1 Tuesday, 11th May, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 10.13 a.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.
5 Mr. Registrar, can you make sure that the
6 witness is brought in, please?
7 (The accused/witness entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: Good morning to the
9 interpreters. Are they ready? Is the French booth
10 ready? Yes. Thank you very much. Good morning to
11 Mr. Harmon, to Mr. Kehoe for the Prosecution. Good
12 morning to Defence counsel. Good morning, General
14 I will just remind the public that General
15 Blaskic is the witness right now, and he is being
16 cross-examined by the Office of the Prosecution. He is
17 a witness under oath, and he is testifying before the
18 Judges of this Trial Chamber.
19 Mr. Kehoe, the floor is yours.
20 MR. KEHOE: Yes. Thank you, Mr. President.
21 Good morning, Your Honours. Good morning, Counsel.
22 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
23 Cross-examined by Mr. Kehoe:
24 Q. Good morning, General.
25 A. Good morning.
1 Q. General, yesterday we left off talking about
2 your order of the 21st of October, 1992, and I'm
3 referring to Prosecutor's Exhibit 647, where you note
4 that you and Dario Kordic were leading military
5 operations in Novi Travnik. Now, General, during this
6 same time frame, October 20th, October 21st, and
7 October 22nd, the HVO was also completely solidifying
8 their power in the Vitez municipality while also
9 fighting in Novi Travnik; isn't that right?
10 A. Your Honours, the document we're talking
11 about, I believe, is not an order but rather an
12 information sent to all the municipal staffs in Central
13 Bosnia. So this is a significant difference. There's
14 a big difference between an order, a report, and an
15 information in order to provide information and --
16 Q. General, let me ask you my question. My
17 question is this: On October 20, 21, and 22, the HVO
18 was taking over in the Vitez municipality; isn't that
20 A. In this period, there was a conflict in the
21 Vitez municipality, specifically at one of the
22 barricades, the one in Ahmici. In the other areas, the
23 situation was stabilised very soon. Meetings were held
24 at local levels, and it was agreed that everything
25 should be resolved peacefully by removing all the
1 barricades in the Vitez municipality.
2 Q. General, on the 20th of October, 1992, the
3 HVO drove the Territorial Defence out of their
4 headquarters in Vitez and into Stari Vitez; isn't that
6 A. At this time, I cannot recall all the
7 details. I know there was a conflict between the TO
8 and the HVO at the barrack. It is possible that there
9 was this conflict near the headquarters, but I know
10 that in the following days, the situation was
11 stabilised in the Vitez municipality.
12 Q. General, did the Territorial Defence ever
13 return to their headquarters in the town of Vitez after
14 they were driven out on the 20th of October?
15 A. The headquarters of the TO was in two
16 buildings, that is, at the municipality level, it was
17 in the secondary school centre and then later on it was
18 in Stari Vitez. I don't know for sure whether the
19 headquarters was returned to the secondary school
20 centre. I believe it did not, but I'm not sure.
21 Q. General, how far is the secondary school away
22 from your headquarters at the Hotel Vitez?
23 A. At this time, I did not have my headquarters
24 in the Hotel Vitez, that is, on the 20th of October,
25 1992. My headquarters --
1 Q. Excuse me, General. That wasn't the
3 MR. HAYMAN: Mr. President, first of all,
4 Mr. Kehoe -- I don't think any of us want to listen to
5 him scream in this courtroom for the next three or four
6 weeks. Is that appropriate, Mr. President? Really, we
7 don't think it is. We think it's not suitable decorum
8 for this Court.
9 Secondly, Mr. Kehoe has gotten in the habit
10 over the last day or two of repeatedly interrupting our
12 MR. KEHOE: Please --
13 MR. HAYMAN: Please, Counsel, please control
14 yourself. There are occasions when our client, perhaps
15 because of mistranslations or other factors, where his
16 answers may wander, but there are other occasions when
17 he is not wandering from the question and counsel is
18 still interrupting him, as in the immediate instance.
19 We would ask the Court to intervene because it's not
20 appropriate for counsel to be interrupting our client
21 to this extent.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, control yourself,
23 if I may say so. Everybody has to take control over
24 his or herself, and I shall try myself to control what
25 I am going to say. As for the tone of voice, as for
1 the behaviour of each of you here, I have to say that
2 each of us have our own temperament. Mr. Kehoe's
3 temperament is characterised by a certain ardour. He
4 likes to raise his voice sometimes because he is very
5 taken by what he is saying; he's very enthusiastic
6 about what he is doing. Others speak more slowly, more
7 soothingly into the microphone. Maybe I will ask
8 Mr. Kehoe to be less passionate in the way he puts his
9 question to the witness. It is true that it might lead
10 the witness to feel under some kind of pressure, so,
11 Mr. Kehoe, please take good note of that.
12 As far as the interruptions are concerned,
13 let us remember that it is now the Prosecution who is
14 leading the cross-examination, and it has to take
15 account of the very particular situation. The accused
16 right now is a witness. As such, he has the duties and
17 the rights of a witness. On the other hand, the Judges
18 also have a number of obligations that are stipulated
19 in the Statute. I don't know need to remind you of the
20 particular text I have in mind. The witness, for each
21 question, has a very long answer to put, "That's right"
22 and "That's correct." I often try myself to ask the
23 witness to be more concise, to be more focused in terms
24 of the answers he gives us. We don't want to lose too
25 much time, and I always try to remind all present here
1 of the texts which we have at our disposal, we the
2 Judges, which enable us, if we deem it necessary, to
3 ask the parties to move forward more quickly.
4 Now I will turn to the witness. I am
5 addressing the witness and not the accused. Let it be
6 clear. General Blaskic, if for each question you give
7 a very long answer, I must warn you that myself, I will
8 not hesitate to interrupt you. You must try to give
9 concise yet complete and comprehensive answers.
10 That being said, Mr. Kehoe, the floor is
11 yours. I will ask you to be more moderate and to speak
12 maybe more calmly. Thank you.
13 MR. KEHOE: I will put my serene side on,
15 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much. Please go
17 MR. KEHOE:
18 Q. General, how far is the Hotel Vitez from the
19 secondary school?
20 A. Somewhere between 500 and 800 metres, perhaps
21 a bit more. I'm not sure. I can't tell you with great
22 precision, but 500 to 800 metres.
23 Q. Is it your testimony to the Judges that you
24 do not know whether the Territorial Defence ever
25 returned to the secondary school?
1 A. No. I said that it is possible that the
2 Territorial Defence did have a part of their forces or
3 their headquarters in the secondary school centre, but
4 I cannot tell you when exactly the headquarters of the
5 TO was in the secondary school centre and when in Old
6 Vitez, simply because that was a much lower level of
7 command, and I did not deal with them directly. I know
8 where the headquarters of the 3rd Corps was.
9 Q. General, did you order the attack on the
10 Territorial Defence headquarters at the secondary
12 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, I waited but I
13 think I have to intervene now. I want to show, by
14 example, what it means to interrupt the witness and
15 manipulate the question. Counsel asked how far the
16 secondary school centre was from the Hotel Vitez, and
17 we all know that that is where Mr. Blaskic's
18 headquarters was, and he interrupted our witness when
19 he tried to say that in October, his headquarters was
20 elsewhere, in Kruscica, not in Vitez, let alone in the
21 Hotel Vitez. This is a clear manipulation when you do
22 not let the witness tell everything.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Objection denied. The
24 Prosecutor can put the question it wants to the
1 Mr. Kehoe, please go on, and I hope there
2 will be no further interruptions.
3 MR. KEHOE:
4 Q. General, did you order the HVO attack on the
5 secondary school on the 20th of October, 1992?
6 A. I did not order -- I do not remember issuing
7 that order on the 20th of October, 1992 in Vitez.
8 Q. Who did? Who issued that order?
9 A. I don't know who issued this order because on
10 the 20th, I was cut off. I could not come to my
11 headquarters in Vitez; I was in Busovaca. I
12 communicated with the communications officer from the
13 UNPROFOR base in Kiseljak. I spent most of the time in
14 Busovaca. I don't know whether such an order exists,
15 an order to attack the secondary school centre, that
16 is, the TO headquarters. I cannot recall at this time.
17 Q. When you found out about the attack on the
18 Territorial Defence headquarters, did you ask who
19 issued the order to attack the Territorial Defence
21 A. I do not recall receiving information. I
22 know, in general, that there was a conflict at the
23 barricade, and that was the fiercest one. Whether
24 there were any other local conflicts, that, I don't
25 know. I never received such an information because,
1 again, let me repeat, all the problems in the Vitez
2 municipality were solved at the municipality level with
3 the civilian authorities. During that period, in
4 October of 1992, there were no incidents which called
5 for my or Dzemo Merdan's involvement. Everything was
6 done at the local level.
7 Q. General, you would agree, would you not, that
8 the driving out of the Territorial Defence from their
9 headquarters at the secondary school was a significant
10 event in Vitez, wasn't it?
11 A. Of course it was significant. This driving
12 out and the conflict were significant, but I'm pointing
13 out to you that it was even more significant that the
14 situation was completely stabilised in this area. That
15 means that both commanders visited all the areas.
16 There was clergymen involved, and the civilian
17 authorities of Vitez, and the situation was reversed
18 into a very calm and stable state.
19 Q. Let me show you a photograph that we looked
20 at before.
21 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Registrar, if we could put it
22 on the ELMO. That is 80/7. I'm sorry. I apologise.
23 I stand corrected, Mr. President. The photograph is
24 80/8 and not 80/7.
25 Q. General, take a look at that photograph, and
1 can you point out Pero Skopljak?
2 A. I was looking for a pointer but I can just
3 use my pen here. This is Mr. Pero Skopljak.
4 Q. He is the individual with the jacket over his
5 shoulder, being slung over his shoulder, is that right?
6 A. Yes. He has a jacket slung over his shoulder
7 and a briefcase in his right hand.
8 Q. General, in October of 1992, what political
9 position did -- what position did Pero Skopljak hold in
10 the Vitez municipality?
11 A. As far as I know, he was an HDZ official, but
12 I'm not certain about the political position within the
13 HDZ that he had. He may have been a member of the
14 presidency of the HDZ in Vitez.
15 Q. Let me read you a quote given to the media on
16 the 22nd of October by Mr. Skopljak.
17 MR. KEHOE: The individual who testified
18 about this, Your Honours, is again Mr. Vulliamy, the
19 reporter from The Guardian.
20 Q. For reference purposes, it is page 7761. It
21 begins on line 12 and reads as follows, General:
22 "The HVO was represented by a man called
23 Pero Skopljak. I remember him and took note of him
24 saying that 'The HVO was now the only legal authority'
25 in the area where power had been previously shared."
1 So it would appear, General, that according
2 to Mr. Skopljak, at least by October 22nd, 1992, the
3 HVO had taken control of the Vitez municipality. Is
4 that right, sir?
5 A. This statement that you just read is probably
6 true, but this refers to the civilian authorities. The
7 HVO civilian authorities gave themselves a lot of right
8 in this area, just as the Muslim civilian authorities
9 did, but I think we need to distinguish between the
10 military and the civilian HVO.
11 The military HVO, up until the conflict and
12 following the conflict, had excellent cooperation and
13 mutual contacts, and there were joint forces which went
14 to Jajce. Even several days after the conflict in
15 October, they still had joint reviews and they would
16 jointly go to the front lines against the Serbs.
17 Q. Now, general, in your spirit of cooperation
18 with the Territorial Defence forces, you were given
19 authorisation by General Petkovic to make the demands
20 that you wanted and, also, if your demands were not
21 met, you were also authorised to resolve the situation
22 by force; isn't that right?
23 A. I don't know what period you're referring
25 Q. Let's look at the document. It would be
1 easier to just do that, General. Let me show you a
2 document, if I may.
3 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 648, 648A
4 for the English version.
5 MR. KEHOE:
6 Q. General, this is an information document that
7 is sent to you from Major Luka Sekerija. It is sent to
8 both you and to Kordic. Note it's brief and we'll go
9 through it:
10 "Dated the 23rd of October, 1992.
11 "In reply to your telegram of yesterday, I
12 inform you of the following:
13 "- The situation in the territory of Gornji
14 Vakuf is tense but under control.
15 "- All transports of the Territorial Defence
16 equipment, materiel, and troops going into the area of
17 Novi Travnik are blocked.
18 "To Colonel Tihomir Blaskic:
19 "In a top secret telegram no. 22-10/92 dated
20 22 October, 1992 by Brigadier Petkovic, you are ordered
21 the following:
22 "- You have complete authority to conduct
24 "- Do not give up on your demands.
25 "- Where you have the possibility, resolve
1 the situation by force.
2 "- Total ceasefire when you decide on it.
3 "I was most cheered by the news that the
4 information concerning your and Dario's arrest was
6 "Goodbye and take care. Signed Major Luka
8 So, General, from Mostar you had been given a
9 carte blanche to use force to ensure that your demands
10 were met; isn't that right?
11 A. I say that this is a document which was sent
12 to me by the then second in command, Luka Sekerija who
13 was in Gornji Vakuf at the time and who cut off from
14 the Central Bosnia Operative Zone command just as I
16 Here are mentioned the authorities to
17 negotiate, and since the conflict was ongoing at the
18 time, the possibility was mentioned of resolving it by
19 force where possible.
20 It refers to the force with respect to the
21 HVO and the BH army, but this has to be placed in the
22 context of 23rd October, 1992. At that time I was in
23 Sarajevo with Brigadier Petkovic, because the events
24 just precipitated one another. Even though it was
25 pointed out to me that I was given the possibility to
1 resolve things by force, I did not resort to force. In
2 Novi Travnik, the conflict was resolved peacefully by
3 establishing a joint commission and the first priority
4 was Jajce.
5 As far as these points about the equipment
6 and materiel, these checkpoints were one next to
8 Q. Well, clearly, clearly by this order from
9 Petkovic, you are given the authority to ensure that
10 the HVO is dominant in the Vitez municipality, and if
11 it is not dominant, you can use force to ensure that it
12 is dominant; isn't that right?
13 A. Here what was at issue is my asking for an
14 authorisation to negotiate with the commander of the
15 3rd Corps or the commander of the regional TO. This is
16 what the authority is concerning.
17 The first ceasefire had not yet been
18 implemented and then the authorisation was given to
19 resolve things by force because the fighting was still
20 going on. I think this was in reference to the
21 conflict in Novi Travnik between the TO and the HVO,
22 but that conflict was not resolved by force.
23 Q. Now, General, you noted for us that you met
24 Milivoj Petkovic in Sarajevo on the 23rd of October.
25 Is that right?
1 A. No. I met with him the day before, but on
2 the 23rd of October I was with him as part of the
3 delegation in Sarajevo, and we met with the BH army
4 supreme command staff and with members of the war
5 presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. We
6 also met with the delegations of the army of the
7 Republika Srpska and the BH army at the airport, which
8 was chaired by General Morillon.
9 Q. Well, when you met him and you spoke to
10 Petkovic, he told you, did he not, that while you and
11 the HVO were solidifying control in Central Bosnia,
12 that the HVO in Mostar, at the same time, were
13 solidifying HVO control in Mostar; isn't that right?
14 A. When I met him with him on the 22nd, we
15 talked about the situation and I gave him my views on
16 the conflict in Novi Travnik. I expressed my concern
17 that these conflicts, should they not been localised
18 and stopped soon, would lead to the loss of our
19 positions in Jajce. The discussion of Mr. Petkovic, in
20 Sarajevo, was in that sense, in that spirit.
21 I think that Mr. Stjepan Siber was also
22 present, the second in command of the supreme command
23 of the BH army, and they both pleaded for a quick
24 resolution of the conflict.
25 Q. Let us again address the testimony of
1 Mr. Vulliamy who talks about the events in Mostar, and
2 he goes to Mostar on the 24th of October. We will
3 begin from the bottom of page 7765, and he notes, on
4 line 24:
5 "Got back to Split to find from colleagues
6 that we needed to get on the road again quickly because
7 an ultimatum had been issued in Mostar, which was the
8 capital of Herceg-Bosna, or aspirant capital, by the
9 HVO to the Bosnian army that it was to disarm
10 immediately and either to disband or come under HVO
12 Now, that particular demand was similar to
13 the demand that you made in negotiations with the
14 Muslims in Vitez; isn't that right?
15 A. That is not right. I denied that even in the
16 meeting itself. This was in the presence of Dzemo
17 Merdan, and Andrew Cumming, and Colonel Stewart, saying
18 that the HVO was not asking that the TO be disarmed and
19 we did not want the weapons of the TO. We wanted help
20 at the front lines against the Serbs. Dzemo had
21 claimed that this was the HVO position.
22 When I asked him, "Who gave you such an
23 ultimatum?" and he said it in this meeting, "Well, this
24 is what everybody's talking about."
25 I don't know about these events in Mostar. I
1 was not there and I cannot comment on them. What
2 Mr. Ed Vulliamy said is something that I had also
3 heard, but I don't know of these events and I did not
4 follow these events in Mostar.
5 Q. Let us continue with this testimony of
6 Mr. Vulliamy, reading further on page 7766, beginning
7 on line 6:
8 "A We did not know what to expect. Went up
9 to Mostar early the next morning. In
10 Mostar the situation had changed
11 completely from the alliance of the
12 summer. The HVO had taken over the
13 courthouse, city hall, the post office,
14 the telecommunications building. They
15 had a guard outside the headquarters of
16 the Bosnian army, which then was next
17 door in the western half of the city,
18 the less exposed half, exposed to the
19 Serbs, that is.
20 We went to interview the commander, a
21 man called Arif Pasalic, who told us --"
22 A question interrupts:
23 Q The commander of which side?
24 A The Bosnian army. We went through the
25 Croatian guard to get into the Bosnian
1 headquarters to interview their
3 Sorry, Pasalic his name.
4 "He said they'd been told to disarm. He
5 said, 'I refuse to disarm. How can I
6 disarm in a war?' was what he said. He
7 said, 'This is not a local squabble,
8 this is the implementation of a plan, a
9 policy coming from Grude and Mate
10 Boban. If it is implemented here, it
11 will mean war in Mostar,' which I took,
12 as I turned out rightly, to mean not war
13 in Mostar as there had been over the
14 past few months but war within Mostar
15 between the erstwhile allies."
16 Let us move down to the bottom of the page
17 and discuss Vulliamy's conversation with
18 Commander Lasic. Now, you know Commander Lasic, don't
20 A. I met him some time around 1994 but did not
21 know him previously, but I know that he held a position
22 in the headquarters, in the regional headquarters in
24 Q. Beginning on page 7767, line 21:
25 "We sat down with the Commander Lasic, who
1 poured us some rather good scotch, as I recall, and he
2 explained to us that the HVO was now, and I took note
3 of this, I thought it was interesting, 'The soul
4 civilian authority in the town, in the city.' I was
5 interested in this intertwinement terms of the
6 "civilian" and "military." It also -- that remarks
7 was interesting because it echoed almost exactly what
8 Mr. Skopljak had said in Vitez, a long way away.
9 "Commander Lasic then said that there would
10 be, again, 'No legal Muslim representation in Mostar
11 from there on in.' Then we asked him 'What about the
12 army?' He said, 'The army should disarm and I am
13 inviting them to remove themselves from the front
15 So, General, based on what you know, it is
16 quite clear, it is not, that during this period of time
17 that the HVO is taking control of those areas in
18 Herceg-Bosna that we have been discussing, Mostar, and
19 Central Bosnia, Vitez, in specific.
20 A. It is absolutely impossible to simplify in a
21 situation as it was in Central Bosnia. The Central
22 Bosnian situation was completely different from the one
23 in Mostar. In Mostar, the Croats were in the majority,
24 and it is possible that this is what went on in
25 Mostar. But in Central Bosnia, Croats were in the
1 minority, and I know that throughout this time, if
2 we're talking about October 1992, I had a mixed unit
3 from Kotor Varos which was Muslim/Croat.
