1 Wednesday, 17th March, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 10.15 a.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.
5 Mr. Registrar, please have the witness brought in.
6 (The accused/witness entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: Good morning to the
8 interpreters, counsel for the Prosecution, counsel for
9 the Defence. Good morning to the accused who is also
10 the witness, I'm saying this for the benefit of the
11 public gallery, who is under oath like all other
13 A few words of explanation. We are a little
14 late because the administration of the Tribunal has
15 explained that this Chamber is going to be a kind of
16 test or experiment for the setting into operation of a
17 new French transcript, so as to be able to make a
18 comparison between the current system and this new
19 system, and our friends, who provide the French
20 transcript, who are going to make this comparative test
21 with another system, and that is the reason why we are
22 a little late. The administration of the Tribunal
23 explained this to us, telling us that in this Chamber,
24 this new system will be tested and that is the
25 explanation for the delay for which we apologise, of
2 Mr. Nobilo?
3 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
4 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC
5 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
6 Q. If I remember well, we have reached the 5th
7 of May, 1993 or, rather, we are reconstructing events
8 from that day onwards.
9 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, on the 5th of
10 May, 1993, at the morning briefing, I asked for the
11 implementation of my order regarding the prohibition of
12 eviction of Muslims from their apartments, and along
13 those lines, I also requested that the patrol service
14 of the military police be engaged and all other
15 measures taken so as to prevent further evictions of
16 Bosniak Muslims from their apartments in the area under
17 the control of the HVO.
18 Another major problem that we reviewed at the
19 meeting was the abduction or, rather, the stealing of
20 explosives from the explosives factory, and I asked
21 that measures be taken to block the exits from the
22 factory and to prevent thefts of explosives.
23 On that day, we dispatched a letter from our
24 command to the civilian municipal authorities in Vitez,
25 requesting from them records of housing for those
1 housing units whose owners had changed or, rather, from
2 which the Bosniak Muslims had been evicted and in which
3 Croats were now residing. We wanted to compare those
4 data and to have accurate data regarding those
5 evictions from apartments and family homes.
6 I had additional problems that day with
7 providing space for the wounded, because in the church
8 hospital we didn't have any more room to accommodate
9 the wounded. The premises were overcrowded, that is,
10 the church itself and the surrounding houses.
11 Mr. Slavko Marin informed me that the
12 problems were identical in Novi Travnik, that is, the
13 problem of eviction of Bosnian Muslims from their
14 apartments, and that this affected the overall security
15 situation and the public law and order in Novi Travnik,
16 that is, the part of it under the control of the
17 Croatian Defence Council.
18 After that, on the 6th of May, I had a
19 meeting with the chief of staff of the command of the
20 Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, Mr. Vlado Jurcic --
21 no, I'm sorry, Mr. Franjo Nakic, and I asked him to
22 mediate in obtaining permission from the joint command
23 for evacuation of the wounded from the church
25 In the course of the day of the 6th of May,
1 the assistant for information and propaganda
2 activities, IPD, informed me that my order prohibiting
3 eviction of Bosniak Muslims from their homes had
4 provoked revolt and condemnation among members of the
5 HVO in Busovaca, where a large number of displaced
6 soldiers and civilians of the HVO had come from Zenica,
7 and they expressed their public disagreement and
8 opposition to such a decision and such an order as they
9 themselves had been the victims of persecution and
10 eviction from Zenica to Busovaca.
11 On that day, the 6th of May, I also spoke to
12 the town mayor of Vitez, Mr. Ivica Santic, and we
13 discussed this problem of evictions of Bosniak Muslims
14 from homes in Vitez, and we agreed to convene a meeting
15 of those people who had participated in the evictions
16 and those who were supposed to have punished those
18 We held that meeting on the 6th of May, 1993,
19 at 18.00, in my office. The meeting was attended by
20 the mayor, Santic; the commander of the Vitezovi units,
21 Darko Kraljevic; the chief of the civilian police,
22 Mirko Samija; Mr. Marijan Skopljak; also the commander
23 of the military police, Pasko Ljubicic; and the
24 commander of the Vitez Brigade, Mario Cerkez.
25 The agenda of the meeting was as follows:
1 Violent behaviour by soldiers, among which members of
2 the Vitezovi and members of the military police were
3 the most prominent, in the acts of evictions of Muslims
4 from their homes, which was contrary and in opposition
5 to my order. Secondly, crime and robberies on roads,
6 abductions of vehicles, hijacking of vehicles and
7 equipment, questions related to the public law and
8 order, questions of general security, and the need to
9 eliminate extremists from HVO units.
10 The conclusion reached at the meeting was
11 that an end must be put to such violent behaviour, and
12 that the institutions of authority had to be respected,
13 and that the commander of the military police and the
14 commander of the Vitezovi were duty-bound to issue
15 orders to their units and soldiers modelled on the
16 order which I, myself, had already issued.
17 When we came to that part of the meeting, the
18 commander of the military police complained that he
19 didn't have a sufficient number of soldiers to keep the
20 law and order in town. I told him that the main reason
21 for the meeting was precisely that the military police
22 was in the forefront of these evictions of Muslims from
23 their homes and that such behaviour had to be
25 The commander of the Vitez Brigade informed
1 me that he was deeply concerned because of the constant
2 influx of fresh forces of the BH army in Kruscica,
3 coming from Novi Travnik.
4 Q. Just a moment, General. Tell us, what was
5 the position of the civilian authorities, the mayor
6 Santic, with respect to the Muslims? Was his position
7 close to yours or did he uphold extremist views?
8 A. His position was that all evictions of
9 Bosniak Muslims from their homes should be prevented,
10 and that then they should continue living in their own
11 family homes and apartments where they had lived before
12 the conflict. He had a tolerant position, one that
13 coincided with mine.
14 Q. Tell me, what was the reason that you and the
15 mayor should organise this military meeting, that is, a
16 combination of civilian and military authorities? What
17 was the purpose, the reason for such a composition of
18 the meeting?
19 A. We wanted to convene that meeting in order to
20 prevent the further escalation of this tendency and in
21 order to be able to openly tell the people who were
22 called upon to sanction such tendencies and of which
23 they were, in fact, the leaders. So the meaning of the
24 meeting was to make it quite clear that we would not
25 tolerate such behaviour but, unfortunately, neither he
1 nor I had any greater powers to be able to completely
2 halt this tendency.
3 Q. Tell us, at the time, did you meet Duncan,
4 the future UNPROFOR commander?
5 A. I met Colonel Duncan at a meeting held later
6 on. I think it was around the 9th of May. He may have
7 perhaps come earlier, but I don't have any record of
9 Q. Please proceed.
10 A. On the 7th of May, an incident occurred in
11 which the deputy commander of the armed forces of
12 Bosnia-Herzegovina, this was the joint supreme command,
13 and the deputy commander was abducted on the road
14 between Vitez and Bugojno. He was travelling on
15 official business, under escort, to Bugojno, and he
16 disappeared from the part of the road Ravno Rostovo.
17 The kidnapping was carried out by members of the
18 7th Muslim Brigade, the Mujahedeen, and we spent much of
19 the day trying to affect his release.
20 At Ravno Rostovo he was, in fact, released
21 and sent to Bugojno on foot, together with his escort.
22 His name was Miro Andric and he was the number two in
23 the joint command of the armed forces of the Republic
24 of Bosnia-Herzegovina on behalf of the HVO.
25 JUDGE JORDA: You said on the side of the
1 HVO; is that correct? Is that correct what you said?
2 A. Yes, Mr. President, because in the joint
3 command there were representatives of the HVO and of
4 the BH army.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
6 A. On that day I received a report that three
7 women had been raped, that one of them was raped in the
8 school in Dubravica. I requested the institution of an
9 investigation into the matter, and in the course of the
10 same day I was informed that an investigation had been
12 In the course of the day, I also had a
13 meeting with Mr. de la Mota, and the questions we
14 discussed at the meeting on the 7th May, 1993 were as
15 follows: The tensions that were running high in Vitez,
16 also the role and position of the Mujahedeen at Ravno
17 Rostovo and Travnik, then the pressures in Zenica being
18 brought to bear on able-bodied Croats which the BH army
19 demanded should join the units of Bosnia-Herzegovina as
20 military conscripts and that they should go to the
21 front against the HVO.
22 I told Mr. de la Mota that I understood that
23 the obligation to do military service was in force and
24 that the Croats of Zenica had to fulfil that military
25 obligation. At the moment, they were able to do so
1 only in the units of the BH army, but that it would be
2 reasonable for them to be engaged on the front lines
3 against the army of Republika Srpska rather than the
4 front line with the HVO, because what could happen was
5 that one brother would be in the HVO and another would
6 be mobilised to the BH army. Then they would be on the
7 same front line but on opposing sides. This also made
8 quite a number of Croats of military age, in Zenica, to
9 continue to move out of Zenica.
10 On that day, I also raised the question of
11 the use of water for military purposes by the BH army,
12 namely, in Vitez the water had been switched off, and
13 in Novi Travnik, the part under the HVO control, the
14 same had happened, the water supply had been turned
15 off. In a part of the Travnik municipality where Nova
16 Bila and the church used as a hospital was situated,
17 the water had been turned off which further complicated
18 the already very difficult situation there.
19 I informed Mr. de la Mota about the problems
20 that we had with the arrival of fresh forces and
21 reinforcements being brought in by the BH army to the
22 positions at Tolovici, Preocica, Prnjavor, Vrhovine,
23 and that new offensive operations could be expected
24 instead of us working on the separation of forces and
25 the implementation of the cease-fire agreement. I
1 asked Mr. de la Mota to intervene and ensure
2 possibilities for the evacuation of the seriously
3 wounded and that through his efforts we might get
4 permission from representatives of the BH army to carry
5 out that evacuation.
6 In the afternoon on the 7th of May, sniper
7 fire was again recorded on the part of BH army forces
8 acting from Stari Vitez in the direction of the
9 headquarters of the operational zone in the Vitez
11 On the 8th of May, '93, I had a press
12 conference at 10.00 when I informed the population of
13 the Lasva Valley and the military of the latest
14 developments in the areas under the control of the HVO.
15 Q. What type of developments would you inform
16 the people of at a press conference?
17 A. Exclusively with the military situation, the
18 implementation of the signed agreement, my own
19 decisions or orders which were current at the time.
20 These were mostly military issues that I discussed and
21 on which I informed the public.
22 At the morning briefing on the 8th of May,
23 1993, I asked for information from the security service
24 as I wanted to know whether there were detained persons
25 anywhere in the area under the control of the HVO, and
1 the assistant for security informed me that no such
2 persons existed or, rather, that he had no knowledge of
3 any such detained persons anywhere. I was also
4 informed that former members of the HVO police in
5 Zenica had disappeared, Mr. Jerkovic, Mr. Strbac,
6 Mr. Kresevic, Mr. Peric, Mr. Totic, and on the 7th of
7 May, Mr. Anto Kristo and Mr. Zoran Culic also
9 During the day of the 8th of May, I was
10 informed that in Busovaca, the part known as Kula in
11 Busovaca municipality, the BH army had cut off the
12 water supply so that this area was without water.
13 Q. Tell us, what prompted you to ask from the
14 security service whether there were any detained
16 A. I had previously received this report on the
17 rape of three persons and I started the investigation
18 into the matter, but also I had knowledge that in
19 Zenica there were people held in private gaols, and I
20 had frequently asked for this problem to be elucidated
21 and for information to be obtained as to whether these
22 persons were alive at all and what condition they were
23 in in these private gaols.
24 Q. Please tell us what else you discussed with
25 the assistant for security.
1 A. I asked from the assistant for security a
2 written report on the results of the investigation into
3 Ahmici. At the time, he did not submit a written
4 report to me, but he gave me his oral observations as
5 to the fact that, as far as he knew, groups wearing
6 black clothing had taken part in the crimes. I asked
7 him again to compile a written report on all the data
8 collected so far as a result of the investigation into
10 At 14.00, in the course of the day, I had a
11 meeting with Mr. MacLeod. He asked me to brief him on
12 the military situation and on the most important
13 issues, and I told him that we were totally surrounded,
14 that I expected a separation of forces to occur between
15 the HVO and the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and that I
16 expected the evacuation of the seriously wounded to
17 take place, evacuation from the church used as a
18 hospital to a better-equipped hospital in the south.
19 After that, Mr. MacLeod asked me what I
20 thought would be the solution to the situation we were
21 in, and I said to him that the only solution was to
22 implement the agreement that had been signed on a
23 cease-fire, a separation of forces, and coexistence
24 with the Bosniak Muslims in the areas of Vitez, Novi
25 Travnik, Busovaca, and also the complete functioning of
1 the joint command. I meant the joint command of the
2 armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and also at the
3 level of the 3rd Corps and the Operational Zone.
4 Mr. MacLeod then drew my attention to the
5 fact that this position was not shared by the
6 politicians of the Lasva River Valley that he had
7 spoken to and that there were differences of opinion
8 with respect to what he had heard from me and his
9 co-locutors, the politicians he had spoken to. I told
10 Mr. MacLeod that I didn't know and that I had no
11 information as to who among the political
12 representatives he had spoken to but that these were my
13 positions and the positions upheld of my military
14 associates. He asked me also about the situation on
15 the 16th of April, 1993, and I told him that I was
16 caught quite unaware as to the scope of the operations,
17 and I told him that on the 15th of April, 1993, there
18 was quite a lot of movement on the part of the BH army
19 from Travnik in the direction of Vitez and especially
20 in the direction of Kruscica and that some forces had
21 been transferred as could be seen in the logbooks kept
22 at the checkpoints. I mentioned as an example three
23 buses, six trucks, and thirteen other vehicles
24 belonging to the BH army.
25 I also told him that on the 14th of February,
1 1993, together with the commander of the 3rd Corps, I
2 had signed an agreement on the transfer of the 305th
3 Mountain Brigade of the BH army from Gornji Vakuf to
4 Zenica in the hope and belief that that brigade would
5 be deployed against the army of Republika Srpska on the
6 Travnik front line and that I would certainly have had
7 a different position if I had had in my mind any
8 thought of an attack against the BH army.
9 Mr. MacLeod asked me to compile a map --
10 actually, he already had a map on him -- and he wanted
11 me to draw in the tactical positions on the map because
12 I had previously said that in Vitez, and in Lasva as a
13 whole, the conflict between what were neighbours
14 previously had occurred, that villages were fighting
15 villages, and that in some cases the front line went
16 through the very centre of the village, cutting the
17 village into two: a part controlled by the HVO forces
18 and the other half controlled by the BH army forces.
