1 Friday, 21st May, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 9.07 a.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Registrar,
5 have the witness brought in, please.
6 (The accused/witness entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: Good morning to the
8 interpreters. Does everybody hear me? Good morning,
9 everybody. Good morning to the Defence and Prosecution
10 counsel and to our witness. We will now resume.
11 At the end of the morning, the registrar will
12 tell us how many days the Prosecutor still has. We're
13 asking Mr. Fourmy to set up the new schedule which
14 will, among other things, take into account the arrival
15 of the Trial Chamber's witnesses. We still have
16 certain things that haven't been settled but things are
17 getting clearer, and we'll try and finalise the
18 completion of this trial at the end of July.
19 Good morning, General Blaskic. Mr. Kehoe,
20 you may proceed.
21 MR. KEHOE: Thank you, Mr. President. Good
22 Mr. President, Your Honours. Good morning, counsel.
23 Good morning, General.
24 THE WITNESS: Good morning.
25 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
1 Cross-examined by Mr. Kehoe:
2 Q. Now, General, I would like to return to our
3 discussion about the report sent by Sliskovic to SIS at
4 the end of September of 1993. General, in September of
5 1993 or the end of September 1993, who was the head of
6 the SIS in Mostar?
7 A. I'm not sure who was in the SIS
8 administration when, but I know that for a certain
9 period of time Mr. Lucic was head of the SIS
10 administration. Whether he was at that position in
11 September, I'm not too sure about that.
12 Q. Well, General, to whom in Mostar was
13 Sliskovic's report sent? I'm referring to the report
14 with the names of the perpetrators in it.
15 A. It went to the administration, the
16 administration that was directly superior to Sliskovic.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, do you want to say
19 MR. HAYMAN: I think that counsel is
20 questioning the witness about a document that is under
21 seal, I think.
22 MR. KEHOE: No. I'm talking about the report
23 that Sliskovic sent at the end of September 1993. The
24 report that Sliskovic sent with the names of the
25 perpetrators. To whom was that sent?
1 MR. HAYMAN: Okay. Thank you.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. All right. The
3 question has been asked. General Blaskic, please try
4 to focus and answer the question if you have an answer
5 to give.
6 A. The report was sent to the administration of
7 SIS that was directly in charge, and that is the one
8 that was Sliskovic's direct superior.
9 MR. KEHOE:
10 Q. My question is: To whom? What person? If I
11 wasn't clear, I'm looking for a the person to whom
12 Sliskovic sent this report.
13 A. I said that I do not know the names and the
14 structure of the security administration. What I do
15 know is that the report was sent to that body, the
16 security administration that is subordinated to the
17 Ministry of Defence, but I do not know the very
18 personal names.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. That's the answer,
20 Mr. Kehoe.
21 MR. KEHOE:
22 Q. General, did you ask to whom Sliskovic sent
23 this report?
24 A. It is precisely from Sliskovic that I asked
25 for this report at the end of September, when he said
1 that he sent the report to the security administration
2 that was in charge. In this way, I thought that the
3 security administration had taken over the case,
4 according to what he had informed me, and that they
5 were taking care of the case from then onwards.
6 Q. That's not my question, General. My
7 question, if it wasn't clear, I'll make it clearer.
8 In your conversations with Sliskovic, did you
9 ask Sliskovic the name of the person to whom he sent
10 this report?
11 A. I did not ask him about the name. When I
12 asked for the report, he told me that he sent it to the
13 security administration, the entire report and the
15 Q. Well did the Minister of Defence, Bruno
16 Stojic, get this report?
17 A. I don't know how this correspondence evolved
18 between the security service administration that was
19 directly subordinated to the Minister of Defence,
20 because I was never a security official. That is a
21 secret service that is entitled to investigate any
22 person within the HVO, including myself and everybody
23 else. Whether he got this or not, I do not know
24 anything about this except for the information that I
25 could have seen here in this courtroom from the secret
1 document that is held under seal.
2 Q. Well, did General Praljak, who was then chief
3 of staff or General Petkovic, who was then the deputy
4 chief of staff, get this report?
5 A. I don't know whether they got that kind of
6 report, but I informed the chief of the main staff
7 about that activity, that is to say, that the entire
8 file has been handed over to the security
9 administration that was in charge, the way the security
10 assistant had told me, but I don't know whether he had
11 received that report.
12 Q. Well, General, to your knowledge, after
13 Sliskovic sent this report with the perpetrators' names
14 to the SIS administration in Mostar, was anyone ever
15 punished for the crimes in Ahmici, based on that
17 A. As far as I know, according to this file, no
18 criminal prosecution was started against the
19 perpetrators. That is to say, this was not taken to
20 court. I am basing this on the official knowledge I
21 had until I came here, because I know that I could not
22 obtain the file, nor did I hear anything about the
23 criminal prosecution of the perpetrators.
24 Q. General, was anyone disciplined, to your
1 A. I already talked about the practice that
2 prevailed in the HVO. If we're talking about criminal
3 perpetrators, then it is the law on criminal procedure
4 that is applied, not disciplinary measures. This
5 certainly had to do with criminal offences, and it is
6 criminal prosecution that has to follow. In practice,
7 disciplinary action is not taken but it is measures
8 against criminal activity that are taken.
9 Q. So, General, nobody, no HVO soldier was
10 disciplined for his conduct or involvement in the
11 crimes in Ahmici, is that your testimony?
12 A. I assert that the crime was a criminal
13 offence and that that entitled criminal prosecution. I
14 have no information as to whether any disciplinary
15 measures were taken against someone because of the
16 crime in Ahmici. I don't have such information.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Try to answer the question.
18 The question was whether or not there were sanctions or
19 measures taken. That's what the Prosecutor was
21 A. Mr. President, the question, the way I heard
22 it, was were disciplinary measures taken, that is the
23 interpretation I got, against the perpetrator of the
24 criminal offence in Ahmici.
25 JUDGE JORDA: The previous question. You
1 answered by giving a legal interpretation on the fact
2 that the criminal sanctions involved criminal measures
3 as well and that moved into disciplinary measures.
4 You've answered that. Please continue.
5 MR. KEHOE:
6 Q. General, let me read you a portion of the
7 Rules of Military Discipline.
8 MR. KEHOE: I am referring, Mr. President, to
9 Article 29 of the Rules of Military Discipline. They
10 are incorporated in Prosecutor's Exhibit 38. I believe
11 it's tab 2, page 42. I'm just going to read,
12 Mr. President, a brief portion of that.
13 Q. In Article 29 -- well, before I read this,
14 General, let me ask you a question. Do you believe it
15 would be in the interests of the HVO to remove all HVO
16 soldiers who were involved in any way in the crimes in
18 A. In the interest of the HVO? It would have
19 been in the interest of the HVO to remove all soldiers
20 to committed any crime and certainly including the
21 crime in Ahmici.
22 Q. General, let me read you the Rules of
23 Military Discipline, Article 29 which notes as
25 "When an authorised officer establishes that
1 a breach of military discipline is also a punishable
2 act, the case shall be handed to an authorised
3 prosecutor through official channels. If it is in the
4 interest of the service, the officer shall also
5 undertake measures to initiate disciplinary
7 So, General, you would agree with me that the
8 rules under which you were bound contemplated, in the
9 event of a crime, not only criminal Prosecution but
10 also action to discipline the HVO soldier committing a
11 punishable offence, isn't that right, sir?
12 A. Well, you read this rule to me. I'm not a
13 lawyer, but it's clear here that it says that when an
14 authorised officer establishes, that is to say, when he
15 finds out what the names of the perpetrators are.
16 Certainly if I had received the names of the
17 perpetrators, I would have filed a criminal report
18 against these perpetrators but the greatest problem was
19 to get the names.
20 JUDGE JORDA: That isn't the question. The
21 question asked of you, and try to it listen carefully,
22 you're less tired than you were yesterday, the question
23 was whether you agree with the interpretation of that
24 article of the rules, that is, an officer and a
25 commander, theoretically, would be familiar with these
1 rules. Since you yourself were in the military
2 academy, you had notions about what this is about.
3 We just want to know now whether you -- once
4 the Judges have deliberated, they will take it all into
5 account, and we're still very far from the end of the
6 trial. Try to concentrate on the question. He's
7 asking you a legitimate question. I'm here in order to
8 be sure that answers are given to the questions.
9 Either say that you don't know or say
10 whatever you like, but at least answer the question and
11 let's not go into theories about trains possibly
12 meeting up with one another.
13 There was a question about interpretation of
14 Article 29, two paragraphs -- I've understood it
15 correctly. I'm just discovering at the same time as
16 you are. One of these paragraphs which provides for
17 seizing the General Prosecutor, and the second part of
18 that Article 29 provides, at the same time, for the
19 possibility of issuing disciplinary measures. We're
20 only asking whether you agree with that reading of the
21 text. That's all that's being asked.
22 A. Your Honours, I shall try to answer on the
23 basis of the practice that existed within the HVO, that
24 is to say, that if a soldier commits a crime, then
25 there is a criminal report with his name and surname
1 included, and then this is processed by the court.
2 Possibly the soldier may be removed from the unit --
3 JUDGE JORDA: That's not the question that
4 was asked. I'm sorry. You have to answer the
5 question, otherwise, simply say that you don't want to
6 answer it, General Blaskic. We're the not going to
7 spend the whole day with this.
8 We're reading an interpretation of the text
9 for you. You could say to me, for instance, that you
10 need to read the text. That's possible.
11 It's a theoretical type of question for right
12 now. You're speaking about HVO practice. We've more
13 or less understood that that's not what was done.
14 Mr. Kehoe, would you please go back to the
15 text of Article 29 and -- am I speaking too quickly?
16 We'll give the text of Article 29 to the General.
17 Mr. Nobilo, please intervene. I really could
18 ask for nothing better, or Mr. Hayman. Give the text
19 to the General.
20 MR. KEHOE: It should be Prosecutor's Exhibit
21 38, tab 2. It's the Narondi Lists that we're reading,
22 and in the tab 2, Mr. Registrar, I believe that Article
23 29 is on page 42 of the B/C/S version.
24 JUDGE JORDA: At the same time, it will be
25 very good for the president to have the article reread
1 as well.
2 MR. KEHOE: It is in French as well, Judge.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Well, if it's also in French,
4 that's even better. Thank you, Mr. Registrar. What
5 tab is it?
6 On tab 2, so that I can show it to my
7 colleagues, in the French version, what text are we
8 talking about here?
9 MR. KEHOE: It is the Rules of Military
10 Discipline, and it is page 42 in the B/C/S Narodni
12 JUDGE JORDA: Forty-two in B/C/S. All
13 right. I'd like to ask for just a few seconds so that
14 my two colleagues and I can familiarise ourselves with
15 this. It's in French, Judge Shahabuddeen. I know that
16 you can understand French.
17 (Trial Chamber confers)
18 JUDGE JORDA: I think that things are clear.
19 The Judges have familiarised themselves with Article 29
20 which, as I have understood, has two paragraphs: one
21 which speaks about criminal matters, and the other
22 which is more focused on discipline. Both are
23 connected one to the other.
24 General Blaskic, have you had the time to
25 read the Article, that is, Article 29? We'll ask the
1 Prosecutor to ask you the question again. It's a
2 theoretical question. And then you may be asked to
3 answer practical questions, and even if the question
4 isn't asked, your Defence counsel could say what was
5 done in practice, which is something that you would
7 Mr. Kehoe, please ask your question about
8 Article 29.
9 MR. KEHOE:
10 Q. Now, General, according to Article 29, if a
11 soldier commits a crime, not only can he be prosecuted
12 for that crime, but if it is in the interests of the
13 HVO, the presiding officer or commanding officer shall
14 initiate disciplinary proceedings as well. So there
15 is, in fact, a dual track of criminal prosecution and
16 disciplinary prosecutions that take place at the same
17 time; isn't that right?
18 A. That is what it says in Article 29. Indeed,
19 I'm not a lawyer, and I see the authorised officer,
20 that is to say, the person who is authorised to take
21 disciplinary measures against that soldier.
22 Q. In the middle district of Flo -- excuse me,
23 central district. Excuse me. Central district -- that
24 was a throwback, Your Honour. It's a private joke that
25 Mr. Hayman and Mr. Harmon and I have because I spent a
1 large majority of my career as a Prosecutor in the
2 Middle District of Florida, so my verbal faux pas that
3 I just committed there had to do with that. What I
4 really meant to talk about was the Central Bosnia
5 Operative Zone.
6 In any event, with that moment of levity.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Get a hold of yourself.
8 I know you're in a hurry to return to the United
9 States, but nonetheless, let's become serious again and
11 The theoretical question is one that we more
12 or less agree on.
13 MR. KEHOE: Yes.
14 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Mr. Kehoe, please
16 MR. KEHOE:
17 Q. Now, General, in the Central Bosnian
18 Operative Zone, the person who was the presiding
19 officer for disciplinary matters and had overall
20 command of the military disciplinary courts was you;
21 isn't that right?
22 A. I was authorised for disciplinary measures
23 against units that were directly subordinated to me,
24 that is to say, except for the special purposes units
25 and the military police units. I did not have any
1 authority over them in terms of disciplinary action nor
2 did I take any disciplinary action against them.
3 Q. Now, General, to go back to the initial
4 inquiry concerning the filing of this report by
5 Sliskovic at the end of September, to your knowledge,
6 sir, nobody was ever disciplined and nobody was ever
7 prosecuted after the filing of that report by
8 Sliskovic; is that correct?
9 A. Yes, because the problem was to get the file
10 with the names of the perpetrators.
11 Q. Now, General, let us take the names of the
12 perpetrators. Did you ask Sliskovic for the names of
13 those perpetrators?
14 A. I asked him to submit the entire file to me.
15 I asked Sliskovic.
16 Q. And Sliskovic was your subordinate at the
17 time, was he not?
18 A. He was not my subordinate, he was an
19 immediate associate. He was directly subordinated to
20 security administration because he is an officer of the
21 security service.
22 Q. So if Slavko Marin described Mr. Sliskovic as
23 your subordinate, he would have been inaccurate; is
24 that right?
25 A. Sliskovic is my associate but directly
1 subordinated to -- I think that this is in the
2 evidence -- to the chief of the security
3 administration. He is an associate of mine for
4 security matters, but he is not directly subordinated
5 to me but to the security administration.
6 Q. Now, General, you told us during the course
7 of your testimony on several occasions ...
8 JUDGE JORDA: But you did appoint him to
9 carry out the investigation.
10 A. Yes, because he was the only one who was
11 competent to do so.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. It's a little
13 difficult to understand, for someone who is not from
14 your hierarchy but the 10th of May report said that
15 you've got to carry out the investigation. There is a
16 superior-subordinate relationship there and it was
17 somebody that you gave orders to. "I appoint
18 Mr. Sliskovic as the person to carry out the
19 investigation." We could assume there that in the
20 chain of command in that case, he would have to report
21 to you.
