1 THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL
2 CASE NO. IT-96-22-T
3 FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA IN THE TRIAL CHAMBER
4 Wednesday, 20th November 1996
5 Before: JUDGE JORDA (The Presiding Judge)
6 JUDGE ODIO BENITO JUDGE RIAD
7 THE PROSECUTOR OF THE TRIBUNAL -v- DRAZEN ERDEMOVIC
8 MR. ERIC OSTBERG and MR. MARK HARMON appeared on behalf of the Office
9 of the Prosecutor
10 MR. JOVAN BABIC appeared on behalf of the Defence (Open Session)
11 Wednesday, 20th November 1996. (10.10 a.m.)
12 THE PRESIDING JUDGE [In translation]: The Court is back in session.
13 Please be seated. Registrar, will you have the accused brought in,
14 please? Before proceeding, let us make sure everyone can hear me. Can
15 you hear me, Mr. Erdemovic? Mr. Babic? Mr. Erdemovic, is that
16 working? Is that all settled? Can you hear me, sir? Mr. Erdemovic,
17 you can hear me?
18 THE ACCUSED [In translation]: No translation, there is no
20 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Can the Office of the Prosecutor hear me?
21 MR. OSTBERG: Yes.
22 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Babic, can you hear me?
23 THE ACCUSED: Yes, yes, I can hear you now.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Fine. So the Court is back in session. Before
25 hearing the Defence, which will be calling its witnesses, the
1 Tribunal believes that it has not been fully informed as regards a
2 certain number of points. These relate, in particular, to any
3 mitigating or aggravating circumstances relative to the accused and,
4 as things now stand, the Tribunal cannot fulfil its mission which is
5 to hand down an appropriate sentence. So, under these circumstances,
6 the Judges of this Trial Chamber believe it is necessary to put some
7 additional questions to Mr. Drazen Erdemovic under oath. So, would
8 you kindly step up to the table? Would you take the solemn oath and
9 answer the questions we will be putting to you?
10 MR. DRAZEN ERDEMOVIC, recalled. Examined by the Court, continued.
11 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Please take the solemn declaration, sir.
12 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the
13 whole truth and nothing but the truth. (The witness was sworn)
14 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. Please be seated. In your testimony
15 yesterday, Mr. Erdemovic, you said that you had served in the army of
16 Bosnia-Herzegovina, you had served in the Croatian army of Bosnia-
17 Herzegovina and you had served in the Serb Army. The point is that
18 before joining the HVO, the Croatian army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, you
19 were in the Bosnia-Herzegovina army. Can you please give us some
20 further information about this, that is to say, more specifically,
21 when did you join the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina? When did you leave
22 that army and why did you leave it?
23 THE WITNESS: I do not know the exact date when I joined the army. I
24 joined that army when I received call up papers from the military
25 department in Tuzla. I went to the Local Commune building, to the
1 Territorial Defence building at that time, and I was first there and
2 then later on I was with the Mortar Unit. The army of Bosnia and
3 Herzegovina, I left it somewhere in 1992, in November, I believe. I
4 left the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina because, as I told you
5 yesterday, I wanted to avoid any possible participation in combat
6 operations because I did not care about fighting. I just wanted to
7 have some lighter tasks and I carried out tasks that were normally
8 carried out by the military police. I was securing the headquarters
9 and some checkpoints.
10 Q. So, you joined the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina exactly when, the
11 army of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
12 A. When I received call up papers by the government.
13 Q. What month, what year, not necessarily the date, what month, what
15 A. Well, sometime in the end of May when the conflict between the
16 former JNA and members of the MUP in Tuzla broke out, at the end of
17 May 1992.
18 Q. Yesterday, Mr. Erdemovic, you said that you were not a member of
19 the army of the Serbs of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but that you were
20 obliged to serve therein. Does that mean that military service was
21 obligatory there?
22 A. Bosnian Serbs, yes, of course, there was an obligation to serve;
23 only those who had enough money and who were able to buy up their
24 lives and avoid the military obligation, they were free, and those
25 people were well off. They had private cafes, petrol stations, small
1 companies and all kinds of property. I had no means to pay, so I had
2 to join the army. I simply did not have any means to feed my family;
3 I had to. Nobody asked me whether I wanted to join the army. If I did
4 not do it of my own will, they would have taken me. They would have
5 beaten me, and they used to do it, they used to beat you. They used
6 to give you a uniform and simply take you to the front and the
7 punishment was to stay one month at one of the worst front lines.
8 That is how it was. Everybody knows that, not only me, everybody
9 here, all the detainees here know how it happened. I did not want
10 that war, but nobody asked me, "Drazen Erdemovic, did you vote for
11 the SDS, HDZ, SDA?" No, nobody. I voted for the reform forces in
12 Tuzla who won only in Tuzla. Tuzla was not in favour of a war option,
13 but nobody asked me whom I voted for, because I was against the war
14 and I proved it by voting for that party. I was not - I did not want
15 a war. I had no motives. I had no motivation to go to war. Is there
16 anyone here who can understand me? My wife is a Serb. It is not her
17 fault that she is a Serb and I am a Croat, and it is not her fault
18 that Serbs and Croats were waging war. Was I supposed to hate her
19 because she is a Serbian or to hate a Muslim?
20 Q. Mr. Drazen Erdemovic, please listen to me just for a second.
21 Listen to me closely. I want you to be sure - I am now speaking. I am
22 the Presiding Judge here, sir, just to be perfectly clear.
23 A. I apologise.
24 Q. We are putting these questions to you because you are before a
25 Tribunal, that is to say, an impartial and independent body. Why are
1 we putting these questions to you? It is because we need this
2 information to judge you in the most impartial and independent way
3 possible. Please let that be clear to you. Then you will understand
4 what the point is.
5 A. I apologise, but let me explain this to you. I do understand this,
6 but this is the twelfth time that I am repeating my story, the story
7 of how my life has been destroyed. Please try to understand me. This
8 is the twelfth time I am doing this. When I testified during Rule 61
9 hearing against Mladic and Karadzic, when I went back to my cell, I
10 just could not get up for three days. I got an ulcer. It was
11 diagnosed by doctors. It was so detrimental for my health. Then I had
12 to undergo this operation here in Holland and everything became
13 stable again, but then yesterday again you saw me, you saw how I
14 testified. I do apologise for my behaviour when I took off my shirt
15 when I showed my injuries. I appeal to your understanding, please.
16 Q. Mr. Drazen Erdemovic, it is precisely because we are trying to
17 understand, but we do not only want to understand Mr. Drazen
18 Erdemovic, we want also to understand the people that died. That is
19 what we are trying to understand because we have to hand down a
20 decision. We want it to be fair and impartial, taking account of you
21 and taking account of the victims. So I shall pursue these questions,
22 even if it is the twelfth time you have to answer them. I am sorry
23 for that but, from what you said yesterday, there are some things
24 that are lacking. I cannot help that, nor can my colleagues here if
25 both in what was put forward by the Prosecution and the Defence we
1 find that there are still some lacunas. So I am sorry if it is the
2 twelfth time, but for us, Judges, it is the second time. I am sorry
3 if prior to that you talked to journalists and you had other people
4 you had to talk to, but we are now going to put seven or eight
5 further questions to you, because in this kind of setting when you
6 talk about mitigating or aggravating circumstances, you need
7 something to substantiate them. This is why I suggest we deal with
8 this very calmly. Please make this effort for the International
9 Criminal Tribunal. That is your assurance. It is an assurance for you
10 that we are providing you with. Now, with regard to mitigating
11 circumstances and, in particular, with regard to the duress that you
12 have mentioned - you have touched on that point several times - the
13 Tribunal is wondering what your level of information was, because it
14 is not quite clear to us how in this territory of Republika Srpska
15 with all these events going on that you were not more informed as to
16 what was going on through the media etc.. Yesterday you did not fully
17 answer that question, so let me reword it for you more clearly.
18 Please try calmly and serenely to answer this question for the
19 Judges, not for the Prosecution, not for the Defence but for the
20 Judges, because at the end of day it is the Judges who are going to
21 decide as to your fate. So, please, sir, remain calm and try to
22 respond to these questions. When you went to Republika Srpska, what
23 kind of information did you have as to the policies being pursued by
24 the political and military leaders there? As a soldier, did you have
25 access to any information, in particular as regards the policies and
1 the practices of the Serbian Army and, in particular, the notion of a
2 greater Serbia and the issue of ethnic cleansing? So please make an
3 effort. This is very important to us.
4 A. Yes, I will give you an answer right away. Your Honours, I will
5 try to speak, to tell you, to explain to you the best I can. I was
6 not involved in politics, but I will do my best. Of course I used to
7 watch TV. I listened to the news. To be frank, ethnic cleansing was
8 not publicly discussed that much. I do not believe that any TV of any
9 country would do that, that they would show their own government,
10 their own army who is in charge of the country, that they show them
11 ethnically cleansing a particular territory. Whether they really
12 planned to do so, whether that was their objective, I do not know. I
13 had a very low rank. I had a very low, unimportant position. I could
14 not know anything about their plans, but I used to watch TV, for
15 example, at the moment a conflict between Croats and Muslims broke
16 out and then I asked myself, why, why such a conflict between Muslims
17 and Croats because they were together at the beginning of the war,
18 fighting against the Serbs? I kept asking myself, but I did not know
19 the answer and I still do not know the answer, but probably Croatian
20 and Muslim authorities do know the answer. Then I used to watch
21 Fikret Abdic, for example, and his Muslims fighting against other
22 Muslims, Muslims from Bihac, the Fifth Corps of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
23 Why? I do not know why. That is what I used to watch on the TV of
24 Republika Srpska. They just showed at that time when I was there,
25 they just showed the conflict between Croats and Muslims and Croats
1 between Muslims and Muslims. Muslims calling Fikret Abdic to help
2 them fighting Serbs - fighting Muslims from the Fifth Corps of Bosnia
3 and Herzegovina in their fight against the Serbs. So I kept asking
4 myself, why are they fighting each other if the war is between Croats
5 and Serbs, Muslims and Serbs? I kept asking myself, how come all of a
6 sudden there is a conflict between Muslims and Croats? I do not know
7 the answer.
8 Q. In your division and your Unit there, when these events at
9 Srebrenica were happening, were there any racist comments? Were
10 fellow soldiers saying, "We are going to kill them all. We are going
11 to exterminate them. We are going to wipe them out"? It is the
12 general feeling we want to have. You have told us -
13 A. What more, what better example than the one that I just told you
14 about, that the events that happened, and even the Prosecution
15 admitted that they were not aware of that, of that crime which took
16 place at that spot I told you about? What more can I say? A thousand
17 people perished there and I heard that in Nova Kasaba many people
18 were killed, Nova Kasaba and elsewhere. What else can I tell you? It
19 is a crime. First of all, I would like to say that I chose Mr. Babic.
20 It is true that some Serbs have destroyed my life but not all of them
21 and I will try to explain this to you. I chose Mr. Babic for my
22 counsel because I had told my story to a journalist and I was
23 arrested in Yugoslavia, and the media in Yugoslavia said that I was a
24 Croatian spy and that I was crazy. I chose Mr. Babic because he is an
25 honest man.
1 Q. Mr. Erdemovic, I would like to put another question. Go right
2 ahead. Yes, I suppose you have had recourse to Mr. Babic because you
3 think he is the best counsel for you, but that is not within our
4 camp, but you have not fully answered my question. I am sorry.
5 A. I will. I wish to explain. I told you the media in the Republika
6 Srpska started manipulating my case and manipulating me as an
7 individual. They publicly said that I was a Croatian spy. So that is
8 how the media in the Republika Srpska started spreading stories about
9 my being a Croatian spy. I do not know whether you understand what I
10 just wanted to explain to you.
11 Q. Let me put another question to you, just to see what kind of
12 knowledge you had about the general environment. There are some
13 things that are not clear to us with regards to how you were spending
14 your time. You said yesterday, for instance, that on the morning of
15 14th July when you were, if I have this right, at Vlasenica, you had
16 received a new order. There was a task, a mission, that was to be
17 carried out and you were told that you were to go to Zvornik. Is that
18 right? That is what you said yesterday? That is right?
19 A. No, no, I did not say it was on 14th. I said it was on 16th when I
20 came back from the funeral of my colleague from Trebinje. So I came
21 back in the evening of 15th, me and the colleagues who went with me
22 to the funeral. So in the morning of 16th I got up and Gojkovic,
23 Brano, who at the time was the Commander of the Unit, he told us to
24 get into a vehicle to carry out an assignment and I learned at that
25 time that he was going to headquarters in Zvornik and that is what I
1 said yesterday. If I did not explain it properly, thank you. I thank
2 you for asking this question again because I would like everything to
3 be perfectly clear.
4 Q. Yes, you said it was 16th, but we have had a look at this. We have
5 cross-checked. We have looked at the transcript of your statements at
6 the hearing against Messrs. Karadzic and Mladic. That is something
7 else we have taken into account. We are looking at what you said
8 yesterday, but we are also looking at what you have said in the past.
9 That is true, you have made 12 statements. It is a good thing we only
10 have two of them because it a matter of us looking at the
11 consistency, in particular, when it comes to the information provided
12 by the Prosecution. As regards 14th to 16th, it was not clear to us
13 how you were spending that time. So what happened on 14th and 15th?
14 There is no point on dwelling on 16th, but on 14th and 15th. So there
15 was a soldier, a friend of yours, who was buried?
16 A. I will tell you right away, the interpretation I received, you
17 said there was a discrepancy, there is a hole, between the 14th and
18 16th, a void. Yes, in the morning of 13th - in the evening of 12th,
19 we came to Vlasenica from Srebrenica to the base and I learned that
20 our Commander had overturned, had had a traffic accident, in an APC
21 and a soldier, a colleague of ours, was killed in that accident and
22 who was in that APC. So on in the morning of 13th I was assigned to
23 go to the funeral together with several other colleagues, to
24 Trebinje. So we stayed, we spent one day travelling to Trebinje and
25 there were some war operations going on, so you had to take a longer
1 route from Vlasenica to Trebinje. We spent the whole day travelling.
2 We arrived in Trebinje in the morning around 4 o'clock. So on 14th we
3 buried our comrade and we came back on 15th. Do you now understand
4 those dates?
5 Q. Fine. With regard to duress which you have invoked, you said that
6 you were opposed to the orders from your superior. So maybe you could
7 give us some information. Our fellow Judges and myself have a few
8 questions on this score. You said that there was this Lieutenant
9 Colonel who was giving you orders. You did not, however, identify
10 him. You know that well. At the same time you said that you were
11 under the orders of Gojkovic, Brano. My question is, can you give us
12 some further information as to the identity of the superiors who were
13 there where the execution was taking place? You had some reluctance
14 as regards executions. Who did you address yourself to? This is the
15 key question. You said, "I was under physical and moral duress". You
16 were under orders and you had to obey them. That is what your defence
17 is built around. Who was there? Who were your superiors? What are
18 their names and who did you express your reluctance to co-operate to?
19 A. I shall begin with who the Commander of our Unit was, the Unit I
20 was a member of, a former Unit. The Commander was Lieutenant Milorad
21 Pelemis. He used to be Lieutenant First Class but then he was
22 promoted and became Lieutenant, Lieutenant Milorad Pelemis. On 16th
23 July, the Unit in which I was, the Unit which carried out the
24 executions of Muslims from Srebrenica, that Unit was commanded on
25 that day by Brano Gojkovic. He was from the Vlasenica platoon. When
1 you ask me whom I said that I did not wish to participate in the
2 killings. I said that openly in front of Brano and other soldiers,
3 but nobody gave me his support. I do not know why, but nobody did at
4 that time. Later, when this Lieutenant Colonel arrived, I mentioned
5 him yesterday, when he came back - sorry, when I said that I did not
6 wish to take part in that, Brano Gojkovic very clearly told me, "If
7 you do not wish to do it, stand in the line with the rest of them and
8 give others your rifle so that they can shoot you". That is how it
9 happened. I said that I would say the truth and that is how it
10 happened. You can believe it or not, but I know what the truth is and
11 I know what hurts me and what has destroyed my life. Later on when
12 Lieutenant Colonel arrived, Brano did not say anything, but the
13 Lieutenant Colonel said that there were 500 Muslims in the culture
14 hall who were about to escape and that we should go there. I said
15 loud and clear to the Lieutenant Colonel that I do not wish to
16 participate in this any longer and that I was nobody's robot for
17 killing, and if he had told me that I had to, I would have shot him.
18 It was at that occasion that I received support of several of my
19 colleagues, but that is how it was. I knew I would have problems
20 because of that. I knew that there would be a report against me and
21 that is what happened later on. I was shot by a man who had bragged
22 about having killed the majority of Muslims that day, and that is
23 Savanovic, Stanko.
24 Q. Thank you for that clear answer. The next question. This has to do
25 with the wounds which you showed the Tribunal yesterday. Could you
1 explain more in detail the circumstances of that incident? Could you
2 tell us who shot you? "It was because of my reaction to the Colonel".
