1 Wednesday, 12 May, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 10.07 a.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.
5 Mr. Registrar, could you make sure the witness is
6 brought in?
7 (The accused/witness entered court)
8 JUDGE JORDA: Good morning to the
9 interpreters. Let me tell you that the Judges are not
10 in such a state of excitement that they've been very
11 imperatively knocking on the courtroom's door, it's
12 just our usher who's not used to knocking the three
13 knocks as sometimes it is done in theatres.
14 All right. Good morning to the Prosecution,
15 good morning to the two Defence counsel, and good
16 morning also to our witness, General Blaskic, who is
17 still a witness in this case for the time being.
18 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, with your
19 permission. Yesterday we received document 666 and
20 666A. Then after the hearing we looked at it a bit
21 more carefully, and we saw that there were significant
22 substantive errors in the translation.
23 For example, in the title it says, "Vitezovi,
24 PPN subordination." However, in the Croatian original
25 the word "resubordination" or "attachment" was used .
1 Once again, I hear that now it has been
2 misinterpreted. The English translation in writing
3 uses the word "subordination," and the translation of
4 this Croatian word should be "attach,"
5 "attach," "attachment," I think that this is a
6 substantive difference. Let's ask General Blaskic what
7 the difference is.
8 Further on in the text itself, where the word
9 "attachment" is being used, it says -- I'm sorry, the
10 interpreters do not understand counsel.
11 "Reassign" was the word. "Reassign" does
12 not precisely define the notation that is denoted by
13 the Croatian word "pretpotcinjavanje." Since we are
14 talking about key words in the text, I suggest that
15 this document be translated once again and, if
16 necessary, we should clarify the difference between the
17 word "attach", "reassign," and "subordination," and
18 this can be done through further questioning of General
19 Blaskic to see what the military terminological
20 differences are.
21 Although the interpreters who are
22 interpreting here in this courtroom know the
23 terminology very well but probably the text were
24 translated by translators who are not familiar with
25 this terminology.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Nobilo, but
2 before asking Mr. Blaskic for some explanations, I'd
3 like to say that Mr. Blaskic has had all the time he
4 needed to give all the explanations he felt were
5 necessary, but I would like to say also that this text
6 was read by your client yesterday and that yesterday he
7 read it in its Serbo-Croatian version, and the answer
8 interpreted it as something that was saying that the
9 Vitezovi were placed under his orders. So it does seem
10 that the Vitezovi were placed under his command.
11 Yes, go ahead, Mr. Nobilo.
12 MR. NOBILO: Yes, exactly. I remember in
13 this courtroom it was interpreted properly, so that's
14 why I didn't have any objections. However, this piece
15 of paper is evidence. In a month or two we're the not
16 going to remember what the interpretation was in this
17 courtroom but we're going to be reading the document.
18 That's why I wanted this document to be translated in
19 light with what it actually says in the original.
20 JUDGE JORDA: No, Mr. Nobilo. I agree
21 basically, but what I want to stress is that yesterday,
22 in answer to a question put to him by Judge
23 Shahabuddeen, the witness said it was always necessary
24 to have an attachment order delivered in order for him
25 to have full authority over the troops. So here the
1 attachment is very officially explained.
2 At any rate, I would like to hear what
3 Mr. Kehoe has to say on this. If necessary, we will
4 ask for a new translation of this text, but for the
5 time being, what I can notice is that the Defence is
6 asking for the Serbo-Croatian word to be translated by
7 the word "attachment."
8 Mr. Kehoe, what you have to say?
9 MR. NOBILO: Yes, Mr. President, but there is
10 a substantive difference between "attachment" and
11 "subordination" from the point of view of substance.
12 There is a very significant difference.
13 Colonel Blaskic had different authority when
14 a unit was subordinated to him and different authority
15 when it was attached to him. There is a difference in
17 JUDGE JORDA: I quite agree that it is a
18 major difference and a substantive difference, but for
19 some time now Mr. Blaskic has been telling us that as
20 far as Ahmici is concerned, the troops had been
21 attached to him on April 16th at 11.52, and because the
22 Vitezovi had only been attached to him at that date and
23 that time, he did not feel responsible for what
24 happened on the 16th of April earlier on in the
1 Could we have Mr. Kehoe's opinion on this,
3 MR. KEHOE: Good morning, Mr. President and
4 Your Honours. I, of course, am in the same position as
5 Your Honours in that I do not speak the language. This
6 particular document was translated by the official
7 translation is section of the International Criminal
8 Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, not a translation
9 section for the Prosecution or Defence. It's the
10 Court's translation.
11 If there is a discrepancy in the translation,
12 and this is a search for truth that all of us want, I
13 simply ask the registrar to give the document back to
14 the translation section and have them take another look
15 at the document. If there is a change in the document
16 or something is wrong with the document, I think we all
17 want to work a document that is as accurate as
19 JUDGE JORDA: I don't think that's a problem
20 at all. We can give the document back to the
21 translation section.
22 Mr. Nobilo, what do you think?
23 MR. HAYMAN: Your Honours need to know what
24 it says and you need to know today while the
25 questioning of the witness is going on. We have expert
1 translators here at the Court's disposal. Let's read
2 the word and they can translate it. If it means
3 "subordination," they will say so. If it means
4 "attachment" in it's technical, precise meaning, then
5 we will hear it from them.
6 We think the Court needs to know while it's
7 hearing the testimony.
8 (Trial Chamber deliberates)
9 JUDGE JORDA: The Judges have decided that
10 the document will be read out very slowly by Mr. Nobilo
11 and then the interpreters will immediately give us a
12 precise translation of the text and that will enable us
13 to go forward with the cross-examination. All right.
14 Thank you to all of you.
15 Mr. Nobilo, I will now ask you to read this
16 document, in toto, very slowly and the interpreters
17 will be especially wary of what they're going to say.
18 They are always very wary, so it's hardly useful for me
19 to say this.
20 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
21 THE INTERPRETER: Before it is read, could we
22 please see it?
23 MR. NOBILO: The heading says:
24 "The Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the
25 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, and the Croatian
1 Defence Council." Then:
2 "Main staff, registry number 01-93/93.
3 Mostar. 19th January, 1993."
4 On the right-hand side it says: "Defence.
5 Military secret. Strictly confidential."
6 The title of the document is: "PPN,
7 Vitezovi. Attachment."
8 It is addressed to the Operative Zone of
9 Central Bosnia. This is what is says on the right-hand
10 side and "To the PPN Vitezovi." After that there is a
11 new title that says: "Order," and the text reads as
13 "The PPN Vitezovi is attached in all matters
14 to Colonel Tihomir Blaskic. I forbid any kind of
15 action on their own. This order remains in force until
16 I personally change it.
17 "Head of the main staff of the HVO HZ-HB,
18 General Milivoj Petkovic. Signed and sealed."
19 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Mr. Kehoe, do you
20 have any questions you would like to put to the witness
21 on that particular change in terminology?
22 MR. KEHOE: In due course, Mr. President.
23 Not at this juncture. I will conduct the examination
24 on this document in due course and at the period of
25 time when I would like to talk about it.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Very well then. So you may
2 continue on the other matters you wish to raise.
3 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. President. Again,
4 good morning, Your Honours.
5 JUDGE JORDA: I'm sorry. Judge Rodrigues has
6 a question.
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me. Mr. Nobilo, I
8 think that the word that we find in the document
9 "subordination," in the English document, I don't
10 think it has been translated. If I look at the
11 transcript now, I see that we see "Vitezovi PPN," and
12 then through other -- and then I think that the word
13 that was in question, "subordination," I think this
14 particular word has the not been translated. Am I
16 MR. HAYMAN: Your Honour, if I may inject
17 since I was listening to the English translation and my
18 colleague heard only -- he didn't hear anything because
19 I was reading the Serbo-Croat. After Mr. Nobilo read
20 "PPN Vitezovi," he read the word appearing underneath
21 it in the Serbo-Croat original and it was translated in
22 the English as "attachment." I don't know what the
23 French translation was, I wasn't listening and I
24 couldn't presume to be able to translate it myself, but
25 it may be "attachment."
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: It has been translated.
2 Yes, it has been translated.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Shahabuddeen, do you have
4 a question?
5 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
6 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, the English
7 translation reaching me used the words "I forbid any
8 kind of action on their own." General Petkovic wrote
9 that in an order. Would that not mean to you, as the
10 commanding officer, that the Vitezovi could not use
11 armed force in any circumstances on their own, that is
12 to say, without your previous approval?
13 A. Your Honour, in the order on attachment, the
14 direct line of command is being preserved, that is to
15 say, from the main staff or the defence ministry
16 vis-à-vis the Vitezovi, and I acquire the right only to
17 use the unit in combat action and to give them combat
18 assignments without any other kind of command
19 authority; that is to say, I cannot replace anyone, I
20 cannot discipline anyone. However, the Vitezovi,
21 although they were attached to me, they could receive
22 orders from their direct superior commanders, that is
23 to say, the main staff or the Ministry of Defence; that
24 is to say, that their structure was not changed.
25 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Let me try to follow
1 you. Then do I understand you to be saying this, that
2 as a result of General Petkovic's order, the Vitezovi
3 could act on your instructions; they could also act on
4 the instructions of the ministry which controlled
5 them. What they could not do is to act entirely on
6 their own. Is that a correct understanding?
7 A. Yes, Your Honour. If one reads this document
8 and acts in accordance with it, they could not act on
9 their own. However, in document 250, the Vitezovi send
10 reports on their activity, which can be seen on page
11 number 4, to their superiors, that is to say, the head
12 of the defence department and the chief of the main
13 staff. That is what it says verbatim, "Report 2-091/93
14 on the 15th of March", but they did not send reports to
15 me about their activity, and I do not know whether at
16 every point in time the commander of the Vitezovi got
17 assignments for their activity from the defence
18 department or the main staff. If he acted correctly,
19 adhering to this order, then he had to ask for
20 approval, instructions, and orders from the main staff
21 and the defence department. However, the core of the
22 matter is that the direct line of command in the chain
23 of command was not changed by the order on attachment.
24 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Let me ask you one
25 further question: Before you were cloaked with
1 authority by General Petkovic's order, the Vitezovi
2 would have been exclusively under the command of the
3 ministry; is that correct?
4 A. The ministry or the main staff, depending on
5 how the minister regulated this -- I don't know the
6 relationship between the ministry and the main staff --
7 however, at any rate, this is their direct chain of
9 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: During that period
10 before you came into the picture, was there any
11 situation in which the Vitezovi could act
12 independently, on their own, without the approval of
13 any superior body?
14 A. In document 250, they invoke many orders.
15 Sometimes these are orders of the commander of Vitezovi
16 and sometimes these are orders that they received from
17 the chief of the main staff or the Ministry of
18 Defence. However, I do not know whether, in each and
19 every situation, the commander of the Vitezovi reported
20 to his immediate superiors his intentions or not
21 because he did not inform me about that. For example,
22 it would happen that the unit would go to Stolac, and I
23 would find out about it only a few days later after
24 they came back. Whether he had orders or not, I do not
25 have any direct knowledge about that because I was not
1 involved in that chain of command.
2 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So what should I
3 conclude? That before you came into the picture, the
4 Vitezovi could or could not act on their own, that is
5 to say, without the approval of some superior body?
6 A. Your Honour, I already said that I was not in
7 this chain of command and I do not have any precise
8 information on this. I would find out only
9 subsequently, after this action, that they had acted.
10 But whether they acted independently or not, that I do
11 not know because I did not receive this report from
12 them either. They sent this to their superiors. The
13 incidents they created, whether this was a consequence
14 of independent action or whether it was a consequence
15 of the orders they received, that I do not have any
16 direct knowledge about because they have their own
17 chain of command.
18 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I ask you that because
19 of the words used by General Petkovic. He said, "I
20 forbid any kind of action on their own," thereby
21 implying, so it seems to me, that they could previously
22 have acted on their own.
23 A. I know that we had problems at the Travnik
24 front lines vis-à-vis the Republika Srpska in terms of
25 some of their reconnaissance which often ended with
1 arbitrary opening of fire and infringing upon the
2 momentary situation. Commanders did complain to me
3 about this. However, the commander of the Vitezovi
4 always pointed out that he was acting on orders from
5 his immediate superiors and I think that around the 5th
6 of January, he sent a report in writing to the command
7 of the Operative Zone that he was independent,
8 autonomous, and that he was entitled to combat action
9 throughout the territory of the Croatian Community of
10 Herceg-Bosna, and I was not in a position to see
11 whether these kind of actions of his and incidents were
12 on the orders of his superiors or not, but I often had
13 problems because of such activities.
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: All right, General.
15 Thank you very much.
16 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, thank you.
17 Thank you, Judge Shahabuddeen.
18 General Blaskic, because of Judge
19 Shahabuddeen's questions, I feel I have to put a few
20 questions to you myself. Maybe Judge Rodrigues will
21 have the same feeling.
22 My question is a very short one and maybe
23 your answer will be as concise as my question: Do you
24 think this order is clear, or do you consider it to be
25 somewhat ambiguous? I mean, when you received this
1 order, what was your reaction?
2 A. I really cannot recall what I thought at that
3 particular moment when I received it but the order is
4 clear, if we state "attachment," then we know what is
5 implied by the word "pretpotcinjavanje," that is to
6 say, "attachment."
7 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. So I see it is
8 clear for you. In such a case, you consider this order
9 to be, globally speaking, very clear. So when it is
10 said that the Vitezovi, in all matters, are attached to
11 you and when it is forbidden for the Vitezovi to take
12 any actions on their own, one must conclude that that
13 includes combat operations.
14 A. Mr. President, had the chief of the main
15 staff meant to subordinate the Vitezovi to me, he would
16 have used the word "subordinate," and then I would be
17 superior and in command for all the activities of the
18 Vitezovi. But with this attachment order, I had only
19 two possibilities.
20 JUDGE JORDA: You remember telling us,
21 speaking of Ahmici, that the Vitezovi were attached to
22 you on April 16th at -- oh, sorry, which was the
23 military police. I'm sorry. I had the impression it
24 was the Vitezovi. Maybe it was the --
25 A. It was the military, yes.
1 JUDGE JORDA: All right. But it seems to me
2 that in terms of hierarchical subordination, it was
3 more or less the same, because the military police, as
4 far as you were concerned, were still subordinated to
5 the Ministry of Defence, and it was on that particular
6 occasion, I remember it well, that you told us a lot
7 about this concept of "attachment."
8 A. Yes, I said that the direct chain of command
9 was not changed, that is to say, the direct line,
10 chain, and structure remained the same. I was just
11 receiving a unit which was to service me, so to speak.
12 JUDGE JORDA: We'll come back to that, I
13 gather, when we'll talk about Ahmici and the military
15 But then my next question will be this: When
16 you received this order, did you feel the need to ask
17 for additional comments from General Petkovic?
18 A. I really cannot remember the circumstances
19 and my reactions to the order. I don't remember
20 whether I commented on it with General Petkovic or not.
21 JUDGE JORDA: My last question: When General
22 Petkovic sends you this order, as it is worded, is he
23 not, in a way, putting you in a situation where you
24 find yourself obliged to exercise a certain control on
25 the Vitezovi?
1 A. With that order, I did not gain all the
2 competencies in control and command. I could issue
3 combat orders, but I could not, on the basis of that
4 order, discipline a soldier or replace an officer from
5 that particular unit.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Did you transmit this order to
7 the Vitezovi's commander?
8 A. I did not transmit it because he was one of
9 the addressees, and I do believe that he, in fact,
10 received the order himself, a copy of it.
11 JUDGE JORDA: But you can see, can't you,
12 that since General Petkovic is attaching the Vitezovi
13 to you, it would not have been totally absurd for him
14 to issue a two-line order reminding the Vitezovi of the
15 fact that from then on, they are attached to you, and
16 you haven't deemed it necessary for such an order to be
17 issued, have you?
18 A. In my chronology of events, I have noted all
19 my efforts to contact the command of the Vitezovi. I
20 had my requests a day previously, my chronology. I
21 also had a meeting with my commanders on the 21st of
22 January and then asked for the command of the Vitezovi,
23 so my efforts were registered, were noted, when I asked
24 to have a meeting with the command of the Vitezovi, but
25 he was very often inaccessible to me.
1 JUDGE JORDA: But the wording "I forbid any
2 action on their own" does include combat operations;
3 don't you agree?
4 A. I agree with that, yes, that that is what it
5 says and that it includes combat operations.
6 JUDGE JORDA: In that case, and if you do not
7 consider that the Vitezovi are subordinated to you and
8 if, at the same time, you consider that the Vitezovi
9 cannot launch a combat operation, I ask myself: Why
10 did General Petkovic send you this order which is
11 basically useless? Why are the Vitezovi attached to
13 A. I -- Mr. President, I received a different
14 interpretation twice, may I say? And as I say, I
15 cannot remember all the circumstances, the
16 circumstances under which this document arrived, but I
17 can only suppose that it was the time when combat
18 readiness was being raised, the level of it, and I see
19 that the Vitezovi, directly from General Petkovic,
20 received orders to raise their combat readiness, and
21 they informed him personally of that, and that is
22 contained in document 250 and it is obvious from that
23 document. But he did not subordinate the Vitezovi to
24 me, he attached them to me.
25 JUDGE JORDA: You are not answering my
1 question. My question is the following: When you
2 received this order, did you ask yourself what would be
3 the use of it? If you are logical with yourself, you
4 have to admit that it did not have any use for you; it
5 was not a useful thing for you to have the Vitezovi
6 attached to you, from your point of view?
