1 Friday, 12th March, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 9.08 a.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Registrar,
5 would you have the witness brought in, please?
6 (The accused entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: Good morning to the
8 interpreters and to the court reporters, who always
9 work with a great deal of competence. Good morning to
10 counsel, both Defence and Prosecution. Good morning to
11 the accused, who is our witness. I'm saying this for
12 the public gallery. The people in the public gallery
13 don't know the proceedings as well as we do. This is
14 the part of the Blaskic trial, and the accused is
15 acting as a witness. He's under oath. The Trial
16 Chamber is considering him to be a witness now.
17 Mr. Nobilo, we can continue now. The morning
18 will be long, but according to logical sequences, we
19 can take our breaks, which will allow the accused or
20 the witness to rest as he needs. We will try to take a
21 break around 10.00, but according to what you consider
22 to be the most appropriate.
23 All right. Mr. Nobilo, please proceed.
24 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. Good
25 morning, everybody.
1 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
2 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
3 Q. General, we ended yesterday with the
4 description of the events of the 24th of April, 1993.
5 So let us go on to the next day and days to see what
6 happened of significance from the standpoint of this
7 trial, rather than from the standpoint of the war.
8 A. On the 25th of April already, about 7.50,
9 there was strong tank shelling by BH army forces of
10 Busovaca, and at 8.00, there was strong attack against
11 the territory under the defence of the Nikola
12 Subic-Zrinjski Brigade in Busovaca. We tried to send
13 reinforcements, that is, some 20 men, and sometime in
14 the afternoon, we managed to actually send them there.
15 I had a rather brief meeting with Mr. de la
16 Mota towards evening, about 19.00 on the 25th of April,
17 and the immediate cause for the meeting was an incident
18 and tensions that were running high between the
19 inhabitants and soldiers of the village of Divjak and
20 members of the UNPROFOR base at Divjak. The reason for
21 this incident, as I was informed by Mr. de la Mota, was
22 that the soldiers had asked UNPROFOR to participate in
23 pulling out the bodies of the killed relatives from the
24 village of Divjak. There were two civilians -- the
25 bodies of two civilians and of three HVO soldiers that
1 UNPROFOR's assistance was requested for. There were no
2 other consequences, except for tension between UNPROFOR
3 and the village of Divjak.
4 I also tried at the time to put in order the
5 data from the front, though the front was some 80
6 kilometres long in Travnik and Novi Travnik --
7 Q. That is the front towards the Serbs?
8 A. Yes. That is this front (indicating). In
9 Busovaca, the front was about 38 kilometres long, and
10 in Vitez about 28 kilometres long. That was the total
11 width of the front. So that a large number of
12 personnel, conscripts, and able-bodied men were engaged
13 on those front lines.
14 On the 26th of April, I had a meeting with
15 Mr. Nakic, who was a member of the joint command, and
16 at the morning meeting, he informed me about the
17 activities of the joint command designed to set up a
18 joint command in Travnik. Then we also spoke about the
19 road corridors, about the removal of snipers from
20 certain positions. I initiated this discussion, asking
21 him to discuss it with Mr. Dzemo Merdan, to ask him to
22 have sniper groups removed from the positions of
23 Grbavica, Sljibcica, and Barin Gaj.
24 We also pointed out that we also have to
25 raise at the joint command the problem of water supply,
1 namely, the tanks for supplying Vitez and Zenica were
2 under the control of the BH army, and there was a
3 shortage of water already in the town of Vitez and the
4 town of Zenica.
5 Q. When you're talking about the shortage of
6 water, was this due to natural causes or was it because
7 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina from Kruscica had closed
8 off the water supply or temporarily, at least?
9 A. The water tanks were under the control of the
10 BH army, and I checked with the mayor of Vitez, and his
11 position and mine was that the army had closed off the
12 water flow, so that later on, Vitez would be left
13 without water for some time. Due to the low pressure
14 of the system, Zenica was short of water as well. It
15 will be evident from the later event that I frequently
16 raised this matter with representatives of the UNHCR
17 and the Red Cross, asking them to mediate so that the
18 water supply could be restored to normal.
19 I also asked Nakic to raise the issue of the
20 separation of forces, that is, for UNPROFOR to begin to
21 patrol the route from Vrhovine via Kratine, Jelinak,
22 and Putis, so that the first stage of separation of
23 forces could begin and security ensured for future
24 activities, in the first place, for conducting the
1 In the course of the day, I received
2 information from the military intelligence, and it
3 actually came from the 111th Special Purpose Brigade in
4 Zepce, and they reported that they had intercepted a
5 conversation between the BH army -- among the BH army
6 forces, saying that they would not give up their
7 concept and that two nations or peoples could not live
8 in the same area, that is, the faithful and the
10 Q. The 111th Brigade is not a special purpose
11 brigade but an XP brigade.
12 A. It is not a special purpose brigade. It is a
13 home guard's brigade. They said that the faithful and
14 infidels could not live in the same territory, and that
15 the key to everything was the explosives factory in
16 Vitez, and the idea would be to have a black flag with
17 Arabic inscriptions.
18 In the night between the 25th and the 26th, I
19 called up Dzemo again because of the information I had
20 received that the 91st Anti-Sabotage Detachment of the
21 BH army was opening fire on HVO positions, and I
22 required that he too intervene and put an end to these
23 provocations. As I was unable to reach him, I decided,
24 with the help of Nakic and other associates in the
25 joint command, to send a message to Travnik, to Dzemo,
1 saying that I was looking for him and that we were
2 having problems because of these provocations by the
3 Anti-Sabotage Detachment of the BH army.
4 When my associate told Dzemo that we had been
5 calling him all night, Dzemo's answer to my associate
6 was the following: "You called me last night five
7 times, and I have been running around after you for a
8 whole year. The Mujahedeen will cost you your lives.
9 It is our time now."
10 On the 26th, in the afternoon, I received
11 information from members of the joint command in
12 Travnik that the commander of the 306th Brigade in Han
13 Bila, the 306th Brigade of the BH army, commenting on
14 the peace agreement signed on the 21st of April in
15 Vitez had stated: "Whoever signed an agreement on the
16 separation of forces is a fool," the separation of
17 forces between the BH army and the HVO.
18 After the officers of the joint command told
19 him that it had been signed by two commanders,
20 Halilovic and Petkovic, his comment was that Halilovic
21 probably didn't know what he was signing or didn't see
22 what he was signing.
23 On the 27th of April, in the morning, there
24 was a mist still. I went by the road that we managed
25 to make between the 23rd and the 27th to the village of
1 Ahmici, and I toured a part of the village. I saw
2 burned houses in the village, and there was still some
3 embers. They may have been burned during the night or
4 set fire to. I saw the minaret and mosque and other
5 signs of destruction. I held a press conference in
7 Q. Let us stop just for a moment. When you
8 reached Ahmici, you said that it was misty. Did you
9 have an armoured vehicle or did you use an ordinary
10 vehicle and risk it?
11 A. I had a regular vehicle. I never had an
12 armoured vehicle, and we had only just managed to lay
13 this road.
14 Q. After seeing what had happened to Ahmici, for
15 the first time, you went to hold a press conference in
16 Busovaca. Will you explain to the Trial Chamber, was
17 this a regular press conference, an extraordinary press
18 conference, and what was the purpose of those press
19 conferences that you held, and who were those present?
20 A. These conferences were our regular
21 communication with the public of the Lasva River
22 Valley, because under conditions of a blockade of the
23 media, that was the only way, by word of mouth, for us
24 to address both conscripts and civilians, and all the
25 inhabitants of this area.
1 Q. How did you address the people present? What
2 medium did you use?
3 A. Mostly these press conferences were recorded
4 on VHS videotape, and then these would be broadcast
5 where possible. These press conferences were carried
6 live, but I think this was only possible much later in
7 Busovaca. In most cases, they were recorded, and then
8 immediately after the completion of the recording, they
9 would be distributed to municipal studios which would
10 broadcast them during the next few days and weeks
11 because that was the only way to communicate with the
12 entire population.
13 They were very popular. They were open to
14 the public, and almost always, they were attended by
15 somebody from the UN or humanitarian organisations.
16 They would be present with their interpreters so they
17 could follow the proceedings directly.
18 Q. Tell the Court, in Busovaca municipality and
19 in Vitez municipality, did the municipal authorities
20 organise some small local TV stations that could
21 broadcast these tapes?
22 A. Yes, there were, in Busovaca and Vitez
23 municipalities, local municipal TV stations which
24 rebroadcast these press conferences. There was a local
25 TV station in Kiseljak as well, but after the corridor
1 between Kiseljak and Busovaca was cut, they could not
2 take over these tapes.
3 Q. Were there any important newspapers, or was
4 the main purpose of those press conferences to address
5 the people via the medium of television?
6 A. There were no daily newspapers, except if a
7 local unit, at the level of a company or battalion,
8 managed to issue some kind of journal of its own, but
9 there were no regular daily newspapers. As far as I
10 know, there were no publications published in that
11 area. This was the only way for us to inform the
12 people there of what was happening, and I know that
13 there was a great demand for information because there
14 were very few.
15 Q. Tell us, in the course of the day, and after
16 the press conference, and on the day of the press
17 conference, how frequently, on the average, would the
18 recording of that press conference be broadcast?
19 A. On the day of the press conference itself, at
20 least three or four times or every subsequent hour.
21 Also on the following days until the next press
22 conference, because, in fact, there was no other
23 programme except for local cameramen to try and make
24 some video recordings locally, and to try to show those
25 recordings on the television.
1 Q. At that press conference, what is it that you
2 needed to tell the HVO army and the people of the Lasva
3 Valley? Try to remember exactly, and to choose your
4 words in telling Their Honours about this.
5 A. I came to the press conference from the
6 village of Ahmici, and I, roughly, said the following:
7 That I was horrified, and that I condemned the crime
8 committed in the village of Ahmici, that it was the
9 duty of the joint commission to conduct an
10 investigation because I still believed that the joint
11 commission would devote its intention to this matter,
12 with the help of international representatives. I said
13 whoever committed it, committed an organised,
14 systematic, and planned crime, and I'm sure that it was
15 conducted under somebody's control. I also said that
16 those responsible for the crime must be identified and
17 must be called to task.
18 Q. Before we go on to analyse your words, was
19 the British journalist from the BBC present at that
20 press conference?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. What was his name?
23 A. Martin Bell from the BBC. I'm not sure
24 whether other journalists were present, but I think
25 representatives from the Belgium and the Dutch
1 battalions were there. I'm not sure. I don't know
2 their names. They had a base there, and they almost
3 regularly attended our press conferences.
4 Q. Why did you need to say to the army and the
5 people that you were horrified by the crime in Ahmici?
6 From this time distance, how would you explain it?
7 A. There were two issues that were ever present
8 in my mind at the time. One was to make it clear that
9 this was a major tragedy that should never be
10 repeated. Secondly, I also wanted to make it clear
11 that the investigation would seek to identify and
12 discover the perpetrators.