3 This is part of your defence. So please go ahead, sir.
4 A. Yes. As I indicated yesterday, Kremenovic was with another group
5 who had refused an assignment and I did not know that. We were in
6 Vlasenica at that time, and Pelemis together with Salapura went there
7 trying to convince them to carry out the assignment, but they refused
8 to do it. They did not want to take part in this dirty business,
9 because Kremenovic knew Salapura very well and he knew about dirty
10 business he was involved in. So, Kremenovic came back with his Unit
11 on 22nd July 1995 and we also arrived in Bijeljina from Vlasenica,
12 and I met with Kremenovic at that time. I told you yesterday that I
13 was drinking heavily in those days after Srebrenica and that I did
14 not spend much time with my family at home. So Kremenovic told me
15 what had happened. I did not tell him everything about what had
16 happened, but he told me, "They are not going to take me - they are
17 not going to use me for their dirty business", and I just started
18 crying because I was thinking to myself, "I have been abused". So we
19 were discussing that and Kremenovic told me that on 23rd at 12
20 o'clock there was supposed be a meeting and that we would request to
21 separate from the Vlasenica platoon from those people who were
22 nationalist, that we would request a replacement of Pelemis and so
23 on. I do not know. All kinds of things could have happened before
24 that meeting. But on that night, myself, Kremenovic and another
25 colleague were shot by Stanko Savanovic. I will tell you now so that
1 you know -
2 Q. Stanko, are you sure that it was Stanko?
3 A. I will explain. When we got out of the cafe it was already
4 midnight. It was closing time, and I was quite drunk. I wanted to go
5 home, but Kremenovic told me, "Come with me, let's have a chat. God
6 knows what will happen tomorrow. Let's see what we can do tomorrow"
7 because the trusted me. He saved my life two times. He saved me when
8 I was injured. It was upon his intervention that I was transferred to
9 the hospital in Belgrade and later on he saved me once again before I
10 went into contact with that journalist. I did not want to make any
11 trouble for that man who is now living in the federative Republic of
12 Yugoslavia. So, Stanko Savanovic fired at me and another member of
13 our Unit and at Kremenovic also. This other member of our Unit was a
14 Muslim. I am a Croat. Kremenovic is a Serb. He is a Lieutenant and he
15 is Deputy Commander of our Unit. I will tell you how come I know that
16 it was ordered by Salapura and Miso. I can show this to you if I - I
17 could show this to you if I had a newspaper. Each incident that takes
18 place in a cafe or in the street is prosecuted by military tribunal
19 in Bijeljina, but investigating Judges established that Stanko
20 Savanovic, without any cause, without any reason whatsoever, had
21 attempted a triple murder. He had attempted to kill three persons. I
22 again asked for an explanation. Well, OK, I am a Croat, there is
23 nothing I can do about it, Ustasha, he would not be held responsible
24 for me. He would not be held responsible for this Muslim either. When
25 I asked him, "Are you going to bring a charge against him?" He told
1 me, "Well, what for? I can talk but nobody will listen to me". A
2 simple soldier shooting at an officer trying to kill him, attempting
3 a murder, and not be held responsible for that - and you know why,
4 because he was protected by Colonel Salapura who is the Chief
5 Intelligence Officer of the main headquarters of the army of
6 Republika Srpska. That is my explanation. He was under his orders and
7 that is what Kremenovic confirmed to the journalist.
8 Q. You were wounded. Did you take any legal action? Were there any
9 proceedings? Did the military police take down a report or what
11 A. No, I was in a very serious condition. My wife was told to get
12 ready for the worst because they did not believe that I would
13 survive. I had two serious injuries to the stomach and one injury to
14 my lungs. I had two operations at the same time in Bijeljina. It was
15 all at Kremenovic's intervention. The operation at Bijeljina did not
16 succeed. So, thanks to Kremenovic and some other colleagues from my
17 Unit, I was transferred to Belgrade and I am grateful for doctors
18 from the Belgrade hospital because I survived. After the operation I
19 was in a very difficult state again. I could not talk and so on.
20 Investigators from Bijeljina arrived then, and they asked me whether
21 I wanted to testify as a witness and whether I wanted to say whether
22 Stanko Savanovic really wanted to kill us. Of course that was his
23 defence. He said that he was not going to kill, it was not his
24 intention to kill anyone. Well, I could accept an explanation of a
25 friend or a colleague. I could accept the explanation of a stray
1 bullet; but three bullets, one Muslim as a victim, Kremenovic and
2 myself, I simply cannot understand. Nobody can explain that to me. So
3 I said, "I do not wish to bring charges" because I can tell about the
4 result right away. How was I supposed to confront them? I knew that
5 it would be to no avail. That is what they told me, some authorities,
6 when they visited me in the hospital in Belgrade. So I was called to
7 the Court to testify, but nobody was there. They just enquired, they
8 interviewed this owner of the cafe and he said that Savanovic simply
9 took out his pistol and started shooting at his colleagues,
10 colleagues from his Unit.
11 Q. Thank you. You had said that your military contract was going to
12 expire in 1997. Under what circumstances did you stop being a
14 A. When I was wounded and I was not receiving my salary regularly. I
15 really do not know when was the last time I received a salary. A year
16 and a half has passed after I was wounded. I have not received any
18 Q. Coming back to the facts themselves, the last question which the
19 Tribunal would like to ask you. This is a technical problem,
20 unfortunately, but we would like to have your opinion about this. You
21 had a kalashnikov. This is a kind of a machine gun which shoots
22 bursts of fire. You also stated during the Karadzic hearing or
23 yesterday that you had also shot individual shots. I had asked you
24 whether you had seen your victims. We do not know whether it was
25 bursts or fire or whether you were aiming specifically at the
1 civilians there, aiming at their backs?
2 A. I will tell you. I said I shot single shots. I was not aiming.
3 When I was pulling the trigger, I would close my eyes and I would
4 turn around so as not to see those people falling down. That is how
5 it happened. I am telling you.
6 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The Tribunal has a last question, but one not to
7 Mr. Erdemovic, I would like to ask Mr. Babic. Mr. Babic, yesterday
8 you spoke about a decision of the Supreme Court of the Yugoslav
9 Republic. Do you not hear?
10 MR. BABIC [In translation]: Your Honour, not the Supreme Court of the
11 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but the competent court of the
12 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
13 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Do you have the decision?
14 MR. BABIC: Yes, yes.
15 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Could we ask the Registrar to have it translated
16 for the Trial Chamber Judges? Would you please give it to the
17 Registrar? (Handed) Thank you. Mr. Erdemovic, yesterday you said that
18 you wished to speak about a certain number of mitigating
19 circumstances. The Tribunal will now ask you to go back right now,
20 take your place where you were sitting before, unless my colleagues
21 have other questions they would like to ask. You can take your
22 ordinary place here.
23 THE WITNESS: Thank you, and I am sorry about my outburst yesterday
24 when I showed my wounds. (The witness withdrew)
25 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We will now go back to the agenda of our
1 hearing, as we set it yesterday. We had planned that we would hear
2 Mr. Babic who wanted to bring in witnesses to speak about the
3 mitigating circumstances, because that is the line of defence which
4 was chosen. Mr. Babic, would you first like to make a preliminary
5 report? How do you plan to organise the presentation of your
6 witnesses? I give you the floor.
7 MR. BABIC: Your Honour, I just wish to say the following. Yesterday
8 and today I think that many mitigating circumstances became more
9 obvious and clearer. In order to have a complete picture, I had
10 proposed at our last status conference that we receive a report, an
11 expert report, of psychiatrists and that this be part of the case,
12 the first and the second report; also to obtain a report on the
13 current state of health and the general state of health of the
14 accused Erdemovic. I am sure that the Registry has already done this.
15 On the other hand, there are other mitigating circumstances. What is
16 the character of Erdemovic? Therefore, I deemed it necessary to have
17 the witnesses established by the Court heard. I will make a final
18 statement at the end, but first I would like to hear the witnesses.
19 So, perhaps we can hear a witness first that Erdemovic, when it was
20 in his power, when he decided of his own freewill that he saved his
21 life. That will be the first witness and then we will hear the second witness.
22 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Since these witnesses are covered by protective
23 measures, for our work, are you speaking about witness X or Y that
24 you would like to hear first?
25 MR. BABIC: Your Honour, it is all the same to me. I propose that we
1 start with X, but it can also be Y first. It is all the same to me.
2 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The Prosecutor has no objection?
3 MR. OSTBERG: No objection at all.
4 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Then I suppose we could begin with X then.
5 Registrar, would you please recall the measures which the Chamber
6 took in order to assure the protection of witness X? Perhaps you
7 could also state which have been taken for Y. Would you please recall
8 what measures have been taken by the Trial Chamber for X and for Y?
9 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, your Honour. Further to two recommendations of
10 the Legal Department of the Registry and the Witness and Victims
11 Unit, the Trial Chamber has set up protective measures which include
12 not naming the persons by their names - they will be known as X and Y
13 - and to protect their entrance into the courtroom which will, with
14 the leave of the Trial Chamber, mean that the curtains will be
15 lowered and that we will not show the faces on the television
16 screens. The faces will be hidden and the voices will be distorted.
17 Should it be necessary, the Trial Chamber could say that the
18 transmission of the images will be delayed by 30 minutes which would
19 allow us, if necessary, to correct any inaccuracies or any problems.
20 So perhaps we need five minutes now in order to set up the courtroom
21 before witness X can come in.
22 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We will suspend the hearing. (10.55 a.m.)
23 (The Court adjourned for a short time) (11.10 a.m.)
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The hearing is resumed. Would you please sit
25 down? Turning to the Registrar, have the provisions that are
1 necessary been made that needed to be made so that we can now bring
2 in witness X? Before we do bring him in, I would like to say to the
3 Prosecution - do you hear me, sir - that the decision of the higher
4 court which was given to us by Mr. Babic and which was given to the
5 Registrar is being translated, according to what Mr. Marro has just
6 said to me, and will, of course, be given to the Prosecution.
7 MR. OSTBERG: Thank you.
8 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Turning to the Registrar?
9 WITNESS X, called.
10 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Witness X, do you hear me in your language? Do
11 you hear me? THE WITNESS [In translation]: Yes.
12 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: You will first take the oath. I would like this
13 oath to be given to witness X. Read the oath, please.
14 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I shall say the truth, the whole
15 truth and nothing but the truth. (The witness was sworn)
16 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. Would you be seated, please? Witness
17 X, the Tribunal thanks you for coming at the request of Mr. Babic
18 from the Defence. Please realise that you are in the confines of an
19 International Tribunal. You are before Judges. All the measures of
20 protection which you have asked for have been taken. Therefore, you
21 can speak without fear and with the greatest serenity possible.
22 Nonetheless, the Tribunal must be sure of your identity but since
23 your identity cannot be revealed to the public, the Tribunal would
24 like you to write your name on a piece of paper, your first name,
25 including your date and place of birth, as well as your profession
1 and your nationality.
2 THE REGISTRAR [In translation]: Your name, your first name.
3 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The date of your birth, the place of your birth,
4 your nationality and your current profession. Do not fear. This will
5 be brought to the attention of Mr. Babic. He will be shown the
6 document. Then it will be shown to the Tribunal. I am going to show
7 it to my colleagues. This document will be placed under seal in the
8 case files of the Tribunal and never transmitted. Mr. Babic, I give
9 you the floor.
10 MR. BABIC: Thank you, your Honour. Examined by MR. BABIC
11 MR. BABIC: I shall put my questions very directly and I shall also
12 ask the witness to give very direct answers. My first question: Does
13 the witness know the accused Drazen Erdemovic?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Since when have you known him? If you could tell me on which
16 occasion did he meet him?
17 A. [No translation].
18 MR. OSTBERG: No translation.
19 THE INTERPRETER: We cannot hear the witness. The interpreters cannot
20 hear the witness at all.
21 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We do not hear the witness which means that the
22 interpretation booth does not hear the witness. We can begin again,
23 please. Perhaps the microphone has to be turned up. Do the
24 interpreters hear now? Would you please answer, witness X?
25 THE INTERPRETER: No, the microphone does not work, says the
2 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Do the interpreters hear witness X?
3 THE INTERPRETER: No. The English booth does not hear him.
4 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Babic, perhaps you could ask your question
5 again and this way we can be sure that the interpreters have
6 understood what the witness X is saying so that everybody can hear
7 the answer properly.
8 MR. BABIC: The first question was, does the witness know the accused
9 Drazen Erdemovic?
10 THE WITNESS: Yes.
11 MR. BABIC: The second question, when did they meet and on what
12 occasion? Does he remember correctly?
13 A. In November 1992. We were in the same Unit in the 115th Brigade of
14 HVO military police.
15 Q. When you were together then in the HVO, can you tell the Court
16 something about Drazen as a person, what was he like as a person?
17 A. We were not in that Unit together for a long time but he was like
18 other people. He did not really distinguish himself in relation to
20 Q. Until when was Drazen in the HVO?
21 A. Drazen was in the HVO, I do not know the exact dates, I do not
22 know the exact dates, about three months. Then because, because he
23 transferred people of Serb nationality across the line, he was
24 transferred to another Unit and then he was not on the same Unit with
25 me any more.
1 Q. Do you know after that where Drazen was and what he did?
2 A. He was transferred to another Unit on the line. I did not meet him
3 after that, until August 1994.
4 Q. Until August 1994. Where was that in August 1994? Where were you
5 then and could you say in what capacity Drazen was there? Could you
6 tell us everything about this meeting that took place?
7 A. That day I went to the battalion command to take weapons to go to
8 the line.
9 Q. Belonging to what army?
10 A. The army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This was on Mount Majevica, it was
11 not far away, and I saw Drazen and another soldier with him. They
12 were by themselves. They stopped me. This army had a scorpio weapon
13 and he wanted to shoot me and Drazen jumped up and said, "No, let the
14 man go. Don't shoot him". Then another one came up from my back. Then
15 I told Drazen, because I knew him, I did not know these other two
16 men, "What are you doing there?" I saw him wearing a Serb Army
17 uniform, and I said, "What are you doing there in that uniform?" and
18 these people started explaining something in a very impudent manner,
19 and he said, "(redacted), don't ask me too much, too many questions. I
20 have to do this. I tried to run away to Switzerland. They would not
21 let me", and that was it.
22 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Babic?
23 MR. BABIC: I kindly request the witness not to mention names, X.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We remind witness X that if he has to be
25 protected, the people whom he is speaking about should also be not
1 named. There is a delay. We have a system which permits us to
2 transmit things with delay which allows to correct any mistakes which
3 may have been made.
4 MR. BABIC: On that occasion were you, frankly speaking, fearful for
5 your life?
6 A. Of course I was. I did not have anything and they had weapons on
7 them. This other man had a weapon too and I did not know what he
8 would do. Of course it was only natural, it was only human, to be
9 afraid in a situation like that. I was, frankly speaking, truly
10 afraid that they would shoot me.
11 Q. Then what happened to you?
12 A. They detained me there for about two or three hours. I asked hem
13 to let me go, but these two would not but then it was strictly at
14 Drazen's insistence that they let me go.
15 Q. And you?
16 A. Then he gave me a box of cigarettes, a pack of cigarettes, and he
17 also gave me some pistol ammunition. He said, "Take care, comrade, be
19 Q. Was this your last meeting with Drazen Erdemovic?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Do you think that Drazen Erdemovic saved your life?
22 A. Yes, at any rate he did.
23 MR. BABIC: Thank you, your Honour. No further questions.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The Prosecutor, have you any questions?
25 MR. OSTBERG: No, thank you, your Honour.
1 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Judge Odio Benito? Judge Riad?
2 Examined by the Court
3 JUDGE RIAD: I will call you Mr. X, sorry. I shall not say your name.
4 You mentioned that you knew Mr. Erdemovic during your service in the
5 military police, that is right?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Which is the Serbian Croat police?
8 A. This was strictly HVO military police.
9 Q. Yes, the Bosnian Croat?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. The Bosnian Croat, and he was dismissed from this police because
12 he helped the Serbs to go out from Croatia to Serbia or to the
13 Bosnian-Serb region, is that right?
14 A. Not from Croatia, from part of the federation that was under the
15 control of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He helped people of Serb
16 nationality to go not to Serbia but to Republika Srpska.
17 Q. To Republika Srpska?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Did he help any others? Did he help Muslims to go back to Bosnia
20 or did he help Croats to go back to the Croatian region?
21 A. I do not know if he could have helped Muslims then or Croats to go
22 here and there because he was on territory that was held by the army
23 of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Muslims were not going from the territory
24 of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Serb entity.
25 Q. Were you alone when he tried to save you or did you have other
1 people with you which he also tried to save?
2 A. No, I was alone that day.
3 Q. Do you think there is any special reason why he would have chosen
4 to save you; in particular, the relationship, what kind of a
5 relationship exactly did you have with him? Was it just because you
6 belonged to the same country, let us say? A. I do not know his reasons, but
7 probably we were in the same Unit. He had known me for three
8 or four months while we were together. JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
9 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The Tribunal thanks you, witness X. You will now
10 be taken out of the courtroom the same way that you were brought in.
11 The Registrar will be responsible. For the time being do not move.
12 (The witness withdrew)
13 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Since the curtains are drawn, we can now bring
14 in Witness Y using the same procedures.
15 MR. BABIC: Yes.
16 WITNESS Y, called.
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Witness Y, first of all, do you hear me?
18 THE WITNESS: Yes.
19 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Please read the oath that you will take before
20 this Tribunal.
21 THE WITNESS [In translation]: I solemnly declare to say the truth,
22 the whole truth and nothing but the truth. (The witness was sworn)
23 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Please be seated. Witness Y, at the request of
24 the Defence, you have agreed to testify before this Tribunal. You are
25 in front of Judges and we have taken all precautionary measures for
1 protecting you that you asked for. For that reason you may speak with
2 full serenity and no fear to Judges who will listen to you answering
3 the questions which Mr. Babic will ask you, Mr. Babic who is the
4 counsel for Drazen Erdemovic. As we did for the previous witness and
5 so that we can ensure what your identity is, we will ask you to write
6 your name, your first name, the date and place of birth, nationality
7 and profession on the piece of paper which has been given to you.
8 Witness Y, the information which you have just given to the Tribunal
9 and to the Defence and to the Prosecution will be put under seal and
10 never revealed. So this will ensure that your testimony is made in
11 full serenity, as I said before. I give the floor immediately to Mr.
12 Babic now who will ask the questions that he considers to be the most
13 appropriate. Examined by MR. BABIC
14 MR. BABIC: Yes, rightly so, Mr. Chairman, the most appropriate
15 questions in this role of witness. May I start with the same question
16 again? Does the witness know Drazen Erdemovic? Since when has the
17 witness known Drazen Erdemovic and how does the witness know Drazen
18 Erdemovic as a person?
19 A. I know Drazen Erdemovic. I met him in January/February 1993. We
20 were friends. That is all.
21 Q. This friendship, was this just a friendship between the two of you
22 or with several other people of the same age, your classmates from
23 school or from the neighbourhood?
