1 Friday, 28th May, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 9.06 a.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.
5 Mr. Registrar, have the witness brought in, please.
6 (The accused/witness entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo -- first of all, I
8 would like to say good morning to the interpreters, to
9 Defence and Prosecution counsel, good morning to the
10 witness, General Blaskic, who is testifying today as
12 Mr. Nobilo, you may begin to exercise your
13 right to redirect after the cross-examination which was
14 conducted by the Prosecutor. Please proceed.
15 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
16 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
17 Re-examined by Mr. Nobilo:
18 MR. NOBILO: Yesterday we finished with
19 Prosecutor's Exhibit 38, which is actually Narodni List
20 or, rather, a decree that regulates disciplinary
21 proceedings in the Croatian Defence Council, and now we
22 would like to discuss Article 67.
23 In order to be sure that this is properly
24 translated into all three languages, because I believe
25 this Article to be of key importance for understanding
1 the responsibility of General Blaskic in proceedings, I
2 shall read this, with your permission, very slowly,
3 very clearly, so that every word can be understood.
4 We are going to put the French version on the
5 ELMO. Perhaps it has not been properly translated
6 because obviously my colleague, Mr. Hayman, and I do
7 not know French well enough. After that, I am going to
8 put my questions.
9 THE INTERPRETER: Can the interpreters please
10 receive copies in other languages?
11 MR. NOBILO: We shall try to give the
12 interpreters the English text at least.
13 So we have the French and the English texts
14 on the ELMO. In addition to that, I'll be reading it
15 out in Croat. So I am reading Article 67 of the
16 disciplinary Rules of Procedure:
17 "The commander of the operative zone - for
18 non-commissioned officers and officers up to the rank
19 of brigadier serving in units or institutions which are
20 subordinate to the operative zone commander --"
21 JUDGE JORDA: Could we have a very precise
22 translation? You are repeating the word which in
23 French is said "qui en relevent" it says in French.
24 Could we have -- it's important. We have to be very
25 careful about that expression, "qui en relevent." Is
1 it "subordinate" or "falling under the jurisdiction
2 of"? What is the term in Serbo-Croatian that's used?
3 Could you repeat the Serbo-Croatian term, and I'll ask
4 that it be interpreted?
5 MR. NOBILO: It is about units that are
6 subordinate, "subordinate" in English, to the commander
7 of the Operative Zone.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you.
9 MR. NOBILO: So I am reading once again.
10 "The commander of the operative zone - for
11 non-commissioned officers and officers up to the rank
12 of brigadier serving in units or institutions which are
13 subordinate to the operative zone commander, and
14 non-commissioned officers and officers up to the rank
15 of colonel," of brigadier, "serving in administrative
16 agencies and enterprises, and other legal entities
17 within the area under the authority of the operative
18 zone commander."
19 JUDGE JORDA: And the second term "for the
20 administrative organs and the companies and other
21 persons," "se trouvent," "who are," what does that
22 mean, "se trouvent," "who are"? It's not that they are
23 under the authority of or subordinate to but that they
24 are; in French "se trouvent," "are."
25 MR. NOBILO: Yes, but these are not units,
1 these are institutions, enterprises, and we are going
2 to explain that now. We have two principles, the
3 territorial and the personal. The personal is related
4 to units and the territorial is related to enterprises
5 and institutions.
6 However, now I would like to put a question
7 to General Blaskic.
8 Q. Yesterday that Article was read to you at
9 light speed. Please tell the Court, while you were
10 commander of the Operative Zone, how did you interpret
11 your powers on the basis of Article 67? When I say
12 "powers," I'm talking about disciplinary proceedings.
13 A. My interpretation was that I was in charge of
14 units or, rather, officers and non-commissioned
15 officers from units that are directly subordinate to me
16 in the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia.
17 Q. Tell me, in this Article, what are the two
18 principles upon which your authority is based?
19 A. It is based on the principle of
20 subordination, that is to say, subordinate and
21 superior, in respect of units and the territorial
22 principle vis-à-vis institutions, vis-à-vis military
23 enterprises and legal entities. For example, military
24 enterprises, factories.
25 Q. Now we are going to elaborate the territorial
1 principle, that is to say, those entities over which
2 you have disciplinary authority only because they are
3 within your area.
4 Tell the Court, what could this
5 administration, military administration, be?
6 A. It can be the administration for health, the
7 administration for construction, civil engineering, and
8 other administrations that may be in the Operative
9 Zone, or parts of these administrations, perhaps.
10 Q. Another entity that was subordinate to you,
11 according to the territorial principle, in terms of
12 disciplinary authority, are enterprises. What would
13 that be?
14 A. Those would be military enterprises. There
15 were some in that area, military enterprises like, I
16 don't know, the military factory of explosives, of
17 weapons, the depots, et cetera.
18 Q. And this term, "other legal entities," what
19 would that actually mean? Could you give us an
21 A. These could be different military institutes,
22 schooling institutions, military, universities,
23 academies, schools, et cetera.
24 Q. All of those were subordinate to you,
25 according to the territorial principle, only because
1 they are in the Operative Zone. And now I'm asking you
2 the following: Which units were subordinate to you and
3 how do you interpret the expression saying that you are
4 in charge of disciplinary proceedings against officers
5 that are in units which are subordinate to the
6 Operative Zone commander?
7 A. Units that were within the structure of the
8 Operative Zone of Central Bosnia were subordinate to
9 me, and that is how I interpret that principle, that I
10 had authority only over these directly subordinate
12 Q. Tell me, in the JNA, where there was the
13 principle of unity of command, when the commander
14 commands all who are within his area, could this kind
15 of a text have existed in the disciplinary rules of the
16 JNA or was it at all?
17 A. At any rate, in the JNA, the basic principle
18 was the principle of the unity of command and the unity
19 of responsibility. This was a fundamental principle
20 upon which the disciplinary rules were based, and all
21 military formations that would be in the zone of
22 responsibility of the commander were directly
23 subordinate to him.
24 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, in respect of
25 translation problems, could we be sure that 52.2 is
1 properly translated, which seems somewhat different to
2 me? Article 52.2 of that same regulation which deals
3 with the problems of the military -- deals with the
4 problems of the military tribunal and uses terms which
5 are somewhat different. Do you see where I am? I want
6 to also show it to my colleagues. I'll show it to
7 Judge Rodrigues here. I would like you to put 52.2 on
8 the ELMO.
9 MR. NOBILO: Very well.
10 JUDGE JORDA: Does everybody see where we
11 are? Does the Prosecutor see where we are? 52.2?
12 Mr. Nobilo, could you read that for us,
13 please, and I'll ask the interpreters to be very
14 careful and to look at the text on the screen.
15 MR. NOBILO: There is an ambiguity here, and
16 we have to be very careful about this.
17 This is the authority of the disciplinary
18 court, the authority of the disciplinary court, Article
19 52, paragraph 2:
20 "Operative zone military disciplinary courts
21 shall try non-commissioned officers and officers up to
22 the rank of brigadier in units or institutions that are
23 subordinate to the operative zone commander or are in
24 units or institutions within the area under the
25 operative zone commander's authority, as well as
1 non-commissioned officers and officers up to the rank
2 of brigadier serving in the administrative bodies of
3 enterprises and other legal entities."
4 Mr. President, I don't know how the term
5 within the authority --
6 JUDGE JORDA: In French, it says, "ressort,"
8 MR. NOBILO: That is the problem. The words
9 "in the area under the authority of" does not
10 necessarily mean territory. It means part of the
11 authority. It is ambiguous. It can refer to
12 territory, but it can also refer to part of the scope
13 of his authority.
14 JUDGE JORDA: The problem is not one of
15 taking sides. The Judges don't take sides. I'm simply
16 pointing out that in this text, which refers to the
17 command responsibility under the angle of the military
18 tribunal, what is interesting is to see that we have a
19 first level of subordination which is found exactly the
20 same way under 52.2 and 67.2, we have the level of
21 enterprises and other legal entities, like in 67.2, but
22 the precision which is different is that you have the
23 units or establishments in the sector of the operative
24 zone commander. I'm not taking sides. That's not my
25 role. I'm simply here to listen, and I'm asking you
1 only for information about what you're questioning the
2 General on, the General who has a legal specialist with
3 him. I would like to know that when you put those two
4 articles together, didn't it provide enough ambiguity
5 in respect of interpretation that it would not require
6 that the high command would have a very specific
7 definition of his command?
8 It's very important for all of us to be clear
9 on this point, because here, there is a definition
10 which is additional to what is provided in 67.2, and
11 they're not talking about explosive factories or
12 military schools, and they are not speaking about
13 units, and here, I think we agree, that are
14 subordinate. We still have to know what is meant by
15 "subordinate." "Subordinate" means under the orders
16 of. But here there is an addition. There are units
17 within the sector, and that's why I would like you to
18 ask the witness questions about that.
19 I think that Judge Rodrigues also would have
20 a question. Perhaps counsel could answer first.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Mr. Nobilo, I would like to
22 ask another question. I would like to know what are
23 the authorities, the competencies of the prosecutor in
24 the military tribunal, and by that, I mean if the
25 prosecutor only issued indictments or if he had
1 authority or jurisdiction over carrying out
2 investigations as well?
3 MR. NOBILO: Your Honour, these are
4 disciplinary proceedings, and the prosecutor does have
5 the authority to investigate, just as the officer does,
6 but in disciplinary proceedings -- however, before we
7 move further on, I would like to seek the advice of the
8 interpreters, perhaps.
9 It is being said here "the sector of
10 authority." "Sector" implies territory, whereas "area
11 of authority" in Croat does not necessarily imply
12 territory. Because had they thought territory, they
13 would have said "the area" or "the territory" over
14 which the commander has authority. So the word
15 "territory" itself would have been used, the area in
16 which he has responsibility. But here "area," it is
17 realm, it is ambiguous, because the definition is not
19 Q. However, I would like to go back to Article
20 67, and I wish to ask you the following, General: If
21 you are told that you are the superior officer in the
22 Operative Zone to the units that are subordinate to
23 you, does that mean that in the Operative Zone, there
24 are units whose superior officer you are not? How do
25 you interpret that?
1 A. Yes. Certainly, in every operative zone of
2 the HVO, there were units that were not directly
3 subordinate to the commander of the operative zone. So
4 such units did exist, and I did not have authority over
5 such units in military disciplinary proceedings.
6 Q. Let us disregard the factual situation for a
7 moment, and let us concentrate on Article 67. When you
8 are told -- we're talking about you -- when you, the
9 commander of the Operative Zone, have authority over
10 subordinate units, how do you interpret that in
11 relation to units that are attached to you?
12 A. Such authority was not given to me over units
13 that were attached, because had the legislator wished
14 to give such authority, then he would, proceeding from
15 the principle of the unity of command which did not
16 exist in the HVO, he would have defined my authority
17 according to territorial principle.
18 However, it is precisely because of the
19 existence of units that were not directly subordinate
20 to the commander, there are these two principles: the
21 principle of subordination and the principle of
22 territorial authority over institutions, enterprises,
23 and legal entities.
24 Q. Let us be specific. In the sense of Article
25 67, were the units of the military police and the
1 special purpose unit, Vitezovi, subordinate to you, and
2 were you in charge of military disciplinary proceedings
3 in that respect?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Now we are going to move on to something
6 else. General, Witness G, on page 3855, mentioned that
7 in Ahmici, in addition to the Jokeri, there were also
8 the Vitezovi and HVO units. What is your knowledge
9 about this? Which units were there? Where were the
10 Vitezovi, to the best of your knowledge, and where were
11 the HVO units?
12 A. According to the report that I received and
13 the reports which I received in the area and sector of
14 Ahmici, the 4th Battalion of the military police was
15 present. The Vitezovi, the Vitezovi unit, had a very
16 precise assignment, to block and protect the hotel from
17 the direction of Stari Vitez and to prevent an attack
18 by the BH army. Part of the units, that is to say, the
19 forces of the Vitez Brigade also had precise
20 assignments, to set up a blockade of the axes of attack
21 by the BH army south of Ahmici, south of the main road
22 running from Vitez to Busovaca, and it did not perform
23 mobilisation, nor did it perform any assignments in the
24 Ahmici sector.
25 Also, from document 250, it can be seen that
1 the Vitezovi arbitrarily performed the action of the
2 attack on the petrol pump, and they took over the Kalen
3 petrol pump later on, in fact. But the unit had a
4 precisely defined assignment, and according to the
5 reports that I received, it was located in front of the
6 hotel, that is to say, between the hotel and Stari
8 Q. In document 691, it states that a soldier,
9 who was not a member of the military police, was
10 wounded on the 16th of April somewhere in Santici, that
11 is to say, near Ahmici. What are your comments to
13 A. I have already stated that the Vitez Brigade
14 had precisely defined assignments south of the road,
15 that is to say, south of Ahmici. Ahmici is to the
16 north of the road, and I believe that it was a question
17 of a non-mobilised soldier of the Vitez Brigade who
18 happened to find himself that morning in the direct
19 vicinity of his house and who was wounded, and
20 confirmation about this wounding he received in order
21 to be able to regulate his invalidity status and other
22 benefits that he would accrue from that.
23 Q. Just one sentence, please, linked to document
24 693, 694. In the spring of 1993, did the home guard
25 units, the Domobrani, exist in the Central Bosnia --
1 A. No, the home guard units did not exist.
2 Q. Was there a corps of command or did you have
3 an assistant for the home guards?
4 A. Yes, we were in a stage where we had
5 determined and appointed commanders for the home guard
6 units and in the process of establishing the home guard
7 units, but the war with the BH army, in the spring of
8 1993, stopped us in this process, and we were not able
9 to implement that project, that is to say, we never
10 actually organised and formed the home guard units.
11 Q. On several occasions in this Tribunal, from
12 various witnesses, an individual named Miroslav Bralo,
13 "Cicko," was mentioned. What do you know about him?
14 A. I knew that he was a killer who had committed
15 a crime by killing his next-door neighbour, a Bosniak
16 Muslim, and afterwards he placed an explosive and the
17 body in his house and activated the explosive and blew
18 everything up. He was a pathologically disturbed
19 individual with maniacal characteristics in his
21 And I know that after that act and as a
22 decision by the military district court, following a
23 decision by the military district court, he was placed
24 in the military district prison and locked up, he was
25 imprisoned, and at the insistence of myself and the
1 involvement of Ante Sliskovic, the SIS security
2 assistant, he was imprisoned in the military district
4 Q. According to the best of your knowledge,
5 where was he when the crime in Ahmici took place?
