1 Tuesday, 8th June, 1999
2 (Open session)
3 --- Upon commencing at 2.36 p.m.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated. Registrar,
5 have the witness brought in, please.
6 (The accused/witness entered court)
7 JUDGE JORDA: Good afternoon to the
8 interpreters and to the court stenographers. I want to
9 be sure that everyone can hear me. Good afternoon to
10 the Prosecution counsel, to Defence counsel, and good
11 afternoon to our witness, whose redirect examination by
12 the Defence should be completed today. Mr. Nobilo said
13 that he would finish in about one hour.
14 MR. NOBILO: Yes, Mr. President.
15 JUDGE JORDA: If you agree, after a break, we
16 will see whether the Judges are going to ask any
17 questions today or whether they aren't, and if you
18 agree, after a break, we can have a Status Conference
19 in closed session because we're beginning a new
20 sequence in this trial, that is, the last straight
22 I think that you can proceed, Mr. Nobilo, if
23 the witness is ready.
24 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President. Last
25 time, we handed in a new document, but we didn't manage
1 to have it distributed, so I would like to ask the
2 registrar to have it organised now, please.
3 THE REGISTRAR: This is Defence Exhibit 578,
4 578A for the English version.
5 WITNESS: TIHOMIR BLASKIC (Resumed)
6 Re-examined by Mr. Nobilo:
7 Q. General, this is document 578, and this is a
8 copy of the 419th page of General Bobetko's book. This
9 is combat action that we are talking about, but would
10 you please focus your attention on the organisation of
11 the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia.
12 This provides information about the
13 organisation of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic
14 of Croatia. Please tell the Court, the administration
15 of SIS and the administration of the military police,
16 where are they in this structure, that is my first
17 question, that is to say, within the general staff or
18 outside of the general staff, and, secondly, was the
19 HVO organised along these lines, that is to say, in
20 accordance with the Croatian army.
21 JUDGE JORDA: You might separate the
22 questions. If the Prosecution had asked questions that
23 long, you would have gotten up immediately and said
24 that the accused was being asked too many questions at
25 the same time. So try to start with the first question
1 and then move to the second one.
2 MR. NOBILO: I took into account the fact
3 that the witness is well-trained by now. He knew how
4 to take five questions at a time.
5 Q. At this point, I think we can ask the General
6 to tell the Court the following: SIS and the
7 administration of the military police, where are they,
8 from the point of view of the organisation of the
9 Ministry of Defence in accordance with this document?
10 A. Your Honours, in accordance with this
11 document, the military police administration and the
12 SIS administration is in the organisational structure
13 of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia,
14 and they are outside the organisational structure of
15 the main staff of the Croatian army.
16 Q. Tell me, where is the administration of the
17 military police and where is the SIS administration?
18 Which numbers are these?
19 A. They are in the organisational structure of
20 the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia
21 under number 3 and number 7 respectively.
22 Q. Question number two: If we look at this
23 model where SIS and the military police administration
24 are outside the main staff, this model applied by the
25 Croatian army, was that a model for the HVO as well?
1 A. Yes, the situation was identical in the HVO.
2 In terms of organisation, it was set up in accordance
3 with the organisation of the Croatian army, so that is
4 to say that in the HVO as well, the administration for
5 security and the administration for military police
6 were outside the organisational structure of the main
7 staff of the HVO.
8 Q. Thank you. I would like to have a new
9 document distributed, please?
10 THE REGISTRAR: This is Defence Exhibit 579.
11 MR. NOBILO:
12 Q. General, first of all, I wish to ask you the
13 following: This organisational pattern of your main
14 staff, I mean, I did this in accordance with your
15 instructions; right?
16 A. Yes, that's right.
17 Q. Can you explain to the Court what this
18 document represents?
19 A. This is the organisational structure of the
20 command of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, and it
21 represents my assistants. We see here the security
22 assistant, then the logistics assistant, Franjo
23 Sliskovic, and then the health assistant, the chief of
24 headquarters, then the assistant for personnel affairs,
25 and the assistant for information and propaganda
2 Within the composition of the headquarters,
3 there is the following structure: The assistant for
4 general affairs, the assistant for the operations and
5 education section, then the department for military
6 branches, and the military intelligence department, and
7 they are within the staff that is headed by Franjo
9 Q. From the point of view of hierarchy, who
10 followed you from the point of hierarchy, line number
11 1, line number 2, or line number 3?
12 A. The chief of staff of headquarters is the
13 first one after me, that is to say, he is my next in
14 command, and he was also my deputy, and then there was
15 my immediate team consisting of assistants, but the
16 security assistant was directly subordinated to the
17 chief of the security service. The next level are the
18 heads of departments who are subordinated to the chief
19 of headquarters, the chief of staff, not to me
21 Q. Who made up the team of the commander, and
22 they made an effort to meet every morning, if possible?
23 A. Those are the assistants, that is to say,
24 Ante Sliskovic, Franjo Sliskovic, Dr. Drago Dzambas,
25 Franjo Nakic, Zoran Pilicic, and Marko Prskalo. That
1 is this structure.
2 Q. In the period from the 16th to the 19th of
3 April, 1993, why was Slavko Marin practically your next
4 in command?
5 A. Ex officio, when the chief of headquarters is
6 absent, then he is replaced by Slavko Marin, and then
7 from the 16th to the 19th of April, Franjo Nakic was
8 blocked in his family home by the BH army because of
9 the conflict that was going on, so he could not reach
10 Vitez. He could not reach the headquarters at the
11 Vitez Hotel.
12 Q. Thank you. I'd like a new document to be
13 handed out, please.
14 JUDGE JORDA: I have a question, General
15 Blaskic. Mr. Sliskovic was in your office every day or
16 every morning. If you were to ask him questions about
17 this or that crime, or this or that investigation,
18 would he sometimes answer by saying, "I'm not going to
19 answer because I am directly subordinate to Mostar"?
20 Because he was in your office every morning.
21 Mr. Sliskovic, according to the interpretation I
22 received, he would come to your office every morning.
23 Did he work with you? Was he there in complete
24 silence, saying "I'm not interested in the hierarchy
25 and that's not something I get involved in"?
1 A. Mr. President, priority was always given to
2 his chain of command from Mostar, and he was the
3 assistant for security in my command, and if I would
4 send in a request and if that request was not in
5 contrast to the instructions he had received from
6 Mostar, then he would not tell me that the Mostar
7 office had priority. But there were such cases when he
8 would say, "I got instructions that are not like that,
9 and I'm duty-bound to act on those instructions, that
10 is to say, the instructions I got from the office in
12 JUDGE JORDA: But then you're confirming that
13 in the crucial period, when you seem to have asked for
14 an investigation on Ahmici, an oral request, he was
15 there every morning?
16 A. He came to headquarters, he carried out his
17 duties, he informed me, and, finally, he also informed
18 me about the problems we had in relation to the
19 investigation materials, that he had received orders to
20 send the investigation materials to Mostar.
21 JUDGE JORDA: But when you would give out the
22 verbal orders, from the very start, would he say,
23 "Well, Tihomir Blaskic, don't be concerned with that
24 because that is the responsibility of Mostar, and
25 that's how things are," because he would come to you
1 every morning, that's what struck me in your answer, he
2 would come to your meeting every morning. He had to be
3 there for some reason.
4 A. From that first order I had issued, for
5 example, he was practically at every meeting every
6 morning, and he did not present that kind of a report,
7 saying, "You are not supposed to do anything. I'm
8 going to look into this with Mostar." So not at that
9 point, moment. Truth to tell, after a longer period of
10 time, he did submit a first report about the
11 investigation. This was the end of May 1993.
12 JUDGE JORDA: Here's my final question: Am I
13 wrong when I say that when you would speak to him about
14 Ahmici, he would have to answer you, but that sometimes
15 he might not answer you?
16 A. At any rate, Mr. President, the security
17 service had priority; that is to say, that if he would
18 receive orders from the security service, that he
19 should not give me an answer, he would tell me quite
20 openly, "I received orders from my superiors and I
21 cannot tell you about this."
22 JUDGE JORDA: Which therefore means that --
23 that's what I wanted to know. He never said that "I
24 don't want to answer you because Mostar forbade me from
25 doing so," that he was able to answer you; is that what
1 you're saying?
2 A. No, Mr. President, that is what he actually
3 told me, that he could not, for example, give me a
4 file, that he had sent it to his superiors in Mostar,
5 and whenever he would receive instructions from Mostar
6 that were contrary to my orders, he would inform me
7 about this, and I would remain without an answer.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. Thank you. Judge
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, I have another
11 question I would like to ask you. Ante Sliskovic was
12 the individual who said to you that he could not give
13 you the results of the investigation into Ahmici
14 because he had sent that information to Mostar; is that
16 A. Yes, because he had sent the entire file to
18 JUDGE RODRIGUES: There is a proverb which
19 says that anything can happen a first time. The second
20 time, anyone who wants to fall falls. Why did you ask
21 for the investigation into Stupni Do, ask that same
22 person about the investigation into Stupni Do?