22 Continue, please, Mr. Kehoe.
23 MR. KEHOE:
24 Q. Now, General, after Sliskovic told you that
25 he sent the report down to Mostar, did you go to
1 Sliskovic or demand from Sliskovic the names of these
3 A. I asked him for the entire file, and he told
4 me that he had sent the file to the administration that
5 was in charge in Mostar and that that administration
6 would continue the investigation; and what happened
7 later, the officers of the security service were in
8 this area and they were finalising the investigation.
9 Q. My question is: After Sliskovic sent the
10 report, did you go to Sliskovic and demand the names of
11 the perpetrators, "Yes" or "No"?
12 A. I asked him for it, but I didn't ask him for
13 the file anymore because I thought that the security
14 administration had taken the whole thing into their own
15 hands and that they would take care of the entire
16 criminal prosecution.
17 Q. General, after this report was sent to
18 Mostar, did you contact anyone in SIS or contact Bruno
19 Stojic or contact Milivoj Petkovic or General Praljak
20 and ask these high officials to get you the names of
21 these perpetrators? Did you do that?
22 A. I informed the chief of the main staff of the
23 HVO about everything, and in the hierarchy, I was not
24 in a position to exert pressure against those who were
25 above me, that is to say, that my superior knew of this
1 procedure and the security administration service was
2 in charge of carrying out measures against anyone in
3 the HVO.
4 Q. General, you certainly were in a position to
5 ask your superiors for these names, weren't you?
6 A. When this was taken over by the security
7 administration, then it was my understanding that they
8 would take over the investigation, and I was not in a
9 position nor in charge to exert pressure against my
10 superiors, even more so because this investigation
11 could have been over my command and over myself
12 personally, so I let the administration do their work
13 and I thought that they would carry out the
14 investigation and take action in terms of criminal
16 Q. General, in your testimony in response to
17 questions by my learned friend, Mr. Nobilo, you
18 testified concerning why you insisted on the dismissal
19 of Pasko Ljubicic.
20 I'm referring, counsel, for record purposes,
21 to the accused's testimony on pages 19546 and 19547.
22 You noted that you insisted on Pasko
23 Ljubicic's removal for, among other reasons, (1) on
24 line 17:
25 A One of the reasons also was certainly my
1 fear that the crime of Ahmici could be
2 repeated ...
3 Another reason certainly was the
4 fact --
5 And this is from line 23, I'm sorry.
6 A Another reason certainly was the fact
7 that I was aware that the crime in
8 Ahmici had been planned behind my back,
9 that I had received false reports. I
10 had suspicions that there was a
11 conspiracy behind it and that I had been
12 sacrificed as the formal commander.
13 Another reason -- now this is on 19547, your
14 testimony at line 4, General:
15 A Then also there was the question of
16 crime and the struggle to combat crime
17 in the Lasva Valley --
18 JUDGE JORDA: Please speak slowly.
19 MR. KEHOE: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
20 JUDGE JORDA: The Judges are taking notes.
21 Thank you very much.
22 MR. KEHOE: I'll start that again,
23 Mr. President.
24 Q. From line 4 on page 19547:
25 A Then also there was the question of
1 crime and the struggle to combat crime
2 in the Lasva Valley, in which the
3 military police was expected to have the
4 leading and most prominent role, whereas
5 in the military police itself, we had
6 100 members, according to our reports,
7 who had criminal records.
8 Now, General, that's what you told us was the
9 reason -- reasons, among others, that you wanted Pasko
10 Ljubicic removed, yet you didn't even ask your
11 superiors to secure the names of these perpetrators so
12 you could prevent another Ahmici, so you could find out
13 about this conspiracy behind your back, so you could
14 find out about these hundred criminals in the military
15 police; you didn't do any of that, did you?
16 A. As far as I know, I was the only one to ask
17 for an investigation and insist on an investigation.
18 Also, on several occasions, I asked the assistant for
19 security to complete the investigation, and when he
20 informed me on the 30th of September that the file had
21 been composed with the names of the perpetrators and
22 everything and that he handed it over to the security
23 service, I believed that the security service
24 administration would bring this to an end and also
25 criminally prosecute the perpetrators.
1 In my chronology, I spoke of numerous
2 insistences that the crime be investigated and that the
3 investigation be brought to an end. In addition to
4 that, in the Operation Pauk, I tried to make it
5 possible to obtain that file and also I tried to make
6 sure that the perpetrators would be prosecuted
8 Q. General, isn't it true that while combat
9 operations are going on in September, October,
10 November, December 1993, you did nothing to try to find
11 the names of these perpetrators so you could get them
12 out of the HVO; isn't that a fact, sir?
13 A. I have already stated that I was preoccupied
14 with the combat operations, but I did everything until
15 I received information that the file had been sent and
16 conveyed to the security service, and it had authority
17 over me as well. But I did ask and found out that they
18 had gone to the spot and conducted the final throes of
19 the investigation in 1993 and before.
20 Q. Well, General, knowing that there was a crime
21 in Ahmici, do you think that the military district
22 prosecutor would have wanted to know the names of these
23 perpetrators so he could conduct an investigation?
24 A. That's what I thought, and I think that you
25 can see that from the order of August when I asked him,
1 point 1, that the case be turned over to the military
2 district prosecutor, but I believe that the second
3 order, which was stronger than mine, was that the case
4 be handed over to SIS; and if we look at point 1 of the
5 order, you will see that it was my position to turn the
6 case over to the district military prosecutor.
7 Q. Well, General, the military district
8 prosecutor -- let me withdraw that, I'm sorry.
9 Given the fact that you were in a pocket, the
10 military district prosecutor in Vitez was the only
11 military district prosecutor who could have prosecuted
12 these individuals; isn't that right?
13 A. Yes, the military district prosecutor of the
14 military district court in Vitez, and had he received
15 the file, he would have had to prosecute the
16 perpetrators of the crime.
17 Q. Well, General, when you didn't get these
18 names from SIS in September, October, November,
19 December, did you go to the military district
20 prosecutor and say, "Mr. Prosecutor, conduct an
21 investigation on these criminals and get them out of
22 the HVO as soon as possible"? Did you do that, "Yes"
23 or "No"?
24 A. In that sense, I did not, but I had a lot of
25 meetings with the military district court; however, it
1 was the practice that the military district prosecutor
2 be sent in criminal files for identified perpetrators.
3 Q. So, General, the fact of the matter is that
4 after Sliskovic told you that the report had been sent
5 to Mostar, you did nothing to try to get the names of
6 the perpetrators of this crime; isn't that right?
7 A. It is not right. It is not that I didn't do
8 anything to try to get the names, because in the
9 operation of Pauk, the overall operations are used to
10 try to get at the files and ensure names, and ensure
11 prosecutions. It was the Pauk operation that was
12 envisaged for ordinary crime.
13 Q. Well, let's talk about that. Let's move
14 ahead to Pauk in the chronology, now that you've
15 brought it up, General, and talk a little bit about
17 Now, Pauk was an operation that you were in
18 charge of that started in June of 1994, and you
19 testified to us that you expanded the mandate of Pauk
20 to cover war crimes.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Although I assume that the
22 interpreters are interpreting, but I'm hearing the word
23 "Pauk." "Pauk," of course, is not French. It's not a
24 name that we know in French. It might be used in
25 English or Serbo-Croat. Yes, I was asking the French
1 interpreters to please say that it was Operation
2 Spider. Thank you. You can speak about Operation
3 Pauk, but I understand it better if it's Operation
5 MR. KEHOE: Okay, Your Honour. I just use
6 the term "Operation Pauk" because I believe that's what
7 the witness described it as. I think "Pauk" is --
8 JUDGE JORDA: In any case, it's your
9 language. All right. Fine.
10 MR. KEHOE:
11 Q. Well, General, you were appointed and took
12 charge of this operation in June of '94 and you, by
13 your insistence, the mandate for Pauk was expanded to
14 include war crimes, is that accurate?
15 A. Yes. During that period of time -- well,
16 Pauk lasted from June until October of 1994.
17 Q. Approximately five months; is that correct?
18 A. Yes, approximately.
19 Q. You told us, General, that during this period
20 of time SIS was under your command while you were
21 investigating the crimes in Pauk?
22 A. That the officers of SIS were sent to me and
23 were under my command but not the administration of
24 SIS. The administration of SIS was always under the
25 direct command of the Ministry of Defence via the
1 assistant Minister and sometimes directly.
2 Q. You also told us, General, that you assigned
3 these SIS officers to focus on crimes that occurred in
4 Vitez, and Busovaca, and particularly in Ahmici. I'm
5 referring to your transcript at page 19642 and 19643.
6 Do you recall that, General?
7 You can look, during the break, at your diary
8 if you want to clarify that answer, but let me talk to
9 you, General, about the SIS officer that you assigned
10 to investigate Ahmici. Who was that SIS officer?
11 A. I think his name was Mr. Sesar.
12 Q. Is that a first name or a last name? Is that
13 a surname name or a family name?
14 A. It's a surname, second name.
15 Q. Now, you told us that he was refused access
16 to the Ahmici file in SIS. Who refused him access to
17 the Ahmici file? What's the name of the person?
18 A. He informed me that his access to the file
19 was blocked, but he did not tell me who effected this
20 blockade and in what way, he just said that he was not
21 able to access the file on Ahmici which existed, and he
22 told me that he knows that the file exists but that he
23 wasn't able to get it. He did not tell me who and in
24 which way blocked him.
25 Q. Well, General, did you ask him who this
1 person was who blocked him from getting this Ahmici
3 A. Not only did I ask him, but I also asked him
4 to tell me in what way he was blocked and why he could
5 not arrive at this file. His answer was that he had
6 not succeeded in getting at the file and that he had
7 been blocked. Did he not specifically tell me who
8 effected this blockade.
9 Q. So Mr. Sesar refused to give you the name of
10 the person who blocked him, is that your testimony?
11 A. I reproduced what he told me word by word.
12 He said, "I was blocked. I was not allowed." He asked
13 me who set up the blockade. He did not give me any
14 information on that.
15 Q. So the answer to my question is yes, he
16 refused to give you the name of the person who blocked
18 A. He did not tell me the name of the
19 individual. You could put it that way. He did not
20 tell me which individual had blocked him or the manner
21 in which this blockade was implemented, but what he
22 said was that he could not access the file because it
23 had been blocked.
24 Q. Now, General, this was an act of obstruction
25 by someone within SIS, wasn't it?
1 A. Well, in any way it showed the autonomy of
2 the security service and their independent functioning,
3 functioning independently of me.
4 Q. Listen to my question. The refusal to turn
5 over this report was an act of obstruction by someone
6 within SIS, was it not?
7 A. Well, the blockade was an act of obstruction
8 of my own efforts, yes.
9 Q. Now, General, as the deputy chief of staff at
10 this time, did you discuss this act of obstruction with
11 the head of SIS?
12 A. I did not discuss this with the head of SIS,
13 because I was not in a position to do so, nor was
14 it -- I had the competence to talk to the head of the
15 SIS. He was never subordinate to me.
16 Q. General, from June 1994 until August of 1994,
17 you were the deputy chief of staff of the HVO, and from
18 August of 1994 through the end of Pauk in October of
19 1994, you were the chief of staff of the HVO, were you
21 A. I was the chief. I wasn't able to follow the
22 dates that you mentioned but from August 1994 onwards.
23 Q. Is it your testimony that as the chief of
24 staff of the entire HVO military, you were not in a
25 position to discuss this act of obstruction by the
1 chief of SIS, is that your testimony?
2 A. As the chief of the main staff, I was never
3 superior to the SIS administration, at no point. So
4 when I received this information from the security
5 service, the offices of the security service, I
6 realised that probably the SIS administration had other
7 intentions probably.
8 Q. Well, you told us that you were given this
9 assignment, and after you were given this assignment
10 and after you received this obstruction from SIS, did
11 you take this up with President Zubak?
12 A. All the events within Operation Pauk I
13 informed my superiors about. That is to say, I
14 informed them about everything that happened, and I do
15 believe that President Zubak was informed of that as
16 well because there were war criminals that had been
17 arrested. I can't tell you the names openly now, but
18 there were those who were accused of war crimes, and I
19 think they had been taken into custody.
20 Q. So, General, your testimony that you
21 discussed with President Zubak this act of obstruction
22 by SIS in their refusal to turn over the Ahmici file.
23 Is that your testimony?
24 A. I claim that I informed President Zubak in
25 writing about all ongoing activities. I don't know
1 whether I spoke to him orally or not, but all my
2 activities which were within the frameworks of the
3 Spider operation were sent in writing to President
5 Q. Well, what was Zubak's reaction to this act
6 of insubordination?
7 A. I don't know exactly because operation Pauk
8 ended and then combat activities ensued at Kupres, and
9 I was no longer in the same position, nor was I
10 involved in those affairs.
11 Q. Well, General, this was the most serious
12 crime that occurred during your military career in the
13 Central Bosnian Operative Zone. Is it your testimony
14 that as soon as you sent your report to Zubak about
15 this act of insubordination, you took no further
16 interest in the matter?
17 A. No. I don't say that. I don't say that it
18 no longer interested me and, thus, the decision of
19 December 1995, when I heard that an indictment had been
20 raised against me, I decided to come here, but the
21 situation and circumstances were such that I was
22 engaged on other assignments and I was no longer in a
23 position to have any relationships towards the SIS.
24 Q. Well, General, did you demand, or ask, or
25 write in a letter, or in any way request that the
1 people who obstructed you in SIS be disciplined in some
2 fashion and, if you asked that, were they?
3 A. I have already stated that I informed my
4 superiors about all the activities while I was head of
5 Operation Pauk, the more I was chief of the main staff,
6 and then it was not my authority to do so vis-à-vis
7 SIS. Perhaps I specified certain things but I can't
8 recall them at this time.
9 JUDGE JORDA: I would like to say only for us
10 all to understand the entire issue, let me remind you,
11 according to the personal notes I have taken, the
12 problem was dealt with at great length at the hearing
13 of the 25th of March. You have to understand that at
14 that time, when you were involved in Operation Spider,
15 you didn't have many superior above you and, if, as you
16 confirmed and the Prosecutor said, this was the most
17 serious crime that you experienced throughout your
18 entire military career, one could ask several
20 In order to move things forward, I would like
21 to say several questions were asked on the 25th of
22 March and that personally, I don't want to ask the
23 questions that I already did. They were asked and
24 they're in the transcript. But I will say, in order to
25 move things forward, that your initiative at the time
1 of Operation Spider had been presented as positive by
2 your Defence counsel but, at the time, we were
3 surprised by the very few results that you obtained,
4 despite of the fact that you had such an important
6 Several months after Ahmici you had left that
7 area and were now in a position where you could finally
8 learn what had happened to Ahmici. We've already
9 spoken about the organisational chart and you said that
10 either you had no possibility of any action on SIS. I
11 can remind you that Judge Shahabuddeen asked you to
12 specify what your definitive position was about Ahmici,
13 inter alia the combat position of the military police,
14 because you had suspicions about the military police.