24 A. This friendship was not between the two of us only. It was a
25 multinational friendship with all acquaintances of ours, regardless
1 of nationality, from school, our friends that we went out together
3 Q. Does that mean that, in your company, among your friends, there
4 were Muslims, Croats and Serbs?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. In this company of friends, did anybody ever ask questions as to
7 religion, nationality, etc?
8 A. No.
9 Q. Do you know Drazen's views and did Drazen ever present his views
10 on these matters?
11 A. Yes, I know that Drazen was not a nationalist at all. It was not
12 important to him who was what nationality. It was only important for
13 him that we knew how to be friends and that we had a sense of humour.
14 Q. Does that mean that in your company of friends nobody ever raised
15 that question?
16 A. Nobody. That is right.
17 Q. Is it the same now?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Did Drazen like this company of friends?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Did his friends like him?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. What was his character like? Was he a vivacious person, good
24 natured or did he like to pick a fight?
25 A. He did not like to pick a fight. He was a vivacious person. He was
1 always outgoing.
2 Q. Do you know Drazen well?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Do you know anything about where Drazen went during the war?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Do you know that Drazen was mobilized and went into the Croat
7 army, the Muslim army? Do you know when he left the territory of
8 Bosnia-Herzegovina under the control of the Muslim army and the
9 Croatian army, when and where did he go to?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Could you tell the Court, please?
12 A. I did not know Drazen when he was in the army of Bosnia-
13 Herzegovina, but I know him when he was in the HVO. I know that he
14 left it on 3rd November and then he went over to Republika Srpska. He
15 spent two months there without joining any army and then he had to
16 join the Serb Army.
17 Q. How did he join the Serb Army? Was he mobilized?
18 A. Yes. Yes, everybody had to go to the army regardless of who and
19 what he was, so he had to. He tried to avoid it. He tried to find a
20 way out. He tried to get out but it was not possible. He had to join
21 the army.
22 Q. Did Drazen ever tell you something about the war, what his
23 attitude towards the war was and what his attitude towards the army
24 and these armies in general was?
25 A. Drazen did not enjoy the war at all, and I am certain that he
1 hated the war and that he hated the army, but he simply had to do all
2 of it.
3 Q. Do you know what the consequences were for a person who did not
4 respond to mobilization by any army?
5 A. There were fateful, if you know what that means, fateful
6 consequences, yes, yes.
7 Q. I am going to address a question to you belonging to the present.
8 In the environment in which you live today, in the narrower or
9 broader sense of the word, are people commenting on the trial of the
10 accused Drazen Erdemovic? Could you say how people are commenting on
11 this? Did you comment on this in the company of your friends or what
12 kind of company did you comment upon this? Was this a multinational
13 company of people and what do people think about this and how do they
14 assess Drazen's role before this Court?
15 A. It is only natural that people are commenting upon his trial.
16 However, regardless of the nationality they belong to, everybody says
17 that Drazen was not that kind of person and that Drazen had to do
18 this under pressure, that he would not kill of his own freewill but
19 only if he was forced to do so.
20 Q. Is this being commented upon by Croats, Serbs and Muslims?
21 A. Yes, mostly by people who are in the environment in which I live,
22 who are important people there, who hold important posts.
23 Q. Are these people Serbs?
24 A. No, Muslims.
25 Q. You said that Drazen was against the war, against the army?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Did he try to do something in order not to go into the war or not
3 to join the army?
4 A. Yes. At first he tried to find a way out of the federation to get
5 out to Republika Srpska. However, this was only in passing so that he
6 would go abroad, but the situation was such that nobody managed to
7 get out, especially if he was a male. Everybody had to go to the army
8 and the consequences were fateful, disastrous.
9 Q. Did you know about the fact that the accused Erdemovic was
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Is it known in the environment in which you live that this
13 happened and why this was done?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Could you tell us about it?
16 A. Everybody comments on this in the same way. He was wounded only so
17 that he would be eliminated so that he would not testify about the
18 acts, the terrible things, that took place there.
19 Q. These comments, do they continue until the present day?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Do you read newspapers? Do you watch television?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. The mass media, do they comment on this trial and in what way?
24 A. I do not know. It depends. If we watch Serb television then Drazen
25 is a traitor, and if we watch Muslim television then Drazen is a
1 witness who will corroborate war crimes of higher people in the Serb
2 Republic, so it differs.
3 MR. BABIC: Your Honour, I have no further questions. Thank you.
4 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Mr. Babic. Prosecution, have you any
6 MR. OSTBERG: No, no questions, your Honour. Examined by the Court
7 JUDGE RIAD: Excuse me for calling you (redacted) Y". I will call you
8 (redacted) Y". You said that you met Mr. Erdemovic in January 1993.
9 Where was that exactly?
10 A. In a disco club.
11 Q. Yes, was it in Republika Srpska or was it not there?
12 A. No, it was in the federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was in the
13 federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
14 Q. Then he went after that to Republika Srpska. What forced him to go
16 A. I do not know. Republika Srpska was just supposed to be in
17 passing. He was supposed to go abroad, to a better life abroad.
18 Q. He stayed from November '93 to April '94 in Republika Srpska
19 without any job or any work, is that right, and then he joined, after
20 he joined the Bosnian Serb Army. What did he do during this period
21 before joining the Bosnian Serb Army?
22 A. He was moving from one place to another then. When things would
23 become critical in one place, then he would move to another place,
24 just to dodge the army.
25 Q. You said that when you met him he had friends from every, let us
1 say, nationality - Croatian, Serbs and Muslims?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Did his feelings change during the war gradually towards some of
5 A. No.
6 Q. Did he remain friends with the Muslims or were there some quarrels
7 off and on during the period of fighting?
8 A. No, Drazen remained a friend. We have an example. In Republika
9 Srpska, we had two friends who were girls, Muslims, and now they are
10 in Tuzla. I am still friends with them. Now, when I was leaving they
11 told me to give their best to Drazen.
12 Q. The Defence asked you about the echo of his being here on trial.
13 You mentioned that the Serbs consider him as a traitor. Why do they
14 consider him as a traitor?
15 A. Well, because he agreed to tell the world about the crimes over
16 there, and that in the long run it was the small fry who were held
17 responsible and that those who were responsible for issuing commands
18 are not being exposed.
19 Q. From the Muslim side, is it not mentioned, no mention of his
20 participation in the executions?
21 A. It is being mentioned, but all of them say that Drazen was only an
22 executor of orders and that the main culprits should be found and
23 those who issued these orders.
24 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
25 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Witness Y, throughout these journeys which took
1 the accused from one camp to another, did your relationship with him
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Were you always in a relationship with him? Did you ever give him
5 any advice? Were you afraid for him? Did you give him any advice?
6 Would he call you, for example, sometimes, let you know what was
7 going on with him? Would you say something to him? What did you say
8 to him about all this moving about that he was doing, this dangerous
9 moving about? What were you doing? If I am not being indiscreet, what
10 kind of advice were you able to give him or did you give him? Would
11 you say, "Things are all right" or "You cannot do anything else" or
12 did you say, "Be careful" or "I do not agree"? Did you have the
13 freedom to express your opinion and, if it is possible, could you
14 tell us what that opinion was?
18 Q. For example, when he was wounded, these serious wounds that he
19 received, you knew about them? What did you know about the
20 circumstances surrounding the wounds that he received? Did you see
21 him then in the hospital? Were you able to find something out? What
22 could you tell the Tribunal about that?
23 A. I only found out that these were his comrades at arms from
24 Republika Srpska and that one of them had wounded him, but this was
25 all according to the orders of his Commander because they had
1 suspected Drazen, because of the case from 1994, I think. There was a
2 suspicion concerning Drazen as far back as then.
3 Q. Going back to you, Witness Y, to your opinion, because after all
4 you are here to express your feelings, once again, what image do you
5 have of this journey across the war through the area controlled by
6 Croats, then to Republika Srpska, then dozens of Muslims are killed?
7 What is your feeling about it, your own feeling?
8 A. I think that Drazen is not the kind of person who would enjoy
9 killing. I think that he was ordered to do that and that he had to do
10 that, and he had to do it because of his family which was then in
11 Republika Srpska.
12 Q. When one receives an order, do you believe that these orders must
13 always be obeyed? What do you feel about that, you personally, you,
14 Witness Y?
15 A. That is the situation in Republika Srpska, that orders have to be
16 obeyed and carried out otherwise the consequences are fateful for the
17 family and, in this particular case, the accused, Drazen Erdemovic
19 Q. Throughout this period did he keep you informed about his moods,
20 about his opinions? Could you say something to us about that or about
21 common friends that you had? Did he tell you, "This is a dreadful
22 war" or, on the contrary, did he say, "I just cannot do anything
23 else" or that "You have to be too brave to do something else. I have
24 no way of being other than I am"? Could you tell us what his mood
25 was, his mental state?
1 A. (No translation). He was fed up and that he wanted to get out, not
2 to participate in the war at all in the former Yugoslavia.
3 Q. The accused told us that at one point he began to drink. Did he
4 drink before that? What could you answer about that?
5 A. Drazen, I mean, before we would all drink depending on our mood
6 and if we were celebrating something we would all have a drink, and
7 when he would return from his assignments Drazen starting consuming
8 more alcohol and he withdrew. He did not want to talk about anything.
9 He was nervous. He sought comfort in alcohol.
10 Q. Since the beginning of this trial, even before that, ever since
11 the accused has been here in The Hague, have you received any
12 threats? Do you receive any threats? Do you feel that you are in
14 A. I do not know. There were some conflicts but nothing terrible.
15 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Witness Y. I have the feeling that
16 Mr. Babic perhaps wished to ask another question? No. I believe that
17 Judge Riad does have another question he would like to ask.
18 JUDGE RIAD: (redacted), you mentioned (and we have all evidence)
19 that Mr. Erdemovic joined the Bosnian Serb Army in April 1994 after
20 having spent five months almost in Republika Srpska without doing
21 anything. That is right, from November 1993, I think, to April 1994
22 he was in Republika Srpska and you said going from one place to
23 another to avoid trouble, and -
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. - in 1994 he was forced to join the Bosnian Serb Army. Would it
1 not have been possible for him during these six months before to go
2 back to the Croatian part where he belonged and to avoid joining the
3 Republika Srpska army?
4 A. I do not know.
5 Q. You do not know. In that time were you in Republika Srpska?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Was it known what their execution squads, or what they called the
8 Sabotage Units and so on, were doing? Was the idea of ethnic
9 cleansing in the information media or was it completely put aside?
10 A. The media did not speak of this at all. I know the case of
11 Srebrenica. The Serbs were saying that the Muslims had moved out and
12 that Srebrenica was empty and that the Serbs simply walked into an
13 empty town. Nobody had any idea of the killings and of the torture of
15 Q. You also mentioned that it was inevitable to obey the orders and
16 to execute the orders given to kill. It so happened that Mr.
17 Erdemovic was brave enough, apparently from the evidence, that he
18 refused the action once under Pelemis and he was degraded. But he
19 could refuse; and then another time he refused to go to the hall, the
20 school, and kill the 500 Muslim prisoners there. He could do that.
21 Then it was possible, in your opinion, to avoid executing the
23 A. The only way to avoid this killing was for him to stand in line
24 with them, for him to be a victim too as well as his family, which
25 was then in Bijeljina. That was the only way.
1 Q. So the family would have been in danger, according to the system
2 in Republika Srpska?
3 A. Yes.
4 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
5 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Babic, you have another question you wish to
7 MR. BABIC: Related to the question put by distinguished Judge Riad.
8 Let us set the record straight. These six months that he spent there
9 after leaving Muslim and Croat controlled territory, he did not spend
10 these six months only in Republika Srpska. He spent these six months
11 on the territory of Yugoslavia too, in Serbia, going from one place
12 to another trying to find a way out. Then when mobilizations began in
13 Serbia and Yugoslavia, fearful of being detained or maybe some other
14 measures were taken then, I do not know, but he says that he was
15 afraid. Then he went back to Bijeljina and then he was mobilized in
16 Bijeljina and then he had no choice.
17 THE WITNESS: Yes.
18 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you for this precision. Would any response
19 be forthcoming from the Prosecution?
20 MR. OSTBERG: No.
21 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Witness Y, the Tribunal thanks you for having
22 come this far to testify at the request of the accused. You will be
23 taken out in the same way that you were brought in so that you may go
24 home under the best conditions possible. (The witness withdrew)
25 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The Registrar has informed me that there will be
1 three changes - I can speak openly now - the references which through
2 the questions which all of us have asked will have allowed the
3 witness to be identified. How much time do we need? Would you like to
4 recall them or, rather, recall what these changes are?
5 THE REGISTRAR: It seemed to me that under 11.45.24 and 11.24.00,
6 11.58.02 and 12.00 should be removed completely. 11.45.24, 11.46.24
7 and 11.58.02.
8 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Yes, that is correct. The Tribunal agrees. Is
9 that all? My colleagues as well as myself would like to inform the
10 parties of the following decision. We have now heard the witnesses.
11 We have heard what has to be said about mitigating circumstances
12 which, as I have said before, is the line of defence adopted by the
13 Defence. The accused Erdemovic yesterday stated that he wished to
14 speak about the mitigating circumstances under oath, of course. I
15 will ask him if he wishes, and if his counsel agrees, to come back
16 under oath to speak about these mitigating circumstances. If he does
17 agree - I see that Mr. Babic is nodding yes; therefore he can come
18 back - after that we will suspend the hearing and resume at 2.30 when
19 we will hear the final statement of the Prosecution and the Defence
20 by Mr. Babic. Then the final statement not under oath made by Drazen
21 Erdemovic will put an end to this hearing. Mr. Babic, I understand
22 that you agree with this way of working and so does the Prosecutor.
23 MR. OSTBERG: Yes.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: It is now five minutes after 12.00. Drazen
25 Erdemovic, would you please come to the stand to speak about the
1 mitigating circumstances?
2 MR. DRAZEN ERDEMOVIC, recalled.
3 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Can you hear me? It is not a matter of going
4 back over the facts of the case. We have gone into them in quite some
5 detail. We have gone into it a bit too frequently, but yesterday
6 morning I cut you off, as it were. So we would like to hear you speak
7 your mind and to put forward evidence in connection with mitigating
8 circumstances. Now, there are several elements involved here. There
9 are superior orders, there are threats, there is duress, be it moral
10 or physical in nature. You said that you wanted to address these issues.
11 You are under oath, so if there are questions you do not want to answer you
12 need not do so, but that goes - or, rather, it is the opposite. You have
13 to answer the questions put to you by the Prosecution, by the Defence
14 and by the Judges. THE ACCUSED: Honourable Judges -
15 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Did you hear what I said?
16 THE ACCUSED: Yes, I heard you, I am sorry. First of all, I would like
17 to tell you that while I was a child, when I went to school, the
18 elementary school, and later on I went to secondary school, I have
19 never ever been a nationalist. I have never ever hated anyone. That
20 is the way how I was brought up and educated at school by my parents.
21 The environment in which I lived was a multinational environment
22 where Serbs, Muslims and Croats lived together. So I was not a
23 nationalist. I cannot say, I cannot tell you, I do not know why
24 things happened the way they did in the former Yugoslavia. This
25 country was known to the world as a country in which many people
1 lived together, people who got along well with each other. Nobody
2 hated anyone. People used to visit each other, visit them for family
3 reunions. When we would go to do our military service in the JNA, it
4 was a special occasion for everybody in Bosnia. It meant that you
5 were able, you were healthy enough, to do your military service in
6 the former JNA. That is how it was in Bosnia. I do not know about the
7 rest of the country. It did not really matter whether you were a Serb
8 or a Croat. That is how it was in the area where I lived, as far as I
9 know. After the death of, I can now say, the person I respected and
10 loved (and I still regret that), after the death of comrade Tito,
11 several years after that, everything went the wrong way in
12 Yugoslavia. You could tell it from the fact that this conflict, this
13 war, broke out. The first conflict broke out in Slovenia between the
14 JNA and the Slovenian Territorial Defence, and then the conflict
15 moved down to the territory of Republic of Croatia in 1990/91. Later
16 in '92, as you know, it broke out in the area where I lived, in my
17 Republic, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. So, I am speaking
18 frankly. I know I am under oath. I served my military service in
19 December 1990. I joined the JNA. I went to do my military service
20 because I believed in the former Yugoslavia. I used to love that
21 country and that army. I thought that they were honest, but later I
22 realised that things had changed. So I went to do my military service
23 and did it in Belgrade. I was with the military police and in 1991 I
24 was sent -
25 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Just one second, please.
1 THE ACCUSED: Later I was transferred to Slavonia - believe that is
2 the name of the area - in the vicinity of Vukovar, to be precise. I
3 was a member of the military police. I was securing a checkpoint. I
4 will explain to you what kind of assignments we had. We were in
5 charge of checking vehicles that were passing by, relevant papers,
6 weapons, because there was a war there. So we had to check who issued
7 the permission for carrying weapons and things like that. Then at
8 that time certain paramilitary units appeared. They were causing lots
9 of problems in Belgrade. That is why we, the JNA, were in charge of
10 controlling that. They called us a communist army and traitors. So I
11 did my military service in an honest way, the way I believed in, and
12 I was not a nationalist. I was never a nationalist. I had Slovenian
13 colleagues in the JNA, Serbs, Hungarians, and I do not know who else,
14 you name it, Albanians. You know how many different nationalities
15 live in Yugoslavia. We never ever discussed politics and background
16 of other soldiers. We were only discussing those paramilitary units
17 because those people caused us problems, and how they had been
18 established, I do not know. I was just a regular soldier. Even the
19 officers did not know. We were even fired at by them once when we
20 tried to stop them. Thank God I returned home safe and sound from my
21 military service but, unfortunately, I did not spend much time with
22 my parents and the conflict soon broke out in BH and then in Tuzla on
23 15th May 1992. Then I was called to the army - and I forgot to tell
24 you last time; when I came back from Belgrade I received call up
25 papers from the barracks in Tuzla which was controlled by the JNA. I
1 received that paper, and I went there together with - I took the
2 paper and I told them, "Well, gentlemen, I do not want to go to any
3 army. I do not want to take part in any war. I have seen a war. I do
4 not know what it is. I have done my military service. I have done my
5 year", so I just throw away that paper and I left. But nobody came to
6 arrest me because at that time problems started between the JNA and
7 the Ministry of the Interior of Bosnia and Herzegovina - at least
8 that is what they were showing on TV in BH. So after that, as I told
9 you, general mobilization started. So I received again call up
10 papers. I reported, and I reported to the Territorial Unit in my
11 area, the area of the Donja Dragunja Local Commune. There were Serbs
12 there, Croats, Muslims. There was a kind of defence from so-called
13 aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. That is
14 what they told us. They told us that they were setting up units.
