1 Wednesday, April 7th, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 11.57 a.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing will resume.
5 Please be seated.
6 Concerning the motion of the Defence
7 presented this morning during the Status Conference
8 which was held -- I'm sorry
9 (Off-the-record discussion with registrar)
10 JUDGE JORDA: No, I am rendering a public
12 Concerning the motion of the Defence relating
13 to the prohibition of any prior contact before the
14 witnesses called by the Court come to testify, the
15 Trial Chamber will render the following decision:
16 First, any contact with the Court witnesses,
17 as of today and until their appearance, is prohibited,
18 formally prohibited. We are talking about the Court
19 witnesses, the witnesses concerned in the order of this
20 Trial Chamber filed on the 25th of March.
21 I remind you that we are talking about
22 General Petkovic, General Morillon, General Bob
23 Stewart, General Enver Hadzihasanovic, all commanders
24 of the 7th Muslim Brigade, and Ambassador Jean-Pierre
1 Secondly, these witnesses will be summoned or
2 called by the Trial Chamber right after the end of the
3 Defence case; that is to say, these witnesses will
4 appear here before the Prosecution exercises its
5 rebuttal right and before the rejoinder of the Defence.
6 Thirdly, after the appearance of the Court
7 witnesses, the parties will have the right, within the
8 framework of their rebuttal and rejoinder cases
9 respectively, to call all the witnesses they wish to
10 call, including Court witnesses, if one or both parties
11 judge it necessary. Within the framework of this
12 rejoinder or rebuttal, contact with the witnesses will
13 be authorised. Of course, the Court will still have
14 the right to assess this right according to what the
15 witnesses will have said in front of the Judges.
16 Last point. During the hearing of the Court
17 witnesses, during their testimonies, the parties will
18 be allowed to ask the questions they feel are
19 necessary, and these questions will have to be related
20 to the questions of the Judges in accordance with the
21 order of the 25th of March, but they will have limited
22 time to do so. This time will be set when the witness
24 As a remark, I would like to remind you that
25 after the end of the examination-in-chief of General
1 Blaskic and after the Prosecution's cross-examination
2 and after we hear the last witnesses of the Defence --
3 and I am turning to Mr. Registrar -- the Court
4 witnesses will have to appear at that particular time,
5 and please inform Mr. Olivier Fourmy of all the
6 procedures engaged in front of all the authorities of
7 the different countries of the various Court witnesses.
8 This being done, we can now turn to the
9 witness. The accused is now testifying and is
10 answering the questions asked by his counsel,
11 Mr. Nobilo.
12 Mr. Nobilo, you can have the floor.
13 MR. FOURMY: I'm sorry, Mr. President. Can I
14 have one moment, please? I think it has to do with the
15 French transcript only. If I understood you well, you
16 said in your last comment that both parties would be
17 allowed to ask the witnesses questions, and this was
18 going to relate to what the accused has said but you
19 were thinking about what the witnesses had said. Yes?
20 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, you're right. Yes, of
21 course. Depending upon what the witness would have
22 said, that is, General Blaskic; isn't that right?
23 MR. FOURMY: No, I think the parties will be
24 allowed to ask questions to the Court witnesses
25 depending upon what the Court witness will have said
1 before and not depending upon what the accused will
2 have said.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, I'm talking about the
4 Court witness, but I was thinking that as far as the
5 accused is concerned, questions will have to be asked
6 on what the accused will have said.
7 MR. FOURMY: Yes, that's what I meant too.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much for this
9 remark, Mr. Fourmy.
10 If there are no further comments, then,
11 Mr. Nobilo, I shall turn to you.
12 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. I
13 think that before the break of seven days, we were
14 looking into the chronology of events, and we stopped
15 with the 24th of October, 1993
16 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
17 Examined by Mr. Nobilo:
18 Q. General, if you recall where we left off,
19 please continue.
20 A. On the 24th of October, Your Honours, I had a
21 meeting with the commander of the military police, and
22 I asked him for an investigation with regard to the
23 conflict between two local commanders in Novi Travnik,
24 Tuka and Zuti, and I also sought an investigation for
25 the security assistant with relation to the same event.
1 At the time, I was informed that disciplinary
2 measures were taken against two policemen, that they
3 were in a prison, in detention, and I was called from
4 12.00 to 1.00 to attend a meeting with the head of the
5 centre for the security service for the Vitez area,
6 Mr. Miso Mijic, who informed me at the meeting about
7 the cadres question, personnel in the centre for
8 security, the head office for security, and supervision
9 over helicopter flights and other issues that were
10 discussed, and emphasis was laid on the fact that the
11 security service centre was directly under the office
12 in Mostar and that it was independent with regard to
13 the Central Bosnia Operative Zone command.
14 MR. NOBILO: Can we stop there for a minute
15 and have these documents handed round, and may we have
16 a number for the documents, please?
17 THE REGISTRAR: This is Exhibit D552 for the
18 Croatian version and D552A for the English version.
19 MR. NOBILO:
20 Q. The text is short, and I will read out the
21 main points. The document is from the defence
22 department, the Central Bosnia Operative Zone SIS,
23 Security and Information Service, the date is the 18th
24 of June, 1993. It is a military secret and was sent to
25 Colonel Tihomir Blaskic, that is, yourself, the zone
1 commander, and the title is "Authorisation." (as read)
2 "Further to the order number 02-4/1-533/93
3 of the 19th of March, 1993, of Assistant Chief
4 Mr. Ivica Lucic on the formation of the Central Bosnia
5 SIS Centre, which gives Mr. Miso Mijic, the head of the
6 centre, a free hand in selecting his associates and
7 about which you have been informed and with the purpose
8 of improving the work of the Central Bosnia SIS Centre,
9 I hereby appoint Colonel Darko Kraljevic as the Deputy
10 Chief of the Central Bosnia SIS Centre and at the same
11 time authorise him to sign letters, reports, orders and
12 other documents pertaining to the work of the Central
13 Bosnia SIS Centre whenever the need arises."
14 The signature is the Central Bosnia SIS
15 Centre, Chief Miso Mijic, signed and stamped the Mostar
16 Defence Department, and so on.
17 There is a sentence at the end which states
19 "The Mostar Defence Department has been
20 advised of the above decision so we are hereby
21 forwarding it to you for your information."
22 That is the last sentence of the document.
23 On the basis of this document, I would to ask
24 you first: Do you recognise the stamp and the
25 signature of Miso Mijic?
1 A. Yes, I recognise the stamp. It is the
2 Security and Information Service, the defence
3 department of Mostar, that is the stamp. I know Miso
4 Mijic and I know his signature and that is his
6 Q. On the 18th of June, 1993, or around that
7 date, did you receive a letter of this kind from Miso
9 A. Yes, I received this particular document
10 probably around that date, the 18th of June, 1993.
11 Q. Would you please tell the Trial Chamber, on
12 the basis of this document and on the basis of your
13 recollections, were you able in any way to influence
14 the organisation of the Security and Information
15 Service and their selection of personnel, and tell us,
16 please, in what way did Darko Kraljevic come to have
17 the same rank as you yourself and what authorisation
18 did Darko Kraljevic and Miso Mijic have in setting up
19 this SIS centre?
20 A. I did not have any authorisation or
21 competence over the SIS Centre. The SIS Centre was
22 directly subordinate with regard to chain of command to
23 the head office of the security service, and it was not
24 duty-bound even to inform me of their activities,
25 intentions, and tasks and assignments. Colonel Darko
1 Kraljevic, as the commander of the special purpose
2 unit, the Vitezovi, which was also directly subordinate
3 to the defence department in Mostar, had the rank of
4 colonel. This information, this document shows that
5 along with his task of commander of the special purpose
6 unit, he was assigned another task, and that is, he was
7 deputy of the chief of the SIS Centre for Central
8 Bosnia, with authorisations that are precisely defined
9 in this authorisation, this particular document.
10 Therefore, they worked completely
11 independently of me and the command of the Central
12 Bosnia Operative Zone.
13 Q. You have already told the Court that in
14 individual battles, the Vitezovi of Darko Kraljevic was
15 attached to you. Could you please tell the Court, this
16 new function of Darko Kraljevic, what did it mean for
17 his independence vis-à-vis you?
18 A. Well, first of all, it meant that his
19 independence was enormously enlarged, and his powers of
20 command, because with the new function that he took
21 over for the entire region of Central Bosnia, he became
22 the Number 2 man of the Security and Information
23 Service, that is to say, the secret service, which did
24 not have any responsibilities towards the Central
25 Bosnia Operative Zone command, and it was, in its
1 functioning, completely independent and autonomous with
2 regard to that command, so this new function increased
3 the already high powers of command of the commander
5 Q. This independent SIS Centre, did it have any
6 power of control over you, over your command and your
7 staff in the command?
8 A. Of course it did because it was a secret
9 service and it held informative interviews with my
10 associates, it would take them in for questioning and
11 for interviewing, and I remember that some of my
12 associates complained to me and said that they were not
13 able to carry out the tasks that I had assigned to them
14 because they had received invitations to obligatorily
15 attend the informative talks with the officials at the
16 SIS Centre, and also the officers from the command of
17 the HVO brigades, the service would take them in too
18 without informing me of this fact, and it would
19 control, in terms of security, the entire command, so
20 it would select the methods it used itself and select
21 the cadres and personnel that it wanted to interview.
22 Q. To round off the topic, with the formation of
23 this new service of the SIS centre with Darko Kraljevic
24 there, was your power of command in the Lasva River
25 Valley increased or decreased?
1 A. It was considerably decreased, and the
2 overall situation also became more complex, much more
3 complicated. I found the situation very difficult
4 because my powers of command were greatly reduced.
5 Q. Please continue with the chronology of
7 A. In the course of the day, I worked with the
8 commander of the military police. On the 24th of
9 October we worked on the elaboration of a plan of
10 action against criminal groups in the Lasva pocket.
11 On the 25th of October, 1993, at the morning
12 briefing, the assistant for security informed me that
13 high officials from the head office for security had
14 come to visit the Lasva pocket and that they were
15 checking the results of the investigation into the
16 crime committed in Ahmici.
17 I also had a meeting in the course of the
18 day, that is to say, in the course of the 25th of
19 October, with the command of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski
21 On the 26th of October, 1993, when the UNHCR
22 convoy was moving under the escort of the BritBat
23 battalion and its forces --
24 JUDGE JORDA: I'm sorry, General Blaskic.
25 Did you meet these high officials who came to see if
1 all the orders given in the course of the investigation
2 had been executed? Did you meet these officials?
3 A. They never contacted me. The officials from
4 the head office for security never contacted me, those
5 which came to the Central Bosnia Operative Zone. They
6 never contacted me, and they didn't contact me on that
7 occasion either. They just controlled their own
8 services. I did not have a meeting with them, nor did
9 they contact me at all.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Please proceed, Mr.
12 MR. NOBILO:
13 Q. Please continue, General, the events of the
14 25th of October.
15 A. On the 26th of October, 1993, as I have said,
16 a convoy of the UNHCR was moving from the direction of
17 Gornji Vakuf towards Novi Travnik, Vitez, and Zenica.
18 The convoy was escorted by UNPROFOR. A sabotage group
19 of the 7th Muslim Brigade took advantage of this
20 movement of the convoy and infiltrated itself into the
21 head of the convoy and stormed the village of Rastovci
22 in the Novi Travnik municipality.
