued from there. The civilian
7 authorities at that time tried to keep their former
8 authority, but, in my view, it was also forced to take
9 over all other functions, state functions, which was
10 due to the fact that the state had ceased to function
12 The municipal crisis staff mostly worked
13 through joint meetings, sessions, which included
14 representatives of both Croatian and Bosniak Muslim
15 communities. What I noticed in these meetings was that
16 there was no agenda or prepared plan of what the
17 discussion was about, but certain events in the
18 Kiseljak municipality dictated the agenda of these
19 meetings, and usually this municipal authority, for the
20 most part, reacted like some kind of fire fighting
21 crew. If a fire broke out somewhere, that is, if
22 certain incidents or events happened, then they would
24 The decisions were taken by consensus, by
25 mutual agreement, or by voting. When voting, the
1 Croats had the relative majority, and frequently the
2 decisions which were adopted by vote were not agreed to
3 by the Bosniak Muslim side. They often had objections
4 to the rules, and I know that the rules were set up by
5 their local municipal assembly.
6 Apart from these types of decision taking, I
7 never noticed any superior civilian government bodies
8 or any form of coordination between the higher civilian
9 government bodies. I remember, for instance, the issue
10 of food supplies, when there were shortages, a
11 municipal commission was established but only after the
12 shortages were already present and when a need arose to
13 find ways to find new supplies. At that time,
14 humanitarian aid was not yet in place, but we had a
15 problem with the influx of refugees.
16 Q. Let me move on to another area, and let me
17 move to the period of time until you became the
18 commander of the Operative Zone.
19 As regards the incidents in Kiseljak
20 municipality, I'm talking about the period of summer,
21 that is, June/July of 1992 and on, was this a period of
22 peace? Were there any armed conflicts? Could you
23 describe the situation a little bit and then maybe try
24 to give us some of the incidents and how it was related
25 later on to the armed conflicts.
1 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, the
2 disintegration of the state and the fact that the state
3 structures ceased to function, coupled with the lack of
4 authority, there was no power and authority, and
5 voluntary armament in the area of Kiseljak, as well as
6 the breakdown generally of law and order and the
7 movement of armed groups in the Kiseljak area, brought
8 about a very unstable situation which was very often
9 accompanied by incidents of various kinds.
10 What I noticed at the very beginning of this
11 period was that the incidents generally occurred in the
12 villages, that is to say, not in the structure of
13 municipal power and authority and in the municipal
14 headquarters, but in the villages, first and foremost,
15 and they were motivated, principally, for economic and
16 social reasons.
17 Regardless of these motives, each of the
18 incidents, and there were many of them, had an effect
19 on the population of Kiseljak, and that effect was that
20 the population was afraid and distrustful. Very often,
21 they would react on their own behalf, and if the
22 complicating parties happened to be the members of
23 different ethnic groups, then this would deepen the
24 fear and mistrust that already existed and create a
25 basis for the generation of new incidents.
1 It was enough for somebody to know that an
2 activity or operation would take place to trigger off a
3 broader incident. It was enough to learn of the
4 movement of troops from outside or the movement of
5 armed groups; this too would trigger off an incident of
6 some kind. Sometimes the reasons for certain reactions
7 were perhaps justified, sometimes they were
8 unjustified, but the effect of any incident and all
9 incidents was to widen the gap and increase the fear
10 and mistrust and to have people polarise, the members
11 of the Croatian ethnic group and the members of the
12 Bosniak Muslims.
13 Generally speaking, what could be perceived
14 was that these incidents did take place, and they were
15 incidents between the members of the HVO and HOS,
16 between the members of the Territorial Defence and the
17 Patriotic League, and also between the armed villagers
18 from the neighbouring Croatian villages, that is to
19 say, one Croatian village against another Croatian
20 village. Then there would be conflicts between the
21 members of the armed locals of the Bosniak Muslim
22 villages and Croatian villages; furthermore, between
23 the members of the Serbian villages and the Bosniak
24 Muslim villages.
25 There were also incidents between the members
1 of the armed villagers, who were Croats and Muslim
2 Bosniaks, directed against the reserve unit of the
3 civilian police which was mobilised in nine local
4 communities. There were also incidents between the
5 members of the military police and the civilian police
6 force. There were also incidents at that time between
7 armed groups which sold weapons and engaged in other
8 activities, usually the black market, a type of black
10 There were also incidents when troops were
11 brought in from outside, units which, according to
12 somebody's plan, suddenly arrived and worked according
13 to their own plans in the Kiseljak area without being
14 previously announced.
15 Q. Having described the situation, could you
16 tell us about some of the incidents that occurred in
17 May or June 1992 for us to be able to support your
18 assessments with facts?