15 After that the war started in Bosnia and Herzegovina. You no longer
16 simply defended yourself, your home and your town, but we were sent
17 outside Tuzla, for example, to the Brcko area. Those were the
18 assignment, they deployed units there. But I knew what the war was
19 all about. I had seen it back in '91 when I was with the JNA. I had
20 seen many things that other people had not seen. I saw people getting
21 killed. I was at that checkpoint and I could see wounded soldiers
22 being transported, hundreds of them. Some of my colleagues were burnt
23 alive in their tanks and I was telling those stories when I returned
24 home. I was in favour. I was supportive of the reformist party in the
25 area of Tuzla. They said that they were in favour of peace, that they
1 did not want war. Unfortunately, the war happened in Tuzla and in
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina as well. So, as I said, I was in with the army of
3 Bosnia and Herzegovina, but after that, wishing to avoid the war,
4 because I had lost four of my very best friends, people with whom I
5 had spent more time than with my own brother, one of them was a
6 Muslim, one of them was a Croat, one Serb and one Albanian who lived
7 in Bosnia, four very good friends of mine. So I joined the HVO, and I
8 will tell you this. I was a member of the military police and we
9 received orders to arrest people, to put uniforms on them and to send
10 them to the front line. I rebelled at that time at the command. I
11 told them that I did not want to arrest anyone. I did not want to be
12 responsible for the death of anyone. I did not want to be exposed to
13 criticism of mothers whose sons were killed and so on. I did not want
14 to be responsible for that. So, one other incident; there was an
15 offensive in the area of Brcko, and some of my colleagues and some
16 other people whom I did not know were killed in Brcko, five of them.
17 This is what hurts most and this will hurt me for the rest of my
18 life. The Commander of this HVO Unit, HVO Brigade, came to see our
19 Commander who was in charge of the military police, and he said that
20 he needed four men to go to the exchange with the Serbian side so
21 that they can get back the bodies. So we got all the necessary
22 information, names, surnames, dates of birth and so on. They gave us
23 four names, four dates of birth of those people and also the unit
24 they - the units they belonged to. But when we got to Brcko I did
25 not get in there because there were just too many bodies there and
1 the exchange took place in Brcko, I cannot remember exactly where -
2 maybe later. Then this friend of mine from the military police told
3 me, "Drazen, could you please come and see whether this is the
4 person? Let us not make a mistake", because those people did not have
5 any kind of identification papers with them. They were naked. They
6 did not have anything. So I went there. I recognised the man. I found
7 the fifth person as well, the fifth HVO member who had been killed.
8 So the Commander of the HVO had forgotten one of his men, one of his
9 men who was killed in Brcko. This shows you just how much he cared
10 for his people. He told me four persons and I found a fifth one. Now,
11 I think you can understand what made me flee that war, what kind of
12 injustice I had been through and everything that had happened. So, as
13 I told you, I did not go to the Republika Srpska because in order to
14 join their army and stay there. It was just supposed to be a stop
15 over on my way to Switzerland because I did not want to take part in
16 that war; I did not want to. I simply could not bear seeing my former
17 neighbours committing such crimes. I simply could not understand how
18 such things could happen. I could not understand. Maybe somebody else
19 could, but I could not. So, as I already told you, in the Republika
20 Srpska I was first in Bijeljina and then I went for Janja. Then some
21 soldiers from a paramilitary unit tried to arrest me in Janja. They
22 wanted to kill me. They knew I was a Croat. They wanted me to report
23 in their unit and all kinds of things happened. So I fled to Serbia
24 together with my wife. We just kept moving about Serbia from one
25 place to another, and then this general mobilization of Bosnians took
1 place in Serbia. They wanted all Bosnians in Serbia to go back to the
2 Republika Srpska. That was a government's order. So I was afraid, I
3 was afraid of everything, and I did not know what to do. I kept
4 thinking it would have been easy if I had been alone, but I did not
5 know what to do with my wife who was pregnant at that time. It would
6 have been easy for me to flee across the border, even without papers,
7 but I knew that if I got caught they would kill me because I was a
8 Croat and I did not have any identification papers, except for my ID
9 from Tuzla. I did not have any passport. So I went back to Republika
10 Srpska and I went to a cousin of my wife. We went to Foca. When we
11 got to Foca - I told you about that yesterday - when we got there,
12 I had to register myself somewhere. I had some kind of paper from
13 Republika Srpska and, being a Croat, it was difficult. This man told
14 me, "Drazen, OK, you have been with the army of Bosnia and
15 Herzegovina. You admitted that. You have been with the HVO. You did
16 not commit any crimes. You helped Serbs. Just don't stay in Foca. It
17 is not safe for you, you, a Croat". That is all he had to tell me,
18 because they could not guarantee that I would survive there. The wife
19 could stay, that is what they told me, but I could not. That was his
20 advice. So I took his advice and I went back to Bijeljina. As I told
21 you, I was stopped by the civilian police in Bijeljina. They
22 requested some kind of permission which I did not have, but this Serb
23 who was with me at the time confirmed that I was the person I was. He
24 told them everything about me. He knew certain details about me. So
25 they told me that I should immediately report to the town hall and
1 that I should be given a green card, a green refugee card, with all
2 details of my whereabouts, and people I was living with and so on. I
3 think that that green card should have been obtained from the Federal
4 Republic of Yugoslavia, if you have that document from that country.
5 However, nothing, no accommodation, no papers were possible, it was
6 possible to obtain them because I was not a member of any army. So I
7 had to join the army. Why? To survive. So this man who was working in
8 the military department who was in charge of deploying, assigning,
9 people to various units, asked me about my name, "Drazen Erdemovic,
10 who are you? What are you?" and I did not hide it. I told him I was a
11 Croat. So he kept staring at me, "How did you get out? Who let you
12 out?" Then I started my story from the beginning; how I helped Serbs
13 in Tuzla, how I am not a criminal. But I had to be a member of an
14 army so I went to all kinds of details to make my story believable.
15 So after that he told me that there was this Unit and there is one
16 Muslim in this Unit, one Slovenian, one Croat, and there is another
17 unit which is a paramilitary Unit, and some people from that unit
18 wanted to kill me after I left Tuzla and if I had not fled to Serbia
19 they would have probably killed me at that time. So I joined this
20 first Unit and the first thing that I asked was when I saw those two
21 people, two Croats, "What is the task of this Unit? What are they in
22 charge of? Is there any dirty business that they are supposed do?"
23 They told me, "Drazen, the Commander is a very good man and he has
24 never ever issued any order to liquidate anyone". That is what they
25 told me. I talked to this Commander and he had talked with those
1 Croats whom he trusted more. He wanted to know more about myself and
2 so on, because I told my story to the authorities of the Ministry of
3 the Interior, how I arrived in Republika Srpska, and this Commander
4 never issued me with an order to kill anyone. We were in charge of
5 reconnaissance and intelligence activities. I was even praised by
6 this one person when I let Mr. X, the witness, when I let him go, he
7 told me that is what I should have done anyway. After that this
8 Pelemis arrived in October and everything changed. The Unit was
9 extended and some nationalists joined the Unit. It was horrible for
10 me. It was a horrible experience for me. I will tell you exactly what
11 happened. I could not do it yesterday but I can do it now. So Pelemis
12 introduced himself and he said, "Well, I am your new Commander", and
13 he said he was a hero of Republika Srpska. "OK, you are a hero. I am
14 nobody, but that is fine with me". He said he was from the main
15 staff, that he was working for the intelligence service and that we
16 were to obey strictly his orders. Well, what was I supposed to do? I
17 just kept silent, everybody else did. So after that I had been given
18 my rank from the former Commander and Pelemis said, "OK, you can
19 continue with your rank". He had heard that I was an honest man, that
20 I was not a liar and so on. OK. I got my assignments. At that time I
21 received a report which was to help me for that assignment. They had
22 everything written down, the type of vehicles, the route to be taken
23 and the description of the person we were supposed to arrest. They
24 were even going to give us a helicopter for that kind of action. So I
25 did not undertake anything before I checked it all myself, together
1 with four other colleagues. So when I got there, when I got to the
2 site, I realised that the report was not true. It was not true that
3 it was not dangerous, because they were assuring me that the civilian
4 population would not be harmed. That is what was stated in the report
5 that I had been given which had been signed by Pelemis. So I sat down
6 with my colleagues. I could talk to them. I knew them, and I told
7 them, "Well, is this the kind of situation that we have seen? Is this
8 what it says in the report? Can you see these people here in these
9 meadows, women and children? They are Muslims. They do not care about
10 fighting. They are just working on their fields in order to survive",
11 and none of my soldiers ever pointed a gun at those Muslims and I do
12 not think their names will ever appear before any Tribunal, thanks to
13 me, because Pelemis would have exposed them to the same trouble I
14 have been exposed to. So we came back from that assignment and I told
15 them that the report was not true, and at that time I would like to
16 emphasise that - I would like you to understand me, your Honours - at
17 that time I was the Commander of the 1st Sabotage Unit which was part
18 of the Bijeljina platoon. I am emphasising this because you have
19 mentioned two of my refusals to carry out Pelemis's orders. Did you
20 not mention that two times that I refused to carry out orders?
21 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: It is for the Presiding Judge to put the
22 questions, but to set your mind at rest, not only are we listening to
23 you because you have been talking now for some twenty minutes, I
24 believe, and none of the Judges interrupted you, normally it was the
25 mitigating circumstances that we wanted to hear about, duress,
1 threats, etc. We have let you speak. I would be happy to answer your
2 question. Yes, I do believe we are listening to you and we are not
3 interrupting you. So please proceed.
4 THE ACCUSED: Yes, thank you. So I went back to Bijeljina. I was
5 debriefed and I had agreed with those four comrades who were all
6 Serbs, and I was a Croat and I was the Commander of that Unit because
7 I knew the area and that is why I had been given the assignment in
8 the first place. So we agreed that the task could not be carried out
9 because people could get killed, both members of the Muslim army,
10 Muslim civilians and my colleague soldiers. I believe that none of us
11 would have survived. So I went back. I reported to my superiors in
12 writing. They probably asked those four colleagues whether what I had
13 written was true. I do not know. Maybe Pelemis had his informant
14 among those four people - who knows - because that is what kind of
15 people the intelligence people are. However, they gave me their
16 support. Several days later, Colonel Salapura arrived from the main
17 intelligence centre and convened a meeting. So he had the floor and
18 he knew that I had saved this witness X, but Pelemis did not know
19 about that at that time. So Salapura tells me, "Mr. Erdemovic, what
20 do you think, what kind of behaviour is that? Do you know who the
21 Commander is here? Do you know who is in charge of issuing orders?
22 What do you think? What kind of an attitude is that? You are a
23 Commander. You should co-operate with the command not with your
24 soldiers". I told him, "Well, I prefer my soldiers to you because you
25 are sitting comfortably in your armchairs while we are freezing to
1 death in mountains", and so he just looked at me, but that is what I
2 told him. So he said,"OK, I know, you are lying. We have our people
3 working for us. They have been informing us. We know what you have
4 been doing". When he said "you," he meant Croats, because there were
5 two Croats and one Slovenian there. I said, "OK, I am prepared to
6 answer, to be accountable, for everything that I did". So I came to
7 work the next day, because I was under a contract - I would like to
8 emphasise that - I had a regular job. I had to be there at 7 o'clock
9 and I worked until 3 o'clock in the afternoon in the barracks in
10 Bijeljina. I could not move without permission. So that is when I was
11 taken off my rank and that is when the abuse started. My wife gave
12 birth in October, on 21st October. I had a very small child. My wife
13 fell sick. It was winter and then later in March she was still sick
14 and my son was still very small. So I kept sitting by his bed because
15 I love him dearly and I was feeding him because my wife could not get
16 up from bed, he was sick, and I had to go to work the next morning. I
17 had to go to the barracks; I simply had to. Nobody asked me whether I
18 wanted to, whether I could; I had to. So I had to leave my bedridden
19 wife and my child. I had no time to eat myself. My small son was
20 crying and, well, it is good that I still know what happened. So I
21 went to the barracks and I had no time. I had not had time to shave.
22 Pelemis was there, and he said, "Half of you are not - haven't
23 shaved" and then Pelemis said, "Erdemovic, who are you trying to fuck
24 here?" I apologise for this expression. He said, "You should be
25 ashamed of yourself. You forgot to shave this morning and only
1 yesterday you were in charge here, you were a Commander". I thought I
2 was going to ask him to go home because my wife was sick, but then I
3 realised that I could not ask for anything any more because I could
4 even be sent to a prison. So, several days later we were sitting
5 here, this friend of mine and myself, four of us, we were sitting in
6 the corridor and talking, and Pelemis comes by and nobody stands up
7 to greet him. He is an officer. We were supposed to stand up and
8 greet him but nobody did. Then again, "You, Erdemovic", but then
9 again, "You mother fucker" - I apologise once again - "Who do you
10 think you are? Who do you really think you are?" I just kept silent.
11 "Why don't you get up?" I said, "Well, my colleagues did not get up
12 either". "You used to be their Commander. That is what you have
13 taught him. You have just taught them disrespect for their
14 superiors". I just kept silent. I thought it was just better for me
15 not to say anything then, to talk. After that nothing, I did not have
16 any contacts with Pelemis whatsoever. I only had contacts with this
17 other Commander and Pelemis would not hear about me any more. He was
18 not interested about me, but I knew that he was up to something. I
19 knew that he was going to send me somewhere. I know that he would
20 send some people to liquidate me. I was not 100 per cent sure, but I
21 just had this feeling. This friend of mine mentioned me something to
22 that effect. He was also a member of my Unit. Not only me, but many
23 others, irrespective whether they were Serbs too, I will tell you
24 about one of our actions. It was a covert action, and a Serb went to
25 town and told his girlfriend something in connection with that
12 Blank pages inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts. Pages 272 to 288.
1 action, but then this girl, you know, you know women, they tell each
2 other things, and the story went through town and, "Who said that?"
3 and it was that man. You know what Mr. Pelemis said? "You go there. I
4 do not care. You are going to enemy territory now. If your lives -
5 if you lose your lives, then it is going to be his fault". But he did
6 not tell anyone of the boys to kill that Serb. Fortunately, there was
7 no shooting and this Serb was not killed, therefore. After that comes
8 Srebrenica. I tell you, I came to work in the morning. The Commander
9 of the platoon said, "Get ready, you are off to an assignment". So
10 what could I do? I took my rifle and I went off to this assignment. I
11 do not know where, only Pelemis knew and probably the Commander of
12 the platoon. As I said, we came on 10th in the evening, I cannot
13 tell, above the town of Srebrenica. It was the first time in my life
14 that I had seen Srebrenica. Pelemis said, "OK, you are going to sleep
15 there". We slept outdoors. We did not have anything. We slept on the
16 ground. He went some place, probably to a bed. "I will come back
17 tomorrow and I will issue your orders". I kept silent and I was not
18 anything, and he was talking to the Commanders and I was not
19 interested. I was no longer a Commander. In the morning he came and
20 said that we had got orders to go to Srebrenica, to go down to
21 Srebrenica as a Sabotage Unit and that we would be joined by some of
22 the soldiers from the Drinski Corps, and that is the way it was.
23 About 9.00, 9.30, I do not know exactly, we went down to a town. Of
24 course they prepared us. They said that there would be heavy
25 resistance and that there were, I do not know how many armed
1 soldiers, and that they were extreme Muslims. That is what they
2 explained. But we went into town. Not a single shot was fired at us,
3 not a single bullet was shot at us. It was really strange to me. I
4 was wondering, what is this? Where are these people? What is going
5 on? We came to what I think was the centre of the town. I tried to
6 explain this to Mr. Ruez. He probably checked that and he said it was
7 the centre of the town. I thank him for that. Let it be known that I
8 am not lying. Nothing - our orders were to stop, not to go anywhere
9 before General Mladic would come. Pelemis said, "Drazen" - no, not to
10 me, he told somebody else, "Take four men and go back to the southern
11 part". Ruez helped us tell which side this was, where this was. "When
12 General Mladic comes into town, let us know by radio communication
13 that he is entering town". From then onwards I have no idea what
14 happened in Srebrenica and elsewhere. I saw some of it on BBC, here
15 on television, and I talked about this with the investigating
16 gentleman. He asked me about certain details in connection with these
17 films. I told him what I knew and what I did not know, I did not
18 know, but when I saw those people in the camp I was really surprised.
19 How could that happen, that I could be there and not see these
20 people? I do not know. I wondered myself. I probably do not know why.
21 That is the way it was. We spent the night - that night in
22 Srebrenica. Pelemis came again the next day and he said, "We are
23 packing up, we are going. There is nothing else to be done. Our
24 assignment has been completed." OK, fine. We all crowded into our
25 vehicles and went back to our homes. Then, of course, in the vehicle
1 we would talk and I asked a man from Vlasenica, "What is going on?
