1 Monday, 12 November 2007
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.04 a.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning.
7 May I remind you, sir, that the affirmation you made still
9 Mr. Mettraux.
10 WITNESS: GZIM OSTRENI [Resumed]
11 [Witness answered through interpreter]
12 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour, and good morning.
13 Cross-examination by Mr. Mettraux: [Continued]
14 Q. Good morning, Mr. Ostreni.
15 A. Good morning, Mr. Mettraux.
16 Q. Do you remember, Mr. Ostreni, on Friday, when we left off, I was
17 asking you a question about an incident that took place near the village
18 of Vejce on the 28th of April, 2001? Do you recall that?
19 A. Yes, I recall that.
20 Q. And do you recall asking me -- asking you whether you could recall
21 a number of condemnations, in particular by the US administration, in
22 relation to this incident? Do you recall those questions?
23 A. Yes, you asked me about this.
24 Q. I'd like to show you a document, Mr. Ostreni.
25 MR. METTRAUX: It is Rule 65 ter 1D956, please.
1 Q. Mr. Ostreni, the document that will appear on your screen is a
2 press statement issued by the deputy spokesman of the United States
3 Department of State, State Department, and it's dated the 28th of April of
4 2001. I will read the relevant passage to you.
5 It says this: "The United States condemns the attack by armed
6 ethnic Albanian extremists today on Macedonia security forces, which
7 resulted in the death of eight Macedonian soldiers. We extend our
8 condolences to the families of those that were killed.
9 "The United States calls upon all political parties and groups in
10 Macedonia to join in condemning the senseless act of violence and to
11 continue the process of political dialogue in which they are engaged."
12 Mr. Ostreni, my question is this: Do you recall having received
13 information to the effect that this attack in Vejce had been condemned in
14 those terms by the US State Department?
15 A. At that time, we followed, to the extent we could, what was going
16 on, on the political scene; but I believe that it is important to describe
17 the situation in general, in which this territory found itself at that
18 time. I'm not denying that the United States said what they said, as
19 you're putting it, but it is important to explain that this happened in
20 the combat area of 112 Brigade, and after the MX operation, when the
21 police forces started to vandalize and terrorise the population in that
23 Unfortunately, on the 2nd of April, a 16-year-old young man was
24 killed. He was from the village of Selci. He was killed by the police
25 forces. As for this vandalism that I mentioned, I would call on Fakti
1 newspaper of 5th April where a statement was issued and concerns were
2 raised regarding the situation with the Albanians living in that area.
3 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
4 A. So the units of that brigade then had a clash with the units of
5 the Macedonian army and; as a consequence of that, what happened,
7 Q. Thank you, Mr. Ostreni. I'll ask you if, it you can to try to
8 respond to the question as shortly as you can; and if you feel have you to
9 explain it further, by all means.
10 There's another document that I would like to show you,
11 Mr. Ostreni, in relation to this matter.
12 MR. METTRAUX: It's Exhibit 1D231.
13 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is a transcript of a press briefing. It is,
14 again, from the same origin. It comes from the State Department of the
15 United States of America, and this one is dated the 30th of April of 2001.
16 MR. METTRAUX: I'd ask the registry to go to page 1D00-78 -- 7189,
18 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is a part of the press briefing of the State
19 Department, which is devoted to the situation in Macedonia, and the
20 department spokesman of the State Department is being asked questions
21 about the incident in Vejce.
22 He said this: "We did issue a statement on Saturday, soundly
23 condemning the attack on Macedonian security forces by armed ethnic
24 Albanian extremists, and that statement obviously still stands."
25 MR. METTRAUX: It's a bit further down the page, please. Thank
1 you. It start with the word: "Well, I will just point ..."
2 Q. The spokesman, Mr. Ostreni, goes on to say this: "This was an
3 ambush by extremists that resulted in the death of eight Macedonian
4 soldiers. We want to extend our condolences to the families of those
5 eight who were killed and the entire country of Macedonia."
6 Then, in the next paragraph, the spokesman of the State Department
7 says this: "We noted or have discussed that there has been a strong
8 condemnation of that barbarous attack by the Macedonian Albanian political
9 leader, Arben Xhaferi." We have encouraged other ethnic Albanian leaders
10 to condemn this extremist violence, as well."
11 And, then, in the next paragraph, he says this: "We very much
12 support the necessary steps Macedonia is taking to prevent armed
13 extremists from disrupting interethnic cooperation and dialogue which has
14 been taking place in Macedonia over the last few weeks. I think it should
15 be said that such violence and terrorist activity greatly harms the
16 interests of the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia and throughout the region,
17 and those that are perpetrating this type of violence should realise it."
18 My question is again, Mr. Ostreni, the same: Were you aware of
19 the condemnations in the terms that I have read out to you, barbarous
20 attack, extremist violence, and terrorist activity, which were used at the
21 time to condemn the attack in Vejce? Were you aware of that?
22 A. The text you just read was interpreted to me into Albanian. I
23 don't know if it is the way you're putting it, because it is not written
24 in a language that I understand; but, however, I will trust you and I will
25 answer you the following: We were, at that time, acting exclusively
1 against the police and military forces of the Republic of Macedonia.
2 We were in a war situation, and that's why our clashes with the
3 armed forces of the government of the Republic of Macedonia at that time
4 were called by our population as just and as clashes directed at creating
5 the conditions for changing the constitution and for securing all rights
6 for the Albanians, as mentioned in communique number 6 and in the
8 So I'm not denying that this could have been said by the United
9 States of America, but I cannot claim this with full certainty because I
10 cannot follow the text in English as I would if it were in Albanian.
11 Q. I'm grateful for that, Mr. Ostreni. But the clarification I'm
12 seeking from you is whether at the time, in the year 2001, and more
13 specifically in the month of April or May of 2001, you were aware of these
14 condemnations of your attack by the US government.
15 A. At that time, we were following what the US ambassador to the
16 Republic of Macedonia was saying, what the ambassador of the United
17 Kingdom to the Republic of Macedonia was saying, amongst others. He, in a
18 way, explained the constitution of the Republic as a source of the clashes
19 between the Albanians and the government.
20 He said, in a diplomatic way - but this is how I understood it -
21 due to the preamble, that excluded the Albanians and defined the state
22 only as one nation state of the Macedonian, ethnic Macedonians; and
23 amongst other things, he said that he would have been offended had he been
24 an Albanian living in the Republic of Macedonia.
25 So there are many changes, transformation of views, on the
1 situation in Macedonia before these events. It was promoted as an oasis
2 of peace, in the decision making centres in the US, in NATO, and the
3 European Union, and so on.
4 I apologise, but I would like to add that at that time congressmen
5 from the state, four of them, addressed the president of the Republic of
6 Macedonia through a letter, asking and demanding that the rights of the
7 Albanians were secured.
8 What you calling negative, as far as the activities of Albanians
9 are concerned, there are many articles published in Albanian newspapers
10 saying that the Albanians should get their elementary rights and freedoms.
11 Q. Well, thank you for that, Mr. Ostreni. I think you still haven't
12 answered the question; and, simply, as a matter of clarification, did you
13 or did you not -- were you or were you not aware, in late April or early
14 May of 2001, of the condemnations by the US government of your attack -
15 and let's keep it at that at this point - in Vejce?
16 Were you aware of this? Yes or no.
17 A. I don't remember. Of course, there were -- there was a great flow
18 of information at that time. Maybe I was aware. But since the six years
19 have passed, it is difficult for me to remember all the details regarding
20 issues that you are questioning me about.
21 Q. And can you recall perhaps that two days after the attack by your
22 organisation in Vejce, your organisation was listed by the State
23 Department in a document called, Patterns of Global Terrorism, where you
24 were being condemned for not only attacking government forces, as it says,
25 but for "harassing and detaining civilians and indiscriminately firing at
1 civilian centres."
2 Do you recall this document or the fact that you were so listed?
3 A. I don't know which document you're referring to. Maybe you should
4 give me the title of this document.
5 Q. I will show it to you, Mr. Ostreni.
6 MR. METTRAUX: This is Rule 65 ter 1D887, please.
7 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is the excerpt of a document which come from the
8 US Department of State. It is called, Patterns of Global Terrorism. It's
9 dated April the 30th, 2001, and it's released by the office of the
10 coordinator for counterterrorism.
11 I will read to you the section of document which is relevant here.
12 MR. METTRAUX: If the registry could scroll down, very much. It
13 starts with the word, "In south-eastern Europe."
14 I will read it out to you. It says this: "In south-eastern
15 Europe, groups of ethnic Albanians have conducted armed attacks against
16 government forces in southern Serbia and in Macedonia since 1999. One
17 group in southern Serbia called itself the Liberation Army of Presevo,
18 Medvedja, and Bujanovac. One group in Macedonia calls itself the National
19 Liberation Army, NLA.
20 "Both groups include members who fought to with the Kosovo
21 Liberation Army in 1998/1999, and have used their wartime connections to
22 obtain funding and weapons from Kosovo and elsewhere. The PMBLA has, on
23 occasion, harassed and detained civilians travelling through areas it
24 controls. Both the PMBLA and the NLA have fired indiscriminately upon
25 civilian centres.
1 "In the same region, ethnic Albanian assailants carried out a
2 terrorist attack against a bus in Kosovo on 16 February 2001, killing at
3 least seven civilians and wounding 43 others."
4 Before I ask you this, Mr. Ostreni, there was a similar document
5 in 2002 which related to the period of 2001. My question is: Are you
6 aware of these documents or the fact that you were so listed by the State
7 Department in those terms?
8 A. No, I was not aware. For me, it is important that the National
9 Liberation Army was not on the list of terrorist organisation.
10 Q. Well, let me just wrap things up briefly with regard to the Vejce
12 I'll ask whether you are aware that the Presidency of the EU
13 called your attack in Vejce a vicious attack. Are you aware of that?
14 A. No, I'm not, but they did not call it a terrorist attack. It was
15 part of the war. The war is ugly because people lose their lives, but
16 these people were armed, uniformed, and they were tasked to fight against
17 the forces of the National Liberation Army. This would be my answer.
18 Q. And so the answer is, No, you were not aware of the EU
19 condemnation in terms of vicious attack. Is that correct?
20 A. No, I don't remember being aware of that.
21 Q. Do you recall NATO calling this attack a cowardly act of
22 extremists. Do you recall that?
23 A. I don't remember.
24 Q. Do you recall France calling the attack a terrorist act?
25 A. I don't recall that. I wasn't able to follow everything that you
1 mention. I had work to do on a daily basis.
2 Q. Do you recall the EU Commissioner for External relations, Chris
3 Patten at the time, calling it a senseless act of murder? Do you recall
5 A. No.
6 Q. And are you aware of the fact, Mr. Ostreni, that the murders in
7 Vejce are one of the basis upon which the Macedonian authorities had
8 investigated the leadership of your organisation, including yourself? Are
9 you aware of that?
10 A. No, I'm not informed. I didn't receive any document. I know that
11 the Macedonian authorities have not issued any indictment or pressed any
12 charges against the person who killed the 16-year-old and against those
13 who terrorised the population in that part. They -- their stance was
14 anti-Albanian, and they would only inform of cases alleged that were
15 committed by the National Liberation Army.
16 As I mentioned, there were other cases where the perpetrators were
17 the other side, as a case of killing the pizzeria and the above mentioned
19 Q. And you are not aware that the incident in Vejce is one of the
20 cases that were sent by the local prosecutor to the Prosecutor of this
21 Tribunal for investigation. Are you aware of that?
22 A. No, I'm not aware of that.
23 Q. And I have a general proposition for you, Mr. Ostreni.
24 Would you agree that if the crimes that I've described to last
25 week and briefly this morning have, in fact, that been committed as they
1 have been put to you, this would suggest that the orders which you said
2 you gave or, more specifically, Mr. Ahmeti, you said, gave to respect
3 humanitarian law and not to commit any crimes would have been
4 disregarded? Do you agree with that?
5 A. No. I don't agree with that, because these are clashes between
6 the NLA, its members, and the members of the armed forces of the army and
7 the police. This did not start on the 28th of April but much earlier, in
8 February, and it was ongoing.
9 The operation in Tetovo was carried out on the 25th and continued
10 through to 26th; then, the MX operation, MX-1, takes hold on the 28th in
11 Kumanova, and this was within that ongoing war between the armed forces of
12 the Republic of Macedonia and the NLA. There was no individual case here,
13 but it was part of the ongoing war.
14 Q. So your evidence, Mr. Ostreni, is that at no time during the
15 crisis in 2001 did you become aware of any crime having been committed by
16 any member of your organisation. Is that correct?
17 A. That's correct. I was not aware if it happened the way you're
18 putting it.
19 Q. I'd like to ask you another question, Mr. Ostreni. You've -- do
20 you remember indicating to the Office of the Prosecutor that you had
21 requested -- you or Mr. Ahmeti had requested the so-called brigades to
22 keep lists of personnel or members which then should be submitted to the
23 Main Staff? Do you recall saying them that?
24 A. I recall, but by leave of Their Honours, I would like to explain
1 Honoured counsel, from the very beginning, you are referring to
2 the NLA as the so-called NLA. Now you also refer to the brigades as the
3 so-called brigades. I would like to point out that the competent organs
4 in the Republic of Macedonia did not use this term.
5 Just to inform the Trial Chamber and yourself, Mr. Counsel, after
6 the war, the Association of War Veterans of the NLA was established.
7 This association was registered on the 5th of May 2002 at the Tetovo
8 Court; and later on, it was adopted by the constitutional court.
9 So these are the brigades of the NLA and the NLA, and not the
10 brigades of the so-called NLA, as you're referring to it.
11 So the competent authorities adopted this term by the mere fact
12 that the Association of War Veterans of the NLA was created and registered
13 at the Tetovo Court.
14 Q. I'll grateful for that, Mr. Ostreni, and I'll repeat the
15 question: Were you -- or is it correct that you or Mr. Ahmeti had issued
16 an order that the so-called brigades of your organisation should keep
17 lists of personnel or members that they should provide to the Main Staff.