23 A. I do not recall having asked the same person.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: If I remember correctly --
25 perhaps I'm wrong -- but I think I remember that you
1 asked for the investigation into what happened in
2 Stupni Do of your assistant for security, and the
3 result was the same; is that correct?
4 A. I did not testify about that, Your Honour. I
5 did not carry out an investigation on Stupni Do. As
6 far as I remember, it was carried out by the security
7 service together with its officials because, as far as
8 Stupni Do is concerned, when it happened, I thought
9 that this was a military action between the BH army and
10 the HVO, and the source of this information was from
11 the main staff because I was not in direct
12 communication with Kiseljak so that I could check it
13 out myself.
14 JUDGE RODRIGUES: So that from your
15 perspective, you did not ask for an investigation into
16 what had happened at Stupni Do?
17 A. At that time, I was cut off in Vitez and an
18 investigation about these events was carried out by the
19 relocated headquarters of the main staff in Kiseljak.
20 I do not know who was there and who was in charge of
21 this investigation.
22 JUDGE RODRIGUES: I could ask the question in
23 a different way: Could one say that on other occasions
24 you asked for investigations, investigations of other
25 events, a request that you made of Ante Sliskovic?
1 A. As regards all major events, I tried to have
2 Ante Sliskovic carry out an investigation, although it
3 is the civilian and the military police that most often
4 started investigations.
5 JUDGE RODRIGUES: But I have in my mind
6 something else. Let me look at my notes. But I
7 think -- I am remembering about an attack on another
8 village for which an investigation was asked of Ante
9 Sliskovic. I am asking you whether, beyond Ahmici, you
10 asked for other investigations to be carried out and
11 that you asked your assistant for security to do that.
12 A. Yes, I asked for other investigations to be
13 carried out. This had to do with the attack on Stari
14 Vitez towards the end of July, the 18th of July, 1993.
15 That is when I asked him to carry out an investigation
16 about all these events and to inform his superiors.
17 That is when the commander of Vitezovi launched an
18 attack against Stari Vitez.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: All right. We can come
20 back to that question. I'll look at my notes and we'll
21 see if we want to come back to that later.
22 JUDGE JORDA: All right. Thank you, Judge
23 Rodrigues. Please continue, Mr. Nobilo.
24 MR. NOBILO: Thank you.
25 Q. I should like to continue along the lines
1 that the Honourable Judges have touched upon. Tell me,
2 General, according to the law, could you entrust
3 anybody else with this investigation related to
4 criminal acts except the SIS?
5 A. No, I could not entrust investigations of
6 criminal acts to anyone else.
7 Q. What did Ante Sliskovic tell you most often?
8 What were the sentences that he used when you asked him
9 about the results of the investigation on Ahmici?
10 A. Well, he would most often say, "The service
11 is working, and when we complete the file, you will be
12 informed about this." That was the report that I would
13 receive most often all the way up to the end of
14 September 1993.
15 Q. Tell me, if the local SIS in the Lasva River
16 Valley would not get an order from the main SIS in
17 Mostar, one that would be contrary to your orders, were
18 Ante Sliskovic and the local SIS duty-bound to act on
19 your instructions and orders and carry out an
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. His office, was it in the Hotel Vitez or
23 somewhere else?
24 A. He had an office in the Hotel Vitez, but he
25 also had an office in Busovaca.
1 MR. NOBILO: I would like to have another
2 document distributed, please.
3 THE REGISTRAR: This is D580, D580A for the
4 English version.
5 MR. NOBILO:
6 Q. This document is from the Defence Minister,
7 representative of the Defence department, Mr. Bruno
8 Stojic, and it was sent on the 1st of June, 1993.
9 We're not going to read the contents of the document
10 because that is not essential for my question, but we
11 are just going to read who it was sent to, and could we
12 have a focus on that on the ELMO, please, who it was
13 delivered to directly by the Defence Ministry, and I'm
14 reading that:
15 Deliver to: Operative Zone, Southeast
16 Herzegovina; Operative Zone, North-western Herzegovina;
17 the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia; the Operative
18 Zone of Bosanska Posavina; Professional Battalion,
19 Vitezovi, Vitez; Professional Battalion, Petar Kresimir
20 IV, Livno; Convicts Battalion; Bruno Busic unit;
21 Personnel Administration of the Defence Department;
22 Formations Section of the HVO main staff; the 106th
23 Brcko Brigade; and the 115th Tuzla Brigade.
24 I am now going to ask you, General: How do
25 you explain the fact that on the 1st of June, 1993, the
1 Defence Minister, to all intents and purposes, sends
2 the same order to you, the Central Bosnia Operative
3 Zone, separately and separately to the Vitezovi? How
4 do you explain that?
5 A. Well, that is an indicator at the same time.
6 It shows that the chain of command, direct command, was
7 retained by the defence department, going down towards
8 the Professional Battalion of the Vitezovi on the 1st
9 of June, 1993, and the entire period afterwards until
10 the Professional Battalion was dismantled. So this is
11 direct command and a direct chain of command down
12 towards the Vitezovi.
13 Q. General, do you recall this particular
14 document? Do you remember having received it? Do you
15 recognise the stamp and signature?
16 A. Yes, I recognise the contents of the
17 document, and I also recognise the stamp and signature
18 by the representative of the defence department,
19 Mr. Bruno Stojic.
20 Q. Thank you. Now, independently of all that,
21 we come to another question. In the course of 1992 and
22 1993, right up until the end of January 1994, in the
23 Lasva Valley, was there ever -- did a unit of the
24 Croatian army ever spend any time there?
25 A. No, never. It was never then or was it in
1 the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, units of the
2 Croatian army, that is.
3 Q. Very well. Now I would like to say a few
4 words about trench-digging, ask you about that. Tell
5 the Court, please, in the army, what is the general
6 principle: When are fortifications dug, generally,
7 trenches, communication trenches and so on, foxholes
8 and so on?
9 A. Well, there was a principle that was common
10 knowledge from the first day you attended military
11 academy, and that is to say, when you weren't using
12 your rifle, you were using your picks and shovels; that
13 is to say, when there was no fighting and when
14 everything was calm on the battlefront, then you would
15 engage in fortification, the digging of trenches,
16 communicating trenches, foxholes and so on, and other
17 work of that kind that will improve the defence
18 qualities of the soldiers in their positions.
19 Q. Tell us, please, what is included in the
20 front line of defence and what is the depth of a front
21 line, according to military standards?
22 A. We have the fore section, the front section,
23 that is to say, the soldiers' foxholes; then you have
24 the trenches and communicating trenches along which the
25 soldiers can move; then you have shelters where the
1 soldiers are able to rest and sort of live; and then
2 there are reserve positions which are at the rear end;
3 and then you have access roads to all this which are
4 used for the various shifts or to evacuate the wounded
5 or for that kind of thing. Usually the depth of one
6 battalion defending itself is between three to six
7 kilometres. That is the general size. For a brigade,
8 depending upon its intentions, it can be from 12 to 30
9 kilometres, that depth of the overall defence
11 Q. In view of this depth of the front line, in
12 the Lasva Valley, for example, was there a rear in the
13 true sense of the word from April 1993 to the end of
14 the year?
15 A. No, and that was one of our greatest
16 problems, in fact, because the maximum depth, because
17 of the situation where we found ourselves, in total
18 encirclement, was up to six kilometres, and it was one
19 to one and a half kilometres at a minimum. So
20 according to some military standards, army standards,
21 we were not able to effect the full depth and
22 deployment of the battalion as it took up its positions
23 for defence which made the question of security more
24 complex because there was no safe area where the
25 soldiers could take shelter and rest.
1 Q. We spoke about different military terms,
2 foxholes, communicating trenches, shelters and the
3 like, dugouts, access roads, and reserve positions, and
4 we had problems with the translation of those terms.
5 So on this piece of paper which we have put up on the
6 easel, and I think we have something to write with,
7 could you show us what each of these terms looks like?
8 First of all, let's start with the foxholes, then the
9 communicating trenches, the shelters, and the access
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Perhaps there is a darker felt-tip pen which
13 would make the drawing more visible?
14 Could you explain the symbols to us? What do
15 the letters mean? What do each of these letters and
16 shapes mean?
17 A. This position is what we call a Zarklon,
18 foxhole, a position where a soldier is located.
19 Q. So that is the "Z" for "Zaklon"?
20 THE INTERPRETER: "Foxhole" in translation,
21 interpreter adds.
22 A. And he has a defence assignment. If he has
23 time, then he goes on to digging a communicating trench
24 which should be a minimum of 100 to 150 metres away
25 from the foxhole. And then we come to the shelter
1 itself, Skloniste.
2 THE INTERPRETER: Sk., interpreter adds.
3 A. Which is in the background and, due to the
4 configuration of the terrain, is also a sort of
5 defended area, and eight to ten soldiers can sleep
6 there. If anybody is wounded, then they are placed
7 there and first aid can be administered. And then from
8 the shelter, we would go on to reserve foxholes,
9 communicating trenches, and, if possible, reserve
10 shelters, and then the access roads to those.