6 A. He would have had to have been in the
7 military district prison of Kaonik, imprisoned there,
8 locked up there, in the pre-trial proceedings
9 undertaken by the military district prosecutor, the
10 military district court in Travnik.
11 Q. Who set him free and what importance does
12 this have? What do you think about that today?
13 A. I said here in this -- I heard in this
14 Tribunal from the Prosecution witnesses that he was in
15 Ahmici on the 16th of April. I do not know who set him
16 free, but at all events, the individual who is behind
17 his freeing quite certainly is behind what happened in
19 Q. In the time after Ahmici --
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me, Mr. Nobilo, for
21 interrupting you. I heard a reference made to the
22 Domobrani. Excuse me for going back to that. But I
23 hadn't seen -- I didn't see the expression in the
24 transcript, I only saw "home guards," but not the words
25 "Domobrani." I would like to be sure that the witness
1 is saying that in the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia,
2 there were no Domobrani. I would like to be clear
3 about that issue because I have the idea that at least
4 in the Busovaca region, they were there. So I would
5 like to be sure about that.
6 A. Your Honour, we did try to establish the
7 Domobran units.
8 THE INTERPRETER: "Domobran," the
9 interpretation in English is "home guards."
10 A. And we had determined the commanders for the
11 home guard units but we never implemented the project,
12 we did not form home guard units in the Operative Zone
13 because the war broke out, the war with the BH army in
14 April '93.
15 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But at least de facto did
16 they exist or did they not exist within your region?
17 A. Your Honour, at the end of 1994 sometime, we
18 did establish them. There were home guard regiments.
19 But before that, that is to say, in April and in the
20 spring of 1993, we had not established them yet.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: In particular, did they or
22 did they not exist in the Kaonik prison?
23 A. In the Kaonik prison?
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes.
25 A. I do not have data of that kind. As far as I
1 know, they did not exist.
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you very much.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Judge Rodrigues.
4 MR. NOBILO: Perhaps we could clarify
6 Q. Amongst the people, the members of the
7 Busovaca Brigade who were not professionals, did they
8 perhaps call them the Domobrani? So not the official
10 A. Well, not only in Busovaca, they called them
11 that everywhere, and it is the local term for soldiers,
12 Croats, and it is a traditional term, the Domobrani, a
13 traditional name.
14 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter notes English
15 translation, "home guards."
16 A. So that is what they were called. But the
17 military unit of the home guards did not exist up until
18 sometime in 1994. Later on, in Busovaca, there was the
19 home guard regiment. But the people used to call them
20 the Domobrani, particularly the elderly people from 50
21 to 65 years of age. That was the term generally used.
22 Q. Let us return to Ahmici. The Prosecutor, on
23 several occasions, said more or less the following,
24 that everybody knew that what had happened -- everybody
25 knew about what had happened in Ahmici except you, and
1 he quoted an example for this. What do you say to
3 A. As far as Ahmici is concerned, with regard to
4 combat activities between the BH army and the battalion
5 of the military police, I learnt about that on the 16th
6 of April, 1993, at 11.42. However, today, when we talk
7 about Ahmici, they have become a synonym for crime; and
8 at the time, that is, on the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th
9 of April, that was not the case. At that time, Ahmici
10 was a synonym for the victory of the members of the HVO
11 over the members of the BH army.
12 Q. At that time, was anything known about the
13 crime, on the 17th and 18th?
14 A. No, and we could see from some evidence put
15 forward by the Prosecutor, I think they were
16 videotapes, although I don't know whether the videotape
17 was ever shown on local television, that it spoke about
18 a military victory of the HVO over the BH army and that
19 not a single word is mentioned about a crime.
20 Q. Apart from that television footage, the
21 Prosecutor mentioned several other events or
22 individuals as, by way of an example, of people who
23 knew something about Ahmici and you did not know. How
24 do you view that?
25 A. Mention was made that Mr. Valenta knew about
1 Ahmici. I believe that Mr. Valenta did know about the
2 fighting going on there because what was quoted was two
3 days after Ahmici. I learnt about the fighting in
4 Ahmici two days before Mr. Valenta.
5 Q. Did Valenta mention a crime in his quotation?
6 A. No, I never heard at any point that Valenta
7 mentioned a crime.
8 Q. A European Monitoring Mission report was
9 mentioned. What do you have to say to that?
10 A. I believe that the European Monitors at that
11 time were in the region of Ahmici under the protection
12 of their Warriors, the BritBat, and they arrived at
13 certain knowledge concerning a burnt corpse, a burnt
14 body, and I think several facilities as well, but they
15 did not share that information with me, that is to say,
16 I did not receive information of that kind from them.
17 Q. Reading UNPROFOR's reports, the milinfosum
18 for the 16th of April, 1993, where mention is made of
19 the casualties in Ahmici.
20 A. Yes, UNPROFOR had its patrols with its
21 armoured vehicles, known as the Warriors, and their
22 mobile communication devices, and this was deployed in
23 Ahmici, and they sent their operative centre, at their
24 base in Nova Bila, information about the events in
25 Ahmici. However, that information was not sent to me,
1 and to the best of my recollection, Colonel Stewart
2 made a statement for the press and said that he learned
3 about Ahmici after being warned by the soldiers of the
4 BH army and after he had gone to the Ahmici area on the
5 21st or around the 22nd of April when he sent me the
7 Q. Colonel Stewart's letter, was that the first
8 news that you received from UNPROFOR related to Ahmici?
9 A. That letter was the first news that was
10 concrete news and clear news and informed me that a
11 tragedy had taken place and that a war crime had taken
12 place in Ahmici.
13 Q. How can you, and can you at all, explain the
14 fact that UNPROFOR, for six days or for five days, hid
15 information about the crime in this way? How can you
16 explain that? Can you explain that?
17 A. It is difficult for me to find an explanation
18 for that action because there was a lot of fighting at
19 about 22 positions, in fact, because they were combat
20 activities in built-up areas. There were a large
21 number of casualties. But I don't know why, on the
22 16th, they did not share their information with me.
23 Q. We heard mention of the Bosniak president of
24 the Muslim wartime presidency of Vitez, that is to say,
25 the highest power and authority of the Bosniaks in
1 Vitez, Dr. Mujezimovic, and his information and
2 knowledge. Can you comment on that?
3 A. Dr. Mujezimovic was the president of the
4 wartime presidency, that is to say, he was the top
5 military and political organ of power and authority in
6 the Vitez area for the Bosniak Muslims, and in a direct
7 conversation with his medical staff, nurses, living in
8 the region of Ahmici, he learnt on the 19th of April
9 about the crime in Ahmici. Therefore, it is obvious
10 that he too learnt about this thanks to the fact that
11 he was in direct communication with the inhabitants of
13 Q. Finally, on that same day, the 19th of April,
14 the Prosecutor quoted a statement by Dr. Mujezimovic on
15 page 1706 where Cerkez and two or three members of his
16 command mentioned Ahmici. May we have your comments on
18 A. Well, from that particular comment, we can
19 see that Cerkez was not speaking about the crime in
20 Ahmici but he was speaking about the fighting that had
21 taken place in Ahmici, and I've already said that
22 Ahmici at that time was synonymous with military
23 victory over the BH army and not a synonym of crime as
24 has become the case today or later on when the whole
25 thing was uncovered.
1 Q. Can you tell us when you received the first
2 information about some civilian casualties in the Vitez
3 municipality and what were your reactions to that,
5 A. I received this information, the first
6 information that I received, that is to say, on the
7 16th of April, 1993, from the representative of the
8 negotiating delegation, Mr. Prskalo and Bilicic, who
9 had returned from negotiations from the UNPROFOR base,
10 at the UNPROFOR base; and already, in the course of the
11 night, sometime around 0400 hours on the 17th of April,
12 issued an order in which I clearly defined and stated
13 that civilians must be protected and that any use of
14 force towards civilians was a crime, and I particularly
15 underlined that and underscored it in my order.
16 I also issued an order on the 18th of April
17 linked to the protection and safety of civilians and
18 also on the 21st of April along with the demand that
19 these orders be acknowledged by signatures of the
20 individual commanders, the commanders of brigades, and
21 that the commanders of the brigades should inform me
22 thereof. I endeavoured to ensure a dual chain so as to
23 be absolutely sure and certain that these orders would
24 be conveyed down the chain of command.
25 Q. The next information that associated you in
1 your mind to a location around Ahmici was the
2 information you received from Dzemo Merdan on the 20th
3 of April from Zenica. Can you tell us, please, how you
4 understood this information and what you undertook?
5 A. It was a meeting in Zenica on the 20th of
6 April, 1993, and in a heated atmosphere, when everybody
7 took the floor when they saw fit at the meeting, Dzemo
8 Merdan made his statement, also in a heated fashion,
9 and I suggested that a joint commission be engaged to
10 determine and ascertain the facts with regard to his
12 When I received this information, I made a
13 note of it, and once I returned to my headquarters, I
14 issued a demand that all reports from the terrain
15 should be collected, and once I was informed that none
16 of the reports went to support that claim and when I
17 became conscious of the fact that the representatives
18 of the BH army, the top representatives at the meeting
19 in Zenica, had immediately passed over that allegation,
20 I then came to understand that it was not a serious
21 allegation but that, quite simply, in a heated
22 discussion of that kind, it was probably something that
23 was stated to improve the negotiating powers of the
24 moment, positions of the moment.
25 Q. What about Bob Stewart? When you learned
1 about Ahmici from Bob Stewart and you sent him the
2 emotional letter that you sent him requesting that a
3 joint commission work together, tell us, please, what
4 were your priorities in a situation of that kind? What
5 did you think was the most important thing? The crime
6 had occurred. "Now what shall I do?" What were your
7 thoughts along those lines?
8 A. I sent the letter to Bob Stewart requesting a
9 joint commission and also requesting a meeting of the
10 top representatives of the army and the HVO. On the
11 occasion, I did believe that the absolute priority was
12 to ensure a cease-fire, that is to say, to halt the
13 hostilities between the BH army and the HVO and, if
14 possible, to have a separation of forces, to prevent a
15 repetition of the Ahmici crime, and to undertake a full
16 and complete investigation into the crime.
17 Q. To prevent a new crime and the speed of an
18 investigation, what would you say came foremost, the
19 way in which you thought at the time?
20 A. The absolute priority, of course, was to
21 prevent a fresh evil and a new crime. That was the
22 absolute priority.
23 Q. The Prosecutor, on several occasions, asked
24 you, "Why did you not call Pasko Ljubicic in his office
25 and ask him what had happened?" Can you tell us, can
1 you tell the Trial Chamber, if you go back in time to
2 the situation you were in then, why did you not do
4 A. I did not do that because none of his reports
5 even intimated the crime that had taken place in
6 Ahmici, and I had to protect the investigation into the
7 crime, first and foremost. It was not a disciplinary
8 error or offence which would demand a discussion with
9 him to criticise him or to give him any suggestions.
10 What we had before us was a very serious and grievous
11 crime, and everything had to be done to protect the
12 investigation into that crime.
13 Q. How did you understand, methodologically
14 speaking, this matter? When do you talk to a suspect,
15 at the beginning of an investigation or at the end of
16 an investigation? What do you think about police or
17 investigative methodology?
18 A. I never attended courses on the subject, and
19 I am not professionally trained to conduct an
20 investigation, but I considered it necessary, first of
21 all, to collect facts and evidence, and only then, once
22 that had been done, to confront the suspects with this
23 evidence and these facts.
24 Q. Why did you not undertake an investigation
25 yourself? Why did you not interview people and
1 investigate generally? Why?
2 A. First of all, I endeavoured, as commander of
3 the Operative Zone, the position I held, to work within
4 the system. I was not a professional nor was I trained
5 during my years of schooling in matters of
6 investigation and conducting investigations, and I
7 considered that it was my duty to ensure that the
8 system functioned properly, and that means that the
9 investigation be conducted by the competent authorities
10 and by the trained and professional authorities in that
11 sphere, and that was the security service.
12 Q. Tell us, please, from the time the crime in
13 Ahmici occurred on the 16th up until the beginning of
14 the investigation, somewhere around the 24th, eight
15 days had elapsed. Do you consider that this passage of
16 time, some eight, ten, fifteen days, had any vital
17 effect or could have had a vital effect on the quality
18 of the investigation? How do you view that problem,
19 the problem of the passage of time?
20 A. I personally think that that problem of the
21 passage of time did not have any significant reflection
22 on the quality of the investigation, particularly if we
23 keep in mind the situation that we were in at the
25 First of all, data was collected about the
1 corpses, and there was a medical investigation with a
2 description of the causes of death. The homes that
3 were burned more or less remained in that area, and I
4 think that the most important part of the investigation
5 was to collect personal evidence, i.e., to carry out
6 interviews with the suspects and to find out who
7 commanded, planned, and committed the crime. These
8 were the most important questions, as far as I
10 Q. Why did you choose SIS, the Security and
11 Information Service, to conduct an investigation on
13 A. By law, its authority was the only authorised
14 body to conduct an investigation of the members of the
15 military police. So it was the only service that had
16 such authority and that had the expertise and the
17 capability to conduct such an investigation. I could
18 not request the military police to conduct an
19 investigation of itself.
20 Q. You stated that your absolute priority after
21 Ahmici was to prevent a new crime from taking place.
22 We won't be producing any documents, but can you
23 remember what you did in the days of the 22nd of April
24 and on, after you found out about the crime in Ahmici
25 from Colonel Stewart?
1 A. I issued a series of orders which I tried to
2 implement on the ground, and I will cite just a number
3 of those orders. These are Defence Exhibits 318, 334,
4 336, 338, 353, 361, 362, 364, 365, 366, 370, 374, and
6 I also said at a press conference, I
7 condemned the crime, and I think that this had an
8 exceptional influence on public opinion, all the more
9 so because that condemnation of mine reached each home
10 and each family in the Lasva pocket through the local
11 media. I also asked representatives of international
12 humanitarian organisations, representatives of the Red
13 Cross, the UNHCR, to clarify their mandate and to
14 address, through the local television, the people and
15 the refugees who were living in that area so that they
16 could also have an effect, at least to alleviate the
17 hatred that was present amongst the refugees which made
18 the situation more difficult and more complex.
