1 Monday, 22nd February, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 2.05 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Registrar,
5 would you have the accused come into the courtroom?
6 The accused will be testifying.
7 (The accused entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: Good afternoon to the
9 interpreters. I want to be sure that everybody can
10 hear me. Does everybody hear? Good afternoon to the
11 Defence and Prosecution counsel, to the court
12 reporters, and to General Blaskic.
13 General Blaskic is going to continue with his
14 testimony, that is, continue with the
15 examination-in-chief being conducted by Mr. Nobilo. I
16 am saying this for everybody here who doesn't know. I
17 would like to explain.
18 This is the examination-in-chief of the
19 Defence, and the Defence wanted the accused to
20 testify. Let me remind the accused that, as a witness,
21 he has taken an oath, and that he is still under oath.
22 Good afternoon. You may now begin.
23 THE WITNESS: Good afternoon, Your Honour.
24 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Your Honours.
25 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
1 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
2 Q. If you will recall, at the end of last week,
3 we started talking about the special purpose units and
4 their chain of command, and since this was really --
5 this was opened at the very end of the day on Friday,
6 General, would you just say again to remind us, could
7 you list these special purposes units and what their
8 purposes were and how they differed from the brigades
9 which you commanded over?
10 A. Your Honours, the special purpose units were
11 as follows: The Convicts or Penal Battalion, Ante
12 Bruno Busic Battalion, the Ludwig Pavlovic Battalion,
13 the Alpha Force Battalion, the Vitezovi, the Tvrtko
14 unit, the Apostles. These units were established as an
15 integral part of the defence department of the Croatian
16 Community of Herceg-Bosna, and they were not linked or
17 bound to a territory. This was pursuant to the -- and
18 on the basis of orders issued by the Ministry of the
19 Defence, they could have been deployed in any part of
20 the territory of the Croatian Community of
21 Herceg-Bosna. None of these units were ever part of
22 the Central Bosnia Operative Zone structure and its
24 Q. When you say by orders of the head of the
25 defence department who later became the Minister of
1 Defence, are you saying that these units were
2 subordinated to the civilian authorities or to the main
4 A. These units were subordinated exclusively to
5 the civilian part of the defence department. They were
6 never under the command of the main headquarters of the
7 Croatian Defence Council.
8 Q. This model of military units not being under
9 the command of the soldiers but under the civilian
10 authorities, are you aware of any such model anywhere,
11 either in the JNA or any other model that you may have
13 A. Up until then, I had never heard of such a
14 model, and I couldn't reconcile myself to such manner
15 of organising of military structure.
16 Q. At some stage, more precisely, sometime
17 around the 9th of January, 1993, two of such units, the
18 special purpose units who previously had not operated
19 in Central Bosnia, did appear there. These were the
20 Bruno Busic and the Ludwig Pavlovic units.
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Do you know how they arrived at this
23 territory, on whose request and who sent them there,
24 and did you take part in their coming to Central Bosnia
25 in any way?
1 A. I know that from the 13th of November, 1992,
2 the entire combat commands in the area of Travnik and
3 Novi Travnik were taken over by the joint command of
4 the BH army and the Central Bosnia Operative Zone of
5 the HVO, and the headquarters of this joint command was
6 in Plave Vode in Travnik. Messrs. Prkacin and Pasalic
7 ["Pavlovic" in real-time transcript], who were
8 commanders of the joint command, insisted to get
9 intervention units for the defence of Travnik --
10 Q. Excuse me. Just a moment. For the
11 transcript, it says that these were Prkacin and
13 A. No, Prkacin and Pasalic.
14 Q. Just to remind the Trial Chamber, Pasalic was
15 an officer with the army of Bosnia and Herzogovina.
16 A. Yes, he was with the army of Bosnia and
17 Herzegovina and the lead man in the joint command for
18 the 3rd Corps on behalf of the army of Bosnia and
20 At the request of the joint command, these
21 units were sent by the defence department in Mostar to
22 Novi Travnik and to Vitez, and the command over these
23 units, including the right to use them in combat, was
24 conferred to the joint command.
25 Q. Could you tell me, in specific situations,
1 could it be the case that you would issue commands to a
2 special purpose unit, let's say to the Vitezovi unit
3 who were frequently in your territory, and if so, under
4 what circumstances and how was this done?
5 A. Again, I could not reconcile myself to this
6 type of organisation, and I tried to inform my
7 superiors of this, and there were also situations when
8 I wanted and thought that I needed to inform the
9 Vitezovi and other units about the activities of the
10 HVO brigades in the Central Bosnia Operative Zone.
11 Sometimes this was oral information, sometimes it would
12 be sent as an information from the headquarters, but
13 overall, my position was the position of the
14 coordinator of these forces. In any situation, the
15 commander of the Vitezovi could have a discretionary
16 position in respect to my orders, which meant that he
17 could carry out these orders or inform me that I did
18 not have the authority, that is, that I was not
19 competent to issue orders to the special purpose units.
20 I received this position in writing on the
21 5th of January, 1993, from the Vitezovi commander. In
22 this memo, he expressed the position that the Central
23 Bosnia Operative Zone did not have the authority to
24 issue him orders.
25 Q. Later on we will return to these issues, but
1 now that we are focusing on the special purpose units,
2 can you explain to the Trial Chamber what the word
3 "subordination" means? That means the units which
4 were not directly subordinated to you were turned over
5 to your authority for special combat operations?
6 A. In terms of the chain of command, which means
7 that there are certain rules whereby a superior command
8 can reinforce certain subordinate units with additional
9 units, and during the period in which these combat
10 operations are carried out, such reinforcements are
11 subordinated to the commander of the overall operation.
12 The higher command, the superior command,
13 reserves the right to define the extent to which such a
14 unit will be subordinated, how long this subordination
15 is going to last, and what the authority of the
16 commander of the overall combat operation will be with
17 respect to this subordinated unit.
18 However, this subordinated unit is not part
19 of the manpower under the command of these subordinated
21 Q. After, let's say, a battle is over, what
22 happens between you and this subordinated unit which is
23 not under your command?
24 A. The situation is reversed to the previous
25 state of affairs, which means that I still have no
1 authority, that is, control and command of this unit,
2 and that this unit continues to be in the chain of
3 command directly subordinated to the higher command.
4 If these are the special purpose units, this would then
5 mean that the Ministry of Defence has the authority of
6 command and control over this unit.
7 Q. At this point in your testimony, can we just,
8 for orientation, give the example of Grbavica where you
9 de facto did have command over the Vitezovi?
10 A. Yes. This is a good example. This was a
11 case when I commanded this unit, but the commander of
12 this unit still has freedom to decide what forces and
13 what means he was going to employ to carry out these
14 tasks because he was aware of the fact that I was not
15 competent to -- for instance, do not provide him the
16 logistics to discipline him if such a task was not
17 carried out and I, on my part, was aware that it was
18 very difficult to foresee the behaviour of such units
19 during the combat. However, in the given situation, I
20 had no other choice.
21 Q. Let's now leave aside the special purpose
22 unit issues even though we will come back to it later
23 on. I would like to take you to a new area which I
24 thought that we would discuss today, which means that I
25 want to take you to the organisational work which you
1 carried out in January of 1993.
2 Did you continue with the process of
3 transformation of the armed villages into an army? If
4 you did so, can you just give us some pointers, what is
5 it that you did in this part of January before you had
6 the conflict on the 25th of January with the army of
7 Bosnia and Herzegovina?
8 A. I continued with my activities regarding
9 organisation and establishment of an army from these
10 armed villages, so that as early as the end of November
11 of 1992, we renamed the municipal staffs into HVO
13 On the 9th of January, 1993, I was working on
14 drafting the mobilisation documents as a proposal, and
15 these documents included the mobilisation plans and
16 registration sheets for every single soldier. This was
17 work on setting up the basic files for the military
18 conscripts. These are tasks which really fall within
19 the ambit of the Ministry of Defence, but we did this
20 work because we had no other documents.
21 On the 11th of January, 1993, I was working
22 on a draft of the establishment of the home guard on
23 the basis of a decree on home guard, and I tried to
24 establish a structure of local units of home guard
25 which would be based in a specific territory and would
1 basically be static units. As in early December the
2 chief of staff of the Operative Zone was involved in
3 this work, in January of 1993, we drafted a first plan
4 of monitoring of the immediately subordinate command
5 posts and units of the HVO.
6 Q. What is the role of monitoring within the
7 command and control?
8 A. This is one of the basic functions of any
9 command in order to identify the distinction between
10 the ordered and the implemented actions in order to
11 gain an insight into how the orders were implemented on
12 the ground, and after certain orders were issued, an
13 analysis was carried out to ascertain how much it was
14 carried out in order to then issue additional orders
15 which would be corrective orders.
16 Q. Could you add what other measures you took in
17 order to convert the armed villagers into the army?
18 A. Sometime in mid January, we drafted a form in
19 which we tried to establish certain rules about
20 replacements and shifts of men, of personnel, on the
21 front lines. We tried to provide more stability and
22 regularity in these operations and provide for
23 stability of the front line at the time of the change
24 of shifts.
25 Q. How did you organise the artillery?
1 A. As early as the period when the joint command
2 took over the command, that is, the joint command of
3 the 3rd Corps and the Operative Zone, the entire
4 artillery was under the command of the joint command.
5 It was organised in such a way that the crews, who
6 manned these artillery pieces and armaments in their
7 emplacements, were mixed. That means they consisted of
8 the members of the HVO and the BH army members. The
9 commanders of the artillery had an office in which they
10 jointly made plans about the activities and work of the
11 joint command. These commanders were from both the HVO
12 and the BH army.
13 Q. On the 14th of January, 1993, you held a
14 meeting with all brigade commanders from the Operative
15 Zone, almost all, and this was just to further this
16 work, and could you just briefly say, what did you
17 identify as the burning problems or burning issues in
18 each of the municipalities within the Operative Zone?
19 A. I had a meeting with the commanders. The
20 problems were several, and let me mention some. As far
21 as the Travnik Brigade is concerned, 300 soldiers were
22 being replaced on a daily basis on 400 kilometres of
23 front line against the Serbs. These were soldiers from
24 the neighbouring municipalities who were carrying out
25 their tasks at the Travnik front.
1 In Novi Travnik, there was a lot of shelling
2 at the front line by the Serbs. We had difficulties
3 with shifts in Novi Travnik because the army of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina, at their checkpoints, impeded the
5 passage of the shifts. I was also informed that in
6 Novi Travnik there had been some acts of provocation,
7 and within the HVO, it was the Ante Bruno Busic
8 Regiment, that is, a special purpose unit, which did
9 most of that, and on the Bosniak Muslim side, it was
10 members of the 308th Mountain Brigade. We had one
11 serious incident in Novi Travnik where an HVO
12 checkpoint was attacked by the Novi Travnik units of
13 the BH army. The location of this checkpoint was at
15 The brigade commander from Zenica reported
16 that there were a number of murders and suicides in his
17 zone of responsibility; further, that members of the
18 green legion, who were part of the 314th Brigade of the
19 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, were attacking Croats which
20 caused fear among the Croatian population in Zenica.