11 MR. NOBILO:
12 Q. In your opinion, the work platoons, the
13 civilians making up the work platoons, where could
14 those people do some work, work on which
16 A. The work platoons are used to dig shelters
17 and access roads leading up to those shelters, so they
18 are not used to dig the foxholes and this part of the
19 communicating trenches.
20 Q. Whose duty is it to dig out the foxholes and
21 the communicating trenches?
22 A. That is the duty of each individual soldier,
23 for himself, and once he takes up his defence position,
24 because everybody wishes to adapt their position in
25 such a way as to provide protection for them, and later
1 on, when conditions are ripe, then the foxhole is dug
2 out for a standing soldier. According to the JNA, it
3 took a soldier 60 minutes to dig a foxhole of this kind
4 using normal tools, and if he is to lie down, then this
5 would take him 25 minutes, so these are the norms and
6 standards of the former JNA.
7 Q. Thank you very much.
8 MR. NOBILO: We should like to tender this
9 diagram into evidence, and it can be photocopied later
10 on so that anybody interested can have a copy for
11 themselves. Thank you.
12 THE REGISTRAR: This will be Defence Exhibit
14 MR. NOBILO:
15 Q. Document 301 and --
16 THE INTERPRETER: I didn't get the number.
17 MR. NOBILO:
18 Q. -- for the engineering assignments to be
19 given, who did you order these assignments and who did
20 you expect to do the digging, according to those orders
21 of the 16th, 17th, and 18th of April when the hostile
22 activities were taking place?
23 A. In those orders, once again, and in the
24 orders directly issued via telephone, I issued direct
25 orders to the commanders of the brigades that they
1 should order their soldiers to start fortification work
2 and to dig the foxholes.
3 MR. HAYMAN: For the record, the reference
4 there was to D301 and D298.
5 THE INTERPRETER: Thank you.
6 JUDGE JORDA: Yes, that was what I heard from
7 the French booth.
8 MR. NOBILO: Very well. Thank you.
9 Q. We have the documents, we're not going to put
10 them up on the ELMO, we've seen them many times, but
11 I'm going to ask you a hypothetical question. Had you
12 ordered, by issuing an order, to use the detained
13 civilians, Muslims, to dig those trenches, I say
14 hypothetically, once again, it is a question of
15 principle, hypothetical, who would you have had to send
16 the order to, had you made a decision which would be
17 counter to the law of that kind?
18 A. As I say, I never made a decision of that
19 kind, but had I done so, I would have had to issue
20 orders to the commander of a brigade, then to the
21 commander of the military police, I would send him a
22 request, a demand or order, and the head of the
23 military district prison, the warden of the military
24 district prison in charge of prisoners of war.
25 Q. Who would you send those orders to for
2 A. The orders that I sent, I sent to the
3 commanders of the brigades requesting, in very precise
4 terms, that they issue orders to their own soldiers to
5 undertake the fortification work and building of
7 Q. Tell us, please, in relation to the civilians
8 taken prisoner, could they dig trenches or was that a
9 violation of the Geneva Conventions?
10 A. It was always my view that it was a violation
11 of the Geneva Conventions. I always reacted to any
12 violations, and this can be seen from Defence Exhibits
13 D334.2, D362.2, D364.2 and D364.3, D365.1, D370.9,
14 D376.1, D373 and D387. From those Defence Exhibits, my
15 position was always very clear with regard to my stand
16 on the use of prisoners, civilians.
17 Q. I now have a few questions about the attack
18 on Stari Vitez in 1993. Tell me, General, from April
19 onwards up until the end of 1993, was Stari Vitez, for
20 the citizens of Vitez, a problem? If so, why?
21 A. Yes, it was a problem, mostly a security
22 problem, because there were many civilian casualties,
23 including children. They were hit by snipers and
24 mortar fire from Stari Vitez towards the town of Vitez
25 proper and the civilians of Vitez itself. This was an
1 ongoing problem, a continuous problem, and there was
2 always the demand made by the public, public opinion,
3 that the problem of Stari Vitez be solved in a military
4 fashion, that is to say, that a military drive be
5 undertaken to neutralise the sources of that
7 Q. Quite obviously, the military operation was
8 not implemented, at least until the 18th of July,
9 1993. What was the view of the local politicians and
10 public opinion with regard to that problem and in
11 relation to yourself?
12 A. I was always the culprit on duty, so to
13 speak, and I was condemned and criticised for failing
14 to take military action, that is, I suffered from
15 public condemnation very frequently, especially when I
16 spoke out at meetings of the Vitez government in May
17 1993 and when I said that there can be no military
18 solution there and that I do not accept a military
19 operation on Stari Vitez.
20 Q. Why was that, General?
21 A. Because it was a built-up area, first and
22 foremost, and it was a situation where the consequences
23 of trying to solve the problem militarily would have
24 been very bad with respect to the civilians living in
25 Stari Vitez, because it would have been very difficult
1 to avoid large scale destruction in Stari Vitez on the
2 basis of a military operation in built-up areas.
3 Q. What do you think? Darko Kraljevic, and you
4 ascertained and so did SIS, that he launched this
5 operation, why do you think he did launch it and carry
6 it out?
7 A. He was a local Vitez member, and I believe
8 that he had several motives himself. One of those
9 motives was to prove himself, to prove that he and his
10 unit were able to undertake an operation of that kind
11 which I did not dare implement myself. I also believe
12 that that operation, had it succeeded, would have
13 increased his popularity and his powers of command and
14 would have, in a way, enabled him to have even more
15 power and authority in the Vitez area.
16 Q. From the present situation, looking back with
17 the hindsight that you have with the passage of time
18 and the knowledge that you have gained throughout this
19 trial and so forth, what is your opinion? Why was the
20 attack launched when you went to -- the operation, why
21 did it take place when you went to Busovaca for the
23 A. I now believe that that attack was not
24 launched by chance when I happened to be absent,
25 because by the very fact that I was absent I was not
1 able to wield any influence on the situation, nor could
2 I prevent the attack from taking place. It was common
3 knowledge, my position was common knowledge with regard
4 to the Stari Vitez problem because I never allowed an
5 operation to be launched on Stari Vitez itself.
6 Q. On several occasions during this trial, you
7 saw document D250, and that is the report of the
8 Vitezovi about their work in '92/'93, so let's not look
9 at the document, if possible. Can you remember what it
10 says in this report? Who ordered the attack on Stari
11 Vitez in the report written by the Vitezovi themselves?
12 A. In document 250, it says that the action was
13 ordered by the commander of the Vitezovi, Darko
14 Kraljevic, and he told me that himself when I came back
15 to Vitez. When I asked him who carried out this action
16 and on whose orders, he said that it was on his orders
17 that this action was carried out.
18 Q. Was the artillery used in this action, the
19 artillery that was otherwise under your command? I'm
20 referring to heavy artillery.
21 A. It was not used, and I'm sure that it was not
22 even requested, that is to say, to use this artillery
23 that was under my command, because in that case, the
24 commander of the artillery certainly would have asked
25 me for my approval. In this way, he would have
1 informed me about this action, and I believe that it
2 was intentional, that this request was not sent to have
3 the artillery used in order to conceal the preparation
4 for this action and the action itself.
5 Q. During the cross-examination, you mentioned
6 some kind of an imitation multiple rocket launcher.
7 Could you tell me in a few sentences what all this was
8 about, this imitator of the multiple rocket launcher,
9 of the VBR?
10 A. I know that it was the craftsmen of Vitez who
11 made this imitator of the VBR, the multiple rocket
12 launcher. It made the same kind of noise that a
13 multiple rocket launcher does, and it was used to boost
14 the morale of the local troops of the HVO and to
15 demoralise the enemy, that is to say, the members of
16 the BH army. I know that it was an electric device,
17 and it concentrated on making the same kind of noise
18 that a multiple rocket launcher does.
19 Q. But, in fact, could it have launched anything
21 A. No. No, it just made the kind of noise that
22 a multiple rocket launcher does, but it cannot launch
24 Q. When you came back from Busovaca, what did
25 you hear in relation to this action aimed at Stari
1 Vitez, briefly?
2 A. I was informed that the fighting was not
3 intensive, that the operation was carried out poorly,
4 from a military point of view, and that there were 14
5 to 15 soldiers on the HVO side that were killed and
6 that the BH army had celebrated a victory in that
7 action. Also, there were a large number of soldiers
8 from the HVO that were wounded as a consequence of the
9 reaction and the artillery fire of the army of
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina from Stari Vitez and from other
11 positions, all of this directed against the HVO.
12 Q. Tell me, at that time, the International
13 Community, the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, or your
14 subordinates, did anybody put a question or did anybody
15 inform you about the use of the so-called "babies,"
16 that is, in this action against Stari Vitez?