13 Addressing the people, most of whom I
14 believed were decent people, I wanted their assistance
15 in initiating and conducting the investigation. This
16 was an issue that people didn't like to talk about,
17 even later, and then in particular.
18 Q. You said immediately it is a crime. Does
19 that mean that you couldn't accept the interpretation
20 that such devastation could be the result of armed
22 A. Yes, I did not accept that that could be the
23 consequence of fighting in inhabited areas because I
24 saw that the damage was widespread and considerable.
25 Fighting in inhabited areas certainly is accompanied by
1 the risk of collateral damage and casualties, but as
2 far as I have been able to study, very few commanders
3 opt for fighting in inhabited areas because it is very
4 difficult to envisage the reaction and behaviour of
5 soldiers in well-structured armies even. However, this
6 devastation was vast in every respect.
7 Q. At the time on TV cameras and addressing the
8 entire population of the Lasva Valley, you said that
9 the crime had been committed in an organised manner,
10 systematically, on the basis of a plan, and under
11 somebody's control or command. Could you explain those
12 four points of your allegations? Why did you say that,
13 first, that it was an organised systematic, planned and
14 controlled operation?
15 A. First of all, it could not have been done by
16 a group of three or four drunken persons, drunken
17 soldiers, and that they had done it of their own
18 accord. When I said that it was organised, I felt that
19 there must have been some preparation behind it,
20 preparation for such destruction.
21 When I said that it was done on a planned
22 basis, if a single group would act arbitrarily, then
23 certainly every single house along the road up to the
24 mosque would not have been burnt. Also, it was never
25 clear to me why a religious facility had been
1 destroyed, and when I say that it was under somebody's
2 control, it means that I was sure that the group that
3 committed it was under the control of an elected
4 commander of its own.
5 Q. When you say that this was done in a planned
6 manner and under someone's control, do you make this
7 conclusion on the basis of the type of operation and
8 the consequences of that operation?
9 A. Judging by the scope of the destruction,
10 because there was fighting on the 16th in 22 different
11 locations. There were conflicts in January 1993, but
12 the intensity of destruction was not accompanied by
13 such destruction of facilities, as was the case here.
14 Q. At the time or later, did you manage to learn
15 who had planned and organised and controlled this
16 operation? Did you ever manage to find that out? Were
17 you informed of it?
18 A. No. I never got the names nor any kind of
19 reports as to who was the perpetrator, who was the
20 organiser, or who had planned the operation.
21 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Mr. Nobilo. Were you,
22 General, able to make an assessment of the time period
23 during which the destruction was undertaken? How much
24 time do you think was needed for what was done?
25 A. At that time, I thought it was about one or
1 two days, that is to say, all of the 16th possibly, but
2 it was very difficult to make any kind of assessment
3 because it was my very first time to see such
4 destruction too.
5 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: What was the size of
6 force which you think was required?
7 A. I'm going to give you my assessment, Your
8 Honour, from 20 to 40 men, 50 at maximum, perhaps.
9 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you.
10 MR. NOBILO:
11 Q. At the time when you were at the press
12 conference, you told the Honourable Judge that one or
13 two days were needed. Tell me, after having heard all
14 the witness and victims here in this courtroom, what do
15 you think? How much time did it take for this crime to
16 be committed?
17 A. As far as I recall, from about 05.25, 05.30
18 up to 07.30, 08.00 at maximum, having listened to the
19 statements of the victims of this crime.
20 Q. When you know this fact, does it increase or
21 decrease your conviction that this was an organised
22 crime, that it was carried out systematically and
23 according to a plan?
24 A. This only intensifies my conviction that it
25 was so because the time period during which this
1 destruction took place was very short. During two or
2 two and a half hours, everything began and ended, that
3 is to say, that it had to be an organised activity.
4 Q. General, are you the first one in the Lasva
5 Valley to call what happened in the Lasva Valley and
6 Ahmici a crime, in public at that time, not in a
7 private conversation?
8 A. If you're referring to HVO officers, yes, I
9 believe I was the first, but it seems to me that
10 Colonel Stewart sent that letter, and in the letter it
11 said --
12 Q. I was not precise. I'm talking about the
13 Croatian side. Did anybody define that which happened
14 in Ahmici as a crime before you did?
15 A. As far as I know, no one did.
16 Q. As far as you know, as I say, publicly, in
17 the media, and perhaps we can even say until the
18 present day, did anyone on the Croatian side in
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina define Ahmici as a crime, publicly
20 in the media, if you can remember?
21 A. I do not remember anyone having defined it
22 that way.
23 JUDGE JORDA: General, in a press conference,
24 questions are asked. You speak about that press
25 conference as a kind of a statement that you would
1 make. There were journalists, I suppose, from the
2 entire world or from the main organisations of the
3 media. What questions did they ask you?
4 A. Mr. President, at that time, this was a
5 theatre of war and there were not journalists from all
6 over the world. I remember that the BBC team was
7 there, and I recall a journalist or an officer from the
8 Belgian or Dutch battalion, and there were local
9 journalists. The questions that were put at that time
10 were aimed at the problems of investigation and
11 survival and further developments in the war.
12 As regards foreign journalists, there weren't
13 any, only the BBC team and perhaps Sky news. At some
14 point they were there, but whether it was that point, I
15 don't know. I can't say for sure whether the Sky news
16 team was there.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
18 MR. NOBILO:
19 Q. Were you asked about what had happened in
20 Ahmici and what your opinion was about that, or did you
21 say it on your own?
22 A. No, no one asked me about it. Nobody asked
23 me about Ahmici. Questions that were put were
24 primarily aimed at the front, the situation in the
25 Lasva River Valley, the lack of observance in the
1 cease-fire, et cetera.
2 Q. Were you the first to speak?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Did you open the press conference with that
5 statement of yours?
6 A. Yes, I started the press conference with that
8 Q. After that, did any of the local journalists
9 ask you about this in greater detail or did they all
10 keep quiet about it?
11 A. I think that they all shared the initial
12 shock with me, and no questions were put in this
14 JUDGE JORDA: Were there many of you there?
15 Were there officers from your staff, from your
16 headquarters, or were you alone?
17 A. Your Honour, I had two escorts with me and my
18 driver. Officers did not come with me because there
19 were very few of us anyway, and at the time, they were
20 involved in the joint command, and others were involved
21 in other affairs.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Were there still some villages
24 A. No. In the part where we were, there was
25 livestock that was killed, and there wasn't anyone.
1 Also, there were the remains of burned houses and
2 things. If you're asking about the village of Ahmici,
3 when I visited --
4 MR. NOBILO: Perhaps, Mr. President, the
5 question itself, was it related to the press conference
6 or to the village? Was there anyone in the village or
7 was there anyone at the press conference?
8 JUDGE JORDA: No. I was asking whether
9 General Blaskic, in the villages that had been
10 destroyed, whether there were still any people there?
11 Were there old people there or people who wanted to
12 leave? Was the village completely deserted?
13 A. The village was completely deserted when I
14 was there.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Would you go into some of the
17 A. I passed by the houses, perhaps two or three
18 metres away, but I didn't enter any houses, but I
19 passed by houses.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
21 MR. NOBILO:
22 Q. We are going to finish with this. Now, let
23 us proceed with the course of that particular day. A
24 new agreement seems to have been signed between
25 President Alija Izetbegovic and Mate Boban; is that
2 A. Yes. On that day, at 15.30, I received
3 information that a new agreement had been signed
4 between President Izetbegovic and Boban, but I did not
5 receive any additional information as to what kind of
6 agreement this was, nor was I aware of the contents of
7 the agreement.
8 I also received information on the regrouping
9 of forces of the 7th Muslim Brigade in front of the
10 villages of Krcevine and Jardol, to the north of
11 Vitez. On that day, for the first time, I received
12 information from Nakic, the chief of staff, that a
13 total of 12 Croats were imprisoned and that they were
14 alive within the 7th Muslim Brigade. Nine of them were
15 members of the HVO and three Croats were journalists of
16 Radio Zenica.
17 During the course of the day, I sent a
18 request to the International Red Cross to visit these
19 prisoners, these 12 prisoners that were held by the 7th
20 Muslim Brigade, and to submit information to us on the
21 condition that they were in. The answers received
22 until then by the International Red Cross were to the
23 effect that they had no possibility to check on the
24 prisoners that were under the control of the 7th Muslim
25 Brigade or to visit them or, rather, that the 7th
1 Muslim Brigade did not allow the International Red
2 Cross to monitor the condition of prisoners at all.
3 On that day, there was this capturing from
4 both sides, Vitez, Travnik, Novi Travnik. So it would
5 happen that during the course of the day, one person
6 would be captured several times, brought into custody,
7 and released.
8 There were problems again in terms of moving
9 between Zenica and Vitez. I spoke of that earlier.
10 Q. General, let us stop at this point. What is
11 the point of this capturing? Why did Muslims capture
12 Croats and Croats capture Muslims?
13 A. The purpose was to get housing facilities
14 most often or to have private exchanges, but the most
15 frequent motive was to resolve existential problems in
16 a new area.
17 Q. I wish to put a question to you that pertains
18 to you personally. I believe that we have seen that
19 quite a few Muslims had left the territory of Vitez.
20 They left their houses, their apartments. Many people
21 with weapons tried to move in. Could you explain to
22 the Court, where did you live with your wife throughout
23 the war in the Lasva River Valley? Did you ever get an
24 apartment? Did you ever get a house?
25 A. No, I didn't ask for an apartment or a
1 house. I had an office and I had a screen, and we used
2 part of this space behind the screen as living
3 quarters, and my office was on the other side.
4 Q. So you lived in your headquarters, slept
5 there and worked there?
6 A. Yes. In Kiseljak, it was in the barracks,
7 and at Vitez, at headquarters.
8 Q. So that is to say, in the Hotel Vitez, at
9 your headquarters there?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Perhaps one more question. At the very
12 beginning of 1992, the municipal authorities of
13 Kiseljak gave you an apartment. Did you take it?
14 A. I never used that apartment that was
15 allocated to me, and it is true that an apartment was
16 allocated to me, but I never spent any time there, not
17 even an hour.
18 Q. You were commander of an army, regardless of
19 the way this army was established and the extent to
20 which this army was established. Why didn't you get an
21 decent house for yourself or an apartment? Did you
22 think about this? What were your motives?
23 A. In a situation when every military conscript
24 was somewhere on the front line, I didn't think that I
25 needed a more comfortable dwelling, and I usually
1 lived, worked, and slept at headquarters. It is true
2 that an apartment was allocated to me by the municipal
3 authorities in Kiseljak, and it was empty for a certain
4 period of time, but I thought it was not moral for me
5 to use this apartment, knowing that most of the
6 families of the persons who were killed were not taken
7 care of properly, that there were many exiled persons,
8 that there were many wounded, that there were many
9 refugees from other sides where people had suffered.
10 Q. Now let us skip the chronological order. At
11 the time moment when you heard about this indictment on
12 the radio, you were a chief of staff of the HVO of
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. So this is a very high position. Tell the
16 Court, where were you at that time when you heard about
17 the indictment? Did you have a villa at your disposal,
18 as most generals did?