18 Do you recall that?
19 A. I didn't issue such an order, and was not entitled to give such
20 orders. I organised things so that the administration and records are
21 well organised and all documents collected in the General Staff. However,
22 this did not happen, and the documents remained at the brigade levels.
23 Q. I will read to you a short passenger, a short statement that you
24 made to the Office of the Prosecutor during proofing.
25 You said this: "After the Ohrid Agreement, the commander of the
1 brigades should have kept the records and submitted them to the General
2 Staff. However, the brigade commander didn't do it, as far as I know,
3 with the exception of the 116, as the conditions were not adequate. I
4 think I sent the brigade commanders an order to submit the records to the
5 General Staff."
6 Do you recall telling that to the Office of the Prosecutor?
7 A. Yes, I remember. I didn't say records, but I said we must prepare
8 the archives, to hand it over to the General Staff. In the case of
9 Brigade 116, the commander passed by and handed over them.
10 Q. An aside from the commander of that brigade, the others didn't
11 provide those documents to the so-called Main Staff. Is that correct?
12 A. Yes, that's correct. The documents remained there because we were
13 busy handing over the weapons and taking care of all the documents related
14 to it. So they remained at brigade levels.
15 Q. And do you recall that you also indicated, both to my colleague
16 from the Prosecution and also in one of the documents that was shown to
17 you, that the individuals who were to join your organisation should take a
18 military oath, which you said was an important part of your organisation?
19 And my question is: Did you ever verify whether people joining
20 your organisation were, in fact, taking such oath at the time of joining?
21 A. I didn't see it personally, because they were obliged to act in
22 that way. When voluntaries came and reported to brigades, there was a
23 small training centre where they took the oath, and I believe they did do
25 Q. So just to clarify this, you did not verify whether the order,
1 which was given in that regard, was, in fact, complied with. You simply
2 believe it was. Is that correct?
3 A. At that time that I worked, the NLA front extended to over 200
4 kilometres. It was impossible for me because I had to leave my post, to
5 see how things were developing on the ground. Therefore, I could only
6 talk with people on the phone, get information from them, and talk with
7 people who passed by the General Staff who informed us of the situation,
8 and so on.
9 Q. And that would be the same, Mr. Ostreni, in regard to training,
10 which you said had to take place with new recruits. Is that correct?
11 A. The training at the NLA was a specific one. Part of it took place
12 in the training centre of the brigades, then the person was included in
13 the reservists of the brigade. Gradually, then they were transferred to
14 the first front line, and then other brigades were formed.
15 So the soldier wasn't sent immediately to the front line, because
16 he wasn't trained for that, hadn't done the military service. So our
17 training was, how to say, small-scale training, simple training. It
18 didn't have the necessary expertise and equipment to train them. So they
19 learned as they were fighting and participating in the events this will
20 you this became good fighter.
21 Then from Brigade 112 was formed 115 Brigade, which as for Radusa;
22 from 112 Brigade, 116 Brigade was formed; from 113 Brigade, 114 was
23 formed, and so on. I tried, as our possibilities were, to prevent the
24 newly joined soldiers to be sent immediately to the front line, but let
25 them get used to developments for a while and then send them to the front.
1 This is how training was done. So first he was acquainted with
2 the weapon, taught how to line up, how to wear the uniform, how to --
3 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... the question was much
4 narrower in scope. The question was about you and whether you were being
5 able to ensure that the order, which you had given that training should
6 take place, was actually enforced with all new recruits.
7 My question is: Were you able to do so; or, as in the case, of
8 the military oath, you simply assumed that your orders were being
10 A. We had proof of that, because Mr. Ali Ahmeti toured the brigades,
11 followed up the situation. There was a training centre in Brodec, in the
12 meadows there,. When I saw there myself later, I saw what was going on.
13 So all the brigades had received instructions to train new recruits, to
14 give them the elementary train.
15 Q. Is it correct that you told the Office of the Prosecutor that your
16 organisation had a military-like sort of discipline? Do you recall saying
17 that, or something to that effect?
18 A. Yes, I recall that. We always tried to apply military discipline,
19 in order for us to keep the situation under control, the NLA units along
20 with them.
21 Q. Did you have any courtrooms in the NLA, Mr. Ostreni?
22 A. No. We couldn't have a courtroom, because we didn't have the laws
23 to try people. We didn't have the persons trained to do that.
24 Q. Do you have judges or prosecutors in the NLA?
25 A. No. We had ordinary soldiers who might have graduated for law,
1 but not judges and prosecutors as such.
2 Q. Ant is it correct that, although you had a group that was referred
3 to as a military police, it actually never functioned at the military --
4 as a military police and did not perform any specific tasks that military
5 police would normally perform? Is that correct?
6 A. That is true. From the war experience in Kosova, they tried to
7 form that unit called military police; but the way we organised the
8 formation, they became part of the units.
9 Q. And you explained, I think, to my colleague that there wasn't
10 really a need for any structure or institutionalisation of disciplinary
11 matters, since you said were not informed of any breach of discipline in
12 the NLA in the year 2001. Is that correct?
13 A. It is correct that I was not directly informed by the brigades.
14 It is correct that our rules were provided disciplinary measures to be
15 taken by the brigade.
16 Q. Well, let's turn to a different topic, Mr. Ostreni, which is the
17 issue of the strategy and method which were used by your organisation
18 during this year.
19 Is it correct that understand that you told the Office of the
20 Prosecutor that the method and strategies which you and other members of
21 the organisation used were those of a regular military organisation? Is
22 that your evidence?
23 A. Yes, that is my evidence; namely, that we tried, as much as we
24 could, to attain the level of regular military discipline.
25 Q. Well, I'm putting to you something quite different, Mr. Ostreni,
1 and I will ask you whether you agree or disagree with me.
2 I'm putting to you that the strategy of your organisation
3 consisted in attacking soft or easier targets, such as police stations or
4 convoy, with a view to trigger a disproportionate reaction on the part of
5 the authority that would you in turn use for propaganda purposes to
6 increase the support of your organisation. Do you agree with that?
7 A. I will hear what you are going to put to me.
8 Q. Well, can you first, perhaps, simply answer whether you agree or
9 disagree with that proposition.
10 A. The fighting was regulated or is regulated everywhere by rules,
11 and we used the most suitable rules given the level of the NLA. Finally,
12 on the 1st of May, Units 113 came out in well known positions, and then we
13 come to the stage of the different use of force. We haven't used anything
14 that is not foreseen in military rules.
15 Q. And is it correct that your strategy, all through the year 2001,
16 Mr. Ostreni, was, in fact, and almost exclusively to attack soft targets
17 in hit-and-run fashion, to trigger a disproportionate reaction by the
18 Macedonian authorities, with a view to use this overreaction for
19 propaganda purposes? Do you agree that was your strategy?
20 A. No, that is not true. It may have happened somewhere incidently;
21 but, in general, we have operated through obvious actions on front line.
22 More, we have been involved in an active defence, rather than retreats or
23 such hit-and-run attacks, as you say.
24 As I am saying, we have been engaged more in an active defence
25 because we believed that it was the best tactic at the time of the
1 development of the brigades, since we were supposed to be engaged in a
2 general military operation afterwards.
3 Q. And as far as methods are concerned, methods which were used by
4 your organisation in 2001, do you agree that they consisted almost
5 exclusively in the commission of crimes and terrorist actions, with a view
6 to force the authorities and the international community to negotiate with
7 you? Do you agree with that?
8 A. I do not agree with this. There was an internal strive in
9 Macedonia between the Albanians and the government. This army was
10 introduced as a National Liberation Army. This was done because of the
11 violation of the rights and freedoms of Albanians and the demonstration of
12 force by the Macedonian government prior to 1991; and, especially more so
13 after 1991, with intervention and demonstration of police force in a
14 village off Struke called Ladoliste [phoen]; then in Bit Pazar; then the
15 destruction of the university building in Tetovo, founded and financed by
16 the Albanian population; then prevention of development in the pedagogical
17 faculty; and, finally, the brutal acts by the police in Gostivar.
18 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... Mr. Ostreni, let's stick with
19 2001; and at this stage, I'm asking you -- I'll ask you the question a bit
20 differently, if that helps.
21 Do you agree that the commission of crimes or terrorist attacks by
22 members of your organisation was not just an accident but that it was, in
23 fact, the method chosen by your organisation to conduct your activities
24 against the Macedonian state? Do you agree with that?
25 A. No, I do not agree with that. We didn't act on an individual
1 basis. People were involved in units, and the goal was not a terrorist
2 attack but an uprising carried out through this NLA, which was in the
3 phase of development, and had to confront the forces of the government of
4 the Republic of Macedonia.
5 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown what is Exhibit
6 1D227, please.
7 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is an article called: "Will Macedonia be next?"
8 This comes from a military review called Jane's Intelligence Digest, and
9 it is dated the 2nd of February of 2001. I'd like to read a passage to
10 from the last page of that article.
11 MR. METTRAUX: That's 1D00-6055. The paragraph starts with the
12 words, "At present." That's the second paragraph.
13 Q. The magazine, Mr. Ostreni, said the following: "At present, KLA
14 terrorism in Macedonia is still a relatively minor issue, just as it was
15 in Kosovo from 1995 to 1998. The KLA started its activities by attacking
16 Serbian police patrols. However, the ultimate aim is to provoke the
17 authorities into making a military response which will serve to unite the
18 ethnic Albanian minority in western Macedonia."
19 Mr. Ostreni, do you agree with this analysis of Jane's Digest, to
20 the effect that the aim of those hit-and-run attacks that your
21 organisation was organised at the time was to trigger a disproportionate
22 military response by the Macedonian authorities? Do you agree with that?
23 A. No, I do not agree with that. I do not, because our brigades
24 developed from smaller groups into squads, platoons, battalions, and so
25 on, and we tried not to organise hit-and-run attacks, but, as I said, an
1 active defence in order to defend ourselves in case of attacks and
2 gradually expand the territory under our control by increasing the number
3 of your units with new volunteers.
4 Q. Let's see another evaluation then, this time from the month of May
6 MR. METTRAUX: This is Exhibit 1D232, please.
7 Q. Mr. Ostreni, the documents that I'm about to show you is a
8 compilation, if you wish, of reports or press reports by an organisation
9 called the Balkan Human Rights. It is prepared, I believe, by the
10 Euro-Balkan Institute.
11 MR. METTRAUX: And I would ask the registry to turn to third page
12 of that document, which is 1D00-6272. If it could be scrolled down a
13 little bit, and a bit more, please. Thank you.
14 Q. Mr. Ostreni, there is a section of that document which starts with
15 the title, "Rebels are causing civilian casualties," and I would like to
16 read it to you.
17 It says this: "A senior NATO officially claimed that the rebels
18 were trying to lure the Macedonian army into causing civilian casualties
19 that they could then exploit for propaganda purposes." And then there is
20 a quote, which says: "Let's face it," said the senior western European
21 NATO officer. And there is a quote again: "KLA saw what the results were
22 when the Serbs killed 45 Kosovars at Racak, and they are thinking of the
23 propaganda value of something like that being made to happen in
25 Then the text goes on to say: "Other NATO officials and
1 Macedonian defence sources fear that the thousands of civilians trapped
2 against their will in villages under constant bombardment north of Tetovo,
3 just ten miles from Kosovo border, are being held by NLA rebels partly
4 as 'human shields' and partly because the Macedonian forces would be
5 almost certain to kill civilians if they launch a ground assaulted."
6 Mr. Ostreni, focussing perhaps more specifically on Kumanovo, were
7 you aware at all that members of your organisation would actually use or
8 keep civilians for the purpose of using the eventual or possibly death or
9 injury for propaganda purposes? Is that information which you had in your
10 possession at the time?
11 A. This was a media war waged in all the media outlets of the
12 Republic of Macedonia, where the government brought constant pressure to
13 prove that the NLA members are using the civilian population as human
15 At that time I, too, stated that they should go and talk directly
16 to the population and find out for themselves what they think about the
17 situation, because the citizens there, women, children, elderly people,
18 had their sons, fathers, or brothers, husbands, in the ranks of the NLA
19 that was operating in that area. It is not possible, theoretically or
20 practically speaking, that someone who has at home the wife, mother,
21 sister, children, or father, to use them as human shields and protect
22 himself by so doing.
23 I said then, and I'm saying now, that the war in the Republic of
24 Macedonia was waged for the -- for the protection or for winning human
25 rights and freedoms of the people. What sense would it have if we killed
1 children, women, elderly people, and then enjoyed our rights and freedoms
2 at that expense?
3 Third, if the NLA committed such an act, it would certainly not
4 have the support of the Albanian population, as it did almost 100 per
6 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
7 A. Apparently, you have more information from Macedonian language
8 newspapers. If you look at the Albanian language newspapers, you will see
9 there statements issued by chairman of municipalities who worked and lived
10 in that area, and none of them had declared that the NLA has used them as
11 human shields and forced them to remain there.
12 In a television programme --
13 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... just stay with me for a
14 second. The question is about the strategy of the NLA, and my question is
15 a simple one.
16 Do you agree or disagree with the proposition that the strategy of
17 your organisation was to provoke a repressive military response by the
18 Macedonian authorities? Do you agree or not?
19 A. I agree with the fact that the NLA and its strategy was to
20 pressure the government of the Republic of Macedonia, to reconcile with
21 the granting of the freedoms and rights to the Albanian citizens in this
22 republic, beginning with the amendment of the preamble to the
23 constitution, and so on.
24 Q. So, in answer to my question, you do not agree with the
25 proposition that the strategy of your organisation was to provoke a
1 repressive military response and to gain support from that response from
2 the population? Is that correct?
3 A. Yes. There are a number of communiques that the Prosecution
4 submitted here, whereby we demand that the war come to an end and give
5 priority to dialogue to the solution of the crisis.
6 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown what is Exhibit
7 1D228, please.