17 A. No. After that, I had many meetings with
18 representatives of UNPROFOR, of the UNHCR, the
19 International Red Cross. Later, there were meetings
20 with the representatives of the army of
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina. No one ever put any questions
22 related to the use of "babies," and I first heard about
23 this here in this courtroom from certain witnesses.
24 MR. NOBILO: I would like to have a document
25 distributed now, please. We are going to talk about
2 THE REGISTRAR: This is Defence Exhibit D582,
3 582A for the English version.
4 MR. NOBILO:
5 Q. General, please take a quick look at this
6 document. We're not going to read all of it. I just
7 want you to remember what this document is all about,
8 and then I'm going to put a question to you.
9 This document is dated the 10th of September,
10 1993, and could you please tell us, what is the
11 authority that composed this document, and do you
12 recognise the seal and the signature?
13 A. This is a document of the civilian police
14 station from Vitez. I recognise the signature. That
15 is the signature of the commander of the police
16 station, Kresimir Garic. The stamp is of the civilian
17 police of Vitez.
18 Q. I'm going to read the first sentence, and
19 then let us see which is the village concerned. I'm
21 "Report on the investigation that has been
22 carried out on the terrain and objects in the immediate
23 vicinity of the British units of UNPROFOR located in
24 Stara Bila, Vitez municipality."
25 Please tell the Court the following: Which
1 is this terrain and what are these objects? What is
2 this that the civilian police inspected? Which village
3 are we talking about?
4 A. D582 pertains to the village of Grbavica,
5 that area of the village that the civilian police
6 arrived at on the 8th of September, '93. They took
7 over the security in this area, and then after they
8 took over this area and carried out this blockade, then
9 they started doing their police work, that is to say,
10 searching the entire area of Grbavica and all the
11 objects, that is to say, all the buildings, facilities,
12 that are in the wider area of Grbavica on the 8th and
13 on the next day also, the 9th of September, 1993,
14 together with UNPROFOR forces.
15 Q. General, remind us: When was the military
16 operation that you commanded completed? Which day,
17 which hour?
18 A. The military action ended on the 8th of
19 September, 1993, around 1430, that is to say, in the
20 afternoon, and after that, the civilian police arrived,
21 they sealed off the entire area, they took over the
22 security, and they started doing routine work, that is
23 to say, searching the entire area and all the buildings
24 and facilities in the territory of Grbavica.
25 Q. Can you tell us why it was decided that the
1 civilian police should take over the village of
2 Grbavica after the army managed to repel the BH army
3 and to drive them out of that stronghold?
4 A. The army had to remain in close contact with
5 the BH army because it was only to be expected that the
6 BH army would carry out a counterattack, and it was the
7 regular duty of the civilian police force to have total
8 control over a territory and it is their professional
9 task to secure the area, to search the area, and to
10 work in built-up areas. So this is their professional
11 and functional duty.
12 Q. We are not going to read the document; it is
13 self-explanatory. Now I would like to move on to
14 another subject, and those are "babies." Tell me,
15 General, how were "babies" created? Was this on
16 orders? How was this explosive device made in the
17 first place?
18 A. This is a product that was made by the
19 workers from the military factory. It was not on
20 orders. This was an improvised device which was never
21 in the organisational or formational composition of any
22 HVO unit, that is to say, it never became part of
23 standard equipment, but it did exist, and from time to
24 time it was used by soldiers at the front line.
25 Q. Did you know that "babies" were being used?
1 If you did, under what circumstances were these
2 "babies" used, as a rule?
3 A. I had received information to the effect that
4 "babies" were being used, most often at the front line
5 under circumstances when we would run out of ammunition
6 and when these improvised devices were used in our
7 attempts to try to repel enemy attacks, and we tried to
8 get these "babies" into the shelters or trenches of the
9 enemy ranks.
10 Q. When you say that "babies" were used at the
11 front line, what are you trying to say? Are you
12 talking about front lines in built-up areas, or what
13 are you referring to?
14 A. No, as far as built-up areas are concerned,
15 my position was very well-known and my orders were
16 well-known too, that artillery should not be used
17 against built-up areas, and that was the case of Stari
18 Vitez as well. The command of the Operative Zone never
19 issued orders to have artillery used against Stari
20 Vitez. So "babies" were not used in built-up areas, in
21 populated areas; they were used only in certain hills,
22 certain positions, and certain key points that were
23 held by the HVO outside these villages.
24 Q. Another subject that was mentioned in
25 cross-examination, that is, the village of Gacice and a
1 few things related to the village of Gacice. Did you
2 receive information that the civilians of the village
3 of Gacice came to the centre of Vitez?
4 A. I did not receive such information that
5 civilians had come. I already mentioned that at that
6 time, on the 20th of April, I was at a meeting in
7 Zenica, and I did not receive such information until I
8 went to the meeting in Zenica.
9 Q. During the examination-in-chief, you heard
10 about the ...
11 Perhaps the interpretation was not accurate.
12 Could you please tell me when you found out that there
13 were civilians? Did you hear about this in the
14 courtroom, when you were in Zenica, or before or after
15 Zenica? When did you hear about the civilians from
16 Gacice in the centre of town?
17 A. That information, that civilians had been
18 brought into town, the town of Vitez, I found this out
19 from an operative report of the Vitez Brigade, that
20 civilians were brought in front of the -- but that they
21 were brought in front of a hotel, that they were in
22 front of the hotel. I first heard about this from a
23 protected witness here in the courtroom.
24 Q. We're not going to mention who this witness
25 was, we are not going to mention any names, but on the
1 basis of what you heard here in the courtroom, what is
2 your conclusion? Was this, in fact, a human shield or
4 A. I believe that this was not a human shield
5 because when these civilians were brought in, Vitez was
6 not exposed to artillery fire; during the stay of these
7 civilians also, it was not exposed to artillery fire;
8 and also during the time of the return of these
9 civilians to their village, Vitez was not exposed to
10 artillery fire. It is my opinion that this was an
11 irresponsible local commander who had, at his own
12 initiative, brought these civilians and who later on
13 received the right order, that is to say, to return
14 these civilians to their village.
15 Q. These civilians lived in their village after
16 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina left Gacice. However,
17 you were accused by international factors precisely
18 because of these civilians and precisely because they
19 were living in their village. What was all of this
20 about? Can you explain that?
21 A. There were two approaches there that often
22 put me in a position where I did not know how to act;
23 that is to say, that officials of the International Red
24 Cross, Mr. de la Mota and Ms. Margaret Green, said that
25 civilians in that village felt like hostages and that
1 they were being kept against their own free will in
2 their own village and that they all wanted to go to
3 stay with their husbands who were in an area that was
4 under control of the BH army.
5 At that time, I told the officials of the
6 International Red Cross that these civilians were not
7 hostages but that it was our duty, in respect of the
8 UNHCR position, to protect these civilians and that I
9 had issued such orders to brigade commanders. It is
10 probably such orders that were being carried out,
11 because if these civilians were ever to leave, the
12 UNHCR would have characterised this as ethnic
14 The International Red Cross officials asked
15 for all civilians to be given absolute freedom of
16 movement in a civil war; and in the situation that we
17 were in, I told them, the Red Cross officials, that
18 that would only mean freedom of departure, freedom to
19 leave their homes and to go to territory that was under
20 the control of their own army. In this case, it was
21 the Muslims who wanted to go to BH army-controlled
22 territory, just as Croats came and wanted to come to
23 HVO-controlled territories.
24 Q. Tell me, General, did you ultimately organise
25 their transport out of the enclave?
1 A. No. I worked in that situation and, first of
2 all, I received information from UNHCR officials. I
3 had asked them to clarify their mandate to me, and they
4 said that they were in charge of these matters and that
5 their position was, vis-à-vis civilians in such
6 situations, that they be given all protection and that
7 no resettlement be carried out.
8 I also remember very well that with regard to
9 this problem of Gacice, the local commander, his name
10 was Matic, stood in front of the U.N. vehicle and
11 explained to the U.N. patrol that he had orders to give
12 protection to civilians and to prevent any kind of
13 resettlement in anybody's organisation. I found out
14 later that the civilians had left but not with the
15 participation of the army of the HVO and the HVO
16 military structures.
17 MR. NOBILO: I would like to have another
18 document distributed, please. This new document
19 actually has two original texts; namely, in 1993, the
20 author of this document authored two versions, the
21 English and the Croatian language versions.
22 THE REGISTRAR: This document is D583 and
23 D583A for the English version.
24 MR. NOBILO:
25 Q. I'm just going to read the heading and
1 several points from the document. We're not going to
2 read the whole of it. It says:
3 The Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the
4 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, Forward Command
5 Department for the Vitez municipality. The number is
6 official and the date is the 20th of May, 1993, and it
7 is a report on activities related to the civil affairs
8 office with regard to releasing persons detained.
9 It is sent to the European Monitoring
10 Mission, the Central Bosnia Operative Zone, UNPROFOR,
11 the UNHCR, the International Red Cross, the HVO
12 government - Vitez, and Dario Kordic of the HZ-HB, and
13 the text was compiled by the coordinator of the
14 department, Pero Skopljak, MA.