19 I also told him that I was foreign in the
20 area of Vitez, an outsider, rather, that I had never
21 lived there before. I also underlined the problem of
22 Bosniak Muslims who had been the victims of persecution
23 as a result of the Serb aggression and who had arrived
24 in the territory of Vitez municipality, and I told
25 Mr. MacLeod that with the local soldiers of the BH army
1 and with the local Bosniak Muslims -- would not have
2 had any major problems certainly if these victims of
3 persecution had not been present and that this too had
4 contributed to upsetting the security situation. I
5 also told him that unless forces were separated in the
6 foreseeable future, the conflicts would probably resume
7 and that the BH army would try to gain control of the
8 explosives factory in Vitez and of the area which was
9 now under the control of the HVO and to link up its
10 territories by roads so as to have a unified area.
11 Q. Let me take you back to that map a little
12 bit. He brought the Lasva River Valley map with him;
13 is that correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. What did you mark on this map and how did you
16 do this?
17 A. He brought the map and he requested that I
18 mark the tactical positions in various villages in the
19 Vitez municipality where the HVO forces were deployed
20 and where -- I think he also wanted where the BH army
21 forces were deployed.
22 Q. Can you tell me, did he ask you to present
23 him the situation on the day when you had met or some
24 previous date?
25 A. I thought that he wanted me to mark the
1 positions as of 8 May, 14.00 hours, because that was
2 the time of the meeting.
3 MR. NOBILO: Can I please have the witness be
4 shown the MacLeod map, which is Exhibit number P242?
5 Thank you. In Exhibit 242 -- this would be the
6 attachment, it is one of the attachments. It is 1G.
7 That would be the map.
8 Q. Did you use a Magic Marker or some colour?
9 A. I think he had a set of Magic Markers with
10 him and he gave them to me. I believe they were his
11 because at that time I did not have good Magic
13 Q. But do you recall which colour Magic Marker
14 you used to mark those respective forces?
15 A. I believe I used green and blue.
16 MR. NOBILO: Could we please place the map on
17 the ELMO so that we could all see it?
18 Q. We have three colours here. One would be
19 marking the Croatian villages, another Muslim villages,
20 and the third colour mixed villages. Can you tell me,
21 do you recall which colour marker you used to mark
22 which one, if you recall?
23 A. Here in the legend we see that green colour
24 denotes Muslim, red is mixed, and the orange colour is
25 Croatian, even though there is some blue colour in here
2 Q. Can you tell me, did you mark Ahmici and
3 Nadioci or perhaps they were marked by MacLeod at a
4 later time. Do you recall this?
5 A. I believe I did not mark Ahmici or Nadioci.
6 Q. Why did you not mark Ahmici in this
8 A. I did not mark it because there was no
9 military presence or civilian presence there on the
10 day of 8th of May, 1993.
11 Q. Thank you. Please proceed. What happened
12 next on that day?
13 A. After this I had a meeting with the
14 commanders of the Travnik Brigade and Frankopan Brigade
15 from Travnik, this was around 15.00 or later, and the
16 problem again was the security situation and
17 improvement of the public law and order situation.
18 They informed me about a very complex security
19 situation. They said that their front line was about
20 40 kilometres long, that is, against the army of the
21 Republika Srpska, and that they have had frequent
22 incidents and acts of provocation between the HVO
23 members and the members of the BH army.
24 I asked them to take all necessary measures,
25 including transfer or redeployment of the HVO forces
1 from the town of Travnik, if necessary, in order to
2 avoid conflict with the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina in
3 Travnik. They informed me that members of the BH army
4 were giving up their positions against the army of
5 Republika Srpska in Travnik, and that they were
6 concentrating in the town itself and in the area due
7 west of the town of Travnik, in the direction of Novi
9 I told the commanders that the interest of
10 the HVO was to do everything possible in order to
11 prevent the conflict in Travnik and that in case of an
12 open attack of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina in
13 Travnik, all steps should be taken to protect Croatian
14 villages of the Travnik municipality. I additionally
15 asked that all insubordination of individual commanders
16 be sanctioned, as well as other members of the HVO who
17 are members of these two brigades, the Travnik Brigade
18 and the Frankopan Brigade, which was still in the
19 process of being formed.
20 We also discussed the problem of the police
21 forces. At that time, there were about eight types of
22 police forces and there were a large number of
23 different types of military formations of Mujahedeen,
24 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, HVO, HOS, members of the
25 special police, refugees, et cetera, and all these
1 further complicated the security situation.
2 During the day, I had been informed that an
3 agreement had been signed between the Nikola
4 Subic-Zrinjski Brigade commander, that is, one of the
5 HVO brigades, and the commander of the 333rd Brigade of
6 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as an agreement
7 between the commander of the 325th Brigade of BH army,
8 and the commander of the Vitez Brigade. The mediators,
9 in the signing of this agreement were members of the
10 joint command, Messrs. Dzemo Merdan and Franjo Nakic.
11 At that time, the joint command had already
12 mediated in the implementation of the agreement and had
13 almost the same authority or competence as I did and
14 the commander of the 3rd Corps did with respect to the
15 HVO and the BH army forces in the territory.
16 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, I believe we've
17 reached about the 45-minute mark, and perhaps before we
18 move on to the next day we could take a break.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Let's have a 15-minute
20 break now. The hearing stands adjourned.
21 --- Recess taken at 11.02 a.m.
22 --- On resuming at 11.20 a.m.
23 JUDGE JORDA: The session resumes, please.
24 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
25 Q. General, we are moving on to the 9th of May,
1 I assume. Can you just sum up what were the major
2 events that reflect the indictment?
3 A. On 9th May I had a meeting with
4 Colonel Duncan, and I believe that this was one of our
5 first meetings. The subject of the meeting was the
6 events of the 16th of April, 1993, and
7 Colonel Duncan --
8 JUDGE JORDA: (No translation)
9 A. Yes, Mr. President, and this was one of our
10 first meetings.
11 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me. Mr. President, your
12 question didn't come across in the translation. It's
13 certainly not in the English translation, with all due
15 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. I must say I was
16 surprised, because my question was repeated in
17 English. Mr. Registrar, I'm a bit astonished. I'm
18 speaking in French and I hear English, which doesn't
19 correspond to the language of Shakespeare, but there
20 must be a slight problem.
21 It's a minor technical problem which will be
22 regulated very quickly, Mr. Kehoe. Thank you.
23 MR. NOBILO:
24 Q. Let's move on, General. So Colonel Duncan
25 succeeded Colonel Stewart; is that correct?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. So could you please tell us how the meeting
4 A. Colonel Duncan said that in Vitez on 16th
5 April, 1993, 96 Muslims were killed and 5 Croats. I
6 replied that Colonel Duncan probably had information
7 which regarded the exchange of bodies which was carried
8 out around the 29th of April, 1993, and that this
9 number did not reflect all casualties of persons killed
10 on the 16th of April but, rather, covered the period
11 between the 16th and 28th of April, before the exchange
12 of bodies on the 29th of April. So I thought that the
13 information was incomplete and that there was some
14 confusion with respect to this issue.
15 Then Colonel Duncan introduced the subject of
16 Ahmici, and I told him that I had not ordered the crime
17 and that I knew that no associate of mine from the
18 Operative Zone command had not issued such an order,
19 and that I knew that the commander of the Vitez Brigade
20 did not order the crime in Ahmici. After that, I added
21 that the night before Ahmici, that is, the 15th of
22 April, there was some regrouping of the BH army forces,
23 and that I had received calls from the police forces at
24 checkpoints about the passage of the Krajina forces.
25 These were the 1st and 7th Brigades of the BH army who
1 were travelling in trucks in the direction of Vitez, to
2 rest at Kruscica and Ahmici. I knew of the passage,
3 and they had all passed without stopping.
4 I told Colonel Duncan that the personnel from
5 the checkpoints had informed me that those soldiers had
6 been drunk, rather loud, that they were shouting
7 abusive things from these trucks, and that when we
8 discussed the issue of participants of the conflict in
9 Ahmici, I said that I thought it possible that some of
10 them were wearing black uniforms. When I mentioned
11 black uniforms, Colonel Duncan asked me who most
12 frequently wore black uniforms. I told him that the
13 black uniforms were worn by members of HOS.
14 Q. Where did you receive this information that
15 some men in black uniforms were also in Ahmici?
16 A. This information was in circulation for
17 awhile, and at that time also it was considered common
18 belief that these men in black uniforms were there, and
19 I received this information from my deputy concerning
20 this information circulating in the area.
21 Q. Did you know at that time that members of the
22 military police, some of them, that is, also wore black
24 A. There were individuals who were wearing black
25 uniforms at the time and I knew that.
1 Q. And did you make a connection of that kind?
2 You did not connect that to the military police, that
3 is, black uniforms but, rather, with HOS?
4 A. At that time I was overwhelmed by all these
5 meetings which was practically a daily drill, and the
6 investigation had been launched and I was asked for
7 information. I thought that if I expressed all my
8 doubts, all my suspicions, to the members of the
9 International Community who were present there, I
10 thought that it would further complicate the
12 JUDGE JORDA: We will not go back to it again
13 afterwards, but I would like to tell you that I am
14 quite surprised that having a new colonel, Colonel
15 Duncan, who is replacing Colonel Stewart, so we start
16 again from nothing, you're having doubt on the military
17 police, you have been since the month of April, I
18 think, we are now in May, and you are still saying that
19 there may be some soldiers from the BH army who were
20 responsible for the massacre, and you have always said
21 that it was a crime indeed, and now you are saying that
22 you are not helping Colonel Duncan, that you're
23 choosing not to say that you have doubts on certain
24 people. Did you hear what I said?
25 A. Mr. President, I don't know if I received a
1 good interpretation, I don't know that, but I never
2 said to Colonel Duncan, nor do I have that written down
3 anywhere in my notes, that members of the BH army had
4 committed the crime, and I want to tell you that I was
5 in no position, due to the interests of investigation,
6 to offer all my knowledge to Colonel Duncan at that
8 JUDGE JORDA: You're very legal and your
9 investigation certainly well carried out; however, I
10 think it's legitimate to ask you: At that stage, you
11 have doubts, you have been saying for several days that
12 you did whatever you could to carry out this
13 investigation, you wanted a joint investigation, you
14 promised that you would do whatever you could to obtain
15 some conclusions; there is a new colonel, it is not
16 Colonel Stewart anymore, who is not very familiar with
17 these issues; you have information -- you just said, "I
18 received new information every day." One can be
19 surprised -- or I can ask you: Why are you not giving
20 this information? Are you not saying that you have
21 doubts, saying there may be some members of the
22 military police who are responsible for this, and you
23 end up saying, "Okay. These wore black uniforms, these
24 are people from the HOS, and on the 15th of April,
25 there were soldiers from the BH army on the
1 territory." It gives us the impression that you are
2 not collaborating by expressing frankly your feelings
3 and your expressions.
4 Let me remind you that from the 22nd of
5 April, you have the impression that it was a crime
6 indeed and you have certain doubts as far as the
7 intervention of the military police is concerned.
8 A. Mr. President, I had also believed that I was
9 soon to receive preliminary results from the security
10 services regarding the investigation and that these
11 results would enable me to launch an investigation at
12 the highest level. I was still grappling with the
13 issues of the investigation alone and it was all within
14 my court, and this is how I approached Colonel Duncan,
15 in the belief that I was to receive the results of the
16 investigation, at least the preliminary ones.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Shahabuddeen.
18 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, my recollection
19 may not be perfect, so please correct me in case I am
20 in error.
21 Did you hear someone in this court testify to
22 the effect that you were asked about Ahmici, and you
23 said that the responsibility lay with one of three
24 categories: First, the Serbs; second, the Mujahedeen;
25 and third, Muslims dressed up in HVO uniforms. Do you
1 remember hearing this testimony?
2 A. Your Honour, I do recall it, and if I may be
3 permitted to respond, I deeply believe that this
4 witness had confused conversations with me and
5 potentially other officers with whom he may have
6 discussed the same issue.
7 I firmly believe, because I never entertained
8 the idea of the Serbs having committed this crime
9 because it did not have any military logic. In
10 military terms, it would not have been possible.
11 MR. NOBILO:
12 Q. Who was talking about this?
13 A. If I recall correctly, it was Colonel Duncan
14 who addressed this.
15 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I don't remember, but I
16 remember Mr. Martin Bell saying something on the
17 subject. Do you remember Martin Bell saying something
18 on the subject? Martin --
19 MR. HAYMAN: May I? Mr. Bell was shown a
20 purported news interview, something he had never seen
21 before. Mr. Bell did not testify that anything was
22 said to him on any of these points. He was shown on
23 cross-examination a purported interview, which we will
24 get to in chronological order --
25 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I appreciate that.
1 MR. HAYMAN: Just to avoid any
2 misunderstanding. I apologise for interjecting myself.
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: My recollection may not
4 be perfect, but did Mr. Bell say something to the
5 effect that he thought that your reactions on that
6 point were tactical?
7 A. I do not recall that particular detail, Your
8 Honour. I just can't remember that.
9 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I will look up the
10 transcript and come back again on that one, if I may?
11 Thank you very much.
12 Perhaps I may ask another question. An
13 attachment order for the military police was issued at
14 11.42 a.m. on the 16th of April; is that correct?
15 A. Your Honour, I do not know when the orders
16 were issued to the military police because the military
17 police receives the order either from Mostar, from the
18 military police department, but I now that at that time
19 the commander of the military police called me. That
20 was at 11.42.
21 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Eleven forty-two. Now,
22 before 11.42, where were the military police?
23 A. The military police were deployed in Vitez,
24 Busovaca, the Bungalow, Novi Travnik, Travnik, that is,
25 in all areas.
1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Were they in Ahmici?
2 A. You mean in the village of Ahmici?
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: In the village or around
4 the village of Ahmici.
5 A. I had no such information nor do I know to
6 date whether, before 11.42, they were there. I know
7 what happened there based on the testimony here, the
8 testimony of the Prosecution witnesses, but at the
9 time, I had no such knowledge.
10 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: If you take into account
11 the testimony to which you have listened here, what is
12 your conclusion as to whether the military police were
13 in and around Ahmici before 11.42 a.m.?
14 A. Some parts of the military police or some
15 other groups I believe were there based on the
16 testimony of the witnesses who gave their statements
18 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Who was in command of
19 the military police before 11.42 on the 16th?
20 A. The commander of the military police,
21 Mr. Pasko Ljubicic.
22 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Was he answerable to you
24 A. For daily tasks, for daily tasks, yes, and
25 for combat tasks, no.