23 In that village of Rastovci these people
24 killed seven civilians, opening fire on the village and
25 locals of the village. It was only after the military
1 police intervened that this sabotage group of the
2 7th Muslim Brigade was made to retreat towards Ravno
4 I also received information in the course of
5 the day that in Vitez itself Commander Tuka had been
6 killed. He was from the composition of the Travnik
7 Brigade and that the suspects, the perpetrators -- the
8 suspects were Ferdo Gazibaric, and two Biljaka
9 brothers, and Ilija Dobodza, and they had all fled.
10 Q. Just one moment. Let's stop there, pause
11 there. Would you please remind us why Commander Tuka
12 was killed? The killers and the victims, were they of
13 the same ethnic group?
14 A. Yes, both the killers and the victim were
15 Croats. Commander Tuka had previously, in Novi
16 Travnik, and I have already spoken about this, wounded
17 one of the chiefs of a local group there, Mr. Zuti, and
18 then there was the settling of accounts and revenge was
19 taken on him probably by the followers of Zuti. They
20 wanted to revenge themselves on Commander Tuka.
21 Q. Please continue.
22 A. In the course of the day, I was informed by
23 the assistant for information and propaganda that Radio
24 Zenica, which was under the control of the BH army, was
25 constantly broadcasting news over the radio on the
1 crime committed in Stupni Do, and I had a talk with the
2 main staff and asked for information about that event
3 and what had happened in Stupni Do. I had received
4 information that there had been a conflict. A conflict
5 had broken out between the HVO and the BH army, and
6 that it was a purely combat operation with the
7 participation of members of the HVO and the BH army.
8 In the course of the day I had a talk with
9 the followers of Colonel Tuka, who were from the
10 Travnik Brigade, and I tried to reduce tensions and to
11 take preventative measures in order to prevent a mutual
12 settling of accounts between the members of the
13 Frankopan and Travnik Brigades, for the most part.
14 At 15.00, I had a meeting with an official
15 from the Red Cross, but I have not noted his name so I
16 cannot remember his name at the moment.
17 The questions that we discussed on the
18 occasion were the following: The freeing of the
19 detained Croats, the free passage towards Stari Vitez,
20 and I clarified, for the purposes of the Red Cross
21 officials, the fact that it was necessary for us to
22 receive, at least one day in advance, notification of
23 the passage of the International Red Cross in the area
24 of Stari Vitez which was under the control of the BH
25 army because, otherwise, without this advance notice it
1 would be impossible for us to demine the front line,
2 because our positions were subject to direct sniper
3 fire from the BH army. Therefore, I asked them if this
4 was at all possible, to inform us of their intention to
5 enter Stari Vitez and give us that information one day
6 in advance, and that no other limitations with regard
7 to entry existed, at least from the part of the HVO.
8 The problem was that you had to pass --
9 either when entering or exiting -- you had to pass at
10 least two front lines. One line was the HVO front line
11 and the other front line was the BH army front line.
12 I also asked the officials of the
13 International Red Cross to try to tour the area of
14 Vares and to send me information if it had any
15 information about the situation in Vares and especially
16 the events that had taken place in Stupni Do. I was
17 promised by the officials of the International Red
18 Cross that they would indeed visit the area and send me
19 the information that they were able to collect
20 regarding this matter.
21 So we discussed the timing for a lecture for
22 HVO commanders on the topic of the International Red
23 Cross, its mandate, the Geneva Conventions, and
24 international war law. This was a promise made to me
25 by representatives of international organisations that
1 they would organise this seminar, and I requested that
2 the date be fixed for that seminar. An officer of the
3 International Red Cross told me that it would take
4 place within a period of seven days, at the latest.
5 I also informed the International Red Cross
6 of the killing of seven civilians in the village of
7 Rastovci, Novi Travnik municipality, by a sabotage
8 group of the 7th Muslim Brigade.
9 On the 27th of October, 1993, at about 10.00,
10 I had a meeting with Colonel Duncan. We discussed
11 quite a wide range of issues, one of them being the
12 incursion of a sabotage terrorist group of the 7th
13 Muslim Brigade on the previous day into the village of
15 I underlined, speaking to Colonel Duncan, the
16 security problems we were encountering because at
17 checkpoints the HVO military police did not stop nor
18 check UNPROFOR vehicles as well as vehicles of the
19 UNHCR, and other vehicles that were white in colour and
20 which belonged to international organisations.
21 However, we had already been informed that
22 some of those vehicles had been hijacked and that they
23 were being used for incursions and sabotage operations
24 such as the ones carried out in Rastovci and Novi
25 Travnik. I expressed my concern that such incidents
1 could be become more numerous, especially during the
3 At that meeting with Colonel Duncan, I asked
4 him to check on the report that I had received about
5 the execution of 30 Croats in Jeljezno Polje on the
6 road between Zenica and Zepce, by the BH army. These
7 were mobilised conscripts, Croats, which the BH army
8 had mobilised, and they had refused to take part in
9 combat operations against the HVO of Zepce.
10 I did not receive any confirmation of this
11 report from Colonel Duncan.
12 At that meeting, I also asked for greater
13 supplies of fuel which we were receiving for the needs
14 of the hospital, as the Lasva pocket was without
15 electricity. So we used that fuel to operate the
16 generator in the church-cum-hospital during
18 We also discussed the passage of the Tuzla
19 convoy, that is, the convoy carrying military equipment
20 for the BH army which passed unhindered through the
21 area of the Lasva pocket.
22 In the course of that day, I reviewed the
23 security in the explosives factory, that is where the
24 security was provided by members of the military
25 police, and I again attended a meeting of the brigade
1 command in Busovaca where we had a series of problems
2 related to the abandoning of front lines on the part of
3 HVO soldiers. These incidents were carried out in
4 groups, collectively, and this was a threat to the
5 security of our positions and the security of the
6 overall defence of the area of Busovaca under HVO
8 There were various proposals made by members
9 of the command, including the proposal that radical
10 measures should be taken, that is, that such
11 individuals should be executed to set an example.
12 I reacted resolutely and said that executions
13 were out of the question but that we should continue to
14 read my orders, to frighten the soldiers, and to tell
15 them that this was one of the possibilities that could
16 be resorted to.
17 JUDGE JORDA: You're talking about front
18 lines, Mr. Blaskic. You're saying that the soldiers
19 left the front lines. I would like more details. Are
20 you talking about the front lines against the Serbs or
21 against the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
22 A. Your Honours, Mr. President, I am talking
23 about the front line towards the BH army. The front
24 lines indicated here on the relief but for the area of
1 JUDGE JORDA: Continue, please.
2 MR. NOBILO:
3 Q. Please proceed.
4 A. On the 28th of October, 1993, I received a
5 report from the military police that a car that had
6 been seized by force had been returned by the military
7 police from the Vitezovi and that this vehicle had been
8 returned to its owner.
9 Q. Was that exception when you took note of
10 this, of the return of this vehicle from the Vitezovi?
11 A. Yes. This was one of the miracles and this
12 was a test for the military police. It was certainly
13 an exception and a rarity.
14 At 10.30, I had a meeting with brigade
15 commanders in the Lasva pocket. We reviewed the
16 overall question of defence, the questions regarding
17 desertion on the front lines, the fatigue of
19 I also addressed a message to all followers
20 of one of the criminal groups, that they should report
21 to the defence department in order to be given a war
22 time assignment. This was, in fact, the beginning of
23 the implementation of our plan to disarm and eliminate
24 criminal groups operating in the Lasva pocket. This
25 was a form of selective pressure against one of such
2 On the 29th of October, 1993, I was engaged
3 in training in the military police practically the
4 whole day, starting from reviewing military police
5 ranks, then the question of organisation of the
6 military police, the technique of control and command.
7 At a meeting with the military police, I
8 requested that they inform me what had happened with
9 the investigation into the murder of the interpreter
10 Dobrila. Actually, I demanded to know the names of the
11 suspects, but I did not receive a report at that
12 meeting of the names of the suspects for that murder.
13 On the 31st of October, 1993, early in the
14 morning, we had a severe attack launched by the BH army
15 on the town of Vitez coming from the directions of
16 Kruscica, Sljibcica, Stari Vitez, and Zabrdze towards
17 the explosives factory. In the course of the day, I
18 also received a request from the assistant for
19 logistics who informed me that they were short of food
20 for children or, rather, that we had one kilogram of
21 powdered milk for a large number of children available
22 for that day.
23 On the 1st of November, 1993, we were
24 encountering difficulties in control and command which
25 was being blocked, especially in neighbouring
1 brigades. For instance, in the Frankopan Brigade, we
2 were unable to regroup and to transfer a minimum number
3 of ten soldiers to assist the people on the front lines
4 for we were already in such a situation that the
5 soldiers had trenches in their own back yards and
6 nobody wanted to abandon his own home and join in the
7 defence of the front lines where military logic
8 required it, such as the front line at Vitez.
9 Also on the 1st of November, in the Vitez
10 Hotel, officials of the International Red Cross held a
11 lecture, which had been agreed previously, and during
12 that lecture on the mandate of the International Red
13 Cross, the Geneva Conventions, and international law of
14 war, there were about 30 officers from the Lasva Valley
16 On the 2nd of November, I received
17 information that the supporters of Tuka's unit from the
18 Travnik Brigade had abandoned their positions on the
19 front line facing the BH army and that they were
20 preparing to take their revenge on the followers of
22 I held another meeting with some of those
23 members trying to persuade them that revenge would not
24 be a solution and that the only way out was to carry
25 out an investigation into that killing.
1 In the course of the day, I also had a
2 meeting with the commander of the military police,
3 trying to find a solution to this problem and the
4 threats of revenge and also trying to find a solution
5 to deal with the criminal groups and the potential of
6 their mutual showdowns. The greatest problem was how
7 to disarm those gangs.
8 I received information from the assistant for
9 logistics that the only foodstuffs available were rice
10 and lentils and that the situation was extremely
11 critical in terms of food supply as well as in terms of
12 materiel and equipment for combat operations.
13 I was also informed that talks were ongoing
14 with representatives of the 3rd Corps through mediators
15 from international organisations and that there were
16 indications that the 3rd Corps, with a commission of 30
17 per cent of the war tax, would allow the passage of a
18 food convoy to reach the Lasva pocket. However, that
19 convoy never arrived. There was also a serious
20 shortage of cigarettes and fuel, and at the time, a box
21 of cigarettes in the Lasva Valley cost between 60 and
22 100 German marks, and a litre of fuel, about six, going
23 up to ten, German marks.
24 On that day, at Sljibcica, elevation 592, the
25 BH army destroyed an electric pillar whereby it further
1 complicated the situation regarding power supply for
2 the Lasva Valley. As for combat operations, they were
3 most intensive in Novi Travnik in the immediate
4 vicinity of the Stojkovici logistics base where the
5 positions of the HVO and the BH army went along the
6 very fence of that logistics base.
7 At 21.15, I spoke to the chief of the main
8 staff by phone and I informed him that the situation in
9 the Lasva Valley was extremely critical and that we
10 were about to fall and I asked him whether he had any
11 information regarding developments in Vares and what
12 was happening there and also as to what was happening
13 in Stupni Do. The reply I received was that I should
14 not worry but that I should continue working and trying
15 to defend the Lasva pocket.
16 I also inquired into the situation in
17 Kiseljak and asked whether it was possible for
18 operations to be engaged in from Kiseljak towards the
19 BH army so as to alleviate the pressure on the front
20 lines in the Lasva pocket or, if possible, to deblock
21 the Busovaca-Kiseljak road. I said that in the Lasva
22 enclave, there was hunger, and that the combat
23 operations were highly intensive and that I didn't know
24 how we would endure. The chief of staff told me that
25 he would look into it and he would do what he could
1 from Kiseljak and that he would try and assist us.