8 Q. Mr. Ostreni, do you know who Ambassador Pardew is?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And do you agree that that Mr. or Ambassador Pardew was involved
11 during the crisis period with the negotiation of the, among other things,
12 the Ohrid Framework Agreement? Is that correct?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And, Mr. Ostreni, just looking at the document in front of you,
15 there is a passage that I want to show you, to familiarise yourself with
16 this. This is a record of a hearing before the Committee on Foreign
17 Relations of the United States Senate, and it relates to the crisis in
18 Macedonia, in particular, and it is dated the 13 June 2001.
19 MR. METTRAUX: I would like to the registry to please turn to page
21 Q. Mr. Ostreni, Ambassador Pardew appeared before the Senate
22 committee on that occasion and, he was asked a number of questions
23 pertaining to the crisis in Macedonia. One of the question that he was
24 asked was about the strategy of your or the ways of your organisation, and
25 he said this.
1 MR. METTRAUX: This is the second full paragraph on that page, and
2 it starts with the word: "Its strategy."
3 Q. Mr. Pardew said this: "Its strategy is the same strategy that we
4 encountered in Serbia; that is, to provoke a repressive military and to
5 gain support from that response from the population."
6 So, in view of your response, Mr. Ostreni, before, I suppose you
7 will disagree with the assessment of Ambassador Pardew, that it was your
8 strategy to provoke repressive military response and to gain support for
9 that response from the population. Is that correct?
10 A. No. Our strategy was to bring pressure to bear on the government
11 to sit down with us and make political changes or amendments to the
12 constitution and other laws, in order to provide Albanians with their
13 human rights and freedoms. Albanians, who were exempted from power when
14 Macedonia, had officially declared that it was a state of only of the
15 Macedonians. We have lived there. We live there, and we will live there.
16 Therefore, we wish to be part of the government and have the right, equal
17 rights, with the Macedonian citizens there.
18 Q. But do you agree, Mr. Ostreni, that at all stages in 2001, from
19 the beginning of the year to the end of the year, there were several
20 ethnic Albanians who were members of the government? Is that correct?
21 A. Your Honour, in the Balkans, in the former Yugoslavia, it was a
22 tradition that the chairman of the Presidency of Yugoslavia be one of them
23 be Albanian. There were Albanians in position. There were also some
24 Albanians who had official positions in Macedonia, but it doesn't mean
25 that Albanians, in general, enjoy their rights and freedoms. This fact
1 cannot be taken as a fact to prove that Albanians had these rights and
3 When there were Albanians, we had, for example, 180 policemen who
4 were Albanians out of 10.000 policemen. We were very little represented
5 in all areas. Our language was not an official language. Our rights to
6 using our national symbols were restricted. Our education, we could only
7 have two per cent of Albanians attending universities. In the academy of
8 science, there wasn't any member who was Albanian.
9 So that was a policy that wanted to show to Europe and the world,
10 just as it did during the time when Yugoslavia was in place, to show as if
11 Albanians are in leadership, when in reality the population, in general,
12 were not duly represented to all the government associations and
14 Q. But, surely, you will agree, Mr. Ostreni, that as of the middle of
15 May 2001, all major political parties that represented the interests of
16 the Albanian community were, in fact, part of the government. Do you
17 agree with that?
18 A. I agree that an extended coalition government was formed, part of
19 which were also political parties, with which the NLA had assigned the
20 Prizren agreement.
21 Q. And you didn't stop your attacks on civilian population and state
22 authorities after the grand coalition was formed. Is that correct?
23 A. At that time, we were being attacked. On the 25th of May, there
24 was a powerful operation in Vaksince launched, and I have the impression
25 that this is an agreement with the accord of Pande Petreski and the Serb
1 general who had who intervene with their forces to restore the five
2 kilometre border belt controlled by the NATO forces.
3 At that time, on the 25th of May, they wanted to celebrate Tito's
4 birthday, and they undertook this Vaksince operation which ensued in
5 severe fighting. So it was not -- we were not in a position to stop it.
6 They were a larger force than us. They had to stop their operation and
7 start negotiations for realising the demands of the Albanians.
8 I have the impression, however, that at that time the government,
9 unfortunately, at a parliamentary session, where the extended coalition
10 government was formed, in one of the three or four points, it aimed at the
11 abolition on the NLA, but it was termed in other terms. So, at the time,
12 for us, it was impossible, as I said, to undertake an operation. On the
13 contrary, we were the ones who were attacked.
14 MR. METTRAUX: Ms. Regue is on her feet.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Ms. Regue.
16 MS. REGUE: Yes, Your Honour. I was simply going to point out
17 that my colleague, within the question, he put at the time same level the
18 attacks against civilian population and attacks against the state
19 authorities. So I believe that should have been distinguished from
20 putting the questions, because we are talking about two issues.
21 JUDGE PARKER: I'm not sure that that troubled the answer at all.
22 MR. METTRAUX:
23 Q. Mr. Ostreni, let's go back, then, to the issue of strategy, what
24 you say was the strategy of your organisation, and I'd lake to show you
25 yet another document about that.
1 MR. METTRAUX: This is Exhibit P485, please.
2 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is - or this will be, in any case - a document
3 that was prepared by the military security service of the army of the
4 Republic of Macedonia. It was provided to us by the Office of the
5 Prosecutor, and I would like to show what you is at page 1D00-9148.
6 This is a part, Mr. Ostreni, as you will see that discusses
7 various aspects of the NLA, its strategy, its capabilities, and its
8 weaknesses. I will go through those with you.
9 I think there is a Macedonian version on the ride of your screen,
10 Mr. Ostreni, if that assists.
11 First, I will read to you what this document says about the
12 strategy of your organisation. It says this: "To attract and to maintain
13 international attention and intervention, partition and dissemination of
14 the army of the Republic of Macedonia, abuse of the oversensitivity of
15 Slavs to guerilla warfare, engagement of NATO, and maintaining of the
16 engagement; and, secondly, to take over control of the undefended
17 territory and protection of the same with minimum losses to avoid close
18 combat, to force the government of the Republic of Macedonia to
20 Mr. Ostreni, do you think that this is a pretty fair assessment of
21 the strategy of your organisation in the year 2001?
22 A. I would like to read it in myself. Once again, could you please
23 point out the paragraph. Is it the subtitle: The NLA strategy?
24 Q. Yes, that's correct. That would be the first highlighted
25 subheading in the Macedonian version, which is at the top of your screen.
1 A. This is an attempt to carry out an analysis. It is quite normal
2 for the NLA to try and attract the attention of the government in order to
3 try and negotiations. At the same time, it sought the engagement of NATO
4 and international decision making centres, in order to facilitate a
5 solution to the problems in Macedonia.
6 The same, more or less, was stated by the International Crisis
7 Group, in a document published on 9th of April. This was published at the
8 time in Flaka and Fakti newspapers.
9 Q. But is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that your way to attract attention
10 in 2001 was by committing crimes or terrorist acts or by trying to trigger
11 an overreaction by the Macedonian authorities? Is that correct?
12 A. Honourable counsel, by committing crimes or other acts, as you
13 describe them, you cannot attract the international community and make
14 them assist you. You would achieve the opposite effect. That's why we
15 were very careful not to commit any acts that would resemble terrorist
17 Our main goal was to be open and to be very clear and precise on
18 what our demands were as a National Liberation Army, so that the
19 international community was clear, too, on our demands.
20 That's why, in our communique number 6, in our memorandum, as well
21 as in other communiques, we regularly sought international assistance in
22 resolving this issue.
23 Q. Isn't the truth, Mr. Ostreni, that what you sought to achieve was
24 to create fear in the population and thus pressure the government to
25 negotiate with you?
1 I'll going to ask you with perhaps one example: Are you aware of
2 a commander from your organisation, a man known as Hoxha, threatening to
3 bomb Skopje? Are you aware of those threats?
4 A. Yes. In a very difficult psychological situation, it is true that
5 Hoxha issued such a statement. But immediately afterwards, Hoxha in his
6 statement said that he would carry out that thing in order -- if he
7 received an order from the General Staff of the National Liberation Army.
8 That's why the journalists asked me that what the order of the
9 General Staff would be at that time. I told the journalist that it would
10 be the just order.
11 So, in other words, nothing would happen and equipments would not
12 be used. It is questionable whether Hoxha had that or not, but that's
13 what he stated. But my reply was that the order of the General Staff
14 would be just, an order that would be in compliance with the norms and
15 law, and that would avoid any damage caused to Skopje.
16 Q. Are you aware of similar threats being made by a man called Dren
17 Korabi? Are you aware of any threats, public threats, being made by this
19 A. Could you please define this "threat" that he made.
20 Q. Well, were you aware, for instance, that Mr. Korabi had suggested
21 that civilians should be expelled from certain areas? Is that something
22 that you are aware of?
23 A. No. I was not aware of this, and I really don't believe that
24 Dreni stated something like this. But to answer your question, I was not
25 aware of that.
1 Q. Are you aware, perhaps, that members of your organisations on a
2 number of occasions tried to kill civilians-- I'm sorry, politicians,
3 ministers, for instance, that were in the government in Macedonia at that
5 A. In which time-period, please? Is it the same time-period from
6 16th of February up to the mobilisation of the NLA, or is it outside this
8 Q. Are you aware, for instance, of an attack on the convoy of the
9 Minister of the Interior at the time, Mr. Boskoski, on 29th or 30th of
10 July, in the area near Lavce [phoen]? Are you aware of this attack?
11 A. No, I'm not.
12 Q. Are you aware, perhaps, of an attack in the month of March 2001,
13 again against the convoy of Mr. Boskoski, which also carried the deputy
14 Minister of the Interior, an Albanian called Refet Elmazi? Are you aware
15 that your organisation, or members thereof, attacked this convoy?
16 Perhaps to assist you, it was in the location called Brest.
17 A. I know that there were complications at Brest at that time because
18 the persons in question were sent there to establish police stations, and
19 those who undertook that operation did not find that idea very suitable.
20 Q. But you must be aware, however, Mr. Ostreni, that the attack, in
21 fact, took place and that the convoy was attacked. Is that correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 MR. METTRAUX: And going back for a minute to Exhibit P485, I
24 would like to show another part of that document to Mr. Ostreni.
25 This would be the second header on that same page in the
1 Macedonian version, and it reads: "NLA capabilities." For the English
2 version, this would be towards the bottom of the page.
3 If the registry could scroll down a little bit more, thank you,
4 and enlarge, perhaps, the bottom paragraph. Thank you.
5 Q. Mr. Ostreni, I will read it out to you. The document say this is
6 about the NLA capabilities: "First ambush, attack on weak targets
7 (patrols that wander off, lightly armed soldiers, and police);
8 breakthrough (attack) (attack on significant infrastructure targets)
9 special activities units; diversion and sabotage (attacks on positions of
10 the army of Republic of Macedonia/Ministry of Internal Affairs, with light
11 weapons and disturbing fire); mining (the use of anti-tank and
12 anti-personnel mines with hidden fire), (protection of lateral sides)."
13 Do you agree, Mr. Ostreni, that at the time, in 2001, those were
14 some of the capabilities - we will call them that - that were used and
15 employed by your organisation to carry out its attacks?
16 A. Not all of them. You are asking me for a series of activities.
17 You can ask me one by one, and then I will give you my reply. But as you
18 are putting it, all collectively for sabotage activities, mine planting,
19 that was not our capability.
20 Q. Thank you. Well, I'll put, in particular perhaps, the last one to
21 you. Is it correct or do you recall telling this to the Prosecution: "We
22 did not have anti-tank mines. I sent my instructions not to use mines,
23 because it is prohibited also by international law. However, I cannot
24 exclude the possibility that some units had them."
25 Do you recall that this is in your statement -- or the proofing
1 note, I apologise, -- in the statement to the Office of the Prosecutor?
2 Do you recall telling them that as far as you knew, the NLA did not have
3 any tank mines or didn't use any such thing, do you recall that, or mines?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And is it your evidence that at no time, during the crisis in 2001
6 up to the Ohrid Framework Agreement, you did not become aware of the fact
7 that your organisation possessed mines and actually used them? Is that
8 your evidence?
9 A. I was made aware only when, without our authorisation, in the
10 116th Brigade, the commander of the brigade, Tahir Sinani, lost his life,
11 together with four others, while preparing an explosion material. I was
12 made aware of this after the event happened, when they reported to me the
13 death of these five persons.
14 Q. Do you think that a high-ranking officer, whose troops would
15 possess several thousands of mines and who would not know about it, could
16 be said to be in control of his troops?
17 A. I believe that this was at the responsibility of the brigades. I
18 never gave any instructions to procure the brigades with explosive
19 materials. I only give instructions for equipment, for clothing, for
20 weapons, and other quarter master materials.
21 Q. Isn't the truth, Mr. Ostreni, that you are pulling away, so to
22 say, from the fact that your organisation not only possessed thousands of
23 such items, but also used them, because now is to say that the NLA was an
24 army and the use of illegal means, such as mines, would go contrary to
25 that picture? Do you agree with that?
1 A. No. I agree with the following: I gave instructions not to use
2 such material, and I never gave instructions for them to be procured with
3 mines and other ordnance, because people who were members of the NLA were
4 not familiar with mines. There were no prepared person who would give
5 such instructions on how to use mines.
6 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown what is Exhibit
7 1D260, please.
8 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is another article. It comes from another
9 military magazine, from the same publishing house. It's Jane's Defence
10 Weekly, and it is dated 29 August 2001.
11 MR. METTRAUX: And if the registry could please scroll down to the
12 second half of the document.
13 Q. There is a piece, Mr. Ostreni, called: How many weapons in
14 Macedonia? There is just one item that I would like to bring to your
15 attention. It is on the column on the right-hand side which says:
16 "Estimates of NLA arms holdings."
17 If you scroll down the list of weapons, which Jane's estimated
18 your organisation possessed, the last-but-one item is "land-mine," which
19 they estimated at more than 5.000 land-mines in possession of your
20 organisation, and the footnote suggests that they were both anti-personnel
21 and anti-tank mines.
22 Do you know of any such stocks being held by your organisation,
23 stocks of land-mines, that is?
24 A. I don't understand English very well. I see that it is an
25 assessment. I know that in the end, when the weapons were handed over,
1 certain explosive devices were handed over, but 5.000 is too much.
2 That would mean that every soldier of the NLA would have been
3 equipped with one, because, as I already explained, together with the
4 logistics, with the doctors, the nurses, we were 5.000. It was impossible
5 for to us secure so many mines when we were lacking ammunition, so that's
6 why it somehow sounds unbelievable to me.