1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: That is for daily
2 military tasks included which you say did not include
3 combat duties.
4 A. Yes.
5 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you. Thank you
6 very much.
7 MR. NOBILO:
8 Q. Let us return now to the meeting with Duncan,
9 and I'm going to ask you the following: At the time
10 you talked to Duncan, did UNPROFOR in any way accept to
11 work operatively in the investigation as to the crime
12 in Ahmici?
13 A. I was not able to notice any intimations of
14 acceptance or reaction to my letter.
15 Q. Did they place themselves at your disposal,
16 give them your experts to work with, or did they not
17 respond to your requests?
18 A. They did not place themselves at my disposal,
19 and this will be visible later on in my chronology of
20 events when there were requests, but we did not have
21 any reaction to those requests. If the truth be told,
22 I never got information from them stating that we
23 refuse any kind of cooperation; but when we did
24 request, for example, security or escort, we did not
25 get it.
1 Q. Therefore, you had an internal investigations
2 without the representatives of the United Nations. Do
3 you consider, as a soldier, that somebody who is, so to
4 speak, a foreign body with regard to the body
5 conducting the investigation, whether that body should
6 know what was going on and how the investigation is
8 A. Under the circumstances in which I found
9 myself at the time, I considered that I need not inform
10 anybody until I had in my hands the preliminary results
11 of the investigation.
12 Q. Now, to inform, along with the doubts and
13 suspicions you had, in a situation when the
14 investigation had not yet been completed, would
15 information help the investigation or jeopardise it?
16 What did you think at the time?
17 A. I firmly believed that it would jeopardise
18 the investigation.
19 Q. Did you ask from your superiors, were you in
20 any responsibility vis-à-vis your superiors to tell the
21 representatives of UNPROFOR the results of the
22 investigation so far or your own doubts and suspicions?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Did you, as a soldier, without permission --
25 were you able, without permission from your superiors,
1 could inform an external element outside the HVO about
2 any data and information from the HVO, including the
3 fact that an investigation was under way and that there
4 were doubts and suspicions as to the military police?
5 A. No.
6 Q. Tell us, please, when looking back, with
7 hindsight, would you have behaved in the same way or
8 would you have had another formulation, the expressions
9 and terms you used when communicating with Duncan, with
10 the experience you have today, would you have intimated
11 to Duncan in some other way what was, in fact, afoot?
12 What do you think now that time has passed?
13 A. Well, perhaps I could have behaved in a
14 different way, acted in a different way, but the
15 situation was that I was alone on one side, absolutely
16 alone, and, on the other side, all the visitors and
17 collaborators asked for results, and yesterday we spoke
18 about the kind of support that I had from those people
19 who had to send a commission from the top level and
20 what authorisation I had, and even if all that
21 happened, the structure had not changed and my
22 competencies and authorities had not changed over the
23 military police. It continued to be under the command
24 and control and subordinate to its own commanders and
25 not to me.
1 JUDGE JORDA: When you are saying to
2 Mr. Nobilo that you could not give information to
3 external elements on an investigation for which you
4 didn't have the conclusions yet, does that mean,
5 General Blaskic, that you considered UNPROFOR an
6 external element at that time when you had a meeting
7 with Colonel Duncan?
8 A. Well, UNPROFOR was not within the composition
9 of the HVO at all events, and I was only afraid that by
10 giving out information to the public and on the air, so
11 to speak, that this would make the investigation
12 impossible. Had I known Colonel Duncan better and had
13 I had the firm conviction that he would not go public
14 with any information, then perhaps I would have acted
15 in a different way.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Don't you think it's a little
17 bit paradoxical today? You considered, as an element,
18 who could have made the investigation more difficult,
19 you did not express your suspicions to Colonel Duncan,
20 until that date you were doing whatever you could to
21 obtain the assistance of the UNPROFOR in the
22 investigation. Don't you think it's a little bit
23 paradoxical and today would you act the same way?
24 A. Mr. President, well, it is precisely this
25 unilateral approach to crime that robbed me of my
1 public support and public opinion in the Lasva River
2 Valley. I did ask the representatives to have an equal
3 treatment for everyone, and the media as well, because
4 Ahmici was not the first or last crime. I would have
5 been greatly aided by public support and the honest
6 section of the HVO in conducting the investigation.
7 Reactions to the letter I wrote to Colonel Stewart on
8 the 23rd, there was no reaction there either.
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: You said that if you knew
10 Colonel Duncan better, you may have given him some
11 information and particularly if you were convinced that
12 he would not have made this information public. Did I
13 understand you well?
14 A. Well, yes. I said that I could have done
15 that, looking back at it from today's perspective.
16 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Why? What were the reasons
17 why you decided not to give this information to
18 Colonel Stewart?
19 A. Well, there was no reaction of any kind from
20 Colonel Stewart when I wrote him a letter and asked him
21 for help and an organisation of a top-level meeting.
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But maybe we should go back
23 to the question that was asked to you yesterday. I
24 mentioned the dialogue of the deaf yesterday, if you
25 remember, vis-à-vis Colonel Stewart. Maybe he was
1 aware of the organisation of the HVO, and here it was
2 possible to admit that Colonel Stewart knew that the
3 military police was not directly subordinate to you and
4 under your direct command. But as far as
5 Colonel Duncan is concerned, he's just arrived and, of
6 course, or maybe he didn't know anything about the
7 organisation of the HVO.
8 Didn't you feel the need, at that stage, to
9 tell Colonel Duncan that there may be a confusion
10 relating to the various units I mentioned yesterday and
11 there, by talking to him, you might have had the
12 possibility of having the assistance of Colonel Duncan
13 by saying that the HVO units, according to your
14 opinion, had committed the crime but that these were
15 units that were not under your command? Why didn't you
16 feel the need to tell this to Colonel Duncan?
17 A. Well, I believe, Your Honour, that
18 Colonel Duncan did get at least a preliminary briefing
19 from Colonel Stewart and that he was informed about a
20 large portion of information relating to HVO
21 organisation and the situation in the region. I say,
22 looking back from today's positions, perhaps I should
23 have behaved in that way from the viewpoint -- that is
24 to say, when matters occurred at the time, I did
25 everything to arrive at results from an investigation
1 because everybody asked for results, and they asked me
2 for the results, but there were very few people who
3 wanted to help in that situation. All this took place
4 while the situation was as it was and while the two
5 sides were in a confrontation.
6 Perhaps if I look back today, I perhaps
7 should have followed a different road, but I'm telling
8 you what I did at the time and what I told
9 Colonel Duncan at the time.
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much,
12 JUDGE JORDA: I will not repeat my own
13 question, I just would like to add something to what
14 has just been said by Judge Rodrigues.
15 Within the command of the HVO were there
16 military tactical concerns and is it the reason why you
17 decided not to communicate, to give some information?
18 Let me explain this question. You've just
19 said that you were afraid that some elements, maybe at
20 a premature stage, may be made public. My question is
21 then: Was there a debate, a discussion, within the
22 highest-level structures of the HVO and, if so, were
23 the conclusions -- let's be careful. If conclusions or
24 information are given too quickly and if the public
25 knows too quickly that certain units of the HVO may be
1 found responsible for what happened, then it will be
2 Colonel Blaskic's responsibility because he would have
3 made this information public, he would have betrayed us
4 and, afterwards, it is not convenient to do this, so
5 that we keep a good image towards the International
6 Community of a clean HVO.
7 My question is, therefore, clear: Was there
8 such a discussion or debate between General Petkovic or
9 you or the highest members of the leaders of the
10 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna? Was there such a
11 debate or wasn't there a debate at all?
12 A. Mr. President, I listened to your question
13 carefully and have understood it. Between me and
14 General Petkovic, no such conversation had ever taken
15 place, and I do not know and do not have information,
16 even today, whether a discussion of this kind was held
17 amongst the peaks of the HVO. I do know that I sent a
18 letter, and I think it was on the 24th of April, 1993,
19 and addressed it to my high superiors, and in that
20 letter I expressed my stands including the fact that
21 the highest officials should come to the Vitez region.
22 The situation really was highly complex, and as I said,
23 nothing had changed within the realm of my own
24 competencies, and authorisation, and command, and
25 control over the military police and the command
1 structure. That same military police offered security
2 for me and my command.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Please proceed, Mr. Nobilo.
4 MR. NOBILO:
5 Q. To follow on from what you have just said:
6 Did you, as an educated, trained soldier, could you, to
7 somebody outside the HVO, disclose the results of an
8 investigation without getting the okay from the higher
10 A. No.
11 Q. Tell us, please, had the British, the UN,
12 UNPROFOR accepted to participate in the investigation
13 and if they were an official part of the investigation
14 together with the representatives of the HVO, would you
15 then, in that kind of situation, have the kind of
16 competence and authority, and could you give all the
17 documents and show all the documents, disclose them to
18 Colonel Duncan had he been part of an official
19 commission and then accepted your suggestions in that
21 A. Yes, because then that would have been a
22 joint commission which would have worked jointly in
23 this case and would jointly visit the terrain, take
24 statements, and conduct all the investigative
25 operations that are usual. I asked at the meeting that
1 there be representatives of the BH army present in a
2 commission of that kind, a top-level commission of that
3 kind, precisely because of truth, and objectivity, and
4 the quality of the investigation.
5 Q. You said on several occasions that with
6 hindsight and the knowledge and experience you have
7 gained, and from this point in time and everything you
8 know and have learnt, that you could have perhaps
9 formulated your stand in a different way to
10 Colonel Duncan. Could you tell us what you think you
11 should have done now? What should you have told him?
12 A. Well, I said that I would probably have acted
13 differently because at the time the situation was as it
14 was and the circumstances were the kind that prevailed,
15 and I would probably have told him that I had
16 suspicions that was perpetrated by individual members
17 or some members from the HVO military police, but that
18 because of the interests of the investigation, I was
19 not able to tell him more because the investigation was
20 under way and, therefore, I could not give him any more
22 Q. Did Colonel Duncan make any notes as to his
23 talk with you? Did he record your discussion?
24 A. I don't remember whether he made any notes on
25 the occasion.
1 Q. Did you make your own notes?
2 A. Yes, I did have my notes as to the meeting.
3 Sometimes I wrote when the meeting began, and when the
4 meeting ended, and everything else, and I do have notes
5 about all the meetings that I conducted.
6 Q. And finally, did you ever tell Colonel Duncan
7 that you doubted and had suspicions that the crime in
8 Ahmici had been perpetrated by the Serbs or the BH
10 A. Not only to him, but to no one did I say that
11 the crime in Ahmici could have been committed by the
12 Serbs. That is against my military line of thinking.
13 I never said that the crimes were committed by the BH
14 army either.
15 Q. Let us move on. What happened after the
17 A. Well, we still had a discussion as to the
18 displacement of the Muslims from Vitez, and
19 Colonel Duncan said that this represented persecution
20 and cleansing from Vitez. I informed him that
21 practically every week we had a hundred families
22 arriving from Zenica into Vitez and that this was a
23 linked reaction, a linked chain, action and reaction,
24 and with these 100 families coming into Zenica, there
25 were many conscripts amongst them, able-bodied men who
1 were solving their livelihood problems by persecuting
2 the Muslims from Vitez or who were buying up apartments
3 belonging to Muslims. There were various ways people
4 arrived at apartment space, but for the most part,
5 everything that was going on and everything that
6 happened to the Croats in Zenica was reflected on the
7 situation of the Bosniak Muslims in Vitez.
8 I also told Colonel Duncan that groups of
9 criminals, starting out from local criminals, were
10 persecuting individuals for the sake of profit, they
11 were profiteers, because you could sell a flat for a
12 lot of money at the time.
13 Colonel Duncan asked me about the abduction
14 of the vehicles carrying newspaper crews, and I said
15 that I would try to solve that problem and that I would
16 do everything in my power to find the vehicles taken.
17 In the course of the day, at a morning
18 meeting that was held, I once again asked to be given a
19 report in the course of the 9th of May, from the
20 assistant security officer, with regard to the
21 investigation about Ahmici. I received the answer that
22 the service was functioning and that once it had
23 completed its task I would be given a written report on
24 the matter. I was also informed that statements were
25 being taken and this process was nearing completion.
1 At about 12.30 on the 9th of May, I had a
2 meeting with the officer from the International Red
3 Cross, Mrs. Clare, and she informed me about an
4 exchange that had previously taken place. She stressed
5 that she had come across a problem, the problem of
6 civilians who, in the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade,
7 were being taken to do labour.
8 I told the officers of the International Red
9 Cross that I had not permitted this kind of activity
10 and that I would look into the matter. In the course
11 of the day, I was informed that the members of the work
12 platoons had gone out to do labour and tasks within the
13 Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade but that they were
14 members who had been regularly mobilised by the
15 department for the defence of the municipality of
17 Q. Was this trench digging on the front lines,
18 according to the information you received?
19 A. According to the information that I received,
20 it did not involve trench digging on the front lines,
21 and I knew that the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade had
22 front lines since January against the BH army, that
23 that was where the forces had become confronted already
24 in January of '93.
25 In the course of the day, I also had a
1 meeting with the chief of staff, Franjo Nakic, and he
2 informed me that the joint command of the BH army and
3 the HVO was working to prepare and organise joint
4 actions and operations against the forces of the
5 Republika Srpska army to liberate the Vlasic plateau
6 due north of Travnik.
7 On the 10th of May, 1993, I received
8 information from the Military Intelligence Service that
9 the BH army was regrouping its troops from Eastern
10 Bosnia, in the immediate vicinity of Vares. In the
11 course of the morning at a meeting, I once again asked
12 for a written report from the security assistant and
13 after that I issued a written order to the security
14 assistant to undertake an investigation.
15 Q. What did he say when you asked for a written
16 report and what made you issue a written order after
18 A. Well, for the most part, he said that the
19 service was functioning and working on the case. The
20 answer was a little hazy. He said that he had not yet
21 collected all the statements and evidence, it was a
22 little vague, and I asked him to give me a written
23 report on the results of the investigation so far.
24 After that, I issued a written order.
25 Q. I should now like to ask the witness to be
1 handed document D341 or perhaps we could take a break
2 here because we'll be spending some more time on the
3 document. It is a document relating to the
4 investigation in Ahmici.
5 JUDGE JORDA: I would like to stop this
6 hearing anyway at quarter to one, so let's take a
7 15-minute break.
8 --- Recess taken at 12.09 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 12.28 p.m.