2 On the 3rd of November, 1993, I was informed
3 that at 11.00, Doctors Without Borders, the
4 humanitarian organisation under that name, was entering
5 Stari Vitez with ambulances, and the HVO assisted in
6 their arrival and entry into Stari Vitez. Again, we
7 reorganised the defence sectors for the town of Vitez
8 in particular and the remaining area under HVO control
9 because the pressure was particularly strong on the
10 town of Vitez, that is, the explosives factory.
11 I also received a request on the 3rd of
12 November from the church-cum-hospital in Nova Bila,
13 from the manager of that hospital, Dr. Tihomir Peric,
14 that there were 86 severely wounded patients in the
15 hospital and that all of them needed to be evacuated
16 from the hospital.
17 On the 4th of November, 1993, at the morning
18 meeting with the commander of the military police, I
19 insisted again that all military conscripts, for which
20 such an order was issued by the district military court
21 in Vitez, have to be processed regardless of their
22 positions on the front lines --
23 JUDGE JORDA: The French booth -- I think
24 that the French booth is a little bit late. Yes, yes.
25 MR. NOBILO: We will have to slow down a
1 little bit.
2 JUDGE JORDA: I think the French booth is
3 using the transcript, isn't it?
4 By the way, we will take a break because we
5 have to stop a little bit early today. But, please,
6 slow down, General, for the interpreters. Thank you.
7 A. Thank you, Mr. President. Forgive me.
8 I asked for all the military conscripts to be
9 processed regardless of their place and role at the
10 front line. My position was that without them, we
11 would manage to defend ourselves just as well.
12 At 11.45, I received information from the
13 IPD assistant that Radio Zenica, which was under
14 control of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was
15 saying that the town of Vares was liberated by the army
16 of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the day, with my
17 co-workers, I talked about command responsibility and
18 the problems that we had and familiarity and also that
19 there were certain groups that were privileged in
20 respect of the commanders.
21 On the 5th of November, 1993, an
22 anti-sabotage unit of the army of Bosnia and
23 Herzegovina made an incursion from the area of Zabrdze
24 into the explosives factory in Vitez. So for quite a
25 long time that day, we were fighting just by the fence
1 of that explosives factory, on the southern side, near
2 the warehouse for explosives. There were hundreds of
3 tonnes of explosives there, and we were worried, we
4 were afraid that one of these warehouses might be
6 From 18.00 until 24.00, the same problem was
7 repeated with the Frankopan Brigade, which did not
8 manage to send help to Vitez, and the entire brigade
9 was supposed to send only ten soldiers to help fortify
10 the positions at the Vitez front line.
11 During the course of the day, a lady called
12 me, she did not introduce herself by her name, but she
13 said that she was the wife of Abdulah Tuco, and she
14 phoned me and asked for protection and help, saying
15 that in her family home in Rijeka, House No. 5, there
16 were unknown men who were barging into her house and
17 who were expelling her and her family from the house.
18 MR. NOBILO:
19 Q. Tell me, General, what was the ethnic
20 background of the Abdulah Tuco family?
21 A. They were Muslims, Bosniaks. They lived in
23 Q. How did you react?
24 A. At that moment, I immediately dispatched my
25 driver and one of my escorts to give help and
1 protection to this lady, the wife of Abdulah Tuco, and
2 I told her that I was sending my driver right away,
3 because I didn't have anyone else. I also called
4 Commander Mario Cerkez, and I issued an order to him to
5 send a patrol, a guard, there, and to place them in the
6 immediate vicinity of that house, and that the guards
7 should report to that family, the Tuco family, and to
8 tell them that their task was to protect that family
9 from other persecutions and incursions of this kind.
10 JUDGE JORDA: We will stop ten minutes early
11 today and we will resume at 2.45.
12 Mr. Harmon, yes?
13 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, I'll be very,
14 very brief. I just would like to raise a matter of
15 clarification with the judgment, the decision that was
16 raised by the Court.
17 First off, I want to let you know that we
18 accept the judgment of the Court and we're not
19 contesting it and we're not trying to --
20 JUDGE JORDA: (No interpretation)
21 MR. HARMON: I think the judgment would
22 preclude -- under the terms of the judgment would
23 preclude the Kordic team, for example, from having any
24 contact with witnesses whom they may well intend to
25 call in their case in chief and they may well intend to
1 call those witnesses before the Court has an
2 opportunity to listen to those witnesses, and I
3 understand the thrust of the Chamber, in its decision,
4 it would be that the Blaskic Prosecutors not contact
5 these witnesses, but I would like some clarification as
6 to whether or not the Chamber's order applies equally
7 to the Prosecutors who are involved and will commence
8 next week the Kordic prosecution because that raises
9 and may well raise certain problems for the
10 Prosecutor's Office.
11 JUDGE JORDA: (No interpretation) ... the
12 Chamber cannot rule regarding other cases.
13 ... matter further, if need be, but, of
14 course, this Trial Chamber cannot decide in other
15 cases. Of course, the Prosecution, I'm sure, is trying
16 to have contact with certain witnesses in other cases,
17 and I am sorry to learn that there was this coincidence
18 that maybe the three witnesses, or at least Colonel
19 Stewart, are witnesses that the Office of the
20 Prosecutor is trying to contact at the moment.
21 I will just add that the Trial Chamber does
22 not want any contact with Colonel Stewart,
23 Mr. Thebault, General Morillon, Mr. Hadzihasanovic,
24 et cetera, within the framework of the summons of these
25 witnesses that will appear in the following days or
1 weeks, we don't want any contact, in the framework of
2 the Blaskic case, of course. I can't forbid you to go
3 and see these witnesses, but I just warn you,
4 Mr. Prosecutor, if, during these contacts, you take
5 this opportunity to try to exert pressure or to contact
6 these witnesses on the content of their testimony in
7 the Blaskic case, then it will be your
8 responsibility and this will be against the order that
9 we rendered. But the rest -- I mean, I can't and I
10 don't think my colleagues can forbid any kind of
11 contact with witnesses in the framework of other cases.
12 MR. HARMON: As I said when I started my
13 inquiry, Mr. President, I fully accept the decision of
14 the Chamber. The Prosecutor's Office does not want to
15 find itself in a position where prosecutors from the
16 Kordic team, in the presentation of their case in
17 chief, have got to contact these witnesses, and later I
18 hear a complaint that the Prosecutor's Office has
19 violated this Court's order. What I am seeking is
20 absolute clarity in order to avoid a potential
21 problem. As I understand, is I understand the Chamber
22 to say that --
23 JUDGE JORDA: It's very simple, Mr. Harmon,
24 if you want to be reassured.
25 First of all, this is a question of ethics
1 which is submitted to the constant control of the
2 Chamber. Secondly, I will ask the registry and
3 Mr. Fourmy that the meaning of this decision be
4 transmitted to all the witnesses who have been
5 summoned, and Colonel Stewart will know what he should
6 expect if the Office of the Prosecutor needed to
7 contact him before. Therefore, he will know what kind
8 of questions he is allowed to answer and what kind of
9 questions he should not answer, and I will make sure
10 that this is done when Colonel Stewart comes to testify
11 here. I will ask him, "Did you have any contact with
12 the Office of the Prosecutor within the framework of
13 the Blaskic case?" And since he will be taking the
14 oath, he will have to tell the truth.
15 Is that clear?
16 MR. HARMON: So as I understand it, to make
17 it perfectly clear, if the Kordic team contacts these
18 witnesses in respect of the Kordic case, that will be
20 JUDGE JORDA: It is none of my business. I
21 just want to warn you that there may be some
23 MR. HARMON: I understand. Thank you very
25 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
1 --- Luncheon recess taken at 12.55 p.m.
2 --- On resuming at 3.00 p.m.
3 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please
4 be seated.
5 Mr. Nobilo, you have the floor.
6 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
7 Q. Before the break, we spoke about the 5th of
8 November, 1993. General, would you please continue and
9 tell us about the last two months, in chronological
11 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, on the 5th of
12 November I received information that the special
13 purpose unit, Tvrtko, had left the front line facing
14 the BH army and of its own free will returned to base.
15 About this event on the event of the 5th of November, I
16 informed, in writing, the chief of the main staff and
17 asked once again for them to allow me a reorganisation
18 of the special purpose units and a change in structure
19 for those units, and that the special purpose units be
20 directly subordinate in the chain of command to the
21 command of the Operative Zone during the encirclement,
22 at that particular time.
23 On the 6th of November, 1993, the BH army
24 launched a strong offensive from its southern positions
25 in relation to the town of Vitez and the explosives
2 JUDGE JORDA: What were the results? You
3 requested the reorganisation of special purpose units.
4 What was the response you got?
5 A. Mr. President, on that day and in that month
6 I did not receive an answer from the chief of the main
7 staff, but later on I did receive authorisation, and I
8 will come to that as I go through the chronology of
9 events, Mr. President.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Please continue.
11 A. Thank you. So on the 6th of November, 1993,
12 there was a strong attack from the southern positions
13 where the BH army continued to repel the HVO towards
14 the explosives factory. In that attack we sustained
15 losses, that is to say, we lost 71 soldiers, that is to
16 say, 6 were skilled, 17 wounded, and 48 were missing.
17 Later on, it was established that 43 of the 48 men were
18 living. It was determined that they were alive.
19 In the afternoon, after we had succeeded in
20 consolidating our ranks at new positions, I once again
21 had, in the military police, a meeting and training
22 with parts of the units of the military police, that is
23 to say, we trained them for military police
24 assignments, for patrol work, and I tried to gain an
25 insight into how the units were manned with the new
1 recruits, which we took for the most part from the
2 front lines and from the defence lines to fill up the
4 In the course of the evening, I issued a task
5 to the logistics assistant to undertake the dislocation
6 of explosives from the warehouse of the explosives
7 factory and to take them to provisional warehouses and
8 bases towards Novi Travnik and Busovaca.
9 MR. NOBILO:
10 Q. Tell us, please, General, what was the reason
11 you wanted to evacuate from the explosives factory at
12 the time?
13 A. Well, the reason for that was the danger that
14 due to combat operations and fighting, which already
15 took place at the approaches to the warehouses in the
16 explosives factory, that there could have been a
17 detonation, an activation of one of the warehouses. As
18 there were hundreds of tonnes of explosives there,
19 about 500.000 tonnes of explosives approximately, and
20 all the warehouses of the explosives were, for the most
21 part -- that is to say, 50 to 100 metres away from the
22 front, which meant that a sabotage unit could activate
23 one of those warehouses, set them on fire. This could
24 also have happened through fighting, that there could
25 have been self-activation in the explosives
2 Q. Please continue, General.
3 A. On that particular day, that is to say, the
4 6th of November, I spent most of the day in Gornja and
5 Donja Veceriska, upper and lower Veceriska, that part
6 of the front.
7 On the 7th of November, I went to the front
8 line, which was Sector 1, and it was the village of
9 Zaselje in actual fact. When I toured that front line
10 I ascertained that of the 90 soldiers that I saw up at
11 the front line, 30 soldiers did not have any kind of
12 weapons whatsoever and they, for the most part, were
13 used to take out the injured and wounded. If any of
14 the soldiers were to have been killed, then they would
15 have taken over the weapons and rifles of those killed
16 soldiers and taken up their positions. So we still
17 needed many more weapons to man that part of the front
19 On the 8th of November, 1993, we organised
20 new positions and --
21 Q. Would you slow down a bit, please, General,?
22 Thank you.
23 A. So south of the explosives factory we had
24 positions there and would move some 50 to 100 metres.