7 A. At all events, Your Honours and
8 Mr. President, it could enable me the right to regulate
9 any excesses made by the Vitezovi, incidents, that is
10 to say, at the Novi Travnik and Travnik front line, and
11 I can only suppose that that was the motive because
12 commanders came to me to complain about the conduct of
13 that unit along that front line against the Serbian
15 JUDGE JORDA: Is that what you think, or are
16 you sure about this? The events took place six years
17 ago, so my question actually applies to that particular
18 time frame. You were Colonel Blaskic at the time. You
19 receive this order. You see that General Petkovic is
20 attaching the Vitezovi to you. You see that General
21 Petkovic forbids any combat operation and you see that
22 this order applies until General Petkovic emits another
23 order, and yet you do not feel the need to ask General
24 Petkovic for additional comment because you feel quite
25 certain of the way you have to interpret this. So my
1 question remains the same: What is the use of such an
2 order? What was the use of the Vitezovi?
3 A. Mr. President, I'll try and answer your
4 questions. First of all, I said that I can only
5 assume, that is to say, I'm not certain about this part
6 because a lot of time has elapsed and there were many
7 different situations. I can only suppose or assume,
8 that is to say, I profoundly believe that in view of
9 the circumstances and in view of my notes and the
10 complaints that were coming in with regard to the
11 conduct of those soldiers, that is one thing.
12 As far as combat assignments go, we can see
13 from document 250 that they retained combat orders and
14 their chain of command of the structure of it from the
15 Defence Minister and that they informed him in writing
16 and not myself. Had I assigned combat duties, then
17 they would have reported to me about those combat
19 Next, what use were the Vitezovi to me? Had
20 I -- well, I didn't need them. They just created
21 problems. I asked the joint command to dislocate them
22 to Mostar so that they could serve those people who set
23 them up and formed them in the first place. So I asked
24 myself this question very frequently. I spent one year
25 to change that chain of command and the Vitezovi, at my
1 initiative, became the 3rd Army Brigade.
2 JUDGE JORDA: So after all, General Blaskic,
3 this order is not as clear as you first said it was.
4 You yourself wondered about it. You weren't sure of
5 what attachment meant and what was the use of it?
6 A. I said in very precise terms. Perhaps the
7 interpretation was not correct, Mr. President. I said
8 I did not know of what use the Vitezovi were and there
9 was a destruction in the creation, the structure of
10 armed force, but I didn't understand, yes.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Very well, but if on January
12 19th you, Colonel Blaskic, you don't know what the use
13 of a combat unit is, and if you don't know what the use
14 of attaching to you a combat unit is, and if you don't
15 feel the need to ask for additional comment, then there
16 is something I don't understand and you must help me on
18 A. I shall be willing to do so, Mr. President,
19 willing to understand. In my document dated September
20 1992, I request that that same unit be defined with
21 regard to structure and formation. So as early on as
22 September 1992 I wrote this request. Why? Because it
23 was a unit which had been set up from the HOS units,
24 from the Zenica, Travnik, and Novi Travnik region. It
25 retained its independence, autonomy, and complete
1 independence of me as the commander.
2 Instead of my initiative and request being
3 accepted and adopted and a unit be formed, they just
4 received new insignia and got even more command
5 possibilities then they had when they were the special
6 purpose units. They got even more independence. So my
7 initiatives and my requests were not favourable to
8 somebody, and I think that we can see this because in
9 September 1992, which was very early on, I just asked
10 that their structure and status be precisely defined.
11 JUDGE JORDA: You're increasing my confusion,
12 General Blaskic. You're worrying me any further,
13 because you're saying that in September 1992 you were
14 already asking yourself some questions about the
15 Vitezovi. In January 1993 you receive an order by
16 which the Vitezovi are attached to you.
17 Let me take an example. Let's take a
18 situation where there is a bad legal officer in the
19 International Tribunal here in The Hague, a legal
20 officer who is not a very able legal expert. He is
21 attached to me in January 1999.
22 At the very same time, I am told by the
23 Registry -- I forbid him to accomplish any legal work.
24 Let's say the legal equivalent of combat operations. A
25 legal expert is meant to do some legal work. The
1 Vitezovi were meant to lead some combat operations.
2 If as early as December 1992 I began to
3 wonder about this legal expert, when this legal expert
4 is attached to me later on and when I hear the Registry
5 say to me, "He is attached to you but he is forbidden
6 to achieve any legal work," I feel I would have gone to
7 see Mrs. De Sampayo and tell her, "Well, what am I
8 suppose today do with this legal expert? What is the
9 use of his being attached is to me? He is supposed to
10 work on legal matters and yet you forbid him to do so
11 and yet you attach him to me at the same time."
12 Your answer when you tell me that in
13 September 1992 you are asking yourself a question on
14 the Vitezovi, it reminds me to put to you this
15 question: Why didn't you ask General Petkovic for some
16 additional information? How can you tell me that this
17 order for you is very clear and not ambiguous at all?
18 A. Mr. President, I would have been very lucky
19 had my command possibilities been at least equal to the
20 way in which this International Tribunal functions. I
21 did not ask myself the question in September 1992. I
22 raised the question and sent it to my superiors, at
23 that particular date. I took the initiative
24 throughout. The problem was who had created this kind
25 of set-up of the armed forces?
1 Yesterday we saw that the Ministry of Defence
2 issued commands to every policeman at the checkpoints
3 in document -- in the document yesterday and our point
4 8. So the problem is the structure and who set up that
5 structure, who formed them in the first place. That is
6 where the difficulty lies. My initiatives did, of
7 course, request time, and I wanted to have the unit
9 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Thank you,
10 General. Judge Rodrigues now has the floor.
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, I have a question
12 to put to you myself. It seems that you established
13 some kind of difference. I'm looking at the English
14 text, so I hope I'm not going to make life more
15 difficult for the interpreters, but do you establish a
16 difference between, "Shall be reassigned in all
17 matters," and, "Shall be reassigned"?
18 A. My command authorisation was the same if we
19 use the term "attachment." So if the order says
20 "attachment," then I understand that and that is what
21 I acted upon, that is to say, I can use the unit for
22 combat operations and I have the right to issue a
23 combat assignment without a direct change in command,
24 that is to say, I can discipline a soldier, replace a
25 soldier, influence logistics and all the rest of it,
1 which I would have had the term "subordinate" been
2 used, "directly subordinated to," et cetera, to be more
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: The following question is
5 more or less identical to the first one: Why does
6 General Petkovic say, "Reassigned in all matters"? Why
7 did he specify "in all matters"?
8 A. I said that I cannot remember the
9 circumstances that governed the situation and what he
10 had in mind, Your Honours, at the time that he wrote
11 the order. I can make a comment, give you my personal
12 comments, but I don't think it may correspond to what
13 General Petkovic had in mind.
14 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So I'm entitled to conclude
15 the following: For you, saying "reassigned" and saying
16 "reassigned in all matters" is one in the same thing?
17 A. If the order is attachment, then I have the
18 same level of command authorisation, that is to say, I
19 do not gain any greater command authorisation whether
20 it states "in all matters," or not "in all matters."
21 The word "attachment" is the keyword.
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Another question: Did you,
23 on other occasions, receive other attachment orders?
24 A. Yes, I did receive other attachment orders.
25 There were situations of that kind, yes, when I
1 received orders about attachment. I received orders
2 about direct subordination as well. There were orders
3 of that kind too. So depending on the situation while
4 I was on active duty, of course.
5 JUDGE RODRIGUES: In these orders, these
6 other orders that you received, what were the words
7 used? Do you remember that at all?
8 A. Well, for the most part they were terms, and
9 that is the way we communicated, whether they were
10 orders or whatever, but we used two terms or whatever.
11 But we used two terms, the term "attachment," all units
12 are attached to you, and so on and so forth.
13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So the most frequent
14 expression was "reassigned"?
15 A. We're talking about attachment, then, yes,
16 "attachment." I cannot give you an example, such and
17 such a unit will be attached to you for such and such
18 an assignment or for such and such an operation,
19 whereas if we were dealing with subordination, then the
20 order will be that a certain unit would be subordinated
21 to a certain commander, the command of a certain
22 brigade or Operative Zone or whatever.
23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: To conclude, General
24 Blaskic, would it have been possible that
25 General Petkovic specify in that order that the
1 Vitezovi were attached to you for one specific action?
2 A. That would have been possible as well, for a
3 concrete action. I haven't got the document to be able
4 to read it in its entirety, but that would have been a
5 possibility, yes. This is done for one operation, one
6 particular operation, or one particular action, or
7 activity. Let us take, for example, that we had to
8 dislocate a unit from one region to another, or that an
9 ambush had to be conducted, or a sabotage operation, or
10 reconnaissance operation, or any kind of activity of
11 this kind. That is what is usually done.
12 If it is an action or operation, then the
13 term "attachment" is used where attachment is completed
14 once the operation is completed. Then that unit would
15 be returned to its previous structure of chain and
16 command, to its previous set-up structure and
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So one is entitled to say
19 that there was a general attachment for all operations,
20 and that is the reason why General Petkovic said that
21 this order should remain in force until he personally
22 indicates something to the contrary.
23 A. Yes, and that is what he stated in his order,
24 that it would remain in force up until the moment that
25 he was to inform me or the commander of Vitezovi that
1 the situation had changed. As a rule, he would have to
2 inform both of us about this, and as he said that he
3 would do so, in fact.
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General. You
5 have helped me to better understand this particular
7 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, Judge Shahabuddeen,
8 I would like the interpreters to take document 657. Do
9 the interpreters have this document with them? It's a
10 Serbo-Croatian document. Maybe, Mr. Nobilo, I can help
11 me before giving the floor to --
12 MR. KEHOE: It is in Serbo-Croatian, Your
13 Honour, and French.
14 JUDGE JORDA: So it's not an order that a
15 decision -- a decision signed by Prlic.
16 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Jadranko Prlic,
17 Mr. President, who is president of the HVO.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Fine. Of course, I will need
19 the help of the interpreters who work from B/C/S into
20 French here. Mr. Nobilo, I also need you to help me.
21 Let's see if we have not made a mistake on another
22 document. I'm doing this, of course, in the interest
23 of the establishment of the truth.
24 I'm talking about Prosecution Exhibit 657.
25 Have you found that Exhibit, Mr. Nobilo?
1 MR. NOBILO: Yes, Mr. President, and I see
2 what you mean. The translation is a good one here. In
3 point 2, the word "subordination" was used.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Precisely, but don't anticipate
5 on my question. The remark I want to make is linked to
6 what is said in Serbo-Croatian, so it is with great
7 humility that I am turning to you, Mr. Nobilo, and to
8 the interpreters.
9 I notice that in the translation of point 2
10 there is a word that has the same root -- I'm sorry,
11 how do you say this? Can the interpreters help me?
12 All right. Does this word have the same root as we
13 find General Petkovic's order?
14 MR. NOBILO: Perhaps I can explain,
15 Mr. President. The word "subordinated" corresponds to
16 the Croatian word "potcinjavanje," whereas the
17 word "attachment," "attach," corresponds to the
18 word "pretpotcinjavanje." So it is made up of two
19 words, "pretpotcinjavanje" and "potcinjavanje."
20 JUDGE JORDA: Right. I think it's very
21 interesting, from the witness's point of view. The
22 prefix "pod" has introduced the notion of
23 subordination, whereas the prefix "pre" in Exhibit 657
24 introduces the concept of attachment. Am I right and
25 can this be confirmed by the interpreters?
1 MR. NOBILO: Perhaps it would be better to do
2 it this way: The basic word is "potcinjavanje." If to
3 that basic word you add the prefix "pret," then you get
4 a different meaning to the word. You obtain
6 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreters add
8 JUDGE JORDA: So we agree to say that the
9 word "pretpotcinjavanje" means "attachment," and the
10 French translation in Exhibit 657 said that the units
11 were going under the control of had this expression
12 corresponds to this Serbo-Croatian word
14 Right. So I will ask, Mr. Registrar, that
15 the translation section give us a translation of all
16 the terms linked to this notion of attachment, control,
17 subordination, et cetera. Do you understand me,
18 Mr. Registrar? You will officially make a demand to
19 the translation section in the name of the Judges.
20 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, I will do so.
21 JUDGE JORDA: I have finished my
22 Serbo-Croatian class. Thank you to the interpreters.
23 Judge Shahabuddeen, I believe you had another
24 question to put to the witness.
25 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General Blaskic, it is
1 half a question on a very short document. I don't
2 believe I shall be raising any of the problems of
3 translation to which this document gave rise.
4 I want to ask you a different question. The
5 document was signed by General Petkovic, describing
6 himself as chief of HVO, Croatian Defence Council, GS
7 main staff.
8 Could you tell us what kind of authority did
9 General Petkovic have to issue this document? More
10 particularly, did you understand him to be saying that
11 the Vitezovi was already an integral part of the HVO
12 and within the command structure of the HVO of which he
13 was chief of staff?
14 A. Your Honour, I know that this structure was
15 changed quite a few times and it was rather dynamic,
16 this structure and this establishment. However, I
17 believe that General Petkovic had authority from the
18 Minister of Defence, and possibly from the commander in
19 chief, to command those units or to command them at a
20 given point in time. But I know that the members of
21 those units signed contracts with the Ministry of
22 Defence, and from the point of view of logistics, they
23 were directly supplied by the Ministry of Defence, and
24 they also received the salary for their work from the
25 Ministry of Defence. And in which period of time
1 General Petkovic commanded these units and in which
2 periods the Ministry of Defence commanded these units,
3 that I do not know precisely, but from document 250, I
4 can see -- which surprises me a bit -- that General
5 Petkovic issues an order on the 14th of October that
6 the units should go to the front line, and the Ministry
7 of Defence issues an order saying that the units should
8 return from the front line later. It would be more
9 logical that the person who orders the unit to go to
10 the front line orders its return from the front line.
11 So there were probably authorities that were
12 interwoven at this point because the structure was
13 changing and this was the process of the creation of
14 this army.
15 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you, General.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, I'm sure you will
17 have the opportunity to go back on this document, which
18 is particularly interesting. I will now ask you to
19 continue either on this document or on something else.
20 It's all up to you, of course.
21 MR. KEHOE: Yes. Mr. President, in light of
22 Your Honours' questions, I would like to ask a few
23 follow-up questions based on some of the matters that
24 Your Honours just highlighted.
25 JUDGE JORDA: I think that you are quite free
1 to lead your cross-examination as you deem it
2 necessary, but I do think it would be more logical for
3 you to go on by going back on the questions put to the
4 witness by myself and my colleagues.
5 MR. KEHOE: Yes. Yes, Mr. President.
6 Cross-examined by Mr. Kehoe:
7 Q. Now, General, you were asked a question by
8 Judge Rodrigues concerning the reason for the
9 attachment of the Vitezovi. Now, you recall that we
10 talked yesterday that the order on Bosnian soldiers
11 subordinating themselves to the HVO was to be complied
12 with by 1900 hours on the 20th of January, 1993, and I
13 reference you to the order that was just highlighted by
14 Judge Jorda, Exhibit 658. Do you recall that, sir?
15 A. I had the decision of the Prime Minister,
16 Dr. Jadranko Prlic, in my hands a few minutes ago.
17 Could I just have a look at this or could I have it in
18 my hands so that I could see what the term is?
19 MR. KEHOE: Certainly, General. Exhibit 658,
20 if I could, Mr. Registrar? Thank you.
21 JUDGE JORDA: I was speaking of 657,
22 Mr. Kehoe, not 658.
23 MR. KEHOE: It was my error, Mr. President.
24 I apologise.
25 Q. On 658, in paragraph 3, General, it calls for
1 the resubordination and the sanctions for any refusal
2 for resubordination, i.e., the units will "be regarded
3 as paramilitary units and shall be disarmed and
4 arrested." And the deadline for the carrying out of
5 this order is listed in item 7 of Mr. Stojic's order,
6 and that deadline is 1900 hours on 20 January, 1993.
7 Now, General, with that knowledge in mind, do
8 you believe that Milivoj Petkovic, Brigadier Petkovic,
9 knew of this order from his superior, Bruno Stojic,
10 when he issued Exhibit 666, the subordination order of
11 the Vitezovi, to you?
12 JUDGE JORDA: "Attachment," Mr. Kehoe.
13 MR. KEHOE: Excuse me. "Attachment," Judge.
14 Q. Attachment order 666.
15 MR. KEHOE: I'm not a quick study, Judge.
16 Q. Did you understand my question, General?
17 JUDGE JORDA: Take your time, General.
18 A. I did not understand the question. I didn't
19 hear it. I was reading document 658, I'm sorry.
20 MR. KEHOE:
21 Q. My question to you is: Do you think that
22 when Milivoj Petkovic attached the Vitezovi to you on
23 the 19th of January, he knew of Bruno Stojic's order
24 that units should "be disarmed and arrested" that
25 didn't place themselves under your command by 1900 on
1 the 20th of January? Do you think that Petkovic knew
2 of Stojic's order?
3 A. This order, document 658, it is certain that
4 Milivoj Petkovic and the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina
5 knew about this and the Minister of Defence of Bosnia
6 and Herzegovina, and even more so because in point 8 of
7 this document, Bruno Stojic says, and I quote:
8 "For the implementation of this order, it is
9 the Chief of the Main Staff of the HVO Armed Forces and
10 of the Administration of the HVO Military Police that
11 will be responsible to me for carrying out this order."