4 I did not issue an order for the Territorial
5 Defence to surrender weapons in Novi Travnik, nor did I
6 have any such intention. My intention was to have them
7 all at the front line against the Serbs. Some Bosniak
8 Muslims were sent to Zepa, and they were sent by myself
9 and General Prkacin in eastern Bosnia.
10 In this period, in October 1992, a joint
11 command was established, a joint command of the 3rd
12 Corps and the Operative Zone command. Also, it was the
13 distribution of materiel from the Central Bosnia
14 special purpose military industry. We shared that.
15 I also want to add that I did not have any
16 headquarters in Mostar at the time, and I was not
17 involved in the headquarters there.
18 Q. Your commander in chief, Mate Boban, was in
19 Grude at this time, wasn't he?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. The policy that he issued in the latter part
22 of October of 1991 was one of HVO superiority over the
23 Muslims and the takeover of those areas of HVO lands in
24 Herceg-Bosna; isn't that right?
25 A. I know what Mate Boban told me and I know
1 what I know from official documents. He told me or,
2 actually, he asked me to establish cooperation with the
3 Territorial Defence, and very often he would repeat the
4 following words: "We do not need any other enemies.
5 We have a common enemy."
6 What the policy was vis-a-vis political
7 leaders and how he acted in that direction, that, I
8 don't know because I did not attend political meetings
9 or, rather, meetings with political leaders. I only
10 know from the official part that was made public.
11 Q. Let me show you a newspaper article by
12 Mr. Vulliamy, and Mr. Vulliamy again discusses this
13 meeting in the transcript from page 7769 through 7773.
14 I do have extra copies for the booths, Mr. President.
15 This is an article that is in The Guardian, published
16 in The Guardian, October 26, 1992, but as I noted,
17 Mr. Vulliamy comments that this is a conversation he
18 had with Boban and others, Pasalic, on the 24th of
20 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 649.
21 MR. KEHOE:
22 Q. General, I realise this is in English. I
23 have given a copy to the respective booths. I will
24 read it so we can get a translation.
25 MR. KEHOE: For the sake of the interpreters,
1 I promise to read as slowly as possible.
2 Q. This is a document, as I noted, from The
3 Guardian, dated 26 October, 1992. The author is Mr. Ed
4 Vulliamy, and the headline reads: "Croats Seize
5 Capital of Herzegovina in New Ethnic Split; A putsch
6 and an ultimatum to the mainly Muslim Bosnian forces
7 sets the scene for civil war between former allies
8 against the Serbs."
9 Now we move to the body of the document.
10 "The main Croatian forces in
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina, the HVO, imposed an armed grip --"
12 THE REGISTRAR: I'm sorry for interrupting,
13 but for the court reporters, would it be possible to
14 slow down, please. Thank you very much.
15 MR. KEHOE: I can give the court reporters a
16 copy of that as well.
17 THE COURT REPORTER: You don't need to slow
18 down. Could the document be put on the ELMO, please?
19 MR. KEHOE: If we can put it on the ELMO,
20 that would be easier.
21 Q. We'll start that from the body:
22 "The main Croatian forces in
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina, the HVO, imposed an armed grip on
24 the Herzegovinian capital Mostar at the weekend, giving
25 their supposed allies in the Bosnian army an ultimatum
1 to either come under direct Croatian command or hand
2 over their weapons, and sending armed units to seize
3 key civil and military installations.
4 "The effective putsch brings the biggest city
5 in the region - in which Muslims are the principal
6 group - to the brink of civil war as fighting between
7 the Bosnian territorial army and the much better
8 equipped HVO and other Croatian militias continues in
9 central Bosnia villages.
10 "The Croatian military and political
11 leadership declared Mostar capital of their
12 self-proclaimed Croatian statelet 'Herzeg-Bosne' and
13 the HVO sole authority in the town. The predominantly
14 Muslim Bosnian army has sworn to resist, refusing to
15 surrender arms and insisting on its integrity and
16 authority as the army of the internationally recognised
18 Mate Boban, hardline president of
19 Herzeg-Bosne, took control of the ruling Croatian HDZ
20 party in the battered republic on Saturday, ousting the
21 more moderate leadership. He (or an ally) is thus in
22 position to take over the presidency of
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina next month under a rotating
24 arrangement by which a Croat must succeed the Muslim
25 Alija Izetbegovic as head of state."
1 If we could move to the next page, to the top
2 of that page -- I'm sorry. If I could just read the
3 last paragraph on the first page, Mr. Usher, the first
5 "Nevertheless, Bosnian military and
6 political leaders in Mostar accused Mr. Boban yesterday
7 of systematic provocation. They fear the manoeuvres
8 will lead to 'the creation of a state within a state'
9 and the division of Bosnia between Croats and Serbs
10 'with the Muslims - already victims of infamous
11 Serbian atrocities - left a stateless people.'"
12 If we could turn the page.
13 "The dismissal of the moderate faction in
14 the HDZ - led by Stjepan Kluic, who was due to become
15 next president of Bosnia-Herzegovina - has rid
16 Mr. Boban of Croats sympathetic to the idea of a
17 unified Bosnia and opposed to ethnic division.
18 Mr. Boban said in an interview exclusive to the
19 Guardian and Reuter that once the Croats take over the
20 Bosnian presidency 'not a single Croatian will
21 participate in the [Geneva] talks other than those you
22 see in my company or authorise by my signature.'
23 "'My party will certainly decide who will be
24 the next president of Bosnia. And we will ensure that
25 the decisions of the presidency are compatible with
1 Croatian Herzeg-Bosne. We have our political platform
2 and anyone who disagrees with it will either step down
3 or leave in some other manner.'
4 "If Mr. Boban enforces his policies - which
5 are understood to have the backing of Zagreb and are
6 looked upon sympathetically by Belgrade - the ethnic
7 dismemberment of Bosnia and recognition of Serbian and
8 Croatian military gains inside its recognised borders
9 will be official presidential policy.
10 "Mr. Boban said: 'I do not recognise the
11 army of the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina as
12 representing the peoples of this country. It is a
13 purely Muslim militia. We [the HVO] are the only
14 effective army in the freed territory. If they want to
15 call themselves the Bosnian army, that's their
17 "Of the Bosnian military formations in
18 Mostar, he added: 'They cannot have a military
19 police. Only the HVO can have an armed police in
21 Now, you would agree, based on those portions
22 of that article, that Mate Boban, your supreme
23 commander, was not advocating conciliation and
24 cooperation with the Bosnian Muslims, was he?
25 A. Mate Boban was the commander in chief in the
1 HVO, and I already said that when I'm talking about
2 him, I have in mind official positions that he
3 presented to me at official meetings in relation to
4 cooperation with the Territorial Defence, that is, that
5 I should make every effort to establish cooperation
6 with the Territorial Defence and that I should do
7 nothing that would cause suspicion or problems in our
8 relationship with the TO.
9 I already said that I was not a member of the
10 HDZ party, and in which direction party talks and the
11 party situation moved, that, I really do not know,
12 except for what I heard at official meetings and what I
13 read in official documents.
14 There's just one more thing I wish to add.
15 On the 23rd of October, I already said that I was at a
16 meeting in Sarajevo, the meeting of the presidency.
17 The head of the main staff, I imagine that he came on
18 the instructions of Mate Boban to this meeting, and
19 that he had instructions in terms of meeting. Stjepan
20 Kljujic was also there at this meeting at the
21 presidency building on the 26th of October. As for
22 events in Mostar, I don't know because I was
23 preoccupied with the fall of the town of Jajce. From
24 the 26th of October, the fall of Jajce started, and I
25 had 20.000 refugees on my hands, and they were there
2 Q. Well, General, you knew that the official
3 policy of the HVO was to ensure that the HVO was the
4 authority in all municipalities in Central Bosnia;
5 isn't that right?
6 A. Please, just make a distinction for me in
7 terms of what authority you're referring to, the
8 civilian or the military authorities, because even now,
9 there is not the same kind of cooperation between
10 civilians and the military in Bosnia. If you're making
11 this claim in respect of the military, I cannot agree
12 with that because there was cooperation. The
13 Washington Accords were implemented most quickly in the
14 military field, and also the Dayton Agreement has
15 mostly been carried out by the military.
16 As for the civilian authority, it went along
17 parallel lines, and it is certain that it worked in a
18 different way. They tried to become exclusive in these
19 territories, both one and the other.
20 Q. Let me narrow the question, General. You
21 knew that the policy of your commander in chief, Mate
22 Boban, was that the HVO would be the supreme authority
23 in the municipalities in Herceg-Bosna; isn't that
25 A. Was supposed to be, but I am talking about
1 the situation as it was. I'm saying that the HVO in
2 the military field was not the supreme authority, and
3 that was not its objective. At least while I was in
4 command, we had cooperation with the TO, with the
5 Patriotic League, and all other armed formations.
6 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, as military
7 head of the entity, were you authorised to lead a
8 policy that was different from that that Mate Boban had
9 in mind? Were you that autonomous? Did you have total
10 autonomy, an autonomy that was such that you could lead
11 whatever policy you deemed necessary?
12 A. Mr. President, I never received an order or
13 an assignment from Mate Boban to establish exclusively
14 a military regime and that I was supposed to carry out
15 this military regime in terms of disarming the
16 Territorial Defence and all the others. I was working
17 on the orders of the head of the main staff which were
18 compulsory for me, and from Mate Boban, I never
19 received such an order.
20 JUDGE JORDA: All right. But when we tell
21 you about Mate Boban, General Blaskic, you say that
22 Mate Boban was a civilian. That's a bit complex to
23 understand. That's why I had the idea that you were
24 establishing this very subtle distinction between Mate
25 Boban as a civilian and Mate Boban as a military man.
1 And because you made this distinction, I thought you
2 were like a free electron and that you were free to
3 lead whatever policy you wanted towards the Serbs, that
4 you were allowed to do whatever you wished to do.
5 Could you please give us some more explanation on that
6 particular issue? It would help the Judges.
7 A. Mr. President, I worked on the basis of the
8 orders I received from my superiors.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Among your superiors, was Mate
10 Boban one of them?
11 A. Yes.
12 JUDGE JORDA: And when Mate Boban is saying
13 this, were you aware of it; "Yes" or "No"?
14 A. I did not have any direct knowledge, nor did
15 he act towards me vis-a-vis Central Bosnia.
16 JUDGE JORDA: What do you mean by "direct,"
17 General Blaskic? You were the highest military
18 official in the area. Were you not aware of Mate
19 Boban's policy? Maybe we can go on to another question
20 and just take note of your answer. Were you aware of
21 Mate Boban's policy, that particular policy that we
22 hear about in this document?
23 A. I saw the interview here in the courtroom for
24 the first time. I never saw the interview before.
25 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, forgive me for
1 interrupting you, and I'm saying this also to
2 Mr. Hayman, but please answer the question. I'm not
3 talking to you only about this particular interview.
4 You found yourselves in the following situation: You
5 were a very high military official. I mean, we're not
6 all naive. I understand very well that you were not
7 waiting for The Guardian to be published to learn about
8 Mate Boban's particular policy. I certainly hope that
9 you see us as more intelligent and more professional
10 than that. But the issue is quite different. I'm
11 putting to you a very different question. Your
12 position was that of a high military official. As
13 such, did you know what Mate Boban's policy aims were?
14 I'm taking this interview as an example. Can you give
15 me a "Yes" or "No" answer?
16 A. As for specific knowledge, I did not have
17 any, nor did I make any effort to have any subtle
18 knowledge of this nature. I was only interested in the
19 military aspect of my own assignments and tasks, and
20 Mr. Boban had political advisors for his policy in
21 Central Bosnia.
22 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Fine. You've told
23 us a number of times that you were dealing only with
24 the Serb conflict. But it must have been very
25 difficult for you, I'm going to put to you my last
1 question, and then I will stop, it must have been very
2 difficult for you each time that Mate Boban or other
3 high officials, military officials, were talking to
4 you, you would say, "Oh, no, leave me alone. I'm only
5 dealing with Serbs. Blaskic equals the Serbs." Is
6 that what you always gave as an answer? I won't put
7 any other question to you, General, but is that what
8 you answered every time? "I deal only with the Serbs.
9 Please leave me alone, Mr. Boban. I'm dealing only
10 with the Serbs." Is that what happened?
11 A. Mr. President, my contacts with Boban in 1992
12 were only two: The first was when he met me for the
13 first time and the second one was related to the
14 situation in the town of Jajce. I was not in contact
15 with him. He was involved in politics, the party,
16 international negotiations, and all the rest, and most
17 of my contacts were with the head of the main staff.
18 That is not what I said. But he never presented his
19 political positions to me. He acted towards me as
20 towards a military commander. It is possible that he
21 acted towards other people in a different way, more
22 widely, so to speak.
23 JUDGE JORDA: All right.
24 Mr. Kehoe, you may continue, unless my
25 colleagues have other questions to put to the witness.
1 That is not the case. You can go on, Mr. Kehoe.
2 MR. KEHOE:
3 Q. General, after this interview on the 24th of
4 October that Boban had with Vulliamy, the HVO began to
5 implement their plan militarily with the attack on
6 Prozor on approximately the 26th and the 27th of
7 October, 1992; isn't that right?
8 A. I know that the conflict in Prozor broke out
9 at that time between the HVO and the TO. I don't know
10 the details because this is outside my zone of
11 responsibility. This is in northwestern Herzegovina.
12 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, if we could go to
13 that very brief tape from Mr. Vulliamy's excerpt from
14 Bosnia's Last Testament, I do have -- this is Exhibit
15 504. The English transcript of it is in evidence. I
16 have additional English transcripts for the booths and
17 others so they might translate along.
18 I do have some extra copies, Mr. Usher, for
19 everyone if need be, for the booths and everyone.
20 As I noted, Mr. President, this document is
21 already in evidence as Prosecutor's 504.
22 Q. Before we play this tape, based on your
23 experience as a military officer, General, the military
24 executes the policies as set forth by the government;
25 isn't that right?
1 A. That is the way it should be mostly.
2 Q. And as you noted for us, your commander in
3 chief, in October 1992 through early 1994, was
4 President Mate Boban?
5 A. He was until he was replaced. This was
6 sometime in 1994, when he was replaced by Mr. Kresimir
7 Zubak as president of the presidency.
8 Q. Let us turn to this particular tape, which is
9 Exhibit 504.
10 MR. KEHOE: If we could just have one moment,
11 Your Honour. The usher is bringing the tape to the
13 (Audio tape played)
14 "This is Prozor to the south of Travnik.
15 One night in October, I stopped for coffee in the busy
16 main street. A few days later I returned to find
17 Croatian mobs roaming through town and 5.000 Muslims
18 driven into the mountains, looking for caves in which
19 to hide.
20 "The pillage and killing of Prozor was the
21 start of a new Bosnian war and a bitter betrayal for
22 the Muslims. This is the consolidation of a hard-line
23 Croatian mini state within Bosnia, calling itself
24 Herceg-Bosna. This territory flies a Croatian flag,
25 has a Croatian puppet government, uses Croatian money,
1 and even has special Croatian number plates, and it
2 must, say its rulers, come under a Croatian army.
3 "Bosnians who refuse that authority are
4 dealt with in the time-honoured way."
5 MR. KEHOE: Just for clarification purposes,
6 Mr. President and Your Honours, if Your Honours saw the
7 time stamp at the top of this document -- at the top of
8 the tape, that was the date that it appeared on
9 television in the United Kingdom. The date on that, I
10 believe, was 11 April, 1993, and that's the date when
11 this particular tape, "Bosnia's Last Testament,"
13 I felt it necessary to clarify that. I
14 didn't mention this tape the last time, but suffice it
15 to say it's not being filmed on that day.
16 Q. Now, General, in Prozor, in the latter part
17 of October of 1992, the town was ethnically cleansed of
18 approximately 5.000 Muslims who were driven into the
19 mountains; isn't that right?
20 A. That is what I heard too on this video
21 footage, and I know that Prozor is the zone of
22 responsibility of the 4th Corps of the army of
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Operative Zone of Northwest
24 Herzegovina, that is to say, that these events did the
25 not take place in my own Operative Zone and these
1 activities probably did take place and probably there
2 was a conflict too between the units.
3 What happened was what happened very often,
4 and that is that when a unit withdrew, then the people,
5 the population belonging to that army, would withdraw
6 too. Regrettably this happened not only in Prozor but
7 elsewhere as well.
8 However, at the end of the month of October
9 1992, in my zone of responsibility, the most important
10 thing going on was the 20.000 refugees coming in from
12 Q. Well, General, do you think it was a
13 coincident that 5.000 Muslims were ethnically cleansed
14 from Prozor just days after Mate Boban told
15 Mr. Vulliamy, "I don't recognise the army of the
16 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina as representing the
17 people of this country and that anybody who disagrees
18 with the Herceg-Bosna political platform will either
19 step down or leave in some other fashion"?
20 Do you think it was a coincidence that those
21 events were occurring within days of one another?
22 A. I did not talk to anyone on the basis of this
23 interview. Whether it's a coincidence or not, I really
24 don't know whether it could have been or not. As for
25 events in other regions, this was too far away from me
1 and I never focused my attention on --
2 JUDGE JORDA: General, you already said
3 that. I don't think it's necessary to repeat it once
4 again. If you don't have anything to further add on to
5 that particular question, we might as well go forward.
6 The witness has given an answer to that so
7 let's move forward. It was not his zone of
8 responsibility. He was not aware of it. Let's go on.
9 MR. KEHOE:
10 Q. Now, General, let me read you a portion of
11 Mr. Vulliamy's description of Prozor and I want to ask
12 you about some events in Central Bosnia in April of
14 This is on page 7777, and Mr. Vulliamy is
15 talking about going through Prozor in late October of
17 "The main street of Prozor, which had been
18 full of people having a coffee on Sunday, every other
19 building, say one in three at minimum, had been burnt
20 out or destroyed in some way. There were signs of
21 shelling. There were signs of heavy gunfire and
22 small-arms fire. There was looting going on. There
23 were gangs of soldiers around the streets helping
24 themselves to the contents of shops and the furniture.
25 "The oddity, I had never seen this before,
1 was that every soldier, some had HVO patches on, some
2 did not, but everyone had a red ribbon tied to his
3 epaulet. I had never seen this before. I did not know
4 what it meant."
5 Now, in the fighting in Vitez in April of
6 1993, the HVO soldiers also wore various coloured
7 ribbons on their epaulets as well.
8 A. Soldiers, whenever they are at the front
9 line, they wear these ribbons. It's not only the HVO
10 but also the TO and everybody who is at the front
11 line. They are worn on the sleeve or on the epaulet or
12 wherever and this is prescribed.
13 This happens during conflicts and when there
14 is an immediate threat of conflict. That is to say,
15 when combat readiness is raised then usually there are
16 these ribbons too so that they could be distinguished
17 between one another, because some people wore civilian
18 clothes and some wore uniforms or part uniforms, but
19 apparently every military has such ribbons.
