1 Wednesday, 17 November 2004
2 [Open session]
3 --- Upon commencing at 9.01 a.m.
4 [The accused entered court]
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, could you please
6 call the case.
7 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Case
8 Number IT-01-47-T, the Prosecutor versus Enver Hadzihasanovic and
9 Amir Kubura.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] May we have the appearances for
11 the Prosecution.
12 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning, Your
13 Honours, counsel, everyone in and around the courtroom. For the
14 Prosecution, Tecla Henry-Benjamin, Daryl Mundis, and the case manager,
15 Andres Vatter.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Mundis.
17 Appearances for the Defence.
18 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. President, good
19 morning, Your Honours. On behalf of General Hadzihasanovic,
20 Edina Residovic, counsel; Stephane Bourgon, co-counsel; and Muriel Cauvin,
21 legal assistant.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
23 The other Defence team.
24 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, on behalf of
25 Mr. Kubura, Rodney Dixon, Fahrudin Ibrisimovic, and Nermin Mulalic, legal
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
3 The Chamber would like to greet everyone in the courtroom, the
4 Prosecution, the Defence, the accused, and all the staff present in the
5 courtroom. As I have indicated, I indicated yesterday, we have
6 deliberated on the request of the Defence for the delay in -- or time
7 extension for the list of witnesses. On the 11th of November they asked
8 for the date of the delivery of this list would be the 3rd of December.
9 The Chamber has considered this request and authorises the Defence to
10 produce this list on the 3rd of December, 2004, according to their
11 submission. As far as the admission of exhibits is concerned, is the
12 Prosecution in the position to give us their final position or would you
13 like to do it some other day?
14 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, we can do it now or we can do
15 it after this witness if you so please. There are just about 13 exhibits
16 that the Prosecution is objecting to on grounds of relevance.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well then. You're saying
18 that there are 13 documents. Can you give us a list of those documents?
19 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Numbers 1197, which is number 4 on the list.
20 Defence 1197; number 10 on the list, Defence document 1220; number 11 on
21 the list, Defence document 1221, 1-2-2-1; number 12 on the list, Defence
22 document 1225; number 13 on the list, Defence document 1233; number 14 on
23 the list, Defence document 1234, 1234; number 17 on the list, Defence
24 document 1240, 1240; number 21 on the list, Defence document 1249, 1249;
25 number 23 on the list, Defence document 1253, 1253; number 24 on the list,
1 Defence document 1254, 1254; number 25 on the list, Defence document 1256,
2 1256; number 28, Defence document 1271, 1271; and number 34, Defence
3 document 1306. Mr. President, Your Honours, the Prosecution object to
4 these documents as stated before, the grounds of relevance. Thanks.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If I have understood you well,
6 you are objecting to numbers 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 21, 23, 24, 25,
7 28, and 34.
8 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN : The first two documents are incorrect. It's
9 numbers 3 and 4, not 7 and 9 on the list. 3 and 4. 1196 and 1197.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well then. Documents 3,
11 1196, and 4, 1197. Number 10, 11 and so on. You're saying that
12 there -- that you're objecting on the grounds of relevance. Would the
13 Defence like to reply?
14 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. President. I apologise.
15 I'm going to look at every single document. I've just had an opportunity
16 to look at documents number 3 and 4. Unlike my learned friend, I believe
17 that these documents are relevant because these documents indicate that
18 the municipal staff of the civilian protection had the authority to
19 dispose with the abandoned houses, the houses abandoned by either Croats
20 or some other population, that they had the authority to take things from
21 those houses and provide the population with those things in order to
22 protect their fields. The document also shows what efforts were made,
23 given the fact that women's platoons had been established in order to
24 protect crops and livestock in this area. In general terms, I would like
25 to say that these two documents clearly show and display the authorities
1 that different bodies had when it came to disposing with the things that
2 existed in the abandoned houses. The witness recognised this document.
3 I would like to say something about other documents in general
4 terms. The Prosecution has offered this Trial Chamber a number of
5 documents that have nothing to do with the counts of the indictment. The
6 Prosecution has stated that these are circumstantial evidence and that
7 through their qualification they will try and create a certain picture.
8 From the very beginning, unlike the Prosecution, we have tried to show the
9 Trial Chamber the actual authority that the army units had, that the
10 civilian bodies had at the time. And we also tried to portray the events
11 and measures that were taken, both by the military authorities as well as
12 the civilian authorities in the area. The previous two exhibits have a
13 direct link with the position of the Defence on the authorities that
14 existed at the time and on the right to dispose with the property at the
15 time. And that's why we believe these documents are relevant.
16 The next document that the Prosecution believes is not relevant is
17 the document which also is relative to the same issue, and their arguments
18 are the same. It speaks of the obligations and responsibilities of the
19 civilian protection in the protection of things in the houses abandoned by
20 the Croatian population and giving these houses for safeguarding to
21 civilian population and other population in the area.
22 Document number 11 is an integral part of a bigger document which
23 the document number is 20 and 21 which speaks of the measures that
24 civilian protection took when it had found out that some of the property
25 had been stolen for various houses, although the property had been
1 intended for the refugees and displaced persons. So this document is an
2 integral part of the investigation and the facts that were obtained with
3 regard to this procedure.
4 Document number 12 is very relevant because it points to the
5 situation that existed in the area. We heard about this situation from a
6 number of witnesses. This is a document that originates from the civilian
7 protection. The witness recognised it as something that he saw already,
8 but this document points to a number of problems and to a number of
9 exhibits that we already had before this Trial Chamber. In this document
10 number 1225, in its paragraph number 3, line 1, one can see -- read a
11 clear answer to the question that you, Your Honours, have put to the
12 witnesses. Despite the curfew and the ban of movement of civilians in the
13 area, a number of civilians were observed taking away property from the
14 abandoned houses. So every line in this document points to the crimes and
15 the perpetrators who were not known at the time. This is, therefore, a
16 very relevant document, a document that has a bearing on a number of
17 counts in the indictment.
18 Under number 13, document speaks of the measures which were taken
19 in order to protect the civilian property. The civilian protection
20 authorised one of the members of the civilian protection to protect his
21 own property but also the property in the neighbouring buildings. This
22 was done in view of the personnel and the equipment that they had at their
23 disposal at the time. As the witness has explained to us, this person was
24 one of the members of the civilian protection who patrolled terrain.
25 Number 14 speaks about the movement and accommodation of refugees
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13 French transcripts correspond
1 in the area. This says that a lot of efforts were made in order to
2 accommodate refugees in an organised way. This also served to protect
3 people's property, to prevent looting and destruction. Bear in mind that
4 the property was abandoned and it was physically impossible to protect it.
5 Under number 17 on this list is our exhibit 1240 which also speaks
6 of the ways refugees entered these buildings. You've heard from a number
7 of witnesses and we believe that this is very relevant with regard to
8 every count that speaks of looting and destruction of property. This
9 document is very important. It was also drafted by the civilian
11 Under number 21, we have a document to which you, Your Honours,
12 drew the witness's attention. On the one hand it speaks of the measures
13 which were taken if it was found out that somebody had stolen property,
14 and on the other hand it points to the relationship and attitude towards
15 the people who were accommodated in the primary school. The relevance of
16 this document is absolutely certain.
17 Under number 23, the exhibit also speaks about the authorities
18 that the civilian protection assigned to certain persons in order to
19 empower them to protect certain houses in the village, and this is one of
20 a number of measures that were taken at the time in order to protect the
21 civilian property -- the property of the civilians who had abandoned the
23 Under number 24, we go back to the same issue, the issue being the
24 attitude of the civilian protection towards the property of the civilians.
25 The civilian protection tried to put in place measures in order to feed
1 the population that had remained in the area and thus prevent looting and
2 the rampage of persons who moved around through the area. The witness
3 mentioned a number of 100.000 -- or rather, 160.000 refugees who passed
4 through the area. And the witness also spoke about the measures which
5 were put in place by the civilian bodies and other organs in order to work
6 on the land and provide for the -- provide food for the refugees and
7 ultimately to prevent the population from resorting to the ultimate means,
8 and that was theft.
9 Under number 25, the exhibit is of the ultimate importance because
10 it speaks of all the measures and all the problems and difficulties in the
11 work of the civilian body of authority, whose task was to protect property
12 that existed in the area. This document also speaks about the
13 circumstances under which this body had to perform its tasks. At the same
14 time, from the point of Defence, this document is of the utmost relevance
15 because it shows that the army and its officers did not have authorities
16 over these issues.
17 The exhibit number 28 is also relevant because it shows that in
18 the combat area, in the zone of combat activities, the army was the one to
19 give permits for the representatives of the civilian protection to enter
20 it. And this is something which is very clear according to all military
21 rules. This is done in order to protect those who entered the area of
22 combat activities and also to protect the deployment of troops and
23 facilities in the area. That is why the army has to give its consent for
24 the movement in the area of combat activities. Since there were some
25 other witnesses who testified on the Prosecution case who objected for not
1 having been given permit to enter the area of combat activities, this is a
2 document that speaks of the authority of the army to give permits for
3 movement in the area of combat activities in order to protect those who
4 move around this area.
5 And finally, document number 34. This document speaks of the
6 issue that has been mentioned by a number of witnesses, and it is the
7 problems that Travnik faced at the time and what measures were put in
8 place in order to help the refugees, the refugees who had arrived from all
9 over the place and lived in very dire conditions. Indirectly, this
10 document also confirms statements that we have heard from the witnesses
11 and it speaks of the situation and how it was compounded by a huge number
12 of witnesses. It speaks of the impossibility to implement all the
13 measures that were ordered.
14 And finally I believe that you have been able to satisfy yourself
15 to the extent to which every single document is relevant for the -- this
16 case and the understanding of the overall situation in June and July 1993.
17 I believe that you have been able to satisfy yourself by listening to the
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much. The
20 Chamber is going to discuss and the Chamber is going to give you a verbal
21 decision on this issue.
22 May I ask the usher to bring the witness into the courtroom.
23 [The witness entered court]
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Good morning. Let me first
25 check whether you hear me.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You were called -- you have been
3 called as a Defence witness. I would like to ask you first to give me
4 your name, your last name, the date of birth, and the place of birth.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My name is Salim Tarakcija. I was
6 born on the 22nd of May, 1964.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Where were you born?
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was born in Maline, Travnik
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. What is your current
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I graduated from grammar school. I
13 work in Travnik in the electric distribution ^ and I am an administrative
14 worker in the collection of payment of this company.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In 1992 and 1993, did you have a
16 position or did you have a military rank? If this is the case, which unit
17 did you belong to?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was a member of the BiH army in
19 1992 and in 1993. During that period of time, I was the assistant
20 commander of detachment and later on of the battalion in charge of moral
21 guidance, information, and religious affairs.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And in which unit or brigade did
23 you serve?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In the 306th Mountain Brigade.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. Have you ever
1 testified before an international court or a national court about
2 the -- the things that happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 and
3 1993, or is this the first time you testify?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is the first time I answer.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'm going to ask you to read the
6 text of the solemn declaration.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
8 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You may be seated.
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Before I give the floor to the
12 Defence counsel, I would like to give you a few pieces of information
13 about your testimony. You're going to have to ask -- to answer the
14 questions put to you by the Defence. These questions are normally of
15 neutral nature and should not lead you into responding. After that,
16 you're going to answer questions put to you by the Prosecution on your
17 right. The -- their questions are -- will be put to you in order to check
18 your credibility and to clarify some of the answers you gave during the
19 examination-in-chief. Once the Prosecution has finished with their
20 cross-examination, the Defence will have the opportunity to re-examine you
21 to either confirm or check some of the things that you said in response to
22 the questions by the Prosecution.
23 After that, the Judges who are seated in front of you, the three
24 Judges, if there is time and we hope that there will be time, we also want
25 to ask you some questions. The questions put to you by the Judges may
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13 French transcripts correspond
1 differ from the questions put to you by the two parties. Generally
2 speaking, the Judges usually ask questions to clarify things or if there
3 are gaps in your answers, they will ask questions in order to fill those
4 gaps. If the questions are too complicated for you, you may ask the
5 person who has put it to you to rephrase it. You can ask -- also ask for
6 our assistance at all times.
