1 Wednesday, 24th February, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 1.43 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Registrar,
5 would you please have General Blaskic brought into the
7 (The accused entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: Does everybody hear? Do the
9 interpreters hear? Good afternoon. Good afternoon to
10 Prosecution counsel and to Defence counsel. Good
11 afternoon to the witness.
12 I will give you the floor, but I would first
13 like to remind Defence counsel that it has been a week
14 that we have been hearing General Blaskic's testimony,;
15 therefore, I expect that you will now set the amount of
16 time that you are going to need so that the Prosecution
17 will know how much time it is going to have, and that
18 will allow us to set the schedule for our work.
19 Mr. Harmon, did you wish to make a comment?
20 MR. HARMON: Yes, Mr. President. Good
21 afternoon, Mr. President. Good afternoon, Your Honours
22 and counsel, and I raise this issue with counsel. It
23 is only a matter of clarification of an issue that was
24 raised during the cross-examination of Defence witness
25 Martin Bell.
1 During his cross-examination, Your Honours
2 may recall, I showed him two brief video clips from the
3 BBC. The first of those video clips in which Mr. Bell
4 says that the Vance-Owen Plan so far from calming
5 the --
6 JUDGE JORDA: That was not a protected
7 testimony, was it?
8 MR. HARMON: No.
9 JUDGE JORDA: You're talking about the
10 journalist from the BBC?
11 MR. HARMON: Yes.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Who is now a Member of
13 Parliament in Great Britain; is that correct?
14 MR. HARMON: Yes.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
16 MR. HARMON: The Exhibit number is 573/1, and
17 in that Mr. Bell said that the Vance-Owen Plan, "so far
18 from calming the conflict, seems to have provoked it as
19 the Croats seized for themselves those parts of Bosnia
20 which they believe the plan awards them. The result is
21 a blood-stained partition of the country."
22 I then went on to ask Mr. Bell about that
23 particular clip, and he said he was unsure of the date
24 of when that particular clip was transmitted. I said
25 to Mr. Bell that I believed it was the 20th of April,
1 and he took issue with me, and I said to him that I
2 would come back with a clarification, and I said to
3 Your Honours and to counsel that I would come back with
4 a clarification, and I now would like to inform the
5 Court that following that issue that was raised by
6 Mr. Bell, I contacted the BBC and was informed by the
7 BBC that the date of the transmission of that
8 particular clip that I have just related to Your
9 Honours was on April 21st, 1993, and that they were
10 uncertain as to when it was actually filmed but said
11 that it very probably had been shot the same day, the
12 21st of April.
13 So that is what I present to the Court for
14 purposes of clarifying Prosecutor's Exhibit 573/1.
15 Thank you.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Harmon. I think
17 everybody has taken note of that, and it will be put
18 into the record, unless there is an objection from the
20 MR. HAYMAN: It is what we thought.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. All right, General
22 Blaskic -- but first, Mr. Nobilo, please continue with
23 the examination-in-chief of the accused who is now a
24 witness. I am saying this for the public gallery and
25 anyone in it who may be listening to our hearing
2 THE ACCUSED: Mr. President, Your Honours,
3 with your permission, I would also just like to offer a
4 clarification regarding my response yesterday when
5 asked by my counsel about the meeting on the 21st of
6 February, 1993, and the issue as to the release of
8 My response was that I could not recall at
9 that time. Since then, I have consulted my notes, and
10 I realised that one of the conclusions at that meeting
11 was a confirmation that all imprisoned persons were
12 released on the 21st of February, 1993.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Mr. Hayman, do you
14 want to take the floor?
15 MR. HAYMAN: Just to say, Mr. President, I
16 noticed that the witness was getting very tired by the
17 end of the session yesterday, and I have asked him
18 about that, and the only thing we would like to do, and
19 I will speak to the administrator of the detention unit
20 about this but I want to alert the Court, is that on
21 trial days, he doesn't get any fresh air at the end of
22 the day. He goes into his cell, and he doesn't have
23 any time outside for any fresh air, which I think may
24 affect sleeping and overall bodily health. So I will
25 speak to the administrator about him possibly getting
1 some fresh air after the trial day is over because we
2 hope that will help him sustain his concentration and
3 mental energy throughout what is going to be a number
4 of additional weeks of testimony. Thank you.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Let me turn to my colleagues.
6 I believe that all the Judges agree to your taking that
7 initiative. Yes, it is true that the witness -- I
8 remind you that in the current proceedings he is the
9 accused in the trial -- it is important that he be in
10 the best possible condition in order to explain what he
11 wants to explain about what happened.
12 I could add two things for the benefit of the
13 witness: The first is what we have always said for all
14 witnesses in this trial, that is, if you need some time
15 to rest, even ten minutes, ten minutes or five minutes,
16 that can be very helpful, there would be no problem,
17 General Blaskic, and the Judges will grant you that
18 time to rest.
19 The second point, let me turn to the
20 Defence -- I don't want to interfere with the Defence
21 strategy -- but, in fact, the witness who experiences
22 these events on a daily basis, hour by hour, wants to
23 provide us with all the details, and I said that
24 perhaps it might be best in general, as is the case in
25 all these trials, one must try to go to what appears to
1 be the most essential. But I can't say anything
2 further. You are the only ones, you and the witness,
3 are the only ones who can decide about that.
4 That's all that I wanted to say to you.
5 Would you like to take the floor again, Mr. Hayman?
6 MR. HAYMAN: Just briefly. We are torn
7 between brevity and sharp focus and the importance of
8 the richness of detail for the Court given the ultimate
9 question for the Court will be: Did the accused act
10 reasonably given the resources he had, the available
11 time he had, and the other competing demands on his
12 time and energy? So the fact that there were many
13 meetings with international organisations and so forth
14 and so on and many other problems to deal with of all
15 types, we think is important, but we are trying to find
16 the right balance.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Just one moment, please.
18 We are going to hold to what we said to the
19 witness, but I would like to convey the Defence request
20 to the Registrar so that we can see, insofar as
21 possible, perhaps we don't want this to be -- we might
22 make it an exceptional situation and that the
23 organisations, such as the detention unit, should allow
24 the detainee to get some fresh air. I don't think this
25 should be impossible, I don't think so in any case, but
1 I will ask the registrar to speak to Mrs. De Sampayo
2 and the director of the detention unit to see if it is
3 possible to grant that.
4 As regards the rest, it has to do with the
5 Defence strategy, and the Defence has to make its
6 choices, but, General Blaskic, we will say that if you
7 get tired at any point, of course, the Tribunal will
8 grant you either a somewhat longer break or even a
9 break which wasn't scheduled. If you need it, please
10 don't hesitate to tell us that. Right now, you are
11 acting as a witness. You are an accused, but for a
12 specific procedural time, you are a witness.
13 All right. Therefore, I now propose that we
14 not delay this any further and move along with the
15 examination-in-chief by Mr. Nobilo.
16 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. We
17 attempted today to really synthesise this next segment,
18 and I hope that we can proceed and come to the point of
19 the 15th of April when the conflict between the Croats
20 and Muslims started.
21 JUDGE JORDA: I didn't understand that. I
22 didn't quite understand the interpretation. You tried
23 to make things more synthesised. I thought you said
24 that the testimony of the accused would be finished
25 around the 15th of April. I was a bit worried when I
1 heard that.
2 MR. NOBILO: Well, what we are going to try
3 to do is we would like to, figuratively speaking,
4 arrive at the 15th of April, 1993, today. Yes, by the
5 end of the day, we would like to reach that point in
6 time. We really attempted to synthesise, so to speak,
7 the material that we wanted to present today, and we,
8 however, slightly fear that any attempt at synthesising
9 would just depart a little bit from the full truth, and
10 we really are attempting to present things as they
11 actually really happened, so this is a balance that we
12 are trying to strike between the full detail and the
14 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
15 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
16 Q. General, we will now try to just summarise
17 events starting with January of 1993. At that time,
18 you were still in Kiseljak?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Sorry. On the 1st of March, you were still
21 in Kiseljak.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, it was the 1st of March.
23 I thought we were going to go further back yet. I
24 thought, Oh, we're off to a bad start here.
25 Now, yesterday we were at the 21st of
1 February, and if I understood correctly, all Februarys
2 ordinarily end on the 28th except in leap years, so
3 then we would begin with the 1st of March. All right.
4 Let's start with the 1st of March.
5 MR. NOBILO: That is correct. Sorry. That
6 was just an honest mistake. I didn't mean to scare
8 Q. So on March 1st, you were working on a plan
9 for the Central Bosnia Operative Zone command. Can you
10 tell the Trial Chamber what kind of plan this was?
11 A. Your Honours, on the 1st of March, I was
12 working on a draft for a monthly plan of the Central
13 Bosnia Operative Zone command. My priority was the
14 tasks of organisation and establishment, and I had
15 already dealt with this task before March, but in
16 March, we expected to implement these establishment
17 documents through seminars and lectures.
18 Q. What other plans did you have and what other
19 tasks did you have, apart from the establishment?
20 A. Obviously, the priorities were the security
21 situation and public law and order because, throughout
22 that period, we had a number of incidents involving a
23 lot of refugees who were armed, as well as some other
24 armed groups.
25 Q. On 2nd March, 1993, you received information
1 from the Kiseljak civilian authorities about the
2 expressed desire of Muslims to move out.
3 A. Yes, I received summarised information of a
4 meeting of the civilian authorities in Kiseljak where
5 it was pointed out that about 60 per cent of the
6 Bosniak Muslim population of Kiseljak had expressed
7 intention to move out of the territory of Kiseljak
9 Q. In which direction?
10 A. They were opting for two things: One was
11 third countries, that is, outside of
12 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the second was to the area
13 under the control of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
14 Q. What was the position of the civilian
15 authorities? Were they leaning towards approving it or
17 A. The position of the civilian authorities was
18 not to approve such an initiative because they believed
19 that it was a result of the current situation in the
20 territory of the Kiseljak municipality. Another
21 problem was pointed out in this document. This
22 concerned the Bilalovac and Brestovsko local communes
23 because two school buildings were taken over by the BH
24 army, and it moved in its troops, and the municipality
25 was unable to organise school classes there.
1 Also there was a problem of freedom of
2 movement between Bilalovac local commune and downtown
3 Kiseljak, as well as problems with private and
4 so-called social property in Bilalovac.