19 A. Most generals did, but I did not. I don't
20 regret it. I lived in Citluk, in a ground-floor
21 building that used to be a garage. I lived with Danko
22 Dugandzic. It was his.
23 Q. So that didn't belong to you either?
24 A. No, that was not mine, never. It was just
25 rented out during the time that I was chief of staff of
1 the HVO.
2 Q. Thank you. Would you please proceed with the
3 chronological order?
4 A. On the 28th of April, I received information
5 around 04.20 about a strong attack against Gradina
6 launched by the BH army. It is to the south of Kuber,
7 practically the last point behind the Zenica-Busovaca
8 and the Zenica-Vitez roads.
9 At 07.40, I received information that the
10 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina had taken Gradina and
11 repelled the HVO forces and, in that way, brought the
12 position of Kaonik itself under fire and control, that
13 is to say, they had under their control most of the
14 main road between Vitez and Zenica.
15 The members of the joint commission,
16 including Nakic and the other officers, before they set
17 out to Travnik for a meeting, were also informed about
18 this attack, and I asked for this question to be raised
19 once again because it was obvious that in the early
20 morning hours, new conquests were being made and that
21 they were improving their already good tactical
22 positions, that is to say, the army vis-à-vis the HVO.
23 After that, I received information that the
24 military police had looted the house of Vlado Baskarad
25 from Vitez. Vlado Baskarad was a Croat. He had a shop
1 of his own. I asked for the equipment and everything
2 else that was looted to be returned to the owner, and I
3 was surprised when I realised that his goods were
4 actually taken away from him and that he was given a
5 receipt about that. So I thought that this was some
6 kind of mobilisation that was unlawful.
7 Q. What kind of goods was this; do you recall?
8 A. I remember it was alcohol and some other
9 goods, but I do remember alcohol, and that must have
10 been the motive. A certificate had been given as if
11 mobilisation had been carried out.
12 Then I also received information that the
13 members of the broken-up Zenica units of the HVO were
14 arriving through forests, either individually or in
15 groups, in the territory of the municipality of
16 Travnik, that is to say, Grahovcici, Brajkovici, and
17 the area of the Vitez municipality as they were
18 crossing the front lines. Some of them arrived
19 unharmed, whereas others were wounded as they passed
20 through that area.
21 Q. Tell me, at that time, how many refugees, how
22 many new refugees, did you already have?
23 A. Well, at that time, my assessment is that
24 there was between 3.000 and 5.000 refugees from Zenica
25 in the area of the Lasva River Valley.
1 Then around 13.50, I had a meeting with the
2 mayor of Vitez, Mr. Santic, who conveyed to me the
3 conversation or, rather, the content of conversation he
4 had with the Vice-President of the municipal assembly
5 of Zenica, Mr. Dominik Sakic.
6 Dominik Sakic, at the same time, was the
7 president of the HVO for Zenica, and Sakic informed him
8 about the situation that prevailed at the time in
9 Zenica, about the abduction of Commander Totic having
10 been planned, and also about the disarmament of the HVO
11 of Zenica by the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, then in
12 Zenica, about 24 civilians, Croat civilians, had been
13 killed. Out of them, a little girl had been killed,
14 and a Croat had his throat slit. Then also that the
15 wounded could not receive visits by the Red Cross or by
16 priests in hospitals, and that in the penitentiary
17 there were about 450 Croat prisoners, that is to say,
18 military conscripts, and civilians at that time.
19 Q. Tell me, Zivko Totic and those four officers
20 who were abducted before the war, were they still in
21 prison? Did you manage to reach them?
22 A. We did not manage to reach them, but
23 fortunately, on the 27th of April, we received this
24 information that it was certain that 12 Croats were
25 held by the 7th Muslim Brigade, and we asked the Red
1 Cross to see them, to see the conditions that they were
3 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
4 Perhaps we could stop at this point.
5 JUDGE JORDA: If you prefer to stop now. Is
6 that because you're going to move into another
8 MR. NOBILO: Yes.
9 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We'll take a
10 15-minute break.
11 --- Recess taken at 9.57 a.m.
12 --- On resuming at 10.21 a.m.
13 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the
14 hearing. Please be seated.
15 Mr. Nobilo?
16 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. Could
17 the witness be shown document D365?
18 Q. On the 27th of April, '93, you are issuing an
19 order to the Vitez saying: "Supplement to the order of
20 24 April, '93, number 01-4-560, and the order itself
22 1. I prohibit any treatment of temporarily
23 detained civilians which is contrary to the basic
24 provisions of the Geneva Convention.
25 2. This order comes into effect immediately,
1 and the brigade commander is responsible to me for its
3 Tell us, please, did you issue that order?
4 If you did, what were the reasons and what were your
6 A. I did issue this order and draft it. A
7 moment ago, before the break actually, I said that
8 about 5.000 exiles or, rather, between 3.000 and 5.000
9 exiles were arriving from Zenica and that there were
10 some rather emotional reactions and even revenge among
11 those refugees who were coming with their equipment and
12 weapons, and they were, by force, breaking into
13 apartments, capturing Bosniak Muslim civilians,
14 persecuting them, and engaging in various other
15 unlawful acts.
16 I wish to underline once again, through this
17 order to the commander of the Vitez Brigade, that the
18 treatment of civilians has to be in accordance with the
19 regulations in effect, that is, free of any violence or
20 any other adverse behaviour.
21 Q. Let us go on. We were talking about the 28th
22 of April when you mentioned your meeting with Santic,
23 who conveyed to you information about his conversation
24 with Sakic in Zenica about the condition of Croats in
25 Zenica. What happened then?
1 A. At that meeting, the town mayor of Vitez told
2 me that the Croats in Zenica were out of their minds
3 with fear, that they were fleeing Zenica in the
4 direction of Zepce, Novi Seher. Some were fleeing
5 towards Kakanj. The majority of Croats were fleeing to
6 Vitez and Busovaca. He also told me that Croatian
7 flats were being broken into by night in Zenica by
8 members of the 7th Muslim Brigade, and that they were
9 taking away Croatian men of military age for
10 interrogation during the night, and then they would
11 bring them back usually in the mornings. These
12 interrogations were accompanied by physical
13 mistreatment in most cases.
14 Also that most of the able-bodied men in
15 Zenica were not sleeping in their homes, fearing such
16 abductions. They were hiding during the night in the
17 woods or in some neighbouring settlements outside of
19 He also told me that what caused the greatest
20 fear was the prison of the 7th Muslim Brigade, in the
21 music school in Zenica, also that every checkpoint held
22 by the BH army had a list of able-bodied Croats from
23 Zenica, and that at those checkpoints, Croats were
24 being taken prisoner once they were identified on the
25 list, regardless of whether they were members of the
1 HVO or not. The sole criterion was their ethnicity.
2 Mayor Santic told me that Sakic's message
3 from Zenica was that we should inform the International
4 Red Cross about all this, as well as the European
5 Monitoring Mission, and that we should ask for
6 assistance for the Croats in Zenica.
7 In the course of the day, in the command, we
8 addressed the problem of evacuating the wounded from
9 the hospital because there wasn't enough room in the
10 hospital. So we put up the wounded in the neighbouring
11 private houses next to the hospital.
12 In the course of the day, I tasked my
13 associates to check the implementation of the signed
14 agreement with the BH army and to continue with the
15 structuring and formation of the Vitez Brigade.
16 It was already evident at the time, regarding
17 military operations in the Lasva Valley, that there was
18 combat from 02.00 to 07.00 carried out by members of
19 the BH army, and as a result of that fighting, they
20 captured better positions while concealing their
21 activities by carrying them out in the early morning
23 In the course of the day, I again requested
24 that my associates supply me with better quality, more
25 comprehensive and more accurate reports because the
1 tendency continued of reports on combat operations
2 arriving upon the completion of those same operations.
3 This prevented me from providing proper control and
4 command in real time.
5 In the course of the day, the mayor of Vitez,
6 Santic, came to me rather worried and conveyed a part
7 of the conversation that he had had with Colonel
8 Stewart, the commander of the British Battalion of
9 UNPROFOR. Santic told me that at the meeting with
10 Santic, Stewart had said the following, and I quote:
11 "You, the HVO, are on the brink of military defeat,
12 and you are in a far worse position than the forces of
13 the BH army.
14 Second, identify the perpetrators of Ahmici
15 because the BH army will certainly come and react or,
16 rather, take revenge for all the victims of Ahmici."
17 After this conversation with Mayor Santic,
18 sometime after 20.00, about 20.30, in fact, I was
19 called up by phone and told to get ready, that I had to
20 attend a meeting in Zenica. The call was from General
21 Petkovic, who was Brigadier at the time, the chief of
22 staff of the HVO, who informed me that UNPROFOR would
23 provide transportation from Vitez to Zenica where I had
24 to attend a meeting.
25 At about 21.30, I attended a meeting between
1 representatives of the BH army and representatives of
2 the HVO. Representing the BH army were the chief of
3 the main staff of the BH army, General Sefer Halilovic;
4 also the deputy chief of staff of the BH army,
5 Mr. Stjepan Siber; a member of the main staff of the BH
6 army, Mr. Vehbija Karic; the commander of the 3rd Corps
7 of the BH army, Mr. Enver Hadzihasanovic; and also
8 present was Mr. Rasim Delic. I'm not sure whether he
9 attended in the capacity of commander of the main
10 logistics centre of the BH army staff from Visoko or in
11 some other capacity because I know that before
12 April '93, he was the commander of the main logistics
13 centre in Visoko.
14 The HVO was represented by Brigadier
15 Petkovic, the chief of the main staff of the Croatian
16 Defence Council, Officer Andric, and myself.
17 As the meeting started as soon as I arrived,
18 I just managed --
19 JUDGE JORDA: Who chaired the meeting?
20 Excuse me.
21 A. The meeting was chaired by the head of the
22 European Monitoring Mission, Mr. Thebault, but,
23 Mr. President, I am not sure whether anyone accompanied
24 him. I know that Mr. Thebault was there for sure.
25 Before the beginning of the meeting, I
1 managed to brief Brigadier Petkovic on the current
2 military situation, telling him that we had lost the
3 position Gradina above Kaonik on the main
4 Busovaca-Zenica road, and after that, the meeting
6 In the course of the meeting, Brigadier
7 Petkovic was given the floor and he said the
8 following: "The separation of forces of the army and
9 the HVO has not been carried out, and attacks by the BH
10 army are continuing against the HVO of Busovaca and the
11 HVO of Vitez."
12 After that, Sefer Halilovic said: "The truce
13 is not being observed, and let us resolve the problem
14 of the cease-fire and let us then begin to discuss
15 everything else."