25 We moved slowly and withdrew gradually towards the
1 explosive factory itself and the fence there because of
2 the attacks from the BH army.
3 On the 9th of November, 1993, I received
4 information that the new chief of the main staff of the
5 HVO was appointed and he was General Colonel Ante
7 On the 10th of November, 1993, in Gornja
8 Veceriska, I had a meeting with the commanders of the
9 sectors, and the topic we discussed was the defence of
10 the access to the explosives factory, but once again,
11 at that meeting, the commanders of the special purpose
12 units did not attend the meeting. We were not able to
13 find them to tell them to come to the meeting.
14 Also on that day I received information from
15 the commander of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade, and
16 he said that during the 9th of November, on that
17 particular day, the BH army had launched three attacks
18 towards the Kaonik crossroads, that is to say, on the
19 main road, the Vitez-Busovaca-Zenica main road. This
20 information came to us one day late, almost a whole day
22 Once again, with my associates, I looked into
23 the need to reorganise the defence of the Lasva pocket
24 and to reorganise the forces, the defence forces, for
25 the area. I worked on elaborating a proposal for a new
1 chief of the main staff, that is to say, in the sense
2 of reorganising the special purpose units and
3 reorganisation for the guard units which would be under
4 my direct command.
5 This proposal I sent on the 10th of November,
6 1993 to the chief of the main staff of the HVO, but I
7 did not receive a response, an answer, to my proposal
9 We also saw that individual group of the
10 special purpose units were seeking money. They wanted
11 to be remunerated and paid to be involved up at the
12 front line. They asked for money from the wealthy
13 individuals, and they asked them to pay for their
15 The BH army, in the course of the day, used
16 snipers and mortars, 60-millimetre mortars, from Old
17 Vitez and artillery fire from Sljibcica, and Sivrino
18 Selo, and Kruscica. That is where the firing came
20 On the 11th of November, 1993, we assessed
21 our possibilities to man the guard units in the Lasva
22 pocket. The foundations for that would be the special
23 purpose units, they would be the foundation for this,
24 and recruits up to the age of 35, conscripts up to the
25 age of 35.
1 I also attended a meeting that was held at
2 the Vitez Hotel, and the topic of that meeting was
3 public law and order and how to suppress crime
4 generally. It was a coordination meeting in character,
5 and I was there as the command of the Operative Zone.
6 JUDGE JORDA: General, I should like to
7 follow what you are saying because this is important
8 for me. You engaged more men from the special purpose
9 units. You required more men from the special purpose
10 units, but what is important is what happened
11 afterwards. What was the reaction?
12 "I requested men from the special purpose
13 unit to go to the front." My question is: What was
14 the result of that request? Are you going to come to
15 that later?
16 A. Mr. President, I shall be speaking about this
17 later, but I just wanted to mention that on the 9th of
18 November a new chief of the main staff of the HVO
19 arrived, and for that reason I once again had to
20 elaborate a proposal for the reorganisation of the
21 special purpose units. In my chronology of events, I
22 will say when that reorganisation took place, that is
23 to say, when I received permission from the chief of
24 the main staff to undertake the reorganisation.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, but that is not
1 authorisation, it is the terminology you're using. So
2 please be careful. We're following very closely.
3 "I took a decision to deploy more men coming
4 from the special units." It was a decision that you
5 take. It was not a proposal, it was a decision. Maybe
6 it was due to an erroneous translation.
7 Mr. Nobilo, perhaps you can help me.
8 MR. NOBILO: I can help you. I think the
9 translation was not precise enough. The General said
10 that with his associates, he elaborated a plan for the
11 creation of a new unit which would include individuals
12 from the special purpose units and men up to the age of
13 35. So that was a plan on paper still.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. You told me very well,
15 Mr. Nobilo, but you are not the witness.
16 General Blaskic, is that what you wanted to
17 say, "which one include" in the conditional tense; is
18 that right? So please be very precise because I want
19 to know what is specific. If it is a plan that you
20 elaborated, we will see the results later on. If you
21 actually engage men, that's something else. So what
22 Mr. Nobilo has told us is that you drafted a plan for
23 the new chief of staff, a plan which would include, in
24 the conditional, the engagement of men coming from the
25 special purpose unit. Is that correct?
1 A. Mr. President, I can repeat what I said. I
2 am referring to the 10th of November, 1993 -- things
3 are much clearer to me now -- and I reviewed with my
4 associates the need to determine reorganisation, to
5 look at a new organisation for the units, which would
6 include the abolition of the special purpose units and
7 have a new formation of a guard unit which would be
8 under the direct command of the Operative Zone. A plan
9 of this kind, that kind of plan, I sent to the new
10 chief of the main staff of the HVO.
11 MR. NOBILO:
12 Q. Perhaps it would be a good thing, General, in
13 order to clarify matters and make things clearer to all
14 of us, and particularly the Trial Chamber, if you could
15 recall the dates when the individual chiefs of staff
16 were performing their duty because during 1993 this
17 post was taken over by several individuals? So could
18 you tell us the dates when they were the chief and when
19 they ceased to be?
20 A. According to my recollection -- I don't know
21 the exact date when General Petkovic was replaced by
22 General Praljak, who was the new chief of the main
23 staff, but at the end of September 1993, I had a
24 meeting with General Praljak and he was performing the
25 role of the chief of the main staff. General Praljak,
1 according to my own notes, was replaced by General Roso
2 on the 9th of November, 1993. So that was the third
3 chief of the main staff.
4 Q. General, did you repeat your concept for the
5 creation of an army and abolishing the special purpose
6 units to each of the chiefs of the main staff?
7 A. Well, I had to do so in order to inform them
8 of the situation and to effect a change in the
9 structure itself because it was my intention to change
10 the structure which was created and established
11 probably by the defence ministry or the main staff of
12 the HVO.
13 Q. Let's move on with our chronology of events
14 and draw closer to the time when you succeeded in
15 abolishing the special purpose units.
16 A. We stopped with the 11th of November, 1993,
17 when I had a meeting devoted to public law and order
18 and the suppression of crime generally, and that
19 meeting was attended by the commander of the military
20 police and the chief of the police head office of
21 Travnik, the civilian police, also the deputy for
22 security attended the meeting, and it was a meeting at
23 which we elaborated a plan for disarming eight leading
24 criminals in the Lasva pocket together with their
1 At the meeting, we also highlighted the
2 problem of falsifying medical certificates which were
3 issued to young men saying they were not able to
4 perform their military service and thus these young
5 people wanted to avoid doing military service up at the
6 front lines facing the BH army.
7 On the 12th of November, 1993, there was
8 heavy fighting again, especially along the southern
9 access to the explosives factory in the Vitez Brigade,
10 and the fighting took place at 100 metres away from the
11 explosives factory.
12 In the afternoon, somewhere about 16.30
13 hours, I received information that my father had died,
14 and I asked the liaison officer, Mr. Gelic, to send a
15 written request to the command of the BritBat to ask
16 the commander to organise transport for me so that I
17 could attend the funeral in Kiseljak, my father's
18 funeral there.
19 Q. Tell us, please, General, how and when did
20 your father die?
21 A. My father was killed in the Kiseljak area,
22 the village is named Oglavak, and it is at the front
23 line between the HVO and the BH army. He was in a
24 trench. He went out of the trench to help a soldier of
25 the HVO who had stepped on a mine and his feet were
1 blown off and he was lying there helpless. I don't
2 know whether my late father tried to pull him out of
3 that position or just to see to his wounds, but my
4 father was hit by a sniper from a 762 rifle from behind
5 and he was shot in the heart. It was just one bullet
6 and he was dead on the spot. He was hit by this
7 machine gun.
8 Q. How old was your father when he was killed?
9 A. My father was almost 61 years of age, so that
10 he was not a military recruit, according to the laws of
11 the former Yugoslavia.
12 Q. How come he was in the trench? Was he a
14 A. Well, yes, he was a volunteer because that
15 was the situation at the time, and everything I'm
16 telling you about the Lasva pocket was the same or
17 similar in the area in which he found himself.
18 Q. Tell us, please, did UNPROFOR enable you to
19 attend your father's funeral?
20 A. No, it did not, and that is why I asked for a
21 meeting with Colonel Duncan, to be able to ask him
22 personally for him to do that. I said that I needed
23 this only on that particular occasion for that
24 particular purpose and that I needed no other
25 assistance apart from being transported from Vitez to
1 the cemetery in Kiseljak and to bring me back. Colonel
2 Duncan said that he did not have agreement from the BH
3 army for a favour of this kind, and were he to do so
4 without the knowledge of the BH army, he would have
5 violated his officer's code.
6 Q. Did you have any way of going to the funeral
7 without UNPROFOR transporting you in one of its
9 A. Well, had I had some other way of getting
10 there, I would have, but I had no way of getting there
11 and so I did not go to the funeral.
12 Q. Thank you. Please continue.
13 A. On the 13th of November, 1993, I received
14 information that -- rather, I got some information from
15 the Military Intelligence Service that two friars had
16 been killed in Fojnica, in the monastery in Fojnica,
17 and through Gelic, the liaison officer, I asked
18 UNPROFOR to check on this piece of information. The
19 information later proved to be true.
20 Also on that day I sent in the entire
21 security of the command of the Operative Zone to the
22 front line because we were sustaining great losses, and
23 this was indeed necessary, these soldiers were needed
24 at the front line.
25 Before the night or, rather, during the night
1 between the 13th and the 14th, we carried out our first
2 action, armed action, against a group of criminals.
3 When the military police called out to them, they
4 started shooting at them, and during this shoot-out,
5 there were people who were killed and wounded during
6 this action.
7 Q. Tell me, why is it only on the 13th of
8 November that you decided to take arms against one of
9 these leading gangs of criminals? Why couldn't you do
10 it earlier?
11 A. Well, it could not have been done earlier
12 because, first and foremost, the military police as
13 such had to be established in order to be capable of
14 reacting towards criminals in this way, and from August
15 until November, I tried to organise, set up, and train
16 the military police unit for its regular military
17 police work, including, regrettably, things like this
18 as well.
19 Q. This kind of armed conflict where the
20 military police of the HVO, that is to say, Croats,
21 attacked other armed Croats in the Lasva Valley, what
22 kind of an effect did all this have on other armed
23 gangs, on the Vitezovi and the other independent units?
24 A. Well, later, this turned out to be very
25 favourable because it was no longer necessary to carry
1 out such large-scale operations because these were
2 indeed the eight leading criminals in the region and
3 this was a showdown with their followers. I actually
4 had a press conference on this occasion too, and we
5 showed some of the weapons and military equipment that
6 we had seized as well as other things. So all of this
7 had a favourable effect on the overall security
8 situation and in terms of paralysing all other gangs in
9 the area.
10 Q. Please proceed with your chronology.
11 A. On the 15th of November, 1993, as I said, I
12 had a press conference, and we showed some of the
13 weapons and military equipment that were taken from the
14 group of criminals, and we also commented on this
15 action a bit, we explained its point and the need to
16 have it carried out.
17 In the afternoon --
18 Q. Just a minute, please. When you say "at the
19 press conference," could you please remind us a bit
20 what the main way was of informing the soldiers and
21 citizens in the Lasva River Valley?
22 A. Well, the main way of doing so was through a
23 press conference which we held at least once a week and
24 then the local television broadcast the contents of
25 this press conference, from one press conference to
1 another, so every family and every soldier in the Lasva
2 River Valley could see the pictures but also hear the
3 most important pieces of information of the events in
4 the past period.