21 I was informed that the military police in
22 Zenica had employed 15 policemen who had criminal
23 records and that members of HOS in Zenica, who are also
24 part of the 314th Brigade of the BH army, were
25 pressuring Croats there.
1 In Kiseljak, there were problems of control
2 and command as well and the impossibility of having --
3 the new commander could not take over the command from
4 the old commander.
5 In Busovaca, the commander had asked for the
6 dismantling of the entire military police because it
7 was full of criminals.
8 The commander from Vares, another case in
9 point, said that he had had difficulties with regard to
10 sending soldiers to the Travnik front to fight against
11 the Serbs.
12 The commander from Zepce reported about the
13 upset relations that existed between them and members
14 of the HOS.
15 Q. You mentioned Kiseljak and said that there
16 was a problem there over handing over duties of one
17 commander to another. Could you explain to the Trial
18 Chamber, sometime in mid January 1993, you undertook a
19 drive to replace commanders in three municipalities.
20 Could you tell us your motives for this? Who did you
21 wish to replace and who did you wish to put in the
22 place of the commanders you were replacing?
23 A. I wanted to bring, in three municipalities,
24 that is, Kiseljak, Busovaca, and Novi Travnik, new
25 commanders there, and in order to do so, I wrote
1 proposals to the chief of the main staff, I sent him my
2 proposals, and the representative of the defence
4 I was motivated in doing this, and I wanted
5 to bring commanders who would be loyal to the command
6 of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, that is to
7 say, commanders who would not have had on their
8 shoulders previous incidents or the conflicts that we
9 had with the BH army beforehand, who were not burdened
10 with that kind of event and incident, commanders who
11 would be tolerant in their behaviour and conduct,
12 commanders who were professionally and militarily the
13 best experts in the field, the ones who we had
14 available, and the representative of the defence
15 department gave his permission for these commanders to
16 be replaced in that way.
17 Q. Who did you want to send to the
18 municipalities, and did you hold negotiations and
19 agreements? Who were the new commanders in Novi
21 A. In Novi Travnik, after the conflict in
22 October 1992, the local commander was replaced of the
23 municipal headquarters of the Croatian Defence Council,
24 Vlado Juric, and the man who replaced him was Borivoje
25 Malbasic, he became the new commander, from Vares.
1 In Busovaca, Dusko Grubesic was the commander
2 who was relieved of his duties, and he was replaced by
3 the new commander who was Mr. Niko Jozinovic from
5 In Kiseljak, a commander who was to have been
6 replaced, Commander Ivica Rajic, according to the
7 documents, he received an order relieving him of his
8 duties and to hand over his duties to somebody else, to
9 the new commander, and the new commander was to have
10 been Mr. Mijo Bozic who performed the duty, who worked
11 in the headquarters of the Operative Zone.
12 However, we had difficulties. I personally
13 had difficulties in Kiseljak itself because this
14 replacement did not take place because all the
15 representatives of the civilian authorities, despite
16 the consultations that I had previously had, retained
17 their attitude and stood firm in their attitude and did
18 not allow this replacement to take place, that is to
19 say, the replacement between Rajic and Bozic.
20 Q. Who did you hold a meeting with in the aim of
21 replacing the commander?
22 A. On the 19th of January, 1993, after 3.00
23 p.m., I had a meeting with the representatives of the
24 civilian authorities from Kiseljak, that is to say, the
25 mayor of Kiseljak, the president of the HDZ party in
1 Kiseljak, the members of the municipal government at
2 Kiseljak, and the meeting was also attended by
3 Mr. Rajic and Mr. Mijo Bozic.
4 The topic of the meeting was the replacement
5 of the two commanders and the hand-over of duties. I
6 tried to convince them that the order by the defence
7 minister was such that it had to be carried out and
8 that it was necessary to implement the order.
9 The discussion lasted until almost midnight,
10 and I received a declarative okay from the members of
11 the meeting; namely, the members said that this
12 hand-over of duty would take place in the ensuing
13 period. It was to have taken place by the 10th of
14 January; however, this hand-over of duty was not
15 completed even by the 23rd of January, 1993.
16 Q. We'll speak about the state of affairs in
17 Kiseljak later on and this official hand-over of duty,
18 but I would just like to ask you whether this is normal
19 for an army. Is it normal for you to negotiate with
20 the representative of the HDZ, the municipal
21 authorities, and have meetings from 3.00 p.m. until
22 midnight? Was that standard procedure? In any kind of
23 serious army, would that be standard procedure?
24 A. It was not standard procedure. It is not
25 standard procedure in any army.
1 Q. Let us now move on to another area, and
2 before we go on to discuss the conflict in January
3 between the HVO and the BH army, can you tell us
4 something about the security situation in the territory
5 of the Novi Travnik, Travnik, Vitez, Busovaca, and
6 Kiseljak municipalities, and public law and order, how
7 was that enforced, just the gist of it, the main
9 A. Law and order was upset in January 1993.
10 This process continued, especially in the
11 municipalities of Novi Travnik, Travnik, and Vitez.
12 The form that this disruption of law and order took was
13 that whole shifts would be taken prisoner, that is, all
14 the shifts along the front lines towards the Serbs and
15 anybody moving around the front lines.
16 Q. Who would take whom prisoner?
17 A. The BH army in Kruscica, on the 27th of
18 January, 1993, took a whole shift of the members of the
19 Croatian Defence of Vitez prisoner, including a motor
20 vehicle that they had and that these soldiers had to
21 take them to the front, so they took everybody prisoner
22 and confiscated the vehicles, the weapons, and
23 everything else.
24 Then there was an incident which took place
25 on the 13th of January in Kakanj where the BH army
1 expelled the military police of the Croatian Defence
2 Council from the town of Kakanj itself. There were
3 other incidents as well linked to the taking of
4 prisoners. The HVO, for example, and the members of
5 these special purposes unit, were foremost among them,
6 and the HVO soldiers would be arrested by the army.
7 Q. When you say the PPN, you're referring to the
8 special purposes units, are you not?
9 A. Yes, that is correct.
10 Q. In order to throw more light on this new
11 element in the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia that we
12 have introduced, I should like to show you some
13 documents, Defence Exhibits 204, 206, 208, so they are
14 Exhibits D204, 206, and 208.
15 I am going to read you the document number
16 D204, which is on the ELMO, some key points from that
17 document. It is dated the 25th of January, 1993, and
18 it is the 2nd Battalion which is reporting on the
19 activities of groups and individuals acting without the
20 knowledge of the HVO, the Croatian Defence Council
22 "Serious problems in the Vitez municipality
23 are made by groups and individuals which, in their
24 uniforms and with HVO insignia, are pilfering
25 socially-owned property and very frequently private
1 property. During the robberies, they have made use of
2 all forms of criminal activity.
3 "Their main objective is to loot, however,
4 as nobody is making an effort to put an end to this,
5 their criminal offences put an additional strain on the
6 already tense inter-ethnic relations. Lately, local
7 robbers have been cooperating with soldiers from
8 Herzegovina who have become emboldened, and the
9 Herzegovinis have been trying to loot privately-owned
10 buildings themselves."
11 And then the document goes on to quote
13 Could you tell us, please, reports of this
14 kind, did they reach you, and if so, in what way did
15 you react to them? In what way could you react to
17 A. Reports of this kind did reach me, and this
18 was just one report from the 2nd Battalion of the
19 Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade from Vitez. The brigade had
20 two other battalions at the time, one in Novi Travnik,
21 and I asked the commander of the Stjepan Tomasevic
22 Brigade to try and do his utmost to maintain a dialogue
23 with the commander of the 308th Brigade of the army of
24 Bosnia and Herzegovina from Novi Travnik and by means
25 of holding meetings to try and solve the problems that
1 existed and the incidents that took place.
2 I issued an order to that effect, banning any
3 long weapons to be bandied about in the town of Novi
4 Travnik, and this was for soldiers, members of the HVO,
5 and I asked the security officer to spend some time in
6 Novi Travnik himself and to do what he could to
7 undertake preventive measures to stop incidents of this
8 kind, and in this particular report, one can note that
9 the local looters were encouraged with the activities
10 of the soldiers themselves, soldiers from Herzegovina,
11 and the report mentions the Herzegovins, who were,
12 in fact, members of the special purposes units who,
13 through their own activities, contributed to the
14 chaotic state of affairs that existed in the region.
15 All I could do was to prevail upon their commanders, to
16 call upon them to say that all this was not in keeping
17 with the law and that it was a very bad thing that
18 things like this were happening.
19 Q. Were you able to take any disciplinary
20 measures towards the soldiers from Herzegovina, members
21 of the special purposes units?
22 A. No, that was not within my power and
23 authority. I was not able to take any disciplinary
24 measures against those soldiers.
25 Q. Why not?
1 A. Because those particular units were not
2 within the organic formation of the Central Bosnia
3 Operative Zone. They were under the competencies of
4 the defence department.
5 MR. NOBILO: Before we continue, I should
6 like to read out another document on the same subject.
7 It is Defence Exhibit D206. So can we have that placed
8 on the ELMO now, please?
9 Q. I am going to read this out. The document is
10 dated the 13th of January, 1993. It is from the 2nd
11 Vitez Battalion. The title is "Report on Security in
12 the 2nd Vitez Battalion," and I'm going to read point
13 number 2.
14 "The newly-arrived HVO units from
15 Herzegovina are causing us great difficulties. Every
16 evening, they walk around the town with weapons and
17 disturb the citizens by firing bursts of gunfire while
18 intoxicated. This problem is all the more serious
19 because of the school classes that are going on in
20 Vitez, which means that there are many children on the
21 streets. We are frightened that an even more serious
22 incident could occur as a result of this shooting."
23 And so on and so forth. I'm not going to
24 read it any further.
25 "There was also an attempt to take a car
1 from our chief of communications, Zoran Jukic."
2 Tell us, please, descriptions of this kind
3 that your subordinates sent to you, subordinate
4 officers, do you feel that they could have caused fear
5 amongst the Muslims because they were incidents
6 perpetrated by the Croats?