16 Brigadier Petkovic responded by saying,
17 "Halilovic, you did not issue the order in Konjic or
18 Jablanica or in Busovaca or Vitez, and you see what is
19 happening. The fighting is continuing. Order a
20 cease-fire and stop these attacks or I will go back to
21 Mostar from here. If your units have received orders
22 to move forward, to advance, then they can also be
23 given orders to retreat." This is what Brigadier
24 Petkovic told Halilovic.
25 Halilovic then asked his 3rd Corps commander,
1 "Dzedo, what are your reports?" The 3rd Corps
2 commander, whose nickname was Dzedo, and his real name
3 was Enver Hadzihasanovic, replied, "I was in the field
4 all day, and I haven't yet studied all the reports."
5 After some discussion, conclusions were
6 adopted at this meeting of the following content:
7 1. To immediately order a cease-fire.
8 Then the next day, tomorrow, at 09.00, have
9 another meeting in the same composition and work on the
10 implementation of the cease-fire order on the ground.
11 The location of the joint command of the
12 armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina will be in Zenica
13 and in Mostar, and the joint command will be composed
14 of the chiefs of staff of the BH army and of the main
15 staff of the HVO with their associates.
16 The joint command of the 3rd Corps and of the
17 Operational Zone of Central Bosnia will be designated
18 at the next meeting, that is, the position or the
19 location of that joint command.
20 When the meeting ended, I returned the same
21 way I had come, that is, in UNPROFOR vehicles, from
22 Zenica to Vitez.
23 On the next day, that is, the 29th of April,
24 1993, at 09.30, we had a meeting in Vitez. The meeting
25 was chaired by Mr. Thebault, and the BH army delegation
1 was composed again of the chief of staff of the main
2 staff of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sefer Halilovic; his
3 deputy Mr. Stjepan Siber; deputy Mr. Vehbija Karic; and
4 Mr. Rasim Delic. The commander of the 3rd Corps did
5 not come to the meeting in Vitez.
6 On behalf of the HVO, there was the chief of
7 staff of the HVO, Brigadier Petkovic; Officer Andric;
8 Commander Filipovic; I was there; and the chief of
9 staff, Mr. Franjo Nakic.
10 The agenda of that meeting was as follows:
11 First, the work of the joint command of the armed
12 forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and then the situation in
13 the territory of the 3rd Corps and the Operative Zone
14 of Central Bosnia.
15 It was agreed at that meeting that the joint
16 command of the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina would
17 be based in Zenica, in the building of the theatre or
18 the municipality, and that two weeks later it would
19 move to Mostar. The idea was that this joint command
20 would operate for two weeks of the month in Zenica and
21 the other two weeks in Mostar.
22 The main function of the joint command was
23 planning and execution of a joint struggle against the
24 army of Republika Srpska. For the base of the joint
25 command of the 3rd Corps and the operational Zone of
1 Central Bosnia, the town of Travnik was chosen.
2 Point 2, that is, the situation on the
3 ground: There was also a discussion on the fighting on
4 the front lines of the Busovaca front, and this
5 fighting was most intensive at Kula.
6 When the meeting ended in the second half of
7 the day, I received a message from the head of the
8 Military Intelligence Service who had recorded a
9 conversation between the commander of the 306th Brigade
10 of the BH army and the commander of the 325th Brigade
11 of the BH army, in which they said the following:
12 "We'll see one another at the bus station in Vitez.
13 We will link up at Lasva."
14 Q. Lasva is the river flowing through Vitez?
15 A. Yes, through Vitez along the main road.
16 "Everyone has not done everything they
17 should. Now we have to work harder, and we must not
18 relax but must use all means at our disposal."
19 Q. Can we stop there for a moment and make an
20 analysis of the military situation? If the Lasva River
21 flows through the middle of the valley, where would the
22 army forces come from to link up at the Lasva River?
23 Could you show that to us?
24 A. The conversation between the commander of
25 the -- well, the 325th Brigade had most of its forces
1 here in Kruscica (indicating), and the command post of
2 the 306th Brigade is in Han Bila, and this road leads
3 to the main road between Vitez and Travnik, and it was
4 mostly under the control of the 306th Brigade. The
5 Lasva River, I'm showing it right now (indicating),
6 passes along the main road through the valley and
7 canyon to Kaonik and further on to the Bosna River.
8 This conversation in which it was said, "See
9 you at the bus station," the bus station is about 30 to
10 50 metres away from the Vitez Hotel where my
11 headquarters was. The Lasva River is nearby too. If
12 linking up at the Lasva Valley was the message, that
13 meant in this area between Vitez, Divjak, via Gradina
14 and Kruscica. It is this direction (indicating).
15 Q. Tell me, on that day, that is, the 28th of
16 April, 1993, what were the closest positions of the
17 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina? In other words, how many
18 metres did they need for this link-up?
19 A. Their closest position was 50 metres away
20 from the main road, that is, Dzidica Kuce and the
21 forces from Kruscica. The maximum distance is 1.000 to
22 1.500 metres.
23 Q. That is to say, the northern and the southern
24 forces of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina were 1.500
25 metres away; is that right?
1 A. Yes, but the position of Divjak, Grbavica,
2 and then a few hundred metres, and then Stari Vitez,
3 all of that was completely linked up, and also the
4 bridge on the Lasva Valley was also under the control
5 of the BH army.
6 Q. Between the forces of the army of
7 Bosnia-Herzegovina in Stari Vitez and the forces of the
8 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Divjak, that was
9 uninterrupted BH army-held territory. What was the
11 A. About 500 to 600 metres.
12 Q. All right. Thank you. We can go back now.
13 MR. NOBILO: D366, please, could we see that
14 now? Could it please be given to the witness?
15 JUDGE JORDA: I would like a clarification,
16 Mr. Blaskic. There were two meetings on the 28th and
17 the 29th of April, one in Zenica and one in Vitez. Was
18 there never any question at all about Ahmici, not by
19 Thebault or the Bosnian side or yourself, in fact, you
20 who had held a press conference? It seemed to be a
21 major problem for Colonel Stewart, but really nobody
22 spoke about Ahmici?
23 A. In my notes, I do not have anything written
24 down about anybody's mention of Ahmici. Had anyone
25 mentioned Ahmici, I imagine I would have written this
1 down. However, Mr. President, I was brought to this
2 meeting and it started practically as soon as I walked
3 into the room. I wrote down the agenda.
4 After that, on the 30th of April, in the
5 afternoon hours, after 16.40, Ahmici was discussed at
6 yet another meeting that I shall be speaking of, but
7 this is the 30th of April.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me. Judge Rodrigues?
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me. I would like to
10 take this moment to ask the following question:
11 General Blaskic said that before the beginning of the
12 meeting, you had informed Petkovic about the situation,
13 that is, the military situation; is that correct?
14 A. Yes. That was at the moment as I was taking
15 my seat by him, and it only took a few minutes in the
16 sense of what the situation was and what the problems
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Did you speak about Ahmici
19 with Petkovic?
20 A. During the meeting, I could not, and I
21 did (sic), but I did speak about it on the 30th of
22 April to Brigadier Petkovic because he was being driven
23 by the members of the Spanish Battalion according to a
24 special arrangement, so we were not together, except
25 for the duration of the meeting.
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Therefore, at the meeting,
2 was Petkovic already informed about what had happened
3 in Ahmici or was he not informed?
4 A. During the meeting, he wasn't, but he was
5 informed about it previously, that is to say, he was
6 informed of the content of my talk with Colonel
7 Stewart. Everything that happened on the 24th, I sent
8 all of this in writing to the Brigadier, and he was
9 informed about all activities as of the 24th of April,
10 but not at the meeting, but earlier on.
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.
12 MR. NOBILO:
13 Q. We have document D366, which is actually your
14 order from the 29th of April, 1993.
15 MR. FOURMY: Your Honour, I would like to
16 interrupt for a moment. I wonder if there isn't a
17 difference between the English and French
18 interpretation in respect of General Blaskic's answer
19 to the question as to whether or not he had spoken with
20 General Petkovic about Ahmici or whether General
21 Petkovic had been informed about Ahmici.
22 On the current page of the transcript, on at
23 17 of page 38. In the English text, it says that there
24 was a discussion with Colonel Stewart, whereas in
25 French I heard about a conversation with General
1 Petkovic. Perhaps we could reconcile this or go back
2 to the answer.
3 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, you heard what
4 Mr. Fourmy said. So it was with General Petkovic; is
5 that correct?
6 A. I said that I did not discuss Ahmici at that
7 meeting with General Petkovic because I was brought in
8 just before the meeting started. I was not in a
9 position to discuss this subject. But I also said that
10 earlier he had been informed about these events,
11 including the content of my meeting with Colonel
13 MR. NOBILO:
14 Q. That is to say, that earlier on, you informed
15 Petkovic about the content of your conversation with
16 Colonel Stewart; is that correct?
17 A. Yes.
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: More specifically, I
19 believe General Blaskic said that you had already
20 informed Petkovic on the 24th of April; is that
21 correct? Did I hear correctly?
22 A. Yes. Yes, that is what I said.
23 MR. NOBILO:
24 Q. We will try to read the order D366 of the
25 29th of April, 1993. The copy is not a very good one,
1 at least not in the Croat original, but I think that we
2 will be able to read the key sentences.
3 So I'm reading the order: "On the basis of
4 the joint order of the chief of HVO main headquarters
5 and the chief of the main staff of the BH army of the
6 29th of April, 1993, in order to carry it out, I hereby
8 1. Immediately draft lists of detained
9 civilians (men, women, children) including the
10 following information:
11 a) personal information (day, month, year,
12 and place of birth);
13 b) address of residence and signature of the
14 person concerned.
15 RESPONSIBLE: Immediate subordinate
17 DEADLINE: 30 April, 1993, 10.00.
18 2. Release all civilians (men, women,
19 children) arrested during the conflicts between the BH
20 army and the HVO.
21 RESPONSIBLE: Immediate subordinate
23 DEADLINE: 30 April, 1993, 12.00.
24 3. Joint operative teams shall establish
25 contact and immediately commence clearing the
1 battlefield, i.e., the collection of the dead and their
2 burial. There shall be no combat activities or
3 provocation during the collection of bodies. The
4 families of the dead shall be notified of the names of
5 the dead and the place where the bodies were
7 RESPONSIBLE: Immediate subordinate
8 commanders in respective zones of responsibility.
9 DEADLINE: 30 April, 1993, 16.00.
10 4. All released civilians must be guaranteed
11 full safety in the locations in your zones of
12 responsibility, and you shall be held responsible for
13 the situation," unfortunately, the rest is illegible.
14 "5. Immediate subordinate commanders and
15 brigade commanders shall be responsible for the full
16 execution of this order by 10.00 on 1 May, 1993. They
17 must submit a written report with lists containing the
18 following information:
19 a) the name of released civilians;
20 b) the names of those killed (should there be
21 no changes, copy the data from the previous report);
22 c) names of those buried.
23 6. In carrying out this order, cooperate
24 with UNPROFOR, ICRC, UNHCR, and EU representatives.
25 Signed, Colonel Tihomir Blaskic, Commander."
1 Tell me, first of all, to the best of your
2 knowledge, in Vitez or in Busovaca, in the enclave that
3 was under your command after the conflict broke out,
4 were there any imprisoned civilians, women and
6 A. There were. There were civilians who were
7 taken prisoner. There were also private
8 imprisonment. People were taken into custody
9 according to private arrangements. This order was made
10 so that this problem could be resolved according to the
11 standards of the International Red Cross.
