1 Tuesday, 16th March, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 2.13 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.
5 Mr. Registrar, will you have the witness brought in?
6 (The accused/witness entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: I should first like to say good
8 afternoon to our friends, interpreters, the court
9 reporters, the Prosecution and the Defence counsel, the
10 accused, who is our witness -- I am recalling this fact
11 for the benefit of the public gallery -- a witness
12 under oath like all other witnesses.
13 May I make a few words of explanation?
14 Mr. Registrar, there was some confusion over the
15 beginning of this hearing, taking into consideration
16 that one of our colleagues was in audience, so I may
17 have made a mistake as to whether it was 2.00 or 2.30,
18 but I see that the parties have adjusted to a Judge who
19 has made a mistake.
20 THE REGISTRAR: In that case, it is also my
22 JUDGE JORDA: So we only have the guilty in
23 this courtroom now. Thank you for your understanding,
24 I apologise once again, and we can continue now,
25 Mr. Nobilo.
1 I suppose you were able to make a timetable
2 regarding the end of the examination-in-chief.
3 Mr. Registrar has told us an evaluation. Perhaps you
4 can tell us now in public, though you need not be
5 committed by what you state.
6 MR. NOBILO: It is difficult to envisage the
7 course of proceedings because, as you see yourself,
8 sometime the discussion takes a particular turn, we
9 spend more time than we had planned on it, but all this
10 is in the interests of justice.
11 When we came back to the days after Ahmici
12 and all the talks that our witness had with various
13 international agencies and all his activities in
14 connection with the investigation over Ahmici, as we
15 approach the end of the year, things will speed up
16 because there are much fewer events. It is hard for me
17 to evaluate but ...
18 Two whole days, perhaps two and a half. That
19 would be our estimate, two working days.
20 JUDGE JORDA: I wish to tell you -- I can, I
21 think, speak on behalf of my colleagues -- that the
22 number of questions put by the Judges will not take
23 this same form, so this time will be compensated in one
24 way or another.
25 Do you have any comments to make, Judge
1 Shahabuddeen? Any observations? No? Judge
2 Rodrigues? No?
3 Mr. Nobilo, you have the floor.
4 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
5 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
6 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
7 Q. General, I think last week we finished
8 sometime in April 1993, and we can now go on to the
9 most important events as of May the 1st, 1993. So will
10 you please, in summary form but, for the moment, leave
11 aside the fighting and the war which is ongoing -- I
12 think this is where Their Honours are aware of -- but
13 within the context of those wartime events, could we
14 focus on events that have a direct or indirect bearing
15 on the charges against you?
16 A. Mr. President --
17 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, of course, Mr. Nobilo. I
18 congratulate you. I think that is how we should
19 approach this issue, that is, that the witness should
20 focus on the events that are relevant for the charges
21 against him.
22 So please continue, Mr. Blaskic.
23 A. Thank you, Mr. President, Your Honours.
24 On the 1st of May, 1993, I had a meeting with
25 a member of the joint command, Mr. Franjo Nakic, who
1 requested from me that the joint command should be
2 filled in with three officers so that it could fully
3 function together with representatives of the army of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and issue joint orders and work on
5 the implementation of the agreements that have been
6 signed with representatives of the BH army.
7 I also had a meeting, a regular meeting, with
8 my associates, later on during the day with my
9 assistant for security, and we reviewed the
10 manifestations of disturbances of order and discipline
11 both in HVO units and in the pocket, that is, in the
12 Lasva River Valley.
13 I asked for more detailed information from
14 the assistant for security and a proposal of measures
15 to prevent privately-organised exchanges. These
16 exchanges were particularly intensive between the towns
17 of Vitez and Zenica, and a very high commission was
18 charged for this.
19 MR. NOBILO:
20 Q. Tell us, General, most of these
21 privately-organised exchanges, what was their
22 substance, very briefly? Anyone who organised the
23 exchange, would he force the person leaving his place
24 of residence to go somewhere else, or was it someone
25 who wanted to leave Vitez or Zenica asked the
1 organisers of the exchange to carry out the exchange?
2 A. In most cases, the people who wished to leave
3 Vitez which, in those days, together with Busovaca, was
4 under siege, looked for mediators who would escort them
5 across the front lines, at a price of course; and in
6 the majority of cases these were exchanges due to the
7 departure of prisoners released simultaneously, that
8 is, Bosniak Muslims leaving from Vitez to Zenica and
9 Croats leaving Zenica to go to Vitez. Then these
10 released prisoners did everything they could to bring
11 over their families as well by engaging mediators for a
12 certain commission.
13 Another manifestation of disruptions of order
14 were thefts, particularly thefts of explosives, as in
15 Vitez there was an explosives factory and these
16 explosives were sold even on the front lines.
17 Q. General, let us go back a little. You said
18 that from your assistant for security you required
19 information and measures to prevent exchanges. Why did
20 you wish to prevent those exchanges? What was your
21 position regarding them?
22 A. I was guided by the positions of the UNHCR,
23 and those were that there should be no resettlement and
24 abandoning of homes. I didn't want those people to
25 leave because I believed that once all the signed
1 agreements were implemented the security situation
2 would significantly improve and that we would manage to
3 separate the forces, that is, the HVO and the BH army,
4 in terms of the front line, and create conditions for
5 the implementation of the principle of freedom of
6 movement and for full security of each citizen living
8 Q. On that same day, the 1st of May, 1993, you
9 also had a meeting with a representative of the Red
10 Cross, de la Mota, and he raised an issue regarding the
11 prevention of freedom of movement for Muslims. Tell us
12 how this conversation evolved.
13 A. This meeting was a rather lengthy one with
14 Mr. de la Mota and there were a number of agenda items
15 discussed. A special issue was the problem of Bosniak
16 Muslims living in Gacice, and de la Mota underlined the
17 problem that there were Bosniak Muslims living in seven
18 houses, that they were from Gacice, whereas the other
19 houses were not fit for accommodation, damaged, some of
20 them burnt, or they had been moved into by other
21 refugees; and de la Mota stressed that the Bosniak
22 Muslims in those seven houses were actually hostages
23 because they did not enjoy freedom of movement. He
24 even said that each of the Bosniak Muslims whose house
25 had been burned in the village of Gacice or which was
1 unfit to live in would voluntarily move to the area of
2 Zenica or, rather, areas under the control of the BH
4 Mr. de la Mota asked me to implement the
5 principle of freedom of movement and said that the
6 Bosniak Muslims wanted to leave Gacice to other areas
7 under control of the BH army and that they were willing
8 to sign a paper to that effect.
9 At the time, I told Mr. de la Mota that his
10 position was probably shared by the International Red
11 Cross but that it was in contradiction with the
12 position of the UNHCR because if Bosniak Muslims were
13 to leave the village of Gacice, then the UNHCR would
14 assess that as an instance of ethnic cleansing; and
15 since they were still in the village of Gacice,
16 Mr. de la Mota, the representative of the Red Cross,
17 described this as not allowing them freedom of
19 As far as I can remember, this problem was
20 later resolved in such a way that the majority of the
21 Bosniak Muslims, escorted by the UN, left Gacice via
22 Dubravica to Zenica, but I know that the army did not
23 participate in that resettlement of the population.
24 At that meeting, we also discussed the
25 question of detained Croatian civilians; I also
1 requested the evacuation of the wounded from the church
2 hospital in Nova Bila; I also asked for
3 Mr. de la Mota's assistance in taking care of the
4 displaced who were coming on a weekly basis in large
5 groups from Zenica to Vitez. I also mentioned the
6 example of the disappearance of Croats in Zenica. I
7 gave a specific example of Mr. Nenad Gelic who had gone
8 missing from Zenica, and also some of his neighbours.
9 I also asked for information about Mr. Zivko Totic, the
10 commander of the Zenica Brigade, and the four officers
11 from the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade command in Novi
12 Travnik. I also asked for information about private
13 prisons in Zenica, such as the prison held by the 7th
14 Muslim Brigade in the music school, and I inquired
15 about the fate of Mr. Dobrica Jonjic, to see whether he
16 was alive at all, then also I asked for information
17 about prisoners being held in Kacuni, Tarcin, Rostovo,
18 and I also promised that I would provide a list of
19 casualties to Mr. de la Mota -- I'm thinking of HVO
20 casualties -- and I asked him to also make efforts to
21 ensure the implementation of the cease-fire agreement.
22 That would roughly be the contents of our
24 I also spoke with him about the need to act
25 on the part of the joint commission, that is, that it
1 should investigate crimes or, rather, that the
2 International Red Cross must participate in
3 investigating all crimes committed in the area of the
4 Lasva River Valley.
5 After that meeting, I received information
6 from the intelligence service that troops were
7 gathering at Ravno and Rostovo of the 7th Muslim
8 Brigade and that reinforcements were being brought from
9 Bugojno to Novi Travnik. Mr. Filip Filipovic, a member
10 of the joint command of the armed forces of Bosnia and
11 Herzegovina, but representing the HVO, informed me
12 during the day that in the gas factory in Bilalovac,
13 there were about 59 detained Croats; and in the course
14 of the day I was informed that the joint command of the
15 3rd Corps and the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia
16 would tour Pezici and Kruscica in the Vitez
17 municipality as well as Tarcin and the Silo.
18 Towards the end of the day, another issue was
19 raised, and that is the passage of the convoy for
20 Zenica and Gorazde, and the convoy for Zenica and
21 Gradacac. Both these convoys were convoys carrying
22 armaments and military equipment for the needs of the
23 BH army.
24 On the 2nd of May, 1993, I had a meeting with
25 the command of the Vitez Brigade, and at that meeting I
1 was told that 130 Croats had already arrived from
2 Zenica and had settled in Donja Veceriska, and that
3 they were trying to bring their families from Zenica to
4 Vitez, and that they were working on exchanges of
5 apartments and houses with Bosniak Muslims in Vitez.
6 I was also informed about the problems of
7 combat operations and the large length of the front,
8 the exhaustion of personnel, and the difficulty in
9 finding replacements with more rested soldiers.