12 But, Your Honours, as for disarming,
13 according to document 658, I did not issue such an
14 order to my subordinates, and please bear in mind
15 document 405 or 404, this is a Defence Exhibit, and
16 that is the order issued by Milivoj Petkovic, that is
17 to say, 01-111/93 of the 20th of January, 1993, where
18 it says: "With a view to reducing tensions, I order,"
19 and then point 1:
20 "1. Establish contact with the competent
21 command of the authority of the army of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina in the zone of your
23 responsibility --"
24 JUDGE JORDA: Just a second, General
25 Blaskic. For the debate to go on in an orderly manner,
1 I want to check something.
2 This was a preliminary question, Mr. Kehoe,
3 wasn't it?
4 I think the question was to know whether or
5 not, in your opinion, Mr. Milivoj Petkovic was aware of
6 the order issued by Bruno Stojic.
7 Was that it, Mr. Kehoe?
8 MR. KEHOE: That was it.
9 JUDGE JORDA: So, please, give some time to
10 Mr. Kehoe to put his questions to you in full before
11 making any comment.
12 You can go on, Mr. Kehoe.
13 MR. KEHOE:
14 Q. So, General --
15 A. I'm sorry, Mr. President.
16 Q. Now, General, given that fact, for what
17 operation was the Vitezovi attached to you on the 19th?
18 A. I said that I do not recall any specific
19 action except for the things that the Vitezovi did at
20 the front line against the army of Republika Srpska. I
21 cannot really remember what kind of operation was in
22 question, but I can confirm that as for disarming the
23 army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we did not plan any
24 kind of action of that nature in the command of the
25 Operative Zone.
1 Q. Well, General, prior to this time, all
2 through 1992, the Vitezovi was deployed to the front
3 line in Jajce, for instance, on numerous occasions, and
4 you didn't need this additional order on the 19th to
5 deploy the Vitezovi to the front line there, did you?
6 A. I have not seen the document, but as far as I
7 can remember, I did not send the Vitezovi to Jajce.
8 They were in Stolac when they were needed the most in
9 Jajce. They did this on orders that they received from
10 their superiors. As far as I can remember now, I did
11 not issue any orders to them saying that they should go
12 to the front line in Jajce.
13 Q. General, how long did this attachment last,
14 the attachment that General Petkovic notes, "This order
15 shall remain in force until I personally change it"?
16 How long did it last?
17 A. I cannot recall exactly how long this lasted
18 because it's been a long time since then, but I know
19 that this system was changed for sure and the Vitezovi
20 retained their independence, which can be seen from
21 document 250 and the report that they sent to their
22 direct superior --
23 Q. That's not my question. My question was
24 simply how long it lasted, and you noted that you can't
25 recall. Now, we have numerous facts in your
1 chronology, General. Is it anywhere listed in your
2 chronology how long this particular attachment lasted?
3 A. I said that I cannot recall, that I would
4 have to look through my chronology to see whether I
5 noted it down somewhere when the Vitezovi regained
6 their independence but ...
7 Q. Well, General, on the break, why don't you do
8 that for us? Why don't you take your chronology and
9 peruse through it and see in there -- give us the
10 notation as to when the Vitezovi or this particular
11 order ceased.
12 Now, General, my next question concerns a
13 comment that you made concerning this attachment, and
14 again, correct me if I'm wrong, I believe it was in
15 regard to a question asked by Judge Rodrigues, and you
16 noted that you received this attachment because you
17 received complaints that were coming in about the
18 Vitezovi soldiers, and my question to you, General,
19 is: What were these complaints?
20 A. Well, I remember well. On one occasion, a
21 weapon was missing from the zone of responsibility of
22 the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade at the front line, and
23 the commander suspected that groups from that unit
24 simply came to the front line and took this weapon away
25 with them, and the situation was similar in Travnik
1 Brigade, in sector number 1. Also, there was a
2 recoilless gun, this was an anti-armour gun, it was
3 missing too, and they thought that the Vitezovi had
4 taken that too. The commander from the Travnik Brigade
5 had reported this to me. And also at the front line,
6 they were infringing upon discipline all over, and this
7 was something I knew, that they would not tell the
8 commander of the sector that they were carrying out
9 reconnaissance activity and that they were carrying out
10 independent actions at that particular front line; that
11 is to say, for the most part, there were such
12 activities at the Travnik and Novi Travnik front lines.
13 There were also other incidents.
14 Specifically, I cannot recall all of them now because I
15 did not go into all the details. I tried to resolve
16 this problem through the system itself.
17 Q. So the system solved the problem by Milivoj
18 Petkovic attaching the Vitezovi to you until further
19 notice to all parties; is that right?
20 A. I believe that this was one of the attempts
21 made but this did not resolve the problem. They kept
22 the direct chain of command, and this is reflected by
23 document 250. If you read this document more
24 carefully, you will see that in that period, the
25 Vitezovi did not send their reports to me. They were
1 sending reports to Milivoj Petkovic and Bruno Stojic.
2 Q. General, let us clarify an issue on Exhibit
3 250 and let us talk about the remarks on Exhibit 250,
4 and if you could look at that document, I have a couple
5 of questions for you because you've been talking about
6 this report at some length.
7 Turn to the "Remarks" section of this
9 JUDGE JORDA: I think we should put this on
10 the ELMO because the Judges don't have this document
11 before them right now.
12 MR. KEHOE:
13 Q. Let us read this first paragraph on the
14 "Remarks" section. Do you see that, Mr. Usher? I
15 believe it is the second to -- third-to-last page in
16 the English version, you see "Remark" at the bottom.
17 That's it.
19 "The army base Dubravica - Krizancevo Selo
20 was situated at the first line of defence. During a
21 strong attack by MOS --"
22 That's "Muslim defence forces."
23 " -- a fire broke out in the storeroom and
24 part of the archive. That is the reason why some of my
25 reports or sections of reports are not backed up by
1 documents. There is worse: when I came back from
2 Herzegovina, the computer was missing, and most of the
3 archives had been on its disk."
4 If we turn to the next page, Mr. Usher, about
5 midway down, you will see the words "All this." That's
6 it right there, right in the centre.
7 "All this is just the essential summary,
8 because it would be impossible to write the whole
9 history of 'Vitezovi' in a few pages."
10 So by the author's own admission, General,
11 this particular report, as the Vitezovi was being
12 phased out of existence, does not encompass all of the
13 records and everything that happened to the Vitezovi
14 during their existence, does it?
15 A. I did not claim that the report was a
16 complete one, I do not have any insight into the
17 Vitezovi reports, but I did say that they informed the
18 chief of the main staff and the Minister of Defence
19 about their activities, and it says here on the 15th of
20 March, 1993, and there is the number of the report and
21 all the other details are there.
22 Also at the time when this report was
23 written, the head of the Vitezovi was also the deputy
24 head of SIS, and I think that he had high command
25 responsibilities and he had access to computers,
1 et cetera.
2 Q. Now, General, let us continue to talk about
3 these complaints that you are receiving concerning the
4 Vitezovi prior to this attachment order on the 19th.
5 Did you receive orders that Vitezovi soldiers had
6 committed war crimes, prior to this attachment?
7 A. As far as I can remember, as far as I can
8 recall -- you're asking me about a period of time which
9 is six or already seven years ago -- I cannot recall
10 having received such complaints.
11 Q. Well, you did receive complaints concerning
12 crimes that they had committed against Muslims, didn't
14 A. I don't know what period you have in mind.
15 Q. General, turn to your chronology. I mean,
16 you read the information out concerning problems with
17 the Vitezovi in early January, so let's go back to your
18 chronology and let's talk about what you read to the
20 A. Well, that's the way you should tell me, the
21 beginning of 1993.
22 Q. General, the reference point is the order of
23 January 19th. Now, prior to January 19th, had you
24 received information about the Vitezovi committing
25 crimes against the Muslims? And while you're looking
1 -- I don't want to limit you in any fashion to your
2 gathering of such information.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Maybe this is a good time to
4 take a break because it would enable the witness to go
5 through his chronology, but I also want to remind all
6 of you that the break is also meant for everyone to
7 take a break, a rest. I was thinking of a 20-minute
8 break, but maybe we can have a rather longer break for
9 the witness to be able, at the same time, to look
10 through his chronology and to take a rest. That's
12 So, Mr. Kehoe, I think the best thing maybe
13 is for you to go on for a few minutes on that
14 particular issue -- no, wait. Let's take a break and
15 resume our work a little before noon. That will enable
16 the witness to look through his notes and to take a
17 rest. Yes, Mr. Kehoe?
18 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. I would like
19 the witness to look for two issues. The first issue
20 has to do with --
21 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, be specific about what you
22 want him to look at.
23 MR. KEHOE: The first issue pertains to my
24 questions regarding the length of this attachment and
25 how long Petkovic attached the Vitezovi to Blaskic.
1 It's a question I asked probably 15 minutes ago.
2 My second question is his information
3 concerning crimes committed by the Vitezovi prior to
4 the 19th of January that he recited during his direct
6 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Is it clear for the
7 Defence? Is it clear for the witness?
8 Yes. Very well. We will resume a little
9 before noon. Thank you.
10 --- Recess taken at 11.26 a.m.
11 --- On resuming at 12.00 p.m.
12 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. You
13 may all be seated. Mr. Kehoe, you have the floor.
14 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. President.
15 Q. General, during the break did you have a
16 chance to review your chronology?
17 A. I didn't hear what you said. I wasn't
18 getting the interpretation. It's okay now though.
19 Q. During the break did you have a chance to
20 review your chronology?
21 A. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to look through
22 all my chronology. I did look through a part of it,
23 but as there is so many of it I didn't get a chance to
24 go through it all.
25 Q. Let's see if we can answer this question
1 based on what you did go through. When you went
2 through your chronology, did your chronology
3 demonstrate when the Vitezovi or the attachment of the
4 Vitezovi to you by Milivoj Petkovic ended?
5 A. I haven't got that noted in my chronology,
6 just that I do not know when the two documents actually
7 started. But I do know that when I returned again to
8 the Vitez military district on the 4th of March 1993,
9 that the circumstances were the same as they were
10 before the 19th of January. The Vitezovi were acting,
11 that is to say, as an independent unit. I believe that
12 was the period that -- the relevant period. From the
13 19th of January to February 1993, particularly as in
14 Exhibit 250 I read that the command of the Vitezovi
15 referred to the chief of the main staff and the Defence
16 Minister and sent him a report on his activities in the
17 January conflict and was not referring to me as the
18 command of the Operative Zone.
19 However, I was not able to find in my
20 chronology a note on when the beginning was and when it
21 ended. Perhaps this is because I was isolated in
22 Kiseljak for the whole time.
23 Q. Well, General, in looking at Exhibit 250,
24 when the Vitezovi went to Busovaca to engage in combat
25 activities, it would appear, would it not, that they
1 were attached to you at that point?
2 A. At that time, quite possibly they were.
3 Probably they were attached, but they -- I did not
4 issue orders to the Vitezovi to go to Busovaca.
5 Q. You noted, during the course of a meeting
6 with Mr. Flemming and Mr. Merdan that took place on the
7 5th of February, 1993, and for record purposes,
8 counsel, it's page 18267, you note as follows, during
9 this meeting on the 5th of February, 1993, and this is
10 your testimony:
11 A After that Merdan said that the
12 civilians were being taken to do
13 trench digging.
14 Q Where? What place?
15 A Busovaca, and that was the time that I
16 was confronted with the statement of
17 this kind because we had numerous
18 meetings, Dzemo and I, before that I and
19 the commander of the 3rd Corps. And he
20 also ascertained that the Vitezovi were
21 dealing with problems in the individual
22 villages by using ultimatums, and he had
23 in mind Bosnian Muslim villages.
24 Now, this is a meeting that you testified
25 about on the 5th of February, 1993, and my question,
1 General, is when the Vitezovi was dealing with these
2 Bosnian Muslim villages through ultimatums, were they
3 attached to you pursuant to Milivoj Petkovic's order?
4 A. I have already stated that I'm not sure when
5 that order was pulled back by Milivoj Petkovic.
6 Perhaps they were attached, but activities of that kind
7 they did not undertake by my order. They never
8 received an order by me, as Dzemo Merdan said, to
9 settle problems by means of ultimatum in the Bosniak
11 Let me just look at my chronology for a
12 moment. I asked Mr. Merdan to tell me where and how
13 they were solving problems by ultimatum, but at that
14 meeting Merdan did not continue to explain and said
15 nothing. So I asked that Mr. Merdan be more concrete
16 and specific, and to tell us where the Vitezovi were
17 settling problems by means of ultimatums.
18 I understood him to mean the Vitez
19 municipality, that that was where they were doing it.
20 But what villages, because the municipality of Vitez
21 had many villages, and what kind of ultimatums? He
22 didn't answer that question. He didn't say anything to
23 my question, but I just received this information.
24 As far as trench digging was concerned, that
25 is true. It was the first time, and Mr. Dzemo Merdan
1 repeated several times this assertion. However,
2 throughout the time in Kiseljak, which is where I was,
3 no Bosniak Muslim was -- who was detained dug
5 Q. Excuse me, General. General --
6 A. You asked me about digging trenches, as far
7 as I understood. You mentioned the question at the
9 Q. During this period of time, you got
10 information from Merdan that the Vitezovi were
11 presenting ultimatums to Bosnian Muslim villages. What
12 did you do with that information, General? What did
13 you personally do with that information?
14 A. A complete report from the meeting, as indeed
15 from every other meeting, I sent on to the chief of the
16 main staff, including what was stated by Dzemo Merdan,
17 Mr. Flemming, and myself at the meeting.
18 Q. Do you have that report, sir?
19 A. Unfortunately, I do not have any of the
20 reports, apart from the ones that you have succeeded in
21 gathering yourselves.
22 Q. Well, did you confront Darko Kraljevic on
23 this issue?
24 A. Well, for two months I was not in a situation
25 in which I could go to the command headquarters. I was
1 not able to be there, but before that, I had undertaken
2 certain steps. I think it was the 18th of January.
3 There's a document. Whether it was 204, 206, or 208,
4 which indicates the measures I undertook to prevent
5 non-soldier-like behaviour, criminal behaviour, and
6 violent behaviour, and that document illustrates my
7 efforts to prevent this.
8 Q. General, let's be as accurate as possible.
9 You received this information from General Merdan on
10 the 5th of February, 1993, and you returned back to
11 your headquarters in the Hotel Vitez on the 3rd of
12 March, 1993, less than one month later. My question
13 for you, General, when you got back to your
14 headquarters after the 3rd of March, at any point did
15 you call Kraljevic in and demand an explanation as to
16 what he and his soldiers were doing concerning these
18 A. Those ultimatums, up until the 5th, no longer
19 reflected themselves in Dzemo Merdan's behaviour, nor
20 were they repeated from that meeting of the 5th of
22 There were many other meetings with Dzemo
23 Merdan. He never expressed viewpoints of this kind
24 with regard to the behaviour of the Vitezovi any more,
25 but already on the 4th of March, I organised a meeting
1 with my associates, and I would have to have a look to
2 see whether Mr. Kraljevic came to the meeting or not.
3 May I take a look in my chronology, please?
4 In my chronology, I don't have it that
5 Mr. Kraljevic was at the meeting. Probably the
6 situation reverted to its autonomy, what I was talking
7 about a moment ago.
8 Q. Well, General, the fact is that you never
9 even asked Darko Kraljevic about these ultimatums
10 presented to these Bosnian Muslim villages at all, did
12 A. I have already said that the order on
13 attachment does not give me the right to undertake
14 disciplinary measures. Second, I was not in a position
15 at that time, while I was in Kiseljak, to discuss this
16 matter with him.
17 I would also like to add that I informed the
18 chief of the main staff about that in my regular
19 reports that I sent off from each of my meetings. From
20 every meeting held, my chief of staff would get a
21 report from me.
22 Q. General, prior to the attachment on the 19th,
23 what crimes had the Vitezovi committed that you were
24 aware of? This is prior to the 19th of January, 1993,
25 when Petkovic issued this order of attachment, Exhibit
2 A. As far as I know, that there was violence in
3 January and that the units brought in from Herzegovina
4 had taken part and that the Vitezovi had participated.
5 I undertook measures for the security service to inform
6 me about each of these incidents and to inform their
7 superiors too. I think that 204 and 206 exhibits
8 reflect that, reflect everything that was done to stop
9 activities of this kind on the part of the Vitezovis.
10 It was a crime to steal weapons as well from
11 the Travnik battlefront, but there was violence in the
12 towns as well on both sides, both by the special
13 purpose units and the members of the HVO, as well as
14 the BH army units. However, that violence was
15 conducted for profit more or less. It was profiteering
16 more or less rather than nationalistic goals. The
17 target was the rich people, both Bosniaks and Croats.
18 Q. So you knew, prior to the 19th of January,
19 that the Vitezovi had criminal elements in their midst;
20 is that correct?
21 A. That there were individuals who had
22 perpetrated acts of this kind. According to the
23 reports from the security service I knew about this,
24 and I took measures and issued orders and demanded that
25 the competent authorities be informed thereof.
1 Q. Now, General, let me ask you about your
2 comment to the Judges about your request to remove the
3 Vitezovi from Central Bosnia, again with regard to
4 documentation to support that claim. Do you have any
5 documentation among all the records that you have to
6 support your claim that you requested that the Vitezovi
7 be removed from Central Bosnia?
8 A. In my chronology, I have this noted down. It
9 was at a meeting of the joint command. Next, I have
10 records of a talk, I think it was a talk with
11 Mr. Prkacin as the head in the joint command, and that
12 talk was introduced into my wartime diary. I haven't
13 got the wartime diary here with me, but I do have a
14 note on it in my chronology, that a request of that
15 kind had been sent out. If necessary, I can look at
16 the date.