5 Q. You met with the representatives of the
6 Bilalovac Croats.
7 A. Yes. At the request of the Bilalovac Croats
8 who had been expelled, I met with members of this
9 board, which they had organised, and they asked of me a
10 specific position, that is, they wanted to know when
11 they would be able to go back to their homes in
12 Bilalovac. Then they wanted to know what the HVO was
13 doing to protect their private property in Bilalovac
14 and whether it was possible for them to go and visit
15 their households in case they could not return to
16 Bilalovac, and they also asked me why they could not
17 visit their homes, whereas the Muslims from Bilalovac
18 were still able to acquire supplies in the territory of
19 Kiseljak municipality.
20 Q. On that day, you had a meeting with General
21 Morillon, General Cordy-Simpson, and General Prado.
22 Can you tell us the main points that were discussed
23 during that meeting?
24 A. I sent a letter to the UN headquarters
25 asking to be present at that meeting, and the key topic
1 at the meeting was the assistance and mediation of the
2 UN command in implementation of the agreement which
3 was signed by myself and the commander of the 3rd
4 Corps, Enver Hadzihasanovic, and the stabilisation of
5 the overall situation in the territory of the Busovaca
6 and Kiseljak municipalities.
7 In this meeting, I referred to the statements
8 of the Bosniak Muslim leadership guaranteeing the full
9 freedom of movement and emphasised that it had been 37
10 days since the road between the Kiseljak and Busovaca
11 municipalities was totally blocked for all Croats
12 living in this area.
13 I also expressed my fear regarding the
14 ability to control the rising discontent among the
15 refugees, and I gave information to the UN commanders
16 about the losses which we had suffered during this time
17 of the cease-fire. The losses mostly resulted from the
18 sniper activities.
19 Q. You also received a request for assistance
20 from a Muslim battalion.
21 A. Yes. The battalion, which was stationed in
22 the area of Koscan over here (indicating), called me on
23 the telephone, their commander called me on the
24 telephone and said that the army of the Republika
25 Srpska is shelling from its artillery pieces their
1 positions, and he asked for assistance, and he received
2 assistance from the HVO within the limits which we were
3 able to help.
4 Q. You were also called because you were told
5 that the Croats were shelled by the TO.
6 A. Yes. The Croats in Zagorice called me and
7 asked me to help them because they were attacked by the
8 BH army members. We assumed that this was the 302nd
9 Brigade because the villages were unable to identify
10 the unit.
11 Q. The next day on the 3rd of March, 1993, you
12 were transported by UNPROFOR to Vitez to a very
13 important meeting. Can you tell me how the trip went
14 and who attended the meeting?
15 A. The meeting was very important, and I was
16 transported to this meeting under the same conditions
17 as I was transported to all other meetings. We boarded
18 the armoured vehicles in front of the UN base, and I
19 was brought to the UN base in Vitez.
20 The chief of the European Monitoring Mission
21 chaired this meeting, this was Mr. Thebault, and
22 Colonel Bob Stewart was also the host of the meeting.
23 Representing the 3rd Corps of the BH army was Commander
24 Enver Hadzihasanovic, his deputy, Dzemal Merdan, Serif
25 Kadic, who was an officer with the 3rd Corps staff, as
1 well as Kadir Jusic. Also present was Mr. Jasmin
2 Jaganjac, who at that time was also a counsellor or
3 advisor of Mr. Alija Izetbegovic, who at the time also
4 had the duty of commander in chief of the armed forces
5 of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Zikrija Dzuko was also
6 present. He was the security officer of the joint
7 staff. Also present was a member of the supreme
8 command of the armed forces of the Republic of Bosnia
9 and Herzegovina who was also a member of the presidency
10 of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Franjo Boras. Also
11 present was Franjo Nakic, chief of staff of the
12 Operative Zone, Tomislav Vlajic, and Mr. Saric.
13 The agenda was, the first point,
14 communications, then the barricades/roadblocks, and the
15 return of the equipment and materiel. In this meeting,
16 special emphasis was made on proceeding in the spirit
17 of the agreement signed on the 13th of February, 1993.
18 Q. Can you just remind us who signed those
20 A. Those orders were signed by myself and Enver,
21 who was commander of the 3rd Corps.
22 During the discussion, Enver Hadzihasanovic
23 again emphasised that the process of agreement was
24 successful and that there was progress in all areas,
25 but he also claimed that the town of Busovaca was under
1 a blockade and that the town could not be entered, that
2 is, that the Muslims, the citizens of Muslim
3 background, could not enter the town and that the
4 Croats from Busovaca are moving into the homes of
5 Bosniak Muslims in Busovaca.
6 He, that is, Mr. Enver Hadzihasanovic, also
7 confirmed the existence of the barricade in Bilalovac
8 and said that the reason for the existence of this
9 barricade was his inability to establish communication
10 with the commander at the barricade and that this was
11 why this barricade was not removed. He also confirmed,
12 in fact, he claimed that the HVO military police had
13 disarmed the whole security detail in the explosives
14 factory in Vitez.
15 Following that, he also requested that the
16 orders of the joint commission be updated and brought
17 further up to date. He also asked that the civilian
18 police take over the control of the checkpoints along
19 the roads.
20 Q. Can you tell me, did Hadzihasanovic say
21 anything about the causes of the conflict, in other
22 words, the relationship between the politics and the
23 military, including the HVO and the BH army?
24 A. He repeated the words, I wrote them down, and
25 here I quote them: "Here the army is not the problem;
1 the politics is the problem. We have one territory and
2 a policy of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna and
3 the one of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina."
4 This is what he emphasised in this meeting,
5 and the chief of staff, Franjo Nakic, who was a member
6 of the joint commission together with Dzemo, responded
7 to Enver by saying that the joint commission did go to
8 Busovaca and that it did not find anything about the
9 inability of the Busovaca citizens to enter town.
10 Nakic also pointed out that it was true that
11 the security detail in the explosives factory had been
12 disarmed but that it had not been done by the HVO
13 military police but the Vitezovi special purpose unit
14 military police, and only one shift of the guards in
15 the Vitez explosives factory had been disarmed.
16 Q. Tell us about that guard. What was its
17 ethnic composition?
18 A. The ethnic composition of the guard was
19 well-balanced. There was roughly the same number of
20 Bosniak Muslims and Croats, and the workers stood
21 guard. They supplied the security guards from the
22 explosives factory.
23 Q. Could you tell us briefly what Franjo Boras,
24 member of the supreme command and presidency of
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina, said?
1 A. Mr. Franjo Boras spoke in favour of having
2 joint action on the part of the Central Bosnia
3 Operative Zone and the 3rd Corps of the army of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina against the aggressor. He stressed
5 that the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Croatian
6 Defence Council were component parts of the armed
7 forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that, this being
8 so, it was to be expected that they should work
9 together and that the incidents and conflicts were the
10 result of the failure of the joint command to
12 I supported the position of the commander of
13 the 3rd Corps that all the checkpoints should be taken
14 over by the civilian police, and Colonel Bob Stewart,
15 for his part, laid special emphasis on the fact that it
16 was the duty of all the participants in the meeting to
17 retain and safeguard this peace zone for all the
18 inhabitants living in the region.
19 Q. After this particular meeting, you took
20 advantage of the situation and, quite simply, you left
21 the UNPROFOR base. What happened? Where did you go?
22 A. After the meeting, as a member of the
23 presidency of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina was
24 present, and that was Mr. Franjo Boras, and other
25 high-ranking officials also attended the meeting, I
1 left together with them from the base towards the Hotel
2 Vitez, and I arrived at the hotel, at Hotel Vitez.
3 Probably because of the fact that these high-ranking
4 individuals were present, it was not strictly asked of
5 me to enter the UNPROFOR vehicles and go back that way.
6 Q. So, on the 3rd of March, 1993, you returned
7 to your headquarters, and can you remind us when you
8 left for Kiseljak, that is, when were you not able to
9 be at your headquarters and to perform the duties of
10 commander at the command headquarters?
11 A. On the afternoon of the 23rd of January,
12 1993, I left the command in Vitez and went to Kiseljak,
13 and I returned on the 3rd of March, 1993, after the
14 meeting in the UN base in Vitez had been concluded.
15 Q. So on the 4th of March, 1993, your first
16 working day after this lengthy interruption in the
17 headquarters of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone, what
18 did you do there, first of all, at the headquarters?
19 A. Well, in the course of the morning, I had a
20 rather long meeting with the chief of staff, who was
21 Mr. Franjo Nakic, who informed me in detail of all the
22 important events that had taken place during my
24 Q. Tell us, please, did you have occasion, in
25 the course of February and the end of January, until
1 your return, with Nakic or with any other officer from
2 your command, did you have occasion to talk to them
3 without the presence of a representative of the BH army
4 or the International Community?
5 A. No, I did not. I saw Nakic only at a joint
6 meeting attended by members of the International
7 Community and representatives of the army of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina and the other individuals who took
9 part in these meetings.
10 Q. So within the framework of that course of
11 information, were you informed when the most critical
12 points in Busovaca took place, what happened in Vitez,
13 and so on?
14 A. I learnt of the fact that the situation was
15 most critical in Busovaca on the 28th of January, 1993,
16 when an all-out effort -- an attack was stopped which
17 was launched by the BH army.
18 Q. What happened to the Vitez municipality? Did
19 it participate in those conflicts or making up part of
20 the troops or in any way?
21 A. No. The commander, the chief of staff, told
22 me that they had succeeded in safeguarding the area and
23 keeping it a safe and neutral area with respect to the
24 events that were taking place in Busovaca.
25 Q. On that particular day, did you set up
1 communications with your superiors?
2 A. On that day, I called the chief of staff of
3 the Croatian Defence Council, and I informed him of the
4 military situation in the Operative Zone with special
5 reference to the basic problem of the existence of
6 enclaves and the difficulties in commanding the
7 enclaves. I enumerated for him some of the basic
8 problems that existed which were linked to the question
9 of supplies, coordination, and the HVO activities in
10 general in the enclaves.
11 Q. On that same day, at 10.00, you convened the
12 commanders of the brigades from the Lasva River
13 Valley. Can you tell us the agenda?
14 JUDGE JORDA: The name was General Petkovic,
15 the one who was the chief of the HVO headquarters? It
16 wasn't Prkacin, it was Petkovic; is that correct?
17 A. Mr. President, General Petkovic. I talked to
18 General Petkovic on the phone, yes.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
20 MR. NOBILO:
21 Q. So it is 10.00, you had a meeting with the
22 commanders of the brigades from the Lasva River
23 Valley. Can you tell us the agenda, the reason for
24 which the meeting was convened on this first day when
25 you returned?
1 A. Well, during my long absence -- my long
2 absence was one of the reasons for which we decided to
3 convene a meeting as well as the newly arisen
4 situation, the situation that we found ourselves in.
