1 Thursday, 6th May, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 3.40 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: You can all be seated. We
5 shall resume our hearing, and I will have the witness
6 brought in.
7 Good afternoon to the interpreters, good
8 afternoon to the court reporters. Can the interpreters
9 hear me? Yes. Very well. Good afternoon to the
10 Defence counsel, to counsel for the Prosecution.
11 (The accused/witness entered court)
12 JUDGE JORDA: And good afternoon to the
13 accused, who is presently a witness in this case. I am
14 informing the public of this.
15 This is now the cross-examination of Colonel
16 Blaskic, now General Blaskic, and right now, the
17 accused is a witness, and he now benefits from all the
18 rights and duties of a witness testifying under oath.
19 Mr. Kehoe is about to resume his cross-examination.
20 Mr. Kehoe, you have the floor.
21 MR. KEHOE: Yes, thank you, Mr. President.
22 Good afternoon, Mr. President, Your Honours, Counsel.
23 Good afternoon, General. If you could just
24 take a second to gather your things, and we will
25 commence when you are ready.
1 THE WITNESS: Good afternoon. I am ready.
2 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
3 Cross-examined by Mr. Kehoe:
4 Q. Now, General, we are going to shift gears
5 now. General, we are going to talk about your period
6 of time in Kiseljak and thereafter, beginning in April
7 of 1992, and some of the events that took place in the
8 Kiseljak municipality commencing in early April of
10 What I would like you to look at is just
11 review some documents quickly, and we will move through
12 these documents quickly because we are most interested
13 in the dates of these events because we have spoken
14 about the contents previously, and with the permission
15 of the usher, I would ask for Exhibits 406/5, 406/6,
16 and Exhibit 583 be given to the defendant.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Registrar, have you been
18 given the whole of the documents that will be needed
20 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Mr. President.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, because I would like us to
22 move forward as quickly as possible. You know, it is
23 always time-consuming to deal with these documents, so
24 we will try to be as quick as possible.
25 MR. KEHOE:
1 Q. Now, General, just going through the
2 chronology of the events in early April of 1992, you
3 testified that you left Zagreb to go to Kiseljak on the
4 6th of April, and as we can see from Prosecutor's
5 Exhibit 406/5, Croatia recognised Bosnia-Herzegovina on
6 the 7th of April and also granted dual citizenship to
7 Croatian citizens or Bosnian Croat citizens. Now, you
8 also testified previously that on the 8th of April, the
9 next day, the Croatian Defence Council or the HVO was
11 Now, when you met Josip Boro for the first
12 time, he told you that the municipal assembly had
13 ceased to exist; is that right?
14 A. When I met the president of the municipal
15 assembly for the first time, he said that the municipal
16 assembly had, at a previous meeting, transferred all
17 its competencies to the municipal crisis staff composed
18 of Croatian and Muslim members and that for the time
19 being the municipal assembly was not functioning. But
20 it existed and it did not cease to exist. It ceased to
21 function because of the war dangers and threats that
22 existed in the region or the decisions by parliamentary
23 representatives in the Kiseljak municipality. But I
24 wasn't present at that particular meeting. I think it
25 occurred at the beginning of April 1992.
1 Q. Would the date 9 April, 1992 refresh your
2 recollection as the date when the last session of the
3 municipal assembly of Kiseljak took place?
4 A. At that time, I had been taken prisoner by
5 the Yugoslav army, but at all events, I don't question
6 the date at all. I know that it was the beginning of
7 April 1992. I don't think it was the last meeting of
8 the municipal assembly of Kiseljak but that it was a
9 meeting at which the municipal crisis staff was
10 nominated, composed of Croatian and Muslim
12 Q. So if a prior witness testified that the last
13 session of the municipal assembly was, in fact, on the
14 9th of April, 1992, you would have no reason to
15 question that; is that correct?
16 A. I would have reason in saying that the
17 last -- using the term "the last session" because in
18 August 1992, I attended a meeting of the municipal
19 assembly of Kiseljak, and that is why I would have
20 reason to do this because it wasn't the last. Perhaps
21 it was the last in April. There, I agree. Because in
22 April, I don't know that there were any more meetings
23 after that. But, Your Honours, I was not a member of
24 the municipal assembly of Kiseljak at all. I was never
25 a member of the crisis staff of Kiseljak municipality,
1 and I did not take part in decision-making of the
2 crisis staff in Kiseljak.
3 MR. KEHOE: Without belabouring the point,
4 Mr. President, the actual testimony concerning the date
5 of the 9th of April of 1992 is on page 8086, lines 2
6 through 4.
7 Q. Now, General, let us move to the next
8 document, and this is 406/6, a document that we
9 discussed before, which is the next day, the 10th of
10 April, 1992, and this is the document where President
11 Tudjman orders General Bobetko to go to the southern
12 front as the commander of all units on the southern
13 front. You will recall this document, I'm sure,
14 General, and I'd like you to take a look at this
15 document in conjunction with the next exhibit,
16 Mr. Registrar, Prosecutor's Exhibit 583.
17 A. If I may just make a comment with regard to
18 document 406/6 (sic), a very brief comment, Your
20 In point 2 of the document, of document
21 406/6, it says that dual citizenship is being offered
22 to the members of the Croatian people and it proposes
23 that this question be regulated by a bilateral
24 agreement probably between the two presidents, that is
25 to say, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic and the president of the
1 Republic of Croatia, Dr. Franjo Tudjman, and I
2 understand point 2 -- perhaps I have understood that
3 point incorrectly, but I understand it is a subject to
4 be discussed and agreed upon.
5 Q. Just for the record, General, I think counsel
6 will agree, that is Prosecutor's Exhibit -- the
7 document you were referring to on dual citizenship is,
8 in fact, Prosecutor's Exhibit 406/5 and not 406/6. I
9 say that not to correct your testimony but simply to
10 make the record as accurate as possible.