20 Q. It allows soldiers from the same unit to
21 recognise each other; isn't that right?
22 A. Yes. It allows them to recognise each other
23 and protect themselves from the incursions of sabotage
24 units, which is a frequent occurrence. From the start
25 of the war in Bosnia, that was a form of protection
1 that was in use, even for night movements at the front
2 lines. Obviously, there were also codes used and
3 things like that, in addition.
4 Q. Now, General, this particular event in Prozor
5 had significant impacts on what was taking place on the
6 front line in Jajce; isn't that right?
7 A. With respect to what was going on in Jajce,
8 the Novi Travnik conflict was also significant, and the
9 blocking of the road leading to Jajce. In other words,
10 it was impossible to rotate the troops at Jajce and to
11 deliver ordinance to them.
12 With respect to the events in Prozor, except
13 for making the use of roads more difficult, it did not
14 affect the events at Jajce, that is, the front line at
16 Q. Well, the HVO had made a deal with the Serbs
17 on Jajce, didn't they?
18 A. I did not read the document you offered me
19 yesterday to the end, but I know that the negotiations
20 were led by the civilian authorities and it was for
21 mutual benefit. The Serbs controlled the water in
22 Jajce and the Croats and Muslims controlled the power
23 plant. So they both needed electricity, both sides.
24 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, we can continue to
25 talk about this after the break if Your Honour so
2 JUDGE JORDA: Exactly. It will enable the
3 witness to read the document and this agreement of
4 which he did not know about before today. We'll take a
5 20-minute break.
6 --- Recess taken at 11.23 a.m.
7 --- On resuming at 11.47 a.m.
8 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. You
9 can all be seated. Mr. Kehoe, you have the floor.
10 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. President.
11 Q. Now, General, we were talking about Jajce,
12 and before we talk specifically about the fall of
13 Jajce, was the fighting in Jajce continuous throughout
14 October of 1992?
15 A. For the most part it was but it particularly
16 intensified in the second half of the month, especially
17 as of the 26th, that is to say, combat operations
18 involving helicopters and tanks. At any rate, the
19 ratio was very favourable for the Serbs because Jajce
20 was in semi-siege.
21 Q. Did you suffer significant losses during the
22 fighting at the latter part of October 1992?
23 A. I know that the losses were quite big. I
24 don't know the daily losses, but we did have losses
25 during the month of October 1992.
1 Q. In the HVO, where were these losses from;
2 what brigades, what municipalities, for instance?
3 A. Most of the losses were incurred by the
4 municipality of Jajce. The brigades were still in the
5 stage of inception, but they were not really
6 established as yet. The defence was organised in
7 sectors, that is to say, that a group of villages made
8 up a sector that we would defend. Then there was the
9 HVO of Zenica; the municipal HVO of Fojnica; the
10 municipal HVO of Busovaca; the municipal HVO of Vares,
11 it even had officers who were killed in Jajce; the HVO
12 of Kiseljak, the municipal HVO of Kiseljak; and I'm not
13 sure whether there were any wounded in the HVO Vitez
14 and Novi Travnik, but they were not in a position to
15 fight. Losses for me are missing persons, killed
16 persons, persons who were wounded.
17 Q. Now, General, we noted from yesterday, and if
18 I can just once again, Mr. Registrar, give Exhibit 642
19 back to the witness, Prosecutor's 642.
20 Now, General, this is the document that we
21 discussed yesterday, and you noted in your testimony
22 that there were local ceasefires between the Croats and
23 the Serbs. If you look at the preamble to this
24 particular order it notes, does it not, that this
25 particular order is pursuant to an order from the main
1 staff of the Republika Srpska, doesn't it?
2 A. Yes, that's what it says. I said yesterday
3 that local leaders negotiated, and they did. This
4 order was issued on the basis of the orders issued by
5 the main staff of the army of Republika Srpska.
6 Q. Well, you would agree with me, would you not,
7 General, that the main staff of the army of Republika
8 Srpska is not a local group?
9 A. Of course it is not a local group. I did not
10 even say that it was the main -- I never said that the
11 main staff of the army of Republika Srpska was a local
13 When I told him about the cessation of
14 operations in Jajce, I told him that it happened also
15 on a local level and that these cessations would always
16 follow major battles and when there was clearing of the
17 ground, exchange of bodies, and prisoners, and so on.
18 Q. General, did you have HV soldiers from the
19 Croatian army at the front line in Jajce?
20 A. I did not have soldiers from the Croatian
21 army. There have may have been individuals who
22 represented themselves as such, but I'm not aware of
23 any. Maybe some of them wore such insignia. I
24 personally did not see them and I have no knowledge of
25 them being around.
1 Q. Well, during the course of October, did you
2 remove any units from the front line in Jajce?
3 A. I don't know. You say October. Do you mean
4 before or after the fall of Jajce?
5 Q. Let us talk about a document dated the 20th
6 of October, 1992.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 650, 650A
8 for the English version.
9 MR. KEHOE:
10 Q. Now, General, take a look at this document.
11 This is a situation report from the 1st Krajina Corps
12 of the Bosnian Serb army. The date of this document is
13 20 October, 1992. Take a quick glance through it,
14 General, and I would like to highlight several areas
15 without reading the entire document.
16 Now, General, what I would like to do first
17 is focus your attention on paragraph 1 dealing with the
18 enemy --
19 A. My apologies. This is a three-page document,
20 and it is a very significant document relating to the
21 1st Corps. Can I just review it?
22 JUDGE JORDA: Of course you may, General
23 Blaskic. Take your time to go over it.
24 General, have you had the time to read the
25 first paragraph to start with?
1 A. Yes. In fact, Mr. President, I read the
2 entire first page.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, maybe we could just
4 start with the first paragraph for the time being,
5 because I think this is the paragraph which interested
6 you most.
7 MR. KEHOE: There are actually several within
8 the document, approximately four different entries, but
9 we can begin on that particular paragraph.
10 Q. On that first paragraph, the last two
11 sentences of number 1:
12 "With the exception of sporadic fire, there
13 have been no combat activities on the Jajce-Vlasic
14 front. 1KK [Krajina Corps] units are successfully
15 keeping under control other 1KK zones of responsibility
16 and positions. Intense conflicts between Muslim and
17 Croat forces continue in Novi Travnik, Vitez, Busovaca,
18 and surrounding villages."
19 From this recitation, on the 20th, General,
20 while fighting is going on around Novi Travnik and the
21 Lasva Valley, this situation report reflects virtually
22 no fighting on the Jajce-Vlasic front?
23 A. Mr. President, this report is from the 1st
24 Corps command, so this is the strategic level, the
25 operative strategic level of the army of Republika
1 Srpska, and it is sent to the main staff of the army of
2 Republika Srpska, and Jajce is a much lower level of
3 command. I wish we had a document from a unit that was
4 in the field at Jajce. What they do here is describe
5 things that are of significance for the main
6 headquarters of the army of Republika Srpska. It has
7 very few mentions of any tactical moves. They are just
8 mentioning the TO/HVO conflict in Busovaca, and this
9 conflict never took place on the 20th.
10 I think what is being done here is that this
11 is an operative report dealing with the tactical
12 situation. You need a tactical report to fully
13 understand the tactical situation.
14 Q. I will note from the document, General, that
15 the document is entitled "Regular Combat Report."
16 Let us move to the next paragraph in number
17 2, the second paragraph in the heading number 2:
18 "The situation near the village of Gostovice
19 (Krivaja) remains uncertain, while the situation on
20 other parts of the front controlled by 1KK units is
21 stable. Since HV/Croatian Army/ units left Jajce, and
22 due to conflicts between Ustashas and Muslims in the
23 area of Travnik, Vitez, and Busovaca, favourable
24 conditions have been created for the 30 Krd/expansion
25 unknown/ to liberate Jajce."
1 Now, did you have HV troops up on that front
2 line, and did you remove them or did they leave?
3 A. Mr. President, a moment ago, the question
4 that I received was whether there were any HV soldiers
5 there, and I said that I didn't see them, but the HV
6 units is something completely different. They were not
7 in Jajce, and they did not operate in Jajce, that is,
8 the HV units. On page 2, the first paragraph talks
9 about after a part of the HV forces left Jajce,
10 Mr. Karadzic took over the command over Jajce. I know
11 Mr. Karadzic, he is an ethnic Muslim, and I had very
12 good cooperation with the Bosniak Muslims and the TO
13 when I was in Jajce. I believe that this paragraph is
14 not correct.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Please move on, Mr. Kehoe.
16 MR. KEHOE:
17 Q. Let us move to the conclusions in this
18 document, paragraph 8:
19 "Muslim forces will continue intensive
20 attacks in the regions of Orasje, Gradacac, Maglaj and
21 Tesanj in order to improve their positions and threaten
22 the corridor as much as possible. The accomplishment
23 of this aim would serve them to return confidence in
24 their own forces after the conflicts with the HV forces
25 in BH. In the Jajce region, due to the unfavourable
1 situation, an attempt is being made through
2 negotiations to bring in new forces. According to
3 these estimates, during the following day, preparations
4 will be carried out and steps will be taken to achieve
5 tasks already assigned to the units." It is signed by
6 the "Head of DGroup for Command and Control and Combat
7 Activities, Colonel Milutin Vukelic."
8 Do you know Colonel Vukelic, General?
9 A. No, I do not know him. I never had a meeting
10 with him. But let me just comment on this. This
11 refers to the situation in Posavina, in eastern Bosnia,
12 and the situation in Jajce. So this is what I'm
13 saying. The 1st Corps had a very large area of
14 responsibility. When they're talking about the
15 withdrawal of the HV units, there were no HV units in
16 Jajce, and they did not withdraw from Jajce on 20
17 October, 1992. There were HVO troops from Central
18 Bosnia, and we called them shifts, but they were HVO
20 Q. Now, General, this document reflects that
21 there are no combat activities along the Jajce line,
22 approximately 20 October, 1992, and there was no
23 attacking of HVO forces in Novi Travnik and the Lasva
24 Valley while the HVO was in combat with Muslim forces
25 during this time; isn't that right?
1 A. Sorry. The second part of the question, can
2 you repeat that? There was no attack of the HVO in the
3 Lasva Valley? I did not understand. Could you just
4 repeat the question, please?
5 Q. While the HVO was fighting the Muslims in
6 Novi Travnik and the Lasva Valley, the Bosnian Serbs
7 were very quiet on the Jajce front line; isn't that
9 A. The Novi Travnik HVO had a conflict with the
10 Novi Travnik TO, but at the same time, the Novi Travnik
11 HVO was holding the line against the Serbs as before.
12 I already stated that this is an operative report which
13 talks about the situation in Jajce, but the Novi
14 Travnik HVO, on 20 October, 1992, did have a shift at
15 the Jajce front line. This report should also specify
16 the time on the 20th of October so that we could know
17 for certain whether there were any combat activities
18 going on or not.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Please move on, Mr. Kehoe.
20 MR. KEHOE:
21 Q. General, did you withdraw your troops from
22 the Jajce front as part of an agreement with the
23 Bosnian Serb army?
24 A. I never issued an order to withdraw the
25 troops. On the contrary, I did everything I could to
1 send the troops to Jajce so that Jajce could survive
2 and that we would defend the town. I personally tried
3 to take a shift of soldiers along with General
4 Prkacin. So my answer is, "No, I did not withdraw the
5 troops from Jajce."
6 Q. Let me read you a portion of an interview
7 Mr. Vulliamy conducted in his book, "Seasons in Hell,"
8 with a Bosnian Croat soldier who had withdrawn from
9 Jajce. It is on page 183. I do have copies for
10 everyone else and for the booth to read along.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit 651.
12 MR. KEHOE:
13 Q. General, I realise this is in English, but I
14 would like to read it to you. I believe it's on the
15 ELMO at this point. Yes.
16 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me, Mr. Usher. It will be
17 the second paragraph, if we could just push that up a
18 little bit. That's it. Thank you very much.
19 Q. This is a discussion of a meeting with
20 Vulliamy and the soldiers after the fall of Jajce,
22 "The defeated soldiers went to gather
23 outside the headquarters of their respective armies,
24 Croat and Bosnian. And from all of them came the
25 angry, abstract charge of betrayal, some deal over
1 Jajce, between Radovan Karadzic and his opposite number
2 Mate Boban. Pero Juric, a Croat from Skender Vakuf,
3 fighting way up towards the Serbian heartland, was
4 fairly explicit: 'They can both go and fuck their
5 mothers. There were rumours for weeks that we were
6 going to be sold. We didn't need to surrender. This
7 is Boban and Karadzic dividing up Bosnia. Well I'm not
8 going to fight for Bosnia any more, and I won't fight
9 for Mate Boban and his 'Herzeg-Bosne' either. We feel
10 pathetic. We walked thirty kilometres on foot, behind
11 the civilians, and we feel like cowards.'"
12 Well, General, there's one soldier who felt
13 there was a deal. Was there?
14 A. Most frequently, whenever there is a loss of
15 some position or something like that, the soldiers
16 would comment that it was a betrayal on the part of the
17 higher command. I have never heard any soldier say
18 that they lost positions because they were weaker or
19 because they were defeated.
20 When you asked me whether I had withdrawn the
21 troops, at the time of the fall of Jajce, there were
22 about 200 soldiers from Central Bosnia at Jajce, and I
23 had sent the army to prevent the fall of Jajce, and it
24 pushed its way through to Karule. I had also sent a
25 convoy with ammunition, and one vehicle was hit and
1 blown up and it blocked the road. I did everything I
2 could to prevent the fall of Jajce.
3 The comments of soldiers, when I addressed
4 them in Travnik, were similar. They said, "We were
5 betrayed. We don't want to fight any more. We have
6 been sold out."
7 MR. KEHOE: I will note for the record,
8 Mr. President, that in Defence Exhibit 345, the HVO
9 dead from Vitez, the document reflects the death of one
10 soldier on the 9th of October, 1992 in Jajce in the
11 entire document.
12 Q. Now, General, let us move, before we leave
13 this time frame, to Defence Exhibit 347.
14 Now, General, this is a document that was
15 discussed previously, discussed by you in
16 direct-examination, in questions by Mr. Nobilo, and it
17 is a document dated 5 November, 1992, where you issue
18 an order that all in number 1:
19 "1. That all measures shall be taken to
20 prevent setting fire to houses of eminent citizens of
21 Muslim nationalities in your zone of responsibility.
22 "2. All available forces and means shall be
23 employed to carry out this assignment and most rigorous
24 measures shall be taken against transgressors in
25 accordance with military discipline regulations."
1 Now, General, tell us about this destruction
2 of houses of eminent Muslim citizens in Novi Travnik.
3 A. A meeting took place before this document. I
4 held it with Mr. Dzemo Merdan. It took place the day
5 before. I believe it was on 4 November, 1992.
6 In this meeting we discussed the situation of
7 Travnik, Novi Travnik, and Dzemo Merdan pointed out the
8 difficulties and problem of torching of houses of
9 prominent Muslim citizens and requested that I issue
10 such an order in order to prevent such activities and
11 that the torching would stop.
12 As far as these torchings were concerned,
13 they mostly took place during the period of conflict in
14 October. Some of it as a consequence of the conflict
15 and some as the consequence of operations of several
16 criminal gangs in the area.
17 As I said, several dozen thousands of
18 refugees arrived. It was a time of black marketeering,
19 criminal activities; there were smuggling of arms.
20 There were even conflicts between Jajce and Jajce HVO
21 troops. So at the request of Dzemo Merdan, this order
22 was issued in order to prevent these activities from
23 taking place.
24 Also, this order was forwarded to the
25 district army headquarters in Zenica and local command
1 so that my position on it would be made known.
2 I also want to point out that the HVO and --
3 it also reflects the good cooperation between the TO
4 and HVO in Central Bosnia, especially now that the
5 front line against the Serbs had moved to Travnik.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Another question you
7 would like to put, Mr. Kehoe?
8 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. I was just
9 waiting for the translation to finish in the headphones
10 in the delay.
11 Q. Well, General, how many houses of eminent
12 citizens of Muslim nationality were burnt?
13 A. I don't know the exact number, because this
14 list was compiled by a commission which was looking
15 into the causes and consequences of the conflict
16 between the TO and HVO in the entire area but mostly
17 focusing on Novi Travnik.
18 Q. Now, General, there were numerous houses
19 burnt in Central Bosnia during 1993, starting from
20 April; isn't that right?
21 A. There were many houses which were burnt down,
22 and there were many refugees who arrived in Central
23 Bosnia from the very beginning of the war but
24 especially since April. The relations between the
25 locals and the newcomers were one to two, and about
1 35.000 refugees carrying just like small bags arrived.
2 There was a joint commission for Novi Travnik
3 and it compiled a list. In the Vitez municipality, the
4 local authorities engaged in reconstruction of the
5 burned houses.
6 Q. After this order, General, in November or
7 thereafter, how many HVO soldiers were punished for
8 burning Muslim houses in Novi Travnik?
9 A. I don't know exactly what period of time you
10 have in mind. Do you think the entire period or --
11 Q. I'll change my question, General. You noted
12 that the houses were burnt in Novi Travnik in October
13 of 1992, and my question for you was: How many HVO
14 soldiers were punished for burning Bosnian Muslim
15 houses in October of 1992?
16 A. Specifically in October 1992, for each
17 soldier who was identified as having taken part in
18 burning the houses was disciplined. I don't know
19 exactly the number, but the commission also determined
20 that there were certain houses which were burned during
21 the combat activities. I received some reports from
22 the municipal staffs, and I am aware that there were
23 certain individuals punished for such disciplinary
25 Q. General, give the Trial Chamber the name of
1 one HVO soldier who was disciplined for burning houses
2 in October of 1992, one, and what punishment did he
4 A. I have some names for January of '93. There
5 were 13 names who got military detentions but not in
6 that area. As I said previously, I was receiving
7 reports from my subordinates. If these soldiers did
8 something like that they were duly disciplined, so in
9 Novi Travnik these practices and activities stopped.
10 Q. Now, General, the burning of a Bosnian Muslim
11 house by an HVO soldier is a war crime; isn't it?
12 A. Intentional burning of a house is. It is a
13 serious crime, and we prosecuted such cases if this was
14 an intentional act and if we had the identity of such
15 soldiers. I have a list of 13 names for the
16 municipality of Kiseljak for January '93.
17 Q. General, give us the name of one HVO soldier
18 that you referred to the military district prosecutor
19 for prosecution for the commission of this serious
20 crime, one name.
21 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, the witness said
22 that he received collected information.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Well, we'll start by beginning
24 to listen to the witness and then we'll listen to you,
25 Mr. Nobilo.
1 General Blaskic, what was your answer to that
2 last question put to you by Mr. Kehoe? Do you want to
3 have some time to research and look through your
4 documents or what is your answer?
5 A. If a soldier had intentionally burnt the
6 house and if this individual was identified, then
7 this --
8 JUDGE JORDA: I'm sorry, General, but that
9 was not the question put to you by Mr. Kehoe. The
10 question was: Are you able to give us the name of a
11 soldier against which sanctions had been placed at that
12 time; "Yes" or "No"? Do you need some time to look
13 through your documents? That's the question put to you
14 and you are not answering that question, I'm sorry to
16 Maybe, Mr. Kehoe, you could rephrase your
17 question, but I think the witness well-heard it.