10 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. For
11 reasons of organisation, Mr. Nobilo, I suggest that we
12 stop about ten to one or five to one, and we will
13 resume at a quarter to three and go on until a quarter
14 to six, if the interpreters don't mind. A quarter to
15 three. I don't hear any answer. There is a French
16 proverb that says silence means acquiescence.
17 Very well. Thank you. Let us resume,
18 Mr. Nobilo.
19 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. Could
20 the witness be shown Defence document D341?
21 Q. Let me read it. It is not very long. The
22 date is the 10th of May, 1993, the time 17.05. The
23 addressee seems to have been blacked out. The text
25 "Enquiry and written report on the events in
1 the village of Ahmici.
3 "For several days, various rumours have been
4 circulating in the public regarding events in the
5 village of Ahmici since 14 May 1993 and the civilian
6 casualties there. In order to be able to analyse the
7 events, establish the facts of the case and implement
8 the Order of the HVO Chief of Staff, I hereby issue the
9 following order:
10 1. Gather all information and submit a
11 report on the events that actually took place in the
12 village of Ahmici, in particular on the number of
13 casualties, the manner in which they occurred and the
15 2. I designate the assistant for
16 SIS/Security and Information Service/ of the OZ Central
17 Bosnia as the person responsible for this task; the
18 deadline is 25 May 1993."
19 Signed Commander Colonel Tihomir Blaskic.
20 First, let us see this blacked-out area on
21 the order. What do you think was written there?
22 A. It said "To the Assistant for Security,
23 Mr. Anto Sliskovic."
24 Q. Tell us why, on the 10th of May in
25 particular, at 17.05, you wrote this written order?
1 A. I wanted to exert additional pressure on the
2 assistant for security so as to get hold of all
3 important information that I referred to in points 1
4 and 2 of this order which I would later use and forward
5 to the main staff for further processing.
6 Q. Please remind us of your conversation with
7 the assistant for security and information before you
8 wrote this order on that day, and does the writing of
9 this order have anything to do with that conversation?
10 A. I asked for the results of the investigation
11 from the assistant for security, and I was told that
12 the assistant for security had formed a team consisting
13 of his associates working exclusively on the Ahmici
14 case but I had still not received all the relevant
15 results, and that is why, by issuing this order, I
16 wanted to exert additional pressure in order to obtain
17 the results I had requested.
18 Q. You mention "all the relevant data." What
19 did you know at that point in time?
20 A. I was aware of the total number of
21 casualties, but I didn't have any information as to the
22 way in which they were killed or wounded nor the names
23 of the perpetrators of the crime.
24 Q. On the 10th of May, 1993, did you feel that
25 it was time for you to receive some sort of a document
1 regarding the results of the investigation?
2 A. That is what I had requested. I had asked
3 for the results of the investigation carried out so
4 far, that is, up to the 10th of May, and I wanted to
5 have those results in writing.
6 Q. Why didn't you issue a written order earlier
8 A. I had regular meetings with the assistant for
9 security, and I received information that the
10 investigation was ongoing, that the service was working
11 on it, that the statements were being processed or
12 taken from eyewitnesses, so I was told that the service
13 was working on it and that the investigation was under
15 Q. But on this day you felt it was time for you
16 to issue a written order.
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Why didn't you mention in that written order
19 your earlier oral orders?
20 A. In this document, I referred to the
21 implementation of the order of the chief of staff of
22 the main staff, and as the assistant for security had
23 told me that the service was working on it, I felt that
24 there was no need for me to mention here specifically
25 my oral orders, but I did refer to the orders of the
1 main staff of the HVO dated the 30th of April.
2 Q. We will come back to that in the analysis of
3 each of these points, but before we do that, I would
4 like to know, this order says that the crime in the
5 village of Ahmici occurred on the 14th of May, 1993; is
6 that correct, or what is the problem?
7 A. That must be a typing error because that is
8 not true.
9 Q. When did the crime occur in Ahmici?
10 A. The 16th of April, 1993.
11 Q. In the beginning of this text, you say that
12 for several days now various interpretations have been
13 circulating in the public regarding the events in
14 Ahmici. Those interpretations or rumours, have they
15 anything to do with those rumours that you partly
16 conveyed to Colonel Duncan?
17 A. Yes, there were such interpretations and
18 rumours, ranging from allegations that the crime had
19 been committed by members of the army of Republika
20 Srpska, by people dressed in black, by members of HOS,
21 the H-O-S, by members of the BH army, by members of the
22 Muslim armed forces, and even UNPROFOR members. There
23 were various rumours circulating throughout the
24 territory in that period of time.
25 Q. What did you want to do with this order? To
1 assist those rumours or to put an end to them?
2 A. That can be seen from the text of the order.
3 What I wanted was to establish the truth and cut short
4 all those rumours.
5 Q. Let me read the sentence now: "... in order
6 to comprehensively analyse all events and to establish
7 the real state of affairs." Was that your aim?
8 A. Yes, I wrote that order and that was my aim,
9 to establish the full truth as to what had happened.
10 Q. In that order, in the preamble, you mention
11 the order of the chief of staff of the main staff.
12 Therefore, to establish the facts of the case is in
13 accordance with the order of the chief of staff of the
14 main staff. Which order were you referring to? What
15 were the circumstances under which that order was
16 issued? Remind the Court.
17 A. I said that on the 30th of April, 1993, I had
18 briefed the chief of staff of the main staff before he
19 held his meeting with all his associates, and at that
20 meeting, the chief of the main staff said that it was
21 our duty to investigate all crimes, and I am referring
22 to the meeting held after I had briefed the chief of
23 the main staff that he held on the 30th of April, 1993.
24 Q. Why do you mention the order of your superior
25 in the preamble of this order? What is the purpose of
2 A. That was another way of bringing additional
3 pressure to bear with the aim of obtaining results
4 regarding the way in which the victims were killed or
5 wounded and, of course, also to put an end to these
6 diverse interpretations in public.
7 Q. When you say "additional pressure," on whom?
8 A. On the security service.
9 Q. Which was carrying out the investigation into
10 the Ahmici case?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Let us go on now to point 1. You request the
13 gathering of all information and the submission of a
14 report, and then you mention specifically the number of
15 casualties. What were you referring to?
16 A. All the casualties of Ahmici. I meant
17 civilians, women, children, soldiers; the total number
18 of casualties.
19 Q. Why do you require a report on the manner in
20 which those losses were inflicted? Why was that
21 important at the time?
22 A. I wanted a report on the way in which the
23 casualties had occurred in order to be able to
24 establish with accuracy who were the victims of crime
25 and who were the victims of combat operations.
1 Q. Finally, you request data on the perpetrators
2 of crimes. Why? Why did you want those names? What
3 did you want to do with them?
4 A. I always insisted on this point because I
5 wanted to forward the list of perpetrators to the
6 competent authorities so as to prompt them to
7 comprehensively process the case, to sanction and take
8 measures against the perpetrators.
9 Q. Let us be more specific. What did you
10 expect? Once you forwarded the names of the
11 perpetrators to your superiors, what were your
12 expectations of your superiors?
13 A. I expected them immediately to send a
14 commission from the very top, and that at that very
15 moment they would arrest all those named in the list
16 and institute regular proceedings against them.
17 Q. In point 2, you make responsible for this
18 task the assistant for security and information
19 service, who is already working on it, but you give him
20 a deadline and that is the 25th of May, 1993. Isn't
21 this a rather short deadline for investigations into
22 such a major crime?
23 A. No, it is not short because he received the
24 order on the 24th of April, 1993, and he did inform me
25 at a certain point in time that he was collecting
1 statements. By taking this measure, I wanted to bring
2 pressure to bear on him and obtain results which I
3 could submit to my superiors.
4 Q. Fine. On that same day you had a meeting
5 with Mr. de la Mota and (redacted). Could you tell
6 us the main highlights of that meeting?
7 A. I did have that meeting with Mr. de la Mota
8 and (redacted), and Mr. de la Mota asked me
9 regarding the situation in Mostar. He came out with a
10 thesis that this was perhaps a scenario for the
11 elimination of Croats from Central Bosnia.
12 Q. On the basis of which data did he put forth
13 this thesis that somebody wanted to eliminate Croats
14 from Central Bosnia? Could you elaborate on that a
16 A. Mr. de la Mota told me the following:
17 Everyone can see how strong the HVO in Herzegovina is
18 and how strong the BH army is in Central Bosnia.
19 Herzegovina and Central Bosnia are interconnected, and
20 whatever untoward happens to Bosniak Muslims in
21 Herzegovina is reflected and will provoke bad things to
22 happen to Croats in Central Bosnia. He also said that
23 what would probably happen was that the Croats from
24 Central Bosnia would be eliminated because the Muslim
25 Bosniaks are being eliminated from Herzegovina.
1 My answer was that I do not have detailed
2 information as to what was happening in the area of
4 After this subject, we also discussed the
5 treatment of the wounded in the hospital and the
6 question of the mobilisation of the Croats of Zenica.
7 Q. Tell us, General, in those days, what was
8 your knowledge regarding the global developments in
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia? How
10 well-informed were you regarding what was globally
11 happening in the territory of the whole state?
12 A. As far as I know, there were no press and the
13 media were not broadcasting comprehensive information,
14 so that the information we had was extremely limited
15 regarding global developments.
16 Q. Were you in a kind of a media blockade in the
17 Lasva Valley?
18 A. Yes. We were completely closed in and
19 isolated. The roads were not open for normal traffic,
20 and I was wedged in in this enclave of six by ten
21 kilometres without any kind of daily newspapers or
22 possibilities for communication.
23 Q. On that day you also spoke to a BH army
24 officer called Kulenovic, from Travnik. What did you
1 A. Yes, Kulenovic called me up. I think he was
2 still the commander of the 312th Mountain Brigade from
4 Q. Is he a Muslim?
5 A. Yes, he's Bosniak Muslim. He asked for
6 assistant for his family in Vitez and that assistance
7 was given.
8 Q. What did that assistance consist of, in the
9 form of food?
10 A. Yes, it was a parcel of foodstuffs.
11 Q. Please continue.
12 A. At 14.00, I received information from an
13 officer in the joint command that the chief of staff in
14 Kiseljak, the chief of staff of the Ban Josip Jelacic
15 Brigade, Mato Lucic, had been killed during the
16 cease-fire. Later on, in the course of that day, I
17 asked Colonel Stewart to give me an escort to attend
18 the funeral of Mato Lucic, the chief of staff of the
20 Q. So in the end you did go; is that correct?
21 A. Yes. UN vehicles transported me to the
22 funeral of the killed chief of staff and I attended
23 that funeral ceremony. I was returned immediately from
24 that locality of Brnjaci in two UN vehicles, and we
25 moved without stopping anywhere. As far as I remember,
1 the route was Vitez, Busovaca, Kiseljak.
2 Q. Thank you. Please go on to the next day.
3 What happened next?
4 MR. NOBILO: Perhaps, Mr. President, it is
5 time to adjourn. It is ten to one.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. We're coming to the next
7 day in the chronology of events, so we are going to
8 adjourn until a quarter to three. The hearing is
10 --- Luncheon recess taken at 12.50 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.55 p.m.
2 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is now resumed.
3 Please be seated.
4 Mr. Registrar, you mentioned the issues of
5 the timetable at the request of the Defence. Could you
6 please sum up what is going to happen tomorrow and
8 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Mr. President. I would
9 like to remind the parties that tomorrow morning, the
10 Chamber will not be available at 10.00, probably
11 because at 9.00, there will be, in this very same room,
12 another case. So we will probably start tomorrow
13 later, probably at 10.30, maybe later. This will be
14 determined depending upon the first hearing.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Maybe earlier, Mr. Registrar.
16 You don't believe in my ability to shorten the
17 hearings? We will try to resume this hearing at 10.15
18 or 10.30.
19 Do you want to have 10.30 as a definite
21 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, I think it would be
22 better for the accused.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, are you satisfied
24 with this possibility so that the accused does not wait
25 too long?
1 As far as Friday is concerned, I think it is
2 another aspect of our case we have to develop now.
3 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, indeed. On Friday,
4 there is an ex parte hearing in this room in this
5 Blaskic case, and I think the Defence would like me to
6 propose that there is no hearing in this particular
7 case on Friday because we don't know how long the
8 ex parte hearing is going to take. It may be a long
10 JUDGE JORDA: I think this was your request,
11 Mr. Hayman, wasn't it?
12 MR. HAYMAN: It is, Mr. President, so that
13 the Defence doesn't spend the morning waiting for a
14 trial session that may never occur; instead, we can use
15 the time to work.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Mr. Prosecutor?
17 MR. KEHOE: That's fine, Mr. President.
18 JUDGE JORDA: I see that there are some
19 typical procedures and we all know that they take a
20 long time so ...
21 Very well. Mr. Nobilo, you can now take the
23 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
24 Q. Before the lunch break, I think that we had
25 left off with the 10th of May, 1993, and so I would
1 like to ask our witness to continue talking about the
2 essential facts running up to the end of May 1993.
3 A. Your Honours, on the 11th of May, 1993, I
4 received in the command a request for assistance in the
5 defence, that is, to help the defenders of Maglaj, and
6 this was mostly done by the units of the BH army, and I
7 openly ordered by telephone to the command, Ivo
8 Lovancic, to extend assistance. It was, for the most
9 part, in the form of ammunition and materiel for
10 defence against the army of the Republika Srpska.
11 Next there was an incident on the 11th of May
12 perpetrated by the members of the 38th (sic) Brigade of
13 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina from Novi Travnik when a
14 member of the joint command of the 3rd Corps and the
15 Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, Mr. Zoran Pilicic,
16 had taken away his official vehicle while he doing his
17 official duties.
18 On the 12th of May, in the area of the Vitez
19 municipality --
20 MR. NOBILO: There has been an error in the
21 transcript. It was the 308th Brigade of the BH army.
22 Not the 38th Brigade but the 308th Brigade.
23 A. On the 12th of May, 1993, from Zenica, in the
24 area of the Vitez municipality, 233 families arrived,
25 and it meant almost 1.000 Croats who had arrived in a
1 whole wave of refugees in the Vitez municipality, all
2 displaced persons who had been expelled, and they
3 sought refuge and accommodation in the Vitez
4 municipality, and also during those days, there was an
5 even larger number of people, families, arriving from
6 the Zenica area to the Busovaca municipality.
7 At a meeting with Franjo Nakic that I had,
8 member of the joint command of the 3rd Corps and the
9 Operative Zone, I asked that he bring up the question
10 with General Merdan particularly with regard to the
11 chief of staff, Mate Lucic, who was killed in Kiseljak
12 near the front line.