11 So, General, let us look at the next exhibit,
12 which is Prosecutor's Exhibit 583, which is also a
13 document dated the 10th of April, the same day that
14 Tudjman orders Bobetko to the southern front, and this
15 particular order, we have discussed before, is the
16 order from President Mate Boban where he orders, at the
17 bottom of the page: "Croatian Defence Council. This
18 body is the only legal one, and only this name is
19 official." Go to the bottom, Mr. Usher, if you can
20 pull that all of the way up?
21 "The HVO has its Main Staff. The HVO has
22 Municipal Staffs in all the municipalities of the
23 (Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna). Starting today,
24 10 April 1992 the HVO Main Staff will communicate only
25 with the municipal staffs of the HVO.
1 "All other military formations in the
2 territory of the (Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna)
3 are either illegal or hostile. All other names will be
4 removed from official use."
5 So, General, two days after the establishment
6 of the HVO, Tudjman has deployed General Bobetko of the
7 Croatian army to the southern front and President Boban
8 has ordered that all military formations other than the
9 HVO are illegal in the territory of the Croatian
10 Community of Herceg-Bosna.
11 A. Your Honours, in connection with these
12 documents, I can say that on the 8th of April, 10th of
13 April, I was captive. I think that I was at the Tuzla
14 garrison at the time. I had been taken prisoner by the
15 Yugoslav army.
16 But my comment is that the HVO was set up on
17 the 8th of April, and this organisational order, that
18 is to say, document 583, issued by Mr. Boban, quite
19 obviously did not -- the situation on the terrain did
20 not correspond to what was said here because there were
21 armed groups there and all that was when the Yugoslav
22 People's Army in Bosnia-Herzegovina was the only legal
23 armed force which had undertaken combat operations
24 against the Croatian and Muslim people in the region.
25 Q. Well, General, when you met Josip Boro in
1 Kiseljak on 14 April, 1992, did he inform you about
2 what had been happening concerning the establishment of
3 the HVO and the dispensing of the municipal assembly
4 and the movement of Bobetko to the southern front and
5 the outlawing of the TO in the Croatian Community of
6 Herceg-Bosna? Did he inform you of all those things
7 during your first meeting?
8 A. I have already talked about what he told me.
9 I would have to consult my notes again if I were to
10 repeat in detail what we discussed. He didn't tell me
11 anything about General Bobetko. I remember him telling
12 me about the formation of the municipal crisis staff
13 and he informed me that the municipal crisis staff was
14 at the head of life in the community and the
15 municipality, he said that the JNA garrison was still
16 located in Kiseljak, he also told me that there was an
17 army, that is to say, the Yugoslav People's Army, in
18 Kiseljak, and we also discussed preparations for the
19 defence of the municipality of Kiseljak.
20 As to the other details, if you want to know
21 in detail everything he told me, I would have to
22 consult my chronology and notes.
23 Q. Well, General, you can consult your notes any
24 time that you feel the need to do so. I will ask you
25 with regard to your conversation with Boro, did he tell
1 you that in the municipal assembly that the Croats did
2 not have an absolute majority?
3 A. Well, about any kind of absolute majority, as
4 far as I remember, because I didn't talk to him, I'm
5 only relying on my memory, I've already told this
6 Honourable Trial Chamber that I have no great
7 experience at the work of civilian authorities in my
8 previous life, neither did I have contact with the
9 civilian authorities. I only did as a citizen, and I
10 was an active military man.
11 Now, how many representatives in the
12 municipal parliament there were, he did not say and I
13 did not discuss the matter with him, but I do remember
14 that he told me that the municipal crisis staff was
15 composed of the Croatian-Muslim representatives
16 appointed by the municipal assembly of Kiseljak and
17 that there was a certain proportion to representation,
18 a certain proportion of Croatians and Muslim Bosniaks
19 in that crisis staff.
20 Q. You know that a majority is above 50 per
21 cent, isn't it? Fifty-one per cent is a majority,
22 isn't it?
23 A. Well, I know that a majority is above 51 per
24 cent, yes.
25 Q. The Bosnian Croats in the municipal assembly
1 did not have 51 per cent of the seats prior to the
2 dispensing of the assembly; isn't that so?
3 A. Perhaps it is. If you have some facts and
4 figures I can comment on them, but in 1975, the
5 academic year of 1975, I left the municipality of
7 And I had no previous contacts. I didn't
8 even know Josip Boro. I didn't have any personal
9 contacts with him. I was in Belgrade doing my
10 education and then I served in Slovenia. But if you
11 have facts on this, then quite possibly that is so.
12 Q. Well, General, did you attend any of the
13 crisis staff meetings?
14 A. I attended several meetings when I was
15 ordered to do so. That is to say, when they asked me
16 to attend. I did not have the right of decision-making
17 at those meetings, I just had the possibility of
18 informing the crisis staff, municipal crisis staff, on
19 those questions that they were interested in. As I was
20 not a member of the crisis staff, I was not able to
21 take part in any decision-making on whatever matters.
22 Q. Now, within the crisis staff in the meetings
23 that you attended, General, it's true that there were
24 nine Croat votes and six Muslim votes; isn't that
1 A. Possibly that was the ratio, yes. I was
2 usually with Mr. Bakir Alispahic at the meetings, but
3 at all events I do know that there were a little more
4 Croats compared to the Bosniak Muslims, and I know at
5 least two of the Bosniak Muslims who attended those
7 Q. So based on your experience at those
8 meetings, General, any vote between the Croats and the
9 Muslims along ethnic lines would be won by the Croats;
10 isn't that correct?
11 A. In the municipality of Kiseljak that is
12 correct. If a decision was taken by voting and if nine
13 Croats were in favour and six Bosniak Muslims did not,
14 then the decision was passed on the basis of that
16 Q. Now, let's move ahead with what is happening
17 in the Kiseljak municipality after you arrive on the
18 14th or after your discussion with Josip Boro on the
19 14th of April of 1992. I ask you to take a look at
20 Prosecutor's Exhibit 314 first.
21 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, I do believe there
22 is a French copy available, as well as an English.