7 There are two other things that I warn every witness about. The
8 first one is you have just made a solemn declaration, which means you are
9 not going to give us a false testimony because if you do you may end up in
10 prison or be fined. The second thing I would like to tell you is that if
11 a witness thinks that any statement which he may give us could incriminate
12 him, the Chamber will compel the witness to answer the question, but at
13 the same time the Chamber will give the testimony a certain form of
14 immunity, which means that the answers may never be used against such
15 witness. This is in very general terms what is going to happen during
16 your testimony.
17 I'm now going to give the floor to the Defence counsel.
18 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
19 WITNESS: SALIM TARAKCIJA
20 [Witness answered through interpreter]
21 Examined by Ms. Residovic:
22 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Tarakcija.
23 A. Good morning.
24 Q. In addition to the words that you have just heard and the warnings
25 by the President -- by the Presiding Judge, I would like to warn you about
1 one more thing. The two of us speak the same language and you will find
2 it easier to answer every question I put to you, however both my question
3 and your answer have to be translated in order to be enable the Judges to
4 understand us and in order for everybody in the courtroom to be able to
5 follow our conversation. That's why I would kindly ask you to make a
6 little pause after my question before giving the answer. Have you
7 understood my words?
8 A. Yes, I have.
9 Q. Thank you very much.
10 Where did you reside on the eve of the war in April 1992?
11 A. I resided in Maline, in the village where I was born. This is a
12 village in Travnik municipality.
13 Q. Can you tell us something about your educational background.
14 A. I finished elementary school in Maline in Guca Gora and then I
15 graduated from grammar school in 1982 in Travnik.
16 Q. Before the war, did you serve in the army; and if you did, in
17 which army did you serve?
18 A. I served in the former JNA in Belgrade.
19 Q. At that time were you given a rank of a sort?
20 A. I was a lance corporal.
21 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, do you have a rank today?
22 A. I was demobilised from the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina as the
23 captain first class.
24 Q. You have told us about your current profession. Can you please
25 tell us what you did before the war.
1 A. Before the aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and
2 Herzegovina, I was employed in the company called Sebesic. And it was a
3 timber processing company. I was in charge of the central warehouse of
4 that company.
5 Q. At the beginning of war, did you join some Defence forces? If
6 that was the case, can you please tell us which Defence forces were those
7 and where.
8 A. After the aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and
9 Herzegovina, I joined the Territorial Defence. Actually, a unit was
10 established in my native village. It was part of the sector staff of the
11 Territorial Defence. The sector defence was part of the municipal
12 Territorial Defence of Travnik municipality.
13 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, I've just been warned that there is a difference
14 between your rank and the interpretation in the English and in French.
15 Can you please tell me again what was the rank that you had when you were
16 demobilised from the BiH army.
17 A. I was captain first class. That is, as a captain first class in
18 the former JNA.
19 Q. Thank you very much. I believe that this situation is clear. You
20 said that you had organised yourselves into Territorial Defence units in
21 your village, in Maline. At the time did you assume any duties within
22 your unit?
23 A. For a brief period of time I was the commander of the Maline
24 company which was in the sector staff. And after the Territorial Defence
25 was reorganised, I assumed other duties.
1 Q. Could you tell us how the Territorial Defence was reorganised in
2 relation to the sector staffs and what duties did you assume.
3 A. In June and August 1992, the units of the Territorial Defence were
4 made larger and detachments were formed. Han Bila, Mehurici, Ljuta Greda,
5 and the Hum detachments were formed. I was part of the Hum detachment and
6 I was the assistant commander of the detachment for morale and religious
8 Q. Could you tell us who the commander of your detachment was at the
10 A. Mr. Salih Softic was the detachment commander.
11 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, what sort of weapons did you have when you formed a
12 company in your village, or rather when you had already formed the
14 A. I believe that you know that before the aggression against Bosnia
15 and Herzegovina in the municipality of Travnik and in many other places in
16 Bosnia and Herzegovina, weapons were taken from the Territorial Defence so
17 that the Territorial Defence municipal staff in Travnik wasn't able to arm
18 those involved in the defence and provide them with what they needed to
19 wage a war. So in the area I was deployed in the company, and in the
20 sector staff I was a member of we had very few weapons. We had the
21 weapons that the people had in their villages. On the whole, these
22 weapons were hunting weapons for which they had licenses or perhaps
23 personal weapons, for example, pistols. So we started defending Bosnia
24 and Herzegovina with practically no weapons. And the weapons that people
25 had at the time were placed at the disposal of those who joined the
1 Territorial Defence.
2 Q. Thank you. Mr. Tarakcija, could you tell me now since you are
3 from the village of Maline, who the inhabitants living in the area in
4 which you joined the Territorial Defence? And later you were the
5 assistant for morale in Territorial Defence detachment.
6 A. Well, the Hum detachment recruited men and there are six villages
7 covered by that detachment. I think they are Bosnian and Croat villages.
8 These are mixed villages. They are in the vicinity of each other. They
9 are mixed -- there is a mixed population consisting of Bosniaks and
11 Q. What were the relations between the Bosniak and Croat inhabitants
12 like before the war when you were still being educated and when you did
13 the work that you have already described?
14 A. Well, the relations were normal, and that was the case in all
15 normal states.
16 Q. Before the breakup of Yugoslavia, do you remember there ever being
17 any incidents of a nationalist nature?
18 A. No, I don't remember any such incidents, and I'm referring to the
19 pre-war period.
20 Q. When you reported to the Territorial Defence unit, did the
21 Croatian population also respond to the call-up to join Territorial
22 Defence and what was the situation like in your village?
23 A. At the beginning of the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina,
24 it was obvious that the Croatian population didn't want to join the
25 Territorial Defence, but rather they started forming HVO units in that
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13 French transcripts correspond
1 area. This was also the case for the Croatian population in the village
2 in which I lived.
3 Q. Since -- or rather, before I ask you that question I would like to
4 ask you the following. In the vicinity of your village, was there a
5 village inhabited by Croats?
6 A. The village of Maline is a village in which Bosniaks and Croats
7 live together. It's a mixed village, a village of mixed ethnic
9 Q. Since you said that the Croatian population joined HVO units, were
10 you able to notice at the time how they were armed and equipped when
11 compared to your units?
12 A. I've already said that we were poorly armed. But it was obvious
13 that HVO members or almost all its members had the appropriate weapons and
14 equipment. At the beginning of the war, they had infantry weapons and
15 other military equipment. So it wasn't possible to compare the situation
16 we were in with the situation that they were in.
17 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, at any point in time were other organisational
18 changes introduced within the BH army; and if so, how was your position
19 affected as a result of those changes?
20 A. At the end of 1992 in December, from the supreme command and the
21 3rd Corps command in the area in which I was there was an order to form
22 the 306th Mountain Brigade. The detachments I have mentioned were part of
23 this brigade. The Han Bila Detachment was transformed into the
24 3rd Battalion. Most of the Mehurici detachment was transformed into the
25 4th Battalion. The Hum Battalion, in which I was in, was transformed into
1 the 2nd Battalion. The 1st so-called Siprage Battalion was formed from
2 the expelled members of the military from Kotor Varos and Skender Vakuf
3 and it was also part of the 306th Mountain Brigade. I was deployed in the
4 2nd Mountain Battalion, and the assistant commander -- I was the assistant
5 commander for morale and religion.
6 Q. Where was the command of the 2nd Battalion located?
7 A. It was in the village of Krpeljici.
8 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, who was your commander at the time?
9 A. Fahir Camdzic was the commander.
10 Q. As far as the combatants from your 2nd Battalion are concerned,
11 where were they billeted? Did you have a barracks or any other facilities
12 providing combatants with accommodation?
13 A. Members of the 2nd Mountain Battalion, if they weren't at the
14 positions facing the Serbian and Montenegrin aggressor mostly spent their
15 time at home. We didn't have barracks of any kind. We didn't have any
16 buildings in which our soldiers could be accommodated after having
17 returned from the defence line. So they were all at home.
18 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, you said you were the assistant commander for
19 morale and for intelligence and for religious affairs. Can you briefly
20 tell us about the tasks you had when you were performing these duties in
21 the battalion.
22 A. All the officers involved in morale in units, and that included
23 myself, had to inform the officers about the situation in the zone of
24 responsibility -- in the zone of responsibilities of our units and the
25 brigades and the corps and naturally about the situation of the zone of
1 responsibility of the BH army. That is to say, throughout the battlefield
2 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Naturally we had to inform officers of efforts
3 made by the politicians to deal with the situation and find a way of
4 bringing the war to an end.
5 Q. Just a minute. I think one word has been mistranslated. He had
6 "boracki i oficir" -- he said "the combatants and officers," and the
7 translation -- according to the translation only combatants -- only
8 officers were mentioned.
9 I apologise for interrupting you. Could you please continue.
10 A. We had to inform them about what was happening on the political
11 scene, about the efforts made to put an end to the war in Bosnia and
12 Herzegovina. Furthermore, it was our task to monitor morale in the
13 unit -- the morale of the combatants in order to carry out their tasks.
14 We had to see what was having a bad effect on morale and to suggest to
15 other organs in the units measures that they should take in order to
16 resolve the problems and ensure that the soldiers were motivated to carry
17 out the combat tasks they had. Naturally we suggested that a number of
18 measures be taken, measures that could have a positive effect and would
19 motivate the combatants to carry out their combat tasks. We also had to
20 organise religious practices in the units for those who were religious.
21 And then we had to cooperate with the civilian authorities in the area
22 where our unit was located. And above all, they were to become included
23 in dealing with the positions -- with the problems that the families of
24 some of our combatants had, the families of men who had been killed or
25 handicapped in the course of the fighting.
1 Q. As part of the duties that you have mentioned, how important was
2 it for combatants to be informed about the rules of war and the way of
3 conducting war? Did you have any tasks relating to such matters?
4 A. Naturally our superior command and our commanders, it depended on
5 the level, but we received instructions and tasks we were supposed to
6 forward to lower levels, to combatants, and other officers. And we were
7 to inform them about how to conduct themselves when carrying out combat
8 operations. We had to inform them of the international rules of war and
9 we had to make sure that all our members adhered to the basic principles
10 of fighting a war. Above all, it was necessary to inform all combatants
11 that they were to treat the civilian population a humane way, to treat
12 captured soldiers in a humane way. They had to ensure that the property
13 of all the population was protected. And in particular, they had to
14 ensure that the cultural heritage and religious buildings were protected.
15 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, you said that you completed secondary school. How
16 did you come to know about all the rules you have just mentioned, the
17 rules that you had to inform your soldiers of?
18 A. In the BH army there were not a sufficient number of professional
19 members, but anyone who wasn't adequately trained but had been assigned
20 duties had the duty to be trained. This occurred at the level of brigades
21 in accordance with corps orders. And in the corps, certain training was
22 organised for officers, too. We had to train and we had to familiarise
23 ourselves with the basic rules. We weren't able to study these matters in
24 a book at the time, but we just had to learn what the basic principles
25 were. We were informed about them. And naturally in the course of the
1 war, if we managed to obtain any literature on this subject, we tried to
2 do so.
3 Q. How many of you were involved, were engaged, in the sector for
5 A. If we're talking about the battalion, apart from the assistant
6 commander of the battalion for morale, intelligence, and religious
7 affairs, there was within the battalion command another position, that of
8 an official for religious affairs. And in each company from the
9 battalion, according to the establishment, there was one officer who was
10 assistant commander of the company for morale and religious affairs.
11 Q. Thank you. You said that one of the tasks you had involved
12 cooperation with the civilian authorities. Could you tell us, in the area
13 of your battalion who were the civilian authorities?
14 A. In accordance with the decisions of the War Presidency in Travnik
15 municipality, the organisational structure of the local communes was
16 transformed. Some sort of war plans for the local communes in Travnik
17 were formed. And in other areas, there was the Guca Gora local commune
18 which was formed. Representatives of that local commune, in coordination
19 with the War Presidency of Travnik municipality, represented the civilian
20 authorities so to speak.