15 You had so many doubts and suspicions that you were not
16 too concerned about the investigation. At the same
17 time, you asked that Commander Ljubicic leave.
18 I would like to remind my colleagues that all
19 of this was discussed in depth and in detail, so before
20 the break, I would like the Prosecutor to ask very
21 direct and concrete questions.
22 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
23 Q. General, to your knowledge, was anyone within
24 SIS ever disciplined or sanctioned in any fashion for
25 this act of insubordination?
1 A. I have already stated that SIS is an
2 institution completely apart from the main staff, and I
3 was not in a position to know whether anybody was
4 disciplined or sanctioned at all. I do not have any
5 information about that because I was not in a position
6 to have such information.
7 Q. Now, at the time SIS was a part of the
8 Ministry of Defence, was it not?
9 A. Not at that time. SIS was always directly
10 within the composition of the Defence Ministry.
11 Q. Now, as the chief of staff of the entire HVO,
12 is it your testimony that you have no knowledge about
13 disciplinary proceedings that were issued or conducted
14 against SIS members for this act of insubordination?
15 A. I personally have no knowledge about that.
16 If we look at the schematic of organisation and
17 structure of SIS, it was completely set apart. It was
18 a secret service, autonomous, working according to its
19 own rules.
20 Q. General, when you were discussing this matter
21 with Mr. Sesar from SIS, and Mr. Sesar, as you
22 mentioned, was the gentleman from SIS who was supposed
23 to look into the Ahmici matter, did you insist that
24 Mr. Sesar go up to Ahmici or any place else in Bosnia
25 and talk to Pasko Ljubicic and interview him? Did you
1 insist on that?
2 A. I insisted that he go to the Vitez area to
3 tour the region and to attempt to conduct an
4 information himself, that is, to arrive at certain
5 data. Of course, in doing so, to talk about all the
6 perpetrators from within the military police. I did
7 not specify all the details, but I did, of course, have
8 in mind the commander of the military police as well.
9 Q. Well, did he interview as well, Pasko
11 A. He told me that he was not in a position to
12 arrive at any kind of information because there was
13 complete silence over the whole affair, and he was not
14 able to provide me with any information. That was what
15 he reported.
16 Q. General, Pasko Ljubicic was still in the HVO
17 when the Pauk matter was being investigated; isn't that
19 A. I don't think he was in the military section
20 of the HVO, but I'm not quite sure where he was moved
21 to and what duties he performed. I think he was, at
22 that time, possibly in the civilian police force. I
23 don't think he was in the HVO, at all events.
24 Q. Well, he was in the HVO, and he was,
25 accordingly, under the chain of command that goes back
1 to President Zubak; isn't that right?
2 A. In the military part of the HVO, he was not
3 there at that time. He was not in the military section
4 of the HVO at that time, to the best of my knowledge.
5 Q. Well, let us just go to the bottom line. To
6 your knowledge, did Mr. Sesar interview Pasko Ljubicic?
7 A. Sesar did not inform me that he had
8 interviewed him, at least I don't recall him saying so.
9 Q. Well, how about Vlado Santic, the member of
10 the military police that was down the hall from you in
11 the Hotel Vitez; did Sesar interview him?
12 A. I don't know about that. Possibly he did,
13 possibly he did not. I have no information about that.
14 Q. General, you were in charge of this entire
15 matter, and you don't know whether or not he
16 interviewed Vlado Santic or not about what happened in
18 A. I cannot remember whether he talked or not
19 because I was the chief of the overall Pauk operation
20 for the entire region of Herceg-Bosna, and we conducted
21 many activities. There was 310 people at one point,
22 the perpetrators of crimes.
23 Q. How about Mario Cerkez? Did Mr. Sesar
24 interview Mario Cerkez?
25 A. I don't know. I really have no knowledge on
1 that. Quite possibly he had an interview. Perhaps he
2 was not satisfied with the talks, with the interview.
3 That is possible, but I can't recall it.
4 Q. Well, how about Dusko Grubesic, yet another
5 commander, he from the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade;
6 did Sesar interview him?
7 A. Once again, I can't remember whether he did
8 or didn't. Perhaps he talked to him. He spent some
9 time in the area. Now, whether he specifically had
10 talks with all those individuals, I don't know. He
11 would just inform me briefly of the results of his
13 Q. Well, General, this particular operation was
14 discussed in your conversations with my learned friend,
15 Mr. Nobilo, about how you issued a particular person to
16 go and investigate or look into Ahmici again. Did you
17 read the interviews or the material that Sesar came
18 back with?
19 A. Sesar informed me orally about the results of
20 his work and he submitted a report to me.
21 Q. So in this report that he submitted to you,
22 did you read the interviews of what people said and who
23 he interviewed?
24 A. I did not read the talks because he said that
25 he had not arrived at a list of the suspects because
1 there was a conspiracy of silence that reigned in the
2 area. That was his report to me.
3 Q. Well, General, after you got this report
4 back, did you then go back to Zubak and re-emphasise
5 the problems of this investigation and demand once and
6 for all that the investigation be revealed and that the
7 people be prosecuted for these outrageous crimes? Did
8 you do that?
9 A. I have already stated that I informed in
10 writing about all my activities, and this report
11 encompassed that. When he said that he had come back
12 from the region and reported back to me and said that
13 he had been blocked by the officers of SIS, I sent out
14 a report to my superiors, and I have already said that
15 that was a crime when certain steps forward had been
16 taken within the activities.
17 Q. Well, General, the bottom line is that no
18 charges were ever brought against anybody for the
19 crimes in Ahmici and no one was ever evicted from the
20 HVO as a result of those crimes; isn't that right?
21 A. It is true that no charges were filed, but I
22 profoundly believe that the investigation was
23 conducted, the list was made up with the names of the
24 perpetrators, and that it was kept in the SIS
1 MR. KEHOE: Yes. Judge Shahabuddeen.
2 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: First of all, I want to
3 express my own appreciation for the recapitulation by
4 President Jorda of the substance of what took place
5 sometime in March. You were then being examined by, I
6 think, Mr. Nobilo or Mr. Hayman and some questions were
7 asked. Now we have been appropriately refreshed about
8 that and we need not retrace the steps.
9 I want to ask you some incidental questions.
10 You referred a while ago to the fact that you
11 voluntarily surrendered yourself to the Tribunal.
12 Would I be right in supposing that you took the
13 decision voluntarily to surrender on the basis that you
14 would be able to establish your innocence? Is that
16 A. Yes.
17 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, would that mean
18 that, at the time when you took the decision
19 voluntarily to surrender yourself to the Tribunal, you
20 thought that you would be in possession of all the
21 relevant material to enable you to give proof of your
23 A. I believed that my attorneys would be in a
24 position to obtain all the documents which would enable
25 me to prove my innocence.
1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Did you take the view
2 that the file in question which related to Ahmici would
3 contain valuable material enabling you to put forward
4 an effective defence and to demonstrate your innocence?
5 A. I did believe in that, yes, that material and
6 all the other documents relating to my work while I was
7 commander of the Operative Zone in Vitez and that my
8 attorneys would succeed in having those essential
9 documents at least until the beginning of the trial, by
10 the beginning of the trial.
11 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: But whether your
12 attorneys would succeed in gaining access to the file
13 was a matter that was yet to come. What I want to ask
14 you is this: Why did you decide to surrender yourself
15 to the Tribunal without, at that point of time, being
16 certain yourself that you would gain access to that
17 very important file?
18 A. I profoundly believed that once the trial had
19 got under way, my attorneys would succeed in accessing
20 all documents that were vital to me and that there
21 would be no blockade as regards the access of documents
22 by my attorneys.
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Did you appreciate, at
24 the time when you decided to surrender yourself, that
25 your defence would be handicapped if, in fact, your
1 counsel did not succeed in gaining access to that file?
2 A. Well, it's difficult for me to remember all
3 my thoughts at that time and the dilemmas I had,
4 whether to come to the Tribunal or not, but I clarified
5 that dilemma as early on as November, and I think that
6 there are witnesses to that. We did not present those
7 witnesses, but there were witnesses with whom I
8 discussed that dilemma.
9 I expected that there would be difficulties,
10 but I did not expect to have as much difficulty as
11 possible with regard to the access of these documents,
12 the difficulties encountered by my counsel. Perhaps I
13 was -- perhaps I believed too much.
14 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Well, should the Trial
15 Chamber understand that at the time when you took the
16 decision to surrender to the Tribunal, you were acting
17 on the legal advice of counsel? Did you have counsel
18 at that point of time?
19 A. At that time, I think I did not -- I'm sure I
20 did not have any counsel at that period of time when I
21 made my decision, but I had good friends and I talked
22 to them, exchanged views about everything, and
23 regardless of everything, I decided to surrender. This
24 was as far back as November 1995. I did not have a
25 single attorney then.
1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Well then, General, do
2 you accept that at the time when you decided to
3 surrender yourself to the Tribunal, you had no basis on
4 which to suppose that the counsel which you would later
5 have would be able to gain access to that file?
6 A. Well, I believed, Your Honour, that once the
7 trial began, or perhaps during the preparation of the
8 trial when I would come here, that the general climate
9 would change and that there would be no problems with
10 the attorneys getting a hold of that file.
11 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you, General.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. I have a question.
13 Why did your chiefs put you at the head of that
14 Operation Spider several months after the events?
15 A. I don't know because I was not in that
16 position. Others made that decision. They probably
17 took into account my work, my behaviour, and everything
18 else. This was an all-out operation against all forms
19 of unlawfulness and against all the perpetrators of any
20 crimes, including war crimes. They probably took into
21 account various references and the result of my work.
22 JUDGE JORDA: But when the work was given to
23 you, one could legitimately be surprised that you, who
24 were the operative commander at the highest level and
25 who had experienced this tragedy at Ahmici very
1 closely, which so moved the International Community and
2 which you yourself denounced as a crime, one could be
3 surprised that you did not rush immediately to the
4 Ahmici case file.
5 A. Mr. President, during the first stage,
6 Operation Pauk was not contemplated as such that it
7 should deal with the perpetrators of war crimes. That
8 kind of mandate was yet to be obtained. Later, when
9 the mandate was extended to include war crimes, I tried
10 to obtain that file but I didn't manage to do so.
11 JUDGE JORDA: But when was the operation
12 extended to cover war crimes?
13 A. After -- after -- I don't know the exact
14 date, but perhaps in June or July or perhaps later. I
15 cannot recall the exact date but, at any rate, after
16 the operation had started.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Summer of 1994. What number
18 did you have in the military hierarchy? Were you in
19 Mostar? Where were you exactly?
20 A. I was not in Mostar. In Posusje, that's
21 where I was, in Posusje. That is about 60 kilometres
22 away from Mostar.
23 JUDGE JORDA: And where was SIS?
24 A. They were in Mostar. The SIS administration
25 was in Mostar.
1 JUDGE JORDA: At that time, you were the
2 deputy chief of staff of the HVO responsible for
3 Operation Spider; is that correct?
4 A. I was chief of the main staff from August
5 onward, so there was a period when I was deputy and
6 there was a period when I was chief of the main staff.
7 JUDGE JORDA: So, therefore, you were number
8 1 in the HVO hierarchy.
9 A. Yes, Mr. President, but the HVO hierarchy, as
10 far as the administration of the military police and
11 the security service, had retained its independence,
12 and although I held that position, I was not in charge
13 of ordering a single military policeman.
14 JUDGE JORDA: I'm sure that that would be
15 your answer, but that isn't really my question. My
16 question relates somewhat to the kind of ethical and
17 moral climate in this case.
18 The Tribunal was established in 1993. We
19 know that, starting in 1994, the Office of the
20 Prosecutor began its investigations. You were shocked
21 by what happened in Ahmici. You were in a position
22 within the HVO which is really outstanding.
23 Outstanding. I don't know whether we can verify this,
24 but it's possible that SIS was not part of your
25 hierarchy. That's possible. It doesn't really matter.
1 It seems to me that having this problem of
2 conscience and remorse very deeply engrained within you
3 because, as Judge Shahabuddeen brought out and
4 mentioned, you decided to surrender, come to The Hague,
5 in 1995. Therefore, the problem of Ahmici was
6 something that was haunting you, according to what you
7 say. You were number 1 within the HVO hierarchy, and
8 you were satisfied to have one of your collaborators
9 say to you, "The Ahmici case file? Well, we don't know
10 where it is." Silence. We don't talk about it. You
11 can imagine that there is something difficult to
12 swallow here. Do you understand what I mean when I say
13 that? Difficult to accept, difficult to swallow. You
14 didn't question anybody, you didn't make any telephone
15 calls, you didn't go to see those people who were still
16 alive after that tragedy? You didn't try to say to
17 yourself, "Well, one day people are going to say that
18 I'm guilty," even morally speaking, without speaking
19 about the International Tribunal. I don't know, for
20 your children, for your family, for posterity, for
21 history, "History" with a capital "H."
22 Now, you were number 1 in the hierarchy, and
23 someone comes and says to you, "Top secret. Ahmici is
24 top secret." And you say, "Well, all right, top
1 Is that what you're saying to us? Please
2 answer me. Is that what you're saying? You agreed to
3 the operation of the organisational chart as it was,
4 "Yes" or "No"? "Yes" or "No"?
5 A. I did not agree, and I did everything. It is
6 clear in this file that I was the only one who insisted
7 on an investigation and the only one who asked for an
9 JUDGE JORDA: But I'm not asking you about
10 that moment -- we're not talking about that. We talked
11 about yesterday, about the time when you asked for an
12 investigation when. The Prosecutor asked you some
13 questions about what that request for an investigation
15 The Judges are not arriving at decisions on
16 the basis of a single piece of paper. We're trying to
17 understand the very intimate reality of what happened,
18 the core of what happened. I'm speaking of August
19 1995. Chance, perhaps not chance, put you at the head
20 of the HVO, very close to the archives. I'm asking you
21 to assert to me that you were satisfied with the answer
22 from a lower-ranking individual who said to you,
23 "General, Ahmici is not something you should touch,"
24 and you were number one in the HVO.
25 Morally -- I'm not speaking about us, but you
1 have your children and your family, you have posterity,
2 the International Community which spoke about the crime
3 at Ahmici, and you simply say "Yes."
4 All right. All right. There is a file,
5 because you've told us there is a file. All right.
6 There's no more file above here. Well, the president
7 of the republic is hiding the file. That may be, but
8 you had assets, and that's what I don't understand.
9 You had assets. You could make phone calls. You could
10 write. You could have someone write for you, have
11 Stojic write. Many people could have written for you.
12 What I wanted to ask you, simply, was whether
13 you could confirm to me that you accepted the fait
14 accompli, the fact that they were not giving you the
15 case file. You accepted people saying to you, "No, you
16 cannot have access to the file." "Yes" or "No"? Did
17 you accept that?