15 General, do you remember the contents of the
16 document and the signature of Mr. Skopljak?
17 A. Mr. Pero Skopljak's signature I do recognise,
18 yes, and the contents of the document speaks of
19 activities, we called it the Department for Exchange
20 and Liberation of Detained Persons, and that was on
21 behalf of the civilian authorities led by Mr. Pero
22 Skopljak and on behalf of the authorities of the
23 Bosniak Muslims, Mrs. Emira Bolic headed that section,
24 and they cooperated directly on matters of exchange and
25 the release of detained persons.
1 Q. Tell us, please, from the heading, we can see
2 the social activities department of Vitez. Was that
3 department within the composition of the Central Bosnia
4 Operative Zone or within the civilian organs of power
5 and authority?
6 A. It was within the power of the civilian
7 organs of authority because there was another
8 department attached to the government of the HVO, the
9 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, with its
10 headquarters in Mostar, and it is functioning today. I
11 think today it deals more with questions of finding
12 detained persons and locating corpses as well, but that
13 department is functioning today and works with the same
14 sort of questions, but this is a department for the
15 Vitez area and it is within the composition of the
16 civilian authorities.
17 Q. So from the document and from what you have
18 said, who, after the 16th of April, 1993, was in charge
19 of detained persons, particularly civilian detainees,
20 in the Vitez area: the Central Bosnia Operative Zone
21 or the civilian organs of power and authority?
22 A. It was the civilian organs of power and
23 authority that were in charge on the basis of an
24 agreement signed previously and they were in charge of
25 those sorts of activities, and they would inform us
1 from time to time, through reports of this kind, about
2 what they were doing.
3 Q. Military conscripts, civilians, Muslims,
4 males, they found themselves arrested, detained, and
5 were sent to the cinema in Vitez, somewhere in the
6 chess club in the SDK building and so on. Did you
7 order those arrests?
8 A. No, I did not. I never ordered those
9 arrests, I never permitted them, nor did I know that
10 such arrests would take place. When I learnt of them,
11 I ordered that humane treatment be implemented and that
12 these individuals be treated as humanely as possible,
13 and, of course, I did everything to ensure an exchange
14 and release for those individuals.
15 Q. Why did you not unilaterally let them out
16 into the streets from the cinema? You said you heard
17 about this fairly soon after they were arrested. Why
18 didn't you do that?
19 A. I have already said that it was not up to me,
20 my discretionary right, to release individuals, and the
21 practice was such, that is to say, I learnt this
22 practice from the International Red Cross, and I was
23 duty-bound to adhere to the protocol of the
24 International Red Cross about the release of detained
25 persons or arrested persons.
1 Second, the situation itself was highly
2 unstable, particularly at the time when there still had
3 not been a cease-fire in effect. It was a highly
4 precarious situation. There were private arrests being
5 made too and private exchanges taking place by
6 different groups and extremist groups as well, and I
7 thought that, in a situation of this kind when fighting
8 was still going on, it would be highly unsafe to
9 release the prisoners, and I would also have violated
10 the protocol of the International Red Cross by so
12 In document 318, I issued an order that the
13 civilians be released but the situation had to become
14 stable, first of all, and to ensure that the
15 International Red Cross take all the steps according to
16 their mandate which came before the actual release of
18 Q. Did any of these civilians ...
19 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, should I
20 understand your position to have been this, that once
21 individuals were in your custody, you were powerless to
22 release them without the approval of the International
23 Red Cross? Was that your understanding of the
25 A. Yes, that is how I understood it, and had
1 anybody -- whenever anybody was registered, he would
2 have had to have been -- his name taken down by the
3 International Red Cross and, according to its protocol,
4 be released. That was the number one condition.
5 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So that if you yourself
6 wanted to release individuals today but it took two or
7 three weeks to acquire the approval of the
8 International Red Cross, you would have to await the
9 giving of that approval before you could release them?
10 A. Your Honour, this is how I understood it. I
11 would have had to have waited, although the Red Cross
12 had access, and we never would have waited two weeks.
13 The basic problem was for the fighting to stop and for
14 the situation to be safe and secure, but it was the
15 supreme position of the International Red Cross that
16 there should be a registration, first of all, that all
17 the detained persons should have been questioned, and
18 then after that had been done, released.
19 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Are you saying that the
20 position was this: The actual release of anyone who
21 was in your custody depended on approval by the Red
22 Cross of the security climate into which those persons
23 were to be released?
24 A. Primarily, it was the protocol of the Red
25 Cross and their mandate which was duty-binding for
1 us -- which was binding for us, that is to say, we
2 would have to enable them to do their part of the job
4 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Very well. Thank you,
6 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Judge Shahabuddeen.
7 We have been working for an hour and twenty minutes.
8 I suppose, Mr. Nobilo, that you, who always
9 checked the time spent by the parties very carefully,
10 but you know that the Judges consider this question of
11 time very flexibly, do you still need a long time to
12 ask your questions?
13 MR. NOBILO: No. Four to five questions, and
14 that's all from me.
15 JUDGE JORDA: All right. I think we will
16 still take a break now.
17 --- Recess taken at 3.50 p.m.
18 --- On resuming at 4.25 p.m.
19 JUDGE JORDA: Please be seated.
20 Mr. Nobilo, we can resume now.
21 MR. NOBILO: Thank you, Mr. President.
22 Q. A few more questions about the car bomb. Had
23 you known that a truck bomb, that is to say, a truck
24 with an explosive, was being made ready, what would you
25 have done?
1 A. I would have, of course, prevented has
2 terrorist act and would have undertaken everything in
3 my power to prevent such an action from taking place.
4 Q. Were the Vitezovi able to expect this kind of
5 stand on your part?
6 A. It was general knowledge that I had
7 previously issued orders demanding that all
8 perpetrators be brought to justice from the HVO and
9 that I always strove to have the law respected. In
10 that sense, I issued a series of documents. I think
11 that it was common knowledge that I would have reacted
12 in order prevent activities of that kind had I known of
14 Q. In your opinion, did the Vitezovi have a
15 reason to hide an action of this kind from you?
16 A. Yes, the preparation and the implementation
17 of that action because they could have expected my
18 reactions to it, and I was absolutely certain that they
19 had every reason to hide the preparations.
20 Q. The Prosecutor mentioned several witnesses
21 from Dr. Mujezinovic onwards who had certain knowledge
22 as to what was being prepared on the eve of the
23 explosion, the truck explosion in Stari Vitez. How do
24 you comment on that?
25 A. I don't think that is correct because
1 Dr. Mujezinovic, in his testimony, said that he
2 received this information from Mr. Katava, that an
3 explosion had taken place in an ammunitions warehouse,
4 and that was the information I received from the
5 commander of the Vitez Brigade immediately after the
7 Next, another witness, Sefik Pezer, said that
8 shelling was expected, so that was not correct either
9 in relation to what actually happened. Then once
10 again, Witness A and Witness E, that something was
11 being prepared and that they had allegedly received
12 information from a woman Croat whose husband was in the
13 HVO, perhaps her husband was in the Vitezovi, a member
14 of the Vitezovi, and so perhaps he had some information
15 as to preparations going on. Also, Defence witness
16 Marijan Strukar, who was at the scene of the crime,
17 learned several minutes before the explosion took
18 place. Probably he was warned for security reasons to
19 move away from the area, but he didn't have any
20 information about the preparation of such a terrorist
21 act either.
22 Q. On the 18th of April, what were you doing in
23 general terms? What were your activities on that day?
24 A. That can be seen from the chronology of my
25 testimony, that is to say, that I was engaged in
1 commanding combat operations because the fighting was
2 intense, and from one minute to the next, I
3 communicated with my commanders. I was not in a
4 position to leave my duties in that regard and to walk
5 around town and collect information as to what was
6 going on where.
7 Q. On several occasions in the course of this
8 trial, in great detail, you spoke about your
9 competencies and authorisations, and also on many
10 occasions in the course of the trial, you said that you
11 did not have the power to command the military police
12 and the civilian police force when they were
13 undertaking criminal investigations and to tell them
14 what to do. However, nonetheless, there are documents
15 in the file which were sent to the military police, for
16 example, and which were titled as orders, and they
17 refer to investigations and disciplinary measures to be
18 taken against certain policemen. How do you explain
19 that to the Court?
20 A. According to the law on criminal proceedings,
21 my role was a peripheral one as commander, and I truly
22 did not have the power and authority to uncover the
23 perpetrators of criminal acts. But I did exert
24 pressure and insisted that the services, the military
25 police, the security services, should do everything in
1 their power to identify the perpetrators. Very often,
2 in these requests of mine, I used formal documents
3 linked to orders, but I did not have any competency to
4 issue orders with regard to detection and criminal
6 Q. Why did you use the term "order"? Why didn't
7 you use another term which would be more in line with
8 criminal proceedings, like a criminal report or file
9 criminal charges or something of that kind? Why did
10 you use the term "order," the word "order"?