7 Q. Well, setting perhaps aside the number of the estimate, as you
8 indicated, Mr. Ostreni, you were part of the Operation Essential Harvest
9 at the end of the crisis; and, during that operation, your organisation,
10 the NLA, gave up more than a thousand mines and grenades. Is that
12 A. I don't have the records before me. As I said, they probably were
13 handed over, but this was at a brigade level, and I'm very happy to they
14 handed over them. I didn't maintain those records. The records were made
15 by the organs at the brigade level. Maybe there are mines that were
16 connected on other territories as well.
17 Q. But when you said: "We did not have anti-tank mines, and I sent
18 my instruction not to use mines because they were prohibited by
19 international law," Mr. Ostreni, you knew that to be false. Is that
21 A. That is not correct. My instructions were for such explosive
22 materials not to be procured. Of course, it is possible that breaches
23 were made, but I'm just telling what I did, what my instructions were.
24 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown Exhibit P493,
1 I see the time, Your Honour. Would that be a convenient time.
2 JUDGE PARKER: Very well. We will have the first break now. We
3 resume at 11.00.
4 --- Recess taken at 10.29 a.m.
5 --- On resuming at 11.03 a.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mettraux.
7 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour.
8 Q. Mr. Ostreni, before we go back to the NATO documents which I wish
9 to show you, I'd like to show you another document first.
10 MR. METTRAUX: This is Rule 65 ter 778.19. Thank you. I believe
11 there is a Macedonian version for, Mr. Ostreni, at R062-6 -- yes. Thank
12 you very much.
13 Q. Mr. Ostreni, do you recognise this document?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Is it correct that this document is, in fact, a record of the
16 weapons which were collected after the operation called Essential
17 Harvest? Is that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And is that a document which you gave to the Office of the
21 A. Yes, yes. I got it from NATO.
22 Q. And is it correct that in this document, Mr. Ostreni, under number
23 6, it records the fact that the NLA after -- or in the course of the
24 Operation Essential Harvest provided NATO with 1045 mines and grenades?
25 Is that correct?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. So, in fact, Mr. Ostreni, you were aware that your organisation
3 had possessed quite a number of such items; namely, mines. Is that
5 A. In my language, we call mine also 60-millimetre, 80-millimetres
6 grenades. So we had all these materials.
7 Q. Including anti-tank mines, is that correct?
8 MS. REGUE: Your Honours.
9 JUDGE PARKER: Ms. Regue.
10 MS. REGUE: Maybe also the date when this document was given to
11 the witness would be relevant in order to assess his knowledge.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Indeed. I would point out that in our experience,
13 Mr. Mettraux, grenades covers the traditional small hand-held grenades and
14 also the forms of explosives used by mortars of various calibres --
15 [Overlapping Speakers]
16 MR. METTRAUX: -- documents after that, Your Honour, for that
17 reason --
18 JUDGE PARKER: -- and then mines are quite a different --
19 MR. METTRAUX: I think I may assist with the second document, Your
21 Q. But simply to pick up on the suggestion of my colleague,
22 Mr. Ostreni, do you recall when you received that particular document from
24 A. After the end of the Essential Harvest operation, after the
25 weapons and the ammunition were surrendered by the NLA.
1 Q. And do you recall that among these weapons and ammunition
2 surrendered by your organisation were a variety of mines? Do you recall
4 A. I don't recall it. In the part of the process where I
5 participated, I saw Kalashnikovs, various rifles, anti-aircraft
6 machine-gun, and so on; 82-, 60-millimetre; I saw that there were mines
7 for these kind of weapons and hand-held grenades.
8 Q. Well, perhaps can I assist you a bit here.
9 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown what is Exhibit
10 P493, please. Thank you.
11 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is a document that was in front of you a moment
12 ago, and it is a package prepared by NATO about information relating to
13 various parts of the NLA.
14 MR. METTRAUX: I'd like the registry to turn please to page
15 R042-0361-03, please.
16 Q. There's a passage, Mr. Ostreni, which is in the last-but-one
17 paragraph of that document, or in that page in any case, which starts with
18 the word, "The NLA," and then I would like to read the last sentence after
19 that document to you.
20 It says this: "Besides the standard small arms, grenades, and
21 mines, the NLA is also thought to possess [indiscernible], 120 mortars,
22 and 75-millimetre recoilless rifles.
23 MR. METTRAUX: Then, if we can turn to a few pages later, it's
24 R042- --
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Excuse me. If you keep reading
1 this, I will forget. There are no such weapons like 75-millimetres, as
2 you are saying.
3 MR. METTRAUX:
4 Q. Thank you for that. I'll ask you -- I want to show you the other
5 part, and then I can ask you about the arsenal.
6 MR. METTRAUX: It is R042-0361-39.
7 Q. It's the same document, Mr. Ostreni, a few pages down the road.
8 Thank you.
9 And the picture is, unfortunately, not clear at all, but it says
10 this -- the next says this: "A variety of mines and RPGs were handed in.
11 Anti-tank weapons include M-80, RPG-22, MBUST, and RBR-M 79. M-57, RPG-2,
12 RPG-7 were also handed in with vast quantities of ordinance."
13 Were you aware after, or at some stage during 2001, or at least
14 after the Operation Essential Harvest, that a variety of mine and RPGs,
15 such as those which are listed here, were handed by members of your
17 A. Yes. I accept the table that I submitted to the Prosecutors after
18 getting it from NATO, which listed the weapons and the ammunition that we
19 handed in. What you are putting to me, it's in English, and I can't have
20 a very proper understanding of them, but I cannot exclude the fact that we
21 had RPG, mortars, ammunitions for them, and so on. Whatever we handed in,
22 we had already grenades.
23 Q. But also, Mr. Ostreni, you knew at the time not only that your
24 organisation possessed mines, but surely you knew that they were using
25 them to, for instance, blow up convoys. Do you agree with that?
1 A. No, I didn't know that. I cannot rule out the possibility that
2 there were such weapons, but I didn't know that they had it, that they had
3 mines during all the time the war lasted until we handed in the weapons.
4 Q. Well, let me show a document perhaps.
5 MR. METTRAUX: It is Exhibit 1D230.
6 I apologise, Your Honour, this is Exhibit 1D116, please.
7 Q. I apologise to you, Mr. Ostreni. This is a document which we have
8 already seen or which will appear in a second on your screen.
9 MR. METTRAUX: This is -- I believe it should be Exhibit 1D16, and
10 this appears to be 1D116. Thank you.
11 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is a document that we have already seen
12 together, parts of it in any case, and this is a summary of a report that
13 the author of that document is preparing.
14 MR. METTRAUX: And if the registry could scroll down to the bottom
15 of the page, please.
16 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is the same document which listed what the
17 author says are allegations with regard to alleged human rights violations
18 by the ethnic Albanian armed groups; and under number nine, it says
19 this: "Use of mines.
20 "The ethnic Albanian armed group is the only warring party known
21 to have used mines at all, is using anti-tank mines routinely, and is
22 suspected is also having placed anti-personnel mines."
23 Mr. Ostreni, were you aware of any of that happening within your
24 organisation, the NLA, the use of anti-tank mines -- the routine use of
25 anti-tank mines and also the suspected use of anti- personnel mines? Were
1 you aware of that?
2 A. I'm not aware of that. I know that anti-tank mines, RPG 2, 7,
3 were used. Zoljas were also used against tanks, but it is not true that I
4 gave instructions to them to use mines. I'm not aware of this.
5 Q. But you agree now that you knew that such weapons were being used.
6 Is that correct?
7 A. It is not correct. I had no information that they were used, and
8 I don't know even now that they were.
9 Q. Isn't the truth, Mr. Ostreni, that until the very end of the
10 crisis, your organisation continued to be condemned for its use of such
11 weapons? You must have become aware of that. Is that correct?
12 A. I wasn't aware of that. Even now, what are you putting to me is
13 in English, and I'm not familiar with English.
14 Q. Well, I'd like to show you another document then.
15 MR. METTRAUX: It is Exhibit 1D15, please.
16 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is another document that is a statement by the
17 president of the Security Council of the United Nations, and it relates to
18 the situation in the former Republic of Macedonia. It's dated the 13
19 August 2001, and, in effect, it greets the signing of the Ohrid Framework
20 Agreement by Macedonian political parties.
21 I would like to read to you...
22 MR. METTRAUX: With the help of the registry, if we could scroll
23 down a bit.
24 Q. ... a paragraph in the middle of the document that starts with the
25 word, "The council calls again." What the president the Security Council
1 said at the time is this: "It reiterates its call to all who have contact
2 with the extremist groups to make clear to them that they have no support
3 from any quarter in the international community.
4 "The council condemns the ongoing violence by extremists and calls
5 on all parties to respect the cease-fire. The crowns rejects any attempt
6 to use violence, including the use of land-mine, to undermine the
7 framework agreement, which has been negotiated by the democratically
8 elected political leadership of the former Yugoslav Republic of
10 Mr. Ostreni, were you aware of this call made by the Security
11 Council to its president, to your organisation in particular, to stop
12 violence and also the rejection by the Security Council of the use of
13 land-mines? Were you aware of that?
14 A. Which date is it?
15 Q. It's the 13, 1-3, of August, Mr. Ostreni. This is a document that
16 was issued after the signing at midday, we believe, of the Ohrid Framework
18 MS. REGUE: Your Honour, just briefly, I believe that the text
19 reads, "rejects any attempt to use violence."
20 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] May I continue?
22 At this time, beginning from 5th of July onwards, until the Ohrid
23 Framework Agreement was signed, there were constant provocations by the
24 government forces; and in my impression, the tendency was to prevent us
25 from reaching to the phase of the Ohrid Agreement.
1 MR. METTRAUX:
2 Q. I'm grateful for that --
3 A. At the time of the cease-fire, the government forces were
4 reorganised; and contrary to point 7, letter V of the agreement on the
5 cease-fire, they redeployed their forces and brought up Brigade 8, from
6 Veles, to Radusa, Zeden, and so on. And then on the 5th of August,
7 through the media, an order was published by the supreme commander,
8 namely, the head of the state, whereby an operation was ordered to be
9 carried out in Tetovo along the road Tetovo-Zids [phoen].
10 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... Mr. Ostreni, my question was
11 at this stage --
12 A. [No interpretation]
13 Q. -- Mr. Ostreni, the question at this stage was limited to the
14 statement made by the president of the Security Council on the 30 -- 13th,
15 I apologise, of August of 2001. It was a call to all those who have
16 contact with extremist groups to make clear to them that they have no
17 support from any quarter of the international community, a condemnation of
18 ongoing violence by extremists, and also a rejection of any attempt to use
19 violence, including the use of land-mines.
20 My question is whether you were aware at that time of the call
21 made by the Security Council in those terms.
22 A. I was aware. But the way I understood, it was that the
23 provocations were carried out by the Armed Forces of the Republic of
24 Macedonia, because, at that time, the NLA was content with the signing of
25 the Ohrid Framework Agreement. And after the 13th, but even before that
1 date, it was not interested in causing any turbulence or falling prey to
2 provocations that might hinder the signing of the Ohrid Framework
4 So, in light of a number of occurrences, which I wanted to throw
5 light on but you didn't allow me to go on, this is the way we understood
6 that instruction or statement by the head of the Security Council.
7 Q. But, in fact, what the Security Council was condemning,
8 Mr. Ostreni, was, in particular, related to two recent attacks by your
9 organisation: One in Karpalak which resulted in the death of eight or
10 nine members of the security forces, and one in or near an area called
11 Ljubotenski Bacila.
12 Do you agree that is what the Security Council was referring to
14 A. I don't know which it is referring to. It's not in Albanian for
15 me to read it, so I cannot answer to the question you are putting to me.
16 Q. But what you know for a fact - and you've tried to disassociated
17 yourself from the attack in Karpalak by saying that it had been carried
18 out without consulting with you - but you know for a fact that members of
19 your organisation carried out the attack in Karpalak with a view to
20 exercise revenge for the killing of one of your members, Mr. Teli, in
21 Skopje. Is that correct?
22 A. No, it is it not correct. We didn't organise our actions as acts
23 of revenge. Our goal was to reach to the phase of the Ohrid Agreement,
24 and nothing more than that.
25 Q. But, in fact, you knew exactly what was going on in the time in
1 the area of Matejce, Ljuboten, and Ljubotenski Bacila, because you were in
2 phone contact at the time with Mr. Bushi. Is that correct?
3 A. I was in phone contact with Mr. Bushi. He was in Nikustak. That
4 is where his command was based, and I don't have any other information.
5 Q. And I'd like to read to you, perhaps to help refresh your memory,
6 what you told the Prosecution in that regard, and that relates in
7 particular, Mr. Ostreni, to the 12th of August of 2001.
8 You are recorded as saying the following: "On 12 August 2001, I
9 had a conversation with Nazim Bushi to see what he could do with regard to
10 Ljuboten events, but I ordered him not to pass the line that we gave to
11 NATO as the line of the cease-fire.
12 "I told Bushi that the villagers of Ljuboten should be sheltered
13 in their basements. I also told Bushi that he had a right to act against
14 the Macedonian security forces only if they crossed the cease-fire line.
15 I think that Bushi took some actions, but I do not think that Bushi passed
16 the cease-fire line."
17 Do you recall saying that to the Office of the Prosecutor?
18 A. Yes, that's correct.
19 Q. And is it correct that you knew and understood at that time that
20 your communication between members of your organisation were or might be
21 intercepted by the Macedonian authorises? Were you aware of that fact?
22 A. I wasn't aware that I was being intercepted.
23 Q. In any case, when you told Mr. Bushi that you thought that
24 villagers should remain sheltered, you knew and understood that he would
25 be capable of transmitting this information into the village. Is that
2 A. Yes, he was on that side. I was very far away, and it was normal
3 for me to give an instruction, if he had any links with the villagers, to
4 tell them to take shelter to prevent them from becoming killed during the
5 exchange of -- during what was going on in the village at that time.