21 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, let's now move on to another subject. At any point
22 in time as a member of the detachment or subsequently as a member of the
23 2nd Battalion, did you notice that some foreigners were appearing in the
24 Bila Valley area? I'm referring to foreigners who were not from the
25 territory of the former Yugoslavia.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure the pagination between the English and
13 French transcripts correspond
1 A. Yes. In the second half of 1992, I personally noticed that there
2 were individuals who were not citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, passing
3 through or moving around the place I lived in and the other places I have
4 mentioned. We considered them to be foreigners, or rather we could see
5 that they were foreigners.
6 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, how is it that you could tell they were foreigners
7 and did you know where these foreigners came from?
8 A. Well, given the colour of their skin, the clothes they wore, we
9 could tell that they were foreigners of Arab origin, and it was said that
10 these people had come from Arab countries.
11 Q. In 1992 did they at any time stay for a certain period of time in
12 your village?
13 A. No, they never stayed in the village of Maline. They only passed
14 through Maline, because there's a road from Mehurici to Travnik that
15 passes through Maline. So they just passed through.
16 Q. Did you later start calling these Arabs by a different name, and
17 if so, how did you call them?
18 A. Towards the end of 1992, at the beginning of 1993, it was said
19 that they were Mujahedin.
20 Q. Did you know where they were accommodated in 1993 when you found
21 out about their presence and later on?
22 A. When they first arrived, I heard that they were staying in the
23 Mehurici primary school. And towards the end of 1992, this is what I
24 heard, they were staying in some houses above the Mehurici settlement and
25 the Poljanice settlement.
1 Q. Did you ever go to the building they were staying in?
2 A. No. It was never necessary for me to go in that direction because
3 that was a place that didn't lead to one of our centres. So I never
4 passed through that area.
5 Q. As an assistant for morale and information, did you at any point
6 in time find out that the presence of these Mujahedin was causing problems
7 in the Bila Valley area?
8 A. Since they had very little influence in the area where I lived and
9 they weren't staying there, all I can say is what I heard about. I heard
10 that in other places naturally, for example, in Mehurici, there were
11 certain misunderstandings and certain problems, misunderstandings between
12 them and the civilian population or between them and members of our army
13 who were there.
14 Q. Did you have any information about their attitude towards the
15 civilian population, about their attitude towards religious instruction,
16 about their attitude towards family relations in that area, or did you
17 have any information of any other kind, apart from what you have just told
18 us about now?
19 A. I heard that in those areas they had organised religious education
20 for the children of the population. It was said that they were involved
21 in humanitarian activities. They provided clothes, footwear, and other
22 essential items, households. I heard that in the religious buildings they
23 tried -- or in certain religious facilities they tried to introduce a
24 different form of religious rites. They tried to have any other rites in
25 comparison to the rites that were practiced in -- or had been practiced in
1 Bosnia and Herzegovina up until that time. So naturally this caused a lot
2 of misunderstanding and a lot of unease among the population. Because
3 after having prayed for several hundred years in one way if you are then
4 told you have to pray in a different way, it's quite understandable that
5 people didn't feel happy about this. I heard that they would also marry
6 certain girls from those villages, and that also made the situation more
7 difficult. Because when family relations are established of that kind and
8 other inhabitants observe this, this can give rise to even greater
10 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, let's go -- come back to another issue. You said
11 that the Croatian population joined the HVO. Where were HVO units located
12 with regard to the units of the BiH army that you yourself belonged to in
13 your area?
14 A. At the beginning of 1992 in the area where my unit was, at the
15 beginning it was the sector staff, later on it was a detachment --
16 Q. Let me just ask you to repeat the year. When was that?
17 A. 1992, after the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
18 Q. Yes, you may continue.
19 A. After the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina when the
20 Territorial Defence units were established as well as the HVO units, it
21 was noticeable that the Croatian Defence Council has displayed different
22 behaviour with regard to the Territorial Defence. Truth be told, at that
23 time they shared the same area of responsibility with us on Mount Vlasic
24 facing the Montenegrin-Serbian aggressor. However, their positions were
25 never on the front line. They were never at the same level. They were
1 always behind our backs, so to speak, and we were often in the position to
2 control the area of responsibility on our own.
3 Q. Do you remember an incident which took place in the Lasva Valley
4 which had a bearing on the situation in the area of responsibility of the
5 306th Brigade and your battalion? Did these incidents have any bearing on
6 the behaviour of the HVO?
7 A. At the beginning of 1993 when in Busovaca, Novi Travnik, and Vitez
8 there were clashes between the HVO and the BiH army. These conflicts had
9 an impact on the situation in Travnik municipality and the area of
10 responsibility of our battalion. The Croatian Defence Council was no
11 longer behaving the way they behaved at the beginning of 1992 and in the
12 course of that year. They started controlling the free territory in
13 Travnik municipality and the territory where the 2nd Mountain Battalion
14 was deployed. They started putting up checkpoints. They started
15 controlling all those who wanted to pass through their checkpoints from
16 the villages towards Travnik and vice versa.
17 Q. This type of behaviour on the part of HVO, the checkpoints and the
18 attitude towards individuals at those checkpoints, did this have any
19 impact on the morale of your men and what did you do in order to suppress
20 tensions and prevent possible conflicts?
21 A. Obviously whatever was happening at the checkpoints, the
22 humiliation that our members experienced at those checkpoints, did have an
23 impact on the overall situation in the unit. Obviously our task was to
24 talk to our men on a daily basis. We tried to tell them that these
25 problems should be overcome, that we shouldn't be the ones who would
1 retaliate after such incidents. We shouldn't allow for a conflict to
2 break out with the HVO. In Bosnia and Herzegovina at the time, it was not
3 a normal -- it was not to be expected that a second theatre of war would
4 be opened, since there was already one against the Serbs and the
5 Montenegrins. We had enough problems. We didn't want to create any new
7 Q. In your view, did the HVO appreciate those efforts? Did they stop
8 creating situations which might lead to the deterioration of the situation
9 in the general area?
10 A. At the level of the brigade command, pursuant to the orders of the
11 corps command, I know that a commission was established and it was a joint
12 commission with the HVO. The task of this commission was to seek ways in
13 order to overcome problems. This commission did try to reach an agreement
14 on dealing with the problem. They wanted to see how these checkpoints
15 could be removed and to -- and how the free territory would be free for
16 everybody. This was all aimed at fighting the Serbian and Montenegrin
17 aggressor. The joint commission was supposed to go from one checkpoint to
18 another, later on from one trench to another, from one settlement to
19 another. And the task of this commission was to plead with those who had
20 dug out those trenches to fill them in and to plead with the people to try
21 and find us a solution to the problem. However, the situation was
22 really bad and whatever the commission agreed would not be implemented.
23 It -- every measure was very short-lived and it lasted only for a few
24 hours or just a day or two.
25 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, did this behaviour result in deaths?
12 Blank page inserted to ensure the pagination between the English and
13 French transcripts correspond
1 A. During the period when there was still no open conflicts with the
2 HVO, there were no casualties at the checkpoints. Earlier on, I believe
3 that it was on the 16th of April, 1993, which was the time when we still
4 did not have an open conflict with the HVO in the area of responsibility
5 of our battalion, on the 16th of April, a fighter from Maline was killed
6 in the shooting that took place on a line. This was an uncontrolled
7 shooting on the line between Maline and Guca Gora. That is when one man
8 got killed. Later on what happened at this checkpoint was that people
9 were taken into custody, they were beaten, property was seized from
10 people, their cars would be confiscated. This is what happened before the
11 open conflict broke out with the HVO.
12 Q. You've told us in very general terms what was happening. Were you
13 familiar with any of these incidents?
14 A. In the month of March, there was a gradual blockade which
15 culminated in the month of May. The population in the villages that I've
16 mentioned came under a blockade. I remember that in mid-May two things
17 happened that involved my family. One of my cousins was arrested in
18 Guca Gora. He was beaten up. And one person from Guca Gora snatched him
19 from the military police of the HVO, transported him to the far end of the
20 village of Guca Gora. That person called Salih Softic and asked Salih to
21 come and pick him up and transport him to the hospital. That's one case.
22 Another case which happened later on was when some people were returning
23 from Travnik and my uncle's car was stopped at a checkpoint. And my
24 father and a cousin of mine were in the car. The car was stopped very
25 close to the monastery in Guca Gora. At gunpoint, my father, my cousin,
1 and my uncle were driven out of the car. They took away the car and all
2 the food that they had bought in Travnik. All this was taken away. My
3 father, my late father, had been shot at and a burst of fire was opened at
5 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, you said that in May the situation became really
6 difficult and that the villages were completely blocked. In May of that
7 year, what was the situation in your battalion? Where were the troops of
8 that battalion deployed?
9 A. The situation at the battalion was very difficult. This battalion
10 was replenished from the six settlements, namely Maline, Krpeljici, Mosor,
11 Bandol, Radojcici and Velika Bukovica. Once the villages were blocked we
12 could no longer replenish our battalion and we could no longer
13 communicate, let alone carry out our combat tasks. We could not have the
14 changeover of troops on the lines. The battalion command was not in one
15 place. The battalion commander was in Krpeljici and the rest of the
16 command staff were in their respective settlements where they were born
17 and where they resided. The system of command and control was not in
18 place. It was not functioning -- actually, it didn't exist.
19 Q. And what about your village? Was your village blocked? Was it
20 able to communicate with other parts of the battalion and the command?
21 A. In mid-May my village was blocked. After the incidents that I
22 have just mentioned there was a total blockade of Maline as well as of all
23 the other villages from which the 2nd Mountain Battalion was replenished.
24 We were not able to communicate with the rest of the troops from this
25 battalion. All of us who were members of the 2nd Battalion were mostly
1 billeted in Maline and we did not have any means of communications with
2 the others. Some of our troops were on the line on Mount Vlasic and they
3 did not have the possibility to come to Maline. We were not in a position
4 to send them relief. We did not have the possibility to send them food or
5 anything else up to the line where they were.
6 Q. At the beginning of June 1993 did you manage to get to your
7 command post or were you still in Maline, the village that was encircled?
8 A. At the beginning of June 1993 I was not in contact with the
9 commander. None of us who were members of the command could go to the
10 command post. We could not communicate with our superior commanders.
11 Q. You were at home. Where were the HVO positions? What weapons did
12 they have at their disposal?
13 A. HVO soldiers occupied most of the prominent facilities around
14 Maline. They held the line from the direction of Guca Gora, from
15 Gornje Maline, and from Postinje. So we were almost fully encircled. The
16 only thing we could do, although it wasn't very safe, we could get to Han
17 Bila. That was the only settlement which was accessible, although it
18 could not be done safely because the -- that area was also controlled by
19 the HVO. We could go along the Bila River and get to Han Bila. This was
20 the only access that was accessible to us. Han Bila was also circled on
21 other axes. We were not able to communicate with any other settled areas.
22 Nobody from those settled areas was in a position to reach us.
23 Q. Where was the commander of your battalion at that time?
24 A. He was in Krpeljici.
25 Q. What was going on with the troops in other places from which your
1 battalion was replenished, Velika Bukovica, Bandol, Radojcici, and so on?
2 A. The situation was very similar, as in Maline. The troops were in
3 their settlements and they organised the defence of their respective
4 settlements, just as we did in Maline. Later on the Croatian Defence
5 Council launched an attack on Velika Bukovica and I assume that you're
6 aware of what happened there. The first village that the Croatian Defence
7 Council attacked at the beginning of June was Velika Bukovica. Later on
8 an attack was launched against the village of Radojcici. And later on
9 there would also be an attack on Maline and on Bandol.