7 A. Yes, of course, and they did instil fear with
8 the Bosniak Muslim population where these units were
10 Q. I should like to read sections of another
11 document that you yourself wrote. It is Defence
12 Exhibit 208, and it is related to these units from
13 Herzegovina. Could the third document be placed on the
14 ELMO, please?
15 On the 6th of February, 1993, you wrote a
16 warning, due to the failure to carry out command number
17 01-1-217/93, dating from the 10th of January, 1993, and
18 it is addressed to all HVO brigades in the Central
19 Bosnia Operative Zone and to the independent units, the
20 OZ SB, and the text reads as follows.
21 "By command number 01-1-217/93, from the
22 18th of January, 1993 --"
23 There is obviously a misprint there because
24 the order was the 18th of January, 1993.
25 " -- and in connection with repeated
1 occurrences of the disturbance of public law and order,
2 murders, injuries, threats with firearms, opening fire
3 in inhabited places as well as a worsening of the
4 entire security situation, concrete duties have been
5 established to counteract such negative acts and
7 "Since until today adequate and efficient
8 measures have not been taken, but the aforesaid
9 negativities have been vented to a large extent, I
10 W A R N
11 - All commanders of brigades and independent
12 units in the Central Bosnia Operative Zone of their
13 duty to carry out the aforesaid commands. By
14 8 February 1993, this Command Headquarters is to be
15 informed in writing about the measures and actions
16 taken pursuant to this command."
17 It is signed Commander Colonel Tihomir
19 You sent this warning to the HVO brigades and
20 to the 4th LARD of the PZO, to the 4th Vitez Battalion,
21 and so on and so forth. Quite obviously, the
22 Herzegovina Brigade was not there at the time.
23 Tell me now, please, did this order represent
24 one of the measures that you took in order to try and
25 put the situation right?
1 A. This order reflects the situation that
2 existed at the time because following an overall order
3 from the 18th of January, 1993, a comprehensive order
4 that was sent out, instead of stopping a deterioration
5 in the security situation, upsetting law and order,
6 what happened was that law and order was upset even
7 further, and that is why I was obliged to send out this
8 warning, once again demanding that orders be put into
10 The units from Herzegovina had already left
11 because, already in January 1993, at meetings with the
12 joint commands, I insisted upon the fact that these
13 units be sent away from the area of the Central Bosnia
14 Operative Zone because, for a time, they were the
15 perpetrators of the disorder that was going on, and I
16 sent out a request in writing demanding the chief of
17 the main staff and the head of the defence department
18 to have these units, special purposes units from
19 Herzegovina, withdrawn from the Central Bosnia
20 Operative Zone, so that this could be an attempt at
21 stabilising the security situation.
22 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, counsel. If I might
23 interrupt for a moment, before we move off this
24 document, for one moment?
25 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe?
1 MR. KEHOE: The witness just clarified a
2 point, and I think it can be clarified just with a pen
3 notation possibly by Mr. Dubuisson, and that has to do
4 with Exhibit 208 which, candidly, I didn't notice until
6 As you can see on the ELMO, the first line of
7 that reads, "By the command number," whatever, "from 18
8 January, 1993," and as the witness rightly points out,
9 the original carries with it the date of 18 January, as
10 does the French version. I merely say that just so if
11 we could note that and correct that in the English
12 translation that's part of the record. Counsel, if you
13 don't mind a pen notation, we certainly don't mind
15 MR. NOBILO: That is correct, and the Defence
16 does not object to that because it is clear from the
17 document that this was the 18th of January. However,
18 the first mention of this order has not been printed
19 very legibly, so this is what creates the confusion.
20 MR. KEHOE: Be that as it may, I think it is
21 an issue that we all can agree on.
22 JUDGE JORDA: I would like to take advantage
23 of this interruption in order to make my own
24 interruption. The French version was the only one,
25 which is D208, the only one in French. The second
1 paragraph, in my opinion, has an ambiguity, since this
2 was translated into French. Of course, I cannot make a
3 judgment in respect of the Serbo-Croatian version, but
4 it seems to me that in respect of the English version,
5 the nuance is an important one because in the French
6 versions that I have in front of me -- I don't know
7 whether you are the one who had this translated into
8 French, Mr. Nobilo? Are you the one, or was it the
9 registry service?
10 MR. NOBILO: I believe that probably it was
11 the registry who did this.
12 JUDGE JORDA: All right. It was the registry
13 that had this translated. All right. This is not
14 someone who is trying to be a purist in the French
15 language, but there is an ambiguity as to the sense.
16 The witness said that in the second paragraph, "take
17 into effect that the measures did not bear fruit,"
18 whereas the French version which I have in front of me
19 says "express the negative qualities." I don't think
20 it is a very good translation, but that is a very
21 different sense. One has the impression that the
22 accused took the order because criticisms had been
23 expressed, whereas when the witness expressed himself,
24 he said it's because it was not producing any results,
25 objectively speaking.
1 This is an important nuance. Did the witness
2 take the order because it was criticised or because the
3 results were not good? I'm noting what the witness
4 said, but I would ask the registrar to have this
5 document resubmitted to the translation unit, that is
6 D208, especially the second paragraph, which is not
7 only in poor French but, in my opinion, also displays
8 an ambiguity.
9 If you don't mind, Mr. Dubuisson, have this
10 sent back to the translation department, please?
11 Excuse me for having interrupted, but I
12 wanted to take advantage of that moment, and as far as
13 I'm concerned, I will stay with what the witness said.
14 All right, Mr. Nobilo. You can go on for
15 another ten minutes, and then we will take a break.
16 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, we are grateful
17 because the gist of this is that the Colonel expresses
18 his dissatisfaction and asks that something additional
19 should be done precisely because the previous orders
20 had not been carried out.
21 Q. Now, let me now bring you back to the
22 previous question. You asked that these units be
23 withdrawn because of the violence, and you said that
24 this was because of the security of the population.
25 But as a commander, can you tell me, would experienced,
1 well-armed, well-equipped units be of use to you in any
2 type of combat situation?
3 A. The position of the joint command and my
4 position and the position of Dzemo Merdan was that
5 these units were necessary for us in order for us to be
6 able to defend ourselves in this territory, so they
7 were of an exceptional military significance. But the
8 problem was that we did not have adequate
9 accommodations, that is, barracks where we would
10 accommodate them at the time they were not engaged in
11 combat operations and tasks. They did make a
12 contribution to the stability of our defence lines; and
13 on the battlefront, we usually did not have any kind of
14 problems with them.
15 Q. If I understood you correctly, they were
16 deployed to combat the Serbs?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. So, again, if I understand you correctly, you
19 are sacrificing good combat units in order to improve
20 the security?
21 A. Yes, that is correct.
22 Q. I would like to take you to a new area of
23 questioning, which is the military situation which,
24 during three weeks in January, would lead to the first
25 conflict between the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
1 that is, the 3rd Corps, and the Central Bosnia
2 Operative Zone.
3 The last time, that is, on Friday, you said
4 that after a series of local incidents, the first thing
5 that really concerned you was the spread of the BH army
6 in what you call the depth of territory, that is,
7 behind the front lines. Could you tell the Trial
8 Chamber which units were those -- that is, the units of
9 the BH army -- were beginning to be deployed in the
10 depth of the territory, and what did that lead to
11 later? If necessary, you could move closer to the
13 Mr. President, with your agreement, maybe
14 this would be a good moment to stop, and we could use
15 the break in order to prepare the model with this new
16 situation. I think that it would really speed up the
18 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. All right. We will
19 take a 15-minute break.
20 --- Recess taken at 3.11 p.m.
21 --- On resuming at 3.35 p.m.
22 JUDGE JORDA: We can now resume the hearing.
23 Please be seated.
24 Mr. Nobilo?
25 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
1 Q. So we are now dealing with the development of
2 the military situation on the eve of the first conflict
3 between the 3rd Corps and the Central Bosnia Operative
4 Zone in January of 1993.
5 General, tell me, in late '92 and in January
6 1993, did you notice something that had raised your
7 concerns, and the later developments will bear out this
8 concern of yours?
9 A. Your Honours, in late 1992, it was already
10 noticeable that the BH army units were amassing behind
11 the front lines in the depth of the territory which was
12 under the control of the HVO and the BH army. As a
13 commander, I was concerned about this at the time, and
14 I spoke on several occasions with Dzemo and Enver, both
15 commanders with the 3rd Corps, about these deployments.
16 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: "Dzemo" is Dzemo
18 MR. NOBILO: Yes, "Dzemo" is Dzemo Merdan and
19 "Enver" is Enver Hadzihasanovic, who were the
20 commander and the deputy commander of the 3rd Corps.
21 A. We were talking about this amassing of forces
22 in the depth of the territory, and with your
23 permission, Your Honours, I would like to step forward
24 and use the model.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Go ahead. If Prosecution
1 counsel wishes to do the same thing, they may do so.
2 Could the witness express himself and speak clearly,
4 All right. I think everybody is ready.
5 Mr. Nobilo, please come closer. Can the public see as
6 well? Can the camera be focused in such a way that the
7 public gallery can see? All right. Very well. We can
8 begin. Please proceed.
9 Mr. Blaskic, the floor is yours. Please
11 A. Thank you, Your Honours. The front line
12 positions against the Serbs, which I am pointing to
13 (indicating), is not accurate in geographical terms
14 because we do not have all the features of the
15 terrain. I am going to mention them, and later on, I
16 can point to them on the map.
17 What I'm pointing at right now is Travnik
18 (indicating). This is the town of Novi Travnik
19 (indicating). This is the highway leading from Novi
20 Travnik (indicating) via Opara going to Gornji Vakuf.
21 MR. NOBILO:
22 Q. And then onward from Gornji Vakuf, where does
23 this road go from there?
24 A. It leads further to Prozor, Jablanica, and
25 beyond in the direction of Mostar. The other road from
1 Novi Travnik is in the direction that I'm pointing now
2 (indicating), and it leads via Ravno Rostovo to
3 Bugojno, and then due east from Bugojno to Gornji
4 Vakuf, and again Prozor, Jablanica, and Mostar.
5 The Serbian army controlled the following
6 features: It was Mount Vlasic, the Radalj feature, the
7 Komar feature. The 1st Krajina Corps from Banja Luka
8 was deployed along this line (indicating) and parts of
9 the 2nd Krajina Corps from the town of Titov Drvar.
10 Facing these Serbian forces, in fact, we
11 organised a joint defence against these Serbian forces
12 in Travnik consisting of the HVO and the BH army, the
13 Central Bosnia Operative Zone whose headquarters was in
14 Vitez, and the 3rd Corps of the BH army headquartered
15 in Zenica. The joint command was at Plave Vode, which
16 I'm pointing at right now (indicating), and this joint
17 command had taken over -- I'm just correcting the
18 position here, Your Honours. This is the location of
19 Plave Vode (indicating). This is what I'm pointing at
20 now. So the joint command took over the complete
21 command and control, including the combat engagement in
22 Travnik as of 13 November, 1992.
23 From the feature of Lupoglav all the way to
24 Vlaska Gromila, which is where the front line was held
25 by the HVO and the BH forces, and at the Lupoglav
1 location, including from Lupoglav to Mescema, there
2 were no BH army soldiers on the front line, except for
3 several villages where there were some Mujahedeen
4 forces, they were part of the 7th Muslim Brigade, and
5 parts of the 312th Brigade, who had the role of
6 providing combat security.