18 A. I informed my superiors of what I was told,
19 and I tried to gain access to the archives and to the
20 file. Under those circumstances, I did whatever I
21 could. All of those were wartime circumstances, I did
22 whatever I could in view of my competencies and in view
23 of my possibilities.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Very well, but I have noted
25 your answer when you said that you did everything that
1 you could, and that's the kind of answer that I would
2 like. All right. It's marked in the -- it's put in
3 the transcript. You did what you could do.
4 I think that Judge Rodrigues had some
5 questions before the break, I think. Then we'll finish
6 with that point. Very quickly.
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General Blaskic, I would
8 like to go back to April 1993 and the following months
9 and ask you, from the military point of view, what were
10 the consequences in respect of the combat which was
11 going on in Central Bosnia?
12 A. Well, the consequences were, at any rate, a
13 great number of victims on both sides, great
14 destruction, and a situation without a way out that we
15 were facing then. Just about to be totally destroyed.
16 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me for
17 interrupting. I'm speaking about the consequences, the
18 subsequent repercussions and consequences on the
19 development of what happened, that is, the future
20 evolution and development of the conflict.
21 A. I don't understand the question, I'm sorry.
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I'll ask the question a
23 different way. Imagine that there never been an
24 Ahmici. Could something else have happened, in
25 military terms?
1 A. Would you please clarify this a bit to me,
2 this question?
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Perhaps I could ask the
4 question -- maybe I'll ask the question after the
5 break. Maybe that would be better. You could rest a
6 little bit.
7 I think, Mr. President, this is the time to
8 allow the witness to rest.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. I think everybody needs a
10 bit of a rest. We'll take a 20-minute break.
11 --- Recess taken at 10.27 a.m.
12 --- On resuming at 10.46 a.m.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. We'll resume
14 the hearing now. Judge Rodrigues, please proceed.
15 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, were you able to
16 rest a little bit?
17 A. Yes, thank you. Thank you, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: This is my question -- I
19 don't want to lead the answer but perhaps I could ask
20 my question in the following way: Perhaps Ahmici was
21 something which really made the Muslims angry and,
22 therefore, the way that the battles took place and the
23 fighting took place after that must be seen in the
24 light of what happened in Ahmici. As a military man,
25 what is your opinion about that?
1 Could we say that there were repercussions on
2 the development of the combat in Central Bosnia because
3 of Ahmici?
4 A. Your Honour, certainly there were. That can
5 certainly be seen by the number of casualties, so many
6 casualties in such a small space. Of course, this did
7 cause a strong reaction on the part of the army of
9 However, as I was thinking during this break,
10 I remembered that from the first incidents onwards, the
11 first spiral of violence went up. I talked about the
12 conflict at Duhri here, and now that I think of it,
13 violence was always on the rise. This probably made a
14 cease-fire with the army more difficult or, at least,
15 there was a slow-down.
16 I do not know all the political arrangements
17 that were made between the representatives of the three
18 peoples, but I believe that during a certain period of
19 time there was a concept that prevailed and that we saw
20 from a piece of evidence that the Prosecutor showed to
21 me, and that was that the Croats were supposed to
22 disappear from that area, that is to say, from the area
23 of Central Bosnia. However, at any rate, this only led
24 to the increase of the dimensions and scope of the
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Here's the other question.
2 You told us that you were very concerned about the
3 fighting, about the refugees and so on, and that you
4 didn't have time to pay much attention to Ahmici. So
5 here's my question: Was there any time when you
6 thought that you should say to your superiors something
7 like that or like this rather; "Somebody carried out my
8 assignment -- someone like myself has difficulty
9 carrying out his responsibilities. I'm not responsible
10 for Ahmici. Either you explain to the opposing party
11 what happened and punish the perpetrators in such a way
12 as to calm down our enemies or I'm going to leave."
13 Did you ever think that or say that to your
15 A. I sent many reports to my superiors about the
16 problems in that spirit. Perhaps not word-for-word
17 everything you just said, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me, General. Pardon
19 me. My question is trying to ascertain whether you, as
20 a way of putting pressure, as a way of putting
21 pressure, whether you set forth the possibility of your
22 resigning before your superiors if they did not explain
23 what happened in Ahmici?
24 A. In those moments I was not in that kind of a
25 situation, and I already said that in these moments of
1 combat I did not contemplate resignation, that is to
2 say, when we were encircled, but I did tell my superior
3 that he had to change and break down the chain of
4 command in the military police, because it was my
5 suspicion that the members of the military police
6 committed the crime in Ahmici.
7 I just wish to add one more thing, Your
8 Honour. It is not that I thought that I didn't have
9 enough time to deal with Ahmici and the investigation.
10 I said that at that time I had other problems and
11 priorities as well, that is to say, other jobs to do.
12 I also said that I was not a professional in that sense
13 and that I was not trained to carry out an
15 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, but all of those
16 concerns, and all the fighting, and all the refugees
17 were the result of Ahmici. Therefore, had you resolved
18 the issue of Ahmici, perhaps you would have resolved
19 all the other problems.
20 A. I wish I did have the command, authority, and
21 power to resolve Ahmici, and I wish Ahmici had never
22 happened. However, I already said that this spiral was
23 an ongoing thing. Ahmici is a major crime but,
24 regrettably, not the first crime that was committed.
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Could the conclusion then
1 be that yesterday you said that you were very proud of
2 having remained, very proud of not having resigned, but
3 does that mean that you also assumed the responsibility
4 of remaining?
5 A. I don't know which responsibility you have in
6 mind, because in the military there are several
7 responsibilities, Your Honour.
8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Well, I'm thinking about
9 the moral responsibility that the Presiding Judge spoke
11 A. Well, I was aware of the situation that I was
12 in in that encirclement and, indeed, this was a
13 situation where no way out was in sight. I don't want
14 to tire the Honourable Court, but perhaps it would be
15 easiest to describe this in one line only.
16 Everything that was abnormal was going on in
17 that area. It was a wonder, a miracle when we heard of
18 a man dying of a natural death, not having been
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But didn't you realise that
21 you were surrounded in every sense? You were
22 militarily surrounded. You were surrounded by people
23 who apparently shared the same objectives, that is, the
24 military police. The Ministry of Defence had also
25 surrounded you, had also encircled you. Didn't you
1 realise that?
2 A. Well, I don't know if I'm going to be able to
3 answer your question. I was totally encircled and
4 before total destruction, in a military sense, in that
5 area, that is to say, that destruction was imminent.
6 I'm trying to say that I was struggling for survival
7 day after day. Also, when the Washington Agreement
8 came about, I think that it was most comprehensively
9 realised and in the quickest possible way in that area,
10 in the Lasva River Valley.
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Judge Rodrigues. We
13 are at the heart of many issues now. Excuse us,
14 Mr. Prosecutor, for having interrupted you. I know
15 that many of these questions were asked during the
16 examination-in-chief, and that will help us at the end
17 of the cross-examination and the redirect.
18 Thank you, Mr. Kehoe. Were you able to find
19 the thread of what you were saying?
20 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
21 Q. General, we're going to continue on with your
22 efforts in Operation Pauk, and I'd like you to take a
23 look at a Defence exhibit at this point.
24 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Registrar, Defence 255.
25 Yes. That's it. Thank you.
1 Q. Now, General, during the course of your
2 direct-examination, you discussed this particular
3 article with my colleague, Mr. Nobilo, and noted for us
4 that Ivica Rajic and others were arrested during your
5 Operation Pauk.
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Now, Rajic was not arrested for war crimes,
8 was he? He was arrested for the murder of some HVO
10 A. He was arrested with all the materials that
11 were there, and everything was handed over to the
12 military prosecutor.
13 Q. Let me show you a newspaper article from the
14 8th of September, 1995, and this newspaper article,
15 General, comes from Nedjeljna Dalmacija, as I noted,
16 from the 8th of September, 1995.
17 Mr. President, Your Honours, this periodical,
18 Nedjeljna Dalmacija, I understand is a Croatian weekly.
19 THE REGISTRAR: This is Prosecutor's Exhibit
20 698, 698A for the English version.
21 MR. KEHOE:
22 Q. Take a look at this document, General. This
23 particular article, as you peruse through it, General,
24 reflects that Ivica Rajic and Dominik Ilijasevic
25 (Como), as well as Vlatko Trogrlic (Zuna), were
1 arrested for the murder of HVO soldiers, Zeljko
2 Bosnjak; Ivica, sometimes referred to as Marko,
3 Pecirep, and also the murders of Davor Lovric and
4 Zvonko Duznovic.
5 Now, all of these victims, General, were
6 Croats; isn't that right?
7 A. Yes. This is about how the district military
8 prosecutor took action against these persons who were
9 arrested on the basis of all the materials that were
10 available at the time.
11 Q. Now, General, in the exhibit that we talked
12 about before, Defence 255 -- Mr. Usher, if we could
13 just give that particular article back to the witness,
14 that is the Defence Exhibit which is the article from
15 Slobodna Dalmacija -- in that article, Ivica Rajic
16 admits being involved in Stupni Do, does he not?
17 A. I have two pages. Could you please tell me
18 on which page this is?
19 Q. The first page. The first page, sir. As the
20 interview with Rajic transpires, it is the fourth
21 question. The note says:
22 "On the night before the HVO operation in
23 Stupni Do Muslim special forces allegedly arrived in
24 the village, and were preparing a final attack on
1 "Yes, that is correct."
2 And then Rajic discusses Stupni Do. Do you
3 see that, General?
4 A. I have found it, yes, yes. I'm reading.
5 Q. Now, General, Stupni Do was a horrific,
6 horrific war crime, wasn't it?
7 A. Stupni Do was a war crime about which I
8 received information indirectly and only later.
9 Q. Let me show you a series of photographs.
10 And, Mr. President, I might ask,
11 Mr. President, to caution the individuals in the crowd
12 that --
13 JUDGE JORDA: We'll go back to that. I would
14 like to understand something. The question that you
15 are preparing has to do with a comparison with the two
16 press articles?
17 MR. KEHOE: The first article, the article
18 that was submitted by the Defence, Exhibit 255, notes
19 that Ivica Rajic --
20 JUDGE JORDA: 255.
21 MR. KEHOE: And what he had been charged
22 with, Mr. President, was he was charged with the
23 murders of Bosnian Croats.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Stupni Do, right?
25 MR. KEHOE: Stupni Do.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me.
2 MR. KEHOE: Ivica Rajic was never charged
3 by --
4 JUDGE JORDA: The murder of HVO officers.
5 MR. KEHOE: Correct. And what I have,
6 Mr. President, is a series of photographs taken by the
7 British battalion, or a non-commissioned officer in the
8 British battalion, just a series of photographs on
9 Stupni Do taken the 23rd of October, 1993.
10 JUDGE JORDA: All right. The massacre of
11 Stupni Do taken by the British battalion. You're going
12 to show them.
13 MR. KEHOE: And I just ask, Mr. President,
14 that we might caution the audience because some of
15 these photographs are quite explicit.
16 JUDGE JORDA: The public has been informed.
17 These are photographs that are going to be shown.
18 These are public hearings, but as the Prosecutor says,
19 these are very difficult pictures to look at. Those
20 people who are particularly sensitive might want to
21 leave the public gallery.
22 THE REGISTRAR: A question for Mr. Kehoe.
23 MR. KEHOE: Yes.
24 THE REGISTRAR: Will this be one document?
25 JUDGE JORDA: With slashes, the same exhibit
1 with slashes; is that right?
2 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. That's
3 probably easier.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. All right. Let's
5 go on.
6 All right. Perhaps you could prepare the
7 material. This is taking a bit of time and we're
8 really using up too much time here. This should have
9 been prepared this morning. Let me point this out to
11 MR. KEHOE: That is my fault, Mr. President.
12 I apologise. I should have done it ahead of time and I
13 didn't and I take full blame for it. It's not the
14 registrar's fault. I do apologise.
15 JUDGE JORDA: I have no disciplinary powers
16 over you, Mr. Kehoe.
17 MR. KEHOE: I understand, Judge. I should
18 have done it, and I know I should have. I apologise
19 for the delay.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Very well. All
21 right. Mr. Registrar, thank you very much.
22 THE REGISTRAR: This is Prosecution Exhibit
23 699, 699/1, 699/2, 699/3, 699/4, and 699/5.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
25 MR. KEHOE: Now, if we could put these in
1 seriatim on the ELMO, Mr. President? As I noted, these
2 are the photographs taken by a non-commissioned officer
3 of the British battalion on the 23rd.
4 The first photograph, Mr. Usher, is an
5 overall view of the village of Stupni Do.
6 If we can go to the next one? 699/2 is just
7 another angle of the village.
8 699/3 is similar, just a different angle of
9 the village.
10 Can we go to the next one, Mr. Usher? Yet
11 another angle.
12 The next one. This is an examination, a
13 photograph of some of the bodies.
14 Continue on, Mr. Usher. Next photograph.
15 That, I believe, is 699/4. That's another body
17 Continue on, please. These are two -- three
18 women huddled in a house that we will talk about in a
19 subsequent report, Mr. President.
20 The next one, Mr. Usher, please. This is an
21 old man, of course, shot.
22 And the last -- is that the last one? Thank
23 you very much.
24 Q. Now, General, let us, before we talk about
25 these individual photographs, let us turn to some
1 reports from the ECMM first.
2 Mr. President, this is an ECMM report dated
3 the 27th of October, 1993.
4 THE REGISTRAR: This is Prosecution Exhibit
6 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Usher, I'm interested in the
7 bottom of the page under "Other Matters," number 6.
8 Q. At the bottom of this page, dealing with
9 "Other Matters," number 6 deals with the massacre at
10 Stupni Do. It notes that:
11 "This report should be read in conjunction
12 with CC Travnik DR 26 Oct 93.
13 "V4 joined an UNPROFOR convoy which went to
14 Stupni Do together with two television crews. The
15 UNPROFOR led force was denied access by the HVO, and
16 responded by forcing entry, with NORDBAT --
17 That's Nordic Bat.
18 "-- troops moving mines and crushing
19 roadblocks. The village is destroyed, and no survivors
20 remain. Twenty bodies had been found by the end of the
21 day, the search will continue tomorrow.
22 "Most of the bodies found so far were burned
23 beyond recognition, however three were identified as
24 men, and three as middle aged women; some shot in the
25 head, and some with their throats cut. It is presumed
1 that some of the burned bodies were children by the
2 size of the skull parts. Signs of torture, by burning,
3 were observed on some of the bodies."
4 Could we turn the page, Mr. Usher, please?
5 Top of the page:
6 "The Chief of Staff of UNPROFOR BH Command
7 stated to the media that the evidence indicated war
8 crimes; which would be further investigated, and
9 reported to the War Crimes Commission in Geneva."
