1 Friday, 26th February, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 9.05 a.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.
5 Mr. Registrar, would you please have our witness
6 brought in?
7 (The accused/witness entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: Good morning to the
9 interpreters. I hope that everybody is feeling fine
10 today. It is Friday.
11 Good morning to the Prosecution and to the
12 Defence and good morning to the accused, who is our
14 Having said this, I think, Mr. Nobilo, that
15 we can continue with the detailed examination-in-chief
16 relating to the day of 16 April.
17 MR. NOBILO: Yes, Mr. President. For
18 orientation of the Trial Chamber, there are three
19 dramatic days: the 16th, 17th, and 18th. We will try
20 to provide a minute-by-minute reconstruction of those
21 three days, and then after we leave April, we will just
22 focus on particular issues and how they were resolved.
23 I would like to go into very minute detail as to what
24 happened during those three crucial days.
25 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
1 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
2 Q. Yesterday we left at 11.05, so now at 11.15,
3 an attempt was made to establish communication with the
4 main staff. Who tried to do this?
5 A. I tried to establish contact with the main
6 headquarters and inform them of the developing events
7 and request that they mediate to achieve a cease-fire.
8 Q. At 11.15, you received the first news of the
9 death -- the first death of a commander in the area; do
10 you recall this? If not ...
11 From Donji Veceriska, one of the commanders
12 called you, that is, one of the members of the
13 Operative Zone command called you. Who was it, why
14 wasn't he at the command post, and what was going on
15 over there?
16 A. He could not --
17 Q. What was his name?
18 A. His name was Mile Vinac. He could not reach
19 the command post from Donji Veceriska, but he made a
20 telephone call and reported that it was very
21 critical --
22 JUDGE JORDA: Just one moment, please. I
23 would like to share what we just mentioned, my
24 colleagues and I. I am saying this to the Defence.
25 When you point out a fact, I do understand that you do
1 it minute by minute, but there has to be a certain
2 consistency to it.
3 Let me give you an example. At 11.15, the
4 witness, that is, the accused in this case, said that
5 he got in touch with the general staff. Now, in order
6 to gain some time, we have to know what the answer to
7 that was; otherwise, we're going to ask it at one
8 point, what did they tell him at headquarters, because
9 it is important to know that the accused called to the
10 headquarters, but I think what's even more important is
11 to know what he was told. We are at the very root now
12 of the chain of command.
13 I wanted to say this to you so that we would
14 later avoid other problems, and then during the
15 cross-examination, things will go more easily and more
16 efficiently as well. If you agree. If you prefer not
17 to do that, I really don't care.
18 MR. HAYMAN: We agree, and we invite Your
19 Honours to jump in and note points of interest, because
20 I think Mr. Nobilo may indeed be trying to go too
21 fast. These are very important events, and as the
22 Court may observe --
23 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, okay.
24 MR. HAYMAN: -- I am constantly advising him
25 to slow down so that these matters can be absorbed, and
1 I would encourage him to pose that question to the
3 JUDGE JORDA: Very well.
4 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: May I add one little
5 word? As the President has said and you would have
6 observed, members of the Bench have not been
7 intervening in the course of the testimony of the
8 witness. This is because we appreciate that there is a
9 need for you to adhere to a programme concerning the
10 production of evidence. But in the case of this
11 witness, who is a particular witness and whose
12 testimony is expected to be of a certain duration and
13 importance, individual members of the Bench would
14 occasionally be throwing out questions for
15 clarification purposes.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you for that
17 clarification, Judge Shahabuddeen. We don't like to
18 interrupt, but there are points that we do like to
19 indicate to you. But, of course, you are the one
20 controlling your own strategy, and you should conduct
21 your strategy the way you see fit.
22 Mr. Hayman, do you want to say something?
23 MR. HAYMAN: This presentation is for an
24 audience of three, Your Honours. You are the
25 audience. Judge Shahabuddeen is absolutely right. In
1 a month or five weeks of testimony, to keep a question
2 in your mind and ask it in three weeks is almost
3 Herculean. Even with a laptop computer, it is
4 difficult to keep track of such information. So we
5 really do invite and ask you to participate actively in
6 the examination, both during the direct and the
7 cross-examination. Please do.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. As for Mr. Nobilo,
9 he has to understand that not only are the Judges
10 supervising and watching what he's doing but his
11 colleague is doing the same thing.
12 MR. NOBILO: In any event, I am sort of torn
13 between the need to speed the whole process along and
14 to provide as much detail as possible. So let me
15 second what my colleague has just said. We would
16 appreciate if the Judges ask additional questions. I
17 think we would not lose any quality; on the contrary,
18 we would gain.
19 Let me point out about this detail: The
20 witness may have a very short note about this
21 particular event. Then, if he only has just this short
22 note, he will say so.
23 Q. So let me just confirm with you: After you
24 called the main headquarters, what did they tell you,
25 if you recall it at all, what they told you when you
1 asked them to mediate in achieving a cease-fire?
2 A. When I called them at 11.15, they only said
3 that they would mediate.
4 Q. Let's now go to 11.20 hours. You received a
5 call from the member of the command. Who was this?
6 A. This was Mr. Mile Vinac, and the call was a
7 telephone call which came from Donji Veceriska.
8 Q. What was his position? Where did he work?
9 A. He worked at the Central Bosnia Operative
10 Zone command. He was a staff member. He was one of
11 the officers, that is, one of the assistants.
12 Q. What did he report to you about?
13 A. He reported that they had been attacked and
14 that they did not have enough ammunition.
15 Q. At 11.25, the military intelligence service,
16 the VOS, V-O-S, which was monitoring communications,
17 intercepted a communication which was coming from Stari
18 Vitez. What was that information?
19 A. I received information from Old Vitez that
20 they had not received the signal which was supposed to
21 have reached them at 0400 hours.
22 Q. Did Sefkija Dzidic also say something about
23 the possibility of withdrawal from Old Vitez, if you
25 A. No, I do not recall this.
1 Q. At 11.40, you had another contact with
2 Kordic. What was that contact about?
3 A. There was a new contact with Kordic, and it
4 was an update about the operations and the situation on
5 the ground.
6 Q. Did you report to Kordic, or was it an
7 exchange of information?
8 A. No, I gave him information.
9 Q. At 11.42, Pasko Ljubicic called for the first
10 time. What information did he give you?
11 A. Pasko said, at 11.42, "We are fighting. It
12 is tough. They are resilient. They are throwing at us
13 everything that they have. They are even using women.
14 The most critical and the toughest situation is around
15 the school building, around the mosque, and in
16 individual homes."
17 Q. Did you understand from this conversation
18 where Pasko was located and where the fighting was
19 going on?
20 A. I know that Pasko called me on the telephone,
21 and I assumed that he could have been calling from the
23 Q. That is where he picked up the phone and
24 called you from. But where his military police units
25 were at the time, when you said he told you it's very
2 A. I concluded from this report that he was in
4 Q. At 11.47, you had contact with the
5 artillery. Who initiated this contact?
6 A. This contact concerned the drafting or
7 compiling a plan for artillery fire.
8 Q. At 11.50, again relating to the artillery
9 fire, you had a conversation with Cerkez, commander of
10 the Vitez unit.
11 A. Cerkez was seeking artillery support against
12 the BH army positions at Kruscica, and he informed me
13 about the fire from Kruscica, Vranjska, Pezici, and
15 Q. Could you show on this model what was that
16 front line which was being established, Kruscica,
17 Pezici, Vranjska, and Rovna?
18 A. I am pointing. Vitez, Kruscica, Vranjska,
19 Pezici, Rovna (indicating).
20 Q. Was this a line south of the road which you
21 had anticipated in your previous orders as probably
22 being the line of battle?
23 THE WITNESS: Mr. President, just a second.
24 I was switched to the French channel.
25 JUDGE JORDA: That's not a problem. That's
1 not a failure there.
2 THE WITNESS: It's my fault, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE JORDA: We'll try to fix the problem.
4 A. Yes. I understood the question. I heard it
5 on the proper channel now. Yes, this is the line that
6 was being established between Rovna, Pezici, Vranjska,
7 and Kruscica (indicating).
8 MR. NOBILO:
9 Q. Was this the line which you anticipated in
10 your orders?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. At 11.55, the order was issued to open fire.
13 Who issued it and what does it mean?
14 A. This was following the request of Commander
15 Cerkez. I issued it, and fire was opened by the
16 combined artillery battery against the targets which
17 were requested.
18 Q. At 11.55, you released information for the
19 public. What did it contain?
20 A. It only -- it is hard for me to now give you
21 the exact contents of this report, but it just provided
22 information about the events.
23 Q. Yes, I know, after six years, it's
24 difficult. But what were you trying to achieve with
25 this release of information?
1 A. We just wanted to inform the public.
2 Q. How did you describe this? What did you say,
3 who attacked whom?
4 A. The press release said that we had been
5 attacked by the BH army early that morning.
6 Q. Could you remember some of the addressees of
7 this report?
8 A. I believe that it was sent to the UN
9 representatives, to the European Monitoring Mission, to
10 the address of the 3rd Corps, and to our associates.
11 Q. What do you mean, your associates?
12 A. To our subordinate units.
13 Q. How about the media?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Do you know what media, if you recall?
16 A. No, I do not recall that.
17 Q. At 12.07, Cerkez gave you information about
18 the situation on the ground, including several
19 villages. Could you tell what locations were included
20 in that information and what type of information was
21 it? What did it contain?
22 A. I remember that Mario informed me that we had
23 a critical situation in Donji Veceriska, that there was
24 intense fighting in the area of Kruscica, Gradina, and
25 Kruscica, Sivrino Brdce, and that the Vitez Brigade did
1 not have a link with the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade
2 in Donja Rovna. In other words, there was no contact
3 between the two.
4 Q. From this report where your attention was
5 drawn to the flash points, in other words, when you
6 received such a report, does that mean that you, as a
7 commander, then direct your attention and your
8 activities towards the locations which are at most
9 risk? Is that your usual method of work?
10 A. Yes. Cerkez said that the situation was very
11 critical in this area, and I would like to mention also
12 that he informed me that the situation was very
13 uncertain in Poculica, so I focused my attention to
14 these locations which were pointed to me by Commander
16 Q. When the brigade commander says that the
17 brigade is not linked up, what does it mean, to have a
18 link or to be linked up?
19 A. That meant that there was no physical or
20 optical or visual contact or any other contact between
21 the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade and the Vitez Brigade
22 in Donja Rovna. In other words, the situation was
23 completely unclear. So it could have meant that there
24 was a breakthrough there, but the situation in the
25 area, who controlled the area, and what the situation
1 was in that area was unknown to us.
2 Q. At 12.10 hours, you called Grubesic,
3 commander of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade. Could
4 you tell us what prompted you to call him, and what
5 instructions or what orders did you give him?
6 A. I called Grubesic because when I received
7 information from Cerkez that the situation was critical
8 at several of his positions and that he had no contact
9 in Donja Rovna, I asked Grubesic to attempt to
10 establish contact with Cerkez in Donja Rovna, and I
11 asked him to defend Kula, Kuber, and Prosje features to
12 the last.