2 Where are these people? Is this the Srebrenica that was surrounded
3 for four years?" He said, "I do not know. I do not know". That is
4 what he said. After that, while travelling, I told you our vehicle
5 broke down and we were left behind for a long time until it was
6 repaired. When we came to the base of the Vlasenica platoon, we heard
7 about Pelemis causing a traffic accident which killed a soldier who
8 was in the group that I had commanded previously. Tomorrow, the next
9 day, when we got up, Pelemis did not tell me personally, but a man
10 who was in - who was part of the quartermaster's Corps, he told me
11 that something should be bought for this man's family and he said,
12 "You are going and four more people were going". I said, "Of course,
13 I liked this man. He never said anything bad do me. He never said
14 that I was Croat and that he was a Serb or that he hated me". On the
15 contrary, they always went to the place where I lived so that we
16 would have coffee together or what I would have, if I had something
17 else for us to drink. Of course, I will tell you now while I was in
18 Bijeljina - I forgot that - my next door neighbour was Muslim. We
19 were on friendly terms and this man helped me cure my son once
20 because he was running a high fever and he gave me a natural syrup
21 made of apples which would reduce a fever, and I did not smoke at the
22 time and I would give this man who was an elderly man in his 60s,
23 perhaps, I would give him these cigarettes that I had received. I was
24 also in touch with these girls, these two friends, (redacted)
25 (redacted) . These two girls were Muslims also. Nothing whatever
1 happened. They came to my son's first birthday party and they bought
2 him the most valuable of presents. I can never forget that, a gold
3 bracelet. I do not know why - perhaps because I was bad or perhaps
4 because I was good. Even now they are sending their regards to me and
5 I thank them for it. Now let me go on once again what happened. When
6 I came back from the funeral on 16th in the morning, I tell you
7 Pelemis did not tell me directly but Brano Gojkovic came and said,
8 "Erdemovic, Kos Franc and Goronja Zoran, get ready. You going on to a
9 mission". So what could we do? I asked when we would be going home.
10 He said, "You are going on a mission. What kind of a home are you
11 talking about?" So I had to go on this mission, I had to. I did not
12 know, but I did not know what it was. Had I known what it was, I
13 would not have moved from there. They would have to kill me on the
14 spot. I do not know what. Had I been the Commander of the group, then
15 I tell you, quite frankly, I would have refused that assignment with
16 an explanation, I will try to find an explanation for the command; I
17 would have tried. I will tell what you this explanation would have
18 been. I would have said that this was a crime, that this is
19 punishable and I would have primarily persuaded my colleagues that
20 people are held accountable for that kind of thing, that this is not
21 a minor affair, that people lose their lives. That is how I would
22 explain this. Then they would help me when I would report to Pelemis.
23 They would defend me. But I was not Commander then, regrettably. An
24 idiot was Commander, an idiot - not a fool, an idiot. A fool is good
25 and honest, but an idiot is an idiot. We came to Zvornik. He reported
1 to this command, to a Lieutenant Colonel. I do not know his name or
2 surname and I saw his rank, his insignia on his chest. This
3 Lieutenant Colonel told our driver, "Sit in the vehicle and follow
4 me", and that is the way it was. We were driven off to this farm.
5 Again this Lieutenant Colonel was talking to Brano saying - I do not
6 know what they were talking about, I do not know, I was not present
7 during that conversation. When this Lieutenant Colonel sat in the
8 vehicle and started going away, then Brano said, "Now buses will be
9 brought in with civilian population from Srebrenica, men." He
10 emphasised civilians, that is to say, that they would be wearing
11 civilian clothes. I said, "People, I do not want this, are you
12 normal?" Nothing. "Mr. Erdemovic" - this is what Brano told me - "if
13 you do not want to, stand with them so that I, so that we can kill
14 you too or give them weapons so that they can shoot you". I was not
15 afraid for myself at that point, not that much. If I were alone, I
16 would have run away, I would have tried to do something, just as they
17 tried to flee into the forest or whatever. But what would happen to
18 my child and to my wife? So there was this enormous burden falling on
19 my shoulders. On the one hand, I knew that I would be killing people,
20 that I could not hide this, that this would be burning at my
21 conscience. I cannot bring up my child if I conceal things like that.
22 How can I bring up my child properly and teach him good things if I
23 am hiding something that is bad, that is a crime? Then, on the other
24 hand, how can I sacrifice my child which was only a few months old
25 and my wife, and they were not to be blamed for anything. So I was in
1 this Unit, so I had a guilty conscience in terms of myself. So what
2 do I do? If I sacrifice myself and my family, again it would be the
3 same; these people would be killed again because I am not deciding on
4 their fate. So, as I said, what happened happened. I saw that I had
5 no way out, and I had to shoot these people. I tried to refuse. I
6 tried to explain, "People, people are held accountable for this. Do
7 you know what you are doing?" No, they probably did not have the kind
8 of conscience I had. Let me tell you, none of them had families so
9 that was probably the reason too. They did not think about this very
10 much. But then all of a sudden it became clear in my head. What was I
11 supposed to do? Where do I go? Before I could run to one town and
12 then another town or whatever. Where do I go with a wife and with a
13 small child? Where? Where? What happened happened; buses started
14 coming in. There were two military policemen escorting these buses.
15 They would bring out groups of 10 people out of the bus and, of
16 course, they were looking into the ground. I remember the first bus.
17 I remember the first bus. Their heads were bent downwards and their
18 hands were tied and they were blindfolded. I remember the first bus,
19 but all the rest is dimmed, as I told Mr. Ruez. I do not know.
20 Doctors, when they talked to me, when doctors talked to me, they
21 asked me, "Drazen, perhaps out of this fear of yours, out of this
22 psychological thing, I mean, all the things that you lived through,
23 experienced, did you say that there were 20 buses, that there were so
24 many people?" I said, "People", I said that many because that is the
25 way it seemed to me and I think that is the way it was. I did not
1 count them, nor did I think it was right to count, but I think that
2 that is how it was. If you look at the time that all of this had
3 taken, it all fits into this mosaic. After that, later, I do not know
4 what time it was, these people from Bratunac came and not all of them
5 had even gotten out of their vehicles, and I showed Mr. Ruez one of
6 them. You can see this on BBC television on their films. This man was
7 probably born in Srebrenica and he was in the Bratunac Brigade and he
8 was a Serb. He said, "Ah, ah, you, Turk, you were the worst one in
9 Srebrenica. You did this, you did that". They started beating them. I
10 do not know what they were doing to people. I cannot describe this. I
11 do not have the words to do that. Nothing. Nothing. I just kept
12 quiet, kept quiet. I tried to save a man. I had certain arguments
13 because he saved Serbs who were in the Federal Republic of
14 Yugoslavia. This man was giving their telephone numbers to have this
15 checked, but there were no witnesses. The command was all should be
16 dead and no witnesses. I did not even know when the end would come.
17 Then this Lieutenant Colonel came in and he used the following words,
18 "In the hall in Pilica there were 500 people", so the figure he used
19 is the figure I used, 500. Then I had really broken down, you know,
20 as we say in Yugoslavia, broken down. That means that I was
21 distressed, psychologically, physically, I do not know what, and I
22 said I would not do it any more. I do not know why I decided then
23 that I would not do it, I do not know, I do not know, I am not aware
24 of that, but had - he said that I would have to do it, and probably
25 I was supported by some of my comrades. That is why I was so resolute
1 perhaps, I do not know, I do not know exactly. Had he said that I had
2 to do it, I would have turned my rifle towards him and I would have
3 shot him. "If you say that I have to do it, well, I do not have to do
4 it" and I would have done that, no matter what happened to me after
5 that at that point. But afterwards I was afraid. The next few days I
6 was wondering, what had I done. I was afraid. I was afraid that they
7 would try to liquidate me because of my behaviour at that farm. I
8 refused that. These comrades supported me and after that we went to
9 this meeting. Nothing important was said there. We went back to
10 Vlasenica and we came to Bijeljina. I kept saying, "Please, let us go
11 home". Some individuals were already drunk. They were saying, "Wait,
12 wait, wait, let's have another drink." I said, "Come on, people,
13 let's go home. I want to go see my child". Fortunately, fortunately,
14 I said, the Lieutenant Colonel said that we could go. God knows when
15 we would have left there. I came to Bijeljina. I came home, as I
16 said. I was in a hurry to go home to see my wife and child. I know
17 what I had experienced and all of that hurt, but what could I do? I
18 did not want anything. I did not want the war. I did not want that,
19 but what could I do? I kept quiet. I could not tell my wife about
20 what had happened. I was worried how to put them away some place. I
21 knew what Pelemis had been doing to me before that, and now what will
22 he do now? However, not much time had gone by and what I had expected
23 came true. My colleague shot three bullets at me and two other
24 friends. Why, I do not know. The authorities of Republika Srpska had
25 carried out this investigation and, of course, the owner of this cafe
1 had reported the shooting because he had to do it for his own safety.
2 He was interrogated and all the witnesses and they all corroborated
3 the same story, because these two witnesses were in better condition
4 than I was. I could not speak because of the consequences of the
5 wounding. Only some 20 days after that I was visited by these
6 inspectors from Bijeljina in Belgrade at the military hospital.
7 "Drazen, what happened? Are you going to tell us about it?" "People,
8 I cannot tell you about it. I am afraid. I cannot tell you anything.
9 Are you going to bring charges?" "How do I bring charges? He tried to
10 kill me the other day." I kept quiet. The Muslim was also asked and
11 he said: "No, no, nothing. No, no, no, forget it." I remembered but I
12 said: "No, no, this was forgotten. How do I know who would tell who
13 what?" When I left the hospital, ah yes, in the hospital I was only
14 visited by one man from my unit, only one man from my unit. He also
15 lived in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and he helped me stay
16 alive, rather have me transported from Bijeljina to the military
17 hospital in Belgrade. He explained some other details to me, then
18 what was being done, what would happen. He advised me to move my
19 family away. I had been wounded so badly that I had been operated on
20 and this stoma was removed only in the Netherlands. But when I came
21 home I was wounded. I did not have a single dinar, not a single
22 dinar. The medicine was exorbitant, the medicine I needed was
23 exorbitant. Had it not been for some people who I had known who had
24 cafes and who knew I was a good man and also some companies, had I
25 not asked them for money for my medicine nobody would have given it
1 to me. I would have died. There were no medicaments at the Bijeljina
2 hospital and all of this is privately owned, pharmacies, everything.
3 To tell you exactly, the only pharmacy in Belgrade that had my
4 medicines and those stoma and other things I needed cost 150
5 deutschemarks and this was only to last me for 20 days, only 20 days.
6 So wounded as I was, I would take the bus and go to Belgrade to buy
7 my medicine. When I would come to the border, I want to say that too,
8 between Republika Srpska and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as
9 far as I could see, these policemen behaved towards me in a humane
10 manner. They never asked me, "What are you doing Croat? Where do you
11 want to go? What are you doing?" They would always say, "Sir, would
12 you please show us your papers? Where you are going?" I would show my
13 permit, they would have a look at it, and then I would do the same
14 thing that I did yesterday. I would raise my shirt and they would see
15 the wounds, the stoma and they would say, "Fine". "I am just going to
16 buy this medicine I need and I am going back immediately." After that
17 I wondered: How could I transfer my wife and where do I transfer her?
18 Problems again. I was being threatened. In the street they were
19 saying loud and clear, "You're an Ustasha." Although I was in their
20 army I was an Ustasha for them. My wife was Ustasha hoar for them
21 because she had borne a Croat child. That is the kind of people they
22 are. Why? Why, because Pelemis had talked them into that. I suffered.
23 I suffered. I had the strength to sustain all of that. Fortunately,
24 IFOR came into Bosnia. Routes were being opened Orasje and Tuzla, the
25 road between Oraci and Tuzla, going by the town of Brcko and I
1 besieged my wife and child. I could not tell her what happened. She
2 had assumed what had happened. She knew I was wounded and I said,
3 "Please, you and the child go there, go to our parents, so that you
4 would stay alive at least and it does not matter what happens to me.
5 Please just take my child away." I had such trouble talking her into
6 it. She was wondering whether she would run into problems with the
7 Muslim authorities there. I said: "Don't be afraid, (redacted). The
8 people from the Muslim Ministry of the Interior know me. They know
9 that I am not that kind of person. They know everything about me.
10 They have my files. They know that I am not a criminal, that I never
11 committed a crime. I did not even fight with anybody or quarrel with
12 anybody, nothing." Then she agreed. A friend of mine, a Serb, drove
13 her there by car, my wife and child, they went to Tuzla. I came back
14 to Bijeljina. Then when I got out of this friend's car I did not know
15 what to do. Where do I go now? I know the next day when people would
16 find out that my wife went to Tuzla it would all be over. I was
17 suspected even then. Then after that what could I do? I knew what had
18 destroyed my life and that is what troubled me. First, I was
19 wondering whether I should commit suicide, take five kilograms of
20 explosives tied around me, walk into the office of Milorad Pelemis
21 and blow him up and myself. It would be of no use. Where is the truth
22 there? What is the truth about Drazen Erdemovic? Why did Drazen
23 Erdemovic have to go through all of that and why did he have to live
24 through such things? I was talking to a friend and he said, "Drazen,
25 Salapura and Mico are not worthy of your life. Do something else.
1 Don't do that." I listened to that man and I did what I did. I went
2 to a friend in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. I thought of
3 getting in touch with you directly, the International Tribunal, but I
4 did not have any contact. I did not have a passport. I only had an ID
5 from Tuzla, this military contract, and an ID stating the unit I
6 belonged to. No other documents. Also this green card. I do not have
7 if I have it here. I do not know. I told this friend of mine about this,
8 you know, and he looked at me and he said: "You're crazy." I
9 said: "Yes, I am crazy." I said: "Yes, you are with your child." I
10 looked at his child and I said: "Where is (redacted)"? Why? I do
11 not know why. I know actually what happened but I do not know why.
12 Why did all of this happen. I said resolutely that is what I have
13 decided. I shall either be dead or I shall tell about what I know
14 before the International Tribunal. Then this friend of mine
15 understood what I was saying and helped me get in touch with
16 journalists. Without any guesswork involved I told this lady
17 journalist, I said that I was not asking for any money or for any
18 services from her, any favours. I just asked her to help me get to
19 The Hague. I asked her: "Please, don't let this be revealed. If it is
20 revealed I am a dead man. It is not that I will be a dead man, it is
21 not that that is important. I took part in this. I feel guilty
22 because of that. I feel some kind of guilt, but this man who helped
23 me and I am staying with him, he is not to be blamed and he will
24 suffer because of that and his child will suffer." Not even two days
25 had gone by since I gave this interview my friend and I were
1 arrested. We were arrested by the State Security of the Republic of
2 Serbia. They did not beat us up or anything. They did not torture us
3 in any way. They knew everything about me. They simply took away the
4 lady's cassette at the airport in Belgrade. They had everything. I
5 know that they have everything. This lady told me and this friend of
6 mine it is all over. I was searched at Belgrade airport and the
7 cassette was taken away. Nothing. I said: "What do I do now with my
8 friend?" I look at his wife and child and I say: "God, if I destroy
9 my own life, OK, but what do I do with this man?" Nothing. After this
10 call, after less than half an hour, the police knocked at the door.
11 They said it was the police and nothing. They opened the door. They
12 walked in. They said nicely: "Take your jackets, put your shoes on
13 and come with us." Nothing. My friend and I got up and left. Of
14 course, we could not talk to each other. I was looking at one side.
15 He was looking to the other side. We came to this place, the SUP, the
16 Ministry of the Interior and then interrogation started. He was in
17 one room. I was in another room. Nobody had harassed me in any way.
18 One man told me though that I was a Croat spy, but then he was
19 intoxicated. I said, OK, I helped Serbs in Tuzla and I am married to
20 a Serb. I do not know what I had said and he looked at me. A pleasant
21 man came, I must say just as pleasant as Mr. Ruez who talked to me.
22 He was fair and decent. I knew then that they had everything and that
23 they knew everything and I knew why they arrested me. It started and
24 I told them everything just as I told you, everything, everything,
25 all the details, all the details. I said that I was forced to do
1 that. I was not afraid that they would arrest some of the people who
2 were there with me. Let them arrest them and let any one of them say
3 I was not forced to do that. I told these people all of that and this
4 man believed me, and they would not even handcuff me after that, me
5 or my friend. We were not in prison in Novi Sad, no, that is to not
6 true. We were on Dedinje in a house that was guarded by the State
7 Security of the Republic Serbia. I was not harassed in any way. They
8 provided medicine for me for my wounds. I had fruit, food just like I
9 have here in detention and also a fair attitude. I was treated
10 fairly. I was not addressed by "hey, you spy" by these men who were
11 with me. They probably received orders from their superiors. Oh yes,
12 and then I appeared before this court in Novi Sad. Then Mr. Jovan
13 Babic became my attorney. I just looked at this man and I saw that he
14 was an honest man, an honest man. I just looked at him. I asked him
15 what I should do and he said: "Drazen, the best thing for you is to
16 say the truth, exactly what had happened and how it had happened."
17 Then I told the whole story again before the court in Novi Sad. Mr.
18 Jovan Babic put certain questions that he thought were unclear. He
19 asked me about all these armies, because it is a bit unusual to
20 everyone, how come I was in three armies. So that is why I had to
21 speak about this at length. I told the whole story. I even said the
22 name of the man who was supposed to transfer me to Switzerland. I do
23 not know if that is in the papers that came in from Yugoslavia, but I
24 think that the name is there. They asked me and I told them the name.
25 Mr. Ruez did not ask me and whatever he had asked me I answered. So
1 that is how it happened. My counsel told me that we would be seeing
2 each other every week. The first time we met I asked him - I actually
3 gave him a telephone number and I asked him to contact that person
4 and to get some news of my wife, my son and the rest of my family in
5 Tuzla because I knew that they had heard everything, that that they
6 had heard about my statement. He told me: "Drazen, don't you worry
7 about that. It has been taken care of. I had just said that and he
8 told me that it had all been taken care of. The next time we saw each
9 other he told me: "Your family is OK." I told him: "Well, don't lie
10 to me. Tell me openly what's going on with them?" He said: "They are
11 fine. They are doing fine. You should not worry about anything." So
12 then this procedure started and gentlemen whose names I do not
13 remember from the Tribunal came. They talked to me, not for very
14 long. They just asked me whether I was willing to come to The Hague.