10 We can skip a paragraph and start with
12 "Witnesses claim that the HVO began
13 arresting all males in Vares over the age of 16 on 23
14 Oct., and that beatings and rapes were inflicted on
15 others. Muslims in Vares believe that the atrocities
16 were committed by HVO from Kiseljak ... but that they
17 had to have had the assistance of local HVO
18 authorities, given the well organised round of Muslim
20 "Based on reports that Muslims are being
21 held and abused in the Vares elementary school V4
22 attempted, but was denied, access by the HVO. A
23 NORDBAT platoon commander who attempted to support
24 ECMM's access reported a strong smell of disinfectant
25 in the entrance of the school.
1 "V4 will return tomorrow to determine the
2 fate and status of Muslims remaining in Vares."
4 "Evidence to date indicates that the action
5 in Stupni Do was not a spontaneous event, but rather
6 carefully planned and orchestrated. The motive remains
7 unclear. The HVO LO --"
8 That's "liaison officer."
9 "-- in Vitez told HCC that they had little
10 information from the Vares area, but that contrary to
11 other reports, the commander HVO Bobovac Brigade had
12 been replaced; and his successor has yet to be named.
13 "Graphic details of the massacre appeared on
14 local television tonight, and the full gamut of
15 response, from reaction to retaliation, must be
16 expected. BiH commanders may have difficulty
17 controlling not only radical factions, but also regular
19 "Croat leaders who have been complaining
20 that world media have been ignoring them will have
21 difficulty dealing with this new image."
22 If I can turn to another exhibit,
23 Mr. President, and this is an excerpt from the
24 17 November 1993 report of Ambassador Mazowiecki on
25 Commission of Human Rights, and this has one pertinent
1 paragraph concerning Stupni Do. If I might give that
2 to the usher for distribution.
3 Mr. President, this was published in French
4 as well as English. I will obtain the French copy as
5 well. I just, with some time constraints, was unable
6 to get it from the human rights --
7 JUDGE JORDA: The Mazowiecki report?
8 MR. KEHOE: Yes.
9 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, it was published in
11 THE REGISTRAR: This is Prosecution Exhibit
13 MR. KEHOE: I'm interested in paragraph 50 of
14 that document. This, as I noted, Mr. President, is the
15 17 November -- an excerpt from the 17 November, 1993
16 report of Ambassador Mazowiecki. That's
17 M-a-z-o-w-i-e-c-k-i. Under the heading of "Human
18 Rights Violations by Bosnian Croat Forces," we turn to
19 item 50: "The bodies of at least 15 Muslim civilians have
20 been recovered in the village of Stupni Do in Central
21 Bosnia, where they were massacred on 23 October 1993,
22 reportedly by HVO troops. They had either been shot at
23 close range or burned to death, and included a group of
24 women found still clutching each other's arms.
25 "HVO representatives denied that a massacre
1 had taken place and for three days prevented
2 international observers from visiting the village."
3 One last document. Mr. President, if I could
4 just briefly go into private session, because there are
5 some Rule 70 considerations that I just need to discuss
6 prior to this next exhibit. This private session will
7 be very brief.
8 JUDGE JORDA: All right. A brief private
10 (Private session)
13 Page 22399 redacted – in closed session
19 (Open session)
20 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We're continuing in
21 public session now. Mr. Kehoe.
22 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. If we could
23 just put this on the ELMO, Mr. Usher. Thank you.
24 As I noted, Mr. President, this is a report
25 from Rijeka Novi List, a periodical in the Republic of
1 Croatia, in Rijeka, dated 28 October, 1993. It's a
2 Habena/Hina report entitled "HVO Troops Did Not Carry
3 Out the Massacre." The text:
4 "'Upon investigating the reliability of the
5 facts stated in the news of international agencies
6 regarding the massacre of the Muslim inhabitants of the
7 village of Stupni Do, based on the alleged statements
8 of eyewitnesses, the military and civilian bodies of
9 the Croat Republic of Herceg-Bosna have inspected the
10 situation and the events on the territory under the
11 control of the HVO (Croatian Defence Council) in the
12 municipality of Vares on 23 and 24 October 1993, and
13 established the following: HVO soldiers did not carry
14 out the massacre in the village of Stupni Do, nor did
15 an armed HVO formation enter the undefended village,'
16 states the report of the public relations department of
17 the office of the president of the Croat Republic of
18 Herceg-Bosna, issued by the Herceg-Bosna press agency
20 "The report states further: There are no
21 indications of the HVO members having massacred and
22 killed captured Muslim soldiers in the village of
23 Stupni Do.
24 "The fighting between the HVO and the MOS,
25 (Muslim defence forces) at the village of Stupni Do is
1 the result of the Muslim aggression against the Croat
2 population in the territory of the town of Vares,
3 besieged for a year, and the surrounding villages.
4 "The HVO activities were related exclusively
5 to the defence of the town of Vares and the Croat
6 population that was directly and seriously endangered,
7 states the report. In order to extenuate the failure
8 of the military action aimed at conquering the town of
9 Vares, and 39 casualties, caused by the suicidal orders
10 issued by the Muslim command centre, the Muslim
11 leadership accused the HVO of carrying out the
13 "Following the orders of Major General
14 Milivoj Petkovic, deputy commander of the HVO command
15 centre, UNPROFOR (United Nations Protection Force) was
16 allowed access to the area of Stupni Do. 'If UNPROFOR
17 or any other relevant international organisation
18 confirms as much as one homicide that was not caused by
19 immediate war activities, a demand will be issued to
20 the military and such legislative bodies of the Croat
21 Republic of Herceg-Bosna to identify and institute
22 criminal proceedings against the perpetrators.
23 "'All the bodies of the Croat Republic of
24 Herceg-Bosna support a detailed investigation of all
25 the war crimes committed during the war in
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina, which the relevant international
2 forces would carry out, and they offer full cooperation
3 in collecting evidence on the territory of the Croat
4 Republic of Herceg-Bosna.'"
5 "At the end of the report signed by Slobodan
6 Lovrenovic, the president's public relations advisor,
7 it is emphasised that many heavy, but insufficiently
8 investigated crimes mainly against the civilian Croat
9 population in which several hundred people were
10 massacred at Trusina, Doljani, Maljina, Kiseljak,
11 Uzdol, and Tarcin, were not treated to the satisfactory
12 extent by the international organisations in charge of
13 establishing war crimes and the protection of human
15 Q. Now, General, you were the commanding officer
16 in the Central Bosnia Operative Zone which incorporated
17 the village of Stupni Do, were you not?
18 A. Formally I was commanding officer, but on the
19 basis of the evidence that you have presented to me
20 here, it is obvious that the command in that way
21 functioned as follows: The Operative Group of Kiseljak
22 that was in charge of Stupni Do had direct
23 communications with the main staff.
24 Q. Let us talk about that, General. The main
25 staff that the individuals in Stupni Do were in touch
1 with, who in the main staff were they taking orders
3 A. I know at that time who was chief of the main
4 staff. The chief of the main staff was
5 General Praljak. Already at that time, the main staff
6 had its forward command post in Kiseljak and, from time
7 to time, General Petkovic would come and stay there.
8 Who was there and when? I did not keep any records of
9 that, because I did not communicate with them and I
10 could not exercise command and control over Kiseljak.
11 Q. General, who was in charge of the forward
12 command post in Kiseljak? I'm talking about the main
13 staff's forward command post in Kiseljak. Who was in
14 charge of that?
15 A. I'm saying that during a certain period of
16 time General Petkovic was. Who was staying there with
17 him out of all his assistants and who was in charge,
18 that I do not know about because I was not in
19 communication with them. I found out about what was
20 going on in Kiseljak from the headquarters in Mostar.
21 Q. General, you told us that you found out, in
22 September of 1993, that the main staff had a forward
23 command post in Kiseljak. You also told us you found
24 out, in September of 1993, that that main staff forward
25 command post had been in existence for several months.
1 My question for you is: Who was in command
2 of that forward command post in Kiseljak? Give us a
4 A. I have said that from time to time, at this
5 forward command post, General Petkovic would come
6 there. Who would replace him, how long he would stay
7 there, that I did not have any knowledge of and I do
8 not have any records of that.
9 Q. Well, General, who was in command of this
10 main staff forward command post at the time of Stupni
11 Do, in late October 1993?
12 A. I know who was commander of the Operative
13 Group number 2. Who was personally there at the
14 forward command post at that time, that I really do not
15 know because I did not have any direct communications
16 with Kiseljak. There was only communication from time
17 to time.
18 I know that for a certain period of time it
19 was General Petkovic. Whether he was there precisely
20 at that time or whether somebody else from the main
21 staff was replacing him, that I don't know, but I know
22 that the forward command post of the main staff was in
24 Q. Well, General, are you telling us that when
25 you had this conversation with Praljak and he told you
1 about the existence of this forward command post in
2 Kiseljak, he did not tell you who was in command of
3 that forward command post?
4 A. No. He told me then who was there at this
5 forward command post. However, staying at a forward
6 command post does not mean staying in Kiseljak all the
7 time. This goes on in cycles.
8 When he mentioned this to me, he said that
9 General Petkovic had been at the forward command post.
10 It is up to General Praljak to say which officer from
11 the main staff is going to be delegated to the forward
12 command post.
13 Q. Well, General, who is the commander and who
14 was in charge of Operative Group 2 within the Central
15 Bosnia Operative Zone?
16 A. Commander Ivica Rajic was in charge.
17 Q. You told us that Ivica Rajic, in October of
18 1993, was taking orders from the main staff and not
19 you; is that right?
20 A. Yes. Operative command over Ivica Rajic, as
21 he says himself in Exhibit 255, was exercised from the
22 main staff through the forward command post. If there
23 were some orders of an administrative or any other
24 nature, perhaps something like that would arrive to him
25 from the Operative Zone, but operative command was
1 exclusively from the main staff to Operative Group 2
2 through the forward command post.
3 Q. So, General, in October of 1993, if you were
4 not giving direct orders to Ivica Rajic, who was? Give
5 us a name.
6 A. The main staff through the forward command
7 post of the main staff in Kiseljak. If you tell me the
8 period -- I'm not sure who was there at this forward
9 command post in Kiseljak in October 1993. I know that
10 in September, General Petkovic was there when I had a
11 conversation with General Praljak.
12 Q. So your testimony is that when this horrific
13 crime took place in Stupni Do, you have no idea who the
14 commander of the forward command post was? Is that
15 your testimony?
16 MR. HAYMAN: Asked and answered,
17 Mr. President.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, I think that was the
19 conclusion that the Prosecutor could draw.
20 Are you confirming what the Prosecutor just
21 said, General Blaskic? You didn't know? What was the
22 question exactly? Did you --
23 MR. KEHOE: The question was --
24 JUDGE JORDA: That when Stupni Do took place,
25 you said that you had no idea who was the commander of
1 the forward post. Is that what you're saying? You
2 didn't know. Are you confirming that?
3 A. My answer is that I'm not sure who was
4 staying at the forward command post in Kiseljak, that
5 is to say, who was there, but I do know and I wish to
6 confirm that from time to time General Milivoj Petkovic
7 would stay there at this forward command post. Whether
8 he was there precisely at that time, on the 23rd, that
9 I'm not sure of.
10 MR. KEHOE:
11 Q. Well, to your knowledge, was Ivica Rajic
12 directly answerable to Milivoj Petkovic as the deputy
13 chief of staff during this September and October time
15 A. He was directly subordinated to the forward
16 command post and to the main staff. When the forward
17 command post was operating, I imagine that he was held
18 responsible to the forward command post. If not, then
19 directly to the main staff.
20 Q. So if we can get through the chain of
21 command, given your testimony that you were not in that
22 chain of command, Rajic answered to Petkovic and
23 Petkovic answered to General Praljak in October of
24 1993; is that the chain of command that was in effect
25 at that time?
1 A. This was a factual chain of command, but
2 formally, from the formal point of view, formally,
3 legally, I never lost command. But, in fact -- in fact
4 -- this went directly to the main staff because I was
5 cut off and sealed off at the enclave. But formally,
6 the Operative Zone was retained as over -- Zepce, that
7 is to say formally, the formal structure had not been
9 Q. General Praljak and his main staff answered
10 to Bruno Stojic as the Minister of Defence in October
11 of 1993; is that correct, sir?
12 A. I'm not sure whether Bruno Stojic was
13 Minister of Defence in October 1993, and General
14 Praljak certainly did submit certain information to the
15 Minister of Defence. I don't know who exactly held
16 this position, I'm not sure of that, because there was
17 a change in Ministers of Defence.
18 Q. Well, what HVO commander, General, was
19 responsible for these horrific war crimes that we just
20 saw in Stupni Do?
21 A. Well, at any rate, I know that in that area
22 was the Vares Brigade and the commander of that brigade
23 and the commander of Operative Group No. 2, Ivica
24 Rajic, so I know that Ivica Rajic was commander of the
25 group and I believe that then he should be responsible.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Excuse me, Mr. Kehoe. I don't
2 think that that's a proper question. You cannot say to
3 him, "Who was the member of the HVO that was
4 responsible for the crimes?" The HVO would contest
5 that. I think it would be better for you to ask it in
6 the following way: "Assuming that these crimes were
7 part of the responsibility of the HVO, who was in
8 command of the HVO at that time?" I think that would
9 be more proper.
10 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President.
11 Q. Now, General, in this article that we read
12 and this quote by Milivoj Petkovic who notes that the
13 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna and the HVO was
14 willing to prosecute individuals responsible for this,
15 during October or November or December 1993 up and
16 through June of 1994, was anyone ever prosecuted or
17 disciplined for the crimes that took place in Stupni
19 A. I do not know the details linked to the
20 investigation and the steps taken with regard to the
21 crime in Stupni Do, but I do know that Ivica Rajic and
22 the other commanders were arrested, taken into custody
23 and taken to the military district court, and that the
24 military district court prosecuted Ivica Rajic. The
25 prosecutor raised a charge against other cases but not
1 for a war crime.
2 Q. Well, General, let us talk about your
3 Operation Pauk where Rajic was arrested for the murder
4 of these Bosnian Croat soldiers. Was Rajic and any
5 other HVO member arrested or prosecuted for killing
6 Bosnian Muslims in Stupni Do?
7 A. Rajic or anybody else of the over 300
8 detainees were arrested because they were suspected of
9 having committed crimes, all crimes, both the killings
10 and all the suspicions that existed. It was not
11 specified to me why, in concrete terms, this was done,
12 but I know that the whole file -- that endeavours were
13 made to transmit the whole file to the military
14 district prosecutor.