13 Q. What type of defence did you order at Kuber?
14 What type of defence is it and why?
15 A. I ordered that we defend Kuber to the last,
16 which meant that regardless of any withdrawal or any
17 movements towards the main highway, Zenica-Vitez, this
18 feature was not to be relinquished, abandoned, because
19 the defence of these positions was an issue of our
20 survival. Kula was also vital for Busovaca, but Kuber
21 was vital for the entire area.
22 Q. At 12.15, you received two calls regarding
23 monitoring, and you received it from MTD.
24 A. Yes, I received a call from the MTD officer,
25 and I asked him to speed up the process of deploying
1 his spotters, and I asked that any information should
2 be sent back to me, that is, wherever there was any
3 shelling, any artillery activity, we wanted to identify
4 the points of impact.
5 Q. When you received this information about
6 spotting, did you pay attention to the precision of
7 artillery fire, and how did you go about the use of
8 artillery, of the howitzers and guns?
9 A. Yes, of course, we paid attention about the
10 proper spotting, and we tried to gather information
11 from the spotters in the field, that is, from the units
12 which were supported by artillery but also from the
13 spotters who were members of the artillery batteries.
14 We then tried to compare the data, do proper
15 corrections, and then proceed with fire based on this
17 This is how we operated, but it was a
18 time-consuming process. Sometimes it took hours. We
19 targeted certain military targets based on the requests
20 of certain commanders, and these were usually features,
21 strategic features, where the BH army units were
23 Q. Later on, we will see in this chronology that
24 you had a lot of contacts with the artillery and that
25 corrections were done and a lot of information was
1 exchanged that way. Can we draw a conclusion that you
2 were trying to be selective and accurate? In other
3 words, if you just shell something randomly, what would
4 be the use of the artillery in that sense?
5 A. If you just shelled randomly, the commander
6 would call me or the artillery commander and ask for
7 support without spotting or without taking into account
8 all security measures which were due in such cases, and
9 this would mean that you could respond with artillery
10 fire immediately upon request.
11 Q. At 12.20, you received information from
12 Cerkez that Radio Sarajevo did not broadcast anything.
13 What was that about? What was Radio Sarajevo supposed
14 to broadcast?
15 A. I think that they should have broadcast a
16 statement for the public.
17 Q. At 12.25, there were new negotiations in Nova
18 Bila. Who went to these negotiations, with whom, and
19 what was that about?
20 A. They were negotiations that were initiated in
21 the course of the morning by the UNPROFOR command, and
22 the deputy head of the joint commission, Mr. Marko
23 Prskalo, went to attend the meeting and Mr. Zoran
24 Pilicic, and the meeting was to have been with the
25 representatives of the 3rd Corps at the UN base in
1 Nova Bila.
2 I gave instructions to Mr. Marko Prskalo to
3 discuss a cease-fire, a cessation of hostilities and
4 all combat operations and the immediate cessation of
5 shelling and that the terrain be cleared up and that
6 information be sought as to the missing officers from
7 the Zenica Brigade and the Novi Travnik Brigade and the
8 prisoners from the Frankopan Brigade.
9 Q. When Prskalo, at 12.25, left, and at 12.25,
10 you were worried about the ammunition situation, what
11 did you do?
12 A. I had been worried about this situation for
13 quite some time because we did not have any logistics
14 supplies for a long time, and I tried to find ways and
15 means of having assistance in ammunition, having more
16 ammunition and supplies, particularly for the Vitez
17 unit where this lack of ammunition was a crucial point,
18 and I also asked that the logistics base in Stojkovici
19 monitor the ammunition situation and check it.
20 Q. At 12.27, the civilian police and the chief
21 of the civilian police contacted you. What happened
23 A. The civilian police established contact, and
24 there were two issues that were discussed: One was the
25 question of sniper action from Stari Vitez and from
1 Sljibcice from the positions of the BH army, and the
2 second issue discussed was the roads which could be
3 used in communication towards the hospital in Nova
5 Q. Could you tell us, if you remember, who you
6 talked to at 12.27 and 12.30 from the ranks of the
7 civilian police?
8 A. I talked to Mr. Mirko Samija. He was the
9 chief of the police station in Vitez.
10 Q. Tell us whether he gave you information as to
11 the situation in the town itself, and, if so, what was
12 that information?
13 A. He did give me information on the fact that,
14 in town, there were numerous calls being made and that
15 the situation in town, the security situation, was very
16 difficult and precarious because there was sniper fire
17 from all positions in town.
18 Q. Mr. Samija, did he say from which positions
19 there was sniper fire?
20 A. He said from the position of Stari Vitez.
21 Q. At 12.34, you talked to the commander of the
22 Tvrtko to be placed at the disposal of the Vitez
23 Brigade. What was that agreement about?
24 A. That agreement came after a request made by
25 the commander of the Vitez Brigade to be given backup
1 in Donja Veceriska, and I asked the commander of Tvrtko
2 to see to extending assistance to the defenders of
3 Donja Veceriska.
4 Q. At 12.36, Kordic called you once again. Why?
5 A. Kordic called again because of what was going
6 on at Kuber and the unfavourable situation, and he
7 asked me to give him information as to what was
8 actually going on in that region from the direction of
10 Q. At 12.42, you called Pasko Ljubicic by phone,
11 and what was the motive for that telephone call? What
12 did you ask him to do and what did he tell you? What
13 information did he give you?
14 JUDGE JORDA: I would like to consult my
15 colleagues on a point.
16 You can continue, Mr. Nobilo. Excuse me. We
17 had to speak for a moment.
18 MR. NOBILO: No problem. Thank you, Your
20 Q. You had a telephone conversation with Pasko
21 at 12.42. Did you receive any fresh information?
22 A. I asked for information from Pasko, and I
23 received a report that he was holding his positions and
24 nothing else.
25 Q. The term "to hold his positions," what does
1 that tell you as a military man? What does that mean
2 to you?
3 A. It meant that he and his men were immobile,
4 static, and that probably a front line had been
6 Q. At 12.45, you gave an order for ammunition to
7 be sent. Who did you send ammunition to?
8 A. I sent ammunition to the Vitez Brigade.
9 Q. At 12.50, once again Cerkez phoned. What was
10 that about this time?
11 A. Cerkez phoned again with respect to Donja
12 Veceriska and the situation in Donja Veceriska.
13 Q. Did he ask anything of you?
14 A. He asked for help in the form of men for
15 Donja Veceriska, and I told him that we were already
16 working on sending backup and that they should hold on
17 for a little while longer.
18 Q. At 12.52, from Tomislavgrad, a member of the
19 command phoned you. What was that about?
20 A. From Tomislavgrad, the head of the engineers
21 phoned and informed me that he was blocked and that he
22 was not able to call in to report to the Vitez command.
23 Q. At 13.02, you once again worked with the
24 commander of the artillery and Cerkez. What was that
1 A. It was once again a request for backup, for
2 support to forces, but now at the Kuber feature.
3 Q. At 13.10, Cerkez informed you about the
4 situation. Do you remember what he said on that
6 A. He conveyed information to me that all the
7 Croats in Poculica had been completely encircled and
8 that there were wounded and that they were not able to
9 evacuate the wounded. I told him that we would seek
10 the engagement of UNPROFOR so that UNPROFOR, with its
11 vehicles, could evacuate the injured from Poculica.
12 Q. At 13.12, you informed the main staff. What
13 information did you give the main staff?
14 A. I sent out information on the situation and
15 the number of killed, the figures that we had collected
16 up until then. There were 15 killed soldiers according
17 to the reports we had received by 13.12.
18 Q. At 13.15, you had talks with Stjepan Siber.
19 Could you tell us who he was and what you discussed
20 with him?
21 A. Stjepan Siber was the deputy chief of staff
22 of the supreme command or army of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
23 and I also discussed with him a cease-fire, a cessation
24 to the fighting, and I asked that he act as a
25 go-between and mediate with the 3rd Corps in Zenica so
1 as to ensure an immediate cease-fire.
2 Q. At 13.20, once again a member of the command,
3 Mile Vinac, called. Where was he calling from, what
4 did he want, and what was his conduct?
5 A. He said in a panic-stricken voice and through
6 tears that he was calling from his home in Donja
7 Veceriska. He said that they could not leave the
8 house, that he had been left without any ammunition,
9 and he kept repeating, "It's over. We're finished.
10 We're finished." I tried to calm him, and I told him
11 to hold out for a little while longer because help was
12 on its way.
13 Q. Was he at a combat position with his wife and
15 A. He phoned me, and he said he was telephoning
16 from his family house where he lived with his wife and
17 his children and the other members of his family. I
18 think his mother or his father lived with them.
19 Q. Could you explain the emotional state that he
20 was in?
21 A. Well, it was the voice of a desperate man, of
22 a man who was lost. He cried. He said what he said
23 through tears while he was asking for my help. There
24 was a feeling that he was absolutely -- he felt there
25 was no hope and that he didn't know how he was going to
1 live. He kept repeating, "We're finished. We're
2 finished. This is the end."
3 Q. At 13.20, that is to say, right after that
4 conversation, you checked to see whether help had
5 arrived; is that true? Who was to send that aid and
6 who was the aid being sent to?
7 A. The aid and assistance was to be sent to the
8 Vitez Brigade towards Donja Veceriska, and I asked that
9 checks be made with the commander of the Tvrtko unit,
10 and the information I received was that help was on its
12 Q. At 13.22, you called UNPROFOR, the UN
14 A. I called UNPROFOR asking for their help for
15 civilians in the village of Poculica. There were two
16 of them stranded there. The duty officer answered. I
17 don't know his name. At that point, I was told that
18 they declined to provide assistance.
19 Q. At 13.25, feature 916 was shelled. What was
20 the significance of this feature and what was it
21 shelled with?
22 A. That feature was at Kuber and, in fact, it
23 was a position and it was shelled in order to slow down
24 the advance from Kuber to Vrana Stijene and Obla Glava.
25 Q. What was it shelled with?
1 A. With a howitzer.
2 Q. It was not clear who was shelling. Which
4 A. It was the HVO.
5 Q. Was it by your orders?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. At 13.26, you had another contact with
8 Cerkez. Why did you contact him then?
9 A. It again concerned the situation in Donja
10 Veceriska where he again asked that assistance be sent
11 as soon as possible, and I asked him to wait a little
12 bit longer.
13 Q. Again, you talked to MTD regarding the
14 targets in Poculica.
15 A. Yes, that was a contact regarding targeting
16 the feature, I think, 592 at Sljibcice.
17 Q. What was there at Sljibcice?
18 A. According to our information, there was an
19 anti-aircraft gun stationed there and BH army units
20 which were in combat positions.
21 Q. At 13.32, you received a call from the main
22 headquarters of the BH army. Do you recall that call?
23 A. Yes, we received a call from -- I think that
24 one of my associates received this call from the main
25 headquarters of the BH army in Sarajevo, and we were
1 told that they are agreeing to a cessation of
2 operations and that Dzemo Merdan would arrive in Vitez
3 with a document.
4 Q. At 13.35, you tried to reach Filipovic. Why?
5 A. I wanted to confirm whether Filipovic had
6 established contact with Commander Alagic in Travnik
7 and whether he had established what the movements of
8 the 17th Krajina Brigade in Travnik were.
9 Q. Did you succeed in establishing contact?
10 A. Yes. I established contact with Filipovic,
11 but he had not yet established contact with Alagic by
12 that time.
