1 Tuesday, 5 May 2009
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.06 p.m.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon.
6 Ms. Kravetz.
7 MS. KRAVETZ: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Before the next
8 witness is brought in, I wanted to just update Your Honours on our
9 witness scheduling this week. We were just informed by
10 Victims and Witnesses Unit -- it's actually right before the court
11 hearing started today that Mr. Brakovic is no longer in hospital.
12 Happily his health condition has improved, and we have been told that he
13 may be available to testify immediately after Mr. Abrahams concludes his
14 testimony. However, I should point out that we have not yet been able to
15 speak to him. We will do that this afternoon in the course of the
16 afternoon, so I will be able -- in a position to give you a more -- or
17 confirm what will happen at the end of the afternoon.
18 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you for that. We are glad for the witness,
19 and we are glad that it offers us the prospect of dealing with that
20 witness before the end of the week as well.
21 MS. KRAVETZ: I also --
22 JUDGE PARKER: Depending on the progress with Mr. Abrahams.
23 MS. KRAVETZ: I also wanted to add, Your Honours, that the two
24 crime base witnesses that we have brought forward in the event that
25 Mr. Brakovic was not going to be available this week, and these are
1 Ms. Hajrizi and Mr. Latifi. We have been able to obtain visas for them
2 and their travel arrangements have been secured. So in the event that
3 Mr. Brakovic is not well enough to testify once Mr. Abrahams concludes
4 his testimony, we will proceed on Thursday with the evidence of
5 Ms. Hajrizi. But again, this is something we will only be able to
6 confirm at the end of the testimony.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much.
8 Perhaps now Mr. Abrahams can be brought in.
9 Mr. Djurdjic.
10 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I believe that before
11 the witness is brought in, I would like to deal with some remarks and
12 proposals regarding the testimony of Mr. Fred Abrahams.
13 The Defence would like to object to some portions of
14 Mr. Abrahams's statements because it believes that these are irrelevant,
15 unreliable, or inappropriate for a fact witness. The Defence would like
16 to emphasize that Mr. Abrahams was called here as a fact witness, not as
17 an expert in any field; and that is why we object to the portions of his
18 statement where he, for all intents and purposes, acts as an expert
19 witness. Had he been called here as an expert witness, we would have to
20 operate in accordance with the Rule 94 bis of the
21 Rules of Procedure and Evidence the Defence contends.
22 The Defence would like to object to Exhibit P386 tendered into
23 evidence by the Prosecution, and that is a report entitled: "Rape as a
24 form of Ethnic Cleansing." We assume on the basis of an analysis of the
25 previous transcripts of this witness and his statements that this
1 document was tendered into evidence to indicate that the Serbian
2 authorities were aware of what was going on in Kosovo and Metohija, that
3 they had been receiving reports, but bearing in mind that this report was
4 published in May --
5 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: March.
6 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] -- 2000 and the indictment covers
7 the period up until the 20th of June, 1999, we believe that this is
8 irrelevant since this notice, even if it were indeed sent, was late. It
9 was after the relevant period. The contents of the exhibit show that
10 this report was published in the year 2000, and we would therefore like
11 to move that this exhibit not be admitted into evidence because of its
12 irrelevance. We would like to do that now.
13 I believe that we have several problems with Exhibit P2228. This
14 is a number of statements --
15 JUDGE PARKER: Can you help me just grasp a little more clearly
16 what is your point of the irrelevance of the Exhibit P386? You've
17 mentioned that it was written some time after the indictment period, but
18 it's a report looking retrospectively at events, so it's not altogether
19 clear to me what is the basis of your objection.
20 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, bearing in mind all
21 the materials that the Defence has gone through and the situation that
22 was in place until this trial here today, and in light of the facts that
23 I've presented already, to wit, that this material is not based on the
24 direct knowledge of the witness, that he himself did not take part in the
25 taking of the statements from the persons who are listed in this
1 report - quite the opposite is the case, other people did that - and the
2 Prosecution has been using this to prove that the Serbian authorities had
3 been informed but in an irrelevant period because this was published
4 after the period that is relevant for the indictment. Any such notice is
5 completely irrelevant for the proceedings. It does not have any effect,
6 Your Honour.
7 JUDGE PARKER: [Microphone not activated]
8 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
9 JUDGE PARKER: -- the witness is basing his views upon statements
10 taken from persons by somebody other than the witness himself. I'm still
11 not quite clear what it is you're saying about the date of the report.
12 Why is the date determinative of its admissibility?
13 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, this exhibit has been
14 used by the Prosecution to indicate that the Yugoslav authorities had
15 been informed about the crimes being committed in Kosovo and Metohija in
16 the relevant period and even before the relevant period in the course of
17 1998 and 1999. This witness took part in some research projects in 1998
18 and in 1999; however, this notice, or rather, the witness claims that his
19 organisation sent those reports to the governments, including the Serbian
20 government, through its web site, and this notice in this form was
21 available only in the year 2000, after the war ended. It was sent to the
22 Serbian government or the FRY government, and that is why I believe that
23 any such notice actually came too late. It was post festum, so they
24 failed to notify the authorities promptly. And of course after such
25 reports were received, after the war ended, criminal proceedings were
1 instituted in a number of cases. This was not done in the period
2 relevant for the indictment. We have several pieces of evidence
3 regarding this reporting. I think it is in 1998. And I will deal with
4 them in the cross-examination naturally.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you for that, Mr. Djurdjic. I believe I now
6 see the point you are wanting to make. That is, that insofar as this
7 report could be relied on by the Prosecution to prove knowledge by the
8 Serbian governmental authorities. The report was not communicated to
9 them until after the indictment period. Thank you.
10 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Furthermore, Your Honour, I would
11 like to say something about P2228. It is a compendium of statements
12 taken under 92 bis from this witness, and these are statements from 1999
13 and -- yes, yes, Your Honour, 65 ter, P2228, they have only been tendered
14 into evidence, so thank you for your correction. We have three
15 statements here. First of all, those statements taken under 92 bis have
16 not been admitted into evidence in the Milutinovic case in their
17 entirety, only selected passages were admitted, in accordance with the
18 objections that were raised. And this Defence would like to object to
19 this exhibit for the following reasons: First of all, in e-court there
20 is a page of the statement missing; it has been redacted, and it should
21 be there. This probably happened due to a clerical error.
22 We also have the following objections: The statements in the
23 portions that have not been admitted so far are based on hearsay evidence
24 on the one hand; and on the other hand, they contain inappropriate
25 conclusions made by a fact witness, not an expert witness. This is in
1 particular the case with the 1999 statement which contains summaries
2 based on the statements of witnesses who were not eye-witnesses.
3 Then we also have statements of persons that are summarised and
4 we have no way of checking whether this person actually did say that.
5 Here I'm talking about primarily about the statement of
6 Mr. Bosko Drobnjak. And I think that those portions of the statements
7 are inadmissible.
8 In the portions that have not been admitted into evidence in the
9 Milutinovic case, we have some inappropriate conclusions about -- which
10 are inappropriate for a fact witness. He gives his testimony in a manner
11 which would be appropriate for an expert witness who is an expert in
12 history, and we believe that he should provide sources that he's basing
13 his views on. This would in particular be the case if he were an expert
14 witness. He has not done so, yet he has made certain conclusions.
15 Furthermore, we believe that Witness Abrahams is not an impartial
16 observer, and we believe that the reports that he himself drafted,
17 inter alia, are based on selective data and that his reports and his
18 evidence, his statements, could have been influenced by his relationship
19 with the OTP of this Tribunal.
20 It is quite obvious that the conclusions were not made on the
21 basis of all the information available; and on the other hand, we don't
22 know the sources that the historical conclusions are based on. And these
23 are conclusions that only the Trial Chamber can actually present in the
24 judgement, agreeing with them or disagreeing with them. But it is up to
25 this Trial Chamber to make these kind of conclusions in the judgement at
1 the end of the whole trial.
2 And I would like to now highlight the most blatant parts of the
3 statement, that pertains to the 1974 constitution and the assessments
4 made by the witness about the political processes in the 1970s, 1980s,
5 and 1990s. Primarily, this witness was not a direct observer of these
6 events, and he is not an expert witness. And had he been called here as
7 an expert witness, he would have had to give us his sources for his
8 expert conclusions. And now we have conclusions made by a fact witness,
9 conclusions about the events that he did not participate in, and that is
10 why we believe that those portions of his statements are inadmissible.
11 Furthermore, the witness has not listed sources where his
12 allegations or claims can be verified. Having studied the material, the
13 Human Rights Watch had a comprehensive study, a historical study, that
14 covered the period from 1990 to 1995 - that was their first report - so
15 it was done at the time when the witness was not an official of that
16 organisation at all. He did not take part in the research. And if he
17 actually gave his statement on the basis of this report, we believe that
18 this was not proper, and that is why we also think that those portions of
19 his statement should not be admitted into evidence.
20 And finally, the witness has made conclusions on the basis of
21 rumours, unverified rumours, and facts and sources that are not quoted.
22 So those are our reasons to object to the admission of the statements.
23 Furthermore, the Defence moves that 65 ter Exhibit P438 not be
24 admitted into evidence. I think that we're now going back to the
25 problems that we had with the materials that were tendered through
1 Mr. Neill Wright, and this Chamber has already ruled on that issue. This
2 exhibit is a report of the Human Rights Watch organisation entitled:
3 "Under Orders," and it is based on statements of persons who might -- and
4 those statements can be qualified as hearsay. It is impossible to verify
5 the claims, and it is unreliable evidence of the facts. On the other
6 hand, the Defence is unable to cross-examine any of the witnesses that
7 have provided the statements.