10 Q. How did you learn about the situation in Velika Bukovica?
11 A. I believe that it was on the 6th of June. I believe that it was
12 on the 6th of June, from the direction of Guca Gora a woman came to
13 Maline. Her family name was Suljic. I can't remember her first name.
14 She came to Maline and she asked to be received by somebody from the
15 command in Maline. Obviously I was the one to conduct an interview with
16 that woman. And in the conversation with this woman - and there was just
17 another man from Maline who was present - I could see on her face that
18 something terrible had happened in Velika Bukovica. That's why I didn't
19 want anybody else to be present during that conversation. That's why I
20 held this conversation in the presence of only one person. I believe that
21 he was her cousin. After that conversation I learned from her that she
22 had been brought to Guca Gora by her neighbour from Velika Bukovica, that
23 he sent her from Guca Gora to Maline, and the task that he gave her was to
24 inform -- to try and get in touch with the troops from Velika Bukovica who
25 had managed to flee from Bukovica on the eve of the HVO attack. The
1 objective was a possible exchange. What she told us was that a crime had
2 been committed in Velika Bukovica, that Velika Bukovica had been
3 completely torched and destroyed. She said that some seven to nine people
4 had been killed. She could not provide us with the precise data. She
5 also told us that the civilian population had been gathered in one place
6 by the HVO. She also told us that one child had arrived from a place
7 called Konjska and that this child had been sent by the soldiers from
8 Velika Bukovica who had managed to escape. And as they were walking on
9 that axis they captured some of the Croatian inhabitants. And the child
10 that was among those people, they sent it to Velika Bukovica in order to
11 warn the HVO soldiers not to commit any crimes over civilian population.
12 And this Croatian child informed the HVO soldiers that there were some
13 Croatian prisoners and that these people had been taken towards Mehurici.
14 Q. Thank you very much. Were you in a position to check this
15 information? Secondly, were you in a position to assist Velika Bukovica
16 in any way?
17 A. This was the first such case in this area, the case of such an
18 atrocious crime. I found it very hard to understand what had happened.
19 And this woman, she was also scared, she was terrified. None of us could
20 understand or appreciate what had happened. We were not in a position to
21 check this information and we were not in a position to extend any help to
22 those who were in Velika Bukovica. We ourselves were encircled in Maline,
23 and it was not possible for us to send any of the troops there. And we
24 had an obligation to defend Maline. But let me just say that at that time
25 I insisted that the person who had informed us about the incident and with
12 Blank page inserted to ensure the pagination between the English and
13 French transcripts correspond
1 the person who was present during our conversations not to spread this
2 news in order to prevent possible panic among the population in Maline.
3 We had our line facing the Croatian population there.
4 Q. You also mentioned an attack on your village that took place later
5 on. Can you please describe what happened and who was it who launched
6 this attack.
7 A. On the following day, the day after we learned about
8 Velika Bukovica, on the 7th of June Maline was attacked from the positions
9 of the HVO. It was an infantry attack from the positions. During that
10 attack we suffered some consequences. One man was slightly injured.
11 Three cowsheds burned to the ground and three houses were damaged.
12 Q. What happened on the 8th of June, 1993? Where were you at the
14 A. On the 8th of June, 1993, in the early morning hours I was in
15 Maline together with the troops and the civilian population. In the early
16 morning hours there was shooting along the entire length of the line
17 facing the HVO. At that time we didn't know what this was all about.
18 This shooting came from all sides. After some time, maybe half an hour or
19 an hour of this shooting we saw that on the northern side of the line in
20 the direction of Mehurici the shooting had stopped. And that -- in that
21 area the HVO had stopped putting up resistance. This is a rock called
22 Vranjaca and we could see the BiH army troops descending that rock and
23 moving towards the village. We were tasked to send the men from Maline
24 towards Guca Gora, towards the western and southern sides of the line.
25 This task was given to us by the battalion commander because in the
1 meantime the blockade had been lifted from Krpeljici. This was our task.
2 This is the order that we received via Bandol. Bandol had still been
3 putting up resistance against the HVO. They were still fighting. We did
4 not have a direct communication with the battalion commander. He managed
5 to send a message to us via the communication hub in Bandol. Bandol was
6 the scene of fierce fighting. We were told to direct our forces towards
7 Guca Gora and link up with the troops from Krpeljici and the troops of the
8 3rd Mountain Battalion.
9 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, maybe this would be
10 a good time for our break.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] How much time do you still need?
12 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] I believe that I will still need
13 about 20 minutes, not more than that.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well then. We shall resume
15 at 5 to 11.00.
16 --- Recess taken at 10.29 a.m.
17 --- On resuming at 10.58 a.m.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We'll resume now. I'll give the
19 floor to Defence.
20 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, before the break you said that you received an
22 order from your battalion commander to head off in the direction of
23 Guca Gora and try to link up the forces with other parts of the battalion.
24 Tell me, where did you and the soldiers go the following days and which
25 positions did you finally reach and when did you reach them?
1 A. After we had linked up the lines on the 8th of June in the
2 afternoon hours and at night, we linked up the lines with the Krpeljici
3 soldiers and soldiers of the 3rd Battalion on the Han Bila axis. After
4 having done that we remained on the lines we had reached above Guca Gora.
5 We were there on the following day, too. It was only after the population
6 of Guca Gora had left Guca Gora and after the HVO soldiers who were
7 defending Guca Gora had left their positions. It was on the 10th of June
8 that we received the task to move our forces in the village of Radojcici
9 in the direction of Mosor [Realtime transcript read in error "Mostar"].
10 The direct I have was to liberate the village of Bandol and essentially
11 control Radojcici. Since the Bosniak population from the village of
12 Radojcici had also left their village and they had fled in the direction
13 of Mehurici.
14 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, did you and your soldiers pass through Guca Gora or
15 did you go to those positions via some other route?
16 A. In Maline we received the task to go with combatants from Maline
17 partly in the direction of Mosor, and partly in the direction of
18 Radojcici. Some were to go in one direction and some in the other. I
19 went in the direction of Mosor with other soldiers. We were to establish
20 defence lines towards the HVO at the Gostunj place. That is to say by the
21 village of Mosor. I only passed through Guca Gora on the 10th or the 11th
22 of June, I think. We went there in vehicles. We went to the direction of
24 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, on that occasion -- or first of all, I'd like to
25 ask you whether on the 8th and 9th you noticed that any houses had been
1 burned or destroyed in the part of Maline in which the population was
3 A. In the course of combat on the 8th of June a number of buildings
4 in Gornje Maline, which is where the Croatian population lived, were
5 burned. I noticed them burning. I couldn't say how many buildings were
6 affected since there was shooting from all sides as I have already said.
7 But in the course of the combat, some residential buildings and other
8 buildings in the part of the village which was Croatian were damaged and
9 burnt down.
10 Q. When you entered Gornje Maline -- when did you enter Gornje Maline
11 for the first time after those combat operations?
12 A. I think after 20 or 25 days' time I was able to leave the defence
13 lines and return to my village. I had enough time then to visit
14 Gornje Maline.
15 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Could we have a correction on page
16 33, line 23. The witness said "in the direction of Mosor," whereas the
17 transcript says in the direction of Mostar.
18 Q. When you drove through Guca Gora, tell me, on that occasion, did
19 you notice that any buildings in Guca Gora had been burned, damaged, or
20 destroyed in some other way?
21 A. I'd just like to correct something you said. I drove through in a
22 TAM vehicle with combatants who were with me. I was with my driver. We
23 passed through -- we drove through Guca Gora. We headed in the direction
24 of Guca Gora -- in the direction of Mosor. I couldn't see much because
25 this was just a road through Guca Gora. And on that occasion I couldn't
1 notice any damaged objects, any damaged buildings.
2 Q. Could we now show the witness Defence Exhibit 1214. It's number 9
3 in the list of documents that we referred to earlier.
4 Before we show you this document, could you tell me whether the
5 village of Postinje is part of Donje Maline or is it a different village?
6 A. This is a separate village. It's part of the local commune
7 of -- in Maline. That was the case before the war and that's the case now
8 after the war, too.
9 Q. Tell me, how many houses, as far as you know, were there in
10 Gornje Maline in 1993?
11 A. I can't say exactly but I think there were no more than a hundred
13 Q. Thank you. Would you now have a look at the document before you.
14 Under item 1 reference is made to a name from Donje Maline. Could you
15 first have a look to see whether these names mean anything to you. Do
16 they remind you of any of the inhabitants of Gornje or Donje Maline?
17 A. In this document the names are names of inhabitants of Donje and
18 Gornje Maline. I can see that inhabitants of the village of Postinje are
19 mentioned here.
20 Q. Have a look at the first five names. Tell me, what is the
21 nationality of these people?
22 A. These people are Bosniaks.
23 Q. Further on it says that the incident took place on the 7th of
24 June, 1993, as mentioned next to each name. Tell me, what does this mean
25 for you? What does this mean to you?
12 Blank page inserted to ensure the pagination between the English and
13 French transcripts correspond
1 A. Well, I have said that Maline was attacked by the HVO on the 7th
2 of June. What's referred to here is something that happened in the HVO
3 attack in the village and at our positions in Maline.
4 Q. If you -- when you had a look at the names you said that the
5 village of Postinje is also mentioned. When you have a look at this list,
6 could you tell me which individuals from that other village or which
7 buildings from the other village are mentioned.
8 A. These are the buildings under the name Balta Mato, Balta Ivo, and
9 Balta Vesko. They are all from the village of Postinje.
10 Q. If you have a quick look at the other names, the remaining 15
11 names, could you tell us whether these people are from Gornje Maline, if
12 you can recognise these names.
13 A. The family names here show that all these people are from
14 Gornje Maline because I know that people who had such a family name were
15 from Gornje Maline.
16 Q. Could we now have a look at one of the items. Under item 14,
17 Mijo Juric. Is that family name from Gornje Maline that you are familiar
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. In paragraph 2 under item 14 it says that the police arrived at
21 the site immediately and tried to identify the perpetrator but couldn't
22 find the perpetrator. Mr. Tarakcija, if a building was set afire, do you
23 know what kind of measures were taken at the time in such cases?
24 A. When this sort of thing happened, those who had control of the
25 territory left by Croats were the civilian police. They had to provide
1 security for the buildings in those settlements. It was their task to
2 establish their identity of the perpetrators, to establish the identity of
3 those who had set fire or destroyed certain buildings. And it was their
4 task to take the legally prescribed measures against them.
5 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, could you please have a look at the last page on
6 this document. The date is the 21st of August, 1993. I don't know if
7 you've managed to read the description next to each name, but to the best
8 of your recollection at that time would this report reflect the situation
9 such as it was in Gornje Maline at the end of August 1993?
10 A. Since I've only had a brief glance at this document, please give
11 me a little more time. I think that the document, such as it is,
12 accurately reflects the situation in the settlements and the state of the
13 buildings in the settlements.
14 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, since you were there later on in 1993 and you were
15 there after the conflict with the HVO, you've been there since that
16 conflict ended right up until today, tell me, after 1993 were any
17 buildings damaged for various reasons or were any buildings in this
18 village that was abandoned destroyed?
19 A. Naturally after 1993, some buildings that hadn't been damaged or
20 destroyed in the course of combat were damaged. Some individuals whose
21 identity was established by the civilian police committed such acts. I
22 don't know how many such individuals were detected and I don't know what
23 measures were taken against them.
24 Q. Since you are an inhabitant of Maline, you're familiar with any
25 parts of houses being stolen, roofs, doors, et cetera, and are you
1 familiar with any such cases after the end of the war, that is to say
2 after 1995?
3 A. To be quite frank, I couldn't say that there were such cases and I
4 can't say that there weren't any such cases. I can only guess as to what
5 happened during that period. But that would not be of any relevance for
6 this Trial Chamber.
7 Q. Thank you.
8 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Could Document P87 now be shown to
9 the witness.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. It's a confidential
12 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. President. I don't think
13 it contains any information that would reveal the identity of the witness
14 who presented this to the Trial Chamber.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute. I'll check.
16 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We will conceal the handwritten
19 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I think that the
20 names of individuals should be concealed. The drawing should not be
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] That's what we have done.
23 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
24 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, could you have a look at all of these images and
25 could you say whether you recognise this place, although it says which
1 place it is. Could you tell me whether you recognise the place.
2 A. This is Maline.
3 Q. Thank you. You can see a lot of arrows. If these arrows
4 represented the damaged buildings in Gornje Maline in 1993, would you say
5 that the number of buildings that are referred to reflects the actual
7 A. I don't think this is an accurate reflection of the situation.
8 This is in contradiction with the document we mentioned a while ago. In
9 that document we have the civilian protection report on buildings damaged
10 during the period concerned. And I think that in the course of combat
11 action at that period, these buildings were not all damaged on that
12 occasion. Some buildings were probably damaged after that period and
13 perhaps after the war, too.