13 Q. At 13.36, Slavko Marin called Cerkez and
14 transmitted a message to him. What was that contact
16 A. That contact was about the announced
17 cessation of operations between the HVO and the BH
18 army, and it was just really transmitting the message
19 we had just previously received from Sarajevo.
20 Q. At 13.39, you received another call from
21 Donja Veceriska?
22 A. Yes. The situation was identical to the one
23 previously. Again, Vinac called sobbing, saying that
24 the help was not there yet and that it was the end of
1 Q. So did he sort of try to say good-bye?
2 A. Yes, he said something to the effect that he
3 wanted to say good-bye and he said that they were close
4 and this would be the last time that we spoke. He
5 said, "The houses are burning around me. They will
6 probably kill us all."
7 Q. At 13.44, Kordic called again to transmit to
8 you information which you received from the BH army.
9 A. That was the information about the announced,
10 as I said, announced cessation of fire between the HVO
11 and the BH army.
12 Q. Did you inform him of the situation on the
14 A. Yes. I told him that the most critical
15 situation was at Poculica and Donja Veceriska, in that
17 Q. At 13.48, you spoke to Grubesic. What did he
18 ask of you?
19 A. Grubesic informed me that the positions at
20 Kuber which they had held were lost and that he could
21 not see a way to stay at Kuber, and taking into account
22 the situation of Croats in Poculica who were completely
23 surrounded, I asked him to stay at Kuber at any cost
24 and to try to establish contact with members of the
25 Vitez Brigade.
1 Q. At 13.52, Pasko Ljubicic called. Can you say
2 what he reported about and what instructions you gave
4 A. He told me that they were still holding their
5 positions, and I asked him to take into account that
6 the crucial point was, and I quote, "Hold on up there,"
7 meaning the slope above Ahmici and Nadioci.
8 Q. Could you tell me, what did you order him?
9 What did you see as most important in his sector of
10 activity? What was the crucial point for him to do? I
11 think this is a significant point.
12 Perhaps, if you need to, you can remove some
13 of these red pylons so we can see.
14 First of all, based on what you understood
15 from Pasko Ljubicic's report, where was he? First of
16 all, where did he dig in?
17 A. According to the reports I received, this was
18 right here (indicating). It was in front of the mosque
19 and the school. The front line, yes.
20 Q. According to your information then, where was
21 fighting going on?
22 A. That location was in front of the school and
24 Q. Where are the school and mosque in the
25 village in relation to the road? Above the road?
1 Below the road? How far from the road are they?
2 A. They are north, that is, above the road, up
3 to 150 metres at the most.
4 Q. So they were still in the area of the road.
5 What did you ask of them? What was to be their task?
6 A. I asked them to take the slope, that is,
7 Vidovici, Barin Gaj, and farther on to Kratine.
8 Q. In terms of the ground, would that be high
9 ground or low ground?
10 A. High ground exclusively because the road had
11 already been cut off. So to hold the high ground.
12 Q. Why was it important to hold the hill? Why
13 is it wrong, in military terms, to be on the road in
14 the village?
15 A. It is important to hold the high ground, that
16 is, a hill, because only in that way can you control
17 the road for traffic, and the position in the village
18 has absolutely no military significance.
19 Q. As a soldier, what did you consider
20 important? That the military be in the village or
21 somewhere else?
22 A. No, the village had no significance. For me,
23 the most important thing was that we hold this high
24 ground, Kratine -- hold on a second -- Barin Gaj, and
25 to establish a line on that position, which would also
1 be defended to the last in order to prevent a link-up
2 and to secure the road.
3 Q. In military terms, how is a road defended?
4 Do you stand on the road, on the pavement, or do you
5 need to hold certain other points, locations?
6 A. A road can only be defended if you control
7 the high ground and positions and features around it.
8 This is very clear on this model because whoever
9 controls the high ground and features absolutely
10 controls the communication line and traffic, because at
11 any time, with the artillery and with fire, he can cut
12 off the road and prevent traffic.
13 Q. Would it have been extremely dangerous for
14 you had the BH army taken the Barin Gaj slope?
15 A. That was the only slope remaining at Kuber
16 after the BH army had taken it and, of course, it posed
17 the highest risk for the entire Operative Zone and for
18 me personally.
19 Q. When you, at 13.52, told Pasko, "You have to
20 take that thing up there, this thing up here," what did
21 you mean by "this thing up here"?
22 A. I meant Barin Gaj and the slope between
23 Vidovici Kuce and above Nadioci.
24 Q. Does that mean that you basically are forcing
25 him out of the village and uphill?
1 A. Yes. This is what I asked of him, out of the
2 village, and I told him that he had to take this.
3 Q. Thank you. You may go back to your seat
5 At 13.55, Cerkez called again. What did he
6 tell you? What did you tell him?
7 A. Cerkez called again, and again these calls
8 now kept pouring in from Poculica, Donja Veceriska, and
9 from the area of Kruscica. So he informed me about the
10 developments in that area, and he said that the
11 critical situation continued to be in Donja Veceriska
12 and that he had a problem with wounded in Poculica.
13 I told him that they should hold out a while
14 longer and that I had requested assistance from the
15 UN forces to evacuate the wounded from Poculica.
16 Q. If we were to sum up these reports from the
17 early morning up to that point by Cerkez, what was the
18 situation like? Was it going well or was it
20 A. He said that the situation was especially
21 difficult in Donja Veceriska and Poculica at that time.
22 Q. At 14.00 hours, after a previous failed
23 attempt, you reached Mirko Samija. What was that
24 conversation about?
25 A. I was trying to -- first of all, he is the
1 chief of the police station of the Vitez civilian
2 police force, and the information that I was seeking
3 was the condition of the roads in the town of Vitez
4 with respect to snipers. I asked him whether there
5 were any alternate roads to the hospital in Nova Bila.
6 He informed me that from Stari Vitez, Old Vitez, and
7 Sljibcice, all roads leading to the hospital in Nova
8 Bila were controlled and that we were unable to
9 evacuate the wounded to Nova Bila.
10 Q. Who controlled these roads?
11 A. It was controlled by the BH army through
12 snipers and through fire.
13 Q. At 14.05, you unsuccessfully tried to reach
14 Kraljevic. Why were you trying to reach him? Had he
15 been calling up until that point?
16 A. No. I kept trying to reach him on the
17 telephone. I was trying, but I still could not reach
18 him at that point.
19 Q. Can you tell the Trial Chamber, during that
20 battle on the 16th, he had been attached to you in that
21 moment, and you described what that means. He was
22 subordinate to you at that moment. Can you tell me,
23 was it usual that the superior officer is trying to
24 reach a subordinate officer, or would it have been
25 appropriate that the subordinate officer is trying to
1 reach the superior?
2 A. It would have been appropriate that he called
3 me, so I was concerned that Kraljevic was not
4 reporting. I wanted to know what was going on with him
5 and his men.
6 Q. At 14.07, you again issued an order to the
8 A. Yes, I did issue an order for artillery
9 support upon request.
10 Q. At 14.08, you had another conversation with
11 the chief of police. What was that conversation
13 A. It had to do with the security situation in
14 the town of Vitez, and we also discussed ways of
15 protecting ourselves from snipers.
16 Q. Next, Dzemo Merdan called again.
17 A. This was a call from the 3rd Corps, it was
18 received by Slavko Marin --
19 MR. NOBILO: Excuse me. My question was -- I
20 didn't say that Dzemo Merdan called again, no, but that
21 he finally called for the first time.
22 Q. Is that correct, that he called at that point
23 for the first time?
24 A. Yes. He called regarding the calming of the
25 situation, and we also asked that the fighting cease.
1 Q. Did you agree on anything further?
2 A. No, I do not recall any further details.
3 Q. At 14.20, Pilicic and Prskalo returned from
4 negotiations. What information did you get from them?
5 Who was present there and how did the negotiations
7 A. Yes. Marko Prskalo first told me that no one
8 from the 3rd Corps command was present, that is, from
9 the BH army group in Zenica, and the negotiations were
10 between the members of the Central Bosnia Operative
11 Zone command and representatives of Sefkija, who was a
12 member of the municipal staff in Vitez, and either the
13 chief of staff of -- the deputy commander of the 325th
14 Brigade of the BH army. It was Mr. Sivro, at any
16 Marko told me that the cease-fire had been
17 agreed, that separation of forces was also agreed,
18 release of all detained and captured individuals, care
19 for the wounded, patrolling of the UN forces, and
20 that a new meeting was called for 17th April at 9.00 at
21 the UN base.
22 Marko also told me that on the way back from
23 the UN base, the UNPROFOR base, towards the Hotel
24 Vitez, he saw a body of a civilian lying next to the
1 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, it's a long
2 morning. We suggest a 15-minute break, and then we
3 will resume from 10.30 until 11.45, and the second
4 break will be 30 minutes. Would that be all right for
5 the interpreters? Very well. All right. We will
6 suspend the hearing the until 10.30.
7 --- Recess taken at 10.15 a.m.
8 --- On resuming at 10.36 a.m.
9 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the hearing.
10 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
11 Q. We left off with the return of Prskalo and
12 Pilicic from the negotiations, and they told you that
13 they had seen civilian bodies lying by the roadside,
14 that is, the body of one civilian lying by the road.
15 Did they tell you whether there was any mention at the
16 meeting about any civilian casualties?
17 A. They did not inform me at the meeting. The
18 meeting had discussed civilians but they just informed
19 me of the items on the agenda and what I already stated
21 Q. On the basis of the oral agreement that they
22 reached on your behalf, did you issue any orders
23 following that?
24 A. Yes, I issued an order, and the registration
25 number was 01-4-271/93, dated the 16th of April, 1993.
1 The order was to implement the agreement that had been
3 Q. You mean the cease-fire?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. At 14.30, you once again had a talk with
6 Kordic. What did you inform him of?
7 A. I informed him of Dzemo's call from the
8 command of the 3rd Corps and the offer regarding a
9 cease-fire and the fighting.
10 Q. At 14.32, Nakic called you. He was your
11 chief of staff. Tell us what you talked about.
12 A. He also informed me that he was blocked and
13 that there was still fighting around his village, and
14 he conveyed to me that he had talked to Dzemo Merdan
15 and that they had discussed a cessation of
17 I also informed Nakic and he informed me, I
18 asked him whether he had received any new information
19 about Totic and the officers that had been kidnapped
20 from the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade from Novi Travnik,
21 and I conveyed, that is to say, Nakic told me --
22 JUDGE JORDA: Is there a problem with the
23 interpretation, Mr. Hayman?
24 MR. NOBILO: No, we're just trying quickly to
25 find a document, a Defence Exhibit, to show you, so
1 Mr. Hayman was making secret signs with our clerk.
2 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Excuse me.
3 MR. NOBILO:
4 Q. What did Dzemo tell you? What else? Did you
5 inform him of the situation you found yourself in?
6 A. The chief of staff, Nakic, I informed him
7 about the situation, and I told him that we had 15 dead
8 but that we were still holding out.
9 Q. You referred to one of your orders,
10 01-4-271/93, it was Defence Exhibit D279, and so the
11 secret negotiation that was going on was not very
12 precise. We're going to repeat this then.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Registrar, you're only
14 responding to instructions from the Judges. That's
15 very good and congratulations. Did you find the
16 document? We have it now.
17 General Blaskic, this is the order of 16
18 April. This is 01-4-271/93. Would you like to make a
19 comment about that?