8 And I would like to add, in none of the statements, unlike the
9 statements that are taken in order to be used in the current proceedings,
10 did -- were the witnesses warned that they should make their statements
11 to the best of their knowledge and recollections. We -- I don't even
12 know what the statements look like. Were they audio recorded? Were they
13 handwritten? Were they typed up and then signed by the persons giving
14 those statements, or was it done by the persons -- by the interviewer?
15 We don't know what shape or form those statements are. And I would like
16 to say, furthermore, that in this exhibit, even if we're talking only
17 about the crime base - and there is also the management structure, the
18 command and control, information from 1991, and the historical
19 context - so even if we're talking only about the crime base, I believe
20 that this is inadmissible primarily because those statements were taken
21 in close collaboration with the Prosecution of this Tribunal in a
22 selective manner, not on the basis of any random sampling.
23 And the witness will explain to us how they actually selected the
24 persons that they wanted to interview, how and why those statements were
25 taken, to what end. But I believe that the reason that I have already
1 put forward for my objection is a valid one.
2 In particular, if we bear in mind that Mr. Abrahams has had
3 contact with the OTP since 1998, since his stay in Albania. His first
4 statement was given in March 1999 before the attack on the
5 Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia was launched, I think it was
6 the 15th or the 13th of March, that was the date of the first statement.
7 And we will ascertain the ways in which the cooperation between the
8 witness, his organisation on the one hand, and the Prosecution on the
9 other hand, proceeded. But one thing is for sure: The witness ...
10 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
11 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] -- that in 2000 and 2001 the
12 witness was employed by the OTP of this Tribunal, he worked as an
13 investigator; and in at least two cases, he worked as an investigator
14 taking statements from witnesses. Unfortunately, one of the statements
15 was admitted, I think, under 94 -- Rule 94, and we have yet to hear the
16 evidence of another -- of the other witness.
17 And this report contains completely inappropriate conclusions for
18 a fact witness, and those conclusions pertain to the criminal
19 responsibility of the accused, chain of command, and the structure in the
20 FRY, the functioning of the MUP and the Yugoslav Army. So he is making
21 conclusions that only the Trial Chamber is entitled to make in its
22 judgement. Again, the sources for such conclusions are not reliable, in
23 fact they're unknown, and some are based on interviews with some persons.
24 We believe -- let me go back to the total of six statements made
25 between February 1998 until the end of June 1999, all of the reports that
1 pertain to that period are based on the statements of a total of 600
2 persons selected according to the criteria known only to the organisation
3 that the witness worked for. He actually interviewed very few of those
4 people in Albania
5 interviewed those alleged victims.
6 We believe that, for aforementioned reasons, the Defence is
7 entitled under the Rules of Procedure and Evidence to move that this
8 exhibit not be admitted into evidence. Let me just add as regards P2228
9 that -- or, in fact, there is no reason for me to do that now. If we'll
10 have to do it, we'll do it at an appropriate time. Thank you,
11 Your Honours, for giving me the time to present our objections.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Djurdjic.
13 Ms. Kravetz.
14 MS. KRAVETZ: Thank you, Your Honours. I will try my best to
15 address all the long list of objections that have just been raised by my
16 learned colleague.
17 Starting by Exhibit 02228, which is the 92 bis package for this
18 witness. I would -- which my learned colleague has objected, indicating
19 that there are some inappropriate conclusions that pertain to an expert
20 witness rather than a fact witness. This is, in fact, an inaccurate
21 representation of the evidence that's in that statement, and this -- the
22 conclusions and the observations that are made in the statement or the
23 different statements by Mr. Abrahams are, in fact, based on his personal
24 observation, his long history of work in the region, and his intensive
25 interviews conducted with survivors and eye-witnesses to the events he
1 describes. So I disagree with my colleague in that respect.
2 It is accurate that some of the evidence or statements that
3 Mr. Abrahams makes in his series of statements is based on hearsay
4 evidence. Our position is that hearsay evidence is admissible, and it is
5 for the Chamber to determine the weight it will attach to some of his
6 conclusions in his statements that are based on hearsay evidence.
7 I also want to correct my learned colleague with regard to the
8 Neill Wright decision. He had indicated that we are in a situation
9 similar to the Neill Wright decision. I want to remind Your Honours that
10 Your Honours, in the Neill Wright decision with respect to attachment 4,
11 did not find that attachment inadmissible because it contained portions
12 of hearsay evidence; but the ruling of Your Honours was that the witness
13 should be cross-examined on those portions and should provide evidence on
14 how that information was obtained and how those reports were compiled.
15 So the general statement made by my colleague is, first of all,
16 not accurate; and we're in a different situation here where the witness
17 will explain and already does so in his various statements the
18 methodology used to obtain the information and will describe his work and
19 research trips to the region.
20 With regard to the allegations made with respect to his
21 impartiality or lack thereof and his cooperation with the
22 Office of the Prosecution in the past, we submit that this is a matter
23 that is -- should be addressed in cross-examination. My learned
24 colleague will have the opportunity to put that to Mr. Abrahams and --
25 during his cross-examination.
1 As regards the statements that are made in his various statements
2 with regard to the political background of the Kosovo conflict, again, it
3 is our submission that this is -- these conclusions that are in his
4 statements and these observations are based on his many years of work in
5 the area and what he has been able to learn and observe during his time
6 working in the region.
7 So I would submit that Your Honours postpone the decision on this
8 selection of statements, that is 02228, until after having heard the
9 evidence of the witness and having allowed my learned colleague the
10 opportunity to cross-examine on the issues that concern him.
11 With regard to Exhibit 0386, this is a report on rape as a weapon
12 of ethnic cleansing, my -- the submissions of my learned colleague are
13 inaccurate in this respect. The witness indicates in his statement of
14 July 2006 - and this is at paragraph 5, and this is
15 Exhibit 65 ter 02227 - that he was involved in the -- in preparation of
16 this report and conducted interviews that later were included in the --
17 in the report itself. And he was personally involved in the research
18 for -- in the research of this report.
19 My learned colleague raised the observation as to the notice if
20 we were -- he's presuming we were tendering this for the purpose of
21 notice and indicated that this report had been published or made
22 published after the time-period of the indictment. We're, in fact,
23 offering this report - and I again will ask Your Honours to postpone the
24 decision of this report until after hearing the witness - but we're
25 offering this report for the purpose of proving -- I'm sorry, I'm losing
1 his voice -- for proving the general statements that are made within the
2 report by the witness based on his interviews he conducted and what he
3 was able to learn on the issue of sexual violence perpetrated against
4 Kosovo Albanian women by forces of the FRY and Serbia.
5 So I would again request Your Honours to postpone a decision of
6 the admissibility of this exhibit until after having heard the testimony
7 of the witness on this issue.
8 Now, with regard to "Under Orders" which is 65 ter 00438, my
9 learned colleague has made some lengthy objections with regard to this
10 exhibit. I would like to point out at the outset that we are not
11 intending to tender the entire report. We have prepared extracts of the
12 report which have been uploaded under Exhibit 65 ter 00438.01, and we
13 have notified the Defence of this. We are only intending to tender the
14 portions of the report which the witness not only personally drafted but
15 he also was himself involved in researching and in conducting interviews
16 with survivors and eye-witnesses. So although these portions of the
17 report do contain hearsay, again it is our position that this is
18 first-hand hearsay, these portions of the report are relevant to the
19 charges of the indictment, they corroborate evidence that has been heard
20 or will be heard with respect to our crime base, and referred or contain
21 the witness's personal observations during his research trips to Kosovo.
22 So those are my submissions. I may have forgotten one or two
23 points, and if Your Honours need me to state a position on another point
24 raised by my learned colleague that I may have omitted, I'm happy to do
1 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Ms. Kravetz.
2 Mr. Djurdjic.
3 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] I apologise, Your Honours. Should
4 the Chamber decide to postpone its decision until after the testimony of
5 the witness, we are prepared to provide our arguments in writing should
6 the Chamber believe that to be useful. Thank you.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
8 [Trial Chamber confers]
9 JUDGE PARKER: The Chamber is of the view that it would not be
10 able to do -- give proper consideration to all the matters raised in
11 Mr. Djurdjic's lengthy and careful submission in an extempore decision
12 today. The practical course in the Chamber's view will be to hear the
13 evidence offered but to decide later, in view of its consideration of the
14 objections raised and the response made by Ms. Kravetz, what parts, if
15 any, will be admitted of the evidence to which objection is made. If it
16 becomes our view that some parts or all parts that are subject of
17 objection should not be received, of course we would put that evidence
18 aside and it would not form part of the basis of our deliberation.
19 So on that basis then, the objection being noted and being in due
20 course the subject of our decision, we will proceed to hear the evidence
21 that is offered in the meantime.
22 MS. KRAVETZ: And, Your Honour, I would like to add that if it
23 was the wish of Your Honours, we are also happy to make written
24 submissions in this respect with regard to the different exhibits.
25 JUDGE PARKER: We're grateful for that and Mr. Djurdjic's offer,
1 Ms. Kravetz, but we think we've had pretty detailed submissions, and we
2 don't see that we need to trouble you to go through the process of
3 putting it all down again in writing. Thank you.
4 [The witness entered court]
5 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon.
6 THE WITNESS: Good afternoon.
7 JUDGE PARKER: We apologise for having kept you. There was some
8 significant issues raised which we needed to deal with.
9 Would you please read aloud the affirmation on the card that is
10 shown to you.
11 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the
12 whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
13 WITNESS: FREDERICK CRONIG ABRAHAMS
14 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much. Please sit down.