23 Thank you, Mr. Registrar.
24 JUDGE JORDA: I have a French version before
25 me, Mr. Kehoe. Thank you.
1 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
2 Q. This particular document is dated the 23rd of
3 April of 1992 and, General, that is the day, is it not,
4 where you were appointed commander of the armed
5 formations of the municipal crisis staff of Kiseljak,
6 isn't it?
7 Take your time, General. Gather yourself and
8 take your time.
9 A. Just one moment, please.
10 Q. You tell me when you're ready, General.
11 A. Would you repeat the question, please?
12 Q. Certainly. Certainly. I'm focusing on the
13 date of this document, on the date of Prosecutor's
14 Exhibit 314.
15 Prosecutor's Exhibit 314 takes place on the
16 23rd of April 1992, and that is the date you are
17 appointed commander of the armed formations by the
18 municipal crisis staff of Kiseljak; is that right?
19 A. As far as I know, I was appointed on the 23rd
20 of April, together with Mr. Bakir Alispahic, by the
21 municipal crisis staff of Kiseljak, although, that
22 meeting was interrupted because there was an unexpected
23 withdraw by the Yugoslav People's Army from the
24 Kiseljak garrison. The command of the garrison, his
25 name was Colonel Kosovac, that was his surname, I don't
1 know his name, sent a demand to the president of the
2 municipal crisis staff that he should urgently come to
3 the barracks to meet him, and the meeting was
4 interrupted and I did not take part in the continuation
5 of the meeting. But the date is the correct date and I
6 was appointed together with Mr. Bakir Alispahic.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Generally speaking, General,
8 would you try to answer more quickly and more
9 precisely? I seem to understand that Mr. Kehoe is
10 asking you whether from the 23rd of April onwards you
11 took the head of the military crisis staff that was
12 functioning in Kiseljak.
13 A. Yes, I did, Mr. President, but not only me
14 but I, together with this other man.
15 MR. KEHOE: Thank you.
16 Q. General, nine days after you first meet Josip
17 Boro, you are in charge of the military formations for
18 the HVO; isn't that right?
19 A. I became commander of the armed forces, and I
20 already said together with Mr. Bakir Alispahic at a
21 meeting of the municipal crisis staff which was
22 attended both by Croatian and Muslim members of the
23 municipal crisis staff.
24 Q. Now, General, on that same day, if you look
25 at Exhibit 314, we have a decision by that crisis staff
1 which notes that:
2 "The HVO headquarters for the area of the
3 Kiseljak municipality shall be formed."
4 Now, this particular event takes place --
5 this setup of the HVO headquarters in Kiseljak, in
6 conjunction with your appointment, takes place
7 approximately two weeks or a little bit more than two
8 weeks after the HVO was formed, it being formed on the
9 8th of April, 1992; isn't that right?
10 A. The Croatian Defence Council was founded on
11 the 8th of April, 1992. This Exhibit 314, it says in
12 the preamble, "On the basis of Article 7 of the
13 Kiseljak municipality Statute," and it was a decision
14 of the municipal crisis staff, of which I was not a
15 member. It is true that this was about 14 or 15 days
16 after the HVO was formed.
17 Q. These particular HVO headquarters were formed
18 during this time frame all over the Croatian Community
19 of Herceg-Bosna, weren't they?
20 A. No. As far as I can remember, that depended
21 from one municipality to the next. It was formed over
22 a certain period of time, but that depended on the
23 situation in each municipality because the times were
24 such it wasn't formed throughout the Croatian Community
25 of Herceg-Bosna on this date. In some places earlier
1 on, in others later.
2 Q. But it all took place around the same period
3 of time, didn't it?
4 A. No. I know for certain that, for instance,
5 in Novi Travnik, the headquarters was formed much
6 later. This may have been in May already. But in any
7 event, it was roughly at the same time. It depended
8 from one municipality to the next. As I've already
9 said, the municipalities were left to their own
10 resources, and these municipal crisis staffs were
11 formed at the municipal assemblies, and it depended on
12 conditions. In places where the front lines were with
13 the Serbs and the Yugoslav People's Army, they were
14 formed earlier on. Where there was no contact,
15 somewhat later.
16 Q. General, your appointment on the 23rd of
17 April, as well as the setting up of the HVO
18 headquarters in Kiseljak, were the first steps by the
19 HVO to take over the entire municipality; isn't that
21 A. My appointment I understood to be on behalf
22 of the municipal assembly of Kiseljak, that is, by all
23 members of the Kiseljak parliament. The appointment,
24 on the basis of that decision, was carried out by the
25 municipal crisis staff, and I focused on my military
1 assignments. We see here that it was a decision of the
2 municipal crisis staff, taken probably in accordance
3 with the rules of procedure of the crisis staff.
4 Q. Well, were the Muslims happy with your
6 A. I know that no one who attended that meeting
7 had any opposition to my nomination. I listened to
8 them. I didn't know them in person earlier on, hardly
9 any one of them, and not one of them expressed any kind
10 of a negative reaction or opposition to the proposal
11 for my nomination.
12 What is more, in April I met with Muslim
13 priests, and judging by their reactions at those
14 meetings, I never noticed that any one of them might
15 have been dissatisfied with my election.
16 Q. Well, let's talk about some negative
17 reactions to some of your actions, and we'll start
18 first on the 24th of April, with Prosecutor's Exhibit
20 Now, General, this is a document received in
21 evidence, which is an order that takes place the next
22 day, 24th of April, 1992, and a commission was set up
23 to compile an inventory list of the weapons in the
24 Kiseljak barracks. Do you recall this particular order
25 and your participation in the compilation of this
2 A. Certainly. This was just one day after entry
3 into the barracks. Already the next day, the municipal
4 crisis staff took the decision that an inventory be
5 made of the whole Kiseljak barracks and I was a member
6 of that commission.