17 Q. So you do not have any documentation to show
18 the Court to support your claim that you asked for the
19 removal of the Vitezovi; isn't that right?
20 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, I would just like
21 to object to this type of cross-examination. The
22 accused is not here to prove that it is his fault that
23 he has not found a document. If the Prosecution wants
24 to make an assertion, it is up to the Prosecution to
25 prove it. I think that it has been legally posed in
1 the wrong way, saying "Why haven't you got any
2 documentation?" on an event. It is up to the
3 Prosecutor to prove matters.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Well, Mr. Nobilo, I think it is
5 maybe also the accused's role, who is right now a
6 witness -- let us not make a mistake -- right now
7 General Blaskic is a witness, and as such, he has a
8 number of duties. He has the rights of a witness but
9 also the duties of a witness, and he also has the
10 rights of an accused.
11 I would like to remind us all that when one
12 of the parties, be it the Defence or the Prosecution,
13 puts a question to General Blaskic, who is now a
14 witness, the witness has to justify what he is saying.
15 A moment ago, the witness said, "I took a number of
16 measures." Fine. We understand that. He took a
17 number of measures. But the Judges may deem it
18 necessary to ask him what kind of measures he took.
19 I understand the nature of your objection,
20 but I think you have to nuance it. Of course,
21 generally speaking, the Prosecutor has the burden of
22 proof and he must prove that the accused has committed
23 such and such a crime, but right now the accused is a
24 witness, and when the witness says something, of
25 course, he is entitled not to bring forward any kind of
1 document, and in that situation, the Judges will take
2 note of the fact that he has not brought a document
3 forward, but in that case, I think the Prosecution was
4 just saying, "Well, then, you don't have a document."
5 So I understand your objection, but I think
6 you have to qualify it somewhat in view of the
7 situation the witness General Blaskic finds himself in.
8 Yes, Mr. Nobilo?
9 MR. NOBILO: I agree with you, that the
10 Prosecutor can ask and the witness answer, not have the
11 document, but he is asking it in an accusatory manner.
12 Now, it is not our fault that the Croatian side in
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina does not cooperate with the
14 Defence. It is not the Defence's fault for that.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, but I think that the
16 parties have to help the Judges in all manners
17 possible. The Judges have the responsibility of
18 establishing the truth. The Prosecutor put a question
19 to the witness and then, later on, he said, "So you
20 don't have a document." Of course, the witness answers
21 as he wishes. He can say, "I didn't have the time to
22 find it."
23 A moment ago, let me remind you the Chamber
24 said, "Of course, the witness needs to have some time
25 to look through his chronology and to find this
1 document." Don't forget, Mr. Nobilo, that you will
2 have the possibility to ask the witness further
3 questions and you will have the possibility to give him
4 a chance to bring forward other documents.
5 We will move on. General Blaskic, you may
6 have had time during this slight exchange of views to
7 find some information, some documents maybe? As an
8 accused, you also have the right to say, "I don't have
9 this document here with me right now. I don't want to
10 have us lose more time than is necessary. I'm sure I
11 have this document somewhere or I have this evidence
12 somewhere." You can also say that.
13 A. Mr. President, I was not able to look through
14 my entire chronology, but I found an event on the 15th
15 of November, '92, when the commander of the Vitezovi
16 took into custody Mr. Dzemo Merdan. Mr. Prkacin was
17 with me then, a member of the joint command, and I
18 requested the commander of the Vitezovi to free General
19 Merdan, and after that I discussed the matter with
20 Prkacin and asked him to do what he could to have the
21 Vitezovi withdrawn to Mostar. But I have other
22 requests of that kind. I would just have to go through
23 my chronology of events to find other examples.
24 MR. KEHOE: If I might just have one moment,
25 Mr. President? I just want to ask a question to ...
1 Q. Let's move on, General, and, again, I am
2 following up on some of your statements that you gave
3 to the Judges this morning, and the one I would like to
4 direct your attention to, General, has to do with the
5 difference you drew between direct subordination orders
6 and attachments.
7 My first question for you on this, General,
8 is: When did you receive direct subordination orders?
9 And within that answer, please tell us for which units
10 you received such direct subordination orders.
11 A. Just one moment so I can look up the date,
13 On the 23rd of July, 1993, the unit was the
14 military police at the time when I found myself in the
16 Q. Was that the only subordination order that
17 you received?
18 A. Could you repeat the question, please? I
19 wasn't receiving the interpretation.
20 Q. During the time when you were the commander
21 of the Central Bosnian Operative Zone, was this order
22 the only subordination order that you received?
23 A. Just one moment, please. I don't think it
24 was the only one, but I cannot at this point in time
25 remember the exact date of another. I also received an
1 order linked to the dismantling of all the units and
2 the formation of the 3rd Guards Brigade. I think that
3 that was sometime in January 1994.
4 Q. Now, General, my question with regard to that
5 subordination order, was that subordination order in
6 existence until you left as commander of the Central
7 Bosnian Operative Zone.
8 A. Which one? There were two. The first or ...
9 Q. Maybe I misunderstood you, General. You said
10 there are two subordination orders. Let's talk about
11 both of them in sequence.
12 A. After the Washington Agreement was signed and
13 after the encirclement stopped, the military police
14 returned to its old formation and system where the head
15 of the military police directly commanded the military
16 police, and the 3rd Guards Brigade, after it was
17 formed, remained when I left, it remained subordinate
18 to the command of the Central Bosnia Operative Zone and
19 the units were completely extinguished, such as the
20 Vitezovi, the Light Assault Brigade and the other ones
21 that went up to form the 3rd Guards Brigade.
22 Q. Now, other than the military police, General,
23 did you receive any subordination orders for other
24 units, such as Tvrtko or Zuti or any other units?
25 A. I also received them for the Tvrtko unit, but
1 it was not on a rank with these units, that its
2 reorganisation and dismantling be started. I would
3 have to look at my chronology to see when. The Tvrtko
4 was a special purposes unit of the B type compared to
5 the Vitezovi which were the A type.
6 Q. What about Zuti? Did you receive a
7 subordination order with regard to the Zuti special
8 purposes unit?
9 A. Possibly this was at the same time, but I'm
10 not sure. I would have to look this up in the
11 chronology, when Tvrtko took place and whether they
12 were of the same rank or not.
13 Q. Well, tell me, General, what was the need? I
14 mean, why were these units subordinated to you as
15 opposed to attached to you? What was the reason for
17 A. Always, I always asked -- I mean, in all my
18 efforts -- that all units be subordinated to the
19 commander, and from September 1992, in my documents, I
20 showed this unnatural establishment because the
21 situation was such, objectively speaking, that there
22 were several chains of command, and the formal
23 responsibility went along one line, or perhaps to put
24 it better, I was in a position to be responsible for
25 the actions of those units over which I did not have
1 any command or any other powers in the zone of
2 responsibility of Central Bosnia. At the time of
3 attachment too, they were in a position to receive
4 orders from their immediate superiors to carry out such
5 orders and not inform me about this at all.
6 Q. My question is: With regard to these
7 individual units and why some units were subordinated
8 and why some were attached, your answer is that the
9 attachment order was made so they could take orders
10 from other entities? Is that your answer? And if it's
11 not, please clarify. Feel free to clarify it, please.
12 A. I said that I asked that their structure be
13 defined, and those were my requests. Obviously, they
14 only went up to that instance, that is to say, limited
15 responsibility. The superiors, those who were superior
16 to me, only attached units to me. Why the levels that
17 were superior to me retained such a structure and why
18 they created it at all, that is to say, that they could
19 issue orders without informing me? Well, it's hard for
20 me to answer that. But I expressed my views orally,
21 and in writing, and at meetings when I had the
22 opportunity to do so. I said that this was a mistake
23 in the actual set-up and through those bylaws, the act
24 on the armed forces is being infringed upon, where it
25 says that the command is one, then in practice there is
1 not one. Why did they only attach rather than
2 completely subordinate units? Perhaps there were other
3 reasons that my superiors had for doing so.
4 Q. General, let us go back to where we left off
5 yesterday and, again, we are talking about events both
6 in Gornji Vakuf and in Central Bosnia, Vitez, Busovaca,
7 on approximately the 19th of January, the date when you
8 got this attachment order from General Petkovic.
9 Now, you met Brigadier Cordy-Simpson, did you
11 A. Yes, many times in '92 and '93. I don't know
12 what meeting you had in mind.
13 Q. Generally did you consider General
14 Cordy-Simpson a competent and reasonable person?
15 A. Well, that he was a reasonable person, yes.
16 That's what I thought. But for me to judge how
17 competent an officer he is -- I saw him at meetings, I
18 heard what he had to say at meetings, and this is a
19 high officer, an officer of high standing, but I did
20 not have any direct knowledge about him. I didn't know
21 where he served before. I don't know his biography. I
22 have very little information about him. I don't even
23 know which armed service he belonged to, but I can talk
24 about any one of these meetings because I have them
25 noted down in my chronology.
1 Q. Well, General, let me read you Brigadier
2 Cordy-Simpson's assessment of the situation in Central
3 Bosnia as of the 19th of January.
4 MR. KEHOE: I'm referring, Mr. President and
5 Your Honours, to Exhibit 406/43. The cover page is of
6 the 20th of January, but the actual report is for the
7 19th of January, 1993. I'm talking about the top of
8 the second page.
9 If we could put that page -- I'm sorry. I do
10 believe that this has got to be in closed session. I
11 take that back. I believe it has to be in private
12 session. I apologise.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, Mr. Kehoe?
14 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. I believe
15 this is a document that we would have to read in
16 private session, with the Court's permission.
17 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We shall go into
18 private session then. Mr. Registrar?
19 THE REGISTRAR: We are now in private
21 (Private session)
13 Pages 21599-215602 redacted – private session
18 (Open session)
19 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 668.
20 MR. KEHOE:
21 Q. General, Prosecutor's Exhibit 668 is a
22 British Battalion military information summary from 20
23 January, 1993.
24 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Usher, I would first like to
25 read the insert for Gornji Vakuf at the bottom of the
1 page that starts with "D. Assessment" and following up
2 to the next page. Do you see that at the bottom of the
3 page you're looking at? It says, "D. Assessment."
4 Keep going down that page, Mr. Usher. Right down
6 Q. Now, General, this is the assessment for
7 Gornji Vakuf of the British Battalion:
9 B company assess that the original HVO plan
10 for Gornji Vakuf was to secure the outer villages,
11 cordon the town, bisect it, and then clear each area in
12 turn. The HVO initially assessed that this could be
13 achieved fairly rapidly. The main axis of HVO advance
14 onto the town appear to have been Pidris, Mracaj,
15 Uricje to the junction at grid reference," and they
16 give a particular grid reference. "It is thought that
17 the Bosnian BiH/Muslim resolve has been greatly
18 underestimated. In addition, a great deal of HVO
19 artillery fire has proved ineffective, falling mainly
20 on Muslim residential areas and not close to the main
21 concentration of Muslim fighters. In short, HVO have
22 met with only partial success and have not managed to
23 break into the town itself. B company express concern
24 that similar problems could possibly erupt in Jablanica
25 and, therefore, affect another MSR into Central
1 Bosnia. The possibility of similar eruptions in
2 Travnik, Novi Travnik, and Vitez is assessed as
4 If we could move to the bottom of that page,
5 Mr. Usher, on the insert that reads, "Four.
7 "The BiH in Busovaca have erected a new
8 checkpoint at Kacuni ..."
9 With the grid reference.
10 "This is the only BiH checkpoint en route
11 from Vitez to Kiseljak and is located just north of the
12 BiH Brigade HQ. The checkpoint itself is well manned
13 by approx. 15 - 20 soldiers who are equipped with
14 automatic weapons and an RPG7. Reports from 1 Cheshire
15 (call signs) during daylight hours stated that the BiH
16 had laid a number of mines at the checkpoint.
17 Subsequent information from the Dutch transport
18 squadron suggested that the mines may have been lifted
19 as darkness fell. Comment: This is yet another
20 indication of the spread of mistrust throughout the
21 Busovaca/Travnik/Vitez area. Comment ends."
22 Now, General, clearly on the 20th of January,
23 1993, or prior to that time, hostilities are taking
24 place in Gornji Vakuf. Would you agree with me --
25 JUDGE JORDA: Slow down a bit, Mr. Kehoe.
1 The interpreters have some difficulty following you.
2 They just ended the translation of the text you have
3 been reading.
4 MR. KEHOE: I'm sorry, Judge.
5 Q. Now, General, clearly on the 20th of January
6 of 1993 --
7 JUDGE JORDA: Please wait, Mr. Kehoe. Give
8 them a little time to end what you have been saying a
9 minute ago.
10 MR. KEHOE: I'm sorry.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. It's okay now,
12 Mr. Kehoe. You can put your question.
13 MR. KEHOE:
14 Q. Now, General, clearly on the 20th of January
15 and prior to the 20th of January, hostilities were
16 taking place in Gornji Vakuf between the HVO and the
17 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and would you agree with
18 me, General, that the setting up of the checkpoint in
19 Kacuni, on the 20th of January by the Muslims, was a
20 reaction to that conflict?
21 A. Well, how can I agree if you are claiming
22 that the checkpoint in Kacuni is a reaction to the
23 conflict in Gornji Vakuf? Look at the map. We've
24 marked the roads up to Vitez. I can mark that road
25 too. Geographically, this is a divided area. There
1 are mountains that divide it. There was never an
2 asphalt road between Gornji Vakuf and Novi Travnik.
3 Never, ever.
4 What happened in Gornji Vakuf could have
5 caused concern and, judging by what you described, this
6 is not a checkpoint, this is a military barricade. We
7 are talking about 15 or 20 soldiers. We're talking
8 about RPGs. So we are talking about hand-held
9 armour-piercing weapons, we're talking about mines
10 placed on the road. We are not saying whether they are
11 anti-tank or anti-personnel mines. And a checkpoint is
12 a checkpoint where there are two policemen with a
13 notebook, a pen, and small arms, and they are noting
14 the vehicles that pass by, et cetera.
15 And during my testimony, I said -- well, I
16 didn't have the opportunity of saying this because the
17 questions were not put that way. There were
18 checkpoints all over, and this was the last one in a
19 series. There was a checkpoint in Kruscica and at
20 Pavlovica on the 18th of January, on the 14th of --
21 first, in Sebecic, et cetera, and the checkpoint in
22 Kacuni was put up by the 1st and 7th Travnik Brigade,
23 which was then later called the 1st and 7th Krajina
24 Brigades. But that was a barricade.
25 Q. Were the HVO checkpoints in Busovaca, both
1 the town and the municipality, on the 20th of January,
3 A. As a reaction, as a reaction to such a
4 checkpoint, perhaps it was established, but I don't
5 know. I moved along the road. I did not see a
6 checkpoint on the road from Kiseljak to Vitez, I never
7 saw one that was stronger from the point of view of the
8 military and weapons and soldiers than the one in
9 Kacuni that was held by the army of
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina. And the civilian police had
11 checkpoints and they regulated the traffic. This was
12 at the Kaonik crossroads. This is the main
13 intersection, the road going to Busovaca and the one
14 going to Kakanj, Visoko, Vares, et cetera. Mostly
15 there were civilian police checkpoints. And then
16 during the night between the 20th and the 21st of
17 January, whether a checkpoint was put up, I don't know,
18 especially not by way of a barricade.
19 Q. Well, keeping in mind the deadline for the
20 disarmament of 1900 hours on the 20th of January, 1993,
21 did you order additional troops, HVO troops, to travel
22 from Kiseljak and Kresevo to the Busovaca municipality?
23 A. Until the 20th? The only --
24 Q. I will clarify my question. On or before the
25 20th of January, did you order additional troops, HVO
1 troops, to travel from Kresevo and Kiseljak to
2 Busovaca, keeping in mind, General, that the deadline
3 for the disarmament was 1900 hours on the 20th of
5 A. Those troops from Kresevo and Kiseljak, every
6 week, that is to say, every week, before the 20th of
7 January, they would go to sector 1 in Travnik to the
8 front line facing the Serbs, but these were regular
9 shifts, and I would tour them together with the
10 commanders of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina; and, on
11 the 20th of January, troops from Kiseljak and Kresevo
12 did arrive at the front line. They took over this
13 duty, as recorded, at the front line against the Serbs,
14 and I did order, though, that troops from Busovaca,
15 from the village of Katici, had to go to the front
16 line, although they expressed their concern to me.
17 They said that they were concerned over the fact that
18 the forces of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina were
19 piling up near their villages, and I told my co-workers
20 there is no need to avoid their responsibilities at the
21 front line vis-à-vis the Serbs, so the soldiers should
22 go and do their shift and they did go. But this was
23 not a special order I issued on the 20th. This was
24 longstanding practice I think from November 1992. I
25 have this in my chronology and I can exactly say which
1 document this is and which date this is when we
2 organised a defence in the area of Travnik in this way,
3 and not only from Kiseljak but also Kresevo, from
4 Fojnica, and, for a certain period of time, from Vares
5 and Kakanj and Zenica too. All municipalities took
6 part in the defence of the municipality of Travnik or,
7 rather, the municipalities of Central Bosnia, and also
8 from Vitez and Busovaca.
9 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, I'm about to go to
10 another document. I don't whether you want to break
11 for lunch or have me continue on.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, you can put this last
13 document to the witness and then we'll take the lunch
15 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
16 Q. Let's look at another document, General.
17 THE REGISTRAR: This is Prosecution Exhibit
19 MR. KEHOE:
20 Q. General, this is another military information
21 summary from the British Battalion.