7 The BH army had a more significant presence
8 in Turbe. The Travnik defence was organised in
9 sectors, in sector 1, which was the main area from the
10 main Travnik-Turbe road to the right, and sector 2 was
11 the area between the Travnik-Turbe highway and to the
13 As far as the military situation is
14 concerned, all combat activities were conducted over
15 Vilenica feature. Had the Serbs taken Vilenica, the
16 town of Travnik would have fallen.
17 So my main concern in January of 1993 was the
18 following: The main communication line between Novi
19 Travnik and Herzegovina, which includes Novi Travnik,
20 Gornji Vakuf, Prozor, Tomislavgrad, and beyond that
21 Mostar, and the other, Novi Travnik, Ravno Rostovno,
22 Bugojno, Gornji Vakuf, Mostar, was occupied by the
23 forces of the 308th Brigade of the BH army from Novi
25 So that means in the area which I'm pointing
1 to now (indicating) and in this area here (indicating),
2 the entire 308th Brigade was deployed, and in the area
3 of Ravno Rostovo, a Mujahedeen unit from the 7th Muslim
4 Brigade was deployed.
5 These forces which were in the area of the
6 main communication line and belonged to the BH army
7 were not deployed on the defence lines of Novi Travnik
8 but were deployed behind the front lines, in the depth
9 of the territory.
10 Q. What was the meaning of the existence of such
11 large forces which were not engaged in the defence
12 against the common enemy, that is, the Serbs?
13 A. That was the -- I was also giving an answer
14 to this question from Mr. Dzemo Merdan at the time, the
15 deputy commander of the 3rd Corps, and from Commander
16 Enver Hadzihasanovic at the meeting of the 21st of
17 December, 1992 in Zenica. He answered that he was
18 creating operative forces and that he wanted to have a
19 trained and mobile army.
20 I personally was concerned by the positioning
21 of these forces because this was not an exception but a
22 practice which was also implemented in other areas.
23 The meaning of it was that you achieve monitoring and
24 control of the communications, and all communications
25 lines are of strategic significance in any war, and in
1 mountainous terrain, such as in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
2 especially in Central Bosnia, they are of vital
4 The next brigade was the 306th Brigade of the
5 BH army which was headquartered in Han Bila, and its
6 operations were going due north along the road Han
7 Bila-Metkovic, and the command post of the brigade
8 itself and its barracks was, as you can see from this
9 model, on the only road from Travnik via Guca Gora and
10 Han Bila, Stranjani, Cajdras, to Zenica. So if we
11 wanted to take the road from Travnik to Zenica, this is
12 the road that takes you to Zenica, and this is the main
13 communication line.
14 In addition to the 306th Brigade in Han Bila,
15 another brigade was being formed in Mehuric, and I'm
16 pointing to that location on the model here
17 (indicating). It is not exactly here. It is beyond
18 what is represented on the model here. And the 27th
19 Krajina Brigade was composed of mostly Bosniak Muslims
20 who were expelled from Banja Luka.
21 In the town of Travnik itself, the 17th
22 Krajina Brigade was stationed, a mobile brigade, which
23 also was composed of the Bosnian refugees from Sanski
24 Most and Prijedor, and it was deployed in the Travnik
1 Further in Travnik, there were forces of the
2 Mujahedeen from the 7th Muslim Brigade to the strength
3 of a battalion, and the BH army unit, alongside the HVO
4 forces, was manning the defence lines in Travnik.
5 The next unit was the 325th Brigade of the BH
6 army in Vitez which had its forces organised in
7 battalions. One battalion was deployed in Kruscica, I
8 believe it was the 2nd Battalion; another battalion in
9 Poculica with companies in Poculica and Vrhovine, that
10 is, Prnjavor; another company in Sljivcica, which is
11 the feature I'm pointing at now (indicating), Sivrino
12 Selo; and the third company in Ahmici.
13 This battalion controlled the road from Vitez
14 via Vjetrenica to Zenica, and the next battalion, which
15 had its headquarters in Bukve and was also part of the
16 325th Brigade, had its companies deployed in Bukve,
17 Grbavica, Preocica and controlled one of the auxiliary
18 communication lines, which also leads towards Zenica.
19 The forces of the 333rd Brigade in Busovaca
20 of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina were headquartered in
21 Kacuni and were deployed as follows: One battalion in
22 Kacuni, one battalion in Sudine, and another battalion
23 along the main road leading from Zenica across Lasva to
24 Kaonik and Busovaca, and their command post was in the
25 village of Grablje.
1 Let me just add that in old Vitez, Stari
2 Vitez, a Mujahedeen unit was deployed, as well as in
3 Poculica, whose strength was about 100 soldiers, and it
4 was deployed there in late January of 1993.
5 In Fojnica, in early 1993, the 310th Brigade
6 was deployed, and one battalion of this brigade was in
7 the area of the communication line between Fojnica via
8 Lucice, Zivcici, Mehuric, and Kacuni.
9 In the village of Dragacici, there was
10 another Mujahedeen unit deployed. Then there were the
11 forces of the 323rd Brigade of the BH army who later
12 were deployed at Bilalovac in late 1993.
13 Q. Are you saying '92 or '93?
14 A. It's 1993, that is, late January 1993, that
15 is, from about the 25th of January, 1993 and onward.
16 What is also interesting here are the forces
17 of the 302nd Brigade from the Visoko Operative Group
18 forces. This Operative Group, on orders of the main
19 staff of the supreme command of the BH army, as of the
20 18th of January, 1993, was subordinated to the command
21 of the 3rd Corps in Zenica. Earlier it had been under
22 the command of the 1st Corps. Unfortunately, here on
23 the model, we don't have Kakanj, but with your
24 permission, Your Honours, I would like to show it here
25 because one of the Kakanj units is significant for us.
1 This was the 309th Brigade in Kakanj
2 (indicating). In the village of Dobrinje, which is on
3 the main road between Kakanj and Zenica, there was a
4 Mujahedeen training camp there. Also in the mountain
5 lodge of Pogorelica, there was another Mujahedeen
6 training camp, and a Mujahedeen unit was stationed
7 there. This was in Fojnica.
8 This is important because there are
9 communication lines leading to Mostar from there, and
10 this is the second communication line leading south
11 towards Mostar and points beyond, so that from
12 Kiseljak, we can go via Kresevo, Tarcin, Konjic, and
13 Jablanica to get to Mostar, that would be one line, and
14 the other line is from Fojnica via Dusina, Pogorelica,
15 and then Buturovic Polje and Konjic, and there is
16 another line which is Fojnica, Dezevice, then Mount
17 Lopata, Blinje, Tarcin, and Konjic, and then from
18 Fojnica via Sebesic again joins the main communication
19 line towards Travnik.
20 Q. According to your assessment, in January
21 1993, how much of the BH army in this territory that
22 you described, how many soldiers did it have organised
23 in brigades that you mentioned and how many soldiers
24 did it have engaged towards the Republika Srpska army?
25 A. According to our knowledge, there was between
1 29.000 soldiers up to 33.000 soldiers in this entire
2 area, and on the front towards Travnik, it had engaged,
3 that is to say, on the Novi Travnik-Travnik front line,
4 our assessment was that they had about 1.500 soldiers
5 engaged there.
6 Q. At the same time, with the expansion of the
7 units of the BH army across the territory and the
8 communication lines which were of vital importance both
9 for the BH army and for the HVO, checkpoints were set
10 up in January 1993 armed with armed manpower. Where
11 and when and why were these checkpoints set up?
12 A. At that time, we very often discussed these
13 checkpoints and what their function was. The points
14 that I'm going to talk about now were not police
15 checkpoints where we would usually see a police vehicle
16 with two policemen supervising traffic on that
17 particular road, these were the classical type of
18 military checkpoint where, on the left- or right-hand
19 side of the checkpoint, there would be several
20 fortification features and shelters with soldiers in
21 combat deployment, and they supervised these control
22 checkpoints, these checkpoints.
23 At the same time, with the deployment of
24 forces in this way at the checkpoints, they were able
25 to have complete supervision over the communication
1 lines, and that meant not only the road but the area on
2 both sides of the road. They were able to control this
3 entire area.
4 The checkpoints made passage difficult, and
5 depending upon the soldiers manning the checkpoint or
6 the orders that they had received, they were able to
7 stop passage entirely along the communication lines.
8 On the 2nd of January, 1993, the Mehuric
9 checkpoint was set up. For the HVO, it prevented all
10 communication towards the village of Miletici and also
11 towards the military positions at Vlasko and Gromila.
12 Up until the 14th of January, 1993, a control
13 point, a checkpoint, was set up in the Vodavod school,
14 which is in the Novi Travnik municipality, on the road
15 running from Novi Travnik to Bugojno. At this
16 checkpoint, in the school building there, there were
17 some 200 soldiers belonging to the BH army there, and
18 the very fact that 200 soldiers manned the checkpoint
19 clearly indicates that their intention was not only to
20 control traffic in the area.
21 Up until the 14th of January, 1993, the 308th
22 brigade launched an attack on the Medenik feature which
23 had previously been taken over by the HVO in the
24 village of Sebesic, and after that they took over
25 supervision over the Medenik feature and another
1 checkpoint was set up at Pavlovica on the 18th of
2 January, 1993.
3 On the 20th of January, we were informed that
4 a checkpoint was set up at Opara again.
5 Q. What communication line is that?
6 A. This is the communication line running from
7 Novi Travnik towards Gornji Vakuf, and this is the
8 communication line from Novi Travnik across Ravne
9 Rostov towards Bugojno. The checkpoint set up by the
10 BH army at Kruscica, this checkpoint was set up on the
11 20th of January, 1993.
12 Q. Perhaps this is a good moment, for purposes
13 of the record, to indicate that the green flags are the
14 checkpoints of the BH army, the blue flags indicate the
15 command posts of the HVO, and the red flags are the
16 positions of the army of the Republika Srpska, whereas
17 the yellow obstacles on the road represent the
18 checkpoints; is that correct?
19 A. Yes, it is.
20 Q. Please continue.
21 A. The checkpoints at Kacuni were set up on the
22 21st of January, 1993, and were strengthened with a
23 company, reinforced with a company of soldiers from the
24 17th Krajina Brigade from Travnik. The checkpoint in
25 the village of Donji Bukovci but on the main road
1 running from Kacuni to Bilalovac --
2 Q. The Vitez-Busovaca-Kiseljak road, that is?
3 A. Yes, that's correct. This checkpoint was set
4 up on the 27th of January, 1993, according to the
5 information that I myself received.