20 MR. NOBILO:
21 Q. You mentioned the registration number, and we
22 remembered that we had the order and that it was
23 Defence Exhibit D279, dated the 16th of April, 1993,
24 the time is 16.00 hours, and you were ordering in point
25 1: "All units in your zone of responsibility are to be
1 immediately ordered to discontinue and cease all combat
2 actions against Muslim forces."
3 You sent this order to the Vitez Brigade and
4 to the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade. We're not going
5 to read the whole order, but we should just like to
6 clarify certain points. You sent this to the
7 commanders of the two brigades, and you say, "All units
8 in your zone of responsibility are to be immediately
9 ordered to discontinue and cease all combat
10 actions ..." What does that mean? Who did this refer
12 A. It referred to all units which were engaged
13 in the zone of Vitez and the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski
14 Brigade area or, if we look at it in terms of space, it
15 means all units of the Busovaca municipality and the
16 Vitez municipality which were engaged in combat action.
17 Q. In concrete terms, the Tvrtkovci, the
18 military police, and the Vitezovi, and now looking at
19 it from military terminology, in whose zone of combat
20 action or zone of responsibility were they active?
21 A. They functioned in the zone of responsibility
22 of the Vitez Brigade.
23 Q. Therefore, when you, in point 1 of your
24 order, order Cerkez and Grubesic from the Vitez --
25 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me. I think,
1 Mr. President, I have sat for awhile, as we have sat
2 while Mr. Nobilo testifies in part, and, with all due
3 respect, I would ask, Mr. President, to allow
4 Mr. Nobilo to ask a question and then allow the witness
5 to say what he means by certain things and certain
6 times, as opposed to counsel leading him along that
7 path, if you will.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, do you have an
9 answer to that?
10 MR. NOBILO: I am trying to do that. I am
11 trying to get the witness's views as to what he thinks,
12 and I think he concluded what he was saying when I
13 started my question. That was the impression that I
14 gained, at any rate.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Thank you. Mr. Hayman?
16 MR. HAYMAN: The alternative, and we can do
17 it, is that for every point, Mr. Nobilo will need to
18 ask, "At 14.20 hours, did you have a contact with
19 someone? With whom did you have a contact? Did you
20 contact him or did he contact you? What was said?"
21 Next point, "At 14.25, did you have a contact," so
22 there will be three or four questions just to establish
23 the point in time and who is speaking. We can do that,
24 but it will double the length of the examination.
25 MR. KEHOE: There is an easy solution to that
1 and that takes place in many courts, Mr. President, and
2 that is "When was your next contact and what
3 happened?" I don't think that's a particularly
4 difficult endeavour to undertake.
5 The difficulty, Mr. President, and I don't
6 mean to interrupt counsel's presentation here, is that
7 over the past seven days, and obviously counsel thinks
8 this is extremely important, there would appear to be a
9 direction in the methodology of questioning that I
10 think is something less than spontaneous for the
11 witness, and I simply ask that counsel ask the witness
12 an open question and allow the witness to provide the
13 details, as opposed to the other way around. That's
14 all I'm asking.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. This is a very relevant
16 issue, and it is of concern to us. I would like to
17 consult with my colleagues about it.
18 The Judges have thought about this very
19 important question, and this is their decision and the
20 reasons for the decision: First of all, it is true,
21 Mr. Nobilo, that the Defence witness has not been
22 testifying spontaneously as of today, and the Judges
23 would like him to testify spontaneously, all the more
24 so because this is not a witness like other witnesses
25 but rather one who is in contact with you on a
1 permanent basis.
2 Therefore, in order to ensure the equilibrium
3 of these proceedings, the Defence counsel has a whole
4 log of things that he wants to have said, and he simply
5 has to ask the questions so that the witness can
6 answer, and the Judges would like the testimony to be
7 spontaneous and free.
8 The Judges have decided as follows: We are
9 going to ask the accused to testify freely in
10 large chunks. In other words, "General Blaskic, what
11 happened on the afternoon of the 16th of April," and
12 then, Mr. Nobilo, you can ask all the questions that
13 you feel are necessary to specify certain points which
14 were not specified in the testimony and which you want
15 to have specified by the witness. Of course, he's
16 going to have gaps in his memory, things he just does
17 not remember, but you can put him back on the right
18 track, you can, if necessary, interrupt him, but the
19 Judges do not want any longer to have you start with a
20 very specific background, a very specific plan that you
21 have in mind. The Judges do no longer want to have the
22 witness being guided in such a way that he's no longer
23 testifying spontaneously.
24 In all legal systems, a witness has to
25 testify spontaneously, and that is why in all legal
1 systems there is a prohibition against witnesses making
2 written testimony because that distorts the
4 We're now speaking about the 16th of April in
5 the afternoon, and the Judges turn to the witness and
6 ask him what happened on that afternoon, and then you,
7 Mr. Nobilo, and no one is going to count your time, you
8 will specify certain points but being very careful that
9 you're asking questions, this is a very important
10 point, and that you are not moving along through
12 Have I been clear? Mr. Hayman, would you
13 like to make a comment?
14 MR. HAYMAN: We will do as you request, but
15 we object that you are prohibiting Defence counsel from
16 putting specific questions to our client, and we think
17 that is undue interference in the method of examination
18 of the accused. We should be allowed to direct the
19 witness's attention to specific events and points in
20 time, but we will proceed. I simply want to preserve
21 the objection.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, you're a very
23 skilful attorney, but I'm also a skilful Judge. I
24 understand what you're saying, thinking about the
25 future of the proceedings, but we have Rules and we
1 have the power to question the witness as we like at
2 any point that we want to question him, and I want this
3 to be in the transcript: I have just said that the
4 Defence will ask any specific questions it wishes to
5 ask, but it should be noted, we are not trying to, in
6 any way, prejudice the accused's rights, but we do not
7 want, and this is a fundamental point in all legal
8 systems, that is, a testimony -- this is not the case
9 which might be remote-controlled which means that "At
10 14.00 hours you did this, General Blaskic," and then
11 General Blaskic, says, "Yes, at 14.00 hours, I did do
12 this." That's Mr. Nobilo testifying, no longer General
13 Blaskic, and this is why I'm responding to your
14 objection, Mr. Hayman.
15 If we follow all Rules, and we're all reading
16 the same Rules, I'm sure that we would come to a
17 meeting point in our interpretation of the text.
18 Having said this clearly and having this marked clearly
19 in the record, we are not, in any way, trying to have
20 the witness not say what he wants to say but rather
21 that he should say what he wants to say freely and
22 spontaneously. He is the main player in all of this,
23 first of all, because he is the accused and because he
24 lived through all of the facts minute by minute, and,
25 of course, at any point, including a moment when you
1 want to interrupt him, you can ask questions, but I
2 want you to ask questions and not to proceed through
3 affirmations and assertions.
4 That's what the Judges want, if you look at
5 the texts that are in force here at the Tribunal and to
6 be sure that they are being properly interpreted, and,
7 of course, this corresponds to all practices in all
8 developed legal systems.
9 Having said this, Mr. Nobilo, we are now at
10 the point where you can resume the
11 examination-in-chief, calling your witness's attention
12 to the fact that he has to tell us about what happened
13 during the day of 16 April.
14 Mr. Nobilo, please proceed.
15 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. Of
16 course, we can do this. We can ask the questions in
17 different ways. However, I would like to point out
18 that within the last ten days, by this method, I edited
19 out about 60 to 70 per cent of all the facts that I
20 believe that General Blaskic would have otherwise
21 testified to. General Blaskic keeps a wealth of
22 details in his mind, and I just wanted to make sure
23 that we came to the most essential ones but ...
24 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, I understand what
25 you're saying very clearly, and you know the Judges do
1 not want to waste any time. It is self-evident that if
2 the accused, who is now a witness, were to get lost in
3 too many details or have trouble remembering certain
4 points, you would be there to help him, and I suppose
5 that with the contacts that you've had with your client
6 for the past 20 months, you should know what seems to
7 be essential for his defence and what's less
8 essential. This is your mission, this is your
9 assignment, and this is your monopoly, if you like.
10 If you agree, we will now continue speaking
11 about the afternoon of the 16th of April, but we will
12 stop making affirmations, after which the witness will
13 simply say, "Yes" or "No," "I did this" or "I did
14 that." I repeat, it is not the Defence who is
15 testifying but, rather, the accused, General Blaskic,
16 and we are fully cognisant of his rights and we are
17 protecting them.
18 Mr. Nobilo, please continue.
19 MR. NOBILO: Very well. Let me just go back
20 to Exhibit D279 because I don't think we have finished
21 and it is significant.
22 Q. General Blaskic, can you explain what point 1
23 means, when you say "in all areas of your zone of
25 A. Point 1 reads: "All units in your zone of
1 responsibility are to be IMMEDIATELY ordered to
2 discontinue and cease all combat actions ..."
3 By that I meant the zone of responsibility of
4 the commanders of the Vitez Brigade and Nikola
5 Subic-Zrinjski Brigade. In the heading, I said that it
6 was to be delivered directly to both of these two
7 commanders, and point 1 implied all units which were
8 operating in the zone of responsibility of either of
9 those two brigades.
10 Q. Did this also refer to the special purpose
11 units and the military police units?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Let's go back to the sequence of events.
14 What went on from 14.36 April 16th and onward?
15 A. At 14.36, we had correction of the artillery
16 fire and had communication with the commander of the
17 artillery battery and Mr. Slavko Marin talked to him.
18 Also, at around 14.40 hours, I inquired about the
19 situation in Travnik, and I talked to the brigade
20 commander from Novi Travnik, and after that, after this
21 conversation, I was informed that Officer Lastro from
22 Travnik was unable to report to the command post
23 because he could not use the roads.
24 Q. Before we move to the chronology with respect
25 to this order, what was the reason for your issuing
1 such an order after about half a day of fighting?
2 A. My motivation from the early morning of 16
3 April was to stabilise the situation and effect a
5 Q. Yes. Obviously we are referring to Exhibit
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. On the basis of everything you have just
9 said, were you able to push back the BH army forces at
10 any of the points?
11 A. No. We were the side which was being pushed
13 Q. Very well. Can you now please proceed with
14 what happened next in the afternoon of the 16th of
16 A. At 14.44 hours, I had another conversation
17 with Franjo Nakic. I asked him what happened to the
18 kidnapped officers of the Subic-Zrinjski Brigade
19 command staff and with Commander Totic, and Nakic
20 informed me that they, meaning the kidnapped officers,
21 were in the barracks of the 7th Muslim Brigade.
22 Q. Where was Nakic at that time?
23 A. At that time, Nakic was at his family home.
24 Q. Where did he live at that time?
25 A. He lived in the village of Zabrdje.
1 Q. Continue from there.
2 A. At 14.46, I called the main headquarters of
3 the HVO and informed them about the agreement on
4 cessation of combat operations and let them know that
5 we were working on calming down the situation and that
6 we had been promised that the army of Bosnia and
7 Herzegovina was also going to issue orders on cessation
8 of all further combat operations. I also informed the
9 main staff that at that time Vitez was still being
10 shelled from a tank of the BH army from the Preocica
11 Samar feature.
12 A bit later on, at 14.50, Mr. Pilicic called
13 UNPROFOR regarding the evacuation of wounded in
14 Poculica, and at that time he was given a promise that
15 this evacuation would be carried out by UNPROFOR.