10 Q. The appearance of exiled people from Zenica
11 in Donja Veceriska, were they given permission from the
12 civilian or military authorities, do you know? If you
13 do know, did the military participate in those
14 exchanges for the benefit of their families from
16 A. I know that they were not given permission
17 from the military authorities, nor did the military
18 authority participate in those arrangements, linked to
19 their moving in in Donja Veceriska, but I don't know
20 whether they were given permission by the civilian
21 authorities or not, I have no such information.
22 Q. Please continue.
23 A. I was informed at the meeting that the
24 heaviest fighting was in Kruscica, Vranjska, Gradina,
25 Krcevine, Jardol, Dubravica, Nadioci, Grbavica, and, in
1 fact, the entire northern part of the front line of the
2 Vitez Brigade. There was also some discussion about
3 crime and various forms of criminal activity, looting,
4 eviction of people from homes and various other forms
5 of violence. The perpetrators mostly were military
6 conscripts coming from the area of Zenica, who wanted,
7 at all costs, to resolve their vital problems and were
8 ready to engage in illegal activities to do so.
9 In the course of the day, I was also informed
10 that equipment had been seized from a press team, and
11 this was another manifestation of roadside burglaries,
12 when certain groups would steal and then return this
13 property after receiving compensation.
14 I spoke to Croat civilians from Poculica who
15 had been exiled already on the 16th from their homes,
16 but I didn't get any information from the brigade
17 commander about them. He briefed me by saying that
18 this was a problem that was being dealt with by the
19 civilian exchange commission, which was headed by
20 Mr. Pero Skopljak.
21 Around 18.37 and 19.00, a sniper from BH army
22 positions in Stari Vitez opened fire on the command of
23 the headquarters of the operational zone, that is the
24 hotel building, and late in the evening I was also
25 informed that the exiled Croats of Komusine, Jajce, and
1 Kotor Varos had again been evicted from villages in the
2 municipality of Vitez and Busovaca as a result of
3 combat activity with the BH army in the period between
4 the 16th and the 20th or 21st of April.
5 On the 3rd of May, 1993, I received
6 information from the Vitez Brigade that on some 28
7 kilometres of the front 1.600 soldiers were engaged,
8 that is, mobilised conscripts, but that a major problem
9 was the shortage of weaponry for all the soldiers.
10 I was then also informed of the problem of
11 the shortage of food, and during the day of the 3rd of
12 May, I received for the first time a list from the
13 Vitez Brigade command and a list of the 1st Battalion
14 of the Vitez Brigade. Until then, we didn't have any
15 lists and this, perhaps, was an indicator of the level
16 of organisation in the Vitez Brigade.
17 I was also informed about the soldiers who
18 had been put out of action and about the tendency of
19 desertion of the front in Novi Travnik.
20 At 10.50, I had a meeting with the commander
21 of the Frankopan Brigade of Travnik municipality, who
22 informed me that the situation was extremely complex in
23 their area, that they were receiving messages from
24 their neighbours, Bosniak Muslims, to abandon their
25 villages, and that they should have no reason to
1 continue waiting in their homes or staying in their
2 homes. He also said that the greatest difficulties
3 were in the villages of Maljine, Podovi, Suhi Dol,
4 Simule (phoen), Zume, Bukovci, Humac.
5 In the course of the day, after this meeting
6 with the commander of the Frankopan Brigade, I had some
7 reports that a convoy would be passing carrying weapons
8 and military equipment for the BH army for Tuzla, that
9 is, the 2nd Corps, and partly for Brcko. This is the
10 2nd Corps of the BH army.
11 Then the military service notified me that in
12 the area of Zenica, under the supervision of the BH
13 army, there were captured Croats kept in private
14 prisons, in the barracks in Arnauti, Bilimiste, in the
15 penitentiary at Zenica where about 640 Croats were kept
16 under detention. Then I was informed that at the music
17 school in Zenica there were also some captured Croats
18 being kept, and during the military operations, about
19 24 Croats were killed, and 47 houses were burnt in
20 Zenica, and the rest of them were devastated.
21 According to the information I received from
22 the Military Intelligence Service, altogether Croats
23 had been evicted from about 20 villages in the upper
24 part of Zenica, that is, to the south-west that adjoins
25 the Travnik municipality.
1 At 14.00, I received the information from the
2 assistant for security that members of the military
3 police were forcibly evicting Bosniak Muslims from the
4 flats or their family houses in Vitez and that they
5 were taking these flats and houses for themselves, so
6 that some members had as many as two flats.
7 That afternoon, on the 3rd of May, I also had
8 a meeting with the representative of the International
9 Red Cross. I think the person's name was Clare.
10 Colonel Stewart was accompanying her. They told me
11 that an understanding had been reached between the
12 representatives of the 3rd Corps of the BH army to
13 carry out an exchange of 9 HVO members, including
14 abducted officers of the Stjepan Tomasevic and Zenica
15 Brigades, and 3 journalists, that is, 12 altogether, to
16 exchange them for Mujahedeen who were being detained at
17 a district investigative prison in...
18 After that first part of the meeting and the
19 information that exchange would be governed by the
20 International Red Cross criteria and with the mediation
21 of the International Red Cross, Colonel Stewart said
22 that because of the events in Ahmici, the HVO would
23 earn a bad name.
24 He told me on that occasion that
25 representatives for human rights of the United Nations
1 had been, on the 2nd of May, in Ahmici and that they
2 were exposed to sniper fire in spite of the UNPROFOR
3 escort and one of his soldiers had been wounded by
4 protecting them. Fortunately, he said, his life was
5 not in danger.
6 I also told him that because of the ongoing
7 fighting, the security situation in Ahmici was very
8 bad, and it was almost impossible to enter the area
9 because the houses in the village immediately next to
10 the front line, that is, some ten metres away from the
11 last house, and the forces were still in contact.
12 Colonel Stewart said that he wanted peace to return,
13 that is, recommend a cease-fire between the BH army and
14 the Croat defence council, and I said that is what I
15 wanted too. That meeting, on the 3rd of May, 1993,
16 ended in this fashion.
17 Q. In relation to the information you received
18 at 14.00 from CIS that military policemen were evicting
19 Muslims from their flats, will you please tell us if on
20 one of the following days you did something?
21 A. Yes, I organised a meeting, and you will see,
22 according to chronology of events, when that happened.
23 I also spoke to the military police, referring to my
24 command, and the contact contrary to my orders
25 regarding the attitude to housing. This was counter to
1 my orders.
2 Q. Please proceed.
3 A. On the 4th of May, the BH army attacked at
4 the front in Busovaca, and they endangered the
5 Busovaca-Kacuni road and the Busovaca-Kaonik road too.
6 I had a meeting in the morning with
7 Mr. Nakic, and I asked him to suggest to Dzemo Merdan
8 to try, at the joint meeting, to resolve the problem of
9 eviction of Croats from Zenica and Travnik and Bosniak
10 Muslims from Vitez and Busovaca, as it was evident that
11 the phenomenon was interrelated or, rather, that all
12 bad that happened to Croats in Zenica found its
13 reflection in the situation and that the fate of
14 Bosniak Muslims in Vitez, and the reverse held true as
16 Q. Before you proceed, I should like to show you
17 D369. So Exhibit D369, 3rd of May, 1993. It was
18 written by Mario Cerkez, the commander of the Vitez
19 Brigade. It begins that: "It is forbidden for all
20 members of HVO units to enter by force the houses and
21 flats of families of Muslim nationality. All members
22 of the HVO units are here by ordered immediately to
23 move out of all forcibly occupied flats and houses, and
24 to inform the People's Protection (library building)
25 about their moving out."
1 So will you please tell me, this order, was
2 it taken at your order, with your knowledge?
3 A. Yes, it was the result of my order issued
4 before that, and it clearly shows that some people
5 behaved contrary to provisions of this order.
6 Q. Even though chronologically it came a few
7 days later but it, nevertheless, is related. So can we
8 see D368, Exhibit D368, please?
9 So this is D368 and you invite -- rather, you
10 order your commander, the commander of the 4th military
11 police battalion, and this is the process actually too
12 because it is significant.
13 "Actions contrary to the given orders and
14 assignments, order.
15 "On 30 May 1993, the officer on duty in the
16 Central Bosnia Operative Zone informed me that
17 Mr. Franjo Ramljak and Mr. Slavko Hrgic, both members
18 of the Military Police, were expelling Muslim families
19 by force. This was despite the order which bans such
20 actions for which the above-named gentlemen are
21 responsible. In order to prevent further actions that
22 hinder the execution of orders and the correct
23 behaviour of Military Police members in carrying out
24 their assignments,
25 I HEREBY ORDER
1 1. Conduct an investigation into this case
2 and take disciplinary measures against the culprits in
3 this incident.
4 2. Report to me explaining why, despite a
5 number of warnings, certain members of your unit are
6 still causing such negative occurrences instead of
7 protecting public order, and suggest further actions to
8 prevent such occurrences in future.
9 3. The deadline for execution of this order
10 is 5 June 1993."
11 Signed by Commander Tihomir Blaskic.
12 General, will you please tell us the
13 circumstances under which you issued this order and how
14 do you see -- as the commander Operative Zone yet you
15 have to address the matter of a concrete police in a
16 concrete flat in a concrete incident?
17 A. Well, to begin with, we were completely
18 surrounded. Fighting was still going on, and I said
19 that the military police was a tool for the command and
20 control, which was not under my command and control. I
21 expected that the military police, while performing
22 their daily tasks, would sanction individual cases of
23 persecution, of eviction of Bosniak Muslims from their
24 flats and implement -- do something to implement the
25 orders I issued in this sense. However, instead of
1 such an activity, I was faced with the phenomenon that
2 the military police evicted Bosniak Muslims from flats
3 and houses, and in this order, I requested that this
4 case be investigated and that the commander take
5 disciplinary measures. As I was not able, it was not
6 under my jurisdiction to take disciplinary measures in
8 Q. Tell me whether -- or, rather, if and did the
9 commander of the military police refuse to act upon
10 your orders, or did he do that, but then what did you
11 do, or what could you do?