5 The fundamental problem was how to function
6 under prevailing conditions where we had enclaves and
7 certain areas which had been cut off. The agenda for
8 the meeting was control and command. Then we discussed
9 training and drills, the fight against crime, and
10 information about armed groups of criminals.
11 Q. Tell us, please, you began the process of
12 transforming the armed villagers into an army. This
13 process started in December 1992, and you continued
14 this process in the first half of January 1993.
15 During your absence, was anything done along
16 the lines of this process that you started, that is to
17 say, the process of actually creating an army?
18 A. Nothing had been done during that time
19 because I was in Kiseljak, whereas the chief of staff,
20 from the 11th of February onwards, would attend
21 meetings of the various joint commissions.
22 Q. The brigades would report to you. Let us now
23 talk about the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade of Novi
24 Travnik which encompassed the potential soldiers from
25 Vitez and Novi Travnik. What did they tell you as the
1 basic problems that they were facing in their
2 particular region?
3 A. Well, they highlighted two problems: One was
4 the question of the relationship between the civilian
5 and military authorities in those two municipalities;
6 and, second, the very low power the commanders had of
7 actually commanding and controlling the units under
8 them and where the commanders of the brigade stressed
9 that the commanders were, in fact, the loudspeakers of
10 individual armed villages, that they echoed their
12 Q. Now, where was the problem in Vitez and Novi
13 Travnik in the conflicts between the civilian and
14 military authorities?
15 A. The problem was with regard to the fact that
16 the Vitez authorities, as did the civilian authorities
17 of Novi Travnik, they both considered that they should
18 have their own brigade and that the municipality did
19 not wish logistically to supply the Novi Travnik
21 Next, there were difficulties with respect to
22 the selection of commanders and choice of commander
23 because there too it was the attitude and position of
24 the civilian authorities that was overriding.
25 Q. In addition to the problem over authority
1 linked to the civilian authorities in Vitez, what was
2 the situation like in Busovaca? What was the main
3 problem there?
4 A. In Busovaca, the fundamental problem was the
5 fact that the front line, the new front line
6 established vis-à-vis the BH army, was in the Busovaca
7 municipality, and it was approximately 40 kilometres
8 long, and the Busovaca recruits from the ranks of the
9 HVO still had to be engaged on the Travnik battlefront
10 in the Paklarevo sector facing the Serbian army. They
11 raised the problem of not having sufficient manpower to
12 cover such an extensive front line.
13 Q. Could you enumerate briefly what tasks you
14 assigned to the brigades at that particular meeting?
15 A. The tasks that I assigned at that first
16 meeting, once I had returned, was to lower tensions
17 with regard to the BH army, to lower tensions, first of
18 all, and to solve problems through a joint commission
19 and to set up commissions for incidents that were
20 formed at a local level, that they should become active
21 in subduing conflicts. I next stressed the need for
22 coordination with the civilian authorities in the
23 municipalities but that the commanders should not
24 follow the orders given them by civilian authorities
25 but that they should implement my own orders, that is,
1 from the Central Bosnia Operative Zone. I asked that
2 competencies be divided and differentiated and that the
3 civilian authorities should deal with civilian matters.
4 Next, a list of weapons and military
5 equipment with the recruits should be drawn up, that
6 was the next task, to make an inventory, and to
7 establish the amount of ammunition that the soldiers
8 disposed of, and to see that the agreements that had
9 been signed up until then with the 3rd Corps of the BH
10 army were translated into practice.
11 I emphasised at that meeting to the HVO that
12 the conflicts with the BH army were not something that
13 we needed and that everything should be undertaken in
14 order to transcend this situation and the difficulties
15 that had arisen but that this should be done through
17 Q. On that day, at 3.20 p.m., Mr. Thebault
18 arrived, and can you tell us what you discussed,
20 A. The head of the European Monitoring Mission,
21 Mr. Thebault, visited me on that day in my office at
22 the Hotel Vitez, and I informed him of the topical
23 military situation in the Operative Zone of Central
24 Bosnia of the Croatian Defence Council.
25 He asked me to explain to him certain issues
1 which I took to be of a political nature, and I said
2 that I was not competent to discuss that type of
3 question. I emphasised in this regard in particular
4 the subject of the non-existence of firm subordination
5 and relationships between commanding officers and their
6 subordinates, and I said that in the HVO, there were no
7 ranks in ranking commanders and the commanding
9 Q. Did Thebault say anything with regard to the
10 conduct of the municipalities, for example, the
11 municipality of Vares? Did he tell you what he had
12 noted with the civilian authorities?
13 A. What he noted vis-à-vis the civilian
14 authorities, particularly in the municipality of Vares,
15 I was informed of them, he told me of them, and he
16 stressed that the mayor of Vares was behaving and that
17 his conduct was such as if he was building up a state
18 within his own town.
19 Q. On the following day, you received an
20 important assessment by the intelligence service of the
21 HVO. Can you tell us the basic thesis from that
22 intelligence assessment? This was on the 5th of March,
24 A. On the 5th of March, I was given assessment
25 by the military intelligence service of the Operative
1 Zone of Central Bosnia in which it was stated that
2 fresh attacks were expected by the BH army on Vitez,
3 and that, in the course of that attack, that Travnik
4 would be attacked too so as to ensure a link by road
5 between Zenica and Travnik along with a previous
6 neutralisation of the HVO of Zenica.
7 Q. On that same day, you were taken up with your
8 struggle against crime. Can you tell us of the orders
9 you issued and what measures you said were to be
11 A. On that same day, I considered that we should
12 go public more and use the local media and publicly to
13 distance ourselves from the criminals and that we
14 should condemn this kind of conduct and that we should
15 clearly state the names and surnames of the
16 perpetrators of criminal acts, that this should be done
17 publicly. I particularly looked into the question of
18 being more efficient and speedy in our action because
19 crime was on the rise in those areas.
20 Q. Was there any mention of the arms, the
21 weapons being used by those criminals, the quality of
22 those weapons, what they had and what could be done in
23 that regard?
24 A. Yes. That was a separate issue and perhaps
25 the most difficult one to resolve because the criminals
1 had anti-aircraft guns, 20-millimetre anti-aircraft
2 guns, and had the whole range of infantry weaponry
3 which could be found in the region.
4 It was my idea that if we were unable to have
5 a frontal conflict with these criminal groups and a
6 frontal settling of accounts with them that we should
7 then make an inventory of them, make lists of them, and
8 then, in cooperation with the municipal defence offices
9 and departments, that we should take the weapons that
10 had been issued and that we should give new combat
11 schedules to them and distribute those recruits and
12 give them different assignments -- give them an
13 assignment. In a situation of that kind, if they were
14 to retain their weapons, then that would be unlawful
15 possession of weapons.
16 Q. On the 8th of March, there was an incident in
17 Kiseljak, an important incident, with criminals. Just
18 a brief survey of that, please.
19 A. In Kiseljak, there was unrest which broke
20 out, there was shooting from automatic rifles in town,
21 there were riots and unrest and there was looting of
22 barracks by criminals, and law and order was generally
23 being disturbed in this way.
24 Q. On the 8th of March, there was another
25 discussion as to free passage from Bilalovac to
1 Kiseljak; what was that all about?
2 A. I received reports that up until then, on
3 several occasions, a municipal commission of the
4 Kiseljak municipality and civilian authorities were
5 sent back from the barricade at Bilalovac and that it
6 was prevented from entering the Bilalovac local
7 community from that point. It was demanded, requested,
8 that I make my position clear with regard to freedom of
9 movement and passage because at that time the Bosniak
10 Muslims from Bilalovac moved along the Kiseljak area
11 and the town of Kiseljak. I said that it was my view,
12 in keeping with the signed agreement on the freedom of
13 movement, that my views were in line with that
15 Q. On that day, you launched an operation to
16 save Mr. Behtic's family. Mr. Behtic was a Muslim.
17 A. Yes. At his request, when he told me that
18 his wife was ill and that his daughter was ill, I
19 called the commander of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina
20 in Dobrinja, his name was Cabir Denas, and asked him to
21 mediate in the evacuation of the Behtic family from
22 Sarajevo to Kiseljak. His wife was seriously ill.
23 Q. What happened with the security, the safety
24 of Muslims during the January conflict?
25 A. In March, we continued to ensure the safety
1 and security of families and property in Kiseljak owned
2 by the Bosniak Muslims.
3 Q. On the 9th of March, you had something to do
4 with the court in Kiseljak. What was that about?
5 A. In view of the rising crime rate and the
6 breakdown of law and order generally, I informed myself
7 as to which court in the Kiseljak municipality was
8 functioning at all, and I was informed on the 9th of
9 March, 1993, that none of the courts were working in
10 the Kiseljak municipality.
11 Q. That day is also significant because Mario
12 Cerkez was appointed commander of the future brigade in
13 Vitez. Could you clarify that appointment for the
14 Trial Chamber?
15 A. I sent a request to the civilian authorities
16 in Vitez, to the mayor of Vitez, to let me know what
17 their position was with respect to the new -- that is,
18 the first commander of the Vitez Brigade, and they gave
19 their position saying that Mario Cerkez should be the
20 commander of this brigade, this was their position, and
21 they also stressed that this brigade should be
22 established in the Vitez municipality, and they wanted
23 it to be named the Vitez Brigade.
24 Q. That day you met with the HVO representatives
25 in Zenica. Could you tell us who came to the meeting
1 and what did they ask?
2 A. This was Mr. Totic and Mr. Baresic, both from
3 Zenica. They asked to be received by me because they
4 were concerned by the accelerated growth of the 7th
5 Muslim Brigade which paraded in the city of Zenica
6 almost every day. They also were saying things which
7 disturbed the Croatian citizens in Zenica. They said
8 that this brigade had been established on the basis of
9 religion, that all members of this brigade were
10 brothers in faith, that there was an increase in
11 break-ins into Croatian homes in Zenica, that some
12 Croatian families were even expelled from their homes,
13 and that they were selling their properties openly in
14 markets in Zenica, and Mr. Baresic said that the BH
15 army intended to violate the Vance-Owen Plan.
16 Q. What did he mean by that, that the BH army
17 intended to violate the Vance-Owen Plan? In what way,
18 by negotiating abroad, through the media, or in what
20 A. That was my question to him too. First of
21 all, where did he get this information that the BH army
22 intended to violate this agreement?