16 At 14.57 -- yes, at 14.57, we conducted a
17 check, that is, a correction together with the
18 artillery battery. That was a correction of the
19 artillery fire.
20 At 15.00 hours, I received information from
21 Commander Cerkez that a conversation between the
22 commander of the BH army had been taped and that from
23 this tape we could conclude that the BH army is moving
24 from Zenica in the direction of Vitez.
25 Following this information, I called the
1 commander in Zenica, Mr. Baresic, and inquired about
2 what he knew about the movements of the BH army from
3 Zenica. Commander Baresic informed me that he still
4 did not have such information but that he would check
5 on it.
6 At 15.08, a report from Mario Cerkez arrived,
7 number 02-125-13/93 of 16 April, 1993, at 14.50 hours.
8 On the basis of this report, I called Cerkez and
9 ordered him to hold and reinforce the positions which
10 he currently held.
11 At 15.10, I had further communication with
12 the commander of the combined artillery battery and
13 further correction of artillery fire.
14 At 15.15, I sent a written report to the main
15 headquarters of the HVO in Mostar and to the
16 headquarters of the North-western Herzegovina Operative
17 Zone in Tomislavgrad.
18 Q. By what method did you send this report?
19 A. This report was sent by packet communication
21 At 15.22, I was informed that no subordinate
22 unit from the Central Bosnia Operative Zone had any
23 secret code names so that it was not possible to have
24 communication in a secure way.
25 Q. Secret code names. If you used those, what
1 method of communication would you use if you had those
3 A. If we had secret code names, then we could
4 have communicated by radio and even by telephone, but
5 then we would not call each other by first and last
6 names or by your position in the command structure,
7 that every commander would have his code name by which
8 he would be addressed. Also, in any combat activities,
9 just as you make a plan of artillery fire, you also
10 compile a similar plan of communications.
11 Q. Is it a regular thing to make such a plan in
12 the middle of a battle?
13 A. No. Such a document is always drafted ahead
14 of time, that is, before the start of combat activities
15 and is usually part of the preparatory organisational
17 Q. Very well. Please move on.
18 A. At 15.26, a report was sent for -- public
19 information was released, and at 15.31, I had contact
20 with the commander of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski
21 Brigade, Mr. Grubesic, and I asked him to hold the
22 positions at Kuber at any cost and to endeavour to
23 regain the positions which he had lost in the course of
24 the day. I believe that those positions were Obla
25 Glava and Vrana Stijene.
1 Q. So he had lost those positions in the course
2 of the day?
3 A. Yes. They had been pushed back from those
4 positions during the course of the day, that is, the
5 Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade units.
6 Q. Please go on.
7 A. At 15.40, I called Mr. Samija, the chief of
8 the civilian police in Vitez, in order to get an update
9 on the security situation in the town of Vitez. I did
10 not get him at that time, but at 15.42 hours, Samija
11 called me and informed me that security in the town of
12 Vitez at that point in time was under control, and I
13 requested that he identify the positions from which BH
14 army snipers were active and from which positions they
15 were shooting at the Operative Zone command
16 headquarters, that is, the Hotel Vitez.
17 Q. General, who was in charge of the security
18 for the town of Vitez in combat conditions?
19 A. This was the competence of the civilian
20 police authority in Vitez.
21 Q. Did you receive any kind of information from
22 the civilian police authorities whether any kind of
23 violence was being committed against civilians?
24 A. I took down and I wrote down all information
25 that I received in the course of that day, and I
1 received no such information.
2 Q. Please continue.
3 A. At 15.50, I called the commander of the Vitez
4 Brigade, Mr. Mario Cerkez, and asked for information
5 about the situation in the village of Donja Veceriska.
6 He informed me that the situation in Donja Veceriska
7 was still critical.
8 At 15.51, Slavko Marin talked to the
9 commander of the combined artillery battery regarding
10 correction of fire. I also received information on
11 firing of our artillery on our targets, in other words,
12 the HVO artillery was shelling our own positions.
13 Dario Kordic transmitted this information to me, and
14 following that, I checked the coordinates and I
15 determined at 15.54 that the artillery of the BH army
16 was shelling our positions or firing on our positions
17 and that this fire was not coming from the HVO
18 artillery on the HVO positions.
19 At 16.00 hours, I talked to the commander in
20 Travnik, Mr. Filip Filipovic, and inquired about the
21 situation in the town of Travnik, and he told me that
22 the situation was calm for the time being.
23 I also had a conversation around 16.00 hours
24 with the commander from Kiseljak, Mr. Mijo Bozic, who
25 informed me that the situation was calm, and I told him
1 that for the time being, we were holding out,
2 considering primarily the situation in Busovaca and
4 Then I had contact at 16.10 with Dr. Dzambas
5 from the Franciscan hospital in Nova Bila who reported
6 on the number of wounded they received and the
7 situation in the hospital.
8 At 16.15, I asked the commander of the
9 artillery battery to report on the levels of ammunition
10 with the artillery battery.
11 At 16.18, I had a conversation with a
12 commander who introduced himself by his nickname, which
13 was Munja. He was with the 2nd Corps of the BH army
14 which was headquartered in Tuzla. He transmitted
15 information that he had personally talked to Brigadier
16 Petkovic and that he had mediated in order to achieve a
17 cease-fire, and he said that he personally was doing
18 everything in his power in order to achieve a truce and
20 At 16.47, I once again talked to the
21 commander of the Vitez Brigade, Mr. Mario Cerkez, and
22 the questions were the situation in the town with
23 regard to Stari Vitez. Cerkez informed me that they
24 lacked materiel, that they lacked barrels, rifle
25 barrels, for the recruits, and also that they lacked
1 ammunition, and that they had a great deal of
2 difficulty because of sniper fire and the effects of
3 devices in Stari Vitez, machine guns from Stari Vitez.
4 I told him that he should organise his defence with
5 what he had available at that time. I had in mind
6 resources, materiel, and weapons.
7 At 17.08, Mr. Tuka called, the commander of
8 the HVO Battalion in Fojnica, and he was interested in
9 knowing what the situation was like in Vitez and
10 Busovaca. He informed me that the situation in Fojnica
11 was fairly tense but that there were no actual
12 conflicts in Fojnica at that particular time.
13 At 17.11, I tried to contact the main staff,
14 and at 17.15, I managed to contact the main staff and
15 told them that the situation had calmed down and that
16 some of the roads, and I had in mind the main roads
17 from Busovaca to Vitez and further on towards Travnik,
18 that that main road was under the control of the BH
19 army whereas part of the roads were under the control
20 of the Croatian Defence Council.
21 I also informed the main staff that we still
22 did not have any information as to what had actually
23 happened to the kidnapped officers, Zivko Totic and the
24 four officers from the Stejpan Tomasevic Brigade of
25 Novi Travnik, apart from the fact that we knew that
1 they were being held in the barracks of the 7th Muslim
2 Brigade according to information that I was conveyed
3 from the chief of staff. I also stressed that I
4 assumed that the resources being used to fight us, to
5 attack us, were probably taken from the convoy intended
6 for eastern Bosnia between the 11th and 12th of April,
8 After that, Petkovic, Commander Petkovic,
9 said, "Don't believe in the cease-fire alone but start
10 fortifying yourselves."
11 Q. What does that mean? What kind of activity
12 is fortification? What does that imply?
13 A. It implied that at the positions we held,
14 that we undertake the engineering type of fortification
15 for the terrain to defend. This is a defence activity.
16 Q. You mentioned control of roads. It's not
17 quite clear, according to the interpretation, who was
18 controlling which roads.
19 A. I conveyed the information that part of the
20 roads -- and I'm thinking of the entire zone, all the
21 roads in the zone, of the Operative Zone -- that we
22 were in control of them whereas one portion of the
23 roads were under the control of the BH army.
24 Q. Please continue. What happened next?
25 A. Petkovic, the chief of the main staff, told
1 me that manpower had been mobilised in Kiseljak and in
2 Fojnica to the full and that it should be on the ready.
3 At about 17.41, I talked to Darko Kraljevic.
4 Q. Was that your first conversation on that
5 particular day with Darko Kraljevic?
6 A. Yes, it was my first conversation with Darko
7 Kraljevic on the 16th of April, on that particular day.
8 Q. What did he inform you?
9 A. He informed me of the action coming from
10 Stari Vitez, and I asked him to wait, not to go
11 forward, and to keep the positions held under control,
12 all the directions of combat activity from Stari Vitez
13 towards the headquarters and towards the town of Vitez,
14 and especially to bear in mind the civilians because we
15 assumed that the civilians themselves could start
16 moving out of Stari Vitez in the direction of Vitez
17 town, and I particularly drew his attention to the fact
18 that he should not just move forward but should bear in
19 mind the civilians and look after the women and
21 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, I suggest that we
22 take a 30-minute break, and we will resume at noon and
23 continue until 1.30.
24 --- Recess taken at 11.29 a.m.
25 --- On resuming at 12.10 p.m.
1 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the
2 hearing. Mr. Nobilo and Mr. Hayman, think about
3 keeping five or six minutes before the end of the
4 hearing so you can give us an evaluation about the time
5 that you're going to need. I will ask the registrar
6 how much time has already been used for this testimony,
7 the testimony of General Blaskic. We can ask him at
8 that point.
9 All right. Let's resume now.
10 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
11 Q. I think we left off somewhere around 17.48
12 hours onwards. What happened after that, after you
13 warned Kraljevic not to touch the civilians and the
14 women and children?
15 A. I received a report on the casualties from
16 the Vitez Brigade, the facts that they had collected up
17 until then. There were six killed members of the Vitez
18 Brigade and a number of members who were injured,
19 lightly injured.
20 At 17.48, I also asked the commander of the
21 mixed artillery division to remain in a state of
23 At 17.55, I received a report from the
24 military intelligence service that the BH army units
25 were asking for assistance in the areas of Vranjska and
1 Kruscica and that there were problems there. I
2 received information from the Vitezovi that three
3 Vitezovi members had been killed, one civilian, and two
4 other casualties, I don't know exactly where those
5 casualties were, but that meant a total of six dead.
6 At 18.02, I received information from
7 Mr. Kordic who told me that Pasko's people were going
8 up the hill and that he had done his part and that he
9 had intercepted a telegram about panic in their ranks,
10 and at 18.04, I called the commander of the mixed
11 artillery battalion to prepare to fire along the 649
12 feature, the 649 position or feature.
13 At 18.07, I talked to Mr. Mario Cerkez, the
14 commander of the Vitez Brigade, and asked him to
15 reinforce security around the explosives factory and
16 that he take care of the Kruscica and Vranjska
18 At 18.10, I received a call from Bugojno, and
19 they were interested in knowing about the situation and
20 state of affairs in the Central Bosnia Operative Zone,
21 and we sent them information about that.
22 At 18.25, Cerkez asked for assistance, to
23 have auxiliary logistics supplies, for resupplies.
24 At 18.29, I had a conversation with the
25 commander of the Operative Zone of Northwest
1 Herzegovina, Mr. Zeljko Siljeg, and I told him, "Convey
2 to your chief that everything has been sent to me,
3 going through me, and that he should bear this in mind
4 and extend assistance."
5 Q. Who was the chief? Your terminology, the one
6 you used, who was the chief you referred to?
7 A. The chief was, in fact, the head of the main
8 staff of the HVO.