15 Ms. Kravetz.
16 MS. KRAVETZ: Thank you, Your Honours.
17 Examination by Ms. Kravetz:
18 Q. Good afternoon, Witness. Could you please state your full name
19 for the record.
20 A. Frederick Cronig Abrahams.
21 Q. When and where were you born, Mr. Abrahams?
22 A. In New York City, US
23 Q. And what is your present occupation?
24 A. I am a senior researcher with the organisation
25 Human Rights Watch, although currently on a six-month leave as of
1 May 1st.
2 Q. And very briefly, what is Human Rights Watch?
3 A. Human Rights Watch is a non-governmental organisation that
4 documents and publicises human rights violations around the world. We
5 accept no government funds, and we do research in more than 70 countries
6 without regard for any political orientation or in support or against of
7 any religious, ethnic, or other group. And my work in particular is now
8 documenting violations in crisis areas and particularly armed conflict.
9 Q. Sir, since we're both speaking the same language today, I'm going
10 to ask you just to pause between question and answer so your answers can
11 be recorded appropriately by the court reporter today.
12 Since when have you been employed by Human Rights Watch?
13 A. I began my full-time employment in 1995.
14 Q. And during your time with Human Rights Watch, have you had the
15 opportunity to cover events in the former Yugoslavia?
16 A. Yes, extensively.
17 Q. And have you specifically had the opportunity to work on -- and
18 cover events in the province of Kosovo
19 A. Yes, also extensively.
20 Q. Since when has your work been focused on events in the former
22 A. Well, my first work in the Balkan region was in Albania in 19 --
23 from 1995 to 1997. I first visited Kosovo in the summer of 1995, but my
24 first human rights investigations there were in 1996, summer, I believe
25 July. And from that time until 2000, I undertook multiple missions - I
1 would have to count to be precise - but approximately ten, to document
2 violations of human rights and also violations of international
3 humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict.
4 Q. And in relation to your work with Human Rights Watch in Kosovo,
5 did you provide several statements to the Office of the Prosecution of
6 this Tribunal, one dated March 1999, a second dated January 2002, and a
7 third one dated May 2002?
8 A. Yes, that's correct.
9 Q. Before coming to court today, did you have the opportunity to
10 review these statements?
11 A. Yes, ma'am, I did.
12 Q. And having had the opportunity to review the statements, are you
13 satisfied that the information contained in these statements is true and
14 accurate to the best of your knowledge and belief?
15 A. Yes, I am.
16 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I note you're deferring the decision
17 on the tendering of Exhibit 02228, but I wish to submit it to
18 Your Honours for admission at this point.
19 JUDGE PARKER: That will be marked for identification.
20 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] That will be assigned P00738 MFI
21 Your Honours.
22 MS. KRAVETZ:
23 Q. Mr. Abrahams, did you provide a further statement to the
24 Office of the Prosecution in July 2006?
25 A. Yes, I believe I did. I don't remember the precise date.
1 Q. Have you recently had the opportunity to review that statement?
2 A. Yes, I have, yes.
3 Q. And are you satisfied that the information contained in the
4 statement is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge and belief?
5 A. Yes, I am.
6 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, this is 65 ter 02227, and I seek to
7 tender that into evidence at this stage.
8 JUDGE PARKER: It will be marked.
9 THE REGISTRAR: And that will be assigned P00739 MFI,
10 Your Honours.
11 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I believe my learned colleague's
12 objections - and I may be wrong here - concerned only the first exhibit
13 but not 0227 -- 02227. So I don't know if --
14 JUDGE PARKER: Is there objection to the document 65 ter P2227,
15 Mr. Djurdjic?
16 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour. My
17 learned friend, Ms. Kravetz, is fully right.
18 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00739, Your Honours.
19 MS. KRAVETZ: Thank you.
20 Q. Mr. Abrahams, did you also testify previously in this Tribunal in
21 the case of Milutinovic et al.?
22 A. Yes, I did.
23 Q. Before coming to court today, have you had the chance to read
24 over the transcript of your previous testimony?
25 A. Yes, I have.
1 Q. And if you were asked the same questions today as you were asked
2 during that previous court testimony, would you provide the same answers?
3 A. To the best of my ability, yes, I would.
4 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, this is 65 ter 05187, and I seek to
5 tender that into evidence at this stage.
6 JUDGE PARKER: I don't believe this is subject to objection, in
7 which event, it will be received.
8 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00740, Your Honours.
9 MS. KRAVETZ: Thank you.
10 Q. Mr. Abrahams, before turning to your work for Human Rights Watch
11 in Kosovo, I would like to ask you some general questions about the work
12 of the organisation in the region. In your statement - and this is at
13 page 10 of 02228, which has been marked for identification - you indicate
14 that Human Rights Watch began reporting about human rights violations in
15 Kosovo in 1990. And you say that between 1990 and October 2001 there
16 were approximately 16 reports published by Human Rights Watch in addition
17 to over a hundred briefing reports, press release, and advocacy papers.
18 Could you explain to the Court the methodology used by
19 Human Rights Watch in documenting human rights violations in this region.
20 A. Well, the -- the fundamental methodology which applies to this
21 region, I mean Kosovo, the Balkans, and every country where we work, is
22 to conduct field investigations. So researchers like myself who are
23 trained in conducting these types of investigations conduct what we call
24 missions, which means going to the country or region in question and
25 interviewing the witnesses or victims of human rights or IHL,
1 humanitarian law, violations. We also try to get information and, if
2 possible, interview perpetrators. We visit the scenes of the alleged
3 violations. We collect corroborative material or material that -- that
4 will shed light on the -- the allegations, whether it's to prove it or
5 disprove it, such as court records, medical reports, autopsy reports.
6 And then also secondary sources, when they can shed lights on angles or
7 perspectives. So we would never rely on secondary sources solely, but we
8 would use them to tell a fuller picture of a case in question.
9 So it's these field research missions that form the crux of our
11 Q. And how do you document or record the information that is
12 collected during these field missions?
13 A. Most usually it is written, in written form, notes.
14 Increasingly -- on occasion and increasingly with the digital age, my
15 colleagues have recorded interviews; but usually when recordings are
16 taken then written notes are also taken in case there is a battery -- a
17 malfunction or a battery dies. And these notes form the -- the essence
18 of our reports. We go back and use them. In a way, they're witness
19 statements and -- we call them -- in Human Rights Watch we call them
20 testimony. And it's very important, whenever possible, we conduct these
21 interviews in a one-on-one setting, so we identify the witness or the
22 victim or the person who has information, and we try to speak with them
23 in private. We are trained not to use leading questions, but the
24 interviews are more in the form of open narrative so individuals can tell
25 us information that they wish. And of course we ask questions to focus
1 them but to avoid leading questions.
2 And lastly, we seek to get complete pictures so we would never
3 publish a report or make an accusation based on one witness. We would
4 require multiple witnesses whose statements were corroborative, and that
5 means sometimes going into great detail, so these interviews can take a
6 long time, they can be many hours and sometimes multiple visits to get
7 very precise specifics that can be checked and help us determine the
8 veracity of the person's statement.
9 Q. Now, you've spoken about the reports that are prepared by
10 Human Rights Watch when these field research missions are conducted. I'm
11 interested in the reports that were prepared with regard to events in
12 Kosovo and would like to know if you could explain a little the procedure
13 followed by Human Rights Watch to disseminate reports that it produces
14 after conducting these sort of investigations.
15 A. Our reports are widely disseminated to a variety of institutions
16 and individuals and organisations. They go to the media, this is a very
17 important recipient of our work; they go to international organisations,
18 both non-governmental organisations and international organisations like
19 the United Nations; and they go to governments, they go widely to
20 governments that are following the issue about which the report is --
21 about the violations that the report is documenting, but also to the
22 government that -- that is implicated in these violations or that we're
23 accusing is -- the officials from that government have committed these
24 violations. And the same goes for armed groups because we research in
25 particular -- in areas of conflict, we -- you have international
1 conflicts, where we'll look at both -- two or more governments that are
2 involved or the armed forces of those governments, but we will also
3 examine armed groups. In the Kosovo case, the Kosovo Liberation Army is
4 the example, but all over the world we'll look at these armed groups as
5 well and try our best to disseminate, make sure that they get our reports
6 and our statements.
7 Usually the reports are disseminated through multiple means.
8 There's the printed version, whereby the physical reports are sent via
9 post. During the time in question, that was done. It's done much less
10 today because of the prevalence of the internet, but back then it was
11 done on a standard basis. We also distributed our press releases by fax,
12 and every report would have a press release announcing the report; and
13 also by e-mail. And by 1996 -- I think by 1996 we had instituted a
14 distribution system by e-mail so that every statement and every report
15 was distributed in that -- in that manner.
16 Q. And if we're concentrating specifically on Kosovo, you spoke
17 about dissemination of reports to governments you thought were implicated
18 in the human rights violations you had documented. In the case of
19 Kosovo, if you are looking at violations that you believe were committed
20 by entities that belonged to either the Serbian or Yugoslav government,
21 would these reports have been sent to authorities in those governments or
22 institutions within those governments?
23 A. Yes, they would. I can only speak to the period in which I was
24 working on these issues, which was from 1995 and with Kosovo from 1996,
25 and we did undertake efforts to make sure that all of our statements and
1 reports -- anything we produced publicly was distributed to the relevant
2 officials on the Serbian and the Yugoslav level.
3 Q. Now, you spoke about dissemination via e-mail. How was this
4 carried out with respect to Yugoslav and Serbian authorities?
