1 Wednesday, 31 October 2007
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.02 a.m.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning.
6 May I remind you, Mr. Bezruchenko, of the affirmation that you
7 made at the beginning of your evidence that still applies.
8 Mr. Mettraux.
9 Before you pick up --
10 [Albanian on English channel]
11 JUDGE PARKER: Do we now have English on 4?
12 MR. METTRAUX: Yes, Your Honour.
13 JUDGE PARKER: I think you can proceed, Your Honour.
14 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour.
15 The Defence of Mr. Boskoski will seek to finalise the
16 cross-examination today; however, in view of the relatively important
17 number of issues that have to be raised, it is possible that we may have
18 to finish tomorrow. We will attempt, however, to finish today and have
19 done a good deal of cutting yesterday night with a view to try to finalise
20 the cross-examination of Mr. Bezruchenko today. But it may be the case,
21 Your Honour, that we may need an additional session tomorrow.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mettraux, can we make clear that we have given
23 you an extremely free hand. You should be aware, and I trust you will
24 appreciate, the cross-examination has gone on at considerable length. We
25 would think it most unlikely that you would need to continue tomorrow.
1 MR. METTRAUX: Well, Your Honour, we aware and appreciative of the
2 time that we have been given for the cross-examination. We believe,
3 however, that the material on which we had to cross-examine in a number of
4 issues which are being dealt with in the report warrant a certain amount
5 of time. As I indicated, we have attempted to cut the cross-examination,
6 have done in the past already, and will attempt to finish today in the
7 course of the day.
8 JUDGE PARKER: Can I make clear that you should not assume you
9 will be able to continue tomorrow.
10 MR. METTRAUX: I'm grateful for the indication.
11 JUDGE PARKER: And to be very disciplined in your time today.
12 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour.
13 WITNESS: VIKTOR BEZRUCHENKO [Resumed]
14 Cross-examination by Mr. Mettraux: [Continued]
15 Q. Good morning, Mr. Bezruchenko.
16 A. Good morning, sir.
17 Q. You will recall that when we left off last night, we were
18 discussing the month of February 2001. Is that correct?
19 A. Yes, sir.
20 But before actually progressing with my testimony, I would kindly
21 ask the usher to adjust my translation options.
22 Q. Are you able to follow the proceedings in English,
23 Mr. Bezruchenko?
24 A. Yes, I am, sir.
25 Q. Very well. Turning to the end of February of 2001,
1 Mr. Bezruchenko, have you seen any documentary evidence of any order of
2 the NLA during the period of February of 2001?
3 A. I would be grateful, sir, if you could indicate to me a specific
4 paragraph and page on my report.
5 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, I don't think there is any particular reference
6 in your report to that fact; thus, the question: Are you aware of any
7 documentary evidence of any order coming from the NLA during the period of
8 February of 2001.
9 A. No.
10 Q. Are you aware of any map of operation from the NLA during the
11 period February 2001?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Did you see any documentary evidence that the NLA, in February of
14 2001, had adopted any laws or regulation to govern its activities?
15 A. I have seen a number of regulations related to the NLA activities;
16 however, it would be difficult to establish at which particular date they
17 had been developed and adopted.
18 Q. Thank you for that, Mr. Bezruchenko.
19 We can move on to the month of March of 2001, and I will ask you
20 to --
21 MR. METTRAUX: I will ask the registry first to bring up Exhibit
22 P466, please, and if we could go to page 46, Mr. Bezruchenko's report.
23 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, is it correct that you described what you call
24 the NLA operations as concern the month of March of 2001 in paragraph 170,
25 171, and 172 of your report? Is that correct?
1 A. The NLA operations in March 2001 are described in paragraph 170,
2 171, 172, but this description is not limited to these paragraphs only.
3 The NLA actions in this month are also described in section 5 of my
4 report, which is "Chronology," and I may help you with indication of the
5 pages and paragraphs.
6 In fact, these actions are described in paragraphs ranging from
7 paragraph 9 --
8 Q. To 41?
9 A. -- to paragraph 41 of the section 5 of my report.
10 Q. Well, I'm grateful, Mr. Bezruchenko.
11 Before we start with the month of March, do you recall giving
12 evidence that the NLA, in your view, was involved in what you called
13 asymmetrical warfare? Do you recall saying that?
14 A. Yes, that's right.
15 Q. And do you recall suggesting that one of its preferred method of
16 operations was sabotage or so-called "ambush operations"?
17 A. Yes, that's right.
18 Q. And do you agree that in a context of an armed conflict, whether
19 asymmetrical or otherwise, ambush would be a relatively common method of
21 A. It is a classical method of warfare; in fact, to be more precise,
22 this is classical tactics which has been in use from times immemorial by
23 all armies of the world.
24 Q. And it is also in principle a legitimate method of warfare. Is
25 that correct?
1 A. Yes, it is.
2 Q. If can you turn your attention again to paragraph 170 of your
3 report, please, Mr. Bezruchenko, that's page 46. You describe the fact
4 that on the 4th of March 2001, near the village of Tanusevci, two army
5 soldiers were killed by a land-mine and a third one was later shot by
6 sniper rifle. Is that correct?
7 A. As I can see, what paragraph 170 says, it says: "Fighting in the
8 area of Tanusevci continued. On 4th March, two armed soldiers were killed
9 by a land-mine in the area." This is what it says.
10 Q. And, Mr. Bezruchenko, do you have any information about who the
11 perpetrators of those actions were; of the killings, that is?
12 A. Since apparently NLA was active in the area, it would be logical
13 to assume that the mine was planted by the NLA.
14 Q. And do you know how many people would have been engaged in this
15 operation, the first -- the mine planting incident?
16 A. It doesn't really take many people to plant a mine, and it doesn't
17 really take a long time to carry out such a operation.
18 Q. What about the sniper rifle incident? Do you know how many people
19 were involved in that incident?
20 A. No, I don't, and it was not really my intention to specifically
21 concentrate on this particular action.
22 Q. Is it correct, Mr. Bezruchenko, that far from being regarded as
23 legitimate acts of warfare, these killings of members of the Macedonian
24 security forces were, in fact, condemned as criminal or terrorist acts?
25 Is that correct?
1 A. The legal aspects of the conflict, Mr. Mettraux, as I have
2 invariably emphasized throughout my testimony, as well as the
3 condemnations coming from governments, NGOs, political entities, and so
4 on, were not really the primary goal to elucidate on while writing my
6 Q. But, Mr. Bezruchenko, just stopping for a second on what you have
7 responded, when you suggest that this pertains to the "legal aspects" of
8 the conflict, don't you agree that the statements made by a number of
9 states or international organisations, as to what they consider to be
10 legitimate or not, reflects the views of those states and organisation of
11 what they considered to be an armed conflict or not? Do you agree with
13 A. Before we actually continue, could I ask usher somehow to make
14 sure that I see the script on the screen, please.
15 Q. Would you like me to repeat the question, Mr. Bezruchenko?
16 A. Yes, please, sir.
17 Q. When you suggest that this pertains to the "legal aspects" of the
18 conflict, don't you agree that the statements made by a number of states
19 or international organisation, as to what they consider to be legitimate
20 or not, reflects the views of those states an organisation about what they
21 consider to be an armed conflict or not? Do you agree with that?
22 A. It obviously does, sir; but, in fact, I am here to discuss my
24 Q. But the question is, Mr. Bezruchenko, is that there were dozens
25 and perhaps hundreds of statements by various states, international
1 organisations during the entire crisis period of 2001, which made it clear
2 that, in their view, there was no armed conflict in Macedonia at that
3 time, and you have cited not a single one of them. Is that correct?
4 A. Well, in fact, I have been concentrating mostly on the
5 professional opinion of military experts, rather than the points of view
6 expressed by various NGOs and international organisations.
7 Well, as to the fact that I have not really cited any single of
8 them, that is simply not true because I cited at least several of those in
9 my report, especially the media reports in section 5, "Chronology," which
10 clearly speak about the condemnation when international community of
11 certain acts committed in Macedonia.
12 Q. Well, let's look at the reaction of the international community to
13 what you call an NLA operation in Tanusevci where three people -- three
14 security people were killed.
15 MR. METTRAUX: And if the witness could be shown what is Exhibit
16 1D230, please. Thank you.
17 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, this is a presidential statement, that's the
18 president of the Security Council of the United Nations, and the date of
19 that document is the 7th of March of 2001.
20 I'd ask you first to look at the first paragraph in that document
21 which starts with the word: "The Security Council this evening."
22 Can you see that?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And it say this is: "The Security Council this evening strongly
25 condemned the recent violence by armed ethnic Albanian extremists in the
1 north of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and, in particular, the
2 killing of three soldiers from that country in the Tanusevci area."
3 Can you see that?
4 A. Yes, I can.
5 Q. And did you make any reference to that particular condemnation in
6 your report, if you can remember?
7 A. I really can't remember, Mr. Mettraux.
8 Q. But you will agree that these acts are not characterised by the
9 Security Council of the UN as legitimate acts of warfare, as you would
10 have it, but as violence by armed ethnic Albanian extremists. Do you
11 agree with that?
12 A. Well, yes, this is clearly the fact that this is what the
13 statement says.
14 MR. METTRAUX: Could the registry please turn to page N000-N023,
16 Q. And if I can ask to you look at the comment by the representative
17 of Norway in this context. Is that correct that the Norwegian
18 representative condemned all terrorists attacks in the region, making the
19 point that they threaten both internal and regional security.
20 Can you see that?
21 A. I can see that, sir.
22 MR. METTRAUX: And if we can turn to the next page, please.
23 Q. If you can look at what the representative of Mali, for instance,
24 had to say about this. He condemned the illegal and violent terrorist
25 actions by the ethnic Albanian extremists, especially the death of the
1 three soldiers.
2 Can you see that?
3 A. Yes, I can.
4 Q. And if you can look down at number --
5 MR. METTRAUX: Well, it is on the next page, please.
6 Q. At the top of the page, this the representative of Sweden
7 speaking, and at the time speaking on behalf of the European Union. The
8 representative of Sweden condemned the rising number of incidents in the
9 area, including the ethnic Albanian extremist attack on 4 March near the
10 village of Tanusevci which resulted in the death of three soldiers.
11 Can you see that?
12 A. Yes, I can.
13 Q. And I think there is no need to review all of them,
14 Mr. Bezruchenko, but do you agree that the position of the international
15 community, as represented by the various statements made by the state
16 representatives in the Security Council at the time, was that what was
17 going on, at least as far as Tanusevci is concerned, was not an armed
18 conflict with legitimate acts of warfare, but acts of terrorism or
19 extremism? Do you agree with that?
20 A. Mr. Mettraux, I am not certain if I can give you an appropriate
21 qualification in this particular question, because, as you are aware, I am
22 here as a military expert, not as a political or a legal one.
23 Q. But, Mr. Bezruchenko, again, you would agree that the practice of
24 states, in relation to what they consider to be an armed conflict, would
25 be equally relevant to the legal field than to the military analysis,
1 which you say you are providing. Is that correct?
2 A. Yes, that would.
3 Q. And do you agree also that in none of the statements made any of
4 the states, or at least any of the states that I have read to you, but
5 none in the document that is in front of you, suggested that the situation
6 in Macedonia amounted to an armed conflict or that the NLA should be
7 regarded as a party to an armed conflict? Do you agree with that?
8 A. If you could specifically remind me about the date of this
9 particular statement.
10 Q. This is the 7th of March of 2001.
11 A. Well, at this stage, in fact, the conflict was not really in full
12 swing, and perhaps those who were really drafting this document had some
13 reasons to describe it as escalation of incidents and violence. However,
14 I don't really think that those who were really drafting this document had
15 access to all the pertinent information which transpired only much later,
16 and, of course, certain governmental bodies in the Republic of Macedonia,
17 like the directorate for security and counter-intelligence, for instance,
18 had far better knowledge of what was really happening in the mountainous
19 border region on the border with Kosovo in March 2001.
20 As is clear for this documents, in fact, there was a serious build
21 up of forces of the NLA in the area, and NLA was actually striving to open
22 several fronts, including one in the area of Kosovo -- sorry, in the area
23 of Tetovo and the other one in the area of Kumanovo.
24 Q. So --
25 A. So my --
1 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, if I understand you properly, is that at the time
2 the was an armed conflict in Macedonia, but not one member of the Security
3 Council of the United Nations knew about it. Is that your evidence?
4 A. My evidence is that in March 2001 the knowledge about the
5 realities of the armed conflict in Macedonia was pretty limited to
6 numerous international factors and international organisations. Perhaps
7 very few people actually knew what was going on there in the reality.
8 Q. Well, let's go forward in time, and we will see whether that
9 clears up over time.
10 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter
12 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, this is a statement by the president of the
13 Security Council of the United Nations. Again, it's a few days later, on
14 the 12th of March of 2001, and it's in response to a letter dated 4th of
15 March, 2001 by the permanent representative of Macedonia to the Security
16 Council. I will draw your attention to the second indented paragraph in
17 this document. It starts with the words: "The Security Council strongly
18 condemns recent violence."
19 Can you see that?
20 A. Yes, I can.
21 Q. And what the president of the Security Council said is: "The
22 Security Council strongly condemns recent violence by ethnic Albanian
23 armed extremists in the north of the former Yugoslav Republic of
24 Macedonia, in particular the killing of three soldiers of the armed forces
25 of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the area of Tanusevci.
1 The Council regrets that the violence continues and calls for a immediate
2 end to it."
3 Do you agree that, as with the previous document, there is no talk
4 of an armed conflict -- no talk of parties to an armed conflict, but there
5 is talk of an Albanian armed extremists using violence which is being
6 condemned by the Security Council? Do you agree with that?
7 A. I agree with that, sir, but that does not necessarily mean that
8 this single document should really obfuscate other facts.
9 Let me remind you, sir, that, in fact, some other documents, like
10 the Articles released by professional military magazines, like Jane's
11 magazine, for instance, had identified the operations on -- as early as in
12 March 2001. As is clear from other documents, particularly the
13 presidential decisions, the build up of the army of the Macedonia in the
14 area of -- close to the border with Kosovo started, in fact, in February
15 2001, and operations were authorised in March 2001.