23 Then he explained that for a number of years
24 he had worked in the district command of the BH army in
25 Zenica as Dzemo Merdan's deputy and that he had a
1 number of friends with whom he had been talking, and so
2 he came to believe that new incidents would be created,
3 that the agreement between the Operative Zone and the
4 3rd Corps would be blocked and that most likely a new
5 conflict would be created.
6 Q. What would be the purpose of these incidents
7 and conflicts with respect to the Vance-Owen Plan?
8 A. The purpose of these incidents with respect
9 to the Vance-Owen Plan would be to show that there was
10 no possibility of implementing this plan in Central
11 Bosnia, that is, between Bosniak Muslims and Croats,
12 that is, the BH army and the HVO.
13 Q. What instructions did you give to Baresic and
15 A. I emphasised to them that the priority was
16 the continuation of fighting on the front lines against
17 the Serbs in defence of Travnik where some of the HVO
18 troops in Zenica were deployed and that, as far as the
19 relations with the 3rd Corps in Zenica, they should
20 respect the spirit of the agreement which we had
21 reached which was the common defence and alliance.
22 Q. The next day, on the 10th of March, you
23 received some information from Skradno. Could you
24 briefly tell us what it was and what you did?
25 A. The information from Skradno was --
1 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, sir.
2 Mr. President, if I may, if the witness is
3 reading a particular matter and that's the subject of
4 the testimony, certainly I would ask that the
5 Prosecution and the Court be given this. I was led to
6 believe and I think the Court was led to believe at the
7 outset that this would be a matter of refreshing one's
9 JUDGE JORDA: The Defence.
10 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me. The Defence maintains
11 that this was a matter of recollection, and I have been
12 watching for some days, as the Court has, where it's
13 taken on, I think, a different form than that and now
14 appears to be an outline with which the witness is
15 testifying from and reading from.
16 The Prosecution has no objection to that
17 methodology if we have a copy of it, as the Court
18 should have a copy of it, and that's my concern at this
19 point. Thank you.
20 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, with your
21 permission, the witness is testifying on events over a
22 period of two years, perhaps several tens of thousands
23 of incidents and events. He has to have an
24 aide-memoire on times and places. I did not notice
25 that he's reading. I think that he just glances at it
1 so that he would refresh his memory, but it would not
2 be possible to have this kind of testimony without any
3 kind of aide-memoire.
4 JUDGE JORDA: The witness is under oath. We
5 can ask him.
6 Mr. Blaskic, are you reading a document
7 you've drafted or are they simply notes? After hearing
8 your answer, I'll confer with my colleagues.
9 A. Your Honour, this is my personal aide-memoire
10 for this testimony, and my general notes, I didn't even
11 bring with me here. They are in my bag. What I mean
12 is my statement. I do not read here from this. I just
13 glance at it to refresh my memory.
14 JUDGE JORDA: I'd like to consult with my
15 colleagues on this point.
16 The Judges believe that for the accused, who
17 is a witness and who is giving complicated, complex
18 testimony, he's referring to distant events and that
19 it's the Defence's right in order to refer to his
20 personal notes.
21 In the second place, the Judges have the
22 impression that the witness, who has an excellent
23 memory, ordinarily is not reading but referring to his
25 Thirdly, the Judges do not accept the
1 Prosecutor's objection and simply remind the witness
2 what is customary law in all legal systems, that is,
3 you cannot draft a statement in the detention unit with
4 your counsel and then read it, so a sort of remote
5 control between counsel and yourself. Were that to be
6 the case, it would not be a really fair discussion, but
7 the Judges do recognise that you're referring to
8 complex and distant events, and as an accused, that
9 gives you the right to refer to those documents.
10 I think, having said that, this would be the
11 time to give the witness some time to take a break, and
12 we will take 20 minutes now.
13 --- Recess taken at 3.00 p.m.
14 --- On resuming at 3.25 p.m.
15 JUDGE JORDA: We can resume now. The break
16 was a little bit longer than usual.
17 Do you feel a bit rested now, General
19 THE ACCUSED: Yes, Mr. President. Thank you
20 for asking.
21 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We can continue.
22 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
23 Q. Before the break, we talked about the event
24 in Skradno on 10 March, 1993. Could you just briefly
25 explain what happened?
1 A. I received information that six uniformed
2 persons wearing masks were persecuting or driving
3 Muslims out of their homes. I asked of the commander
4 of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade to conduct an
5 investigation and to take appropriate steps against the
7 Q. On the 11th of March, 1993, you had --
8 JUDGE JORDA: Where is Skradno? What
9 municipality is it in?
10 MR. NOBILO: In Busovaca, in the Busovaca
11 municipality. The witness could show it on the map for
12 your orientation.
13 Q. Colonel, why don't you show it?
14 JUDGE JORDA: If it's in the municipality of
15 Busovaca, then it doesn't matter. I just didn't
17 MR. NOBILO:
18 Q. Colonel, the next day on the 11th of March,
19 1993, you had a meeting with brigade commanders. Could
20 you tell us what the meeting was about?
21 A. I had a meeting on 11 March, '93 with brigade
22 commanders, and the topics discussed were the situation
23 at the front against the army of the Republika Srpska,
24 the drafting of a plan of deployment of troops, then it
25 was the organisational plans, and one of the issues was
1 the issue of responsibility.
2 Q. On 12 March, 1993, customs within the
3 country, not on the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, came
4 into focus. Can you tell us what this was about?
5 A. That day, I received Ivo Lozancic from Zepce,
6 we had a meeting, and he informed me that for Croats in
7 Zepce and Usora, customs were asked for at the
8 checkpoint in Zenica.
9 Q. Could you point to this?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Could you tell us where the checkpoint was
12 set up and which Croats were asked to pay custom
14 A. The checkpoint was set up at the main road
15 from Zenica to Doboj, and custom duties were imposed on
16 Croats of Zepce and Usora. In fact, they had to pay 30
17 per cent of the total value of goods which they
18 transported to either Zepce or Usora, so each convoy
19 had to pay 30 per cent.
20 Q. For whom were these goods meant?
21 A. This was for --
22 Q. So you said --
23 A. -- it was for the members of the BH army.
24 Q. It is not entirely clear. Who had to pay
25 custom duties and who was this money going to?
1 A. The custom duties were to be paid by Croats
2 in Zepce and Usora, and the income from this money was
3 going to the fund of the 3rd Corps command.
4 Q. Did Lozancic propose to do something to
5 counter this?
6 A. On that same day, he suggested that he be
7 allowed to set up an HVO custom post at the entrance of
8 Zepce and to have the Muslims of Zepce, Zavidovici,
9 Tesanj, and Maglaj pay similar custom duties.
10 Q. Did you allow him this?
11 A. No, I did not permit him this, and he did not
12 set up such a customs post after this meeting.
13 Q. Let's move on. On the 16th of March, you had
14 a coordinating meeting in order to come up with
15 measures to fight crime. Who attended the meeting and
16 what were the decisions?
17 A. This was a meeting which was attended by the
18 president of the district military court in Travnik,
19 the chief prosecutor of the district court, the
20 military police commander, the chief of police
21 administration in Travnik, this is the civilian police
22 authority, and we talked about the operations plan for
23 crime fighting.
24 The conclusions of this meeting were that the
25 military commanders should identify the perpetrators of
1 criminal acts among the military personnel, that the
2 military and the civilian police coordinate their
3 activities against the criminal groups, that is,
4 criminal gangs, that those military recruits be
5 disarmed and reassigned to duties which would enable us
6 to take away the weapons issued to them.
7 Q. On that same day, several incidents happened
8 in Nezirovici, Donja Veceriska, and downtown Vitez.
9 Can you tell us what each of these incidents were?
10 A. In Nezirovici, Croatian homes continued to be
12 Q. Can you tell us where Nezirovici is?
13 A. Nezirovici is in Kacuni local commune in the
14 Busovaca municipality.
15 Q. Under whose control was it?
16 A. It was under the control of the BH army
18 Q. What happened in Donja Veceriska, in Vitez?
19 A. I was informed that in Donja Veceriska
20 several explosive devices were thrown in front of
21 Croatian homes, three or four Croatian homes, at
22 Haskici, and in Vitez, in the centre of town, a
23 defensive hand grenade was thrown, and a woman was
24 seriously injured.
25 Q. On 17 March, 1993, you had two meetings. One
1 was with the information officer and one had to do with
2 the Bektic family of Sarajevo.
3 A. I was informed that the Bektic family, who
4 was a Bosniak Muslim family from Sarajevo, had been
5 evacuated to Kiseljak. On that day, there was also a
6 meeting held with the assistant for information, and
7 the building of morale was discussed and the distancing
8 from those who committed criminal acts.
9 Q. Can you tell us, what was your assessment at
10 that time? Where were the most honest people?
11 A. We concluded that the most honest military
12 recruits were those who were deployed along the 80
13 kilometres of front lines against the Serbs and that
14 they were the ones who really carried out their duties
15 to the highest degree.
16 Q. The civilian authorities in Vitez, they also
17 decided to join the fight against crime. What
18 information did you receive from them on that day?
19 A. The local government in Vitez had decided to
20 establish a special civilian police unit to fight
22 Q. On that day at 1415 hours, you held a meeting
23 with the representatives of the Red Cross, the lady
24 whose name you already mentioned, Iris, and a gentleman
25 whose name was Gianluca. Could you just briefly say
1 what was discussed in this meeting between you and the
2 Red Cross representatives?
3 A. The discussion was about the freedom of
4 movement in the area of Busovaca municipality, and we
5 discussed the issue of the Bosniak Muslims under the
6 conditions which were prevailing which meant
7 instability, not being able to freely leave the
8 Busovaca municipality territory.
9 I told Madam Iris that if permission were
10 given in the situation which currently prevailed
11 between the 3rd Corps and the Central Bosnia Operative
12 Zone, all Bosniak Muslims would leave the Busovaca area
13 and move to the areas under the control of the BH army
14 and vice versa, that all Croats would leave their areas
15 and move to the areas controlled by the HVO.
16 MR. NOBILO: Could I ask that the witness be
17 shown Defence Exhibit D211, your order of 17 March,
19 Q. After all the discussions that you mentioned,
20 on the 17th of March, 1993 at 1200 hours, you issued an
21 order and it was to prevent destructive conduct. You
22 sent it to the attention of the commanders of HVO
23 brigades, the independent units, the Vitezovi Special
24 Task Force, the Vitez Military Police, and the
25 representatives of the HVO, and you say:
1 "In order to prevent the recurring openly
2 destructive conduct of individuals in HVO uniforms and
3 the HVO armed formations insignia and raise combat
4 readiness, I hereby issue the following Order:
5 1. Immediately order platoon, company and
6 battalion commanders at all levels to assess the
7 conduct of conscripts and name the persons inclined
8 toward destructive and criminal conduct, in particular.