5 A. We maintained a list, a distribution list, for each country in
6 which we worked, and at that time, you know, that included all the
7 countries of the Balkans and specifically the Yugoslav list was -- was
8 maintained so that everyone on that list would receive our -- receive our
10 Q. And -- so was this list regularly updated? I mean, if a person
11 changed position and a new person was appointed, would that be -- would
12 your mailing list be updated to reflect those changes?
13 A. Yes, they would. The list was constantly being refined, updated,
14 and adapted as necessary.
15 Q. And with respect to Serbian authorities, did this list include
16 representatives of the Ministry of Interior, the Serbian Ministry of
17 Interior, MUP?
18 A. Yes, it did. The Serbian Ministry of Interior as well as the
19 Yugoslav Ministry of Interior were on the list.
20 Q. Do you recall which other entities of the Serbian government
21 would have been included in your mailing list?
22 A. The Yugoslav Army was on our list, the Presidencies, I believe,
23 Serbian and Yugoslav Presidencies were on it -- the list -- at least some
24 of the lists because the mailing lists and the e-mail lists might not
25 always have been exactly the same. The Ministries of Justice on the
1 republican and federal level. That's it, interior, justice, the army,
2 and the Presidencies, if -- to the best of my recollection.
3 Q. Thank you. Now I want to turn to your work in Kosovo during
4 1998. Did you -- you have spoken about different research missions that
5 you conducted in the region. Did you conduct any research missions to
6 Kosovo in 1998?
7 A. Yes, I did.
8 Q. When was the first mission that you conducted to the -- to Kosovo
9 on that year?
10 A. The first mission was in May of 1998, I believe it extended into
11 June, about three weeks long, May/June 1998.
12 Q. What was the purpose of that mission?
13 A. At that point, hostilities had erupted, had begun, between
14 Serbian and Yugoslav forces on one side and KLA on the other side. There
15 had been a series of violent incidents involving -- in which civilians
16 had been killed and increasing reports of serious violations of both
17 human rights and international humanitarian law. So we wanted to
18 investigate those allegations, and to do so required going into the
19 field, as we call it, to conduct this research.
20 Q. And did you conduct your research in any specific area of Kosovo?
21 A. Yes, we ended up focusing on a couple of areas but a primary
22 focus was on the region of central Kosovo that's known as Drenica. It
23 encompasses two municipalities, I believe it's Glogovac and Srbica
24 municipalities. This was one of the areas which -- in which the KLA was
25 very active. Some people call it the cradle of the KLA where it began,
1 and there had been some very violent incidents there in which large
2 numbers of civilians were killed in at least three villages that I'm
3 aware of. So we went there to investigate the circumstances around those
4 civilian deaths. That was the primary focus.
5 I believe I also spent time in the other area that was heavily
6 affected, which is the western areas of Kosovo, particularly between Pec
7 and Djakovica, the area of Decan, there was also a lot of fighting in
8 that area and allegations of serious violations.
9 Q. Now, you mentioned that there were three villages where there had
10 been civilian death and that you had investigated. Do you recall the
11 names of those villages?
12 A. Yes, in Drenica the three most prominent cases were Prekaz,
13 Likosane, and Cirez. There were different -- Likosane and Cirez are
14 neighbouring villages and that might be considered one incident. I
15 believe it was March 20 -- February 28/March 1, and I believe 20 people
16 we considered to be civilians were killed in those two villages,
17 including ten members of one family that we believed were -- were
18 executed, members of the Ahmeti family, based on eye-witnesses who told
19 us what happened.
20 And in Prekaz was another story. There were two incidents in
21 Prekaz, one in January and one in March -- I think it was March 5th. And
22 the March 5th incident was the most serious. There was increasingly
23 well-known KLA member named Adem Jashari who had had numerous
24 altercations with the police; he was definitely engaged in militant
25 activity and the security forces surrounded his compound, besieged it,
1 and there were in the end I believe it's 58 members of his family were
2 killed. I believe Jashari and some of his family members were also
3 fighting back, but in the end 58 members of his family died except --
4 there was one survivor, one 11-year-old girl named Besarta.
5 But I did not conduct in-depth investigations into the Prekaz
6 incident. I focused more on Likosane and Cirez. And in that case we
7 determined that there had been some KLA attacks and some policemen had
8 been killed, and then the response led to the high number of civilian
9 deaths, I believe it was more than 25. I remember four brothers of one
10 family and a pregnant woman I remember in particular Rukija Nebija who
11 were killed in those attacks.
12 Q. And during this research mission, were you working alone or were
13 other colleagues of Human Rights Watch working with you during this
15 A. On that mission, on that investigation, I worked alone.
16 Q. Did you prepare a report in -- with regard to your findings
17 during this investigation?
18 A. Yes, I did.
19 Q. Do you recall the name of that report?
20 A. It's called "Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo," and it's
21 based on that research mission and directly after I travelled to northern
23 Albanians who had fled Kosovo into -- across the mountains into Albania
24 so I interviewed them in northern Albania and that also formed a
25 substantial basis for our conclusions in that report.
1 Q. And were you solely involved in the drafting of this report or
2 did other persons at Human Rights Watch collaborate in the drafting of
3 this report?
4 A. I was the sole drafter, but all of our reports, this one as well
5 as every other, go through a rigorous review process. They're reviewed
6 first within the geographic division, in this case it's the Europe
7 Central Asia
8 they're reviewed by our legal office. So this report, like all others,
9 went through that process.
10 Q. Do you recall when this report was made public by
11 Human Rights Watch?
12 A. I'm afraid I don't exactly. It would have been probably the end
13 of 1998 if I'm not mistaken, latter month, October 1998 perhaps. I'm
14 sorry I don't recall exactly.
15 Q. And we had spoken earlier about the dissemination of reports.
16 Would this report have been disseminated according to the general
17 procedure of Human Rights Watch, that is, via mailing list to the
18 different authorities and to the media?
19 A. Yes, this report would have been disseminated in the same manner.
20 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, this report is Exhibit 00437, and I
21 seek to tender it at this stage.
22 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
23 THE REGISTRAR: That will be P00741, Your Honours.
24 MS. KRAVETZ:
25 Q. Just very briefly, Mr. Abrahams, when preparing this report, did
1 you try to obtain information from the Serbian authorities as to what had
2 occurred in the Drenica region?
3 A. Yes, I did, yes.
4 Q. How did you try to obtain this information?
5 A. During the mission, I requested and received a meeting with a
6 Serbian official in Pristina, Kosovo capital. He was the local
7 representative of the Ministry of Information by the name of
8 Bosko Drobnjak. And I had a discussion with Mr. Drobnjak in which I
9 presented some of our concerns. I gave him a list of ethnic Albanians
10 who had gone missing, I believe that had at least 12 names on it. He
11 replied by saying this was the government's legitimate fight against what
12 he called terrorism, and it was not within his competency to give me an
13 answer about the missing persons as well as some of the other questions I
14 had about the behaviour of the Serbian and Yugoslav security forces.
15 So when I returned to New York, I prepared a series of letters
16 which we sent from New York
17 and Yugoslavia
18 to the various allegations we had heard in Kosovo -- I had heard during
19 the research mission.
20 MS. KRAVETZ: I would like to have Exhibit 65 ter 00542 brought
21 up on the screen.
22 Q. This document will appear on the screen before you, Mr. Abrahams.
23 I don't know if you have the document. There.
24 MS. KRAVETZ: I would like just for the English to be displayed
25 for the witness, please. Just the English.
1 Q. Do you recognise that document, Mr. Abrahams?
2 A. Yes, I do.
3 Q. Can you explain what it is, this document.
4 A. This is the letter that I referenced earlier, namely, our
5 questions to Minister Stojiljkovic, the Minister of Interior of the
6 Republic of Serbia
7 research mission in May and June.
8 MS. KRAVETZ: I'm unfortunately having a problem with my e-court
9 system. It seems to be crashing quite frequently, but we'll try to
10 continue like this --
11 JUDGE PARKER: I'm told that all systems are presently disabled
12 in all courtrooms.
13 MS. KRAVETZ: Okay. Well, glad to know it's not just me.
14 So if we could scroll down this document.
15 Q. We see that this letter was sent by Ms. Holly Cartner. Could you
16 tell us who that was?
17 A. Holly Cartner was and still is the director of the Europe
18 Central Asia
19 Q. Now did you receive any response to this letter sent to
20 Mr. Stojiljkovic in July 1998?
21 A. No, we did not.
22 Q. And I notice that in the letter you are asking about information
23 on policemen who may have died, and you're also asking about information
24 about abuses committed by government authorities, and you indicate in the
25 last question:
1 "Have any policemen been disciplined or criminally charged for
2 exceeding the legal limits while performing their duties in Kosovo ..."
3 Was it usually the case that when conducting your investigation
4 you tried to investigate violations committed by all sides in a conflict?
5 A. More than just tried. That was explicitly our mandate, to
6 investigate violations by all parties to the conflict, not just in the
7 Kosovo case but in every armed conflict that we -- in which we work; and
8 now I've worked in many. So we were definitely interested to know about
9 attacks on members of the police as well as the army and to hear about
10 allegations of violations committed by the KLA.
11 Q. And just to understand, was it the general practice of
12 Human Rights Watch to try to obtain the position of the authorities you
13 thought were -- might be implicated in the abuses that you were observing
14 on the ground, or is this an exceptional case that you were sending
15 letters to government authorities in Serbia?
16 A. No, we endeavoured to obtain the views of the government side or
17 of the forces we were -- we believed might have committed these
19 Q. Would that have been the case for each one of the research
20 missions that you conducted in Kosovo during the time that you were
21 working there?