6 The checkpoint at Mali Raj, the Sehitluci
7 position, was set up on the 29th of January, 1993. The
8 checkpoint at Bilalovac was set up on the 29th of
9 January, 1993.
10 Q. If you take a look at all these checkpoints
11 and the operative development or deployment of the BH
12 army, what, with this distance of time and the
13 knowledge that you have since gained and the events
14 that happened later on indicate, what was your military
15 situation like, for example, in a possible conflict
16 with the BH army given this kind of situation?
17 A. If it was the strategic task of each and
18 every commander to ensure communications with the main
19 staff, and that is what it is, in a situation of this
20 kind, we did not have one single communication line
21 open towards the main staff in Mostar under the control
22 of the HVO; and, on the other hand, the army had
23 several communication lines, that is to say, its 3rd
24 Corps, and it was able to use those communication lines
25 for supplying the army, especially after the 12th of
1 January, 1993, and the conflict that took place in
2 Konjic and Gornji Vakuf.
3 In actual fact, this deployment of forces
4 rendered the Central Bosnia Operative Zone divided. It
5 was divided into enclaves. But with the positioning
6 and deployment of the forces of the 6th -- that is to
7 say, the 4th Corps, the 4th Corps of the army of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina in Konjic and the forces of the 3rd
9 Corps in Gornji Vakuf, it was completely isolated from
10 the supply centres towards the south.
11 MR. NOBILO: Before we go on to describe the
12 events that followed, we should like to ask our
13 technical service to take a photo of this situation as
14 it existed in January 1993. We can go back to our
15 places and continue the examination-in-chief from our
17 Q. You mentioned that on the 12th of January,
18 1993, there was a real war, a real armed conflict
19 between the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the HVO in
20 Konjic and Gornji Vakuf.
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Can you tell us what information reached you
23 on this and what it meant for you?
24 A. We received information on the conflict only
25 on the 12th of January, 1993, and the conflict had
1 probably taken place a few days earlier. But if I may,
2 Your Honours, I should just like to point this out on
3 the map? May I use the map?
4 JUDGE JORDA: I think that would be a good
5 thing, at least personally I think that would be more
6 understandable. It would be easier than just looking
7 at the model.
8 THE REGISTRAR: For the transcript, the map
9 will be D540.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe?
11 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, Mr. President. Will
12 there be an exhibit for the photograph that was just
14 JUDGE JORDA: I suppose there would be a
15 photograph with a number.
16 MR. NOBILO: Later on we're going to receive
17 the photograph, and when we get the photograph, we'll
18 assign it a number. I think that is perhaps the most
19 logical way to proceed.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo is actually the
21 director for this photograph, if I'm not mistaken.
22 THE REGISTRAR: But the problem is, in fact,
23 that we don't really know what photograph is involved.
24 We will take advantage of the break so that we can
25 determine exactly what photograph is in question.
1 JUDGE JORDA: The photograph has to be made
2 individual and has to have a commentary which would
3 make it individual. It has to correspond with a point
4 of the comments made by the witness; otherwise, it's
5 just going to be one more photograph that goes with the
6 model. All right. But that's your problem.
7 We will now turn to General Blaskic and ask
8 him to indicate on the map, to show us how the strategy
9 was supposed to be the one of the army of Bosnia and
10 Herzegovina, how it took it to the enclave and how it
11 took it to the area behind the lines, so that's what
12 would start the conflict. That's what the Judges would
13 be interested in and would like to see on the map.
14 A. Your Honours, for purposes of orientation, I
15 am looking at Novi Travnik and showing the road which
16 leads from Novi Travnik via Ravne Rostov towards
17 Bugojno, and from Bugojno goes on to Gornji Vakuf.
18 This supervision of the road was in charge of
19 the 1st battalion and the 308th brigade of the BH army
20 from Novi Travnik, and at the Ravne Rostovo motel, the
21 Mujahedeen unit of the 7th Muslim brigade. The 2nd and
22 3rd battalion and the 38th brigade from Novi Travnik
23 covered the road leading from Novi Travnik via Opara
24 towards Gornji Vakuf once again. The conflicts between
25 the HVO and the BH army in Gornji Vakuf included forces
1 of the 3rd Corps, so the forces of the 3rd Corps were
2 engaged in the conflict from Zenica, and the forces of
3 the Operative Zone of north-west Herzegovina from
4 Tomislavgrad, whereas the units that I was in command
5 of were not included in the conflict in Gornji Vakuf.
6 At the same time, in Konjic, the situation
7 was more or less identical. Unfortunately, I haven't
8 got a map here showing Konjic, but if need be, we can
9 put up a map of that area as well.
10 [New map presented]
11 That is Kiseljak (indicating), I am pointing
12 to Kiseljak, and we said that it went via Kresevo,
13 across Blinje, going on to Tarcin, and further on the
14 road goes towards Konjic. That is one direction, which
15 was monitored by the 9th mountain brigade of the BH
16 army with its command in Tarcin and parts of the 105th
17 mountain brigade with its command in Pazavici.
18 However, the conflicts in Konjic were initiated by the
19 45th mountain brigade from Konjic itself and sections
20 of the 4th Muslim brigade. For us, of decisive
21 importance for the HVO and the Central Bosnia Operative
22 Zone, this was extremely important because they shut
23 off the other communication line which leads from
24 Kiseljak across Kresevo to Konjic and Mostar, or from
25 Kiseljak across Fojnica and Dusina and Pogorelica
1 towards Konjic once again.
2 Q. In other words, if the army of
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina sets up a front and blocks Konjic
4 and Gornji Vakuf, could you go to Herzegovina for
5 supplies, logistical purposes and so on?
6 A. No, we could not do this because the area was
7 under the control of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
8 and I should just like to add at this point that not
9 only did we have no connection between the Operative
10 Zone of Central Bosnia with the south, the south-lying
11 area with this deployment of forces, but with the
12 positioning of the checkpoints running from Kacuni via
13 Donji Bukovci, Mali Raj and Bilalovac, a new
14 communication line was opened in this area which
15 represented an air corridor which was about 10 to 12
16 kilometres wide, so it went from Kacuni up to
17 Bilalovac, and that corridor linked up, operatively
18 speaking, the forces of the 3rd Corps from Zenica with
19 the forces of the BH army and its 4th Corps which was
20 stationed in Mostar, and from April 1993 onwards with
21 the forces of the 6th Corps of the army of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina which had its command post at
24 Q. The onslaught that you're going to describe
25 later on on Bilalovac and Kacuni on the 25th of
1 January, 1993, and the creation of this corridor, was
2 of strategic importance for the BH army if it wished to
3 link up its cause?
4 A. Absolutely correct. It was a strategic goal
5 because with the execution of that goal, they were able
6 to link up the 3rd Corps of Zenica with the 6th Corps
7 of Fojnica and the 4th Corps from Mostar, but, at the
8 same time, the forces of the staff of the supreme
9 command were linked up, which was located at Mount
10 Igman, and very soon after the successes -- these
11 scored, the supreme command of the BH army was moved to
12 Zenica, to the theatre building there.
13 Q. So the conflict on the 21st,
14 Kacuni-Bilalovac, did it emanate from an incident or
15 was it the logical development of a whole military
16 strategy and situation?
17 A. No, it was not just a chance incident, all
18 the more so as the headquarters of the supreme command
19 decided prior to the conflict to subordinate the
20 operative group of Visoko to the 3rd Corps. This
21 occurred on about the 18th of January, 1993, which
22 meant that on the battleground running from Zenica to
23 Visoko, which is where the battle was to take place,
24 around Kacuni and Bilalovac, one command was created
25 with the command headquarters in the 3rd Corps in
1 Zenica, which was to command this operation, supervise
2 the operation, and this was a combat operations
3 activity. The area was small, but it was a highly
4 significant area.
5 Q. Having described the general situation to us
6 and having given us the logical military development of
7 the events, we're going to speak of events prior to the
8 conflict itself.
9 May I now have Prosecution Exhibit 456/83?
10 This is a Defence Exhibit, and it is Milivoj
11 Petkovic's order. It went to Travnik, Vitez, Busovaca,
12 Prozor, Konjic, Jablanica and Gornji Vakuf, and before
13 we move on to the contents of this order and your
14 comments, can you tell me, what did it mean to you as a
15 soldier that the commander of the main staff is not
16 issuing an order to you as a commander of the Operative
17 Zone but directly to your subordinated commanders in
18 Vitez, Busovaca, Travnik who were subordinates to you
19 in the Operative Zone? How did you interpret this?
20 A. This is how the Operative Zone was structured
21 at the time, because it would have been normal had the
22 order been directed to the Operative Zone command in
23 Vitez. However, here we see that it has three
24 different addressees, and this shows you the level of
25 our organisation and structure, because parallel to the
1 events on the front, we were also trying to transform
2 the armed population into an army, and I believe we
3 needed more time for that.
4 Q. I would like to read you this order and what
5 circumstances it was issued under, and I read. The
6 heading is "Avoidance of incidents - Order."
7 "Given the deterioration of Croat-Muslim
8 relations in the past few days, and in order to avert
9 conflicts detrimental to both, I hereby order ..."
10 This was an order from the 3rd of January,
11 1993 -- sorry, 13th of January, 1993.
12 A. Yes, it is of 13th January, 1993.
13 Q. "I hereby order:
14 1. All HVO commands are required to analyse
15 on the causes of the conflicts on their territory.
16 2. Immediately establish contacts with the
17 Muslim side and resolve any problems that have arisen
18 through dialogue.
19 3. Prevent possible attempts by lower
20 commands to resolve the problems that have arisen by
22 4. Whenever possible, set up joint teams
23 with the Muslim side to resolve past or new conflicts.
24 5. Make joint efforts to clear roads of
25 roadblocks and remove the newly-established
2 6. Propose that the Command meet at least
3 once a day to analyse the situation on the ground and
4 propose joint measures.
5 7. Submit regular and emergency reports on
6 the situation on the ground."
7 Chief of staff of the HVO of the Croatian
8 Community of Herceg-Bosna, General Milivoj Petkovic.
9 General, can you tell me, on the basis of
10 this order, does it seem that General Petkovic does not
11 understand the operational development of the situation
12 but is treating these as a series of incidents?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Is this a correct interpretation in the light
15 of the future insights into the situation?