15 I said to the Security Services that I wanted to go to The Hague.
16 That is what I also told the court in Novi Sad and that is what I am
17 telling you now. That is how it all happened. That is how I arrived
18 here on 30th March. Then the proceedings that you are aware of
19 started. Yesterday I told you about that. The Prosecution and my
20 Defence counsel told you how much I helped the Prosecution and they
21 said that yesterday. I do not think I should repeat that here again.
22 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Fine, Mr. Erdemovic. Please return to your usual
23 seat. We are going to proceed to a recess, unless there are any
24 questions? Mr. Babic, do you have any questions?
25 MR. BABIC: No. I think that the testimony has been given in detail
1 and that his personality can be seen.
2 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Prosecutor?
3 MR. OSTBERG: I think, your Honour, we have one question to Mr.
5 Q. Mr. Erdemovic, you have read and heard the facts stated in this
6 indictment many, many times. I am certain that you realise that there
7 is one crucial question to which the Court needs to have an absolute
8 clear answer. That is, from the moment on 16th July 1995 when you
9 realised what your task was going to be and until around 3 o'clock in
10 the afternoon when the shooting stopped, did you at any point have
11 any possibility to avoid taking part in this shooting without
12 jeopardising your life?
13 A. No. No, that is my most sincere and frank answer; not because I am
14 defending myself. I am really being honest. First, you may remember
15 yesterday you mentioned, I did not mention, I did not even know that,
16 that the crime was actually discovered by me and you had not been
17 aware of that crime before that.
18 Q. Your answer to this crucial question is no?
19 A. No. MR. OSTBERG: Thank you. No further questions, your Honour.
20 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Judge Odio Benito?
21 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: Thank you.
22 Q. Mr. Erdemovic, could you tell us how your relationship was with
23 your parents when you were a kid in Tuzla, a kid and a young boy? How
24 was your relationship with your family in general?
25 A. How shall I put it? The relations were good, at least I think they
1 were good. I did not spend much time with my father who was away in
2 business very often in various towns in Yugoslavia. He would leave
3 Tuzla for Serbia, for a town in Serbia or in Croatia, for his work.
4 That was the kind of work he had. So I spent much more time with my
5 mother. To be honest, I was relatively free. They did not force me to
6 do anything. They taught me not to hate anyone. I am grateful for
7 that to them. They taught me to be a law-abiding person. Even when my
8 dad was at home when, for example, some older friends would come and
9 ask for me to go to a party, my father trusted those friends of mine
10 who were older than myself and he told them: "You will be responsible
11 for him." So it was quite free. I was not made to do anything. They
12 did not tell me to do this or that. There was not such a thing.
13 Q. Are your parents still alive?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. When you were wounded in the hospital in Belgrade, did you receive
16 their visit?
17 A. I told you, I was only visited by this friend, a colleague from my
18 unit, and I was also visited once by my wife and my child throughout
19 that one month period.
20 Q. Do you know why they did not visit you, your parents?
21 A. Well, it was impossible for them to travel from Tuzla to Belgrade.
22 It was impossible to reach Belgrade at that time. The roads were not
23 opened and IFOR was not yet there. Only the UN forces were there in
24 Bosnia and Herzegovina.
25 Q. You told us during your declaration this morning that at sometime
1 you were transferred near to Vukovar. When id this happen, when you
2 were transferred to Vukovar?
3 A. I was not in Vukovar. I was in a place some 15 kilometres away
4 from Vukovar. There was a checkpoint there and it was while I was
5 doing my regular military service with the JNA.
6 Q. When?
7 A. When in 1991, in the summer of '91. I do not recall the exact date
8 but it was in July, I believe. I do not know exactly. I cannot
10 Q. Before these Srebrenica facts had you killed anyone in the war?
11 A. No. That is why I have been tormented by that so much when I have
12 to talk about it. That was the first and the last time.
13 JUDGE ODIO BENITO: Thank you. No further questions.
14 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Erdemovic, just one question. Your future
15 depends of course on what the Tribunal is going to decide, but when
16 you foresee your own future how do you see things in terms of your
17 family life, professional life, in social terms, geographical terms?
18 How do you see your future?
19 A. First of all, I have been discussing it with doctors, the doctors
20 who have been suggested by the Tribunal. They asked me - at the
21 beginning you knew how I was. I started to cry during my initial
22 appearance and everything. So while I was talking to them I kept
23 telling them that my life had been destroyed and that my life was
24 worthless, but later on these guards in the detention unit helped me.
25 They would beg me to get out to do some sport, to do something, you
1 know, just to keep those thoughts away. So I started to react
2 positively. I started playing table tennis. Although I was still
3 wounded I was trying to play basketball, you know, I had to. I felt I
4 should do it because those people, one of them, he can speak
5 Yugoslavian and he told me: "Drazen, why are you doing this to
6 yourself? You are here but you are not alone." So he tried to
7 convince, well, he was doing his job. I know he is a guard there.
8 Then the doctors paid me another visit and we talked again and they
9 asked me: "Drazen, how are you doing now?" I told them: "Well, thank
10 God I am doing fine. This surgery has been performed. My wife had
11 visited me with my child. The guards are behaving in a very correct
12 way. I have not been forced to do anything. My lawyer also cheers me
13 up when he comes to see me. We make jokes." I told them I was feeling
14 much better, but I still had those thoughts. I am still asking myself
15 why I am not together with my wife and my child, with my parents. Why
16 has all this happened? Why am I here? Why have I become a criminal?
17 Why am I in a prison? Why? Why? All because of others. Others did
18 this to me. Of course I have to be tormented by that. Of course I
19 have to think about what happened on that farm. I have to have those
20 thoughts because I lost everything. I have lost all my friends. OK, I
21 have not lost the real friends, they are sending their regards, even
22 some Muslim friends because they do not believe, even some people who
23 are in important positions in Tuzla, who work for the Ministry of the
24 Interior, they are just saying that this is not possible that I would
25 do this of my own free will. The Commander of my unit in the Muslim
1 army who is a Muslim by nationality, he said: "No, that is not Drazen
2 Erdemovic. That is not him." The Commander of my HVO unit also: "No,
3 no, that is not Drazen Erdemovic. We know Drazen Erdemovic very
4 well." They keep sending their regards, my friends. On 21st October
5 some of them came to my son's birthday party and there were Muslims,
6 Serbs and Croats there and I could not be there. Why? Because of this
7 Pelemis, because of Salapura, because of the war, because of
8 everything, because of everything.
9 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I believe Judge Riad has a question for you.
10 JUDGE RIAD: Mr. Erdemovic, in your long description of your life you
11 have not mentioned anything about your profession. Could you tell us
12 something about your profession, before the war at least? A. Yes, I
13 have mentioned that. I am a locksmith by occupation. I graduated from
14 secondary, vocational secondary school in Tuzla in 1989. There was no
15 work at that time in former Yugoslavia. It was very difficult to find
16 a job. I did not have any money to pay to get a job. People who did
17 not have any money, they were just supposed to wait and keep quiet. I
18 was not employed at all. At that time the conflicts in the former
19 Yugoslavia started and everything stopped at that time. Factories no
20 longer worked, nothing. Q. You were very clear in expressing to us
21 your belief in the co-existence of all religious and racial factions
22 in ex-Yugoslavia, and you pleaded very much the cause of peace. At
23 the same time you happened to join all the fighting groups during
24 this war. Was there not any other way to express your belief in
25 co-existence? A. How shall I put it? We were forced to join the army.
1 I had received these call-up papers. I had no one to turn to. Who was
2 I? I was just simple Drazen Erdemovic with nobody who would listen to
3 me. I could not go to see a President or a Commander of a unit. I
4 told you that this morning. I did not vote for either the SDS, HDZ or
5 SDA. I voted for the reformists, Mr. Ante Markovic's party who won in
6 Tuzla. I did not vote for nationalists such as Beslagic in Tuzla, but
7 nobody was interested to know that. Nobody said: "Drazen Erdemovic,
8 you did not vote for any nationalist party. You are against the war."
9 No. "Drazen, go to the war. Willy-nilly, you have to go too."
10 Q. According to your observation during this period, was this the
11 case of all the young people of your age in former Yugoslavia? Did
12 they all have to pass through this ordeal?
13 A. Well, I will tell you this. Some, for example people who were
14 older than myself, they had a passport, but my generation, for
15 example, we did not have a passport. We were minor at that time.
16 Before you do your military service and if your parents did not work
17 abroad you could not get a passport, such was the law at that time.
18 You simply could not have a passport before you do your military
19 service. Once you have done your military service you can make a
20 request to be issued a passport and then they would do some checks,
21 checking your record and then they would issue you a passport. But
22 before I completed my military service the war broke out. So, who was
23 supposed to issue me a passport? That was the problem.
24 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
25 THE ACCUSED: Thank you.
1 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I was asking the Registrar to make sure it might
2 not be necessary to make some corrections or erasures in some of the
3 indications that were very personal that appeared or that were stated
4 during the testimony which might cause anybody to be insecure about
5 anything. It is now 1.30. We are going to adjourn the session. I want
6 to thank the interpreters who have worked very hard. We will not
7 begin until 3.15. The Court stands adjourned. We will resume at a
8 quarter after 3. (1.30 p.m.) (3.15 p.m.)
9 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The hearing is resumed. Would you please have
10 the accused brought in? In accordance with what we said this morning,
11 we will first hear the closing remarks of the Prosecutor, the
12 argument of the Defence, and for a very short statement that he might
13 want to make without his having to take an oath, we will hear the
14 accused. But before I give the floor to the Prosecutor, I would first
15 like to point out a point of the proceedings against Drazen Erdemovic
16 in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In my hands I have a decision
17 which was taken on 29th May 1996 by the Trial Court II presided over
18 by Mrs. MacDonald in which the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's
19 government was requested to transmit to the International Tribunal
20 the facts of the investigation and, if necessary, a copy of the case
21 files of the judgment of its national courts. This morning Mr. Babic
22 submitted to us the Novi Sad court decision which will be translated.
23 I shall turn to the Prosecutor's Office and ask if you have those
24 documents? If you do, can they be annexed to the other documents in
25 the proceedings? You have the floor now.
1 MR. OSTBERG: Yes, your Honour, I see no objection to that.
2 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: They can be annexed. You have no objection to
3 their being annexed. Does the Defence object to that? The Registrar
4 will contact the Trial Chamber to make sure which parts of the
6 documents should be translated. Without any further ado, I once again
7 give the floor to the Prosecution so that he can make his closing
8 remarks in this case. I give you the floor, Mr. Prosecutor.
9 MR. OSTBERG: Thank you, your Honour. Before the final arguments which
10 are going to be given by Mr. Harmon, if it pleases the Court, I would
11 like to briefly address the question of venue for a prison sentence,
12 if prison is imposed by the Court. We have not taken up this issue
13 before. The Registrar has filed with the Trial Chamber and also sent
14 copies to the Defence, I believe, and to the Prosecutor's Office
15 discussing where could a prison sentence be executed. I have gone
16 through the memorandum from the Registrar and eleven countries have
17 declared their willingness to execute prison sentences by this
18 Tribunal. However, four of them, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and
19 Sweden, have restricted their willingness to accept convicted
20 nationals only of residents of those respective states. The
21 Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Sweden can then not be in question.
22 Croatia which, in the report of the Secretary-General, is said not to
23 be a place to execute prison sentences. No State from the former
24 Yugoslavia should, in the view of the Secretary-General, take on them
25 to execute prison sentences. Others on this list, Iran and Pakistan,
1 have not adopted a specific legislation to do this. That leaves us
2 with three States, namely, Finland, Norway and Italy. In the opinion
3 of the Prosecutor's Office, we have no preference as to which one of
4 these three possible States imprisonment would take place. Thank you,
5 your Honour.
6 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Mr. Prosecutor. I will perhaps not
7 give the floor to the Defence immediately on this point. I think that
8 Mr. Babic will have the opportunity to say what he has to say about
9 that point during his final arguments. Do you agree, Mr. Babic?
10 MR. BABIC: Yes.
11 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: All right. Mr. Harmon, representing the Office
12 of the Prosecutor, for the closing remarks, I now give you the floor.
13 MR. HARMON: Thank you very much, your Honours. The defendant before
14 you, Mr. Drazen Erdemovic, will be the first person to be sentenced
15 for war crimes before an International Criminal Tribunal in 50 years.
16 Mr. Erdemovic has pleaded guilty to a crime against humanity, the
17 underlying facts of which are undisputed and which involve the mass
18 murder by a firing squad of 1200 defenceless men and boys from
19 Srebrenica. This crime was one of enormous proportions and, by his
20 own admissions, Mr. Erdemovic's role in it was significant. He has
21 stated at various times to various people that he killed between 10
22 and 100 people. Exactly how many people Mr. Erdemovic personally
23 killed on 16th July 1995, I cannot tell you. I do not know. Mr.
24 Erdemovic may not know and you will never know; only God knows. But
25 what I am certain of is that the massacre at Branjevo farm was
1 amongst the largest crimes committed during the tragic conflict in
2 Bosnia and Herzegovina and that Mr. Erdemovic's deadly actions
3 contributed to it. However reluctantly he says was his participation
4 in it, he did so throughout the day. When not engaged in the
5 killings, his presence at the scene armed with an automatic weapon
6 undoubtedly assisted in creating an atmosphere of fear and
7 intimidation wherein countless victims walked to their deaths rather
8 than attempt to resist or to flee. The facts behind the charges
9 against Mr. Erdemovic have in all respects been corroborated by the
10 investigations of the Office of the Prosecutor. In every national
11 jurisdiction, the taking of a life or of lives by another is
12 punishable by the severest of sanctions, often by imprisonment up to
13 and including a life term or, in some national jurisdictions, by
14 death. In this case the maximum punishment which Mr. Erdemovic faces
15 is a life imprisonment term. Were Mr. Erdemovic one who planned,
16 organised or instigated this monstrous crime or took significant
17 initiative in it, my recommendation to you would be simple and
18 direct, impose a life sentence. That will not be my recommendation to
19 you. In deciding upon the proper sentence in this case, the Trial
20 Chamber must be guided by Articles 24.2 and 7.4 of the Statute of the
21 Tribunal and Rule 101 of the Tribunal's Rules of Procedure and
22 Evidence, all of which set forth factors that the Trial Chamber shall
23 consider in imposing a proper sentence. The relevant factors
24 mentioned in those provisions include the gravity of the offence and
25 the individual circumstances of the convicted person, whether the
1 accused was following superior orders, any aggravating circumstances,
2 any mitigating circumstances, the substantial co-operation with the
3 Prosecutor by the convicted person and the general practice regarding
4 prison sentences in the courts of the former Yugoslavia. In respect
5 of aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the Prosecutor's Office
6 has filed a brief with the Trial Chamber on this subject. What makes
7 this case particularly difficult is finding the proper balance
8 between punishing Mr. Erdemovic for the aggravated crime of which he
9 stands convicted and giving recognition to the considerable factors
10 in mitigation which are also present in his case. I have already
11 discussed the aggravating circumstances of this case, the slaughter
12 of 1200 defenceless men and boys over a five hour time period on a
13 single day and Mr. Erdemovic's role in it constitutes an aggravating
14 factor. I need not repeat myself in this regard. I would, however,
15 like to address some of the factors of mitigation that the Prosecutor
16 considers relevant for your deliberations. The first of these
17 concerns the actions taken by Mr. Erdemovic to surrender himself to
18 the Tribunal. As this Chamber is aware, Mr. Erdemovic attempted to
19 travel to The Hague in order to confess his guilt but en route was
20 arrested by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He was later
21 transferred to The Hague at our request. Until Mr. Erdemovic took
22 affirmative steps to self-surrendering, he was like one of the
23 faceless, nameless executioners depicted in Goya's famous painting,
24 The Executions of May 3rd, and he would have remained so had he not
25 voluntarily set into motion a chain of events that brought him before
1 the Tribunal. Until he made those efforts, the Prosecutor neither
2 knew of him, nor of the killing fields at Branjevo farm, nor of the
3 execution site at the cultural hall in Pilica. Shortly after being
4 transferred to The Hague Mr. Erdemovic met with Mr. Jean Rene Ruez of
5 the Prosecutor's Office and confessed to his crimes. After being
6 indicted by the Prosecutor, he made his initial appearance before
7 your Honours and accepted responsibility for his crimes by entering a
8 guilty plea. During my and Office of the Prosecutor investigators'
9 contacts with Mr. Erdemovic, he has expressed remorse for his actions
10 of July 16th 1995. This combination of factors, his efforts to
11 surrender himself to the Tribunal, his confession of guilt, his
12 expressed remorse for his conduct and his prompt acceptance of
13 responsibility for his crimes by pleading guilty are, in the
14 Prosecutor's view, mitigating circumstances which we urge this
15 honourable Trial Chamber to consider in determining a proper
16 sentence. Another mitigating factor which the Trial Chamber may wish
17 to consider is found in Article 7.4 of the Statute. Article 7.4 says
18 that an accused person acting pursuant to an order of a superior
19 shall not relieve him of criminal responsibility but may be
20 considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determines
21 that justice so requires. In this case, Mr. Erdemovic, a low ranking
22 member of the Bosnian Serb Army, followed orders, albeit patently
23 illegal orders, of a superior to execute innocent civilians. He says
24 he did so out of fear for his life. You may consider these as
25 mitigating circumstances and give them weight, whatever weight you
1 deem appropriate. Rule 101(B)(ii) of the Tribunal's Rules of
2 Procedure and Evidence explicitly provides that in determining the
3 sentence, the Trial Chamber shall take into account, and I quote,
4 "the substantial co-operation with the Prosecutor by the convicted
5 person before or after conviction". Let me be very clear on this
6 point. Mr. Erdemovic has provided substantial assistance to the
7 Prosecutor's Office in relation to the investigations of Srebrenica.
8 His co-operation was and continues to be voluntary and unconditional.
9 By "unconditional" I mean that no promises were made to him by the
10 Office of the Prosecutor to secure his co-operation and assistance. I
11 would like to summarise for you the substantial nature of his
12 assistance. As a result of his co-operation, the Office of the
13 Prosecutor was informed for the first time about four criminal
14 events. The first of those events occurred on July 11th 1995 and it
15 involved the summary execution of a Bosnian Muslim civilian in
16 Srebrenica. He provided us, secondly, with details about a summary
17 execution of a Muslim prisoner in Vlasenica that was another war
18 crime. Thirdly, he provided details about Branjevo farm in Pilica
19 where 1200 civilians were murdered. Until Mr. Erdemovic informed us
20 of this site, the Office of the Prosecutor was unaware of its
21 existence. As a result of identifying this location, this past summer
22 exhumations were conducted at the site and the remains of between 140
23 and 160 victims were recovered. These remains were mistakenly left at
24 the site when the Bosnian-Serb Army attempted to cover up its crimes
25 in September 1995. Steps are now underway to identify those victims
1 whose remains were recovered and reunite them with their grieving
2 families. Fourthly, Mr. Erdemovic provided details about the cultural
3 hall in Pilica where an estimated 500 civilians were murdered. Until
4 Mr. Erdemovic informed us of this site, the Office of the Prosecutor
5 was unaware of its existence. Thereafter, investigators from my
6 Office travelled to Pilica, located this site and conducted forensic
7 examinations, the preliminary results of which confirm relevant
8 aspects of Mr. Erdemovic's information. In addition to each of those
9 criminal events, Mr. Erdemovic has provided us with the names and
10 identities of many of the perpetrators responsible for these foul
11 deeds. Simply put, without his assistance we would never have known
12 or may never have known of their identities. His co-operation, in
13 addition, has provided the Office of the Prosecutor with valuable
14 information about the Drina Corps and about the structure of the
15 Bosnian-Serb Army. As you may recall, your Honours, from the large
16 map, Exhibit No. 1, and the location of the Pilica farm and the
17 Branjevo, in the hall, in the cultural hall, in Pilica, your Honours
18 are aware that those areas are far north of the other areas that were
19 at the time known to the Office of the Prosecutor. In essence, the
20 information provided by Mr. Erdemovic expanded the geographic range
21 in which these killings took place and corroborate other evidence
22 that the Office of the Prosecutor has showing that the executions of
23 civilians from Srebrenica was well-planned, systematic and organised.