22 A. To the best of our ability, we made these requests, yes.
23 MS. KRAVETZ: Could we please have -- oh, I would seek to tender
24 this exhibit into evidence before we move to the next one. This is --
25 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
1 MS. KRAVETZ: Could we please have 65 ter -- oh, I'm sorry.
2 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00742, Your Honours.
3 MS. KRAVETZ: Could we now please have 65 ter 00544 up on the
4 screen. And if we could display the second page of that exhibit only in
5 the English for the witness, please.
6 Q. Do you recognise this document, Mr. Abrahams?
7 A. Yes. This is a version of the same letter that we submitted
8 after my mission to the Yugoslav Army.
9 Q. With the different letters that you sent out when you were
10 conducting this research contain essentially the same questions or did
11 you change or modify the requests for information depending on the entity
12 you were addressing these letters?
13 A. We modified the questions depending on the entity; in this case,
14 to specifically ask about incidents or information involving the VJ, the
15 Vojska Jugoslavije.
16 Q. And this would have been a letter that was sent within the
17 context of the same research that we have been talking about conducted
18 with respect to the Drenica region?
19 A. That's correct.
20 MS. KRAVETZ: I seek to tender this exhibit at this stage. This
21 is 65 ter 00544.
22 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
23 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00743, Your Honours.
24 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, there are a series of these letters,
25 there are seven in total, which are referred to in the exhibit that I
1 have already tendered, the 65 ter 2227, and they are described or
2 explained at pages 2 to 3 of these exhibits. I'm not -- I do not wish to
3 go -- show the witness each one of these letters, but as they are
4 contained within that statement that has already been admitted by
5 Your Honours, I would seek to tender the whole -- the remaining five
6 letters which are described in that statement.
7 JUDGE PARKER: The five will be received.
8 MS. KRAVETZ: So I will call out each one of the 65 ter numbers
9 so they get assigned an exhibit number. The first one is 00540.
10 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00744, Your Honours.
11 MS. KRAVETZ: 00541.
12 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00745.
13 MS. KRAVETZ: 00543.
14 THE REGISTRAR: That will be P00746.
15 MS. KRAVETZ: 00545.
16 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00747.
17 MS. KRAVETZ: And the last one is 00546.
18 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00748.
19 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I'm going to be moving to a different
20 topic now. I think -- I don't know if this is an appropriate moment for
21 the break. I know we're five minutes early --
22 JUDGE PARKER: Perhaps that will be a convenient time. We will
23 adjourn for the half-hour and resume at five minutes to 4.00.
24 --- Recess taken at 3.24 p.m.
25 --- On resuming at 3.59 p.m.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Ms. Kravetz.
2 MS. KRAVETZ: Thank you, Your Honour.
3 Q. Mr. Abrahams, before the break we were talking about your
4 research missions to Kosovo in 1998, and I would like now to ask you some
5 questions about a report that you referred to in your statement of
6 July 2006 and also in your previous statements, and this is at paragraph
7 19 of P739. And this is a report called "A Week of Terror in Drenica"
8 which you say you co-authored with a colleague. Could you tell us what
9 this report was about?
10 A. I returned to Kosovo in September 1998, and during that time the
11 Serbian and Yugoslav forces were on a military offensive to rout the KLA
12 from territory that the Albanian fighters had -- had taken control of.
13 And we heard of an incident - I believe I learned of it on
14 September 28th - an incident in the Drenica region in which a large
15 number of people from one family had reportedly been killed, civilians.
16 So my colleague and I travelled to this village. The offensive -- the
17 government offensive had stopped at that time. I believe it stopped on
18 the 26th of September. And we succeeded to reach the village. It was a
19 place called Obrinje, Gornje Obrinje to be precise. And when we arrived
20 there, we witnessed the villagers taking from a wooded area the bodies of
21 civilians who had been killed. There were -- when we arrived they were
22 carrying out three individuals, all of them children, on a kind of
23 makeshift stretcher and there were other bodies in a wooded area just
24 outside the village. I believe it was seven bodies of women and children
25 in total. And they were burying them in a nearby field. 14 members of
1 that family, it's the Delijaj family were killed, and we saw the bodies
2 of the seven plus the three they were taking out.
3 So we began an investigation that day which lasted for about
4 three weeks. We ended up returning -- my colleague and I left Kosovo and
5 then returned again in November to complete the investigation. And our
6 findings were produced in this -- in this report that you mentioned
7 "A week of terror in Drenica."
8 Q. You spoke about a colleague of yours who was involved in this
9 investigation. Can you please indicate what was his name or her name?
10 A. Peter Bouckaert.
11 Q. You said you learned of this incident in the village on
12 September 28th, do you recall -- yes, before I move to my question could
13 you please spell out the last name of your colleague.
14 A. B-o-u-c-k-a-e-r-t.
15 Q. Thank you. Now you said that you had learned of this incident on
16 September 28th. Do you recall from whom you had -- you learned about it,
17 you initially heard about this incident?
18 A. I initially heard about it from some -- from an ethnic Albanian
19 friend who was a journalist in Pristina, worked for the newspaper
20 "Koha Ditore," and he didn't know the details but told me that something
21 had happened in this village of Gornje Obrinje. So based on that
22 information, we decided to take a look.
23 Q. Now, you told us that your research lasted for about three weeks.
24 Could you briefly explain the methodology that you used during this
25 research that you conducted into this incident.
1 A. Well, in this case, we were ourselves ocular witnesses, not to
2 the killing itself, in that sense no; but we saw the bodies as they lay
3 there. And that formed on important part of our results because the
4 wounds were consistent with the testimony we collected, and I can go into
5 detail about what we saw on the bodies if you -- if that's helpful. But
6 the investigation then involved the in-depth interviews with the people
7 we believed had information about the incident. That means the family
8 members of those affected plus others who lived in the village of Obrinje
9 and in the general area.
10 There was another incident in the nearby village of Golubovac
11 where 14 men were executed. That also was part of that report. So we
12 interviewed a large number. I would have to look at the report to tell
13 you exactly how many people we interviewed. All of the interviews are
14 in -- are footnoted, the name if appropriate -- I mean if the person
15 doesn't request anonymity, the date and place of the interview, and also
16 my notes to tell you how many people. But we interviewed definitely more
17 than two dozen people, for sure more than two dozen, who had some
18 information about this incident.
19 We also looked at official statements from the
20 Serbian and Yugoslav government. In this case there had been fighting in
21 the village of Obrinje
22 been fighting in the Drenica area in general. And some Serbian policemen
23 had been killed. And their names were made public by the government. So
24 we included those details, the fact that there are had been fighting in
25 the area is very relevant to trying -- to determining whether there had
1 been a violation or not. And all of that taken together was -- was used
2 to help us reach our conclusions.
3 Q. You said that you interviewed about two dozen people who could
4 provide information of this incident. Did you interview each person
6 A. I would have to refer to my notes to tell you whether each and
7 every individual was interviewed in a one-on-one setting, but by all
8 means that is our aim. We strive to do that at every time and it is for
9 the most part possible. We make -- we take great efforts to ensure that
10 atmosphere, but there are times when it's not possible. And so I can't
11 testify that every single interview was in that setting, but the vast and
12 overwhelming majority of them definitely were.
13 Q. And what did these persons that you interviewed in Gornje Obrinje
14 tell you about what had happened there?
15 A. They testified that -- that there had been fighting in the area
16 and that the KLA had been -- had established a base in the nearby village
17 called Likovac, but the Serbian forces perhaps with -- also with
18 participation of the Yugoslav Army had surrounded the area. There was
19 shelling of the area. And civilians, mostly women and children, had fled
20 the village of Obrinje
21 maybe a kilometre away from the village. And that's the -- that's the
22 area where we found the bodies later. Other members of the family and
23 villagers, not just the Delijaj family, fled in other directions. Some
24 of them tried to hide in the village itself and a few of those people
25 were found killed. Mostly those were older members of the family who
1 were -- apparently they were too old to flee on foot.
2 And then they testified about returning on the 28th, I think, if
3 not the 27th, returning to the area and finding the bodies of their
4 relatives in this -- in this wooded area and in other parts of the
5 village. There was -- in one case there was an eye-witness to killings.
6 It happened, I believe, I would have to -- the Hysenaj family, it was a
7 woman from the Hysenaj family within another part of the Obrinje village.
8 She witnessed what she said were the police interrogating and she claimed
9 killing three older residents who had stayed behind. This was also in
10 the Obrinje village but not members of the Delijaj family, another
11 family. I would have to check the report to give you the names of those
12 victims, but it's recorded.
13 And that corroborated what we found, I should add. When we
14 entered the village on the 29th, we saw those bodies, three bodies, it
15 was, I believe, two elderly men and an elderly woman, and we saw their
16 bodies lying there and -- but then proceeded on to the Delijaj family,
17 which were the bodies we found in the forest. And then in the subsequent
18 interviews, we learned how those three people had been killed.
19 Q. And with respect to these bodies that you were able to observe
20 yourself, what sort of wounds were you able to observe on the bodies, if
22 A. I took the closest look at the seven bodies that were in a kind
23 of gully, and it was a dry -- sort of a dry stream bed. They were -- I
24 believe it was two children and five adults, and most of them, not all,
25 but most had wounds to the head. One of them had been pregnant. That I
1 was -- that I didn't recognise myself. I was told that by the victim's
2 husband. And some of them showed signs of mutilation. What was --
3 looked to me like possible knife wounds. One man who was not in the
4 gully, he was a little bit towards -- on the path, more towards --
5 towards the village, he was an elderly gentleman who was named
6 Piazit [phoen] Delijaj, his throat had been slit.
7 Q. You referred to also having had access to official statements of
8 Yugoslav and Serbian authorities. Can you explain what sort of entity
9 had issued those statements and what was contained in those statements
10 that you had access to?