5 Q. All right. Would you please proceed?
6 A. In the afternoon, on the 15th of November, I
7 had a meeting with the representative of the Serbs from
8 Vitez. This gentleman's name was Risto. He asked me
9 whether he and some friends of his could be relieved of
10 duty because they had some health problems so they
11 couldn't carry out their obligations at the front
12 lines, and he also sought assistance, he did
13 specifically, he asked for boots and the others asked
14 for some other parts of military equipment, and I
15 helped him resolve these problems, I accommodated him.
16 Again on the 15th of November, I spent some
17 time with the Travnik Brigade. This unit was made up
18 of refugees for the most part, and I also received
19 information that groups of Vitezovi had barged into the
20 command of the 1st Battalion of the Vitez Brigade and
21 that they took away an automatic rifle, automatic
22 rifles, rather, and a pistol and cigarettes for
23 soldiers of the 1st Battalion. At that time, we
24 distributed cigarettes in the following manner: an
25 amount of tobacco contained in one cigarette would be
1 allocated to a group of three soldiers, that is to say,
2 there was a great shortage of cigarettes. The same
3 group of Vitezovi attacked the house of Ivo Lozancic in
4 Vitez. He is a Croat too.
5 I asked the military police to give me
6 information about these events and these attacks, and
7 at that time I was informed that the investigation of
8 these events would be carried out by the military
9 police of the Vitezovi unit. Since I knew that there
10 was no such police, I called the commander and I asked
11 him for an explanation. How come there was now a
12 military police of the Vitezovi? I asked who had set
13 up this military police, and the commander of the
14 Vitezovi, Colonel Kraljevic, Colonel Darko Kraljevic,
15 said that he had set up a military police unit which
16 would only take care of the members of the Vitezovi.
17 I asked him what the basis for this was. On
18 the basis of which document did he establish that
19 military police unit? He answered that he did not have
20 to report to me.
21 Q. What do you think about this, General? How
22 come now, in mid-November, 1993, Darko Kraljevic
23 established a military police of the Vitezovi? Now,
24 when you view this from this time distance, what was
25 the reason, the underlying reason?
1 A. Well, it is certain that one of the reasons
2 was his position but, on the other hand, probably an
3 effort was being made to exclude his members from the
4 jurisdiction of the 4th Battalion or, rather, the 7th
5 Battalion, at that time, which was under my direct
6 command, and they tried and succeeded, to the largest
7 possible extent, to carry out its military police
8 duties. By establishing a Vitezovi military police,
9 the members of the Special Purpose Unit Vitezovi were
10 excluded from the jurisdiction of the 7th Battalion of
11 the HVO and, in a way, they got a privileged status.
12 Q. Please proceed.
13 A. On the 16th of November, 1993, once again the
14 family home of Ivo Livancic was attacked, and the IPD,
15 during the 16th of November, organised a tour of the
16 explosives factory with a foreign TV crew. I think the
17 TV was called ITN, but I'm not sure about the name.
18 This TV crew filmed part of the explosives
19 factory that was partly mined, and the intention was to
20 try to send a message to the members of the army of
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina that it was pointless to attack the
22 explosives factory. Through this propaganda message,
23 an attempt would be made to alleviate the pressure on
24 the Vitez front line.
25 Q. What did the IPD officer tell the
1 journalists? What was your intention? Why did you
2 mine the explosives factory?
3 A. Earlier on, an explanation had been given
4 that if the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina were to capture
5 the factory, the factory would be blown up. That is to
6 say that all the explosives in the factory would be
7 activated. However, the largest part of the explosives
8 we had already gotten out of the factory, and we had
9 relocated it to other places.
10 Q. Please proceed.
11 A. At 15.00, I had a meeting with an UNHCR
12 official. They asked me to guarantee safe passage to
13 humanitarian convoys through the Lasva pocket towards
14 Zenica, Zepce, and Maglaj. I informed them that
15 personally I had difficulties in communicating with
16 Zepce but that I would do my best to make it possible
17 for these convoys to pass, that is to say, to the
18 limits to which I can guarantee their safety.
19 Another question that we discussed, and that
20 is what I had brought up when talking to the UNHCR
21 officials, that was the Lasva pocket itself, that is to
22 say, the military setting, and also the fact that there
23 was a lack of power, water, and food.
24 Also, the officials of the UNHCR, and I think
25 that there was a UN official there too, they asked
1 for my permission to have two soldiers evacuated from
2 Stari Vitez to Zenica. I agreed at that meeting and
3 that was done subsequently.
4 On the 17th of November, 1993, I got
5 permission from the chief of the main staff of the HVO
6 to start reorganising the special purpose unit of the
7 B-type. There was only one such unit in the Lasva
8 pocket and that was the PPN Tvrtko. That is to say
9 that this could be reorganised into the home guard
10 brigades of the HVO.
11 Also, on that day I received information that
12 a group from the Vitezovi Special Purpose Unit barged
13 into the house of Branko Mlakic, as far as back as the
14 15th of November, 1993, but I received this information
15 only on the 17th of November.
16 In the afternoon, I worked on a proposal made
17 by the mayor of Vitez, and his decision to close down
18 shops. Namely, in order to improve the general
19 security situation in the territory of the town of
20 Vitez, the civilian authorities, the municipal
21 government of Vitez, passed a decision to set a limit
22 on the time during which catering establishments could
23 be opened. That related to civilians and also to the
24 military police.
25 However, since the decision passed by the
1 civilian government of Vitez was not obligatory in
2 terms of soldiers, the mayor asked me to issue an order
3 too, by which I would formally confirm this decision of
4 theirs and which would then pertain to all soldiers in
5 the Lasva pocket. I did issue such an order imposing a
6 time limit on the opening hours of cafes and
7 restaurants in Vitez.
8 I also received information that there were
9 still private exchanges in terms of local criminal
10 elements and that they were receiving money for this,
11 but I also received information that such private
12 exchanges were being carried out by members of UNPROFOR
13 too, and also the International Red Cross, and the
14 UNHCR, and even the representatives of the civilian
15 authorities, according to their own criteria. I
16 received this information from the assistant for
17 security matters.
18 At 15.45 --
19 JUDGE JORDA: Private exchanges? What do you
20 mean when you use the term "private exchanges?"
21 A. Mr. President, these are exchanges that take
22 place apart from the municipal/civilian commission that
23 is in charge of these matters. Individuals come and
24 take away family members.
25 I'll give you a specific example from Vitez.
1 For example, they would take Muslims from Vitez to
2 Zenica, members of their family, and from Zenica they
3 would also being in civilians, family members of
4 Croats, to Vitez, but the municipal civilian commission
5 of Vitez, predominantly Croat, was not informed about
6 this, nor the civilian commission for exchanges in
7 Zenica that was predominantly Muslim. That is to say
8 that these two commissions were not involved in such
9 exchanges. Military commands weren't either, only if
10 the security and intelligence would find out about this
11 through secret channels.
12 MR. NOBILO:
13 Q. Tell me, General, as far as these private
14 exchanges are concerned, were these civilians forced to
15 go from Zenica to Vitez or vice versa, or was it
16 actually in the hands of these civilians to take the
17 initiative to go away?
18 A. In 99 per cent of all cases -- in most cases,
19 it is the civilians themselves who took this
21 Q. Did they often have to pay for this exchange,
22 for them to be organised?
23 A. I had received such information that these
24 services were paid for, especially these groups of
25 criminals made quite a profit in such dealings, but
1 this did not happen only in the Lasva pocket. I was
2 aware of such situations in 1992 as well.
3 For example, in Sarajevo, there were enormous
4 profits in these exchanges, because in spite of all the
5 blockade and the siege, Sarajevo could breathe, so to
6 speak, along the road leading to Kiseljak, although the
7 army of Republika Srpska and the HVO was there and
9 Q. Please proceed.
10 A. At 15.45, I had a meeting with Mr. Larry
11 Hollingworth. He was the representative of the UNHCR.
12 He asked me for guarantees, once again, for the safe
13 passage of a convoy via Zepce to Maglaj. I repeated
14 what the difficulties were in terms of communicating
15 with the command in Zepce, and I said that I would do
16 my best, including an open conversation on the phone
17 with Commander Lozancic to provide guarantees and
18 security for safe passage for the UNHCR convoy to
19 Maglaj so that food supplies could be sent to Maglaj
20 and to other areas where this was necessary.
21 On the 18th of November, 1993, around 12.00,
22 snipers from the BH army positions wounded my deputy
23 commander Filip Filipovic but, fortunately, his wounds
24 were not deadly.
25 Also, I received information about the
1 installation of a private checkpoint in Nova Bila,
2 where criminals had set up a checkpoint and they
3 collected money from people who wanted to pass, but I
4 realised that the military police had reacted and
5 dismantled this checkpoint, which meant that the road
6 was deblocked as well.
7 During the course of the day, I was once
8 again in the military police unit and helping them with
9 their training and continuing to work on the
10 establishment of the military police. I also received
11 a request from the hospital in Nova Bila that it was
12 necessary to evacuate seven children as soon as
13 possible, and 33 heavily wounded persons, and I sent
14 this request to the command of UNPROFOR in Nova Bila.
15 Around 10.30, I had a meeting with the
16 commanders of brigades from the Lasva pocket, and at
17 that meeting I announced, quite openly, to all
18 commanders that there would be a reorganisation of the
19 B-type special purpose units and that soldiers from
20 that unit would be sent to the appropriate defence
21 offices in order to get their war assignments.
22 At this meeting, I was informed by the
23 assistant for security that the civilian government of
24 the municipality of Vitez had passed a decision on the
25 purchase of weapons from military-aged men regardless
1 of the origin of the military equipment and weapons
2 concerned. Later, I asked for this decision to be
3 stopped altogether because in spite of the good
4 intentions to arm the Vitez Brigade, it led to more
5 theft of arms and also the resale of arms which
6 jeopardised the security situation.
7 I sent this information, after the meeting,
8 to the head of the main staff, that a military police
9 had been set up, a military police of the Vitezovi
10 special purpose unit. I asked the chief of the main
11 staff to explain what the legal grounds was for
12 establishing this kind of a military police, telling
13 him that the consequence of this was the imperilment of
14 the security situation and also the fact that my
15 command capacity was lessened.
16 I received an answer saying that the members
17 of Vitezovi do not have the right to do this and that
18 he would take care of it, together with the Minister of
20 I also received information from the
21 assistant for IPD that morale on the front lines was
22 rather low and that the soldiers were exhausted,
23 fearful, and they were panicking.
24 At 14.20, I had a meeting with Colonel
25 Williams. He was the commander of the British
1 battalion of the UNPROFOR forces who replaced Colonel
2 Duncan. At that meeting, we discussed the evacuation
3 of the wounded or, rather, I asked him to help me in
4 finding a way to evacuate the wounded from the
5 church-cum-hospital, and Colonel Williams asked me
6 whether I had any knowledge about the Geneva
7 negotiations. I answered that I knew absolutely
8 nothing about those negotiations. After that, Colonel
9 Williams asked me what I knew about the military
10 situation in Gornji Vakuf. Again, my answer was that
11 all that I was familiar with was the situation in 20
12 per cent of the Travnik municipality which was under
13 the control of the HVO and that I had no information
14 about the military situation in Gornji Vakuf as that
15 was the area of responsibility of the operational zone
16 of north-western Herzegovina.