22 And, Mr. Usher, I'm interested in page 2,
23 section 2, the report on Busovaca. Do you see that?
24 THE USHER: Yes.
25 JUDGE JORDA: What is the date of that
1 document? January 21st? I'm sorry.
2 MR. KEHOE: The 21st, Mr. President. And I
3 will attempt, Mr. President, Your Honours, and for the
4 sake of the booth, to read this as slowly as possible.
5 Q. "Two. Busovaca.
6 "Reference our milinfosum 81 dated 20 Jan.
7 '93, paragraph 4. Dutch transport squadron report that
8 the new BiH checkpoint placed in Kacuni at --"
9 With the grid reference.
10 "-- was put in place to prevent HVO
11 reinforcements coming from the Kiseljak/Kresevo. The
12 local BiH commander states that these reinforcements
13 arrived during the evening of 20 Jan. '93 and were
14 turned back at the checkpoint. Tensions increased in
15 Busovaca during late afternoon. Between 2000
16 hours - 2100 hours 2 x HVO checkpoints were erected at
17 either end of the town centre ..."
18 And it gives the two grid references.
19 "At approx. the same time a quad 4 X .50
20 mounted on a flat bed was deployed on the road south of
21 the town in the area of ..."
22 And it gives a grid reference.
23 "All main routes in and out of Busovaca were
24 then controlled. Between 2100 hours 20 Jan. and 0200
25 hours 21 Jan. '93 the Dutch transport squadron reported
1 a number of explosions in the town. On 21 Jan. '93 a
2 daylight recce confirmed that 8 shops/kiosks had been
3 badly damaged by fire and some form of explosive.
4 Dutch transport believe that these shops which are all
5 Muslim were possibly damaged by grenades. Both HVO
6 checkpoints were removed on 21 Jan. '93. A local
7 source reported to the Dutch battalion that a number of
8 families in Busovaca had sent their children to stay
9 with friends in Zenica. Comment: The action of 20/21
10 Jan. '93 appears to be a pre-planned, co-ordinated
11 attack on the Muslim population. Comment ends."
12 Now, I have additional questions with regard
13 to this issue, Mr. President, that I'm sure we can
14 address after lunch. They were somewhat extensive.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Very well then. We will
16 adjourn and resume our work at 2.30 this afternoon.
17 --- Luncheon recess taken at 1.03 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.35 p.m.
2 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please
3 be seated. Mr. Kehoe, I would just like to remind that
4 before the lunch break you gave the witness a document,
5 and you've waited until after the break to put your
6 question to the witness about that document, which we
7 will not reread once more.
8 MR. KEHOE: Yes, but before that particular
9 series of questions, if I can take a document out of
10 turn which I neglected to put in when we were talking
11 about the Novi Travnik incident back in October of
12 1992. I would like to do that at this time, and it is
13 a letter from --
14 JUDGE JORDA: It's your choice, Mr. Kehoe.
15 You're quite free to do that.
16 MR. KEHOE: Yes. Thank you. It is a letter
17 from President Izetbegovic to President Tudjman.
18 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 670, 670A
19 for the English version.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, the floor is yours.
21 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. I have some
22 extra copies for the booths. I think it would be
23 helpful for them.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Can the booth go and meet the
25 usher, please, so that we don't lose too much time?
1 Thank you.
2 In these cases, Mr. Registrar, if you could
3 lend a hand, because the usher goes one way, maybe you
4 could go the other way.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Judge Jorda, of course.
6 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, this is my fault.
7 I should have done this ahead of time.
8 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We can see that for
9 once the Prosecution has made a mistake. Mr. Kehoe,
10 we're listening to you.
11 MR. KEHOE: This is a letter from President
12 Izetbegovic to president Franjo Tudjman dated
13 27 October, 1992.
14 "Mr. President, recent events in Bosnia and
15 Herzegovina have compelled me to address you with this
17 "HVO units have systematically provoked
18 conflicts in Novi Travnik, Vitez, and Prozor, in which
19 there were casualties and destruction. All the roads
20 through Western Herzegovina have been closed even for
21 humanitarian aid. At the same time, a propaganda war
22 against Bosnia and Herzegovina and its legal
23 authorities is being waged in the Croatian media. They
24 have invented and are continually repeating news of an
25 alleged coup d'etat in Bosnia-Herzegovina, speculating
1 about the changes in the government and persistently
2 ignoring the struggle by the BH army against the
3 Chetniks being waged under extremely unequal
4 conditions. The idea is to morally finish off our
5 people, who have suffered hard physical blows from the
6 Chetniks, and leave us without any hope. It seems that
7 the Croatian media have accepted this second part of
8 the job.
9 "As you know, the truth is that there has
10 been no coup d'etat in Sarajevo.
11 "The truth is that the BH army is fighting
12 bravely in Gorazde, Sarajevo, Konjic, Jajce, Gradacac,
13 Zepce, Maglaj, Visegrad, Brcko, and other places, and
14 the whole world knows that with the exception of the
15 Croatian TV. Why are they ignoring this and spreading
17 "The truth is also that tanks fired at and
18 entered the town of Prozor but these were not the tanks
19 of the BH army.
20 "Our military equipment, which is of
21 decisive importance in resisting the Chetnik invasion,
22 has been stopped in Zagreb and Grude. The consequences
23 are evident.
24 "Negotiations about the future system of
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina are going on in Zenica while at the
1 same time a policy of fait accompli is being
2 implemented by force thus degrading the negotiations in
3 Geneva and making them pointless.
4 "The HVO has crossed the line of legitimate
5 defence against the Chetniks and embarked on the
6 systematic destruction of legal civilian authorities
7 and the establishment of quasi-state institutions.
8 "Overall, there is a clear impression that
9 they want to use the difficult situation of Bosnia and
10 Herzegovina, maybe the most difficult one in its
11 history, to impose a solution which is contrary to the
12 will of most of its citizens.
13 "Which reasonable people in domestic and
14 international public could believe that while waging
15 hard battles against the Chetniks, we have
16 simultaneously opened a front against the HVO? Does
17 this not remind you of that Chetnik story that we are
18 bombing ourselves in Sarajevo?
19 "Bosnia and Herzegovina will never accept
20 division on exclusively ethnic grounds or any solution
21 imposed by force. It has enough forces for its own
22 resistance and enough friends in the world.
23 "Bosnia and Herzegovina considered Croatia
24 and its people especially as being among these
25 friends. In spite of all, we will continue to believe
1 in this friendship and act accordingly.
2 "We ask you kindly, Mr. President, to use
3 your unquestionable influence to remove the obstacles
4 along this road so that our relations can develop in
5 accordance with the Agreement on Friendship and
6 Cooperation between our countries.
7 "Please receive the assurances of my highest
9 "President of the Presidency of Bosnia and
10 Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegovic."
11 It is addressed to Dr. Franjo Tudjman,
12 President of the Republic of Croatia.
13 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, I would like to
14 move back, at this juncture, back to our Exhibit 669,
15 which is the military information summary of the
16 British Battalion of the 21st of January, 1993.
17 JUDGE JORDA: One question, Mr. Kehoe. This
18 letter, had it been published in the media at the time
19 or was it a confidential letter?
20 MR. KEHOE: I can't answer that question,
21 Mr. President. I can find out, and I can ask the
22 authorities in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina
23 whether it was a public letter or not. I simply don't
24 know and I don't want to say anything one way or the
25 other, but I will find out.
1 (Trial Chamber confers)
2 JUDGE JORDA: The Judges will ask you,
3 Mr. Kehoe, to try to know whether or not at the time it
4 was written or later on this letter was publicized or
5 maybe public anyway.
6 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Your Honour. I will make
7 that inquiry as soon as possible.
8 Q. Now, General, let me turn our attention to
9 the report of the attack in Busovaca on the evening of
10 the 20th of January, 1993. Now, we spoke about the
11 deadline for the disarmament being 1900 on the 20th of
12 January, 1993, and this particular situation report
13 reflects the erection of checkpoints at either end of
14 the town centre in Busovaca one hour later at 2100 on
15 the 20th of January 1993. Did you order the erection
16 of those checkpoints?
17 A. The checkpoints in Busovaca, I did not order
18 their erection.
19 Q. Did you know about them?
20 A. On the 20th of January I did not know of
21 them, because I had probably gone through Busovaca
22 earlier. I knew about the checkpoint in Kacuni, but
23 let me make my comment to that.
24 It is exact that the order was up until 1900
25 but with regard to the order that we're discussing, I
1 convened a meeting of all the subordinate commanders,
2 and at that meeting I said that not a single unit of
3 the HVO would disarm the units of the BH army and that
4 we would wait for an agreement as to how this was to be
5 done between General Petkovic and General Halilovic,
6 their agreement. From document 405, Defence Exhibit
7 405, it is visible that General Petkovic sent us the
8 assignment of setting up contact with the BH army and
9 settle the question on the basis of an agreement.
10 Q. Now, General, there was a flatbed truck
11 placed in the town centre, according to the BritBat
12 military information summary. Did you order the
13 presence of that flatbed truck, with the anti-aircraft
14 weapon mounted on it, in the centre of town?
15 A. No, I did not order that flatbed truck to
16 come to the centre of town. I see from these reports
17 information about that, reports sent in by the members
18 of UNPROFOR, but I was aware of the fact that a
19 checkpoint did exist at Kacuni. I know that it is not
20 true that it was the role of that checkpoint to prevent
21 any kind of reinforcements from Kiseljak, because the
22 shifts at the Travnik front line --
23 Q. General, that's not the question. The
24 question was with regard to the flatbed truck.
25 A. The flatbed truck. I did not order it to be
1 there, no.
2 Q. Who ordered the erection of the checkpoints
3 and the presence of the flatbed truck with the
4 anti-aircraft weapon in Busovaca town centre?
5 A. I don't know who ordered it. I was not
6 informed of that. But I do know that I myself, at a
7 meeting on the 21st of January, 1993, requested --
8 Q. Excuse me, General. I must interrupt you
9 again. That's not the answer to the question. You
10 said you didn't know who did it and we'll move on from
11 there. After the attack that took place in Busovaca --
12 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, I can see you
13 wanting to make an objection, but I don't agree with
14 your silent objection. I think the witness has to
15 answer the questions put to him. The question was a
16 very clear one. He doesn't know, he doesn't know.
17 That's very clear and that's all.
18 MR. HAYMAN: He said he didn't know and then
19 he said "But I do know" and then he was cut off. Is
20 that fair, Mr. President?
21 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, because I think the
22 Prosecutor got the answer to the question he had put to
23 the witness, Mr. Hayman. That's all. When you ask a
24 question, you wait for an answer. The answer was
25 given. Let's move forward to another question;
1 otherwise, we'll lose a lot of time. And from the
2 Rules of Procedure and Evidence, I know that we should
3 avoid losing any time. I don't know if it's Rule 89 or
4 90(G) that says so. But, Mr. Prosecutor, put your
6 MR. HAYMAN: But every witness in this trial
7 has been allowed some opportunity to explain their
8 answers, and we would ask the accused be treated the
10 JUDGE JORDA: Of course. But, Mr. Hayman, I
11 don't think that your client, who is the witness right
12 now -- and let me remind you of that because sometimes
13 it seems there is a bit of confusion on that -- he is a
14 witness, he is under oath, and he has to answer the
15 questions put to him, and the Judges are here to make
16 sure that the questions put to him are precise enough,
17 and I think in this case, it is precise. Who gave that
18 order? Does the witness know? In which case, it's
19 fine, he doesn't know, and he says so, and then we move
20 on to another question. But I can see that I myself, I
21 am making the Prosecutor lose some time. So,
22 Mr. Prosecutor, put your new question to the witness.
23 MR. KEHOE:
24 Q. General, let us look at the tape that is
25 taken by the Dutch transport battalion that we provided
1 to the booth, and it is Prosecutor's Exhibit 238.
2 If I can just note for the record,
3 Mr. President, with regard to this tape, this
4 particular tape was submitted in a closed session with
5 a closed-session witness. However, the tape itself
6 need not be placed under seal.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Then it can be read and
8 examined in open session.
9 MR. KEHOE: If we can move to that tape,
10 Prosecutor's 238?
11 (Videotape played)
12 MR. KEHOE: Thank you.
13 Q. Now, General, the evening of the 20th and the
14 21st of January, businesses belonging to Bosnian
15 Muslims were destroyed throughout or in the town of
16 Bosnia (sic) during that night-time period, weren't
18 Excuse me, I'm talking about the town of
20 A. I know that there were individual crimes
21 committed in the course of that day or, rather, that
22 evening, and I heard witnesses testifying here, I think
23 it was a Defence witness, Slavko Katava, who spoke
24 about this and said that the civilian police conducted
25 an investigation and wrote reports with regard to
1 individual criminal acts, terrorist acts, with the
2 individual perpetrators in the town of Busovaca, he
3 brought many documents with him, and I believe that in
4 the official notes and records that he has, there are
5 indeed some which refer to this destruction of
7 Q. Let me read you a portion of a testimony, and
8 if I can just go to private session briefly,
9 Mr. President?
10 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, all right. Very short and
11 quickly, please.
12 (Private session)
13 Page 21624 – redacted – private session.
14 (Open session)
15 (Trial Chamber confers)
16 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, Mr. Kehoe.
17 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President, I'm moving to
18 the next exhibit, and the registrar has a number for
20 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 671.
21 MR. KEHOE:
22 Q. General, this Exhibit 671 is another British
23 Battalion information summary from 3rd of January,
24 1993, and the section, Mr. Usher, that I'm interested
25 in discussing is part 3 at the bottom of page 1, going
1 over to the top of page 2, and it reads as follows:
2 "An LO team --"
3 Meaning "Liaison Officer" team.
4 "-- spoke with Edin Beganovic at the BiH
5 HQ of the 333rd Brigade at Kacuni. Edin stated that he
6 was the officer responsible for morale, information and
7 religion. He believed that the Muslims in Busovaca
8 (between the ages 15-65) had been arrested and detained
9 either at the secondary school at Busovaca or the
10 Mediapan factory ..."
11 And it gives a grid reference.
12 "Edin reported that the conflict had started
13 when the Muslims had ignored the HVO demands to hand in
14 their weapons on the 20th Jan. Approximately fifty HVO
15 extremists led by Anto Sliskovic were then reported to
16 have destroyed many Muslim properties and to have
17 killed one BiH soldier on the night 20/21 Jan. Edin
18 reported that 50-100 BiH soldiers who lived in the
19 northern part of Busovaca started to prepare defensive
20 positions on Kardic hill ..."
21 With a grid reference.
22 "The HVO persuaded the BiH soldiers to give
23 up their defensive positions and these soldiers were
24 subsequently arrested."
25 Now, this military information summary,
1 General, reflects that there was, in fact, a demand by
2 the HVO to the BiH to disarm; isn't that right?
3 A. I have already said that the HVO, that is to
4 say, I myself, as the commander, and commanders
5 subordinate to me, never received an order of that
6 kind, that is, to start the disarmament of the BH
8 At a meeting with Dzemo Merdan, and during
9 the conflict in Novi Travnik, he said that somebody --
10 the pretext was that somebody had asked the Territorial
11 Defence to hand in their arms, and I claim that the HVO
12 never issued a request of that kind and I also claim
13 that this man, Mr. Divanovic, did not expound the role
14 of the barricade at Kacuni and bringing in the 17th
15 Krajina Brigade in Kacuni and bringing into Lasva,
16 Dusina, and Vjesnica soldiers from the 3rd Corps, from
17 Zenica, and the attachment of the forces of the 1st
18 Corps of the operative group of Visoko to the forces of
19 the 3rd Corps and their engagement against the HVO in
20 the area of Busovaca and the Kiseljak municipality,
21 although that is the front line against the Serbs.
22 Also, the convoy intended for Srbrenica, it was not
23 mentioned that it was a forerunner to the conflict.
24 When you asked me a moment ago who started,
25 it is difficult for me to assess who started with the
1 incident because I was in Kiseljak at the time and the
2 incident occurred in Kacuni, up at the barricade there,
3 and I know for a fact that further action evolved, and
4 I am convinced that it was according to the 3rd Corps
5 plan and the result was the corridor between Bilalovac
6 and Kacuni.
7 Whether there were individual actions, we saw
8 on the tape a moment ago that there were individual
9 terrorist acts, and that comes under the authority of
10 the civil police. If a name was found and if it was
11 ascertained that the soldiers had done it, then it
12 would have been up to the military district court and
13 military authorities but, at all events, we dealt with
14 the question of the disturbance of law and order, of
15 course within the frameworks of our competencies and
16 within the frameworks of the Busovaca municipality.
17 Q. Well, General, this particular attack on the
18 Bosnian Muslims commenced one hour after the expiration
19 of the Bruno Stojic deadline. Do you think that was a
20 coincidence, General?
21 A. I don't know which attack you're talking
22 about. I'm not aware of any attack, but I know that on
23 the 22nd of January, the commander of the 333rd Brigade
24 from Busovaca, that is to say, of the army of
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina, met with the commander of the
1 Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade in order to negotiate
2 about resolving all incidents by way of dialogue and
3 peaceful means, that is to say, that there were
4 incidents with the barricade and other things from both
5 sides, and they met in order to resolve this problem
6 through dialogue. That is the kind of order that my
7 commanders received from me, and this is document 405
8 that I keep invoking.