12 Q. Could you comment on point 4 a bit, where you
13 say that your subordinate commanders have to guarantee
14 civilian persons whom they release full security in the
15 locations where they will be released, and they will be
16 held responsible, obviously, for the situation in those
18 A. Yes. It says here: "And you shall be held
19 responsible for the situation in your zone of
20 responsibility." According to the criteria of the
21 International Red Cross, civilians, prior to their
22 release, had to give their identification data that are
23 sought in the first point, and then they had the right
24 to say where they wanted to live after they were
25 released. That is the question that I spoke of
1 earlier. The civilians could say that they wanted to
2 go to areas that were under BH army control or they
3 could remain in areas under HVO control.
4 In this point, I repeated an action that I
5 already ordered, that is to say, civilians who are
6 released and who state that they wish to remain in the
7 territory of Vitez and in the territory under HVO
8 control, that they must be guaranteed full safety in
9 the zones of responsibility of the brigades. For the
10 Viteska Brigade, it's Vitez. For the Busovaca Brigade,
11 it's Busovaca, and in Novi Travnik, the responsibility
12 of the Novi Travnik Brigade.
13 Q. Tell us, in terms of the implementation of
14 this order, was there cooperation with the
15 International Red Cross and did the International Red
16 Cross monitor the process of release?
17 A. This activity was carried out according to
18 the standards of the International Red Cross both ways,
19 and the International Red Cross did monitor this, and
20 they also set the time for this and everything else.
21 So if it was the standpoint of the International Red
22 Cross that the release could not be carried out, then
23 it was not carried out, that is to say, that the
24 International Red Cross supervised this activity.
25 JUDGE JORDA: I would like a clarification in
1 terms of the addressee. You say: "All commanders
2 under my orders," and in parentheses you
3 have "(Brigades and autonomous units, 4th LTRD)." What
4 does that mean "autonomous units that are directly
5 under your orders"? There were units that you
6 recognised as autonomous and then there were those that
7 you said which were under your orders. How can one be
8 both autonomous or independent and under your orders?
9 A. Mr. President, the order states directly in
10 every point who is responsible and when this order is
11 to be carried out, but it is also addressed to
12 immediate subordinates and those who are within the
13 zone of responsibility of Central Bosnia. They should
14 receive it for their information, that is to say, that
15 such and such a person is not responsible for the
16 carrying out of this order but is present there.
17 MR. NOBILO:
18 Q. Could you tell me, in this enclave, who was
19 immediately subordinate to you and who was autonomous
20 and who was put at your disposal for certain actions?
21 Could you define these units by name and could you
22 separate them into two categories?
23 A. For certain actions, I had the 4th Battalion
24 of the military police and the PPN Vitezovi
25 resubordinated to me, whereas all other units were
1 immediately subordinate to me.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. But there's perhaps a
3 translation problem. We will go back to this directly
4 and immediately. Perhaps we won't go back to that same
5 discussion we had yesterday about "instantanement" and
7 You're not really explaining what I need to
8 know, General Blaskic. I understood that you always
9 put the names of the people to who this was addressed,
10 but then as Judge Rodrigues called your attention to,
11 the responsible individuals are indicated under each of
12 the points, under each of the points, but when you
13 write "responsible" in the French version, you say,
14 "The commanders direct under my orders," and on the
15 top, we see "Commanders directly under my orders,"
16 whereas in parentheses you have that they are
17 autonomous units or independent units.
18 You have complained several times that
19 sometime some of the units didn't obey you. I
20 understand that some the units are dependent, but if
21 you give them the orders and at the same time you say
22 that they are independent, you shouldn't be surprised
23 that they don't obey. How do you justify that? What
24 does that mean, these "independent" units? Was that
25 the military police? Was it the Vitezovi? These are
1 special units, I suppose.
2 A. The units that are not subordinate to me,
3 Mr. President, were the military police and the special
4 purpose units, but here, in every point, I specified
5 who was responsible for carrying out the assignment
7 MR. NOBILO:
8 Q. Colonel, tell us --
9 JUDGE JORDA: You're not making it clear.
10 You're not being specific here, at least in the French
11 version. It's not made specific because you write
12 "Responsible --" let me look under 1. Look under 1.
13 The person responsible, you say, "Commanded directly
14 under my orders."
15 You're not making it very clear, because when
16 you look at the top, you say, "The directors directly
17 under my orders are the brigades or the autonomous
18 units or the 4th, as the LTRD, the Light Artillery
19 Rocket Division, the Motorised Division, the 4th
20 Battalion." There's an entire list. So don't tell me
21 or don't tell us that you made it clear.
22 I'm interested in this because the purpose of
23 this discussion is to hear you frequently say that your
24 orders have not been carried out properly, and I say
25 that perhaps one shouldn't be surprised that they
1 weren't carried out.
2 There were orders, General Blaskic, and
3 that's what you told Judge Rodrigues, and we saw that
4 they were very clearly indicated. They didn't say
5 "Military police," they said, "This unit or that
6 unit," and now you say, "Commanders under my orders."
7 I don't want to add anything further, just to be
8 mentioning that.
9 A. In the structure of the Operative Zone of
10 Central Bosnia, there were HVO brigades, and there were
11 two units that we called independent units, autonomous
12 units. One was the artillery and the other one was
13 anti-aircraft artillery, but they were in the structure
14 of command of the Operative Zone. They were directly
15 subordinate to me. However, in the structure of the
16 Operative Zone, the 4th Battalion of the military
17 police and the PPN Vitezovi were not directly
18 subordinated to me.
19 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, I understand
20 the President to be concerned with a question which is
21 equally concerning me, as to how you understood this
23 When you look at the upper right-hand side,
24 do you say that in this order, you were regarding
25 autonomous units as directly under your orders or do
1 you not say so?
2 A. Units listed here as independent units, the
3 4th Light Artillery Rocket Division and a mixed
4 battalion are directly under my control, whereas the
5 4th Military Police Battalion was attached to me for a
6 particular task.
7 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: What I mean, General, is
8 at the particular time when this order was issued on
9 the 29th of April, 1993, were you taking the position
10 that autonomous units, including the 4th Battalion,
11 were directly under your orders?
12 A. At the time this order was written, they were
13 resubordinated to me. At that time, they were
14 resubordinated to me, but they did not become a part of
15 the structure. The structure did not change. They
16 were under my control and command, but the structure of
17 the formation did not change.
18 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I understand you. Thank
19 you very much.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General Blaskic, I have got
21 two questions. I think that we're not going to go back
22 to that discussion that we had yesterday that we all
23 know so well, but I do find that in the English version
24 of your order, we still have the word "immediately"
25 or "immediate." The word "immediately" keeps
1 returning, "all immediate subordinates."
2 However, in the French version, they say
3 "commanders directly under my orders" and "commanders
4 immediately under my orders." They use "immediatement"
5 and "directement." These are different things. I'm
6 not sure whether General Blaskic is trying to make a
7 distinction between "directement," "immediately under
8 my orders," and "immediatement," "immediately under my
9 orders." That's one question. I'll ask both questions
10 together because I think they are related to one
12 My second question is the following: You
13 issue an order to all the commanders directly under
14 your orders. Here is my question: Who defined the
15 criterion for issuing the orders? Imagine, General
16 Blaskic, that I say: An order to all the people in
17 this room who are subordinate to me. General Blaskic
18 says, "No, I'm not your subordinate." Perhaps the
19 usher might say, "I'm not your subordinate."
20 Therefore, you are not following my orders. You say,
21 "To all commanders directly under my orders," but
22 perhaps there might be a commander who says "No, I'm
23 not under your orders." "I have a list," you say, "I
24 have criteria and I know," therefore, I take the name,
25 the address, and send the order.
1 Do you understand my question? From the
2 point of view of the execution of the order, you say:
3 "To all my subordinates." However, there might be
4 people who would say, "No, I am not subordinate to you,
5 General Blaskic." Who defined the terms?
6 Let me go back to the two questions. If the
7 distinction between "commander directly under my
8 orders" and "commander immediately under my orders," if
9 there is an operative distinction or not, whether or
10 not that distinction is valid, that's the question, and
11 who defined to whom the order should be directed, that
12 is, all your subordinates? But from the point of view
13 of execution, who gave the definition?
14 MR. NOBILO: If I may, Your Honours, but this
15 affects the very substance. However, as regards this
16 document, the same word is used in the Croatian
17 original. It's the same case that we had yesterday,
18 but in the French translation, two terms are being
19 used. In the original Croatian, the same word is being
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Perhaps in this Tribunal we
22 should have a dictionary.
23 MR. NOBILO: We can put it on the ELMO, and
24 you will see the same word. We have highlighted in
25 yellow the word, all three words. They are identical
1 and -- though the question is one that the Defence
2 counsel would like the witness to answer.
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I agree that in the French
4 version the words "commander directly under my orders"
5 and "commander immediately under my orders" are two
6 different things, at least that's what I think.
7 MR. NOBILO: Yes, but the Croatian word is
8 the same. Perhaps it would be best to ask the General
9 whether there were different interpretations. The
10 question that you have put, whether there were
11 different interpretations between him and his
13 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic has to answer
14 this, but I want to point out that it's a very relevant
15 question that's been asked by Judge Rodrigues. Not the
16 same as the one we asked yesterday. Yesterday we
17 noticed that at least in the English and French
18 versions "instantanement" and "immediatement," these
19 two words in French are very close to one other.
20 However, Judge Rodrigues has pointed out correctly, at
21 least as far as my own language is concerned, that
22 "immediatement" and "directement", "immediately"
23 and "directly," are not synonymous.
24 It is General Blaskic who will try to answer
25 the question that our colleague Judge Rodrigues has
2 A. I shall try, Your Honours. You asked the
3 question: "Who defined the criteria for this order?"
4 The criteria for this order were interpreted by the two
5 chiefs of staff of the main staff, at the time,
6 commanders of the joint command of the armed forces of
7 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Therefore, their order said that I
8 should issue an order to brigade commanders and
9 independent units which were directly subordinated to
10 me, that is, within my formation, and I would also
11 issue the order for their information to units that
12 were resubordinated to me, in this case, the 4th Police
13 Battalion which was attached to me on the basis of an
14 order for a particular assignment, whereas later, it
15 goes back to its original structure.
16 Who creates this kind of structure? In the
17 HVO, it was called the administration for organisation
18 attached to the Defence Ministry. They set up the
19 structure of an Operational Zone saying, "It will be
20 such and such. These will be the units within the
21 Operational Zone, and these other units will spend a
22 month in that Operational Zone, and then they will be
23 reassigned to somewhere else. Then they will be
24 linked, some to the defence department and some to the
25 main headquarters."