14 Q. Thank you, Mr. Tarakcija. You can return this document to the
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Using the photos, could the
17 witness indicate the location of his house.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Just a minute. Mr. President, you
19 can't see all of Donje Maline in this photograph, so I cannot indicate the
20 location of my house. I'm referring to photograph number 1, Maline number
21 1. And part of the Bosniak settlement can be seen in that photograph.
22 This is just one of the hamlets in Maline. So you can't see the part of
23 Maline which is where the house I live in is located.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. And in photograph
25 Maline 2, can you see your house?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. These buildings are buildings
2 in which Croats lived. This is the Croatian part of the Maline
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] What about Maline 3?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This also shows part of the
6 settlement in which Croats lived, but there is a small area in which
7 Bosniaks lived, too. In the area marked by number 44, there's a school
8 building there, a number of other buildings in which Bosniaks lived.
9 These buildings were in the immediate vicinity of buildings in which
10 Croats lived.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] What about Maline 4?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Croats lived in these buildings.
13 This is a part in the direction of Guca Gora and I can also notice the
14 Catholic cemetery here. The part of Maline I live in is far away. It's
15 closer to the Bila River. It's at some distance from the part of the
16 settlement in which Croats lived. Maline is not a small village.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you are saying that in the
18 part that you lived in -- you're saying that the part that you lived in
19 cannot be seen in the four photographs?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's correct.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
22 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, after the war did your neighbours from
24 Gornje Maline return and move back into their houses?
25 A. Yes, but not to the extent that one expected this to happen. I
1 think that about 20 families returned to Gornje Maline and up to 10
2 families returned to the village of Postinje, which was part of this local
4 Q. What sort of relation do you have with those neighbours who have
6 A. Given everything that happened during the period we've been
7 referring to, it would be no exaggeration to say that the situation is
8 normal now. And those that have returned to Gornje Maline are on normal
9 terms with Bosniaks in Maline, and they cooperate with them.
10 Q. Did you hear of any incidents involving Bosniaks who might have
11 done something unpleasant to your Bosniak neighbours since the time they
12 returned up until today?
13 A. No, I haven't heard of any incidents from the time that they
14 started returning to Maline.
15 Q. You said that you worked together. Do you have any joint projects
16 or do the inhabitants of Gornje and Donje Maline work in a normal way, do
17 they establish normal professional relationships and friendships?
18 A. Well, after some of these people returned to Maline, as I said, a
19 joint organ of the local commune in Maline was formed. And
20 representatives of the Bosniaks and Croats take decisions together in
21 order to solve certain problems in that area, especially problems that
22 concern the infrastructure. We're involved in a number of projects.
23 We're cooperating on the construction of a water supply system. We
24 asphalted certain roads for the Postinje area. So we tried to reach
25 agreements on things of common interest.
1 Q. Thank you, Mr. Tarakcija.
2 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I have no further
3 questions for this witness.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
5 And the other Defence team?
6 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. We
7 only have a few questions to clarify some of Mr. Tarakcija's answers.
8 Cross-examined by Mr. Ibrisimovic:
9 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Tarakcija, at the beginning of your testimony
10 you said that you were the assistant commander for morale and information?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. According to that establishment post that you had, did you also
13 have to deal with religious affairs within the battalion?
14 A. Well, it was also our task to organise religious life within the
16 Q. You said that in the battalion there was an officer for religious
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Do you know the name of this officer?
20 A. Grabus Nurija, Efendi Grabus Nurija.
21 Q. The 2nd Battalion of the 306th and the brigade command, did they
22 also have a post for an officer of religious affairs?
23 A. Yes, they did have an official for religious affairs at the level
24 of the brigade command. There was no such establishment post. These
25 tasks were carried out by the assistant for morale with other officers who
1 had been given such posts according to the establishment.
2 Q. What were the tasks of the officer for religious affairs?
3 A. His tasks in accordance with the orders from the commander and
4 instructions provided by the assistant commander for morale were to
5 organise religious life in accordance with the circumstances at the time.
6 This was for those who were religious.
7 Q. If we examine the ethnic composition of your battalion, the
8 battalions were all Muslim. Is that correct?
9 A. Yes, they were all Bosniaks.
10 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, let's now go back to the 8th of June. When you
11 were answering questions put to you by Ms. Residovic, on a number of
12 occasions you said "our forces," and you said the 3rd Battalion. You
13 meant members of the 306th Brigade. Is that correct?
14 A. Yes. I was referring to forces of the 306th Mountain Brigade,
15 because in the course of that combat operation only men from the
16 306th Brigade were engaged. It was also our task to link up our forces
17 with the 3rd Mountain Battalion from the 306th Brigade. And their
18 headquarters were located in Han Bila.
19 Q. You mentioned the territory in which men were engaged so there
20 weren't any other units there from the BH army. Is that correct?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Thank you.
23 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] We have no further questions,
24 Mr. President.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And the Prosecution?
1 Cross-examined by Ms. Henry-Benjamin:
2 Q. Good afternoon, sir. My name is Tecla Henry-Benjamin and I am one
3 of the Prosecutors representing the Prosecutor in this case. As the
4 President of the Trial Chamber indicated to you I am going to ask you a
5 few questions based on what you said to us this afternoon. If at any time
6 you do not understand my questions or you wish for me to repeat any part
7 of it, feel free to do so and I'll oblige. Thank you.
8 Now, maybe we should start with the last spot first, the last
9 section of your examination-in-chief. And you told us that you were born
10 in Maline and that you lived all your life in Maline. Am I correct?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And I just gathered that you were from Donje Maline?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Now, for the benefit of the Trial Chamber, could you tell us the
15 population of Donje Maline.
16 A. It was mostly Bosniaks that inhabited Donje Maline and that still
17 inhabit Donje Maline.
18 Q. And how much in number would that be?
19 A. Approximately up to a thousand.
20 Q. And Gornje Maline, I believe you said that was the part that was
21 inhabited by the Croats. Am I correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And could you tell us approximately how many inhabitants there
24 might have been in Gornje Maline?
25 A. According to the 1991 census, not more than 600. And this figure
1 also covers the inhabitants of Postinje which we always consider part of
2 Maline, although it's a small hamlet inhabited by Croats only. So to sum
3 it up, according to the 1991 census, the part, the Croatian part of Maline
4 and Postinje had up to 600 inhabitants.
5 Q. Thank you. Now, would I be correct in saying that the two
6 villages Donje Maline and Gornje Maline lie side by side, they are
7 adjacent to each other. Am I correct?
8 A. We consider this one village because they are adjacent to each
9 other. But for an easier understanding and for the purpose of
10 understanding the national breakup, we divide it into Gornje and
11 Donje Maline. However, it was obvious from the photos that you have just
12 shown me, this is just one village and Croatian and Muslim parts even
13 intermingle at places.
14 Q. So then would I be correct in saying that anything that goes on in
15 Gornje Maline, the people in Donje Maline would be very much aware?
16 A. They don't necessarily have to know everything. However, it is
17 possible that they are aware of the more significant things. We cannot be
18 aware of all the details of everything that is going on in any one house.
19 Q. You were quite right when you said the more significant details,
20 because that's what I was speaking of, that's what I was referring to.
21 Now, on the 8th of June, 1993, you testified that Maline - and I
22 take it to be Donje and Gornje Maline - was encircled by the HVO. Am I
24 A. You are not correct. The HVO encircled Donje Maline. Just one
25 part of Maline which we identify as Donje Maline. The part of Maline
1 inhabited by the Bosniaks. This part was encircled by the HVO.
2 Q. So in answer to my learned friend on page 28, line 10, of this
3 transcript when you said that the HVO occupied most prominent facilities
4 around Maline, is that what you are referring to, Donje Maline?
5 A. The most prominent facilities around Maline. When I say "Maline,"
6 I mean Donje and Gornje Maline. The HVO also had a line in the village
7 between the houses towards Donje Maline. Their line was in the direction
8 towards Mehurici. They could control every house in Donje and
9 Gornje Maline. But they also had their defence line between the Bosniak
10 and Croatian houses in the village itself on the contact point between
11 these two rows of houses.
12 Q. Now, if I were to say to you that witnesses have appeared before
13 this Trial Chamber and have indicated in their testimony that the village
14 of Maline was under control of the BH army, would you agree with that?
15 A. I don't know what was the context when the witnesses said that.
16 The part of Maline that we call Donje Maline inhabited by Bosniaks was
17 under the control of the BH army, i.e., the part of the 2nd Mountain
18 Battalion which was in the village of Maline at the time.
19 Q. Okay. I think that we are referring here to the period that you
20 were discussing, which would have been about June of 1993. And hence,
21 that is what the witness or witnesses might have been referring to as
22 well, that period.
23 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I would kindly ask
24 my learned friend, since she has mentioned witnesses saying something, it
25 would be fair to say to the witness who and when said what, otherwise
1 she's just confusing the witness.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Henry-Benjamin.
3 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, my learned friend knows very
4 well that that is not possible and that I couldn't do it. And I think my
5 learned friend herself in this very court has indicated to witnesses that
6 witnesses have come forward and said and alleged certain things. And it's
7 based on that that I'm putting it to this witness. And I'm sorry, I would
8 not be calling any witnesses' names here, especially since some of the
9 witnesses are protected witnesses. But let us move on.
10 Q. Could you tell us the size of the army or the size of your
11 battalion in Maline at the time.
12 A. The part of the battalion who was in Maline at the time numbered
13 up to 120 men at the most.
14 Q. And would you be able to tell us if the HVO army was larger than
15 yours or was smaller than yours at that time?
16 A. I don't know how many troops the HVO had. But I know that the HVO
17 unit were linked up and there was the Frankopan Brigade which was linked
18 up with Guca Gora and with other Croatian settlements on both sides. I am
19 not in a position to say anything about their numbers, but bearing in mind
20 what they had at their disposal and compared to what we had, I believe
21 that they had a considerable advantage. And obviously one has to bear in
22 mind the territory that they had occupied around every settlement. I am
23 saying that they had a considerable advantage over us who were encircled
24 by them.
25 Q. If you had to compare the size of both armies, which would you say
1 was the larger army?
2 A. Since I've mentioned the Frankopan Brigade of the HVO in the
3 territory of Guca Gora, and when you compare that with the battalion and
4 if you understand the difference between a battalion and a brigade, then
5 you will understand who had the advantage. If you have a battalion on the
6 one hand facing a brigade on the other hand, and if you bear in mind that
7 that battalion was decimated and broken up in several places, then the
8 difference is obvious.
9 Q. Okay. Let us go to the 8th of June in particular, 1993. And you
10 were based in Maline, as you told us. Could you clarify for the
11 Trial Chamber and myself if you are aware of anything significant that may
12 have taken place with respect to Croat civilians in Maline in June of
14 A. Could you please be more specific. Do you want me to speak only
15 about the 8th of June or the entire month of June? Could you please be
16 more specific.
17 Q. Sorry. I think I mentioned the 8th of June specifically. Are you
18 aware of any incident with respect to Croat civilians, involving Croat
20 A. In the late afternoon hours, together with the other battalion
21 officers, I was linking up with the Krpeljici and the 3rd Battalion. I
22 received information that the civilian population -- the Croatian civilian
23 population from Gornje Maline had left -- had been taken towards Mehurici.
24 And a few of them -- only a few of them had remained in Maline, maybe two
25 or three families all together on that specific day. And this happened in
1 the late afternoon hours. This is when I learned that most of the
2 population had been taken in the direction of Mehurici.
3 Q. Thank you. And I'll be a little more specific so we can move on.
4 During your tenure in Maline and in particular on the 8th of June, were
5 you aware of any massacre of any Croat civilians?
6 A. On the 8th of June I was not aware of any such case. Something
7 happened in Bikose. Bikose is part of Maline. I learned about that four
8 or five days later. I heard what was being said on the defence line
9 facing the HVO. But it was only four or five days later. On that
10 particular day I didn't know what was going on or what had happened.
11 Q. And as commander or assistant commander for morale, did you think
12 it prudent that you should investigate it?
13 A. I did not have to give it a second thought. I knew that the
14 investigation had been carried out by the security department at the level
15 of the brigade. I myself was never informed about the results of that
16 investigation. Obviously as a human being I thought, I believed that such
17 an incident had to be investigated, that perpetrators had to be detected
18 and punished. I was an officer, but I was not in charge of that. We had
19 another officer who was in charge of security who was in charge of such
21 Q. Thank you. My colleague showed you a document -- a Defence
22 Document 1214. And with the permission of the Trial Chamber if I can just
23 have the document given back to the witness. I need to clarify a few ...