6 Q. But the reason you were confident that Mr. Bushi would be able to
7 pass on your suggestion is because you knew you had members of your
8 organisation in the village at the time. Is that correct, Mr. Ostreni?
9 A. No, that is not correct. I didn't have any information that there
10 were NLA members there. He informed me that the village is being shelled
11 and that the villagers are in danger. I gave this instruction. I told
12 him, "Tell them, if I can, to find shelter in the basements," because the
13 main concern for me was for him -- to tell him not cross the cease-fire
14 line because one day after we had to sign the Ohrid Agreement. Therefore,
15 we had to protect ourselves from any provocation that might be incurred.
16 Q. Well, one thing you told Mr. Bushi as well, in addition to
17 suggesting that civilians should stay in the basement, is you told him at
18 that time the fighters, the members of the NLA, should go out and resist
19 the Macedonian authorities. Is that correct?
20 A. I told him, "Do what you can with your brigade without crossing
21 the cease -- cease-fire line that I had informed NATO of."
22 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown what is Rule 65 ter
23 808, please.
24 Q. Mr. Ostreni, did you become aware of the fact that the transcript
25 or record of your conversation with Mr. Bushi on that day were published
1 in the newspaper in Macedonian? Did you become aware of that fact?
2 A. I have seen this newspaper.
3 Q. And if I can draw your attention to a section early on in the
4 text, it records the following. At 8.20, it says: "Fazli Veliu told Gzim
5 Ostreni that Ljuboten village was being shelled with all weapons
6 available. Ostreni repeated to Veliu that villagers should stay in the
7 cellars and that ONA members should come out and return fire."
8 Do you recall reading that in that article?
9 A. I read there article a long time ago. I don't remember that was
10 published in it, but what I know is there were attempts to systemize the
11 conversations with respect to the events in Ljuboten.
12 Q. And you understood also that this information, which was reprinted
13 in the newspaper, would have come from a source within the Macedonian
14 authorities. Is that correct?
15 A. They themselves said that they were the authority who published
16 this article.
17 MR. METTRAUX: Well, can the witness please be shown what is
18 Exhibit 1D, please.
19 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is a document which comes from the
20 administration for security and counter-intelligence within the Ministry
21 of Interior, the UBK, or sometimes known as the DBK, and it's entitled,
22 "Assessment of the high level of the violated security situation in the
23 village of Ljuboten and the surroundings." It is dated the 14th of August
24 of 2001.
25 MR. METTRAUX: If the registry could turn to the third page,
1 please, that is 1D00-5401.
2 Q. In this document, Mr. Ostreni, there's -- at the fourth paragraph,
3 it starts with the word, "On 12 August 2001," and I will read the passage
4 to you.
5 It says this: "On 12 August 2001, with regard to the situation in
6 Ljuboten village, Gzim Ostreni informed Fazli Veliu that the villagers
7 should stay in the basements and 'NLA members should go out and respond to
8 the Macedonian security forces.'"
9 Is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that this is, in fact, the
10 instructions, as you called them, that you gave both do Mr. Veliu and to
11 Mr. Bushi on the 12th of August of 2001?
12 A. I will repeat myself again. I spoke with the person who was
13 competent person for me, Mr. Bushi. What I spoke with him can be
14 summarized in the following: The villagers shall be informed to shelter
15 themselves from the fire coming from the police and the army, because I
16 was surprised by that attack, and that he himself should do what he can,
17 but without crossing the cease-fire line that we provided the NATO with.
18 This is the official document of the organ that was our enemy at
19 the time, and it can be the way they have put it down.
20 Q. But isn't the truth, Mr. Ostreni, that at the time you knew that
21 you had several members of your organisation inside the village, and that
22 you instructed other members of your group to ask those persons to go out
23 and respond to the Macedonian security forces? Is this correct what you
25 A. This is not true. It is not true that I knew that there were
1 this. I don't know to this date. What I think is that there weren't any
2 there, because those that belonged to the brigade should have been with
3 the brigade, the 113 or 114, that was above there.
4 As for Ljuboten as a toponym, as a village, as a location, I
5 became aware of that when the attack was launched on this village. There
6 were other villages, and there was no reason for me to separate Ljuboten
7 from those other villages.
8 As far as I know, I didn't give instructions to anyone to enter
9 that village, and I don't know that there were any NLA members there.
10 Q. Do you recall, Mr. Ostreni, indicating that there were a number of
11 areas in the country where you say you had members of your organisation
12 that were, if you want, unactivated or ready to be activated but had not
13 yet been including in your home town of Debar?
14 Do you remember making those markings, three markings on the map?
15 A. Yes. And if there were any positions in this part, I would have
16 marked them as well. I marked the locations where the forces were at a
17 state of readiness, not mobilised, but who were following the situation
18 closely. But since the cease-fire agreement was in force since 6 July,
19 there was no reason for these forces to be activated for many reasons.
20 First of all, we were waiting for the agreement to continue with
21 the cease-fire, then for political agreement to be signed; and, secondly,
22 if you apply new forces, you need to feed them. You need to equip them
23 with the necessary equipment, and our capacities at that time were sort of
25 Q. Isn't it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that you had similar sleeping cells
1 in the villages in the area of Skopje?
2 A. You're speaking of many square kilometres. I cannot answer to a
3 question like this. There are plane villages in the area of Skopje. The
4 area of Skopje is a large area. It consists of 600 or 700.000
6 Q. Perhaps I will ask you this, then: Are you aware of any village
7 in the immediate surroundings of Skopje where the NLA was present though
8 not activated, as was the case in the three locations which you marked on
9 the map?
10 A. No. Only those that I marked were there.
11 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter 1D1044,
13 Q. Mr. Ostreni, unfortunately, this is, again, a document in English
14 only. This is a document that was provided to us by an embassy here. It
15 is dated the 27th of June of 2001, and it talks of your organisation, the
16 NLA, and I will come back to the document on a couple of occasions.
17 But at this stage, I would like you to focus on point C of that
18 document, and it says the following: "The Skopje operational zone
19 includes Skopje's immediate surroundings. NLA groups hide out in
20 predominantly Albanian villages surrounding Skopje."
21 So, in view of your evidence, Mr. Ostreni, you would suggest that
22 this is an inaccurate or misinformed analysis of the situation. Is that
24 A. I don't know what this means. We were supported by all Albanian
25 citizens; and in my task that I gave to Mr. Bushi earlier, in filling in
1 his brigade, as it was going to be used on the road to Vejce, to have
2 soldiers on the part from Kashiaga [phoen], Zelenikova, and so on.
3 We did not work on creating cells. The NLA did not have any party
4 the. It was a patriotic organisation.
5 Q. So, in answer to my question, your evidence is that this document
6 is wrong and that NLA groups did not, in fact, hide out in predominantly
7 Albanian villages surrounding Skopje. Is that correct?
8 A. What I'm saying is that they did not go there to erect positions,
9 to get organised. We all -- at all times, we acted openly. I will repeat
10 it again. I'm handicapped here. I don't understand English.
11 You're just reading item C to me; and just based on this item, I
12 cannot understand the entire document. Just supposing that you are aware
13 of the entire document, I cannot give my assessment whether it is a proper
14 assessment presented in this document or not.
15 Q. Well, perhaps putting aside the document for a minute, I'll ask
16 you a more general question.
17 Are you aware of any NLA groups or members of the NLA hiding out
18 in predominantly Albanian villages in the area surrounding Skopje?
19 A. No. It wasn't necessary. They had their own brigades. They had
20 their own positions. We didn't need people to go in hiding. We needed
21 people who acted openly, who would go openly to their position, and who
22 would enforce the brigade so that the agreement is reached as soon as
23 possible. We didn't need to act in that way.
24 Q. Isn't it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that you were actually kept in
25 touch with Mr. Bushi, Nazim Bushi, during the activities of the 12th of
1 August, and that you continued giving him instructions during that
2 operation? Do you recall that?
3 A. I cannot deny that Bushi was the commander of the newly formed
4 brigade. It was near the area where an attack was being carried out
5 against a village, and it is quite normal that I spoke with Bushi at that
6 time and that I gave him the instructions that I mentioned earlier, to
7 advise the villagers to take shelter, and what was more important, not to
8 cross the cease-fire line.
9 Q. Do you recall also telling Mr. Bushi that he should kill the
10 members of the Macedonian security forces if he could?
11 A. No, it wasn't necessary. If they entered the territory of Bushi's
12 brigade, it was his own right, because in that case, they would have
13 violated the cease-fire line. And in defending his own brigade, Bushi
14 would have been obliged to open fire. If it wasn't like this, then the
15 security forces would have gone there freely, would have collected the
16 weapons, the war would have ended, and the Harvest operation wouldn't have
18 So this question seems sort of illogical to me. These cease-fire
19 lines were given to NATO. Whoever breaks the line, then the other party
20 should defend itself. So, if the forces had crossed into the territory
21 that was the NLA territory, according to the cease-fire line, then there
22 was need for me to say to Bushi what he should do. He knew that he had to
23 defend himself.
24 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter 1D808,
25 once again.
1 Q. Isn't the situation, Mr. Ostreni, that rather than trying to keep
2 to the lines of cease-fire, as you call them, what you and your
3 organisation were trying to trigger is an incident that would make it
4 impossible for the legitimate political parties to sign the agreement in
5 Ohrid that Monday, that these attempts by your organisation took the form
6 of a mine attack in Ljubotenski Bacila in -- on the 10 of August, and also
7 the sending of mortar fire onto Macedonian positions around the village of
8 Ljuboten? Is it correct?
9 A. I don't know. I have no detailed information or knowledge about
10 this. You are saying at the same time opening of fire, planting of mines.
11 MR. METTRAUX: Can the registry please turn to the next page,
13 Q. This is again, Mr. Ostreni, the press article, the newspaper
14 article, which reflects a number of conversations that allegedly took
15 place during the 12th of August 2001, and I'd like to draw your attention
16 to one that is recorded at 10.54 hours.
17 It's a conversation that is said to have taken place between
18 yourself and Mr. Bushi, and it says the following: "Gzim Ostreni asked
19 Nazim Bushi about how the work was going. Bushi told him that he had
20 moved the units closer and that he was waiting for information in order to
21 make a decision.
22 "Gzim Ostreni told Nazim Bushi that he should have a good decision
23 for any situation and to kill the members of Macedonian security forces
24 if he could. Take the artillery directed on Skopje and 'burn it down'.
25 "Nazim Bushi told Ostreni that he was at position 120 near Skopje,
1 from which he could fire directly at the city and the refinery. Then,
2 Gzim Ostreni suggested Nazim Bushi carry out a counterattack against
3 Macedonian security forces; that is, to respond with a battery against a
4 battery and inform him of that."
5 Do you recall having had that conversation with Mr. Bushi on the
6 morning of the 12th of August of 2001?
7 A. I recall talking to Bushi, and I already gave you my reply. It is
8 quite illogical what is stated here for Bushi do burn down Skopje. Skopje
9 ask a big city. There was no reason for Bushi to burn down Skopje. If he
10 had the equipment, if he had the capabilities, he would have attacked the
11 forces that were attacking Ljuboten. So that's why I think this is
13 I gave you my conclusions. I will repeat it again. What I told
14 him was to advise the Ljuboten villagers to take shelter, not to become
15 prey from the attack, to shelter from the forces and the fire, and to
16 undertake what he could regarding this matter but not to cross the
17 cease-fire line. Any other development of what we spoke was along those
18 lines. It is illogical for me to say to Bushi, "Burn down Skopje at
20 I apologise, but you force me to use another expression. If Bushi
21 was with the NATO forces, then it would have been possible; but with his
22 units equipped with Kalashnikov, that is impossible. So had I told him
23 anything along those lines, then it would have been, "Burn down those who
24 are attacked Ljuboten." It had nothing to do with Skopje.
25 Q. And do you recall giving him that very instruction; namely, to
1 initiate a counter attack against the Macedonian security forces and to
2 notify you? Do you recall telling him that?
3 A. I told him to do whatever he could, because he was there. He
4 could assess the situation. So my instructions were for him to do
5 whatever he could, to protect those villages, but, again, not to cross the
6 cease-fire line, because for us it was very important to reach the signing
7 of the Ohrid Agreement.
8 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown Exhibit 1D160,
9 again, and if we could please turn to third page of that document. That
10 is page 1D00-5401, and if the registry could focus on the last-but-one
11 paragraph on that page, which starts word, "At the same time."
12 Q. Mr. Ostreni, there should be a Macedonian version on your side, on
13 the right side of the screen, and I will read that passage to you. It is
14 within this rather chunky paragraph. I think it is it also the
15 last-but-one in your version.
16 It says --
17 A. Could you just enlarge it a little bit.
18 MR. METTRAUX:
19 Q. If you could find -- I believe it would be the last sentence in
20 that last-paragraph-but-one, it starts with the word in English, "On the
21 other hand, Nazim Bushi."
22 Can you see that?
23 A. [No verbal response]
24 Q. It says this: "On the other hand, Nazim Bushi got an information
25 from Gzim Ostreni, to undertake a counterattack against the Macedonian
1 security forces; actually, to respond with a battery to a battery; and
2 then, accordingly, to provide accurate information back to Gzim Ostreni."
3 Do you recall making that suggestion to Mr. Bushi on the 12th of
4 August of 2001, to undertake a counterattack against the Macedonian
5 security forces, to respond with a battery to a battery, and then to
6 report to you? Do you recall that?
7 A. No.
8 Q. Is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that what you were trying to do, both
9 in Ljubotenski Bacila and in Ljuboten, was to create incidents that could
10 then be exploited by your organisation for propaganda purposes? Is that
11 correct that's what you were up to?
12 A. No, this is not true. It is quite the contrary. You're just
13 putting to me fragments of documents, and you are moving away from what
14 with a was going on in the terrain as of 5th of August. If you analyse
15 the entire activities ongoing at the time, you will see that the provoking
16 side were the government forces, regardless of whether they were acting in
17 coordination or in agreement or not, the police and the army.
18 You are putting to me assessments, documents prepared by the state
19 security service, and we know how they prepare such reports.