16 A. Of course this is not correct in hindsight
17 based on the subsequent developments, but it is clear
18 that the situation was going in a different direction
19 because we held meetings, that is myself and Dzemo from
20 the 3rd Corps, on almost a daily basis until the end of
21 1992, and I was in my command post in Travnik
22 throughout this period, even though the headquarters at
23 that time was in Vitez. We tried, through the joint
24 commission, to identify the causes of conflict in Novi
25 Travnik in October of 1992, but this commission stopped
1 working because the BH army representatives from Novi
2 Travnik stopped taking part in the work of this
4 In order to calm the situation down, in
5 January of 1993 we were able to get mediation from
6 UNPROFOR who convened meetings between the HVO and the
7 BH army, and we attempted through dialogue to overcome
8 these numerous incidents and conflicts which were
9 taking place, and I personally thought that a new
10 conflict could break out in Novi Travnik or in
11 Busovaca, and I therefore insisted with the chief of
12 the main staff to bring in commanders from outside,
13 that is, from the neighbouring municipalities.
14 In one of the many conversations that I had,
15 Colonel Bob Stewart told me, "Now, why Novi Travnik
16 again," from which I concluded that he too had focused
17 his attention on Novi Travnik which, in January of
18 1993, had registered a number of incidents.
19 Q. General, did you follow the order of General
20 Milivoj Petkovic of 13th January, 1993 and attempt to
21 carry out what the chief of the main staff ordered you?
22 A. Yes, I did carry it out, and this order was
23 one of the topics of our meeting of the 14th of
24 January, 1993 which I held with all subordinate
25 commanders, and we had a detailed discussion of this
1 order and tried to implement it in full.
2 MR. NOBILO: I would now like to go to
3 another exhibit, Prosecution Exhibit 456/6, and have it
4 placed on the ELMO, please.
5 Q. This is your order of 16 January, 1993 at
6 1140 hours, and it was addressed to a number of units,
7 including the special purpose unit; first, to all the
8 formations in the Central Bosnia Operative Zone and
9 then the special purpose units, Bruno Busic, Ludvig
10 Pavlovic, and Vitezovi, additionally, to the Travnik
11 police department and to the 4th Military Police
12 Battalion in Vitez.
13 Before we move on to the body of text, could
14 you just tell us which of these units had the status of
15 temporarily subordinated units and which units were
16 attached to your command, based on what you mentioned
17 previously today?
18 A. From the list of addressees where it states,
19 and I quote, "To all the formations of the Central
20 Bosnia Operative Zone --"
21 Q. Which are these units?
22 A. These are all the HVO brigades in the Central
23 Bosnia Operative Zone which were directly subordinated
24 to me as their commander, that is, the HVO brigades are
25 these units, and they're the integral part of the
1 military structure of the Central Bosnia Operative
2 Zone, and separately mentioned are the following
3 addressees: The Bruno Busic unit, the Ludvig Pavlovic
4 unit, the Vitezovi, the Travnik police department, and
5 the 4th Military Police Battalion in Vitez.
6 Q. On which basis did you issue an order to
8 A. I had received an order from the main staff
9 which can be seen from the preamble, it is 01-66/93,
10 dated 15 January, 1993, in which these units were
11 attached to me or subordinate to me for this particular
12 task of the raising of its battle readiness.
13 Q. Did the local police department have any
14 combat units, since they were put on the list of
16 A. The police department in Travnik also had a
17 special purpose unit which numbered up to 30 civilian
18 policemen, and that was a combat unit.
19 Q. The heading is "The Combat Readiness of all
20 the HVO Formations in the Central Bosnia Operative Zone
21 Territory." I'm just going to read you the preamble
22 here. "Pursuant to the order of the Mostar HVO
23 headquarters, number 01-66/93, dated 15 January, 1993,
24 and due to the open and deceitful aggression of Muslim
25 forces all over the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna
1 which has caused scores of HVO members to be killed and
2 a number of them to be wounded, as well as Croatian
3 homes to be burned and the Croatian people driven out,
4 for the purpose of the self-defence of the people and
5 the territory of the Croatian Community of
6 Herceg-Bosna, I hereby order the following."
7 Now, please, can you tell the Trial Chamber,
8 at this point in time, that is, on the 16th of January,
9 were there conflicts and the burning of houses in this
10 area, and if not, why -- in the Central Bosnia
11 Operative Zone, were there conflicts with Muslims on
12 the 16th of January, that is, the question is "yes" or
13 "no," and the second question is why would you raise
14 your units and all the units which were in the Central
15 Bosnia Operative Zone, why would you raise them to the
16 highest level of combat readiness?
17 A. First, there were no conflicts in the Central
18 Bosnia Operative Zone, but the 3rd Corps from Zenica
19 did take part in combat operations in Gornji Vakuf; in
20 other words, they were directly involved with their
21 forces there. I issued this order because, first of
22 all, I had a duty, I was under obligation to issue it
23 on the basis of the order of the chief of the main
24 staff, and the raising of the combat readiness or
25 preparedness of the units, when, in the neighbouring
1 municipality of Gornji Vakuf, fighting was in progress,
2 was a normal and logical military task because Gornji
3 Vakuf borders on the municipalities of Novi Travnik,
4 Fojnica, Vitez, and Busovaca.
5 Q. Which are the municipalities from your
6 Operative Zone.
7 A. Yes, which are the municipalities in my
8 Operative Zone, and it borders on the back, on the
9 south side.
10 Q. Did the issuing of this order have anything
11 to do with the conflict in Busovaca on the 25th of
13 A. No. The raising of the combat readiness and,
14 let me say, the retyping of this order has nothing to
15 do with the conflicts which took place later in
16 Busovaca, and perhaps it is sufficient to point out
17 item 2 where it states that all HVO formations should
18 be made as mobile as possible. This was not
19 implemented as late as 1995 among the home guard units,
20 and it is clear that the order, as it was stated here,
21 was just retyped, that is, typed over, and was not
22 implementable in that area, and it was clear that, even
23 after the Washington Agreements, this would not be
24 possible to have been implemented.
25 Q. When you say "retyped," are you just saying
1 that is was basically copied from the order of General
3 A. Yes. We were just obliged to type it up as
4 we got it because we knew that we couldn't implement
5 certain things because we were just not in a position
6 to do so.
7 Q. Do you believe that the issuing of this order
8 in a combat situation, when, in a neighbouring
9 municipality, a conflict is going on between the HVO
10 and the BH army, was necessary?
11 A. Yes. We were just being cautious, and this
12 was a necessary step.
13 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, if you believe
14 that this is a good time, it is fine with me.
15 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We will take a
16 15-minute break before we complete the day's work.
17 --- Recess taken at 4.45 p.m.
18 --- On resuming at 5.10 p.m.
19 JUDGE JORDA: We will resume the hearing
20 now. Please be seated.
21 MR. NOBILO:
22 Q. General, when asked what would Petkovic's
23 order mean, that is, the order of the chief of the main
24 staff, you said that it was clear that he did not
25 foresee the conflict with the army of
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina, but rather saw these events as
3 Now, tell me, what was your view at the time
4 of these events? Did you, as a military strategist,
5 manage to foresee a conflict with the army of
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina or not, and what would have been
7 your situation in case of a conflict with
9 A. First of all, my opinion or view was
10 identical with that of General Petkovic; in other
11 words, I did not expect a war with the army of
12 Bosnia-Herzegovina. My attention was really focused on
13 the defence of Travnik, Maglaj, and Olovo. The town of
14 Olovo had a majority Muslim population, and we provided
15 every assistance we could to keep this town under the
16 control of the HVO and the BH army. Those were our
17 main fronts, and as I said, I assumed that we could
18 expect certain incidents in Novi Travnik, and I did not
19 foresee or could not foresee a war in January of 1993.
20 From this operational development, it also
21 became clear that the forces of the 3rd Corps of the BH
22 army, with reinforcements from the 1st army Corps,
23 which had been organised in the 1st Operative Group,
24 were much better positioned within Central Bosnia than
25 the HVO was, and operationally speaking, before this
1 battle had begun, we had already lost it.
2 Q. Why do you say that you have lost this battle
3 based on this operational development of the BH army?
4 Can you say in more lay terms, maybe perhaps by using
5 Exhibit 539, the map which we introduced last week?
6 A. Yes. If I can have the map, I would gladly
7 point to the relevant points.
8 MR. NOBILO: On the ELMO maybe. The points
9 Jablanica, Prozor, Konjic, Mostar.
10 Q. Please use both the map here on the ELMO and
11 the model in front of you.
12 A. I'm pointing at Vitez (indicating), to the
13 headquarters of the Operative Zone; Mostar (indicating)
14 where the logistics base and the main headquarters of
15 the HVO were located.
16 Q. This is about -- okay. We can see it now.
17 A. All communication lines leading from Mostar
18 via Jablanica are leading to Vitez, branch out towards
19 Konjic, Tarcin, Kresevo, Kiseljak, and Busovaca to
21 The auxiliary line is Jablanica, Konjic via
22 Dusina, Fojnica, and then to Kiseljak, Busovaca, and
24 The next line is Mostar, Jablanica, Prozor,
25 Gornji Vakuf, and then Novi Travnik, Vitez, Busovaca,
1 Zenica; further, Gornji Vakuf, Novi Travnik, Travnik,
2 Han Bila, Zenica; and Gornji Vakuf, Bugojno, Ravno
3 Rostovo, Novi Travnik, Travnik, Han Bila, Zenica, and,
4 of course, further on to Kakanj, Vares, Kladanj, and
6 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Would the General be so
7 good as to show me Han Bila on the map? Thank you.
8 A. Your Honour, Han Bila is between Travnik --
9 I'm now pointing at Han Bila (indicating).
10 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Is it marked on the
12 MR. NOBILO: Yes, but it's very pale, that
13 is, you cannot even see it.
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: All right. Yes.
15 MR. NOBILO:
16 Q. Go ahead.
17 A. All these communication lines, and we're
18 talking about the period of January after the conflict
19 broke out, were inaccessible to the command of the
20 Central Bosnia Operative Zone, including the
21 communication line between Kiseljak, Busovaca, and
22 Vitez in the area of Kacuni and Bilalovac.
23 Q. General, let's look at the Lasva Valley.
24 This is a valley which has its gates, let's say, the
25 entrance and the exit gates, if we just look at the
1 Lasva Valley itself, were you completely blocked, that
2 is, in all entrances and exits from the Lasva Valley?
3 A. Yes, we were absolutely blocked. We did not
4 have a single communication line open.
5 Q. In such an operative situation, a commander
6 with your professional experience, and I'm looking now
7 in terms of military theory, would a commander in your
8 position ever decide to enter a battle?
9 A. As far as I know, and I do have training in
10 tactical matters, but when I became aware that we did
11 not have a direct communication line with the main
12 headquarters, it was clear to me that we did not have a
13 military solution in terms of initiating any kind of
14 conflicts, and I, therefore, attempted to stabilise the
15 situation by negotiating.