24 If you look at page 2 of the document you quite rightly said to us
25 that the majority of the names on that document would have been Croat
1 civilians. Am I correct?
2 A. I am not aware of Croat soldiers, civilians. I don't make a
3 distinction. I did say that these were Croatian names, yes.
4 Q. Croatian names. And if you look at the conclusion, it's usually
5 in the last sentence, as to the causes of the fire or the looting, could
6 you tell us basically what was the general assessment.
7 A. Could you please clarify. Do you want me to draw a conclusion
8 based on this document or do you want me to provide comment to the
9 conclusion that already exists at the end of this document?
10 Q. No. I do not want you to draw a conclusion. In fact I think I
11 was quite clear when I asked you if you could just point out for me what
12 conclusion was arrived at. It's usually on the last line of each
13 paragraph. And if you wish, I can help you. In some instances it says
14 that it was just burned to the ground. Nobody said how it was set. In
15 some instances they said they couldn't find out how the fire was set, not
16 knowing who set the fire. So in fact there was never a conclusion as to
17 what caused this fire. Am I correct?
18 A. Bearing in mind what it says at the end of the document, this is a
19 conclusion by those who drafted this document, my comment would be that
20 during the combat that took place on the 8th of June in that place, it
21 would not have been realistic to expect anybody to identify how houses
22 were burned because shooting came from all sides, from the positions of
23 the HVO as well as from the position of the BH army. This might point to
24 a conclusion that these buildings could have been set on fire from both
25 sides, from the side of the HVO as well as from the side of the BiH army.
1 This would be my comment and this is the conclusion I would arrive at.
2 Q. Thank you, sir. And now I'd like you to look at the front page,
3 page 1. And if you look at, let's say, paragraph 1 to 3, I -- it says
4 that the houses were based or the individuals were from Donje Maline. So
5 I take it that these individuals might have been Bosniaks. Am I correct?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And if you look at the conclusion for these, in each instance it
8 says that the HVO -- the fire was caused or it was set alight from HVO
9 positions on the top of the rock in each instance. And if we go right
10 down, on each instance it gives the cause of the fire basically from the
11 HVO's positions. Am I correct?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Well, in light of that, won't you agree with me that it is very
14 strange that the houses in Gornje Maline which were destroyed, that no one
15 can find a reason why these houses were destroyed? But for the houses in
16 Donje Maline, there was a definite reason. Would you agree with me if I
17 say that something seems a little amiss there? Bearing in mind that you
18 did say that the fire was coming from either side, so that really no one
19 really knows which side caused which, bearing in mind that.
20 A. Let me clarify. On the 7th of June, the HVO forces attacked the
21 village of Maline. From their positions directly, as it's described
22 herein, they shot at various buildings and I suppose that it suffices to
23 provide this argument in order to claim this. It was not the BiH army
24 that shot at the buildings that they were providing security for. What
25 you are trying to compare, obviously you are drawing a conclusion from
1 something that somebody else drafted. You should know that on the 8th of
2 June, there was no -- the HVO positions were not shot at only from
3 Donje Maline. The 306th Mountain Brigade opened fire from Mehurici on the
4 positions of the HVO above Maline. We're talking about combat operations
5 which were different than the ones on the 7th of June when the HVO had
6 launched an attack on our positions on the buildings that we were
7 providing security for. Obviously you would have a much clearer picture
8 if you had an opportunity to visit the place to have the deployment of
9 forces explained to you. Then you would be much clearer on the whole
10 situation. What happened on the 7th of June was totally different to what
11 happened on the 8th of June. We didn't only try to defend ourselves, we
12 also tried to make a breakthrough in order to help the population in
13 Bukovica who had experienced atrocities. And that's when shooting started
14 from all sides because we were engaged in a mutual showdown.
15 Q. But with all due respect to you, sir, and in interests of time,
16 not only has the 7th of June been mentioned but the 8th of June has been
17 mentioned on the first page and on the last page the 6th of June has been
18 mentioned. So with all due respect to you, I don't think your conclusion
19 is pretty correct. And I'm only going by the document that is before me;
20 that's all I have to go by. But I ask you that to say this now, as I said
21 to you, witnesses have come before this court and have testified that the
22 BiH army soldiers were in control of the village of Maline and that their
23 village or their houses were set on fire then. And I'm asking you this
24 question in light of the document 1214 and in light of the fact that all
25 the ones that appear on page --
1 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, you have the floor.
3 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, a while ago I
4 objected to the way the question was put to the witness. There was no
5 need for me to respond to the comment provided by my learned friend
6 because she rephrased her question.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, she responded to your
8 objection. You said that if the Prosecution made a reference to the facts
9 that were mentioned by a witness, then the Prosecution should mention the
10 name of the witness and the facts mentioned. But the Prosecution
11 responded that the witness was a protected witness and that they couldn't
12 make a specific reference before this witness to a protected witness.
13 This was their response to your objection. They said that there was a
14 statement by the witness but they didn't provide any details. Is that
15 what you wanted to hear?
16 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I believe that if
17 one of the parties wants to provide a counter-argument to say something
18 contrary to what the witness is saying, then because of the facts that
19 they are mentioning and rather than for the names, it would be important
20 and fair to provide those facts to the witness. If we are facing the
21 problem of a protected witness, in that case the names and the facts
22 should be mentioned either in private session or the witness should be
23 referred by the pseudonym that was given to him during the testimony.
24 This is only in the case when counter-arguments are provided, and I
25 maintain my position that in the cross-examination a witness should not be
1 in the position to have to reply to the questions put in this way.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Benjamin.
3 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, I think that my learned friend
4 has forgotten that this is cross-examination, one. Secondly, if she wants
5 me to put it a different way, I can put it. I can tell the witness that
6 there is evidence before this court and we will continue on that leg. But
7 there is absolutely nothing wrong in telling the witness that there is
8 evidence before the court to the contrary. There is absolutely nothing
9 wrong with it. And I would ask the Court to allow me to proceed, please.
10 Q. Sir, there is evidence before this Court that in Maline on the 8th
11 of June, 1993, that the BH army soldiers was in control -- the village of
12 Maline was under the control of the BH army. And I draw your attention to
13 Defence document 1214 because it appears to me that it is agreeing with
14 the evidence that is before the Court. Page 2 clearly has an exhaustive
15 list of houses that were destroyed during that period. But page 2 of the
16 document for some reason was not able to say the cause of the destruction.
17 Yet, on page 1 we are able to see the cause of destruction. And my
18 question to you was: Don't you think that the evidence that is led before
19 the Court might be correct in the sense that the BH army was in fact the
20 army that was under control -- that had control of Maline during that
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'll rephrase this question for
23 the witness because it's a very long question and perhaps the witness has
24 lost his bearings.
25 The question is as follows: The Prosecution believes on the basis
1 of various forms of evidence that the BH army had control over Maline.
2 And the Prosecution wants to know what your opinion is of that subject.
3 Is it true? False? Is it just partially true? What is your position
4 because we know that you were in Maline? You were there in several
5 capacities. You were an inhabitant of Maline and you were a member of the
6 military there, too. So what do you think about this? The Prosecution
7 claims that they have evidence according to which Maline was under BH army
8 control. So the Prosecution is asking a member of the military, like
9 yourself, to express his opinion. What do you think about this?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] On the 8th of June, Maline wasn't
11 under the control of the BH army for the entire day. From the early
12 morning hours until about noon, there were clashes, there was fighting in
13 that area. If I have understood your question correctly, it was only in
14 the afternoon hours that one might say that Gornje and Donje Maline were
15 under the control of the BH army. Our forces were moved towards the
16 positions in the direction of Guca Gora. This is something we have
17 already mentioned. That's how I understand the situation. On the 8th of
18 June, Gornje Maline, which is a part of Maline, wasn't under the control
19 of the BH army for the entire day. If we're relating this to the
20 documents we have before us, I'm referring to the combat operation on the
21 8th of June in the early morning hours. These operations took place in
22 the narrow area of Maline for a few hours. And then the focus of
23 operations was moved towards the lines of the HVO in the direction of
24 Guca Gora.
25 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN:
1 Q. Thank you, sir. With respect to your role as assistant commander
2 for morale, you indicated to my learned friend that you -- your superior
3 was the commander. And my question to you now is: Whose superior was
4 that commander? Who did that commander report to?
5 A. To the brigade commander.
6 Q. Which would have been the 306th Brigade. Am I correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And would you be able to assist us with who was the ultimate
9 superior? Who was the superior of the 306th Brigade?
10 A. According to the system of command and control, he would have been
11 the corps commander.
12 Q. And could you tell us who was the corps commander at that time?
13 A. As far as I can remember, I think Mr. Hadzihasanovic was the corps
15 Q. So is it your evidence that Mr. Hadzihasanovic was the overall
16 commander of the 3rd Corps, and so ultimately responsible for the
17 3rd Corps. Am I correct?
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute. Before I give
19 you the floor, did the question concern military responsibility,
20 disciplinary responsibility, criminal responsibility? Before the Defence
21 objects to your question, could you be a little more specific because it
22 is ambiguous. If you ask whether the 3rd Corps commander was responsible,
23 what do you mean exactly? Responsible for what? I noticed that Defence
24 counsel was about to object. So rephrase your question, please, and be
25 more precise.
1 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Thank you, Mr. President.
2 Q. And first I will ask you if the 3rd Corps commander was
3 responsible militarily. Did he have military responsibility for the
4 members of the corps? Did he?
5 A. According to the system of command and control in the BH army, the
6 corps commander was the commander of the brigade commanders unless there
7 was some sort of operations group that had been formed. But naturally
8 this would have been done in accordance with orders issued by the superior
10 Q. Thank you. Now, earlier on in your testimony you had indicated to
11 my learned friend that the army of which you were a member, the Bosnian
12 army, and in particular the 306th Muslim [sic] Brigade, that you had
13 little or no weapons within which to defend Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now,
14 as assistant commander for morale, could you tell me what was the plan
15 then by the ABiH for defending Bosnia and Herzegovina, in light of the
16 fact that you said that you had little or no weapons.
17 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, perhaps there was
18 an error on page 35, line 19. It says the 306th Muslim Brigade here. I
19 don't know if that's what my learned colleague said. Perhaps she was
20 referring to the Mountain Brigade.
21 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Thank you. And I think that's what I said.
22 Sorry. 306th Mountain Brigade.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Very well. I noticed that that's
24 what you said when listening to the interpretation, but my answer is as
25 follows. The 306th Mountain Brigade and all the other BH army units
1 naturally organised its defence on the basis of its possibilities. It
2 used the materiel and technical equipment that it had to organise its
3 defence. As to how successful they were in doing this, well naturally
4 it's not necessary for me to address that matter.
5 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN:
6 Q. In the same thing you indicated that it was quite obvious that the
7 HVO members or units had the appropriate weapons. And could I ask you on
8 what premise did you base this? What was your basis for saying this?
9 A. This was said on the basis of what I could observe. I was able to
10 observe the units, the units that were equipped and that were at the
11 defence lines at the beginning of 1992. There were positions on Vlasic.
12 So I made this claim on the basis of what I had observed and on the basis
13 of information I had obtained from others.
14 Q. You were responsible for training as well. And my question to you
15 is: Were there other trainers or people who train members of the army in
16 the BiH army. Do you know if any other people trained members in the BiH
18 A. According to an order from the superior command, in all brigades
19 according to the establishment there was an operations and training organ
20 whose task was to draw up plans for training. And together with other
21 officers from subordinate units, they were to train men for all aspects of
22 combat readiness. There were plans, there were persons responsible to
23 implement these plans, these were meant for the operations and training
24 organ on the whole, and they would conduct the training in the subordinate
1 Q. Would you happen to know and if you can, can you please assist the
2 Trial Chamber, would you happen to know if the foreigners, and as you
3 later referred to them, the Mujahedins, would you happen to know if they
4 held training sessions for members of the ABiH?