9 Responsible: brigade commander
10 Deadline: 29 March 1993
11 2. Identify the causes and consequences of
12 the conduct disruptive to order and discipline in a
13 unit or command for each conscript prone to disruptive
14 conduct in the unit or command.
15 3. Persons prone to disruptive conduct shall
16 return their weapons, uniform and other and strike them
17 from the lists of the HVO, and to determine appropriate
18 wartime assignment according to the Decree.
19 4. Should a member of an armed HVO formation
20 decline to surrender to the competent military
21 authorities their weapons, the competent military
22 police shall arrest them and disarm them ..."
23 There is a part which is illegible there, the
24 last sentence.
25 " ... and disciplinary and other measures
1 shall be taken against him.
2 Commanders at all levels shall be responsible
3 for covering conscripts prone to disruptive and
4 criminal conduct in particular who have been recorded
5 as such in the records of platoon, company, etc."
6 The order comes into effect immediately, and
7 it is signed by the Commander, Tihomir Blaskic.
8 Could you tell us, first of all, whether
9 the --
10 MR. KEHOE: If I may interrupt for a moment?
11 Mr. President, this is just a matter of
12 order, and I don't question for one moment counsel's
13 reading of paragraph 3, but when this was translated in
14 the English version, and I'm not sure if it's true in
15 the French version, Mr. President, it's incomplete. If
16 you take a look at it, Counsel, on number 3 in the
17 English? If I could just ask the registrar to send
18 that back to translation and that the number 3 in the
19 English version comport with the translation as
20 provided by counsel.
21 I don't know, maybe the translation section
22 had an illegible copy when they were doing the
23 translation. Nevertheless, I think that counsel will
24 agree that there is some -- we can add some substance
25 to that paragraph 3. It's just a point of order, and
1 I'm sorry to interrupt counsel's question.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. I think that that's a
3 valid objection.
4 MR. NOBILO: Yes, quite possibly. Perhaps I
5 could read out point 3 again and perhaps you could make
6 a note of it in hand?
7 JUDGE JORDA: Ask the registrar -- I think
8 Mr. Kehoe was not contesting your reading or the
9 translation from the interpretation booths, he simply
10 wants this to be translated officially. However,
11 re-read it, and then we'll ask Mr. Dubuisson to have
12 this translation redone.
13 THE REGISTRAR: Yes. That will be possible.
14 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Re-read it,
15 Mr. Nobilo.
16 MR. NOBILO: Once again, point 3, which has
17 not been translated fully, and I read:
18 "3. Persons prone to disruptive conduct
19 shall return their weapons, uniform and other
20 equipment, and shall be struck from the record or
21 inventory of the armed formations of the HVO while, in
22 cooperation with the defence department, adequate
23 wartime assignments should be determined -- an
24 appropriate wartime assignment, according to the
1 That's what the order states.
2 Q. Now I have my first question related to the
3 third point. What does "appropriate wartime
4 assignment" mean? When you wrote the order on this
5 point 3, you spoke about "appropriate wartime
6 assignment." What was that? What was that assignment?
7 A. It was the assignment, work assignment or
8 duty, because there were two duties: one was military
9 duty and the other was labour, a labour assignment,
10 work assignment.
11 Q. Was the purpose of that to separate criminals
12 from weapons?
13 A. Yes, that was precisely what we wanted to do
14 because the force of these groups was such that this
15 was the only measure possible at the time to divide the
17 Q. The second question: Did this order emanate
18 from the meeting that you described some ten minutes
20 A. Yes, it did.
21 Q. My third question linked to this document:
22 From the text of the order, we can see that you are
23 issuing this command to the commanders of the
24 battalions, companies, platoons, and so on and so
25 forth; and in reading the beginning of this document
1 where we can see who it is addressed to, it would
2 appear that the order was sent to the civilian
3 authorities and the civilian police and the military
4 police and the Vitezovi and so on and so forth, as is
5 stated in the document, top of the document.
6 So could you explain this? Who are you
7 issuing this order to and who are you sending it to?
8 A. Well, it is stated here to the presidents of
9 the HVO -- the representatives of the HVO, and I'm
10 informing all those who are not immediately subordinate
11 to me, I am informing them of what the military sector
12 would be undertaking, and at the meeting with the
13 representatives of the Justice Department, civilian
14 police, and military police, in fact we agreed that
15 everyone from his area of responsibility, in order to
16 fight crime, should undertake certain measures and
17 certain action, each within his realm.
18 Point 1 states who the order refers to and at
19 what command levels.
20 Q. Therefore, to make things clearer, with this
21 order, are you ordering the civilian police to do
22 something or the military police?
23 A. No. The chief of the police headquarters of
24 Travnik, the civilian police, I am informing them what
25 the command will undertake, that is to say, the
1 command, the headquarters of the Operative Zone, after
2 the joint meeting that was held.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me. I am going back
4 to -- I agree with the question that was asked, but it
5 was an order, was it not? You were giving an order,
6 were you not?
7 A. Mr. President, I was giving an order which
8 was sent to some addressees, to their attention, to the
9 attention of the addressees, and to some for this order
10 to be carried out. So for all those immediately
11 subordinate to myself ...
12 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Continue, please.
13 MR. NOBILO: Two more questions on this
14 subject to make it completely clear.
15 Q. General, look at point 1. Who was
16 responsible to you for the implementation of this
18 A. You can clearly see that it is the commanders
19 of the brigades.
20 Q. What is the deadline?
21 A. The deadline was the 29th of March, 1993.
22 Q. Look at point 4. Who is responsible to you
23 in point 4 for implementing the order?
24 A. The commanders of the battalions, the
25 commanders of the companies, and the commanders of the
2 Q. Are they all individuals who are subordinate
3 to you?
4 A. Yes, they are all individuals in the
5 structure, organisational structure, of the command of
6 the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, subordinate to
8 Q. Did you make any individual responsible from
9 the civilian authorities, the police, civil police and
10 so on?
11 A. No. I merely informed them of what I was
13 Q. Therefore, any of the six points from the
14 order that you drafted, did you make responsible for
15 the implementation of those six points anybody of the
16 civilian structures?
17 A. No, I did not.
18 Q. Thank you. Let's proceed. On the 18th of
19 March, you received from your security assistant
20 information about two serious crimes that had been
21 committed; two killings, in fact. What were they
23 A. I received information about an investigation
24 that was going on with regard to the killing of
25 Elezovic and Sehovic, and a report from the security
1 authorities was that individuals had been discovered --
2 the perpetrators who had taken them away had been
3 uncovered and who had killed the two individuals, and
4 that the whole case had been sent to the military
5 district court in Travnik and that proceedings were
6 being taken there.
7 Q. Was it ascertained who took them out from
8 Kaonik camp to do trench-digging?
9 A. My security assistant informed me that this
10 was done by individuals with a name and surname who
11 were thought to be suspects.
12 MR. NOBILO: The next document, please, D358.
13 Q. On the 18th of March, 1993, you wrote the
14 following order, and you had the order dispatched to
15 the representatives of the European Monitoring
16 Mission. On the upper right-hand corner, you usually
17 say to whose attention the order is, so we have the
18 European Monitoring Mission representative Zenica, then
19 the HVO Croatian Defence Council brigade commanders,
20 commanders of independent units, commander of the 4th
21 Military Police Battalion, and Chief of the Police
22 Department, Travnik. The title is "Ensuring the
23 unobstructed movement of representatives of the
24 European Monitoring Mission."
25 "Order. On the basis of previously signed
1 agreements on the unobstructed movement of vehicles
2 carrying representatives of the European Monitoring
3 Mission, with a view to ensuring full compliance and
4 proper procedure, I hereby order:
5 1. That the unobstructed passage of
6 representatives of the European Monitoring Mission be
7 ensured on all roads in the zone of responsibility of
8 the Units of the HVO, the Central Bosnia Operative
10 2. That the personnel manning the
12 (a) establish and take note of the signs on
13 the motor vehicles of the monitoring mission without
14 halting the motor vehicles;
15 (b) approve passage of motor vehicles
16 carrying monitors without halting them at checkpoints.
17 3. Subordinate commanders shall be
18 personally responsible to me for carrying out this
19 task. They shall brief commanders subordinated to them
20 accordingly and confirm receipt of the Order with their
21 signature on the reverse of the Order.
22 4. This Order shall come into force
24 It is signed Colonel Tihomir Blaskic.
25 I should now like to ask you the following:
1 On the right-hand side, you wrote that you are sending
2 the order to the attention of the European Monitoring
3 Mission representatives in Zenica. Were you in command
4 perhaps of the European Monitoring Mission? Are they
5 subordinate to you?
6 A. No. But the topic of the meeting was, on the
7 3rd of March, 1993, in Vitez, between, amongst others,
8 the -- and we discussed the checkpoints, among others.
9 I drafted this order precisely with the intention of
10 informing the European Monitoring Mission of the rights
11 and unobstructed movement on the communication lines
12 under HVO control.
13 Q. So let us clarify once and for all your
14 method of work with regard to all your other orders
15 because this is a good example. When you write on the
16 right-hand side who you are sending the order to the
17 attention of, do you also enumerate both those who are
18 subordinate to you and those to whom you are sending
19 the order for attention?
20 A. Yes. The order in correspondence is usually
21 sent to the attention of certain individuals or
22 institutions, to inform them, and others for the order
23 to be implemented, executed.
24 Q. Where can we see, in this particular order,
25 who you are ordering? Who is duty-bound to implement
1 your order? Where can this be seen in the manner in
2 which you draft your orders?
3 A. After every activity, I say who is
4 responsible, the responsible individuals are, and then
5 I state who the responsible individuals are, and
6 sometimes I state the way in which the order must be
7 implemented and the deadline because, unfortunately, I
8 had associates from civilian life, they weren't
9 military professionals and officers or typists.
10 Q. So in this particular order, point 3, how do
11 you designate who is to implement the order?
12 A. My subordinate commanders, and I emphasise
13 this here in particular along with a signature, because
14 I say "with their signature on the reverse of the
15 Order," which means that they have been informed of the
16 order so as to eliminate any possibility
17 for voluntariness or self-will at the checkpoint by
19 Q. Thank you. May we proceed? We move on to 19
20 March, 1993. In order to fight crime perpetrated by
21 men in uniforms, you took an additional step which may
22 be significant, and you do it together with the
23 logistics people. What was that?