13 In the afternoon, I attended the funeral, I
14 was transported by the members of UNPROFOR, and at the
15 cemetery I learnt that in Kiseljak, a violent taking of
16 the commander of the brigade, Mijo Bozic, had been
17 perpetrated, who was thrown out by soldiers from his
18 command headquarters and it was made impossible for him
19 to return to the command of the Josip Ban Jelacic
21 Q. Tell us please, General, was that the same
22 Mijo Bozic whom you, in January 1993, appointed
23 commander of the Josip Ban Jelacic Brigade?
24 A. Yes, that is the same brigade commander who
25 was appointed in the month of January and who was now,
1 after the death of the chief of staff and everything
2 that happened, was thrown out of the command
3 headquarters by force.
4 Q. Did you know about this before you arrived at
5 the funeral?
6 A. No, I had no information about that before I
7 came to the funeral, and from the funeral, I had to
8 return immediately with the UN vehicles to Vitez so
9 that I did not have the possibility of gaining any more
10 information as to that particular event.
11 Q. Did you, at any point, order that Mijo Bozic
12 be forcibly taken away from the post of the command of
13 the Ban Jelacic Brigade?
14 A. No.
15 Q. Please continue. Tell us what happened next.
16 A. In the course of the 13th of May, I had a
17 regular meeting with the joint command and with Franjo
18 Nakic who informed me that, on the previous day, in a
19 discussion with Dzemo, he heard the glorification of
20 the victories of the Bosnia-Herzegovina army over the
21 HVO by Dzemo Merdan himself, and then I once again
22 received information that the military police were
23 forcibly storming Muslim houses and that the people,
24 Bosniak Muslims, were being evicted from their homes.
25 I also received information that there was
1 another incident which occurred at the checkpoint at
2 Ovnak where a soldier, who was going to receive medical
3 treatment at the hospital in Zenica, was in an
4 ambulance and he was stopped and he was maltreated by
5 the members of the military police at the checkpoint.
6 It was a soldier belonging to the BH army who was
7 seriously either ill or wounded, I'm not quite sure,
8 but I know that he was a patient and he was going for
9 treatment from Travnik to Zenica. When I learnt about
10 this incident, I asked that an investigation be
11 undertaken to establish who the perpetrators of that
12 maltreatment were. I also sent a letter of apology to
13 the commander, to Commander Alagic, to Travnik.
14 Q. He was commander of what?
15 A. He was commander of the operative group of
16 the Bosanska Krajina region of the BH army in Travnik,
17 and I informed him that I condemned the incident and
18 the mistreatment of that soldier and that I would
19 undertake all measures to start an investigation to
20 identify the perpetrators and take disciplinary action
21 against them.
22 Furthermore, in the course of that same day,
23 I called the commander of the police and I asked him to
24 send in information about who the perpetrators of this
25 particular incident at the checkpoint at Ovnak were and
1 that steps should be taken to discipline the
3 In the course of the day, I received
4 information from Dominik Sakic about the state of
5 affairs in Zenica, and it was said that about 60 houses
6 had been burned belonging to Croatian families, that is
7 to say, Croatian houses, and that about 600 houses had
8 been looted and that there were still about 280
9 detained civilians in the different prisons.
10 On the 14th of May, 1993 --
11 Q. These different prisons were all in Zenica,
12 were they not?
13 A. In the area of the Zenica municipality, yes.
14 Q. Please continue, General.
15 A. On the 14th of May, 1993, through the media,
16 under the control of the BH army and the Bosniak
17 Muslims, I was conveyed information that the HVO had
18 been proclaimed an enemy side, and I had another
19 morning meeting with Nakic and asked that we organise a
20 joint convoy to bring in food into the enclave and into
21 the Zenica region under the supervision of the 3rd
22 Corps. I also received information --
23 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me. I didn't
24 understand. The HVO was proclaimed enemy, but by
25 whom? You didn't say it, or I didn't get it in the
1 interpretation anyway.
2 A. Mr. President, the information was conveyed
3 to me that the media had announced, the media under the
4 supervision of the BH army and the Bosniak Muslims,
5 that is to say, via the media, that the HVO was
6 proclaimed an enemy.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Please go on. Thank you.
8 A. I received information that policemen Vlado
9 Lesic, Zeljko Barbic, and Zvonko Bilic were the
10 perpetrators of the incident with the soldier at the
11 Ovnak checkpoint and I asked that they be distanced
12 from the checkpoint and that they should not carry on
13 with their duties there and that disciplinary measures
14 be taken against them and that the commander of the
15 police should inform me about the disciplinary measures
16 that had been taken. I was not able to contact the
17 commander but I had this talk with the officer on duty
18 at the military police station because I was not able
19 to come into contact with him. They couldn't tell me
20 where the chief of police was at that particular time.
21 THE INTERPRETER: "The commander of the
22 police." Interpreter apologises.
23 A. On that day I also received information about
24 the incidents in the town of Travnik where again there
25 were mutual arrests carried out and other forms of
1 violating the public law and order. I again requested
2 that UNPROFOR visit the Travnik municipality territory,
3 that is, Grahovcici and Brajkovici, because I had
4 received information that this area was completely
5 surrounded and isolated without any communication and
6 was surrounded by the BH army forces.
7 At 14.00 on the 14th of May, I also received
8 information that all Gypsies from the Vitez
9 municipality area were preparing to leave, to move out.
10 MR. NOBILO:
11 Q. Can you tell us what religion the Gypsies
12 were in the area?
13 A. I believe that they were all Muslims.
14 Q. Carry on, please.
15 A. There were over 500, and their intention was
16 to go to Novi Travnik and Travnik escorted by
17 UNPROFOR. I expressed my disagreement with this
18 decision to leave the Vitez area, and I called the
19 mayor of Vitez and asked him for assistance in
20 mediating in order that we would prevent the Gypsies
21 from leaving. I asked that the mayor, Ivica Santic,
22 talk to the representatives of the Gypsies and their
23 leaders and to let them know that we would do all we
24 can so that they could stay in their homes where they
25 had lived until then.
1 I had a problem with the communications
2 officer who had come to me. He was the UNPROFOR
3 officer. I think his name was Perry. I don't know
4 whether this was his name or nickname. He was the
5 liaison officer there. He said that I was not allowing
6 this group of about 500 Gypsies to leave. I told him
7 that in these circumstances, such freedom of movement
8 would amount to moving of the Gypsies out of the Lasva
9 Valley and that in that sense, it was contrary to the
10 position of the UNHCR, who was not allowing such
11 transfers of people. I also told him that the mayor
12 was conducting discussions with the representatives of
13 their own, and if despite all our efforts the decision
14 by the leadership of Gypsies was such that they would
15 still leave, we would let them go.
16 However, we were lucky in our efforts, and we
17 managed to keep this group of Gypsies in the area, and,
18 to date, they continue to live in the territory of
19 Vitez municipality.
20 In the course of the day, another 50 families
21 arrived. They came from Zenica. They had been kept at
22 the checkpoint Lasva, which was controlled by the BH
23 army, the main Zenica-Busovaca road, and they had
24 waited here to be permitted to get a permit from the BH
25 army in order to be able to move to Vitez and
2 Q. Were these Croatian families from Zenica?
3 A. Yes, these were Croatian families from Zenica
4 region, and they were arriving daily. Every day there
5 was a certain number of families who arrived there.
6 On 15 May, 1993, I received information from
7 the intelligence service that the BH army was
8 conducting regrouping and that during the following day
9 combat operations could be expected.
10 I visited the lines of Vitez that day, and in
11 the course of the day I attempted to again contact the
12 commander of the military police. However, again I was
13 unable to reach him.
14 I also issued an order to the Frankopan
15 Brigade commander, asking him to take control of the
16 checkpoint at Ovnak where that incident had occurred,
17 but the brigade commander was unable to implement this
18 order. He informed me that he received a reply from
19 the policemen who were on duty, telling him that he had
20 no authority over them and that they were receiving
21 orders from their own commander.
22 I also received information that the BH army
23 was bringing in new forces to Vitez and Busovaca.
24 Also, reinforcements were observed coming from Bugojno
25 to the area of Novi Travnik on the same day. After
1 this information reached me about deployment of new
2 forces and taking into account that Zupa Gora and
3 Brajkovici, had now been surrounded, I asked for a
4 meeting with Colonel Duncan, and at 16.30 I had a
5 meeting. I asked of him to mediate in order that the
6 agreement between the BH army and the HVO be
7 implemented, and I informed him on all the information
8 I had gathered until that point about the regroupings
9 and bringing in of fresh forces and preparations for
10 attack, knowing that the UNPROFOR bases -- with a mind
11 that the UNPROFOR base was also in that same area.
12 I advised Colonel Duncan that -- he said that
13 we were in a very difficult situation, and I responded
14 that we had to defend ourselves because we had no other
16 After that meeting, on the same day I also
17 received information about movement of 11 bus loads of
18 soldiers, that is, of the BH army from the direction of
19 Zenica towards Vitez. Through Nakic, a member of the
20 joint command, I asked to mediate in organising a
21 meeting with the representatives of the 3rd Corps, with
22 the commander Enver Hadzihasanovic, that is, so that we
23 would prevent this attack which was being prepared.
24 I also received information from the Military
25 Intelligence Service that new and fresh forces were
1 also being brought in to Fojnica via Mount Igman and
2 Tarcin. I also received information about the arrest
3 of civilians in Novi Travnik by members of the 308th BH
4 Army Brigade and these arrested civilians were Croat.
5 On the 17th of May, 1993, we had an incident
6 at the headquarters in Vitez and in a family home -- or
7 the apartment where Dominik Sakic, who had been
8 expelled from Zenica, was temporarily taking his
10 A military policeman had forcibly entered his
11 apartment, physically abused him, and robbed him in the
12 presence of his own family, after which they came to
13 the Hotel Vitez and beat up Zivko Totic, who several
14 days earlier had been released by the 7th Muslim
15 Brigade. Zivko Totic was the HVO commander in Zenica,
16 by the way.
17 I again asked for an investigation by the
18 military police regarding these incidents but I still
19 had not received any reports.
20 Q. General, these incidents were taking place at
21 the Ovnak checkpoint, in the Hotel Vitez, in Dominik
22 Sakic's private apartment and each time you ask for an
23 investigation. This is a usual thing or should the
24 military police have, by its official duties, launched
25 such an investigation?
1 A. Yes, its official duty would have been and
2 this is part of their job description. The military
3 police was supposed to launch an investigation and
4 identify the perpetrators. Unfortunately, they
5 themselves took part in these incidents.
6 Q. General, to your understanding of your own
7 position, in military terms, that is, as commander of
8 the Operative Zone, is it your duty to pursue and take
9 care of each individual incident or is your duty to
10 ensure that the system worked?
11 A. Of course, my duty is to organise the system
12 in such a way that it works, and I would not be able to
13 pursue every single individual incident, and I would
14 not be able to function as a commander.
15 Q. So how could you describe a situation in
16 which you are forced, as if you were just a simple
17 police officer, to point to every single incident that
18 was perpetrated either by them or by somebody else and
19 they do not pursue or investigate?
20 A. These were very -- we were in conditions
21 where we had a very complex situation. Also, it was
22 part of my effort to push through the changes within
23 the chain of command and authorities over the military
24 police, with my own superiors.
25 Q. Can you tell the Chamber, all these problems
1 that you have just mentioned regarding the military
2 police at that time, did you transmit the information
3 to your superiors?
4 A. My superiors received both the regular
5 reports and extraordinary reports. For instance, the
6 incident which was the assault on Commander Totic, who
7 had just been released, I would especially send such
8 reports, as I did in this case.
9 Q. What was your goal regarding each of the
10 incidents regarding the military police? You showered,
11 practically, your superiors in Mostar with those?
12 A. I was looking to get a reaction and trigger
13 off changes because I received information from my
14 assistant for information that there were a number of
15 individuals within the military police who had criminal
16 records. So I wanted changes in the structure and
17 composition of the military police, as well as in the
18 chain of command.
19 Q. Very well. Please move on. How did events
20 unfold after that?
21 A. At 13.55, I was informed by mayor Santic that
22 the persecution of Muslims were continuing.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Are you going to use documents,
24 written reports relating to the chain of command? The
25 accused is saying that he proposed some changes. Are
1 there any reports where all the events he's talking
2 about are referred to?
3 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, we had the
4 witness (redacted)
5 (redacted), and he testified to
6 that. However, unfortunately, the Defence was unable
7 to obtain documents from the military police archives
8 and the Defence did not manage to receive any
9 information from the main staff archives. So those two
10 sources have remained inaccessible to the Defence, so
11 that the Defence has had no access to any of the
12 documents which General Blaskic sent to his superiors
13 in Mostar.
14 But as witness (redacted) testified, changes
15 were affected, and later on General Blaskic will
16 testify as to the changes, the real changes, which
17 happened with respect to the military police and the
18 special purpose units, especially with the Vitezovi
19 special units.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
21 MR. NOBILO:
22 Q. General, please continue.
23 A. Very well. At 13.55, I had a conversation
24 with mayor Santic, who again informed me and discussed
25 the problem that despite all the measures taken the
1 Bosniak Muslims were still leaving the town. He said
2 that members of the military police and members of the
3 Vitezovi special purpose units were at the forefront of
4 such activities and that they were even engaging in
5 selling of apartments that they had taken.
6 I called both of the commanders of these
7 units and --
8 Q. Could you please name them?
9 A. It was Mr. Darko Kraljevic and Mr. Pasko
10 Ljubicic. I asked that orders be issued to their
11 immediate subordinates in the spirit of my own order
12 against the expulsion and that copies of such orders be
13 sent to my attention. However, unfortunately, I never
14 managed to receive copies of such documents.
15 I then called Santic --
16 Q. Who is Santic?
17 A. Santic was the mayor of Vitez. I asked him
18 to engage the civilian police in preventing the
19 expulsions of Muslims, and if it turns out that they
20 were unable to prevent these expulsions, to at least
21 register the incidents so that we had some kind of
22 control over the situation.
23 At 17.10 on the 17th of May, I had a meeting
24 with the liaison officer of the British Battalion, and
25 I again asked him to inform Colonel Duncan and mediate
1 in organising a meeting between myself and the
2 commander of the 3rd Corps of the BH army. The
3 Military Intelligence Service also informed me that
4 Radio Sarajevo was broadcasting information that there
5 were mass graves of Muslims in Vitez and that it could
6 create a certain atmosphere leading to another attack
7 by the BH army.