5 A. I'm not familiar with such cases. In the unit that I was in, in
6 the area that I was in, they did not hold training sessions of any kind.
7 Q. Do you know if -- maybe you can assist us. Do you know if there
8 was a training camp in Mehurici by these foreign people, the Mujahedins?
9 A. I heard about the existence of a camp. I mentioned a location of
10 the camp. I heard that training was conducted there with some individuals
11 who had joined them. I heard that some individuals who had joined them
12 were being trained there, but I didn't observe this myself.
13 Q. And as part of your duty to deal with morale and to monitor morale
14 in the units, first could you tell me if you were aware of Muslim
15 foreigners integrated into your unit.
16 A. No. There were never Muslim foreigners engaged in our unit.
17 There were no foreigners from other states either.
18 Q. How did you deal with the morale of the soldiers in your unit?
19 How did you go about dealing with it?
20 A. The question is a very general one and I can give you a general
21 answer. My task and the task of all officers as something I have already
22 mentioned was to continually monitor everything that had an effect on
23 combat morale in our unit. We had to monitor elements that had a positive
24 and negative effect on morale. Through other organs in the brigade, we
25 had to try and remove elements that had a negative effect on morale. We
1 had to emphasise what might have a positive effect on the morale of the
2 men when carrying out a combat task. So that's the only sort of answer I
3 can give you in response to the type of general question you put to me.
4 Q. In light of the fact that you were so deeply involved in the
5 training and the morale aspect of it, in your area of responsibility, did
6 you find or did you --
7 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I object to the
8 part of the question in which my learned colleague says that he was deeply
9 involved in training. In his testimony so far the witness never said that
10 he was involved in the training. He described his tasks and the training
11 plan that was drafted in the brigade and that was carried out by the
12 individuals referred to in the training plan.
13 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: My apologies.
14 Q. We will go back to the morale aspect of it then and tell me in
15 your opinion, did you come across soldiers with low morale, soldiers -- or
16 did you come across incidents of soldiers who had to be treated for low
17 morale, in particular soldiers who may have been committing offenses on
18 the outside? Did you come across any such instances?
19 A. We have to make a distinction between combat morale and the morale
20 that you are talking about. I was speaking about the combat morale of BH
21 army members, or rather men in my unit. I was talking about how motivated
22 they were to carry out combat tasks. I wasn't speaking about their moral
23 qualities as people or about their readiness to commit immoral acts. But
24 naturally, when attempting to ensure that combat morale was at an adequate
25 level, we tried to explain to our soldiers that they should behave in a
1 moral way when involved in combat tasks and when involved in operations of
2 various kinds.
3 Q. Thank you. You answered the question quite rightly, because I
4 thought both -- there was a nexus between both in order for it to operate
6 Now, my question has to do now with the foreigners who came
7 through Maline. And could you for the benefit of the Trial Chamber
8 explain to us or enlighten us as to what was the response in Maline to the
9 foreigners who came through Maline?
10 A. At one point you mentioned the foreigners who came to Maline. I
11 said that I and other people who lived in Maline only had the opportunity
12 of occasionally seeing foreigners passing through Maline and heading in
13 the direction of Travnik. Since they weren't active in the area that I
14 lived in, we can't really speak about population reacting to them in any
15 particular way in the area that I lived in and in the area where we
16 recruited men into the unit. So they passed through the settlement that I
17 lived in at the time, and the area in which I was a member of the unit I
18 have mentioned.
19 Q. I ask you this because you say -- earlier on you indicated that
20 the HVO was the army that was in control of Maline in June of 1993. And I
21 ask you this question was there's evidence to the effect that foreigners
22 had taken civilians out of Maline to a particular place. So my question
23 to you would be: If in fact you are correct that the HVO was the army in
24 control, would it --
25 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, perhaps my learned
1 colleague could be more specific because she has referred to evidence
2 according to which foreigners took civilians out of Maline. I don't think
3 it's necessary for me to suggest anything to the witness or confuse the
4 witness. But we know what sort of evidence we have about civilians
5 leaving Maline and about the people who took them or escorted them out of
6 Maline. We have heard a lot about this. So I would be grateful if my
7 learned colleague could rephrase the question in the light of the evidence
8 that has been presented before this Trial Chamber.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Benjamin, could you
10 reformulate, could you rephrase your question, please? The objective is
11 the same, but rephrase your question, please.
12 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: I'll try my best, Mr. President, but ...
13 Q. Sir, would you agree with me if I say that the HVO army, were they
14 the army that was in control, as you have alleged, on 8th June, 1993, in
15 Maline? If, as you say, the HVO was the army, would it be possible then
16 for foreigners to attack Croats in Maline or Gornje Maline or kidnap
17 Croats in Gornje Maline at that time? Or do you think that in your
18 opinion if the HVO was the army in control, that that would have been
20 A. I'm afraid I haven't been understood correctly. When I refer to
21 the 8th of June, I'm talking about the period of day during which the HVO
22 had control in Gornje Maline. And the army had control in Donje Maline on
23 the second part of the day, the second part of the day after the combat in
24 the early morning hours which lasted for a few hours. So in the second
25 part of the day, the BH army and its units established control over that
1 area, lifted the blockade of Donje Maline, and set off with its forces in
2 the direction of Guca Gora. In order to assist Krpeljici and
3 Velika Bukovica that had also been encircled and were requesting
4 assistance. So on the second part of -- in the second part of the 8th of
5 June, the HVO didn't have control over the area that we have been
6 referring to as Gornje Maline in this case.
7 Q. Thank you. And Donje Maline did not suffer -- or rather, did
8 Donje Maline suffer much damage in the combat? Would you say that
9 Gornje Maline suffered more?
10 A. Are we talking about the 7th or 8th of June? I'm not sure which
11 date you are referring to.
12 Q. Well, we're talking --
13 A. I apologise. There was fighting on the 7th of June when the HVO
14 attacked the army positions in the village of Maline. And on the
15 following day, on the 8th of June, combat operations were conducted in the
16 area. So on both days, damage was inflicted on buildings in Donje Maline
17 and in Gornje Maline. This could be seen in one of the documents that you
18 produced. Naturally, there were various comments in relation to this.
19 Q. And that precisely was my question to you. I wanted to find out
20 at the end of the combat which village had the most destroyed houses,
21 Donje Maline or Gornje Maline?
22 A. I think more houses were destroyed in Gornje Maline in the course
23 of the fighting during that two-day period.
24 Q. And you agree with me I'm sure if I say to you that the Croatian
25 civilians suffered more at the end of this combat?
1 A. Naturally after everything that had happened on that day, one must
2 be frank and say that it wasn't easy. And at that time, their situation
3 was worse than the situation the Bosniaks were in. But from that point in
4 time, the Bosniaks were in a worse position than the Croats, as said.
5 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: I think, Mr. President, that is -- could you
6 hold a second.
7 Mr. President, that's the -- that concludes the cross-examination.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
9 It's 25 past 12.00. We'll have our break now and we'll resume at
10 about 10 to 1.00 for Defence counsel's re-examination.
11 --- Recess taken at 12.27 p.m.
12 --- On resuming at 12.57 p.m.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Defence counsel, you may proceed
14 with your re-examination.
15 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
16 Re-examined by Ms. Residovic:
17 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Tarakcija, in response to a question put to
18 you by my learned colleague you said that you were in a battalion and
19 there was a brigade before you, in front of you and that meant they were
20 more powerful than you were. When you mentioned this, tell me whether you
21 were referring to the area of your battalion or were you referring to the
22 entire Bila Valley area?
23 A. I'll try and clarify this. In the area where the 2nd Mountain
24 Battalion of the 306th Brigade was located, there was an HVO brigade, the
25 Frankopan Brigade, which had its headquarters in Guca Gora. I could not
1 say how many men this brigade singled out for the combat operations it was
2 engaged in at the time in the inhabited places I mentioned. These places
3 were totally blocked by its forces. I couldn't say how these HVO units
4 were deployed. But I do know that all the inhabited places where the
5 2nd Mountain Battalion recruited its men, and this concerned six villages
6 in which Bosniaks lived. I do know that these villages were almost
7 totally encircled. As to how many men there were from that brigade
8 surrounding those places I have mentioned, I could not say.
9 Q. Apart from the facts that you had direct knowledge of and that
10 related to your battalion, did you know who in April and May held the
11 dominant positions, the elevations, throughout the Bila Valley. Who was
12 at those positions?
13 A. Yes. I knew that the HVO forces were at those positions. I could
14 see that myself.
15 Q. From that territory, was it possible to control the entire Bila
16 Valley or only parts of it from those positions or was it possible to
17 control the entire valley?
18 A. Well, I think that this made it possible to control about
19 two-thirds of the Bila Valley area.
20 Q. Tell me, at that time in April and May, did you know whether in
21 the Bila Valley territory in addition to the Frankopan Brigade forces,
22 were there any other HVO forces present there, in addition to the
23 Frankopan Brigade forces?
24 A. I didn't see them, but I heard from others that in the Bila area
25 or more specifically in the Guca Gora settlement, I heard that there were
1 people who were not from the area in addition to the Frankopan Brigade
2 forces. Some said that they saw some individuals who were not from the
3 Guca Gora area and they were wearing the insignia of the Croatian army.
4 This is not something I personally saw but this is what I was told.
5 Q. Do you know whether at that time in April and May 1993 the HVO had
6 better equipment and better weapons for combat?
7 A. Well, at the very beginning of the aggression against Bosnia and
8 Herzegovina, when compared to us, when compared to what we could attain at
9 the time, and given the embargo on providing weapons and given the
10 possibility that the HVO, the HVO had to obtain help from neighbouring
11 countries, we could see that they had better weapons and they could
12 provide their units with sufficient equipment and they could replenish
13 their units.
14 Q. When you were talking about your duty, the assistant commander for
15 moral guidance and pursuant to that my learned friend put a number of
16 questions to you. I'm asking you now whether the awareness of all your
17 men that they were facing the enemy who was better equipped and in better
18 position, was that an important factor for the morale and factor important
19 for your efforts when you tried to explain the situation to your men?
20 A. Obviously our troops knew that the HVO was much better equipped
21 and much better armed. However, regardless of the fact that we were in an
22 inferior position, we did not have a way out. There was no way out. We
23 had to motivate people. We had to defend our homes, our children, our
24 families. I don't know whether this is a good answer.
25 Q. Before this Chamber a military expert testified and provided his
1 expert report. He said that several factors have an impact on the morale
2 of units. Since you were engaged on those things, would you agree with
3 this expert?
4 A. Yes. There are a number of factors which may play a role -- may
5 play a negative or a positive role on -- in combat morale of units.
6 Q. I've just asked you about two facts. The first fact was better
7 equipment, and the second fact was the better position of the enemy.
8 Since you've already answered this question, could you please confirm that
9 these factors did have an impact on the morale of your men?
10 A. Yes, of course.
11 Q. You also said that some events in the Lasva Valley had an
12 influence on the entire area. Tell me, did these events reflect on the
13 morale of your fighters,? I'm primarily referring to the fact that the
14 enemy had committed crimes in the valley involving civilians and soldiers?
15 A. Yes, of course, it did have an impact on the overall situation in
16 the unit and the feelings of every individual person when they heard what
17 had happened in the neighbouring municipalities. This did have an impact
18 on the combat morale and the readiness to perform combat tasks.
19 Q. As a matter of fact, all of these elements that you have mentioned
20 so far, to which extent did they have an impact on discipline and to which
21 extent they required additional efforts from you to explain all that to
22 your men and to maintain discipline in your units?
23 A. Bearing in mind what was going on in the neighbouring
24 municipalities and in the territory where we were, the checkpoints that we
25 have mentioned, and bearing in mind what was going on at those checkpoints
1 which were set up by the HVO and all the humiliation that members of our
2 units suffered at the hands of the HVO and that their family members
3 suffered, all this caused certain problems in our ranks and in our effort
4 to reduce the tensions that existed, we had to invest a lot of effort,
5 everyday conversations with group and individuals. We had to persuade
6 them not to retaliate, not to behave in the way that would compound the
7 situation. I had to do everything possible to change the situation for
8 the better, to prevent the opening of a second front line since we already
9 had one very busy front line facing the Serbians and Montenegrins.