19 Personally, also at meetings with commanders
20 of the brigades, I checked and tried to make sure that
21 each order reached each soldier on the ground.
22 Q. We talked a lot about document 456/58, and
23 this is the order that you sent to Colonel Stewart at
24 the general staff and to the head of the Croatian
25 Community of Herceg-Bosna. We will not look at this
1 document, but could you just please define what this
2 document represents? How do you define it? What is
3 that supposed to represent?
4 A. The document is called "Information about the
5 meeting with Colonel Bob Stewart," and I would dispatch
6 information about meetings to my superiors, as well as
7 this information, and I would usually state what I got
8 from the participants at the meeting, what I stated,
9 and a proposal for certain measures.
10 Q. Would you please tell us whether that
11 document represents a report on the crime in Ahmici?
12 A. No, not in any case does that document
13 represent that. It's exclusively information about the
14 meeting with Colonel Stewart. All reports of my
15 activities regarding the investigation and everything
16 that is connected to Ahmici, I would usually -- I would
17 always send that along.
18 Q. How do you interpret that this information
19 was sent by regular fax to Mostar and not by packet
20 link, which was the usual manner of communication, and
21 it was protected in a way, as we heard yesterday?
22 A. In that information about the meeting, of
23 course, the third party, Bob Stewart himself who
24 participated in the meeting, was informed. There was
25 nothing in the contents of the meeting that needed to
1 be protected, and for documents that were not orders or
2 did not contain operative information, I tried to send
3 those documents by fax because the communications were
4 quite burdened, and I believed that there was no need
5 for such protection.
6 Q. In the course of this trial, a question kept
7 coming up, at least I felt it that way, and we could
8 formulate it in the following way: Bob Stewart and
9 other representatives of the international
10 organisations, why did you not inform them about your
11 information about Ahmici, which unit committed it, the
12 chain of command of the unit, the persons who were
13 possibly responsible, in accordance with that chain of
14 command, who would have issued the orders, and also
15 about your problems with the military police? Why did
16 you not at that time, in April or May of '93, not
17 present that to the International Community? Maybe
18 your fate would have been different.
19 A. My fate may have been different in that case;
20 however, there were legal regulations which I
21 respected. They are about military secrets. I never
22 talked about weaknesses within the HVO, the problems
23 with dual command and unified responsibility and other
24 weaknesses, I never shared those problems with
25 international representatives because I was aware
1 myself that both they, as well as their interpreters to
2 a certain extent, would convey such information later
3 to the other side, to the enemy, to the BH army or the
5 On the other hand, I did not have
6 authorisation, after I realised that international
7 institutions did not participate in the investigation,
8 that I could not share such information with
9 unauthorised persons. I did not convey these
10 weaknesses and all of these problems to them because I
11 would thereby be violating the military secret
12 regulations. Also, it would have made it more
13 difficult regarding survival because the BH army would
14 find out all about our internal weaknesses, and this
15 could then come to the fore when they were carrying out
16 their attacks in their attempts to take over that
18 Q. Contrary to the regulations on military
19 secrets and contrary to the orders that you had, this,
20 that you have now -- if you had said to the
21 representatives of the International Community what you
22 have just told this Court, who were not members of the
23 HVO, what would have happened to you? What would this
24 have meant?
25 A. Well, I would have violated internal rules of
1 the HVO. That was for sure. But it is difficult to
2 forecast what it would have meant further because
3 probably the consequences of it all would have been
5 Q. Could you please tell the Court how you
6 conducted yourself in front of international factors
7 and the B and H army? What was the HVO picture that
8 you presented to them; could you explain that?
9 A. From the first meeting in Sarajevo, the
10 tripartite meeting where U.N. representatives were
11 present and also representatives of the UNHCR and other
12 international institutions, together with
13 representatives of the B and H army and representatives
14 at that time of the army of Republika Srpska, at that
15 time everybody who took the floor took the floor in an
16 attempt to protect all internal weaknesses and
17 concealing, to a certain degree, all the problems that
18 were present among the ranks of the army and the HVO
19 regarding structure. This was an army, an armed
20 peoples -- an army that just needed to be organised and
21 structured. But regardless of that, fighting and
22 combat activities needed to be conducted. But in any
23 case, this was a monolithic-structured military
24 formation, and in that way, we wanted to leave the
25 impression in front of the others and also taking upon
1 ourselves a little bit the responsibility regarding the
2 implementation of our responsibilities despite all of
3 the internal problems.
4 Q. Judge Rodrigues, at one moment, asked you,
5 Why did you not resign? Your officers lied to you,
6 they committed a crime behind your back, and yet you
7 are sitting here because of that today. Were they
8 worth such a sacrifice? That was the question of Judge
10 Today, now that you think about it, what
11 would your answer be?
12 A. Perhaps those who lied to me, I'm sure that
13 they are not worth my sacrifice. However, the people
14 who lived there and who fought for their survival,
15 their biological survival, they were worth my
16 sacrifice. And in spite of everything, I stated then
17 also that I wanted to stay with those people; and, in
18 spite of everything, achieve my three priorities,
19 meaning: survival, prevention from a crime happening
20 again, and carrying out the investigation. I don't
21 believe that any captain of a sinking ship would leave
22 that ship first and abandon it.
23 Q. If you had resigned, what would have
24 happened? Who would have been the commander? How
25 would events have proceeded? Do you have any idea
1 about that?
2 A. The radio, the media, under the authority of
3 the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, published at one
4 moment that a new commander of the Operative Zone was
5 Zarko Andric and his deputy was Darko Kraljevic. I
6 believe that events would have become even more radical
7 and that perhaps there would have been much more, much
8 greater chaos, and perhaps Ahmici would have happened
9 again and perhaps members of the B and H army, if they
10 had entered Busovaca and Vitez, would have committed
11 even greater crimes since it was very difficult to
12 control their hatred, just as it was in their entry in
13 Buhine Kuce, Krizancevo Selo, and other areas that the
14 HVO was losing and then managing to take back. Perhaps
15 there would have been even more massacres.
16 Q. On several occasions -- Mr. President, should
17 we stop now?
18 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. I would like to ask
19 General Blaskic whether you still maintain that 456/58
20 is incomplete?
21 A. Yes, of course. It's not a document that I
22 wrote and that I sent; it's incomplete.
23 JUDGE JORDA: I was a little surprised
24 because you said so often during the cross-examination
25 that you didn't remember today, that the essential part
1 of that document did not really express what you really
2 thought, and I was wondering whether you had changed
3 your argument in the meantime.
4 MR. NOBILO: I did not ask him that. The
5 sense of my question was: What was the nature of the
6 document? A report from a meeting. We spoke a lot
7 about that.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo -- but I remember it
9 so clearly, when there was that very long conversation
10 about 456/58, that everything would have been different
11 if we had been able to see in that document all of the
12 nuances that had been introduced into it. Remember in
13 456/58, you remember your client even said to us that
14 it seemed ridiculous to him, the document seemed
15 ridiculous, because it seemed that it was putting into
16 Colonel Stewart's mouth words about the meeting with
17 Mate Boban whereas, in fact, the dash was missing which
18 would remind us that the General, et cetera. So I was
19 surprised that today your client didn't remember the
20 discussion about that document, and I want to be sure
21 that you still claim what you said before, that is,
22 that the document is incomplete.
23 I suggest that we take a 15-minute break.
24 --- Recess taken at 10.15 a.m.
25 --- On resuming at 10.35 a.m.
1 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the
2 hearing. Please be seated.
3 Mr. Nobilo, you can continue.
4 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
5 Q. General, what about your closest associates?
6 Who were the persons and what posts were involved?
7 A. It was the chief of staff, who was my deputy
8 at the same time, that is to say, that he held two
9 posts, and he was in charge of all operative staff
10 activities and practically all combat documents that he
11 elaborated and then made proposals of various
12 solutions. Then there were the assistants for
13 personnel affairs, the assistants for organisation,
14 mobilisation and the establishment, then the assistant
15 for logistics, for the security service, for
16 information and propaganda activity, and other
17 assistants. These are a commander's closest associates
18 that comprise that body.
19 Q. In this trial, the Defence presented as
20 evidence your order dated the 10th of May, 1992,
21 concerning the investigation of the crime in Ahmici.
22 You said that you gave an oral order to the assistant
23 for SIS earlier, on the 24th of April, 1993. My
24 learned colleague, the Prosecutor, asked you at one
25 point, "Do you have any proof except for your own word
1 that you issued this earlier order orally concerning
2 Ahmici?" What do you say to this Honourable Court?
3 A. The very fact that a member of one's
4 immediate staff is given an order in writing is telling
5 proof of an exception, that something had to happen
6 before that that I was not fully satisfied with and
7 that this was additional pressure that was brought to
8 bear against my immediate associate so that the
9 assignment that was given earlier could be carried out
10 fully; that is to say, that this body works in a
11 team-like fashion, these are my closest associates, and
12 during the day, we usually have one or -- several
13 briefings and then assignments are issued orally, but
14 they are registered in an official document which was
15 called the personal war diary of each and every
16 officer. I had such a personal war diary myself as
17 well as all my associates. Every task would be
18 registered, written down there, and then it would be
19 commented upon very briefly at these briefings.
20 I am claiming before this Court that I do not
21 recall having ever issued an order in writing to my
22 deputy, who was also chief of my staff, or any other
23 associates. This was truly very rare and an exception,
24 that to give this closest team of closest associates
25 orders in writing except in these exceptional
1 situations that I already mentioned which were telling
2 proof in their own right that I was not fully satisfied
3 with the action that I ordered previously. The very
4 fact that the order in writing was issued on the 10th
5 of May showed that something had happened earlier
6 between me and the security assistant, something that I
7 was not pleased with, and that this was additional
8 pressure on him.
9 Q. In addition to this being additional pressure
10 on him, what does it mean when you give your assistant,
11 whom you sit with together at the same table every day
12 and who works with you in team-like fashion, when you
13 give him a written order? What does that mean for your
14 personal relationship and what does that mean in an
15 official sense too?
16 A. As far as personal relations, it certainly
17 means that this is a statement of mistrust or
18 dissatisfaction with the extent to which a previous
19 assignment had been carried out, but it is also a
20 warning to a commander or an assistant to whom such an
21 order was given that he should bear in mind that he has
22 to carry out that assignment and that otherwise this
23 order, like previous orders, would be additional
24 material proof if such an associate is held accountable
25 or is made to answer for his actions. So this is an
1 additional warning or additional pressure that one
2 cannot just give up on one's assignments.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Was there a verbal order given
4 to General Marin; is that what you mean? Is that what
5 you're saying, Colonel Blaskic? To which associate?
6 You said -- I don't remember. I don't remember. I
7 just want to refresh my memory. Did you give it to
8 General Marin? I'm talking about the order.
9 A. General Marin?
10 JUDGE JORDA: [interpretation cuts in]
11 ... what General Marin said.
12 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, this -- no, no,
13 no. No. This is an order issued orally to the SIS
14 assistant for the investigation in Ahmici, and the
15 witness is trying to say that he gave an oral order
16 before the written order. Proof that an oral order was
17 given is the fact that he gave a written order because
18 he would never do that to his own assistants.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, I understand. I couldn't
20 remember to whom the verbal order had been given. Yes,
21 it was Mr. Slisovsky, something like that, isn't it?
22 MR. NOBILO: Sliskovic, yes. Yes,
23 Mr. President.
24 JUDGE JORDA: I also don't remember, General
25 Blaskic, when General Marin came, did he confirm your
1 verbal order -- well, we can find it in the
2 transcript -- but did he confirm the order or not, or
3 don't you remember? Judge Rodrigues says he didn't
4 confirm it.
5 A. General Marin is not a member of this team
6 within the command.
7 JUDGE JORDA: I thought he was your deputy.
8 I thought he was your deputy. Not at that time?
9 A. No, no, no. He was never my deputy, Your
10 Honour. He was subordinate to the chief of staff, that
11 is to say, he is three levels below me. He is
12 subordinate to the chief of staff.
13 JUDGE JORDA: But he participated in the
14 meetings, didn't he, when the verbal orders were
15 given? He was at the meetings every day, was he not?
16 A. Not at my meetings. He is not a member of my
17 team, Mr. President.
18 JUDGE JORDA: He was the commander of the
19 operations, he was the chief of staff of the operations
20 in the midst of the war. Didn't he come to your
21 meetings every morning? I don't understand. He came
22 for six weeks and he said that he would participate in
23 meetings every morning. Well, what meetings was he
24 participating in?
25 A. Mr. President, I'll try to do this in the
1 right order. First of all, he took part in meetings
2 when the chief of staff was not present, that is to
3 say, when the chief of staff was absent, then
4 ex officio the chief of operations replaces him. But
5 my deputy was always the chief of staff, Mr. Franjo
6 Nakic, and he was always present at the meeting of this
7 team within the command, and only when Nakic would not
8 be there, then Mr. Slavko Marin would come in as
9 Nakic's deputy.
10 JUDGE JORDA: However, in the midst of the
11 war, did Mr. Marin come to the meetings in order to
12 speak about war operations? You're saying he never
13 came? He was downstairs with the map and he would
14 never come upstairs to see you? You have to admit that
15 that's very surprising.
16 A. Marin is a member of the staff. I can show
17 this very easily. I can draw a diagram for you and I
18 can show you his exact position.
19 JUDGE JORDA: No, that isn't necessary.
20 We'll find it all in the transcript. I don't want to
21 take up Defence time. I was just a little bit
22 surprised. But it's not important. It was just a
23 clarification. I wanted to refresh my memory.
24 MR. NOBILO: I am going to use my own
25 questions --
1 JUDGE JORDA: Please let the General answer.
2 I'm asking him a question.
3 A. Mr. President, Your Honours, only in a
4 situation when the chief of staff was not there, when
5 he was present, it is only then that his deputy comes
6 to attend the meetings of this team within the command,
7 that is, Slavko Marin. There were such situations.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Okay, I understand.
9 A. As to regular situations, regular situations,
10 when the chief of staff is in headquarters, he is a
11 member of this team of mine, and Slavko Marin is his
12 subordinate. He does not take part in the meetings of
13 my team.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. I was trying to help you,
15 General, because basically you're looking for proof of
16 the verbal order, which you can't demonstrate because
17 it was a verbal order, and that's true, that's
18 difficult for you.