19 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, I am going to
20 quote an incident which occurred on the 3rd of May,
21 1992 at the very exit to the Kiseljak municipality,
22 that is, as you leave the Kiseljak municipality, a
23 motorised column was formed comprising of ten motor
24 vehicles, members of HOS, in the late evening hours,
25 and this column moved from the Kiseljak municipality
1 towards the Brnjaci local community and on towards
3 While they were driving, they opened
4 automatic gunfire using small arms. The route was 10
5 to 12 kilometres, and this created enormous problems
6 for us because the locals from these two local
7 communities, that is to say, both the Croats and the
8 Muslims and the Serbs who lived in the Kiseljak
9 municipality, thought that the army of the Republika
10 Srpska had carried out an attack and taken control of
11 those two local communities, and the rest of the night
12 we spent trying to establish what had, in fact,
13 occurred, and we did our best to calm the situation and
14 bring things back to normal.
15 Q. Do you recall a convoy from Foca escorted by
16 the MUP of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the alarm that that
17 created in the town of Kiseljak?
18 A. Yes. The next incident, that is to say,
19 after the incident of the 3rd of May, I myself and the
20 commander, that is to say, Commander Bakir, were
21 invited to attend a meeting of the municipal crisis
22 staff to submit reports on what had happened; and on
23 the 4th of May, 1992, in the afternoon, I left for the
24 meeting together with Bakir. However, he asked the
25 driver to take him to the crossroads, this is the
1 junction, at this position (indicating), and I was
2 surprised why he wanted to be taken to the crossroads
3 because we had this meeting of the municipal crisis
4 staff where we were expected to table a report on the
5 events of the previous night and the incident that had
6 taken place. He told me that he would be back in five
7 to ten minutes and that he would arrive at the meeting,
8 that he wouldn't be late.
9 I came to the meeting of the municipal crisis
10 staff in the municipal building, and I was asked
11 whether I knew where the convoy was coming from
12 carrying weapons and military equipment. I told them
13 that I didn't know because I had spent the whole day at
14 Kobiljaca touring the lines there and inspecting the
15 positions and fortifications there.
16 While we were discussing what this convoy was
17 and where the convoy could come from and where it could
18 pass through, we heard the noise of motor vehicles on
19 the streets of Kiseljak, that is to say, there is just
20 one main street, in fact. We heard noise there caused
21 by vehicles, and we heard some shouting and voices
23 When I managed to go outside, I saw in front
24 of the municipal building that there was a patrol
25 vehicle of the Golf type, Volkswagen Golf, belonging to
1 the civilian police, and that they had their rotation
2 lights on, and a column with several heavy vehicles;
3 and on the right-hand side, at some 20 or 15 metres
4 from the municipal building, there were soldiers
5 positioned belonging to the Territorial Defence and the
6 Patriotic League together with Bakir, and they had
7 their rifles cocked at the municipal building, ready to
8 fire. I recognised some of the soldiers because they
9 were from my own local community and I spent my
10 childhood with some of them; we grew up together.
11 I asked the members of MUP in the patrol
12 vehicle, patrol car, what was happening. Where were
13 they escorting the column to? It was at this point
14 that one of the officers introduced himself -- I can't
15 remember his name, but I know that he was a Bosniak
16 Muslim, a member of the Foca police station -- and he
17 was escorting the convoy with the intention of moving
18 on towards Visoko.
19 Of course, all the noise and the deployment
20 of the soldiers led to reaction on the part of the HVO
21 who were already positioned on the opposite side at a
22 distance of some 30 metres away from the members of the
23 Territorial Defence and the Patriotic League.
24 An hour later, the convoy moved on, and when
25 I asked Bakir why he failed to inform me about the
1 arrival of the convoy and why he didn't tell me why he
2 wanted to be taken to the crossroads in the first
3 place, he said that he knew nothing about the convoy
4 and that he just happened to be there by chance in the
5 armed escort given to the convoy. That was how the
6 incident concerning the convoy was closed.
7 In the course of the morning, once again on
8 the 4th of May, I was on my way back from the Kobiljaca
9 feature and the positions there, Zvonko Anic was in the
10 car with me and he, in fact, drove the car, and we were
11 stopped at the Paleska Cuprija position at the entrance
12 to the town of Kiseljak, we were stopped by Fabjan
13 Dugandzic and his son Marko.
14 Q. Are they Croats?
15 A. Yes, they're Croats. Fabjan Dugandzic took
16 out his pistol and cocked it at me and he had the gun
17 at the ready, his son came up with an automatic rifle,
18 and they cocked their weapons at me, they were half a
19 metre away from me, and they were talking about what
20 the HOS had done, the incident that occurred in their
21 village, and they were protesting about that incident.