17 We also discussed the incidents of crime in
18 the Lasva Valley, and Colonel Williams expressed the
19 position that there were criminal gangs in the
20 immediate vicinity of the UNPROFOR base too which, in
21 most cases, were stealing fuel from the tanks in the
22 British battalion compound, and I thanked him for our
23 cooperation until then with UNPROFOR and asked that the
24 military police of the British battalion and that the
25 civilian and military police of the Lasva pocket should
1 continue their cooperation in jointly suppressing
3 At 15.00, I had a meeting with officials of
4 the European Monitoring Mission. I know that they were
5 based in Zenica, but I do not have any record of their
6 names and I cannot recollect those names. They voiced
7 their gratitude to me for the attitude of cooperation
8 taken by the HVO towards their mission, and I asked
9 them for information about developments in Vares. I
10 received information that the situation in Vares was
11 rather confusing and that a large number of refugees
12 had left the town in the middle of winter. The
13 European Monitoring Mission officials mentioned the
14 possibility of the return of refugees to Vares, voicing
15 the view that representatives of the BH army and
16 representatives of the Bosniak Muslim authorities would
17 not oppose this.
18 We also discussed the question of freedom of
19 movement, and I informed representatives of the
20 European Monitoring Mission that in the areas within my
21 zone of responsibility they had full freedom of
23 On the 19th of November, 1993, at 8.30, I had
24 a briefing with my associates, and the assistant for
25 security informed me that officers from the security
1 service administration were visiting him again to check
2 the results of the investigation into the crime in
3 Ahmici. I asked at that meeting that assistance be
4 given to the military police in supplies, logistic
5 support, and in organising the work of the military
6 police command, and we also discussed our regular
7 tasks, especially regarding the security of
8 humanitarian convoys passing through the Lasva pocket
9 in the direction of Maglaj and Zepce under conditions
10 when the Lasva Valley itself was suffering from
11 hunger. I was afraid that the refugees might, on their
12 own accord, try to attack one of those convoys.
13 At 10.00, I had a meeting with the
14 commanders, low-level commanders, of the military
15 police, they were platoon and company commanders and
16 members of the command of the military police
17 battalion, and I requested from them that they inform
18 me, in relation to my order, about the investigation
19 and restoration of goods taken from the Tuzla convoy,
20 and we also discussed reinforcements for the military
21 police, the problems regarding the proceedings and
22 witnesses in cases before courts because I was told
23 that witnesses were fearful when they had to testify at
24 the district military court against perpetrators of
25 criminal acts. I also asked that the process of
1 seizure of equipment and goods seized from the Tuzla
2 convoy should continue.
3 I also received information during the day
4 that new units of the BH army were being brought in to
5 the front lines at Busovaca and Vitez, and that in
6 eight or ten days' time, a new attack of broader
7 proportions would take place.
8 On that day, I also visited the training
9 centre in Nova Bila to which I had been invited by the
10 commanders, and the problem they were encountering was
11 food for recruits. All they had was rice and margarine
12 and they had no bread. The same difficulties were
13 being encountered with respect to food for the hospital
14 in Nova Bila. They were mainly short of flour to be
15 able to bake bread.
16 We were also again confronted with the
17 transfer of conscripts to the Vitezovi special purpose
18 units and other institutions so as to avoid going to
19 the front because the combat operations were gaining in
21 I ordered the military police to take all
22 necessary measures to guarantee full security for
23 officials of the International Red Cross, the United
24 Nations, the UNHCR, and I also requested the
25 coordination and adjustment of procedures in assisting
1 the district military prison if the warden of that
2 prison were to request such assistance from the
3 military police commander.
4 I also received information from two surgeons
5 -- they were the only surgeons, in fact, in the Lasva
6 pocket -- who complained that they were being
7 threatened when engaging in surgery by HVO soldiers who
8 demanded that their friends had to survive operations
9 at whatever cost.
10 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, perhaps before we
11 go on to the 20th of November -- we have been working
12 for roughly one hour -- perhaps now would be the
13 appropriate time for a break.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. I agree. We shall
15 have a twenty-minute break now.
16 --- Recess taken at 3.57 p.m.
17 --- On resuming at 4.30 p.m.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. The hearing
19 will resume.
20 Mr. Nobilo, please proceed.
21 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
22 Q. We had stopped at the 20th of November, 1993,
23 so please, General, continue with your presentation of
24 the chronology of events.
25 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, on the 20th of
1 November, 1993, I received information from my
2 associates that we had a total of 1.698 soldiers
3 engaged on the front line, out of which 1.175 were
4 armed, which means that five hundred and something
5 soldiers were without any weapons, or without barrels,
6 as we would put it in military terms.
7 On the 21st of November, 1993, I asked the
8 military police and the security service to undertake
9 additional measures to secure and protect foreign TV
10 crews in a part of the Vitez municipality which we
11 called The Reporters' Street.
12 On that same day, the special purpose unit,
13 Tvrtko, began its transformation. This was a special
14 purpose unit of the B-type which was being reorganised,
15 actually it was disbanded, and the soldiers from that
16 unit were sent to the competent defence department
17 which informed them of their new wartime assignment.
18 I also had a meeting with the president of
19 the district military court who again asked me to
20 provide him with logistics support in sending soldiers
21 to the court to be tried if such warrants should be
22 issued by the court.
23 For the rest of the day, I continued working
24 on a proposal for the chief of the main staff regarding
25 the formation of a guards unit in the Lasva Valley and
1 the reorganisation of the existing defence system
2 because of a major loss of territory and personnel. I
3 addressed that document to the chief of the main staff
4 of the HVO.
5 Throughout that day, that is, the 21st of
6 November, 1993, snipers and mortars were active from
7 the BH army lines against the front line of the Vitez
8 area. In the course of the day, I received information
9 that the military police had seized six vehicles from a
10 captured criminal gang, that one of those cars had been
11 returned to its owner, whereas five had been left in
12 the Stojkovici logistics base as it was established
13 that they had been seized from the Tuzla convoy.
14 I was also informed that in the direction of
15 Stari Vitez, the Vitez Brigade had engaged about 260
16 soldiers in one shift for one day. These troops were
17 blocking Stari Vitez and they had no right to engage in
18 any kind of offensive activities against Stari Vitez.
19 On the 22nd of November, 1993, tanks of the
20 BH army fired at the town of Vitez and infantry attacks
21 continued, focusing on the explosives factory. The
22 battles went on all day and the whole communications
23 system was damaged. I spent that day with the troops
24 in Zaselje, and in the evening, at the forward command
25 post in Donja Veceriska, I had a meeting with all the
1 commanders of the defence sector of Vitez.
2 On the 23rd of November, 1993, I received
3 confirmation of the report that the new unit which had
4 been formed earlier and which was called Alpha was
5 commanded by the chief of the security service centre,
6 Mr. Miso Mijic. I was also informed that the chief of
7 the security service centre was detaining officers from
8 the command of the Operative Zone and was interviewing
10 Q. So these were your officers, your deputies?
11 A. Yes, they were my immediate associates, and I
12 asked for an explanation from the head of the security
13 centre, Mr. Miso Mijic, why this was being done, and he
14 repeated again that his service was independent and
15 that it had the authority to process, in security
16 terms, all the military, including myself and my
18 I had a meeting with an official of the UNHCR
19 on that day, I don't remember his name, and I asked
20 that equal treatment should be given to all in the
21 delivery of humanitarian aid. When I say "equal
22 treatment," I meant both for areas under control of the
23 HVO and the areas under the control of the BH army.
24 The commander of the Military Police
25 Battalion informed me that stolen equipment of the
1 Reuters TV crew had been found and that the suspect had
2 been taken into custody, his name was Mr. Bosnjak, and
3 that the equipment would be returned to the Reuters
4 crew the following day.
5 The assistant for IPD informed me, in the
6 course of the day, that there was hunger and exhaustion
7 among the troops, and that one of the main problems was
8 hunger and freezing of soldiers on the front line, and
9 that the names of conscripts that had abandoned the
10 municipalities were being read out so as to raise the
11 morale of the defending troops. I was informed that
12 sniper nests had been reactivated in Stari Vitez,
13 firing at areas under HVO control including the Vitez
14 Hotel. The commander of the Vitez Brigade reported
15 that criminal gangs were breaking in around town and
16 causing chaos. These were mostly gangs coming from the
17 area of Travnik, Novi Travnik, and Busovaca.
18 On the 24th of November, 1993, I got a report
19 from the security service that a burglary had been
20 carried out in the food storage depot in Vitez and that
21 a certain quantity of food had been taken away. We
22 were still receiving information on the incidence of
23 neuroses and exhaustion among troops on the front
25 I asked the security service to report to me
1 about the military police formed by the Vitezovi
2 special unit, and my assistant for security told me
3 that as far as he knew, they indeed had no right to
4 form any military police unit.
5 We also reviewed the question of the passage
6 of humanitarian convoys through the Lasva Valley and
7 the potential for security problems which we envisaged
8 because of widespread hunger in the pocket.
9 In the course of the day, I had a meeting
10 with Colonel Williams and with a representative of the
11 UNHCR, Mr. Larry Hollingworth, who informed me that a
12 convoy with food would soon arrive from Banja Luka and
13 Metkovic for the Central Bosnia area and that ten
14 truckloads of food would arrive in Vitez to be
15 distributed in the following way: Seven trucks for the
16 part of the Vitez municipality under Croatian control,
17 and two truckloads for Kruscica under the control of
18 the BH army, and one truckload of food for Stari
20 After this meeting, I was again informed of
21 clashes between the assistant for security and the
22 chief of the security centre.
23 At about 18.55, I spoke to the chief of the
24 main staff of the HVO and informed him of these
25 problems in the relationship between the SIS centre and
1 the assistant for security, also about the problem
2 regarding the role of the head of the SIS centre and
3 the problem of command and control over special purpose
4 units, and I asked him to speed up the resolution of
5 all these problems. He told me, "Hold on. I will
6 assist as much as I can. We will meet soon."
7 About 19.30, there was another attack on
8 Vitez and combat operations continued.
9 On the 25th of November, 1993, a convoy
10 consisting of about 18 trucks carrying food from the
11 UNHCR passed through without any obstruction or
12 difficulty. The convoy passed through towards Zenica.
13 The commander of the Military Police
14 Battalion informed me that the military policeman Anton
15 Zepackic was persecuting and participating in the
16 persecution of Muslims and their eviction from flats in
17 Vitez. I ordered disciplinary measures to be taken
18 against him and for this military policeman to be
19 dismissed from the military police. This was indeed
21 I asked the assistant for security to report
22 to me regarding all my requests up to the 30th of
23 November, 1993. The assistant for security informed me
24 that the overall situation in the Light Assault
25 Battalion was very poor.
1 At 10.00, I had a meeting with all the
2 brigade commanders in the Lasva pocket. The subject of
3 discussion was the implementation of orders received in
4 the month of November 1993. We discussed, in
5 particular, the problems of the movement of soldiers
6 from Busovaca to Vitez and vice versa, depending on
7 where the fighting was more intensive. There were
8 sometimes arbitrary and spontaneous drain-off of
9 soldiers from one battlefield to another.
10 I was also informed on that occasion about a
11 new problem, and that is that Croats were persecuting
12 Croatian refugees. In the villages of Krcevine and
13 Jardol, Croat refugees from Zenica had been housed
14 together with their families. When the need arose for
15 some of the military conscripts to be transferred from
16 Krcevine and Jardol to Zaselje and Gornja Veceriska,
17 hospitality was withdrawn for those conscripts which
18 were transferred to Zaselje and Gornja Veceriska, so
19 that once again we had a rather complicated situation
20 in regard to finding accommodation for displaced
21 persons from Zenica.