24 This past summer, your Honours, Mr. Erdemovic testified at the Rule
25 61 hearing for Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. I have submitted to
1 your Honours in Exhibits 14 and 15 transcripts of Mr. Erdemovic's
2 testimony at that particular hearing. As this Trial Chamber is aware,
3 witnesses are often reluctant to testify publicly, yet Mr. Erdemovic,
4 to his credit, when asked to testify at the Rule 61 hearing had no
5 such hesitation and did so willingly. His testimony at the Rule 61
6 hearing was significant in two respects: Firstly, it contributed to
7 this Trial Chamber's decision to issue international arrest warrants
8 for Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Secondly, Mr. Erdemovic was
9 the first Bosnian Serb Army insider to provide public testimony about
10 the events at Srebrenica. His testimony exposed the lies of
11 Bosnian-Serb political and military leaders that the killings of
12 civilians from Srebrenica was nothing but Muslim propaganda. I would
13 submit to your Honours that his testimony at the Rule 61 hearing
14 influenced, in a positive sense, the public clamour to arrest Radovan
15 Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. In respect of both his co-operation with
16 the Prosecutor and his decision to testify publicly at the Rule 61
17 hearings, these were courageous decisions by Mr. Erdemovic. I will
18 tell your Honours quite frankly, his assistance to us has been
19 invaluable. It has significantly advanced our investigations. I dare
20 say that if the Office of the Prosecutor had the assistance of others
21 like Mr. Erdemovic, our investigations would be considerably
22 advanced. We believe that the substantial co-operation provided by
23 Mr. Erdemovic to the Prosecutor's Office merits a significant
24 mitigation of his sentence. Lastly, I would like to turn to Rule
25 101(B)(iii) which states that Trial Chamber shall take into account,
1 and I quote, "the general practice regarding prison sentences in the
2 courts of the former Yugoslavia". In our analysis of the laws of the
3 former Yugoslavia, we believe that the crime entitled "War crimes
4 against the civilian population" most closely resembles the crime for
5 which Mr. Erdemovic stands convicted. In the former Yugoslavia this
6 crime was punishable by a term of imprisonment between five and 20
7 years. If there were circumstances in mitigation, the minimum term
8 could be reduced below five years. Now turning to the sentence in
9 this case. The maximum sentence that this honourable Court may impose
10 is a term of life imprisonment. Justice would not be served by
11 imposing that sentence on Mr. Erdemovic, and we strongly urge the
12 Court not to do so. Because of the considerable factors in mitigation
13 which I have discussed, the Prosecutor recommends leniency in the
14 case of Mr. Erdemovic. If it is the decision of this honourable Court
15 to impose a term of imprisonment, we would respectfully recommend
16 that it not exceed 10 years. Thank you very much, your Honours. That
17 concludes my remarks.
18 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Prosecution. I now give the floor to
19 you, Mr. Babic.
20 MR. BABIC: Your Honours, gentlemen, counsel for the Prosecution,
21 after the accused Erdemovic pleaded guilty, at first it seemed that
22 the proceedings would be simplified from that point on and that the
23 only thing that remained was to pronounce the sentence. Is that the
24 case? My answer has been and is a strong "no". The reason is that so
25 many questions posed in the proceedings require an answer that would
1 be rooted in the logic of every day and legally acceptable before any
2 sentence can be pronounced. The hearing yesterday and the hearing
3 today confirmed that and I will explain that in my closing argument.
4 When I first contemplated the defence of the accused Erdemovic,
5 sitting in my office I silently and somehow automatically scanned the
6 titles of books in my library. My eyes lingered and my mind came
7 awake at the title: "The naked and the dead." This is a novel that
8 you will know, a novel by the American author, Norman Mailer; a book
9 that paints a hardened up picture of war, a book in which the writer
10 empathises with the fate of the soldiers, their relations, the
11 atmosphere of fear, suffering and death. This is a book about the
12 circumstances that have forced men to cause harm to each other and to
13 themselves, a book in which man is but a victim. But this is also a
14 book filled with yearning for the warmth and peaceful sleep without
15 suffering blood, mud and insomnia. The title of the book summarises
16 its content, the naked and the dead. The title reminded me forcibly
17 of the fate of men in a cruel war in the former Yugoslavia. The fate
18 of the dead and the fate of the naked. The fate of my client. That is
19 why this title has from the start been a motto of my defence and the
20 motto of this closing argument. It was a moral and professional
21 stimulus to agree to defend the man accused of a grave crime, but the
22 man who is also a victim of the whirlwind of war and the victim of
23 his own deed. In the proceedings so far I did not dwell on that that
24 much because everything was clear at the very first hearing of this
25 Trial Chamber, of this Tribunal, in the presence of the accused
1 Erdemovic, before the eyes of the world and the TV cameras. I am
2 convinced, your Honours and my learned colleagues from the
3 Prosecution, that even now after all this time you still feel the
4 impact of the most poignant moment of the hearing. This is why I urge
5 that the accused Erdemovic, because of his bad health and damaged
6 mental state, be tried today. Based on our decisions, the Registry
7 has taken measures that have led to very successful surgery of my
8 client, the accused Erdemovic, and the psychiatrists and
9 psychologists have managed to calm his disturbed mental state.
10 Everything was done to make the accused Erdemovic competent to stand
11 trial today, as stated in the conclusion of the international expert
12 team. Your Honours, the limits of this trial were set by the
13 indictment of the Prosecutor, but also by the things that Erdemovic
14 pleaded guilty to. As the indictment has not been amended in the
15 meantime, I will now make some observations. I have read the
16 indictment several times with due care as the document itself and the
17 trial warranted. Every time I had to ask myself why it was written in
18 this form in respect to the accused Erdemovic, particularly because
19 the first part is not based on any evidence presented in this trial.
20 Here I refer to paragraphs of the indictment 1 to 8 and paragraph 14
21 of the indictment. As I searched for the answer to that question and
22 read the Nuremberg trial documents, I found substantial similarities
23 between the indictment, this indictment, and the indictment issued by
24 the Board of Prosecutors of the International Military Tribunal in
25 Nuremberg. However, in reality, these were two very different
1 affairs. Allow me a digression: The International Military Tribunal,
2 pursuant to Article 6 of its Statute, was competent to, and I quote
3 "try and punish major war criminals of the countries of the European
4 Axis, to try and punish persons who either as individuals or as
5 members of organisations committed any of the crimes sanctioned here
6 acting in the interests of the Axis countries" and so on. So not only
7 individuals, 22 of them, but also criminal organisations of the Nazi
8 Germany were on trial in Nuremberg. A whole era, a regime, was on
9 trial and the Board of Prosecutors was bound to include in the
10 indictment the collective responsibility as the results of the era
11 and the activities of that regime. This Trial Chamber, however, of
12 the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia tries
13 an individual, my client, the accused Erdemovic. The fact that these
14 parts of the indictment against him refer to a general military and
15 political situation in Bosnia and in Srebrenica, in particular, does
16 not have any factual foundation and any legal foundation in the
17 Statute or the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of this Tribunal, nor
18 in any evidence presented, nor does it have anything to do with the
19 accused Erdemovic. The Statute of this Tribunal, Article 6 - there
20 seems to be a coincidence here with the Statute of the International
21 Military Tribunal - stipulates that the Tribunal is competent to try
22 only individuals and not any collective entities. I am referring to
23 governments, parties, military leaderships, police forces and so on.
24 That is one point. Another point, the way this was described in the
25 indictment, the accused Erdemovic did not contribute at all to the
1 military and political situation described in the indictment. He was
2 not a military Commander. He was not a person with political
3 authority. He was not even close to the persons who bear the most
4 responsibility for this cruel war which could give rise to any
5 assessments of the general military and political situation in
6 relation to his deeds. On the contrary, he was (as were so many
7 others from all warring factions) a victim of the cruel war and its
8 horrors. That is why I appeal to you, to your honourable Judges, to
9 reject that part of the indictment against Erdemovic in all respects
10 and especially in respect of his contribution and culpability for the
11 situation, and also in respect of the fact that this part of the
12 indictment cannot affect the degree of responsibility of Erdemovic
13 for the acts he had pleaded guilty to before this Trial Chamber. That
14 is why the judgment of the Trial Chamber must only refer to the
15 evidence, facts and the degree of the responsibility to which the
16 accused Erdemovic pleaded guilty. In other words, the contents of
17 paragraphs 9 to 12 and partly in paragraph 15, qualified in paragraph
18 16.1, of the indictment as crimes against humanity. As regards that
19 part of the indictment, specific charges against my client Erdemovic,
20 in my closing argument I will first assess the evidence presented
21 here and the establishment of the relevant facts. I will deal with
22 the facts from the point of view of criminal law. So let me proceed.
23 As regards the act itself, the only direct piece of evidence
24 presented before the Trial Chamber is the statement of the accused
25 Erdemovic given under oath. In this statement he actually
1 incriminated himself and defended himself at the same time. The self-
2 incrimination in his defence concerned mostly the following facts. On
3 16th July 1995 a group of eight members of the 10th Sabotage Unit,
4 Sabotage Corps of the Serbian Army, received the order to go to
5 Zvornik and report to the military police command. The accused
6 Erdemovic was in this group and he had no idea of what kind of
7 assignment it would be. Upon their arrival in Zvornik and a short
8 stay there, the group went together with an officer from the military
9 police command to the farm near the village of Pilica. On the farm,
10 for the first time, the group Commander informed the members that
11 Muslims would be bussed to the farm and that it was their task to
12 shoot those Muslims, and an order was issued to that effect. The
13 accused Erdemovic immediately opposed the order, but the Commander's
14 response was typically military and brooked no opposition: "If you
15 don't want to do it, you can line up next to them". In such a
16 surprising situation, the accused Erdemovic was not able to resist
17 the order. According to his statement, he feared greatly for his life
18 and the lives of his family. His whole body shook and his mind went
19 blank. Against his own will he obeyed the order of his Commander and
20 fired in the direction of the innocent Muslim civilians who had been
21 brought and lined up there. Because of the state he was in, Erdemovic
22 does not know how many Muslims were shot that day, least of all how
23 many of them he shot himself. This figure cannot be checked. He knows
24 that it lasted from 10.00 in the morning until 4.00 in the afternoon.
25 During the shooting, the accused Erdemovic tried to free a Muslim but
1 failed. He and the other members of the group all refused to carry
2 out the task of shooting Muslims in the cultural hall in Pilica. This
3 was followed by days of struggle to find the bare necessities of life
4 and the fight for his life and long sleepless nights with no end in
5 sight. The facts, as I have stated, were established only on the
6 basis of Erdemovic's testimony. So if the Trial Chamber decides to
7 give credence to his plea of guilty, then they should also trust
8 these facts, because his statement is a logical one and proved by the
9 life itself. The Prosecution has also accepted these facts and they
10 mentioned them in their closing argument. We have just heard that. As
11 for the subjective elements which are important in judging this case,
12 and they are important and objective for me, but the importance of
13 subjective elements in the Nuremberg trials was, let me remind you,
14 illustrated by a psychologist of the International Tribunal, Mr.
15 Gilbert, in his book "The Great Criminals" and the English writer and
16 lawyer Airey Neave in his book "Nuremberg". So, as regards the
17 psychological attitude of the accused Erdemovic towards the act, his
18 current mental state and his character in general, in addition to his
19 own testimony, the Trial Chamber heard witnesses X and Y, two reports
20 of an international team of experts were obtained on the
21 psychological and psychiatric condition of the accused Erdemovic.
22 There is also the report on his general health. So based on this
23 evidence, I deem that the following legally relevant facts have been
24 established beyond reasonable doubt. The accused Erdemovic on 25th of
25 this month will be 25 years old - five years that he has spent in
1 war. He is a Croat and a Catholic but never paying too much attention
2 to that. His childhood and boyhood days were happy in the place where
3 he was born, in the vicinity of Tuzla. He was a good student at
4 school. He liked school, especially because of the friends he had
5 there. He socialised with everybody, regardless of their religion or
6 nationality. Those questions were simply never asked. He was brought
7 up as a Yugoslav and that is how he felt himself to be. He loved his
8 country, former Yugoslavia. We have heard that from him today. He
9 thought that it was the most beautiful country in the world with most
10 freedom. He enjoyed sports very much, especially football. He was a
11 fan of "Red Star" in Belgrade and he is still a supporter of "Red
12 Star" in Belgrade. In 1991, he was proud when he came to that same
13 town, Belgrade, to do his military service. But when the war broke
14 out in Croatia in July 1991, as a soldier of the Yugoslav Army, he
15 went to Slavonia with his Unit but did not take part in any of the
16 fighting around Vukovar. After completing his military service in
17 March '92, he returned to his home where he was first mobilized into
18 the Muslim army and then into the HVO who arrested him because he had
19 tried to help Serbs. Because he had no choice, in November 1993 he
20 fled to the Serb-held territory and then he roamed in Serbia for a
21 while. Later he joined a Unit of the army of Republika Srpska because
22 he had no other possibility. As a member of a Unit of the army of
23 Republika Srpska, he never took part in any actual direct combats or
24 any similar assignments. However, as the war drew to its end in a
25 situation which I have described, sudden and unforeseen, on an order
1 of his Commander he took part (as he himself had said) in the
2 execution of Muslims. He stated to the authorities of the Federal
3 Republic of Yugoslavia and to the investigator of the Tribunal, Mr.
4 Ruez, to psychiatrists and to the psychologists, he stated the same
5 thing that he stated before this Trial Chamber. It is contained in
6 all records that were composed in relation to those interviews. After
7 that this calvary of war was followed by his personal calvary and
8 that of his family. He was unable to support his family and himself.
9 He took his wife and son to their parents and he remained in
10 Bijeljina and took to drinking. He felt unsafe because he was called
11 "Ustasha" because of his Croatian origin. Then on 22nd July 1995 in a
12 cafe in Bijeljina a fellow fighter shot him and two of his friends.
13 His wounds were serious and life threatening. He underwent surgery
14 three times. While he was treated at the Military Medical Academy, he
15 was visited by only one of his brothers-in-arms. He was bitterly
16 disappointed at losing them too. Although he did not have any
17 objections to the way he was treated by the Yugoslav authorities, he
18 wanted to be tried by this honourable Tribunal. However, he still
19 suffered a serious form of post-traumatic stress syndrome as stated
20 by the experts in their report. He was very hurt by the fact that his
21 close relatives have had problems because of him. The accused
22 Erdemovic has lost everything. He has lost his home, not only because
23 of his destiny but also because of the destiny of other people,
24 innocent people, and he suffers because of that a lot as he bears
25 everything with himself and one can say that it is with certain
1 uneasiness but it is very hard for him. I would like to stress that
2 on the basis of the evidence heard, certain very important facts have
3 been established, importance which will enable to establish criminal
4 responsibility of the accused Erdemovic. The Judges and investigators
5 of this Tribunal were not aware of the events in Pilica not until the
6 accused Erdemovic started speaking about that, not until he
7 incriminated himself. This fact is accepted by my learned colleague
8 from the Prosecution. The testimony of witness X confirmed the
9 statement of Erdemovic that when he was in a position as a soldier of
10 the army of Republika Srpska to decide on the fate of a member of an
11 opposing army, he set him free and he saved his life. Likewise, when
12 he was in the HVO, he tried to help Serbs, but he was caught and
13 imprisoned. From the very first statement to the authorities of the
14 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia until the statement given under the
15 oath before this Trial Chamber, he admitted to the participation and
16 the commission of the act and thereby brought himself to justice,
17 showing his moral attitude towards the crime. I will tell you
18 something. Personally, I admire this behaviour of my client and why.