19 I was saying to myself that if Ahmici was a
20 war operation, which is what you said to us a little
21 while ago, Ahmici was a combat operation, since you
22 even said Anto Valenta said that there was a victory,
23 Ahmici was a victory, so it was part of combat. For
24 you, it was not a crime. First of all, it was a place
25 where combat took place. Do we agree on that?
1 A. It was synonymous at that time, they thought
2 that these were combat operations between the army of
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina and the HVO.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Thank you. So I was
5 moving ahead to see if you couldn't somehow improve the
6 existence of the verbal order in a different way, and I
7 was saying to myself that since we were talking about
8 combat operations, around Colonel Blaskic, they must
9 have spoke about combat every day. I would assume that
10 one speaks about combat in the midst of a war. At your
11 staff meetings, you would talk about combat, I assume.
13 A. In headquarters, everything that was said in
14 the operative centre was registered in the operations
15 logbook, that is to say, every activity.
16 JUDGE JORDA: But you can't show us the
17 logbook. I would have been very happy for you to
18 present it to us. Unfortunately, you never found your
19 own log. Let me remind you that you never found it,
20 not even when you were involved with the Operation
21 Spider. You didn't find the log, and I was very sorry
22 that you didn't. It seemed to me that all chiefs in a
23 war would preserve traces of their own diaries or
24 logs. You know, this is something which happens in
25 every country. All chiefs have traces of what they
1 did. But I put myself in your place, and I say that
2 this verbal order, which is a very important one for
3 you, on the 20th of April or the 21st of April, you
4 gave a verbal order, and I was saying that, after all,
5 in the meetings where there were many members of the
6 staff and you were involved in speaking about the
7 combats, didn't you speak about the fighting in Ahmici,
8 and didn't somebody say, "Oh, yes, the fighting in
9 Ahmici, it didn't go well. There were people killed.
10 There were crimes," et cetera. It must have happened
11 that way.
12 A. No, not that way. I got a letter from
13 Colonel Stewart about what had happened in Ahmici, and
14 after the letter, I had a meeting with Colonel Stewart,
15 and I reacted by issuing an order --
16 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, I was trying
17 to reason along with you, but I think that this diary
18 is lost, and we only have your word as a soldier and
19 your word as a sworn statement. I think that's all we
20 can say for now. I'm not asking any further
21 questions. I was just thinking that in a general staff
22 meeting with General Marin, who was involved with the
23 operations, you were in the middle of war, Ahmici was
24 being spoken about, you spoke about it as being a
25 victory, if this has a connection, a consistency, and I
1 was saying perhaps by looking through all of these
2 elements, General Blaskic would be able to show us the
3 probability of the existence of that verbal order.
4 No, you can't, and you're simple saying, "I
5 gave a verbal order and, believe me, it's true." The
6 Judges will see what they have to do.
7 Mr. Hayman is also going to help you, and
8 Judge Rodrigues also has a question he'd like to ask.
9 I'm not going to ask any further questions. I think
10 that you don't have any, General, and that's that.
11 Be careful of your microphone, Mr. Hayman.
12 Mr. Hayman, did you want to make a comment? Yes, go
14 MR. HAYMAN: We do, of course, disagree with
15 some of your comments, Mr. President, that the only
16 evidence is his word that there was no order, and we
17 have some follow-up questions that I've asked Mr. Nobilo
18 to ask the witness.
19 JUDGE JORDA: You're right. You're
20 absolutely right. But Judge Rodrigues also has
21 questions. I agree with you -- I know that you
22 wouldn't be in agreement with what I said, but it's my
23 right to ask the General whether, instead of repeating,
24 as he has been repeating when he said I gave a verbal
25 order, whether there wasn't a way through other
1 channels in order to corroborate. I am in a system,
2 Mr. Hayman, in which one does not have written proof,
3 one tries to corroborate. That's all I'm trying to
4 say. For the time being, I have some trouble in
5 following this, and I'm trying to reason the way your
6 client is reasoning to see whether, through another
7 approach, through the meetings of the general staff,
8 one could have some type of real probability of the
9 existence of the verbal order. That's all I'm saying,
10 and it's my right to ask that question. That's what I
11 was saying.
12 I think that Mr. Nobilo wants to say
13 something. Yet first I'd like Judge Rodrigues to ask
14 his question, and then we can give you the floor.
15 MR. NOBILO: Yes. Mr. President, we have
16 proof, but you just have to give us the floor. We have
17 an explanation. We have a different method.
18 JUDGE JORDA: I'll give the floor to Judge
19 Rodrigues. I'm not going to take the floor away from
20 Judge Rodrigues, but I saw Mr. Hayman with such ardour
21 and conviction saying that -- reacting to my questions,
22 I have to respond to that, and this is your time.
23 We're not going to take it away from you.
24 I'll give the floor to Judge Rodrigues.
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I'll ask this question very
1 quickly so as not to take away Defence time. Here is
2 my question, General.
3 More or less, approximately, how many general
4 meetings took place between the 16th of April and the
5 22nd of April, more or less?
6 A. Until the 22nd of April, every day, we were
7 sitting in one room.
8 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Therefore, every day, even
9 on Saturdays and Sundays?
10 A. Yes. Yes, every day.
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: My second question: There
12 were at least five meetings. At any meeting, did you
13 speak about the victory in Ahmici?
14 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Judge Rodrigues. I
15 didn't express myself well, but that's what I was
16 trying to get at. Thank you.
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: At some point in some
18 meeting, did you speak about the victory in Ahmici?
19 A. I only requested, when I arrived from Zenica,
20 I think this was around the 20th of April, late at
21 night, to have all the reports on combat operations
22 submitted to me in Ahmici, Nadioci, Sivrino Selo, all
23 these places along the road. I never -- I personally,
24 if you're asking me -- I never thought this was a
25 victory, because basically we were --
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me, General. You
2 said that for the HVO it was a victory. Today, Ahmici
3 means crime, but at that time, it meant victory.
4 Therefore, I can ask you the question in another way:
5 At any of the meetings that you had together, did you
6 speak about the fighting in Ahmici?
7 A. About the fighting according to the reports
8 that I had received, the BH army and the military
9 police, yes. About combat, combat was mentioned,
10 combat operations, positions that were taken, things
11 like that.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: And while speaking about
13 the combat, even in respect of the military police with
14 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, did somebody speak
15 about the fighting, that is, how that could be
16 translated as being a victory, that is, how the
17 fighting occurred and what the consequences were?
18 A. In that period of time, these were still
19 situations while the fighting was ongoing, so the
20 discussions were based on the reports that we had
21 received, on the basis of the information I received
22 about momentary positions, about combat operations with
23 the army --
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But, General, I'm speaking
25 especially about Ahmici. Did you speak or did somebody
1 speak about the fighting which had taken place in
3 A. Specifically, at that point in time, I
4 personally did not speak about this. I asked for the
5 report to be checked out, and when they told me that
6 the reports were about momentary positions and there
7 was nothing unusual as compared to things that were
8 happening at some 20 places or so, there were no other
9 discussions in that point in time.
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I have to ask you another
11 question. I believe that I know there were about five
12 or six people at that meeting. How many people
13 participated at that daily meeting, team meeting?
14 A. At different times, well, it differed, five
15 to six and depending on the subject matter that was to
16 be discussed, and there were people who had various
17 engagements. At first --
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, it was five to
19 six. I understand that on one day there might be a
20 meeting with four people and another day there would be
21 six people. But between the 16th of April and the 22nd
22 of April, nobody present at the meeting spoke about the
23 fighting in Ahmici, or did somebody, in fact, speak
24 about it?
25 A. At that time, the fighting was still ongoing,
1 and we received reports and we reacted to the reports
2 that we received. This can be seen from --
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me, General. I
4 think you understand my question. I'm speaking about
5 the reports and the information in respect of Ahmici.
6 I'm not speaking about others. I'm speaking about
7 Ahmici, specifically about Ahmici.
8 A. Well, I'm talking about the same, Your
9 Honour, Ahmici, that fighting was taking place there,
10 that units of the BH army were fortified, I remember
11 around the school and around the mosque, and that there
12 was combat going on over there, that the front line was
13 being suppressed and that the BH army is moving to
14 their reserve positions about 50 metres above the
15 village, that there were combat operations going on
16 over there too, so there was such information coming
17 in, that is to say, such military reports. Yes, I did
18 receive them.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: And the information for you
20 and for those people who were present at the meeting,
21 was the information positive or negative?
22 A. The information spoke of how heavy the
23 fighting was, and I think they were sort of half/half.
24 The front was moving towards the north, it went to the
25 north of the village, but at least from a tactical
1 point of view, it had not reached such a level --
2 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, if somebody spoke
3 about violent activity, perhaps that person spoke about
4 the violence in the sense of winning or losing a
5 battle, do you have any idea about this violence which
6 would entail a positive or a negative attitude? I'm
7 talking about the HVO side, positive or negative
8 reactions from the HVO side?
9 A. Well, the fighting went on practically all
10 day between HVO units and BH army units, and the
11 fighting was rather static, operations were rather
12 static, and only in the coming period did the front
13 line move a bit. Even at a tactical level, this was
14 negligible. So this negligible movement was to the
15 detriment of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina but that
16 was only temporary.
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me. When you say
18 that the fighting went on all day, what day are you
19 speaking about?
20 A. I'm speaking about the 16th of April.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: And the fighting was taking
22 place on that day in Ahmici; is that correct?
23 A. According to the information I had, sometime
24 between 11.45, when I received it, in Ahmici.
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me, General, for
1 insisting on this point, but I would like you to answer
2 my questions directly. When somebody spoke about the
3 fighting which was going on with a great deal of
4 violence on the 16th of April in Ahmici, did the idea
5 of violence bring out a negative or a positive attitude
6 on the side of the HVO?
7 A. According to the reports and according to my
8 memory --
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me. My question is,
10 the idea of violence that somebody mentioned at the
11 meeting, and you said that there was violent combat
12 going on, my question is, and the answer, in my
13 opinion, should either be "Yes," "No," or "I don't
14 know." This is the question: The idea of violence
15 entailed a positive idea or a negative reaction, that
16 is, a reaction of success or failure in respect of the
18 A. I'll try to give you the most accurate answer
19 possible, Your Honour. I believe, according to those
20 reports, and as far as I can remember now, that this
21 fighting was one on a footing of equality --
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: According to what was said
23 at the meeting, not according to the reports, but
24 according to what was said at the meeting.
25 A. Yes, according to what was said at the
1 meeting, this was static fighting that was ongoing,
2 without any movement of the front line. This went on
3 on both sides, static fighting.
4 MR. NOBILO: Your Honour, the interpretation
5 is the problem. General Blaskic uses the word "silina"
6 which is being interpreted into English as "violence."
7 These are two different words. They have a different
8 meaning. We are talking about the intensity of
9 fighting, and violence is something different.
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: In any case, according to
11 what you say, I'll change the way I express myself.
12 Instead of using the word "violence," I'll use the word
14 So, General, when somebody at the meeting
15 spoke about the fact that the fighting was intense, was
16 fierce, was there the possibility of concluding or did
17 somebody actually say or express a positive or negative
18 idea from the point of view of the HVO? So when I say
19 "positive," "negative," what I mean by those words,
20 I'm connecting them with success or probability of
21 success for the HVO.
22 A. On that day, the 16th, when we're talking
23 about the 16th, this was static combat. There were no
24 movements, and there were no successes. I'm talking
25 about both sides. The two sides were confronting one
1 another and they were firing at one another on the
2 16th. The next day, there was some movement, perhaps
3 100 or 150 metres.
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: The next morning at what
6 A. If you allow me to have a look at my
7 chronology? I mean, we're talking about minutes, Your
8 Honour. I don't know. I can't say just off the cuff.
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Was it 8.00? Was it
10 11.00? Was it 5.00 in the morning? What time? At
11 what time were you speaking that way?
12 A. I'll have a look in my chronology and I'll
13 tell you.
14 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I don't think that's
15 necessary. You simply have to say at 9.00, 10.00,
16 11.00. You have no idea?
17 A. Well, it's hard for me to engage in
18 guesswork. We are talking about 22 different places
19 where there was combat activity going on, and from one
20 minute to another, these actions were taking place all
21 over, and I can look at my chronology and tell you very
23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So as not to take up too
24 much of the Defence time, perhaps you could look at
25 that during the break. I think that for right now, I
1 have no further questions.
2 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Judge Rodrigues. I
3 would like the Defence to understand, and I insist on
4 that, that for the Judges, these are very important
5 moments in respect of the charges and all of us are
6 looking for the truth. This means if, at some time on
7 the 22nd of April, for the first time Colonel Stewart
8 informed your client of the atrocities which had taken
9 place on the -- that's on the 22nd of April, informed
10 him of the atrocities and said, as early as the 22nd of
11 April, you were given verbal orders which apparently
12 were corroborated by the written order of 10 May --
13 that's the interpretation -- it is true that the Judges
14 are seeking, in all of your client's words, a way to
15 find corroboration for that since there is no formal
16 proof. But we all know that in all legal systems,
17 formal proof, of course, is the best. But it is not
18 absolutely necessary. In all legal systems, people
19 know that the Judges come to decisions in relation to
20 written proof but also through all types of other
21 considerations. It was simply this search for the
22 truth that we have been entrusted with finding.
23 Thank you, Judge Rodrigues, for trying to
24 contribute something.
25 Judge Shahabuddeen, do you wish to say
2 Thank you. Mr. Nobilo, you can continue.
3 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. After
4 a question about Ahmici, I will go back to the
5 substance, and that is to say, that there is other
6 evidence apart from the written type that the order had
7 been given for an investigation into Ahmici previously.
8 Q. General, I'm going to ask you this now: In
9 the army, among the people, Ahmici was considered to be
10 a victory. You, as a strategist, what do you consider,
11 staying in the village for one day, did this prove
12 advantageous to the HVO or not and where should the HV
13 have been for that one day? So was it a victory or not
14 a victory?
15 A. It, of course, was not a victory. I said
16 that the people understood it in this way, the layman
17 spoke about it in that fashion, but on a tactical
18 level, a trained professional commander of a platoon
19 even wouldn't have assessed this as a victory, a
20 trained soldier.
21 Q. General, when you led the operation -- had
22 you led the operation in the village of Ahmici, what
23 would you have done on that day, the 16th of April?