18 A. My understanding of the question was whether
19 the military district court had prosecuted cases of
20 burning of houses.
21 JUDGE JORDA: No. Maybe I did not understand
22 the question.
23 I understand, Mr. Kehoe, you were looking for
24 the name of one person who was prosecuted for that kind
25 of act. Is that it?
1 MR. KEHOE: That's right.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Right.
3 MR. KEHOE:
4 Q. As opposed to just disciplined, who was
5 prosecuted for a crime that the witness just described
6 was a serious crime?
7 A. Wherever a crime was committed it was
8 prosecuted by the district military Court. Your
9 Honours, in the first three months of 1993, I
10 registered 92 criminal acts, out of which 31 were
11 prosecuted by the military Court and there were three
12 sentences imposed. This is what I have in my
14 I do not have individual names. I did not
15 note them down, but this is the information that I had
16 which I took with me when I held meetings in April of
17 1993. So 92 criminal acts were committed in that
19 Q. Well, General, if you had ensured that HVO
20 soldiers were prosecuted for these serious crimes or
21 disciplined for these serious crimes in October of
22 1992, that might have prevented those crimes from
23 occurring in the spring of '93; isn't that right?
24 A. I took care. This order issued by me was
25 signed by me on the 5th of November, after a meeting
1 with Dzemo on the 4th of November. The moment I -- I
2 was in Sarajevo that day. The moment I came back, I
3 signed it and I sent it to Dzemo so that Dzemo would
4 know that I'm willing to take steps and prevent these
5 criminal acts to which he pointed me. In Novi Travnik,
6 this practice all but stopped following this.
7 As far as the military discipline is
8 concerned, I tried to involve lawyers, even though they
9 were not formally entitled to such posts, and I did
10 everything I could to maintain the discipline even at
11 the front lines.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Rodrigues has a
14 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General Blaskic, in this
15 order number 347, you are making a reference to the
16 most eminent citizens of Muslim nationality, but what
17 happened to the others?
18 A. Your Honour, I remember the conversation with
19 Dzemo. The problem was with owners of properties such
20 as coffee bars and restaurants, who were especially
21 targeted by the criminal gangs because they had the
22 money. It was mostly that robbery would end up in
23 their torching the premises. The other houses were not
24 such a target in November.
25 What Dzemo Merdan was looking for in terms of
1 protection is what I spelled out here, and I sent it
2 back to him so that he would see it. Other Bosniak
3 Muslim houses (sic) in the area were not as
4 interested. What they were interested in, these
5 criminal gangs, were coffee bars and restaurants which
6 they would rob and they would take away the inventory.
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So the citizens you're
8 referring to there are citizens who were economically
9 of a certain standing?
10 A. Yes, business people and owners of private
11 shops. Those who were well-off, who had a lot of
13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, please move on.
15 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
16 Q. General, just concluding this particular
17 area, the bottom line, General, is you do not have the
18 name of one HVO soldier who was either disciplined or
19 was punished criminally for the intentional burning of
20 Muslim houses in Novi Travnik; is that right?
21 A. I do not have that information with me, but
22 the information I presented a few minutes ago for the
23 first three months related to the work of the district
24 court. I don't have all of it very specifically.
25 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Blaskic, sorry for
1 interrupting you once again. We're not talking about
2 the first three months of 1993. We're talking about
3 October of 1992, not the first three months of 1993.
4 However, the Judges very well understood that during
5 the first three months of 1993 you had some information
6 and some data. I'm trying to move the debate forward
7 and to concentrate on very important issues.
8 Mr. Prosecutor, you may go on.
9 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
10 Q. General, we're going to shift gears here and
11 talk about the early part of January of 1993. We'll
12 skip ahead to the events that took place in Central
13 Bosnia, Gornji Vakuf, Vitez, and Busovaca in early
15 I would like you to first take a look at
16 Prosecutor's Exhibit 21 which is the Vance-Owen Peace
17 Plan map that we discussed previously.
18 MR. KEHOE: It would be the top map, Mr.
19 Usher. If we can focus that in just a little bit.
20 Q. Now, General, that is a map of the Vance-Owen
21 Peace Plan with the three cantons, 3, 8, and 10,
22 designated for the Bosnian Croats. Now, first
23 iteration as you can see from this, came out on the 2nd
24 of January, 1993, and you noted, during the course of
25 your direct-examination, that by the 6th of January you
1 were in Mostar with the Defence Minister, Bruno Stojic,
2 discussing this Vance-Owen Peace Plan map; is that
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Now, was Colonel Siljeg from Gornji Vakuf
6 also in Mostar discussing this matter with the Minister
7 of Defence, Bruno Stojic?
8 A. When I would be there, he would not be
9 there. Whether he would be there before me or after
10 me, that I don't know.
11 Q. Well, did you see him in Mostar during this
12 visit that you had on the 6th of January?
13 A. Colonel Siljeg, no.
14 Q. Now, in this meeting on the 6th of January,
15 you were made aware, according to your testimony, that
16 the Bosnian Croats, through Mate Boban, had signed the
17 Vance-Owen Peace Plan but the Muslims and the Serbs had
18 not; isn't that right?
19 A. Yes. That they did not sign the plan and
20 that it would be applied only when everybody signs it.
21 Q. Now, there were discussions in Central
22 Bosnia, after you came back to Central Bosnia, that the
23 Croats or the HVO would attempt to unilaterally enforce
24 the Vance-Owen Peace Plan whether or not the Serbs and
25 the Muslims had signed it; isn't that right?
1 A. There were discussions on the Vance-Owen Plan
2 among civilians, among politicians, and among the
3 military. Who are you referring to specifically?
4 Q. I'm talking about everybody. I'm talking
5 about the people that you were interacting with in
6 Vitez on a day-to-day basis. Were there discussions,
7 between the people that you were interacting with, that
8 if the Serbs and the Muslims didn't sign on to the
9 Vance-Owen Plan, the Croats would try to enforce this
11 A. There were different discussions at the time,
12 and everybody seemed to be waiting to see what would
13 happen, just like before any signing of any offered
14 peace agreement, and this was one of the many peace
15 agreements. I cannot particularly recall whether I was
16 in contact with people who expressed certain positions
17 on how the Vance-Owen Peace Plan would be implemented.
18 But what was compulsory for me were the orders that I
19 received from my superiors in terms of the
20 implementation of the plan.
21 Q. Let me show you a document, General, and this
22 is a BritBat military information summary from 8
23 January, 1993.
24 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecutor's Exhibit 652.
25 MR. KEHOE: I am referring, Mr. Usher, to
1 paragraph 4 of this document. It should be at the top
2 of "Novi Travnik."
3 Q. General, let me read this. It's in English,
4 unfortunately, and not in your native tongue, so I will
5 attempt to read it as slowly as possible. It deals
6 with Novi Travnik, and it notes as follows:
7 "A liaison officer team reported that
8 tensions are still high in Novi Travnik. A local
9 source (Croatian) stated that he believed the Croats in
10 Novi Travnik were going to try and instigate trouble
11 amongst the Croats and Muslims. Comment. If the talks
12 in Geneva are unsuccessful, they may use this as a
13 reason to initiate troubles among Croats and Muslims.
14 Comment ends."
15 My question for you, General, is is it true
16 that if the Croats believed that they were unsuccessful
17 in Geneva, that they were going to use that as an
18 excuse to cause problems with the Muslims?
19 A. Please, could you just tell me the date that
20 this document or, rather, this comment refers to?
21 Q. I'm sorry, General. The date is 8 January,
22 1993. I apologise.
23 A. I know that there was tension at the time in
24 Novi Travnik, and they were running high. Primarily,
25 there were tensions between the members of different
1 military groups, and we made a maximum effort, with the
2 assistance of the U.N., in order to take care of all
3 the problems and to ease the tensions. Part of my
4 command was in Novi Travnik so that they would resolve
5 all these incidents and conflicts. I don't know. I'm
6 not aware of any planned provocation of trouble,
7 because we were still working together against the
9 Q. General, in your discussions with Bruno
10 Stojic, did he discuss with you the fact that the HVO
11 was going to enforce this plan militarily, whether or
12 not the Serbs and the Muslims signed on?
13 A. No, he did not discuss it with me. He talked
14 to me in the following terms, that the plan would be
15 implemented when everybody signed it, and my main
16 question was demobilisation and joint command.
17 Q. Yet, General, you testified that on the 9th
18 of January, the Bruno Busic Brigade came to Novi
19 Travnik and the Ludvig Pavlovic Brigade came to Vitez;
20 isn't that correct?
21 A. That is correct. But these were not
22 brigades; these were battalions. Because Bruno Busic
23 had, perhaps, about 100 men and Ludvig Pavlovic about
24 50, so these were not brigades; they were battalions.
25 The point of them coming were joint activities, first
1 and foremost, in order to stabilise the front line at
2 Travnik because at that time, there was also a joint
3 command that was operating. Before all negotiations,
4 talks, agreements, et cetera, the situation would
5 usually be less stable throughout.
6 Q. Who sent them there, General?
7 A. Well, either Bruno Stojic or he would
8 authorise the head of the main staff to send them.
9 Q. Did you know that they were coming?
10 A. When they came, then I found out.
11 Q. Were you told when you were in Mostar on the
12 6th of January that three days later, two units were
13 going to come to Novi Travnik and come to Vitez?
14 A. That request for their arrival was sent a lot
15 earlier. Possibly this was discussed, but I do not
16 recall that in particular. I would have to look it
17 up. I know that there was a request put in by the
18 joint command, but it was considerably earlier. Let me
19 just have a look. No. In my chronology, there's no
20 mention of any discussion with Bruno Stojic
21 specifically with regard to that matter.
22 Q. Do you recall being informed prior to their
23 arrival that they were coming, given the fact that you
24 were the Central Bosnia Operative Zone commander?
25 A. I already said that I was aware of the fact
1 that a request was put in. Perhaps I was informed
2 too. But this request stemmed from the meeting between
3 General Pasalic, Prkacin, Dzemo Merdan, and myself,
4 that we would need forces, intervention forces, and for
5 the stabilisation of the front line. Possibly I was
6 aware of this, but I'm not too sure.
7 Q. General, just by way of clarification, would
8 it be fair to say that all of your conversations with
9 Bruno Stojic are not in the chronology that you
10 testified to on direct?
11 A. All main questions that I had and that I
12 discussed with Bruno Stojic, I highlighted here as
13 regards the 6th of January, 1993. That's the meeting
14 I'm referring to.
15 Q. Now, General, by the time the Bruno Busic
16 Brigade and the Ludvig Pavlovic Brigade got to Novi
17 Travnik and Vitez respectively, Prkacin was no longer
18 involved in activities in Central Bosnia; isn't that
20 A. I'm not aware of when his activity stopped.
21 I know that from time to time he would come to Zenica
22 as a member of the joint command. He would stay in
23 Vitez, Travnik, sometimes in Mostar. I really do not
24 have the precise date when this activity of his
1 Q. General, clearly by the beginning of January
2 of 1993, Prkacin was not part of any joint command any
3 more; isn't that right?
4 A. I already said that I do not know about that,
5 because when he was appointed a member of the joint
6 command, this was done by a public decision of the
7 Minister of Defence of the Republic of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina at a press conference in Busovaca.
9 But I do not know when a public decision was passed
10 that this post of his had expired. He was my superior,
11 and I was in no position to ask him when his term would
12 expire and whether he had the right documents or not.
13 Q. General, when did he stop being your
15 A. At that moment when orders were issued to
16 him, when his post as member of the joint command was
17 no longer operative --
18 JUDGE JORDA: General, please try to make an
19 effort. We are talking here of military issues and not
20 about civilian matters, so you must know when one of
21 your superiors ceased being one of your superiors.
22 A. Mr. President, he was my superior, but others
23 appointed him irrespective of me. So I don't know
24 honestly. He probably received orders --
25 JUDGE JORDA: General, you are a General, so
1 you must worry about who is your superior. Would you
2 please look through your documents, your personal
3 chronology, please?
4 A. I know who my superior is, Your Honours, but
5 the precise date when General Prkacin's and General
6 Pasalic's terms expired, that, I do not know. They
7 were members of the joint command.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Fine. This will be taken
10 Mr. Kehoe, you may move forward.
11 MR. KEHOE:
12 Q. General, this particular unit, the first one,
13 the Bruno Busic Brigade, were they HV soldiers, I mean,
14 soldiers of the Croatian army?
15 A. Not of the brigade. There's a great
16 difference between a brigade and a battalion. There's
17 a major difference. They were not brigades; they were
18 battalions. One was at company level. These are HVO
19 units that were established and organised by the
20 Department of Defence.
21 Q. With regard to these battalions, were these
22 HV soldiers, soldiers of the Republic of Croatia, in
23 the Bruno Busic Battalion?
24 A. As far as I know, because these are units
25 that are not from the structure of the Operative Zone
1 of Central Bosnia, but as far as I know, they were
2 members of the HVO, I'm saying, to the best of my
4 Q. General, where did they come from?
5 A. They came from Mostar. In one, there were
6 almost 100 soldiers, and in the other one, there were
7 almost 50 soldiers, that is to say, that the total
8 number of these soldiers is approximately 150.
9 Q. Now, General, these particular soldiers, as
10 soon as they came to Central Bosnia and Novi Travnik
11 and to Vitez, began to commit many crimes, didn't they?
12 A. In Novi Travnik, those who arrived in Novi
13 Travnik, they did commit disciplinary offences because
14 they immediately appropriated part of the hotel for
15 themselves, and they moved into this hotel. The same
16 was done by this unit. They took part of a school, and
17 they stayed at this school, and they did not wait for
18 the regular procedure or for someone to ensure this for
19 them. These were soldiers for these intervention
20 actions, and there were quite a few problems, at any
21 rate, in terms of their behaviour.
22 Q. Can you tell us about the particular crimes
23 that they committed first in Novi Travnik? I mean,
24 were they accused of being involved in rapes? Were
25 they accused of being involved in shootings and
1 beatings of the local population? Tell us a little
2 about that.
3 A. I know of an incident. Fire was opened in
4 the office of one of the commanders on the side of the
5 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and later on, they acted
6 against the Territorial Defence. There were also
7 arrests, mutual arrests, that is to say, these soldiers
8 arrested Territorial Defence soldiers, and the other
9 way around, Territorial Defence soldiers arrested
10 members of that unit.
11 Also, one rape was reported, and I believe
12 that there were other such offences. Therefore, I
13 asked the assistant for security of the Operative Zone
14 to be transferred with his office and with his men to
15 Novi Travnik and that in Novi Travnik he make an effort
16 to stabilise the situation and investigate all of this,
17 and that is what he did, in keeping with what I had
18 asked for.
19 Q. General, to be specific, this was a rape by a
20 member of the Bruno Busic Battalion against a Muslim
21 woman in Novi Travnik; isn't that right?
22 A. Yes. This was one case of rape, and I
23 already said that this case was processed and
24 prosecuted, and the assistant for security made his own
25 investigation and report in this respect.
1 Q. Is your testimony that this particular
2 soldier in the Bruno Busic Battalion was disciplined
3 and prosecuted?
4 A. I am asserting that this case of rape was
5 investigated, and it was completed by providing
6 information and also the findings of the investigation
7 to Mostar, to the security office there. This was not
8 in the structure of the Operative Zone of Central
9 Bosnia, and I don't know how and in which way this case
10 was taken further, that is to say, what the district
11 military court in Mostar did in respect to this
13 Q. General, let us take what you just said. You
14 said that the investigation was transferred down to
15 Mostar. Who in Mostar was responsible for ensuring
16 that this case was prosecuted or that this soldier was
17 disciplined? Who? Give us a name.
18 A. Well, at any rate, an officer of the security
19 administration who acquainted the public prosecutor in
20 Mostar with this crime, and he also filed a criminal
21 report. The district prosecutor in Mostar was supposed
22 to take further action in terms of prosecution with
23 regard to this crime.
24 Q. Again, who is the person who is responsible
25 for continuing this criminal prosecution in Mostar? Do
1 you know anybody?
2 A. I was not in charge of the district military
3 courts, and they had their own establishment in the
4 Ministry of Defence and within this administration. I
5 do not know the names of the officials there in the
7 Q. Now, let's move to discipline. Was this
8 soldier disciplined for the rape of this Muslim woman?
9 A. In principle, it was as follows: If it was a
10 crime, then the crime would be prosecuted by district
11 military courts, and if it is a question of a
12 disciplinary infraction, then this would be taken care
13 of by commanders at the appropriate level, that is to
14 say, that if someone is prosecuted for a crime, then
15 that is not at the same time a disciplinary infraction.
16 Q. Now, General, you told us previously that you
17 were interested in peaceful negotiations with the
18 Muslims. Do you think it was important for the Muslims
19 to know whether or not this particular soldier had been
20 disciplined or prosecuted for this rape? Do you think
21 that was significant for relations between the Muslims
22 and the Croats?
23 A. It certainly was important, and I personally
24 called the commander from Novi Travnik, Mr. Malbasic,
25 and I asked him that a meeting be held with the
1 representatives of the Muslim Bosniak people, that is
2 to say, the representatives of the army of
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina and that at that meeting, they be
4 acquainted with all the difficulties related to
5 problems of structure in terms of command, supervision,
6 command and control, the chain of command over such
7 units. This meeting was held between both commanders,
8 and Colonel Stewart gave us a lot of assistance in this
9 attempt to stabilise the situation and to avoid a
10 conflict, after all the incidents in Novi Travnik.
11 Q. I'm sure you gathered the information on what
12 happened to this rapist and passed it on to the Bosnian
13 authorities in Novi Travnik to assist in easing
14 tensions. Did you do that and what did you tell them
15 the punishment was that this soldier received?
16 A. I said that the meeting was held at the level
17 of commanders of brigades, and I believe that the
18 commander of the brigade, Borislav Malbasic, shared all
19 his information. I asked him to make it known that
20 these cases would be taken care of, that is to say,
21 that they would be investigated, that it would be
22 established who did it, and that measures would be
24 Q. General, you don't know of any punishment
25 that was given to this rapist, do you?
1 A. I believe that these records were kept by the
2 district military court. During my testimony, I
3 already said that from January until March 1993, there
4 were 92 crimes that were committed by persons in
5 uniform and that 31 criminal reports were filed and
6 that three rulings were passed by the district military
8 Q. My question is this, General: You do not
9 know of any punishment that was given to this rapist
10 for the crime he inflicted on this Bosnian Muslim
11 woman, do you?
12 A. I believe the court took care of this. I
13 don't know what the punishment was and for how long,
14 but I am deeply convinced that the court did do this.
15 Q. Now, in addition to this crime, there were
16 numerous crimes committed by the Ludvig Pavlovic
17 Brigade that was located in Vitez; isn't that right?
18 A. There were incidents that they committed to,
19 but there were incidents on both sides. On one side
20 were HVO units that were brought from elsewhere, and
21 then there were special purpose units from that part
22 that were joined in. On the other side were the same
23 kind of units from the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
24 Q. I'm talking now about the Ludvig Pavlovic
25 Brigade, and I'd ask you, General, to reserve your
1 comments just for the Ludvig Pavlovic Brigade.
2 My question concerning the Ludvig Pavlovic
3 Brigade is that after they came to Vitez on the 8th of
4 January, they committed numerous crimes in the Vitez
5 area; didn't they?