15 Q. Well, General, there were other HVO soldiers
16 besides Ivica Rajic that were involved in the massacre
17 in Stupni Do, were there not? Didn't your Operation
18 Pauk investigation reveal that?
19 A. Of the officers that came to me, I was
20 informed, with a list of individuals, whom it was
21 necessary to take into custody, and they were detained
22 and prosecuted, arrested and prosecuted. Whether there
23 were other officers, yes, quite certainly there were
24 other officers, but I know about these names, that is
25 to say, Rajic and two other commanders. One was the
1 commander of a battalion, the other was the commander
2 of another unit.
3 Q. General, was any HVO soldier ever convicted
4 for the crimes that took place in Stupni Do or
5 disciplined for the actions that he took in Stupni Do
6 in October of 1993, any HVO soldier? If that HVO
7 soldier was disciplined or charged for the crimes in
8 Stupni Do, please give us a name.
9 A. I cannot have the names here with me nor was
10 I ever in the position of having names from the
11 military district court. I don't know of such
12 information, whether there was or was not and what the
13 work was because it was not my competence to supervise
14 the work of the military district court.
15 Q. General, isn't it true that no HVO soldier
16 was ever charged with the crimes that took place in
17 Stupni Do and no HVO soldier was ever disciplined for
18 his actions in the village of Stupni Do; isn't that
20 A. I have already stated that I do not have any
21 direct information about that, whether there was or
22 wasn't. I don't have that information.
23 Q. Well, General, Operation Pauk was under your
24 leadership, and you told us that it was your
25 responsibility to examine war crimes, including war
1 crimes such as Stupni Do; isn't that right?
2 A. Yes, that was my responsibility, but I
3 wasn't -- this was not under my competence, that is to
4 say, if there is a list for persons to be -- suspects
5 to be arrested; and how the military district
6 prosecutor would take steps and how this would be done,
7 that was under the competence of the military district
9 JUDGE JORDA: Judge Shahabuddeen, do you want
10 to ask a question? Perhaps we'll take a break. I
11 would like you to think. We could wonder, what was the
12 point of Operation Spider at whose head you were. If
13 you don't know anything about Ahmici, nothing about
14 Stupni Do, what were you doing? How long did you
15 remain at the head of Operation Spider?
16 A. I was there from June until October, and its
17 object was to take in over 300 indictees for crimes.
18 However, very few of them were prosecuted in court for
19 the crimes they had committed.
20 JUDGE JORDA: Well, you're frequently
21 addressing legal matters, and you're speaking with
22 Judges here, but you were not the one who carried out
23 arrests. What I'm asking is whether this great mission
24 that was given to you, did it allow you to know things
25 about the most serious crimes? You seem to be saying
1 that for Ahmici, you were not given access to the case
2 file, even though you were head of the mission, and
3 that for Stupni Do, you weren't competent and don't
4 know anything, and before the break, I wanted to say
5 that you should think about this to make sure that you
6 can tell us what you were doing at the head of
7 Operation Spider.
8 All right. We're going to take a 20-minute
9 break because we won't take any further break until
10 1.30, and then I will give the floor to Judge
11 Shahabuddeen at the point when he wanted to take the
13 --- Recess taken at 11.52 a.m.
14 --- On resuming at 12.14 p.m.
15 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume, and we will
16 continue until 1.30, really at twenty-five after one
17 because the last five minutes will be used by Mr. Hirad
18 to tell us where the hourglass is at this point.
19 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour. To be sure
20 that things are clear, Exhibit 699 has eight
21 subcategories going from 1 to 8.
22 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Thank you. Judge
24 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: There was a
25 misunderstanding. I had no questions. Thank you.
1 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Very well. Excuse
2 me, Judge Shahabuddeen. Perhaps it was that I wanted
3 you to speak or ask a question.
4 All right. So you're going to ask questions
5 now, Mr. Kehoe.
6 MR. KEHOE: Yes, Mr. President. Thank you.
7 Q. Now, General, let us move ahead, away from
8 Stupni Do for a moment. If I could show you your
9 Defence Exhibit 512. Mr. Registrar?
10 Mr. Registrar, I believe there's only a B/C/S
11 version, I don't think there's an English or a French
12 version -- it's a Defence Exhibit -- but I don't think
14 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, that's correct.
15 MR. KEHOE:
16 Q. Now, General, this is an exhibit that you
17 discussed with Mr. Nobilo, and I, of course, can't read
18 it, but summarising what I believe the contents
19 include, it includes an order by you to Brigadier
20 Filipovic to provide materials to the investigating
21 bodies; is that an accurate assessment of this?
22 JUDGE JORDA: Are we still talking about
24 MR. KEHOE: Just generally, Mr. President.
25 Ahmici is not designated in this, it's just a letter
1 that goes --
2 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Very well. Excuse
3 me. Please continue.
4 A. Yes.
5 MR. KEHOE:
6 Q. Now, General, this letter, did you send a
7 similar letter to SIS demanding all documents
8 concerning Ahmici?
9 A. This is not a letter, this is an order, and I
10 could not order the administration of SIS, but this is
11 an order I sent to the commander of the -- Brigadier
12 Filipovic, actually.
13 Q. All right. Assuming that you couldn't order
14 SIS, did you send them a written request asking for the
15 same type of information that you ordered from
16 Brigadier Filipovic?
17 A. I sent an officer who was from SIS. He was
18 in my command and I sent him, I sent this officer to go
19 and request the entire file for me.
20 Q. So I take it from your answer, General, that
21 you did not send a written request to SIS for
22 information concerning Ahmici.
23 A. Not in writing because I issued this kind of
24 an assignment to this officer from SIS, that he ask for
25 the file, and I was not in charge of the administration
1 of SIS. I could not issue orders to them.
2 Q. Well, did you send a similar letter to the
3 archives of the main staff to request information that
4 might be in their possession concerning Ahmici?
5 A. I think I didn't because the archives of the
6 main staff only kept combat documents. I don't
7 remember, but I don't think I sent it.
8 Q. Well, at this time, General, you were
9 operating -- in the time frame of Operation Pauk, you
10 were operating with the support and the approval of
11 President Zubak; is that correct?
12 A. Yes, with the support and approval of the
13 president of the presidential council, Mr. Zubak.
14 Q. Now, General, you told us during the course
15 of your testimony that you were part of the federation
16 army, and your counterpart, on the Republic of
17 Bosnia-Herzegovina side, was Rasim Delic. Now, my
18 question to you is: Did you send a letter to General
19 Delic and ask him for information that was in his
20 possession or in the possession of the Republic of
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina concerning the crimes in Ahmici?
22 Did you do that?
23 A. I did not ask for it, but -- I didn't ask for
24 it in writing. I think it was sometime in August 1994
25 that this question was raised at a meeting, that is to
1 say, the question of Ahmici. Then I realised that the
2 president of the presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
3 Alija Izetbegovic, held the following position, that
4 the commission should take care of its own work
6 At that point I was not in a position to ask
7 him which commission he had in mind, but it was my
8 understanding that this was the commission that was
9 under the Muslim Bosniak authorities. I only remember
10 that this subject was discussed, this subject of
11 Ahmici, in August '95. I think the meeting was in
13 Q. General, did you in writing or orally address
14 General Delic and say, "Please, General, give me all
15 the written documentation that you have that is in the
16 possession of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina." Did
17 you do that and if you did that, when did you do that
18 and what was General Delic's response?
19 A. Personally, I did not, because conducting
20 these investigations is within the authority of the
21 SIS. Whether security services on that level exchanged
22 information about this, that I do not have any direct
23 knowledge of. I personally talked to General Delic
24 about questions that were within our direct authority.
25 Q. General, I am addressing myself to the time
1 when you are conducting Operation Pauk. Is your
2 testimony still the same, that you did not ask, either
3 orally or in writing, you did not ask General Delic for
4 information in the possession of the Republic of
5 Bosnia-Herzegovina concerning Ahmici?
6 MR. HAYMAN: The question was asked,
7 Mr. President. The witness said, "I did not." That's
8 one reason, I think, the witness does get tired.
9 MR. KEHOE: That's fine.
10 MR. HAYMAN: The question is asked and asked
11 and asked. Any of us would be going out of our minds
12 if we were asked these questions were asked over and
13 over and over again.
14 JUDGE JORDA: I think that Mr. Hayman is
16 MR. KEHOE: That's fine, Mr. President.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman, he doesn't always
18 ask the same questions, they're phrased not always in
19 the same way, but here you're right. I think that this
20 question was, in fact, asked.
21 Please continue, Mr. Kehoe. Perhaps because
22 the witness also is giving the same answers. I hope
23 that you wondered about that, Mr. Hayman.
24 MR. KEHOE:
25 Q. One last question on your contacts with
1 General Delic. Did you go to General Delic, at any
2 time when you were running Operation Pauk or when you
3 were chief of staff, and say, "General, could you
4 please provide the HVO investigative services with the
5 victims of the crimes in Ahmici who are still alive so
6 we can interview them and find out all the facts"? Did
7 you do that? If you did, tell us when you did it.
8 A. I would go to see Delic, and I had quite a
9 few meetings with him, but I already said that the
10 investigation was taken care of by the security service
11 and they cooperated on that. I thought that if I had
12 put forth such a request to General Delic, that was my
13 understanding in August at that meeting, I would have
14 put General Delic in an embarrassing position, because
15 his superior had obviously made it obvious that the
16 commissions were doing their work. I asked -- then I
17 would have been asking Delic about something that his
18 superior had clearly stated was not under his
19 jurisdiction. So no, I wouldn't have asked him about
21 Q. General, you noted for us that Operation Pauk
22 ended in October of 1994 and at that time you were the
23 chief of staff. What did you do, after Operation Pauk
24 ended, to continue your efforts to find out who the
25 perpetrators of the Ahmici atrocity were? What steps
1 did you take? If you took any, please explain them do
3 A. I already said that I tried, in Operation
4 Pauk, to obtain the file. I was blocked then. As
5 regards my further activities, my commitments were
6 related to the front lines. This is the time of the
7 most intensive operations. I was not in a position any
8 longer to seek something. I did not have the
10 Q. General, we are talking about a time frame
11 when you are the chief of staff of the entire HVO. Are
12 you saying that you had no authority or competence to
13 make further inquiries into the crimes that took place
14 in Ahmici?
15 A. Well, I have already spoken about this, that
16 according to the report that I received, the
17 investigation had been conducted, carried through, and
18 that the file had been established as such. My problem
19 was obtaining the established file.
20 Q. Well, General, did you express your
21 displeasure to President Zubak or the Minister of
22 Defence that Operation Pauk had been shut down without
23 finding out anything about the atrocities in Ahmici?
24 MR. HAYMAN: We went over this before the
25 break, Mr. President.
1 MR. KEHOE: This is the time when he was
2 chief of staff.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Hayman?
4 MR. HAYMAN: We heard this question before
5 the break, whether he went to Mr. Zubak. The witness
6 stated he wrote the results of Operation Spider down.
7 Those reports went up the chain of the command. So I
8 think we're coming back to the same starting point.
9 MR. KEHOE: The question is, Mr. President,
10 what the witness did after Operation Pauk, and after
11 Operation Pauk shut down with nothing happening
12 concerning Ahmici --
13 JUDGE JORDA: After the end of Operation
14 Spider. The question is a little bit different, since
15 your intervention. I do recognise this. Thanks to
16 what you said, Mr. Hayman the question was changed a
17 little bit. That's ever since the end of Operation
19 A. No. I was no longer in charge after
20 Operation Pauk was over. I could not take any measures
21 vis-à-vis the security service, and I realised that I
22 was blocked. My problem was not the investigation. My
23 problem was getting the file.
24 JUDGE JORDA: You've just said that after the
25 end of Operation Spider, you no longer had competence
1 over the security services. Does that mean that during
2 Operation Spider you did have competence? I don't know
3 what you were competent over any more. Perhaps you
4 could explain it to us.
5 A. Mr. President, that's not what I meant.
6 Perhaps I've been misunderstood. After Operation Pauk,
7 I was in no position to act, vis-à-vis officers from
8 the security service, by way of asking for this file.
9 I've been asked about the investigation. I'm sure that
10 the investigation was carried out but the problem was
11 to get the file of this investigation.
12 JUDGE JORDA: But you said that during
13 Operation Spider theoretically you were not competent
14 but you were not competent to ask the security
15 services. I think that the question the Prosecutor is
16 asking has to do with after Operation Spider.
17 Is that right, Mr. Prosecutor? Would you
18 please repeat your question.
19 MR. KEHOE: That's essentially the question.
20 After Operation Pauk, what steps did the accused take
21 as chief of staff to, for lack of a better phrase, get
22 to the bottom of this?
23 A. I have already said that after Operation Pauk
24 was over and after I realised that this file was sealed
25 off, as far as I was concerned, I wrote a letter to my
1 superiors. After that I was concerned with other
2 activities, and I was no longer in a position to be
3 dealing with activities related to the investigation
4 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, I don't want to
5 retrace any steps, but let me ask you this question:
6 When you decided to come to the Tribunal, you
7 understood that Ahmici would constitute a central part
8 of the case, did you?
9 A. To be frank, Your Honour, I had the
10 opportunity of reading the indictment only here, I
11 think, but I talked to the first lawyer I had and
12 possibly he did tell me something to that effect, that
13 the indictment focused on Ahmici. Well, yes. I think
14 that the indictment was sometime until May 1993, the
15 first one, I mean, in which Ahmici was described as the
16 central problem.
17 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: What I wanted to be
18 clear about was the point of time at which you
19 understood that Ahmici would be an important part of
20 the case. Did you understand that before you came to
21 the Tribunal?
22 A. Yes.
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You were prepared to
24 defend yourself in relation to Ahmici and to
25 demonstrate your absolute innocence. Was that the
2 A. Yes.
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Would that suggest that
4 duty to yourself, duty to your family, and duty to
5 others required that before you came to the Tribunal,
6 you should possess yourself of all relevant material or
7 have some kind of bankable assurance that the material
8 would be forthcoming at your trial? Did you think
10 A. Your Honour, I shall try to be brief.
11 Certainly duty required that I do possess myself of it,
12 but another question was whether I was in a position to
13 do this or not. I thought that I was supposed to do
14 everything I could as a layman, a layman as far as
15 legal matters are concerned, but I thought that during
16 the trial my attorneys would obtain these documents or
17 in some other way. This other way, I was here when
18 there were these binding orders by the Court and
19 everything else.
20 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Thank you, General.
21 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Judge Shahabuddeen.
22 Mr. Kehoe?
23 MR. KEHOE:
24 Q. General, let me read you a portion of your
1 MR. KEHOE: This very brief portion of the
2 testimony was given in private session, Mr. President.
3 I don't think the content of it need be in private
4 session, but in an abundance of caution, if I could
5 just read these six lines in private session,
6 Mr. President, I would appreciate it.
7 I'm referring, counsel, to page 19662.
8 (Private session)
13 Page 22427 redacted – in closed session
13 Page 22428 redacted – in closed session
7 (Open session)
8 MR. KEHOE:
9 Q. I would like to address myself to some of
10 your testimony, General, on page 19868 where you were
11 going through your chronology, and you noted for us on
12 line 13:
13 A On the 13th of November, 1993, I
14 received information that -- rather, I
15 got some information from the Military
16 Intelligence Service that two friars had
17 been killed in Fojnica, in the monastery
18 in Fojnica, and through Gelic, the
19 liaison officer, I asked UNPROFOR to
20 check on this piece of information. The
21 information later proved to be true.