12 A. Well, it depended on what happened, I would
13 see then, but my strongest weapon was to repeat the
14 order, that is, ordered upon order, that is, I would
15 write, "Please be so kind as to execute the order and
16 quote the number," and then I would repeat it, of
17 course. I would also inform the commander of the chief
18 of the headquarters.
19 Q. But could you replace the military police
21 A. I told you no, I could not dismiss him
22 because the command or control of the military police
23 units were not under my jurisdiction. They could carry
24 out my orders, but I had no competencies over them, over
25 the military police units.
1 MR. NOBILO: I have some terminological
2 problems, my colleague warns me, with commander of --
3 with "commander of the chief of the headquarters."
4 A. So far, we used the term "chief of staff."
5 MR. NOBILO: So we used "chief of the main
7 Q. That is the supreme commanding body of the
8 HVO in Mostar.
9 A. Yes, the chief of staff in Mostar -- chief of
10 staff in Mostar.
11 Q. There was, I think, something else that was
12 not quite clear. What did you think? Were the
13 military police subordinated to you or not? Was there
14 a difference between your view and the view of the
15 military police commander? It was after the 63rd that
16 was -- it was after the battle when the military police
17 were resubordinated to you. So what did you think in
18 the wake of the battle? Were they still resubordinated
19 to you or not?
20 JUDGE JORDA: I believe we have already
21 addressed this question, Mr. Nobilo. I think we have
22 discussed it. We discussed already the question of
24 MR. NOBILO: Yes. Yes, we did, in the course
25 of the battle, during the war, but now we have
1 approached the end of May, so maybe there is not a
2 direct battle, and under those peacetime conditions,
3 say, were the military police still resubordinated or
4 perhaps only during the fighting? Only one sense.
5 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: May I interrupt to ask a
6 question, General? I understand the position to be
7 this, that you could issue directions to the military
8 police warning against evictions and you could request
9 disciplinary action to be taken by the proper
10 authorities for any infractions of your directions but
11 that you yourself lacked the power to pursue the matter
12 further, you had no competence over the actual
13 sanctioned procedure; is that correct?
14 A. It is correct, Your Honour. I was not the
15 superior to the military police. I could only ask them
16 to do certain things, that is, to implement some of my
18 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: What I want to ask is
19 this: Do you have any knowledge to give to the Trial
20 Chamber as to whether any sanctions were ever imposed
21 by the proper authorities for any infractions of your
22 directions that there were to be no evictions?
23 A. Your Honour, do you mean by the command of
24 the military police, for instance?
25 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: By anyone who happened
1 to be the proper authority to impose sanctions.
2 A. Yes, they were pronounced.
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: They were pronounced.
4 Some cases? How many cases?
5 A. It is difficult to be accurate about that,
6 but sanctions for such offences or any other offences
7 were pronounced, and in the latter half of 1993,
8 summary records were kept on them, that is, we had the
9 summary of discipline measures pronounced for such and
10 similar offences.
11 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: What kind of
12 disciplinary measures were pronounced?
13 A. Well, the mildest one was admonition, then
14 military detention of three days, seven days, fifteen
15 days, thirty days, and a maximum of sixty days of
16 military detention.
17 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I wonder whether I have
18 been as clear as I should have been. I didn't want to
19 know what were the maximum punishments which were
20 possible, I was asking -- or, rather, I intended to ask
21 what kinds of punishment were, in fact, administered?
22 A. Punishment by military detention and the
23 punishment of admonition; those were disciplinary forms
24 of punishment. Punishment for crimes pronounced by the
25 district military court, I have no information about
1 that, but I do know that for a while, the district
2 military court worked, but they conducted criminal
3 cases rather than disciplinary infractions or offences.
4 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Let me try a little
5 more -- I acknowledge that the fault is entirely on my
6 side. Were there any infractions of these directions
7 which you issued against eviction of people? Were
8 there any infractions, any breaches?
9 A. Yes, there were, and there were actions which
10 were contrary to my orders.
11 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: What I'm asking about is
12 this: Were any punishments imposed for those
13 infractions and, if so, what kinds of punishment were,
14 in fact, imposed for those infractions?
15 A. Your Honour, I'm not sure I understood you
16 properly. You mean the infraction, as in infraction,
17 actions contrary to my orders?
18 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: That's right. Were
19 people sent to gaol --
20 A. You mean in this specific case, the military
21 police commander?
22 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Yes.
23 A. No, never, because I had no jurisdiction over
24 him. I was not his superior and I could not take any
1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I understand you very
2 well. You couldn't send the police commander to gaol;
3 you could report that there were certain breaches of
4 your instructions and you could ask that the military
5 police disciplinary procedures be activated. After
6 that I understand you to be saying the matter was out
7 of your hands.
8 What I'm asking, General, is this: Were
9 there, in fact, any cases in which anyone was, in fact,
10 punished for violating your orders that there were to
11 be no infractions, no evictions, and, if so, what kinds
12 of punishment were meted out to those people? Were
13 they admonished? Were they sent to gaol?
14 A. Instances of their being in gaol, I do not --
15 no, not to my knowledge, but there were certain
16 measures that were taken of particular duties. Perhaps
17 you will see later from the chronology. Not only in
18 this particular case but in relation to all other
19 actions, I wrote to the commander, to the chief of
20 staff, and asked him to intercede and see that these
21 people are taken off duty. Unfortunately, this did not
22 take place automatically but it did eventually happen.
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you, General.
24 Mr. Nobilo, I apologise for interrupting you.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps it is now time to make
1 a short break. Thank you. A quarter of an hour
3 --- Recess taken at 3.10 p.m.
4 --- On resuming at 3.35 p.m.
5 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please
6 be seated. Mr. Nobilo.
7 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
8 Q. General, before the break, in answer to a
9 question by His Honour Judge Shahabuddeen, you said
10 that some persons were dismissed from duty, that you
11 had requested this from the chief of staff but,
12 unfortunately, this did not happen automatically but it
13 did happen eventually. So could you tell us, whose
14 dismissal did you request and why did you consider this
15 to be important for your Operational Zone and when did
16 this happen?
17 A. I intervened with the chief of staff of the
18 main staff, that he replace the commander of the
19 military police, and that he change the organisational
20 structure of the military police, which I considered to
21 be wrong, and that he reorganise the military police in
22 the Central Bosnia Operative Zone as a whole. The
23 replacement of the commander of the military police
24 happened about the 4th of August, 1993, and after the
25 4th of August, the entire command structure of the
1 military police was changed.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me. I didn't quite
3 understand. When did you ask for this replacement?
4 When did you make the request? I think that is what
5 Mr. Nobilo asked you. When did you make the request
6 for the replacement? I beg your pardon. Please
8 A. Mr. President, the replacement occurred on
9 the 4th of August, 1993.
10 JUDGE JORDA: No, but the question was: When
11 did you ask for this replacement? When did you ask for
12 the replacement?
13 A. I asked for the replacement to take place, at
14 a meeting with the chief of staff of the main staff on
15 the 30th of April, 1993, then again on the 29th of May,
16 1993, and on the 10th of June, 1993. I insisted on the
17 replacement of the commander, but I also insisted on a
18 change of the total command structure of the military
19 police, on its reorganisation and a change of the
20 system of control and command within the military
22 MR. NOBILO:
23 Q. We will be discussing that in detail later
24 but, tell us, at this moment when the commander of the
25 military police was changed, did you manage to get
1 authority to command the military police in the Lasva
2 River Valley?
3 A. Yes, I did. I managed that with the new
4 commander, Mr. Marinko Palavra who was appointed the
5 commander of the 4th Military Police Battalion, and I
6 acquired authority to command the military police
7 during the period we were surrounded.
8 Q. Were there any important personnel changes in
9 the military police personnel?
10 A. Not only were there personnel changes, but
11 the whole command structure of the military police was
12 changed, and we embarked, step by step, upon the
13 reorganisation of the military police. That was one of
14 my key duties, and I was personally involved in the
15 training of the new commanders of the companies, the
16 military policemen, and the organisation of the
17 military police as a whole.
18 Q. Thank you. We will go into details later,
19 but now I have another question for you. Document
20 D368, we see a direct command to the commander of the
21 4th Military Police Battalion, Pasko Ljubicic, and in
22 this order you draw attention to negative tendencies in
23 the military police and request changes.
24 I should like to know what was the reason for
25 this, the reason why, correction, after the event in
1 Ahmici you did not also, in writing, issue a command to
2 Pasko Ljubicic, or why didn't you call him to report to
3 you and tell him, "Why did you give me false reports as
4 to what you did in Ahmici?" Why didn't you do that?
5 Could you explain that to Their Honours?
6 A. Personally, I thought that such a step would
7 be naive on my part because upon receipt of the letter
8 from Colonel Stewart, I became aware that this
9 commander was sending me false reports throughout and
10 that just to confront him with the facts would caution
11 the commander of the military police, which would make
12 it possible for him to take measures to make difficult
13 any investigation or even to prevent an investigation
14 into the crimes in Ahmici. This was a crime that I had
15 publicly condemned and this was the first time that we
16 witnessed such a tragedy of that proportion.
17 Therefore, the investigation had to be at the highest
18 possible level and it would have to involve also a
19 break-up of the command structure of the military
21 Q. Why did you feel that that command structure
22 of the military police needed to be broken up within
23 the context of the investigation into the crime in
25 A. Precisely because I'm confident that if the
1 same command structure were to remain, ties of
2 solidarity would be strengthened among the members of
3 the military police, and probably the same hierarchy
4 within the police would have been retained, and this
5 would have only encumbered and even made impossible the
6 conduct of investigations.
7 JUDGE JORDA: I have a little problem,
8 General Blaskic. We're talking about Exhibit D368.
9 We're talking about the 31st of May, 1993, and the
10 events in Ahmici occurred on the 16th of April.
11 I don't quite understand. You said that you
12 would have been naive, but don't you think it was also
13 naive on your part to ask somebody you didn't trust,
14 that is, the commander of the 4th Military Police
15 Battalion, to investigate evictions, whereas for
16 several weeks you have a great deal of distrust towards
17 this commander?