24 A. I asked on that day of the assistant for the
25 logistics to create insignia for the members of the HVO
1 so that we could distinguish between the military
2 recruits and criminal gangs. My intention was to have
3 every member of the HVO wear the proper insignia on the
4 arm of his uniform.
5 Q. On the 18th of March, in Travnik and Kakanj,
6 there were killings of HVO soldiers and there was an
7 incident involving explosives in Donja Veceriska. Can
8 you explain what happened?
9 A. It is true that two HVO soldiers were killed
10 in Travnik. The murders were committed by members of
11 the Mujahedeen units, and this created tensions in
12 Travnik, and in Kakanj, an HVO soldier was also killed
13 and the HOS commander from Kakanj, and that also
14 undermined the security situation there.
15 Also, in Donja Veceriska, additional
16 explosive devices were thrown at Croatian homes.
17 Q. On that day, you asked for an analysis, that
18 is, a list of the burned houses in Bilalovac and
19 Kacuni. What type of analysis was this?
20 A. My chief of staff visited the areas of
21 Kiseljak, Busovaca, and Vitez, together with Mr. Dzemo,
22 on an almost daily basis, and they made an inventory of
23 the houses which were destroyed in compliance with the
24 European Monitoring Mission request. I wanted a
25 summary of the results so far of this work of the joint
1 commission: how many structures were burned in the
2 areas of Zenica, Busovaca, and Kiseljak which had been
3 involved in the January conflict.
4 Q. So what was the essence of your request?
5 A. I requested that the information be separated
6 and that the structures which were burned up until the
7 31st of January, 1993, and then --
8 Q. Why that date? What would have been the
10 A. We had signed the agreement on a cease-fire
11 on the 27th of January, 1993, Dzemo and I did, and on
12 the 30th of January, 1993, a meeting took place between
13 members of the joint commission, Dzemo, and Nakic.
14 I believed that the structures burned down on
15 January 31, 1993, were the ones which were burned down
16 during the armed conflict between the 3rd Army Corps
17 and the Operative Zone.
18 After the 31st of January until March would
19 be the structures burned down during this truce and
20 during the period of the implementation of joint orders
21 which were signed by myself and Enver as commanders of
22 the joint command or joint commission.
23 Q. Did you focus on the structures which were
24 destroyed during the fighting or the ones which had
25 been burned after that?
1 A. I did not make any objections regarding the
2 structures burnt down by the 31st of January, but I
3 objected to those which were burned following that day.
4 Q. On that day, the 19th of March, 1993, you had
5 a meeting in Zenica which was supposed to be attended
6 by the HVO representatives and BH army representatives
7 and European Monitors; however, the BH army
8 representatives did not show up, so you held a meeting
9 with the representatives of the European Monitoring
11 Can you just briefly describe what happened
12 in that meeting?
13 A. This was supposed to be a meeting with
14 representatives of the 3rd Corps, but when I arrived in
15 Zenica for this meeting, the chief of the Monitoring
16 Mission, Thebault, was present, and on the other side,
17 only the representatives of the HVO were present.
18 Mr. Thebault pointed out that the
19 extraordinary events and incidents which had taken
20 place in the zone of responsibility of the 3rd Corps
21 and Central Bosnia Operative Zone are spinning out of
22 control, that it is almost impossible to even register
23 them, let alone respond to them. He especially
24 highlighted the local commanders and problems with
25 implementation of orders, emphasising that the
1 behaviour of local commanders is frequently counter to
2 what the orders which were issued were.
3 Q. Let me slow you down a little bit to make the
4 record perfectly clear. I want to take you back to the
5 burnt houses which you were listing. Who were the
6 owners of these burnt houses?
7 A. The owners were Croats.
8 Q. What about the other side? Did Dzemo Merdan
9 also point out the problem of burned-down houses owned
10 by Muslims, and if he did, where were those houses?
11 A. At that time he did not, but later on,
12 starting on the 20th of March, I was informed that the
13 joint commission was also trying to identify and list
14 the burnt homes of Muslims in the town of Kiseljak.
15 With respect to damage, Dzemo only asked that
16 the information be broken down by municipality, that
17 they be given separately for Zenica, Kiseljak, and
19 Q. Outside of the town of Busovaca, was there
20 any mention of any Muslim homes being burned down?
21 A. No.
22 Q. When were those structures burned down, based
23 on information you received in March?
24 A. Most of the structures under the control of
25 the BH army were burned down following the 31st of
1 January, 1993.
2 Q. The Muslim structures, did you have such
4 A. For the most part, this was March.
5 Q. When were the Muslim houses torched, that is
6 what I mean, not when the meeting was, if you
8 A. These structures were burned down during the
10 Q. In which month?
11 A. The first agreement was signed on the 26th of
12 January, so I believe that the conflict was over by the
13 end of January, that is, the combat operations.
14 Q. Very well. Let me move on. I just skipped
15 over this, but at one point you received a complaint
16 from the International Red Cross that they were not
17 allowed to enter the Ban Josip Jelacic Brigade, which
18 is where the prison was, so somewhere around the 23rd
19 of March, you launched an investigation in that
20 respect. What did you do?
21 A. By investigating this problem of barring the
22 entry in the barracks, I determined that the visit of
23 the Red Cross had not been announced that day, that the
24 gentleman from the Red Cross -- actually, the lady who
25 was visiting asked at the gate to see a representative
1 of the Ban Josip Jelacic Brigade who, at that time, was
2 not even present in the barracks, and when the
3 soldier -- excuse me, when the soldier at the gate
4 told her that the brigade commander was not around, so
5 they could not be received by him because he was not
6 there, they went back.
7 I informed, in writing, the representatives
8 of the Red Cross of this event, and I asked of
9 Commander Bozic that in the future the officials be
10 received, regardless of whether the commander was there
11 or not.
12 Q. You mean the officials of the Red Cross?
13 A. Yes, and I also said that they were not
14 obliged to announce their visits, in other words, that
15 they had the right to come in and review the premises
16 and visit whenever they want.
17 Q. On 23rd March, 1993, you talked to Totic
18 about the Zenica HOS. Can you tell us just in a few
19 words what he asked of you and what oral order you gave
21 A. He announced a possibility of HOS from
22 Zenica, at the strength of about a battalion, their
23 desire to become part of the HVO. I asked of him to
24 initiate a discussion with the commander of the 314th
25 Brigade of the 3rd Corps --
1 Q. Of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
2 A. Yes, that's correct, and that only when he
3 gets approval of the commander of the 314th Brigade of
4 the BH army, we could move on with the procedure of
5 absorbing this unit, however, that this could only be
6 done on an individual basis. In other words, every
7 military conscript with his equipment could become a
8 member of the HVO.
9 Q. Now, why did you want it to be done on an
10 individual basis?
11 A. He informed me that within the HOS units,
12 that some of these individuals had previous criminal
13 records and that some had engaged in criminal acts, and
14 at that time, as you can see from the previous orders,
15 we had major problems with criminal elements in the
16 Central Bosnia Operative Zone. I was very explicit to
17 Commander Totic and said that we did not need such
18 criminal elements to help us in defence.
19 Q. On this same day, the 23rd of March, 1993, at
20 around 1500 hours, you received a European Monitoring
21 Mission official who came, and can you say what
22 Mr. Pedersen had to say about the behaviour of the HVO
23 military police?
24 A. Yes. The European Monitors had the practice
25 that if an official was leaving his post, they would
1 visit the commanders, either myself or Enver, if it was
2 the HVO, it would be me and for the BH army it would be
3 Enver, and Thorping, the outgoing officer, noted that
4 he saw progress and that he saw that the implementation
5 of the joint orders of the joint command was improving,
6 but he pointed out also that it was important that the
7 orders be implemented at all levels, that is, at the
8 level of brigades, battalions, and so on.
9 He was surprised that there were no ranks at
10 the HVO, and he asked, how did we distinguish between
11 different levels of command. I tried to give him the
12 best information I could and told him that the HVO
13 operated on the basis of superiority and subordination
14 but that there were still many problems within the
15 chain of command.
16 After that, Mr. Pedersen gave an example
17 where an HVO unit had taken four Muslim civilians from
18 Vitez prisoner, Beso Pezic, Music, I think they were
19 father and son, Music, those were their names, and the
20 commander of the military police tried to free these
21 arrested civilians in the presence of the European
22 Monitors. He did not succeed in this because the local
23 commander of the military unit did not allow this.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me.
25 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Would you invite the
1 witness to clarify something which is not quite clear
2 to me? There were, he said, no ranks in the HVO, but
3 the HVO operated on a principle of superiority and
4 subordination. How did the commander at the top
5 communicate an order to any branch of the HVO?
6 Presumably, he would have to address his order to an
7 individual. How did he identify that person?
8 MR. NOBILO: The witness will answer
10 A. Your Honours, command, in some armies,
11 functions according to the principle of rank. The HVO
12 did not have ranks, and everybody was referred to as
13 "commander," so the commander of a squad, that is to
14 say, a group of ten soldiers, he was also a commander,
15 just as a brigade commander was referred to as
16 commander. There was no differentiation between a
17 commander and commanding officer, and command and
18 control functioned on the basis of direct subordination
19 towards a direct superior.
20 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, how was the
21 commander of a group within the HVO identified?
22 A. That was actually the greatest problem within
23 the HVO, Your Honours, because there should have been a
24 structure, to have squads, platoons, brigades, and so
25 on, whereas we had only started to establish them in
1 November 1992, that is to say, from the 25th of
2 November, 1992, when we started this process of
3 formation, and that is why I spoke about commanders of
4 villages, for example.
5 Let us take an example. The village will
6 elect one commander today, and it would be someone else
7 tomorrow, but he is the commander for that particular
8 village, regardless of whether there are 5, 15, 20, or
9 50 military recruits, so there wasn't a structure below
10 him. In military terms, I would say that the pyramid
11 was reversed. The top was at the bottom and the flat
12 part was at the top. The peak was at the bottom. It
13 was upside down, an upside-down pyramid.
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you very much,
15 Mr. Nobilo.
16 MR. NOBILO: This was a really important
17 point, yes.
18 JUDGE JORDA: I think we're going to take a
19 break. Yes, I think it is a very important question,
20 but in passing, you seem to say that there were armies
21 that were able to operate without any type of ranks.
22 Perhaps you could mention a few of them to us or at
23 least the Defence counsel will do that for us.
24 I think for right now we're going to take a
25 15-minute break.