11 A. They were situations in which I endeavoured
12 to exert pressure on these services and to demand that
13 they improve the quality of their work, to uncover
14 crime, and it is evident that if I formulate this
15 demand as an order, then the relationship towards what
16 I was asking for would be different.
17 But for an order to be an order in the
18 military sense of the word, the possibility for
19 sanctioning would have to stand behind it if the order
20 were not carried out, and in my case, I had no
21 competencies of that kind, nor could I undertake any
22 sanctions, disciplinary measures, if orders of this
23 kind were not carried out, so that orders of this kind
24 were reduced to voluntary relationship towards -- an
25 arbitrary relationship towards these documents that I
2 Q. According to your military training, were you
3 trained to deal with laterally positioned organs who
4 were placed at your disposal and were not under your
5 command? What acts were you taught and what about this
6 hierarchy? How did it function with regard to what you
7 were taught in the Yugoslav People's Army?
8 A. In the Yugoslav People's Army, there was
9 unity of command, and it was subordinated and defined
10 in such a way that the commander in a given area was
11 directly superior to all those institutions. There was
12 no parallelism in command, in the chain of command, and
13 there was no duality of command within the JNA, and we
14 did not encounter such cases in the JNA.
15 Q. A commander in the JNA, how would he ask the
16 military police to conduct an investigation? What were
17 you trained?
18 A. In the JNA, exclusively in the form of an
20 MR. NOBILO: We're now going to hand round
21 the last document.
22 Q. Before we do so and while we're waiting for
23 the document to be handed round, I want to ask you a
24 question that was asked to you by the President of the
25 Trial Chamber, that is to say, whether the policy in
1 the HVO was that crimes were not reported.
2 A. No, that was not the policy, and from the
3 very time that I came to head it, I always wanted to
4 enforce law and order and issued an order which held
5 true for all time, that all perpetrators of crimes
6 should be disarmed and removed from the units and that
7 the competent departments of defence should give them
8 another assignment, which was usually a work
9 assignment, not a military assignment. As I say, that
10 was not the practice, and I always strove for legality
11 within the HVO to be respected.
12 MR. NOBILO: May we give a number to this
13 last document?
14 THE REGISTRAR: This is 584, 584A for the
15 English version, and this is a Defence Exhibit.
16 MR. NOBILO:
17 Q. This is the decree on internal affairs during
18 the state of war or in danger of war on the territory
19 of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna. This is the
20 Official Gazette number 2, this is a public document,
21 that is to say, and it regulates the way in which the
22 civilian police operates. I'm just asking you the
23 following: Did you command the civilian police or was
24 this some autonomous organisation in relation to your
1 A. I did not command the civilian police, and it
2 is obvious from this decree that the civilian police
3 was organised through its own departments, the police
4 administrations, and it was beyond my authority.
5 Q. On several occasions, the Prosecutor showed
6 Narodne Novine, the Official Gazette of the Republic of
7 Croatia, and it was obvious that many people from
8 Central Bosnia were decorated by the president of the
9 state of Croatia, like Slavko Marin, Edvard Tolo,
10 Mladen Holman, et cetera, not to enumerate all of
11 them. Tell the Court whether you were ever decorated
12 by Croatia or did you ever receive any kind of
14 A. I never received any decoration from the
15 Republic of Croatia or Herceg-Bosna. I got a
16 decoration on the 23rd of October, 1992, that is to
17 say, the Golden Lily, in the building of the presidency
18 of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo. It
19 was conferred upon me there, together with two other
20 officers from the HVO, and that session was chaired by
21 Mr. Ejub Ganic, and I think that General Morillon was
22 at that meeting in the building of the presidency of
23 the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is a military
24 decoration that was conferred upon members of the army
25 of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
1 Q. At first, when you came to The Hague, you
2 heard the indictment and also you saw the amended
3 indictment, and now we are nearing the end of this
4 trial. Could you please tell the Court what your
5 attitude is now in respect of the indictment? Do you
6 feel guilty or not with regard to the charges brought
7 against you in the indictment?
8 A. I do not feel guilty with regard to any one
9 of the counts in the indictment, and I think that
10 during my testimony, I tried to present everything
11 before this Honourable Court, and I'm sure that I
12 honourably, conscientiously carried out my duties in a
13 situation of a civil war while there was a total
14 military encirclement, while facing a totally superior
15 enemy, and I tried to ensure our survival in the
16 enclave and in the Lasva pocket. I had to deal with
17 tens of thousands of refugees that I had to receive,
18 and I'm convinced that I did everything that was within
19 my command authority and everything that I knew how to
20 do, on the basis of my military knowledge, in order to
21 prevent any violence committed against civilians, to
22 prevent the repetition of any crimes, and to ensure
23 changes in the organisational structure of the HVO,
24 which would make it possible for me to considerably
25 improve upon public law and order and general security
1 in the area that I commanded later.
2 MR. NOBILO: Mr. President, the Defence
3 rests. Thank you.
4 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you. Thank you for
5 having respected the time limit that you had been set,
6 and we know that the witness was able to express
7 himself over these long weeks of cross-examination and
8 direct examination.
9 The Judges themselves asked many questions.
10 There may still be a few questions left.
11 Let me turn to Judge Shahabuddeen. Do you
12 have any further questions you would like to ask?
13 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Yes, Mr. President, just
14 a few. These relate to the early period of the
15 testimony of the witness. You will recall that during
16 that period, it was still the practice of members of
17 the bench not to intervene in the course of examination
18 with questions. We later changed that practice.
19 But there are only a few questions, General.
20 You remember that you were talking about your training
21 period, and you told us that the practice then was that
22 all ethnic groups would mix together in the training
23 system. Would that have included people from all parts
24 of the SFRY?
25 A. Your Honour, in principle, all were included,
1 from all parts. However, those persons who were born
2 in the territory where the garrison in question was
3 were not included. For example, people from Postinje
4 could not do their military service in Postinje and get
5 their military training there. However, there were
6 persons from all other republics there.
7 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You told us of a
8 practice of sending army units to act as police forces
9 in Kosovo for the purpose of intimidating the
10 population there, and that in opposition to this
11 policy, you refused to go to Kosovo, although there was
12 an extra wartime allowance for going to that area.
13 If I am recalling your evidence correctly,
14 was that practice, of using the army for missions of
15 intimidation into Kosovo, in existence at the same time
16 when there was this training practice of including all
17 ethnic groups within the training system?
18 A. Yes, this practice existed precisely at the
19 time when the members of all ethnic groups took part.
20 However, the selection of manpower, of personnel that
21 would be chosen, was particularly carried out at that
22 time by the military security forces and a particular
23 selection was made.
24 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: And it was because you
25 didn't like this policy that you elected to pursue
1 civilian studies in the field of business and law; is
2 that correct?
3 A. Yes, I was not a supporter of that kind of
4 policy and such engagement of the military, although,
5 in addition to the wartime allowance, there were other
6 bonuses, that is to say, in terms of promotions.
7 Everybody who would take this upon himself would get
8 many privileges. These extra wartime allowances were
9 only one of them, and I did not take any of that.
10 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: The SFRY, the old
11 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, was still in
12 existence at that time, was it?
13 A. Yes, Your Honour. This was 1985 and 1986.
14 It still existed, yes.
15 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, let us turn to
16 Ahmici. You said it was portrayed in the media as a
17 victory or as a great victory gained by the HVO over
18 the Armija but that you never thought it was a victory.
19 A. Your Honour, at that time I said that that
20 was the public opinion that prevailed, that is to say,
21 sometime in April 1993.
22 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now, meetings were held
23 on a daily basis at which you presided. Was that media
24 projection of Ahmici as "a great victory" discussed by
25 anyone at any of the meetings?
1 A. In the sense of being a victory, it was not
2 discussed that way at the meetings that I chaired over
3 my own team because this was a very short but intensive
4 period. It was overwhelming in terms of the number of
5 events that were taking place, and we concentrated on
6 trying to have a cease-fire in combat operations.
7 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Is my impression
8 correct, that of all of these many incidents which were
9 taking place at the same time, the operation at Ahmici
10 was being presented in the media as the greatest of all
11 HVO victories at the time?
12 A. I'm not sure, Your Honour, that at that time
13 the TV was broadcasting, that this videotape that was
14 presented here in court was ever shown on local
15 television. But on the basis of the report that I
16 heard here on that videotape, I heard the speaker
17 saying that this was a military victory. He had made
18 this video footage, apparently, and he said it was a
19 victory, but I personally had never seen this tape
20 before I came here.
21 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: My recollection is that
22 you also said that you personally never considered it a
24 A. Yes. From a military point of view and on
25 the basis of the information I have today, it is no
1 victory at all, and I did not consider it to be a
2 victory at all.
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So there was a
4 contradiction between your personal assessment of the
5 military significance of Ahmici and the public
6 presentation of the event. Was there a contradiction,
7 do you think?