6 A. I know that they disturbed public law and
7 order together with other groups in the territory of
8 Vitez, and I already wanted to mention that there were
9 different groups that caused problems and difficulties
10 and disturbed the public law and order. There were
11 also crimes, certainly. This figure that I gave you
12 shows that, 92 for the first three months of the year.
13 Q. Now, let us talk about, first, the Ludvig
14 Pavlovic Brigade. How many members of the Ludvig
15 Pavlovic Brigade were either disciplined or prosecuted
16 for crimes they committed in the Vitez area in January
17 of 1993? How many?
18 A. I cannot give an exact answer as to how many,
19 because that brigade or, rather, that unit had its own
20 chain of command, and it is well-known that the
21 commander of that unit was in charge if disciplinary
22 infractions were committed, but if crimes were
23 committed, then reports were filed to those who were in
24 charge of prosecuting crimes, and those were district
25 military courts.
1 Q. So is your answer, General, that you do not
2 have any information about members of the Ludvig
3 Pavlovic Brigade either being disciplined or prosecuted
4 for crimes that they committed in Vitez or the Vitez
5 area in January of 1993? Is that your answer?
6 A. I personally do not have information here
7 with me, because these units were not directly
8 subordinated to me. These are not units belonging to
9 the structure of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia.
10 These were units of the Ministry of Defence. They can
11 be subordinated to the main staff at a given point in
13 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, 1.00. I was about
14 to move to another document. I don't know if Your
15 Honour wants to break at this point.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Absolutely. The hearing is
17 adjourned and we will resume at 2.30 this afternoon.
18 --- Luncheon recess taken at 1.00 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.34 p.m.
2 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please
3 be seated. Mr. Kehoe, you have the floor.
4 MR. KEHOE: Yes. Thank you, Mr. President.
5 Q. Now, General, we were talking, prior to the
6 break at lunch, that the Ludvig Pavlovic Brigade was in
7 Vitez and -- excuse me, Ludvig Pavlovic Battalion, as
8 well as the Bruno Busic Battalion being in Novi Travnik
9 while the Ludvig Pavlovic Battalion was in Vitez.
10 Now, we ended up talking about the Ludvig
11 Pavlovic Battalion, and they were garrisoned with the
12 Vitezovi in the Dubravica school, weren't they?
13 A. I know that they were billeted in Dubravica.
14 I don't know whether they were together with the
15 Vitezovi, because the Vitezovi also used a motel which
16 is called Ribnjak in Kruscica, Ribnjak or "fishpond."
17 So I don't know at that time whether they were together
18 or not.
19 Q. Well, in January of 1993, were some Vitezovi
20 soldiers billeted at the Dubravica school?
21 A. I don't know if they were. It is possible,
22 because they had their own command and control system,
23 and they were completely independent of my own
24 command. I'm not sure whether the Vitezovi were in the
25 school. Perhaps part of them were, but I'm really not
2 Q. Now, General, the conflict between the HVO
3 and the BiH, or the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, broke
4 out in Gornji Vakuf on the 11th of January, 1993; is
5 that correct?
6 A. The conflict in Gornji Vakuf between the BH
7 army and the HVO broke out in the first half of January
8 1993. I am not sure of the exact date but it is
9 possible that that was the date.
10 Q. Let's, for reference purposes, just clarify
11 the date if we can, to the best of our ability, with a
12 milinfosum, again another British battalion military
13 information summary.
14 MR. KEHOE: If I can, Mr. Registrar, I
15 believe the usher is otherwise occupied. Oh, there he
16 is. Thank you, Mr. Usher.
17 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 653.
18 MR. KEHOE:
19 Q. Let me just read you, for date purposes,
20 General, a portion of the military information summary
21 of the Cheshire Battalion of 11 January, 1993.
22 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Usher, I would like to go to
23 page 3 of this document, at the paragraph that
24 begins: "At 1705."
25 Q. I'll read it slowly for you, General. I
1 realise it is in English. Let me start by saying this
2 is a military information summary, General, for 11
3 January 1993.
4 "At 1705, Gornji Vakuf operations room
5 reported that fighting among the Croats and Muslims had
6 started with the sound of small-arms fire and mortars
7 coming from town. The BiH commander stated that the
8 attacks had been initiated by the HVO and that the BiH
9 were holding their positions. Four civilian injuries
10 were reported so far.
11 "At 2550, Gornji Vakuf operations room
12 reported that sporadic small-arms fire was occurring
13 frequently. The Muslims are reported to have sealed
14 the town and fortified their checkpoints. There were
15 reported to be a group of approximately 30 HOS soldiers
16 on the main road to Bugojno. Comment. These may be in
17 position to obstruct any possible BiH reinforcements
18 from Bugojno. Comment ends."
19 Now, General, does that refresh your
20 recollection on the approximate day that the conflict
21 broke out in Gornji Vakuf?
22 A. Yes. This does refresh my memory, and as I
23 said, the conflict in Gornji Vakuf took place in the
24 first half of January, 1993, and the conflict broke out
25 between the HVO and the BH army there, corps.
1 Q. Now, General, just to bring us geographically
2 in place, the town of Prozor that we talked about this
3 morning is on a major communications route that moves
4 up to Central Bosnia; isn't it?
5 A. Yes. If you take the road from Tomislavgrad
6 then the town of Prozor is on that main highway.
7 However, if you take the route from Jablanica and
8 Konjic there is a different road. There is another
9 alternate route through from Gola Brda to Konjic which
10 bypasses the town of Prozor and it goes via Kresevo to
12 You could reach Central Bosnia without going
13 through the town of Prozor.
14 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, counsel.
15 MR. HAYMAN: We've got to protect our client,
16 Mr. President.
17 JUDGE JORDA: I can understand that. The
18 conflict is spreading, it seems. Please be careful,
19 Mr. Usher. All right. Is it in place?
20 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Usher, if you could stand up
21 there, because I believe the witness has to lean to the
22 side of the map.
23 Q. Now, General, if you could stand up at this
24 map and take the pen, and if you could show us where --
25 JUDGE JORDA: If the two Defence counsels
1 want to get nearer, of course, they can do so.
2 MR. KEHOE:
3 Q. Now, General, I'd like to take a look at this
4 map and -- we're going to have to move this over a
5 little bit. I'll use the microphone right here. Thank
6 you very much.
7 We talked this morning about the HVO taking
8 control of the town of Prozor. Would you take that
9 marker and circle the town of Prozor? That's fine.
11 A. (Marks)
12 Q. Now, we just noted that the conflict had
13 broken out in the town of Gornji Vakuf on the 11th of
14 January. Can you circle the town of Gornji Vakuf?
15 A. I'm sorry. I think that you wanted me to
16 circle Gornji Vakuf, the Upper Vakuf rather than the
17 Donji Vakuf, which is what I heard. (Marks)
18 Q. Now, we also mentioned that the Bruno Busic
19 Battalion was in Novi Travnik. Could you circle the
20 town of Novi Travnik on that map? Down a little bit.
21 A. (Marks)
22 Q. And of course, we have the Ludvig Pavlovic
23 Brigade in the town of Vitez. Could you circle that?
24 A. (Marks)
25 Q. Now, General, between Prozor and Vitez a main
1 communication route would take the route that connects
2 these circles, wouldn't it? Prozor to Gornji Vakuf to
3 Novi Travnik and then down to Vitez.
4 A. Yes. There's several roads. They were built
5 during the war, from the time of the Serbian
6 aggression, and these are mountain roads. But I know
7 that there are roads from Prozor to Vitez.
8 Q. But that is the main route, is it not, from
9 Prozor up through to Vitez?
10 A. There are several roads going from Gornji
11 Vakuf to Vitez. You could go either through Novi
12 Travnik or through Sebesic or through Fojnica. The
13 roads forked there, but it's all mountain -- it's a
14 mountainous region and for the most part these were
15 macadam roads through the forest.
16 Q. General, I would like you to mark the road
17 that you would take from Prozor to Gornji Vakuf to Novi
18 Travnik and to Vitez. Could you mark that route? I
19 ask you to just press hard so that everybody can see
21 A. (Marks)
22 Q. Now, General, if one were to travel from
23 Prozor to Mostar, and I realise that Mostar is not on
24 the map, leaving Prozor, which way would one travel?
25 A. Your Honours, there are again two ways: One
1 is a mountain road over Mount Vran to Tomislavgrad and
2 then on to Mostar, and the second one is from Prozor
3 down towards Jablanica and then again further down
4 along the Neretva River Valley to Mostar. So there
5 were, in essence, two roads, even though during the war
6 there were some alternate routes which were built
7 there, and I can find them if you want.
8 Q. If you can mark those two routes that you
9 were talking about, that would be helpful.
10 A. (Marks)
11 Q. Thank you, General. You can have a seat.
12 General, at the time of the commencement of
13 hostilities in Gornji Vakuf on the 11th of January, the
14 HVO was in control of Prozor and had special units
15 garrisoned in both Novi Travnik and in Vitez; is that
16 an accurate picture of things as of the 11th of
18 A. If you can just clarify it for me, when
19 you're talking about Prozor, are you referring to the
20 town of Prozor or to the municipality of Prozor?
21 Q. Just the town, sir.
22 A. It is possible that the HVO -- I assume that
23 they had control over the town itself, and on 11
24 January, 1993, special purpose units were still in
25 Travnik and Vitez.
1 Q. Now, General, you were in communication with
2 your colleagues in Gornji Vakuf during this period of
3 time continuously assessing the situation, weren't you?
4 A. I was occasionally in contact with the
5 commander of the northwestern Herzegovinian Operative
6 Zone. I was concerned about the situation in Gornji
7 Vakuf because the 3rd Corps of the BH army took part in
8 this conflict, that is, the 3rd Corps from Zenica, in
9 other words, the one which had their forces deployed in
10 Vitez, Busovaca, Travnik, and elsewhere.
11 Q. As the fighting was going on in Gornji Vakuf,
12 you were making preparations to launch activities in
13 Central Bosnia, weren't you?
14 A. The units under my command did not take part
15 in the conflict in Gornji Vakuf, but the units of the
16 3rd Corps, which shared the area with me, did take part
17 in this fighting in Gornji Vakuf. I was, of course,
18 concerned about this because the entire movement of
19 both the troops and the materiel was taking place in
20 the area which was shared with the HVO. I had ordered
21 the reconnaissance and monitoring of the movements of
22 these troops, but there were no special measures or
23 steps taken in order to provoke a conflict with the BH
24 army. Obviously, the monitoring was stepped up because
25 a lot of combat units of the 3rd Corps were being sent
1 to -- just to be very specific, the combat units of the
2 BH army were being sent over to Gornji Vakuf.
3 Q. General, before we get into the actual
4 details beginning on the 12th of January, let me
5 reference you to a document, this is a part of the
6 diary from Lieutenant Colonel Stewart, and the
7 reference that we are going to discuss is the reference
8 as of Tuesday, 12 January, 1993.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 654.
10 MR. KEHOE:
11 Q. Now, General, this again is in English, and I
12 will read it to you. It's at the bottom of the page,
13 Mr. Usher.
14 "Tuesday 12 January. Novi Travnik was
15 surprisingly quiet overnight. I had ordered that the
16 Standby Platoon was to go in there at 0900hrs and that
17 Andrew MacDonald was to assume responsibility for the
18 area - if necessary backing it all up with another
19 platoon. For my part I wanted to see Blaskic; as we
20 had been told by the HVO that he was the authority for
21 anything that happened with regard to the HVO. It was
22 much the same story with Vares a few weeks ago.
23 Blaskic does seem to be the power in 'HVO Land.'"
24 Now, General, in reference to that particular
25 comment by Lieutenant Colonel Stewart, I would like to
1 show you yet another milinfosum of 12 January, 1993,
2 and I'd like to talk about these two items together.
3 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 655.
4 MR. KEHOE: The first item is going to be on
5 page 2 of this milinfosum dated 12 January, 1993. It
6 has "1992" on the top. I'm sorry; it does say "1993."
7 I look to page 2, paragraph 3, "Novi Travnik," which
8 starts, "The situation ..." and I'll read this again
9 slowly, General.
10 "The situation is still extremely tense with
11 both sides appearing to be unable to talk to each other
12 and the HVO using any excuse to antagonise the
13 situation. Following the prisoner exchange on the 10th
14 Jan., Major Malbasic claimed he had received a letter
15 from Colonel Blaskic (the HVO district commander)
16 questioning his decision to authorise the prisoner
17 exchange and speak to UNPROFOR. Comment. Colonel
18 Blaskic appears keen to antagonise the situation
19 between Croats and Muslims in Novi Travnik. Comment
21 General, you told us that during this period
22 of time, you were attempting to accommodate and resolve
23 problems with the Muslims, yet you're complaining about
24 a prisoner exchange that takes place on the 12th of
25 January; is that correct, sir?
1 A. No, and allow me to make a comment here. On
2 12 January, 1993, I had a meeting with Colonel Stewart
3 on the situation in Novi Travnik, but this is a
4 completely different situation as per the meeting which
5 we held over the situation in Vares.
6 After the meeting about Novi Travnik, I
7 personally called Mr. Malbasic, who was the commander
8 in Novi Travnik, and gave him specific tasks in order
9 to calm down the situation, establishing contact with
10 the commander of the 308th Brigade of Novi Travnik,
11 that is, the BH army brigade. I also issued an order
12 prohibiting breaking into private homes, this was an
13 order specifically to Malbasic, and I gave him
14 guidelines for the meeting with the 308th Brigade. It
15 was to 1, calm down the situation; 2, investigate all
16 incidents; and 3, return of the weapons and other
17 equipment which had been taken.
18 Also, in principle, I was advocating for all
19 the exchanges to be done through the mediation of the
20 ICRC and international organisations and the U.N. The
21 U.N., as far as I knew, did not have the mandate for
22 the prisoner exchanges. Only the Red Cross did.
23 Q. On the same day of the 12th of January, you
24 also seized an ammunition truck of the army of
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina because you stated the truck was
1 headed towards Gornji Vakuf; is that right?
2 A. I do not have such information. I know about
3 the equipment, that it had been taken away, and the
4 reason for it was because it was not accompanied by any
5 documents. It was being transported with the
6 humanitarian aid. It consisted of about 50 uniforms.
7 If you have any document or other reference,
8 I can comment on it.
9 This would have been a duty of the police,
10 but they were subordinate to me in their daily tasks.
11 Q. General, let's look at the next page of this
12 military information summary, page 3, the second to
13 last paragraph which notes:
14 "The commanding officer," talking about
15 Colonel Stewart. "The commanding officer spoke to
16 Colonel Blaskic late this afternoon. Colonel Blaskic
17 stated that he had the BiH ammunition truck. He
18 claimed to have intercepted it because its destination
19 was Gornji Vakuf. Did he not want the ammunition to
20 get to Gornji Vakuf, as he was worried that it would
21 escalate the problem there."
22 Now, I just asked you whether or not you had
23 intercepted an ammunition truck and you said no. Do
24 you want to change that answer?
25 A. No. I said that I did not remember that
1 part, but I do remember the military equipment part.
2 It is possible that in the zone of responsibility --
3 and here I would like to really make it very clear that
4 this is the zone of responsibility of Novi Travnik.
5 This is at least one level below me. I gave Malbasic a
6 directive to exchange the weapons and the equipment
7 which had been taken away.
8 Now, I do not know what the army had
9 intercepted, what they had taken away from the HVO.
10 That I do not know at the other end.
11 Q. General, at this particular period of time
12 you and the HVO in Gornji Vakuf were part of a plan to
13 take over canton 8 and 10, weren't you, for the HVO?
14 A. There was no general plan that I am aware of,
15 and I really do not know of any such plan. In
16 addition, this is a geographically isolated area -- I
17 mean, a different area. This is part of the Vrbas
18 River water system. For us in Central Bosnia, it was
19 only significant as part of the communications. It was
20 part of the Northwestern Herzegovina Operative Zone.
21 But I talked to General Merdan about the fact that any
22 movements of the army which went -- that is, the
23 3rd Corps, that went from Zenica to Gornji Vakuf should
24 be announced in advance.
25 Q. Let me show you another document, General.
1 I'm sorry.
2 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, this document
3 is speaking of the situation on 12th January. 1993 did
4 you explain, Mr. Kehoe? Not 1992.
5 MR. KEHOE: Yes. Actually, the top of the
6 document does reflect 1993.
7 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, would you
8 accept it's 1993 and not 1992?
9 A. Yes, Your Honour, '93.
10 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, I want you to look
11 at page 2, almost in the middle, and more particularly
12 the last sentence of that paragraph which Mr. Kehoe put
13 to you. There is a comment there. "Colonel Blaskic
14 appears keen to antagonise the situation between Croats
15 and Muslims."
16 Well now, as briefly as you can answer, was
17 that comment accurate or not accurate?
18 A. That comment is inaccurate.
19 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: My next question is:
20 Have you any reason to offer why the writer of this
21 document would have stated an inaccuracy of that kind?
22 A. It is possible that he didn't have enough
23 knowledge about all the problems of functioning within
24 the HVO establishment. Even more than that, perhaps he
25 was, like myself, taken by surprise since the law and
1 order in Travnik were so disturbed.
2 Perhaps I should dwell on this a bit longer.
3 In Novi Travnik we had conflicts between Croats and
4 Croats too, that is to say, between the HVO and the
5 HVO. This was at the beginning of November when there
6 was open fighting between the HVO of Jajce and the HVO
7 of Novi Travnik.
8 We also had a conflict between the HVO and
9 the TO. We had a conflict between the HVO of Novi
10 Travnik and the HOS from Novi Travnik.
11 In January, it is only with ultimate efforts
12 made by the TO and the HVO and Colonel Stewart, who
13 gave patrols for the town of Novi Travnik. It is only
14 in this way that we managed to alleviate the situation
15 in Travnik and prevent the outbreak of a new conflict
17 Everything that is abnormal anywhere else was
18 normal there, that is to say, abductions of persons,
19 numerous incidents, et cetera. Most of my co-workers
20 spent most of their time in Novi Travnik, and I was
21 with Malbasic and I was also with the leadership of
22 Novi Travnik.
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Colonel Stewart might
24 have misunderstood the situation?
25 A. Well, Your Honour, as far as I understood it
1 a few minutes ago, because I haven't got the document
2 here in front of me and I don't understand the
3 language, but Colonel Stewart says that the situation
4 was similar to the situation in Vares. If that is so,
5 then in Vares the problem was between HVO soldiers and
6 UNPROFOR soldiers, and I did not consider that to be a
7 problem either.
8 Then there was another matter when I met with
9 Colonel Stewart. That was the repair of the bridge in
10 Vares. I told him I was surprised why he was asking me
11 for permission for him to repair the bridge. We were
12 happy to have anyone help us and no permit was
13 required. He insisted. "Well, I want you to allow me
14 to do it," he said. Since he asked me for that kind of
15 permission, I gave him that kind of permission,
16 although until the present day I do not know what he
17 needed that permission for.
18 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you, General.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Please move on, Mr. Kehoe.
20 MR. KEHOE: Yes, if I can. Mr. Usher.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Just a minute. Judge Rodrigues
22 has a question for the witness.
23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, on this document
24 we find a reference made to a conflict taking place in
25 Novi Travnik, a conflict between Croats and Muslims.
1 Do you have the document 650 before you?
2 A. I don't have it before me here, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Well, the registrar will
4 take the necessary measures for you to have it before
5 you in a minute. I'll start with my question.