1 Did you want to add something, Mr. Nobilo?
2 MR. NOBILO: No, nothing, I just suddenly had
3 an idea, the Chinese army, for example, had no rank but
4 it functioned, the witness can tell you more of that,
5 during Mao Tse-tung's rule because, as a relic to the
6 bourgeoisie, they considered ranks to be in China a
7 relic of the bourgeoisie --
8 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Isn't it also true that
9 the Soviet army also had no ranks in the '20s?
10 MR. NOBILO: Yes, during Lenin's day, it did
11 not. Later on, it did.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Well, perhaps we might all
13 think about the fact that the two armies you're
14 mentioning, despite the absence of ranks, seem to have
15 been able to resolve the questions and problems of
17 --- Recess taken at 4.26 p.m.
18 --- On resuming at 4.47 p.m.
19 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the
21 Mr. Nobilo?
22 MR. NOBILO:
23 Q. General, the President of the Trial Chamber,
24 Judge Jorda, asked you before the break, that is to
25 say, he reminded you that there were armies functioning
1 without rank. Can you tell us briefly how those armies
3 A. Those types of armies function according to
4 the principle of the relationships between subordinate
5 and superior via command posts, positions.
6 Q. What does that mean in practice?
7 A. Well, let me give you an example. In
8 practice, this would mean the position of the commander
9 of a brigade, who has three or four commanders of
10 battalions, then you have the commanders of companies,
11 then the commanders of platoons, going downwards, and
12 commanders of squads.
13 Q. Does this mean that there is a firm hierarchy
14 depending on a command position and that you know
15 exactly who is superior to whom?
16 A. Yes, that, in fact, means that there is a
17 well-defined command position.
18 Q. Tell us, according to that model, let us say
19 in popular terms it was according to the model of the
20 Chinese army, which is the best known army functioning
21 in that way, that you tried to form your brigades
22 according to that principle in Central Bosnia?
23 A. Yes, I used precisely that model and tried,
24 from the 25th of November 1992, to establish and form
25 brigades of the Croatian Defence Council out of an
1 armed people.
2 Q. Although in our chronology of events we
3 haven't arrived at this point, but this is an important
4 point, could you explain to the Trial Chamber, please,
5 what happened with this set-up, the set-up that you were
6 creating, in the April war of 1993? Did the brigade
7 actually come into existence and start functioning in
8 that way?
9 A. Your Honours, that structure which we, that
10 is to say, I, endeavoured to form was alive only on
11 paper, but when we were forced to test its mettle, so
12 to speak, in practice, then this functioning was
13 impossible, and spontaneously the situation reverted
14 back to quite another situation.
15 Q. Tell us briefly, what did it revert back to?
16 How was the defence of your enclave in April, May, and
17 June and throughout 1993 organised? What
18 organisational structure did you have instead of a
19 brigade in April, May, June, and so on?
20 A. The organisational structure was as follows:
21 We had commanders of villages or regions, we had
22 commanders of sectors which included three or four
23 villages, and we had a commander for the entire region,
24 and we called him the brigade commander, that's how we
25 referred to him, because he kept that term, but, in
1 fact, he was the superior to the commanders of these
3 Q. To make matters clear, what you had
4 programmed on paper, that is to say, that the brigade
5 should have three battalions, that battalions should
6 have three companies, and so on down the line, did this
7 function or did it disintegrate?
8 A. No, it did not function, it disintegrated,
9 and through my testimony, you'll be able to see this,
10 how and when through the chronology of events.
11 Q. You had a village commander, the commander of
12 a village. Perhaps he had 100 people under him.
13 Within those 100 individuals, was there a structure
14 within the village from top to bottom?
15 A. No. Every individual there, in actual fact,
16 in 80 per cent of the cases, had a trench in his
17 backyard, so to speak, in front of his family house,
18 and he functioned in such a way that he would defend
19 his hearth and his family and his house, and it was not
20 important what kind of orders were issued and who they
21 were issued by, that was irrelevant. Individuals of
22 this kind were there to defend their territory, their
23 homes, and they thought that they were the ones who
24 were best able to decide on the defence of their own
1 Q. What kind of psychological situation did the
2 soldier find himself in, having a trench in his own
3 front yard or backyard and having his wife and children
4 at home? What was his relationship towards order and
5 military discipline in general?
6 A. Well, I defined this on one occasion and said
7 that, in the Lasva Valley, I had a multitude of
8 generals and very few soldiers, that's how I defined
9 it, so this was not because it was just the self-will
10 of these peasants, villagers, but they were defending
11 their very lives, so it was a terrible, chaotic
12 situation. I tried to clarify it. Whenever I spoke to
13 anybody, I tried to make them understand, including the
14 European Monitors and everybody else I talked to.
15 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: One little question,
16 General. You had a structure and you had an hierarchy
17 within the HVO which assisted you in ascertaining who
18 was the commander of any particular group, that's how I
19 understood you, and there was a principle of
20 superiority and subordination at work.
21 I'm still left with this unanswered question
22 in my mind: How did you identify the particular person
23 as being the commander of any particular group? I know
24 of two methods. Maybe there are more than two
25 methods. One is election, you elect a named person to
1 a position, or some superior authority appoints a named
2 person to a position. Now, in either of those ways,
3 you have an appreciation of a particular office holder,
4 John Jones, let's say. How would you know, from the
5 operation or the principles you described, which
6 particular person was the commander of a particular
8 A. I'll try, Your Honours, to take it in order.
9 We did not have a functioning structure, but we wanted
10 to have a structure which would function, we wanted to
11 establish a structure, but I said that I personally
12 worked on mobilisation development. That was a level
13 which the Defence Ministry of each country is in charge
14 of, whereas I was only the operative commander. The
15 road to creating a structure is a much more lengthy one
16 than the one we had, but we wished to have it, we
17 wanted to have it. Of course, as we did not have a
18 structure, we could just have wished for relationships
19 between superiors and subordinates.
20 How we were able to identify the individual
21 to do the commanding, well, the village elected him. I
22 was in the Lepenica local community, for instance. I
23 was invited there as a guest and to listen how they
24 were going to elect a commander for that particular
25 village on that particular day, but looked at from
1 military eyes, he was only a spokesman for the village,
2 in fact, because the problem lay in the fact that every
3 villager or peasant in his own yard had a trench, and
4 he functioned in such a way as to defend his own home
5 and his own family.
6 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I understand perfectly
7 from the description you have given of the methods
8 which led to the identification of a village level
9 commander, but as you progressed higher up the pyramid
10 of authority, how did you identify other commanders at
11 positions at which the village electoral system would
12 have ceased, I imagine, to apply?
13 A. I tried today to clarify matters by quoting
14 an example. Perhaps I could start off by dealing with
15 the commander of a brigade. The municipal civilian
16 authorities would propose and appoint a commander to
17 that post but --
18 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: That answers my
19 question. Somebody appoints somebody to a certain
21 A. Yes, yes, but we spoke about the functioning
22 of the chain of command and the power to command or the
23 impotency, the lack of power to command.
24 MR. NOBILO: Perhaps --
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Blaskic, as far as I
1 know, most of the citizens served either in the JNA or
2 in the Territorial Defence in respect of each of the
3 republics; therefore, for all of these villages, when
4 we speak about these villages, what was the
5 experiences, what were their expectations, what was the
6 background of each of the citizens, that is, these
7 people had some experience of that hierarchy? Could
8 you throw some light on this point, please?
9 A. I shall try, Your Honour. It is one thing
10 when we look at a soldier as an individual and we say
11 that he did his military service, then that is correct,
12 but he was trained in the basics of handling personal
13 weapons. Let me try and be clearer. He knows how to
14 load a weapon, how to target it, and how to shoot. But
15 in peacetime, for the training of a battalion, for
16 example, at least six months are required for the
17 members to be trained properly. For an army, training
18 is one problem, and to drill them to act as a whole is
19 another problem.
20 When we speak about the concept of the JNA
21 and Territorial Defence, then it is quite true, what
22 you said is quite true, but the nucleus of Territorial
23 Defence was composed of the JNA, so there was a
24 professional formation, and the protagonists were
25 mobilisation and the use of that manpower, but the JNA
1 had been trained to defend the country from an external
2 aggressor, whereas we had a new situation here where
3 the conscript was defending his own home and his own
4 family, and that is where the problem lay. The problem
5 was to have this chain of command function properly.
6 On paper, everything was wonderful, but I spoke about
7 the defence of Travnik, sector 1 and sector 2, and the
8 Travnik Brigade was not able to defend it.
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General Blaskic, the
10 experience which the people had, either in the JNA or
11 the Territorial Defence, would give to them a culture
12 of a hierarchy; is that true or is that not true?
13 A. Of course, it did provide the culture of a
14 hierarchy, Your Honour, up until the moment when that
15 recruit found himself in his own yard having dug a
16 trench and starting to defend his family.
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Could one say, in order to
18 go back to Mr. Nobilo's expression regarding the
19 psychological state of mind, could one say that those
20 people had lost the culture of hierarchy because they
21 realised that there was no state or any other type of
22 organisation, or am I wrong in saying that?
23 A. Yes, you're quite right. It was a chaotic
24 situation, in actual fact, and people had tried, and I
25 will try and be simple in my explanations. Today, for
1 example, is Wednesday. They had a state until Tuesday,
2 for example, with firm control, with a potent
3 apparatus, a powerful apparatus. The next day, the
4 following day, none of that existed; everything had
5 practically fallen apart. There was a collapse, a
6 general collapse, in the functioning of structure. The
7 relationship towards weapons is perhaps another good
8 example in point. Never in the JNA could a soldier
9 have a rifle without having his commanding officer
10 supervise him or any other kind of supervision; whereas
11 in Vitez, they had explosives and arms and military
12 materiel in their own homes.
13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So, in conclusion, one
14 could say that the people felt themselves to be totally
15 insecure because of the lack of organisation and each
16 person relied on something or somebody in order to
17 defend himself?
18 A. Yes.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.
20 JUDGE JORDA: I have a question, a very
21 simple one. You had a uniform, did you not? You were
22 a colonel. You had stripes. What kind of stripes did
23 you have? In Western armies, at least in the armies of
24 the country that I know, a colonel has five stripes.
25 How many did you have?
1 A. Mr. President, I did have a uniform, yes, and
2 I'm sure that every child from the age of seven upwards
3 had a uniform. It was the most popular type of
4 clothing that people wore in the region. That's the
5 first thing. So I did endeavour to have insignia --
6 JUDGE JORDA: That's not the question I'm
7 asking. I'm asking whether -- you had a uniform, you
8 had stripes, the size of which show that you were
9 Colonel Blaskic.
10 A. Yes, I did have that. I had both a uniform
11 and insignia and a rank.