24 What would your manoeuvre have been?
25 A. At all times, the principle is to manoeuvre,
1 that is, to avoid combat activities in a built-up area
2 at all costs, and there is no commander whatever who
3 would agree to planning an operation and forget the
4 fact that it would be fighting in the centre of a
5 village. Perhaps Grbavica is the best example.
6 Q. Our time is running out, so I am beginning to
7 think like my colleague, Mr. Kehoe, so let's stop
8 there. Could you explain to the Judges what you mean
9 by "manoeuvre"? Where should you have gone and arrived
10 at had you led the operation?
11 A. The hill above the village and taken it from
12 the left and right, that is to say, quite certainly to
13 avoid any fighting in the village. That is the tactic
14 that professional soldiers apply.
15 Q. After 11.42, when you had learnt about
16 fighting in Ahmici, what did you ask Pasko Ljubicic,
17 who led the operation, to do?
18 A. On several occasions, once again, I said "Go
19 to the hills. Take to the hills. On the left and
20 flank, go up and take the hills." And that was a
21 similar situation in Gomionica, Grbavica, et cetera.
22 Q. Let us return to the order about Ahmici.
23 Tell us, please, once again, was Slavko Marin a member
24 of your team?
25 A. No.
1 Q. Tell us, in the days of the war, the first
2 days of the war, the 16th of April, the 17th of April,
3 the 18th of April, was Nakic at the headquarters?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Did Marin replace Nakic on that occasion?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. When did Nakic turn up for the first time?
8 A. I think it was on the 20th of April, and I'm
9 quite certain that it was on the 21st of April. It
10 might have been 20th but certainly the 21st.
11 Q. After Nakic, the chief of staff of the
12 Central Bosnia Operative Zone, succeeded in turning up
13 at the command, did Slavko Marin attend the meetings of
14 your team?
15 A. No, he never attended the meetings of the
16 team when Franjo Nakic was in the headquarters. So
17 Slavko Marin never attended meetings of my team at that
19 Q. A demand for a request into the investigation
20 into Ahmici and for punishment, is that part of combat
21 operations? Does that come under Slavko Marin's field
22 of activity or not?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Tell us once again, please, in concise terms,
25 why do you consider that the fact of issuing a written
1 order to your assistant for investigation into Ahmici
2 was, at the same time, proof that before a written
3 order was issued, an oral order was issued? Why do you
4 consider that that is proof in itself?
5 A. Because all the commands of all armies, as
6 far as I know, work as a team, they have teamwork and a
7 team approach to their work and function in similar
8 ways, that is to say, they issue oral orders which are
9 then recorded in personal war diaries, and the fact
10 that a written order is issued shows that the superior
11 commanding officer is not satisfied with the results so
12 far or wishes to accelerate those results.
13 Q. Could you enumerate for us and tell us, when
14 you give a written order to a member of your own team,
15 what drastic cases are these when that is done?
16 A. They are cases when a trust has been upset,
17 the balance of trust, or cases when something truly
18 dramatic occurs between the commander and his immediate
19 assistant, direct assistant, but these are
20 exceptionally rare, very rare cases indeed.
21 Q. If somebody refuses to carry out an order,
22 would that be a case in point?
23 A. Yes. Not only refusal but obstruction. You
24 don't have to refuse to carry out an order; you can
25 receive an order and then tell your superiors that this
1 has not been done fully, accomplished fully, so it can
2 be that an order is obstructed in being carried out but
3 threats and warnings to your subordinates that they
4 must implement the order issued.
5 Q. If a written order is a threat and warning,
6 what do you think? Is it, militarily speaking, logical
7 that somebody who you have asked for the first time to
8 carry out an investigation, to send out threats and
10 A. That practically never happens at the level
11 of the brigade or the team of the brigade commander.
12 What always happens is that oral orders are issued to
13 the team, the immediate team, and personal wartime
14 diaries are, of course, official documents as well, and
15 then only if something dramatic takes place or if a
16 commander expresses a certain amount of distrust, only
17 then is a written order issued, but that is truly the
19 Q. Tell us, please, you have described the order
20 for an investigation of the 10th of May, 1993 as an
21 exception, but you issued another order, once again in
22 writing. Could you tell us what happened in that
23 continuity? Have you noted down how many times and
24 when you asked for, called for an investigation into
25 Ahmici, if you have those notes at hand? If not, we
1 can look into it during the break. But tell us, why
2 did you give a second order in writing as well?
3 A. The first report was fairly superficial, and
4 the investigation and the first report did not bring in
5 any concrete results, but it's stated that the
6 investigation would continue. I continued to insist on
7 several occasions -- and in my chronology, I had that
8 -- when I asked for the additional results of the
9 investigation to be sent in to me, and I wanted to
10 create a better climate for the investigation itself,
11 which meant to break down the command structure of the
12 military police and to take over via the commander,
13 Palavra, the military police and a complete change of
14 cadres in the military police, that is, to remove those
15 with criminal records and to create a better security
16 and safety situation for the implementation of a
17 comprehensive investigation.
18 Q. Let us now move on to something else related
19 to Ahmici. Tell us, please, whether the assistant for
20 security, Ante Sliskovic, was under your exclusive
21 orders and control?
22 A. No, he was directly subordinate to the chief
23 of the Mostar administration for security, and the
24 orders that he received directly from his superiors had
25 absolute priority compared to my own orders and
2 JUDGE JORDA: General Blaskic, in the order
3 of the 10th of May, what's the "ONO"? I see "ONO,"
4 chief of operations and training, "ONO." Could we give
5 the document to the General, please? I've got the
6 document in French.
7 Do you have the document?
8 A. I have it, Mr. President, and it is the
9 operations and training organ of the military district
10 of Vitez.
11 JUDGE JORDA: Is that Mr. Marin?
12 A. Yes. He was the head of the operations and
13 training department or office of the military district
14 of Vitez.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Therefore, I deduce that in the
16 order of 10 May, further to what -- I called him
17 General, but I made a mistake, I mean Judge Rodrigues
18 -- further to what Judge Rodrigues said to you, at
19 some point a relationship was made in your mind between
20 the atrocities, the crime that was committed in Ahmici,
21 and the combat operation in Ahmici. There must have
22 been a connection, and I assume you made that
23 connection. Perhaps you don't understand my question.
24 Let me repeat it.
25 My concern is always to learn how we can
1 corroborate the verbal order. You're saying that "I
2 gave a written order and that it was exceptional
3 which proves a contrario that I gave the order."
4 Therefore, I had the order of 10 May given to me by the
5 registrar, and in the order, you designate, as the
6 person responsible for the investigation, the SIS, the
7 S-I-S, and you say that the SIS took its orders in
8 Mostar. That's possible. Nonetheless, you are the one
9 who was in charge of the investigation; do you agree?
10 You were in charge of the investigation.
11 A. Mr. President, I requested an investigation
12 of the assistant for security.
13 JUDGE JORDA: No, no, no, not at all. I've
14 already pointed out to you already during the
15 cross-examination that the number 1 point in the order
16 was to gather all information. When it says "gather
17 information and submit a report about the events," that
18 is a way of conducting an investigation, of considering
19 that one is responsible for an investigation.
20 If what you said is true and if it was
21 consistent with what you've been saying, you would have
22 only issued order 2, "that I appoint the assistant to
23 be responsible for that task." But your assistant is
24 responsible for executing your order under point 1.
25 I'm also speaking for your Defence counsel.
1 But that is not my question. I wanted to
2 ask, but I don't want to use up the Defence's time. We
3 can consider that you yourself took responsibility for
4 the operation. But that doesn't matter. That is not
5 my question. My question is further to comments by
6 Judge Rodrigues. You are obliged, when you designate
7 the assistant at the SIS, the security service, you
8 have to make the connection with Marin who was the
9 chief of operations. You had to have been, "Yes" or
11 A. It was customary that all documents were also
12 sent to the operative section, so all the documents I
13 have here I'm sure they do in the operative section.
14 JUDGE JORDA: I'm not talking about what is
15 habitual. I'm speaking about this particular
16 document. When you designate a service which has
17 nothing to do with Ahmici, that is, the security
18 service, you remember you did not want to designate the
19 military police commander for the investigation because
20 you considered that they would not carry out the
21 investigation objectively. I accept that. And so you
22 designate a service which knows nothing about the
23 fighting in Ahmici. They don't know anything about the
24 fighting in Ahmici; you agree with that. In fact, you
25 chose them for that reason, so that they would be
1 objective. Do you follow what I'm saying?
2 A. They were the professional service for
3 conducting investigations over all institutions,
4 including myself.
5 JUDGE JORDA: Yes. Well, don't answer me in
6 theoretical terms. Please answer precisely. You chose
7 them because they were not the military police, about
8 whom you had suspicions. So they knew nothing about
9 the fighting in Ahmici. Nothing. They were not
11 A. I'm not getting any interpretation, Your
13 JUDGE JORDA: I think perhaps there was an
14 interpreter problem here. I'm speaking slowly on
15 purpose so they can be very careful that everything I
16 say is interpreted correctly.
17 You designate the assistant from SIS because,
18 in your eyes, he matches the conditions necessary for
19 complete objectivity; is that true or is it not true?
20 A. Yes, complete objectivity. Above them is
21 only the joint commission.
22 JUDGE JORDA: They did not know what had
23 happened in Ahmici at the point that you designated
24 them. They didn't know.
25 A. I don't know exactly what information they
1 had at their disposal. The security service is in
2 charge of internal security, but I do believe that they
3 did not know all the details.
4 JUDGE JORDA: But they did not have
5 jurisdiction over combat matters; that's what I meant.
6 A. They did not have jurisdiction over combat,
8 JUDGE JORDA: Well, that's clear. Therefore,
9 in my opinion, you were obliged to tell them to contact
10 the people or the person responsible for the
11 operations, that's Marin, "Yes" or "No"?
12 A. I consider that I was not duty-bound to tell
13 them that, Your Honour. They have power and authority
14 to exert control over everything --
15 JUDGE JORDA: But you did. You designated
16 them as addressees in the order; that is, you
17 considered that there was a relationship that should be
18 made between the two. Is that true or not?
19 A. They are independent in conducting
20 investigations. They are professional individuals and
21 independent and autonomous in conducting
23 JUDGE JORDA: Well, I'm sure that
24 [interpretation cuts out] ... but if you want to share
25 your conviction with us and you have a very strong
1 conviction, when you say that you wanted to ascertain
2 the truth, when you designated SIS, you had to say to
3 them in some way, "Get information about what happened
4 in that well-known victory in Ahmici, at the intense
5 and fierce combat in Ahmici." That's what you said to
6 Judge Rodrigues. You had to make the connection,
7 didn't you?
8 A. Perhaps I don't understand the question
9 properly, Mr. President, but my knowledge is that
10 SIS --
11 JUDGE JORDA: Okay. I'll repeat it. You ask
12 an investigative service, which is independent, to
13 gather evidence about what you know on the 10th of May
14 about Ahmici, but you know that there had been
15 atrocities that you learned about in Colonel Stewart's
16 letter. You said that you gave verbal orders between
17 the 20th of April and the 10th of May. My question has
18 to do with the written order of 10 May. I would like
19 to know whether you made a connection between General
20 Marin, the chief of your operations, and the assistant
21 at SIS, "Yes" or "No"?
22 A. I personally did not connect him because I
23 thought that the assistant for SIS has the authority to
24 have insight into all documents, not only operative
25 ones, but all documents related to the military
2 JUDGE JORDA: Your own document is
3 contradicting you because you made that connection,
4 it's indicated in the addressees -- just a moment,
5 please, Mr. Nobilo. You're talking about the operation
6 officers and you said that it was Marin.
7 A. Yes, because all the documents go to the
8 operative department, all documents issued go to the
10 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. All the documents
11 are transmitted. Therefore, my question, which I'm
12 asking in order to corroborate the verbal order which
13 you allegedly issued, in the team meetings that you
14 had, at some point did you say to Marin, "Marin, I'm
15 going to entrust SIS with the investigation. You're
16 going to be questioned by them in order to find out
17 what happened in Ahmici." Did you do that or did you
18 not do that?
19 A. I did not do that because Marin was never a
20 member of my team. Should that have been done, it
21 would have been done by the chief of staff.
22 JUDGE JORDA: You are the officer in that
23 headquarters. There's a war, it was an atrocious war,
24 and you're answering in terms of an organisational
25 structure. What I'm trying to find out is a way of
1 corroborating your moral concern about the atrocities
2 in Ahmici. I'm trying to find out whether, in
3 accordance with your order of 10 May, you said at some
4 point to Marin, in fact, "Make available to yourself
5 SIS in order to find out everything you can about
6 Ahmici." Did you do that or didn't you?
7 A. The file regarding Ahmici was made with the
8 chief of staff on the 22nd, I think, of April.
9 Everything that existed was at their disposal, and I
10 was at the disposal of SIS. So SIS had the power and
11 authority, independent of my own will, to conduct
12 investigations over the whole of the HVO.
13 JUDGE JORDA: Well, we'll reread the entire
14 transcript of General Marin. I want to know whether,
15 at some point, you said to Marin, in fact, "Do you
16 remember that on the 20th of April I gave an order in
17 order to find out what happened about the crime in
18 Ahmici? I'm going to repeat the order of 10 May.
19 You're one of the addressees. Did you give all the
20 information about the combat in Ahmici, that is,
21 military activity in Ahmici?"
22 A. I did not have any discussion with Slavko
23 Marin about that in particular but I did with Franjo
24 Nakic, the chief of staff, and this was about the 22nd
25 of April. I had a meeting with Franjo Nakic, I
1 compiled the file of all reports, and that file was at
2 the disposal of the security service. So all the
3 operations reports and orders from the 15th, 16th, up
4 until the 22nd of April. That was a file containing
5 about 80 to 100 documents placed at the disposal of the
6 security service.
7 JUDGE JORDA: Then the file was pretty well
8 done, it was compiled properly. Therefore, my last
9 question is, why re-issue an order on the 10th of May?
10 You've got 180 (sic) documents which unfortunately
11 disappeared. So work was done. Now you're saying that
12 in the order of 10 May, gather or collect all
13 information for several days. There's been rumours in
14 the public -- well, these were not rumours because
15 you're telling me that on the 25th of April, you had a
16 file with 80 or 100 documents in it about the
17 atrocities in Ahmici. That's what you said.