18 We're not talking any more about the Ahmici
19 investigation. I don't know whether you even mentioned
20 it at the meeting of the 3rd May. We're now on the
21 31st of May, and we are discussing an investigation on
22 evictions. But you are, after all, not naive. You
23 knew that the commander of the Military Police
24 Battalion was somebody who was involved, at least as a
25 commander, in the event in Ahmici. How would you not
1 be naive in sending this order and be naive if you had
2 sent another order? What is the naivetes in this?
3 A. Mr. President, I sent this order to the
4 commander of the military police but also to the
5 assistant for security who had to have this order in
6 mind, and who would supervise the reaction of the
7 military police commander. I tried to affect a
8 replacement of the military police commander, among
9 other things, by sending orders of this kind and
10 gauging the reaction to them.
11 So after all, this was a disciplinary
12 infraction on the part of his soldiers, but my message
13 was that he was acting contrary to my orders. In my
14 efforts to have him replaced, I went step by step.
15 JUDGE JORDA: I understand and it is normal
16 for you to have had a plan, but here you have sent an
17 order to the 4th Military Police Battalion on organised
18 expulsions by two individuals, Ramljak and Hrgic. The
19 date is the 31st of May. Did you make a written report
20 to the commander of the 4th Military Police Battalion
21 in Ahmici, because after all, it's been a month and a
22 half since those events in Ahmici. It seems to me that
23 I would have sent a much firmer, clear-cut order.
24 There's Ahmici, there's expulsions, there's this, and
25 there's that, "a meeting tomorrow in my office."
1 I appreciate your position, but one is a bit
2 astonished. You're not obliged to answer. I
3 understand your strategy, but we must admit that
4 certain questions do arise.
5 This is six weeks after Ahmici. You yourself
6 say that it is a major crime. The International
7 Community is horrified by what it has learned.
8 Colonel Stewart, whom you met on the 3rd of May, you
9 don't even mention Ahmici again, according to my notes,
10 and then you write a little letter to the commander of
11 the 4th Military Police Battalion saying, "You see, you
12 have two individuals who are not acting properly and
13 mistreating Muslims. Make an inquiry, submit a
14 report," and so on.
15 I won't say any more, but it's because you
16 spoke about naivetes. You said you would have been
17 naive to have done otherwise. So my question is:
18 Wasn't it naive to do this? But I think
19 Judge Rodrigues has a question.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, Mr. President.
21 I take advantage of this interruption to ask
22 you a question, General Blaskic.
23 You said that after some time you became
24 aware that this commander was sending you false
25 reports; yes?
1 A. Yes.
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: My question is the
3 following: Did you, at the time, know the reasons or
4 do you now know the reasons why this commander was
5 sending you false reports because we are talking here
6 about false reports, not reports that are lacking and
7 incomplete, you are talking about false reports? Why
8 at the time and why now, after the knowledge that you
9 now have?
10 A. I didn't know until I was confronted with
11 Colonel Stewart's letter, I was not aware that I was
12 receiving false reports until then. When I read the
13 letter by Colonel Stewart, I became aware that I was
14 being misled and that I was receiving false reports.
15 But what the motive of that commander was, what the
16 background was to all this, I don't know, but I became
17 aware that he was sending me false reports, and I
18 thought to myself: If I were to call him and tell him,
19 "Look, here's Colonel Stewart's report, here is your
20 report," in that case I would have made even more
21 difficult, or even prevented, an investigation knowing
22 that I had no jurisdiction over the control and command
23 of his units because it was not a question of just one
24 individual but a unit of which he was the commander
25 independently from me.
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, allow me to go
2 back to the question. Certainly you became aware of
3 that. This situation became a very serious situation
4 for you.
5 A. It was serious and tragic and perhaps the
6 worst situation for me, and I became aware of that.
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes, I agree, but at least
8 did you yourself ask yourself: Why is this person
9 doing this to me?
10 A. I did try to ask myself what was the reason
11 and why this was happening, why this had happened.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes, but in your thoughts,
13 in your reasoning, did you have any hypothesis at
14 least, any assumptions to explain this?
15 A. On the 27th of April, at the press
16 conference, I said publicly that this was a crime that
17 had been planned, that had been organised, and that was
18 carried out under somebody's control, and I was indeed
19 interested to find out not only who the perpetrators
20 were but what was at the root of this crime, and it did
21 not occur to me that the command of the military police
22 could have been the one who had planned it. The entire
23 background was not clear to me nor any links that may
24 have existed between the commander of the military
25 police, myself, and any other authority.
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But, General Blaskic, let
2 me go back to my question: Did you find any
3 hypothetical explanations for the false reports that
4 this commander was sending you?
5 A. On the basis of my knowledge at the time and
6 of what I know now, I believe that either he himself
7 was aware of the tragedy and didn't have the courage to
8 report to me about it or he believed in protecting
9 certain people in authority who were more powerful than
10 me and who were closer to him. I really have no other
11 explanation what could have prompted him to send me
12 false reports or, rather, not to inform me about what
13 had happened.
14 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I don't want to induce your
15 answers, but what about this hypothesis, that this
16 commander was against your command or perhaps that he
17 had objectives that differed from your objectives?
18 Have you understood my question?
19 A. I'm sorry, I -- I didn't quite understand the
20 translation I received. Perhaps it is the
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: My question is, as I have
23 said, that I'm not going to put any explanations in
24 your mouth, so I leave open all possible hypotheses.
25 But what would you say with regard to this hypothesis:
1 (1) This commander was opposed to your position as
2 commander. He did not agree that General Blaskic
3 should be the commander of the Central Bosnia Operative
4 Zone; perhaps he wanted to see somebody else in that
5 position or something of that kind.
6 The second hypothesis: He had objectives
7 that differed entirely from the objectives that you
8 pursued, that you put in your orders, that you
9 expressed in various ways of communication. So it was
10 a personal matter, he was opposed to you, or a more
11 substantial reason, he was against your policies. What
12 do you think about these hypotheses? Have you
13 understood my question now?
14 A. Yes, Your Honour. Yes, I did understand your
15 question. It is difficult for me to say whether he was
16 against me personally. I did not see any reason why
17 this commander should be against me, why he should
18 dislike me, but whether he was against my convictions,
19 be that as it may, I always condemned such misdeeds and
20 I never -- I mean, I could really never dream that
21 anything like the crime in Ahmici could ever happen.
22 It is difficult for me to judge him, but he was against
23 my convictions.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General Blaskic.
25 A. Thank you very much.
1 JUDGE JORDA: I should like to turn to the
2 Defence. I do not have a question for the witness
3 because I do not want to embarrass him and I do not
4 think that we should do it here before the Tribunal,
5 and I should also like to reassure you, Mr. Nobilo and
6 Mr. Hayman, that I should really like to know if it is
7 the official thesis of the Defence to consider that the
8 Ahmici massacre was organised by the commander of the
9 military police battalion with the complicity, more or
10 less, of somebody who was above General Blaskic.
11 Let me repeat this. Let me do this:
12 Mr. Blaskic does not talk about Ahmici at present and
13 he -- and he is saying that it was a systematically
14 planned operation. I don't know whether -- are you
15 having any difficulties with the --
16 MR. HAYMAN: One thing I don't understand,
17 Mr. President. It was interpreted as "Mr. Blaskic does
18 not talk about Ahmici at present." I don't understand
19 what you mean. We've been talking about it for weeks,
20 if not years.
21 JUDGE JORDA: No, no, no. No, no, no, no.
22 No, no, no. No, please. It is a problem which arises
23 both for the Prosecution and for the Defence. I did
24 not want to embarrass the accused because he is now our
25 witness, but I have noted that for several days -- and
1 I am trying to speak slowly -- and especially this
2 afternoon, we are talking about Ahmici, and we find
3 that Ahmici was programmed, planned -- not by the
4 accused, naturally -- that the accused finds it is a
5 crime, but now we say -- we find that it is the
6 commander of the military police battalion, and our
7 witness is also saying, at least he answered Judge
8 Rodrigues that perhaps he was conniving with some
9 higher echelons.
10 Now, my question, and perhaps I don't expect
11 an answer either from the Prosecution or from the
12 Defence, but as a Judge I am entitled to ask it, and
13 that is whether the commander of the military police
14 battalion has been indicted by this Tribunal.
15 Gentlemen, you do not have to answer today, of course.
16 Now I turn to the Defence. In your system of
17 defence, are you now affirming the idea -- at this
18 point at which we are now -- that the Ahmici massacre
19 was planned by some HVO elements which were of the
20 military police, HVO police. You do not have to answer
21 this question now, you may wait, but after all that we
22 heard today, I simply cannot but interfere because we
23 are talking about this and we shall now hear that Mr.
24 -- I can't remember his name, that he programmed the
25 massacre in Ahmici and so on and so forth.
1 So I am not asking you to answer me today,
2 either the Prosecution or you, the Defence, but I
3 believe that my colleagues also share my view to ask
4 this question because we are now in a public session
5 and we see an interpretation which seems to make it
6 clear to everybody because in -- Ahmici happened
7 because we had the military police here, and the
8 military police commander had also his superior.
9 I am turning therefore to the Prosecutor to
10 ask them regarding their strategy and also I am posing
11 this question too. As I said, you do not have to
12 answer it now, but will you please think about that?
13 MR. HAYMAN: I would like to answer the
14 question in private session.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. We are going into
16 private session.
17 (Private session)
13 Page 19156 to 19163 redacted in private session
9 (Open session)
10 MR. NOBILO:
11 Q. Thank you. We must now go back to the
12 testimony of General Blaskic. The question was why he
13 didn't call Pasko Ljubicic after hearing from
14 Colonel Stewart about the crime in Ahmici. Among other
15 things, he said that that would have been naive, that
16 the entire command structure needs to be broken up --
17 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, counsel. I don't
18 think there's any need for counsel to recite the
19 testimony that was before the Court, unless counsel, of
20 course, has another question in this regard. Thank
22 MR. NOBILO: A half an hour has gone by in
23 the meantime, so I thought it necessary to focus on the
24 point which we had reached before the break.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, trust the Judges.