7 Q. How many people on this commission were
8 Croats and how many Muslims?
9 A. Three are Croats and two are Bosniak Muslim
10 members of this commission.
11 Q. But the plan was that these weapons were
12 going to be distributed to both the Muslims and the
13 Croats; isn't that so?
14 A. We are talking about this document now, and
15 this is a document on a list of the inventory, not of
16 weapons. There was another document issued also by the
17 municipal crisis staff, and again the commission
18 consisted of both Croats and Muslims, regarding the
19 distribution of weapons.
20 As for this document, we made an inventory of
21 everything, including weapons, that were to be found in
22 the barracks but all the other equipment as well. So
23 let me just mention an example. In one building, we
24 would take note of the number of beds, the number of
25 switches, the number of lamps. Therefore, a total
1 inventory of immovable property that was in the
2 barracks was something that we had to make a list of.
3 Q. Well, General, let's focus on the weapons.
4 There was supposed to be a distribution of the weapons
5 by ethnic lines, isn't that right, along ethnic lines?
6 A. I wouldn't quite agree that it was to be
7 along ethnic lines but, in any event, the weapons were
8 distributed on the basis of a decision of the crisis
9 staff, according to which two members of the HVO and
10 members of the TO or the Patriotic League, but the HVO
11 also had some Bosniak Muslims, some Serbs, and some
12 Croats. In those days, there were also some members
13 who were Romanies or Gypsies. And also within
14 Territorial Defence ranks there were some Croats and
15 also in the Patriotic League. Therefore, the weapons
16 were to be distributed on the basis of the decision of
17 the municipal crisis staff. This commission also
18 covered or checked the warehouse where the weapons were
20 Q. Well, General, shortly after this particular
21 inventory was to be made, didn't the Muslims protest
22 publicly in downtown Kiseljak because the distribution
23 wasn't made?
24 A. I don't know what the motives behind the
25 protest were. In those days, there were very many
1 incidents. Already on the 26th of April, the
2 neighbouring municipality of Busovaca was shelled by
3 the air force of the Yugoslav People's Army; then there
4 were also problems within Kiseljak municipality of
5 armed groups of criminals. Perhaps you could be more
6 specific regarding the time too?
7 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, I am trying all the
8 time to speed up things a little. If you have the
9 feeling that there was a public protest against the
10 distribution of weapons, I think it would be better if
11 you were to say, "I submit that there was a public
12 protest," and give the argument. This way you say,
13 "Was there a public protest?" and then the witness
14 says, "I'm not sure what the reasons were," and so on.
15 And then eventually you will come to your argument. I
16 think that we should try to be a little more efficient,
17 if possible. If you, the Prosecution, know and are
18 sure that there was a public protest against the
19 distribution of arms, you should say so, and the
20 witness will tell you if he doesn't agree. This way,
21 we'll never get through it.
22 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. If I could
23 go into a private session just briefly for this portion
24 of the transcript, we can get through this quickly.
25 JUDGE JORDA: For the benefit of the public
1 gallery, I should like to say that in order to protect
2 testimony provided during the proceedings in closed
3 session, we have to go into a private session for a
4 short time to review that testimony. So let's go into
5 private session.
6 (Private session)
13 redacted pages 21152-21156 – private session
9 (Open session)
10 JUDGE JORDA: Are we in public session?
11 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Mr. President.
12 JUDGE JORDA: We're in public session now,
13 Mr. Prosecutor. Please continue.
14 MR. KEHOE:
15 Q. Now, General, let us talk about -- you noted
16 just previously some of the protests by the Bosnian
17 Muslims, and I'd like you to look at Prosecutor's
18 Exhibit 315.
19 A. If we're not going to talk about the
20 distribution of weapons, Mr. President, may I just say
21 that the weapons were distributed according to a
22 decision of the municipal crisis staff, but the problem
23 was in having lists to see who had got the weapons.
24 The municipal crisis staff, as far as I know, never
25 received a list about how many weapons had been
1 distributed and to who among the Territorial Defence
2 and that was where the problem lay, in these lists.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, General, for these
4 details. That's fine. We are now looking at
5 Prosecution Exhibit 315.
6 MR. KEHOE:
7 Q. Now, in Prosecution's Exhibit 315, the
8 municipal crisis staff transferred the Kiseljak
9 barracks, which was the former JNA barracks, to the
10 HVO, didn't they?
11 A. Yes. That's what it says in this decision.
12 The municipal crisis staff, probably at its meeting,
13 made a decision of this kind.
14 Q. You moved your office in there; isn't that
16 A. I had an office in the barracks in Kiseljak
17 and I shared it with Mr. Bakir Alispahic.
18 Q. We will talk about Bakir Alispahic in a bit,
19 sir, but this particular barracks was now controlled
20 totally by the HVO; isn't that right?
21 A. No. The HVO and the Patriotic League. The
22 Patriotic League had its office at the barracks. It
23 had its logistics man. It used part of the facilities
24 in the Dalmatia Hotel. So the HVO and the Patriotic
25 League used the same barracks. The members Patriotic
1 League were, for the most part, Bosniak Muslims.
2 Q. Is it your testimony that Bakir Alispahic was
3 a member of the Patriotic League? Is that your
5 A. At that time, that is how he -- what he said,
6 and he worked on their behalf. At that time, I
7 cooperated with him and considered him to be a member
8 of the Patriotic League because that is how he
9 introduced himself.
10 I don't know the overall organisational set
11 up of the Patriotic League, and I don't know who
12 determined and in what way the -- appointed the
13 commanders of the Patriotic League and what the
14 personal relationships were within the Patriotic
16 Q. Is it likewise your testimony, General, that
17 when the Patriotic League merged into the Territorial
18 Defence that Bakir Alispahic also joined the
19 Territorial Defence?
20 A. I don't know who he merged with, but I
21 maintain that I cooperated throughout, while I was in
22 Kiseljak, with Mr. Bakir Alispahic, that I visited
23 members of the Patriotic League whenever they asked me
24 to do so. I had meetings with them as well. I also
25 claim that at the Dalmatia Hotel in Kiseljak they had
1 an equal number of rooms at their disposal as did the
2 members of the HVO, that is to say, one floor was used
3 by them. I think it was the third floor of the hotel,
4 but that's not an important point. Another floor was
5 used by the HVO. The rest were Bosniak Muslims,
6 refugees from Rakovica.