22 Do you recall that testimony, General?
23 A. I recall that part of my testimony.
24 MR. KEHOE: Your Honour, I'd just like to
25 just go through a series of documents with Your
1 Honours, and if I could just begin with the first
2 document, Mr. Usher?
3 THE REGISTRAR: This is Prosecution Exhibit
4 703, 703A for the English version.
5 MR. KEHOE: I think we can take these in
6 series, so I'll just give them to you all at once. It
7 will probably be easier. 704. And one more, 705.
8 THE REGISTRAR: The next exhibit is 704 and
9 704A for the English version, Prosecution Exhibits.
10 The next exhibit is 705, 705A for the English
12 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, we're not going to
13 read these three documents in toto, I just would like
14 to go through these three documents with Your Honours.
15 703 are criminal charges filed against four
16 individuals related to the murder of the friars in
17 Fojnica that the witness discussed. One is charged
18 with the actual homicide himself and the other three
19 are charged with the failure to turn this information
20 over to their respective commands.
21 In document 704, this is the judgement of the
22 district military court in Sarajevo concerning this
23 homicide or these homicides. It reveals that Miralem
24 Cengic, the main perpetrator, received 11 years in
25 prison and the other four received six months in
2 The last document is the appellate decision,
3 the decision by an appellate court. This is Exhibit
4 705. And in this particular exhibit, there is a
5 cross-appeal; the accused appealed his conviction and
6 the office of the prosecutor appealed the sentence.
7 The conviction of the accused was affirmed and the
8 Supreme Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina increased
9 Mr. Cengic's period of incarceration from 11 years to
10 15 years.
11 Just by point of clarification,
12 Mr. President, if we look at Exhibit 704, the body of
13 the document reflects that Mr. Cengic received 11
14 years, and I can only assume that given that this is
15 initially dated the 23rd of September, 1994, the
16 notation that is put in on the front page reflects the
17 increased sentence coming from the Supreme Court. So I
18 would assume that that was put in after the fact so
19 that the judgement on file would reflect a period of
20 incarceration for Mr. Cengic of 15 years for the
21 murders of these friars as opposed to 11.
22 I just bring these documents to Your Honours'
23 attention for informational purposes, and we can move
24 on to another area.
25 Q. So, General, just to complete this area,
1 there were, in fact, prosecutions by one ethnic group
2 for crimes committed against another ethnic group.
3 These documents reflect that fact, do they not?
4 A. When I spoke about this in my testimony, I
5 did not at any point mean nor did I support such
6 practice. I said that according to my knowledge, there
7 had been no convictions. But I always think that
8 everybody must be held responsible for his own acts.
9 Q. General, let us move back to the area of
10 Vitez and let us move back to the time frame commencing
11 from the 16th of April, 1993, and you noted for us
12 during the course of your testimony that from
13 approximately the 17th of April on, I believe you
14 described it that you were fighting for "biological
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And on the 17th of April, you told us, on
18 page 18780:
19 A From the military standpoint north of
20 Vitez, not a single tactical position
21 was under the control of the HVO from
22 the 17th of April, 1993, which would
23 give us a chance to carry out our
24 defences successfully.
25 On the 18th of April, General, you noted for
1 us on page 18814 that:
2 A I talked to Brigadier Petkovic --
3 This is -- excuse me.
4 A At 23.00, I talked to Brigadier
5 Petkovic, and I informed him that the
6 situation was quite ... serious.
7 So as we move, General, from the 17th to the
8 18th of April, 1993, according to your testimony, you
9 described a situation where the HVO, certainly in
10 Vitez, was under siege; is that accurate?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Now, let us turn to some events that we
13 discussed yesterday but now we're going to discuss it
14 in a different context, and we refer to the 19th of
16 Now, on the 19th of April, was the situation
17 in Vitez and the town of Vitez still one where the town
18 was under siege?
19 A. The town was in an encirclement, according to
20 my recollections -- I can't see all my notes now -- on
21 the 19th of April, the fighting was strongest in the
22 area of Busovaca, so combat activities were most
23 intense in the area of Busovaca.
24 Q. Let me read some testimony from Dr. Muhamed
25 Mujezinovic, and this is in Dr. Mujezinovic's testimony
1 of the -- excuse me -- concerning the evening of the
2 19th of April, and it is at page 1706, and he is
3 discussing a meeting with Mario Cerkez and other
4 representatives of the HVO at the Workers' University
5 or the HVO Vitez Brigade headquarters. On line 3:
6 A Mario Cerkez was, I knew from
7 before, the Commander of the HVO
8 forces in Vitez. He asked me whether I
9 was aware of the situation that I was
10 in, and I said that I was, and then he
11 said to me, "Then you have to do what we
12 order you to do."
13 He asked me whether I had heard
14 about Ahmici. I said that I had heard
15 about it. Mario Cerkez repeated that I
16 had to do whatever he ordered me to do.
17 First he said that the HVO lines in
18 Vitez were broken through, as he said,
19 in the village of Dubravica from the
20 direction of Zabrdze, and that the
21 BH-Army were advancing, was entering the
22 town towards the chemical factory and
23 was getting into town.
24 He told me that I had to call the
25 command of the 3rd Corps, to call Alija
1 Izetbegovic, Haris Siladzic, Ejub Ganic
2 and whoever else I knew, and to tell
3 them that if the BH-Army continued
4 advancing towards the town, that they
5 have 2223 captured Muslims. He
6 emphasised women, children, and that he
7 would kill all of them. He also told me
8 that I would have to go on local
9 television and to ask the Muslims of
10 Stari Vitez to surrender their arms.
11 Moving ahead with Dr. Mujenznovic's testimony
12 to the early morning hours of the 20th. We're now
13 moving from the night. It's the night of the 19th to
14 the 20th at 2.00 a.m. This is on page 1714, at line
16 A At about 2.00, Zvonimir Cilic and
17 Boro Jozic informed those present that
18 if they had finished they could stay in
19 that room to spent the night or they
20 could go back to the basement. All of
21 us stayed there, with the exception of
22 Fuad Kakanjo, who returned to the
23 basement. We were told in the morning,
24 about 6.00, Mr. Ivan Santic and Mr. Pero
25 Skopljak would come to have a talk with
2 Q Did they, in fact, come to talk with you
3 the following morning?
4 A They came, not at 6.00 but at 5.00 a.m.,
5 Mr. Santic and Mr. Pair Skopljak.
6 Q Describe your meeting with those
8 A You see, I can reproduce that morning.
9 Mr. Ivan Santic addressed those present
10 with the words to the effect that the
11 HVO government, that is the Croatian
12 Defence Council, had taken the decision,
13 the one I had been informed of by Cilic
14 Zvonimir and Boro Jozic, that they would
15 kill the prisoners if the BH army
16 continued to advance. Ivan Santic said
17 that he was very sorry that this had
18 happened, that there were many killed
19 and wounded but that he did not
20 consider himself to blame, but rather
21 Alija Izetbegovic and the Muslim leaders
22 are to blame, because they wanted an
23 unitary state and, as he said, the
24 dissolution of Bosnia-Herzegovina had
25 been completed.
1 "I had warned repeatedly the
2 leaders in Vitez, the representatives of
3 the SDA, that the stronger party would
4 rule in Vitez," he said. Pero Skopljak
5 agreed with the previous speaker, and he
6 too said he was sorry but that the
7 policy being pursued by the Muslim
8 leaders was unrealistic and
9 unreasonable, and that if the conditions
10 that had been set were not adopted, and
11 he also added that he had said
12 repeatedly that there would be a fight
13 in Vitez because the decisions of the
14 HVO government in Vitez had to be
15 observed and implemented or, rather, of
16 the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna,
17 that those were Croatian lands, that
18 Alija Izetbegovic, by his unreasonable
19 and unrealistic policy, had brought the
20 Muslims to disaster and possible
21 annihilation. Roughly, that was the
22 message conveyed to all those present.
23 Q Did Pero Skopljak repeat the threat to
24 kill over 2.000 civilian prisoners?
25 A Yes. I said that he agreed with the
1 previous speaker and with the demands of
2 Mario Cerkez, who told me that, and this
3 was told to the others by Zvonko Cilic
4 and Boro Jozic.
5 Now, General, tell us about this threat to
6 kill these prisoners on the evening of the 19th and the
7 early morning hours of the 20th of April, 1993.
8 A. First of all, I'd like to say that I saw the
9 witness for the first time here in the courtroom, but I
10 had heard about him beforehand because there weren't
11 many doctors. As he was a physician, I know that he
12 worked as such in Vitez.
13 As far as that kind of threat is concerned,
14 that threat never reached me as a piece of information,
15 nor did I issue it. I am surprised, if I listened to
16 you correctly, of the description of the situation,
17 that is to say, that the line had been broken in
18 Dubravica from the Zabrdze area.
19 If I can show you on the map, that is
20 practically impossible. I know that the line had been
21 broken through only once in Dubravica, on the 20th of
22 April, 1993, when I was attending a meeting in Zenica.
23 Let me also say that these were talks between
24 the civilian authorities, that is to say, Mr. Santic,
25 Skopljak, and Mujenznovic, and quite obviously the
1 civilian authorities had different positions with
2 regard to civilian authorities of the Bosniak Muslims,
3 because Dr. Mujenznovic was president of the wartime
4 presidency of the Vitez municipality, that is to say,
5 the supreme military and civilian authority on behalf
6 of the Bosniak Muslims of Vitez.
7 I never sent threats of that kind, and
8 they -- I was not the source of them, nor was I ever
9 informed about threats of that kind from my
11 Q. General, during this period of time Mario
12 Cerkez was one of your subordinates, was he not?
13 A. Yes. Mario Cerkez, as the commander of the
14 Vitez Brigade, was my subordinate. That is why I say
15 threats of any kind, of killing of prisoners, if the BH
16 army continues its advance, I never allowed nor,
17 according to military information, were they ever
19 Q. His headquarters, I think you told us
20 yesterday or the day before, was approximately 50
21 metres away from the Hotel Vitez and located in the
22 cinema or Workers' University building; isn't that
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Now, let us talk about the situation in the
1 town of Vitez itself. Now, you noted for us, on the
2 16th, and I'm referring to 18850, that on the first day
3 the back door of the hotel had been hit, and it had
4 been hit by artillery fire; is that right?
5 A. Yes. There were artillery shells falling in
6 the vicinity of the Hotel Vitez, shrapnels, and the
7 shrapnels affected the door, yes.
8 Q. I think you noted for us, even in the early
9 morning hours of the 16th the detonations -- I'll read
10 your testimony on page 18503, that:
11 A The detonations in the hotel woke me up,
12 and in the course of the time that
13 followed, that is to say, after
14 5.00 a.m. up to 6.30, 7.00 a.m., there
15 were very strong detonations, and you
16 could hear the shattering of hotel glass
17 and destruction in the hotel.
18 Is that right, sir?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. I think you noted for us, on page 18513, and
21 this is on line 15:
22 A Yes, I can identify the positions, and
23 this is the wider ground or plateaux of
24 Kuber and Preocica where a tank was
25 stationed, and there were other
1 positions where mortars were placed, and
2 at that time of day, the hotel was hit,
3 the post office, the municipal building,
4 and private homes of the Mlakic family.
5 We assumed those mortar shells had come
6 from Old Vitez. Some homes near the
7 church in Vitez were hit. We also
8 assumed that the shells had come from
9 Stari Vitez.
10 So on the 16th, in and around the hotel and
11 the PTT building, there was artillery fire incoming, is
12 that right, sir?
13 A. On the 16th in the morning, yes.
14 Q. On the 17th we heard from Brigadier Marin, on
15 page 12391, question on line 15:
16 Q On the 17th of April, were the tanks
17 there and operating?
18 A Yes, the tanks were in the village of
19 Poculica and they were firing on the
20 town of Vitez. And not selectively,
21 that is without selecting the targets
22 but shelling the town of Vitez as such.
23 That's accurate as well, is it not?
24 A. On the 17th of April, is that what you're
25 asking me about?
1 Q. Yes, sir.
2 A. Yes, although I would have to take a look at
3 my chronology. But on that day, yes, there was.
4 Q. Your testimony on the 18th of April, you
5 noted that at 16.20 -- this is line 22 on page 18803.
6 You note, concerning the 18th of April:
7 A At 16.20, I had a report from the
8 Military Intelligence Service, to the
9 effect that the army of
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina was preparing to open
11 fire on the position of the Apoteka, or
12 the pharmacy, in the town of Vitez and
13 that it was necessary to remove from
14 that position both personnel and
16 So there was incoming artillery fire into
17 downtown Vitez on the 18th as well, General?
18 A. Just a moment. Let me just check. You said
19 at 16.20, did you not?
20 Q. At 16.20. While you're looking at --
21 JUDGE JORDA: You read a passage from the
22 witness's statement; is that correct?
23 MR. KEHOE: That's correct, Mr. President.
24 JUDGE JORDA: We can't check everything.
25 This is a passage from your own testimony. You can ask
1 that the statement be verified, but you can't go back
2 to your chronology, General Blaskic. They're reading
3 your own statement to you. You have to react to your
4 own statement. Do you agree?
5 A. I agree, Mr. President, but --
6 JUDGE JORDA: You can bring out, of course,
7 in the redirect and it can be contested at that point.
8 A. Allow me -- I'm being read chronology of that
9 day minute by minute. I just have to check, because
10 we're dealing with minutes in the course of the 18th.
11 So this is at 16.20 on the 18th of April.
12 JUDGE JORDA: These are also the Prosecutor's
13 minutes that are passing. I have to count each of the
14 parties' time. You testified for six weeks, minute by
15 minute, demonstrating an absolutely extraordinary
16 memory with your own chronology, but now the Prosecutor
17 is reading your testimony. If once again we have to
18 check your own testimony against your own chronology,
19 we'll still be here in several years.
20 I'm sorry, there will be a right to redirect
21 when the Defence can -- I want the Defence to
22 understand that if your Defence counsel in the redirect
23 consider the Prosecutor truncated your testimony,
24 they'll say so.
25 Mr. Hayman?
1 MR. HAYMAN: I don't want to take time, Mr.
2 President, but I think the witness is saying if he's
3 being asked to confirm minute-by-minute observations,
4 then those aren't in his memory and he has to consult
5 with his aide-memoire.
6 JUDGE JORDA: But his testimony is being read
7 to him. It's a way of saying, "You agree, don't you?