22 At a meeting which I had with the commanders,
23 the command of the Light Assault Battalion did not
24 attend but he sent a message that they were under the
25 control of the military police and that they would
1 invite me to attend a meeting at their own headquarters
2 when they were able to organise a meeting of that
4 Q. Tell us, please, General, the Light Assault
5 Battalion, what was its name previous and what type of
6 unit was it?
7 A. In fact, it was created by expanding the ATG
8 unit, that is, the anti-terrorist group which was named
9 the Jokers, Jokeri, and was directly subordinate to the
10 head of the military police.
11 Q. Please continue.
12 A. In the course of the day, I received a report
13 from the commander of the Vitezovi, Darko Kraljevic,
14 with regard to his military police. I asked for a book
15 regulating the formation of the special purpose unit
16 because if it was allowed then there would be a special
17 group for the military police, but I did not receive
18 that book of regulations to have a look at it and the
19 military police was still functioning.
20 From the Military Intelligence Service I
21 received information that preparations were under way
22 by the BH army to launch a broader attack and that the
23 bulk of the forces were to be engaged from Sivrino Selo
24 and Kruscica with the aim of taking control of the
25 explosives factory and the centre of the town of Vitez
1 itself. I also received information, according to
2 which the ammunition supply was being carried out in
3 Stari Vitez via a humanitarian organisation and that
4 payment for the BH army to that humanitarian
5 organisation, which was to the tune of 30.000
6 Deutschmarks, German Marks, for one convoy carrying
7 ammunition and payments were paid into giro accounts
9 On the 26th of November, 1993, I once again
10 asked the Vitezovi for their book of regulations, but I
11 did not receive it.
12 Sometime between 10.00 and 13.00, I was at
13 the training centre doing training with the instructors
14 from the centre. I talked to the commander for the
15 security detail at the explosives factory, and the
16 commander informed me that he had released a military
17 policeman for looting, because they had undertaken
19 On the 27th of November, 1993 -- that is, he
20 had fired them -- I received a report from the military
21 police that he had a well-trained unit to ensure the
22 security of the convoy, and that all equipment had been
23 returned to Reuters, and that in Busovaca an armed
24 attack had been carried out by the members of the Light
25 Assault Battalion on the headquarters of the company of
1 the HVO military police in Busovaca.
2 Q. General, the Light Assault Battalion,
3 formation-wise, who did it belong to?
4 A. The Light Assault Battalion was within the
5 composition of the military police administration.
6 Q. Please continue.
7 A. On the 28th of November, the IPD workers
8 organised at the Vitez Hotel a seminar which was, in
9 fact, a repetition of a seminar that had been held
10 previously for lower-ranking officers, commanders of
11 sectors and commanders of companies. The topic
12 discussed was international humanitarian organisations
13 and their mission, their mandate, the mandate of the
14 Geneva Conventions and international war law.
15 Once again that day, I received an invitation
16 from Mr. Abdulah Tuco, who complained to me that four
17 HVO soldiers had asked him to leave his family home,
18 his house, and I asked protection from the military
19 police for that family.
20 On the 29th of November, 1993, I received a
21 report from the assistant for health because jaundice
22 had broken out and there were a great many problems
23 with relation to hygiene amongst the soldiers up at the
24 front lines. The health assistant also complained that
25 the seriously wounded had not been evacuated despite
1 requests and promises that had been given and that some
2 of the wounded people had died in the
4 On the 30th of November, 1993, I sent out a
5 written report to the main headquarters of the HVO
6 regarding the problem of theft and crime in the Lasva
7 pocket, and I had a meeting on that same day with
8 Mr. Tjorborn (phoen), he was a member of the European
9 Monitoring Mission, he was an officer of that mission,
10 and he informed me about the situation in Vares, and I
11 informed him for my part that according to our
12 information, the BH army had been using, in the Lasva
13 pocket, artillery projectiles with chloride and that we
14 had proof in the form of shrapnel, parts of these
15 projectiles, and the findings of physicians who had
16 examined patients.
17 On the 1st of December, 1993, we received a
18 threat at our headquarters, the Operative Zone command,
19 from criminal groups, and they said that there was
20 going to be a showdown with the military police and
21 with the command of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone,
22 a settling of accounts, and we once again came up with
23 a problem of water supplies and electricity used for
24 wartime purposes, that is to say, we continued to be
25 without water and without electricity in the Lasva
1 pocket, particularly in the Novi Travnik, Vitez, and
2 part of the Travnik municipalities, including the
3 hospital there.
4 On that day, an initiative was launched by
5 the soldiers from the Vitez Brigade to form a club, a
6 civilian association, which said that it could tackle
7 the problem of food supplies and hunger in the Lasva
8 pocket, and one soldier was demobilised from the Vitez
9 municipality and Busovaca and Novi Travnik and part of
10 the Travnik municipality, one soldier from each of
11 these municipalities, in order to set up this sort of
12 businessmen's association to deal with the food supply.
13 On the 2nd of December, I was at the Nikola
14 Subic-Zrinjski Brigade command and had a meeting there
15 to discuss security issues up at the front line and
16 once again to deal with crime suppression.
17 During the 2nd of December, once again the BH
18 army used its artillery, and as far as we knew, it used
19 these projectiles filled with chloride, and I sent a
20 message about this to the chief of the main staff and
21 via the assistant for IDP and the liaison officer with
22 UNPROFOR, I asked that a physician from the UNPROFOR
23 British battalion go to the church-cum-hospital to
24 examine the patients there who had been hit and injured
25 by those projectiles.
1 Q. Let us now move on to D389, Defence Exhibit
2 389, dated the 1st of December, 1993.
3 This is Defence Exhibit 389, document D389,
4 and you sent it on the 1st of December, 1993, to a
5 number of units in Central Bosnia and services there.
6 The title is "Treatment of Prisoners of War - Command."
7 (as read)
8 "On the basis of the memorandum GS number
9 02-211-1-01-4117/93 of the 30th of November, 1993, in
10 connection with the treatment of prisoners of war on
11 the territory of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna,
12 I hereby command:
13 1. In the zones of brigade responsibility,
14 to ensure that the military prisoners of war (these are
15 persons who bear a visible sign of belonging to enemy
16 formation and firearms) at the time of capture are to
17 be treated in the following manner:
18 (a) Compulsory disarmament, taking away
19 personal documents and sorting them by military
20 classes, more precisely: rank and file soldiers,
21 noncommissioned officers, officers and higher officers
22 according to rank;
23 (b) Military prisoners of war are sent off
24 from the front line at least --"
25 There's an illegible word there in the
2 "-- more precisely: without fail, they must
3 be placed outside the war zones in the district
4 military prison of Busovaca, the OVZ of Busovaca;
5 (c) Military prisoners of war must perform
6 daily specified tasks and set their lodgings in order.
7 They have the right to receive letters and prisoners'
8 packages through the International Red Cross;
9 (d) All evidence, legal and administrative,
10 on the question of prisoners of war and persons who
11 have this status must be maintained in an orderly
12 manner and strictly kept;
13 (e) All activities of the military prisoners
14 of war must be justified;
15 (f) The treatment of military prisoners of
16 war must be within the framework of the Geneva
17 Conventions and international law concerning the
18 treatment of military prisoners of war.
19 2. Familiarise all soldiers with the
20 contents of this command through unit commanders and
21 PD authorities.
22 3. The order comes into force immediately.
23 Commanders of brigades and independent units in
24 ZP Vitez are responsible to me for its complete
1 Signed by Commander Tihomir Blaskic.
2 Tell us, please, General, did you write this
3 order, did you send it, dispatch it, because it is
4 titled "To all units"?
5 A. Yes. This order was also discussed as a
6 subject at the seminar with the military commanders,
7 organised by the offices of the International Red Cross
8 and the IPD workers for the Central Bosnia Operative
10 Q. Well, I think the order speaks for itself.
11 We're not going to analyse it. I should just like to
12 ask you to continue with the chronology of events now,
14 A. On the 3rd of December, 1993, we were
15 confronted with an epidemic, a flu epidemic, so that I
16 had received reports that in the space of two days,
17 from the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski in Busovaca, 84 soldiers
18 had gone down with the flu and were therefore not up at
19 the front lines because they were suffering from flu,
20 and the situation was similar in the Vitez Brigade.
21 I was invited to a meeting that day by the
22 commander of the light assault battalion in Busovaca,
23 and we discussed a series of issues at the meeting. I
24 specifically asked that they try to introduce law and
25 order and professional military conduct in their unit
1 and to define their internal structure and also to
2 dovetail their conduct and the role of the unit with
3 the existing military regulations.
4 There were other questions under discussion
5 like guarantees for a future in the encirclement, and I
6 stressed in particular that regardless of the final
7 outcome, that a state governed by law would be built up
8 in the Central Bosnia area and in Bosnia and
9 Herzegovina regardless of anybody's personal views and
11 On the 4th of December, 1993, I wanted to
12 finish the operative plan of the fight against crime
13 along with coordination from my other associates, and I
14 once again worked on the elaboration of a paper for the
15 chief of the main staff with regard to the disbanding
16 of the special purpose units and to abolish the A-type
17 special purpose units in the Central Bosnia Operative
19 On the 6th of December, 1993, I had a meeting
20 with an officer of the International Red Cross, his
21 name was Dominik, and the questions that we discussed
22 at the meeting were how to link up families that had
23 been separated as a consequence of war, and I asked the
24 representative of the International Red Cross to tell
25 me what the standard criteria were for linking up
1 families, bringing them back together again, but I was
2 not given any clarification as to those criteria. What
3 I was told was that this was done only in exceptional
4 cases, families were reunited in exceptional cases.
5 I also introduced the officer of the
6 International Red Cross to the problem of the suffering
7 of children in the Lasva pocket, and I said that we had
8 about 100 killed and injured children in the Lasva
9 pocket and that there were some 15.000 children up to
10 the age of 14. I informed him about the lack of
11 medical personnel in the Lasva pocket, the use of
12 chemical weapons, and the hunger that we had to face in
13 the Lasva pocket.
14 On the 7th of December, I received permission
15 from the chief of the main staff to engage a legal man
16 in the commands of the brigades, and the object of
17 these legal men was to provide professional legal
18 assistance in disciplinary action and disciplinary
19 measures and that in that way they should contribute to
20 consolidating law and order and discipline generally.
21 I also had a meeting with Colonel Williams,
22 the commander of the British battalion attached to
23 UNPROFOR, and with Major Lara (phoen), he was an
24 UNPROFOR officer from the UNPROFOR command for
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina from Kiseljak, and at the meeting we
1 discussed the following issues: the question of water,
2 water supply, for Novi Travnik, Nova Bila, and Vitez,
3 and I was told that Commander Cuskic, that is to say,
4 the commander of the 7th Krajina Brigade of the BH
5 army, in the course of the day would switch on the
6 water supply for Novi Travnik and Nova Bila.
7 We also discussed the electricity problem,
8 and I agreed to give maximum assistance for teams to be
9 able to see to the maintenance of the electricity
10 supply system, and I asked the colonel to convey to the
11 commander of the 3rd Corps of the BH army our proposal
12 that all combat activities be halted during the
13 Christmas holidays and festivities and that I
14 personally proposed that the same be done by the HVO
15 for the Bajram festivities, that is to say, the
16 festivities of the Muslim community members.
17 On the 8th of December, at headquarters, we
18 were working out the documents on planning,
19 coordinating our work.
20 On the 9th of December, at headquarters, we
21 organised a methodological exercise dedicated to the
22 work of a military disciplinary court at the level of
23 brigade and level of Operative Zone, and we gave all
24 the participants auxiliary documents which make it
25 possible to initiate proceedings in terms of
1 infractions of military discipline. Then we showed, on
2 a practical example, how a military disciplinary court
4 During the day, I also had an open telephone
5 conversation with commander Lozancic in Zepce, so that
6 I would organise safe passage for 30 trucks of UNHCR
7 aid for the town of Maglaj.