1 They will not lose the thread in half an hour. If so,
2 they would have long since lost the thread of the trial
3 in view of the 22 months that we have been working. So
4 please continue.
5 MR. NOBILO:
6 Q. General, did you have any competencies, very
7 briefly, to go to the police, military police, and
8 break up their command structure?
9 A. No. In my letter, when I wrote it on the
10 23rd, to Colonel Stewart and in all the subsequent
11 discussions with representatives of the International
12 Community, I sought assistance in carrying out the
13 investigation, hoping that the international
14 institutions at the highest level, as well as
15 representatives of the BH army and the HVO, would join
16 in this investigation.
17 Q. Why are you seeking assistance from the top
18 leadership of the HVO, the BH army, and international
19 institutions? Why did you need assistance in the
20 investigation in Ahmici?
21 A. I asked for assistance because I knew that on
22 my own I do not have the necessary strength to carry
23 out a comprehensive investigation. When I say
24 "investigation," I mean to identify the perpetrators
25 as well as those who had planned and organised the
1 whole operation. I was not competent to break up the
2 command structure, but nor did I have the actual power
3 to carry such a thing out within the military police,
4 to replace the commander of the military police, to
5 arrest 20 or 30 military policemen, to interrogate them
6 and so on.
7 Q. What did you ask the top leadership of the
8 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna in terms of the way
9 you thought the investigation should have been carried
11 A. I was assisted by the suggestion made by
12 Colonel Stewart, and I accepted his idea, and I put it
13 down in my written report, that the military and
14 political leadership should be in Vitez, and that this
15 would give momentum and support to the work of the
16 investigating commission.
17 I thought that a joint investigating
18 commission, when I say "joint," I mean with
19 representatives of both the BH army and the HVO, should
20 be of the highest level and should have comprehensive
21 powers. That means that it could be able to dismiss
22 any commander on the spot, within the military police
23 structure, who may have in any way -- who may in any
24 way be suspected, or even if he concealed knowledge
25 about the impending crime and, of course, it should
1 have the right to arrest all the perpetrators.
2 I thought it particularly important that
3 representatives of the BH army should participate, so
4 that investigation could be complete with regard to the
5 soldiers and civilians who were already in the area
6 under the control of the BH army, and the results of
7 the investigation would have been more convincing and
8 more complete if representatives of the BH army had
9 participated together with the highest representatives
10 of the HVO.
11 Q. Did anyone that you addressed for assistance,
12 that is the BH army, UNPROFOR, the European Monitors,
13 the political and military leadership of Herceg-Bosna,
14 did any one of those give you assistance in the
15 investigation in Ahmici in 1993?
16 A. No. I was left on my own, confronted with
17 three, for me, most important problems at the time, and
18 those were the investigation; two, measures to prevent
19 a repetition of crime; and three, defence of biological
20 survival in an area in which we were totally encircled
21 and in which the forces of the BH army were eight to
22 ten times more powerful in personnel and in terms of
23 weaponry as compared to us in the enclave. This
24 enclave was between one and six kilometres wide, and
25 its maximum length was 10 to 12 kilometres.
1 Q. How do you interpret the fact that the BH
2 army did not show interest in the crimes in Ahmici in
3 the sense of investigating those crimes in 1993? How
4 do you interpret that? Up to perhaps a hundred
5 Bosniaks were killed there.
6 A. This is a question I have given thought to
7 myself, because not at a single of the numerous
8 meetings of the joint command did anybody insist on
9 discovering and identifying the perpetrators of the
10 crimes in Ahmici.
11 I personally believe that the crime in Ahmici
12 was a good reason for the top leadership of the BH army
13 to launch operations to conquer Croatian territories in
14 Travnik, Novi Travnik, Bugojno, Fojnica, Kakanj, Vares,
15 and Zepce but, unfortunately, the crime in Ahmici also
16 served as a motive for revenge among members of the BH
17 army, so that there were a series of crimes that
18 occurred in Bikosi, Maljine, Miletici, Krizancevo Selo,
19 Buhine Kuce, Kiseljak near Zepce, Grmace in Kakanj,
20 Gornja Zenica, Fojnica, Ostruznica, and partly in Novi
21 Travnik, the village of Rostovci.
22 Your Honours, Judge Shahabuddeen has a
24 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, do forgive me.
25 You may have said this before and I may have missed a
1 thread. On the 16th of April, were the military police
2 attached to you?
3 A. As of 11.42, it was -- they were attached to
5 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: That means as of 11.42,
6 Pasko Ljubicic was within your command?
7 A. He was attached to me because of the all-out
8 attack, but the time of that attachment or
9 resubordination was interpreted differently but nothing
10 changed in terms of the structure. He continued to be
11 directly subordinate to the police administration, but
12 temporarily he was resubordinated to me as of 11.42.
13 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, General, you have
14 described the occurrences at Ahmici as crimes, and they
15 were the subject of writings in the media; is that
17 A. Yes.
18 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You had a proper concern
19 in the matter.
20 A. Yes.
21 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, when did you first
22 discover that Pasko Ljubicic was sending you false
24 A. I established that when I received the letter
25 from Colonel Stewart on the 22nd of April, the 22nd of
1 April, 1993.
2 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, within your
3 military training, would you regard it as a serious
4 matter if, on a serious question, false reports were
5 submitted to you?
6 A. Yes, I would consider it a serious matter.
7 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Would you normally
8 institute disciplinary measures against the person
9 submitting a false report to you on a serious matter?
10 A. Yes, if the person is within my structure or,
11 rather, if I am competent for instituting such
13 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I understand that. Now,
14 did you either institute any disciplinary measures
15 against Pasko Ljubicic for submitting false reports to
16 you on a serious matter or, if you felt you did not
17 yourself have the competence to institute disciplinary
18 measures against him, did you request the proper
19 authorities to institute disciplinary measures against
21 A. I informed my superiors about everything I
22 learnt on the 22nd of April, and in my letter of the
23 23rd to Stewart -- actually, before that, I contacted
24 the chief of staff of the main staff and asked that the
25 commander be replaced because this was a grave criminal
2 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So your reaction was to
3 request his replacement?
4 A. Yes.
5 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you, General.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Did you ask for that in
8 A. At one point in time, in writing as well, but
9 I requested that orally, in oral reports, when I had
10 the occasion, and also in writing. I made the request
11 for the replacement of the commander and for the
12 disbanding of the military police as a whole.
13 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Shall we have the break now?
15 Shall we have the break now? Do you think this is a
16 good time?
17 Yes. We will have a 15-minute break.
18 --- Recess taken at 4.36 p.m.
19 --- On resuming at 5.04 p.m.
20 JUDGE JORDA: The session is resumed. We
21 shall continue until 6.00, if that is all right with
23 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
24 Q. General, you said that the B and H army was
25 not interested in conducting an investigation in
1 Ahmici. Will you please tell us, in all those
2 negotiations, which were frequent after the conflict on
3 the 16th of April, 1993, did the representatives of the
4 BH army propose an investigation? Did they inquire
5 about an investigation? Did they ever talk about the
6 need to punish those who perpetrated crimes in Ahmici?
7 A. No, they did not. We had a number of joint
8 meetings of the joint command representatives of the BH
9 army and the HVO and a daily matter in the town of
10 Travnik, and even the joint command did not go to the
11 area of Ahmici nor were there any requests for
12 investigation or participation in an investigation.
13 Q. If you remember the work of the joint
14 commission for Busovaca after the January case and the
15 Travnik commission after the Travnik conflict, how then
16 would you explain it that earlier they went together to
17 all scenes of conflict, into every village in Kiseljak
18 or Busovaca, whenever a house was set on fire, Croat or
19 Muslim, and then such a major crime and yet not once
20 voiced an interest in going to Ahmici. Could you
21 please explain that?
22 A. Well, I already said that the crime in Ahmici
23 served as a reason for broader operations by BH army in
24 which they tried to get hold of the whole area of the
25 Lasva Valley and Central Bosnia and, as a priority, the
1 explosives factory and to gain control over
2 communications and create a compact territory that
3 would include the areas of the Central Bosnia Operative
5 Q. Will you please describe to the Court, if the
6 BH army had conquered the Lasva Valley, what would they
7 be able to establish links with?
8 A. Well, they would have established a link
9 between the Tuzla region, with the Zenica and Travnik
10 region, that is, parts of east Bosnia, which were
11 already controlled by the BH army, in Central Bosnia,
12 and in the south, all the way to the southern part of
13 Mostar. So forces of the 1st Corps, the forces of the
14 2nd Corps from Tuzla, the 3rd Corps from Zenica, the
15 4th Corps from Mostar, the 6th Corps from Konjic and
16 Fojnica, and the 7th Corps from Travnik, it makes about
17 200.000 maybe 210.000 soldiers of the BH army which
18 would all be connected in one compact territory with
19 the exception of the exit to the south because the BH
20 army had the command of the 4th Corps in Mostar down
21 there to the south, rather, between Mostar and
23 Q. Tell me, UNPROFOR, they accepted your
24 suggestions regarding joint investigation. What did
25 UNPROFOR focus in this way? Assistance in the
1 investigation or something else?
2 A. From what I could observe at the time,
3 UNPROFOR focused on a unilateral media presentation of
4 the crime in Ahmici.
5 Q. You say "unilateral media presentation."
6 What do you mean by that?
7 A. Well, I mean that they invited journalists,
8 that they participated in giving interviews, that they
9 were taken to places where the victims, Bosniak Muslims
10 were, but unfortunately, they either did not want to
11 see or hear, even though I wrote and sent information
12 to that effect, but there was not an equitable
13 distribution envisaged in places where Croats were
15 Q. Why was it important for you that those
16 places where Croats were victimised be shown? To
17 justify the crime in Ahmici or why?
18 A. No, I did not think that a crime can be
19 justified by a crime on the other side, and that was
20 not in my interest at all. I wanted -- that is, I was
21 aware, I realised that a certain adverse reaction was
22 being created, indignation among people who lived,
23 surrounded completely, in the Lasva Valley, among
24 honest people and among honest HVO soldiers, were aware
25 of that unilateral approach, and by creating this
1 indignation, such an approach also made it more
2 difficult for me to enlist the support of the public in
3 conducting the investigation. My command authority,
4 which was limited anyway, was further limited by this
5 fact, that is, I lacked the public support. Such an
6 action, when only the victims on one side are presented
7 unilaterally, evidently benefited the extremist part,
8 and they maybe wanted the crime to be forgotten or
9 hushed up.