7 Q. You have noted several times to this Trial
8 Chamber, in response to questions by my learned
9 colleague, about your cooperation with Bakir
10 Alispahic. Bakir Alispahic was never the commander of
11 the Territorial Defence, was he?
12 A. I know Bakir Alispahic from the Patriotic
13 League. I never claimed that he was the commander of
14 the Territorial Defence. I didn't consider him to be
15 the commander of the Territorial Defence, but I did
16 consider him to be, and that is how he induced himself,
17 as commander of the Patriotic League, the military
18 formation set up by the Party of Democratic Action,
19 which was a majority Bosniak Muslim party in Kiseljak
20 at that time.
21 Q. General, Bakir Alispahic was working with you
22 in conjunction with a man by the name of Suad Curic who
23 is also known as Sok; isn't that right?
24 A. Yes. The two of them worked together. There
25 was another man, another commander. He was from
1 Tulica. His surname was Barjaktarevic. I'm not quite
2 sure what his name was. I think it was Esref. And, of
3 course, the lower down commanders from the Patriotic
4 League, a number of them who cooperated and worked
6 Q. Now, in mid April of 1992, President
7 Izetbegovic ordered that all military formations merge
8 into the Territorial Defence, didn't he?
9 A. Possibly an order of that kind was issued. I
10 personally did not have it in my hands, but quite
11 possibly an order of that kind had been issued.
12 Q. That merger included merging the Patriotic
13 League into the Territorial Defence, didn't it?
14 A. I would like you to show me a document to see
15 what it states and what is maintained in the document.
16 If you say that is so, probably it is, but I never saw
17 a document to that effect, so I don't know.
18 Q. Well, we can read you some testimony in that
19 regard, General, but let me ask you some additional
20 questions in this area.
21 After President Izetbegovic ordered that the
22 Patriotic League merge into the Territorial Defence,
23 several Muslims, including Bakir Alispahic and Suad
24 Curic, chose not to join the Territorial Defence and,
25 rather, decided to cooperate with you and the HVO;
1 isn't that right?
2 A. Well, it wasn't like that, because the
3 Patriotic League cooperated throughout. I would have
4 to look at my notes in greater detail, but I had
5 meetings with those personnel and with that unit, and
6 we had cooperation throughout the time that I was in
7 Kiseljak. So it wasn't only Bakir Alispahic who
8 remained, their soldiers remained as well, as did their
9 obligations and everything we did. So not only Bakir
10 and Suad Curic, but there was Barjaktarevic and the
11 other commanders of the Patriotic League as well.
12 Q. When this occurred, General, while you were
13 in Kiseljak, the commander of the Territorial Defence
14 was not Bakir Alispahic but Sead Sinanbasic; isn't that
16 A. Sead Sinanbasic was a member of the municipal
17 crisis staff, as far as I recall, by virtue of his
18 function, and he was the commander of the municipal
19 staff for Territorial Defence of Kiseljak. That is
20 what he was since the time of the elections.
21 Tomo Trutina was the crisis staff and
22 commander of the Croatian Defence Council within the
23 municipal crisis staff in Kiseljak.
24 Q. So to be very clear, General, there was a
25 group that Sok and Bakir Alispahic were in that was
1 cooperating with you and the HVO, and there was the
2 Territorial Defence, whose commander was Sead
3 Sinanbasic; isn't that right? Two separate groups.
4 A. Well, there were many groups of armed
5 individuals. I don't know what period you have in
6 mind, but what you say is correct. Let me add that
7 there was also HOS, there was the Vrazja Divizija,
8 there were members of the Black Swans, there were other
9 criminal groups in Kiseljak, the active component of
10 MUP, the reserve component of MUP. Each village had
11 its armed formation, armed group, which did not always
12 reflect the ethnic composition. It was just an armed
13 group of that particular village.
14 So as I say, there were a number of armed
15 groups, not only the Territorial Defence on the one
16 hand and the HVO and the Patriotic League on the
17 other. And there was a lot of fluctuation in manpower,
18 so that one day someone would be a member of the
19 Territorial Defence and the next day he would come and
20 be a member of the HVO. So those were the beginnings
21 of all this setup, at the earliest period.
22 Q. General, you said there were other criminal
23 groups in Kiseljak. Sead Sinanbasic and the
24 Territorial Defence were not one of those criminal
25 groups, were they?
1 A. My comment was concerned with the armed
2 groups. Of course, Sead Sinanbasic and the Territorial
3 Defence was not a criminal group in the sense of crime,
4 perpetrators of crime. I spoke about armed groups or
5 armed formations, armed villagers in the municipality
6 of Kiseljak.
7 Q. Now, let us go back to the JNA barracks,
8 which is now the HVO barracks. Did Sead Sinanbasic
9 have an office with you in the Kiseljak barracks?
10 A. He did not have it together with me, but he
11 did together with Tomo Trutina, as far as I remember.
12 That was in the building of the former municipal
13 secretariat for national defence. That is what the
14 plaque on the wall outside still said.
15 If you have a model, I can point out the
16 building to you, because Sead Sinanbasic was the
17 counterpart of Tomo Trutina and he was on the same
18 level, and I was a subordinate in the HVO to Tomo
20 Q. That was the building you evicted Sead
21 Sinanbasic from on 14th of May, 1992, after the TO was
22 outlawed; isn't that right?
23 A. Are you talking about the 14th of May?
24 Q. I'm talking about the 14th of May of 1992.
25 The HVO evicted Sead Sinanbasic and the Territorial
1 Defence from the building that you just described, the
2 secretariat for national defence; isn't that right?