22 They asked that incidents of this kind should not be
23 repeated and said that he would liquidate me if they
25 This particular incident which Fabjan and his
1 son perpetrated was repeated two days later. This
2 time, they turned their attention against the soldiers,
3 members of the HVO and HOS, they directed their weapons
4 against them, and on the 6th of May, 1992, they were
5 engaged in engineering work on the 651 feature. This
6 is a position at the front facing the Republika Srpska
7 army. His justification and explanation for this was
8 that if the Serbs were to notice a fortification going
9 on, they would shell his house.
10 Q. That the Serbs would shell Dugandzics' house;
11 is that right?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. He didn't allow fortification and
14 trench-digging on his land for the defence of Kiseljak;
15 is that true?
16 A. Yes. He came with his son, and he sent these
17 recruits away, the recruits that were engaged in
18 digging trenches.
19 Q. Do you remember the 1st of May, 1992,
20 trench-digging on that day and the conflict between the
21 Croatian village of Palez and the Muslims?
22 A. Yes, I remember that. It was the village of
23 Gornji Palez and the village of Duhri. There were
24 joint village guards set up there that would patrol the
25 village, a village watch, and they would be in the form
1 of a patrol. They would move about the village
2 patrolling the village.
3 First of all, they took each other prisoner,
4 but are neighbours, they are two neighbouring villages,
5 the village of Gornji Palez and the village of Duhri,
6 and when they had taken each other prisoner, later on
7 this turned into general trench-digging and
8 fortifications for military purposes, and they directed
9 their -- that is, one village cocked its weapons at the
10 other village, the Croatian village of Gornji Palez
11 made fortifications towards the village of Duhri, and
12 the village of Duhri, in turn, set up fortifications
13 towards the village of Gornji Palez.
14 This problem was solved on the 1st of May by
15 the commander of the municipal staff of the HVO of
16 Kiseljak, Tomislav Trutina, who himself was from the
17 village of Gornji Palez, he was born there, it was his
18 native village, and he held a meeting there with the
19 representatives of both villages, and they decided that
20 the trenches would be filled in and that the situation
21 would be brought back to normal.
22 Q. My colleague has cautioned me that there
23 might have been some problems over the translation.
24 May I summarise and say that each of the two villages
25 had dug trenches and turned against the other village;
1 is that the sense?
2 A. No, this happened on the 1st of May ...
3 Q. Once again, I have been told that it has been
4 interpreted differently. So the trenches were dug and
5 they faced the other village. So the village of Gornji
6 Palez faced its trenches toward Duhri, Duhri dug their
7 trenches and faced the other village; is that the sense
8 of what you're saying?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. On the 1st of May, there was a conflict
11 between the Muslims of Gromiljak with the civilian
12 police force there. Did you take part in resolving
13 that conflict?
14 A. I was on my way back sometime around 9.00 or
15 10.00 p.m., they were the afternoon hours, and they
16 asked -- the members of the reserve force of the
17 civilian police asked for my assistance because they
18 were accused of not doing anything. People said they
19 only spent their time in the police stations without
20 actually doing much, and this created a certain amount
21 of dissatisfaction both with the Bosniak Muslim people
22 and with the Croatian people, especially with the
23 military recruits who already at that time had been
24 taking shifts, daily shifts, at the frontline towards
25 the army of Republika Srpska.
1 There was a conflict there too on the 1st of
2 May. There was a round of gunfire in the evening,
3 towards evening, by the armed Muslim Bosniak villagers
4 towards the police station, the wartime police station
5 positioned at Gromiljak.
6 In talking to the members of that police
7 station, they told me -- they told me what their names
8 were, and on the basis of their names, I was able to
9 conclude that they were Bosniak Muslims who, at the
10 time, were performing their duty and were doing their
11 shift. However, these conflicts with the reserve
12 forces occurred in the Brestovsko local community as
13 well, and in others too.
14 I'll have a drink of water.
15 Q. The excess behaviours were attributed to the
16 Vrazija Divizija, "Devil's Division," when they took
17 over a certain amount of smuggled -- they smuggled
19 A. Yes, the members of a group that was called
20 Vrazija Divizija, "Devil's Division," it wasn't, of
21 course, a standard division made up of 8.000 to 12.000
22 soldiers, it was just an armed group numbering some 50
23 men, and in the middle of the day, it was perhaps noon
24 or sometime in the early afternoon, they stormed the
25 marketplace in Kiseljak and collected all the cigarette
1 packages and cartons and all the valuable goods that
2 were displayed there at a time when there were
3 shortages of practically every commodity in Kiseljak.
4 They paid nothing, of course, to the people selling
5 those goods.