20 Q. Well, perhaps I will show you another type of documents then.
21 I will go back to the issue of your tactics and methods which you
22 used during that period, and I have already gone through the issue of
24 Is it correct that you also used other type of explosives, such as
25 thermal battery, which are known as, I think, SA-7B, which are a weapon
1 generally favoured by terrorist organisations? Are you aware of your
2 organisation using those?
3 A. This is the first time I hear this word. I never heard it before.
4 I apologise, so I'm not familiar with it.
5 Q. Well, perhaps I will show you a document.
6 MR. METTRAUX: That's Rule 65 ter 1D868, please.
7 MS. REGUE: Your Honour.
8 JUDGE PARKER: Ms. Regue.
9 MS. REGUE: In the question of my colleague, I think that there
10 again several questions. First, he is asking whether this sort of weapon
11 was used; and, then, secondly, he is also implying that this weapon is
12 favoured by terrorist organisation. So I will ask that the two questions
13 be put in one. It should be split, so the witness has a chance to answer
15 MR. METTRAUX: They will be split, naturally, in the document,
16 Your Honour. Thank you.
17 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is a document that the Defence of Mr. Boskoski
18 has received from an embassy here in The Hague, and the document is dated
19 the 5th of June of 2001. It relates, obviously, to Macedonia, and the
20 subject of that document is,"Macedonian government has evidence of ethnic
21 Albanian extremists terrorist-type explosive devices."
22 The summary of the document is this, and I will read it out to you
23 where it says --
24 MR. METTRAUX: It's further down the page, please. Thank you.
25 Q. It says: "The Macedonian Ministry of Interior has conducted an
1 investigation on terrorist-type electronic explosive devices discovered in
2 the Tetovo area in late March 2001. The study has not been made public."
3 MR. METTRAUX: If we could to turn to the next page, please.
4 Q. It says this: "Argument that these devices found by the
5 Macedonian security forces would give credence to the government's
6 assertion that the Albanian insurgents are 'terrorists.'"
7 The next paragraph says: "The concealment of this study and the
8 evidence it contains of terrorist-type explosive devices is surprising,
9 since it would reinforce the Macedonian government's argument that the
10 Albanian insurgents are terrorists.
11 "Nevertheless, it is yet another indication that the Macedonian
12 government is reluctant to make public the seriousness of the threat from
13 ethnic Albanian extremists. Perhaps it is the fear of worrying the
14 general public or indecisiveness on how to proceed with the information,
15 but it is interesting to note that the government has also not yet
16 informed the Macedonian public of the SA-7B capability of the insurgents."
17 Mr. Ostreni, you have indicated that you don't know the -- or I
18 understand you to say that you don't know the name that SA-7B capability,
19 but were you aware of your organisation using, or at least having in its
20 possession, terrorist-type explosive devices? Is it something that you
21 knew at the time?
22 MS. REGUE: Again Your Honours, Mr. Mettraux is assuming
23 terrorist-type explosive divisions, so he should -- well, first he should
24 ask the witness whether he knows which is a terrorist-type explosive
25 devices, because it --
1 MR. METTRAUX: I have use the terminology of the document, Your
3 JUDGE PARKER: The document is reporting, at best, second-hand or
4 something worse, and it is speaking of a terrorist-type of explosive. I
5 have difficulty with the notion that something would be specifically for
6 terrorists and not used in general military applications, but you are
7 simply using this document as fact.
8 MR. METTRAUX: I was trying to --
9 JUDGE PARKER: I think what you need, as Ms. Regue suggests, is to
10 see if the this witness knows anything of this type of armament, and,
11 secondly, wether it is one of the terrorist type, rather than any other,
12 et cetera; otherwise, we're not getting anywhere with this document.
13 MR. METTRAUX: I will try to stick to the language used, Your
14 Honour, but I will proceed in that way.
15 Q. Mr. Ostreni, were you aware of your organisation using any type of
16 explosive devices against targets?
17 A. Your Honour, I am a military man, and I'm not trained in using
18 such weapons, first. Second, such a letter can be written by anyone, even
20 So as this question you're putting to me, what does this letter
21 mean, at the time the security bodies assisted, did everything they could
22 to totally compromise the NLA with claim being that it was a terrorist
23 organisation, that it would be included in the list of such organisations,
24 that it lose the trust and confidence of the population and the
25 international community, and so on.
1 So the answer to your question is that I have no information about
3 Q. Well, thank you for that. Do you recall also indicating to the
4 Prosecution during proofing that, as far as could you tell, the NLA did
5 not conduct any guerilla attacks? Do you recall saying that?
6 A. I said that the NLA never engaged in a guerrilla warfare. I
7 didn't understand the question. Maybe you could repeat it please.
8 Q. Yes. I will read out the passage from the proofing notes. That
9 may assist you, Mr. Ostreni.
10 It's paragraph 2 of your proofing notes of 2nd November of 2007,
11 and you have been recorded as saying: "We did not conduct any guerilla
13 Can you recall saying that to the Office of the Prosecutor?
14 A. Yes, and that's true. I did say that the NLA did not carry out
15 any such attacks that you are putting to me. My statement speaks about
16 the time that I was familiar with the NLA and when I was there, was a
17 member of it.
18 Q. But isn't the fact that it was -- actually the way the
19 organisation had been structured and prepared is precisely to conduct that
20 sort of activities? Isn't that correct?
21 A. No. The brigades didn't carry out any such attacks. One
22 battalion of the brigade, as we saw it, had 630 persons. Two battalions
23 comprised quite a large number of people. So you can not hide such large
24 number of people who insisted on the brigades growing up and bringing
25 greater pressure to bear on the government in order for to us come to the
1 signing of the agreement and the meeting of the demands of the NLA
2 expressed in communique number 6 and the memorandum.
3 That was our goal, and that was an inspiration to the NLA to rally
4 around that objective, the volunteers, and to carry out its duties.
5 Q. Let me show you a document that I showed you a moment ago.
6 MR. METTRAUX: This is Rule 65 ter 1D1044, 1D1044.
7 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is the same document that I've shown to you a
8 moment ago. This is, again, a -- the same document that we received from
9 an embassy here in The Hague. It's dated the 27th of June of 2001, and
10 there's a paragraph that I wish to read to you.
11 It's paragraph 2 of that document towards the end of the page, and
12 it says the following: "NLA infrastructure is designed and best suited
13 for independent guerilla tactics, a loose organisational structure, low
14 interdependency on other NLA groups and commanders. Individual commanders
15 have authority to establish new fighting groups and to evolve fighter
16 structure to meet the military retirement.
17 "NLA brigades have similar structure to UCK structure; NLA
18 fighters are divided into independent operational zones; local commanders
19 have decision making authority; and individual commanders have autonomy in
20 planning of attacks within their operational zones."
21 Do you agree that this -- or would you agree that this corresponds
22 to the way in which the NLA, the National Liberation Army, was structured
23 and organised at least as late as 27th of June, 2007? Do you agree with
25 A. No. This is a reflection based on the way the UCK was organised
1 in Kosova, but this is contrary to the organisation of the NLA in
3 In Kosova, it was possible to organise the KLA in -- based on
4 zones, because in Kosova the percentage of the Albanian population is much
5 higher than in Macedonia. If we, in Macedonia, had organised ourselves
6 based on zones or areas, for example, like the Kumanovo, Shkupt, Tetova,
7 Gostivar, Debar, Kercove, Struke areas, then we would be faced with the
8 unpleasant situation, because in this way, we would contribute to a
9 conflict east/west and result in something which we didn't want; that is,
10 a decision or the partition of Macedonia.
11 For this reason, our underlying concept as NLA was not to act on
12 basis of zones as territories, but to act on the basis of brigades that
13 are mobile, can go to this place, so that place can withdraw in case of
14 difficulties, and are not linked with the zones or the areas.
15 So if we were to implement the concept of our military tactic, the
16 brigades would pass, for example, to the eastern area. Still, they
17 wouldn't be linked with the territories. The territories would continue
18 to be governed by local authorities, like in the communes in the north of
19 Lipkov or in our other communes like Sipkovica and others.
20 So, we did not claim to divide or partition Macedonia. We simply
21 intended on making pressure on the government to force it to -- to amend
22 the constitution and meet the demands of the NLA. So, such an assessment
23 as the one you presented here is contrary to the very idea and go of the
24 NLA in the Republic of Macedonia.
25 I need a little more time to make another observation. The
1 democratic distribution of the population of the Republic of Macedonia is
2 such that --
3 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
4 A. -- Albanians live most on the western part, and the Macedonians
5 are mostly living in the eastern part.
6 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... not go into the demographics
7 at the stage, and if we can stay for the time being with the methods and
8 tactics of the organisation of which you are a member.
9 Isn't that correct that the brigade structure, which you've
10 referred to many, many times, was, in fact, just an, to put it that way,
11 an army of paper, and that the real way in which the organisation was
12 functioning was with hit-and-run tactics and, as the previously document
13 showed, with method -- or indicated with methods of guerrilla warfare? Is
14 that correct?
15 A. I think it is simply one assessment. The way the NLA operated, I
16 already explained. It was an army in the process of growing. It had
17 positions which were known to others. It engaged in an active defence,
18 formed new brigades, and pressured, as I said, the government in order to
19 fulfil the demand for which we went into that uprising.
20 MR. METTRAUX: Well, let's look at Exhibit P493 then.
21 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is, again the same so-called NATO package, a
22 briefing, in fact.
23 MR. METTRAUX: I would like the registry to turn to page 3 of that
24 document. That would be R042-0361-03.
25 Q. And, Mr. Ostreni, that page relates, in particular, to the NLA in
1 the Tetovo area, and in particular to the 112 Brigade.
2 MR. METTRAUX: And if the registry could enlarge the last
3 paragraph on that page, please.
4 Q. Mr. Ostreni, I think there will be an version for you in the
5 Macedonian language. That will be the last paragraph on that page, and it
6 starts with the words: "The mode of operation for the brigade."
7 Can you see that?
8 A. The last or the penultimate paragraph?
9 Q. It should be the last paragraph, and I will read it to you.
10 It says this: "The MO, method of operation, for the brigade is
11 reportedly one of hit-and-run tactics, as seen during a number of
12 successful ambushes conducted by the rebels. These guerrilla and covert
13 cells using clandestine and/or 'terrorist' methods largely favoured by
14 LKCK and AKSH groups are predominantly found within the Tetovo area."
15 Is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that almost all of your attacks on
16 security forces of the Macedonian authorities were hit-and-run tactics or,
17 as they are called later, clandestine and/or terrorist methods? Is it the
18 two tactics which you were using at the time?
19 MS. REGUE: Your Honour.
20 JUDGE PARKER: Ms. Regue.
21 MS. REGUE: Sorry to interrupt again, but I will refer to the
22 second point, which is a broad statement: "later clandestine and
23 terrorist methods." I think that this -- my colleague is taking the words
24 from the document, and I think it is a larger, broad concept.
25 JUDGE PARKER: A lot of the problem, Mr. Mettraux, is that this
1 document is not evidence. You seem to be putting it to the witness as
2 though its content is the facts. If the witness doesn't accept its
3 content, or unless it becomes part of the evidence in the case during your
4 case or through something else, it is of no evidentiary value.
5 This particular one, though - am I right --
6 MR. METTRAUX: It is admitted Your Honour.
7 JUDGE PARKER: -- is in evidence, but on what basis.
8 MR. METTRAUX: It was a document tendered by the Office of the
9 Prosecutor. It was, I believe, shown to a couple or three witnesses as we
10 recall, But I will put it in such a way, Your Honour --
11 JUDGE PARKER: We move on to the problem that a number of
12 propositions are put in a sentence or a paragraph, and you are putting
13 then that whole paragraph to the witness as though it is the fact. It
14 just has to be broken up into several elements to see what part, if any,
15 the witness can agree with.
16 MR. METTRAUX: I'll do so, Your Honour.
17 Q. Mr. Ostreni, focussing, perhaps first of all, on the first
18 sentence that I read to you, and I will read to you again. That may
19 assist you.
20 It says: "The method for operation for the brigade, that would be
21 the 112 Brigade, "is reportedly one of hit-and-run tactics as seen during
22 a number of successful ambushes conducted by the rebels."
23 Do you agree, Mr. Ostreni, with the suggestion that that a
24 hit-and-run tactics was with the one pursued and followed by the 112
25 Brigade, or not?
1 A. No, it's not right. But whoever has made the assessment or
2 written the letter is not certain of what he is saying, and he based it on
3 the recounts. He is not claiming that it is so. He is providing
4 information that in Macedonian it says, [Macedonian spoken]. That is on
5 what he heard, or learned from someone else.
6 So I can't take -- accept that. The original document in
7 Macedonian says as I am saying. So the person -- the author is not
8 certain, so I do not accept either the document or whatever you are
9 putting to me. We were always in positions.
10 Q. Returning to the second sentence of this paragraph, it says
11 this: "These guerilla and covert cells using clandestine
12 and/or'terrorist' methods largely favoured by the LKCK and AKSH groups are
13 predominantly found within the Tetovo area."
14 Are you aware of any guerilla -- or rather, of any terrorist
15 methods or clandestine methods being used by any members of your
16 organisation in the area of Tetovo?
17 A. No, no. I don't agree with that. I want, again, to reiterate
18 that the author, who has written this, says according to what he had
19 heard. It is not that he is saying this with certainty. I do not agree
20 with what you are saying about the way we acted, but the document itself
21 also doesn't say so.
22 Q. Do you recall also telling the Office of the Prosecutor, and I
23 quote: "As far as I know, the NLA forces did not conduct any terrorist
25 Do you remember saying that?
1 A. Yes, I recall.
2 Q. And are you aware, however, that a large section of the
3 international community called your organisation -- or rather, its
4 activities as terrorist acts? Are you aware of that?
5 A. No. I don't know that it called it such. But I know that, from
6 Resolution 90/20 of the European Commission, the term used with reference
7 to us was Albanian "armed formations or groups," and this is said also by
8 Lord Robertson in an interview given to a group of journalists on the 22nd
9 of May, in which he expresses his personal view, and then he expresses
10 also the view of the institution he represented, saying that: We call
11 these groups "armed units or formations." That is the word he used.