18 A. Mr. President, that was a file about all the
19 operations, all the reports, all the orders, not a file
20 on the crime in Ahmici on the 22nd of April, 1993. The
21 rumours --
22 JUDGE JORDA: [interpretation cuts in]
23 ... file on Ahmici. All right. I have no further
24 questions. Judge Rodrigues?
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Very quickly, General. Is
1 there a difference between the addressee in your oral
2 order and the addressee in your written order?
3 A. Your Honour, if I issue an oral order, the
4 recipient must write it down in his personal log, in
5 his official document. I also have it written down in
6 my logbook. If I issue a written order, then it must
7 go to the addressee. A copy also should go to the
8 archives, and one copy should go to the operations and
9 training centre which then distributes all of these
10 documents, and then one of the officers of that
11 department will monitor the implementation of all the
12 issued orders.
13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Therefore, General, the
14 conclusion must be that your assistant for security
15 knew what it was about when he received the written
17 A. Yes, he knew that if he was given a written
18 order, that I was not satisfied with the result of the
19 oral order.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: And General Marin?
21 A. This is not an order to act for Brigadier
22 Marin. He receives this order, gives it to his
23 assistant of operations, and then he would classify
24 this document, saying that it was issued on that date,
25 and then he would set it aside for the security service
1 to act upon it. So he only needs to enter it into the
2 logbook to note that it has been issued. He does not
3 act upon it.
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I don't know whether he was
5 a General or a Brigadier, but Slavko Marin became aware
6 for the first time when he received the written order?
7 A. It's possible if the chief of staff had not
8 informed him about my oral order or the person who
9 attended the team meeting. So it's possible that he
10 personally learned about that task for the first time.
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I want to use this time to
12 ask you another question. When you came back to the
13 team meeting on the 16th of April, when somebody spoke
14 about the intensity of the fighting in Ahmici, somebody
15 in that meeting spoke about the intensity of the
16 combat; do you remember that you said that?
17 A. That there was fierce combat activity, yes, I
18 remember that.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But did you know that you
20 had HVO units in Ahmici?
21 A. Units of the military police, their commander
22 informed me that he was in Ahmici in the morning at
23 about 11.42 on the 16th of April.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: The intensity that somebody
25 spoke about at the meeting on the 16th, didn't that jog
1 curiosity, or perhaps your duty as a commander of the
2 Operative Zone, to learn what the results of the
3 combat -- of the static combat that you mentioned
4 were? So that on the 16th, you learned that there had
5 been intense fighting. On the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th,
6 21st, did you never ask what the results of such
7 intense fighting were?
8 A. Not only had I asked but I asked for written
9 information, to receive written information, to get
10 specific reports about the outcome, the results of all
11 the fighting, and I tried to get information because
12 there wasn't only fighting in Ahmici but in 20 other
13 places as well. So there was intense fighting in other
14 places, including the hotel which was hit that
16 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me for interrupting
17 you, General. I'm trying to be as direct as possible
18 so we don't use up too much time. But when you said,
19 "Not only did I ask, but I asked for written reports,"
20 I think that you're saying that you made an oral
21 request and a written request. That's what I've
23 A. I was in touch with the commanders, in
24 telephone touch, and I asked for information and
25 reports about the events in Busovaca and Vitez.
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: When, for the first time
2 after the 16th, or maybe even on the 16th, after having
3 spoken about the intensity of the fighting, when did
4 you ask for information about the results of the
6 A. I can't remember precisely, but my demands
7 and requests for information and reports, it's all
8 there in my chronology. It was minute-by-minute
9 information. The telephone was ringing every five
10 minutes about the outcome, the result, the intensity,
11 and all the other things.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes, General. I can
13 understand your answer. But for a commander of an
14 operative zone, when somebody says that there was
15 intense fighting on the 16th, it seems natural to me to
16 try to find out on the same day or the next day or
17 would you only find out about what happened a month
19 A. Your Honour, at that time, combat was going
20 on, and it was presented here, combat was going on in
21 22 places, intense fighting in 22 places, total
22 encirclement in 22 places. I did everything that I
23 could in order to receive as complete information as
24 possible, and even at that time, I asked for specific
25 and complete information.
1 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General. Let me
2 give the floor to Mr. Nobilo.
3 MR. NOBILO:
4 Q. Defence Exhibit D280, which represents a
5 written report from Ahmici which arrived on the 16th of
6 April, 1993, General, except that written report, did
7 you receive oral reports in the course of the day about
8 the combat in Ahmici? Before that report, did you
9 receive oral reports about the fighting in Ahmici on
10 the 16th of April, 1993?
11 A. No. The first report I received was at 11.42
12 on the 16th of April, 1993.
13 Q. After that, did you receive further oral
14 reports about the events in Ahmici from Commander Pasko
15 Ljubicic by telephone?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Did you ask for written reports as well,
18 besides that?
19 A. Yes, and you can see that from this document,
20 D220, where he cites the order that I issued, and also,
21 in subsequent days, I did not only issue orders but
22 warnings that I had to have complete and true
23 information about the events.
24 Q. So on the 16th of April, out of all the
25 numerous oral reports and from this written report, did
1 information reach you from anywhere that a crime had
2 been committed in Ahmici?
3 A. No.
4 Q. Another thing. The documents, the orders
5 that you issued of any kind, do they automatically go
6 to the operations and training department or is this
7 specific only for some orders or is this a matter of
9 A. Yes, it's a matter of routine. All orders go
10 there because one person has the task of recording and
11 also monitoring the deadlines for the implementation of
12 the orders. I would sign over 400 orders a month, and
13 I couldn't monitor all of them, and that is why there
14 was a person in the operations and training department
15 who used to record the orders and monitor their
16 implementation. He would possibly remind those who
17 were supposed to implement the orders about the
18 deadline for the implementation of that order.
19 Q. So sending all orders to the operations and
20 training department, did that have anything to do --
21 whether it had to do with combat or administration
23 A. No. This was strictly an administrative
24 procedure and it had nothing to do with any kind of
25 combat operations.
1 Q. Oral orders for investigations and the
2 written orders for investigations in the case of
3 Ahmici, were they given to one in the same person?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. The weight of an oral and a written order, is
6 it the same or is it different? Must they be
8 A. It's the same. It has to be implemented. As
9 far as a soldier is concerned, there is no difference
10 there. Both of them have the same weight, the same
12 Q. After the completion of the investigation,
13 when the SIS commander, head of SIS, Ante Sliskovic,
14 told you that the file was sent to Mostar on orders,
15 could you, did you have the legal authority, to order
16 him to act differently?
17 A. No. The priority, precisely because of the
18 dual chain of command, his priority as a superior, the
19 head of SIS in Mostar, these were priority tasks, and
20 regardless of what I ordered, he had to act in
21 accordance with the tasks that he received from his
22 superiors. I was not authorised nor did I have the
23 legal option of changing that decision or that task.
24 Q. When the head of SIS, Ante Sliskovic, told
25 you that he received an order from his superiors for
1 the investigation files regarding Ahmici be sent to
2 Mostar, so to higher military command, what did you
3 believe would happen at that time? What did you
4 believe would happen?
5 A. At that time, I believed that the authorised
6 persons from the SIS administration will continue to
7 process this and that the military top command would
8 carry out the processing and they would deal with those
9 suspected of committing the war crimes.
10 Q. Did you think that the military command would
11 end this investigation in a better or worse way than
12 you would?
13 A. Well, better, of course, because their powers
14 were greater and there was a need to detain a larger
15 number of suspects, and obviously my command power at
16 that time was much smaller.
17 Q. After receiving the news that the file was
18 sent to Mostar, did you receive any signals or
19 indications based on which you could conclude that
20 something positive or negative was happening? Did you
21 see anything which would point to you that something
22 was happening?
23 A. I received information that high officials
24 from the SIS administration on two occasions, in
25 October and November, they went and made the final
1 controls of the results of the investigations, and I
2 believed that they would carry on with the prosecution
3 of the suspects.
4 Q. What did you believe, that there would be
5 court proceedings in Vitez, in Mostar? Did you think
6 about that?
7 A. I believed that the only possible and the
8 surest way would be to hold the trial in Mostar due to
9 the overall situation that was prevalent in the area of
10 Vitez at that time.
11 Q. Parallel with the investigation, which was
12 obviously completed, did you take any measures to
13 prevent those who had taken part in the crime in
14 Ahmici, the military police, that they do not repeat
15 such a crime? I'm talking about especially prevention
16 with regard to military police, and if so, what was
18 A. Yes, in the conditions of total encirclement,
19 in a situation that had no way out, I spent a lot of
20 time, first of all, to effect a change in the command
21 structure within the military police, and then with
22 Mr. Palavra, who in the former army was a plain
23 soldier, to work to enable him and to enable his
24 command to carry out very large changes in the
25 structure, especially regarding those who were subject
1 to punishment in the military police. I was trying --
2 my attempts to have those persons dismissed from the
3 military police were not fruitful.
4 Q. In that whole period, did you ever find any
5 single name or had any proof that any person had
6 committed a crime in Ahmici? Do you have any single
8 A. No.
9 Q. Could you then initiate disciplinary
11 A. No, because the biggest problem was the
12 problem of getting the names of the perpetrators.
13 Q. I would like to ask you something now about
14 something that we did not discuss in the course of this
15 trial and that I believe is significant. Could you
16 please explain to the Court what atmosphere or how did
17 public opinion, among the army and the people in these
18 enclaves on the model, what was the public opinion
19 regarding the crime that was committed in Ahmici in
20 1993? If you could please tell us about that?
21 A. Well, there were objective problems and
22 difficulties, naturally. If only Ahmici had happened,
23 I believe that there would have been general
24 condemnation by all of those who lived -- all of the
25 peoples, the citizens, who lived in that area, and that
1 there would have been general support for this crime to
2 be investigated and to be wholly processed.
3 Q. Could you please explain to the Trial
4 Chamber, I think this is important, did the public
5 support an investigation or not? And you requested the
7 A. No, it did not.
8 Q. And why didn't it? Could you please explain
10 A. There were a lot of reasons. I already said
11 that. I think that one of the reasons was, of course,
12 that this was not the first crime that happened, crimes
13 had happened before, but it seemed to the public that
14 some had an exclusive right for information to be
15 published and to sacrifice while the others did not.
16 There was a large number of refugees and they kept
17 arriving daily, and I said that there were about 35.000
18 people. These were desperate people who were forced to
19 watch from that enclave how their houses were burned
20 down every day. They pulled out at the same time as
21 the HVO troops pulled out, under pressure of the
22 B and H army.
23 Q. Did these refugees contribute towards a
24 positive or a negative attitude towards the
25 investigation of the Ahmici case?
1 A. Well, it was negative. If we take that the
2 total number, 70.000 population in the enclave,
3 including the 35.000 refugees, so then we would have 50
4 per cent of desperate people, the rest would be the
5 local population, and, of course, these were desperate
6 people. They mainly came just carrying a little bag in
7 their hand. Recently, I was watching refugees from
8 Kosovo that were coming on tractors. I don't remember
9 seeing anybody who managed to come with a tractor or on
10 a truck.
11 Q. What else had an effect to radicalise the
12 situation and create resistance towards an
13 investigation of the Ahmici case?
14 A. Well, there were a lot of children and older
15 people and victims of, most often, sniper activity and
16 shelling, including activities by tanks in town, such
17 as Busovaca and Vitez.
18 Q. And what happened to these children?
19 A. Well --
20 Q. Tell us.
21 A. The children were killed by snipers and by
22 mortar shells, so this also made the situation more
23 radical. Children were also wounded. There were cases
24 where a whole family was wiped out. We had 80 children
25 who did not have either both parents or did not have a
1 mother or a father, one of the parents.
2 Q. How many were there killed in the enclave?
3 A. There was about 1.300 soldiers and the total
4 number of casualties was around 2.000, and only in the
5 area of Vitez, there were 650 soldiers killed.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Mr. Nobilo, it's a long
7 morning. Ordinarily, we take two breaks. Do you want
8 to ask another question on that point?
9 MR. NOBILO: Just one question in order to
10 round this off.
11 Q. In spite of this situation and your efforts
12 to have an investigation, did anybody seriously support
13 your efforts to carry out an investigation about
15 A. Apart from my own personal efforts and the
16 efforts made by the security officials, there wasn't
17 any support, I did not feel anybody's support, and even
18 more so because the struggle for survival went on for
19 almost a year in that area and there was not a single
20 safe position; that is to say, when a soldier was not
21 in a trench, he knew that there was not a single safe
22 place where he could rest even for an hour. The
23 question was for how long we could survive and how long
24 we could endure in that area.
25 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. We
1 can take a break at this point.
2 JUDGE JORDA: I think we will take a
3 20-minute break. It's been a long morning and we're
4 all beginning to get tired. We'll start at about a
5 quarter after twelve.
6 --- Recess taken at 11.55 a.m.
7 --- On resuming at 12.20 p.m.
8 JUDGE JORDA: We will now resume the
10 I am convinced that the Judges' questions
11 have moved you forward, Mr. Nobilo, so that you can
12 finish by 1.30. I'm convinced of that. Now let me
13 reassure you that if it isn't finished, we will take
14 that time necessary when Judge Shahabuddeen comes
15 back. We want things to be very clear. You have to
16 carry out your mission; we have to carry out ours as
17 completely as possible. If you finish, all the better;
18 if you don't, we'll continue at another time, because
19 we interrupted you.
20 Mr. Nobilo, please proceed.
21 MR. NOBILO: Thank you for your
22 understanding, Mr. President.
23 Q. General, on several occasions, the Prosecutor
24 put rhetorical questions to you. "Give us at least one
25 name of a person who was punished for this or that
1 offence." So could you please explain to the Court how
2 you, as commander of the Operative Zone, viewed your
3 role in the process of punishing the perpetrators of
5 A. Well, I issued clear instructions and orders
6 to my subordinates that I would not tolerate the
7 commission of crimes, and my positions were quite clear
8 in that respect and I should say that they were
9 generally known to all my associates. If, after the
10 investigation, I would receive information about the
11 perpetrators of crimes, I would also act in accordance
12 with a system: I would either file a criminal report
13 or I would ask the competent authorities to do that
14 through the district military prosecutor.
15 Q. Did you think that, as commander of the
16 Operative Zone, it was your duty to personally conduct
17 investigations of individual crimes?