6 We have here a conflict between Croats and
7 Muslims. Are we talking about Croatian Croats --
8 Croats from Croatia or Croats from Bosnia?
9 A. Your Honour, in this document 650, we see the
10 date of the 20th of October, 1992. This is the
11 conflict between the HVO, the Croatian Defence Council,
12 and the Territorial Defence, that is to say, Croats
13 from Bosnia and Muslims, Bosniaks from Bosnia, from the
14 municipality of Travnik -- Novi Travnik, I'm sorry.
15 JUDGE RODRIGUES: All right. I'll go on with
16 my question. The chief of staff of the army of
17 Republika Srpska, could he make a distinction between
18 HV and HVO forces or not?
19 A. At that time, those were still the beginnings
20 of the establishment of the HVO, not all had insignia
21 but some soldiers did wear insignia. However, he was
22 not in a position to see this conflict because the
23 front lines of the Serb army are far away from Novi
24 Travnik after all, but he could see the area where the
25 conflict was taking place, and I believe that he could
1 have distinguished between the troops that he was in a
2 position to see.
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: If we look at document 650,
4 we see that answering a question put to you by
5 Mr. Kehoe, you said that the reference that was made in
6 paragraph 2 of that document to the HV forces was, in
7 fact, a reference made to HVO. I think you corrected
8 that. Is that right or am I wrong?
9 A. Your Honour, the HVO did not leave the front
10 line at Jajce. It did not. It says here --
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me, General. I
12 think that you answered a question put to you by
13 Mr. Kehoe by saying that here one was supposed to read
14 HVO and not HV.
15 A. Right.
16 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Fine. But if you look at
17 document 650, you will notice, at the end of the first
18 paragraph, that a reference is made to conflicts taking
19 place between Muslims and Croat forces in Novi
20 Travnik. At the end of paragraph 2, we see that a
21 reference is made to HV forces. Now, in paragraph 3,
22 reference is made to the HV forces once again. In
23 paragraph 8, entitled "Conclusion," we can also see
24 there a reference made to HV forces.
25 So if we try to establish links between this
1 document, document 650, and document 655, we are able
2 to see that there is, in both documents, a reference
3 made to Croat forces. I would add that in document
4 650, we find at least four references made to HV
5 forces, not to HVO forces.
6 A. Your Honour, I already said the problem is
7 that we are making comments on the tactical situation
8 and the document 650 is on an operational/strategic
10 This 1st Corps of the army of Republika
11 Srpska had its headquarters in Banja Luka and it
12 defended the most vital areas of Banja Luka from the
13 point of view of the interests of the Serbs. That was
14 the greatest military potential of the Serbs and it was
15 the largest of all the corps they had. For example, he
16 gives the problem of Orasje by the Sava River. That is
17 north of Bosnia. It has nothing to do with Central
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, I'm sorry I'm
20 interrupting you again, but this is my question: In
21 document 650, we see that there are four references
22 made to HV forces. If there was three times a
23 reference made to HVO and then one reference made to
24 the HV, then we might be entitled to think that there
25 is a mistake in this document. But in the four cases,
1 we are talking about the HV forces. So is it really a
2 mistake or shouldn't we, in fact, read "HV" and not
3 "HVO" in this document? What do you think?
4 A. I know for sure - I know for sure - that the
5 units of the Croatian army were not in Jajce. The
6 units of the Croatian army were not in Jajce, but I do
7 not see the HVO mentioned in the document, although I
8 haven't read it carefully. It practically doesn't say
9 "HVO" anywhere.
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I think I've understood
11 what you meant. Thank you, General.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Judge Rodrigues. It
13 was something that was important and that should have
14 been raised.
15 All right. Mr. Kehoe, you may continue.
16 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. President. If we
17 can go to the next document, Mr. Registrar.
18 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 656 and
19 656A for the English version.
20 MR. KEHOE:
21 Q. Now, General, in this particular document, on
22 the 15th of January, you are requesting information
23 from the brigades or the Operative Zone of
24 Tomislavgrad, the Ante Starcevic Brigade in Gornji
25 Vakuf and also the brigade in Bugojno, and you note:
1 "Please send us information on the situation
2 in your Brigade's area of responsibility, with an
3 emphasis on the current situation in Gornji Vakuf."
4 Now, it was important for you, as we move
5 into the middle of January 1993, to know exactly what
6 was taking place in Gornji Vakuf, wasn't it?
7 A. This is just an indicator that we did not
8 have sufficient information about all these events and
9 that we were forced to intervene and ask for
10 information to be submitted to us on the situation in
11 the zone of responsibility with emphasis on the current
12 situation in Gornji Vakuf.
13 I already said that the 3rd Corps, which was
14 in the same area as the Operative Zone of Central
15 Bosnia, was taking part in the conflict.
16 JUDGE JORDA: I think we've understood your
17 answer perfectly, General Blaskic.
18 MR. KEHOE:
19 Q. Now, let us turn to another series of
20 documents that were executed on the 15th of January,
21 the same day where you request this information.
22 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 657, 657A
23 for the French version, and 657B for the English
25 MR. KEHOE:
1 Q. General, this is a document executed by
2 Jadranko Prlic, then the president of the HVO for the
3 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, and reads as
4 follows, dated 15 January, 1993:
5 "In line with the agreements which were
6 reached and signed at the International Conference on
7 the Former Yugoslavia and the peace agreement in Bosnia
8 and Herzegovina (the Geneva agreements), the
9 HVO /Croatian Defence Council/ of the HZ HB /Croatian
10 Community of Herceg-Bosna/ reached a decision at a
11 special meeting in Mostar on 15 January 1993:
12 1. All units of the BH /Bosnia and
13 Herzegovina/ Army currently in regions 3, 8 and 10
14 which were proclaimed Croatian in the Geneva agreements
15 are subordinate to the Command of the Main Headquarters
16 of the HVO Armed Forces.
17 2. All units of the HVO Armed Forces
18 currently in regions 1, 5 and 9 which were proclaimed
19 Muslim in the Geneva agreements are subordinate to the
20 Command of the General Staff of the BH Army Command.
21 3. Units of the Kiseljak and Kresevo HVOs
22 whose municipalities are in region 7, remain under the
23 command of the Main Headquarters of the HVO Command
24 until a final agreement has been reached on the status
25 of region 7.
1 4. This decision is deemed temporary and
2 shall remain in force until the Geneva agreement on the
3 organisation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and peace in
4 Bosnia and Herzegovina is finally signed.
5 5. The decision shall be implemented within
6 5 (five) days, starting from today, 15 January 1993.
7 6. The decision shall be implemented by the
8 Head of the Defence Department of the HVO of the
9 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna."
10 General, let us move to the next document,
11 and we will look at these three documents in sequence,
12 and this is the order of Bruno Stojic.
13 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 658, 658A
14 for the French version and 658B for the English
15 version. As far as Prosecution Exhibit 657 is
16 concerned, 657A is the French version and 657B is the
17 English version, contrary to what appeared in the
19 MR. KEHOE:
20 Q. Now, General, on the 15th of January, the
21 Defence Minister or the head of the defence department
22 is Bruno Stojic, and he implements this order on the
23 same day as Jadranko Prlic's order of the 15th. In the
24 first paragraph of this order, number 1 reads:
25 "1. The Main Headquarters of the HVO Armed
1 Forces must immediately contact all Operations Zones
2 and Staffs of the BH /Bosnia and Herzegovina/ Army in
3 regions 3, 8, 10 and 1, 5 and 9 in order to implement
4 the HZ HB HVO Decision," and it gives the number and
5 "15 January 1993."
6 "2. All units of the HVO Armed Forces and
7 BH Army who refuse to acknowledge the command referred
8 to in points 1 and 2 of the above-mentioned Decision of
9 the HZ HB HVO must leave the region which they do not
10 belong to."
11 If we could move down to number 5.
12 "5. Officers of the BH Army must also join
13 the HVO Armed Forces Command at the level of the
14 Operations Zones and Brigades in numbers proportionate
15 to the number of soldiers at the front.
16 6. I forbid the engagement of any officers
17 of the BH Army who have so far been influencing the
18 break-up of relations between the Croatian and Muslim
19 peoples and brought about all clashes which have had
20 tragic consequences.
21 7. The deadline for carrying out this order
22 is 1900 hours on 20 January 1993."
23 Before we discuss this, let us move to the
24 next document which is the order of Milivoj Petkovic,
25 also on the 15th of January.
1 THE REGISTRAR: This is 659, Prosecution
2 Exhibit 659A for the English version.
3 MR. KEHOE:
4 Q. Now, General, this is Milivoj Petkovic's
5 order of the same day, and we will not read all of the
6 provisions here. Again, it is the order subordinating
7 the BiH army to the HVO in provinces 3, 8, and 10. As
8 we read point number 1 of this order:
9 "1. All units of the HVO and the BH Army
10 Armed Forces in provinces 3, 8 and 10 (the Croatian
11 provinces) shall be placed under command of the HVO
12 Main Staff, i.e., under the command of the Central
13 Bosnia, North-West and South-East Herzegovina Operative
15 This is now down to number 4.
16 "4. Members and units of the HVO and the BH
17 Army Armed Forces that fail to submit to the commands
18 as stipulated in Items 1 and 2 of this Order must leave
19 the territory of provinces they do not belong to,
20 otherwise they will be considered paramilitary, and
22 If we turn the page, the deadline for this
23 order is 20 January, 1993.
24 Now, General, we have a series of orders that
25 emanate from the president of the HVO, Jadranko Prlic,
1 down to the Minister of Defence, Bruno Stojic, and then
2 down to the Chief of Staff, Milivoj Petkovic, all
3 taking place on the 15th of January, 1993. These
4 orders, ending with Milivoj Petkovic's order, is an
5 order to the Bosnian army to subordinate themselves to
6 the HVO, and if they are not subordinated, they will be
7 disarmed and considered to be paramilitaries. Is that
8 an accurate reading of these series of orders, General?
9 A. No. It is not correct to interpret this
10 series of orders in such a way, because in all these
11 orders, the subordination of all BH army units to the
12 HVO is requested but also of the HVO to the army of
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina, that is to say, subordination works
14 both ways. The HVO should be subordinated to the army
15 of Bosnia-Herzegovina in certain provinces and the army
16 of Bosnia-Herzegovina, according to these orders, was
17 supposed to be resubordinated to the HVO.
18 The other thing I wish to say, since you
19 showed me a series of three orders and I could not say
20 a word about any of them, these are not all the
21 relevant orders. There is one order that is missing,
22 and I believe that this is no accident. This is the
23 order of the Minister of Defence of the Republic of
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina, that is to say, that the Minister
25 of Defence of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina issued
1 the same kind of order on the 15th of January, and that
2 order was repeated on several occasions, on television,
3 in the media, on radio.
4 From that order onwards, the authorities
5 acted in that way, issuing these authorities. The
6 document that was signed by Jadranko Prlic, this
7 document is a decision of the civilian authorities,
8 that is to say, the civilian authorities issued an
9 order. This was signed by Jadranko Prlic. I never
10 talked to him about this document, and I had never seen
11 the document before.
12 Document 658 that you showed to me here and
13 which was signed by the head of the Defence Department
14 of Herceg-Bosna, later the Minister of Defence, Bruno
15 Stojic, was sent to the main staff of the army of
16 Bosnia-Herzegovina for their information, that is to
17 say, that this was no secret. It was sent to the main
18 staff of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, it was sent to
19 the Minister of Defence of the Republic of
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina for his information, and it was also
21 sent to the administration of the military police.
22 Also, in this document, 658, the item that
23 was omitted orders the members of the military
24 police -- these orders are issued by the head of the
25 military police to establish checkpoints in the
1 provinces, that is to say, that all levels of command
2 are being skipped, the Operative Zone, and direct order
3 is issued to the military to establish checkpoints
4 irrespective of any other commander.
5 In point 8 of document 658, it is quite
6 obvious that the same level of command of the head of
7 the military police and of the head of the main staff
8 of the HVO, that their level is the same.
9 Another thing, this document, I received 659
10 and it caused great concern in the Operative Zone. It
11 was the subject of a separate meeting that I convened
12 with all my commanders because it was impossible to
13 carry this out in my Operative Zone.
14 In Central Bosnia, I border with the forces
15 of the 1st Corps of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the
16 3rd Corps, the 2nd Corps, and partly the 4th Corps
17 too. Even if I had the best established army in the
18 world, I could not resubordinate four corps to myself.
19 Also, this order required from me, if I were
20 to implement it, that in the Lasva Valley the BH army
21 be subordinated to the HVO, but in Zepce the HVO should
22 be subordinated to the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
23 Kakanj and Vares are not mentioned at all. What would
24 the HVO do there and so on?
25 After I read this order, I gave instructions
1 to my subordinates that we should wait to receive
2 instructions as to how this should be carried out, that
3 this should be given to us by Milivoj Petkovic and
4 Mr. Sefer Halilovic, but the order of the Minister of
5 Defence of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina was
6 received also by the general staff of the BH army.
7 There was one Minister of Defence.
8 Q. Now, who was the Minister of Defence of the
9 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
10 A. At this time it was Mr. Bozo Rajic. Before
11 him was Mr. Jerko Doko.
12 Q. Now, let's stay with Bozo Rajic. Bozo Rajic
13 issued a subordination order, as you described, which
14 was immediately countermanded by President Izetbegovic,
15 wasn't it? Immediately?
16 A. I don't know of that.
17 Q. Okay.
18 A. It was broadcast on television on several
19 occasions, but if you say so, it is possible. I don't
20 know about this. I did not communicate with President
21 Izetbegovic regarding that order at that time.
22 Q. Look at Exhibit 657 and look at the preamble,
23 General. This is the order of Jadranko Prlic. There
24 is no reference in that preamble or anywhere in that
25 document -- I'm sorry.
1 MR. KEHOE: If we could keep those documents
2 with the witness, all of them, please.
3 Q. Look at that document, General. There is no
4 reference to any order of Bozo Rajic in the preamble,
5 is there?
6 A. In terms of contents, this order is identical
7 to the one of Bozo Rajic, and in this preamble the
8 reference is made to this. I guess he had more
9 information on this. I was not involved in these
10 negotiations in Geneva and elsewhere.
11 Q. So there is no reference to Bozo Rajic's
12 order in this preamble?
13 A. Not in the preamble. The contents of this
14 order and Bozo Rajic's one are practically identical.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, General Blaskic and
16 Mr. Kehoe. I'm a bit confused. Do we have that
17 document or don't we have it?
18 MR. KEHOE: It is not the documents,
19 Mr. President. Bozo Rajic issued an subordination
20 order that was immediately countermanded by President
21 Izetbegovic. We have this particular document, with a
22 vote by the Croatian Defence Council in this decision
23 in Mostar on 15 January 1993. The Bozo Rajic
24 particular document --
25 JUDGE JORDA: Because it's an important
1 issue, I must insist on this. I'm sorry.
2 The witness is telling us that this order can
3 be understood when we read another identical order
4 which has been issued by the officials of the Republic
5 of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and then we can understand
6 better what General Blaskic is saying, i.e., that
7 mutatis mutandis the HVO forces are going under the
8 control of the BH army according to the Geneva
9 agreement, but I was under the impression that the
10 Geneva agreement had not been signed.
11 Here the question is different, General
12 Blaskic, and that will be my only question, in fact:
13 These different decisions, are they unilateral
14 decisions emanating from the HVO or are they the
15 manifestation of some kind of agreement by which all
16 parties involved accept the Geneva agreement?
17 Is it unilateral, in which case, of course,
18 the situation appears in a different light. Does it
19 mean that the HVO forces are going to come under the
20 control of the BiH army in regions 1, 5, and 9? It
21 would be useless. But if it's not a unilateral
22 decision emanating from the HVO, then the situation is
23 rather different and I understand your answer better.
24 That's the reason why I'm insisting on this particular
1 I don't have the answer to my own question at
2 this moment of the debate. Maybe towards the end of
3 the trial we'll have an answer to that question.
4 A. Your Honours, I do not know. In fact, I'm
5 just learning today that President Izetbegovic did
6 countermand an order of his minister. I did not know
7 of this.
8 I knew of the decision of Bozo Rajic,
9 Minister of Defence of the Republic of
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina, which essentially is identical to
11 this order. At that time I did have the document
12 number 659 in my file. Bozo Rajic's order was
13 rebroadcast for a number of times in that period of
14 time on television.
15 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Mr. Kehoe, please
16 go on. Thank you, General Blaskic.
17 MR. KEHOE:
18 Q. General, Bozo Rajic was a Croat, wasn't he?
19 A. Bozo Rajic was a Croat and Jerko Doko was a
20 Croat, because the Croats, according to the agreement
21 with the Muslims, did get the Ministry of Defence,
22 whereas the Muslims got the Ministry of the Interior.
23 Q. Let us turn to the next document, General,
24 which is Prosecutor's 456/6.
25 Now, General, this is your order of the 16th
1 of January, 1993, the next day after this order was
2 received from Milivoj Petkovic on subordinating ABiH
3 units to the HVO with the threat to be considered
4 paramilitaries or disarm. You issue a full combat
5 readiness order for all HVO formations in the Central
6 Bosnia Operative Zone, including the Bruno Busic
7 formation, Ludvig Pavlovic formation, the Vitezovi
8 formation, the Travnik police department, and the
9 4th Military Police Battalion.
10 You write as follows:
11 "Pursuant to the order of the Mostar HVO
12 headquarters, number 01-66/93, dated 15 January, 1993,
13 and due to the open and deceitful aggression of Muslim
14 forces all over the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna,
15 which has caused scores of HVO members to be killed and
16 a number of them to be wounded, as well as Croatian
17 homes to be burned and the Croatian people driven out,
18 for the purpose of the self-defence of the people and
19 the territory of Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna I
20 hereby order:
21 "1. The full combat readiness of
23 "2. All HVO formations are to be in a
24 maximum state of readiness."
25 If we move four down you note that:
1 "4. Muslims and HVO formations who disobey
2 our orders are to be disarmed and isolated."
3 On the next page, number 5, you tell the
4 4th Military Police Battalion that it is to control the
5 traffic and confiscate equipment and weapons from all
6 Muslim transports and put them at the disposal of the
7 HVO forces.
8 So one day after this subordination order,
9 you put all of your troops on full combat readiness,
10 and you tell the 4th Military Police Battalion to
11 confiscate weapons from Muslim transports. Now, it
12 sounds like you're getting ready for combat activities,
13 doesn't it, General?
14 A. Can I just get the order, please, the
15 previous one? The one of the 15th, please. The order
16 on the subordination.
17 Your Honours, this is not my order on the
18 full combat alert but, rather, this is issued by
19 General Petkovic, the one on temporary attachment.
20 Document 659 has a registration number 01-70/93. This
21 is the 659. The document 456/6, I refer to the order
22 which I had received from the chief of the main staff,
23 with registration number 01-66/93 of 15 January. In
24 other words, I refer to another document. I believe
25 that the heading was just copied from that order.
1 In this order, the combat readiness level is
2 requested to be raised to the highest level, and I
3 believe that all the other items were copied as they
4 were in the order 01-66/93 of 15 January.
5 As far as disarming of the ethnic Muslim
6 soldiers within the HVO, I know that this did not
7 happen because I knew at the time that there were
8 Bosniak Muslims there. The chief of operations in Novi
9 Travnik was a Bosniak Muslim. He was never disarmed.
10 As far as the tasks to the military police
11 are concerned, we just saw that the Minister of Defence
12 is issuing orders to the military police at the
13 checkpoints, and I know that -- again, I think that the
14 order of 01-66 was copied. I know there were no big
15 problems around that because most of the convoys were
16 coming through Gornji Vakuf at the time, and there are
17 other things here.