10 Q. General, were you given efficient and
11 expedient help from the leadership to investigate the
12 crime in Ahmici?
13 A. After I presented and submitted a file with
14 all documents and after I informed the leadership, I
15 was verbally helped. It did not produce much effect.
16 I remained most of all alone with my command, faced
17 with the duty to conduct an investigation and to fight
18 for their survival and also with a duty to prevent a
19 repetition of the crime that happened in Ahmici. Apart
20 from the verbal support, at that time I received no
21 other form of help.
22 Q. So in a situation when you were left alone,
23 all those who took part in the investigation, in the
24 solution, such as the international factor, the
25 leadership of the HDZ and everybody else, they all
1 stayed aside and you were left alone. What happened
2 then? Will you please explain it to the Court and why?
3 A. In that situation, I decided to launch an
4 investigation to hire the security service which were
5 then through investigation by a secret --
6 Q. You said security service. You mean -- you
7 mean ...
8 Shall we define who was to conduct the
9 investigation? Will you give us the full title and the
10 authority of the service?
11 A. It is the Information and Security Service
12 which also had control over the military police and
13 with whose help I intended to collect evidence which
14 would then serve to prompt the military and political
15 leadership of Herceg-Bosna to join in the investigation
16 of the crime in Ahmici.
17 Q. So you asked the information and security
18 service. The acronym is SIS?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. What did you expect from them? What were
21 they supposed to hand over to you?
22 A. They were to give me evidence that I would
23 use to prompt the arrival of a commission from the very
24 top of the Croat community of Herceg-Bosna, which would
25 then conduct a complete investigation on the site.
1 Q. Thank you. Let us go back to the period of
2 time where we were before we made this digression,
3 where you explained why you did not call Pasko Ljubicic
4 immediately after you received from Colonel Stewart
5 information about Ahmici.
6 Will you please tell us, as of the 4th of May
7 onward, which were the key talks which representatives
8 of the International Community about Ahmici and what
9 did you meet with them about?
10 A. On the 4th of May at 15.00, I was off to
11 attend a meeting that was taking place in the
12 neighbouring office where Mr. Thebault was present, he
13 was the head of the European Observer Mission for the
14 region of Zenica, Colonel Stewart. There were also
15 other members of the European Observer Mission, but I
16 do not know their names as I did not know these persons
17 and they did not participate in a discussion.
18 The meeting took place in the office of Ante
19 Valenta, who was temporarily staying at the Vitez
21 Q. Will you please tell the Court who Ante
22 Valenta was? What was his office and what was the
23 relationship between you and Ante Valenta?
24 A. As far as I know, Ante Valenta was a
25 coordinator in the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna,
1 responsible for the Central Bosnian region, and he had
2 his office in Travnik.
3 Until the 8th of April, 1993, and after the
4 incidents broke out between the HVO and the BH army of
5 8 April, he temporarily used the office of the chief of
6 staff, Mr. Franjo Nakic, in the Vitez Hotel, and
7 between me and Ante Valenta, there were no official or
8 any kind of hierarchical relationship.
9 Q. Will you please -- then the question is:
10 What was the most important thing said at the meeting?
11 A. Immediately after I entered, I guess the
12 meeting was ready and away, Colonel Stewart turned to
13 me and asked me, "Who ordered to kill civilians in
14 Ahmici?" I told Colonel Stewart, "I did not. It was
15 not under my command and these are not my units."
16 Colonel Stewart said after that, for the
17 commission of genocide in Ahmici, the Vitez authorities
18 will be accused. He said that his soldiers had seen
19 HVO soldiers, they secured Muslims in Ahmici.
20 After that, he picked up a blue folder and
21 said, "You see? I have the names of perpetrators of
22 the crimes, and I shall turn over these names to
23 Mr. Ambassador." He meant Mr. Thebault, the head of
24 the European Observer Mission.
25 He also, I mean Colonel Stewart, emphasised
1 also, "I have names here on the list. The survivors
2 know who they were attacked by, and the authorities in
3 Vitez bear the responsibility for the rehabilitation of
4 that place." "The mission, which is investigating the
5 crimes, from the United Nations will visit all the
6 villages. The mission has not yet arrived at clear
7 results and facts, but this is a crime,"
8 Colonel Stewart said.
9 Immediately after Colonel Stewart, the floor
10 was taken by Mr. Thebault, the head of the European
11 Observer Mission, who said, "You must investigate what
12 happened as soon as possible, because so far it has
13 been discovered that five people, five persons, had
14 been burnt, and if it is established that more people
15 were killed then it is a deliberate crime. You must
16 see to it." That's what he said to me, Mr. Thebault, I
17 mean, "You must ensure the freedom of movement for
18 civilians, their protection, and the protection of
19 their right to life."
20 After that, the floor was taken by
21 Mr. Valenta and he said the following: "The people are
22 frustrated. The collapse of public law and order and
23 safety has taken place. Serbs are procrastinating with
24 implementation of the Vance-Owen plan and the
25 activities regarding the implementation of the plan, if
1 the Serbs sign it or if they do not sign it, will be
2 quite opposite. The BH army and the Muslim forces are
3 terrorising Croats, and the BH army has territorial
4 pretences to the Lebensraum, the living space, of the
5 Croats. We are completely surrounded."
6 When I was given the floor I told those
7 gentlemen the following: "I need help to investigate
8 the crime, and the commission must be of a mixed
9 composition in order to arrive at objective results. I
10 request that it be representatives of the HVO, of the
11 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, European Monitoring
12 Mission, UNPROFOR, and the International Red Cross.
13 The British Battalion needs to assist both when going
14 into or leaving Ahmici and in providing security
16 I also said that we first had to separate the
17 forces of the BH army and the HVO in keeping with the
18 agreement signed on the 21st of April, 1993, and we
19 also needed to provide the conditions for UNPROFOR
20 patrols, and only then would we be able to have
21 sufficient security for the movement of civilians and
22 building of renewed trust and confidence between the
23 Muslim and the Croat people.
24 Q. Did he say something about fears that crimes
25 such as the one in Ahmici might be repeated?
1 A. He only emphasised -- as a matter of fact,
2 before Thebault stepped in, I also said that the
3 security situation was very complex because we were
4 surrounded, and Thebault said that Celebici and
5 Ostrosac are major problems for humanitarian missions,
6 and what happened in Vitez, in Ahmici, may not be
7 repeated. He repeated it once again, "Ahmici may not
8 happen again."
9 Q. General, your first statement was, when you
10 were asked who ordered to murder civilians in Ahmici,
11 you said, "Not me nor my units." Did you lie to
12 Stewart and Thebault or did you tell them the truth?
13 A. I told them the truth, because we always, and
14 that is how I was brought up and trained, we called
15 "our" units the units directly subordinated to me.
16 That was the principle in the secondary military school
17 at the military academy and whilst I was with the JNA.
18 We always called "my" units those units which were
19 under our direct command that were directly subordinate
20 to us.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Shahabuddeen.
22 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, I understand
23 the distinction you are making between units which were
24 directly answerable to you and the other HVO type units
25 which were not answerable to you. Did you, at the
1 time, think that your interlocutors understood this
2 distinction, that they understood that there might be
3 HVO units that are were not legally answerable to you,
4 or did you have the impression that they understood
5 that all of the HVO units were under your command?
6 A. Your Honour, I had quite a number of meetings
7 with Colonel Stewart, and I am deeply convinced that he
8 understood what I was saying, because I tried to
9 explain to him what the HVO actually was and that it
10 was still the armed people. I don't wish to repeat
11 myself as to the explanations I gave. I think he
12 understood me.
13 However, the situation at the time was such
14 that I myself was confronted with the problem of the
15 investigation, and perhaps it would not have been
16 prudent on my part if I had come out openly and told
17 him, "Members of the military police are suspected for
18 this," and if then the next day such a report would
19 appear in the media, which I believed he would have
20 done, and this would have had a disastrous effect, I
21 think, not only for me personally but also for the
22 command, which that same military police was securing.
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, did you, at the
24 time, think that Colonel Stewart was understanding you
25 to mean that it was the military police who were
1 responsible, but that you were taking the position that
2 the military police were not answerable to you?
3 A. I believe that he understood when I said that
4 it hadn't been done by my units, but I wouldn't be so
5 bold as to claim that he understood who I meant from
6 what I said, that is, when I said, "Not my units."
7 MR. NOBILO:
8 Q. Tell us openly here at this trial, you are on
9 trial and perhaps we don't have to be so cautious, how
10 did Bob Stewart operate after Ahmici? What methods did
11 he use? How did he work?
12 A. From Ahmici on, I got to know another Bob
13 Stewart. For me, it was not the same man that I had
14 known until Ahmici when it comes to his attitude
15 towards the HVO. I can, up to a point, understand that
16 he himself was distressed by what he saw in Ahmici, but
17 he generalised the problem of Ahmici to implicate the
18 whole HVO, and in his activities he used the media, and
19 he gave emphasis to that problem. I'm more than a
20 hundred per cent sure that he would have used the media
21 to place any other information, if I had given them to
22 him, when I was left on my own facing the need to
23 conduct an investigation.
24 Q. When you said and Bob Stewart repeated on the
25 CNN that the military police had committed the crime in
1 Ahmici, if you had done that, what do you think would
2 have happened in such a situation? What would have
3 happened to you and the whole enclave?
4 A. I'm confident that a reaction would have
5 ensued, probably by those same members, which would
6 have had serious consequences. I think that is clear
7 and understandable.