1 For instance, my chief of staff didn't have a
2 single military police unit, whereas the Defence
3 Minister had several military police battalions. That
4 is how I understood the question. I don't know whether
5 I answered it fully.
6 JUDGE JORDA: I'd like to get into the
7 specifics of the order before we take our break. You
8 issue orders, and we're taking note of the -- look at
9 point 3. How do you apply point 3 to Ahmici? You're
10 talking about clearing out the battlefield and then to
11 collect the dead, that is, to pick up the bodies should
12 not cause any provocations or combat activities.
13 When you issued that order, specifically to
14 the 4th Military Police Battalion, how did you think
15 that that was going to be applied? Didn't you think
16 that there was something a little theoretical in that
17 order? Remember things. You had gone two days earlier
18 to Ahmici. That is an area which is no longer under
19 fire, that you didn't need armoured vehicles to go to
20 Ahmici. Concretely speaking, how could you conceive
21 the collection of dead people in Ahmici? Specifically,
22 how did you --
23 A. Mr. President, that was an agenda item at the
24 meeting, and that is why reference is made here to
25 joint operative teams, which means Dzemo Merdan and
1 Franjo Nakic will form a joint team consisting of
2 representatives of the HVO holding that front line, in
3 this case, just about Ahmici, and representatives of
4 the BH army who are also controlling the front line
5 above Ahmici, and they would, together with the
6 UNPROFOR forces, go to the site, and with the
7 assistance of the civil defence team, clear the area.
8 JUDGE JORDA: I understand that. I reconcile
9 that with your constant or permanent request for
10 investigation. You're going to clear out the
11 battlefield. Each party would pick up its dead, and
12 you think that it would be possible to carry out the
13 investigation, since you are very concerned with the
14 idea of finding those responsible for what happened,
15 you even organised a press conference in order to make
16 sure that these people who committed these crimes be
17 prosecuted and punished. You might even have had some
18 suspicions. Then you set up operational teams.
19 During the meetings of the 29th and the
20 30th -- the 29th and 30th of April, nobody speaks about
21 Ahmici at those meetings, not even you, and now the
22 bodies are going to be collected, with teams that are
23 going to be working together, joint teams, whereas a
24 few days ago they had massacred one another.
25 This is my question: Don't you think that
1 this is somewhat theoretical, perhaps a bit
2 theoretical? A theoretical document is produced. Do
3 you see it in practical terms, implementation of the
4 document, and perhaps all of this being given to the
5 military police battalion? Don't you find this a bit
7 A. No, Mr. President, it was not a theoretical
8 order because the battlefield was, indeed, cleared on
9 that day, not completely, but in Ahmici, among others.
10 I ordered an investigation on the 24th of April, '93,
11 and the security service is conducting the
13 This was the task of the joint operative
14 centre, and it was certainly in the interests of
15 representatives of the BH army and the HVO for the
16 battlefield to be cleared, and this item was the result
17 of an agreement reached at the meeting on the 29th of
18 April. This was agreed by the two chiefs of staff.
19 JUDGE JORDA: My point, nobody said that once
20 all the dead had been collected, it had to be done very
21 quickly, of course, but perhaps the investigation, in
22 the end, wouldn't serve much purpose. Nobody said
23 that. Once the battlefield had been cleared out in
24 Ahmici, I suppose that the investigation would have
25 been compromised, severely compromised.
1 A. My order for an investigation was not made
2 after this but before, that is, on the 24th of April,
3 my order for an investigation, and this operation was
4 to be done on the 29th of April, which means five days
5 after the order for an investigation was issued.
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I'll ask you the question
7 in a different way, General Blaskic: If you wanted to
8 have the investigation, as Judge Jorda has just said,
9 that you were very angry about the situation, you had
10 asked for this and that, you organised a press
11 conference, et cetera, and then on that day, with this
12 order, you accepted to have all proof, all remnants of
13 any proof that could have been used for the
14 investigation. All the proof was gone. So if you
15 agree to have the battlefield cleared out, your own
16 priority, in my opinion, if you were really concerned
17 about the investigation, would have been -- just a
18 moment -- carry out the investigation to see what
19 happened, to collect all vestiges and remnants and then
20 the field would be cleared.
21 I think that's the question. Why didn't you
22 say that during the meeting, "Before collecting the
23 bodies, let's carry out the investigation. Let's get
24 the proof. Let's get the evidence, the vestiges and
25 things." That's the question.
1 A. First of all, this was not my choice. I had
2 to implement the order of two commanders who were my
3 superiors. All my positions, including my requests and
4 my orders, were given in writing to the chief of staff
5 of the main staff, on the 24th of April, 1993.
6 I was concerned about the investigation and
7 the bodies were not delivered on the same moment.
8 That's another issue, the conditions under which we
9 worked. But this order emanates from an order that I
10 was given by two superiors, two people who were
11 superior to me, both the chief of staff of the main
12 staff of the BH army and the chief of staff of the main
13 staff of the HVO, and I gave the order for an
14 investigation on the 24th of April, '93, and I was,
15 indeed, keen that it should be implemented.
16 MR. NOBILO: Perhaps before we break, could I
17 put a question to the witness for the sake of
18 completeness, because this is a very interesting
20 Q. General, the collection of the dead from
21 Ahmici, when you did that, did you discover the number
22 of dead, the composition, how many were elderly, women,
23 children, civilians, or soldiers, and the method in
24 which they were killed? Did you, by collecting those
25 bodies, discover those data?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Was a report written with a detailed
3 description and identification of the dead that could?
4 A. Yes, and an exchange on the basis of the
5 criteria of international organisations.
6 Q. This collection carefully, with a report
7 indicating the sex, the identity, et cetera, did this
8 help in identifying the consequences of the crime in
10 A. Yes. Until then, we only had the data given
11 to us by Colonel Stewart.
12 MR. NOBILO: We had planned to come to that
13 later, but I thought it would be better to raise that
15 JUDGE JORDA: We will take a break. We will
16 take 20 minutes because General Blaskic has had to
17 answer a great number of questions. We'll take 20
19 --- Recess taken at 11.30 a.m.
20 --- On resuming at 12.02 p.m.
21 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the
22 hearing. Please be seated.
23 MR. NOBILO:
24 Q. So we are continuing with your statement.
25 We're talking about the 30th of April, 1993. We have
1 completed the previous day with the order that we
2 discussed a few minutes ago. Tell me, what were the
3 most important events on the 30th of April, 1993?
4 A. On the 30th of April, 1993, again we had
5 refugees coming in from Zenica to Vitez and Busovaca,
6 and then there was the question of the meeting with
7 Mr. Franjo Nakic and my intention to authorise him to
8 have powers equal to mine in the joint commission in
9 terms of adopting orders, that is to say, we were
10 agreeing on new forms of work in the joint command.
11 I also gave instructions to speed up the
12 establishment of the Vitez Brigade, and I told my
13 security assistant to cooperate with the civilian
14 defence in order to collect all the necessary data, and
15 then I ordered him to investigate fully up to the names
16 and surnames of the perpetrators of the crime.
17 Q. You're saying "investigation." What
19 A. Investigation into the crime committed in
20 Ahmici. Again I told him to go to the very end, that
21 is to say, to the names and surnames.
22 Q. You said that you sent an SIS officer, who
23 was in charge of the investigation of what happened in
24 Ahmici, to cooperate with the civilian defence. Could
25 you please explain to the Court what you meant by
1 this? Why the civilian defence? Why would that be
2 related to the investigation of Ahmici?
3 A. Well, the practice was that whenever the
4 front line was being taken care of, it was never done
5 by members of the military units but by the members of
6 the civilian defence, that is to say, civilians who
7 were mobilised for tasks related to the civilian
8 defence, and then they collected corpses and, as much
9 as possible, post-mortems were conducted by civilians.
10 Soldiers did not take part in this and --
11 MR. NOBILO: Just a minute.
12 (Trial Chamber deliberates)
13 JUDGE JORDA: Please continue.
14 MR. NOBILO:
15 Q. So we stopped at the point when we were
16 discussing civilian defence units who were collecting
17 dead bodies from the front line. Tell me, specifically
18 in the case of Ahmici, who collected the dead bodies?
19 A. The members of the civilian defence of the
20 municipality of Vitez.
21 Q. Do you know what they ascertained, how long
22 the list was of the persons they found in Ahmici, and
23 did they submit this to your investigating authorities?
24 A. I was informed that between 96 and 103
25 victims were collected.
1 Q. Tell me what happened then.
2 A. In the afternoon, there was another meeting
3 between the chief of the main staff of the army of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina, General Halilovic, and the chief of
5 the main staff of the HVO, Brigadier Petkovic, and the
6 subject discussed was the release of all prisoners.
7 At this meeting, General Halilovic requested
8 to see the persons who had been at the cinema, and I
9 know that he went to the cinema, and I used that time
10 for having a meeting with Brigadier Petkovic. At the
11 office in my headquarters, I told him in detail about
12 everything that I knew and everything that I had
13 undertaken so far in respect of Ahmici, and I asked
14 General Petkovic to have a meeting, by all means, with
15 my associates and to support me in carrying out this
17 I gave him -- I showed him an entire list of
18 all the documents that we had, all the files, including
19 these two orders that I spoke of related to the
20 assistant for security, and I think it was around 17.00
21 or perhaps 17.30 at the maximum when Brigadier Petkovic
22 had a meeting with the entire command of the Operative
23 Zone of Central Bosnia.
24 Q. After the meeting with you, what did General
25 Petkovic say to your subordinates?
1 A. Brigadier Petkovic said, first of all, that
2 Ahmici was a crime and that that was very bad for the
3 HVO, and I condemned this, and the investigation must
4 go up to the end, to names and surnames. He said,
5 "Your attitude towards civilians and detainees must be
6 in the spirit of the Geneva Conventions, and you must
7 have full cooperation with the International Red Cross,
8 the UNHCR, and UNPROFOR."
9 Further on, he said, "This area," he was
10 meaning the Lasva River Valley, "we cannot and do not
11 want to cleanse this area of non-Croats, and we shall
12 not do that, but we have to defend it from all who are
13 attacking us." He said, "The town is full of snipers,
14 gangs, and the ordinary man in the street is tired of
15 all of this, and they've had enough of all of this and
16 they're waiting for this to be over.
17 So take all measures to control these groups
18 in this area, and they should not act as they wish to.
19 Civilians have to be defended. Chaos is a folly for
20 all. Let the military police arrest individuals. Your
21 main attention should be focused on defence and on the
22 positions because you're almost at the point where you
23 have nothing to lose. You are encircled. Even several
24 soldiers may be killed, but if a single civilian loses
25 his life, that is a very bad thing."
1 Then he said, "Can 20.000 Croats in Zenica
2 attack 100.000 Muslims? In Konjic, we were attacked by
3 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, from the back, while
4 the HVO held the front line against the Serbs. None of
5 you have the right to stop convoys of the International
6 Red Cross, UNHCR, and UNPROFOR."
7 So this is an outline of what General
8 Petkovic said.
9 Q. Tell me, General, the conversation that you
10 had separately from the command, the conversation you
11 had with General Petkovic, how is that related to what
12 Petkovic told them? Did Petkovic accept your
13 positions? Was it your positions that came to the
14 fore? Explain this to the Court. What kind of a
15 conversation did you have with Petkovic?