12 So until the international community obtained more precise
13 information on the NLA, its goals and its ambitions, they started
14 gradually to adjust their stand toward it and the terms they used with
15 reference to it.
16 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter
18 Q. Mr. Ostreni, in the middle of May of 2001, were you aware that the
19 Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the states which are part of the
20 South-East European Cooperation Process, including Macedonia and Albania,
21 for instance, characterise your actions as terrorist acts? Are you aware
22 of that?
23 A. No, no, I am not. I don't know that. They also came to
24 Macedonia, held meetings; and, of course, they wanted to express their
25 support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Macedonia, giving
1 priority to the stop of the fighting and the establishment of dialogue.
2 Q. Well, the document that is in front of you, Mr. Ostreni, is a
3 joint statement of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the South-East
4 European Cooperation Process, and the date of that document is 16 of May
5 2001. It was adopted in Albania, in Tirana, on that day.
6 MR. METTRAUX: And if the registry could turn to the next page,
7 please, and if we could go to the bottom of the page, please. Thank you.
8 Q. There's a passage that I would wish to read to you, Mr. Ostreni.
9 This is the last paragraph on the page which concerns the situation in
10 Macedonia, and specifically at the time in Tetovo and the Kumanovo areas.
11 This is what the Ministers of Foreign Affairs said: "Ministers
12 expressed their deep concern on recent developments in Tetovo and Kumanovo
13 areas. They strongly condemned the terrorist acts threatening the
14 security and stability of the country, as well as of the region as a
16 "They called on the ethnic Albanian extremist groups to cease such
17 actions, including armed violence, release the hostages, lay down their
18 weapons, and withdraw immediately. They expressed their full support and
19 respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the indurability
20 of the borders of the ..."
21 MR. METTRAUX: If we could turn to the next page.
22 Q. "... of the borders of the country."
23 Then it goes on to say: "They welcomed the establishment of a
24 broad coalition government for national unity. They expressed their full
25 support to its efforts to end the violence in an appropriate manner
1 consistent with the Rule of Law."
2 Mr. Ostreni, are you able to explain why the Foreign Ministers of
3 all the states in the south-eastern part of Europe in and around Macedonia
4 would refer to your actions as terrorist acts and to your organisation as
5 ethnic Albanian extremists groups?
6 A. Which date is this document?
7 Q. This would be the 16, 1-6, of May, 2001. It comes from Albania,
9 A. I cannot read this document because it is not in Albanian or in
10 Macedonian. This other languages I am familiar with are Albanian, and
11 Serbo-Croatian, and Macedonian.
12 Q. Well, is it correct, Mr. Ostreni, that you suggest in your
13 evidence in chief that the view of the international community and the
14 position of the international community towards your organisation changed
15 after the events of Aracinovo, and that, if I understand you properly, the
16 international community came to accept the NLA as a serious negotiating
17 partner? Is that correct?
18 A. I will say how I said it, and what my idea is. The case of
19 Haracino was a specific case for us, by means of which we might indicate
20 to the international community that the NLA has a hierarchy and chain of
21 responsibilities, and that we can abide by the agreements. We will sign
22 both with the international factor or with the government or the Republic
23 of Macedonia.
24 That was why it was very important for it to proceed well, and
25 this was the first case, I think, of importance for us to have an
1 agreement, in which the international community, through NATO, contacted
2 Mr. Ali Ahmeti to implement an agreement for the withdrawal or forces of
3 Brigade 113 from Haracino.
4 We were very committed to documenting through our concrete actions
5 that we would abide by our words.
6 Q. But is it correct, however, Mr. Ostreni, that the view and opinion
7 of the international community towards your organisation never changed,
8 not during the operation in Aracinovo and not after you had been evacuated
9 from the village? Is that correct?
10 A. You are asking me about the international stance. I didn't have
11 any embassies or any representatives at that time to know for sure whether
12 it had changed or not. After the case of Haracino, we have the letter of
13 the late President Trajkovski addressed to NATO, to resolve the crisis in
14 Macedonia through political means. That was a very significant change
15 which foresaw also a law on amnesty for the members of the NLA. This was
17 As to what are you saying, I don't know. I saw the consequences.
18 The consequences were good because they aimed at stopping the war, on the
19 condition that the demands of Albanians - I'm not saying the demands of
20 the NLA because that represented the demands of the people - be fulfilled;
21 but not only the demands of the Albanians, but also the Romas, the Turks,
22 and other minorities, because if we were allowed to use our national flag,
23 for example, the Turk minority or the Roma minority might also use their
24 own respective national flags.
25 I don't know if I gave you an answer to the question you posed to
1 me, but I didn't have the possibility draw a conclusion on the stand of
2 the international media at the time.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Mettraux, it is time for our second break.
4 We resume at 1.00.
5 --- Recess taken at 12.31 p.m.
6 --- On resuming at 1.01 p.m.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Mettraux.
8 MR. METTRAUX: Thank you, Your Honour.
9 Q. Mr. Ostreni, is it correct that rather than improving, the view
10 that the international community took of your organisation, after the
11 events of Aracinovo, in fact, got worse? Is that correct?
12 A. No, that's not correct. On the contrary, regular contacts began
13 between NATO representatives, namely, Mr. Peter Feith, and us.
14 MR. METTRAUX: Can the witness please be shown what is Rule 65 ter
15 1D438, please.
16 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is or this will be a statement of the Russian
17 Foreign Ministry's official spokesman in the situation in Macedonia, and
18 it's dated 26th of June of 2001, one day after the evacuation of the NLA
19 from Aracinovo.
20 This is what the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia
21 said: "Tensions in that country are not becoming less intense. It
22 happens for the very same reason: Terrorists continue their destructive
23 activities and certain circles put forward political demands, the
24 realisation of which could lead to actual disintegration of the state."
25 Then, in the next paragraph, it says: "A way out of the current
1 situation needs to be sought by putting an end to terrorist armed action
2 in the first place, the disarmaments of terrorists, and the disbandment of
3 the illegal armed groups, as well as by continuing political dialogue by
4 the lawful elected representatives of the Albanian population."
5 Were you aware, Mr. Ostreni, of this rather strong condemnation of
6 your organisation by the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs?
7 A. Yes. But this was the policy of the Russian Minister and probably
8 his state, a permanent stance including other countries that were
9 militarily assisting the Macedonian forces in their warfare against the
10 NLA. We have the Ukranian uniform --
11 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: Helicopters,
12 ammunition, and so on.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This statement does not surprise
15 However, what the minister is stating here, we had first to agree
16 on our political demands, then the issue of handing over weapons, to whom
17 we shall hand over weapons. All this these things were done on our part.
18 These statements, I don't think that they had a good aim as far as the
19 Albanian people in Macedonia were concerned.
20 Q. But is it correct that two days after you were evacuated from
21 Aracinovo, the president, through his press secretary, who is press
22 secretary of the United States, condemned your activities in terms of
23 terrorist violence? Are you aware of that?
24 A. No, I wasn't aware of that. All the states were at work. The
25 situation was moving towards the signing of the agreement. The conditions
1 to put an end to the war were being created, and the situation was moving
2 towards the signing of the agreement and the demobilisation of the NLA.
3 All this was brought to the signing of the Ohrid Agreement.
4 MR. METTRAUX: Well, could the witness please be shown what is
5 Rule 65 ter 1D715, please.
6 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is a document. It's a statement by the press
7 secretary of the White House or the president of the United States,
8 George W. Bush, and it's dated 27th of June, 2001.
9 I would like to read to you a number of passages of that document,
10 and it first says this.
11 This is the first paragraph of this the document: "The United
12 States has joined with its European alleys and other countries of the
13 United Nations in strongly condemning the terrorist violence perpetrated
14 by armed extremists determined to destabilize the democratic multi-ethnic
15 government of Macedonia.
16 "Their violent tactics threaten US and international efforts to
17 promote regional peace and stability, and pose a potential danger to US
18 military forces and other Americans supporting peacekeeping efforts."
19 So do you agree, Mr. Ostreni, that not only Russia, but at least
20 the United States, was attempting your activities in terms of terrorist
21 violence and suggesting that your tactics, violent tactics, were
22 threatening the US and international efforts to promote peace and
23 stability? Do you agree with that?
24 A. The text uses the word -- or the Republic of Macedonia is defined
25 as a democratic state. I believe that the United States of America were
1 not justly informed by the competent authorities in Macedonia, who told
2 them that real democracy was going on in Macedonia. This was not true.
3 Had such a democracy had been in place, there would not have been any need
4 for clashes or for an Ohrid Framework Agreement.
5 I believe that, at that time, all the information in possession of
6 the United States and other states were that Macedonia, as promoted by the
7 president before the late President Trajkovski, is oasis of peace.
8 If Macedonia was such an oasis, I would have -- we would have
9 condemned such an uprising. That would be an adventure in conditions of
10 full democracy, but the reality shows a situation otherwise. That's why
11 we had the Ohrid Framework Agreement was also promoted by representatives
12 of the United States, and we do thank you them for that.
13 Q. We'll come to the Ohrid Framework Agreement in a minute; but at
14 this stage, let's stick with this document.
15 The president, or the press secretary on behalf of the president,
16 then goes on to say this: "As the president stated in Europe, we must
17 face down extremists in Macedonia and elsewhere who seek to use violence
18 to redraw borders or subvert the democratic process."
19 Is it your evidence, Mr. Ostreni, that the American president,
20 through his secretary, was also misinformed of the fact that you were
21 using violence to redraw borders and subverting the democratic process?
22 A. The National Liberation Army never ever wanted to change the
23 borders. It disarmed, it turned into a political party, and everybody
24 were committed, including the Association of War Veterans, towards
25 safeguarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of
1 Macedonia, and for co-existence between all equal citizens.
2 We wanted a state that would guarantee all its citizens equal
3 rights. This was what I wanted to the say, and you can find proof of this
4 at any time. The NLA never wanted the borders to change. On the
5 contrary, it was against the proposal of the academy of science for the
6 partition of the Republic of Macedonia.
7 Q. And are you aware that at the time, Mr. Ostreni, when you said the
8 profile of your organisation was improving, after you pulled out of
9 Aracinovo on the 25th of June, the president of the United States, in
10 fact, took a number of measures against your organisation and yourself
11 personally? Are you aware of that?
12 A. Yes, I'm aware of that. And, at the same time, I would like to
13 extend my gratitude to the president, who have rightfully assessed my
14 activities; and now, as a result, I can still visit the United States and
15 visit my family, my daughter.
16 Q. Well, is it correct that in June of 2007 [sic], in particular on
17 the 27th of June of 2001, 2001 - I apologise - you were regarded as an
18 individual who actively obstruct the implementation of, in this case,
19 Security Council Resolution 1244, and who otherwise seek to undermine
20 peace and stability in the region? Was it the basis on which restrictions
21 were placed on you and other colleagues from your organisation?
22 A. That is true. I was on the so-called black list of the United
23 States of America; but, as I already stated, thanks to the president and
24 the competent organ that assessed positively my activities, I was removed
25 from that list and I'm no longer in it.
1 Q. But is it correct that the situation for your organisation over
2 the next few weeks did not exactly improve; and, for instance, are you
3 aware that on the 10th of July 2001, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
4 passed a resolution, referring to your actions as "acts of terrorism."
5 Are you aware of that?
6 A. No, I'm not.
7 Q. Are aware that a week later, on the 17th of July, the Council of
8 the European Union was referring to you as terrorists and was imposing
9 travel restrictions on members of your organisation, including, I believe,
10 yourself? Were you aware of that?
11 A. I am aware of the fact that I was on the black list of the
12 honoured president, Mr. Bush. Maybe I was on other black lists. But for
13 me, it was important to act pursuant to the moral knowns and laws and to
14 be committed to achieving progress.
15 So they, later on, assessed my activities, and they saw that I was
16 moving towards the right path and removed me from these lists.
17 Q. But the reality is that the in course of the year 2001, you were
18 never regarded by any party, prior to the Ohrid Framework Agreement, as a
19 valid negotiating partner. Is that correct?
20 A. They assessed this issue. I had the political representative
21 superior to me, who was, at the same time, the supreme commander. He was
22 holding political meetings.
23 Q. But is it correct, for instance, to take an example, Mr. Ostreni,
24 you referred a number of times to a cease-fire -- what you referred to as
25 a cease-fire agreement dated the 5th of July of 2001.
1 But, rather than being agreement, Mr. Ostreni, is that correct
2 that this was, in fact, an unilateral decision, or an unilateral order in
3 the case of the Macedonia army, ceasing firing on that date? Is that
5 A. No. We agreed, too, with NATO and respected that cease-fire as
6 our 6. A fact as a proof to this is that on the 5th, I provided NATO with
7 location of our positions. This proves that we were in contact with NATO.
8 Mr. Ali Ahmeti was in direct contact with that. I was Chief of Staff.
9 I provided for their requests, and all I can say is that that we abided by
10 this cease-fire agreement.
11 Q. Well, we will come, in a minute, to the abidance part.
12 MR. METTRAUX: But could the witness please be shown Rule 65 ter
13 317, please. The Macedonian version would be at N001-4731.
14 Q. Mr. Ostreni, what I am about to show you, in Macedonian as well,
15 is the order by General Petrovski, Pande Petrovski, the Chief of Staff of
16 the army at the time. It's dated the 5th of July, 2001, and I'd like to
17 read to you the first full paragraph of that document.
18 It says this: "Based on the plan and the programme for overcoming
19 the crisis in Republic of Macedonia brought by the president of Republic
20 of Macedonia, as well as the letter for the decree of the government of
21 the Republic of Macedonia for reaching general, unconditional, and
22 permanent cease-fire signed by the Chief of Staff of the army, General
23 Pande Petrovski, and the head of the police department within the Ministry
24 of Interior, General Risto Galevski, and sent to Mr. Feith, NATO
25 representative, for overcoming the crisis in Republic of Macedonia."
1 Then General Petrovski says: "I am ordering," and he is
2 essentially ordering a cease-fire.
3 MR. METTRAUX: If we can turn to the next page, and go to the top
4 of the page, please.