8 Q. Tell us, how did the meeting with
9 Colonel Stewart end, Colonel Stewart and Ambassador
11 A. The meeting ended -- actually, I noticed,
12 while I was speaking, that Colonel Stewart was taking
13 notes. Colonel Stewart had a blue diary, like an
14 ordinary notebook, and Mr. Thebault had a similar one,
15 and they were taking note of our comments. Towards the
16 end of the meeting, I received a report on the grouping
17 of BH army forces in the broad area north of the Vitez,
18 the village of Janjac, and after I received that report
19 we parted without having reached any concrete
20 conclusions, and as no one spoke after I had suggested
21 the formation of a joint commission, I had expected a
22 reaction to my proposal to form such a joint
23 commission, the more so as I had repeated at the time
24 that because of the greater weight of the results and
25 in order to create the best possible conditions for the
1 investigation, a joint commission would be far more
3 Q. On that same day, later on, about 18.00
4 hours, de la Mota came. Can you tell us what you
5 discussed with de la Mota?
6 A. Mr. de la Mota told me that there were
7 further cases of persecution of Muslims in areas under
8 HVO control.
9 Q. Could you please tell us which organisation
10 Mr. de la Mota belonged to?
11 A. I think he was the representative of the
12 International Red Cross, but I need to check that.
13 Q. According to your recollection, tell us, what
14 did you discuss?
15 A. He told me explicitly that extremist HVO
16 forces were acting, and he mentioned the case of the
17 expelling of Nihada Sivro, a Bosniak Muslim family from
18 Podgradina, and apparently the house had been looted
19 and the family had been thrown out and moved to the
20 elementary school in Vitez. I later gave orders for an
21 investigation into the case, and I established that
22 this incident had been provoked by members of the
23 Vitezovi special purpose unit.
24 Q. When you received that information, let us
25 follow the chronology, did you react? Did you take any
1 measures when you realised that the Vitezovi were the
3 A. Yes, I requested an investigation be
4 conducted; however, though I was told that the Vitezovi
5 were behind this incident, I was not given the actual
6 names of the perpetrators because the Vitezovi unit
7 retained its status of direct communication with the
8 defence department.
9 Q. Did you tell Darko Kraljevic that one of his
10 men may have done it?
11 A. Yes, I told him that I had heard that and
12 that his behaviour was contrary to the orders I had
13 issued prohibiting persecution and expelling of Bosniak
14 Muslims from Vitez.
15 Q. Did he promise an investigation or did he
16 refuse to cooperate?
17 A. He promised he would take measures, but he
18 didn't inform me as to whether he had taken any
19 measures or not.
20 Q. Let us go back to the meeting with
21 Mr. de la Mota.
22 A. Mr. de la Mota also pointed out that in front
23 of the British battalion camp in Nova Bila, there were
24 Bosniak Muslim families who had been exiled from Jajce
25 and who had previously been accommodated in the Divjak
1 neighbourhood, Vitez municipality, and de la Mota said
2 again that HVO extremists were in action and that they
3 had exiled these Bosniak Muslim families to the area of
4 the UN compound.
5 I told Mr. de la Mota that I had issued an
6 order prohibiting persecution of Muslims, and I said to
7 Mr. de la Mota that it would be far easier to improve
8 the security situation if we were to separate the BH
9 army forces from the HVO forces on the front lines, and
10 if we were to implement the agreement of the 21st of
11 April, 1993, thereby the conditions would be created
12 for the freedom of movement and for the security of
14 Q. Tell us, did de la Mota notice the difference
15 between your positions and the positions held by some
16 other people in power in Central Bosnia?
17 A. Yes. When I spoke about these matters, such
18 as freedom of movement and security for the entire
19 population living in the Lasva River Valley, de la Mota
20 said to me that my stances were contrary to the
21 positions held by Mr. Valenta, and I responded to
22 Mr. de la Mota that Mr. Valenta was a representative of
23 the civilian authorities and that he was only
24 temporarily staying in Vitez because he couldn't go
25 back to Travnik and that he does not have any functions
1 in the town of Vitez -- I meant no military functions
2 -- and also at the level of the municipality, I knew
3 that he didn't have any civilian functions.
4 After that, Mr. de la Mota told me that the
5 situation was extremely complicated and confusing, the
6 media were heightening tension, which certainly did not
7 contribute to an overall settlement.
8 Q. Could you summarise, in two or three
9 sentences, where did Mr. de la Mota notice the
10 differences between your positions and those of
11 Mr. Valenta? What was the difference?
12 A. I told Mr. de la Mota that I didn't see any
13 problems in coexistence in the Lasva River Valley in
14 any sense except for security because the enclave is
15 very small and the front lines are sometimes only one
16 kilometre to the north and the south of the enclave.
17 Q. Coexistence between whom?
18 A. Between the Muslims and Croats in this area
19 of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia.
20 Q. So you felt you could live together, Muslims
21 and Croats. What was the position of Mr. Valenta?
22 The answer wasn't interpreted. You believe
23 that Croats and Muslims could live together; is that
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. What was the position of Mr. Valenta,
2 according to Mr. de la Mota?
3 A. Mr. de la Mota told me that Mr. Valenta held
4 the opposite view.
5 Q. How did you understand that? What was
6 Mr. Valenta's position, if it was opposite to yours?
7 A. I assume and believe that he advocated
8 separation of areas, that the Croats should live in one
9 area and the Muslims in another area.
10 Q. Thank you. Please continue.
11 A. During the day of the 4th and the 5th, I also
12 had a meeting with Mr. Akhavan, and he wanted me to
13 tell him what had happened on the 16th of April, 1993,
14 and briefly I described the events of the 16th of
15 April, 1993.
16 Q. Mr. Akhavan, how did he introduce himself?
17 In what capacity had he come to Central Bosnia?
18 A. I don't have a note of his position, so I
19 cannot recollect exactly.
20 Q. Was that the same person that testified here
21 as a witness?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Please continue.
24 A. After I briefly described the events,
25 Mr. Akhavan said, "Your units, on your orders, carried
1 out the massacre in Ahmici and killed civilians." My
2 answer to Mr. Akhavan was that they hadn't committed a
3 crime under my orders because I hadn't ordered the
4 commission of a crime and I know for certain that my
5 units had not done that.
6 Q. Was Akhavan familiar with the situation in
7 Central Bosnia? Was this the first time that he
9 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me. Every time, when
10 you ask this question, Mr. Blaskic, you're not
11 astonished to see that the same question is being asked
12 of you, that you are every time obliged to say "Those
13 are not my units"? I'm referring to all the questions
14 that we have been asking you. Doesn't that make you
15 see that external neutral observers keep asking you the
16 same question and you always answer, following your own
17 logic, "They are not my units." But one must
18 acknowledge that for an external observer, military
19 man, UNPROFOR, a monitor, or in this case Mr. Akhavan,
20 it's rather difficult. You have your own logic. You
21 say, "I didn't give such orders. Those are not my
22 units." But one must acknowledge that the military
23 police, after all, was a part of the HVO, and you were
24 the commander.
25 How do you experience personally this
1 constant contradiction? The crime was committed, you
2 acknowledge that it is a crime, they say, "You ordered
3 it," and you answer every time, "I did not order it."
4 That is your right to say that. But you add, "But
5 those are not my units."
6 Does that mean that every time you repeated
7 how they were not your units? How did you do it? You
8 said, "I did not commit that crime and they are not my
9 units," but it is very difficult for your interlocutor
10 to understand that those were not your units. You
11 repeated every time that the military police was
12 reattached to you since the 16th of April, 11.42, but
13 this was only for a specific assignment, and when the
14 conflict stopped, et cetera, did you repeat that whole
15 explanation every time or not?
16 A. I did not repeat that every time,
17 Mr. President. That depended on the question of the
18 interlocutor. I saw Mr. Akhavan for the first time
19 then and the next time here in the courtroom. At the
20 time, I didn't even know who he was except that he had
21 come with another representative of the UN
22 JUDGE JORDA: Did you say to yourself -- you
23 don't need to answer this if you don't want to -- these
24 same questions, did they bother you or not, the same
25 questions being your units and you said, "They are not
1 my units"? Did this bother you? Did this annoy you?
2 After all, you were the commander of Central Bosnia.
3 Every time you would say, "Yes, but on the 16th of
4 April at 11.42, the military police," et cetera.
5 A. There were many, many problems in evidence.
6 When I was asked questions, I did my best to answer
7 them as best I could under the conditions that existed.
8 As far as I knew, I would give them my answers.
9 MR. NOBILO:
10 Q. We see already, and this will be visible
11 every day, two or three people would come, one after
12 another, with the same question, "Who committed the
13 crime?" Let us make it quite clear. Did you name or
14 identify the military police to anyone and did you
15 explain this question of attachment as of 11.42 to
16 anyone except here in court?
17 A. No, I did not ever mention to anyone except
18 here in the courtroom what I said on the basis of my
19 notes. Those people were unknown to me at the time.
20 Q. Is it normal for a commander to be confronted
21 with a series of people he doesn't know and for that
22 commander to enter into the internal problems of his
23 army, the internal structure, and to present the dirty
24 laundry, so to speak? Would that be normal for a
25 commander to discuss these matters in public?
1 A. No, these are usually internal affairs that
2 are kept internal and are not discussed in public.
3 Q. Did you inform your superiors, your command,
4 about those problems?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. So Mr. Payam Akhavan appeared from somewhere,
7 you don't know who he is, and what happens then? What
8 did he say and what did you say?
9 A. He was very angry after that. He started
10 shouting, "Ahmici was in your area of responsibility,"
11 he kept repeating this, and he was perhaps irritated.
12 I answered, "Yes, Ahmici is in my zone of
13 responsibility, it is also in the zone of
14 responsibility of the 3rd Corps," I told him that there
15 was a conflict, and after that, that meeting ended.
16 Q. A man comes you never saw or heard of before,
17 he comes to your command, you're a colonel, you're the
18 commander of an Operative Zone, he yells at you, he
19 accuses you. What was your reaction? How would Darko
20 Kraljevic have reacted in such a case?
21 JUDGE JORDA: Just a moment, Mr. Nobilo.
22 Judge Shahabuddeen has a question for you.
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Let us go back a little
24 to Colonel Stewart. Did you then think that Colonel
25 Stewart was understanding you to mean that no elements
1 of the HVO had participated in the commission of the
2 crimes at Ahmici, whether or not they were under your
4 A. I believe that Colonel Stewart assumed that
5 the HVO had participated in the crime in Ahmici because
6 he showed me a list and a file claiming that the names
7 were in there, the names of the perpetrators.