16 MR. NOBILO: Can I now have the exhibit,
17 Prosecution Exhibit, 405, placed on the ELMO? I
18 apologise. It is D405, a Defence Exhibit. It's D539,
19 that is the map. The map is D539.
20 I would now like Defence Exhibit 405 placed
21 on the ELMO.
22 Q. According to some, the conflict broke out on
23 the 24th, according to others on the 25th of January,
24 but you issued an order on the 21st of January to your
25 units, and you say:
1 "Establish contact with the competent
2 command of the BH army.
3 "Proceeding from the order of the Chief of
4 Main Staff of the Mostar HVO, number 01-111/93 of 20
5 January 1993, and with the purpose of easing tensions,
6 I hereby order:
7 1. Establish contact with the competent
8 command of the BH army in your zone of responsibility
9 and settle all controversial issues by means of
11 2. This order takes effect immediately, and
12 unit commanders are responsible to me for its
14 Signed by Colonel Tihomir Blaskic.
15 Can you tell me what the circumstances were,
16 what was the purpose of your issuing this order three
17 days before the conflict broke out with the army of
18 Bosnia and Herzegovina?
19 A. This was my attempt to calm down the
20 situation and to have all the incidents and all the
21 events in a zone of responsibility of the BH army and
22 the HVO solved by dialogue without the use of force.
23 Q. However, soon thereafter, and then again I
24 think a new complication arose and it came from
25 politics, on Sarajevo television and elsewhere, there
1 was a proclamation of Bozo Rajic, the BH Minister of
2 Defence. Can you tell me what this was about and what
3 were its implications?
4 A. This was an order of the Defence Minister of
5 the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Bozo Rajic,
6 in which this attachment of units of the army of
7 Bosnia-Herzegovina to the HVO units was discussed and
8 also the attachment of the HVO units to the BH army
9 units on the basis of the territory of certain
11 Q. Did it have anything to do with the
12 Vance-Owen Plan?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. What was the decision in the Travnik
15 province, which is part of the Lasva Valley? Who was
16 going to be attached to whom and subordinated to whom
18 A. Specifically speaking, in the municipalities
19 of Travnik, Novi Travnik, Vitez, and Busovaca, all
20 units of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina were to be
21 attached to the command of the Operative Zone, but all
22 units composed of the refugees or foreigners were to
23 leave this province, and this was to be the 27th
24 Krajina brigade, 17th Krajina brigade, 305th Jajce
25 brigade, parts of the 7th Muslim brigade, and other
1 parts of units that had been brought in from outside.
2 Q. In the operative situation which you have
3 been describing this afternoon and the relations
4 between the HVO and the BH army, could this order, (1),
5 be implemented, and, (2), how was it perceived by the
6 HVO and the BH army, and did it become a source of
7 another point of mistrust between the two?
8 A. First of all, this order could not have been
9 implemented. I did not receive an official position of
10 the BH army, that is, its 3rd Corps, with respect to
11 this order, but I called a meeting of all unit
12 commanders within the Central Bosnia Operative Zone,
13 and in the meeting requested --
14 Q. Excuse me a moment. All brigade commanders,
15 not unit commanders, all --
16 A. That is correct, all brigade commanders of
17 the Central Bosnia Operative Zone.
18 Q. When did this meeting take place?
19 A. This meeting took place on the 16th of
20 January, 1993, in the Hotel Vitez, that is, the
21 headquarters of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone.
22 In this meeting, we read the order which I
23 had received from the main headquarters, and I asked
24 that we, first, establish contact with the
25 representatives of the BH army and, second, to wait for
1 new instructions from the chief of the main staff of
2 the HVO and the chief of the main headquarters of the
3 BH army regarding the implementation of this order.
4 Q. Did you tell the brigade commanders anything
5 about the possible conflicts with the BH army in a
6 politically electrified situation of that kind?
7 A. I let the commanders know that they could
8 freely enter into contact with representatives of the
9 BH army and that they could inform them that we were
10 waiting for orders to proceed and that it was our
11 attitude that a dialogue should be continued and that
12 all outstanding issues between the army and the HVO
13 should be settled through agreement.
14 Q. From the 20th of January, the soldiers of the
15 Brestovsko and Bilalovac local community, the HVO
16 soldiers, were not in their villages. Can you explain
17 to us where they were and why this was important for
18 the future meeting, the conflict that was to take place
19 later on, on the 25th of January, 1993?
20 A. From the 25th of January, 1993 -- the 20th of
21 January, I'm sorry, 1993, soldiers of the local
22 communities of Brestovsko and Bilalovac, from the area
23 of the Kiseljak region (indicating), were engaged at
24 positions ranging from the main road between Travnik
25 and Turbe towards Paklarevo in the defence of the town
1 of Travnik itself, and that was a regular shift for
2 these soldiers because the municipality of Kiseljak was
3 the protagonist of the defence of this part of the
4 front line in Travnik. On sector 1, the commanders
5 were Ivica Rajic from Kiseljak and Ivica Cosic from
6 Busovaca. So two municipalities, Kiseljak and
7 Busovaca, were responsible for the defence of positions
8 at sector 1.
9 Q. Tell us, please, did these soldiers return
10 before the conflict to their villages or not, before
11 the January conflict broke out in 1993?
12 A. Those soldiers did not return to their
13 villages from the 20th of January, 1993. From that day
14 onwards, they were located at the Travnik front line.
15 There were 200 soldiers there. A total of 200 soldiers
16 were engaged at the front line.
17 Q. Can you explain to the Trial Chamber what the
18 importance of those two local communities, Bilalovac
19 and Brestovsko, was in view of the conflict that broke
20 out in the municipality of Kiseljak with the BH army
22 A. The conflict that broke out in January 1993,
23 in the area of the Kiseljak municipality and took place
24 in the local community of Bilalovac, so this was the
25 local community from which the soldiers had already, on
1 the 20th of January, 1993, left their families and went
2 to perform their seven-day assignment, which was the
3 defence of Travnik.
4 Q. What about the local community of
5 Brestovsko? Was that a neighbouring community?
6 A. Yes, it was. It was a neighbouring local
7 community from which recruits were engaged to defend
8 the Travnik front.
9 Q. Sometime around the 21st of January, 1993,
10 that is, when you issued your order for calming the
11 situation, your assistant, Pilicic, brought you some
12 important information which he got from the locals of
13 Kotor Varos. Can you tell us about that?
14 A. Mr. Zoran Pilicic was from Kotor Varos
15 himself, and he sent me information that the recruits
16 from the village of Katici, which is this village I'm
17 pointing to now (indicating), and the village of
18 Podjele -- it's not on the model but it is a
19 neighbouring village east of Katici -- expressed
20 concern and anxiety over the fact that they had noticed
21 an amassment of troops of the BH army in the canyon or,
22 rather, the Lasva Valley, that troops were beginning to
23 group in that area, and they did not wish to go to
24 their regular shift to defend the Travnik front. They
25 were afraid of an attack by the BH army units, and they
1 had heard rumours themselves where threats of an attack
2 were being made.
3 I was informed of this at our morning
4 briefing. My assistant, Pilicic, informed me of this
5 situation, and I told him that the army of
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina was our ally and that the recruits
7 from the village of Katici should, by all means, go on
8 their assignment to defend the town of Travnik, to
9 sector 1, that they should proceed to sector 1, and
10 that he should have talks towards that end and to
11 prevail upon them to go and perform their assignment.
12 Q. On that day, you organised a meeting with the
13 commanders of the brigades. Can you explain to the
14 Trial Chamber -- and you may resume your seat -- what
15 were the subjects that concerned the commanders of the
16 brigades from the individual municipalities in Bosnia?
17 A. Well, in fact, this was not a special
18 meeting, it was a series of meetings, and if we look at
19 the chronology of these meetings, there was a meeting
20 from the 14th onwards and on the 21st, they were
21 regular weekly meetings for the commanders who were
22 able to attend and come to the headquarters to attend
23 those meetings.
24 At 2.00 p.m., we had a meeting with the
25 commanders of the brigades, and the commander from
1 Travnik informed me that there was provocative action
2 on the part of the army of Republika Srpska on the
3 Travnik front, the commander from Novi Travnik,
4 Mr. Borivoj Malbasic, who attended the meeting, also
5 informed us of the frequent attacks launched by small
6 groups of the army of Republika Srpska, once again on
7 the Travnik front.
8 Q. Perhaps we could focus on Busovaca and
9 Kiseljak for the time being because they are the
10 municipalities where, three to four days later, the
11 conflict would break out. Let's see what information
12 reached you from there.
13 A. The commander, Jozinovic, Nico Jozinovic,
14 reported to me and said that there was general fear
15 amongst the ranks of his soldiers because of a possible
16 attack from the 3rd Corps from Zenica, and he said that
17 they had noticed that the Bosniak Muslims were moving
18 towards Zenica from Busovaca, that they were leaving
19 and moving also towards Fojnica from Busovaca, that
20 there was an exodus of the population.
21 The commander from Kiseljak, Commander Bozic,
22 reported to us and said that the regular shift had been
23 sent to the Travnik front, and that all the convoys
24 moving past Kiseljak for purposes of the BH army were
25 passing through and that there was very good
1 cooperation, and he particularly stressed the
2 cooperation with the command -- with the headquarters
3 of the 2nd detachment of the BH army from Bilalovac
4 where, on the basis of my order, they had signed an
5 agreement on cooperation and mutual activity. This
6 implied mutual visits and an exchange of experience
7 between the commanders in Kiseljak and the commanders
8 in Bilalovac.
9 Q. This took place on the 22nd --
10 A. No, the 21st.
11 Q. Right, the 21st. That is, three to four days
12 before the conflict in Bilalovac broke out.
13 A. The commander also told me on that occasion,
14 the commander from Kiseljak, that he was having
15 difficulties with communication lines between the
16 Operative Zone in Vitez and the command there and the
17 headquarters in Kiseljak.
18 Q. Let us leave the meeting for the moment
19 because it's not vital to the January conflict. But on
20 the 21st of January, 1993, you received information
21 that a new army had arrived in Kacuni. What was all
22 that about? And I'm thinking of the army of
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina, of course.
24 A. Well, I received information that 100
25 soldiers had arrived in Kacuni. The soldiers were from
1 within the composition of the 17th Krajina brigade, and
2 the 17th Krajina brigade was stationed here
3 (indicating), at the barracks in Travnik.
4 Q. Kacuni is on the main road between Busovaca
5 and Kiseljak; is that correct?
6 A. Yes, it is.
7 Q. What about Katici? You received fresh
8 information from Katici, did you not?
9 A. Yes. Reports from Katici said that new
10 forces were being brought again, forces belonging to
11 the BH army, that they were being brought from Zenica
12 to the Lasva canyon or valley, in the vicinity of the
13 Lasva, Dusina, and Visnjica villages; that is, this
14 region here (indicating).