16 Q. Well, let's stop, Mr. Bezruchenko, for a moment. We'll take it
17 one step at a time.
18 Let's stick with March for the time being, and let's go back to
19 your report.
20 MR. METTRAUX: That's Exhibit 466, page 46, please. Page 46,
22 A. Yes, I'm on page 46.
23 Q. And if you can look at paragraph 170, Mr. Bezruchenko, that is
24 where you talk about the incidents in or around the village of Tanusevci.
25 First, I'll ask you this: Do you know how many people had been
1 involved on the side of the NLA in what you call the operations in
2 Tanusevci, in and around Tanusevci?
3 A. I have seen many Macedonian documents coming from the directorate
4 for security and counter-intelligence offering various assessments of the
5 strength of the NLA at various stages of the conflict. It would be
6 difficult, though, to attribute any particular document to illustrate the
7 point that you have mentioned.
8 However, my assessment, as based on a number of Macedonian
9 documents, and they are quite numerous in fact, is that there would be at
10 least several hundred men either directly involved in those operations or
11 in supporting role.
12 Q. And, Mr. Bezruchenko, are you able to identify where in your
13 report you refer to material that would suggest that there were or there
14 would have been several hundred people involved in the operation?
15 A. Just one second, sir.
16 Okay. The most pertinent documents in this respect would be the
17 following ones: First of all, this is, again, the book by Macedonian
18 military experts Mitre Arsovski, Stojan Kuzev, and Risto Damjanovksi, "The
19 War in Macedonia in 2001," which I hope you are well aware of,
20 Mr. Mettraux; then, the document 65 ter 1012, entitled "Review of
21 information on illegal channels of NLA fighters and arms from Kosovo,"
22 dated 23rd March 2001; then, the document 65 ter 101, entitled
23 "Assessment of the security situation regarding the actions of the
24 so-called ONA NLA in the Skopje crisis region."
25 Q. I will stop you there for a second, Mr. Bezruchenko. Do you
1 suggest that any of the authority which you have cited support the claim
2 that have you made about the operation in Tanusevci, or are you suggesting
3 that it provides figures generally about the conflict?
4 A. It provides figures; and if you really carefully read this
5 document, but not necessarily in isolation from each other but in
6 conjunction and make the interpretation an analysis of the documents, you
7 will see that, in fact, they speak about several hundred fighters probably
8 operating in the northern area of Macedonia, including Tanusevci.
9 Q. I see. And so that the Judges have an idea of the scope of what
10 we are talking about, do you know approximately how many people lived in
11 the village of Tanusevci in normal times? Would between 350 and 700 be
13 A. Well, I would imagine perhaps closer to 350.
14 Q. And are you aware of any combat-related casualty on the side of
15 the NLA during the operation in or around Tanusevci in the month of March
17 A. I have seen at least one document, Mr. Mettraux, which suggests
18 the number of casualties suffered by the NLA throughout the entire
19 conflict; but if your question specifically implies whether there were any
20 specific casualties in the area of Tanusevci, I would have to go to this
21 document, which would take sometime.
22 Q. Well, I'm grateful for that. I'll ask you this, then: Did you
23 see any documentary evidence of a plan or map being drawn by the NLA for
24 their operation in or around Tanusevci in the month of March of 2001?
25 A. I am not aware of such maps. I didn't see any map regarding the
1 operation in Tanusevci; but from military practice, it would be common
2 knowledge, in fact, that not necessarily any operation or military action
3 would really need a map or a plan.
4 In fact, at a lower level, at lower level operations like, for
5 instance, squad or platoon - and I would imagine that would be exactly the
6 size of the force which was involved in Tanusevci mine incident, but not
7 necessarily in the fighting in the area of Tanusevci - it would be
8 sufficient, in fact, to produce a very basic rudimentary sketch of the
9 ground, even with some expedient means, like, for instance, drawing a very
10 brief sketch right on the ground with a stick or arranging stones as to
11 indicate directions, and these kinds of things.
12 Q. So did you see any evidence of sticks being planted on the ground
13 and stones being arranged to organise the operation in Tanusevci,
14 Mr. Bezruchenko?
15 A. I'm just trying to qualify your question, Mr. Mettraux, and I'm
16 trying to give you a better explanation, well, as to the use of maps and
17 various expedient means as sketches on the ground.
18 Q. Did you see any documentary evidence, Mr. Bezruchenko, that
19 related to the operation in Tanusevci?
20 A. Which specific documentary evidence and which specific origin are
21 you referring to, Mr. Mettraux?
22 Q. Well, did you see any documentary evidence of any combat-related
23 documentation from the NLA in relation to their operation in or around
24 Tanusevci during the month of March 2001?
25 A. I think coming back, again, to the issue of casualties, there was
1 at least some casualties that the NLA suffered in the area of Tanusevci.
2 Q. Well, let's leave the casualties on the side, Mr. Bezruchenko.
3 I'm asking you now whether you have seen any - and I will repeat the
4 formulation - any documentary evidence of any combat-related documentation
5 from the NLA in relation to their operation in or around Tanusevci during
6 the month of March 2001? Have you seen any such documents?
7 A. Except for the list of the casualties, no.
8 Q. In fact, you would agree, Mr. Bezruchenko, that the events in and
9 around Tanusevci during the month of March of 2001 were no more than a
10 series of unplanned actions by loosely coordinated cells. Do you agree
11 with that?
12 A. I don't really think, Mr. Mettraux, that any loosely coordinated
13 cells actually could undertake an action which amounted, in fact, to
14 attacking the border positions of the Macedonian army, as well as
15 establishing actually what served later as a bridgehead for illegal
16 crossing of arms and weapons into Macedonia.
17 They, indeed, were coordinated actions apparently, but I wouldn't
18 really describe those elements as cells. Cells would perhaps be more
19 appropriate as a description in terms of urban warfare in big cities.
20 Q. Or criminal organisations. Do you agree?
21 A. Or criminal organisations.
22 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter
23 1D725, please.
24 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, this is a report prepared by the ICG, the
25 International Crisis Group. It is an NGO. It's called "The Macedonian
1 question: Reform or Rebellion," and it is dated the 5th of April of 2001.
2 Have you ever seen that document, Mr. Bezruchenko?
3 A. I have seen this document, and I think I quote it in my report.
4 MR. METTRAUX: Well, could we please move to page 1D00-6449 of
5 that document, and if the registry could scroll down and focus on the
7 Q. In the report, the ICG reviews the incident that occurred in
8 Macedonia over the previous month, including the events that you've
9 described in your report in and around Tanusevci. And if I can draw your
10 attention to the first sentence in that conclusion, they say the
11 following: "The series of incidents in Tanusevci spiraled out of control,
12 setting in motion a series of unplanned actions by loosely coordinated
13 guerilla cells."
14 Can you see that?
15 A. Yes, I can.
16 Q. And do you agree that that directly conflicts with the evidence
17 that you just gave a moment ago?
18 A. That's right, but I cannot really take this particular statement,
19 which you quoted in this report, on its face value for a number of
21 Q. And, in fact, you did not cite it in your report. Is that
23 A. I think I did at least in the original version, but I'm not sure
24 if I cited it in the final version of the report because apparently I
25 found better sources.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Saxon.
2 MR. SAXON: Your Honour, these are complex questions dealing with
3 complex issues, and I'm wondering the witness could be given a chance to
4 complete his last response. He was interrupted.
5 JUDGE PARKER: I think the witness is making his way pretty well.
6 MR. METTRAUX:
7 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, could I ask you to turn to paragraph 171 and 172
8 of your report. That would again be at page 46 and 47.
9 MR. METTRAUX: For the registry, this is Exhibit P466.
10 Q. Do you have it in front of you, Mr. Bezruchenko?
11 A. Paragraph 171 --
12 Q. Yes, please.
13 A. -- and 172?
14 Q. That's correct.
15 In paragraph 171, you suggest that: "On 14 March 2001, the NLA
16 opened a second front above the western city of Tetovo," and then you go
17 on to describe what you say a few -- a couple of sentences later is "a
18 dramatic development in the course of the conflict." Is that correct?
19 A. Yes, that's right.
20 Q. And what you are describing is the attempt by the NLA to control
21 or to establish control over Tetovo. Is that correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Do you know how many members of the NLA had been involved in that
24 particular operation, Mr. Bezruchenko?
25 A. I can only offer my assessment.
1 Q. And, in fact, you have not been able to verify that number. Is
2 that correct?
3 A. I don't think any actually had a chance to do so.
4 Q. Are you able to indicate whether the NLA suffered any
5 combat-related casualties during the operations in or around Tetovo during
6 the month of March of 2001?
7 A. As in case with related question of your, Mr. Mettraux, which you
8 asked me previously, to establish this fact, I would have to go to a
9 certain document; and if you give me three, five minutes, I would probably
10 tell you.
11 Q. Well, for the time being, we'll just go on with the questions,
12 Mr. Bezruchenko.
13 In relation to these particular events, did you see any
14 documentary evidence of combat-related documentation such as maps or
16 A. I have seen at least one map, which is, in fact,"The NLA
17 Directive" --
18 Q. Well, let stick with March, Mr. Bezruchenko.
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. We'll get to June in a moment, but let's stay with the month of
22 Did you see any particular combat-related documentation which
23 related to the activities of the NLA in or around the area of Tetovo
24 during the March of 2001?
25 A. I would be grateful to Your Honours if I could be given a chance
1 to complete my answer.
2 JUDGE PARKER: Continue.
3 THE WITNESS: I am specifically referring to the map which is "The
4 NLA Directive for Operations," and which you rightly put, Mr. Mettraux, is
5 dated midsummer 2001, precisely June 2001.
6 If you carefully analyse this map, Mr. Mettraux, and your analysis
7 is not necessarily based on a single fact that the date of this document
8 is June 2001, you would probably arrive to a conclusion that it really
9 took the NLA some time to occupy those areas and take those positions
10 which are coloured in orange colour on this map, which could happen only
11 prior to June 2001 and probably March 2001.
12 MR. METTRAUX:
13 Q. I'm grateful for this comment, Mr. Bezruchenko.
14 Coming back to the question that I asked you a moment ago: Have
15 you seen any documentary evidence of combat-related documentation in the
16 form of orders or maps of operation which related to the activities of the
17 NLA in or around Tetovo during the period March 2001?
18 A. As I mentioned in my previous answer, Mr. Mettraux, the document,
19 "The NLA Directive," is clearly related to the NLA activities in March
20 2001, because it actually presents positions and areas taken up by the NLA
21 before June 2001.
22 Q. In answer to my question, would it be, no, Mr. Bezruchenko, you
23 have seen no specific document relating to those activities in the period
24 March 2001? Is that correct?
25 A. If I can interpret your question as saying whether I have seen any
1 NLA documents which were dated March 2001, sir, my answer would be then,
2 no, I have not seen such documents.
3 Q. Thank you, Mr. Bezruchenko.
4 Could you please turn to paragraph 172 of your report, please.
5 In the middle of that paragraph, you refer to the NLA responding
6 by attacking an army -- or army positions, I'm sorry, at Kudra Fura watch
8 Can you see that?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And do you know how long that incident or that operation, as you
11 call it, lasted?
12 A. Well, I do not call this particular incident an operation,
13 Mr. Mettraux, as is clearly seen from this paragraph. What I'm saying
14 here is that the NLA responded by attacking armed positions at Kudra Fura
15 watch tower.
16 Q. And do you know how long this attack lasted?
17 A. Well, normally, generally speaking, I would say, these attacks
18 lasted on average for a few hours. Sometimes shooting continued and
19 exchange of fire continued, in fact, for days. But if you're referring to
20 this particular incident, I am not aware of how many hours exactly it was
21 going on.
22 But, in fact, again from military practice, it is very difficult
23 to establish the exact beginning and the exact end of a -- of an exchange
24 of fire, because, normally, soldiers are soldiers and sometimes they fire
25 without orders. Basically, whenever there is an encounter with an
1 opposing force, it is difficult, in fact, to make sure that these things
2 are run exactly the way they should be run.
3 Q. I'm very grateful for that, Mr. Bezruchenko.
4 Do you recall that in paragraph 171, you describe this as dramatic
5 development. Do you recall that?
6 A. Yes, I do.
7 Q. Isn't it correct that the events in or around Tetovo at that time
8 were regarded and were, in fact, a low-intensity affair with sporadic and
9 limited exchange of fire? Is that correct?
10 A. Thank you very much, Mr. Mettraux, but I think you just now
11 referred to me paragraph 172 of my report, which clearly deals with events
12 in March 2001.
13 Q. Yes. If I can direct you, Mr. Bezruchenko, to the last sentence
14 of paragraph 171, which relates to the events around Tetovo.
15 Can you see that?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And do you agree that in the last sentence, you describe those
18 events around Tetovo as a dramatic development in the course of the
19 conflict? Is that correct??
20 A. That's right, sir.
21 Q. And isn't it correct, Mr. Bezruchenko, that, in fact, those
22 developments, though events around Tetovo in the month of March of 2001
23 were, in fact, a low-intensity affair with limited and sporadic exchange
24 of fire?
25 A. I would kindly beg, Mr. Mettraux, to differ on this issue for a
1 number of reasons.
2 First of all, you should not really read this paragraph and this
3 sentence as fragmented and in isolation from what I say in the next
5 The next paragraph, in fact, says the following, and I will read
6 it to you: "The fighting took place in the area of Tetovo focussed on the
7 rebels stronghold on the hill of Kale. On 20th March 2001, the army,
8 using the M-30 120-millimetre Howitzer and M-63 128 multiple rocket
9 launchers, began shelling NLA outposts. On 27th March, armed infantry
10 units, supported by T-55 tanks, moved into the hills above Tetovo."
11 I hope this sufficiently answers your question, sir, and justifies
12 my reasons for being different on this issue.
13 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter
14 1D725, please.