8 We're reading your testimony."
9 I'm a from a system, Mr. Hayman, I can tell
10 you right away, ordinarily all the exhibits are
11 tendered and then one discusses the exhibits. I can
12 agree that we are in a different system here and we
13 could talk about that, but we're not looking about
14 going back to anything specific.
15 The witness is being told, "On the 20th of
16 April you said this, didn't you?" We're reading his
17 testimony. You can check the transcript to see that he
18 said that.
19 You will have a right to redirect. So I have
20 to be sure there is an equality of arms here.
21 MR. HAYMAN: I understand, Mr. President, but
22 if I read back a line of your statements two months ago
23 and said, "On this date did you say this, that 18.22
24 would be the next break?" we would all have to check.
25 You would have to check if you're being asked to
1 specifically confirm it. So if counsel can conduct his
2 questioning without asking --
3 JUDGE JORDA: But you can check and you can
4 make any direction corrections later, but now the
5 witness is being asked to check his own chronology.
6 His chronology took six weeks. We've got to be
7 reasonable here, Mr. Hayman.
8 MR. HAYMAN: I'll sit down, Mr. President,
9 but he has to be truthful. He's trying to be truthful
10 and accurate.
11 JUDGE JORDA: I didn't ask you to sit down,
12 Mr. Hayman. You can remain standing if you like.
13 We're talking about a statement here.
14 Whenever one checks the chronology, the Prosecutor asks
15 you to do so and so do I and my colleagues, but now his
16 testimony is being read to him, or let him say, "I
17 don't remember," and then you can check and you have
18 the right to redirect things, but I want things to move
19 forward here.
20 Please reread that part of the testimony.
21 MR. KEHOE:
22 Q. This is the testimony of the 18th of April,
23 line 22, General Blaskic noted: "At 16.20" --
24 JUDGE JORDA: Read it slowly, please. Read
25 it slowly. If you read it slowly, perhaps that will
1 allow the witness to move quickly through his
2 chronology, because you're familiar with your
3 chronology, Mr. Blaskic. Say the date again, please.
4 These are your statements.
5 MR. KEHOE: The 18th of April.
6 JUDGE JORDA: The 18th of April.
7 MR. KEHOE:
8 A At 16.20, I had a report from the head
9 of the Military Intelligence Service to
10 the effect that the army of
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina was preparing to open
12 fire on the position of Apoteka, or the
13 pharmacy, in the town of Vitez and that
14 it was necessary to remove from that
15 position both personnel and artillery.
16 A. Yes.
17 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Moving forward
18 now. Please ask your question.
19 MR. KEHOE: I will refer to two other
20 exhibits, and that is a Defence exhibit, Defence 327,
21 dated the 19th of April, 1993, which notes that: "At
22 around 16.00, Muslim forces shelled the town area of
23 Vitez. The municipality building was hit. The enemy
24 was probably targeting the buildings of the post
25 office, the hotel, the Workers' University, 5 killed,
1 38 wounded."
2 Q. Now, the Workers' University, General, is the
3 building where the Viteska headquarters is located;
4 isn't that correct?
5 A. The Workers' University building? Yes,
6 that's the building where the headquarters of the Vitez
7 Brigade is located.
8 Q. Brigadier Marin testified that this document
9 came to the Central Bosnia Operative Zone headquarters,
10 and you have no reason to doubt that, do you?
11 A. I have no reason to doubt that. I'd just to
12 underline that on the 19th of April, we had the
13 fiercest fighting in the Busovaca area. Perhaps that
14 shelling was individual shelling, but there was no
15 strong fighting in Vitez compared to what it was like
16 in Busovaca.
17 JUDGE JORDA: The question was -- had to do
18 with your deputy's statement.
19 MR. KEHOE:
20 Q. Yes. And I refer you, General, to
21 Prosecutor's Exhibit 187, which is an ECMM report
22 written in English, under on line 3 -- point 3 it notes
23 that: "T-55 tank" -- "T-34 tank were told to be in a
24 position on the mountain road between Zenica and Vitez,
25 shelling HVO headquarters and PTT building in Vitez.
1 HVO is said to be putting an ultimatum on Gacice, and
2 after that failed, HVO is said to have started
3 attacking in the village."
4 So on the 20th, General, according to this
5 report, the HVO, and I note that it says "unconfirmed,"
6 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina had a tank up on the
7 mountain road and was shelling the town of Vitez and
8 especially your headquarters and the PTT building?
9 A. What date? Would you tell me again, please?
10 Q. 20th. 20th of April.
11 A. No. On the 20th of April -- on the 17th of
12 April, the BH army tanks were at Poculica, and on the
13 20th of April there was fighting for the northern
14 line. Just let me have a look at my notes, please, but
15 as far as I know, the headquarters was not shelled.
16 MR. KEHOE: Mr. Registrar, while we're
17 waiting, if we could pull out Prosecutor's 157 and 158,
18 I would appreciate it.
19 A. In my chronology, I have that on the 20th of
20 April, the fiercest fighting was at Krcevine,
21 Krizancevo Selo, and Kratine, and I said that during my
22 testimony. So the northern line from the direction of
23 Zenica towards Vitez.
24 Q. General, let me share with you some testimony
25 of Avdija Hrustic, starting on page 4811, who was in
1 Gacice on the 20th, and she notes as follows on line 2,
2 starting on page 4811:
3 A ... there were many soldiers who had
4 insignia, some of them had the letter
5 U, some had HVO insignia, some had HV,
6 and there were a couple with the word
7 Jastrebovi, "the hawks." They
8 started laughing at us, "We knew you
9 were there, you balija", they would
10 push us around and they said, "Go down
11 the road now." They were around us, so
12 we headed in a large column, a large
14 This would be line 18 on the same page:
15 A We all of us reached a house where we
16 were told that we would be going on. We
17 did not know where we were going. They
18 took us in front of the Vitez hotel, all
19 the women and children --
20 Turning to the next page, 4812 at line 11:
21 Q At some point in the time on 20th April,
22 you said you and certain number of
23 civilians from your house left and you
24 joined other civilians and you were
25 walked into the town of Vitez in a large
1 column. Approximately how many
2 civilians were in that column?
3 A There were 247 of us.
4 Q Were you told why you were being marched
5 down to the Hotel Vitez?
6 A No.
7 Q While you were en route to the Hotel
8 Vitez, could you hear shelling?
9 A Yes, all the way we could hear
10 shelling. The children were terrified,
11 they would hide behind us, we heard
12 rifle fire and shelling.
13 Question on line 25:
14 Q ... You then arrived at the Hotel Vitez,
15 is that correct?
16 A In front of the Hotel Vitez, yes.
17 Now, turning to page 4812. And if we could
18 place Exhibit 157 on the ELMO, I would appreciate it.
19 Now, General, that is the area right outside
20 the Hotel Vitez, is it not?
21 A. This is the area, as I see it, behind the
22 Hotel Vitez. It is the rear side of the Hotel Vitez.
23 Q. Fine, sir. Let us put then Exhibit 158 on
24 the ELMO and replace 157.
25 Now, the area that is circled 158 (sic), that
1 is the area that is right next to the Hotel Vitez or
2 it's between the PTT building and the Hotel Vitez; is
3 that right?
4 A. I can't see it very well. Let me have a
5 better look.
6 Q. Well, you can take it off the ELMO and
7 examine it closely.
8 It might be of some assistance,
9 Mr. Registrar, if I could show the witness Exhibit 45
10 in conjunction with that. Given the fact that Exhibit
11 158 is an enlargement of a portion of Exhibit 45, it
12 might expedite matters. We can show him that as well.
13 Unless you can answer, General.
14 A. I believe it is, for us not to waste time. I
15 think it is that area, although it is not at all clear
16 on the photograph.
17 Q. I think we can move on, Mr. Registrar, and we
18 need not stop at this point.
19 Now, then, page 4814, my colleague,
20 Mr. Harmon, says:
21 Q Mrs. Hrustic, do you see on your monitor
22 Exhibit 158 that has been placed on the
23 ELMO? Can you tell the judges what that
24 large circle is with the number 1 next
25 to it?
1 A That is the area where we spent two and
2 a half to three hours on the 20th of
4 Q So that is the area where about 247
5 civilians were kept on 20th April, is
6 that correct?
7 A Yes, it is.
8 Q In your own words, Mrs. Hrustic, would
9 you tell the judges about your arrival
10 at the Hotel Vitez and what occurred
11 while you were at the Hotel Vitez?
12 A When we got there, we were standing and
13 waiting, we did not know what to do.
14 There were some men with us and they
15 first told us that all the men should go
16 to one side and that the women and
17 children to another side, so there would
18 be a metre or two between the two of us,
19 the two groups, and then they took away
20 the men. This was all happening within
21 maybe ten minutes. Then we went on
22 standing and then we sat down and a
23 soldier said, "I am going inside to
24 inform the commander about this," and he
25 pointed with his head in our direction.
1 One of the soldiers said, "We could put
2 them in the cinema."
3 There was a shell crater in front
4 of the hotel, and I sat inside.
5 Moving down on page 4815, line 10:
6 Q You said the soldier said, "I am going
7 inside to inform the commander." Were
8 there any other comments by the HVO
9 soldiers talking about shelling and the
10 location of civilians in particular?
11 A One of the soldiers said, while he was
12 standing there, "You are going to sit
13 here now and let your people shell you,
14 because they have been shelling us up to
15 now, and you had better sit down and
17 Q Did the soldiers stay with the 247
18 civilians or after the soldiers said
19 that, did the soldiers retreat into the
20 Hotel Vitez?
21 A The hotel is mostly of glass, so that we
22 could see them and they could see us.
23 They said that they had a good shelters
24 in the hotel, that they were not afraid,
25 no one could harm them, so the soldiers
1 brought us there and went inside and
2 they were there while filming took
3 place, whereas the rest of the time, a
4 couple of them watched us through the
5 glass and we were told that if anybody
6 moved, they would be shot on the spot
7 because they could see us and they were
8 watching us.
9 Q You remained there for two and a half to
10 three hours, is that correct?
11 A Yes ...
12 On page 4817:
13 Q Did you believe that you and the other
14 civilians who were gathered around the
15 Hotel Vitez were there as human
17 A Yes.
18 Now, General, on the 20th of April, 1993, you
19 were the commander in the Hotel Vitez, weren't you?
20 A. I was the commander in the Hotel Vitez on the
21 20th of April up until the afternoon when I went to
22 attend a meeting in Zenica chaired by General
23 Morillon. But I claim that I never issued an order
24 that anybody be placed as a human shield, and that as
25 to the fighting between the HVO and the BH army in the
1 village of Gacice, I learned that only in the course of
2 the day from my immediate subordinates, so I never
3 received information that anybody whatsoever was being
4 used as a human shield or that civilians had been
5 brought in. None of the soldiers came to inform me of
7 Q. Well, General, you knew that civilians from
8 Gacice were brought to downtown Vitez, didn't you?
9 A. I knew that there was combat activities in
10 Gacice between the BH army and the HVO, and in the
11 afternoon, I started out to attend the meeting,
12 escorted by UNPROFOR, and I was taken out of the hotel
13 by UNPROFOR, escorted. If you could tell me the exact
14 time when this event took place?
15 Q. Well, General, in the afternoon of the --
16 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Kehoe, I think this is
17 going to be a discussion which is going to go on for
18 quite some time.
19 MR. KEHOE: I think just two questions or
20 three questions and I'll be done very quickly in this
22 Q. General, in the afternoon of the 20th of
23 April, 1993, you knew that HVO soldiers had brought
24 civilians from Gacice to downtown Vitez, didn't you?
25 A. I have already stated that I did not have
1 that kind of information, I did not receive such
3 As regards the shelling and the craters
4 formed by the shelling, I maintain that on the 16th, in
5 the morning, Hotel Vitez was shelled, and that quite
6 possibly there was shelling. But on the 20th, Hotel
7 Vitez was not shelled and there were no -- there was no
8 shelling there, but it was the villages of Krcevine and
9 the northern part of the front line that was shelled.
10 But in the afternoon, as I say, I left for the meeting
11 in Zenica.
12 Q. Well, General, let me read you some of the
13 testimony of your chief of staff at that time and your
14 chief of operations, Slavko Marin, who noted on page
16 A I know that on that day a certain number
17 of civilians was returned to the village
18 of Gacice, to the best of my
19 recollection, women and children.
20 Question on line 18:
21 Q Brigadier, let's talk about these women
22 and children that were taken back to
23 Gacice. Were they in downtown Vitez
24 before they were taken back to Gacice?
25 A The village of Gacice is right next to
1 the town ... and as far as I know, these
2 civilians were in town, and I cannot say
3 what the exact location was, I cannot
4 say at this point. However, the town of
5 Vitez is not a very big town, so it
6 could have been between the post office,
7 the municipality building, and the
8 cinema building, et cetera.
9 So, General, your chief of operations and
10 acting chief of staff, who you were spending all this
11 time with, knew that these civilians from Gacice were
12 in Vitez, in the town of Vitez, on the 20th, but you
13 did not; is that your testimony?
14 A. Well, I was in Zenica at the meeting, and
15 Slavko Marin was precisely the individual who replaced
16 me, and that is why I asked you to give me the exact
17 time because, as far as I remember, no.
18 Q. General, you didn't go to Zenica until 16.30
19 hours on the 20th, and prior to that time, you were in
20 the Hotel Vitez, weren't you?
21 A. I was in the Hotel Vitez. I did not receive
22 information about any civilians, and I never went out
23 anywhere before 16.30 because I was tied to the
24 telephone and the command of the defence of Krcevine
25 and the entire northern approach to Vitez. When I
1 left, there were three UNPROFOR Warriors, and I did not
2 see one single civilian in front of the Vitez Hotel,
3 and as I say, I left the hotel at about 16.30.
4 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, we have additional
5 questions in this regard, another version of the issue,
6 but I think --
7 JUDGE JORDA: I think it would be better to
8 stop and allow the witness to use the long weekend to
9 think about things. We've spoken a great deal about
10 Ahmici. There are other acts included in the
11 indictment, and I do believe that the witness should be
12 able to review what has been done since we have gone
13 rather quickly in the last few minutes. I want things
14 to be very clear.
15 With my colleagues' agreement, I would prefer
16 that during this long weekend, the witness have the
17 time he needs so that later on he doesn't say that he
18 was really jostled by time.
19 We will resume -- when do we resume?
20 THE REGISTRAR: On Tuesday morning. At 10.00
21 on Tuesday.
22 JUDGE JORDA: At 2.00 or 10.00?
23 THE REGISTRAR: At 10.00.
24 JUDGE JORDA: There may be a change. We'll
25 let you know.
1 MR. KEHOE: Mr. President, we were informed
2 that Tuesday at 2.00 is the schedule.
3 MR. HAYMAN: And we were told 10.00.
4 JUDGE JORDA: I think it's 2.00. I'll
5 clarify that.
6 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
7 1.33 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday,
8 the 25th day of May, 1999.