9 Q. We will talk about 405, General. This
10 particular document, this milinfosum reads that:
11 "Approximately 50 HVO extremists, led by Anto
12 Sliskovic, were then reported to have destroyed many
13 Muslim properties."
14 Anto Sliskovic was a man who worked for you,
15 didn't he?
16 A. That is a man, if we're referring to the same
17 Anto Sliskovic, who was my assistant for security. He
18 worked for the administration for security from
19 Mostar. That is a man who was directly subordinated to
20 the security administration in Mostar. He was my
21 assistant for security.
22 Q. Now, General, this is the same Anto Sliskovic
23 that you sent to Busovaca to gain information about the
24 release of Sead Sinanbasic in August of 1992; isn't
25 that right?
1 A. Yes. That is the same man who, through his
2 own line of work, was in touch with the persons in
3 authority in the civilian police. He intervened so
4 that Mr. Sead Sinanbasic would be released from the
5 custody of the police.
6 Q. This is the same man that you assigned the
7 investigation regarding the crimes in Ahmici to, didn't
9 A. Yes, because he was in charge as security
10 assistant. He was the only one who was in charge of
11 carrying out an investigation overall, including
12 myself, my command, and all other forces that were in
13 the area.
14 Q. General, did you ever order an investigation
15 of the participation of the HVO military in these
16 attacks on Bosnian Muslim property in Busovaca on the
17 evening of the 20th of January? Did you ever order
18 such an investigation?
19 A. I already said that this kind of
20 investigation was carried out by the civilian police,
21 and I asked that I be informed about this event and all
22 events. I was informed about this at the meeting with
23 all commanders, where the commander of the Nikola
24 Subic-Zrinjski Brigade submitted a report on everything
25 that happened in Busovaca, because it wasn't only that
1 that was going on, there were also wounded soldiers of
2 the HVO. They were wounded by the troops of the army
3 of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the zone of responsibility of
4 these brigades. Also, a lot of Bosniak Muslims were
5 moving out even earlier on, from Busovaca towards
6 Zenica and Fojnica, and he submitted a report on that
8 However, an investigation on individual
9 terrorist criminal acts were carried out by the
10 civilian police in cooperation with the military
12 Q. Okay. In this investigation by the civilian
13 police and the military police, was anybody ever
14 charged and, if so, who and what punishment did they
16 A. All the reports would have to be looked into,
17 all that were brought in by Slavko Katava and, also,
18 his official notes to see what they handed over to the
19 military district court to is see how this was taken
20 care of by the district military court. I did not have
21 the powers to exercise any kind of control over the
22 district military court because this court was under
23 the jurisdiction of justice and administration and
24 under the Ministry of Defence.
25 I said that I received information on all
1 crimes, that is, the total number of crimes committed
2 over the first three months. I spoke about that
3 yesterday or the day before yesterday. These were 92
4 crimes, and 31 criminal reports were filed to the
5 district military court, out of which certain rulings
6 were passed, but there are five or seven levels between
7 that and the individual perpetrator. I was not in
8 charge of carrying out investigations of this sort.
9 Q. Well, General, you were in charge of ensuring
10 that HVO soldiers in your brigades, who were criminals,
11 no longer continued to remain in your brigades, isn't
12 that a fact?
13 A. Well, you see, you're talking about soldiers
14 in my brigade. I was not commander of that brigade. I
15 was commander of the Operative Zone, of a corps. In
16 order to understand what we are talking about, I was
17 certainly creating the system, and I was passing orders
18 as of September 1992 onwards.
19 I also invoked one of the documents, I think,
20 on the 18th of January, 1993, that the protagonists of
21 crimes should be dealt with and the protagonists of
22 crime should be sent away from HVO units. But I wanted
23 to have a system created, one that would operate. I
24 personally could not chase each and every individual
25 perpetrator. Where would I have gone to if I dealt
1 with each and every individual?
2 Q. Are you telling this Court that you were
3 not -- as the overall commander, you were not
4 responsible for ensuring that brigades under your
5 commands didn't have criminals in their midst? Are you
6 saying that wasn't your responsibility and it was only
7 the responsibility of the brigades?
8 A. No, no. That's not the way I put it. Maybe
9 I have been misunderstood, but when you're asking me
10 about discipline, allow me to explain. If a soldier
11 commits a disciplinary mistake --
12 JUDGE JORDA: General, I would like you to
13 try to give a very precise answer to the question put
14 to you by the Prosecutor. Please try to concentrate
15 and try to help us.
16 You say you set up a system and at the same
17 time you tell us that no, you were not the commander of
18 the brigade, that you were the superior commander. So
19 that superior commander, does he have authority over
20 the brigade commanders?
21 Please concentrate on the particular question
22 that has just been put to you by the Prosecutor. He
23 just asked you if you thought you were not responsible
24 for the operations of the brigade, who were under your
25 orders apparently. So did you have any authority over
1 the brigades that were under your command in terms of
2 criminal acts that they might have perpetrated?
3 A. I had authority over the brigades, and I had
4 responsibility, military responsibility, for the
5 situation in those brigades. However, the Prosecutor
6 is saying don't I think that I was in charge? Yes, I
7 was in charge, but I was creating a system, a system of
8 repression that would lead to the building of military
9 discipline. That is to say, a system that would make
10 it possible for a platoon commander to take military
11 action against a soldier of his.
12 JUDGE JORDA: So you did have authority over
13 them. You set up a system that was meant to be even
14 more efficient but, still, you were in charge in terms
15 of the chain of command. You had authority over the
16 brigades and over the acts that were perpetrated by the
17 members of these brigades. We agree on that, don't
19 A. As far as I know and as far as I am aware of
20 the system, Mr. President, if a soldier commits a
21 crime, then the military police carries out an
22 investigation in terms of that soldier, and then a
23 criminal report is filed with the district military
24 prosecutor, and it is the prosecutor who is in charge
25 further on. That is to say, if he decides to initiate
1 proceedings, then all of this belongs to the
2 jurisdiction of the district military court.
3 However, if the prosecutor returned the
4 criminal report to me or the commander of the brigade,
5 then it is the commander of the brigade who is in
6 charge or I, personally, if this was returned to me
7 within the scope of our own responsibility. We are
8 supposed to take military disciplinary action. I'm
9 sorry for being too fast. It is the district military
10 court that is in charge of crimes, criminal offences.
11 JUDGE JORDA: All right. So you were not in
12 charge. I'm just trying to understand. Fine.
13 Mr. Kehoe, put your question again. No.
14 Judge Rodrigues, you would like to put a
15 question to the witness? You, like me, want to
16 understand who was in charge of what.
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, I would like to
18 know if at least in the circumstances which prevailed
19 at the time, you could draw up a report or communicate
20 with the military police?
21 A. I don't know if I got the right
22 interpretation, but I was just asked whether I could
23 draw up a report or in some other way communicate with
24 the military police.
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Well, I was not asking
1 whether you were capable of doing that, I was asking if
2 you had the obligation as a citizen maybe even to do
3 that sort of thing.
4 Supposing you are aware of the fact that
5 someone has committed a crime. Maybe you have direct
6 knowledge of that or maybe you know that because the
7 commander of the brigade has told you about that
8 particular crime. All right. So you know that
9 somebody has committed a crime.
10 In that specific case, did you feel that you
11 were under the obligation, either as commander of the
12 Central Bosnia Operative Zone, either as a simple
13 citizen to communicate to the military police about
14 what has happened? Were you in charge of that kind of
16 A. Not only as a commander, but as an ordinary
17 citizen. If a crime was committed and if I know of the
18 name and surname of the perpetrator, it is my
19 obligation to submit a criminal report to the district
20 military prosecutor as a citizen or, rather, to notify
21 the crime investigation service of the military police
22 about this, because if a crime is being committed and
23 if I happen to be there, if this happens to be in my
24 immediate vicinity, then I'm supposed to even take care
25 of the crime scene and to leave the traces there, et
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So, General, one is allowed
3 to infer from this that if you were under the
4 obligation to communicate some information to the
5 brigade as a citizen, you were even more so under the
6 obligation to communicate information to the brigade as
7 a commander.
8 A. Certainly. If the investigation resulted in
9 a name and surname. As you asked, Your Honour, I have
10 the name and the surname of a perpetrator of a crime.
11 Of course it is my duty to submit a criminal report
12 against this perpetrator.
13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General. I
14 think that Mr. Kehoe can go on.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Well, yes, but I'm a bit
16 surprised by this concept that seems to be yours on
17 legal proceedings, because if indeed you have to wait
18 to know the name of the person who has committed a
19 crime before launching any legal procedure against him,
20 then it seems that, you know, it might take some time
21 before you can initiate such proceedings.
22 When you hear about criminal acts happening,
23 you start by saying that a crime has been committed,
24 whereas in your system it seems you have to wait to be
25 able to communicate, the name, surname, address, job,
1 et cetera to the legal authorities before doing
2 anything. It doesn't seem that it should work that
3 day, should it? I mean, as far as legal matters are
5 A. Mr. President, I'm not a lawyer, but if I
6 understood --
7 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, but we are legal experts.
8 A. I know.
9 JUDGE JORDA: We specialise in crime,
10 criminal law.
11 A. I know, and I listened to what the Honourable
12 Judge asked me, and the Honourable Judge said if a
13 crime was committed and if the perpetrator was
14 identified. That's the way I understood it. That is
15 to say, what are my obligations if the perpetrator of a
16 crime is known, identified. That is the way I
17 understood this question.
18 If I find out that a crime was committed and
19 if I don't know who committed it, then, of course, it
20 would be my duty to inform the authorities of the
21 civilian police. As far as I know, in the case of
22 perpetrators unknown, this falls within the scope of
23 work of the civilian police. They are there to protect
24 the law and order.
25 If it happened in military barracks, of
1 course I wouldn't call the civilian police. I'd notify
2 the military police officer on duty.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Even when there is a military
4 police in times of war, General Blaskic? Even when
5 there is a conflict going on, as it was the case, do
6 you go to local police station? Please answer me
8 A. Mr. President, we are talking about a town, a
9 town where civilians live. It is the civilian police
10 that has jurisdiction over this.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Please, General Blaskic, we
12 know that there were civilians living in Busovaca. We
13 are talking of a war time situation. You have the
14 military police. I'm not going over that problem of
15 subordination of the military police. I'm simply
16 asking you whether or not you think that in such a
17 situation the military police was only in charge of
18 dealing with the soldiers who are not present at 9.00
19 for going to bed, or if you think that the military
20 police, in such a situation, is also in charge of
21 leading some investigations on criminal acts committed
22 in the streets of Busovaca. It is your right to tell
23 me that the military police was not in charge of such
25 A. The military police certainly cooperates with
1 the civilian police, Mr. President, but this is not a
2 war in Busovaca. In Busovaca, there is still peace.
3 There are only conscripts in Busovaca. They are
4 soldiers only when they are at the Travnik front line.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Fine. So peace is reigning in
6 Busovaca. We'll stay on that particular thing and,
7 Mr. Kehoe, you may put your next question.
8 MR. KEHOE:
9 Q. General, how many Muslims were killed that
10 night in Busovaca?
11 A. I do not have any figures of this nature,
12 that is to say, how many Muslims were killed. I don't
13 know what night you're referring to. What night are
14 you referring to?
15 Q. The night of the 20th of January.
16 A. I do not have any such figures how many
17 Muslim Bosniaks were killed. I specifically do not
18 have that report. It is probably the commander of the
19 Busovaca Brigade who has that report or the
20 representative of the civilian or military police from
22 Q. How many Bosnian Muslim houses were burnt on
23 that night of the 20th of January, 1993?
24 A. I do not have such figures as to how many
25 were burned, and I know that there were explosive
1 devices that were thrown at certain facilities and I
2 know that the police did investigate that.
3 Q. How many Bosnian Muslims, to your knowledge,
4 fled the town of Busovaca after, immediately after, the
5 events on the evening of 20 January, 1993?
6 A. Muslim Bosniaks were running away or, rather,
7 leaving Busovaca, according to the information that I
8 received at the meeting on the 21st of January from the
9 commander of the brigade. He did not tell me the
10 number, but they were leaving Busovaca, and also forces
11 were being brought into the outskirts of Busovaca by
12 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
13 Q. General, did you bother to take any steps to
14 inquire whether soldiers under your command had been
15 involved in the killings, any burnings, or any of the
16 expulsions of Bosnian Muslims in Busovaca as a result
17 of the events on the night of the 20th? Did you bother
18 to do that?
19 A. Just a moment, please.
20 On the 21st of January, 1993, I had a meeting
21 with the commanders where the commander of the Busovaca
22 Brigade was too, and he reported to me on all these
23 events, on all these events in Busovaca over the
24 previous week, including the departures of Bosniak
25 Muslims from Busovaca, but I do not have the names and
1 surnames and other details, but I did have a meeting
2 with him and he did report this to me.
3 Q. Can you give us the name of one HVO soldier
4 that was either disciplined, removed from the ranks of
5 the HVO military, or criminally charged for his
6 participation in these events on the 20th of January?
7 Can you give us the name of one soldier?
8 A. I already said that I took part in the
9 building of the disciplinary system. I did not look
10 into individual names. It is at the level of company,
11 et cetera, in any army that this is done; and even at
12 the level of brigade, it is only numbers that are
13 registered rather than names of individuals.
14 So I told you the numbers. I said that I was
15 aware of 92 crimes. I received information about
16 that. I also have the number of criminal reports, and
17 I know that the military district court looked into
18 this, but as far as the names and surnames are
19 concerned, perhaps I do have it jotted down somewhere
20 in the chronology, but I can't see it here because it
21 was not my practice to write that down.
22 Q. Well, it would be accurate to say that on the
23 21st of January, 1993, that the Bosnian Muslim
24 population -- excuse me.
25 Let me re-ask the question. My colleague had
1 a question with regard to my statement.
2 Well, would it be accurate to say, General,
3 that as of the 21st of January, 1993, the Bosnian
4 Muslim population was petrified by the acts inflicted
5 upon them by members of the HVO; is that accurate?
6 A. As for these events, there were incidents and
7 there were tensions in Busovaca, Vitez, and Novi
8 Travnik, and they were two-sided. Now we are looking
9 at one side only here; that is to say, in Katici, when
10 I received some information that caused concern, and in
11 Novi Travnik and in Vitez, there were similar
12 incidents, that same day or one of those days, five
13 soldiers from Busovaca were wounded when they were
14 patrolling it. They were wounded by the BH army
15 soldiers, that is to say, that there were tensions
16 there, and most of the tension was in Novi Travnik and
17 Vitez. In Novi Travnik, most of all. And the British
18 troops from UNPROFOR helped us to keep the situation
19 under control there so that it would not escalate into
20 a conflict.
21 Q. So is the answer to my question "Yes" or
23 A. I think that there was a lot of fear and a
24 lot of concern because of all these events on both
1 Q. Let's take a look at the exhibit that you
2 have been talking about, Exhibit 405, Defence Exhibit
4 Now, General, this is your order of 21
5 January, 1993, at 1355 hours, where, based on an order
6 from the main staff of the 20th of January, you order
7 that the units:
8 "1. Establish contact with the competent
9 command of the BH Army in your zone of responsibility
10 and settle all controversial issues by means of
12 Now, General, my question to you is,
13 preliminarily, did it strike you that what was taking
14 place in Busovaca on the 20th of January was ethnic
15 cleansing directed towards the Muslims?
16 A. I already said that these were individual
17 acts of terror and that there was violence in Busovaca,
18 that there was violence in Vitez, that there was
19 violence in Novi Travnik, and that I did everything
20 within my power to stop this and not to have this kind
21 of trouble again. I asked the commanders to do
22 everything they could, including the elimination of
23 soldiers who behaved destructively from the HVO units.
24 I think that this order was dated January 18th.
25 Q. Now, General, are you familiar with the
1 phenomena where an army, while the army is ethnically
2 cleansing the area, also negotiates to stop
3 hostilities, and these two events are taking place at
4 the same time? Are you familiar with that phenomena?
5 A. I don't know what you have in mind, where
6 ethnic cleansing is occurring and where negotiations
7 are taking place. I only know that I did everything in
8 my power at that particular time to prevent any kind of
9 problems and to solve everything by means of agreement
10 because the balance of forces was in favour of the BH
11 army and it was not in my interests at any point to
12 have a conflict.
13 Q. Let me re-ask my question, if you didn't
14 understand it, General: Are you familiar with the
15 phenomena where an army is ethnically cleansing an area
16 while also, at the same time, pushing for a cessation
17 of the hostilities through negotiation? Are you
18 familiar with that type of phenomena?
19 A. I did not study it specially, perhaps it
20 exists, but unfortunately I have not had an opportunity
21 to read up on the subject.
22 Q. Let's look at another document, General.
23 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 672,
24 672A for the English version.
25 MR. KEHOE:
1 Q. Take a look at this document, General. We
2 are not going to read the entire document.
3 Mr. Usher, I would like you to put the second
4 page onto the ELMO.
5 General, is this your document --
6 MR. HAYMAN: Your Honour, can the witness be
7 allowed to read the document?
8 MR. KEHOE: He's looking at the last page.
9 MR. HAYMAN: He's still reading. Why doesn't
10 counsel ask him, "Have you finished reading the
11 document?" That would be the most courteous and
12 appropriate thing to ask. I know I haven't had a
13 chance to read it in English yet; I am still getting
15 JUDGE JORDA: I have two remarks. First of
16 all, is it really necessary for the witness to read all
17 this document, which is a long document and which has
18 been signed by him? I don't know if it is really
19 necessary. I think it would be better for the
20 Prosecutor to tell us which paragraph he's particularly
21 interested in. Then he could put his question to the
22 witness, and that's the best way to move forward.