15 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, this is, again, the same report, and we're going
16 to come back to it on a number of occasions, the report of the ICG of 5
17 April 2001.
18 MR. METTRAUX: And I will ask the registry again to turn to page
19 1D00-6449, please. If we could scroll down to the bottom of the page,
21 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, I'll draw your attention, once again, to the same
22 first paragraph in the conclusion of the ICG report, but this time the
23 second sentence which relates to the events of Tetovo.
24 The ICG says this: "The shooting from the hills above Tetovo does
25 not appear to have been part of a larger strategic plan but, rather, a
1 improvised show of strength to test government resolve and radicalise
2 ethnic Albanian opinion."
3 Would you agree, Mr. Bezruchenko, that this is far closer from an
4 accurate depiction of what was happening around Tetovo than the dramatic
5 development that you described or tried to describe in your report?
6 A. If fighting at the outskirts of the second largest city with
7 casualties among civilians is not a dramatic development, Mr. Mettraux,
8 then I don't really know what kind of grounds I would have to describing
9 it otherwise.
10 If you're inviting me to make a general comment on this document,
11 I would like to say the following: Firstly, this document is dated 5
12 April 2001, and April was perhaps the month of least military activity in
14 Perhaps, the authors of this document were actually lulled by the
15 false sense of calm, which was more or less was settling in the months of
17 My other comment about this document is that, essentially, this is
18 a political document which presents recommendations to the Macedonian
19 government as to how to deal with the problem. It is not a military
20 document, and it is not based on relevant military facts. It seems to
21 provide a description based on entirely different grounds and entirely
22 different criteria which I used in my report.
23 Q. Thank you, Mr. Bezruchenko. Simply to clarify this matter for
24 yourself, the report, in fact, covers the exact same period as you did
25 during the month of March 2001.
1 But let's move on to the view of the international community,
2 Mr. Bezruchenko, and the opinions of state and relevant international
4 Is it correct that all through the month of March 2001, as has
5 been the case with January and February, the international community
6 continued to regard the NLA as a terrorist or extremist group, and not one
7 states, that we could see in any case, that suggested that what was
8 happening in Macedonia in March 2001 was an armed conflict? Is that
10 A. Most of the descriptions of what was happening in Macedonia at
11 that time appear to have been in terms of terrorism, as you have rightly
12 indicated, but I wouldn't agree that there were no individuals who would
13 describe it as -- who wouldn't describe it as a conflict.
14 In fact, if you go to a number of sources - again, I'm referring
15 particularly to those of Jane's, as well as in the Macedonian military
16 experts, for instance General Atanovsovski as well as Colonel Kuzev, and
17 others - it was clear, in fact, from their writings that they were even at
18 that time maintaining different views on what was happening in Macedonia.
19 Q. Well, I'm grateful for that, Mr. Bezruchenko. We'll stay for the
20 time being with the view of the international community, and states in
22 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown what is Rule 65 ter
23 1D881, please.
24 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, this is a press article, and I will just simply
25 go through it. It's dated 15 March 2001. It's called "Yugoslavia: US
1 condemns violence in Macedonia," and it comes from Radio Free Europe.
2 MR. METTRAUX: I would ask the registry to scroll down a bit.
3 Thank you.
4 Q. As you can see from the third paragraph, Mr. Bezruchenko, it
5 starts with the word: "Albanian extremist." It has to do with the events
6 near Tetovo, and it says this: "Albanian extremists exchanged fire with
7 police near Tetovo castle, and demonstrators in the centre of Tetovo
8 attacked a TV crew from a private Macedonian station."
9 And, then, as you will see, there's a number of comments which are
10 attributed to Ambassador James Pardew, the US envoy to the area, and this
11 is what Mr. Pardew had to say about this:
12 "We call on the Albanian people in Kosovo and in Macedonia to do
13 everything that they can to stop this violence and to condemn those and
14 take action against those who are causing this. We believe this is a
15 small group of extremists who are simply trying to use intimidation and
16 violence to promote their political agenda."
17 Do you agree, Mr. Bezruchenko, that this view of a knowledgeable
18 person in the area about the nature of the NLA as a small group of
19 extremists trying to use intimidation and violence to promote their own
20 political agenda is a rather accurate description of what the NLA is?
21 Do you agree with that?
22 A. I think there are some significant points about this statement.
23 First of all, it is a absolutely correct to say that there was a
24 serious threat developing and there was a very strong link between
25 developments in Macedonia and developments in Kosovo.
1 Secondly, it is also certainly correct to say that the NLA had a
2 political agenda.
3 But having said that, I would like to note that, in fact, this is
4 a political statement. As I mentioned previously, Mr. Mettraux, politics
5 was not really a part of my report. And --
6 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko --
7 A. -- can I please complete and finish my answer?
8 Q. Please go ahead.
9 A. And specifically referring to a small group that might, in fact,
10 be small in terms of comparison to the total amount of population in
11 Macedonia which, as you are aware, was about two and a half million men, I
12 don't really think it was really very small group there in military terms,
13 in terms of its capacity and the [indiscernible] posed.
14 Q. Well, would you agree, Mr. Bezruchenko, that what you call a
15 political statement is, in fact, the expression of the view of the
16 ambassador of one of the most powerful states in the world about what
17 their understanding of the situation in Macedonia was at that time? Do
18 you agree with that?
19 A. Yes, I agree with that.
20 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter 1D882,
22 THE WITNESS: Before we proceed, could I just make a comment about
23 the script.
24 MR. METTRAUX:
25 Q. Yes.
1 A. Page -- sorry, line 22 and 23 should be corrected. What I really
2 said was: "I don't really think it was really very small group there in
3 the military terms, in terms of its capacities and the threat it posed."
4 Q. Thank you for being careful with the transcript, Mr. Bezruchenko.
5 This is another article concerning the events of Tetovo. This one
6 is from CNN, and it is dated 20 March 2001. And simply to draw your
7 attention to the first paragraph, it refers to Tetovo, Macedonia, and a,
8 quote/unquote, "final offensive by the Macedonian troops against Albanian
9 rebels in the hills above Tetovo."
10 Can you see that?
11 A. Yes, I can, sir.
12 MR. METTRAUX: And if we can go down a bit in this document,
13 please, to a paragraph that starts with the words: "European Union
14 Envoy." Thank you.
15 Q. I would like to read a statement attributed to the European Union
16 Envoy, Mr. Javier Solana, when he was asked about the possibility to
17 negotiate with the NLA at the time in March or in the middle or towards
18 the end of the month of March 2001.
19 He said this: "I think it is a mistake to negotiate with
20 terrorists in this particular case. It is a mistake, and we do not
21 recommended to do it. On the contrary, we recommended that the political
22 parties that represent Albanians, they have to continue participating in
23 the institutions and the government and to continue working through the
24 institutions whatever their demands, but not to start a negotiation with
1 Do you agree with that that the view of the EU Envoy, Mr. Solana,
2 was, again, not that the NLA was being a party to an armed conflict, but
3 that they were, in fact, a terrorist group? Do you agree with that?
4 A. I don't really think that Mr. Solana specifically mentioned the
5 expression "warring party" in his statement, Mr. Mettraux.
6 Q. Well, the question was precisely on that point, and I apologise,
7 if wasn't clear, Mr. Bezruchenko.
8 Do you agree that Mr. Solana does not refer to the NLA as a party
9 to an armed conflict but as terrorists? Do you agree with that?
10 A. Yes. I agree that he doesn't refer to the NLA as a party to an
11 armed conflict. This is very clear from this passage.
12 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness also be shown Exhibit 1D198,
14 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, I'm not sure whether you are familiar with the
15 cover page of the document itself, but I'm sure you will be familiar with
16 the content. Perhaps we should turn -- perhaps I should ask you first
17 whether you know this document and the documents that come with it.
18 A. I'm not sure if I have seen this particular document.
19 MR. METTRAUX: Well, if we can turn, please, for the assistance of
20 Mr. Bezruchenko, first to page 1D00-5593.
21 Q. This is, in effect, Mr. Bezruchenko, the cover letter which was
22 sent by Mr. Dzikov, the state prosecutor, to the Office of the Prosecutor
23 about the material which comes thereafter. Do you recognise that letter?
24 A. This letter was addressed to the Prosecutor, but I don't think it
25 was addressed to me in person.
1 Q. I'm grateful.
2 MR. METTRAUX: Could we move to page 1D00-5595, please.
3 Q. Do you recall reviewing that material and the following documents
4 that go with it for the purpose of preparing your report, Mr. Bezruchenko?
5 A. I think I have seen this document, yes.
6 MR. METTRAUX: If we can turn to the next page, please, and if we
7 could scroll down a little bit. Thank you.
8 Q. I'd like to draw your attention to a statement attributed to Mark
9 Dickinson, who at the time was the ambassador for the United Kingdom in
10 Macedonia for Great Britain, on the 14th of March 2001.
11 This is what Mr. Dickinson said about what was going on in the
12 country at the time. This is the third paragraph: "I think that the
13 European Union will call upon all the politicians in the country, and the
14 ones that call themselves like that, to strongly condemn the terrorists.
15 For the ones that will not condemn them, we will know whose side they are
17 Do you agree that, again, the representative of Great Britain, the
18 ambassador, refers to the NLA not in terms of a military organisation that
19 is a party to an armed conflict, but characterised them as terrorists?
20 Do you agree with that?
21 A. Yes, that's right.
22 Q. And do you agree that this position was shared, for instance,
23 with, among others, Germany at the time?
24 Mr. Bezruchenko, are you aware of the fact that Germany condemned
25 the activities or the actions of the NLA as extremism and violence and
2 A. I think not only Germany but any -- many other states as well.
3 Q. Well, I'm grateful.
4 MR. METTRAUX: And if the witness could be shown what is Rule 65
5 ter 1D955, please.
6 Q. This is a news report about a statement made by the Foreign
7 Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. It's dated the 20th of
8 March of 2001, and it refers to a meeting of the Foreign Committee of the
9 European Parliament of the 19th and 20th of March of 2001. I would like
10 to read to you the first paragraph in that statement.
11 It says the following: "With a view to the deteriorating security
12 situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, due to the
13 increased armed activities by extremist ethnic Albanian terrorists, the
14 Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security, and Defence
15 Policy of the European Parliament strongly condemns all violence along the
16 northern border of FYROM and Kosovo and the terrorist attacks by
17 sympathizers and members of the former UCK against the civilian population
18 of FYROM and its armed forces."
19 Do you agree that the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European
20 Parliament also refers to the NLA as an extremist ethnic Albanian
21 terrorists? Do you agree with that?
22 A. Yes, I do.
23 Q. And do you agree that what they condemned is not just the attacks
24 against the civilian population, but also the attacks against its armed
25 forces. Do you agree with that?
1 A. Yes, I do.
2 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Exhibit 1D230,
3 please, and if we could move to page N000-9029, please. Thank you.
4 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, this is a Security Council resolution, number
5 1345, dated the 21st of March of 2001, and it's the Security Council of
6 the United Nations.
7 There's no need, I think, to go through the entire document, but I
8 would like to bring your attention to the bottom of that page, please, and
9 draw your attention to paragraph 1 of the disposition, so to say, of the
11 It say this: "Security Council strongly condemns extremist
12 violence including terrorist activities in certain parts of the former
13 Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and certain municipalities in southern
14 Serbia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."
15 Do you agree that, as with the previous examples that I have shown
16 you, in March 2001, the Security Council of the United Nations and its
17 members viewed the activities of the NLA in terms of extremist violence
18 and terrorist activities not in terms of an armed conflict? Do you agree
19 with that with that?
20 A. If I may first offer my general comment regarding this document,
21 Mr. Mettraux.
22 Q. Yes.
23 A. Apparently, the primary reason for the Security Council to release
24 this particular resolution was the fact that, by 21st March 2001, the
25 violence in Macedonia reached a pretty serious level which required the
1 attention of the United Nations Security Council.
2 Coming back to your specific question, whether I agree or not that
3 the Security Council of the United Nations viewed the activities of the
4 NLA in terms of extremist violence, I think my answer is pretty much the
5 same as previous one: Yes, of course, the Security Council did view these
6 activities as terrorist actions.
7 But having said that, I would also like to note that this document
8 was released in March 2001.
9 Q. Well, I'm grateful for that, Mr. Bezruchenko.
10 Are you also aware of the fact that the same position was then
11 adopted by the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time,
12 Mr. Kofi Annan?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Are you also aware, Mr. Bezruchenko, that the same position was
15 taken by the European Union?
16 A. As I can see from a number of public statements, this was, indeed,
17 the case.
18 Q. And are you aware that in March of 2001 again, the same general
19 position was taken by the United States of America?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Is it correct that at the end of the month of March of 2001, and
22 despite those sporadic attacks which you've described in your report and
23 the tension along the eastern part of the Crna Gora hills, the situation
24 in the country was essentially one of normality? Is that correct?
25 A. As I have indicated previously, Mr. Mettraux - and this is the
1 view which is supported by the analysis of various - in the month of
2 March, the military activities were limited mostly to the northern border
3 with Kosovo, including the area of Crna Gora. That is true.
4 It is also true that other areas of the country, such as eastern
5 and southern areas, practically were not affected by fighting, except for
6 incidents of rioting which occurred in various southern cities, but I
7 understand this took place sometime later.
8 Q. Well I'm grateful for that, Mr. Bezruchenko, and I will ask a few
9 general questions about the end of the month of March of 2001.
10 Have you -- well, I think you have answered about orders and maps
11 in general, but I will ask you this perhaps more specifically: Did you
12 see any documentary evidence in March of 2001 of the existence of the
13 so-called Main Staff of the NLA; and if so, what evidence,
14 Mr. Bezruchenko?
15 A. I have seen numerous Macedonian documents, mainly from directorate
16 of security and counter-intelligence, as well as some international
17 documents, in fact, which suggest that this headquarters, or rather, the
18 General Staff, indeed was in operation and action throughout the conflict.
19 Specifically answering your question, if I have seen any
20 documentary evidence dated March 2001, which would suggest the existence
21 of the so-called Main Staff of the NLA, I'm afraid I cannot really give
22 you a precise answer. In fact, most of the Macedonian documents were
23 released after the conflict and are, in fact, an analysis and compilation
24 of information from various sources which had been made available to the
25 Macedonian authorities throughout the conflict.
1 Q. Thank you for that, Mr. Bezruchenko, but is it correct that did
2 you not see any combat-related documentation coming from the NLA, whether
3 in the form of a map or an order or any other material coming from the NLA
4 dated March of 2001, or have you?