3 A. That is absolutely incorrect. He returned
4 them to that building, that is to say, he asked them to
5 go back to the building. So that is not correct.
6 On that particular night, the 14th of May,
7 perhaps it was between 20.00 or 21.00, they returned,
8 and perhaps I will say something wrong there, but I
9 think it was building 3 and the TO section there.
10 I know the event you're talking about, but I
11 think it would take a long time for me to explain, but
12 if you want to I shall.
13 Q. Explain it to the Judges. I mean, if you're
14 talking about cooperating with the Territorial Defence,
15 what was --
16 JUDGE JORDA: Just a second. You can ask for
17 precisions when you put precise questions to the
18 witness. We are losing time which is bad for the
19 Defence, for the Prosecution, and for the justice in
20 general. We the Judges are here to ensure that the
21 trial can go forward in conditions of total equity so
22 that everybody can speak up.
23 So, yes, it's nice to go into explanations
24 and details but you have, Mr. Kehoe, to put precise
25 questions to the witness.
1 You said on May 14th the HVO evicted
2 Mr. Sinanbasic. Do you have arguments to support
3 this? Can you expose them to the witness? This will
4 allow the witness to answer you in a precise way and to
5 ensure that all his rights are protected.
6 Right now we're going to take a break of 20
8 --- Recess taken at 4.45 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 5.06 p.m.
10 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please
11 be seated. I suggest we work for about 30 minutes.
12 Mr. Prosecutor?
13 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. If I could
14 just go into private session briefly for some closed
15 session testimony?
16 (Private session)
13 redacted page 21167-21169 – private session
20 (Open session)
21 JUDGE JORDA: What is your question,
22 Mr. Prosecutor?
23 MR. KEHOE:
24 Q. This group, General, with Bakir Alispahic and
25 Suad Curic, is the group that had an office and
1 facilities in the Kiseljak barracks; isn't that
3 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, in the
4 facilities of the Kiseljak barracks, after HVO units
5 entered, there were also units of the Patriotic League
6 while I was commander in Kiseljak of the armed
7 formations in Kiseljak. There was not a group -- allow
8 me to explain. It is true that Suad Curic was there
9 and that the main commander was Bakir Alispahic, a
10 commander of a military formation; Esref Barjaktarevic,
11 a native of Tulica; and at all times there were about
12 30 mobile armed soldiers accommodated in the Dalmatia
13 Hotel in Kiseljak, together with an equal number of HVO
14 soldiers who were accommodated in a similar fashion, as
15 I have already explained.
16 And if I may comment on what the Prosecutor
17 has just read out? I was not a member of the Patriotic
18 League, and it is possible that Mr. Izetbegovic did
19 address an order to the Patriotic League, or I don't
20 know whom, but I have just remembered that Suad Curic
21 told me on one occasion that he had problems with the
22 Kiseljak SDA which wanted to abolish them.
23 Regarding apartments, as mention was made
24 here of apartments, Hajro Hajdarevic, we called him
25 "Hajro," he was the commander of a TO detachment, he
1 also used an apartment, Bakir was given an apartment by
2 the municipal crisis staff, a commander from the
3 Kiseljak garrison, Mr. Mustafa Polutak, retained his
4 apartment even after the Yugoslav army had left
5 Kiseljak. And I cooperated with the Territorial
6 Defence. I had quite a number of meetings. Let me
7 mention one held on the 5th of June at the command post
8 called Mokrine -- there is no relief for me to show
9 you -- I met with a commander of the Territorial
10 Defence detachment and we jointly prepared an operation
11 to lift the blockade of Sarajevo, and he informed me of
12 all the assignments linked to that operation.
13 I also toured virtually all the villages of
14 Bosnian Muslims in Kiseljak municipality and I
15 personally never had any problems nor did I notice any
16 negative reactions nor was I received negatively by
17 Bosniak Muslims.
18 It is true that the Patriotic League is a
19 broader organisation. It held its meeting in February
20 1992 in Travnik, in the village of Mehuric, and at that
21 meeting it was noted that it numbered between 60.000
22 and 70.000 men organised in 109 municipalities of
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina with nine regional headquarters
24 throughout the territory of the Republic of
1 Q. Well, General, the Muslim entity that you --
2 Bosnian Muslim villages that you toured you toured with
3 Bakir Alispahic not Sead Sinanbasic; isn't that right?
4 A. I did not have such a position as to be able
5 to tour the villages with Sead Sinanbasic. Tomislav
6 Trutina may have toured the villages with him, but I
7 toured the villages alone and also with Bakir. I also
8 toured them with the head of the European Monitoring
9 Mission, Mr. Fleming, and when he expressed surprise
10 after the January conflict, I told him, Mr. Fleming,
11 "You name the village. I will go with you. I don't
12 need any security or protection." And wherever he
13 wanted to go, I went with him myself, Mr. Fleming, his
14 driver, to the villages that Mr. Fleming claimed were
15 witnessing problems between Bosniak Muslims and
16 Croats. On that occasion, I even visited Bosniak
17 houses together with Mr. Fleming.
18 MR. KEHOE: General, let me show you a
20 Unfortunately, Mr. President, there is not a
21 French copy of this yet. I will read just a portion of
22 this document at this juncture.
23 THE REGISTRAR: It is Exhibit 631 and
24 631A for the English version, Prosecutor's Exhibit.
25 MR. KEHOE:
1 Q. General, this is a document that is signed by
2 Sead Sinanbasic on the 15th of May, 1992, noting at the
3 top, "Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
4 Kiseljak Municipal Assembly, Territorial Defence Main
6 We will read it through, General, because
7 there is not a French copy at this point.