9 At 18.32, I asked reconnoitring of the points
10 of impact in the Vranjska area by the commander of the
11 mixed artillery battalion --
12 Q. Before we continue, can we add a little more
13 clarification on your talks about Siljeg? When you
14 said "everything is turned towards me," what did you
15 mean by that because in the interpretation, it was
16 "sent to me" or "turned towards me." You said that
17 everything was turned towards you. What did you mean
18 by that?
19 A. I thought that the bulk of the forces of the
20 3rd Corps were being directed towards Vitez and part of
21 Busovaca, that is to say, that there was movement
22 present, a regrouping of troops and combat operations
23 in the area of Vitez and Busovaca, and when I said
24 "everything," I meant all mobile forces at that time
25 were looking towards me and towards the defenders of
1 the Lasva Valley.
2 Q. When you told Siljeg to convey to Petkovic
3 that he should help, how did Petkovic, from Mostar, how
4 was he able to help you in that kind of situation?
5 What did you have in mind?
6 A. In that kind of situation, Petkovic could --
7 the only effective way of helping us was to call the
8 head of the main staff of the army of
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sefer Halilovic, and to work with
10 him towards a cease-fire agreement.
11 Q. In the course of the day, you had already
12 issued an order for a cease-fire. What information did
13 you get from the ground in all the reports coming in to
14 you? Was this being implemented? If not, why not?
15 A. It is true that I issued an order for a
16 cease-fire, but this order was probably not received by
17 the units of the 3rd Corps because combat operations
18 continued. There was a continued regrouping of forces,
19 and fresh troops were being brought in so that,
20 according to the reports that I received, it was not
21 possible to establish and implement a cease-fire at
22 that particular time, a truce.
23 Q. Who brought in fresh troops?
24 A. The BH army.
25 Q. Let us continue and look at the events after
1 18.50 hours onwards.
2 A. At 18.50, I had a telephone conversation with
3 Dario Kordic, and he informed me that he had received
4 information from Zenica about the movement of 350 to
5 400 soldiers towards Kuber, soldiers of the BH army
6 moving towards Kuber.
7 I once again contacted, at 18.51 or 18.52,
8 immediately after that, the commander of the mixed
9 artillery battalion and asked them to be placed on the
10 ready, to open fire in the direction of Kuber.
11 At 18.58, I asked that preparations in the
12 MTD be speeded up with regard to combat readiness.
13 At 19.06, there was a momentary interruption
14 of communications with the command of the Zenica
15 Brigade, and I was not able to contact Vinko Baresic at
16 that particular time, and at 19.08, I phoned the
17 commander of MTD once again because the preparations
18 had not been completed.
19 Q. "MTD," what do you mean by that?
20 A. It was the mixed artillery battalion, the
21 commander of the mixed artillery battalion, MTD.
22 At 19.10 or 19.11 hours, I talked to
23 Commander Baresic from Zenica and checked with him the
24 information that I had received about the movement of
25 troops of the BH army from Zenica towards Kuber, and I
1 asked him that this movement of troops be stopped so
2 that, if necessary, he ought to deploy all the manpower
3 that he had at his disposal to achieve that goal.
4 At about 19.12, I sent, via my associates, a
5 request to the defence department of the Vitez
6 municipality asking them to mobilise manpower for the
8 At 19 --
9 Q. What kind of shifts? What were these shifts?
10 A. It was a question of mobilising recruits who
11 were to replace, in the course of the night, recruits
12 who had already been engaged in the fighting in the
13 course of the day.
14 At 19.14, I received a request from the mixed
15 artillery battalion asking me whether they should still
16 direct their attention towards Kuber, and I answered in
17 the affirmative, I said yes.
18 At 19.15, a report was drafted for the
19 public, a public statement, and I also received
20 information once again that, from Zenica, there were
21 troop movements on the part of the BH army towards
22 Vitez at 19.15.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me. General Blaskic,
24 you say that it was a statement that had been drafted,
25 but very, very quickly, can you tell us what was in
1 it? We don't have the proof. We don't have the
2 documents. You said that there was a public statement
3 that had been drafted, that's fine, but what's in it?
4 Otherwise, we've got a catalogue of all the things that
5 you did all day long, but I think that what's
6 interesting is in respect of what can be brought back
7 to the accusations of the Prosecutor. What did it
8 say? Were you being attacked? Were you being placed
9 under siege? It will only take you a minute to tell
10 us. Do you understand what I'm looking for, what I
12 A. No, Mr. President, not completely. I don't
13 understand your thoughts.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps I didn't explain myself
15 cleverly. You're giving a very detailed description of
16 your schedule, but at some point, you have to tell us
17 whether it's only on the basis of your memory or on
18 military logs, but that's another question, and we can
19 ask that at another time, but there are certain facts
20 about all you say is the fact itself. For example, at
21 10.15, there was a public statement which had been
22 drafted. I have to say to you, "Well, yes, all right,
23 but what was said in the public statement?" There's no
24 point in reading it, there's no point in providing us
25 with it, but what was the general sense of that public
1 statement, that is, your statement or the statement of
2 the municipal authorities? Do you understand what I
4 A. Yes, I understand, Mr. President. The notes
5 are notes that were made at the time, that is to say,
6 when the events took place, and I said at the beginning
7 of my testimony that I had asked an associate of mine
8 to write down everything he heard and saw going on in
9 the hall where there were only seven of us on that
10 particular day, the 16th of April.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Are these your assistant's
12 notes, the notes that you're using?
13 A. No. In preparing, that is to say, when I
14 decided to come to this Tribunal, I used all available
15 documents at that time. When I say "that time," I have
16 in mind 1995, it was November and December of 1995, and
17 I did this, Mr. President, in such a way that I wrote
18 down the chronology, copying from those notes, and on
19 the basis of my own notes, the notes that I made then,
20 I was able to write my first written statement. For
21 this testimony, I just have an agenda and perhaps the
22 name of the person who telephoned me and briefly the
23 contents of that telephone conversation, so these are
24 notes to remind me.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Therefore, to go back to the
1 example, that was the reason I interrupted you, and I
2 apologise again for having done so, at 10.15, there was
3 a public statement which was drafted, and that means
4 that you no longer remember what was in the statement.
5 A. At this point in time, I cannot reproduce the
6 contents of that public statement.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Thank you very
8 much. You've explained it to me.
9 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, perhaps it would
10 be a good idea if the witness were to tell us when he
11 no longer remembers the details but just has copied a
12 fact from a document and one of the notes so that you
13 know when he remembers the details himself and when he
14 doesn't actually remember himself because, of course,
15 six years have gone by.
16 JUDGE JORDA: When the time is appropriate,
17 and you are the one to decide when that is, you can
18 mention, for example, "There is a public statement but
19 I don't remember its contents." For instance, if you
20 don't remember, you just tell us. All right? Please
21 continue. Excuse me.
22 A. Very well. Thank you, Mr. President.
23 MR. NOBILO:
24 Q. We stopped at 19.15 and the public statement,
25 and after that, you had Zenica on the line and received
1 information on new troop movements of the BH army.
2 That was the last thing you said.
3 A. Yes. Once again, I contacted the commander
4 from Zenica and received information about troop
5 movements, and at 19.25, I had a telephone conversation
6 with Mr. Dario Kordic who conveyed the same piece of
7 information to me, namely, that BH army movements from
8 Zenica were under way from Zenica towards Kuber and
9 that we could expect the main onslaught to take place
10 on that section.
11 At about 19.30, I called the chief of the
12 main staff in Mostar and informed him of this
13 regrouping of forces which was taking place from the
14 direction of Zenica towards Vitez, and I asked him once
15 again, asked the chief of the main staff once again, to
16 get in contact with the competent authorities in the BH
17 army and to attempt to settle the problem of this
18 influx of reinforcements, and I relied on this, on the
20 Q. What agreement?
21 A. I told the chief of the main staff that while
22 some individuals were negotiating with us, others were
23 attacking us, and I had in mind the agreement of the
24 16th of April, 1993, that had been reached in Vitez at
25 the UNPROFOR base there. I also emphasised that the --
1 I informed the chief of the main staff that most of the
2 activity was from the direction of Zenica towards
3 Vitez, and I reported to him about the state of affairs
4 in the village of Poculica where the Croats had all
5 been taken prisoner.
6 Q. Did you talk about whether the Bosnian side
7 was disseminating propaganda that a mosque had been
8 demolished somewhere? Do you recall that during your
9 conversation with General Petkovic?
10 A. No, I do not recall that right now. But at
11 19.35 hours, I was informed that members of the
12 combined artillery battalion had carried out their
13 task. At 19.40, I issued an order for withdrawal of a
14 military police unit from Travnik to Vitez.
15 Q. How was this carried out and what was the
16 purpose of it?
17 A. The purpose of it was to introduce a new
18 shift of manpower at these positions and that this new
19 shift would fortify the positions in the course of the
21 Q. On whose request did you carry this order
23 A. These men were supposed to report to me at
24 the hotel, and the military police, actually the
25 commander, Pasko, of the military police, sent me this
2 Q. Do you know why he did not do this on his own
3 but asked that this be done through your office?
4 A. This was a military police unit which had
5 earlier been sent to Travnik, and I don't know whether
6 at that time he had communication with them from the
7 position where he was at the time.
8 Q. So am I correct in concluding that you did
9 this on request of Mr. Ljubicic?
10 A. Yes. He requested that I write such an
11 order, that his men be brought back to Vitez so that he
12 could have a shift for the men which he already had
13 deployed and who were fighting.
14 Q. Very well. Please go on.
15 A. At 19.45, I again received a call from
16 Commander Mario Cerkez asking for assistance from the
17 Busovaca Brigade and asking me to mediate in providing
18 this assistance.
19 I also, at 19.45, talked to Pasko, and asked
20 him to start digging in and develop the defence
22 Q. This is Pasko Ljubicic, commander of the
23 military police?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Why, at that point in time, did you order him
1 to dig in? What was the reason for it?
2 A. I had received information that his position
3 was on the high ground, that is, on the slope of Barin
4 Gaj and Kratine, and I believed that it was necessary
5 to fortify this position and prepare for defence.
6 Q. This is what you thought, but today, having
7 heard everything that has been testified to in the
8 Tribunal, was he up there in the high ground or was
9 that incorrect information?
10 A. I acted based on what he told me, but I
11 believe that he was never at Barin Gaj because the HVO
12 never held this position at Barin Gaj.
13 Q. So you issued this order because you did not
14 have the right information about this position?
15 A. Yes, that is correct.
16 Q. Please go on.
17 A. At 19.50, I had another conversation with the
18 commander of the Vitez Brigade, Mario Cerkez, and I
19 asked that he start fortifying himself and get ready
20 for the shift of his men at his position, in other
21 words, to organise a shift at his position.
22 At 19.55, I received a call from the
23 commander of the Travnik Brigade, Filipovic, and he
24 informed me that the roads via Han Bila and Ovnak were
25 closed for any kind of traffic. Filipovic also
1 inquired about the situation in Vitez and Busovaca.
2 MR. NOBILO: Exhibit D281, Defence Exhibit
3 D281, please.
4 Q. This is the Defence Exhibit D281 and is an
5 order which you issued to the Busovaca Brigade on 16
6 April, 1993, at 19.45. I will only read the first
7 point. It is a combat order for the defence of Kuber.