18 Q. Well, the first thing, this was an extremely
19 significant event, putting the entire area on a full
20 combat readiness, wasn't it?
21 A. Let me just tell you, to put the entire area
22 to full combat readiness alert just means to raise
23 alertness when the Minister of Defence of
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina issues documents such as this, which
25 was published for the first time publicly. So the
1 situation was tense and we could not allow ourselves to
2 just be lying in bed.
3 So this is a regular military measure. This
4 is something that you do when, in the vicinity, there
5 are combat operations going on.
6 Q. So you knew, when you issued this order, that
7 there was going to be a negative reaction from the
8 Muslims from this subordination order issued by Prlic,
9 Stojic, and Petkovic; isn't that right?
10 A. My apologies. All Bosniak Muslim soldiers
11 received this order from their Minister of Defence of
12 the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, unless it was
13 somebody else. We all received it from the same
14 source, and I believe that they received it also from
15 the Minister of Defence of Republic of
16 Bosnia-Herzegovina, which certainly did cause some
17 confusion on both sides.
18 Q. Well, you passed this order down to your
19 subordinate brigades, didn't you?
20 A. If I receive an order from the chief of main
21 staff, at least I am obliged to send it down to my
22 subordinate brigades, but there's also a remark in the
23 order as to the method of distributing it.
24 I sent it to them, and I told the brigade
25 commanders at a meeting which was called only on that
2 On the 14th I had a regular meeting and on
3 the 16th I had an extraordinary meeting with them
4 precisely with respect to these issues.
5 Q. General, the full combat readiness order is
6 one step below a preparation combat order which then
7 leads to the actual combat order; isn't that right?
8 A. No, no. This is not part of any doctrine of
9 any army. You can give full combat readiness on the
10 first degree, second, third degree. You can do it when
11 you have an exercise, when you have some major events
12 going on in a neighbouring country. The preparatory
13 combat order is what precedes the actual combat order.
14 I don't think this is what -- what you said
15 is in the doctrine of any military organisation
17 Q. We'll move on to the next document.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, what about taking a
19 break right now? We've been sitting for some time
20 now. I think we can take a break of 20 minutes.
21 --- Recess taken at 3.53 p.m.
22 --- On resuming at 4.15 p.m.
23 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resume. Please
24 be seated.
25 Yes, Mr. Kehoe?
1 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. Thank you.
2 If we can move to the next document.
3 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 660, 660A
4 for the English version. The map on which the witness
5 made a number of indications will be Prosecution
6 Exhibit 661.
7 MR. KEHOE:
8 Q. Now, General, take a look at Exhibit 660,
9 which is a document from the Jure Francetic Brigade
10 signed by Zivko Totic that is based on an order of the
11 main staff and your order of the same date, referenced
12 in the preamble, 01-1-184/93. Now, this particular
13 order, General, essentially follows your order. I ask
14 you, in this order from Zivko Totic, if you could take
15 a look at number 4, and in number 4 of this order,
16 Totic orders that his troops:
17 "4. Stop any organised movement of Muslim
18 forces with all available means. I hereby prohibit
19 movement along these axes by armed individuals and
20 groups in combat gear. They should be intercepted and
21 disarmed if they fail to follow the order."
22 Now, again, General, in raising your troops
23 to combat readiness of the highest level, this was an
24 extremely significant event militarily for the troops
25 in the Central Bosnia Operative Zone, wasn't it?
1 A. Please, could I just have a look at this
2 order 660?
3 Q. Certainly.
4 A. This order, document 660, is basically
5 document 456/6, and it invokes the order 0166/93.
6 Totic is giving the following orders, that he is
7 prohibiting the movement of forces, and he says
8 individuals and groups in that. However, I personally
9 talked on the 19th of January to Dzemo Merdan, and I
10 know that about ten vehicles passed by then, eight
11 buses and two trucks, and they were moving from the
12 direction of Zenica towards Gornji Vakuf, that is to
13 say, that they were passing --
14 Q. Excuse me. I must interrupt. My question
15 was this -- General, my question was this: Raising
16 combat readiness of your troops to the highest level
17 was an extremely significant event, wasn't it?
18 A. That was your last question. I listened
19 carefully, and I wrote it down, but your first question
20 was to comment on point 4 of the order of Mr. Totic,
21 and I tried to answer that part. Raising combat
22 readiness on any occasion is definitely a significant
23 event, but no one tried to disarm anyone, nor did I
24 order that at the meeting I had with my commanders,
25 that is to say, to disarm members of the army of
2 I talked about the corps a few minutes ago,
3 and I wish to note that at the time, the army of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina had 261.500 soldiers. In the 3rd
5 Corps, it had 30.000 soldiers.
6 Q. Excuse me, General, I ask you to stay with
7 the particular question if you can. Now, at this
8 particular --
9 A. Sorry. But, Your Honours, may I complete my
11 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, General, complete your
13 A. Thank you. I would also like to say that
14 this order was impossible to carry out because of this
15 ratio of forces, and perhaps this order could have been
16 carried out in the Operative Zone of northwestern
17 Herzegovina or southeastern Herzegovina where the ratio
18 of forces was different. But in my Operative Zone, it
19 was impossible to carry out this order. It could not
20 have been implemented in practice.
21 MR. KEHOE:
22 Q. General, let us look at --
23 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. So then the only
24 thing that remains is how can we understand your
25 question and how can orders be delivered when we know
1 they cannot be executed.
2 Mr. Kehoe?
3 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
4 Q. General, let us look at what's transpiring in
5 Gornji Vakuf on the same date as you give this order,
6 and I give you another document which is part of the
7 diary of Colonel Stewart on the 16th of January.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 662.
9 MR. KEHOE:
10 Q. General, I would like to refer to the second
11 full paragraph on the entry for Saturday, 16 January,
12 1992, the paragraph that begins, Mr. Usher, with "The
13 checkpoint ..." That's it. Stewart is referring to a
14 trip through Gornji Vakuf and notes:
15 "The checkpoint at the end of the mountain
16 pass road was deserted. We proceeded carefully but
17 fast from there into B Company's Base. There Alan
18 briefed me on the situation. In his view the fighting
19 could easily get much worse and it was continuing. The
20 HVO had threatened to 'flatten' Gornji Vakuf unless the
21 Muslims recognised it was part of Herceg-Bosna. I
22 believe the HVO are at the bottom of this trouble."
23 Now, in conjunction with this entry on the
24 16th, I'd like to turn our attention to the BritBat
25 military information summary for the 16th.
1 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 663.
2 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Usher, I'll be referring to
3 page 3, the bottom half of the document. It is the
4 bottom half of the document for the entry on Gornji
5 Vakuf for the date 16 January, 1993.
6 Q. It reads as follows:
7 "Colonel Andreivitch the HVO Ops Zone
8 commander read the following message from his
9 commander, a general in Mostar:
10 'At the Geneva conference it was agreed that
11 all provinces would be administrated by the leading
12 ethnic group, in this area the Croats. The HVO and
13 Croats fully intend to abide by this agreement. The
14 HVO formally request that all BiH units return to their
15 normal locations and that all BiH units from Jajce are
16 removed from the area. In return, the Croats and HVO
17 guarantee nothing will happen to the Muslim population
18 less those suspected of, or accused of, war crimes.
19 The Muslim population will be given full equality, but
20 the BiH must be subordinate to the HVO. All troops
21 must leave and fill in their trenches and all
22 barricades are to be dismantled. Agic (Brigade
23 Commander), Topcic (Area Commander), and Prije (Police
24 Commander) are to be removed from command, their
25 replacements may be picked by '3' Corps BiH, Zenica.
1 All checkpoints are to be mixed as are police patrols.
2 Gornji Vakuf is to be demilitarised and no one is to
3 carry weapons in the town. The Bosnian media is to
4 report the following in its bulletins (A list of
5 commands that it should be reported that the HVO
6 shelled no one, shot no one and did not burn any houses
7 and that all these actions were carried out by the
8 Muslims). With the immediate effect, the land border
9 with Croatia is closed. There are two HVO brigades in
10 Prozor supported by tanks and artillery ready to
11 advance on Gornji Vakuf. You have until tomorrow to
12 agree to all demands and put them into action or face
13 the consequences. You are to send your reply via
15 "Comment. The BiH have stated that they
16 cannot agree to all the demands, the HVO do not appear
17 to be willing to negotiate their demands. Therefore an
18 escalation of the conflict seems inevitable. Comment
20 Now, General, this particular comment, this
21 particular statement by Colonel Andrejevic in Gornji
22 Vakuf to the Bosnian army authorities takes place on
23 the 16th, the same day that you raised the combat
24 readiness level for all of your brigades and
25 independent units in Central Bosnia, and the question
1 for you, General, is: Is that event, you raising the
2 combat readiness and this ultimatim by the HVO in
3 Gornji Vakuf, are those two events happening on the
4 same day a coincidence or were you in communication
5 with the authorities in Gornji Vakuf and were aware of
6 what they were doing?
7 A. My order, my command, it can be seen quite
8 clearly here in document 456 that it was based on the
9 order issued by the chief of the main staff. I got an
10 order and that's the kind of order I issued.
11 However, according to my order, not a single
12 commander of a brigade that was under my command
13 disarmed the members of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina
14 because in my area it was impossible. The events in
15 Gornji Vakuf are events in which the forces of the
16 3rd Corps of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina were taking
17 place and the HVO forces of Northwestern Herzegovina.
18 The relationship between the HVO forces and the forces
19 of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Northwestern
20 Herzegovina and Southern Herzegovina, the HVO was in a
21 better position as compared to the BH army, and the
22 305th Mountain Brigade in Jajce that was fighting in
23 Gornji Vakuf was a brigade that arrived from Zenica and
24 Travnik to Gornji Vakuf, and that is an indicator that
25 we did not carry out a blockade of organised movements
1 of the forces of the BH army of the 3rd Corps that took
2 part of the fighting in Gornji Vakuf.
3 This 305th Brigade arrived from Zenica and
4 Travnik, and in the report that you read to me, it was
5 fighting in Gornji Vakuf, and on the 14th of February
6 we agreed in a meeting that they should go back to
7 Zenica. We agreed on this through the mediation of the
8 U.N. and the European Monitors.
9 I still have not understood from what you
10 were saying about checkpoints. Whose checkpoint
11 disappeared, of the BH army or of the HVO? I mean,
12 from the introductory part that preceded your reading,
13 because the entrance to Gornji Vakuf was in Bistrica.
14 There was a BH army checkpoint.
15 Q. Well, let's talk about your communications
16 with Gornji Vakuf and look at a series of sit reps,
17 situation reports, that were sent to you.
18 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 664, 664A
19 for the English version.
20 MR. KEHOE:
21 Q. Now, General, 664 is a situation report from
22 the Ante Starcevic Brigade in Gornji Vakuf sent to you,
23 among others, noting, among other things as we read
25 "This morning the enemy attempted to carry
1 out an infantry attack from the direction of Voljice
2 towards Galecnica and beyond towards Podgrade which our
3 units successfully repelled. At the same time, the
4 enemy, Balija," using the term Balija, "launched an
5 artillery attack on Trnovaca, and Podgrade, and Pajic
6 Polje area and the Ponir Zvizida area."
7 The term "Balija" is, of course, a pejorative
8 term for Muslims, isn't it, General?
9 A. Yes. This is a derogatory term for Muslims.
10 I listened carefully to the witness testimonies here
11 and I know that they used it, but I know that nobody
12 allege that I did use it, in other words, neither
13 officially or unofficially.
14 JUDGE JORDA: This was not what was said,
15 General Blaskic.
16 MR. KEHOE:
17 Q. This situation report is one of many
18 situation reports you received from Gornji Vakuf during
19 the conflict in Gornji Vakuf; isn't that right?
20 A. I endeavoured to be informed. I don't know
21 what you mean by "many," but the report I have here,
22 that is, the document 664, was sent on 18 January, 1993
23 and received at 2300, and that document in which I
24 ordered the higher combat readiness was issued at 1145
25 pursuant to the order of the chief of the main staff
1 which I had received. I don't know what you mean by
2 "many." "Many" can be 500. "Many" can be 50.
3 Q. Were you getting these reports on a daily
4 basis from Gornji Vakuf, "Yes" or "No"?
5 A. I tried to get as much information to be as
6 well-informed as possible. I wanted to receive them,
7 if not daily, then as often as possible because I
8 wanted to know. So --
9 Q. Excuse me, General. I must interrupt you
10 because my time is limited. We will go to another
12 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, I would ask
13 you, if possible, to be more concise and to make
14 shorter answers, if possible.
15 A. I am trying, Mr. President, but for two years
16 I've been isolated and without communication with other
17 people and there is a lot of information and we're
18 going through these documents very quickly.
19 JUDGE JORDA: I understand you perfectly,
20 General Blaskic, but sometimes there is an overflow of
21 explanation, an overflow of details which tend to make
22 us lose the point, in a sense, and which tend to make
23 us forget what was the question that was put to you.
24 Each time you feel you need to make a comment to
25 explain something, the Judges allow you to do so, but
1 it shouldn't be something that you resort to every
2 time, and it should not be to the detriment of what the
3 Prosecution is doing.
4 The Judges have to maintain a perfect
5 equality of arms between the two parties while
6 protecting your rights as an accused and also by making
7 sure that you, as a witness, are granted your rights
8 and respect your duties.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 665, 665A
10 for the English version.
11 MR. KEHOE:
12 Q. Now, General, this is another situation
13 report coming from the Ante Starcevic Brigade. Again,
14 a copy of it goes to you, and it is a day after the
15 situation report that we just reviewed in Exhibit 664.
16 So it would be accurate, finally, to say that
17 the information that you were receiving from Gornji
18 Vakuf was coming to your attention on a pretty regular
19 basis, "Yes" or "No"?
20 A. You can glean from this information that this
21 was a daily information which I received at 2230. I
22 had been receiving such information on the events which
23 had already transpired. This was not an obligation but
24 just a gesture of goodwill, if you will, to inform me.
25 He was informing everyone, including Vitez.
1 Q. Now, General, let us look again at Exhibit
2 456, and this is Prosecutor's 456/6. This is your full
3 combat readiness order of 16 January, 1993.
4 Now, General, this particular order, as we
5 reviewed previously, put independent units, the Bruno
6 Busic formation, the Ludvig Pavlovic formation, and the
7 Vitezovi formation on full combat readiness. My
8 question to you, sir, is had you received a
9 subordination order from the Ministry of Defence and
10 from the chief of staff to put them on full combat
12 A. I referred to the order of the main staff's
13 order 01-66/93 of 15 January, '93. I believe that this
14 order regulated command of these units, that is,
15 Vitezovi, Ludvig Pavlovic, and Bruno Busic. I do not
16 know if a separate order had been received, but I know
17 that this was the order of the main staff.
18 Q. The subordination order that you received,
19 what was it for?
20 A. The order on full combat readiness which I
21 received from the main staff included all units in my
22 zone, including these units. When some -- if you're
23 asking me what is the purpose of this order, that means
24 that if units had been attached to me, that I had the
25 right to use these units and that I had a right to --
1 that I was authorised to task them, and that there are
2 no other authorities in terms of disciplining them and
3 punishing them.
4 Q. Well, sir, let me show you Exhibit 250, and I
5 would like to show you a reference point on 250. This
6 is Defence Exhibit 250.
7 Now, General, before we actually address
8 Exhibit 250, when the Vitezovi and the Ludvig Pavlovic
9 Brigade went to Busovaca in the latter part of January
10 1993, did members of those formations commit crimes in
12 A. Did they commit any crimes in Busovaca, is
13 that the question?
14 Q. Why don't you refer to Exhibit 250 and look
15 at 250. On the notation after the year "1993," you go
16 down 3, it says:
17 "Following the order number 2-014/93 of 26
18 January, 1993, a battle team of 15 soldiers, under the
19 command of Major Berislav Sapina and Major Dragan Vinac
20 was sent to the area of Busovaca."
21 A. Just a moment. This is what page?
22 Q. Just look for the heading that says "1993,"
23 General, and the third notation -- third paragraph
24 after the year "1993."
25 A. I found this third paragraph.
1 Q. Mr. Usher, in the English it is page 4.
2 Thank you. Now, this notation reflects that 15
3 Vitezovi soldiers were sent to the Busovaca area on the
4 26th of January, and my question for you, General, is:
5 When those soldiers were in Busovaca, did those
6 soldiers commit any crimes?
7 A. I have no knowledge of this because on
8 26 January I was cut off in Kiseljak, in fact, as of
9 25 January, and I was not in the area of Busovaca and I
10 do not have direct knowledge of whether they committed
11 crimes or not. But this special purpose unit you can
12 see refers in the first paragraph to the chief of main
13 staff, which points to the chain of command which was a
14 parallel one. Perhaps I may be allowed to quote the
15 first paragraph. I did not issue an order for this
16 combat group to go to Busovaca.
17 Q. Well, General, did you later learn that the
18 Vitezovi soldiers that were in Busovaca had committed
19 crimes such as looting and the burning of Bosnian
20 Muslim civilians' houses? Did you learn that?
21 A. They did not report directly to me on their
22 activities. This report, again, was not sent directly
23 to my attention, but in a meeting in Busovaca which was
24 chaired by the European Monitors, I heard from Dzemo
25 Merdan that Vitezovi were solving problems by
1 ultimatums. He did not specify how and where they did
2 so, but of 25 January, 1993, I was blocked in
4 Q. Well, General, when they were in Busovaca
5 giving ultimatums or committing any other crimes, they
6 were attached to you at that point, weren't they?
7 A. They were not sent to Busovaca under any
8 order of mine and this is not the way we even
9 registered our orders. Mr. Dzemo Merdan did not
10 specifically say that the Vitezovi were solving
11 problems by ultimatums in the Busovaca area. He was
12 just talking in general about the area. I would have
13 to go back to my notes on the meeting and see what he
14 meant, but he referred to the area of Vitez. Now,
15 these two are two neighbouring municipalities. They
16 share the boundary, so they are close.
17 Q. General, my question is this: You have put
18 the Vitezovi on full combat readiness in Prosecutor's
19 Exhibit 456/6, and when they went to the Busovaca area
20 in late January, 1993, they were attached to you,
21 weren't they?
22 A. You see, there are two combat actions here:
23 One is placing the Vitezovi on full combat readiness,
24 that is, on 16 January, document 456/6, and this is
25 what I did; then we have the other combat action, which
1 is going to Busovaca to carry out a combat task. This
2 is something else.
3 On page 3 of the document which I'm holding
4 here, the commander says that he -- under combat order
5 02-014/93 of 26 January, '93, a combat group was sent
6 to Busovaca on a combat mission. I did not issue that
7 order, but I did issue an order on carrying out a
8 completely different thing. In this document, the
9 commander of the Vitezovi also refers to the order of
10 the chief of the main staff. This is the first
11 paragraph in the document that you have given me. I
12 can read this first document where you can see that the
13 Vitezovi commander received two orders to raise combat
14 readiness: One by the chief of the main staff and
15 another one by me. We can read this at page number 3.