12 JUDGE JORDA: What kind of stripes were
13 they? Were they stars or were they stripes? What were
14 they like? We have seen some pictures, but I don't
15 remember very clearly.
16 A. Well, I had two sort of stripes and there was
17 a yellow band around it, and the insignia was very
19 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much. All
20 right. So my question is: The one who was your
21 deputy, did he also have a uniform, the one who was
22 below you?
23 A. No. No individual had any rank in the
24 Central Bosnia region belonging to the HVO except for
1 JUDGE JORDA: You said there were no
2 stripes. All right. I would be frustrated to hear,
3 because the sector commanders were not named by the
4 village -- not the villages. How were these sector
5 commanders appointed, the ones who included several
7 A. If I did that without agreement from the
8 village, I would not be able to implement it in
9 practice, and the commander of a sector had no rank.
10 There were no ranks; they did not exist.
11 JUDGE JORDA: No, I understand. But how
12 could -- one could recognise that at night when it
13 would get dark. Would he be walking around with it
14 written on his uniform? It seems a very complicated
15 system to me. In all the world's armies, I think that
16 even in the Chinese army, there is a uniform with a
17 distinctive sign, either a larger cap or a larger
18 something else. I understand that for the village
19 commander, he would be appointed by the entire village,
20 but when there were several villages, I'm losing you.
21 Go ahead. If you can answer that question,
22 please do, and then we'll move onto something else.
23 MR. NOBILO:
24 Q. Perhaps I could ask the question, and I think
25 that this will make you understand.
1 What you were in command of, was it an army
2 or was it not an army?
3 A. No, it was not an army, and I informed all
4 the people that I had occasion to meet, it was not an
5 army, it was a classical armed people. We called them
6 the armed peasants or villagers. But I myself wanted
7 to create an army out of these people.
8 Q. Once again, to jump over time, up until the
9 end of the indictment, did you manage to form an army
10 of some kind in the Lasva Valley?
11 A. Well, I think, according to the reports of
12 the MPR that we undertook that we had succeeded in
13 forming an army. Had we had more time, we would have
14 even better organised.
15 Q. We'll get to this in the coming days, that is
16 to say, how the army was formed. I would just like to
17 ask one more question --
18 JUDGE JORDA: I think we're going to go on.
19 The accused has to be able to give his testimony. But
20 I take the liberty of calling your attention to the
21 point, which is a fundamental one, when we talk about
22 responsibility, that is, the person responsible, a
23 person has to be able to identify himself officially.
24 Well, all right. If you don't mind, please
25 continue, unless my colleagues have any other
1 questions. But these are questions which allow us to
2 move forward. Please proceed.
3 MR. NOBILO:
4 Q. Before we continue, just one additional
5 question in this area. Perhaps it will be of
6 importance. What is the relationship between those who
7 elect a local commander and this commander's
8 responsibility; in other words, to whom is this local
9 commander responsible?
10 A. The local commander answers or is responsible
11 to those who had elected him, to his electorate. As I
12 said, it's a reverse pyramid. The local commander
13 reports to those who had elected him. This is why, in
14 my testimony, I said that they were sort of couriers of
15 the villagers.
16 Q. Can you tell me, is it the basis of the chain
17 of command that the subordinate person should report or
18 be responsible to the superior one?
19 A. Yes, that is the basis of commanding.
20 Q. If your subordinate is answerable to the
21 village or to the municipality authorities and not to
22 the superiors, can you command this person in the
23 complete sense of the word?
24 A. No.
25 Q. If you agree with me, we will move on to the
1 chronological set of events.
2 On 24th March, there was something relative
3 to the military police. You had a discussion with the
4 deputy commander. If you can tell us now, so that we
5 don't have to repeat it every day because now we will
6 encounter this more frequently, what was the situation
7 like in the military police with respect to crime?
8 A. Within the military police, there were some
9 perpetrators of criminal acts, in other words,
10 individuals who had previous criminal records, and on
11 several occasions, I insisted that measures against
12 such individuals be taken as part of the reorganisation
13 of the military police.
14 Q. From whom did you request this, and could you
15 carry it out yourself once you identified the problem?
16 A. I was not competent to carry out the
17 implementation of these measures, and I asked the
18 military police commander and his deputy to inform me
19 whether they were able to solve this issue, whether
20 they were prepared to solve it, or whether they had an
21 interest in having this issue solved. This is the
22 issue I raised at the morning briefing.
23 Q. On the 24th of March as well as on the 24th
24 of March, you had contacts with respect to providing
25 assistance to the Muslims in Gorazde and, on the 25th,
1 to the defenders of Olovo. Can you tell me, what were
2 your relations with the Muslims who were defending
3 Gorazde and Olovo and how did you assist these
5 A. On the 24th of March, I sent assistance for
6 the defenders of Gorazde, but this had been a
7 continuous type of assistance. It consisted of spare
8 parts, military spare parts, which were needed for
9 military production which then helped the defenders of
10 Gorazde. It mostly meant the ability to produce
12 The assistance to Olovo was continuous, and
13 on the 25th of March, when I received information that
14 the state of defence of Olovo was critical, I requested
15 of the Vares authorities to insert its military units
16 in order to help the defenders of Olovo. Until then,
17 we were sending assistance in ordinance and food and
18 everything else we had.
19 Q. Can you tell what your motive was in
20 assisting the defenders of Gorazde and Olovo?
21 A. Gorazde was completely surrounded.
22 Q. By whom?
23 A. By the Serbs. They were in a very difficult
24 situation in that area. As I said, for a long period
25 of time, we had very good cooperation, and one of my
1 colleagues at the military academy and later on during
2 my career was involved in the defence of Gorazde.
3 Q. On the 25th of March, you received
4 information from the intelligence agency about
5 worrisome developments in the territory of Konjic.
6 What was going on there?
7 A. During the day, I received information that
8 the BH army, more specifically, the Suad Alic Brigade
9 from Konjic had attacked Croat populated areas of the
10 Konjic municipality.
11 Q. Was this the same area where there was a
12 conflict in January between the HVO and BH army?
13 A. Yes. These were the same areas where, in
14 January, there was a conflict; more precisely, on the
15 12th of January, 1993.
16 Q. On the 25th of March, you had a regular
17 meeting with the brigade commanders. Do you think that
18 you need to highlight something that took place in that
20 A. In this meeting with the brigade commanders,
21 I asked to be informed -- one of the issues was about
22 the measures which had been taken against the criminal
23 groups in each single brigade. I also asked that they
24 insist on disarming groups of criminals to retrieve
25 their weapons and military equipment. I also asked
1 that all those who were not implementing the agreements
2 signed between the Operative Zone and the 3rd Army
3 Corps in Zenica be removed from the joint commission,
4 and I had in mind the HVO members.
5 Q. You also had a meeting with Mr. Aleksovski,
6 the warden of the military prison. Can you tell us
7 what happened in that meeting?
8 A. On that day, I had a meeting with Zlatko
9 Aleksovski, warden of the district military prison, at
10 his request, and he showed me the rules and regulations
11 and decisions which the district military court and the
12 competent ministry had adopted which defined the
13 district military prison as an agency of the district
14 military court.
15 He also asked for assistance from me in
16 logistical supplies; more specifically, he asked for a
17 motor vehicle in which he could take prisoners to the
18 district military court.
19 Q. Did Aleksovski complain about problems which
20 certain individuals created for him?
21 A. Yes. He complained about the behaviour of
22 the reconnaissance platoon from the Nikola
23 Subic-Zrinjski Brigade which was stationed in the
24 building adjacent to the district military prison, that
25 is, in its immediate vicinity.
1 Q. Did he have any complaints about the military
3 A. Yes, he also had certain complaints about the
4 behaviour of individual members of the military police,
5 their treatment of detainees, and also their treatment
6 of the guards at the district military prison.
7 MR. NOBILO: Can I now please have Exhibit
8 D190 be shown to the witness?
9 Q. Now, here we have a document dated 25 March
10 1993. Its heading is "Estimation of Possible
11 Activities by a Potential Aggressor in the Territories
12 of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone," drawn up
13 according to zones, which was delivered to you by the
14 Chief of the Military Intelligence Service for the
15 Central Bosnia Operative Zone.
16 I'm not going to read the whole text but just
17 a couple of lines that refer to Busovaca, and let me
18 take you to the heading -- it's page 2. Bottom of the
19 second page.
20 JUDGE JORDA: I think you had it there.
22 MR. NOBILO: Yes.
23 Q. The heading is -- subheading is "Area of
24 Busovaca, Vitez, Travnik, and Novi Travnik." I'm
25 reading a couple of paragraphs.
1 "The main battles in the areas of Central
2 Bosnia Operative Zone will be fought over places
3 included in this area. There are numerous reasons for
4 this, but I will only mention the (main) ones. One
5 extremely important special production industry, the
6 command and the logistics of the Central Bosnia
7 Operative Zone are located in this area, thus forming a
8 separation zone between Zenica and Visoko, and the
9 settled areas of Konjic, Jablanica, Prozor, Gornji
10 Vakuf, Bugojno and Travnik. The intentions of the
11 potential aggressor are to take control of the local
12 HVO and destroy it, as well as to link up with the
13 border municipalities in the southern part of the
14 Central Bosnia Operative Zone.
15 "I believe that the aggressor will undertake
16 direct offensive action against Busovaca and Vitez
17 along the following axis of attack: Kacuni - Busovaca
18 - Kaonik - Vitez, then Zenica - Kuber - Kaonik -
19 Vitez, and Zenica - Preocica - Vitez."
20 And so on and so forth.
21 Did you receive this intelligence evaluation,
22 this estimate, on this date?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. On the basis of what you learned later, did
25 it prove essentially correct?
1 A. Yes, especially the main -- the axis of
2 attacks which were to follow in the Lasva River Valley
3 and Vitez.
4 Q. On the 26th of March, you had a rather
5 important meeting in Zenica. This was the next-to-last
6 meeting between you and the 3rd Corps before the start
7 of the conflict between the Croats and Muslims.
8 Could you just first mention who was
9 mentioned in this meeting? I know this is the end of
10 the day. We'll see whether we'll be able to get
11 through with the conclusions of this meeting.
12 Well, we could then stop here.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Today is Wednesday. We
14 will start again tomorrow at 10.00.
15 We will start tomorrow at quarter after ten
16 tomorrow, quarter after ten.
17 --- Whereupon proceedings adjourned at
18 5.28 p.m., to be reconvened on Thursday,
19 the 25th day of February, 1999, at
20 10.15 a.m.