8 "1. Extremist Muslim forces are advancing
9 from the direction of Gornja Zenica toward Kuber with
10 the objective of completely capturing it and cutting it
12 And then you task the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski
13 Brigade further. Is this the order you just referred
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Perhaps you could help us to clarify what is
17 in the upper right corner. Something is written in
19 A. It is a warning for --
20 THE INTERPRETER: Could counsel please read
21 this again?
22 MR. NOBILO: Let me read it one more time.
23 Q. In the upper right corner, in handwriting, a
24 sentence was added, and it reads as follows. Let us
25 put it on the ELMO.
1 Somebody added this in handwriting and it
2 reads as follows: "An oral advisement for the
3 implementation and reporting on the combat orders
4 received," and there is somebody's either initial or
6 Could you decipher who wrote this and who
7 signed it?
8 A. Yes, I recognise the signature, it is Slavko
9 Marin's signature, and this advisement, I remember
10 this, referred to the full implementation and detailed
11 report on the combat order which had been issued.
12 Q. Can you tell the Trial Chamber, is this a
13 regular procedure, that a subordinate commander has to
14 remind field commanders that they had to implement
15 orders or carry them out?
16 A. Whenever you have a well-trained and
17 organised army, this would not be necessary, to
18 specially emphasise such things, because it is
19 something that is implicit in the order. But I was
20 concerned, given the overall situation, and I tried to
21 have as complete information as was possible about a
22 given situation, and with respect to this order, as you
23 see, we were still insisting on the defence of Kuber,
24 and it is not clear who was holding which position at
25 that point in time.
1 Q. This remark, does it show that the orders
2 were not carried out completely and that you did not
3 have full control of the situation? Is that the
4 significance of the oral advisements?
5 A. Yes, that is its significance, but also the
6 fact that we were trying to get full information and
7 that we tried to have the orders implemented in full
8 and as they were issued or written.
9 Q. Let us move on, follow the chronology of
11 A. Around 19.55, a request to the defence
12 department to carry out an additional mobilisation of
13 the available manpower because we had received
14 information that the previous requests were not
15 honoured, and I'm referring here to the previous calls
16 for mobilisation.
17 Q. So was this an alarming situation or was this
18 a regular situation?
19 A. I talked to the chief of the defence
20 administration because we were lacking in manpower, and
21 I asked him to become involved and to mobilise whoever
22 can carry a gun, even up to the age of 70, if there
23 were still military recruits, because we had a severe
24 shortage of manpower.
25 Q. Again, based on your training and experience,
1 is it a normal thing to carry out mobilisation at the
2 end of the first day of a war?
3 A. That would depend upon the size of the unit,
4 but you would need at least 48 hours before the start
5 of combat operations; in other words, you need that
6 period of time for preparation in order to be able to
7 start combat operations.
8 Q. So why didn't you carry out mobilisation
9 before the beginning of war?
10 A. We did not expect conflicts of this
11 magnitude, and in the latter part of March, I was
12 giving away supplies and ordinance for the 3rd Corps,
13 and Mr. Prskalo, when he returned from negotiations,
14 this is what the army is doing. They are returning the
15 ordinance which we had given them, only they are
16 sending them through the barrels.
17 Q. I understand he was a bit sarcastic here.
18 But let us move on with the chronology of events.
19 A. At 20.22, I again talked to Commander Baresic
20 from Zenica, and I requested that he check on any troop
21 movements from Zenica in the direction of Vitez and to
22 halt the forces that may be moving from Zenica in the
23 direction of Vitez.
24 At 20.45, I received information from
25 Mr. Dario Kordic that the following day a meeting would
1 probably be organised in Zenica with Dzemo Merdan and
3 Q. Sometime after 20.00 hours, 20.25, together
4 with Jozo Lozancic, you conducted a military manoeuvre
5 which was supposed to fool the enemy?
6 A. Yes. At that time, I asked Lozancic and I
7 told him that he was going to receive a document. In
8 this document, I explained that it was necessary that
9 he was to fake that he was preparing an attack on
10 Zenica. I informed him that my communication with him
11 would be in the sense that it would have to do with the
12 regrouping and bringing fresh forces from Zenica to
13 Vitez, but I knew that our telephone conversations were
14 being monitored, so in the spirit of that, I would ask
15 Lozancic whether the forces were ready in Zepce even
16 though at that time there were absolutely no troop
17 movements in Zepce on the part of the HVO.
18 Q. What was the meaning of it?
19 A. The objective was to slow down the arrival of
20 troops in Vitez and basically our survival in Vitez
21 because I was afraid that the vast majority of the 3rd
22 Corps troops would move in on the positions of the HVO
23 against the Operative Zone command and create further
24 enclaves; in other words, I wanted to alleviate the
25 situation of the HVO positions in the Lasva Valley.
1 Q. Please continue.
2 A. At 21.02, Pasko came to me, Pasko Ljubicic,
3 the commander of the 4th Military Police Battalion, and
4 he informed me that he needed urgently to replace the
5 shift, and I agreed with him that as we had not had
6 fresh troops, as we didn't have fresh troops, that he
7 should take the entire staff from the Vitez Hotel and
8 take them with him to effect this changing of shifts.
9 So that sometime from 21.00 onwards or 21.02, the
10 headquarters were left without any military policemen
11 who were otherwise engaged to secure the hotel, provide
12 security for the hotel.
13 I had expected the unit that I had ordered
14 from Travnik, that it might possibly arrive sometime in
15 the course of the night, the military police unit, and
16 that it would be able to take over the security of the
17 hotel and the headquarters of the Operative Zone. This
18 fresh manpower would probably be engaged by Pasko to
19 take over the shift and to dig in the positions.
20 Q. Before Pasko asked you to supply him with
21 fresh forces for the shift, can you remember whether he
22 came personally or phoned? Do you remember that? If
23 not, we can move on.
24 Do you remember a report to the 3rd Corps and
25 a written report to the main HVO command?
1 A. A report to the 3rd Corps was sent at about
2 21.00, and it referred to the lack of respect for the
3 truce. It was a notice that we sent. This written
4 notice to the main staff was also sent, but it was sent
5 at 20.45.
6 I have a note here saying that at 20.15, I
7 ordered the commander of the mixed artillery battalion
8 to ensure that firing positions were secured for the
9 mixed artillery battalion.
10 Q. Please proceed according to your chronology
11 of events.
12 A. At 21.20, I received a report saying that in
13 the course of the night, the military police unit from
14 Travnik would not be transported to Vitez.
15 At 21.50 hours, I was called up by Mr. Nikola
16 Krizanovic, he was the director of the explosives
17 factory, and he informed me that there was strong
18 shooting in the immediate vicinity of the explosives
20 At 23.50, I had a conversation with the
21 deputy chief of civilian police of the Vitez police
22 station, Mr. Slavko Jukic, and I asked him to extend
23 assistance to us in order to ensure security for the
24 hotel and the headquarters of the Operative Zone from
25 the direction of Stari Vitez whereas -- in the course
1 of that night and the next day until the military
2 police from Travnik were able to arrive.
3 Q. This completes our chronology of events for
4 the 16th of April, and we should now like to focus on
5 some important documents that you received in written
6 form and are not included in your chronology.
7 I should like the witness now to be handed
8 Defence Exhibit D280.
9 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, the Judges are
10 prepared to allow you to withdraw for a few moments if
11 you feel tired so that you can rest for five minutes.
12 Would you care to do that?
13 THE ACCUSED: Thank you, Mr. President. I
14 would welcome that. Thank you very much.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Five minutes.
16 THE ACCUSED: Thank you, Mr. President.
17 --- Recess taken at 12.55 p.m.
18 --- On resuming at 1.03 p.m.
19 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We can resume the
20 hearing now.
21 General Blaskic, do you feel better? Do you
22 feel better? Are you all right?
23 THE ACCUSED: I apologise, Mr. President. I
24 wasn't tuned in to the channel.
25 JUDGE JORDA: I just wanted to know if you
1 were all right, if you were feeling okay.
2 THE ACCUSED: Yes. Thank you very much,
3 Mr. President. I feel much better. Thank you.
4 JUDGE JORDA: So do we. Okay. We can
6 MR. NOBILO:
7 Q. Before the recess, D280 was handed round, and
8 I'm going to briefly read this very important report.
9 The commander of the military police, Pasko Ljubicic,
10 was writing to you on the 16th of April, 1993, and he
12 "Acting in accordance with your order number
13 01-04-243/93 of the 16th of April, 1993, we hereby
14 report: Muslim armed forces attempted to launch, in
15 the early hours of the morning, an attack on the
16 military police units located in the Bungalow. The
17 attack met with response, and combat procedures and
18 actions were undertaken to expel the same. Muslim
19 armed forces barricaded themselves in a mosque in
20 Ahmici and in the primary school from where they have
21 been firing from small arms weapons and snipers. They
22 have been opening light fire from the direction of the
23 villages of Vrhovine and Pirici, and snipers have been
24 constantly firing from the woods and clearings above
25 the village. So far three policemen have been killed
1 and three were wounded, one of whom seriously.
2 Personnel is in the field." The stamp is the command
3 of the military police in Mostar, and it says,
4 "Commander Pasko Ljubicic."
5 Tell us now, what was the order of the 16th
6 of April that was issued to Pasko Ljubicic, chief of
7 military police, by you and why?
8 A. It was an order to report to me in writing
9 regarding the situation in the field because reports
10 and information from the chief of the military police I
11 generally received via telephone and orally, and he did
12 not send reports in written form, in writing, as was
13 done by the commander of the Vitez Brigade and the
14 commander of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade. He did
15 not send them to me.
16 As the fighting had already started, I
17 considered that it was necessary to caution him that,
18 in future, he should send me reports as my immediate
19 subordinates did.
20 Q. What was your legal basis, military legal
21 basis, for asking the chief of the military police, as
22 you did from your own commanders, to ask him to send
23 you written reports?
24 A. Subordination or attachment, the attachment
25 of the military police unit.
1 Q. Would you remind us what this term
2 "attachment of units" implies and "subordination of
3 units" implies?
4 A. It means that during the implementation of
5 assignment, a higher command for a certain unit can be
6 placed within the composition of a lower command, be
7 attached to it for performing certain assignments.
8 Q. Does that mean that Pasko Ljubicic, as the
9 chief of the --
10 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, Counsel. I think the
11 proper question is "What does it mean?" and not telling
12 the witness what it means.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Please continue, Mr. Nobilo. I
14 think that we've said many things about the testimony.
15 The Judges have expressed their opinion, they've said
16 that they don't agree with the way it's being
17 conducted, and you know, Mr. Kehoe, you always have to
18 show some degree of flexibility, but we're being very
19 vigilant here. As soon as Mr. Nobilo takes the place
20 of the witness, we're going to interrupt him, but
21 that's not what's happened here.
22 Continue, Mr. Nobilo, but don't make too many
23 suggestions, please.
24 MR. NOBILO: Let me remember what it was that
25 I was asking, first of all.
1 Q. On the 16th of April, was the military police
2 subordinate to you or attached to you?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. On the basis of what?
5 MR. NOBILO: Once again, problems with
6 interpretation. Let me repeat my question.
7 Q. The military police, in the battle of the
8 16th of April, was it attached to you?