16 A. After I informed him, he accepted my
17 positions, and he gave me full support then. At the
18 meeting too, he emphasised this, as he met the command,
19 and I knew that he had quite a problem because he
20 didn't have much time. He was brought in UNPROFOR
21 vehicles, and he had to go back, and he didn't have
22 enough time to stay longer.
23 Q. In this separate conversation that you had,
24 did you express to General Petkovic your suspicions as
25 to within which units there could be those individuals,
1 you were looking for the names and surnames, that might
2 have committed the crime in Ahmici?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Did you tell him who you ordered to carry out
5 an investigation and that this investigation was under
6 way? Did you inform him about that?
7 A. I informed him about all the action that had
8 been taken so far and about all the documents that I
9 otherwise could not send him by mail because I didn't
10 want to have it retyped. So I informed him of all the
11 documents concerned.
12 Q. You said that you didn't want to have these
13 documents retyped. What did you actually have in mind?
14 A. The letter of Colonel Stewart, the letter
15 that I sent to Colonel Stewart, that is to say, all the
16 documents that existed until then. They were shown to
17 General Petkovic.
18 Q. In the original?
19 A. Yes, in the original. The original copies
20 were shown.
21 Q. Does that also mean the report from Ahmici
22 and the orders that you gave on the 24th?
23 A. Yes. I said "all documents." The orders,
24 the reports, everything that had accumulated until
25 then, all of it was made available to him.
1 Q. On that day --
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me, Mr. Nobilo.
3 General Blaskic, you said that you had communicated
4 with Petkovic who, from your perspective, was suspected
5 of involvement in the crime in Ahmici. You also spoke
6 about the unit and the names. Did I hear you
8 A. Yes, you're right, Your Honour. I was
9 talking about the unit, and I informed him that I had
10 issued an order asking to have a list of names of the
11 perpetrators submitted to me. I also asked General
12 Petkovic, who was then a Brigadier, that at the meeting
13 that he would have with my commanders, that he give
14 support to this request so that the investigation would
15 have to go all the way up to the names and surnames
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But General, you said
18 specifically -- did you give -- did you tell Petkovic
19 the name of the unit?
20 A. That was engaged in that area? Yes, I did
21 mention that to Brigadier Petkovic. I mentioned this
22 to Brigadier Petkovic through the reports too.
23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: If I recall correctly, you
24 mentioned the military police. You mentioned the
25 military police here. Therefore, did you tell Petkovic
1 that the unit was the unit from the military police?
2 A. That it was my suspicion that individuals
3 from that unit had done it, that that was my
5 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So you told Petkovic that
6 you suspected certain individuals from the military
7 police. That's what you said expressly?
8 A. The military police was in that area, engaged
9 in that area, and my suspicion was that some
10 individuals from that unit were engaged.
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Did you also mention some
12 names, names of individuals?
13 A. I did not mention any names. Brigadier
14 Petkovic knew who the commander of the military police
15 was, and until then, through the reports from the
16 assistant for the security service, I did not receive
17 any names.
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.
19 MR. NOBILO:
20 Q. General, let us define this. I think we
21 didn't and we should have. The battalion of the
22 military police, how many soldiers does that involve?
23 A. The battalion of the military police is about
24 300, up to 700 or 500 soldiers. I did not have it
25 directly under my control so that I would know, and
1 directly under my command, but it shouldn't be less
2 than 300 or more than 700 soldiers. So 300, perhaps
4 Q. Did you think that it was opportune, lawful,
5 and to the point to blame the entire unit or were you
6 looking for individual responsibility?
7 A. That's not the way I was brought up and
8 educated at the academy, that I should seek collective
9 responsibility. It always had to be individual
11 Q. On that day, there was a discussion on the
12 petrol station Kalen. That is a very interesting
13 question. Please tell us, what happened earlier on,
14 what happened that day, and then afterwards, about the
15 Kalen station, which is very telling in its own right.
16 A. It was a strange problem, and there were many
17 such which were illustrative of the prevalent chaos at
18 the time. On that day, the mayor of Vitez --
19 Q. What day are you referring to? The 30th of
21 A. Yes, the 30th of April. I was informed that
22 a special purpose unit had militarily captured the
23 petrol station Kalen.
24 Q. Which special purpose unit?
25 A. The Vitezovi Special Purpose Unit, that they
1 had captured the Kalen petrol station and that they
2 were distributing and selling petrol at that station.
3 Q. Tell us, when they captured it, who was the
4 owner of that station, and what did petrol mean in
5 those days? What was its value?
6 A. According to the information I received from
7 the mayor, I think it was captured either on the 16th
8 or the 17th of April, that is, this petrol station.
9 The owner was a Bosniak Muslim. I think his surname
10 was Kalen. Probably that was his name. I'm sure,
11 however, that he was a Bosniak Muslim.
12 As to what petrol meant in those days, I can
13 illustrate by the fact that we would allot ten litres
14 per brigade, and at the station, there were several
15 thousand litres of petrol, and this petrol was being
16 sold by members of the Vitezovi Special Purpose Unit,
17 and the mayor asked for my assistance to put an end to
18 illegal business.
19 I first required from the commander that he
20 restore the station to the competence of the civilian
21 and military authorities.
22 Q. Which commander?
23 A. The commander of the Vitezovi Special Purpose
24 Brigade, Mr. Kraljevic. He refused. Then I wrote a
25 report to the head of the defence department in Mostar
1 and briefed him on the problem.
2 Q. Why did you, as the commander of the
3 Operative Zone to whom the Vitezovi unit was
4 resubordinated on that day, why are you writing to
6 A. That was the only measure left to me because
7 I had no other authority. This is something that the
8 commander of the Vitezovi Special Purpose Unit was
9 aware of because he himself said that he was directly
10 subordinated to the defence department.
11 Q. Tell us, in the course of these proceedings,
12 you said that the mayor told you that the Vitezovi had
13 captured the station on the 16th or the 17th, but in
14 the course of these proceedings, from the testimony of
15 members of the British Battalion, did you remember when
16 exactly that petrol station was captured? During these
17 proceedings here, not according to your recollection,
18 but according to the testimony here in court.
19 A. Perhaps it was at dawn on the 16th of April
20 but I'm not a hundred per cent sure.
21 Q. Where is that petrol station? Could you just
22 tell us? Describe the place.
23 A. On the main Vitez-Busovaca road. The main
24 road is south of the village of Krcevine.
25 Q. On which side?
1 A. North in relation to the town of Vitez.
2 Q. Is there a crossroads there? Is there an
3 intersection of roads?
4 A. Yes, there is a cross-section there, one road
5 going to Vjetrenica and Zenica and the other to
6 Krcevine and Stari Vitez.
7 Q. Was there a bear there, a stuffed bear at
8 that petrol station?
9 A. I'm afraid I'm not sure. I couldn't confirm
11 Q. Never mind. So you write to the commander of
12 the Vitezovi and what did you ask him to do?
13 A. I asked him what the mayor had asked of me,
14 and that is that the unit should return the captured
15 petrol station to the civilian municipal authorities.
16 I received an answer from the defence department for my
17 information, in which he ordered the commander of the
18 Vitezovi to return to the municipal authorities the
19 captured petrol station.
20 In the course of the day, that is what he
21 did. Only a day later -- actually, he returned it
22 fictitiously, but then he came to see me with a
23 decision of the municipal authorities, which stated
24 that the municipality was giving him the petrol
25 station. I realised then, and I later checked, that
1 even the order of the head of the defence department
2 had not been carried out, but, in fact, the situation
3 remained unchanged.
4 Q. But Santic came to complain to you and asked
5 you to intervene in Mostar, that they order the
6 Vitezovi to return the petrol station, and then he
7 makes a gift of that station to the Vitezovi. Did you
8 establish how it came about that Santic changed his
9 mind all of a sudden?
10 A. I asked him how this had happened, and then
11 he told me that he had been forced to put the issue on
12 the agenda of a government meeting, and to take such a
13 decision, and that he had no other choice.
14 Q. You said that he was forced. Do you mean
15 that he was threatened by force?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. We have here a rather interesting situation
18 regarding the functioning of the chain of command of
19 the resubordinated units. Let us focus on that for
21 The Vitezovi were resubordinated to you, and
22 yet you had to contact their commander for him to give
23 them an order. Tell the Court, when a unit is attached
24 to you, to what extent do you become their commander?
25 Is there a part of the command function that you never
1 assume? Will you explain that, both with regard to the
2 police and the Vitezovi?
3 A. When a unit is attached to me, I am in
4 command for the deployment of that unit for a
5 particular task. Once the task has been accomplished,
6 the unit goes back to its regular functioning, but even
7 with regard to the implementation of a task, the
8 commander is aware that he does not have such command
9 authority as he has over his own regular units.
10 Q. But what is it that is lacking in this case
11 and that is present in relation with your own unit,
12 even when you're deploying the military police or the
14 A. I never have authority for sanctioning,
15 authority for logistics support, or some other
16 authority that I have over my directly subordinated
18 Q. Can you replace a commander, even during
20 A. No, that would be unfeasible.
21 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, would you say
22 that the 4th Battalion of the military police was
23 deployed by you or with your authority in or around
24 Ahmici on the 16th of April?
25 A. It had already been stationed in the Bungalow
1 without my authority. It was stationed there before.
2 But patrolling as a daily duty along the
3 Vitez-Busovaca-Travnik road, as a daily task, was under
4 my authority.
5 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Would the whole
6 battalion have been present in Ahmici on the 16th of
7 April or part of the battalion?
8 A. Not the whole battalion, and how many of them
9 would be there, that depended on the battalion
10 commander, but not all of it. There were some military
11 policemen securing the hotel.
12 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: One last question: From
13 your observations of Ahmici after the event, would you
14 be able to help this Court by giving us your judgment
15 as to whether it was possible for what was done at
16 Ahmici to have been done by some, only of the military
17 police who were there, without the knowledge or support
18 of the other military police who were also there?
19 A. The area is quite large, but without any
20 knowledge hardly, but maybe in view of the kind of
21 terrain involved, it could be possible because the
22 front line was there, and there was fighting between
23 the BH army, but certainly a number of them knew what
24 the perpetrators did. Maybe not all of them knew.
25 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: One last question if I
2 General, when did you first suspect that some
3 members of the military police might have done what was
4 done at Ahmici?
5 A. For the first time, when I received the first
6 report from Colonel Bob Stewart. That means on the
7 22nd of April, '93.
8 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Just a moment, please. I would
10 like to add to something that my colleague said.
11 During the meeting of the 30th of April, you
12 informed General Petkovic about your concerns that the
13 military police was implicated, at least some of the
14 people were. At the same meeting, General Petkovic
15 apparently said that the military police had to arrest
16 the criminals, and the military police reported to
17 General Petkovic. How do you explain that then?
18 A. Mr. President, in the discussion when
19 Brigadier Petkovic spoke about violence and crime in
20 Vitez and about armed gangs that were looting, he said
21 that the military police must arrest individuals.