8 A. If I look at the military significance of the
9 village as such, it does not have any military
10 significance. The positions above the village have
11 certain military significance, but the village as such,
12 I don't see any military significance there. However,
13 the media were operated by local cameramen who did not
14 have any military knowledge, I think, so then they
15 worked according to certain suggestions or certain
16 instructions and they presented such things to the
17 public in keeping with what they thought. I never told
18 them "Tape this" or "Tape that" or "Launch such and
19 such a piece of information." I presented my opinion
20 concerning Ahmici at the press conference. I condemned
21 this, I qualified it as a crime, and everything else I
22 pointed out at the press conference.
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So your assessment of
24 the event was at variance with the public presentation
25 of it?
1 A. Well, when I received more complete
2 information on everything that had happened, it was at
3 variance, yes.
4 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Yes. I thought it was
5 at variance. What I wanted to ask you, General, was
6 this: Since there was such a variance, did you feel
7 obliged to point out the variance at any of these daily
8 meetings which were being held?
9 A. I already testified that I indeed did not
10 have all the information that I had the opportunity of
11 hearing over here, but my first reaction was, when I
12 heard the indictment in relation to this at the meeting
13 in Zenica, I reacted to it. I talked to my associates
14 about it. Also, when I got that letter from Colonel
15 Stewart, again I convened a meeting of my immediate
16 team, and I publicly said what I had to say. On the
17 27th of April, I said in public that Ahmici was a crime
18 and that an investigation would follow and everything
20 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: I apologise, General, if
21 I led you into the area of the criminality of whatever
22 was done. What I had in mind was this: When you
23 opined that Ahmici was not a military victory, I
24 gathered that you were basing that assessment on the
25 military significance of the village and not on the
1 facts relating to the event which took place there of
2 which you learned later; is that correct?
3 A. Your Honour, Ahmici does not have any
4 military significance in any case, that is to say, the
5 position of the village does not have any military
6 significance. I had received information about the
7 combat operations taking place between the BH army and
8 the HVO, and it is the facilities above Ahmici that
9 have military significance, and I had received
10 information that the HVO was there but, actually, it
11 never was.
12 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: You had received
13 information that the HVO was above Ahmici?
14 A. Yes. That was at the end of the first day, I
15 think, sometime in the evening, that the HVO had passed
16 through the village and that it was moving on to
17 positions above Ahmici.
18 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: That was on the 16th of
20 A. Yes, approximately on the 16th of April in
21 the early evening or evening hours.
22 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Let us talk about the
23 evening of the 15th of April going over to the 16th of
24 April. At that point of time, as commanding officer of
25 the HVO, what was your expectation of the likely
1 movement of the Armija? Was it the case that, in your
2 judgement, the Armija was expected to come down the
3 Kuber mountains or the Kuber hills, whatever they were,
4 I'm not sure?
5 A. You're right, Kuber is a mountain, Your
7 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: It's a mountain.
8 A. You're right. It's much bigger than a hill.
9 I did not expect them to go down immediately
10 because, first of all, this position had to be taken
11 over and it's quite massive, so I did expect fighting
12 to take place at Kuber, and I thought that the Armija
13 would try to take over this position in the fullest
14 sense of the word.
15 Then, as far as further operative
16 developments are concerned, then it was -- it was a
17 different situation. It could have been used vis-à-vis
18 Busovaca and vis-à-vis Vitez. So the first thing that
19 had to be done, at any rate, was to take Kuber and to
20 create an operative basis for further activity in
21 possible directions, those that were made available to
22 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So, General, if I have
24 grasped the topography correctly, at that point of
25 time, the Armija was some distance east of Ahmici; they
1 had not yet come down the Kuber Mountain.
2 A. No, Your Honour. The army of
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina at that time was in Ahmici too.
4 This is a battalion of the 325th Brigade whose command
5 post was at Poculica or Preocica. I think Poculica,
6 rather. In Ahmici, I think there was a company there,
7 the 3rd Company of the 2nd Battalion, I think, of the
8 325th Brigade from Vitez, of the army of
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the other forces of the 3rd
10 Corps were at Kuber, that is to say, some other
12 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: Now I understand you.
13 So the Armija had elements in Ahmici, but the bulk of
14 the forces of the Armija were expected to come down the
15 Kuber Mountain; is that about correct?
16 A. A part of the forces, the main forces,
17 certainly, they went down. They were coming from
18 Zenica. However, the main forces of the 325th Vitez
19 Brigade was in Kruscica. That is where the commander
20 was and the command post and the main forces of the
21 325th Brigade of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina from
23 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: On the 15th of April,
24 could the HVO go into Ahmici?
25 A. On the 15th of April?
1 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: On the 15th of April,
2 1993, could the HVO, on that date, go into Ahmici?
3 A. I'm not sure that I understood your question
4 properly, Your Honour. Are you referring to whether it
5 was possible to pass by Ahmici?
6 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: That's a better way, I
7 admit, of putting the intent of my questions. Yes.
8 A. As far as I know, tensions were heightened,
9 that is what the situation was, but there weren't any
10 barricades yet. The situation was rather tense. I
11 think that it was possible to pass there but with extra
13 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: So I understand the
14 position on the 15th to have been this, that the
15 situation in Ahmici was tense but that subject to that,
16 the HVO could pass through the village.
17 A. I'm not sure whether they could pass through
18 the village actually, that is to say, the situation was
19 tense throughout the Vitez area. There were meetings,
20 lower level meetings held between the representatives
21 of the BH army and the HVO, there were meetings between
22 civilian representatives of power and authority, and we
23 did expect that this tension would be overcome and that
24 there would be no conflict. So I'm not quite sure --
25 well, yes, the situation was similar in Kruscica and
1 the whole Vitez municipality. Tensions were present in
2 Travnik as well, for example.
3 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: What I would like to be
4 clear about is whether, in your recollection, on the
5 15th of April, the HVO had access to Ahmici?
6 A. You could come up to the village, for
7 example, on the 15th of April. The road was still
8 clear in one way, but I don't know specifically what
9 the situation was for every area. Whether there were
10 checkpoints or not, I don't know that.
11 JUDGE SHAHABUDDEEN: General, I am much
12 obliged. I realise that you are coming to the end of a
13 very long period of testimony, and I thank you.
14 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you very much, Judge
15 Shahabuddeen. Let me turn to Judge Rodrigues.
16 Judge Rodrigues?
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, Your Honour.
18 General Blaskic, I have three questions. The
19 first will take us back to the questions I asked
20 earlier this afternoon. You already said this
21 afternoon that there were investigations into Vitez and
23 A. Yes.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: And into the incident of
25 the truck bomb.
1 A. I said that from the security service, I
2 received information that it was the Vitezovi unit who
3 was behind it and that I was informed that this
4 information was sent on to the competent authorities at
5 the head office in Mostar. I also required the
6 commanders of the independent unit of the Vitezovi to
7 conduct an investigation within the unit to uncover the
8 perpetrator of that terrorist act, and I never received
9 information from him as to who was behind it.
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Yes. And as regards
12 A. As far as I recall, the civilian police took
13 over from 14 -- 15.00 of the 8th, Grbavica, and they
14 took over authority, blockades, security, investigation
15 in the area. I remember, in relation to Grbavica, that
16 it was on the 18th of September when I received
17 congratulations from a major of UNPROFOR for overall
18 cooperation and the understanding that I showed for
19 protecting the civilians at Grbavica and the
20 professional way in which it was conducted.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Throughout the situation,
22 when investigations were being carried out, did you
23 ever see the results of the investigations? Did you
24 never see them?
25 A. Unfortunately, the results were such as I
1 spoke about. They were not ideal. They were not
2 always like that, and unfortunately here in the
3 courtroom, I saw intimations of the results and one
4 result --
5 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Excuse me, General, for
6 interrupting you, but I'm speaking about the final
7 results. Because there are situations when you had
8 preliminary information, and you weren't satisfied and
9 you insisted on learning more, but I'm speaking about
10 the definitive results, the definitive results of the
11 investigations. Did you remember receive any results
12 of those investigations?
13 A. That's what I had wanted to say, Your
14 Honour. I did see them here in the courtroom, and it
15 is the document by the head of the security service to
16 the minister --
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: At that time. At that
18 time. I'm thinking about that time. At that time, did
19 you actually have in your own hands the results of any
20 of the investigations?
21 A. No, I did not have them in the sense of
22 discovering and identifying the perpetrators. I didn't
23 have any results of that kind, no.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: My second question: You
25 told us, throughout your testimony, that you went to
1 Kiseljak, you left your wife and your life in Austria,
2 in order to fight against the Serbs; is that correct?
3 A. Yes.
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: What were your reactions
5 when you learned for sure that, in the end, you were
6 not going to fight your enemies, the Serbs, but your
7 allies, the Muslims? What were your reactions to
9 A. First of all, Your Honour, I believe for a
10 long time that the basic enemy was the army of the
11 Republika Srpska and that there were incidents and
12 conflicts which we would succeed in overcoming. I
13 believed deeply that regardless of what happened during
14 the January conflict and regardless of the first stage
15 of the April conflict, that we would be able to
16 overcome this problem through a joint struggle up at
17 the front line facing the Serbs and through joint
18 commands and that those problems would be surmounted.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: When you really believed
20 that, in the end, you were going to fight with your
21 allies, what was your reaction?