9 A. It was attached to me. Yes, it was.
10 MR. KEHOE: If I may, Mr. President, that
11 certainly was not the question that was initially
13 MR. HAYMAN: Well, let's talk to the
14 interpreter's booth about that, Mr. President. Let's
15 ask them and let's let them tell us what the question
16 was, whether they were correcting themselves or whether
17 Mr. Nobilo corrected himself. Let's ask them.
18 JUDGE JORDA: You're going too fast because I
19 haven't heard the end of the interpretation of the
20 first question, and already things are coming out from
21 all sides. Let's stay calm, please.
22 Mr. Kehoe, what is your objection? Let me
23 hear the objection, and then I promise you, Mr. Hayman,
24 I will listen to you immediately after that. What is
25 your objection, Mr. Kehoe?
1 MR. KEHOE: My comment is simply this,
2 Mr. President, that one question was asked and then
3 another question was asked according to the
4 interpretation. Mr. Hayman maintains that the problem
5 was, in fact, with the interpretation, which I find
6 somewhat astonishing since he doesn't speak the
7 language. Nevertheless, the question, it seems, coming
8 from the interpreters at the outset was quite clear.
9 MR. HAYMAN: Let's ask them, Mr. President.
10 Let's ask them.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Just a moment. Mr. Hayman,
12 Mr. Hayman, first I'd like to hear what your objection
13 is. What is your objection? What is it? You don't
14 agree with Mr. Kehoe; I think that's what you're
16 MR. HAYMAN: Mr. Kehoe is attempting to
17 create doubt in Your Honours' minds as to the words or
18 phrases used by Mr. Nobilo to suggest that Mr. Nobilo
19 thinks that the military police were subordinate to
20 then Colonel Blaskic on the 16th, and we commented on
21 the same situation one or two days ago with respect to
22 the interpreting booth correcting themselves with
23 respect to a translation. I understand they spoke to
24 Your Honours after that incident, and they told you
25 that, in fact, they were correcting themselves, they
1 were not correcting Mr. -- I believe in that instance,
2 it was not Mr. Nobilo, it was the accused, with respect
3 to very important matters of phraseology.
4 Once again, Mr. Kehoe is suggesting that
5 Mr. Nobilo has performed some sleight of hand to switch
6 the words "subordination" and "assignment" -- excuse
7 me, "attached."
8 I would ask Your Honours, please, we don't
9 want any ambiguity or doubt in the record of this
10 case. Let's ask the interpreter booth whether
11 Mr. Nobilo used those terms interchangeably in his
12 question or did they correct themselves and, in fact,
13 Mr. Nobilo used the term "attached" and did not use the
14 term "subordinated to."
15 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, thank you. We
16 certainly want to hear what you have to say, and you
17 are an extraordinary champion for Mr. Nobilo, as well
18 as an excellent and fervent Defence attorney for
19 Mr. Blaskic. If you had allowed me to finish, I would
20 have said that I did not agree with Mr. Kehoe. I had
21 understood that this was not an assertion by Mr. Nobilo
22 but that, at least in the interpretation that I heard,
23 it was simply that he was asking the accused whether
24 the military police were subordinate to him at that
25 point, pursuant to what order. That was your question,
1 was it not, Mr. Hayman, or am I wrong?
2 MR. HAYMAN: Not in the English, not in the
3 English, Mr. President, no, that was not the question.
4 JUDGE JORDA: That's very simple. It's
5 fourteen minutes after one, I'll do like the accused,
6 at fourteen after one, the Presiding Judge is asking
7 Mr. Nobilo to ask his question again; at quarter after
8 one, Mr. Nobilo answered, and 30 seconds after that,
9 the English interpreters were asked to interpret
10 Mr. Nobilo's question correctly, and that will be the
11 end of the incident.
12 Mr. Nobilo, please speak slowly.
13 MR. NOBILO: Let me rephrase the question in
14 a neutral way so that it will be perfectly clear and
15 the response be clear.
16 Q. The question, General, is what was your
17 relationship towards the military police on the 16th of
18 April, 1993?
19 A. On the 16th of April, 1993, when the fighting
20 started, I was superior to the military police, in a
21 position of superiority.
22 JUDGE JORDA: I think you asked a different
23 question. You asked pursuant to what order, on what
24 basis that had happened. That's what I heard.
25 MR. NOBILO: Let me just try to further
1 specify this.
2 Q. What was the legal basis so that they were in
3 such a position in relation to you?
4 A. The legal basis was the order of the chief of
5 the main headquarters on the 15th of April, 1993 and
6 the start of the combat operations in the Lasva Valley.
7 Q. Did the military police become permanently
8 subordinated to you at that point or just for the
9 duration of the combat?
10 A. Only for the duration of the combat
11 activities. It did not change its structure.
12 Q. Was that the same basis under which the
13 Vitezovi were involved in fighting?
14 A. Yes.
15 JUDGE JORDA: That was from the 15th of
16 April; is that the date of the order? Mr. Nobilo, it
17 was the order from General Petkovic dated the 15th of
18 April; is that right?
19 MR. NOBILO: As far as I understood, this was
20 the order on the attachment of the military police.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Have you finished with the 16th
22 of April, Mr. Nobilo?
23 MR. NOBILO: No. We have some documents. We
24 are finished in terms of the chronology, but if we can
25 just finish with this report from Ahmici, then we can
1 break off.
2 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Continue, please.
3 MR. NOBILO:
4 Q. Next question: According to the overall full
5 information which we have received to date, was this
6 report accurate or did it mislead you? Did they
7 mislead you about what had happened in Ahmici?
8 A. This report on the events in Ahmici was not
10 Q. Apart from this report and oral reports which
11 you have mentioned today which you received from Pasko
12 Ljubicic, did you have any other knowledge about what
13 was happening in Ahmici?
14 A. No. I received information from Pasko
15 Ljubicic by telephone, and, in addition, I received
16 this written report. I had no other information on the
17 events there.
18 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, we have now
19 finished with this report from Ahmici, and if you feel
20 that we should not go into additional documents, we can
21 break off here.
22 JUDGE JORDA: I would like two
23 clarifications. I didn't understand this and perhaps
24 it was an interpretation problem. I turn both to the
25 accused and to the Defence. You say that the report is
1 from Pasko Ljubicic and that it was not exact, was not
2 precise. Have I understood you correctly?
3 MR. NOBILO: Yes. He said that now --
4 JUDGE JORDA: Why was it not accurate? In
5 what way was it not accurate? Do you understand that?
6 In what way was it not? We are speaking about this
7 report that I've shown my colleagues dated the 16th of
8 April and that we read a little while back, saying that
9 the HOS had barricaded themselves at the Ahmici
10 mosque. Where is it incorrect? I think it's on the
11 ELMO. I think the English version is on the ELMO, and
12 the registrar has given it to me in French. In what
13 way was it not precise?
14 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, as far as I
15 recall, the question was whether this report reflected
16 the actual military situation in Ahmici, and based on
17 subsequent knowledge and information I have had since,
18 I can say that, no, it was not correct.
19 MR. NOBILO:
20 Q. Let me ask you this question: Based on what
21 you know today, who attacked whom in Ahmici?
22 A. Based on what I know now, today, the military
23 police attacked units of the BH army and villagers of
24 Ahmici, that is, Bosniak Muslims.
25 JUDGE JORDA: So this was the military police
1 under your orders. Otherwise, I don't understand.
2 That is what you said, is it not? According to what
3 you know today -- no, that's not right? Mr. Nobilo is
4 saying "Yes" and -- Mr. Nobilo is saying "Yes" and
5 Mr. Hayman is saying "No."
6 All right. For the time being, we won't go
7 any further.
8 Before we move to another subject, with
9 respect to the report, the order from the chief of the
10 headquarters dated 15 April, who attached the military
11 police to the Vitezovi; was it tendered as evidence?
12 MR. NOBILO: We do not have this order
13 because this was an internal correspondence between the
14 military police and the Vitezovi, and as you can see,
15 we have practically no documents which were produced by
16 the military police, unfortunately.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, did you wish to say
18 something before we moved to another subject?
19 MR. KEHOE: Just this, Mr. President:
20 Categorically, no, that has not been introduced into
22 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Thank you. Okay.
23 I think that we said we would stop a little before the
24 end of the time, that is, at the beginning of the 17th
25 of April.
1 Before we go our separate ways, I would like
2 to turn to Mr. Dubuisson and ask him where we are. I
3 think you gave me the numbers here with respect to the
4 hours that we have spent here, but could you tell us?
5 THE REGISTRAR: The examination-in-chief of
6 the accused to date, since Wednesday, 17th February,
7 which was the first day of the examination-in-chief of
8 the accused, there have been 29 hours and 5 minutes,
9 that is, five and a half hearing days out of a total of
10 eight calendar days. There was one -- I remind that
11 one hearing day is five hours and twenty minutes of
13 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps the Defence could tell
14 us -- I think originally we spoke about 35 hours. I'm
15 sure it's going to take more than another six hours.
16 But could you give us an evaluation of the time,
17 because what you tell us is going to have an effect on
18 the cross-examination. Could you give us an
19 evaluation, Mr. Hayman, please?
20 MR. HAYMAN: Gladly, Mr. President. We
21 estimate that yesterday afternoon, when we finished the
22 15th of April, which was roughly in the middle of the
23 afternoon yesterday, we were at approximately the
24 halfway point in the direct examination. If we take
25 the amount of time -- and I just did a rough
1 calculation measuring days, not hours -- if we take how
2 long it took us to get to yesterday at 3.00 and we
3 double it in terms of the court schedule that I
4 understand we have, that will take us to approximately
5 the end of the first week of our next trial session,
6 which is the 12th of March, 1999, for the completion of
7 the direct examination.
8 I note that is not a scientific estimate; it
9 is our best estimate. I think the Court should assume
10 plus or minus one day equivalent, perhaps, for planning
12 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We will let
13 Mr. Dubuisson do the calculations. So that takes us to
14 the 12th of March. Looking at the schedule, we are not
15 sitting next week; therefore, we will sit again the
16 week of the 8th to the 12th; is that correct? So we
17 will begin at 2.00 on the 8th and we will continue
18 until the 12th.
19 So you think that by Friday, 12 March, you
20 will most likely be finished?
21 MR. HAYMAN: That is our best estimate, plus
22 or minus one trial day equivalent, Mr. President.
23 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Does this allow the
24 Office of the Prosecutor to know about how much time it
25 is going to need?
1 MR. KEHOE: It's, of course, an estimate,
2 Your Honour. Of course, that gives us an idea --
3 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, it gives you an idea. But
4 the Judges, at the proper time, will tell you that you
5 will have the same amount of time for the
6 cross-examination as for the direct examination, so you
7 can select your questions. Try to show some degree of
8 flexibility, but you will have more or less the same
9 time, the same amount of time. If you know in advance,
10 you can organise yourselves accordingly. That also
11 depends upon the length of the answers. But the
12 principle is that you will have the same amount of time
13 as was spent during the direct examination.
14 MR. KEHOE: I understand, Mr. President.
15 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We just should say
16 good-bye now to one another. We won't see each other
17 next week, but we will see one another on the week of
18 the 8th of March. Is that not correct, Mr. Dubuisson?
19 All right. Court stands adjourned.
20 --- Whereupon proceedings adjourned at
21 1.28 p.m., to be reconvened on Monday,
22 the 8th day of March, 1999, at 2.00 p.m.