8 The subject matter is "Information regarding
9 the situation in Kiseljak Municipal Assembly," and it
10 goes to the Republican Staff of the Bosnia-Herzegovina
11 Territorial Defence.
12 "1. On 14 May 1992, the Croatian Defence
13 Council command banned the work of the command of the
14 Kiseljak municipal (Territorial Defence) on the
15 premises of the former JNA Hall and threatened to ban
16 its work completely because only the HVO command
17 existed on the territory of the municipality. The
18 order was issued by Tihomir Blaskic, the commander of
19 the Kiseljak Municipal Headquarters.
20 "2. On the same day, TO units were denied
21 passage and the possibility of operating against the
22 enemy from our territory. Movement of TO units was
23 also banned in these regions, without a special
24 approval from the Main Headquarters.
25 "3. TO units from neighbouring
1 municipalities have been denied passage through our
2 municipality, unless specifically approved by the Main
4 "4. At a meeting of the Crisis Staff held
5 on 14 May 1992 at 2100 hours it was concluded that the
6 HVO Main Headquarters had not issued approval for
7 planned combat operations with the purpose of assisting
8 Sarajevo because the Crisis Staff of the Kiseljak
9 municipality, apparently, does not have such
11 "5. At the meeting of the Crisis Staff it
12 was concluded that the Kiseljak Municipal Assembly
13 should be convened immediately."
14 Now, while you are examining that document,
15 General, I would like you to also look at Prosecutor's
16 502 which is your order of 11 May, 1992, outlawing the
17 TO in the Kiseljak area.
18 A. I can answer if I may comment on this order.
19 Q. You can comment on both of them when we look
20 at these in conjunction, General.
21 502, of course, is the order that we
22 discussed at length previously, of 11 May, 1992, that
23 was issued pursuant to an order by General Roso, where
24 in point 1 you order that:
25 "1. The only legal military units in
1 Kiseljak municipality are HVO units.
2 And in number 5:
3 "5. By this order all orders of the
4 Territorial Defence are rendered invalid and the TO in
5 this area considered illegal."
6 So, General, this Territorial Defence unit
7 which you maintain you were cooperating with, you
8 outlaw on the 11th of May and then you ban from
9 operating and working in the former JNA army hall on
10 the 14th of May, 1992; isn't that right?
11 A. No. Until the 14th of May, 1992, in
12 Bosnia-Herzegovina there was the Yugoslav People's Army
13 in existence, and also the component of the Territorial
14 Defence of the Yugoslav People's Army. My father,
15 personally, could have been mobilised to report to the
16 municipality of Ilijas.
17 From the municipality of Kiseljak, workers in
18 the maintenance facility in Hadzici could also have
19 been called up for mobilisation because that was their
20 wartime assignment, which meant that they had to
21 respond to this call-up and to go empty-handed under
22 the control of the Serbs.
23 From the municipality of Ilidza, workers who
24 also had wartime assignments, for instance, the factory
25 Bitumenka and others, also could have been called up by
1 the former JNA requesting them to report to their
2 wartime duties.
3 I did write this order, Exhibit number 502,
4 on the 11th of May, and it says:
5 "On the basis of orders received from the
6 main staff."
7 But under item 5, it doesn't say that the
8 Territorial Defence of the Republic of
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina is illegal. Unfortunately, it
10 doesn't even say the Socialist Republic of
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina. But Exhibit 601, used by Mr. Sead
12 Sinanbasic, in the heading, it says the "Socialist
13 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina," the one that used to
14 be part of the Socialist Federal Republic of
16 Regarding the incident of the 14th of May
17 about which Mr. Sead Sinanbasic informs the republican
18 staff of the Territorial Defence, in Exhibit 631, there
19 are quite a number of incorrectnesses (sic).
20 On the 14th of May, 1992, in Kiseljak, a
21 number of incidents had occurred, that is, within the
22 municipality of Kiseljak. Thus, for instance, there
23 was a clash in the local community of Brestovsko among
24 Croats themselves, two groups of Croats, and the
25 dispute was over the sale of cigarettes.
1 Then there was a clash between the Croatian
2 villages of Donji Palez and Donje Podastinje. The
3 reason was a barricade and the profit to be gained at
4 that roadblock.
5 There was an incident between the Territorial
6 Defence and the civilian Croatian driver in the village
7 of Hercezi. His name was Mirko Tuka. Mr. Tucinovic
8 opened fire at him. Mr. Tucinovic being a member of
9 the Territorial Defence, after carrying out control of
10 the vehicle and the driver, and after the driver was
11 told to move away from the checkpoint.
12 The gravest incident that occurred in the
13 town of Kiseljak itself where all members who were
14 armed rallied, they were all from Kiseljak, and the
15 reason was movement of forces of the Territorial
16 Defence towards the city centre of Kiseljak from the
17 direction of Visoko. There were two bus loads and one
18 truck full of soldiers coming from the direction of
19 Travnik and Busovaca. There were two buses from the
20 direction of Bilalovac, a local community within
21 Kiseljak municipality. There were movements of some
22 troops from the direction of Fojnica.
23 MR. KEHOE: This is simply not responsive to
24 the question, Mr. President. I don't mean to cut him
25 off the point at this point, but it is not responsive
1 to the issue.
2 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, with your
3 permission, all this happened on the 14th of May, and
4 the witness wanted to explain why he limited the
5 movement of these armed units around town, because
6 there was the threat of an outright conflict. This is
7 at the core of this information by Sead Sinanbasic.
8 The introduction may have been too lengthy but this is
9 very relevant.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Nobilo, for your
11 explanations, but I have already asked the witness to
12 try and be concise in his answers in his own interests,
13 because we wish this trial to end by the deadline we
14 have set.
15 If we're talking about a document that the
16 Judges have regarding an incident, I understand that
17 your client has to describe the context and I didn't
18 interrupt him, but it does seem to me that your client
19 should try to be more concise in his answers. It is in
20 his interest, after all, because, after all, you will
21 not have enough time at some point in time if he dwells
22 excessively on one date.
23 So I would like him to be precise and concise
24 regarding the incident referred to in this document and
25 the order that you issued.