5 A. No, I haven't seen anything like this.
6 Q. And is it correct that Mr. Ostreni was appointed to be the Chief
7 of the so-called Main Staff of the NLA only towards the end of the month
8 of March of 2001?
9 A. Yes, that would appear so.
10 Q. Is it correct that towards the -- we'll stay with March at this
11 stage. Is it correct that as of the end of the month of March 2001, the
12 NLA was, in fact, lacking a centralised command structure and was not much
13 more than a cluster of loosely coordinated cells? Do you agree with that?
14 A. I think that NLA was in the process of evolution. It was getting
15 evolved from, indeed, as you mentioned, a number of groups, to a more
16 centralised organisation which included several brigades and a General
17 Staff by the end of the conflict.
18 Q. But staying with the month of March at this stage,
19 Mr. Bezruchenko, and talking about the end of March of 2001, do you agree
20 that as of the end of March 2001, the NLA was lacking a centralised
21 command structure and that it was not much more than a cluster of loosely
22 coordinated cells? Do you agree with that?
23 A. To answer this specific question, Mr. Mettraux, I have to go to a
24 certain number of documents which are, in fact, mentioned in my report;
25 and, perhaps, if I could kindly refer you to the section in my report
1 which deals with the NLA public communiques. From there, you will
2 probably see that at least in March some communiques had been issued by
3 the NLA command.
4 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter
6 Q. Aside from the communiques, Mr. Bezruchenko, are aware of any
7 other activity based on documentary evidence that the Main Staff of the
8 NLA was taking part in the activities of the NLA?
9 A. My assessment of the entirety of the documents that I have seen,
10 including the international documents, would suggest that the NLA General
11 Staff was established in the area of Sipkovica sometime in March or April
13 Q. Thank you. Well, if I can draw your attention to the document on
14 the screen, this is, again, the same report by the ICG. This is the
15 executive summary and recommendation that is attached to that report, and
16 I would like to draw your attention to the second paragraph in that
18 It says the following: "The international community reacted
19 unanimously with high level affirmations of support for Macedonia and its
20 elected government, identifying the rebels as a few hundred 'terrorists.'
21 On 21 March, the government gave the rebels a 24-hour deadline to lay down
22 arms and/or leave the country or face a full scale offensive.
23 "The offensive began on 25 March. Four days later the government
24 announced that the military operation had successfully pushed all the
25 terrorists back into Kosovo."
1 Then the ICG says this: "Lacking a centralised command structure,
2 the rebels appear to be a cluster of loosely coordinated cells of
3 experienced ethnic Albanian fighters from Macedonia, Kosovo, and abroad,
4 as well as a small number of foreigners."
5 Do you agree with that description of the state of the NLA as of
6 the end of March 2001 or beginning of April of 2001?
7 A. It would be difficult for me to accept the term "cells," again for
8 the reasons I explained previously.
9 I would rather suggest that, in fact, these were coordinated
10 groups of experienced ethnic Albanian fighters from Macedonia and Kosovo,
11 as well as a number of foreigners; but it is also true that, in March and
12 April of 2001, these groups were apparently getting more and more degree
13 of guidance and centralised control.
14 Q. Well, just to be clear on your response, Mr. Bezruchenko, then.
15 You do not agree with the view expressed by the ICG as far as concerns the
16 lack of centralised command and the loosely -- or the loose coordination
17 between these cells. Is that correct?
18 A. Not necessarily that I disagree with the ICG's assessment, and I
19 think they, indeed, lacked the centralised command. But, having said
20 that, I do not necessarily mean that there was no command at all.
21 Apparently, there was some command from a certain centre, and I would
22 imagine it was a nucleus of what later came to be known as General Staff.
23 The reasons which make me believe this was the case are the
24 following: There was a discernible pattern of certain strategy that the
25 NLA pursued. This strategy amounted to, inter alia, to recruiting and
1 organizing their supporters in various parts of the country, mostly in the
2 northern areas, bringing in weapons, ammunition, and military equipment,
3 and making attacks against military and police targets.
4 I do not really think that all these activities could be described
5 as ad hoc activities by various groups. It is simply impossible to
6 believe that there was no coordination and no -- some sort of control of
7 these groups from one single centre. Of course, it does not necessarily
8 mean that the organisation was pretty poor and rudimentary, but at least
9 there was some organisation.
10 Q. Well, just a quick question before the break, Mr. Bezruchenko: Do
11 you see any documentary evidence coming from the NLA about the existence
12 of what you say at the time was a cluster of individuals which later, you
13 say, became the Main Staff of the NLA? Have you seen any internal
14 documentation about the existence of that cluster and their activities?
15 A. Well, these documents are available. If perhaps you take a look
16 at least at one of them, like the "White Book," it describes individuals
17 who later became members of the Main Staff.
18 Q. The "White Book" of the Ministry of Interior. But did you have
19 any documentary evidence from the NLA itself, and in particular that
20 cluster of individuals who you say operated at the time in March of 2001?
21 Did you see any such documents?
22 A. I think a number of public communiques which had been issued by
23 the NLA, in March 2001, including those [Realtime transcript read in error
24 "were"] signed by either Ali Ahmeti or Gezim Ostreni on behalf of the NLA
1 Q. And is that correct that is the only documents that came out of
2 this group, which you later say became the Main Staff? Is that correct?
3 A. Well, not necessarily, Mr. Mettraux. I'm afraid you
4 misinterpreted, or rather, perhaps misspoke. What I'm saying is that
5 there were many more documents which came from the Main Staff. But if you
6 are specifically referring to March 2001, they are mostly limited to these
7 public communiques.
8 Q. I'm grateful.
9 MR. METTRAUX: Your Honour, would that be a convenient time.
10 JUDGE PARKER: It will be, Mr. Mettraux. We would point out that
11 we have spent most of this first session dealing with March of 2001.
12 There is April, May, June, July, and then August, which is the time that
13 concerns this Chamber most, and we trust you are aware of the time
15 Thank you.
16 We will resume at five past.
17 --- Recess taken at 10.32 a.m.
18 --- On resuming at 11.05 a.m.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mettraux.
20 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour.
21 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, I'd like to move on to the month of April of
22 2001, and I'd ask to you go to Exhibit P466 - that's your report - at page
23 47 and more specifically, paragraph 173, please.
24 And in that paragraph you agree, Mr. Bezruchenko, which still
25 refers to what you term the NLA operations during that year, you refer
1 specifically to an ambush which took place on the 28th of April of 2001,
2 somewhere between the villages of Selce and Vejce near the Kosovo border
3 west of Tetovo. Is that correct?
4 A. Yes, and that's right, sir. But, at this point in time, if I may,
5 could I please draw your attention, again, to line 31 -- sorry 38/1 of the
6 transcript, which appears to be in need of small correction.
7 In fact, this line should read, "including those signed by."
8 Q. Thank you for that, Mr. Bezruchenko.
9 Is it your evidence that the attack on an army convoy in Vejce on
10 the 28th of April of 2001, which resulted in the death of eight soldiers,
11 was, in fact, a military operation as understood in military doctrine? Is
12 that your evidence?
13 A. In fact, it is my understanding that this was a joint convoy,
14 which was made up of an army element and a police element, but this
15 particular incident fits into a description of an ambush.
16 Q. And, as such, you are suggesting that it is relevant to
17 establishing the existence of, what you say, is an armed conflict in
18 Macedonia. Is that correct?
19 A. Perhaps it would be a little bit far-fetched to suggest,
20 Mr. Mettraux, that this only incident would be relevant to establishing of
21 the existence of the armed conflict, or rather, that only this incident
22 would be the basis for this kind of opinion.
23 But I would suggest that this ambush is, indeed, in direct
24 relevance to everything that was happening in Macedonia in military terms
25 at that time.
1 Q. And that would include your conclusion that an armed conflict
2 existed in Macedonia in April 2001. Is that correct?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Do you know how many people had been involved on the side of the
5 NLA to carry out this operation?
6 A. I was not really researching this specific issue. It would not
7 really be very difficult, in fact, to establish perhaps how many people
8 were involved in this operation, but my assessment would be that this
9 could be a pretty small force of men.
10 Q. And do you know from what brigade of the NLA those people were?
11 A. Most probably, these were the people from the 112th Brigade.
12 Q. And have you seen any documentary evidence to that effect?
13 A. No, I didn't, sir.
14 Q. Did you see any documentary evidence from the NLA about an order
15 or plan or other military-related documentation about this particular
17 A. No, I didn't, sir.
18 Q. Do you know how long the entire operation, as you call it, lasted?
19 A. Normally, ambushes are a very sharp, brief engagement. I would
20 imagine that perhaps this particular one would take maybe an hour.
21 MR. METTRAUX: Well, let me show what is Rule 65 ter 1D957, please.
22 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, this is a press article that describes the events
23 in question, and I would like to read it out to you. It is dated the
24 Sunday, the 29th of April, so that is the day after the incident, and it
25 Says that: "Calm returns to Macedonian border after deadly attack."
1 The article summarized the events as such: "Calm returns to the
2 Macedonian border area near Kosovo as the security forces stepped up
3 paroles in the area where eight soldiers and policemen were killed in a
4 ambush by ethnic Albanian guerilla.
5 "The army spokesman said, "The situation is calm now. The
6 security forces have stepped up their paroles on the ground and have taken
7 measures adapted to the situation in the border.'" It is attributed to
8 army spokesman, Blagoja Markovski.
9 The article goes on to say: "The attack Saturday shattered a
10 month long lull in fighting between the Macedonian security forces and
11 ethnic Albanian separatist guerilla fighting in Macedonia.
12 Can you say that?
13 A. Yes, I can.
14 MR. METTRAUX: If we can turn, please, to the next page, and if we
15 go to the top of the page.
16 Q. The spokesman of the army, Mr. Markovski, said: "They drove into
17 an ambush. The whole incident lasted not more than ten minutes."
18 Then he said: "The Albanian terrorists fled to the mountains, and
19 there was no shooting afterwards."
20 Do you see that?
21 A. Yes, I do.
22 Q. And did have you that information in your possession at the time
23 when you prepared your report?
24 A. I had some information from various sources regarding this
25 incident. I do not recall if have seen this specific report.
1 Q. And then it goes on to say this, Mr. Bezruchenko: "The toll is
2 the largest and single incident since clashes between Macedonian troops
3 and Albanian rebels of the self-styled National Liberation Army erupted in
4 February and March."
5 Can you see that?
6 A. Yes, I can.
7 Q. And that's correct, isn't it, that this in terms of casualties is
8 the most serious attack since the beginning of the crisis. Is that
10 A. Yes, it was.
11 Q. Is it also correct, Mr. Bezruchenko, that what you have called an
12 operation of the NLA in and around Vejce, which led to the death of
13 seven -- eight, I'm sorry, army men and policemen, was, in fact, strongly
14 condemned by the entire international community as a criminal and/or
15 terrorist act? Are you aware of that?
16 A. Yes, it was condemned.
17 Q. And it was condemned, for instance, by the US Administration as a
18 senseless act of violence. Can you recall that particular condemnation?
19 A. I think I do.
20 Q. And it was also condemned by the State Department of the United
21 States in terms of terrorist acts and terrorist activities, as well as
22 barbarous attack and extremist violence. Do you recall that?
23 A. I do not recall the exact wording of this statement, but I think
24 such statement was indeed made.
25 Q. And do you recall similar condemnation by NATO, for instance?
1 A. I think such a statement was made.
2 Q. And do you recall the statement being to the effect that: "Lord
3 Robertson," the Secretary-General of NATO at the time, "was appalled and
4 outraged by what he described as a cowardly act of extremism." Do you
5 recall Mr. Robertson making that statement?
6 A. I think I do.
7 Q. And similar terms in terms of extremism were described by the EU
8 to describe the ambush in Vejce. Is that correct?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And do you recall the Presidency of the European Union, the
11 Swedish Presidency at the time, condemning the attack in Vejce in the
12 following terms: "The Presidency of the European Union condemns in the
13 strongest terms the vicious attack against a patrol near the village of
14 Vejce in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, April 28, killing
15 eight and injuring several Macedonian soldiers."
16 The Swedish Presidency went on to say: The Presidency of the EU
17 expresses its deepest sympathy with the families of the servicemen lost in
18 the ambush. This attack is nothing but an attempt by extremists to
19 undermine the dialogue between the democratically-elected representatives
20 of the people of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia."
21 Do you recall that statement of the EU Presidency?
22 A. Again, I do not really remember the exact wording as it was; but
23 now that you have read out, I think I do.
24 Q. And do you agree that what all of those statements have in common
25 is that none of them -- well, the first thing is: None of them suggest
1 the existence of an armed conflict. Is that correct?
2 A. All these statements describe what was happening in Macedonia in
3 terms of terrorism.
4 Q. And do you agree that none of them suggest that at the time, in
5 April of 2001, an armed conflict was going on in Macedonia or that the NLA
6 should be regarded as a party to an armed conflict? Do you agree with
8 A. Yes, I do.
9 Q. And can you recall Mr. Chris Patten, at the end of the month of
10 2001 -- I'm sorry, 29 of April 2001, he was then the EU commissioner for
11 external relations, referring to the attack as "senseless act of murder."
12 Can you recall that?
13 A. Yeah, I remember this one.
14 Q. And do you agree, Mr. Bezruchenko, that this choice of term
15 suggests that Mr. Patten, for one, did not consider that the actions of
16 the NLA would be covered by the Laws of War in terms of allowing the
17 killing of enemies? Is that correct?
18 A. Mr. Mettraux, it's really difficult for me to give the legal
19 analysis, or rather, the legal interpretation of what Mr. Patten said. I
20 wouldn't really embark on any venture or liberty, rather, of interpreting
21 his statement in legal terms.