8 Again, the movements of the BH army had been
9 observed in the Lasva operative group zone.
10 On the 18th of May, 1993, I held a press
11 conference in Busovaca, around 11.00, and, in this
12 press conference, I publicly spoke about the problems
13 of the persecution of Bosniak Muslims, and I asked that
14 the military police issue an order which would prevent
15 expulsions of Bosnian Muslims from their residences.
16 I still had not received copies of these
17 orders as I had asked. I also asked to be fully
18 informed by the security service regarding these
19 incidents of forcible expulsions and again I never
20 received it.
21 On the 18th of May, 1993, about 79 new
22 families arrived in Vitez and Busovaca from Zenica.
23 Q. Were these Croatian families?
24 A. Yes, these were Croatian families which had
25 been expelled from Zenica, and they arrived in Busovaca
1 and Vitez.
2 I also received information that disciplinary
3 measures had been taken regarding these expulsions of
4 Bosniak Muslims. There were two policemen, Pranjkovic
5 and Tomic --
6 Q. We don't have the names there, so please
7 repeat the whole sentence.
8 A. Very well. I received information --
9 Q. If you can just slow down a little bit? So
10 what was the information about?
11 A. Information that disciplinary measures had
12 been taken against the soldiers who had carried out
13 expulsions of the Bosniak Muslims from their
14 apartments, and their names were Zeljko Pranjkovic and
15 Zdravko Tomic. At 17.00 --
16 JUDGE JORDA: What kind of sanctions were
17 they? You are saying that disciplinary measures were
18 taken, at least you were informed about it, but what
19 kind of measures were they?
20 A. Mr. President, I only have a note
21 "disciplinary measures," which probably meant military
22 detention. I assume this, but I do not know how many
23 days of detention because there was a separate log
24 where all the disciplinary measures were recorded.
25 MR. NOBILO: We can perhaps take a break
2 JUDGE JORDA: Shall we take a break now? Are
3 you done with the day the 18th of May?
4 MR. NOBILO: Exactly. We have just finished
5 with the day, and this would be a good point to break.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. We will adjourn for
7 15 minutes.
8 --- Recess taken at 3.34 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 3.55 p.m.
10 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please
11 be seated.
12 MR. NOBILO:
13 Q. General, I think we have finished with the
14 18th of May, '93. Can we go on from there with the
15 chronology of the most important events?
16 A. On the 19th of May, 1993, the town of Vitez
17 was shelled by artillery from Kruscica and Sivrino
18 Selo, areas controlled by the BH army. I again issued
19 an order on the 19th of May, 1993, that the
20 International Red Cross officers be enabled to carry
21 out their mandate regardless of whether those visits
22 had been announced previously or not. I was informed
23 by the assistant for information in the course of the
24 day, the day being the 19th of May, that the soldiers
25 on the front line were fatigued, exhausted, morale was
1 low, they were hungry, and generally morale was rather
3 I was also informed that eleven soldiers had
4 been taken into custody, former members of the HVO
5 brigade in Zenica who had engaged in the persecution of
6 Bosniak Muslims and evicted them from their homes in
7 the municipality of Vitez. I was also informed that
8 the BH army had shelled Guca Gora, an area under the
9 control of the HVO in Travnik.
10 At 10.00, I had a meeting with the liaison
11 officer of the UN commander, Colonel Duncan, and I
12 asked him to take steps so as to remove BH army snipers
13 from the position of Grbavica as the area of Grbavica
14 had to be demilitarised pursuant to the agreement of
15 the 20th of April, 1993, an agreement signed by the two
16 commanders, that is, of the HVO and of the BH army,
17 Halilovic and Petkovic.
18 The UNPROFOR liaison officer informed me that
19 there were HVO snipers operating also in the vicinity
20 of the UNPROFOR base, and after the meeting ended, I
21 called up the commander of the Viteska Brigade, Cerkez,
22 and checked him whether the sniper rifles had been
23 confiscated, and Cerkez informed me that he had
24 provided a list of all confiscated sniper rifles to the
25 command and that the members of the Vitez Brigade had
1 no sniper rifles left. I told the commander of the
2 Vitez Brigade that, if necessary, he should lock up the
3 sniper rifles in his office and keep them personally
4 under lock and key in one of the cupboards in his
5 office in the headquarters of the Vitez Brigade.
6 Once again, the problem of food came up
7 because refugees were arriving on a daily basis and our
8 reserves were very low, virtually non-existent.
9 On the 20th of May, 1993, I was informed by
10 the Military Intelligence Service that about 2.000
11 soldiers of the BH army had left Sarajevo via Igman and
12 Tarcin and that they would be deployed in the
13 forthcoming operation and attack against the HVO. In
14 this report of the Military Intelligence, I was told
15 that the BH army would fight to the end, which meant
16 until they captured the area controlled by the HVO.
17 I was also informed by the Military
18 Intelligence Service that, in the area of Slimena,
19 which is a neighbourhood in the Travnik municipality,
20 parts of the 17th Krajina Brigade had arrived, the
21 brigade of the BH army, numbering 250 to 300 men, and
22 that they had been accommodated in the family homes of
23 the Bosniak Muslims in the Slimena neighbourhood.
24 On the 21st of May, 1993, I was informed on a
25 visit by the joint command in Kakanj and, in the course
1 of the day, I was also informed that two officers of
2 the HVO had been killed belonging to the Stjepan
3 Tomasevic Brigade and that this had been done when they
4 were driving from Novi Travnik to the front line at
5 Kamenjas-Mravinjac. They were killed in an ambush in
6 an area controlled by the BH army.
7 In Novi Travnik, Muslims were being exchanged
8 for Croats in a part of the town controlled by the HVO
9 or the BH army respectively at a certain price and
10 commission. I asked that the people manning the
11 checkpoints should be checked so that by selecting more
12 reliable officers, the incidents and problems at the
13 checkpoints would be eliminated. I was informed on
14 casualties in the Lasva River Valley, and according to
15 the information available to us at the time, that is,
16 on the 21st of May, we had 124 dead soldiers,
17 10 missing, 13 captured, and 323 wounded soldiers.
18 In the afternoon of the 21st of May, an armed
19 conflict broke out in Nova Bila between members of the
20 military police and members of the Vitezovi special
21 purpose unit. I managed to get in touch with the
22 commander of the Vitezovi special purpose unit, that
23 is, Darko Kraljevic, and I asked that an end be put to
24 incidents and the provocation of such incidents and
25 that he should take measures against the members of his
1 unit. From the assistant for security, I was
2 informed --
3 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, General Blaskic.
4 These incidents between members of the military police
5 and the Vitezovi -- is that what you said?
6 A. Between the military police of the HVO and
7 the members of the Vitezovi in Nova Bila, that is what
8 I said, yes.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Over what did those incidents
10 occur? What was the cause?
11 A. I don't remember what the cause was of the
12 incident, but I have note of it, that there was an
13 armed conflict between these two groups. I cannot
14 recollect; I could only guess as to the reason.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. A further point of
16 clarification: You covered very quickly that there was
17 a visit on that same day by the joint commission. Was
18 it a joint commission or the joint command? As the
19 transcript goes very quickly, I'm not sure what you
20 said. Was it the joint command? We're talking about
21 the 21st of May.
22 A. The joint command was already operational at
23 that time, and at lower levels, there were joint
24 commissions, Mr. President. I said the joint command
25 but ...
1 JUDGE JORDA: I see. A joint command that
2 made a visit. A further point of clarification: What
3 was the meaning of these visits? They would seem to be
4 rather futile because fighting continued between you
5 and the BH army. What was discussed at these visits?
6 The front against Republika Srpska? What? It is
7 rather strange for a commander like you not to say what
8 they discussed, actually.
9 A. Mr. President, the joint command, ever since
10 the 21st of April, '93, when it started working, it was
11 still operational, and it continued working both at the
12 level of the armed forces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and
13 also at the level of the 3rd Corps and the Operative
14 Zone. They had daily meetings and, according to a plan
15 of their own, they toured areas which they felt they
16 needed to visit or which perhaps I or the commander of
17 the 3rd Corps requested, regardless of the fact that we
18 hadn't achieved a cessation of hostilities in the
20 JUDGE JORDA: But during this visit, did you
21 participate at that meeting?
22 A. I did not, but I asked, and I had asked for
23 some time, that a meeting be held between me and the
24 commander of the 3rd Corps. I had asked that through
25 the liaison officer of UNPROFOR, through Colonel
1 Duncan, and through this joint command. I had appealed
2 that they organise a meeting between me and the 3rd
3 Corps commander because, on the one hand, we had armed
4 hostilities, the conflict was ongoing, and on the other
5 side, we had joint commitments, and the joint command
6 was working, planning joint activities towards Vlasic,
7 the liberation of Vlasic, and so on.
8 JUDGE JORDA: It is precisely there that I
9 find it difficult to understand what was said. Did
10 they discuss what they were doing between themselves or
11 their common enemy. I didn't make many notes.
12 Suddenly there were 2.000 soldiers. For
13 example, you said the day before you received
14 information that 2.000 soldiers from the Bosnian army
15 were coming from Sarajevo, and that you learnt that the
16 Bosnian army would fight till the end. That is what
17 you said?
18 A. (No audible response)
19 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Then the next day
20 you attend a meeting of the joint command. What did
21 you say then? You are fighting who? "Are you fighting
22 against us or are you fighting Republika Srpska?" What
23 was your role in that?
24 A. Mr. President, I was not present at the
25 meeting of the joint command, but my deputy, Mr. Franjo
1 Nakic, and the deputy commander of the 3rd Corps,
2 Mr. Dzemo Merdan. So they attended meetings every
4 When I received this report, and not just
5 this report, any information, when I received it
6 regarding the regrouping of forces, I asked for a
7 meeting with the commander of the 3rd Corps, but I
8 didn't have the opportunity to tell him that. I would
9 have probably told him about the regrouping and about
10 the planned attack.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Perhaps, but perhaps not you,
12 General Blaskic, but you were represented there, after
13 all. It seems to me, but I'm not a commander at war,
14 if I learnt that 2.000 soldiers were moving from
15 Sarajevo not to fight Republika Srpska but to fight
16 against me, it seems to me that I would have said,
17 "What kind of war is this?" or I would have gone to
18 that joint command meeting and said, "Who is waging war
19 against whom and with whom?" That is what I don't
21 When you tell us this very detailed
22 chronology, you pass over a point. For instance, you
23 stay the 21st of May there was an visit by the joint
24 command, two HVO officers are killed, 2.000 soldiers
25 are coming and they're going to fight until the end.
1 This is, after all, a bit difficult to follow. This is
2 rather surrealistic.
3 A. Mr. President, all the information I received
4 from the Military Intelligence Service were forwarded
5 to the main staff. Also, all knowledge that I had,
6 operational and any other, were addressed to the main
7 staff. But you see, Mr. President, on this map I could
8 only move around within the enclave. I was not able to
9 go to Zenica and to ask the commander of the 3rd Corps,
10 "What are you doing? On the one hand we have a truce
11 and on the other hand we have regrouping and
12 preparations for an offensive." But I did ask my
13 deputy, Nakic, to propose a meeting at which we would
14 discuss the agreements reached and the implementation
15 of those agreements.
16 JUDGE JORDA: You must admit that it is
17 rather complicated to see what your role was in all
18 this. I give the floor to Judge Rodrigues. From time
19 to time we have to ask some clarification, because a
20 dry chronology of events like this is difficult to
21 understand, I must admit, especially for somebody who
22 is not a military man like me, except when there's a
23 war we know more or less who is waging war against
25 Judge Rodrigues, do you have a better
1 understanding than me?
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I am not a military man,
3 but I have some questions though.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please proceed.
5 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I have a doubt that has
6 been bothering me for several days. The Croats of
7 Bosnia, the Muslims of Bosnia, were a whole. They were
8 co-operating. They had joint commissions, joint
9 meetings, et cetera, and all this to fight the enemy
10 which were the Serbs.
11 If we look at this relief, I think that the
12 Serbs could see, observe, watch the fighting between
13 the Croats and the Muslims. Why didn't the Serbs come
14 in and resolve this problem?
15 If we look at the maps, we see that the Serbs
16 were everywhere. As I said, they could have watched
17 you fighting. The relief itself tells us this.
18 You're a military man, I'm not. Why did the
19 Serbs not descend upon you and say, "Look, we have a
20 solution for this problem." Why didn't they do that?
21 Because, after all, that is the question to put.
22 One has the impression that you were waging a
23 war, but reality was quite different. It seems to me
24 as if you were waging war in offices, meetings,
25 agreements on a cease-fire. You reach an agreement
1 today, tomorrow it's worth nothing, et cetera, et
3 As you see, I have only just come and there
4 are some things I don't understand and this is one of
5 them. Who was, in fact, the enemy? And if there was a
6 common enemy, why that common enemy did not take
7 advantage of the opportunity to resolve the question
8 definitely. Do you understand my question? You're a
9 military man.
10 If you had been on the other side, it would
11 have been very easy if you see your enemy divided and
12 fighting amongst themselves.
13 A. Your Honour, I shall try to answer this
14 question. You are right as far as the situation as a
15 whole is concern. It was indeed chaotic.
16 I'll try to answer first your question why
17 the Serbs didn't do something. Our front lines were
18 very linked up with respect to the Serbs. When I say
19 "we," I mean the HVO and the BH army in Travnik. Ever
20 since the month of November 1992, and regardless of the
21 fact that as a result of those conflicts we got this
22 enclave, the front line in Travnik is still the same.
23 About 80 kilometres of the front towards the Serbs is
24 being held by the HVO and the rest by the BH army.
25 Your question was: Why didn't the Serbs
1 intervene and deal with the situation? Partly because
2 of this fact that there was this long front line
3 towards the Serbs. Another possibility or reality of
4 the Serbs was that they also had, of their own
5 priority, objectives at some other fronts. This is the
6 month of March or April. At that time, the Serbs were
7 fighting for their own strategic interests, and I
8 assume that was not to gain control of Central Bosnia
9 but to resolve their problems at the corridor, the
10 Posavina corridor, to widen it, to deal with the
11 problems in Eastern Bosnia, to link the
12 Sarajevo-Romanija Corps with Eastern Bosnia, and so
13 on. So I assume they also had their own priorities.