8 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I understand that you
9 are saying to me what you think Colonel Stewart
10 understood of the factual situation. I am asking you
11 whether you then thought that he then had the
12 impression that you were saying that no HVO elements
13 had participated in the commission of those crimes?
14 A. I was clear in what I said to Colonel
15 Stewart. I said "my" units, "my" HVO units did not
16 commit the crime. I did not say to Colonel Stewart
17 that no element of the HVO had committed it. I said
18 "my" units, the units under my command had not
19 committed the crime. That is what I said to him, and I
20 believe that he was able to understand because he did
21 discuss with me the structure of the HVO; in fact, I
22 think that he was familiar with that structure.
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, you are quite
24 consistent in your narrative of what you told Colonel
25 Stewart. That is not my question. My question is:
1 Did you then have the impression that whatever you told
2 him, he understood you to mean that no HVO elements had
3 participated in the commission of those crimes?
4 A. I think that he believed that some elements
5 of the HVO had participated in the commission of the
7 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Mr. Nobilo, I wouldn't
8 pursue it.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Alas, you don't have a chance
10 to put your question because my colleague Judge
11 Rodrigues wishes to put a question to the witness.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, Mr. President.
13 General Blaskic, I should like to try and
14 understand this question; that is, I should like to
15 know whether, throughout those conversations and
16 meetings, was there not a dialogue among the deaf
17 because you kept saying to Thebault, to Stewart, to
18 Akhavan, to de la Mota, "My units did not do those
19 crimes." But the question is the following: Perhaps
20 for you, you knew well that the military police were
21 only attached to you; they were not a part of your
22 units, they were not included in the concept of "my"
23 units. But for the others, for Thebault, for Stewart,
24 for Akhavan, for de la Mota, the military police was
25 one of your units because it is normal, as we have seen
1 here, it is normal for the military police to depend on
3 In your opinion, at which point did you
4 explain to all these people, "Wait, wait. It should be
5 said my units didn't do it, and I wish to inform you
6 that the military police is not a part of my unit"?
7 Did they know this or not because you have already
8 admitted here in this courtroom that it is not normal
9 for the military police not to depend on the command of
10 the Operative Zone. What do you think about that,
11 General Blaskic? What is your impression? Was there a
12 dialogue of the deaf or was your communication clear?
13 A. There were people there who attended a
14 meeting for the first time, Your Honour, and it is
15 difficult for me to tell what prior knowledge they had
16 about the HVO structure and everything else, but the
17 dialogue between me and Colonel Stewart I believe was
18 not a dialogue of the deaf, the more so as he knew the
19 organisational structure of the HVO, he had it in his
20 possession, at least a global organogram, and he was
21 able to understand it. As for the other associates, it
22 is hard for me to tell.
23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I am sorry for interrupting
24 you. So Bob Stewart knew well that the military police
25 was not part of the structure of the HVO, that is, the
1 military police was not included when you use the
2 expression "my units"?
3 A. I assume that he knew. I never questioned
4 Colonel Stewart to be able to say with certainty that
5 he did know, but I believe he did know.
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So, General, would you say
7 the same of the other people, Thebault, Akhavan, and
8 de la Mota, did they know?
9 A. Let me answer that in this way: Whatever
10 questions they put to me in concrete terms, I tried to
11 answer in the way the question was put.
12 When they said that my units had done it, my
13 association was that they meant units under my direct
14 command. I don't know whether Akhavan and the others
15 were familiar with the HVO structure. That I really
16 don't know.
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Just a further point,
19 Mr. Nobilo, but for Akhavan, for instance, what
20 surprises me for Mr. Akhavan is that you didn't explain
21 once again the same thing as Judge Rodrigues just said,
22 and you said, "You know there was a conflict between
23 the Bosnia army and us." You just said that, I think.
24 It's in the transcript. I'm repeating it. But I'm
25 sure you counsel are very vigilant in order to defend
1 you properly.
2 I have listened with interest to your answers
3 to the questions of my colleague, but as regards
4 Akhavan, if you pursued your logic, it seems to me that
5 what you should have told Mr. Akhavan is not what you
6 did tell him but simply, "Yes, since the 22nd of April,
7 I think that HVO units committed this crime, but I wish
8 to tell you that they are not under my
10 I don't have the transcript before me now,
11 but I think Akhavan said to you -- you said to Akhavan,
12 "I did not give orders for this crime to be committed,
13 and there was a conflict between the BH army and the
15 By giving such a reply, I think you provided
16 doubt. You said that actually, the crime could have
17 been committed just as well by the HVO as by the BH
19 Let me summarise that slowly for the benefit
20 of the interpreters. Let's me summarise once again.
21 It seems to me that with regard to Mr. Akhavan, we are
22 talking about the 4th of May, Ahmici took place almost
23 a month before that, you knew, since the 22nd of April,
24 in any event, Colonel Stewart persuaded you that there
25 was considerable reason to believe that HVO units, and
1 he thought they were your units, participated in that
2 crime, and you yourself were convinced of that. I note
3 with regard to Mr. Akhavan, when he said to you, "Your
4 units under your orders killed civilians," your reply
5 was, "I did not perpetrate that crime and, anyway,
6 there was a conflict between the BH army and the HVO."
7 So my question is the following: It seems to
8 me that if you were faithful to your own logic, then
9 you should have said, "Yes, I think that HVO units most
10 probably did participate in the commission of that
11 crime. I wish to tell you that as far as I'm
12 concerned, I did not give any such orders and those
13 units are not subordinated to me on the operational
15 Do you understand my question?
16 A. Mr. President, I do understand the question,
17 but never did I say to Mr. Akhavan that the crime was
18 committed by units of the BH army. I got an
19 interpretation to that effect.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. You didn't say that, but
21 you said that, "You see, there's a conflict between the
22 Bosnian army and the HVO." At least that's the
23 interpretation that I received.
24 It seems to me that the 4th of May, according
25 to the answer you gave to Judge Rodrigues and to Judge
1 Shahabuddeen, it seems to me that ever since the 22nd
2 of April, in your conscience at least, and today also
3 you're fully conscious and eager to discover the truth,
4 since the 22nd of April you tell us you were not
5 formally convinced because there was no commission of
6 inquiry, but still you had serious suspicions regarding
7 the military police.
8 At least, Colonel Stewart really distressed
9 you, and to Akhavan, you said, "But there was a
10 conflict between the BH army and the HVO. I did not
11 perpetrate that crime," whereas in substance, it seems
12 to me that following the logic of what you have told
13 us, it would have been simpler for you to say, "Yes.
14 First, an investigation needs to be conducted. Second,
15 I think that there is a probability that a unit which
16 apparently belongs to the HVO is behind it," and then
17 repeat once again, "But you see, I'm the operational
18 commander but not for all the units."
19 So can you help me in providing an answer to
20 this, after which we shall break, except if Mr. Nobilo
21 has a question to put, and as the Defence is always the
22 last to speak, we will give him a chance to do so.
23 Do you understand why I am asking you this
24 question following the questions of my colleagues?
25 A. Mr. President, I shall try.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Maybe you can answer tomorrow.
2 I don't mind. Perhaps you're too tired. Perhaps you
3 can answer tomorrow.
4 A. I'll try to answer it now. I'd rather not
5 leave it for tomorrow.
6 Akhavan said to me literally this: "Your
7 units, under your orders, committed a massacre in
8 Ahmici." That was his allegation, and to this
9 allegation I answered, "Upon my orders they did not
10 commit the crime. I did not order the crime. I know
11 for certain that my unit did not commit it." And this
12 was my first encounter with this person. I saw him for
13 the first time then. Until I came here to the
14 Tribunal, I never met him again, as far as I can
15 remember, and judging by my notes.
16 MR. NOBILO: Just one question.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, you are entitled to
18 put your question. We interrupted you, and if the
19 interpreters can bear with us a few more minutes.
20 THE INTERPRETER: Yes, Your Honour, of
22 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, proceed with your
24 MR. NOBILO:
25 Q. It has to do with the very substance of the
1 matter you have raised. General, an unknown person,
2 you don't know who he is, and he accuses you personally
3 of having ordered a crime in your area of
4 responsibility, in an area in which you have several
5 thousand soldiers. You told him what you did. How
6 would he have fared in any other command in
8 A. I could tell you. I assume that would have
9 been his last visit.
10 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
11 JUDGE JORDA: I didn't hear the end. Just a
12 moment, please. I didn't get the end of it. Could you
13 repeat the sentence? "That would have been his last
15 Very well. That is the last question from
16 the Defence. It is 6.10, and we're going to break to
17 resume tomorrow morning. We have to have a hearing
18 that we missed. That is why we're going to work
19 normally tomorrow, from 10:00 to 1.00, and from 2.30 to
20 5.30. The hearing is adjourned.
21 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, according to the
22 plan that we received, only the afternoon hearing was
23 planned for tomorrow. Is this a change, according to
24 the schedule we received, Mr. Dubuisson?
25 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, there is a change.
1 Perhaps we were not specific enough. Maybe I wasn't
2 quite clear.
3 THE REGISTRAR: No, we're making up for last
4 Wednesday. It was decided at the end of last week that
5 we make up for this Wednesday.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Does it bother you to have a
7 hearing tomorrow morning? It is to make up lost time.
8 Is that acceptable? It is up to you to choose. I
9 don't mind either way.
10 MR. HAYMAN: We gladly accept the time, but
11 this is the first time we've heard of that.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Maybe I did not explain it
13 well. Maybe it's the dialogue of the deaf, as
14 Judge Rodrigues mentioned a moment ago, so I
16 General Blaskic, do you agree for tomorrow
17 morning? Will you be ready for tomorrow morning?
18 A. Yes, Mr. President.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Tomorrow morning at
20 10.00 a.m. The hearing is adjourned.
21 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned
22 at 6.10 p.m., to be reconvened on
23 Wednesday, the 17th day of March, 1999,
24 at 10.00 a.m.