22 Q. Very well. Do you recall the French condemning the attack of
23 Vejce on the -- between the 28th and 29th of April of 2001 and describing
24 them as "terrorist acts." Can you recall that?
25 A. I'm sorry, sir, I recall -- I don't really quite get it from the
2 Q. I apologise. I will assist you and show you the document, if it
3 may assist.
4 MR. METTRAUX: Your Honour, this would be Rule 65 ter 1D961.
5 Thank you.
6 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, as you can see, this is a statement or the record
7 of statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson. This
8 is dated the 30th of April in Paris.
9 MR. METTRAUX: And I will ask the registry to go to page
10 1D00-82358. Thank you.
11 Q. And if you can focus on the subheading which says, "FYROM: What
12 is France's reaction to the deadly attack in Tetovo on April 28th."
13 Can you see that?
14 A. Yes, I can.
15 Q. And what the French Foreign Ministry at the time said was
16 this: "We strongly condemn the terrorist act perpetrated on 28th April by
17 Albanian extremists against Macedonian forces in which eight Macedonian
18 soldiers were killed and several others seriously wounded near Tetovo."
19 It says: "There is no future for those, wherever they are, who
20 resort to violence and wish to oppose the process of democratisation and
21 reconciliation in the region."
22 Can you see that?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And do you agree that the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
25 regarded the attack in Vejce as, in the previous example, as "a terrorist
1 act." Do you agree?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And do you agree that this was also the position of the US
4 administration at the time. Is that correct?
5 A. Yes.
6 MR. METTRAUX: And, Your Honour, simply to go faster, we'll refer
7 also to Exhibit 1D98 which contains a number of statements for your
9 Q. Do you recall, Mr. Bezruchenko, the first article that I've shown
10 you, which says that, in fact, "the attack in Vejce was shattered," I
11 think was the term, "a month-long lull in fighting."
12 Is it correct that up to the attack in Vejce, the month of April
13 had mostly been quiet?
14 A. I think that this attack was the most significant event in
15 military terms that occurred in April. But having said that, I would also
16 say that military activities of various sorts were going on in April, and,
17 in fact, I could elaborate more on this issue by referring to appropriate
18 paragraphs in section 5 of my report, which is "Chronology of the
20 Q. Well, I'm grateful, Mr. Bezruchenko.
21 MR. METTRAUX:
22 Before I ask you a follow-up question, Your Honour, I should have
23 said "1D198," and I apologise.
24 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, you just indicated there was, in fact, some other
25 activities in the month of April of 2001, which are relevant to the
1 present matter. Are you aware of any combat-related casualties on the
2 side of the NLA during that month?
3 A. For this purpose, I have to go to a specific document which was
4 issued by the NLA, and, in fact, which represents the list of casualties
5 which the NLA suffered throughout the conflict.
6 As I recall, if I may continue, Mr. Mettraux. As I recall, there
7 are 53 names of this list. And specifically referring to your question,
8 if there were any casualties suffered by the NLA in April, I would say
9 perhaps there were, but we really have to go back to this document. It
10 contains the exact dates and locations related to these casualties.
11 Q. So, the 53 casualties, Mr. Bezruchenko, that you have mentioned
12 are actual casualties that occurred, according to those NLA records,
13 during the entire crisis in 2001. Is that correct?
14 A. According to this document, yes.
15 Q. Do you know whether the police first suffered any casualties
16 during the month of April of 2001? Again, I'm setting aside for a moment
17 the incident in Vejce.
18 A. As I mentioned previously, the developments in April are described
19 in paragraphs 42 to 48 of my report, Mr. Mettraux, and, in fact, there is
20 a summary of events, an analysis of the events for each month preceding
21 the actual description. If I may read out you my assessment of the
22 developments in April.
23 Q. Well, let me put a document to you which my assist you here,
24 Mr. Bezruchenko.
25 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Exhibit P45,
2 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, this will be again the "White Book" of the
3 Ministry of Interior.
4 A. Yes.
5 MR. METTRAUX: And I'll ask the registry, please, to go to page
6 139 of that document. That would be N000-9387. That would be the next
7 page, I believe. Thank you.
8 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, do you recognise this particular page of
9 the "White Book."
10 A. [No verbal response]
11 Q. It lists the police officers that were killed during what is
12 termed the armed confrontations. Can you see that?
13 A. Yes, that's right.
14 Q. And if you look at it, it is presented in chronological order.
15 And during the month of April of 2001, do you agree that four policemen
16 died, all of them on the 28th of April of 2001, and all of them in the
17 incident of Vejce and Selce that we have discussed. Is that correct?
18 A. Yes, it is correct.
19 MR. METTRAUX: Can we turn to the next page, please, and if we go
20 first to the top to identify what it is. Thank you.
21 Q. This is a similar list, Mr. Bezruchenko, do you agree, but this
22 time in relation to members of the army that were killed during the year
23 2001. Is that correct?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And if you look at what is the name that appear under 8 to 12, do
1 you agree that, during the month of April of 2001, five members of the
2 army were killed, four of them on the 28th of April of 2001, in the
3 incident which we've discussed, and a fifth in the village of Alasevci on
4 the 23rd of April, 2001. Is that correct?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Just wrapping up the end of the month, Mr. Bezruchenko, is it
7 correct that, at the end of the month, the NLA was still being regarded by
8 the international community not as a party to an armed conflict, but
9 continued to be regarded as a terrorist organisation? Is that correct?
10 A. Yes, that's correct.
11 Q. And simply a number of general questions about the figures, if you
12 may say at that stage. Are you aware as of, let's say, the 30th of April,
13 the end of the month of April, how many people had by then had joined the
15 A. It's difficult to make such assessments; in fact, there are
16 various assessments which have been put forward by various authors. If
17 you base your assessments on the fact that the NLA, the active strength
18 actually of the NLA, by the end of the conflict was about 8.000 men, I
19 would imagine that in April, perhaps the total strength of the NLA was
20 about or up to 2.000 men.
21 Q. Do you agree, first, Mr. Bezruchenko, that you never verified
22 those figures, whether it is the 8.000 evaluation which you've given or
23 the 2.000 evaluation which you just give right now. Do you agree that you
24 have never verified those?
25 A. These figures are, in fact, the product of analysis which is based
1 on a number of sources. The first figure, 8.000 men, is essentially
2 confirmed by Macedonian military analysts in their book, "The War in
3 Macedonia." The second figure is, in fact, again, the product of my
4 analysis, which is based on various Macedonian military documents.
5 Q. And just going back -- I apologise.
6 Just going back to the first of those two figures, the 8.000 that
7 you have put forward, and you have explained that it is on the basis of
8 the book to which you have referred several times, do you know what
9 documentation or what basis the so-called experts used to come up to that
11 A. Well, I do not know which specific documents they used, but, in
12 fact, their book contains a sufficient amount of documents as supplements
13 to their analysis, which appear to be pretty solid source material.
14 Q. As of the end of April of 2001, Mr. Bezruchenko, have you seen any
15 combat-related documentation coming from the NLA dated the month of April
16 of 2001, maps or orders?
17 A. No. I did not see any maps or orders dated specifically April
19 Q. Thank you. We'll move on to the month of May, Mr. Bezruchenko,
20 and I'll ask you to move on in your report to paragraph 174.
21 MR. METTRAUX: And if the registry to bring up Exhibit P466,
23 Q. That would start, Mr. Bezruchenko, at page 47 and at page 48.
24 And, in that paragraph, you will agree that you refer to the NLA
25 having opened what you call a third front in the area of Kumanovo, north
1 of Skopje; and, in that paragraph, you refer in particular to activities
2 in and around the village of Vaksince. Is that correct?
3 A. Yes, that's right, sir.
4 Q. Well, let me ask you first a number of questions about the village
5 of Vaksince.
6 Is it correct that the -- the NLA took the village without a
8 A. Yes. In fact, what I imagine happened was that the village was
9 simply taken up about infiltration.
10 Q. And do you know how many NLA members had been involved in taking
11 over the village of Vaksince in May of 2001?
12 A. I don't have this information, sir.
13 Q. Do you know if there were any casualties in the village of
14 Vaksince during this period of May of 2001, either on the side of the NLA
15 or on the side of the Macedonian forces?
16 A. I think there was quite serious fighting going on in the area of
17 Vaksince throughout May. On 24th May, six Macedonian policemen were
18 wounded in this fighting, and I think there were also some casualties on
19 the NLA side.
20 Q. Is it correct - perhaps, I will ask you a more general question -
21 that in the entire month of May 2001, three army members had died and two
22 of them in the area of Vaksince? Would it be in accordance with your
24 A. That is partly correct, but there were apparently other casualties
25 as well. I'd like specifically to document 65 ter 960, which is the
1 Ministry of Interior document entitled "Information received in the HQ
2 Ramno, between 0700 hours on 24th May 2001 and 0700 hours on 25 May 2001."
3 The document is dated 25th May 2001, and it speaks about the
4 police casualties; namely, six Macedonian policemen wounded in this
6 Q. Well, I am a grateful for that, Mr. Bezruchenko, which is
7 consistent with your report on that point.
8 Do you know of any Macedonian policemen having been member of the
9 Macedonian security forces of the Ministry of Interior having been killed
10 in or around Vaksince during May of 2001?
11 A. To be more specific, Mr. Mettraux, I would like to refer to
12 several paragraphs of my report dealing with events as outlined in
13 "Chronology," that is section 5. And --
14 Q. Well, can we just stick with the casualties, Mr. Bezruchenko. Do
15 you know of any casualties among the policemen or the members of the
16 security forces of the MOI in or around Vaksince in the month of May of
18 A. But this is exactly my point, sir: What I'm saying is that there
19 was fighting going on in the area of Vaksince in May. Apparently, on or
20 about 2nd or 3rd May, in fact, the NLA attacked Macedonian patrol near the
21 village of Vaksince. Two armed soldiers were killed and one apparently
22 was captured. The NLA also attacked a military check-point with mortar
23 fire in the location close to Kumanovo.
24 Apparently, these developments prompted President of Macedonia
25 Trajkovski to issue a decision authorising the army and MOI to carry out a
1 operation in the area of Vaksince, Slupcane, and other zones of
2 responsibility, and this decision was made on 3rd May 2001.
3 Q. Well, I'm grateful, Mr. Bezruchenko. I will simply indicate that
4 we have your report at this stage.
5 MR. METTRAUX: But I'd like the witness to be shown Exhibit P45
7 Q. This is the "White Book", Mr. Bezruchenko.
8 MR. METTRAUX: I would like for the registry to please go to page
9 139 of the document. It is N000-9387.
10 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note: The interpreters kindly ask
11 Mr. Mettraux to speak closer to the microphone.
12 MR. METTRAUX: If the registry could please turn to page 139 of
13 this document. This would be N000-9387, please. Thank you very much.
14 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, this is the same list as before the casualties
15 suffered by the police officers during the armed confrontation in 2001.
16 Do you agree that there was no police casualties in the month of
17 May 2001? Do you agree with that?
18 A. This is what it says, but I think that the report which I just
19 mentioned to you said that there were some police casualties in the month
20 of May.
21 Q. But what the other documents refers to, Mr. Bezruchenko, is
22 policemen being injured. Isn't that correct?
23 A. But I also mention that these policemen, four of them, were
25 MR. METTRAUX: Can we turn to the next page, please.
1 JUDGE PARKER: The Point which needs to be observed, Mr. Mettraux,
2 is that this document is talking about people killed.
3 MR. METTRAUX: Yes.
4 JUDGE PARKER: Casualty covers both wounding and death.
5 MR. METTRAUX: It was my understanding of the English language in
6 that case, Your Honour. I understood it to mean people who were killed.
7 Q. I'll rephrase the questions, Mr. Bezruchenko.
8 Do you agree in relation to the army personnel that only two
9 persons during the month -- I'm sorry, three persons during the month of
10 May of 2001 were killed, two of them in or around the village of Vaksince
11 on the 3rd of May of 2001? Is that correct?
12 A. Would you please kindly scroll this page down a little bit?
13 Q. This would be under number 13 to 15, Mr. Bezruchenko.
14 A. Yeah, this is consistent with my analysis.
15 Q. So you will agree that all through the month of May of 2001, only
16 three members of the Macedonian armed forces were killed in the course of
17 the crisis, is that correct, and in the course of the May month?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Do you agree also that, during that month, the position of the
20 international community, as regards the status of the NLA, in particular,
21 the fact that they were considered to be a terrorist group or an extremist
22 group, was still the order of the day? Is that correct?
23 A. Yes. These statements continued to appear in international media.
24 Q. And they were, for instance, the position of the United States of
25 America. Is that correct?
1 A. That's right.
2 Q. And also of states members of the European Union. Is that
4 A. Yes that's correct.
5 Q. The UK, for instance?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And you may be familiar also with the statement made by Mr. George
8 Robertson to the effect that the NLA was a "bunch of murderous thugs."
9 Are you familiar with that statement?
10 A. I think I remember this one, yes.
11 Q. Is it correct, Mr. Bezruchenko, that the reason why the NLA was
12 not chased away from the village or villages of Vaksince and Slupcane,
13 which they had invaded, was the government carefulness in not inflicting
14 civilian casualties? Is that correct?
15 A. What I have seen from the documents, Mr. Mettraux, appears to be
16 the determination by the government actually to drive the NLA out of this
17 village, as well as other villages that were taken up by the NLA.
18 Numerous decisions by the president, who directly mentions these villages
19 by name, have already been discussed.
20 Apparently, apparently, a number of cease-fires were in the
21 process of being organised for the civilians to pull out of these villages
22 safely. However, having said that, I think there was a pronounced
23 tendency throughout the conflict for these cease-fires to be repeatedly
24 broken down and not really hold.
25 Q. Well, I'll ask you the question again; and if you don't know,
1 please say so.
2 Are you aware of the fact or are you aware of information to the
3 effect that the Macedonian forces refrained from re-taking the villages of
4 Vaksince and Slupcane with a view to avoid civilian casualties in
5 particular because the NLA at the time was using human shields as
6 protection against those forces?