1 A. Mr. President, I wanted to make an
2 introduction to point 2, but let me go back to point
4 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, but the introduction, in
5 any language, is meant to introduce something in order
6 to proceed very quickly to the body, to the main
7 issue. So I think there is no need for this semantic
8 clarification. So please try and answer now.
9 A. Mr. President, I will try to be as brief as
11 Except from Fojnica, also from the direction
12 of Kresevo, there were movements by the members of the
13 Territorial Defence towards the town of Kiseljak. This
14 resulted in general confusion in Kiseljak, fear and
15 apprehension amongst citizens.
16 At 18.00, I was in the local community of
17 Brestovsko. I wasn't in Kiseljak at all. I was called
18 by Mr. Tomislav Trutina, who told me that there were
19 problems between the HVO and the TO, and that allegedly
20 all these movements along the directions that I have
21 mentioned had the aim of lifting the blockade of the
22 town of Sarajevo. No operation was carried out for
23 deblocking Sarajevo through Kobiljaca, Rakovica, and
24 Ilidza where allegedly efforts were being made to lift
25 the blockade of Sarajevo.
1 When I reached Kiseljak, the town of
2 Kiseljak, I immediately went towards the building where
3 a part of the TO staff was housed, that is, not the
4 building where Sead Sinanbasic and the TO were housed.
5 That building was the JNA home in Kiseljak, and they
6 were in the restaurant of the JNA hall. I don't know
7 on the basis of whose decision.
8 On the way to that building there were a
9 large number of armed soldiers and civilians and these
10 forces were confronting the building. On the one side
11 were the TO and on the other HVO troops.
12 Tomislav reacted more sharply than me, the
13 commander of the municipal HVO staff of Kiseljak,
14 saying, "Why are you causing problems again? Can't you
15 see all the things that have happened?" There were
16 some other rather sharp words spoken by Tomislav. I
17 kept quiet.
18 I saw Mr. Mustafa Polutak and Mr. Cilas. I
19 didn't see Sead Sinanbasic there in person, but I know
20 that (redacted) was not there because at that time
21 they were holding a meeting of the crisis staff in the
22 municipality of Kiseljak discussing these same
24 I went back and I learned, in the meantime,
25 that the commander of the village of Parezevici, his
1 nickname was Kopo, was wounded in front of this
2 building where a part of the TO staff were housed.
3 That is the JNA hall it was called, in Kiseljak.
4 Then I said to Mr. Cilas, "It would be best
5 if, in view of the overall situation, that is, one of
6 the village commanders has already been wounded and
7 night has already fallen, it would be best that you go
8 back and that we all stay in one building until the
9 crisis staff makes a decision."
10 Sometime about 20.00 hours, Cilas came and
11 from then on the municipal staff of the TO of Kislejak
12 used the premises when you enter the TO building to the
13 left-hand side and the HVO use the premises on the
14 right-hand side.
15 In the ground floor, there was the municipal
16 communications centre of the municipal crisis staff. I
17 don't exactly know how the premises were distributed on
18 the floors above. This incident was also discussed by
19 the municipal crisis staff.
20 As for this order, I was not the commander of
21 the municipal staff of the HVO Kiseljak. That position
22 was held by Tomislav Trutina.
23 As regards point 2, in this document 631, I
24 made contact with the checkpoints from the direction of
25 Visoko, and I asked that any one of the members of the
1 TO forces who were moving towards Kiseljak tell me who
2 was in command of the operation for lifting the
3 blockade of Sarajevo and who would be the commander of
4 such an operation rallying so many troops. No one
5 among them introduced himself, nor did they want to
6 talk to me.
7 I made the same request in the direction of
8 Raskrsce. This is an area linked to Fojnica and
9 Travnik and, also, Kresevo. I would have gladly spoken
10 to any one of those commanders but not one of them
11 wanted to give me any information. If they had called
12 me to discuss the lifting of the blockade of Sarajevo,
13 I would have gone.
14 These forces, which didn't wish to say
15 whether they had a commander or not, at 20.00 in the
16 evening could not be allowed in Kiseljak municipality
17 to carry out this operation of deblocking in Kiseljak,
18 because this is a valley where such an operation was
19 never conducted. It's not logical to go through a
20 valley surrounded by hills.
21 As for banning passage of TO units from
22 neighbouring municipalities without any announcement,
23 because there were cases when the soldiers of the
24 Republika Srpska army wandered into the municipality,
25 or other armed groups, so we wanted to have some kind
1 of control over this large number of armed groups.
2 JUDGE JORDA: If I understand you well,
3 General, I see that you are commenting on document 631
4 by giving us details on the context on the combat
5 operations which took place and which constituted the
6 very beginning of the hostilities. I see that you want
7 us to interpret this document in light of these
8 events. But, first of all, could you confirm whether
9 or not you signed the order that was issued on the 11th
10 of May, document 502A? This is from you.
11 A. Yes.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Right. Do you have any other
13 comment you wish to make on document 631A?
14 A. In point 4, it says that a meeting of the
15 crisis staff was held, the municipal crisis staff of
16 Kiseljak municipality. I really cannot remember which
17 decisions the municipal crisis staff took, but I know
18 that the Territorial Defence staff of Kiseljak
19 municipality continued operating in the same building
20 in which HVO members were housed and the same applied
21 to August 1992. That is as much as I can say at this
23 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. You have been able
24 to say all you wanted to say.
25 Mr. Kehoe, do you have a question that you
1 want to put to the witness, other questions?
2 MR. KEHOE: I have other questions,
3 Mr. President. The question that I wanted to ask was
4 the question that you asked, Mr. President, and I would
5 move into another particular area. I don't know if
6 Your Honour wants me to continue into that other area
7 or break.
8 JUDGE JORDA: No, we are going to stop right
9 here, but I would like us to go into private session
10 for a short while, please.
11 (Private session)
12 redacted page 21186 – 21187 – private session
16 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
17 5.47 p.m., to be reconvened on Friday,
18 the 7th day of May, 1999, at 10.00 a.m.