15 Q. In Vitez, or Stari Vitez and Poculica, what
16 information did you receive as to those two localities?
17 A. Well, I received information that a group of
18 Mujahedeen had arrived and that they were located in
19 Stari Vitez in a restaurant or a cafe bar called Dibek
20 owned by Bengir and that another group of Mujahedeen had
21 arrived in Poculica.
22 Q. On the 23rd of January, you were informed by
23 your assistant for intelligence work that he had heard
24 on the radio communication lines from the Serbian army,
25 and he sent you some information. What was it?
1 A. Well, the information I received was that the
2 Serbs expected a conflict to break out between the
3 Croats and the Muslims and that they had decided to
4 keep quiet for the time being, that is to say, not to
5 launch any combat operations themselves along the front
7 Q. Finally, you received information, which you
8 were to realise just how important it was later on, and
9 it was about a convoy which was to move towards eastern
10 Bosnia. Could you explain to the Trial Chamber what
11 the situation was like in eastern Bosnia, and what
12 happened with the aid and assistance that the army was
13 to have received in eastern Bosnia?
14 A. The situation in eastern Bosnia from the
15 beginning of November 1992 was very serious for the
16 majority population, the Bosniak Muslim population of
17 eastern Bosnia, and on the 1st of November, 1992, I,
18 therefore, suggested to General Prkacin --
19 Q. A little slower, please.
20 A. -- to send a battalion numbering 300
21 soldiers, it was called the Zmaj Od Bosne Battalion, to
22 the Zepa area, and the soldiers were equipped and armed
23 by the Croatian Defence Council, and that battalion
24 went on the 1st of November to that part of the front.
25 On the 23rd of January at about 8.30 p.m., I received
1 information at the barracks in Kiseljak that the
2 greatest convoy of armaments and military materiel had
3 been stopped.
4 Q. Whose convoy was it and what military
5 materiel did it contain?
6 A. The convoy was owned by the army of
7 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it was composed of 10 trailer
8 trucks. The vehicles had already been parked at the
9 barracks in Kiseljak for a check, an examination, and
10 there were about 200 to 250 tonnes of freight in the
11 trailer trucks or about two and a half million rounds
12 of ammunition, bullets, two and a half million bullets,
13 in fact.
14 At about 2100 hours, the representative of
15 the defence department called me and asked me to
16 undertake urgent measures to ensure that the convoy not
17 be examined according to standard procedure, the
18 procedure applied hitherto, but that it should continue
19 its route via Visoko towards eastern Bosnia
21 I undertook measures of that kind and asked
22 the command at Kiseljak to inform me personally once
23 the convoy had reached the area controlled by the army
24 of Bosnia-Herzegovina so that I could inform the head
25 of the defence department that the convoy had already
1 been placed under the control of the army.
2 At around 2130 hours, I reported to the head
3 of the defence department that the convoy had been
4 taken over by the escort of the BH army at the Visoko
5 position and that the convoy had continued along its
6 route towards its destination point, that is to say,
7 towards eastern Bosnia. I can show you this on the
8 model. The convoy was stopped in Kiseljak. After the
9 defence minister telephoned, it continued along its
10 route, and at 9.30 p.m., it was taken over by the BH
11 army, and it continued its journey towards Visoko, and
12 it was to have continued towards its destination,
13 eastern Bosnia.
14 Q. Can we say that there was a critical military
15 situation for the BH army in eastern Bosnia in its
16 fighting with the army of the Republika Srpska?
17 A. Yes, it was a critical military situation.
18 Q. With the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, what did
19 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina lack most, manpower or
20 ammunition? What did they need most of all?
21 A. Well, they needed ammunition in the first
22 place, and that was their biggest problem. There was
23 not the same problem with manpower.
24 Q. What happened with the aid and assistance
25 that could have saved eastern Bosnia? Would you
1 explain this to the Trial Chamber?
2 A. That aid and assistance ended up in the main
3 logistics centre in Visoko, and at 2300 hours, I was --
4 on the 23rd of January, 1993, my assistant from
5 Kiseljak called me up and informed me that the complete
6 convoy was being unloaded in the main logistics centre
7 of the supreme command headquarters in Visoko and that
8 it was quite obvious that it would not continue its
9 route to its destination in eastern Bosnia.
10 Q. After the conflict broke out and
11 with hindsight, so to speak, what were you able to
12 conclude? What was the strategic decision of the
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina army? How were they to use these
14 two and a half million bullets? Was it to defend
15 eastern Bosnia or was it for some other purpose?
16 A. Later on and with hindsight, we came to
17 realise, and I can be absolutely sure in saying this,
18 that most of that materiel was used against the Croats
19 of Central Bosnia and not to defend eastern Bosnia.
20 Q. On the 23rd of January, two days prior to the
21 conflict, you left your headquarters and went to
22 Kiseljak. Why? What was your purpose in doing so?
23 A. On the 23rd of January, it was a regular
24 weekend, and I was outside the headquarters. I was in
25 Kiseljak at my family home.
1 Q. Was it a routine weekend trip, a home visit?
2 A. Well, if I was absent, the head of staff,
3 Mr. Franjo Nakic, was in charge during my absence or
4 somebody else took over for me, and it was a routine
5 trip. I used to do this once in 10 days or 15 days. I
6 would go home every 10 to 15 days.
7 Q. On the 25th of January, 1993, had you known
8 that a conflict would have broken out on the 25th of
9 January, 1993, would you have left? Would it be a
10 normal reaction for the commander?
11 A. No, absolutely not. I would not have left
12 the headquarters had I known of the attack.
13 Q. On the 24th of January, you were in Kiseljak,
14 and you received some worrying news linked to
15 Kostroman. What was the information you received?
16 A. On the 23rd of January, 1993, I was with my
17 family, my wife, in the local community of Brestovsko,
18 and on the 24th of January, I went to church. I was in
19 church from 11.00 to 1.30 p.m., and in the afternoon,
20 from 2.00 onwards, perhaps, I went to a restaurant, I
21 was in a restaurant, and I overheard a conversation
22 about an incident which had broken out and concerned
23 Ignac Kostroman, but they were sort of discussions in a
25 Q. Could you tell us who Ignac Kostroman was and
1 what the stories were you heard in the restaurant?
2 A. Ignac Kostroman was the secretary of the
3 Croatian Democratic Union, and the restaurant where I
4 was located was called Makao, it was on the Kresevo
5 road, owned by Zvonko Markovic, and the stories told at
6 lunchtime was that he had been blocked at the
7 checkpoint in Kacuni, that he was taken out, and that
8 his driver who accompanied him had been disarmed, and
9 he was taken to be shot, but he was saved thanks to the
10 intervention of the HVO forces from Busovaca, a patrol
11 which arrived on the scene and stopped the attackers at
12 the checkpoint. Those were the stories I heard that
13 afternoon while I was in the restaurant.
14 Q. You spent the night in your family home, and
15 on the 25th of January, 1993, you wanted to return to
16 the headquarters. We have five more minutes at our
17 disposal today. Could you explain to the Trial Chamber
18 what that was like? What information did you receive?
19 A. On that morning, just like every morning that
20 I spent at home, I intended to leave at 7.00 a.m. and
21 to go via Busovaca to Vitez, and when the driver came
22 to fetch me, he told me that the owner of the house in
23 which he lived did not get to Busovaca via Kacuni, and
24 the owner was a taxi driver, his name was Markovic,
25 from Kiseljak. The driver told me that there were
1 probably some problems at Kacuni.
2 I started out with him. We said we would
3 leave and see where the problem lay, and we drove along
4 and reached the Brestovsko local community, and we were
5 stopped there at a checkpoint and warned --
6 Q. Who cautioned you?
7 A. The reserve formation of the Kiseljak MUP
8 manned the checkpoint, manned that particular
9 checkpoint, and we were cautioned there, and we were
10 told that there had been no traffic from the Busovaca
11 direction the whole morning and that probably the road
12 had been blocked and that we ought to go back in the
13 direction we had come from, and I did return from
14 Brestovsko to Kiseljak, to the barracks there.
15 Q. In Kiseljak, in the barracks, did you receive
16 any more detailed information as to what was going on?
17 A. At that time, it was a little after 8.00,
18 8.00 a.m., it was 8.30 or 9.00, and the commander of
19 the brigade, Mijo Bozic, arrived. I asked him whether
20 he had any information as to what was going on, and he
21 told me that he didn't. We called the duty officer,
22 and he told us that he had been told that the road had
23 been blocked in Kacuni but that he didn't know what was
24 actually happening in Kacuni and the Busovaca area.
25 Q. Did you try to contact the UNPROFOR
1 representatives and the representatives of the 3rd
2 Corps to clarify the situation?
3 A. Yes, I sent a liaison officer, the liaison
4 officer with UNPROFOR, and my own driver to the
5 UNPROFOR headquarters in Kiseljak. I dispatched them
6 there, it was the UN headquarters for
7 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and my intention was to receive
8 direct information from them about the situation on the
9 road and the events that had taken place in Kacuni.
10 As far as I recall, I'm not quite sure, but I
11 think I sent a letter with a proposal to the
12 headquarters of the 3rd Corps in Zenica. I faxed them
13 from Kiseljak.
14 Q. Did UNPROFOR manage to convene a meeting with
15 the 3rd Corps?
16 A. Yes, UNPROFOR's reply was, and I addressed
17 the letter to General Morillon and Brigadier General
18 Cordy-Simpson, and they told me that they were not at
19 headquarters but that, in the course of the day, they
20 would send in their reply, and sure enough, in the
21 afternoon, I received information that we would have a
22 meeting, that is, that there would be a meeting between
23 Dzemo and I in Kiseljak at the UNPROFOR headquarters on
24 the 26th of January, 1993 at 10.00 a.m.
25 Q. Did you succeed in contacting your
1 headquarters and Nakic, the chief of the main staff in
3 A. Of course, I tried to reach them, and I
4 sought ways and means of coming into contact with them,
5 and we succeeded at one point in making contact because
6 there was considerable difficulty in making contact. I
7 informed him that I had been cut off and was in
8 Kiseljak and asked him what was happening in Kacuni,
9 whether he knew, whether he had received any
10 information as to what was going on.
11 Q. Did he give you any basic information on the
12 fighting in Busovaca?
13 A. He gave me very scant information and said
14 that a conflict had broken out but that he did not have
15 any details as to what was going on.
16 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, as I would now
17 like to hand out some documents, perhaps this would be
18 a good time to adjourn for the day.
19 JUDGE JORDA: I think this is the right time
20 to stop this session. Let me remind you that we will
21 resume tomorrow morning at 10.00.
22 Court stands adjourned.
23 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
24 6.00 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday,
25 the 23rd day of February, 1999 at
1 10.00 a.m.