18 A. I did not think that was my duty, and it was
19 not at that level where it was possible for me to do so
20 either. I tried to work in accordance with a system
21 and to make sure that a system be established that
22 would function and where competent expert professionals
23 would carry out investigations and also initiate
25 Q. During your schooling, did you receive any
1 training as an investigator of crime?
2 A. No. In the former JNA and also in the HVO, I
3 always tried to make sure that the system operated and
4 that everyone, in keeping with his own abilities and
5 legal responsibilities, carries out his duties.
6 Q. In the case of prosecuting criminal offences,
7 what was the most important thing and what was the most
8 difficult thing?
9 A. The most difficult thing was to discover the
10 perpetrators of criminal offences, that is to say, to
11 arrive at the name and surname of the perpetrator of a
13 Q. In the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, in
14 keeping with the decree on armed forces and other laws,
15 which bodies did you have at your disposal that did
16 have the power to investigate crime?
17 A. The military police and the security
19 Q. What could you do in respect of criminal
20 offences? What could you do and what could you ask the
21 security service and the military police to do?
22 A. I could request that they be engaged in the
23 efforts aimed at discovering the perpetrators of
24 criminal offences. However, I already said that due to
25 the dual change of command, the orders of their direct
1 superiors from Mostar always had priority.
2 Q. Did you issue orders to these organs and did
3 you ask in that way to investigate the perpetrators of
4 all crimes, including war crimes?
5 A. Yes, I did that and I insisted on that, and
6 sometimes I would even repeat orders and sometimes I
7 would issue orders in respect of orders, and I would
8 inform my superiors about all the problems that I was
9 facing in such activities.
10 Q. Do you know whether they, within their own
11 hierarchy, received the same kind of orders from their
12 superiors? Do you know what kind of orders they
13 received from their superiors?
14 A. I don't know what kind of orders they
15 received. In that sense, they were quite autonomous
16 and independent of me, in that respect.
17 Q. Do you agree with the assertion that the
18 military police is the biggest, and then there is SIS
19 also, that they were inefficient in investigating
20 crimes in the Lasva River Valley in 1993?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. When a body is inefficient, could you have
23 changed the structure of the military police or of the
25 A. I did not have such powers, and I could only
1 repeat my requests, my insistence, and I would write
2 and ask that the structure of the establishment of the
3 HVO be changed.
4 Q. If you cannot change the bodies that are
5 supposed to discover the perpetrators of crimes and
6 they don't do that well, what could you do in that
8 A. The only thing I could do in that situation
9 -- or, rather, I could not punish anyone. I could
10 only ask for the structure, the organisational
11 structure, to be changed, primarily of the military
12 police, so that later I would manage to achieve changes
13 within the military police.
14 Q. So when you came to the conclusion that --
15 the organ that is supposed to discover crimes, did you
16 reconcile yourself to that or did you try to do
17 something and did you manage to do something? Tell the
18 Court about that.
19 A. I did not reconcile myself to that, and I
20 insisted that the structure of the establishment of the
21 military police be changed. And already from August
22 1993, thanks to the appointment of Palavra as head of
23 the military police, I managed, together with him,
24 within a very short period of time, to achieve changes
25 in the military police, to train it to the extent to
1 which this was possible under those circumstances, and
2 thus perpetrators of crimes were discovered more easily
3 but also public law and order were enhanced and also
4 crime suppression was improved.
5 Q. Do you remember a name, a single name of a
6 single case when the military police or SIS gave you
7 the name of a perpetrator and that you did not take
8 disciplinary action or that you did not ask for
9 criminal proceedings to be initiated?
10 A. There was certainly no such case. There was
11 not a single case that I received a name and surname
12 and that I did not react, either in terms of criminal
13 proceedings or in terms of disciplinary proceedings,
14 and this was generally known not only to the members of
15 my command but also to my immediate associates.
16 Q. My colleague, the Prosecutor, had been
17 cross-examining you for weeks and this trial has been
18 going on for two years. Do you remember a single piece
19 of evidence that was presented to this Court on the
20 basis of which we could conclude that you found out who
21 the perpetrators of a crime were and that you did not
22 want to initiate proceedings against such a person? Is
23 there any such evidence?
24 A. No.
25 MR. NOBILO: Please, could this group of
1 exhibits that we have prepared, these are Defence
2 Exhibits, could they please be shown? We are not going
3 to read all of them. We would just like to see D220,
4 D219, D221, D222, D223, D224, D225, D226, D227, D228,
5 D229, D230, D231, D232, D233, D234.
6 Q. Could you just take a quick look at this?
7 Could you please give him all the documents
8 so that he could see them all very quickly?
9 And could you please tell the Court what
10 these documents are and what they prove? All together,
11 not one paper by one paper, one document by one
12 document, all together what do these documents show?
13 A. All these documents show that there were
14 accurate records about the disciplinary measures that
15 were pronounced, about disciplinary punishment that was
16 taken, that is to say, that if measures were
17 pronounced, that the sentence had to be served and --
18 JUDGE JORDA: For the method here, I'd like
19 to make two comments. I would like to congratulate
20 the rapidity with which the General is able to
21 familiarise himself with the documents, that's
22 different than what it was in the past, and you have to
23 admit that the Judges don't have the documents in front
24 of them. So we're listening to the witness who is
25 saying what he wants to say, but there has to be a
1 method. I know it's a little longer. We don't have to
2 look at all the details of the documents, but at least
3 let us define the documents, whether it be either
4 Mr. Nobilo or the witness, at least give us the number
5 of the document that you're talking about; otherwise,
6 it's really simply an argument and your client is
7 saying what he wants to say. Thank you.
8 MR. NOBILO: We have enumerated the documents
9 and they are in the transcript, and they just show how
10 intensively disciplinary proceedings were carried out.
11 We just wanted to recall that. We don't want to go
12 into each and every document, but we just wanted to put
13 together in one place all the documents that speak of
14 disciplinary proceedings that were taken.
15 JUDGE JORDA: That is your right, and I think
16 it's a good method to make a comment, you, the Defence
17 attorneys, but not to have your client say "This
18 document proves this or that." We couldn't use that
19 kind of method.
20 Please continue.
21 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
22 Q. One more question related to disciplinary
23 proceedings. The Prosecutor quoted Article 29 to you
24 from the decree on disciplinary action, that is to say,
25 that even when criminal proceedings are initiated, that
1 you are authorised to take disciplinary proceedings,
2 and you said that you didn't do that. Why? Could you
3 explain this to the Court?
4 A. Theoretically, this was possible, and
5 practically, if it was established that a soldier had
6 committed a criminal offence, on the instructions of
7 the district military prosecutor, he was put into the
8 investigative prison, investigative military prison,
9 and then an investigation was started, and then he
10 would receive a sentence, one to five years of
11 imprisonment, I can't remember the exact range, and the
12 maximum that he could get in disciplinary proceedings
13 would be up to 60 days of military detention. So from
14 a practical point of view, it was not exactly
15 expedient, because this soldier, if he was the
16 perpetrator of a criminal offence, he had even
17 previously been removed from a unit and his issued
18 weapons were taken away from him, and he would be
19 prosecuted by the district military prosecutor for the
20 commission of a crime.
21 Q. Tell us, what were your possibilities -- what
22 was your authority in criminal proceedings?
23 A. Well, if I would receive the names of the
24 perpetrator of a criminal offence, that is to say, if
25 the military police service or the security service
1 provide me with the names of the perpetrator of a
2 crime, I could file a criminal report against that
3 perpetrator, and I did file criminal reports against
4 perpetrators of crimes.
5 Q. Who decided whether criminal proceedings
6 would be instituted or not?
7 A. It was exclusively within the authority of
8 the military district prosecutor. I did not have any
9 authority in that respect. I could not influence the
10 decision of the district military prosecutor.
11 Q. And now a few words about the authority of
12 the civilian and military police. Can you tell us how
13 this authority was exercised? When was the civilian
14 police in charge and when was the military police in
16 A. If the perpetrator of a crime was a civilian,
17 then the investigation was carried out by the civilian
18 police; if the perpetrator of a crime was a soldier,
19 then the investigation was carried out by the military
20 police; and if the perpetrator of a crime was unknown,
21 then the investigation was carried by the authorities
22 of the civilian police force. They would establish a
23 file and they would work until it was established,
24 possibly, that the perpetrator was a military man, and
25 then the entire file would be handed over to the
1 military police for their further processing. But it
2 is primarily the civilian police that carried out
3 on-site investigations and carried out the
4 investigation in general if the perpetrator was
6 Q. In respect of criminal investigations of the
7 civilian police, did you have any authority in that
9 A. No. There was an entire system of the
10 civilian police. They had their own commander, they
11 had their own superior, so to speak, and I did not have
12 any authority over the civilian police.
13 Q. What about the administration of the civilian
14 police? Did it function throughout the war in the
15 enclave where you were, in the Lasva River Valley?
16 A. Yes, the administration was in charge of all
17 of Central Bosnia and it functioned in Travnik until
18 the fall of Travnik and later it was moved to Vitez,
19 and it was in charge of all the police stations within
20 the territory of Central Bosnia, all civilian police
22 Q. Did anything change in the powers of the
23 civilian and military police over civilian and military
24 persons because there was a war going on, in respect of
25 war and peace?
1 A. No.
2 MR. NOBILO: Thank you. Mr. President, now
3 we would like to move on to a different area, that is,
4 whether the conflict was international or internal,
5 this is a matter that the Court will certainly be
6 interested in, and the Prosecutor presented here as
7 evidence an entire series of orders issued by Croatian
8 General Bobetko, and, therefore, we would like to look
9 into this very important area now.
10 Could the Judges and the witness please be
11 given the following documents: Defence Exhibit (sic)
12 406/6, 406/7, 406/8, 406/9, 406/10, 406/11, 406/12,
13 406/13, 406/14, 406/15, 406/16, 406/19, 406/20, 406/21,
14 406/22. Prosecutor's Exhibits.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Wasn't that indicated before,
16 Mr. Registrar? It's taking quite a lot of time here.
17 It's taking a long time.
18 THE REGISTRAR: I apologise, Your Honour.
19 MR. NOBILO:
20 Q. Well, General, would you take a quick look at
21 these documents? Don't read through them all, we
22 aren't going to discuss them in detail, but just look
23 at the dates. Take a look at the dates to see when
24 they were issued and make a note of the earliest date
25 and the latest date, please.
1 Well, General, have you taken a look at the
2 documents, General Bobetko's documents, his orders and
3 the other documents from his book, and what time span
4 are they?
5 A. According to the documents that I received,
6 April, May, and June 1992.
7 Q. Tell us, do you know General Bobetko?
8 A. Yes, I do know General Bobetko.
9 Q. Have you read his book?
10 A. I've read his book.
11 MR. NOBILO: I'd now like to ask a document
12 to be passed round before the rest.
13 THE REGISTRAR: This is D574 and D574A for
14 the English version.
15 MR. KEHOE: We haven't got the document.
16 MR. NOBILO: You haven't?
17 MR. KEHOE: No.
18 THE REGISTRAR: The usher has gone to make a
19 copy for the Prosecutor.
20 MR. NOBILO:
21 Q. Tell us, General, according to the best of
22 your knowledge, in reading General Bobetko's books and
23 according to your general knowledge, why did General
24 Bobetko, with the troops of the Croatian army, enter
25 the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
1 A. Quite obviously he had a goal and an
2 assignment, that is to say, to stop the invasion of the
3 southern portion of Croatia, above all, Dubrovnik and
4 Split, and to stabilise the defence on a broad base, so
5 as to create the prerequisites necessary to stop a
6 complete occupation, to prevent a complete occupation.
7 And he entered Bosnia-Herzegovina with his troops in
8 order to have the necessary operative depth in which to
9 develop and deploy the HVO units in the defence.
10 Q. Who did he enter into conflict with? Who was
11 included into that armed conflict during the time that
12 General Bobetko was located in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
13 A. On the one side, in that part, we had the
14 Croatian army, supported by local Croats and Muslims,
15 and on the other side, there were the members of the
16 Yugoslav People's Army, or the Yugoslav army as it was
17 called at the time, supported by the local Serbs who
18 the Yugoslav army had mobilised into its composition,
19 into its ranks.
20 MR. NOBILO: I'd now like to ask that the map
21 be distributed.
22 THE REGISTRAR: This is D575.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Does everybody have the maps?
24 Does the Prosecutor have the maps? Let's try to move
25 forward. I hope that the military breakthroughs of the
1 army are more rapid than the distribution of
3 MR. NOBILO: The maps are Defence Exhibits
4 D575/1, D575/2, D575/3, and so on, in order.
5 Q. General, I should now like to ask you briefly
6 to explain these maps to us. They are photocopies
7 taken from General Bobetko's book, and as the map is in
8 colour, the original map, I just used a marker to
9 denote the positions of the Yugoslav army. So the
10 colour you see in there are the front lines and the
11 axes in which the Yugoslav army moved. I'd like to ask
12 you to read out the title of the map, what it
13 represents, and to tell us briefly what the map
14 represents. So, first of all, read out the text on the
15 first map, Defence Exhibit D575/1.
16 A. And I'm reading the title: "The planned and
17 implemented operations of the forces of the JNA and the
18 Chetnik units," on the 10th of April, "10/04/1992.
19 Legend: The focal points of Serb uprising, the axes of
20 attack by the JNA forces, and the Chetnik units
21 realised and those planned. The secret activities of
22 the enemy."
23 Q. Can you, because the map is not a very
24 detailed one, indicate the borders of Croatia and
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina in the southern portion? Take up
1 the pointer, please, to give an indication to the Court
2 where the frontier of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina
4 A. The border was this dotted line (indicating),
5 and it goes via Azan, Imotska, towards Vervovac,
6 Capljina, Metkovic, Neum.
7 Q. Tell us, so in the south, it is right near
8 the coastline. When you look at the arrows which
9 indicate the axes of attack of the Yugoslav People's
10 Army, what are you able to conclude? For them, the
11 battleground in both states, is it a unified
12 battleground, or are the combat operations conducted in
13 such a fashion that they would have to take into
14 account where the republican borders lay?
15 A. The battleground was treated as a unified
16 whole, regardless of whether -- regardless of the
17 republican borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia,
18 and that can be seen from the operations realised by
19 the JNA in the valley of the River Neretva and in the
20 region behind Dubrovnik, as well as in the north by the
21 forces of the Knin Corps.