23 Then -- this is for the technicians -- if we
24 are in open session, the documents are meant to be
25 shown to the public and therefore should be placed on
1 the ELMO. How many times do I have to say this? I
2 know it's a bit complicated from a technical point of
3 view, I'm not asking of you that it should be done
4 immediately, but I want it to be done each time we're
5 in open session and a document is presented to the
7 Now, Mr. Kehoe, for that question ...
8 MR. KEHOE: Yes. Mr. Usher, if we just move
9 that down a little bit? The pertinent paragraph is the
10 first full paragraph.
11 Q. Now, General, this is a document dated the
12 11th of August, 1992, and is a report on the situation
13 in Central Bosnia, zone of responsibility, between
14 4 and 10 August, 1992.
15 General, is this your document?
16 A. The document bears the stamp of the command,
17 but it's a little strange that I didn't sign it, and
18 nobody signed it on my behalf either, and it was typed
19 out on a typewriter, so that appears to me to be
20 somewhat strange. May I just look through it a little
21 longer, please?
22 The document isn't signed. It has a stamp
23 but no signature, and I'm wondering why it has no
25 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Maybe the best
1 would be for us to take a break. This will allow the
2 witness to read the document. And then after we resume
3 our work, Mr. Kehoe, you can put your questions to the
4 witness. I think that's the best way to go about it.
5 Maybe then somebody can also tell us why the signature
6 does not appear on this document, the commander's
8 All right. We'll take a 20-minute break.
9 Oh, sorry, Mr. Hayman?
10 MR. HAYMAN: Thank you, Mr. President. I
11 note this document is technical in nature. It is
12 talking about axes of movement and it is very
13 technical. Thank you. I think a break, so that the
14 witness can read it, would be great. Thank you.
15 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, and while we're
16 here, I'll just direct the Court's attention to the
17 pertinent paragraph which reads as follows at the top:
18 "The disposition --"
19 And this is talking about the Serbs.
20 "The disposition of enemy forces has
21 remained the same."
22 JUDGE JORDA: Just a minute, Mr. Kehoe. We
23 have just said -- just a second.
24 All right, Mr. Kehoe. Quickly, please,
25 because I have just said that we would go over this
1 document after the break, but maybe you want to make
2 another objection.
3 MR. KEHOE: Just so that we're clear as to
4 what we're talking about here, Mr. President.
5 The paragraph notes that:
6 "The disposition of enemy forces has
7 remained the same. The enemy has been carrying out
8 ethnic cleansing on a daily basis while pushing for a
9 cessation of hostilities with the HVO in negotiations,
10 which would result in the legalisation of the occupied
12 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, do you still want
13 your client to read all the document in view of what
14 Mr. Kehoe has just said?
15 MR. HAYMAN: If we are having a break, I
16 think that's a good use of the time. He could still
17 have a moment to rest and read it. Thank you.
18 JUDGE JORDA: All right. A 20-minute break
19 then. Thank you.
20 --- Recess taken at 3.45 p.m.
21 --- On resuming at 4.06 p.m.
22 JUDGE JORDA: The hearing is resumed. Please
23 be seated.
24 Mr. Kehoe, I think that the witness will have
25 had the time to go over this document, so I think you
1 can put your question to him.
2 MR. KEHOE:
3 Q. General, is this your document?
4 A. The document is from the command of the
5 Central Bosnia Operative Zone, yes. I recognise the
6 contents of the document.
7 Q. So, General, you were aware of the phenomena
8 of an enemy or an army carrying out ethnic cleansing
9 while pushing for a cessation of hostilities?
10 A. You asked me a question linked to -- quite
11 possibly I understood it incorrectly, but I refer to
12 the report and I recognise this part of the text
13 related to ethnic cleansing which the Serbs
14 perpetrated, as can be seen from this document and from
15 all the events that took place, and in this document
16 too you can see that I focus my attention on events up
17 at the front line against the army of the Republika
18 Srpska but the units of the HVO under my command did
19 not --
20 JUDGE JORDA: General, you're not answering.
21 The question was quite precise and it was a question on
22 a point of principle, if I have understood Mr. Kehoe
23 well. I think he wanted to know whether or not you
24 were aware of that phenomenon, a phenomenon that
25 implies carrying out ethnic cleansing while, at the
1 same time, trying to negotiate something. So he wanted
2 to know whether or not you were aware of that. That's
4 Mr. Kehoe, do you have another question you
5 want to put to the witness?
6 MR. KEHOE: I do not, Mr. President. I want
7 to move on to the next document.
8 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Let's see that
9 other document.
10 MR. HAYMAN: While counsel is finding his
11 next document, we would ask that if the Prosecutor has
12 the chronology referred to in paragraph 3, that it be
13 produced under Rule 68 as exculpatory material. This
14 is apparently a chronology of the TO attacks in the
15 Kiseljak municipality on or about the 8th of August.
16 Those were the attacks at Duhri and the roadblocks at
17 Gomionica which were designed to take control and cut
18 the Kiseljak municipality. If they don't have it,
19 fine. If they have it, we make a Rule 68 demand for
20 it. We've never seen this before.
21 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, Your Honours,
22 counsel and the Court have everything that we have with
23 this document. That's it.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Just a minute. I'm sorry, I
25 haven't understood Mr. Hayman -- oh, all right. Well,
1 you've just had Mr. Kehoe's answer, Mr. Hayman. All
3 The objection is granted, yes. Rule 68 is
4 always in force as long as the trial is under way, so
5 it does mean that the Prosecution has a certain number
6 of obligations to honour. But that's closed.
7 So, Mr. Kehoe, you can submit your other
8 document to the witness.
9 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. The next
10 document, Mr. Usher, please.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 673.
12 MR. KEHOE:
13 Q. General, this is another entry in the diary
14 of Colonel Stewart from Friday, 22 January, 1993, and I
15 will read the first two paragraphs:
16 "General Morillon visited us today; for the
17 first time - apart from when he came with General
18 Namvbia right at the start of our tour. He arrived
19 slightly late and then we briefed him in the
20 Information Room. After that we went to Gornji Vakuf
21 where all hell continues. The cease-fire lasted until
22 about 0700 hours and then the HVO began attacking the
23 town from the South. It seems the HVO are determined
24 on their course of action and heavy artillery is being
25 used from the South.
1 "Ambassador Beasseau was still
2 there - having spent the night in Gornji Vakuf with
3 Alun Jones. Morillon wanted to meet both sides.
4 Present for talks were Selmo Cikotic, COS to Merdan,
5 and Pia Agiuc - both representing the BiH Army as well
6 Colonel Siljeg and the local HVO Commander Zdenko. The
7 talks were fairly fruitless. Siljeg made impossible
8 demands. We offered to be in the middle between the
9 forces and to man a roadblock. Siljeg said he had to
10 consult and then we broke up. A round came through the
11 Medical Centre windows. It was spent. I travelled
12 back with General Morillon in his staff car. En route
13 we noticed that many of the houses in the village of
14 Bistrica were ablaze. We presumed it was ... ethnic
16 I'm sorry. The sentence reads: "We presumed
17 it was HVO ethnic cleansing."
18 Now, General, do you know whether this
19 village around Gornji Vakuf, Bistrica, is a Muslim
21 A. I don't know the area very well because at
22 that time it didn't come under my jurisdiction. But as
23 far as the name says, I can say that I think that it is
24 at least a Croatian-Muslim village, if not a majority
25 Croat village. I am saying this on the basis of my
1 very moderate knowledge. The word "Bistrica" would
2 lead me to conclude that it was a Croatian village
3 because an associate of mine was born in Bistrica, he
4 was in Gornji Vakuf for a short period of time and
5 worked with me, but we could, of course, check that on
6 the population list, census, in Gornji Vakuf. Up until
7 now, I did not know -- I always believed it was, in
8 fact, a Croatian village.
9 Q. General, during this time, you and your
10 headquarters continued to stay in contact with what was
11 happening in Gornji Vakuf; isn't that true?
12 A. I had general information, daily information,
13 as to the events in Gornji Vakuf, and I received this
14 information from my superiors but I don't know having
15 heard before this meeting the event described by
16 Colonel Stewart. He was at the meeting; I did not have
17 occasion to be. But the events in Gornji Vakuf and in
18 Central Bosnia indicate that there were situations
19 where orders from the main staff did come but were
20 applied differently in Gornji Vakuf to what they were
21 in Central Bosnia.
22 Q. Let me give you another document, General.
23 If I can, Mr. Usher?
24 THE REGISTRAR: I have a question for
25 Mr. Kehoe. This document consists of an original
1 version and a two-page translation; is that right?
2 MR. KEHOE: I will submit just the top two
3 sheets. This is just an internal document so they can
4 find it in the computer system. So if we can just
5 submit these two pages, Mr. Registrar, and we'll take
6 the other documents back. I'd appreciate that. I
7 apologise for that.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 674, 674A
9 for the English version.
10 MR. KEHOE:
11 Q. Now, General, this is a very brief document,
12 and it is a notice from the duty operative of the
13 Central Bosnia Operative Zone to the Northwest
14 Herzegovina Operative Zone, to the attention of Zeljko
15 Siljeg and the command of the HVO Anti Starcevic
16 Brigade in Gornji Vakuf. The date is 22 January, 1993
17 at 1645.
18 "We hereby inform you that on 1630 hours we
19 intercepted a message that the Balija are preparing to
20 launch an operation in the area of Pajic Polje."
21 Signed duty operative of the Central Bosnia
22 Operative Zone.
23 General, this message came from your
24 headquarters, didn't it?
25 A. Quite possibly it did, but why is there no
1 registration number on the document? It should have
2 had one, a document of this kind. I can't see who
3 signed it, the officer on duty or duty operative.
4 There's no signature.
5 Q. Well, General, the particular term that is
6 used in here, "Balija," that is a pejorative term used
7 in reference to Muslims; isn't it?
8 A. Yes, it is a pejorative term for Muslims, and
9 I have already said that 100 witnesses have passed
10 through here and none of them ever maintain that I used
11 that kind of expression ever.
12 Q. Well, General, would you agree with me that
13 it would appear that members of your staff in your
14 headquarters used that pejorative term in an official
16 A. Perhaps some of them did. I say that I
17 cannot see the registration number. Perhaps he used
18 it. Had I noticed it being used, I would have
19 reprimanded him. It was my rule that the allies or the
20 other side were called by their proper names, but quite
21 possibly there were reactions of this kind as well.
22 As I say, I don't know who the officer on
23 duty was, whether it was an individual who had already
24 been expelled and persecuted or had some personal
25 problems and thus this was reflected in their work in
1 this kind of way.
2 Q. General, this document also reflects, does it
3 not, that the HVO in Central Bosnia had the capability
4 to intercept information that the army of
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina was passing; isn't that correct?
6 A. We had devices for intercepting radio
7 communication, very modest devices, I might say, and
8 this information shows that they were forces of the
9 3rd Corps, that is to say, our immediate neighbours,
10 and I can't really say now. It states here that a
11 message was intercepted. Probably it was an open text
12 sent via radio link package. Other forms of
13 interception did not exist, just this radio type of
15 Q. Based on this document being listed as
16 "Urgent, Urgent," you would agree that this
17 information was extremely important information to be
18 conveyed to the brigade in Gornji Vakuf and the
19 headquarters in Tomislavgrad; isn't that right?
20 A. Well, if there is ongoing fighting between
21 two warring parties in an area then every message has
22 its level of importance. This message talks about
23 preparing to launch an operation and it has its
24 importance, whether to allow the negotiating side to
25 know of this, if the negotiating stage had been
1 launched, or to counteract the operation to be
2 launched. So every message has its importance.
3 Q. Well, General, the bottom line with this
4 document and the other situation reports that we saw
5 from Gornji Vakuf, these documents reflect that there
6 was a degree of coordination between Gornji Vakuf and
7 the Central Bosnia Operative Zone; isn't that right?
8 A. You're talking about coordination.
9 Coordination in the military terminology has very
10 precisely defined meaning, in the sense of control and
11 command. That is one of functions of control and
12 command. The sense of information and informing
13 existed, so we could not turn a blind eye to what was
14 happening in the immediate vicinity and in which all
15 the forces of the 3rd Corps of the BH army were taking
16 part, but coordination of combat activities or
17 operations did not exist in the sense of control and
18 command. Information about events, of course, existed,
19 mutual informing.
20 Q. General, as this battle is ongoing in Gornji
21 Vakuf, back in Busovaca, when did the HVO begin to
22 arrest civilians and in incarcerate them in the Kaonik
24 A. Which civilians and who within the HVO, a
25 unit, a brigade, a battalion, a company? Tell me the
1 unit you have in mind.
2 Q. General, within these days, the 20th, 21st,
3 22nd, 23rd, before you went to Kiseljak, were HVO
4 troops arresting Bosnian Muslim civilians and
5 incarcerating them in these newly built gaols in Kaonik
6 camp, "Yes" or "No"?
7 A. Well, it's like this -- I apologise to the
8 interpreters as well, but I received a double
10 First of all, I heard "Muslim forces." I
11 know that you didn't mean Muslim forces arresting
12 Muslims, of course, but were there individual cases,
13 who was arrested, when? Give me the time frame so that
14 I can look back in my chronology. I do not have any
15 facts on the fact that any military formation or squad
16 arrested anybody or carried out arrests. So if arrests
17 were taking place, tell me which units you have in
19 Q. Well, General, with all due apologies, I was
20 not there and you were the commander, and my question
21 was: When did you get information that HVO soldiers
22 had begun to arrest Bosnian Muslim civilians and
23 incarcerate them in the Kaonik camp? When did you get
24 that information and when did such arrests begin?
25 A. Information that military units had done
1 this, I received information on the 27th of January at
2 a meeting with the commander of the 3rd Corps, that is
3 to say, that there were those who had been arrested on
4 both sides. The meeting was chaired by
5 Mr. Cordy-Simpson. The meeting took place in
6 Kiseljak. That is to say that there were soldiers who
7 had been arrested on both sides. It was only later on
8 that I learned that there were civilians among them
10 I ordered, on the 27th of January, that all
11 those who had been detained should be released
12 according to the protocol of the International Red
13 Cross, but military formations that had -- whether they
14 had received such orders, they had not.
15 Q. Let us stay with that point. You say you
16 issued an order on the 27th of January that the
17 civilians be released. Were they?
18 A. That civilians should be released according
19 to the protocol of the International Red Cross. They
20 were not released even on the 5th of February because
21 it was the position, clearly stated by the
22 representatives of the Red Cross, I think that I have
23 it in my chronology, the name of that particular lady,
24 that not all conditions had been created. The basic
25 conditions for prisoners to be released was that there
1 should be a cessation in the fighting and that there
2 should be a stabilisation in the security situation for
3 all the prisoners to be able to be released on both
4 sides, the release of prisoners on both sides.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, can I ask you to be
6 more precise in the way you put your question to the
8 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
9 Q. Those prisoners that were held in custody
10 until the end of the first week in February of 1993
11 were forced to dig trenches on the front lines, weren't
13 A. As regards the situation in Kiseljak, I am
14 claiming that not a single one had been digging
15 trenches. I know that my commanders received
16 instructions to the effect that prisoners of war could
17 not be engaged in trench digging.
18 The first time I received information of this
19 or, rather, claims to that effect, Mrs. Iris asked me,
20 on the 5th of February that I investigate her claims.
21 I carried out an investigation, and I received
22 information that no one had ordered this or approved of
23 this, to have prisoners of war taken to dig trenches.
24 My position was this could only be done by
25 soldiers. That is the principle of the former JNA on
1 which I was trained, and that is that a soldier digs
2 his own trenches.
3 Q. Well, sir, after you received the information
4 that nobody had ordered these prisoners and civilian
5 prisoners to dig trenches, did you investigate whether,
6 in fact, it was true that HVO soldiers were taking
7 these civilians from the Kaonik camp and taking them to
8 dig trenches? Did you investigate that?
9 A. I promised that to Mrs. Iris too, and I said
10 that I was isolated in Kiseljak, that I would carry out
11 an investigation but that personally I was not in a
12 position to go because I was isolated, blocked in
14 I carried out this investigation on the basis
15 of her information on the 5th of February, and I
16 informed her about my findings. Then I also ordered
17 the chief of staff that this should be forbidden,
18 although it was never approved either that the
19 engagement of prisoners of war should be prohibited,
20 that is to say, in terms of trench digging.
21 Q. General, as with the situation in Busovaca on
22 the 20th of January, let us now talk about what you did
23 when you received information about Bosnian Muslim
24 civilians being forced to dig trenches.
25 Did you discipline any HVO soldiers for
1 forcing Bosnian Muslims to dig trenches? Those Bosnian
2 Muslims that I'm talking about were those released at
3 the end of the first week of February, 1993. Did you
4 discipline anyone and, if you did, give us a name.
5 A. Now you are saying when I found out about
6 it. This was in February, but allow me to have a look
7 at the date, please.
8 I had a meeting about this on the 12th of
9 February, 1993. Then a lady who was a Red Cross
10 official informed me about the tragedy that had
11 happened, and I asked for a complete investigation to
12 be carried out on this the matter and, also, this case
13 when two Bosniak Muslims were killed, and this was also
14 taken to the district military court in Vitez. I
15 checked on this on several occasions, that is to say,
16 when the criminal report was first filed and then the
17 investigation carried out by the military police, all
18 the way up to the prosecution itself.
19 I repeat, I specifically had forbidden this.
20 Throughout my stay in Kiseljak, not a single Muslim
21 Bosniak, not a single one, went to dig trenches for
22 anybody's needs, or any other civilian. Soldiers were
23 digging all the trenches.