14 I am describing this situation which I
15 understand is difficult to comprehend, even for me as a
16 military man. We had an agreement signed on the 21st
17 of March, 1993, on the separation of forces. At the
18 end of March, we had an agreement signed on a supreme
19 joint command, but we had not managed to resolve this
20 problem. I'm still functioning here. This is all
21 manoeuvring area that I had. I couldn't reach Kiseljak
22 or other areas, so all that was left for me to do was
23 to avail myself of all possibilities, to have a meeting
24 with the 3rd Corps commander and to insist on him on
25 the implementation of the signed agreement so that we
1 could focus on the front line with the Serbs.
2 The joint command, at the level of the
3 3rd Corps and the Operative Zone, it had planned
4 operations to liberate Vlasic. It had worked on plans,
5 on maps. On the other hand, we had this influx of
6 refugees and some other highly chaotic situations. I
7 don't know whether I have made myself clear in my
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes. Thank you, General.
10 I think you have helped me to get a better
11 understanding of the situation.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Please proceed, Mr. Nobilo.
13 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
14 Q. General, would you agree that what the Judges
15 are saying is true, that this was an absurd situation?
16 A. Yes, it was an absurd situation. That is
17 what I do believe, but I'm speaking about what actually
18 happened and what the reality was.
19 Q. Let us just go a little forward in the
20 chronology. When did the joint commission of the
21 3rd Corps and the Operative Zone cease to operate?
22 Could you explain that to the Court and then maybe the
23 whole situation will become a little clearer.
24 A. The joint command at the level of the
25 3rd Corps and the Operative Zone ceased to operate when
1 the BH army captured Travnik, the town of Travnik.
2 That was on the 6th of June, 1993.
3 Q. Let me avoid any leading questions. In fact,
4 how many enemies did the BH army have in the spring of
5 1993? Actual fact, which armies was it fighting in
7 A. The army of Republika Srpska and the HVO.
8 Q. And who was the HVO fighting in 1993?
9 A. With the BH army and the army of Republika
10 Srpska. But we have another situation, if Their
11 Honours would allow me to explain, the situation in
12 Bihac, where the Bosniak Muslims are fighting with the
13 Serbs against the Bosniak Muslims and the Croats within
14 the Bihac pocket. That too was the reality in those
15 days. The Bihac pocket.
16 Q. So, in fact, Croats and Muslims were fighting
17 together against Muslims and Serbs in the Bihac
18 pocket. You're referring to the followers of Alija
19 Izetbegovic and the followers of Fikret Abdic?
20 A. Yes. The forces of the 5th Corps of the BH
21 army and the HVO of Bihac were fighting together
22 against the Muslim followers of Fikret Abdic and the
23 army of Republika Srpska.
24 Q. And is it true that Fikret Abdic was the
25 Vice-President, the deputy of Alija Izetbegovic?
1 A. Yes, and he won the greatest number of votes
2 at the elections as a member of the presidency of the
3 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but he ceded his
4 position to Mr. Alija Izetbegovic, so he became
6 Q. Let us consider a hypothesis. Had the Serbs
7 from Vlasic launched a decisive offensive down these
8 hills and entered the Lasva River Valley, what do you
9 think? Would the conflict between the BH army and the
10 HVO have ceased or would there have been a joint
12 A. Certainly.
13 Q. Didn't it suit the Serbs' interests just to
14 watch and wait, to watch their enemies fighting?
15 A. Of course, that suited their interests, and,
16 in fact, from Vlasic they contributed.
17 Q. How?
18 A. By shelling with the artillery sometimes
19 Zenica and sometimes Vitez.
20 In the course of '93, Colonel Stewart came to
21 see me to ask for information as to whether the
22 UNPROFOR base was within the range of the Serb
23 artillery, and I told him "The shell that did not
24 explode in Nova Bila is there, so you can check for
25 yourself and see that we are within the range."
1 Q. But let us return from the strategic global
2 issues to the specific situation on the 21st of May,
3 1993. Again, you had a contact with the chief of
5 A. Yes. I received a report from the assistant
6 for security that some other things needed to be done
7 for the report on Ahmici to be completed. I asked him
8 then to submit to me what he had managed to collect
9 until then, that is, the 21st of May, '93.
10 Q. Let us go on to the next day then.
11 A. The next day was the 22nd of May, 1993, and I
12 again asked Mr. Franjo Nakic to raise the issue of the
13 meeting with the commander of the 3rd Corps at the
14 joint command meeting. Once again, I failed to reach
15 the commander of the military police, and the local
16 military police commander in Novi Travnik had formed
17 his own checkpoint contrary to my orders and contrary
18 to my position.
19 Again, I received information from the
20 security service that they were unable to complete the
21 report, and again I insisted that they send me what
22 they had collected so far pursuant to my order.
23 I again received information that in each of
24 the municipalities under HVO control in the Lasva River
25 Valley, there were about 100 criminals or, rather,
1 various groups of criminals, who had divided up the
2 territory, who were engaging in black marketeering, and
3 for the sake of recognition, they had shaved off their
4 hair. They were skinheads, in other words.
5 On the 23rd of May, 1993, early in the
6 morning, there was an all-out attack in the area of
7 Krcevine and Jardol in Vitez.
8 Q. By whom?
9 A. By members of the 7th Muslim Brigade. This
10 was an attempt to re-link Stari Vitez via Krcevine and
11 Jardol to the Muslim-controlled areas of Bukve and
13 In the course of the day, I again asked that
14 the military police go to Ovnak to replace the military
15 policemen at the checkpoint there. Instead of an
16 answer, in front of the Vitez Hotel, there was a large
17 group of people cursing and insulting and later
18 shooting bursts of fire into the air in front of the
19 hotel in front of my offices and headquarters
20 indicating what they thought of my orders.
21 Q. Tell us, why did you want to remove the
22 military policemen from the checkpoint at Ovnak?
23 A. I wanted to remove them from that checkpoint
24 because they themselves belonged to these gangs in the
25 Lasva Valley and from Zenica. The black market was
1 flourishing via this checkpoint of all goods in short
2 supply, cigarettes in the first place, alcohol, cars,
3 and a series of other products.
4 Q. "Black market" is the term used for illicit
6 A. Yes. In the course of the day, I also asked
7 that the trucks carrying humanitarian aid and gas to
8 Zenica should be allowed to pass, and I was told that
9 the special purpose unit of the BH army known as the
10 Black Swans, Crni Labudovi, had set out from Igman
11 towards Konjic and partly towards Fojnica. This was a
12 special purpose unit under the command of the main
13 staff of the BH army.
14 On the 24th of May, '93, at the morning
15 meeting, I told the assistant for security not to come
16 to the meeting again until he brings with him a written
17 report on the results of the investigation into
18 Ahmici. After that, I received a delegation of the
19 European Monitoring Mission who requested that I
20 provide written guarantees for the free passage of the
21 convoy from Tuzla to Split and back consisting of 250
22 trucks. At the meeting with officers of the European
23 Monitoring Mission, I tried to explain to them that the
24 corridor they wanted to use was not safe and that it
25 wouldn't be advisable for the convoy to use that route,
1 so I proposed that two safer routes be chosen: one
2 going from Tuzla via Visoko and Kiseljak to Konjic and
3 Mostar, and the other one, an alternative route, from
4 Tuzla via Zenica, Busovaca, and Kiseljak to Konjic and
5 Mostar. In spite of my warnings that the route through
6 the Lasva River Valley and in this pocket was not safe
7 and the fact that I didn't provide a written guarantee,
8 they left the meeting, and we will see later on that
9 the convoy did come through the corridor, through the
10 Lasva Valley, though I had told them that the forces
11 were confronted at 50 to 100 metres from the main road,
12 that units were in contact there, and it was simply
13 impossible to provide written guarantees for the safety
14 of the convoy.
15 I was also told by the Military Intelligence
16 Service that combat readiness of all the forces of the
17 3rd Corps of the BH army had been raised to a higher
18 level and that an all-out offensive against the HVO was
19 probably imminent.
20 At 10.00, I also had a meeting with the
21 commanders at which we reviewed the current military
22 situation and tried to organise ourselves for defence
23 in the event of an all-out attack by the BH army. I
24 asked the commanders at that meeting to go public with
25 the names and surnames of all persons who were
1 persecuting and evicting Bosniak Muslims from their
2 homes in the territories under the control of the HVO.
3 I also asked the commanders that if they were incapable
4 of eliminating those criminals, that they at least
5 provide me with a list of names.
6 At 12.00 hours, I attended a meeting in the
7 Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade where I was informed that
8 the balance of forces between the BH army and the
9 Busovaca HVO was six-to-one in favour of the BH army
10 and that the length of the front was between 35 and 40
11 kilometres in Busovaca. We also reviewed the
12 possible axes of attack, Kuber-Kaonik and
14 I made it clear to the brigade command that I
15 was familiar with the negative response to my order
16 prohibiting eviction of Bosniak Muslims from their
17 apartments in the town of Busovaca, but I re-emphasised
18 that it was our duty to do everything in our power for
19 civilians to be safe in their homes and that it was our
20 duty to guarantee them that safety. I also requested
21 at the meeting that all participants take a positive
22 attitude toward all international institutions, that
23 is, that they cooperate with them.
24 On the 25th of May, 1993, I received
25 information from the assistant for security on the
1 results of the investigation in Ahmici.
2 MR. NOBILO: Perhaps we can go on to that
3 document. I thought we should deal with Stari Vitez
4 first. But, anyway, it is document D342, 3-4-2. Could
5 a copy be given to the witness, please?
6 Q. I am going to read the document. It is the
7 Security and Information Service, the forward command
8 post of Vitez, "in the hands of the Commander of the
9 Central Bosnia Operative Zone, Colonel Tihomir
10 Blaskic," the date is the 25th of May, 1993, the number
11 is 82/93. The subject is "Information submitted."
12 "As file enclosure, we submit to you
13 information about the events in the village of Ahmici,
14 Vitez Municipality.
15 "This information encompasses operative
16 findings and eyewitness accounts of these events, as
17 well as an on-the-spot review of the site. The
18 information is not complete and the case has not been
19 definitively resolved, because in these areas combat
20 activities continue to take place and it was not
21 possible to obtain written statements from more key
23 "Moreover, statements were not obtained from
24 persons of Muslim nationality who, after the events in
25 the village of Ahmici, fled to the Municipality of
1 Zenica, to Travnik and elsewhere. In this respect,
2 adequate collaboration by the opposite side was also
3 lacking for the completion of this case.
4 "After the cessation of combat activities
5 and the creation of more favourable conditions, all
6 necessary measures and actions will be taken in order
7 to shed light upon this case completely."
8 The signature is the aide to the commander
9 for the Central Bosnia Operative Zone, Vitez, Anto
10 Sliskovic, and it says "Enclosure, 1."
11 Tell us, please, General, do I understand
12 this correctly, that along with this document, there
13 was another report on the results of the investigation?
14 A. Yes, along with this document, as Enclosure
15 1, was a report on the results of the investigation.
16 Q. Can you tell the Trial Chamber, please, what
17 that report contained, the report that we don't have
19 A. It is difficult for me to recall the report
20 and to retell it, but I do know that there were some
21 vague intimations in it and that it was not a precise
22 report with regard to the perpetrators of the crime,
23 which is what I had requested, and with regard to the
24 circumstances in which the victims lost their lives,
25 and it offered, for the most part, alternative
1 information in the sense of the fact that it was
2 possible that one group of people had done it and
3 perhaps somebody else, so it was not a precise report
4 nor was it a complete report, and it is difficult to
5 give you the gist of the report now because I really
6 don't recall all the details of it at this point.
7 Q. Tell us, please, did it contain the names of
8 the perpetrators of the crime?
9 A. No, it did not contain concrete names of the
10 perpetrators of the crime, but it is possible that it
11 did speak about one or two or three names. That is
13 Q. Do you remember whether the military police
14 was mentioned or not?
15 A. As far as I recall, it did not mention the
16 military police.
17 Q. You say that the report, to the best of your
18 recollection, gave some alternatives as to who the
19 perpetrators could have been. Do you recall who was
20 encompassed within these alternative possibilities?
21 Who was mentioned?
22 A. Well, groups were mentioned, but I'm saying
23 this only on the basis of recollection. In black, then
24 there was mention of the members of HOS, there was also
25 mention of some groups that had been infiltrated, but
1 there were no concrete names or surnames.
2 Q. Did you understand this report to be a
3 provisional report, that is to say, that the
4 investigation was carried on, or as a definite report
5 by the service sent to you?
6 A. I understood this exclusively as a
7 provisional report, and I emphasised to the assistant
8 forces that I insist upon having names and surnames,
9 and from the report it can be seen, particularly in the
10 latter part, and it concludes that the investigation
11 will be continued.
12 Q. Tell us, please, this complete report, did it
13 go towards the superiors? Was it sent to the superiors
14 in Mostar?
15 A. Yes, it went to the main staff and to the
16 security service. All the information was sent to the
17 security service in Mostar.
18 Q. It was translated "this complete report." I
19 asked about this particular report, the document we
20 have, D342, and the report that was attached to this
21 document. Was it sent to the superior authorities?
22 A. Yes, it was.
23 Q. Tell us, please, who it was sent to and who
24 sent out the report?
25 A. I sent one copy to the main staff of the HVO
1 and the assistant for security sent one to the head --
2 department for security which was in Mostar, the
3 Defence Ministry in Mostar.
4 Q. Tell us, please, on that day, the 25th of
5 May, you also had a meeting of the Vitez government.
6 They invited you, for the first time, to attend a
7 meeting of the Vitez government. What did the civilian
8 authorities of the Vitez government want of you? What
9 was the meeting devoted to?
10 A. Well, it was the first time that I was
11 invited to attend a meeting of the municipal
12 government, the civilian government of Vitez, and along
13 with the minutes there was discussion of the problem of
14 Stari Vitez. The civilian authorities stressed the
15 daily casualties of civilians and the citizens of Vitez
16 who suffered from the snipers of the BH army coming
17 from Stari Vitez.
18 They raised two issues, for the most part.
19 One issue was that the forces of the BH army and HVO be
20 separated, with the help of UNPROFOR, and to enable all
21 the soldiers who had been brought in from outside, into
22 Stari Vitez under the supervision of the BH army should
23 leave Stari Vitez, and that this entire area be
24 demilitarised and that the snipers be withdrawn.
25 The second issue that was raised was to give
1 an ultimatum of 48 hours, a 48-hour ultimatum, and then
2 attack Stari Vitez, and to undertake all security
3 measures and protection for the citizens and civilians
4 from Stari Vitez.
5 Q. Did you accept the idea to organise an attack
6 against Stari Vitez?