5 Q. He then signs it.
6 MR. METTRAUX: And if we can go to the bottom of the page on the
7 Macedonian version, you will have the same.
8 Q. Is this correct, Mr. Ostreni, that the cease-fire that was ordered
9 by the Macedonian authority was not a cease-fire that had been negotiated
10 with you or anyone else, but one that was issued unilaterally by the
11 authorities? Is that correct?
12 A. The mediator between the NLA and the authorities that you mention
13 was Peter Feith at the time; and on the basis of this, the coordination of
14 work regarding cease-fire was carried out.
15 Q. But you agree, for one, that the Macedonia authorities never
16 negotiated or dealt with you in relation to that cease-fire. Is that
18 A. We didn't have direct negotiations. The negotiations in case of
19 Haracin and in case of this cease-fire were carried out through
20 mediators. In this case, it was NATO in the role of the mediator between
21 us and the security forces of the Macedonian state.
22 Q. And you said, I believe a moment ago, that the NLA respected the
23 cease-fire. Do you recall saying that?
24 A. Yes.
25 MR. METTRAUX: Could the witness please be what is shown what is
1 Rule 65 ter 1D1042.
2 Q. Sir, this is another document that was given to us by an embassy
3 here in The Hague, and it's dated the 10th of July of 2001. That's about
4 five days after the cease-fire was declared.
5 The subject is, "Albanian separatism crisis, situation in Tetovo
6 and environs on 5, 6, July, 2001, as cease-fire goes into effect."
7 MR. METTRAUX: If the registry could please turn to the next page.
8 Q. I'd like to read to you the part that starts with the subheading,
9 "Comments," where it says that someone "wonders," we don't the name,
10 "wonders at the motivation of the NLA insurgents for the indiscriminate
11 nature of their pre-cease-fire mortar attacks on Tetovo.
12 "In view of the number of civilian structures hit, the number of
13 civilian casualties, and the attempted interdiction of the highway
14 Jazince, it would seem to be an attempt on the part of the NLA insurgent
15 to claim pre-cease-fire control the entire Tetovo area."
16 First, let me stop here. Were you a aware, Mr. Ostreni, or were
17 you made away by your chain of command in any way, about these activities
18 of pre-cease-fire mortar attacks on Tetovo.
19 A. Before the cease-fire, you're saying. But can you determine the
20 frame -- time-frame that you're asking me about, because even 2000 falls
21 within in this period prior to cease-fire.
22 Q. Well, the previous page, Mr. Ostreni, says that it's relates to
23 the situation in Tetovo and environs, as it is called, on the 5th and 6th
24 of July, of 2001.
25 A. 5 and 6 of July are dates when we working towards a cease-fire
1 agreement, and you brought up not the cease-fire agreement, but the order
2 by Petrovski addressed to his troops. Our aim at that time was not to
3 carry out attacks. We were fully committed to establishing cease-fire.
4 I don't know how well you are informed, Your Honours. At that
5 time, in the area of Tetovo, there are also paramilitaries operating in
6 the village --
7 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note: The interpreter didn't
8 catch name of the village.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] So from this perspective, to speak
10 in theoretical terms, excluding the situation in the terrain, it seems
12 On the 5th, I worked the entire day with the NATO general to see
13 how things will work, whether the positions will remain where they were,
14 work on preparing the maps so that Mr. Feith could discuss them with the
15 opposing side, and contribute to signing this cease-fire agreement.
16 The 6th is the first day of the cease-fire, and our mentality does
17 not allow for breaking the Besa. If you promise that you will hold to
18 that cease-fire, you will hold to it. You will not break it the next day.
19 Q. Well, what about the pre-cease-fire activities which are mentioned
20 to you, which had the effect of impacting on civilian structures and
21 injuring or killing a number of civilians? Were you aware of that fact on
22 the 5th of -- or 6th of July, 2001?
23 A. No, I was not. I do not have any facts to prove that the NLA
24 killed civilians on the 5th or prior to that date.
25 Q. I'll just go on reading the document. It say this is: "In
1 addition, increasing concerned with the 'hard-core' and ruthless nature of
2 one or more of the NLA insurgent cells operating to the north and
3 north-west of Tetovo. It is in this area that the ambush and executions
4 of eight security forces personnel took place on 28 April 2001. The
5 attack on the ambulance as part of a relief convoy that took place on 15
6 May 2001."
7 I'll stop here for a second. We've already discussed the attack
8 of the 28th of April near Vejce. But are aware that an ambulance was
9 attacked on the 15th of May, 2001 in that same general area of Tetovo?
10 Did you become aware of that incident?
11 A. On the 15th of May?
12 Q. Yes.
13 A. No. I wasn't aware of that.
14 Q. Then it refers to the cleansing and subsequent looting of all of
15 the villages north of Tetovo.
16 Did you receive any information to suggest that this was
18 A. No. I received information on the action by police and the army
19 in those villages on the 2nd of April, when the 16-year-old young man was
20 killed, and I would kindly direct you to reading what the media has
21 written and what Fakti newspaper wrote on the 5th of April.
22 They say that the army and the police have committed vandal acts
23 in that region and that measures should be taken, but I have no
24 information whether the measures were actually taken. That reports speaks
25 about the very bad conduct of the army and the police, and then a sports
1 centre in Popova Shapka, Kodra e Diellit. It was destroyed by the on
2 forces deployed there. There are documents to that effect. You can see
3 documents on the material damage caused to that centre.
4 Therefore, I want to say that it was not the NLA that looted,
5 because it couldn't loot its own people, the people who fed it, who
6 sheltered it.
7 Q. And then the document refers to an incident which we already
8 discussed. It says: "The shooting to death of the Macedonian villager
9 who refused to leave his home in Brezno. (The NLA insurgents who were
10 present in Brezno when the villager was shot were all wearing
12 You indicated, I believe, already that you were not aware of this
13 incident. Is that correct?
14 A. No, I was not aware of that. If that occurred, I didn't know of
16 Q. And then the document goes on to say: "And, finally, the
17 indiscriminate bombardment of Tetovo speculates that Ali Ahmeti may not be
18 firmly in control of this renegade cell or cells, and continued cease-fire
19 violations from this group can be expected."
20 Were you aware at the time, in the early days of July 2001, of any
21 factions or group within your organisation that were out of control of
22 Mr. Ahmeti?
23 A. No, I didn't have any such information. I only know that
24 government forces at that time brought the 8th Brigade, who were preparing
25 and stationed the artillery means, were preparing for further actions. I
1 think that now we should refer to what the late Pande Petrovski says in
2 his book, that the paramilitaries at the police forces insisted on
3 committing provocations, and then inviting the army to support them in an
4 unlawful way. This is explicitly written by Pande Petrovski himself, who
5 at the time was Chief of General Staff of the army of Macedonia.
6 For you to understand this better, if Their Honours like it, you
7 may refer to the document on the resignation of the late Pande Petrovski
8 from his position as Chief of the General Staff of the Macedonian army on
9 the 9th of August. He recounts the reasons for his resignation there.
10 Q. I'm grateful for that Mr. Ostreni, and I'll ask you another
11 question about the other agreement to which you've referred on a number of
12 occasion, the Ohrid Framework Agreement.
13 Is that correct that the democratically-elected parties of
14 Macedonia, whether representing the interests of ethnic Albanians, ethnic
15 Macedonians, or both, refused to negotiate that agreement with you and
16 actually considered the agreement a way to isolate you? Are you aware of
17 that fact?
18 A. It is true that the side representing the political parties and
19 the Macedonian government aimed at isolating the NLA and preventing it
20 from participating in the talks on the preparation of the Ohrid Agreement.
21 But as we said earlier, there was a previous agreement signed
22 between the political leader of the NLA and the political -- Albanian
23 political parties, the agreement that foresaw all the demands of the NLA,
24 because the political parties were of the same mind, that these demands
25 represented the wishes and demands of the entire Albanian population.
1 After this agreement, there was a number of agreement that started
2 to be made, describing the political leaders as bad persons for having
3 negotiated and signed agreement with the NLA, but this did not prevent
4 them from continuing their work and to prepare the agreement. I can say
5 that they were in contact -- contacts -- in continuous contact with the
6 political leaders of the NLA.
7 The NLA did not insist that it participate in negotiations, by all
8 means, because for that, for the NLA it was important that negotiations
9 start and that they come to the phase of signing a political agreement,
10 including the demands of the NLA, put an end to the war and realise the
11 objective of the Albanian people in the Republic of Macedonia in 2001.
12 For this reason, it is very normal that part that in the body that
13 worked for preparing and coming to this political agreement, Ohrid
14 Agreement, where the political parties forming the broad coalition
15 government, along with political leaders who constantly consulted Ali
16 Ahmeti, the political representative of the NLA.
17 Q. But, in fact, Mr. Ostreni, far from being a document that reflects
18 your interests and the interests of your organisation, the instrument, the
19 Ohrid Framework Agreement that was adopted by the competent and
20 democratically elected party, was a direct and specific rejection of your
21 actions and the very existence of your group. Is that correct?
22 A. It is not correct. It was a wartime. The situation was tense.
23 All feared and an interethnic war. For the sake of -- for the sake of the
24 vanity of someone to take part in that, it was not proper that we insist
25 on being member in the round table where this issue would be discussed,
1 because by so doing we would continue the situation of chaos and
3 Therefore, for us, it was sufficient to have the Prizren agreement
4 and what we had done so far, in order for the objectives of the NLA to be
5 realised. This is how we saw it, and this is how we worked.
6 Q. Well, let me show you two documents, Mr. Ostreni.
7 MR. METTRAUX: The first one is Rule 65 ter 1D705. It's
9 Q. Mr. Ostreni, this is a -- the record of a meeting at the general
10 assembly of the United Nations on the 12th of November of 2001, and
11 there's a number of people and representatives of their states that made a
12 statement before the General Assembly.
13 The one I would like to show is the one by the Foreign Minister of
14 the Republic of Macedonia on that occasion.
15 MR. METTRAUX: That would be further down on that page, please.
16 Q. First, there is a summary, and I will go back, afterwards, to the
17 more specific statement.
18 The Foreign Minister said this, and it says: "The Foreign
19 Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said that eight
20 months ago, her country had been exposed to violent terrorist attacks
21 under the cloak of a struggle for minority and human rights by the
22 so-called National Liberation Army, which sought to realise one aim: The
23 division of Macedonia and the changing of the region's borders."
24 MR. METTRAUX: And then if we turn to page 1D00-6245. The actual
25 record would be at the bottom of the page, please. Thank you.
1 Q. The actual record of what the Minister of Foreign Affairs said,
2 Ms. Ilinka Mitreva, is being given. We can see at the bottom of the page
3 the start of her statement.
4 MR. METTRAUX: And if we can turn to the next page, please. Thank
6 Q. There's a paragraph starting with the word: "For the past ten
8 This is what she told the General Assembly: "For the past ten
9 years, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a factor for stability
10 in the Balkans, has developed a democratic society. Our interethnic
11 relations were held up as an example and applauded by the region.
12 "Then, eight months ago, Macedonia was exposed to violent
13 terrorist attacks threatening to undermine all our achievements. Under
14 the cloak of the struggle for minority and human rights, the so-called
15 National Liberation Army, whose structure, command, control, and logistics
16 of Kosovo provenance, set out to realise one aim: The division of
17 Macedonia and the changing of the region's borders."
18 And then in the next paragraph, she says this: "Our response to
19 these attacks was military, political, and diplomatic. The framework
20 agreement of the 13 August of this year, signed by the leaders of the four
21 main political parties, is as a result of our strong commitment to finding
22 a political solution to the crisis as the best way to defend our country
23 and undermine the goals of the terrorists.
24 "But let me reiterate that we will also defend our country by
25 other means, if necessary. The cost of terrorism for Macedonia has been
1 high, loss of lives, destroyed homes, thousands of refugees, and
2 internally displaced persons."
3 Do you agree, Mr. Ostreni, that what the represent of the then
4 multi-ethnic government of Republic of Macedonia was saying, still in
5 November 2001, is that the Ohrid Framework Agreement had been aimed at
6 undermining the goals of your organisation and not as a way to give
7 reality to them? Do you agree with that?
8 A. I cannot agree with that, because, first, six years have passed in
9 that time, and the agreement is still being implemented, also because
10 Macedonia was not partitioned, and also because has Macedonia been a
11 democratic country, the war wouldn't have taken place.
12 Not only we as NLA, but all the world, believes that things can be
13 resolved in a democratic way. If a state were about 33 per cent, if we
14 included the Roma and other non-Albanian and non-Macedonian citizens, so
15 if a state leaves out 33 per cent of its population from the constitution
16 and does not describe this percentage as a constituent element of the
17 constitution, if it deprives the large part of that percentage from the
18 right to education, doesn't have its language an official language, bans
19 the use of its national symbols, and incriminates them, as the case was in
20 Gostivar, for raising the Albanian flag, then the lady here doesn't speak
21 really about the real situation in Macedonia.
22 This lady is still in coalition with the Democratic Union for
23 Integration. The party that followed the NLA saw so that this very lady
24 is in coalition with this other party that I mentioned.
25 Q. Do you agree, Mr. Ostreni, that this was not just the view of the
1 Macedonian government at that time; but contrary to what you claim, the
2 Ohrid Framework Agreement was not agreement to put an end to what you
3 would wish to believe was an armed conflict but was, in fact, a way to
4 avert one? Do you agree with that?
5 A. No, I do not agree with that. This was something used to put an
6 end to the war and to build a democratic Macedonia. The reason for -- the
7 Ohrid Agreement resulted in the amendment of the constitution, which
8 stipulates some freedoms and rights for the Albanian population, but this
9 does not apply only to the Albanian population but to the other minorities
10 living in the Republic of Macedonia, like the Roma, the Turks, and others
11 who make up all the together about 33 per cent of the overall population
12 of Macedonia.
13 That was a good solution that had it been implemented, a
14 democratic state will be built and no internal strifes and clashes will
16 MR. METTRAUX: I see the time, Your Honour.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
18 We adjourn and we continue tomorrow at 9.00 a.m.
19 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.47 p.m.,
20 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 13th day of
21 November, 2007, at 9.00 a.m.