11 A. Regarding this incident?
12 Q. Yes, regarding this incident, if you recall.
13 A. To the best of my knowledge, the statements were released by what
14 was called the media centre - I think it was called the Serbian media
15 centre, but maybe it was just called the media centre - which had been
16 established in Pristina with a base at the Hotel Grand, which was the
17 main hotel in Pristina, and it was never officially linked to the state,
18 to the government; but it was everyone's understanding that it was a
19 government-run or in the very least government-supported press centre.
20 And they released statements regularly about attacks on police
21 and army, and in this case they did the same, releasing at least one
22 statement with the names of some of the policemen. I believe some of
23 them were reservists and others were regular police who had been killed
24 in and around Obrinje in the fighting that preceded the incident to which
25 I referred.
1 Q. Now, did you or your colleague take photographs at the location
2 that you visited, at Gornje Obrinje?
3 A. Yes, we did.
4 MS. KRAVETZ: Can we please have 65 ter 00642 up on the screen.
5 Q. Do you recognise the photograph that is before you on your
7 A. Yes, I do.
8 Q. Can you tell us what is depicted there.
9 A. These are two children from the Delijaj family being taken from
10 this forested area to the nearby open field for burial. I think I
11 mentioned a makeshift stretcher and that would be this basically two
12 pieces of wood with a fabric in between. This photograph was taken by my
13 colleague, Peter Bouckaert, while I was present.
14 Q. Thank you.
15 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I would like to tender this
16 photograph, it's 65 ter 00642.
17 JUDGE PARKER: It will be -- they will be received. One
18 photograph, it will be received.
19 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00749, Your Honours.
20 MS. KRAVETZ: Could we now move to 65 ter 00653, if that could be
21 displayed for the witness.
22 Q. Could you please comment on the photograph that's put up on the
23 screen before you.
24 A. This is one of the Delijaj family members, a woman, as we found
25 her in this so-called gully in -- outside the village of Obrinje
1 by my colleague, Peter Bouckaert.
2 Q. And this would have been, again, a photograph taken during the
3 course of the same visit to Gornje Obrinje?
4 A. That's correct. These are one of the seven bodies that we saw,
5 that I saw, in the gully.
6 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I seek to tender this exhibit, 00653.
7 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
8 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00750, Your Honours.
9 MS. KRAVETZ: If we could now see 00679, please.
10 Q. Do you recognise this photograph, Mr. Abrahams?
11 A. Yes, I do.
12 Q. Can you tell us what is depicted on this photograph?
13 A. This is one of the Delijaj children as we found him in the gully
14 outside of Obrinje on September 29th.
15 Q. And do you recall who took this photograph?
16 A. Peter Bouckaert.
17 Q. You have spoken about having seen seven bodies. Do you recall
18 how many of those bodies were bodies of women or children?
19 A. I don't recall precisely. I believe two of the bodies were
20 children and five were women, but my recollection is a little hazy after
21 all of these years. It is presented in the report, though.
22 Q. Thank you.
23 MS. KRAVETZ: If we could -- I seek to tender that before I move
24 to the next photograph, this is 00679.
25 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
1 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00751, Your Honours.
2 MS. KRAVETZ: If we could now move to 00702, please.
3 Q. Do you recognise this photograph, Mr. Abrahams?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Could you tell us what is depicted on this photograph.
6 A. This photograph was taken in a village called Plocica, which is
7 in the Drenica region just a few kilometres north of the Pristina-Pec
8 road. We entered the village on September 26th and just after the
9 Serbian and Yugoslav offensive had stopped. We actually observed a large
10 convoy of military vehicles leaving the region -- leaving this area. And
11 when we entered Plocica, the villagers were just returning. They had
12 been hiding in the forest. And we asked them what happened. And in
13 interviews they told us that their area had been -- had come under attack
14 from shelling and that police forces had entered the village so they fled
15 into the nearby forest.
16 And when they returned they found their village in this
17 condition. The village had been heavily destroyed, and it appeared to us
18 as if it had been -- large sections of the civilian infrastructure had
19 been purposely set on fire. I say that because the homes -- this
20 photograph is a good example. The homes were burning - this was still on
21 fire - from the inside. The walls were still standing. There were no
22 burn marks on the exterior walls, but the inside of the structures were
23 burning. I recall seeing at least three haystacks that had been
24 individually burned, which suggested to me that they had been set on
25 fire. There was a long briar fence that had been burned, and I also
1 found at least one benzine bottle of -- I mean, a plastic bottle that
2 smelled of benzine. I also recall finding in a field near to this home a
3 box of empty ammunition and probably a mortar -- probably mortars -- a
4 box that held mortars.
5 This particular -- this particular structure was a food
6 warehouse, and inside the house were melons and sacks of flour that were
7 on fire. I believe this gentleman is the owner of the house. I'm not
8 sure exactly who he is, but this was taken by a man named Wade Goddard
9 who was a photographer for the New York Times; he was travelling with us.
10 I should add one additional recollection were the farm animals.
11 I remember seeing three burned sheep in the village and also a cow and
12 the cow had been shot, had been shot in the head, which was -- after that
13 I subsequently in the region saw many cows, at least ten cows that had
14 been also killed in this way but not in Plocica.
15 Q. And did you -- were you able to observe any evidence that there
16 had been fighting in Plocica before you -- your team arrived?
17 A. No. We were not able -- did not see any evidence of hostilities.
18 By that I mean we found no bullet casings. The only weaponry we found
19 was the box of mortar fire, which incidentally I should say had Cyrillic
20 writing on the outside of the box. So we took it to mean it was
21 Yugoslav Army equipment, perhaps police. But we didn't find any bullet
22 casings. We didn't find any marks on the structures that would indicate
23 fighting, such as impact marks of bullets or other forms of ammunition.
24 And we found no signs of defensive positions or other, let's say,
25 physical signs of the KLA's presence, bunkers or berms or anything that
1 they might have prepared, which we did see in other villages where the
2 KLA had been fighting.
3 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honour, I see that my learned colleague is on
4 his fight.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Djurdjic.
6 MR. DJURDJIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, it appears to me that
7 now we have gone beyond testifying about facts. We have now gone into
8 conclusions that would more properly be reached by a military expert.
9 JUDGE PARKER: The only evidence so far is that there were no
10 signs of presence of fighters, bunkers, or berms, which is a military
11 emplacement. That seems to be within the competence of the observation
12 of any person, Mr. Djurdjic.
13 So carry on, please, Ms. Kravetz.
14 MS. KRAVETZ: Thank you, Your Honour.
15 Q. Now, is the damage we see here on the photograph and what you
16 have described as a barn consistent with the damage that you were able to
17 observe on other civilian property in the village of Plocica
18 A. Yes, it's wholly consistent.
19 Q. Thank you.
20 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I seek to tender this photograph into
21 evidence it's 65 ter 00702.
22 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
23 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
24 THE REGISTRAR: That will be assigned P00752, Your Honours.
25 MS. KRAVETZ:
1 Q. Now, we were talking about your investigation into the incident
2 in the killing in the village of Gornje Obrinje and the report that you
3 and your colleague drafted. Do you recall when that report was made
4 public, "A Week of Terror in Drenica"?
5 A. I believe it was February 1999.
6 Q. And again, we had been speaking earlier about dissemination of
7 reports. Would this report have also been sent to both Serbian and
8 Yugoslav authorities in accordance with your usual procedure?
9 A. Yes, it would have, yes.
10 Q. Do you know if it was also disseminated to the press, if it was
11 sent -- copies were sent to the press at the time when it was released?
12 A. Definitely, and I should add that this incident also received
13 widespread international media attention. I mentioned the photographer
14 from the New York Times. We were also accompanied, we were travelling
15 with, a journalist from the New York Times, Jane Perlez, and she wrote a
16 front-page article in the New York Times about this very incident with
17 photographs of the victims. So this -- this Gornje Obrinje case received
18 widespread coverage, as did our subsequent report.
19 Q. And do you recall approximately when this article would have been
20 published in the New York Times? I mean, was this when you were still
21 investigating or after you had concluded your three-week mission in the
23 A. No, the article would have been published just days after the
24 journalist and photographer had visited the scene, so the -- I don't know
25 the precise date, but it would have been September 30th, maybe the
1 beginning of October.
2 Q. Thank you.
3 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I seek to tender the report into
4 evidence this is 65 ter 00441.
5 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
6 THE REGISTRAR: And that will be assigned P00753, Your Honours.
7 MS. KRAVETZ:
8 Q. Mr. Abrahams, I would like now -- I would like to move to your
9 work in Kosovo in 1999. Did you return to Kosovo in early 1999 to
10 conduct an additional investigative research mission in the region?
11 A. I visited Kosovo four times in 1998 to conduct research, and then
12 again in February of 1999.
13 Q. And what was the purpose of your visit -- your mission to Kosovo
14 in February 1999?
15 A. It was to continue our investigations about IHL violations,
16 international humanitarian law, and in particular the focus of my
17 research was to be the alleged destruction of civilian property in -- in
18 parts of Kosovo. We began that research, but because the NATO
19 bombardment of Yugoslavia
20 research and never published a report with our findings.
21 Q. And on that occasion, were you on your own conducting this
22 investigation or were you with other colleagues from Human Rights Watch?
23 A. In February I was with a colleague, yes.
24 Q. Did you take any photographs of what you were able to observe
25 during this February mission?