7 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Saxon.
8 MR. SAXON: Your Honour, this is the same question that was asked
9 a moment ago, and the witness has given his answer. Why do we need to
11 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mettraux, perceived that the answer was not one
12 directed to his question, I think, Mr. Saxon.
13 Continue, Mr. Mettraux.
14 MR. METTRAUX: I'm grateful Your Honour.
15 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, would you like me to reiterate the question?
16 A. Yes, please, Mr. Mettraux.
17 Q. Are you aware of fact or are you aware of information to the
18 effect that the Macedonian forces refrained from re-taking the villages of
19 Vaksince and Slupcane with a view to avoid civilian casualties in
20 particular because the NLA at the time was using human shields as
21 protection against those forces?
22 A. I must say that I have not really seen any specific orders given
23 to the Macedonian forces not to take this or that village and specifically
24 relating to what is described as human shields, but I think there were
25 numerous allegations in media that, in fact, such human shields were being
2 Q. Let me assist by showing you two or three documents about this.
3 MR. METTRAUX: The first one would be Rule 65 ter 1D916, please.
4 And, Your Honour, if perhaps we can move in a private session for
5 a few seconds.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Private.
7 [Private session]
18 [Open session]
19 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we're in open session.
20 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you.
21 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, I will first draw your attention to the -- it's a
22 document, as I indicated. I have indicated to you where it comes from.
23 It is dated May 2001, and the subject heading is "NLA occupation in
24 north-west Macedonia."
25 MR. METTRAUX: And perhaps could be scrolled down for,
1 Mr. Bezruchenko. Thank you.
2 Q. The subject heading is "NLA occupation in north-west Macedonia:
3 Government balances the quick response against potential civilian
5 Can you see that?
6 A. Yes, I can.
7 MR. METTRAUX: And perhaps we can go to page 1D7822 of that
8 document. Thank you.
9 Q. I would read to you the paragraph marked as 3(C). It says
10 this: "Earlier on May 3, the Interior Ministry issued a public
11 announcement urging citizens in Slupcane and Vaksince to temporarily leave
12 their homes between the time of the announcement and 1500 hours."
13 Can you see that?
14 A. Yes, I can.
15 Q. And is it in accordance with your memory of the Ministry asking
16 the civilians to leave the village at the time?
17 A. That's right.
18 MR. METTRAUX: And then if we could turn, please, to what is page
19 1D00-7825, and if we can go to the top of the page, please. Thank you.
20 Q. There's a comment made at the top of the page which says as
21 follows: "Serbian villagers interviewed by TV reporter for the
22 independent A1 station said that they were prevented from leaving villages
23 by the terrorists, who were men wearing back uniforms with red patches."
24 Can you see that?
25 A. Yes, I can.
1 MR. METTRAUX: And if we can now turn to Exhibit 1D155, please.
2 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, what will appear in front of you is a collection
3 of news articles collected by the Public Affairs office of the UN mission,
4 and it's dated the 8th of May of 2001. There's a particular piece that I
5 would like to bring to your attention.
6 MR. METTRAUX: It's at page 1D00-5133, if we could go to the
7 bottom of the page.
8 Q. You see there is an article dated 7th of May of 2001, and I would
9 like to show you the bottom of the page, please, which starts with the
10 heading, "Murderous thugs."
11 I will read it out to you: "NATO Secretary-General George
12 Robertson, on Monday, denounced the rebels as murderous thugs with no
13 mandate and said that they were bent on smashing a democratic republic
14 using civilians as 'human shields.' The rebels say they are fighting for
15 greater rights for Macedonia's ethnic Albanian minority and have denied
16 they hold civilians against their will."
17 MR. METTRAUX: And if we could turn to the next page, please.
18 Q. Then, there's a first sentence which records the first paragraph,
19 "A build up of Macedonian military near Tetovo." Then, it records in the
20 next paragraph, the fact that a team of the Red Cross was allowed to
21 differ humanitarian aid to Vaksince and Slupcane on Sunday.
22 Can you see that?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And they expressed some serious concern about the condition of the
25 civilians. Is that correct?
1 A. Yes, that's right.
2 Q. Then, I'd like to read to you the following passage which start
3 with the word: "A senior diplomate.
4 It says this: "A senior diplomate from the Organisation for
5 Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, said the guerillas were
6 presenting some civilians from leaving villages under fire."
7 There's a quote attributed to him or her which says: "We have
8 observed cases of villagers not being allowed to leave by the UCK guerilla
9 forces. The OSCE source said, 'It is easy to create an atmosphere of
10 intimidation in a small village, especially among the elderly and frail.
11 We are extremely worried about the humanitarian situation. It is
12 beginning to go resemble a siege. They have problems with supplies.'"
13 Then, the article goes on to say: "Macedonian authorities have
14 repeatedly called on civilians to leave the area, promising to hold their
15 fire for several hours each morning an offering transport."
16 Do you agree -- I will stop here for a moment, Mr. Bezruchenko.
17 Do you agree that what was happening at the time is that the Macedonian
18 authorities were carefully trying to avoid casualties by asking the
19 civilians to leave the area, but that it was not possible to do so because
20 the NLA was keeping them as human shield? Do you agree with that?
21 A. I think that, generally speaking, the Macedonian authorities,
22 indeed, were trying to exercise restraint in cases where there was a
23 pronounced threat for the civilian population. In fact, several reports
24 by ICRC, which are speaking about this kind of situations, are quoted in
25 my report as well, particularly in section 5, which is "Chronology of the
1 Conflict," which, among other things, also deals with DP's, refugees, and,
2 generally, the plight of the civilian population.
3 Q. But do you agree, Mr. Bezruchenko, that the reason for the
4 government or Macedonian authorities not to take on the NLA was its
5 concern and worry about the consequence which it would have on the
6 civilian population? Do you agree?
7 A. I would suggest, Mr. Mettraux, that this was a significant factor,
8 which, indeed, influenced the decision-making process of the Macedonian
9 authorities, including, perhaps, the issues related to military planning.
10 But whether it would be correct to state that in each and every
11 case the absolute picture was exactly the same would be difficult for me
12 to say. However, saying that, I would suggest that, again, that
13 Macedonian authorities were trying to exercise restraint to some point.
14 Q. And is it correct, Mr. Bezruchenko, that the confrontation in or
15 around the village of Vaksince between the actual confrontation - by that
16 I mean the exchange of fire between the NLA and the Macedonian forces -
17 lasted only for several hours, after which most of the members of the NLA
18 withdrew? Is that correct?
19 A. Are you specifically referring to any particular date?
20 Q. Well, I'm referring, in particular, to the period that you've
21 mentioned in your report, Mr. Bezruchenko.
22 A. Well, in fact, the evidence and the reports, which I have reviewed
23 to this point of time, would appear to suggest that fighting around
24 Vaksince was not really limited to one day, and it was, in fact, a
25 recurring affair.
1 There were exchanges of fire and fighting going on, even despite
2 the fact that the presence of the NLA may have been significantly reduced.
3 Q. Thank you. And in your report at paragraph 174, you also refer to
4 the fact that on 24th of May of 2001 -- I'm sorry, on the 26th that would
5 be, the NLA occupied the village of Matejce. Is that correct?
6 A. Yes. It is my understanding that it was comprised sometime around
7 this date.
8 Q. And is it correct that at that time, on the 30th of May of 2001 or
9 perhaps on the 1st of April [sic] 2001, one army soldier was killed and
10 two injured when their truck ran over a land-mine in Matejce?
11 I apologise, it should have said -- I will ask you the question
12 again Mr. Bezruchenko. I seem to have misspoken.
13 Is it correct that at the time, on the 30th of May 2001 or perhaps
14 on the 1st of June 2001, one army soldier was killed and two injured when
15 a truck ran over a land-mine in Matejce?
16 A. According to my report, Mr. Mettraux, on May 30th and 31st, heavy
17 fighting continued in the area of Matejce and Otlja, with shelling from
18 both sides. One soldier, apparently a Macedonian army soldier, was killed
19 and two others injured, when their water truck ran over a land-mine near
20 the area of Blace, on the road between Banjani and Biljac, close to a
21 border watch tower.
22 Q. And do you recall that this particular attack by the NLA was
23 described in those terms: "The sick imagination of certain terrorist
24 elements who attempt to present non-existent issues seem to have no
25 bounds. The UCK forces with their terrorist activities in FYROM and
1 Kosovo." That's how they were referred to.
2 Do you recall that statement?
3 A. I'm not certain, sir, who this statement is attributed to?
4 Q. That is a statement which is reprinted, Mr. Bezruchenko, in
5 the "White Book," Exhibit P45, and it's attributed to the spokesman of the
6 Foreign Ministry of Greece? Do you recall that statement?
7 A. I certainly have reviewed the "White Book," and I imagine I have
8 seen this statement as well.
9 Q. Thank you.
10 And to finish with the month of May 2001: Had you seen at that
11 stage, Mr. Bezruchenko, any documentary evidence of the existence of
12 brigades at that stage, dated May 2001, and coming from the NLA.
13 A. Coming from the NLA?
14 Q. That's correct.
15 A. I have seen some personnel roles of some brigades, but it would be
16 difficult to establish, in fact, whether these would be dated May 2001.
17 Q. And did you see any documentary evidence, as I asked you
18 previously, of orders or maps of operations regarding, obviously, the
19 activities of the NLA and concerning the month of May of 2001?
20 A. I would perhaps give you an answer similar to that that I gave you
21 in relation to a similar question, Mr. Mettraux.
22 I would like to refer you, again, to the document, "The NLA
23 Directive," which seems to clearly indicate what were the positions of the
24 NLA prior to June 2001, including the month of May 2001.
25 Q. So, to the more specific question, Mr. Bezruchenko: As
1 previously, you haven't seen any such documents. Is that correct?
2 A. Specific NLA documents dated May 2001, I'm afraid not.
3 Q. And do you know how many men had joined the NLA in the month of or
4 by the end of the month of May of 2001?
5 A. Again, such an assessment would be extremely difficult to make.
6 Just to give you a example: One Macedonian document at least speaks of
7 the NLA mobilisation potential of about 10.000 men in the area of Skopje
8 alone. This does not necessarily mean that all these people were
9 mobilised to join the NLA ranks, but it certainly speaks of significant
10 mobilisation potential.
11 Coming back, again, to your specific question, my rough, very
12 approximate estimate, would be only that, in fact, NLA was gradually
13 expanding in terms of territorial control, as well as in terms of
14 numerical strengths. Their strengths probably at that point of time
15 reached slightly -- reached the level slightly above 2.000 men.
16 Q. And that, again, Mr. Bezruchenko, is an assessment that you -- or
17 it's, in fact, a opinion. You haven't seen any documentary evidence that
18 would support this number, is that correct, for the month of May 2001,
19 that is?
20 A. It will be difficult, sir, to attribute any specific document to
21 this kind of assessment. As I perhaps mentioned previously, military
22 analysis is a very delicate matter, in fact, which rests on correlation,
23 interpretation, deduction, analysis of various documents in their
25 So it is not really the matter of which document says what. It
1 is, rather, the matter of what is the basic underlying concept which can
2 be drawn from the entirety of these documents.
3 Q. Thank you for that, Mr. Bezruchenko.
4 I would now like to move to the next month of year. That Would be
5 June 2001, and I would like you kindly to turn to page 48 of the report.
6 MR. METTRAUX: That would be Exhibit P466, please.
7 Q. And, Mr. Bezruchenko, I will ask to you turn your attention first
8 to paragraph 175.
9 MR. METTRAUX: That would be the previous page, please.
10 Q. First, looking at paragraph 175 of your report, Mr. Bezruchenko,
11 do you agree that what this paragraph deals with is the events on 9 June
12 2001 in the town of Aracinovo, a Skopje suburb? Is that correct?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And, in this paragraph, you rely upon a statement attributed to
15 Mr. Boskoski to the effect that 800 NLA guerillas were present during the
16 events which you described in that paragraph.
17 My question is: Were you ever able to verify how many members of
18 the NLA had been in Aracinovo on that day?
19 A. Not really. In fact, I didn't really have any reason to doubt a
20 very authoritative source.
21 Q. That would be Mr. Boskoski?
22 A. That would be the Ministry of Interior, and the Minister, of
24 Q. Is it correct that the NLA forces were evacuated at a later stage
25 from the town of Aracinovo with trucks from NATO? Is that correct?
1 A. I would rather say buses from NATO.
2 Q. I'm grateful. Do you know how many buses it took NATO to evacuate
3 the members of the NLA?
4 A. No, I don't know, sir.
5 Q. Is it correct, Mr. Bezruchenko, that during the month of June of
6 2001, three policemen were killed during that month, all of them on 22 or
7 23 of June in the area of Aracinovo? Are you aware of that fact?
8 Sorry, I should specify people who were killed. Three policemen
9 were killed.
10 A. Just a moment please, Mr. Mettraux.
11 Q. Well, perhaps I can speed things up, Mr. Bezruchenko.
12 MR. METTRAUX: Could the registry please bring up Exhibit P45,
13 and I ask, again, the registry to go to page 139, please.
14 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, this will be the same list as I've shown you
15 before, and I will simply ask to you confirm that on the first list that
16 will now appear - it's the next page, please - that on that list, under
17 number 8, 9 and 10, three police officers lost their lives on the 23rd of
18 June of 2001 in the village of Aracinovo.
19 A. Yes, that's right, sir. And if I may add as well, this particular
20 incident is described in greater detail in paragraph 98 of section 5 of my
21 report. And if you allow me, I will quote you exactly how it is
23 Q. Well, we have the report, Mr. Bezruchenko, so we'll move on to the
24 next page, please. Looking at that list, Mr. Bezruchenko, this is, again,
25 the same list of members of the army killed in -- during the crisis.
1 Would you agree there seems to be no casualties or no death of any
2 members of the army in or around the month of --
3 MR. METTRAUX: Can we go down the list, please, further down.
4 Thank you.
5 Q. -- that there was no members of the army killed in or around the
6 village of Aracinovo on 22nd or 23rd of June of that year. Is that
8 A. My report, Mr. Mettraux, says that, on this particular day, three
9 members of the Macedonian security forces were killed and nine injured,
10 which means that the total number of casualties amounted to 12 men.