24 Q. Let us stay, General, with the incident that
25 you just talked about, on the individuals who were
1 killed while they were digging trenches. Were the
2 individuals who were responsible for that in the HVO,
3 were they charged with a crime, did they go to gaol,
4 and were they removed from the HVO military ranks?
5 A. I have information that they were removed at
6 that point when the investigation was started and also
7 when the indictment was there against those persons and
8 when also this was prosecuted by the district military
9 court in Vitez.
10 Q. General, I presume this is public
11 information. Do you have any documentation in your
12 possession to support what you just said?
13 A. Right now, I do not have such information
14 here with me. I already said that I was not in charge
15 of personally supervising the work of the district
16 military court, but I did receive information on
17 several occasions that the procedure against these
18 persons is an ongoing thing, that is to say, against
19 the perpetrators, the persons responsible for that
21 Q. How many others were disciplined, to your
22 knowledge, for forcing Bosnian Muslim civilians to dig
23 trenches? And the Bosnian Muslim civilians that I'm
24 talking about are those that were incarcerated in the
25 Kaonik camp up until the end of February 1993. How
2 A. I already said that I had not received any
3 other information except for individual incidents. I
4 think there was an IDV unit, that is to say, a
5 reconnaissance sabotage unit, and disciplinary action
6 was taken against them, about 20 of them. Out of that,
7 11 or 12 had been multiple offenders. I have the
8 number of measures that were taken against that group
9 of soldiers, but then I would have to look this up in
10 my chronology.
11 Q. Well, General, do you believe that if you had
12 been vigilant in ensuring that those soldiers
13 responsible for forced trench-digging were punished in
14 February and March of 1993, it would have prevented the
15 extensive forced labour of Bosnian Muslims that took
16 place at the hands of HVO soldiers in April and May of
17 1993? Do you think you could have prevented that?
18 A. I don't think so. It's not the way you put
19 this question. I did my best to inform these armed
20 peasants about their obligations in view of the Geneva
21 Conventions and the treatment of detainees in respect
22 of the Geneva Conventions, and from that point of view,
23 every shift that was sent to the front line at Jajce,
24 either I was there to see them off, particularly
25 emphasising the question of a humane attitude, or I met
1 them there before they came to Jajce and I personally
2 addressed 100 or 200 persons specifically with regard
3 to these matters.
4 Also, I took preventive action, that is to
5 say, I wanted to prevent such engagement of civilians
6 or detainees, and I issued instructions during 1992, in
7 December. There was a calendar in which I asked for
8 all detainees to be treated in a humane way.
9 There was a document we had here a few
10 minutes ago, I don't know its number but it was dated
11 August, that document shows that I took care of this,
12 how the territory would be prepared for the soldiers to
13 be staying there at the front line, but then the
14 terrain would be prepared by the soldiers themselves,
15 they would prepare shelter for themselves, and I
16 emphasise that the other things were forbidden.
17 Also, on the 5th of February, 1993, I issued
18 such an order to the chief of staff and I prohibited
19 such action. Whenever I received information of this
20 nature, I took measures accordingly.
21 Q. Let us move to the next document, General,
22 which is the 23rd of January and the 24th of January,
23 1993, insertions into the diary of Lieutenant-Colonel
25 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 675.
1 MR. KEHOE:
2 Q. General, this is two diary entries, the first
3 one being on 23 January, and General Stewart is
4 discussing his visits to Gornji Vakuf. The second
5 paragraph I'll start with.
6 "Selmo was there but Colonel Siljeg didn't
7 turn up until much later - having been picked up from
8 beyond the minefield to the South of Gornji Vakuf. The
9 battle is continuing in earnest. Parts of the BiH Army
10 positions have fallen. The Croats are using a T55 tank
11 to blast (the) hell out of the houses on the south edge
12 of town. At the same time they are using artillery and
13 multi-barreled rocket launchers in their attacks.
14 Bistrica was struck twice whilst I was there. Within
15 the camp perimeter, three mortar rounds landed today;
16 and a round penetrated through --"
17 I'm not sure what the next word is.
18 "-- the sill of the Officers Mess window,
19 struck a chair in which Selmo sat and 'pinged' around
20 the room. All in all, Gornji Vakuf was not a
21 particularly healthy place to be today.
22 "When we finally got down to talking Siljeg
23 was unbending. He demanded that the BiH Army
24 centralise their weapons under his/our control. The
25 BiH soldiers could stay there except that he wanted
1 some for 'crimes'. I told him that was surrender in
2 all but name. In addition I reminded him that the
3 world would note who was attacking civilians; this was
4 the first time I hinted at war crimes."
5 If we could go to the bottom of the page for
6 the entry on the 24th? Just that first paragraph:
7 "Today I made my final effort to try and
8 stop a holocaust in Gornji Vakuf. When I woke I felt
9 that there was very little chance of success but all of
10 us had to try. Before I left Vitez I tried to
11 telephone Andrew Cumming or Richard Barrons to tell
12 them what the situation was like. They were no
13 available --"
14 I'm sure it must be "not available."
15 "-- and so I passed a message to the
16 Watchkeeper stressing a number of points. To start
17 with I suggested there was little hope of success in
18 Gornji Vakuf. I complained that Colonel Siljeg seemed
19 set on a battle and the 'capture' of the town. Ethnic
20 cleansing and BM 21 strikes as well as tank attacks
21 were taking place - all by the HVO. Although I was not
22 to know it was this message was passed to UKLF --"
23 The U.K. Land Forces.
24 "-- MOD, FCO and thence to Geneva where Lord
25 Owen used it to browbeat Boban, the HVO Military
1 Commander there."
2 In conjunction with that document, General,
3 I'd like to turn to a document that we just need to go
4 briefly into private section with, Mr. President, and
5 that would be 406/45, which is another UN document.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, all right. I hope it will
7 be very brief.
8 MR. KEHOE: I'm sorry, it is 406/45. I
10 (Private session)
13 Pages 21670-21671 – redacted – private session
2 (Open session)
3 MR. KEHOE:
4 Q. General, the belief of your commander in
5 chief, Mate Boban, and of the HVO main staff --
6 JUDGE JORDA: I'm sorry, Mr. Kehoe, but I
7 would like to discuss something with my colleagues.
8 (Trial Chamber confers)
9 JUDGE JORDA: I would like us to go back into
10 private session for a minute only.
11 (Private session)
13 Pages 21673-21674 – redacted – private session.
10 (Open session)
11 JUDGE JORDA: Okay. We can continue in
12 public session.
13 MR. KEHOE:
14 Q. Now, General, was it the conclusion of the
15 HVO military authorities and of the HVO political
16 authorities that land that they secured militarily will
17 ultimately be granted to them under the Vance-Owen
18 Peace Plan? Are you aware of that thinking?
19 A. I know what my obligations were in terms of
20 the Vance-Owen Plan if all signed it, related to
21 demobilisation activities and activities related to the
22 establishment of a joint command.
23 As for a plan concerning the military
24 implementation of the Vance-Owen Plan, I am not aware
25 of that.
1 I also wish to note that throughout this time
2 that we're talking about, convoys with military
3 equipment were passing through Kiseljak and going to
4 Visoko --
5 Q. General, I'm sorry to interrupt you but I
6 have to move on.
7 Now, General, let me show you the next
8 document, if I could, which is an another military
9 information summary.
10 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution Exhibit 676.
11 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
12 Q. This is a situation report, again for
13 Busovaca, on the 25th of January, 1993, general.
14 "The situation in the Busovaca/Kacuni area
15 has deteriorated dramatically in the last twenty four
16 hours since the initial exchange of fire at the BiH
17 checkpoint outside Kacuni. At 0650 hours this morning
18 a callsign reported that the main road at grid
19 reference," and it gives a grid reference, "was blocked
20 with two trucks with landmines placed beneath them. At
21 0730 hours the Dutch transport battalion reported that
22 fighting had broken out in the southern edge of town.
23 Information later received led them to believe that HVO
24 soldiers were forcibly entering Muslim houses in search
25 of members of the BiH army. A Warrior callsign
1 reported that they were unable to proceed through the
2 HVO checkpoint," with a grid reference, "due to
3 small-arms fire south of the checkpoint. The
4 commanding officer left this location at 1115 hours and
5 married up with the callsign at the checkpoint and
6 proceeded towards Busovaca. At 1150 hours, artillery
7 rounds were reported to be landing to the north of
8 Kacuni and at grid reference," and it gives a grid
9 reference. "There was a BiH lorry blocking the road.
10 The BiH soldiers initially would not allow the
11 UN vehicles to pass through until an order was passed
12 down from 3 Corps headquarters. The CO," commanding
13 officers, "continued on to Kiseljak leaving two Warrior
14 callsigns on the main road," and it gives the grid
16 "At 1125 hours this morning, 3 Corps
17 headquarters stated that the village of Dusina at grid
18 reference had many civilian casualties and could we
19 assist in evacuating them back to Zenica. Comment. Is
20 believed that the village of Dusina was predominately
21 Muslim and was shelled from HVO positions in the
22 Busovaca area. Comment ends.
23 "The commanding officer, on returning through
24 Busovaca, reported seeing approximately twenty houses
25 burning in Busovaca. Comment. Commanding officer
1 believed that this was a clear example of the HVO
2 ethnically cleansing Muslims from the town. Comment
3 ends. It was reported that the Muslims have agreed to
4 a cease-fire starting at 0600 hours tomorrow morning."
5 It talks about tensions and gives a list of
6 checkpoints. If we go to the next page at the
7 comment. Can you move it up a little bit, Mr. Usher?
8 "Comment. Several of the houses around the
9 two checkpoints in Kacuni were reported to be burning.
10 It is believed these houses may have belonged to
11 Croats. The occupants have been ethnically cleansed
12 probably by the Bosnian army. The threat to any
13 vehicles travelling on this road is still high and
14 remains close to soft-skinned vehicles. This means
15 that both our main supply routes are currently closed.
16 However, that is detour suitable for non-track vehicles
17 around Busovaca."
18 Now, General, this is the outset of the
19 conflict in Busovaca and Kacuni; is it not?
20 A. This was quite long. You said that this --
21 whether this was the outset of the conflict. During
22 the day, the 25th, I received information that during
23 the night, during the second half of the night, that is
24 to say, at 0100 on the 25th, at the checkpoint of the
25 BH army in Kacuni or that barricade, a member of the
1 military police of the HVO was killed, and a civilian
2 as well, and that this led to further activity.
3 As for the roadblock on the main road, that
4 is to say, the two trucks, I think that one of the
5 Prosecution witnesses spoke about this. He was stopped
6 at that road. These trucks had logs on them, they were
7 prepared for a roadblock, and one of them, on the 10th
8 of August, when an attempt was made at liquidation, it
9 went after me at the same barricade.
10 At this time that you were reading about,
11 that is to say, the 25th of January, 1993, I did not
12 have any knowledge thereof in the morning, and I left
13 my house of birth towards Kacuni, towards the point of
14 conflict, and I was moving towards the headquarters in
15 Vitez. However, I think it would have been a good
16 thing had we clarified whose checkpoints these were and
17 who stopped the UNPROFOR vehicles at the checkpoints
18 and who stopped Colonel Stewart and Brigadier
19 Cordy-Simpson at this checkpoint.
20 Also, it was said that 20 houses were on fire
21 in Busovaca. Whose houses are on fire? It would be a
22 good thing to identify which houses are burning. Dzemo
23 Merdan and Franjo Nakic had a joint commission, and we
24 listened this, Enver Hadzihasanovic and I, and I
25 believe that you have such reports among your documents
2 Q. General, you had command over artillery in
3 Central Bosnia, didn't you?
4 A. That part of the artillery which the mixed
5 artillery division had at its disposal at that time in
6 Central Bosnia, yes, I had command over that. However,
7 there was a part of the artillery attached to the
8 brigades and the battalions, and this is not of a
9 certain calibre but it existed in some companies as
10 well. Now, depending upon which artillery you have in
12 Q. Well, let's read which artillery I am talking
13 about, and if we could go into private session just
14 briefly, for about ten lines, Mr. President, in some
15 closed testimony?
16 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Let's go into private
17 session for those ten lines then.
18 (Private session)
13 Page 21681-21686 – redacted – private session.
13 (Open session)
14 JUDGE JORDA: We are now in open session.
15 Mr. Kehoe?
16 MR. KEHOE:
17 Q. Yes. Just going back, in response to the
18 question of Judge Shahabuddeen, you do not know anybody
19 who ordered the attack on Merdani and Grablje on the
20 25th, General, and is it also true that you do not know
21 who sent the Vitezovi to Busovaca on --
22 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Mr. Kehoe, I wonder what
23 the witness is saying. Is he saying that there was an
24 attack but he didn't know who ordered the attack or is
25 he saying he didn't know whether there was any attack?
1 MR. KEHOE: I understood that he didn't know
2 if there was any attack.
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: That's what I thought.
4 MR. KEHOE: I think that's what I -- we
5 understood the same thing.
6 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: All right.
7 MR. KEHOE:
8 Q. Now, General -- I will redirect my question.
9 You noted that you didn't know if there was
10 any attack on Merdani and Grablje on the 25th, and it
11 is also true that you didn't know or don't know who
12 ordered the Vitezovi to Busovaca on the 26th of
13 January; is that statement accurate?
14 A. As far as I remember, on the 25th, I just
15 received information about a conflict at the
16 checkpoint. The other information about the conflict
17 was very scant, and I had no knowledge of an attack on
18 Grablje and Merdani. I do not recall an order related
19 to the Vitezovi either. I cannot recall whether it was
20 an order from the command of the Vitezovi, why he went
21 and what happened.
22 Q. Now, let us turn our attention to 456/8.
23 Now, General, this is your order of
24 27 January, 1990, at 1740 hours, regarding the
25 cessation of hostilities between the BiH and the HVO;
1 isn't that right?
2 A. Yes, that is right, and it was issued after
3 the second meeting because the first meeting that we
4 had on the 26th did not bear fruit and the BH army at
5 that time implemented its activities in Lasva, Dusina,
6 and Visnjica, and then Brigadier Cordy-Simpson convened
7 a second meeting which was held on the 27th of January,
9 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, for report keeping
10 purposes, the French copy as well as the original B/S/C
11 copy has the time of this order accurately depicted as
12 1740. Unfortunately, the English copy that I see on
13 the ELMO does not have that notation, and I just would
14 ask at the appropriate time if the registrar could pen
15 that in so the document can be as complete as
17 JUDGE JORDA: It seems that the French
18 version doesn't bear the time of issuance of this
20 MR. KEHOE: It does, Mr. President.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Where can you see it on the
22 French version?
23 MR. KEHOE: On the French version it is on
24 the fourth line, at the end of the fourth line, after
25 the word "Vitez." Fourth line from the top.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Registrar, can you help
2 me? I can't find that.
3 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, it's right here,
4 "1740 hours."
5 JUDGE JORDA: In spite of this very
6 sophisticated method, Mr. Prosecutor, I can't see it.
7 I guess I must have a less sophisticated version of the
8 document in my hands, Mr. Kehoe. Maybe you could cut
9 your finger to put it on my document and show me.
10 All right. It doesn't matter. You just have
11 to tell us the time you have on your copy and that will
12 be enough.
13 Yes, it is the same document, but the time
14 that appears on your document does in the appear on
15 mine, so it will have to be corrected.
16 MR. KEHOE: The English doesn't have it
17 either, Judge. I thought it was on the French.
18 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We can see the time
19 on the B/C/S version, or can't we?
20 MR. KEHOE:
21 Q. Now, General, this particular meeting, this
22 cease-fire meeting, commenced at what time on the 27th
23 of January?
24 A. Just a moment. Let me have a look, please.
25 About 10.00 at the UNPROFOR headquarters for
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina in Kiseljak, and the meeting was
2 chaired by Brigadier Cordy-Simpson. At the meeting the
3 following were present, the representatives of the 1st
4 and 3rd Corps of the BH army.
5 Q. What time did you end that meeting,
7 A. I don't know. It lasted for quite some
8 time. Immediately after the meeting, I started on the
9 elaboration of this particular document. Perhaps it
10 lasted until 1600, 1700. I can't confirm the exact
11 time, because I didn't note the actual time when the
12 meeting ended.
13 Q. At this particular point, General, would it
14 be fair to say that you were operating from an office
15 in the Kiseljak barracks?
16 A. I don't know in what sense you mean
17 "Operating." I was not able to operatively command
18 units in Busovaca because I did not have any
19 communication. So I didn't have my own office for me
20 to be able to have my associates and to be operating.
21 I used the office of the commander of the brigade, and
22 I endeavoured to create the best possible conditions
23 for my activities, but I did not have any operative
24 way, and the problem of communication was highlighted
25 previously as well.
1 Q. The cease-fire order was supposed to take
2 effect at what time?
3 A. On the 28th of January, 1993, 0001, that is
4 to say, one minute after midnight.
5 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, I'm about to go
6 into a rather extensive line with a document, and as we
7 move close to the end of the day, I just would ask if
8 we could suspend at this point and begin again
10 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Let me remind you that
11 tomorrow morning we will have our last hearing for the
12 week and we will have our Friday schedule although it
13 will be Thursday. We'll start at 9.00 and work until
14 1.30 in the afternoon with two breaks as we usually
16 All right. That will be all. The hearing is
18 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned
19 at 5.30 p.m., to be reconvened on
20 Thursday, the 13th day of May, 1999,
21 at 9 a.m.