7 A. I was resolutely against that, and I told the
8 representatives of the Vitez government that it was
9 impossible to launch an attack on Stari Vitez, along
10 with issuing guarantees for the security and safety of
11 the citizens because the civilians and the soldiers
12 were located on the same premises, in the same
13 features, and that every house was practically a
14 military facility and a facility where Bosniak Muslims
15 lived in Stari Vitez, although at the time Vitez had
16 very many casualties from snipers, the BH army.
17 I was resolutely against the second solution
18 of any type of attack and combat operations against
19 Stari Vitez.
20 Q. What were you afraid of if the HVO soldiers
21 were to enter Stari Vitez?
22 A. Well, quite certainly there would be heavy
23 casualties which would be unavoidable in military
24 operations of this type, because an attack on an
25 inhabited area is always the most complicated military
1 action to perform for everyone, and it is always
2 difficult to control the situation under such
3 circumstances. Quite certainly, there would be a great
4 deal of civilian casualties and people would suffer,
5 those people that lived in Stari Vitez.
6 Q. Did you, on that occasion or ever afterwards,
7 ever order a general all-out attack on Stari Vitez?
8 A. No.
9 Q. The internal front within your enclave around
10 Stari Vitez, did that represent a problem for you in
11 view of the engagement and deployment of forces?
12 A. That was a great problem, and not only with
13 regard to the engagement of forces but also with regard
14 to the very intense activity of snipers from the
15 positions which overlooked the life of the town, and
16 there were daily civilian casualties and others in the
17 town of Vitez itself, that is to say, civilians who
18 lived under the area controlled by the HVO.
19 Q. For a moment, in order to clarify matters,
20 let us leave behind the supposed civilian casualties.
21 In view of the size of Stari Vitez, the
22 number of soldiers that defended it, were you able to
23 take control of it, militarily speaking, if we were to
24 forget for a moment the civilian casualties that this
25 would incur?
1 A. Well, we could have had a military take-over.
2 There would not be difficulties there because Stari
3 Vitez is an enclave within an enclave, but I never even
4 gave it a thought because it would be impossible to
5 avoid having civilian casualties and great
7 Were there no civilians there and only
8 soldiers, then, of course, we could have taken control
9 of that area.
10 Q. Would you please remind the Court how big the
11 enclave was, approximately speaking?
12 A. Well, it was a maximum of 1.500, 800 metres.
13 I don't know whether it was that big.
14 Q. Mr. President, we have a slight problem. Our
15 client has an eye infection and this is causing him a
16 great deal of difficulty and giving rise to headaches.
17 So may we go on for another 15 or 20 minutes and then
18 finish for the day? We will try to see that he gets
19 medical help tomorrow. This has been going on for
20 several days now and the eye condition has not
22 JUDGE JORDA: I think my colleagues agree.
23 Very well. We will continue for as long as you wish.
24 Shall we have a ten-minute break first or shall we go
25 on working for 15, 20 minutes? What do you prefer,
1 General Blaskic? Would you like us to have a
2 ten-minute break for you to rest and then continue for
3 a quarter of an hour, or would you prefer us to stop at
4 quarter past five or ten past five without a break in
5 the meantime? Have you understood me.
6 MR. HAYMAN: Mr. President, if I may speak on
7 behalf of my client. I'm trying to find out whether
8 the doctor is in tomorrow morning at the prison, and if
9 so, whether possible General Blaskic could see him at
10 10.00, if we didn't start until 11.00 or 11.30. If we
11 can take a ten-minute break, I can call them once
12 again. I've been calling this afternoon, and they
13 haven't been able to tell me yet whether the doctor is
14 in tomorrow at all.
15 If we can take a break, I could call, and
16 then if any adjustment in the schedule is necessary,
17 we'll know what's needed.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Let me make a suggestion then.
19 Mr. Hayman, I suggest that we have a ten-minute break.
20 We will resume at 5.00, unless you haven't finished
21 your telephone conversation you will tell
22 Mr. Dubuisson, and if that is all right then we will
23 continue for 15, 20 minutes.
24 Tomorrow we will not begin before 10.30;
25 isn't that right, Mr. Dubuisson? So that is how we're
1 going to proceed.
2 Judge Shahabuddeen?
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Gentlemen, it may be
4 convenient if I said to you on the resumption either
5 today or tomorrow, I may be referring to the
6 transcript, so you may wish to arm yourself with the
7 material. It's the transcript of the 15th of February,
8 1999, afternoon, at page 17625 and 17650. It shows
9 that Mr. Hayman was right, though with a possible
10 qualification which I want to propose when we discuss
12 MR. HAYMAN: Thank you.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, dear colleague.
14 Very well, we're going to have a ten-minute break.
15 --- Recess taken at 4.54 p.m.
16 --- On resuming at 5.14 p.m.
17 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed.
18 Mr. Hayman, were you able to have this telephone
20 MR. HAYMAN: Yes. Thank you, Mr. President.
21 There will be a nurse available early tomorrow morning,
22 so General Blaskic can be here at 10.30 as scheduled.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Thank you.
24 General Blaskic, you can now testify 15 minutes more,
25 more or less? Can you hear me?
1 My question was: Can you testify for, let's
2 say, 15 minutes? We can stop at half past five. Is it
3 okay? Yes?
4 A. Yes. Now I could hear you.
5 MR. NOBILO:
6 Q. Very well, General. We left off at 25th of
7 May, 1993. Could you please continue?
8 A. In the afternoon hours of 25 May, 1993, I had
9 a meeting with the chief of civilian police in the town
10 of Vitez, Mr. Mirko Samija, and we mostly discussed the
11 issues of public law and order, and issues of the
12 overall security in Vitez.
13 Mr. Samija, chief of the civilian police,
14 also raised the issue of the sniper activities,
15 focusing on three positions, that is, that of Stari
16 Vitez, Grbavica and Sljibcica. These were snipers of
17 the BH army. He also pointed out the problem of
18 shelling in the centre of Vitez itself and the problem
19 of criminal gangs in the municipality. The chief of
20 the civilian police told me that these criminal gangs
21 were so strong that he does not have enough manpower to
22 engage in a radical confrontation with these criminal
24 The next day, on 26 May, now, 1993, I was
25 again informed by the chief of staff, Mr. Franjo Nakic,
1 about the plans for preparation of joint plans of the
2 joint command of the HVO and the BH army concerning the
3 liberation of Mount Vlasic, and about the fact that
4 Nakic and General Merdan visited the HVO positions at
5 Kula and positions of the BH army in Pezici.
6 Nakic gave me his impressions that there was
7 a serious lack of discipline there, and he said,
8 literally, that people were unruly and that they were
9 very tense on both sides. He mentioned that it was the
10 case with both the BH army and the HVO soldiers.
11 Also on the 26th of May, I conducted an
12 investigation of why the UNHCR delegation did not visit
13 this village of Krcevine and who prevented this visit
14 from taking place. I received information that word
15 had come from the Vitez Brigade that the road going to
16 Krcevine was under the control of Bosnia and
17 Herzegovina, and what I mean by "control" is firing
18 control, and that they had warned the representatives
19 of UNHCR regarding this portion of the road but that
20 physically they did not prevent these representatives
21 from taking this road.
22 I also was informed that the BH army forces
23 were again regrouping in Travnik and in the town of
24 Travnik the tensions were running high between the HVO
25 and the BH army.
1 On that day I also received information from
2 the Vitez Brigade commander, who confirmed to me that
3 the BH army had taken the Saracevica feature at Mount
4 Kuber as early as 15 April, 1993.
5 At 11.00, I met with Colonel Duncan and we
6 discussed several issues. The first issue was the
7 military situation in the Lasva pocket, then the
8 logistics problems, and lack of food stocks and general
9 supplies, further security matters, and the existence
10 of armed gangs in the territory of the Lasva Valley.
11 I especially pointed out that we did not have
12 an interest in having a conflict with the BH army or a
13 war, and I again asked Colonel Duncan to exert
14 additional pressure on the 3rd Corps commander so that
15 a meeting between myself and the 3rd Corps commander
16 would be organised.
17 I told Colonel Duncan that, unfortunately, we
18 are most fiercely attacked by the victims of
19 persecution, and he asked me what I meant by that. I
20 said that in the operative group of Bosnian Krajina of
21 the BH army in Travnik, that it mostly consisted of
22 people who had been expelled from the Bosnian Krajina
23 and that they were members of the 1, 7, and 27th
24 Bosnian Krajina Brigade, and were now placed in a
25 position to fight for their space at the cost of
1 Croats. I also was looking into the possibility to
2 find some solutions for the refugees who were streaming
3 into Travnik on a daily basis; in other words, to find
4 some collective accommodations for them rather than
5 keep them in the barracks because they were absorbed
6 into the armed forces that way which further tipped the
7 balance of power in favour of the BH army.
8 On the 27th of May, 1993, I was informed by
9 the security service that a meeting had been arranged
10 between the representatives of the security office of
11 the 3rd Corps and the security office of the Operative
12 Zone, and it was regarding organising a joint convoy
13 for supplies which would go both to the BH army and the
14 HVO in Central Bosnia. I also asked for an
15 investigation and some measures for those who had
16 thrown Nasim Ahmic out of his apartment, and I think
17 that he was from Vitez. On that day, information also
18 came that Commander Stjepan Tuka from Fojnica had still
19 not been relieved of his duty.
20 The Military Intelligence Service informed me
21 that the BH army was bringing in fresh troops to
22 Grbavica from the village of Bukve and that they were
23 digging in in the village and fortifying themselves in
24 the village of Bukve and it consisted of digging
25 foxholes and trenches and dugouts connecting them. The
1 command post at Grbavica was in Pescara which was
2 across from the UN base, and according to the
3 military intelligence sources, the objective was to
4 connect Stari Vitez with Divjak.
5 During the day, I also received information
6 that in Vitez, a Muslim family was thrown out of their
7 apartment, and I asked that the necessary measures be
8 taken and that the family be returned to their
9 apartment, and I also received information that Miro
10 Kozic and Srecko Maresovic were the ones who were
11 involved in this illegal expulsion.
12 On the 28th of May, 1993, officers from --
13 JUDGE JORDA: Wait for a second. General, do
14 I understand that on the 16th of May, when you meet
15 Colonel Duncan, you do not talk at all about Ahmici,
16 although you mentioned Ahmici when you met him on the
17 9th of May, 1993. In between you received the report,
18 and if I understood well, the incident of Ahmici was
19 not referred to. You do not mention the investigation,
20 you do not say to him, "I've done my job." Nothing is
21 said about Ahmici.
22 A. In the meeting of the 26th of May, we did not
23 talk about this, Mr. President, not during -- not in
24 the meeting of the 26th of May. My interpretation said
25 that you were asking about the 16th of May.
1 MR. NOBILO: There was some confusion over
2 the interpretation. I believe that your question was
3 regarding the 26th of May, which is exactly what
4 Mr. Blaskic had mentioned, but somehow "16th of May"
5 was heard.
6 JUDGE JORDA: I will rephrase my question
7 which is just, in fact, a confirmation. If I
8 understood you well, on the 26th of May, at 11.00, you
9 met Colonel Duncan. You talk about the military
10 situation, about various hardships, you talk about
11 security issues and groups of armed men. However, you
12 do not mention the problem of Ahmici which, however,
13 you mentioned and you talked about at length during the
14 9th of May meeting. So you didn't mention this issue
15 during the meeting of the 26th of May, did you?
16 A. Mr. President, in my notes, I do not have
17 this -- I don't have that this issue was raised, it's
18 just not in my notes, so my belief is that we did not
19 discuss it.
20 JUDGE JORDA: I am not questioning your
21 notes, General Blaskic, and I'm following your
22 testimony. That's why I'm asking this question. I
23 will remind you that since the day before, you've had a
24 report, however vague, but still you have the report
25 which was your contribution, or the contribution of
1 your command, to the investigation so as to find who
2 was responsible for the massacre in Ahmici, and my
3 question was: Nobody mentioned Ahmici that day. The
4 commander of UNPROFOR didn't and you didn't either.
5 A. I have noted that we had talked about the
6 gangs, but I do not have any notation with respect to
7 that issue.
8 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Perhaps this is a
9 convenient time, gentlemen, to take the witness back to
10 the 9th of May when you had this conversation with
11 Colonel Duncan. During that conversation, were you
12 asked how matters might have developed at Ahmici and
13 did you give three possibilities to which I referred
14 earlier today: (a) that the crimes might have been
15 perpetrated by the Serbs; (b) they might have been
16 perpetrated by Muslims -- I think I said "Mujahedeen"
17 this morning, but the transcript says Muslims; and (c)
18 that they might have been perpetrated by Muslims
19 masquerading in HVO uniforms. Did you give either of
20 those three possibilities on the 9th of May?
21 A. What I had mentioned in the meeting of 9 May
22 and which I have in my notes is that it was possible
23 that these were men in black uniforms, and when Colonel
24 Duncan asked clarification as to who was wearing black
25 uniforms, I told him that it was the members of HOS,
1 H-O-S, who did so. I know that I don't have a note nor
2 did I ever contemplate that it was the Serbs who
3 committed the crime nor do I have any notation about
4 potentially Muslims who were disguised in uniforms were
5 the perpetrators of this.
6 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So if evidence was given
7 in this court that you offered these three possible
8 explanations, you say that evidence would not be
9 correct, that you didn't offer those three possible
11 A. What I said is what I had taken down in the
12 way of notes in my logbook, and that is not what I had
13 offered as explanations.
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you, General.
15 Thank you, Mr. Nobilo.
16 MR. NOBILO:
17 Q. Did Colonel Duncan discuss this subject with
18 other people in the Lasva Valley at that time?
19 A. I believe that he did because the practice
20 was that commanders of the BritBat met with other
21 officials, with mayors and military commanders and the
22 representatives of civilian authorities.
23 Q. Tell me, on the 26th of May, when you again
24 spoke to Colonel Duncan, did you receive an approval
25 from the main staff to offer the results of the
1 provisional investigation to Colonel Duncan?
2 A. No.
3 Q. At that time, had the report which you had
4 received regarding Ahmici been sent to the main staff?
5 A. Yes. Not only was it already sent but it was
6 also the SIS -- it was sent to SIS because it was
7 always done on the same day.
8 MR. NOBILO: Your Honours, it is 5.30. Maybe
9 it is a good time to break.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Registrar, the Judges of
11 this Trial Chamber will start at 9.00 tomorrow morning
12 in another case, and then we will resume the evidence
13 of the witness at 10.30. Thank you.
14 --- Whereupon proceedings adjourned at
15 5.38 p.m., to be reconvened on Thursday,
16 the 18th day of March, 1999, at
17 10.30 a.m.