16 Q. General, my question is very simple. You
17 explained to us in great detail the concept of
18 attachment, and my question for you is this: Was the
19 Vitezovi attached to you, and, if so, when were they
20 attached to you and for what purposes?
21 A. In order for this -- the Vitezovi were not
22 attached to me for any combat activities in the
23 Busovaca area, nor did I ask such a thing. As far as
24 the combat readiness is concerned, the Vitezovi were
25 part of -- had received the order, but then I see that
1 they had received another such order which came from
2 another source. It's one thing to issue an order to be
3 on full combat readiness and it is another thing
4 completely to issue an order about a combat operation,
5 and I did not issue such an order.
6 Q. Sir, my question for you, and I go back and
7 will repeat my question, my question is, and I will
8 read it: "Was the Vitezovi attached to you, and, if
9 so, when were they attached to you and for what
10 purposes?" We are referring to January of 1993, so I
11 can be perfectly clear about this.
12 A. In January '93, as I already stated, pursuant
13 to the order which I had received from the chief of the
14 main staff, if the order referred to all units or if it
15 was particularly specified including special purpose
16 units, I then issued such orders, including to the
17 special purpose units. However, the Vitezovi in
18 January had their own chain of command which went
19 directly from the defence department and the main
20 staff --
21 Q. Excuse me, General. I do apologise. I hate
22 to interrupt, and I will repeat the question again in
23 case there's some lack of understanding on the
24 question, and the question is as follows, and this is
25 the third time: "Was the Vitezovi attached to you,
1 and, if so, when were they attached to and for what
2 purposes? We are referring to January of 1993, so I
3 can be perfectly clear about this."
4 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, my learned
5 colleague has asked the question for the third time,
6 and the witness had answered it twice in full. I think
7 that he has stated perfectly clearly for what purpose
8 they were attached.
9 JUDGE JORDA: You're quite right here,
10 Mr. Nobilo, but one has to admit that the witness is
11 quite amazing because he manages to find his way
12 around. You know, this is wartime. Here is a unit
13 which is attached to him, he orders this unit to be in
14 a state of combat preparedness or readiness, and when
15 he has to go into combat, then suddenly the units are
16 not under his orders any more. Maybe you are able to
17 find your way around, but I am not.
18 Maybe, Mr. Kehoe, perhaps if you put the
19 question again you can help us understand better what
20 was going on.
21 In January '93, on the basis of an order
22 emanating from the HVO, a different order from what was
23 derived from the Vance-Owen Plan, from that order, I
24 see that you have the competence to order maximum
25 combat readiness orders for all formations, including
1 the Vitezovi, and yet when these formations go into
2 combat action, you are suddenly not the one who they
3 are submitted to, under the orders whom they find
5 Maybe the Prosecutor can help us see clearly
6 through this by putting to you another question or
7 maybe there is another document which could help us.
8 Maybe there is a document showing how difficult it was
9 to exercise this commandment. Maybe, indeed, it was
10 very difficult to exercise this kind of commandment.
11 This would also allow us to take into account the
12 objection of Mr. Nobilo, because it is true that the
13 question was put to the witness three times and that it
14 is a bit tiring.
15 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. Let us look
16 at the next document.
17 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 666, 666A
18 for the English version.
19 MR. KEHOE:
20 Q. General, this is a very short order from
21 Milivoj Petkovic dated 19 January, 1993 going to the
22 Vitezovi Special Purposes Unit and to the Central
23 Bosnia Operative Zone command.
24 "Order: The Vitezovi Special Purpose Unit,
25 PPN, shall be assigned on all matters to Colonel Tiho
1 Blaskic. I forbid any independent action. This order
2 shall remain in force until I personally change it."
3 Signed, "Brigadier Milivoj Petkovic."
4 JUDGE JORDA: Well, here we are. It wasn't
5 necessary to put the same question thrice. Now we are
6 in a situation where we can try to understand.
7 Mr. Kehoe, what is your question now?
8 MR. KEHOE:
9 Q. The question is, General, that when you told
10 the Judges that the Vitezovi, when they conducted
11 combat operations in Busovaca in January 1993, weren't
12 attached to you, that, in fact, wasn't true, because
13 they were attached to you; isn't that right, sir?
14 A. Attachment is something that is done for each
15 combat activity or operation or action, and I am
16 looking at this document here. I think that it was
17 done in order to prevent them from doing anything
18 independently. Then it says that it shall remain in
19 force until the chief of staff personally changes it,
20 but I must say that I was not responsible for their
21 actions in Busovaca on 26 January, '93, and I was not
22 even in Busovaca on 26 January, 1993.
23 Q. This order, General, subordinates the
24 Vitezovi to you in all matters. Do you see that on the
25 first line?
1 A. Yes, I see, but this order makes no mention
2 of the time frame. It is dated 19 January, but it does
3 not specify until when.
4 Q. Well, this order --
5 JUDGE JORDA: General, I don't think there's
6 any need to spend more time on this issue. I think we
7 should go on to another document. I think that this
8 order -- well, it seems that you consider that it does
9 not imply what? Maybe I should take this the other way
11 Let me remind you that this order that is
12 submitted to us relates to you directly. Your name
13 appears in this order. As Judge Rodrigues has just
14 pointed out to me, the last sentence is quite clear,
15 "This order will remain in force until" General
16 Petkovic decides it should not be maintained any
17 longer. We are not military experts. Maybe I should
18 put the question the other way around. How could it be
19 possible that the Vitezovi not be subordinated to you?
20 What is it that makes it possible for General Petkovic
21 not to place the Vitezovi under your commandment?
22 A. Mr. President, there were two possible
23 solutions: One is that this resubordination,
24 attachment, referred to a certain combat operation or
25 any activity, and that then after that, the
1 subordination, the attachment was no longer there, and
2 the Vitezovi became independent again; the other
3 possibility is that the order arrived from General
4 Petkovic saying that the attachment of the Vitezovi
5 thus ends. So there are at least two solutions that
6 are possible.
7 If the attachment took place due to certain
8 activities, then as soon as this activity is completed,
9 then automatically this unit goes back to its regular
10 situation. If I were to look at this document,
11 document 250, in greater detail, I believe that we
12 could see here that there are some very short periods
13 when the unit is attached and then when it is no longer
15 JUDGE JORDA: Just a minute, General.
16 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the
17 Presiding Judge, please.
18 JUDGE JORDA: We are not here in a military
19 academy. We are not here drawing conclusions from
20 hypotheses. We were not present at the time. You tell
21 us there could be some solutions. I'm unable to follow
22 you on that ground. This is not speculation. We are
23 not trying to see what meaning can be attributed to
24 this. You are the one who is directly concerned by
25 this. If this is your answer, and it may be your
1 choice to make this your answer, then I put it to the
2 Prosecutor that maybe we should go on to another
4 MR. KEHOE: Yes, sir.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Judge Shahabuddeen has a
7 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Just before we move on
8 to another document, General, let me put this to you:
9 The Vitezovi were engaged in Busovaca, in action there
10 on the 26th of January; is that correct?
11 A. From this document, I can see that that is
12 so, Your Honour.
13 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: If, on the 27th of
14 January, General Petkovic had asked you for your report
15 accounting for the actions of the Vitezovi, would you
16 have said to him, "Sorry. They are not under my
18 A. If General Petkovic had sent an order to me
19 for a specific action that the Vitezovi were attached
20 to me for that action, I would have sent him an
21 operative report on that action, including the unit of
22 the Vitezovi. However, if the unit was not attached to
23 me, I would have informed him only on that which I knew
24 on the basis of the operative report. I would also
25 report to him that the unit had acted independently,
1 according to their own assignments or according to the
2 assignments given by a superior.
3 Because I have in this report, something I've
4 just found now, that they were going to Stolac on the
5 orders of Bruno Stojic, Minister of Defence, in October
6 of 1992. This is down south in southern Herzegovina.
7 At that time, I didn't even know that that unit was
8 going there. I needed soldiers for Jajce. That unit
9 went on the orders that they had received to carry out
10 assignments at the front line of southern Herzegovina.
11 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, should I
12 understand you to be saying this, that in addition to
13 General Petkovic's order of the 19th of January, he had
14 to issue another document to you in the form of an
15 attachment order relating to the specific operation at
16 Busovaca before you could regard yourself as having
17 authority over the Vitezovi in relation to that
18 action? Is that the position, that you needed another
20 A. Your Honour, when the resubordination of a
21 unit is requested, that is usually for carrying out a
22 particular activity, that is to say, particular combat
23 action, and resubordination attachment is regulated in
24 terms of its beginning and its end. The beginning is
25 when the order is received, when the commander of the
1 unit that is being attached reports that he received
2 this assignment, and the end is after the assignment is
3 carried out or after the operation is over, if a wider
4 operation is planned. The unit goes back to its
5 original position.
6 It is quite similar in all armies, allied
7 armies and others. It is regulated similarly. When a
8 unit is attached, it does not lose all its
9 independence. The one who takes it over only has the
10 right to use it in combat and issue an assignment to
11 it, without the other authority in terms of giving
12 orders. That is what we did in terms of attachment.
13 For example, had I planned a combat operation
14 for the 26th of January, I would have addressed
15 Brigadier Petkovic saying that, "I would like the
16 Vitezovi to be attached to me for carrying out that
17 particular assignment," but I did not plan a combat
18 operation on the 26th of January, and for the attack, I
19 did not request the attachment of the unit of the
21 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I'm trying very hard to
22 follow you, General. Should I understand you to mean
23 that on the 26th of January, the Vitezovi were free to
24 act independently of you in relation to any activities
25 they carried out at Busovaca?
1 A. I know that I personally, since I spent time
2 in Kiseljak, did not issue an order to the Vitezovi to
3 act on the territory of Busovaca. But having said so,
4 I'm not claiming that the Vitezovi had not received an
5 order from a different instance, because in this
6 report, in this report, 250, they are referring to many
7 orders from the chief of the main staff, from the
8 defence department, the Operative Zone of Central
9 Bosnia, et cetera.
10 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I tell you what's
11 riveting my attention at this time, I see the first
12 line on this order of 19 January, 1993, that the
13 Vitezovi were being reassigned in all matters to you,
14 in all matters, and in the second line, I read that
15 General Petkovic is forbidding any independent action,
16 presumably any independent action by the Vitezovi, with
17 the further implication that they were now only to act
18 dependently on you. What do you say to that?
19 A. I say that at that time, at least 300 good
20 military policemen were needed in order to carry out
21 this forbidding of independent action. This was
22 envisaged in this order, but the situation on the
23 ground was quite different.
24 But I'm saying again that at this point in
25 time, I cannot recall what the reason was for the
1 attachment concerned. Is it this independent action?
2 Because most of the incidents happened in Vitez and
3 Novi Travnik where the PPN units figured prominently.
4 We had some reports where the assistant for security
5 mentioned that these units were the protagonists of
6 incidents and that they were persecuting real Croats in
7 that territory and that they figured prominently in
8 these conflicts and problems.
9 So in terms of disturbing public law and
10 order in this area and in terms of the worsening of the
11 general security situation, this attachment was carried
12 out, but I also believe that it was very difficult to
13 carry out this order. However, this, at any rate, is
14 not an order. I never sought an order for the 26th of
15 January to have the Vitezovi attached to me so that I
16 would carry out attack action.
17 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you, General.
18 JUDGE JORDA: No questions from Judge
20 Therefore, Mr. Kehoe, you may continue.
21 MR. KEHOE:
22 Q. General, on this same day that you received
23 this subordination order from General Petkovic, I ask
24 you to take a look at Exhibit 250 and look at the
25 notation for the 19th of January, 1993, and it reads as
2 "On 19 January 1993, the PPN 'Vitezovi' and
3 the unit 'Ludvig Pavlovic' are engaged in
4 reconnaissance and the gathering of intelligence about
5 the movement of Muslim forces."
6 Now, is that your order that those units are
7 following, General? If it's not your order, who
8 ordered these units to engage in reconnaissance and
9 gather intelligence about the movement of Muslim
11 A. I do not recall who issued this, but document
12 250 was not addressed to me. It was addressed to the
13 main staff of the HVO. But in this order from the 16th
14 of January, 1993, combat readiness was raised, and
15 reference is made in point 8 that the entry of all
16 persons should be prohibited, et cetera, and possibly
17 reconnaissance and observation may have been
18 reinforced. I cannot recall whether I personally
19 issued such an order or not.
20 Q. General, I ask you to take a look back at
21 Prosecutor's Exhibit 658, if we could. This is Bruno
22 Stojic's order of 15 January, 1993. In point 3 of that
23 order of Bruno Stojic, it notes that:
24 "Unit members of the HVO armed forces and BH
25 army referred to in point 2 of this order who refuse to
1 leave the region and acknowledge the superior command
2 shall be regarded as members of a paramilitary unit and
3 shall be disarmed and arrested."
4 On number 7, the deadline for that is 1900 on
5 the 20th of January, 1993.
6 Now, with a deadline of 1900 on the 20th of
7 January, 1993, with a threat to disarm and arrest
8 Bosnian Muslim soldiers who would not subordinate
9 themselves to the HVO, you are getting ready, through
10 the orders on reconnaissance, you are getting ready for
11 combat, aren't you?
12 A. I have already stated that the BH army also
13 received such an order and that the order certainly did
14 produce high tensions. I also said that I did not
15 order disarming of BH army members, nor did the
16 disarming -- nor was it carried out according to my
17 orders, because I never issued such orders.
18 The relations between the BH army and the HVO
19 in Central Bosnia was very much in favour of the BH
20 army. I could not have disarmed 200.000 soldiers.
21 Can I please see this order, document 658,
22 please, of 15 January?
23 Q. Certainly.
24 A. Can I please see the order of the chief of
25 the main staff of 15 January?
1 Q. That is document 659.
2 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Registrar, if the witness can
3 have document 659.
4 JUDGE JORDA: 659 is the order from
5 General Petkovic, is it not, Mr. Kehoe?
6 MR. KEHOE: That's right, Mr. President. 658
7 being the order from Minister Bruno Stojic.
8 A. Point 7 of the document 659, mention is also
9 made that contact should be established with the BH
10 army commanders in order to establish joint commands.
11 The deadline here mentioned was extended by several
12 days, as far as I know. So it was not 21, but it was
14 However, regardless of all that, I did not
15 issue any orders to my commanders to start disarming BH
16 army members, because we were David to their Goliath in
17 Central Bosnia. It would have been an unreasonable
18 thing to have done, whereas that was not the case in
19 the northwestern and southeastern Herzegovina Operative
21 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Rodrigues has a
23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, did you inform
24 General Petkovic of what you have just told us, namely
25 of the difficulties you were facing, of the
1 impossibility you found yourself in to execute this
2 order in your Operative Zone?
3 A. As far as the general relations of forces --
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Did you inform
5 General Petkovic of the difficulties you found yourself
6 in? Did you inform him of the fact that it was
7 impossible for you to execute this order for the
8 precise reasons you've just mentioned?
9 A. I informed him that I would call a meeting,
10 and I was waiting for an agreement on implementation of
11 the order. I could not have implemented it without
13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, you may continue.
15 Thank you, Judge Rodrigues.
16 MR. KEHOE:
17 Q. General, let's just take this sequence. On
18 the 16th of January you put all these units on combat
19 readiness. On the 19th of January, the Vitezovi is
20 subordinated to you for all purposes. On the 19th of
21 January, the Vitezovi go out and do reconnaissance. On
22 the 20th is the deadline for the BiH to disarm in your
24 Now, quite clearly, General, as of the 19th
25 you were getting ready for combat operations to
1 commence on the 20th, weren't you?
2 A. There's nothing said about the combat
3 operations. The only thing mentioned was that both the
4 HVO and the BH army be attached. What happened to this
5 order is that it raised the tensions. It was like
6 pouring gas on a fire, but there were no combat
7 preparations for combat operations involved in this
9 Q. Well, to follow up on Judge Rodrigues's
10 questions, did you tell your commander, Milivoj
11 Petkovic, that you're not going to disarm the BiH
12 soldiers in your area and that you were not going to
13 arrest them when they refused to disarm? Did you tell
14 him that?
15 A. I just said that I called a meeting because
16 of this order, and that I informed the General that I
17 would call the meeting, and that I was waiting for an
18 agreement between the two chiefs of staff. In other
19 words, I was waiting for the Generals Petkovic and
20 Halilovic to reach an agreement on how to implement
21 this order at all. For me, from the point of view of
22 the forces that we had, it was not implementable.
23 Q. Well, General, do you have any documentation
24 to support the fact that you informed General Petkovic
25 that you could not comply with his order of
1 15 January? Do you have any documentation to support
3 A. I do not have the document here, but in my
4 operational report for that day I believe that I did
5 send it. I have also hoped that General Petkovic will
6 testify here and he would be able to tell more about
7 this. But I know that a separate record was kept on
8 this and the meeting that I had with my commanders, all
9 my commanders. I even have a specific date and time
10 when this meeting was held and when we discussed how to
11 freeze this order because of the situation we had on
12 the ground, because the order as we had it was
13 absolutely not implementable at the time.
14 Q. Let us look, General, at another reference of
15 events from the 19th of January and, again, this is the
16 diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart.
17 A. The meeting with my brigade commanders
18 regarding this order was on 16 January at 1200.
19 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 667.
20 MR. KEHOE:
21 Q. General, this is again an English document,
22 and I will read it to you.
23 MR. KEHOE: I'm interested in the first
24 paragraph, Mr. Usher, under "Tuesday, 19 January."
25 Thank you.
1 Q. "Tuesday, 19 January. Things are getting
2 very tricky indeed at the moment. The HVO are
3 apparently threatening to go 'all out' in Gornji Vakuf
4 and even expand the conflict to up here. Enver
5 Hadzihasanovic, commander 3 Corps, BiH army, has
6 appealed to me to recover Merdan from Gornji Vakuf and
7 this I agreed to do. He was pulled out with a Warrior
8 escort this morning amid reports that the HVO had mined
9 the road overnight. False. People are now saying
10 there is a deadline for violence to commence in the
11 Vitez area too, that deadline being midnight tonight."
12 The fact was that the deadline was on the
13 20th, wasn't it, General?
14 A. Your Honours, I've been listening to these
15 reports on the situation in Gornji Vakuf and I can only
16 say that except for the daily summaries, I have no
17 further information on this but that the situation and
18 the positioning of the HVO in Gornji Vakuf was totally
19 different vis-a-vis the position of the BH army in
20 relation to the BH army in Central Bosnia. The HVO was
21 completely inferior in Central Bosnia in general.
22 If you're talking about the incidents and
23 acts of violence on both sides, the BH army refused to
24 allow us to rotate our troops to the front line against
25 the Serbs. In other words, they denied us the
1 passage. This is when the barricades were cropping up
2 everywhere. I thought that we would have most problems
3 in Vitez and Novi Travnik. However, we were able to
4 stabilise the situation in both of these places.
5 MR. KEHOE: Shall I continue, Mr. President,
6 or --
7 JUDGE JORDA: Do you have any other questions
8 you would like to put to the witness on that particular
9 issue or document?
10 MR. KEHOE: Not that particular document. I
11 was going to move to yet another document,
12 Mr. President.
13 JUDGE JORDA: In that case then we will
14 suspend the hearing, and we will resume our work
15 tomorrow morning at 10.00. The hearing is adjourned.
16 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned
17 at 5.30 p.m., to be reconvened on
18 Wednesday, the 12th day of May, 1999
19 at 10.00 a.m.