22 A. I found myself in a situation, as I have
23 already said, I was caught up in it. I was in a total
24 encirclement, and even my assistants criticised me and
25 said why I believed in a march and why I gave
1 assistance to the BH army and why I helped and
2 supported in communality and this joint effort, because
3 I truly did believe that all the problems would be
4 overcome. Ultimately, the Washington Agreement was
5 fastest realised and implemented by the soldiers
6 themselves, and the commander of the 3rd Corps told me
7 on several occasions that the problem did not lie in
8 the army but that the problem lay with politics, in the
9 realm of politics.
10 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General. That's
11 your answer.
12 My third question: We are trying to reach
13 some conclusions. You are perhaps familiar with all
14 the theory of working together. There's always a first
15 and then a second part, coalitions, I'm talking about.
16 This afternoon, you said that the HVO was in front of
17 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina which was stronger than
18 the HVO. Did you say that?
19 A. In the area that I found myself, and I still
20 claim that there were at least 200.000 (sic) HVO
21 soldiers for operative use at the operative disposal of
22 the BH army.
23 MR. NOBILO: I'm sorry. It says in the
24 transcript that at least 200.000 HVO soldiers for
25 operative use were at the operative disposal of the BH
1 army. I'm not sure that that was what the witness
2 wanted to say.
3 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Mr. Nobilo.
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: If you permit me, Your
6 General Blaskic, could you explain once again
7 to us the proportions between the HVO and the forces of
8 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina so that we can be clear
9 about things?
10 A. At that time, the time we're discussing now,
11 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina had, within its
12 operative use, 260.000 soldiers, of which number you
13 must deduct soldiers who were in the Bihac pocket and
14 soldiers who were in the Gorazde pocket and the other
15 pockets, and perhaps it was 60.000 or 70.000 of those
16 soldiers, which means that 200.000 soldiers were left
17 of the BH army against the HVO. The HVO never had so
18 many soldiers.
19 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Following this idea, if you
20 add the VRS, that is, the Serb army, what place, what
21 rank would you put that army? You have the army of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina, the HVO, and if you were to set up
23 a list by strength, where would you put the army of the
24 Republika Srpska?
25 A. Technically speaking, in first place, but
1 technical means does not make up an army alone. The
2 human factor, then we have the BH army in the first
3 place in the sense of the most numerous; and the HVO
4 would have its position there in the last place, would
5 take last place, bottom place, because I think it was
6 created as an organisational structure by those who did
7 not have sufficient knowledge about how an army should
8 be formed.
9 JUDGE RODRIGUES: General, let me go to the
10 background. It is perfectly natural and I do
11 understand that the HVO and the army of Bosnia and
12 Herzegovina were allies fighting against the Serbian
13 army, but what I don't understand is that when the HVO
14 and the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina began to fight
15 one another, why the first army, that is the VRS, did
16 not conquer the entire territory.
17 A. Well, Your Honour, first I think that it took
18 over more territory; had it had double the number of
19 soldiers, it wouldn't have been able to control it. At
20 one point, it had 75 per cent of the territory of
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina under its control, and it found this
22 suitable, to correspond to its desires, to have a lull
23 for a time and to solve its economic problems by
24 selling ammunition or trying to obtain enough fuel and
25 to engage in trade of this kind while the allies were
1 confronting each other. So what they did was to pacify
2 themselves or solve their problems in eastern Bosnia.
3 But, for the most part, they became passive, they
4 pacified themselves in our area, and even incited the
5 conflict because this corresponded to their ends.
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: Thank you, General. Thank
7 you for helping me to understand things well.
8 JUDGE JORDA: Thank you, Judge Rodrigues. We
9 are going to finish. I think we've got to reach the
11 I have a question which will have two smaller
12 ones. I would like you to be very precise in your
13 answer. Do you consider that there was a draft policy
14 on the part of the HVO, starting in the fall of 1992,
15 in terms of territory, in terms of administration,
16 pedagogical or any other type of administration? Do
17 you think that?
18 A. Well, in the sense of some ideas, I do
19 believe that there was some kind of political project
20 which was the consequence of the chaos and the overall
21 situation in which each peoples in Bosnia-Herzegovina
22 found itself at that time.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Did you make a distinction
24 between the political options of the HVO and your own
25 military operations? That's my second question.
1 A. I saw myself as a military commander. Of
2 course, I made a distinction between political options
3 and military options, and I never considered that I
4 ought to be a politician within the HVO. The HVO
5 policy was led by those given the mandate by the
6 Croatian people from Bosnia-Herzegovina.
7 JUDGE JORDA: At any point, through your
8 presence or through demonstrations or through meetings,
9 did you ever think that you were participating in the
10 HVO's political options?
11 A. Mr. President, I attended only two, possibly
12 three meetings. I have already said, at the first one
13 I was introduced as a guest and the new commander, and
14 at the second one, I submitted a report on the military
15 situation. I did not take part in political
16 decision-making nor did I have any political function
17 to perform whatsoever.
18 JUDGE JORDA: Going back to the question
19 asked by Judge Rodrigues. When the conflict changed in
20 terms of its nature and its combatants, did you say to
21 your chiefs that "I do not want to participate in the
22 HVO's political options"?
23 A. I do not consider that I ever participated in
24 the political options of the HVO, Mr. President, and I
25 always saw myself, I personally, as a military
1 commander, and I left politics to the political
3 JUDGE JORDA: Just a moment, please. You
4 were seen as a military commander and you always repeat
5 that. But when the conflict, the reach of the conflict
6 and the adversaries changed, the military options, that
7 is, your military option, also had a change in nature,
8 because the political nature of the HVO, of which we
9 are not a part, decided -- or, at least, took a
10 position in the conflict against the Muslims, no longer
11 against the Serbs. Did you inform your supreme command
12 that you were no longer part of the contract to which
13 you had subscribed in respect of your chiefs? Did you
14 do that at any point? Did you say it? Did you do it?
15 A. In the sense that I did not consider myself a
16 military commander, I did not. But, Mr. President, in
17 Central Bosnia, where I was the commander, the only
18 policy was to survive. The situation was quite
19 different in the southern regions, in Herzegovina,
20 where the relationship between the army and the HVO was
21 quite different. In my area, it was a question of
22 survival alone.
23 JUDGE JORDA: Beyond survival, there was a
24 political project on the part of the HVO -- you
25 recognise that and you said that -- in which you were
1 not involved. I understood that. But there was a
2 political project on the part of the HVO. You
3 acknowledge, at least, there was at least an embryonic
4 form of that project. Did you inform your superiors
5 that you would come to fight against the Serbs, that
6 you were not going to continue to adhere to that
7 political project? Did you do that? Did you say that?
8 A. I was not in a position to see the political
9 project of the fight against the Bosniak Muslims, if
10 we're just talking about a political project. I was
11 caught up in Central Bosnia and the conflict there, and
12 the only politics or policy was that of survival.
13 JUDGE JORDA: My final question: Could we
14 say that the attitude of being purely and entirely
15 military, could you say that that caused you
16 difficulties with your superiors?
17 A. I do not know whether it created problems or
18 not with my superiors and what problems they had, but I
19 truly did advocate that position and the view that
20 these conflicts would also be overcome through
21 agreement and through building up a joint command.
22 JUDGE JORDA: This is my final question: How
23 do you interpret the fact that you were, in fact,
24 promoted, that you were recognised by the HVO hierarchy
25 and then even later on by Croatia, if you did not
1 adhere to the political project? How do you explain
2 that? Could you give us, give the Judges a personal
3 explanation at least?
4 A. Well, not only by the policies of the HVO but
5 representatives of the BH Republic as well. I was a
6 witness of a meeting at which myself and Mr. Rasim
7 Delic were the representatives of the joint command of
8 the army of the federation and Mr. Alija Izetbegovic
9 was present there as the supreme commander, and he had
10 no criticisms to make of a promotion of that kind, and
11 I was the commander of the army of the federation
12 together with Rasim Delic for almost a year, and I
13 explained this by virtue of my military and
14 professional capabilities and my professional conduct
15 in performing my military duties.
16 JUDGE JORDA: Very well. If there are no
17 further questions, I think that after this very long
18 testimony, we can adjourn our session for a few
19 moments, because before we go into another important
20 sequence in this trial, I would like, in closed
21 session, to have a conference, a Status Conference. We
22 will give a chance for the interpreters to rest for
23 about ten minutes.
24 THE REGISTRAR: It will take --
25 JUDGE JORDA: All right. We will meet again
1 in about 15 minutes.
2 --- Whereupon hearing adjourned at
3 5.26 p.m. to enter into a closed session
4 Status Conference