11 Q. And what date are you referring to, Mr. Bezruchenko?
12 A. I'm referring to June 23rd.
13 Q. You do agree that on the list that you have in front of you, from
14 the "White Book," there is no mention of any military death on the 23rd of
15 June of 2001.
16 A. Perhaps because those actually killed were policemen, not
17 military; and, also, perhaps because the injured were either police or
18 military or both.
19 Q. Thank you.
20 You've indicated, I believe, that your belief was that by the end
21 of May of 2001, you believed that there was over 2.000 members of the NLA.
22 Would you know how many approximately -- how many men
23 approximately had joined the NLA by the middle of June of 2001?
24 A. I think in May, and June in fact, there was a significant serge in
25 the NLA activities, both in terms of mobilisation and in terms of
1 operations. This can be attributed to the fact that by May, or rather, by
2 end of May, the NLA managed to open another front in the area of Kumanovo,
3 which was, among other things, I mean this fact, manifested in fighting in
4 the area of Vaksince, which we have just discussed.
5 This, in turn, led to increased capabilities by the NLA to
6 increase its mobilisation activities. Thus, if your specific question is
7 what was the total strength of the NLA by mid-June 2001, well, I would say
8 that perhaps it was well above the level of 2.000; but, again, it would be
9 very difficult to give the precise assessment.
10 Q. Well, thank you for that.
11 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown again his report
12 at Exhibit P466.
13 Q. And, Mr. Bezruchenko, I will just ask to you look briefly at
14 paragraph 176 of your report.
15 Do you agree that, in that paragraph, you are referring to
16 activities by the NLA around the border town of Radusa? Is that correct?
17 A. Just a moment, sir, please. 176?
18 Q. That's correct.
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And simply to ask you this: Are you aware of any NLA
21 documentation or record which would suggest any operations in that area
22 during the month of June of 2001?
23 A. Yes. The document which I already mentioned previous --
24 previously; that is, "The NLA Directive for Operations" which is dated
25 June 2001.
1 Q. And I will come back a bit later to the plan in question or the
2 map that you have referred to several times, Mr. Bezruchenko.
3 But is it correct that the document itself, the directive which is
4 attached to the map, refers to "ideas" for particular activities of the
5 NLA? Is that correct?
6 A. I would rather -- I would rather term it as "concept." This is
7 the military term used in such occasions.
8 Q. But do you agree that the way it has been translated by CLSS is
9 as "ideas." Is that correct?
10 A. It may be a direct translation; and, basically, just as a matter
11 of general comment, I would say there are various ways of translating
12 simply in terms of semantics, which is an art by itself.
13 But, yes, it is indeed translated as "idea," but I don't think
14 this is really the right translation.
15 Q. Well, thank you for that.
16 Are aware, Mr. Bezruchenko, of any casualties on either side, the
17 NLA or the Macedonian forces, in the month of June in or around the town
18 of Radusa?
19 A. June 2001, around the town of Radusa. Just a moment, please.
20 According to my report, there were some casualties which the NLA
21 suffered in the month of June.
22 Q. And that would be people who were injured. Is that correct?
23 A. That would be people both killed and injured.
24 Q. And would those be in or around the town of Radusa?
25 A. Well, unfortunately, I'm don't really have this document at hand;
1 but, as I mentioned previously, there is a document which lists all the
2 NLA casualties the NLA suffered throughout the conflict.
3 I cannot really say, at this point, if there were in the
4 casualties that the NLA suffered at Radusa, but I can assume there were
5 some perhaps.
6 Q. Are you aware of any members of the police or the army being
7 killed in or around the village of Radusa in the month of June of 2001?
8 A. Just a moment, please.
9 No, I don't think so.
10 Q. And moving on or moving back, rather, to Aracinovo, I'd like to
11 ask you this: And, again, so that the Judges may have a correct
12 perspective of that was going on in the city or town, rather, of Aracinovo
13 at the time, is it correct that at the time when the NLA moved back in
14 Aracinovo, there were only about 30 people left in the village. Are you
15 aware of that fact?
16 A. I don't quite understand what you mean, sir. What do you mean the
17 NLA moved back in Aracinovo?
18 The NLA was, in fact, evacuated from Aracinovo in June 2001, I
20 Q. Well, I may have misled you with my question, Mr. Bezruchenko.
21 I was going back to the time prior to their being withdrawn the
22 time when they actually entered Aracinovo at the beginning of June, and I
23 believe in your report you mentioned 9th of June of 2001.
24 So having said that, are you aware of the fact that at the time
25 when the NLA entered into Aracinovo, there were about 30 villagers left in
2 A. Before I answer this question, sir, could I kindly draw your
3 attention to line 23 of the transcript. It should really read: NLA was,
4 in fact, evacuated from Aracinovo in June 2001, I think. Evacuated.
5 Q. Would you like me to repeat the question Mr. Bezruchenko?
6 A. Yes, please.
7 Q. Were you aware that at the time when the NLA entered into the
8 village of Aracinovo in or around the 9th of June 2001, there were only
9 about 30 people left living in the village?
10 A. I am aware of the fact that there were some civilians remaining in
11 the village, but it would be difficult for me to make the exact estimate
12 of how many they actually were.
13 Q. Is that correct that there may have been, in fact, as many or as
14 little as 30 members of the NLA in the village of Aracinovo at the time,
15 and not 800, as has been suggested?
16 A. I think the number of 800 was mentioned, in fact, to describe the
17 strength of the NLA which entered the village on or around 9 June 2001, or
18 perhaps infiltrated into the village by various means.
19 But saying that there were 30 members of the NLA in the village of
20 Aracinovo, but not 800, well, that could [Realtime transcript read in
21 error "would"] be the fact as well. But, essentially, I think, by the
22 degree of resistance offered, and by the ferocity of fighting which lasted
23 for a few days in the area, as well as casualties, I would imagine that
24 there was quite a significant force in this village.
25 MR. METTRAUX: Would that be a convenient time, Your Honour.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Very well.
2 We resume then at 1.00.
3 --- Recess taken at 12.28 p.m.
4 --- On resuming at 1.01 p.m.
5 [Trial Chamber confers]
6 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Mettraux.
7 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour.
8 Q. Is it correct, Mr. Bezruchenko, that at the time when the NLA
9 entered Aracinovo, the police and the armed forces had actually left the
10 village? Is that correct?
11 A. Before we actually come over to this question, Mr. Mettraux, if I
12 could kindly ask again, to address the issue of the transcript.
13 Specifically, line 24, which should read: "800, that could be the
14 fact as well." Not really "would be," but "could be" the fact as well.
15 Q. Well, thank you for that, Mr. Bezruchenko, and I will repeat my
17 Is it correct that at the time when the NLA entered Aracinovo, the
18 police and the armed forces had actually left the village? Is that
20 A. My impression that I picked up from various reports was that, in
21 fact, the Macedonian security forces, in fact, were around Aracinovo at
22 various locations and manning various check-points, and I don't think
23 there were any members of the security forces inside the village.
24 Q. I'm grateful for that, and I would like to show you Rule 65 ter
1 Mr. Bezruchenko, what will appear on your screen in a second is a
2 information provided by the same origin that I mentioned to you before
3 during the session. It's dated the 14th of June of 2001, and the subject
4 of the document is "Government security forces relinquish yet another
6 MR. METTRAUX: This would be Rule 65 ter 1D866, please.
7 Q. As it appears on your screen or will appear in a second,
8 Mr. Bezruchenko, and to save time, I will read the summary to you of that
9 document. It says this: "The Macedonian government virtually abdicates
10 control of the town of Aracinovo to the insurgents. The occupation of the
11 village highlights the ineptness and impotence of the security forces."
12 Then, the document goes on to say this: "The town was almost
13 empty with the exception of 30 or so men on the main street,, most shops
14 were closed.
15 Then, it says: "That same evening, local radio and television
16 reported the town 'taken by the National Liberation Army, NLA.'"
17 Then, the document continues: "In actuality, the Macedonian
18 police left the town to the NLA. The town of Aracinovo is known as a
19 local centre of organised crime, and there is no police station in the
21 "According to local inhabitants, sometime during the afternoon of
22 Friday, 8 June 2001, approximately 30," 3-0, "members of the NLA,
23 supposedly not from the town itself," [indiscernible] from, "all residents
24 of the town entered the town and began scaring the inhabitants out of the
25 town, especially the ethnic Macedonian inhabitants."
1 I apologise for the document not being here yet, Mr. Bezruchenko,
2 but it goes on say the following: "The police reaction was to establish
3 roadblock closing the main vehicular roads in to or out of the village
4 and, in effect, surrendering the town to the NLA."
5 Is that view, Mr. Bezruchenko, that I read to you - and I
6 apologise for not being able to show it to you - is that view consistent
7 with your -- the information which you had in your possession in regard to
8 these events?
9 A. It is largely consistent, sir; however, I would like to make a
10 number of points in relation to this document.
11 First, I would like to say that the perception of ineptness and
12 importance was, indeed, widely spread and reflected in publications by
13 various Macedonian analysts.
14 Second, the date of occupation of Aracinovo is correct. It
15 apparently happened on or about 8 June 2001.
16 Third, the actual number of those NLA fighters who entered the
17 village may not necessarily be limited to 30 only, as the town was under
18 the NLA control for a while which gave the NLA an opportunity, A, to
19 recruit members among the local population; and, B, to bring in additional
20 force, groups, or units, from outside, even despite the check-points of
21 the police in the area.
22 This would be my comment on this document.
23 Q. I'm grateful, Mr. Bezruchenko, and I'm going to ask you something
24 related to Aracinovo still.
25 Is it correct that the overtaking or taking over of the town by
1 the NLA was widely condemned? Is it correct?
2 A. Yes, it was condemned.
3 Q. And is it correct that, in particular, the killing of three
4 policemen at Aracinovo, which you've given evidence about already, was
5 characterised as a terrorist act? Is it correct?
6 A. Yes. It was described and, I think, qualified as an act of
8 Q. Is it also correct that the attack and overtaking of the village
9 or the town of Aracinovo by the NLA was not regarded by the international
10 community as a legitimate act of warfare?
11 A. That may be the fact, Mr. Mettraux, but I did not really
12 specifically concentrate on this fact in my report for a number of
14 As I mentioned previously, the legal aspects of the conflict,
15 including legitimacy or illegitimacy, were not really the issues which I
16 was trying to reflect on in this report.
17 Secondly, the attack and overtaking of the village of Aracinovo
18 was only one in the whole series of similar attacks, and I do not really
19 see the reason to specifically single out this attack for specific legal
20 reasons, as many similar attacks took place in Macedonia.
21 In fact, if we are talking about specific military reasons for
22 single out this attack, from a string of similar attacks, this is a
23 entirely different matter. It was, indeed, a very significant element of
24 the situation on the ground for a number of reasons.
25 Aracinovo is very close to the capital. Actually, it provides a
1 very convenient jumping pad for any operations in the directions of
2 Skopje. I reflected this fact in my report.
3 On the other hand, following the capture of Aracinovo by the NLA,
4 there were reports, or if you may wish, indications and threats made by
5 NLA, that the NLA was going to launch mortar attacks from this location
6 against certain objects in the city.
7 Q. And these threats were never carried out. Is that correct?
8 A. They were never carried out.
9 Q. I'd like to show you a -- one document which relates, in part, to
10 this situation?.
11 MR. METTRAUX: And that would be Exhibit 1D228, please.
12 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, what will appear in front you is the hearing
13 before the Committee of Foreign Relations of United States Senate, and it
14 relates to the crisis in Macedonia and US engagement in the Balkans. It's
15 dated 13th of June of 2001.
16 Are you familiar with this document, Mr. Bezruchenko?
17 A. No, I'm not.
18 Q. I'd like to draw your attention first to page 1D00-6283 of that
19 document, simply to ask you to read one sentence to you from that page,
20 which starts with the word: "Now." It's the second full paragraph.
21 Can you see that?
22 A. [No verbal response]
23 Q. It say this: "Now, within the past few months, things have
24 changed. Ethnic Albanian terrorists are today using violence in a effort
25 to undermine Macedonia's stability."
1 So, just on this point, is it correct that it was still the view
2 held by the international community and in -- well, I should ask you about
3 this particular person. Is it correct this was the view held Senator
4 Helms and a number US Senators that the ethnic Albanian armed group, the
5 NLA, was, in fact, a terrorist organisation? Is that correct?
6 A. Yes, it speaks of terrorism.
7 MR. METTRAUX: And if we can turn to page 1D00-6284, please, and
8 that would be towards the bottom of the page. Thank you.
9 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, this is part of the same record of the US Senate
10 hearing, and this particular statement refers to comments and remarks made
11 by Mr. Ambassador James Pardew. I'd like to read the last paragraph to
13 He says this: "No one should mistake the position of the United
14 States Administration. We absolutely oppose the NLA's use of violence to
15 undermine the democratically-elected Macedonian government and its
16 leaders. We condemn the NLA's apparent effort to provoke overreaction by
17 the government against Albanian citizens in order to bolster their support
18 from the ethnic Albanian community."
19 Do you agree that, according to Mr. Pardew at least, and, again,
20 what was going on was not an armed conflict? There is no mention of an
21 armed conflict, but quite the contrary, a condemnation of the violence
22 used by the NLA. Is that correct?
23 A. Yes. This document condemns the violence used by the NLA.
24 MR. METTRAUX: And if we can now turn to page 1D00-6292, and if we
25 can go to the of the page.
1 Q. I'd like to read the first paragraph, and Mr. Bezruchenko, this
2 is still Mr. -- Ambassador Pardew speaking.
3 He say this is: "The insurgency group, our estimate now," which
4 is the 13th of June 2001, "is that it is probably around 1.000 fighters.