1 A. Yes, I did.
2 Q. And do you recall if you were specifically in any area of the
3 province? I mean, was your research focused on any specific area of the
4 province or did you tour different municipalities?
5 A. We toured extensively, but I recall focusing on the western area,
6 particularly around the city of Pec
7 Q. And why did you decide to focus on that area in western Kosovo
8 and Suva
9 A. In that area we had been receiving the most consistent and
10 credible allegations of serious violations.
11 Q. And serious violations by whom, by which of the parties to the
13 A. By both -- by both of the parties.
14 Q. And from whom had you been receiving these allegations?
15 A. From a long list of sources. They were coming from other human
16 rights organisations, both local and international, they were coming from
17 the media, they were coming from local authorities, they were coming from
18 the network of individuals in Kosovo that I had developed, people we
19 trusted to tell us about what was going on.
20 MS. KRAVETZ: If we could have Exhibit 00700 up on the screen and
21 I would like to have page 5 displayed for the witness. Yes, this is the
22 65 ter -- yes.
23 Q. Do you recognise the image that's -- the photograph that's up on
24 the screen, Mr. Abrahams?
25 A. Yes, I believe this is a photo of the village called Lodja just
1 outside of Pec.
2 Q. And who took this photograph, if you recall?
3 A. I did.
4 Q. And would this have been a photograph taken during this mission
5 that you were describing in February 1999?
6 A. Yes, that's correct.
7 Q. And were you able to obtain any information as to what had
8 happened there? We see houses without roofs and that have been burnt?
9 A. Well, I first visited Lodja in September of 1998 -- or better
10 said, I tried to visit Lodja. At that time, it was occupied by the
11 Serbian police. We saw them in uniform, and they denied us access to the
12 village. I should say that even prior to that the KLA had definitely
13 been in the village, I believe in July; but when I arrived in September,
14 the police were there. They didn't let us in.
15 This -- when I returned then in February of 1999 and took this
16 photograph, they had left. We were able to enter the village. And
17 that's when we observed and photographed the destruction that's depicted
19 MS. KRAVETZ: If we could turn to page 7 of this same exhibit.
20 Q. Do you recognise this photograph?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Could you tell us what is depicted there?
23 A. These are private homes, typical Albanian homes, just outside of
25 few kilometres of Suva Reka.
1 Q. And do you recall who took this photograph?
2 A. I did.
3 Q. Would this have also been a photograph taken during your same
4 February mission that you have been speaking about?
5 A. That's correct, yes.
6 Q. And were you able to obtain information as to who had burned
7 these homes, what had happened in this area?
8 A. Witnesses claimed that Serbian forces had burned these homes. I
9 don't, at this point, recall the details of those incidents. What was
10 clear to me is that they had been burned from inside. Again, the lack
11 of -- the absence of the roof -- the wooden roofs that had been burned
12 and very limited scarring, burn marks, on the exterior, only when the
13 fire appeared to have come out from a window.
14 MS. KRAVETZ: If we could look at page 8 of this same exhibit.
15 Q. Do you recognise this photograph?
16 A. I do, but I'm afraid I'm not certain where -- what village it was
17 taken. I believe in the Drenica area, probably Obrinje, but I'm not
19 Q. And can you explain what is depicted here on the photograph?
20 A. It was -- it's a destroyed mosque, that's for sure, and I
21 remember seeing a number of these in the Drenica area, but I don't recall
22 the precise village. I'm sorry.
23 Q. That's fine. And would this have also been a photograph taken by
25 A. Yes, definitely.
1 MS. KRAVETZ: If we could look at page 10 of this same exhibit.
2 Q. And again, Mr. Abrahams, if you could explain what is depicted on
3 this photograph.
4 A. These -- this is also a mosque with substantial destruction to
5 the roof and minaret, again in the Drenica region. I could easily figure
6 out which village by looking back at my reports and notes, but sitting
7 here I'm not certain which village it was taken in.
8 Q. And were you able to obtain any information while you were there
9 as to how this mosque had been damaged and by whom?
10 A. Local residents told us that it had been damaged by Serbian
11 forces, but I do not recall the specifics of that allegation.
12 Q. Okay.
13 MS. KRAVETZ: If we could turn to the next page, page 11.
14 Q. Would this be a photograph of the same mosque we saw earlier?
15 A. That's correct, it's the same mosque as the previous photograph.
16 Q. Thank you.
17 MS. KRAVETZ: Your Honours, I seek to tender this exhibit into
18 evidence. There are additional photographs to this exhibit that I have
19 not shown to the witness. The exhibit is 65 ter 00700. The photographs
20 I have not shown to the witness are described or explained in his
21 statement, these are page 12 and 13 of the statement of May 2002.
22 JUDGE PARKER: I understand you seek to tender five photographs;
23 is that right?
24 MS. KRAVETZ: Yes, the photographs that I have shown to the
1 JUDGE PARKER: They will be received.
2 THE REGISTRAR: Photographs under page 5, 7, 8, and 10,
3 Your Honours, and 11 will be assigned P00754.
4 MS. KRAVETZ:
5 Q. Mr. Abrahams, I now want to move to the period of the NATO
6 bombing. Could you please tell us how Human Rights Watch coordinated the
7 coverage of the NATO bombing in 1999.
8 A. When the bombing began, we mobilised a team of researchers to the
9 border areas with Kosovo. The international media and monitors from the
10 OSCE were leaving, either on their own or being expelled, Kosovo. So
11 entering the province was not an option for us, either legally, meaning
12 we wouldn't be allowed in, and also for our security. So we sent
13 researchers to the area of northern Albania and Macedonia
14 interviewing ethnic Albanian refugees who were leaving and, as they told
15 us, being expelled from Kosovo.
16 I stayed in New York
17 project. We sent our first researcher to north Albania within a few
18 days, I believe it was three days after the start of the bombing so that
19 would be around March 27th or 8th, and we had a researcher present in
20 both cases for the full extent of the NATO campaign, which I believe
21 lasted 78 days. I myself went in April to northern Albania, spent a few
22 weeks up there interviewing the refugees coming into the area of Kukes,
23 the town, and in the north; and then I went to Macedonia to do the same.
24 In both places, large refugee camps had been established. So we
25 interviewed refugees as they came across the border immediately and also
1 then in the camps where they were being sheltered.
2 Q. Now, you spoke about interviewing refugees as they were crossing
3 the border into northern Albania
4 were saying or what reasons they were giving for having left their homes
5 and crossed over into northern Albania based on the interviews you
6 conducted and what you were able to hear from these persons?
7 A. The interview subjects uniformly told us that they had left their
8 homes because they had been forcibly expelled by security forces from
9 either Serbia
10 fear of expulsion, in other words, maybe they were not directly forced
11 out of their villages but all the neighbouring villages had been and they
12 got the message and left before they themselves were evicted.
13 In many cases, these interviewees talked of killings in their
14 home villages that typically -- a typical example would be that the area
15 was surrounded and security forces separated the men from the women. The
16 women were told to leave the area and sent to the border district where
17 they had to cross out of Kosovo, and the men were kept behind, searched,
18 interrogated. But in a disturbing number of cases, in villages that I
19 could mention and which we reported, these men were -- were executed and
20 there are some specific examples where that took place. Along the way, a
21 lot of these people told us that they were harassed and robbed.
22 Actually, theft and looting was more the exception than the norm that
23 people had their wedding rings taken, their money, and other valuables by
24 police, army, and also paramilitary units that were operating at that
1 They also spoke about something we called identity cleansing,
2 which is that along the way, and especially on the border, they were
3 stripped of their identity documents. Sometimes cars had their licence
4 plates removed, and people were forced to enter into Albania or Macedonia
5 without any personal documentation. We interpreted this as a -- as an
6 attempt to limit or restrict or prevent -- prevent their return to
7 Kosovo. But I won't speculate on the motivation but simply the fact that
8 many people said their documents had been taken by state security forces.
9 Q. Now, were these persons that you were interviewing as they were
10 crossing the border into Kukes, were they coming from area particular
11 area of Kosovo or were they coming from different municipalities across
12 the province?
13 A. They came from a wide geographic area, but predominantly they
14 came from the western areas of Kosovo, this would be anywhere from
15 Djakovica, north to Pec, even north-west of that -- actually north-east
16 of that, Istok area, Suva Reka area. In general, the people who went
17 south to Macedonia
18 Lipljan, Vucitrn, and those areas.
19 Q. Now, you spoke about cases where the interviewees would tell you
20 about killings that happened in their villages and you said that there
21 was some specific examples that came to mind. Now, could you -- do you
22 recall any of those examples that you heard while you were conducting
23 these interviews at the border?
24 A. Yes, I do. One of the very serious cases I recall is -- happened
25 in the village of Bela Crkva, where the men were separated from the women
1 and children and held in a kind of stream bed, where forces opened fire
2 on them. We interviewed multiple witnesses, not just to the shooting but
3 also to the incident as a whole, in other words, woman who said they had
4 been separated from their men plus the men who had -- had been present,
5 and we interviewed some survivors. In Bela Crkva I remember very vividly
6 one survivor who testified about bodies falling on top of him, and he
7 himself had been hit by a bullet. We took him to see a doctor and indeed
8 he had a bullet, if I remember correctly, it was lodged in his shoulder.
9 And 30-some odd people died in Bela Crkva.
10 I remember quite well the testimony we got from villagers from a
11 place called Meja. In that village they said that possibly up to 300
12 people had been -- had been killed, and that was a very interesting case
13 because -- if you want I can go -- I don't know if details are of service
14 to you.