8 On the 13th of December, 1993, I had a
9 meeting with the UNPROFOR commander of the Nordic
10 Battalion. It says here in my notes that his name was
11 Harry Smith, but I'm not sure that was his name. He
12 informed me about the situation in the town of Vares
13 and said that in town there were about 200 Croats, that
14 the surrounding Croat villages were torched and looted
15 in the municipality of Vares.
16 On the 14th of December, I received a report
17 from the commander of the military police on the
18 investigation concerning the looting of the Tuzla
19 convoy. I was also informed that the vehicles from the
20 Tuzla convoy were being recorded and that they were
21 going back to the Stojkovici Logistics Brigade and that
22 a special book of records has been opened for motor
23 vehicles and for equipment that is being returned.
24 On the 15th of December, 1993, at 15.00 I had
25 a meeting with Mr. Budstaf (phoen) and Brian Cartner
1 (phoen). At that meeting they asked me to inform them
2 about a previously held meeting between General Rasim
3 Delic and the chief of main staff of the HVO, Ante
4 Roso, in Visoko. I told them that I had not even heard
5 of this meeting being held and that I knew nothing in
6 connection with that meeting.
7 On the 17th of December, I had a meeting with
8 Colonel Williams, commander of the UN Battalion, the
9 British Battalion, in Vitez, at 9.30. At that meeting
10 I was informed that the convoy Bijeli Put was being
11 prepared and also the Convoy of Peace. The convoy
12 called Bijeli Put was supposed to bring assistance to
13 the Croats, and the Convoy of Peace was being organised
14 by the Embassy of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Zagreb for
15 Bosniak Muslims in Central Bosnia.
16 Colonel Williams also informed me that the
17 commander of the 3rd Corps had accepted the proposal of
18 a cease-fire that I had offered. The decision of the
19 commander of the 3rd Corps of the army of
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina was that the cease-fire would start
21 on the 23rd of December at 00.01 and it would go on
22 until the 3rd of January at 24.00. That would be the
23 Christmas cease-fire as accepted by the 3rd Corps
25 On the 19th of December, 1993, I worked in
1 the command of the military police together with the
2 members of the command and the commanders of the
3 companies on elaborating a book for training members of
4 the military police at the level of squad and platoon.
5 These were internal books that we were working on.
6 From the 19th of December until the 22nd of
7 December, these convoys, Bijeli Put and the Convoy of
8 Peace, arrived in Central Bosnia.
9 On the 22nd of December, there was an
10 ultimatum by the 3rd Corps that the Bijeli Put convoy
11 had to be returned.
12 Q. Tell us, General, the Bijeli Put convoy, was
13 that the first assistance that you had received in
14 terms of food from Croatia after you remained under
15 siege as of the 16th of April, 1993?
16 A. Yes, that is the first assistance that we
17 received. Within it only 32 tonnes of flour had
18 arrived, and we were using 2 tonnes of flour per day.
19 Q. Please proceed.
20 A. On the 22nd of December, the Bijeli Put
21 convoy had to go back. At 5.50, early in the morning,
22 a very intensive attack was launched by army of
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina from the direction of Zenica and
24 from the direction of Zabrdze. The fighting went on
25 until 23.00, and the most intensive operations took
1 place against Krizancevo Selo and Gornja Veceriska and
3 During that day, until noon, we had lost 217
4 soldiers, out of which 75 had been killed at Krizancevo
5 Selo and 157 were either missing or wounded. While on
6 the southern side toward Zabrdze and the explosives
7 factory, a total of 60 soldiers were disabled.
8 The aim of this attack was to take the
9 explosives factory and the city of Vitez itself. The
10 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina managed to take Krizancevo
11 Selo, and then the road was opened towards the town of
12 Vitez and Stari Vitez. Simultaneously, the Bijeli Put
13 convoy was being seen off, and they were leaving Vitez
14 around 9.00 under fire.
15 I was at the headquarters of the 1st
16 Battalion over there at Impregnacija, in the direction
17 of Krizancevo Selo. Deputy Commander Filipovic was in
18 Donja Veceriska. During the second half of the night
19 we exchanged places. I was in Donja Veceriska and he
20 was in Impregnacija.
21 At 23.00, we had to face a shortage of
22 ammunition. I asked the chief of the main staff for
23 assistance, and early in the morning we received 14.000
24 762 bullets by parachute. So this is a combat kit for
25 90 soldiers. This is such a small quantity. A soldier
1 should not be sent to the front line with such a small
2 quantity of ammunition.
3 Throughout the 23rd of December, Radio Zenica
4 were broadcasting calls to HVO soldiers to surrender
5 and attacks were continued from Bukve towards Jardol,
6 and then between Sljibcica, Krizancevo Selo and towards
7 Stari Vitez, and from Kruscica towards Bobasi and
8 towards the explosives factory.
9 Once again, on the 23th of December or,
10 rather, between the 23rd and 24th of December, during
11 the night again I called the chief of the main staff so
12 that he would do something from Kiseljak in order to
13 alleviate the burden of the positions in Vitez. I said
14 that it would be very difficult for us to hold on if
15 these attacks continued. I also told him about the
16 very heavy losses that were sustained and also the lack
17 of ammunition for defending ourselves properly.
18 On the 25th of December, we worked on the
19 consolidation of the defence positions in Krizancevo
20 Selo, where part of the front line went through the
21 village itself and behind the village. We also worked
22 on new positions in Donja Veceriska.
23 On the 27th of December, the army of
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina carried out an attack on Polom,
25 Radzenovici, and Busovaca. Around 01.30, attacks were
1 continued against Zaselje from Zabrdze at the Vitez
2 front line.
3 On the 28th of December, 1993, Mr. Franjo
4 Nakic, the chief of staff, toured Sector 2 of the
5 defence of the Viteska Brigade. During this tour, he
6 realised that half of the positions, rather, trenches
7 had been lost in that sector. The head of that sector
8 had not informed the commander of the Vitez Brigade
9 about this, and we did not know either when the combat
10 operations started and when that position was lost. So
11 that was typical as well, that information was the not
12 being sent about the losses sustained.
13 On the 31st of December, I received
14 information from the Military Intelligence Service that
15 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina had established another
16 headquarters, another command post, in the monastery in
17 Guca Gora for the 3rd Corps.
18 On the 1st of January, 1994, I issued an
19 order to the military police that they should protect
20 immovable property in Krizancevo Selo from looting,
21 arson, and devastation. However, it was virtually
22 impossible to protect it from the refugees, and they
23 could not be stopped in terms of taking away timber,
24 blankets, food, and other supplies from that village.
25 Q. General, tell us, who took it away, and the
1 owners of these houses and property in Krizancevo Selo,
2 what ethnic background were they?
3 A. The Croats were taking it away, and the
4 owners of this property in Krizancevo Selo were also
5 Croats. However, in spite of the efforts made, it was
6 virtually impossible to stop this because hunger
7 prevailed and people felt this need to survive.
8 Q. Please proceed.
9 A. On the 1st of January, 12 military policemen
10 were expelled from the military police because of lack
11 of discipline, and because of their attitude towards
12 their work in general, and because of thefts.
13 On the 2nd of January, the attacks of the
14 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina continued against Vitez and
15 in part against Busovaca also.
16 Q. Could you please slow down if possible?
17 A. The main direction was towards Prosje from
18 Kacuni. Again, we elaborated a new plan. We tried to
19 reorganise ourselves in the Lasva pocket, my associates
20 and I, and we defined our defence tasks under the given
21 conditions in terms of reorganising units and also in
22 terms of speeding up the training of members of the
23 military police. Then we focused on our main tasks.
24 We said that our priority was defence, and fighting
25 against crime, and disarming groups of criminals. Then
1 also defining the relationship between the commander
2 and the soldier. I'm talking about the chain of
3 command as such.
4 Then also resolving questions related to the
5 theft of property, and the usurpation of apartments,
6 and also improving reporting. We tried to persuade the
7 subordinate commanders that it was necessary for them
8 to give us timely and accurate information so that we
9 would know what was actually happening, and where, so
10 that we could command.
11 I also asked to be given a summary report on
12 all disciplinary action that was being taken within the
13 brigades. Usually once a week I would spend an entire
14 day in military police units during their training.
15 On the 3rd of January, I dislocated my
16 command post to Nova Bila, and during the day I
17 received orders to report to the chief of the main
18 staff of the HVO in Mostar.
19 During the night of the 3rd of January, I was
20 taken by helicopter to the main staff of the HVO.
21 I was received by the deputy commander of the
22 main staff of the HVO on the 5th of January. I
23 informed the deputy chief of the main staff about the
24 military situation, about the letters I had sent in
25 relation to the reorganisation of HVO units in the
1 Lasva pocket, and the need for all units to be placed
2 under direct command, and also about problems between
3 the centre of SIS, and the assistance for security.
4 I also asked for clarification in terms of
5 what I should do with vehicles and equipment from the
6 Tuzla convoy which the military police was finding, and
7 then they were taking this away from the people who had
8 stolen it in the first place. I was told that for the
9 time being that equipment and those vehicles should be
10 concentrated in the logistics space of Stojkovici.
11 After this meeting on the 5th of January, I
12 was given permission to visit my family, and on the 6th
13 of January, I went to Austria, and on the 8th of
14 January already, the Minister of Defence asked me to
15 come back urgently because of the situation that was
16 getting increasingly complicated and that I had to go
17 back to Vitez. I travelled to Austria by car, and I
18 went back by plane and by car.
19 On the 8th of January, I returned, as I was
20 told to do, and I reported to the chief of the main
21 staff of the HVO. There I was told that the
22 establishment of a guards brigade was agreed to by the
23 Minister of Defence and that I could reorganise special
24 purpose units of the A-type, that is to say, the
25 Vitezovi, and that I could also reorganise the light
1 assault battalion to belong to the 3rd guards brigade.
2 MR. NOBILO: This is a very important subject
3 matter, and our working hours are about to expire now,
4 Mr. President, so I suggest that we adjourn at this
5 point, and perhaps we can continue tomorrow because we
6 are getting closer to the end of the statement.
7 JUDGE JORDA: I wanted to ask you where you
8 were. I am talking about the end of the
10 MR. NOBILO: Yes. We are getting closer to
11 the end. I have my notes here, and there are two or
12 three pages of a chronology, and after that, we would
13 like to show certain documents to this witness and also
14 some statements of other witnesses, and then we would
15 also like to summarise a few key points related to his
16 statement. So on the whole, we would not need more
17 than three or four hours, and then I think that we
18 could conclude.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Therefore, we can expect to
20 finish tomorrow.
21 MR. NOBILO: If we have another witness
22 tomorrow, then we couldn't tomorrow.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Tomorrow another witness will
24 come, and it may last for the whole day. We are going
25 to hear this witness in a closed session. I hope we
1 won't spend the whole day on this witness.
2 Anyway, we will resume tomorrow at 10.00.
3 Mr. Registrar, please note that we are going to hear
4 the witness tomorrow in a closed session, and it would
5 be nice if we could end the testimony of the accused
6 tomorrow afternoon.
7 Thank you very much, Mr. Nobilo. We stand
8 adjourned, and we will resume tomorrow at 10.00.
9 --- Whereupon proceedings adjourned at
10 5.30 p.m., to be reconvened on Thursday,
11 the 8th day of April, 1999, at
12 10.00 a.m.