5 Its composition is complex and, as you indicated, decentralised in many
6 ways but perhaps more centralised than what we encountered in southern
8 Do you agree, Mr. Bezruchenko, that as far as the US
9 Administration was available to assess on the basis of their information,
10 as of the middle of June of 2001, there was probably around 1.000 fighters
11 in the NLA? Is that correct?
12 A. Yes. I can say that this is the estimate of -- he mentioned in
13 this document.
14 Q. And the assessment made by Mr. -- Ambassador Pardew is also that
15 the NLA was decentralised in many ways. Is that correct?
16 A. Yes, that's right.
17 Q. There's also a matter which may come back to later, but to save
18 time I will go to it now.
19 If you go down one paragraph, it refers to the strategy of the
20 NLA. Can you see that?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And it says: "Its strategy is the same strategy that we
23 encountered in Serbia; that is, to provoke a repressive military response
24 and to gain support from that response from the population. So we are
25 very concerned about these military operations."
1 Can you see that?
2 A. Yes, I can.
3 Q. And is it correct also that the attacks or taking over of the --
4 of a number of villages by the NLA was likewise condemned by President
5 Bush at the time?
6 A. Yes, that's true.
7 Q. Is it correct also that all through the month of June of 2001, the
8 international community continued to refer to the NLA in the alternative
9 as terrorists or extremists. Is that correct?
10 A. Yes, that's right.
11 Q. And, just wrapping up the month of June 2001, are you aware at
12 that stage how many brigades or brigade had been established by the NLA by
13 the end of June of 2001?
14 A. I think, at this stage, the NLA was probably operating with at
15 least three brigades: 112th, 113th, and 114th.
16 Q. Did you have any documentary evidence, orders, maps, or any
17 similar documents, dated June in 2001, coming from any of those three
19 A. In fact, if I may qualify first my previous answer, in fact, I
20 think that, by June 2001, the actual number of brigades which were
21 operating in Macedonia would be four: 112, 13th, 14th, and 15th. There
22 were other brigades in the various stages of being formed.
23 In fact, if I may again refer, Mr. Mettraux, to the document
24 entitled "The NLA Directive," it clearly speaks about these brigades as
25 well, as the other brigades which are at various stages of being formed.
1 Q. I'm grateful for that, Mr. Bezruchenko, but my question was about
2 document coming from any of those three brigades. Did you see any such
3 documentary evidence, orders, maps, or any similar documents, from June
4 2001, coming out from any of those three brigades.
5 A. I have seen some documents, as I have mentioned previously, which
6 appear to be the NLA personnel roles, but I don't really know. I'm not
7 really in a position to attribute these documents to any specific date.
8 Q. And are you able to say what brigades or brigade these roles
9 referred to?
10 A. If you could just give me a few minutes, Mr. Mettraux.
11 For example, the document 65 ter 663 which was obtained from the
12 Ministry of Defence of Macedonia, in fact, is the document on the 112th
13 Brigade of the NLA.
14 Q. And are aware of any similar roles for any other brigades,
15 Mr. Bezruchenko?
16 A. No, I'm not.
17 Q. Turning to the month of July, Mr. Bezruchenko, I would like to
18 show you, once again, your report.
19 MR. METTRAUX: It's exhibit P466, page 48, paragraph 177, please.
20 Q. Do you agree, Mr. Bezruchenko, that what you outlined in this part
21 of your report was that, on 6 July, a cease-fire was announced."
22 First, to make matters clear, is it correct that the cease-fire
23 was an unilateral cease-fire announced by the Macedonian authority, and I
24 believe it was signed by General Petrovski? Is that correct?
25 A. Yes, that's right.
1 Q. And you indicate that fighting dropped in most areas, except for
2 Radusa, where you say heavy weapons were used by both sides. Is that
4 A. This was my impression, yes.
5 Q. And you said also that the cease-fire, in your words, "collapsed
6 on 23rd July, with an offensive by the NLA against army and police
7 positions in the Tetovo region." Is that correct?
8 A. That's right.
9 Q. Are you able to state, first, Mr. Bezruchenko, how many people you
10 say were involved in the events of Radusa, which you mention in the first
11 part of paragraph 177, during the month of July of 2001?
12 A. Perhaps a few hundred fighters.
13 Q. Do you have any documentary evidence about the numbers of NLA
14 fighters that were present at the time, or is that a general assessment
15 which you make?
16 A. It's a general assessment.
17 Q. Do you know whether the NLA suffered any combat-related casualties
18 during these activities around Radusa in July of 2001?
19 A. As I mentioned previously, Mr. Mettraux, there is a certain
20 document, NLA document, which is, in fact, the list of the fatalities that
21 the NLA suffered in the conflict, and there are three names on the list.
22 The list doesn't really provide the names of those who were
23 injured, so I assume that the total number of the casualties that the NLA
24 suffered would be higher than the figure of 53 indicated on this list.
25 And answering your question specifically, I think that given the
1 fact that there was, indeed, serious fighting going on in the area, I
2 assume there were at least some casualties that the NLA must have
3 suffered. Whether they -- these were men who were killed or injured, this
4 is difficult to say.
5 Q. Do you know where these men had been coming from, in particular
6 what brigade they were members of? Are you aware of that?
7 A. I think 115th Brigade was generally known as present and operating
8 in this area.
9 Q. Did you see any documentary evidence of the 115 Brigade, which had
10 indicate that they planned prepared or ordered any such operation in or
11 around Radusa? Did you see any such documents?
12 A. Yes. I have seen Macedonian documents, Macedonian military
13 documents, which suggest that, in fact, the 115th Brigade was, indeed,
14 operating in the area of Radusa. There is at least one NLA document
15 which confirms this fact. This is, again, "The NLA Directive."
16 Q. And asking more specifically about the brigade, which you say was
17 involved in those matters, have you seen any documentary evidence which
18 would indicate that orders were given, written orders, or maps or plans
19 prepared or any other documentary evidence that would be relevant to the
20 events around Radusa in July of 2001?
21 A. There is more documentary evidence to suggest that this brigade
22 was, indeed, operating in the area of Radusa. These are the NATO
23 documents related to the operation Essential Harvest. But if you're
24 asking of more specific documents coming from the NLA, I don't think I
25 have seen any.
1 Q. And is it correct that during the month of 2001 -- of July of
2 2001, one army members was killed in the area around -- I'm sorry, I'm
3 moving on to Tetovo. Are you aware of that fact, that only one soldier
4 died around the area of Tetovo during the month of July 2001?
5 A. I know that there were casualties which the Macedonian security
6 forces suffered. Whether there was only one soldier killed, I'm not
7 really certain. But if you're asking if there were other casualties
8 except those killed, I would say there probably were; and if they were,
9 they were described in my report in the appropriate section; that is
10 section 5.
11 Q. Well, I am grateful for that.
12 Is it correct that during the entire month of July of 2001, the
13 position of the international community, as far as the NLA is concerned,
14 continued to be the same as before, and they were repeatedly referred to
15 as terrorists or extremists. Is that correct?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. There is one particular document which I would like to show to you
18 at this stage, Mr. Bezruchenko.
19 MR. METTRAUX: This is exhibit P485, please, and this is also tab
20 26 of the OTP binder of documents which were shown of Mr. Bezruchenko.
21 Q. Mr. Bezruchenko, do you recall being asked questions by Mr. Saxon
22 in relation to a particular agreement, to call it that, which was agreed
23 upon in Prizren sometimes in July of 2001. Do you recall those -- these
25 A. Yes, sir.
1 MR. METTRAUX: And that would be, I believe, at page 19 of that
3 Q. And do you recall suggesting, or perhaps that's the way it was
4 understood, that this agreement which involved representative of NATO --
5 I'm sorry, of the NLA, as well as representatives of the legitimate
6 political parties in Macedonia, in a way you suggested, gave political
7 legitimacy to the NLA? Is that correct?
8 A. I'm afraid I didn't really put it in these exact terms as you have
9 just mentioned, sir. I did not really mention anything like legitimate
10 -- I mean, in like political legitimacy for the NLA.
11 But, in fact, if you are really looking for my interpretation of
12 this agreement, this agreement essentially paved the way for a common
13 platform, in political terms, between the NLA and the legitimate Albanian
14 parties in Macedonia.
15 Q. Is it correct, however, Mr. Bezruchenko, that immediately after it
16 was signed, it was, in fact, disowned, shed, and disregarded? Is that
18 A. I would be grateful, Mr. Mettraux, if you could qualify your
19 statement, please.
20 Q. Well, perhaps I will show you a document which may assist you.
21 MR. METTRAUX: It's Rule 65 ter 1D953, please.
22 Q. It does not appear to be the right number, Mr. Bezruchenko, I
23 apologise, and I will try to locate the relevant page.
24 MR. METTRAUX: This should be Rule 65 ter 953, I apologise. 953,
25 apparently. It should be Rule 65 ter 1D953.
1 Q. I apologise for the delay Mr. Bezruchenko.
2 A. Please, take your time, sir.
3 Q. This is, Mr. Bezruchenko, another report, this time also prepared
4 by the ICG, the International Crisis Group. The date of that document is
5 some time later. It is the 20th of June of 2001, and it's called
6 "Macedonia, the last chance for peace."
7 MR. METTRAUX: I'm grateful to the registry. And if we could move
8 to page N000-5239, that would be page 10 of the document.
9 Q. And I'll ask to you look, Mr. Bezruchenko, at a paragraph towards
10 the bottom of the page which reads "the proposal."
11 Is it correct that, as the report suggests, the proposal which was
12 contained in the agreement to which you refer was, as the ICG says,
13 "junked when a photograph of DPA leader, Arben Xhaferi, and PDP leader,
14 Imer Imeri, with NLA political director, Ali Ahmeti, was plastered across
15 television screens and morning papers on 23 to 25 of May of 2001."
16 Is it correct that the document in question was, as ICG
17 said, "junked"? Is it correct?
18 A. I do not know, sir, and I do not really know what is meant here by
19 the word "junked."
20 But, reading this paragraph carefully, my interpretation of this
21 paragraph would be perhaps limited to a few points. First of all, this
22 meeting, indeed, take place on 22nd May in Kosovo in Prizren. Indeed, a
23 common declaration was signed; and, apparently, this declaration also
24 followed the basic line of the proposal of Mr. Frowick. But it is not
25 clear from this paragraph who actually junked this agreement.
1 Q. Well, perhaps it would be clearer if you look at the next
2 paragraph, and I will ask to you look at the last three words.
3 It says: "Xhaferi and Imeri ..."
4 MR. METTRAUX: And if we can turn the page, please.
5 Q. "... refused to back down and disown their support for the
7 Can you see that?
8 A. Yes. It says, "refused to back down and disowned their support
9 for the agreement," which means that they refused to disown their support.
10 Q. Well, what it says, Mr. Bezruchenko, is that they disown their
11 support for the agreement. Is that correct?
12 A. I think what it says, and perhaps I'm correct me if I'm wrong,
13 but, again: "They refused to back down and disown their support for the
14 agreement," which means they did not disown their support for the
16 Q. Well, let's turn to the end of the month of July, Mr. Bezruchenko.
17 Are you able to say at the end of the month of July of 2001 - and perhaps
18 you may have to refer to this document again - but are you able to state
19 how many combat-related casualties the NLA had suffered during the month
20 of July of 2001?
21 A. This was not really the primary -- or rather, that was not really
22 one of the goals that I was pursuing for my research to establish the
23 exact breakdown of casualties by month. As I mentioned previously, the
24 NLA suffered 53 men killed and the unspecified number of injured
25 throughout the conflict.
1 Q. And setting aside, for a moment, the ideas or so-called directive
2 of June of 2001 which was apparently adopted by the NLA at the time, are
3 you aware of any documentary evidence, such as combat orders, maps, or any
4 similar documents, that were produced by the NLA in the month of July of
6 A. There is number of various NLA regulations which apparently were
7 produced at various stages of the conflict, but I cannot really tell
8 whether they were produced in July or any other month.
9 As regards maps, there were some maps as well, but I'm not
10 entirely certain if they were produced in July.
11 Q. And when you refer to the map, you refer to the map which contains
12 the directive to which you have made reference, is that correct, which was
14 A. Yes. I'm referring to this one, but there are also other maps
15 which I have seen.
16 Q. And those maps, you say, were produced by the NLA. Is that
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Well, we can turn to the month of August now. Mr. Bezruchenko,
20 perhaps to refresh your memory of this, I would ask to you look at
21 paragraph 178 to 188 of your report.
22 MR. METTRAUX: This is Exhibit P466.
23 Q. Perhaps, I'll start in not in the chronological order in which you
24 have presented, but first with paragraph 118 of your report where you
25 refer to the fact that the NLA after having been evacuated reoccupied
2 Is it correct that that reoccupation again happened without a shot
3 fired? Is that correct?
4 A. I have seen at least one, and possibly more reports in fact,
5 produced by the Macedonian army which suggested that NLA, indeed,
6 reoccupied Aracinovo. I think that, after this event, there were some
7 violations of cease-fire which occurred in the area. But whether this
8 particular reoccupation happened without a single shot fired, I cannot
9 tell. I don't think I can came across anything like this.
10 What I came across, though, was the fact mentioned in the
11 Macedonian army intelligence reports that, indeed, the NLA entered
12 Aracinovo again.
13 MR. METTRAUX: Your Honour, I see the time.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Does that mean you have finished Mr. Mettraux.
15 MR. METTRAUX: I'm afraid not, Your Honour. I believe there would
16 be the need for one more session tomorrow morning. The month of June
17 should be going quite fast. In addition, there would be -- the month of
18 August, I apologise, should be done quite fast.
19 There's a number of more general issues, which I believe are of
20 importance to the issue of the report of Mr. Bezruchenko which cover the
21 entire period, and I believe I would be able to finish with that within
22 the time-frame of one session.
23 [Trial Chamber confers]
24 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mettraux, we take the view you should prepare
25 on the basis that you will be allowed a further 45 minutes tomorrow
1 afternoon when we resume.
2 We will commence at 2.15 in the afternoon, and we adjourn now
3 until then.
4 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.47 p.m,
5 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 1st day of
6 November, 2007, at 2.15 p.m.