22 Q. Which state is Knin in?
23 A. Knin is in the Republic of Croatia. And
24 those forces were halted north-west of Livno, north of
25 Livno as well, and north of Tomislavgrad, that is to
1 say, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. So those forces treated a
2 uniform battleground from Split to Dubrovnik up until
4 Q. Tell us, what were the JNA's plans, according
5 to this deployment of forces? The JNA on the
6 right-hand side of the map, did they want to join up
7 with the JNA on the other side of the map, and had that
8 occurred, what would that have meant?
9 A. At all events, the operations that were
10 conducted in the Neretva valley, the delta of the River
11 Neretva, moving towards the south and Dubrovnik, should
12 have continued to the right bank of the River Neretva,
13 and there we have the force -- this was done by the
14 Herzegovina forces of the JNA, and the forces of the
15 Knin Corps were contained in the existing positions and
16 operations were to have continued along the general
17 axis toward Sinj and to have a joining up of forces
18 with the forces of the Herzegovina Corps.
19 Q. Had that joining up taken place, what would
20 that have meant for Bosnia-Herzegovina?
21 A. Had that joining of forces taken place, then
22 that would have meant a complete occupation and
23 encirclement of Bosnia-Herzegovina because the forces
24 of the Herzegovinian corps would have come out at
25 Ploce, and the Knin corps forces would have been about
1 the town of Split itself.
2 Q. Would it have been possible in that case to
3 bring any logistics and the military materiel to the BH
4 army and the HVO in Central Bosnia? Would that have
5 been possible?
6 A. No, it would not have been possible. Not
7 only would no logistics have been possible but the
8 evacuation of refugees and aid and assistance generally
9 would have been impossible because the pliers around
10 Bosnia and Herzegovina would have been completely
11 closed, the town of Livno towards Neum, and this would
12 have been a completely occupied area. It wouldn't have
13 been occupied 70 per cent, but Bosnia-Herzegovina would
14 have been occupied 100 per cent.
15 Q. May we have a look at the next map after the
16 10th of April, when Croatian forces entered
18 Once again, we have a map copied from General
19 Bobetko's book, and the pink denotes the forces of the
20 Yugoslav army. Can you tell us what this map
22 A. This map represents the attacks implemented
23 by the forces of the Yugoslav army and the
24 counterattack by the Croatian army in between the 23rd
25 up until the 27th of April, 1992. In the legend, the
1 legend states the first phase of the implementation of
2 the assignments on the southern front, a successfully
3 thwarted attack of the enemy with significant losses.
4 Then it says "Counterattacks" and part of the territory
5 lost fortifying the defence of HB, breaking down the
6 enemy attack core, nucleus, and forcing the enemy to
7 defend the occupied -- and it doesn't say what.
8 Q. Let us see, once again, who the conflicting
9 sides are. Who fought against whom?
10 A. On the side of the attacker, we have the
11 forces of the Yugoslav army, and here we see that it
12 was the 13th Partisan Brigade. Then we have the TO
13 detachment of Ljubina and the TO of Danilovgrad.
14 Q. On the other side, who was on the other side?
15 A. On the other side, we had the forces of the
16 Croatian army ...
17 Q. We don't need to know the units, General.
18 Let us take a look at the next map and look at the
19 dates that this refers to.
20 A. This map shows the defence line of the
21 southern battlefront on the 10th of April, 1992.
22 Q. So this is the front line before the
24 A. Yes, that was the front line before the
25 attack by the Yugoslav army and the counterattack by
1 the Croatian army, and you can see clearly from Mostar,
2 along the Neretva River Valley, through Hutovo, that's
3 the front line.
4 Q. Could we look at the next map, please?
5 A. This map shows the attacks by the Croatian
6 army in the second stage of the implementation of the
7 tasks on the southern front in the period from the 18th
8 of May until the 30th of May, 1992. On one side, we
9 have the forces of the Yugoslav army once again, helped
10 with mobilised persons from Montenegro and other
11 areas. On the other side, we have the forces of the
13 Q. Thank you. Can we look at the next map?
14 A. This map shows the attacks by the Croatian
15 army in deblocking Dubrovnik in the period from the
16 27th of May until the 19th of October, 1992, and on one
17 side, we have forces of the Yugoslav army and on the
18 other side are forces of the Croatian army.
19 Q. Do we have another map? Let's look at the
20 last map.
21 A. This is a decision of the commander of the
22 southern front, code name "Tiger," to carry out the
23 liberation of Dubrovnik and the terrain right behind
24 it. Forces of the Croatian army are participating in
25 that action. On the other side, we have members of the
1 Yugoslav army and mobilised Serbs and Montenegrins.
2 Q. Thank you. General, could you please tell us
3 how long General Bobetko was in Bosnia-Herzegovina with
4 his troops? How long did the battle on the southern
5 front last?
6 A. It lasted until October, I think, of '92, and
7 after that, the HV forces and General Bobetko were
8 transferred to another area.
9 Q. In that period, from the 10th of April 1993
10 until October 1993, during the time General Bobetko and
11 the Croatian army were in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was
12 there a conflict between the army of Bosnia and
13 Herzegovina, meaning the TO, and the HV?
14 A. No. They participated together in most of
15 the actions, the Croatian forces and the Bosniak Muslim
17 Q. How do you explain the fact that in that time
18 period, General Bobetko not only stayed with the
19 Croatian troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but he was
20 obviously, on HVO letterheads, issuing orders to
21 certain groups of the HVO in Herzegovina?
22 A. He issued orders by the very fact that
23 neither the Territorial Defence nor the units of the
24 HVO, they were not structured or organised at that
25 time, and earlier, I had a document in my hands where
1 he issued an order, that's document 574, where he says
2 in item 2, he orders units of the Territorial Defence,
3 it's headed to the general staff in Hrvatska Grude, and
4 then it also includes units of the Territorial
5 Defence. Neither the Territorial Defence nor the HVO
6 were structured. This was not completed. They mostly
7 were active at the level of municipalities under the
8 crisis committees, the crisis staffs. They were only
9 beginning to get organised at that time.
10 Q. Would you please tell the Court when the law
11 was adopted, the law on the armed forces, which was the
12 basis for the organisation of the HVO as an army?
13 A. This was done at the beginning of July 1992,
14 I think it happened on the 3rd of July, 1992, and only
15 in the second half of August of '92 were the officers
16 named for the defence department of the HVO, which
17 later grew into the Defence Ministry as a body which
18 would be in charge of creating and organising the
19 military structure.
20 Q. In your opinion, as an expert, at the time
21 that General Bobetko and the Croatian troops were in
22 Herzegovina, did the HVO exist at all as an organised
23 armed force?
24 A. No. These were local groups, and only the
25 beginnings, the first attempts to structure these
1 groups were being made.
2 MR. NOBILO: I would like the usher to
3 distribute a new document and to give it a number, a
4 new exhibit.
5 THE REGISTRAR: This will be D576, D576A for
6 the English version. Let me say that the previous
7 document, that is, the maps, that was 575/1, 2, up to
8 6. There were six maps.
9 MR. NOBILO:
10 Q. I would like to read parts of the letter by
11 General Bobetko to Franjo Tudjman which were published
12 on pages 137 and 138 of his book. The letter is
13 addressed to the president of the republic, Franjo
15 "Mr. President, the offensive operations on
16 the southern front of the Croatian Army forces,
17 numbering 1.475 soldiers, have begun on July 1st 1992.
18 Until July 5th 1992, the following results were
19 achieved," and then the results are enumerated.
20 At the end, the assessment right at the end
21 of the letter:
22 "I assess that this is one of the most
23 difficult attacks, one of the toughest attacks I had on
24 this front. I take it that it has been performed
25 well. We have created conditions for final liberation
1 of this part of Croatian territory.
2 "Sincerely, Commander of the Southern Front
3 Army, General Janko Bobetko, Dubrovnik, July 5th
5 A. I made a mistake. I saw that operations were
6 completed in July, and I think I stated that they had
7 been completed in October of 1992. But Konavle and the
8 rear was liberated, and that was completed in October.
9 MR. NOBILO: Could we look at the next
11 THE REGISTRAR: This is D577, D577A for the
12 English version.
13 MR. NOBILO:
14 Q. We translated only the section that was
15 marked, that was highlighted, so I'm going to read
16 that, and then I will ask you a question, General.
17 This is a photocopy of page 267 from General
18 Bobetko's book. He is talking about the results of the
19 Croatian army:
20 "Number one, we have managed to defend and
21 preserve for good the existence of Croatian people in
23 "Number two, we have created favourable
24 circumstances in order to establish an army. In the
25 context of events that go on these days regarding the
1 forming of the federation and the confederation, it
2 stands to question what our position would be" without
3 these victories, what would that mean for our
4 international as well as local position?
5 "The operation itself has created very
6 favourable operative conditions for final operations on
7 the southern front, the main purpose of which is to
8 expel the Montenegrin aggressor and to deploy forces to
9 the area of Prevlaka," meaning to deblock
10 Dubrovnik, "... and reclaiming the entire territory
11 which has been under enemy occupation for over two
12 years, and which has been considered by the enemy to be
13 the final solution for borders of Great Serbia in these
15 General, General Bobetko states that these
16 actions that you have just talked about which we showed
17 on the maps, among other things, created favourable
18 conditions to create an army of the future federation.
19 How do you interpret that, and is that consistent with
20 what you know about those operations?
21 A. I interpret that to mean that these actions
22 prevented the complete occupation of the only territory
23 through which Bosnia and Herzegovina could receive any
24 kind of help and that conditions were created to
25 organise both the HVO and the army of Bosnia and
1 Herzegovina and, in some way, to continue with the
2 process of the structuring of the federal army of the
3 Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
4 Q. Can we conclude from that, what you stated
5 earlier, that there was no HVO army at that time when
6 the Croatian army entered the territory of Bosnia and
8 A. No. These were mostly armed formations or
9 several armed formations which were managed by
10 municipal crisis staffs. There were no brigades.
11 There was no order on the creation of armed forces.
12 There was no law. There was no formal defence
13 department at that time. In some documents, the
14 general staff is mentioned, but what they meant by that
15 was mostly the administration, the administrative tasks
16 in order to create an army.
17 Q. The relationships that are evident from
18 Prosecution Exhibits, which are orders of General
19 Bobetko illustrating relations between the HV and the
20 HVO in April, May, and June of 1992, are these
21 relationships, according to your knowledge, contained
22 in the second half of '92 and went on into '93, the
23 relationship of superiority and subordination?
24 A. No. It will be clear, if you look at the
25 book of General Bobetko, that after the final
1 operations and the liberation of Dubrovnik and the
2 Dubrovnik hinterlands, he withdrew, and there was a
3 regrouping of those forces and that there was no
4 more -- such relationship no longer existed, but the
5 HVO structured itself and was organised just like the
6 army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
7 MR. NOBILO: I would like to look at another
8 document. It's also a copy from General Bobetko's
9 book, it's page 419.
10 Mr. President, I still have two questions on
11 this document, and then after that, we can stop, or do
12 you believe that we need to break now?
13 JUDGE JORDA: You won't be finished this
14 morning then?
15 MR. NOBILO: No. I don't have more than 20
16 or 30 minutes.
17 JUDGE JORDA: You still have another 30
18 minutes. All right. Then we'll start again when Judge
19 Shahabuddeen returns.
20 We said that we would take advantage of
21 having Mr. Fourmy here for a few moments so that we can
22 see what the schedule is going to be for next week and
23 the week after that. I don't know whether it's
24 Mr. Fourmy or Mr. Hayman who can give us clarification
25 for next week, during which ordinarily we should sit in
1 a bench accepted by the Defence pursuant to Rule 71 but
2 conditional on there being a witness, which is not
3 perhaps certain.
4 Mr. Hayman, perhaps you could shed some light
5 on that issue for us?
6 MR. HAYMAN: Mr. President, we don't have any
7 more information about the witnesses that we were
8 trying to get here on Monday, and because we think they
9 will be short, we would request that we keep them as a
10 block and that we not plan on hearing them next week
11 but we'll slot them in when the Court indicates. We
12 think half a day will be sufficient for the three
13 "sentencing phase" witnesses. Again, we apologise for
14 the disorganisation.
15 JUDGE JORDA: Well, all of us have problems
16 with witnesses that we have to bring in, especially
17 given the context of what's going on now.
18 Let me turn to Mr. Fourmy and then I'll hear
19 what the Prosecutor has to say.
20 Mr. Fourmy, I suppose that you've contacted
21 the appropriate people. Are you going on vacation
22 or ...
23 MR. FOURMY: Well, I would be very pleased to
24 suggest that the Trial Chamber take advantage of the
25 time when Judge Shahabuddeen will not be here for the
1 other two Judges and the parties to have a free week
2 next week, which would allow the Defence to use the
3 time to verify where things stand for the three
5 The following week, we can bring in the
6 witnesses depending upon their availability; that is,
7 the Trial Chamber's witnesses.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Therefore, I understand,
9 Mr. Hayman, that you think that your three witnesses
10 will be available not next week but the week after
11 that, which would allow us to sit in a full bench,
12 which, of course, would be a good thing.
13 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, we suggest that
14 our three witnesses be heard on the 7th of June. We
15 could hear them all on the afternoon of the 7th of June
16 without any problem.
17 JUDGE JORDA: Monday, the 7th of June. All
18 right. There's no problem with that. That would give
19 us the opportunity to use next week. We had thought
20 about bringing in some of the Trial Chamber's witnesses
21 next week and we had hoped you would make contact with
22 those people.
23 MR. FOURMY: We are trying to find out
24 whether four of the witnesses will come during the week
25 of the 7th to the 11th of June.
1 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Next week, Judge
2 Rodrigues and I will devote our time to other cases
3 before the Trial Chamber. We know that Judge
4 Shahabuddeen will be in Arusha with the Appeals
5 Chamber. Now I suggest that we adjourn, unless the
6 Prosecutor has any comments to make about that
8 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, Your Honours,
9 we're satisfied with the schedule. Thank you.
10 JUDGE JORDA: If everybody's satisfied, we
11 will adjourn, and I will see you during the week of the
12 7th of June. Thank you very much. The court stands
14 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
15 1.29 p.m., to be reconvened on Monday,
16 the 7th day of June, 1999, at 2.00 p.m.