6 After they had done this, they went on to the
7 petrol pump, the only gas station that was open in
8 Kiseljak at the time. They filled their vehicles up
9 with petrol and went away without any intention of
11 Q. How could we define, in the national sense,
12 the Vrazija Divizija, "Devil's Division"? What ethnic
13 group did they belong to? What about the tradesmen
14 whose goods were stolen, what ethnic group did they
15 belong to?
16 A. I talked to some of the tradesmen because
17 they complained themselves, they came to me to
18 complain, and I talked to the attendants at the petrol
19 pump, and they were Croats, and the members of the
20 Devil's Division were mostly Croats, although there
21 were some Bosniak Muslims within their ranks as well.
22 Q. On that particular day, there was a conflict
23 between two HVO units around Cubren, was there not?
24 A. Yes, Mr. President, Your Honours. Cubren
25 lies in this position here, it is the dominant feature
1 in this entire Lepenica valley, that is the feature
2 (indicating), and the former army had its radio relay
3 links there and it used the feature within its
4 communications and signals network.
5 The border at the Cubren feature -- in fact,
6 this feature was divided into two areas, so that the
7 building where the staff was put up was on the
8 territory of the Kiseljak municipality whereas the
9 metal relay post with all the equipment was located, in
10 fact, in the municipality of Kresevo. Although this
11 tower was only ten or fifteen metres away from the
12 building itself, it was a major problem for the two
13 municipalities and the crisis staff of those two
14 municipalities, that is to say, the civilian
15 authorities of the Kresevo and Kiseljak municipalities,
16 because they were not able to agree as to under whose
17 competence and authority these facilities were.
18 On that particular day, there was a
19 confrontation, there was a confrontation with weapons
20 and personnel between Kiseljak and Kresevo, the two
22 Q. So it was a Croat-Croat conflict. But on the
23 11th of May, part of Medvjednica sent in an ultimatum.
24 Would you explain the circumstances of that ultimatum
25 and who it was addressed to?
1 A. This ultimatum was, in fact, just a
2 continuation of a larger conflict or a larger friction
3 which was going at the time which had to do with the
4 lifting of the siege of Sarajevo. This ultimatum was
5 sent to all the Croats living in the area of
6 Medvjednica village to the effect that they should
7 surrender their weapons and turn them over and the
8 equipment, even though this village is at the frontline
9 against the army of the Republika Srpska.
10 The Territorial Defence consisted mostly of
11 the Bosnian Muslims, and they sent this ultimatum to
12 the Croats in the village of Medvjednica.
13 Q. In which local commune is this village?
14 A. The village is partly in the Lepenica and
15 partly in the Kiseljak municipality.
16 Q. So this was on the 11th of May. As early as
17 12 May, the TO started shooting. Who were they
18 shooting at?
19 A. The village of Sotnice is in the commune of
20 Brestovsko, and in the course of the 11th of May, there
21 was automatic rifle fire and the Croats were shot at.
22 Croats were a minority in this village which was in the
23 Kiseljak municipality.
24 Q. You said that fire was opened against them.
25 Now, who opened fire at them?
1 A. The TO members, that is, the Bosniak
2 Muslims. They lived in the majority there. Among them
3 there may have been members of the Patriotic League,
4 but there is a Muslim and Croat population there.
5 Q. So the Croats in Fojnica and Busovaca looted
6 a Muslim convoy on that day, on the 12th of May?
7 A. Yes, this was a convoy, and it was the first
8 time that the Territorial Defence was able to secure
9 for itself some armoured vehicles. Up until then, such
10 equipment was not around, at least we did not see them,
11 and these were the first armoured vehicles which were
12 later taken over by the Territorial Defence in Visoko.
13 Your Honours, Mr. President, the Croats in
14 Fojnica robbed this convoy and they took away almost
15 all the equipment that this convoy was transporting,
16 and later on they decided, together with the Busovaca
17 HVO members, to take those vehicles, those armoured
18 vehicles, along the road to Busovaca-Fojnica and then
20 While driving along this road, they shot
21 around, and again it created a lot of excitement
22 because they shot from heavy machine guns.
23 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, we can stop at
24 this point.
25 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We are going to
1 stop for today.
2 MR. NOBILO: One more issue, Mr. President.
3 If you will recall, Professor Jankovic, the artillery
4 expert, the Trial Chamber ordered that the entire
5 material about mortars be submitted, and here it is.
6 We provide the entire --
7 JUDGE JORDA: You want me to read it tonight,
8 do you?
9 All right. We can adjourn our session for
10 today, and tomorrow we start at 10.00. All right.
11 Court stands adjourned.
12 --- Whereupon proceedings adjourned at
13 5.30 p.m., to be reconvened on Thursday,
14 the 18th day of February, 1999, at
15 10.00 a.m.