19 Immediately before he gave a statement to the investigators of this
20 Tribunal, I advised him to change his statement, the statement that
21 he gave to the authorities, the plea that he gave to the authorities
22 of Yugoslavia. Throughout the proceedings he expressed his attitude
23 about the fate of the innocent people. Throughout the proceedings he
24 has clearly co-operated with the Prosecutor without any plea
25 bargaining, as the Prosecution has confirmed. Your Honours, as far as
1 I am concerned, these are the relevant facts in judging this case.
2 However, when I had to draw some legal conclusions I stumbled upon
3 the issue which legislation to apply, especially when it comes to the
4 basic concepts of criminal offence, the possible full defence is
5 necessary self-defence, extreme necessity, caution, duress, criminal
6 responsibility, degree of capacity, mental capacity, premeditation
7 and so on. The reason is that because these concepts are not
8 regulated in the Statute and the Rules of this Tribunal. I found the
9 following reasons why this was not done, and I think that from the
10 stand point of legality it had to be done, first, because these
11 concepts are generally accepted in most laws and are regulated in
12 more or less the same way or, secondly, that international
13 commissions established after Nuremberg did not accomplish one of
14 their tasks and that is to codify international criminal law. That is
15 why in drawing my legal conclusions I referred myself to judgments,
16 theory and practice of legal jurisdictions, including my own country
17 which is what the provisions of the Statute and the Tribunal
18 encourage in a way. So, given the situation with the statutory
19 provisions, my view is that the evidence heard and the statement of
20 facts which I mentioned before point to the following two legal
21 attitudes that can be taken in respect of this criminal case.
22 Firstly, and it is a hypothesis, it was necessary to answer the
23 question whether the crime alleged in the indictment has been proved
24 beyond reasonable, that is, whether the confession of the accused
25 Erdemovic is sufficient proof that the alleged crime was actually
1 committed. Judgments of the court's legal theory and practice often
2 indicate that in order to reach a judgment in a legal matter, the
3 confession of an accused is not enough. It should be corroborated in
4 other evidence. This is why I insisted on that particular point
5 yesterday, because Erdemovic's plea of guilty and the explanation
6 given by his counsel must be confirmed so that a Court can reach an
7 objective and legally acceptable judgment beyond any doubt. My
8 intention was not to challenge Erdemovic's plea on his behalf.
9 However, according to the principle in dubio pro reo, certain
10 questions arose yesterday. Your questions, your Honours, also had
11 that tone. That was the impression that I had yesterday. Because I
12 believe, your Honours, that if there is any shade of doubt in that
13 answer to that question, then the decision of the Court should go in
14 favour of the accused Erdemovic, because regardless of his plea of
15 guilty, if his statement is not corroborated, the alleged crime
16 cannot be proved and the criminal responsibility cannot be
17 established. However, today we have heard many details. My second
18 legal opinion has for its basis the determination of this Chamber
19 that the evidence heard confirms the commission of the alleged crime
20 and corroborates his statement. In that case all the above mentioned
21 facts and circumstances enable me to include the following. First,
22 that the accused Erdemovic committed the alleged crime out of extreme
23 necessity, that is, in face of the present danger for his life. This
24 concept is accepted in the Criminal Codes of all European
25 jurisdictions. Allow me to elaborate on this. The Austrian Criminal
1 Code of 1975 in its Article 10 provides for the extreme necessity
2 which excludes guilt. The Belgium Criminal Code of 1967 stipulates in
3 its Article 71 that "there are no crimes or offences when the
4 perpetrator was under duress which he could not resist". The Greek
5 Criminal Code speaks of the existence of the extreme necessity as
6 grounds for the exclusion of illegality and guilt. The Hungarian
7 Criminal Code from 1961 in its article 26 stipulates that the
8 perpetrator who has committed the criminal offence out of extreme
9 necessity shall not be held responsible. The criminal code of
10 Finland, article 10, provides for the possibility of discharging for
11 the act committed out of extreme necessity. The Dutch Criminal Code,
12 article 40, stipulates that an act shall not be considered as
13 punishable if committed under duress or coercion. The French Criminal
14 Code, article 64, stipulates that there shall be no offence if the
15 accused at the time of the commission of the crime was under duress
16 which he could not resist. The German Criminal Code from '75,
17 articles 34 and 35, provide for the extreme necessity which excludes
18 criminal responsibility. The Swiss Criminal Code from '37, article
19 34, stipulates that the perpetrator who has committed offence out of
20 extreme necessity shall not be punished especially if by doing so he
21 was saving his own life. The same is provided for in the Swedish
22 criminal code from 1965, Chapter 24, Article 4. The criminal code of
23 Yugoslavia from 1977 in its Article 10 provides for the extreme
24 necessity which excludes the very act but provides for the
25 possibility of acquittal. Historically speaking, it is a long
1 tradition of a certain concept, but the very essence of the concept
2 of extreme necessity is the same as the one described in the criminal
3 code of France from 1870. The concept of extreme necessity is
4 accepted in the legal theory and judicial practice both as a range of
5 subjective theories which lead to the discharge of the perpetrator,
6 or a range of objective theories which all boil down to the
7 non-existence of the public danger and the illegality of the crime or
8 else as a theory of individualization, according to which all cases
9 of extreme necessity cannot have the same type of defence which would
10 justify an acquittal. The stated position that the accused Erdemovic
11 committed the alleged crime in a state of extreme necessity can be
12 confirmed with the following facts. I have to repeat them. The
13 accused Erdemovic was a member of a unit which was ordered to carried
14 out an execution of Muslim civilians. This is stated in the
15 indictment. So, together with seven other members of his unit, on the
16 relevant day he found himself in situation which he could not foresee
17 or anticipate. When the Commander issued out the order he had no idea
18 of what kind of assignment it was. He tried to resist the order, but
19 he did not succeed. Moreover, it was indicated to him that he too
20 would be shot. Fearful for his own life and the life of his family,
21 the accused Erdemovic, against his own will and in a disturbed state
22 of mind, took part in the execution. As a soldier, a Croat fighting
23 on the Serbian side and always a potential traitor, he had to obey
24 the order and not his consciousness. He could not resist the order in
25 any possible way. One can say that he was instinctively protecting
1 his own life and the life of his family which were his highest values
2 contained in the declaration on human rights. It is not moral to
3 expect that he should have sacrificed his own life and then quite
4 certainly the life of his family. Finally, even if he had done that
5 in relation -
6 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: You are speaking a bit too fast, Mr. Babic. If
7 you could slow down a little bit for the sake of the interpretation.
8 Thank you.
9 MR. BABIC: I believe it is not moral to expect that he should have
10 sacrificed his own life first and then, quite certainly, the life of
11 his family too. Finally, even if he had done that, that would not
12 have helped the innocent victims and he would have been shot with
13 them. Your Honours, I remember an historic event from the Second
14 World War in Yugoslavia. A German dared, so to speak, to refuse
15 orders, to disobey orders, and he refused to shoot innocent
16 civilians. He simply took the side of the civilians. He was shot and
17 the civilians were shot too. At his initial appearance before this
18 Tribunal he himself said: "Honourable Judges, I had to do that. If I
19 had refused to do it I would have been killed together with these
20 people. When I tried to refuse the order they told me: 'If you feel
21 sorry for them, go and stand in the same line with them.'" This is
22 what he repeated yesterday and today several times. Therefore, the
23 accused Erdemovic in a specific situation was exposed to an
24 unavoidable, psychological type of duress which was beyond his
25 capacities and which he could not resist. Therefore, your Honours, I
1 request that he be acquitted. This is provided for in all the above
2 stated documents, either as an obligation or as a possibility as far
3 as extreme necessity is concerned. In relation to this request, I
4 wish to point out two other very important issues. The issue of the
5 accused Erdemovic's mental responsibility at the time of the
6 commission of the crime and the issue of his premeditation at the
7 time the crime was committed. Although these issues were not
8 specifically examined by medical experts, that is neuro-psychiatrists
9 and psychologists, I believe the experts who were hired by the Court
10 presented sufficient elements on the basis of which it would be
11 possible to draw reliable, factual and legal and psychiatric
12 conclusions on the state of the mental responsibility and the
13 premeditation of the accused Erdemovic at the time the crime was
14 committed, both on his awareness of the seriousness of the crime and
15 on his will to commit it too. The elements I am referring to are the
16 following: emotional immaturity, that is what it says decidedly in
17 the expert report; the feeling of helplessness at the time and after
18 the crime; panic and fear at the time the crime was committed; an
19 obvious long-lasting post-traumatic stress disorder. These elements
20 are supported by other elements which have been established beyond
21 reasonable doubt in the proceedings so far, the fact that even after
22 refusing to carry out the order, after the unsuccessful refusal to
23 obey it because he was fearful for his life, the accused Erdemovic
24 was no longer conscious of his acts, he literally did not have nor
25 could he have had any freedom of will. He did not want to commit the
1 act of his own will. It was the will of the command. Then, your
2 Honours, the following legal conclusions have to be drawn. The
3 accused Erdemovic at the time of the commission of the crime lacked
4 mental responsibility because he suffered a temporary mental disorder
5 or, at best, his mental responsibility was significantly diminished
6 also. In the case of the accused Erdemovic there was no premeditation
7 at the time of the commission of the act because he did not want to
8 commit it. Based on these legal premises and on this basis, I seek
9 that the accused Erdemovic be acquitted. Your Honours, my
10 professional experience makes me cautious. I see this caution in
11 possible failure to accept my views as presented here on the
12 existence of extreme necessity and lack of mental responsibility and
13 premeditation in the accused Erdemovic, and the failure to agree to
14 my request that he be acquitted. In that case, I deem the facts that
15 I use to establish extreme necessity and lack of mental
16 responsibility and premeditation, as well as the facts I presented
17 regarding the character of the accused Erdemovic should be taken into
18 consideration as special mitigating circumstances when the sentence
19 is passed. May I repeat this once again. The accused Erdemovic barely
20 managed to stay alive and he lost everything else. His next of kin
21 are not left in peace. He lost his comrades. He lost his country. He
22 came to realise that in this war all civilisational values were
23 rejected in this war, that all traditional ideas of morality, justice
24 and law have been replaced by somebody's needs and interests. He
25 believes that the individual his liberties, rights and requests would
1 not survive as such. Is there a worse way of using and abusing a man?
2 Is there a graver punishment? The basis for passing a sentence is
3 envisaged in Article 24 of the Statute and Article 101 of the Rules
4 of Procedure. In this connection, I believe it is very important that
5 this Court takes into account hitherto experience in the world and in
6 the former Yugoslavia and to find in this context the right position
7 and role of the accused Erdemovic and to determine the degree of his
8 responsibility. Allow me to quote some of this experience. In the
9 Nuremberg trials 22 people were tried, the main war criminals of
10 fascist Germany. Twelve were sentenced to death, three to life in
11 prison, four to imprisonment from 10 to 20 years respectively and
12 three were acquitted. It is well-known that this was the political
13 and military leadership of Germany, whose crimes had killed millions
14 of people and brought awful terrors to the world. Further on, the
15 verdict of the American Tribunal from February 19th 1948 against high
16 Nazi military commanders headed by Field Marshal Liszt, out of 12
17 accused for war crimes and crimes against humanity two were convicted
18 to life imprisonment and six to time in prison from seven to 20
19 years. At the trials of main war criminals in Hungary similar
20 sentences were passed. As a source for that I use the book "Genocide
21 and Punishment" whose author Dr. Lajco Klajn is a Professor at the
22 University of Novi Sad. The main criminals who were tried in the
23 former Yugoslavia after the Second World War also received the
24 highest sentences too. As a source for that I use the book "Through
25 the Secret Archives of UDBE" of the well-known Yugoslav writer Nikola
1 Milovanovic. The accused Erdemovic is not a Field Marshal nor any
2 kind of military Commander. He is not a Minister. He is not the head
3 of a criminal organisation, nor the main culprit. In the structure of
4 the army of Republic Srpske he was a plain soldier. That is why there
5 is not a place for him on that ladder in terms of his role, in terms
6 of what he did, in terms of his degree of responsibility or in terms
7 of possible imprisonment. If by some circumstance this Tribunal were
8 to try all of those who committed crimes in the former Yugoslavia,
9 then it is also quite certain that the accused Erdemovic would be in
10 the group of the least responsible, or perhaps he even would not be
11 in that group at all. Regrettably, your Honours, in this closing
12 statement I cannot present the punishment determined by the courts of
13 the former Yugoslavia to others, that is to say, not to the main
14 perpetrators of war crimes in the Second World War, simply because
15 these verdicts have not been compiled in one place. The country fell
16 apart and archives fell apart. One thing is certain, that most of
17 this punishment was time in prison and that most of the convicted
18 persons did not stay in prison until the end. In determining
19 punishment before this Court the Statute and the Rules of Procedure
20 also refer to legal solutions in Yugoslavia. In this connection I
21 presented to a brief to the Tribunal. I just wish to repeat. For the
22 criminal offence of war crimes against a civilian population, which
23 is an act stipulated in Article 142 of the Criminal Code of
24 Yugoslavia, a sentence of imprisonment from five to 15 years was
25 envisaged or imprisonment of 20 years. Also in the brief I said that
1 there was a legal possibility of mitigating such a sentence. This
2 mitigation can go up to one year of imprisonment. All of the
3 above-mentioned mitigating circumstances, the elements provided by
4 the Statute and the Rules of Procedure, as well as legal provisions
5 in the penal code of Yugoslavia, give me a basis for suggesting to
6 this honourable Court to considerably mitigate the sentence passed on
7 the accused Erdemovic. I am profoundly convinced that in this
8 particular case that is the only sentence that can be fair, not only
9 for him but also for the victims. Even more so because there are, in
10 my opinion, no aggravating circumstances in the case of the accused
11 Erdemovic. In this connection, we cannot take into account as an
12 aggravating circumstance the death of several persons as the
13 Prosecutor said, because this element is included in the very being
14 of the crime and this is determined by the level of responsibility of
15 its perpetrators. May I summarise by saying that I ask this
16 honourable Court to acquit the person, to pass a sentence mitigated
17 by at least one year. In connection with a possible jail sentence, it
18 is very important where it will be served. In the Statute and the
19 Rules of Procedure there are certain provisions referring thereto. I
20 do not want to declare myself directly on this question now. I
21 believe that such a decision should be passed without the presence of
22 the public. But my request and the wish of my defendant is that if he
23 serves time that this be done in a western European country where the
24 system and conditions of imprisonment are at a high level. Your
25 Honours, at the end of this closing statement I wish to say before
1 you and the distinguished representatives of the Prosecution, before
2 the entire public, in my own name and on behalf of the defendant,
3 that these criminal proceedings were conducted in keeping with the
4 Statute and the Rules of Procedure, but that is not to say that these
5 two documents should not be further improved upon. On the contrary, I
6 think they should. But I also wish to say that these proceedings have
7 been conducted fairly and honestly. They were conducted and
8 participated in by people of high professional and moral qualities,
9 which shows how lofty this profession is. Through this and through
10 all other trials every one of us can only draw a humane lesson and a
11 message which will, like a memento mori, be transferred to all people
12 worldwide, regardless of where they live and what they do. Everyone
13 who receives this message and who draws on this experience will be
14 able to distinguish what truly happened on the territory of the
15 former Yugoslavia, what reality is, what the truth and what
16 propaganda and lies are. Let the Court of history pass judgment on us
17 and also the Court of legal science and practice which is inevitable.
18 Let them show that we have done everything well and in the interests
19 of justice. In your decision, our decision, may the main message be
20 that these terrible experiences do not be repeated and that mankind
21 does not fall into the abyss of war horrors once again. I am
22 confident, your Honours, Judges of this highest criminal institution
23 of the international community, that when passing your decision in
24 this case through your knowledge of the facts and your understanding
25 of reality you will show humaneness towards the accused Erdemovic
1 through a decision which will give him hope for a life of love, not
2 of hatred. That is what the accused Erdemovic looks forward to and
3 sincerely hopes for. Thank you.
4 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, Mr. Babic. As we had said, the Trial
5 Chamber will now listen to a final statement by the accused, if he
6 cares to do so. The accused will not be under oath. Mr. Erdemovic, is
7 there anything you would like to add, a brief statement which as, I
8 said, will not be under oath? If you care to stand and make such a
10 THE ACCUSED: Yes.
11 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: If it is more convenient for you to remain
12 seated, please remain seated. Otherwise you may have some problems
13 with the microphone.
14 THE ACCUSED: Yes, it is OK. First of all, honourable Judges, I wish
15 to say that I feel sorry for all the victims, not only for the ones
16 who were killed then at that farm, I feel sorry for all the victims
17 in the former Bosnia and Herzegovina regardless of their nationality.
18 I have lost many very good friends of all nationalities only because
19 of that war, and I am convinced that all of them, all of my friends,
20 were not in favour of a war. I am convinced of that. But simply they
21 had no other choice. This war came and there was no way out. The same
22 happened to me. Because of my case, because of everything that
23 happened, I of my own will, without being either arrested and
24 interrogated or put under pressure, admitted even before I was
25 arrested in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, I admitted to what I
1 did to this journalist and I told her at that time that I wanted to
2 go to the International Tribunal, that I wanted to help the
3 International Tribunal understand what happened to ordinary people
4 like myself in Yugoslavia. As Mr. Babic has said, in the Federal
5 Republic of Yugoslavia I admitted to what I did before the
6 authorities, judicial authorities, and the authorities of the
7 Ministry of the Interior, like I did here. Mr. Babic when he first
8 arrived here, he told me, "Drazen, can you change your mind, your
9 decision? I do not know what can happen. I do not know what will
10 happen." I told him because of those victims, because of my
11 consciousness, because of my life, because of my child and my wife, I
12 cannot change what I said to this journalist and what I said in Novi
13 Sad, because of the peace of my mind, my soul, my honesty, because of
14 the victims and war and because of everything. Although I knew that
15 my family, my parents, my brother, my sister, would have problems
16 because of that, I did not want to change it. Because of everything
17 that happened I feel terribly sorry, but I could not do anything.
18 When I could do something, I did it. Thank you. I have nothing else
19 to say.
20 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Please be seated. Our deliberations are now
21 complete. The Tribunal will render its decision within approximately two
22 weeks. A specific date which will be transmitted through the
23 press and information office. The Court stands adjourned. (4.30 p.m.)
24 (The Court adjourned)