22 Unfortunately, that military police was not
23 subordinated to General Petkovic either but to the
24 defence department and the head of the administration
25 for defence in Mostar.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Was he present at that meeting,
2 that commander, I don't remember his name, that is, the
3 commander of the military police, was he present at the
5 A. I'm not sure of that because it was a meeting
6 of the members of the command of the Operative Zone,
7 which mean members of the command of the Operative Zone
8 were present. He wasn't present.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Judge Rodrigues?
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General Blaskic, you have
11 already said here that you didn't agree with the
12 position within the organisational structure of the
13 military police. I think that I'm right when I say
15 A. Your Honours, of both the military police and
16 the special purpose units, I never agreed with that.
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But speaking now about the
18 military police, why did the people who decided, who
19 chose this type of organisation, this model of
20 organisation, do you have some idea of why they chose
21 that because we are now checking to see whether you
22 were right.
23 One could have an organisation which, in and
24 of itself, cancels itself out and would represent a
25 risk for you, that you could be a very good General,
1 theoretically speaking, as Judge Jorda already referred
2 to in his question, that's theoretically, but when you
3 look at all of your orders from a theoretical point of
4 view, we would not have so many problems, but we know
5 that, in fact, there were problems.
6 Why do you think the people chose that
7 model? Was it a way to "divide and conquer" or was it
8 something else?
9 A. First of all, I never agreed with such a
10 model of organisation, and this increased my command
11 impotence, and with an army structured in that way,
12 you're asking me why such a model was created. In my
13 view, one of the reasons could be that they didn't know
14 what kind of model they were developing, but I
15 discussed this, and we will see later on that I wrote
16 about the negative effects of such a model on my
17 command powers. So if they didn't know, they could
18 have changed that model. It is hard for me to tell
19 what the other reason was, but in any event, I believe
20 that such reasons existed. To hold a unit of 500 men
21 directly connected, could provoke behaviour contrary to
22 the positions of the command that I was in charge of.
23 In my talks with representatives of the UN,
24 I tried to explain this. I had a single responsibility
25 and multi-level commands. I asked for that to be
1 changed. What the real motive was, I can only assume.
2 I don't know.
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, once the model had
4 shown itself not to be effective, was there somebody
5 who suggested that the model be changed or was there
6 not, or did you make that suggestion?
7 A. Yes, and I managed to change that model.
8 Unfortunately, not soon enough. I could go on, I could
9 elaborate on this, but I was the one who had proposed a
10 change of the model, and I succeeded eventually, but it
11 took more time.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Perhaps at another time,
13 Mr. Nobilo, we will go back to that.
14 MR. NOBILO: Next week, we will show how the
15 special purpose units were abolished, as well as the
16 autonomy of the military police and what a major
17 undertaking that was, but in order to deal with this
18 crucial issue comprehensively, I would suggest that
19 document D523 be shown to the witness, but now we're
20 going to have a small break.
21 JUDGE JORDA: I think we will take a
22 10-minute or 15-minute break, and then we will work
23 until 1.30, which will allow the General, who is not
24 only answering the questions of his attorney but
25 responding to the questions of the Judges' curiosity in
1 respect to very important points in the case.
2 All right. We'll take a 10-minute to
3 15-minute break.
4 --- Recess taken at 12.40 p.m.
5 --- On resuming at 12.59 p.m.
6 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please
7 be seated.
8 Please continue, Mr. Nobilo.
9 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. As I
10 already said, we would like to have D523 shown to the
11 witness, please, and after that, D518, but that is a
12 document that is under seal, so that is why we would
13 like to move into private session when we examine that
14 document. But now we're examining D523; could you
15 please place it on the ELMO? Another article, number 8
16 and 9.
17 MR. NOBILO: That article was not translated,
18 the one that is of interest to us. All right. I can
19 read it too.
20 Q. Document D523 is part of the rules of the
21 military police.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, I'm not sure that I
23 understood that. You were mentioning a document. Has
24 that already been tendered? I suppose it has been
25 because it has a number. Is it a new exhibit, 523?
1 MR. NOBILO: That's right. D523, but only
2 Article 10 was translated, but Articles 8 and 9 were
3 not translated, and they are part of the same
5 JUDGE JORDA: All right. I think that the
6 Prosecutor is going to make an objection, first of all,
7 to say that he doesn't have the translation and then
8 say that they only translated two relevant articles and
9 that the context is not there. I'm making the
10 objection for you to speed things along.
11 MR. KEHOE: Judge, absolutely.
12 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, these are two
13 short articles, and we tendered this a few months ago
14 as evidence.
15 JUDGE JORDA: All right. What I suggest is
16 the following: The interpreters have taken an oath. I
17 suggest that we continue to work. Mr. Nobilo will read
18 the article which he thinks is relevant, but your
19 objection has been noted, Mr. Kehoe, and I ask the
20 registrar to ensure that in the next few days, the
21 entire document be translated. We know that the
22 accused will not have to come back because he's here,
23 he is the accused, and then he can explain if there is
24 a problem in that area.
25 Let me remind you, Mr. Kehoe, that you've got
1 all the time that you need for your cross-examination.
2 Do you agree with that suggestion?
3 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President, Your
4 Honours. Thank you.
5 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Having both
6 objected and answered, I don't have to go any further.
7 I leave it to you now, that is, the work of reading the
8 relevant articles that you feel are necessary for the
9 demonstration of your argument.
10 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
11 Q. Document D523 is part of the rules of the
12 military police which was admitted in document 518 and
13 which we tendered a few months ago, and we gave it to
14 the Prosecutor too.
15 I'm going to read Articles 8 and 9. The
16 title is "Chapter 2, Control and Command." So this is
17 the rules of the military police.
18 THE REGISTRAR: I'd like a clarification. Is
19 this D523 or are we going to start with 518, because if
20 we do, we would have to move into closed session.
21 JUDGE JORDA: No. It's the 518 which is
22 covered by seal. That's what I understood.
23 MR. NOBILO: That's right.
24 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We're now talking
25 about D523; is that correct?
1 MR. NOBILO: That's right.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Registrar. We
3 will listen to the translation, but please read it
4 slowly so that the interpreters can do a proper job.
5 MR. NOBILO: That's right, and we've placed
6 on the ELMO what I'm reading in the Croatian version so
7 the interpreters have it.
8 Q. The title is "Control and Command. Article
9 8: All units of the military police are subordinated
10 to the administration of military police of the
11 Ministry of Defence of the Croatian Republic of
12 Herceg-Bosna under the control and command of the chief
13 of administration of the military police.
14 Article 9: In carrying out daily operational
15 military political tasks, the units of the military
16 police are subordinated to the commander of the
17 military district, i.e., to the highest ranking
18 commander of the HVO in the area of responsibility of
19 the units of the military police."
20 Now I would like to move into private
21 session, and we are going to see a document concerning
22 the military police where you can see this much
24 JUDGE JORDA: If I've understood things
25 correctly, the administration of the military police
1 answers to the defence department but that the other
2 part is under -- the operations depend on the
3 operational commander. I would like you to be very
4 careful here. Would you please reread Article 9?
5 MR. NOBILO: Very well. After that, I
6 suggest that we put a question to the Colonel, for him
7 to explain. It is not operations, it is daily
8 operational tasks. We will read it out.
9 "In carrying out daily operational military
10 police tasks --"
11 JUDGE JORDA: The word "daily," I don't have
12 that in my translation. That's why there was a very
13 valid objection by the Prosecutor. We're not talking
14 about daily things.
15 Mr. Nobilo, I'm very serious now. I always
16 am, in fact, even if I smile sometimes. Ahmici is
17 behind all of this. We want to know about the military
18 police in its operations. We're not talking about
19 daily activities. I would like to have the article
20 reread very slowly and translated once again.
21 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, it's quite
22 wrong. I did not add "daily operative military police
23 tasks." That's exactly what it says here, that is to
24 say, in carrying out daily/operative military police
25 tasks, and now I'm going to ask the Colonel.
1 Q. What are daily/operative military police
2 tasks? Explain this, Colonel. Then it's all going to
3 be clear to you from the next document.
4 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, these are
5 patrols, then securing command posts, work at command
6 blockade points, and all other daily military police
7 tasks, like bringing in military conscripts, et cetera,
8 that is to say, daily, day-to-day things that the
9 military police is engaged in.
10 JUDGE JORDA: All right. It's done on a
11 current basis.
12 MR. NOBILO: Right. Right.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Shahabuddeen?
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Did I understand you and
15 the witness to be drawing a distinction between daily
16 military duties, as you have described them, and
17 employment in the course of an armed confrontation with
18 the enemy? I would take it that your position is that
19 they would be subordinated to you in the latter
20 situation only; is that it?
21 A. In the other situation, according to orders
22 of the head of the defence department, they would be
23 attached to me because in Article 8, Your Honour, it
24 says that "all units of the military police are
25 subordinated to the administration of the military
1 police," and that is under the control and command of
2 the chief of administration of the military police.
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you.
4 MR. NOBILO: May I propose the following,
5 Your Honour: The next document is going to clarify all
6 these dilemmas. With your permission, I would like to
7 suggest this, and it is truly going to deal with all
8 the dilemmas concerned.
9 JUDGE JORDA: I asked you to be patient.
10 Judge Rodrigues?
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I believe, Mr. Nobilo, this
12 is the time to clarify another question that I had
13 asked beforehand. Who decided to establish the
14 military police under those terms? Who did that? Who
15 established it on these terms, that is, going back to
16 the question and by putting the organisation within the
17 organisational chart in a way that all reasonable
18 people would not agree with. Who decided that?
19 A. Your Honour, I do not know the name and
20 surname. I know the structure. I know who was the
21 head of the defence department. I know who was the
22 chief of the main staff. But who passed the decision
23 on this kind of structure, that, I do not know, but I
24 know that the head of the defence department, the first
25 head of the defence department, was Mr. Bruno Stojic,
1 that the next Minister of Defence was Mr. Perica Jukic,
2 that the commander in chief was Mr. Mate Boban, but who
3 reached the decision to organise it -- to organise the
4 military police and the special purpose units in this
5 way, so wrongly, I don't know who stands behind that
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: The other question is the
8 date. What date was it?
9 A. The HVO was first established, as far as I
10 know from the documents, from the 8th of April, 1992.
11 When the military police of the HVO specifically was
12 established, I think that this will be shown in certain
13 rules or something, but I don't know the exact date,
14 exactly when the military police of the HVO was
15 established because I never worked in the military
16 police of the HVO, in 1992 at any rate.
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: In any case, we will see
18 the date because I think we can understand or at least
19 perhaps understand the reasons if we put ourselves in
20 the political and social conditions which may have
21 given reason for that. In any case, we will see that
22 afterwards. Thank you very much.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, the document then
24 should be done in a private session, is that right,
1 (Private session)
13 Page 19106 redacted in private session
13 Pages 19107 to 19117 redacted in closed session
21 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
22 1.40 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday,
23 the 16th day of March, 1999, at 2.00 p.m.