15 Q. Yes, you can briefly explain, yes.
16 A. Okay. The Meja case was interesting because we first heard news
17 of it in the morning as women crossed into Albania without their men, and
18 we asked, Well, why are you coming alone, just women and children. And
19 they said, We come from this area around Meja, and they separated us from
20 our husbands and sons and fathers.
21 Then in the middle of the day, I believe this was April 27th, in
22 the middle of the day I interviewed women, refugees who said, We came
23 through that same route, through Meja, and we saw men, we witnessed men
24 kneeling by the side of the road in the detention of the police. And
25 then we interviewed women who came through in the end of the day,
1 April 27th, who said, We saw an even larger number of people and there
2 were at least two witnesses who said they saw dead bodies who had been --
3 were literally piled up and on the side of the road. And they estimated
4 that it was 300 bodies. And I specifically remember asking how they
5 could do that because when you're afraid are you going to count bodies
6 and if they're tumbled on top of each other. And I remember them
7 describing that they were -- about how large the pile was, but in their
8 testimony it was 300 people.
9 And the Meja case stands out in my mind because after the
10 fighting ended we went to Meja and conducted lengthy investigations. My
11 colleague went there two days after the war ended, so that would be
12 June 14th, and saw a few bodies by the side of the road exactly where the
13 refugees had told us this incident had occurred, as well as remnants of
14 personally identity documents and personal effects. And then I went to
15 Meja in July and conducted lengthy interviews with villagers from the
16 area, and it turned out that there were about 300 people missing from the
17 village at that time and their testimony was very consistent, and it was
18 very credible, and we -- I was -- I was particularly surprised at the
19 level of corroboration between the witnesses in Kosovo and what we had
20 heard in -- in Albania
21 Of course there are other cases that I can talk about as well.
22 Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the interviews that you
23 conducted. I mean, you said you went to Meja and spoke to people who
24 were there about these allegations that you had heard from people
25 streaming out of Kosovo earlier in April 1999. How were these interviews
1 conducted? How long were the interviews in relation to -- now we're
2 speaking only in relation to this specific incident of Meja.
3 A. Well, every interview was different, so I can't tell you that
4 every single interview was the same way, no, that's not the case. But in
5 general, we always strived to have these interviews be conducted in a
6 one-on-one setting. They can take a long time, meaning two or three
7 hours if not more. We do not ask leading questions. We try to have them
8 tell us what they think is important and what is relevant, which includes
9 the location and activities of the Kosovo Liberation Army or, in this
10 period in question, the NATO forces, which of course were not on the
11 ground but the air -- the air campaign from NATO. So, you know, whether
12 that's the case for every interview I can't say, but that's certainly the
13 goal to which we -- towards which we strive.
14 Q. And just to clarify, when were you in Meja conducting this
16 A. July 1999.
17 Q. And for how long did you remain there?
18 A. I would have to check my notes to be sure, but I was definitely
19 in the Meja area for at least three days. Because, you know, the
20 incident didn't just occur to the residents of Meja. There are a series
21 of villages along this valley, and they all came through Meja; and Meja
22 was the location of where the men were separated. So I visited at least
23 three of those villages along this -- along this -- in this area. I also
24 spent time in nearby Djakovica. Definitely I was there at least -- I was
25 there definitely two days, and I believe three days in Djakovica and also
1 in the nearby village called Kostajnica I think -- I think I'm confusing
2 that with a certain politician. I'm sorry, I'm forgetting. Kosica maybe
3 is the village, I'm sorry, I'm forgetting the name of that -- of that
5 Q. And when you were conducting these investigations into the Meja
6 incident, how did you go about trying to find persons who were able to
7 provide information of what had occurred there?
8 A. You mean how did we identify the subjects for interview?
9 Q. Yes.
10 A. Well, the first question to ask is: Who was here at the day in
11 question? And through that, the local villagers would tell you which
12 individuals or which families were present at that time. I believe we
13 also had the names of some of the people whom we had interviewed in Kukes
14 from before and would have gone back to see those people. And through
15 that - these are small, small towns - through that we would have
16 identified people who said they had information to share about the
17 incident in question. And then we would take those people and sit down
18 with them in quiet and conduct the interview.
19 Q. When you were there in July, were there residents or the
20 villagers of Meja returning to the area? I mean, was it easy to locate
21 persons who were able to speak about these events?
22 A. Yes, it was very easy because by then virtually all, if not all,
23 of the residents had returned to Kosovo. They came back almost
24 immediately when the NATO campaign stopped.
25 Q. Now, while you were conducting these interviews in Meja, were you
1 able to disturb any destruction to civilian property in the village?
2 A. In Meja itself? I'm sorry, I don't -- I don't recall that.
3 Q. Okay. Now, you spoke also about spending some days in Djakovica.
4 Did you have the opportunity to visit the old district of Djakovica town?
5 A. Yes, I did.
6 Q. And were you able to observe any sort of destruction to civilian
7 property in that area?
8 A. Yes, in the old town of Djakovica
9 to homes and other civilian objects.
10 Q. Could you explain what exactly you were able to see during the
11 days that you were there?
12 A. Most of the destruction I witnessed appeared to have come from
13 fire, meaning it appeared as if the structures had been set on fire from
14 inside. Again, that's because the walls were still standing and the
15 wooden roofs had been burned as well as the charred remains of the
16 interior of the homes.
17 Q. Did you also interview persons, residents, of Djakovica to find
18 out what had happened in the town during the period of the conflict?
19 A. Yes, yes I did.
20 Q. And do you recall just generally what -- what sort of accounts
21 people told of what had occurred there?
22 A. Well, it was a chaotic scene because the town is fairly large,
23 more than 150.000 people and lots of different incidents. But in
24 general, Djakovica was one of the cities with the highest number of
25 deaths. I think approximately 200 people died. And the witnesses told
1 me that the Serbian security forces and Yugoslav security forces operated
2 in a very coordinated manner. In particular, there were two distinct
3 waves or what appeared to be operations, they said. One began very
4 quickly after the NATO bombing started on March 24th and the other began
5 on May 7th, each lasting for about a week. And they told me that
6 security forces went through the city street by street in a systematic
7 fashion rounding up individuals and expelling them from the city.
8 There also appeared to have been an attempt to target some of the
9 more prominent members of Djakovica, such as lawyers and doctors and
10 politicians because a number of these individuals had been killed and
11 witnesses told me that they had been taken into custody and -- and killed
12 in the custody of security forces.
13 Q. Now, you spoke about hearing accounts of killings in the town of
14 Djakovica. Is there any specific incident that you yourself investigated
15 that sticks out in your mind that occurred in this town during the period
16 we're speaking about in 1999?
17 A. Yes, the incident that stands out most vividly in my memory
18 happened on a street called Milos Gilic Street. There was an operation,
19 what appeared to be a police operation according to the witnesses, to
20 sweep through the street. And this was on the night of April 1st going
21 into April 2nd. And a number of killings of civilians took place on that
22 street but in particular it was one house, the address was
23 163 Milos Gilic Street
24 families had gathered, including, if memory serves me well, 12 children
25 under the age of 16. And I interviewed two witnesses who saw security
1 forces they claimed were police enter into this house. One of them
2 talked about hearing shots and screams. And the 20 people in this house
3 were killed and the inside of the house was set on fire. And I
4 subsequently interviewed a member of the Gjakove city public works. I
5 remember his name was Faton Polashku [phoen], and the authorities --
6 Serbian authorities had allowed him to work with his team to collect
7 bodies throughout Djakovica during the time. And he told me that he
8 entered the house at 163 Milos Gilic Street and retrieved the bodies, 20
9 bodies he said, which had been burned beyond recognition.
10 I should add, this is not directly relevant to this incident but
11 mentioning Faton Polashku reminds me, that he also testified to me that
12 there had been many bodies buried in the Djakovica cemetery during this
13 time and that at some point those bodies had been removed by Serbian
14 forces. I interviewed separately and one-on-one a member of his staff
15 who testified to the same. Neither of these men saw the removal
16 themselves, but they had buried the bodies there and then the next
17 day - this would have been I think it was in May, I would have to check
18 the testimony to know exactly what time, I'm not certain on the
19 day - that they came to the cemetery and saw that more than 70 bodies had
20 been removed. And I visited the cemetery, Djakovica cemetery, in July
21 and observed the dug-up earth in the cemetery and clear track marks from
22 what looked like heavy machinery in the area where both of these men told
23 me the bodies had been taken from.
24 Q. And would these have been bodies of persons who had been killed
25 during this offensive that you were describing during which a large
1 number of persons were killed in Djakovica or had they been buried before
2 this clean-up operation or sweep operation you spoke about took place?
3 A. These were bodies of people who had been killed after March 24th
4 when the NATO bombing began, had been buried by this crew, and then they
5 were removed.
6 Q. And would these have been bodies of civilians or would these have
7 been bodies of persons who were engaged in some sort of fighting or
8 combat with security forces, based on what you were told?
9 A. Based on what I was told, the vast majority of them were
10 civilians. I cannot exclude that some of them may have been fighters and
11 there was also some fighting that did occur within Djakovica town. So
12 some of those people may have been combatants. I can't testify that they
13 were all civilians.
14 Q. Thank you. Mr. Abrahams, I think we have to stop for today
15 because this is all the time we have, so we will have to continue
16 tomorrow morning.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Very well. If that's a convenient moment, we will
18 adjourn for the day and we resume tomorrow in the morning.
19 We must ask you to wait overnight, Mr. Abrahams, to continue at
20 9.00. The court officers will give you further assistance and directions
21 before you leave tonight.
22 We now adjourn.
23 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 5.00 p.m.
24 to be reconvened on Wednesday, the 6th day of
25 May, 2009, at 9.00 a.m.