10 Q. At the end I would like to ask you this: Since you have mentioned
11 all of these factors that had an influence on the morale and all the
12 measures that you took in order to help your soldiers behave in accordance
13 with the rule of warfare, when you are looking at all these things from
14 this perspective, when you look back at the year 1993 and the
15 circumstances you faced at the time, did you do everything possible in
16 order to discipline your soldiers, in order to prevent the BiH army
17 members from committing crimes?
18 A. In the circumstances that we faced, I believe that an
19 individual -- I did everything I could, everything that my physical and
20 mental abilities enabled me to do to prevent members of my unit from doing
21 anything that wouldn't be in accordance with the rules you have just
22 mentioned. How successful I was I leave to the others to say. My
23 superiors were aware of my personal engagement. My other colleagues,
24 other officers also did everything possible. They invested a lot of
25 effort in accordance with their means and abilities to prevent and avoid
1 any crimes.
2 Q. This will be my last question. My learned friend asked you
3 whether your battalion and later on your brigade were parts of the
4 3rd Corps. From your point of view and from the position in which you
5 were in the year 1993, could you tell us whether this position that you
6 have just presented was also a requirement and an order that came to you
7 from the 3rd Corps of the BiH army that you belonged to?
8 A. There are a number of written and oral orders that came from our
9 superior commands and our superior officers, starting with the 3rd Corps,
10 the various brigades, battalions. And according to these orders, every
11 member of the BiH army should behave in the way that I have just
12 described. Those orders spoke to the effect that we should behave in the
13 way that we should, unlike those that had carried out this aggression
14 against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
15 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I have
16 no further questions.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The other Defence team.
18 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, we don't have any
19 questions for this witness.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I have a few questions to put to
21 you, but first I'm going to ask Mr. Registrar to provide the witness with
22 a map which was admitted into evidence yesterday. I would like the
23 witness to be shown this map. This is P137. Can you please put the map
24 on the ELMO.
25 Questioned by the Court:
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] This is a map of the region
2 around Maline. Could you please take a marker and show us where you were
3 on the day of the 8th of June.
4 A. Could you please zoom in or zoom out. I can't see too well.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We can see Maline in the
6 right-hand side corner. Where were you on the morning of the 8th of June?
7 A. Gornje Maline on this map --
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, we can see that. Where
9 were you, you yourself, where were you?
10 A. I was here, in this part of Donje Maline.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could you please be more
12 precise. Where were you? In which part of Maline were you, Donje Maline
13 that is? Don't write anything on the map, just show us.
14 A. The command post was here. I don't know whether the building
15 itself is here, but the command post was around here. So there was a
16 command post there.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Can you please show us where the
18 command post was.
19 A. I believe that it was in this part of Donje Maline.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well then. If I understand
21 you well, you have explained to us that Maline was encircled by the HVO.
22 Could you please show us on this map how Maline was encircled by the HVO.
23 Where were the HVO troops in the morning of the 8th of June?
24 A. The HVO forces were here, in this area here above Gornje Maline.
25 This was their defence line facing Mehurici. And then it descended to
1 Postinje. They also had their forces deployed in this part where Gornje
2 and Donje Maline are in contact. This is where they linked up and they
3 had a line in the direction of Guca Gora. I apologise. Just give me a
4 minute. So this is the line towards Guca Gora. I'm talking about their
5 deployment that I was aware of at the time. Obviously from the direction
6 of Guca Gora the HVO forces were here in front of the village.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well then. On the 8th of
8 June what time did you wake up? You were asleep and what time did you
9 wake up on the morning of the 8th of June?
10 A. Around 4.00 in the morning.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Where were you awake at 4.00 in
12 the morning?
13 A. Because I heard very loud shooting coming from all sides in that
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And the shooting, was it mortar
16 fire? Was it infantry weapons?
17 A. It was mostly from infantry weapons, small arms, but there was
18 also mortar shells being fired at the same time.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well then. I'm asking you
20 this because the mortar fire could be interesting. The mortar fire, where
21 did this come from? Where did the mortar shells come from? And who was
22 it who fired mortar shells?
23 A. At that time I didn't know who it was. In any case, fire came
24 from both sides, from the HVO positions and also from the positions at
25 which the combat took place above the village of Maline.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I believe that you, understand
2 that you had about 120 of your troops with you, members of your battalion.
3 Now, did any of you see where this fire was coming from?
4 A. In this situation when we could hear shooting coming from the
5 directions which we didn't control, the shooting came from the area above
6 Gornje Maline towards the direction of Mehurici, Vranjaca and from the
7 direction of Guca Gora. And since there was shooting opened on
8 Donje Maline and Guca Gora, we ordered fire to be opened from our
9 positions towards the positions of the HVO.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So this is the situation. It is
11 4.00 in the morning. There are mortar -- there's mortar fire. There's
12 shooting from all over the place. Did you have any means of communication
13 with your command post in Krpeljici? Did you inform them about this
14 shooting? Did you know what was going on? Were you aware of what was
15 going on?
16 A. The -- our only communication was via a Motorola radio which
17 didn't function too well between Maline and Krpeljici. But when we are in
18 a position to convey information on the events in Maline, we did it via
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When did you do it for the first
21 time, at what time?
22 A. In the early morning hours we were not in a position to convey
23 information on what was going on in Maline. We didn't communicate with
24 the battalion command. It was only maybe one or two hours later that we
25 managed to get in touch.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] At what time did you have your
2 first contact with the other officers that belonged to your unit, at what
4 A. Between 6.00 and 7.00 in the morning. We managed to establish
5 communication. I apologise, Mr. President. I apologise.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Was it you yourself who used the
7 Motorola in order to establish this contact?
8 A. Our communications man who was at the command post used a
9 communication means in Bandol. Bear in mind that the configuration of the
10 grounds was such that we could not communicate directly from Maline to
11 Krpeljici, so the communications man conveyed a message via Bandol
12 in -- and then the communications man in Bandol conveyed this message to
13 the battalion commander. We did not have any direct communication with
14 the battalion commander. At that moment --
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] At 6.00 you established contact.
16 Did you receive any orders in return?
17 A. At that moment we did not have any other orders. Our only order
18 was to defend ourselves under the circumstances and to try and protect the
19 settlement from the possible breakthrough of the HVO forces. At that
20 moment Bandol came under a fierce HVO attack and we only learned that when
21 once we established contact with the person who was in charge of those
22 things in the village of Bandol. At that time we did not have any other
23 orders. Our only order was to protect the village from the possible
24 attack. I am not sure that at this moment the command in Krpeljici had
25 the full picture of what was going on in Maline.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If you will allow me, it is 6.00
2 in the morning, you have a radio contact. And according to what you've
3 just said the HVO had encircled you. And during the course of this
4 morning, how were -- how did the situation develop? How did you regain
5 control of the area? What happened according to you? What allowed you to
6 regain the control from the HVO that had encircled you up to then? Can
7 you explain that to us.
8 A. Mr. President, I said that we had established contact between 6.00
9 and 7.00, and I can't be sure of the exact time. At that moment the HVO
10 forces which were deployed in the prominent elevations above both Donje
11 and Gornje Maline, and I'm talking about their positions facing Mehurici
12 and the forces which were deployed in the village itself and the forces
13 that were deployed facing Guca Gora, those forces opened fire on ours.
14 But we didn't know that the BiH army forces from the direction of Mehurici
15 were advancing in their attempt to lift the blockade from Velika Bukovica
16 and Krpeljici. The fighting between the army and the HVO was taking place
17 in Vranjaca. This was the first shooting we heard and this shooting then
18 moved across the whole line. We didn't know what was going on. We only
19 knew that there was shooting opened on Maline and on our line. This
20 shooting was opened -- this fire was opened by the HVO.
21 Later on their lines on the prominent elevations above Maline that
22 I've just pointed at on the map were taken by the BiH army, and the BiH
23 army forces which were moving from the direction of Mehurici, primarily
24 the 1st Battalion and the 4th Battalion, started advancing towards
25 Krpeljici, Velika Bukovica, and Guca Gora. And then at one point in time,
1 I don't know when, we received our task from the battalion commander. I
2 suppose that at that time he had learned that forces of the 1st and
3 4th Battalions were moving in order to lift the blockade, and he asked
4 from us in Maline to engage our forces in the attempt to take the
5 positions in the direction of Guca Gora.
6 Later on we managed to link up our forces with the troops from
7 Krpeljici and the troops of the 3rd Mountain Brigade -- Battalion from the
8 direction of Han Bila.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The forces, BiH forces, that
10 came from Mehurici, how come there was only the 1st and the 4th Battalions
11 of the 306th? Were there any other units, apart from those two battalions
12 that you've just mentioned?
13 A. As far as I know, the troops of the 1st and the 4th Mountain
14 Battalions of the 306th Brigade were given the task to lift the blockade
15 from the settlements that we have mentioned. I don't know whether there
16 were any other troops engaged in those combat operations. And I wouldn't
17 be able to say anything about that because I was not engaged on that axis.
18 The only thing I can talk about are the things that happened later on once
19 we managed to take those lines. I don't know what happened before that.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you received your orders to
21 start moving towards Guca Gora. You left your positions, your command
22 post. At what time did you start advancing towards Guca Gora? When was
24 A. I can't be sure of that. I can't be sure of the time, but I
25 believe that this was around 9.00 or 10.00, between 9.00 and 10.00. I
1 personally was already on the line that we had taken earlier on; this was
2 the line facing Guca Gora. And I asked from those who were in combat with
3 me to start moving other troops from Maline towards Guca Gora because the
4 combat was being transferred towards Guca Gora.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If I understood you well, at
6 around 9.00 or 10.00 you started moving towards Guca Gora, which means
7 that you must have had contacts with those what had arrived from Mehurici,
8 the 1st and the 4th Battalion. Did you see them or did you not see them?
9 You left for Guca Gora in a vehicle, as you have already told us. Did you
10 see your fellow fighters who had arrived from Mehurici? Did you or did
11 you not?
12 A. Mr. President, we're talking about the 8th of June, if I'm not
13 mistaken. I did not say that I took a vehicle on the 8th of June. I went
14 on foot because the distance between Maline and Guca Gora is only 2
15 kilometres. So I went on foot and I moved towards Guca Gora, the defence
16 line there, together with other men. At that time I did not have the
17 possibility to see anybody from the 1st and 4th Battalions because their
18 task was not to be active in that part where we were.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well then, you didn't see
21 In Maline, were there HVO troops and in those parts of Maline were
22 inhabited by Croats, were there any HVO troops?
23 A. You mean generally speaking, yes. Able-bodied men from
24 Gornje Maline were members from the HVO.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When you left Maline, did you
1 see HVO soldiers anywhere?
2 A. I did not see any HVO soldiers in that situation when we were
3 moving our troops, that is our unit -- when our unit was being moved
4 towards Guca Gora. I didn't see any HVO soldiers at the time.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Let me just summarise what
6 you've just told us. You have told us that at 4.00 in the morning on the
7 8th of June you were awoken by the sound of shooting. At that moment you
8 were able to observe shooting coming from all directions. At around 6.00
9 you established contact with the communications man who was able to
10 establish communication line. You sent a message that there was movement
11 of troops from Mehurici to Maline. And then you received orders to leave
12 for Guca Gora, and you left Maline around 9.00 on foot and you never saw
13 the reinforcement coming to Maline. And you did not see any HVO soldiers
14 in Maline. Is that what you've just told us? You didn't see anybody
15 surrender in Maline.
16 A. I couldn't see any of them because I did not move along the axis
17 where they were deployed.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] After these developments, were
19 you asked to submit a written report on what had happened on that day and
20 the day before? Were you asked to submit a written report on the state of
21 morale in light of the fact that there had been an attack? Were you asked
22 to submit a report.
23 A. Nobody asked me to submit such a report. I didn't submit such a
24 report because this situation was a situation of intense combat and in
25 such a situation it was not -- it would not have been possible to draft
1 such a report, even if it had been asked, because it would have taken
2 means and time for me to draft such a report and submit it to my command.
3 Obviously our estimation of the situation was based on oral reports to the
4 superior commands. I'm mainly talking about the 8th of June and the days
5 surrounding that date up to maybe the 15th of June. During that period of
6 time, we were not in a position to submit any written reports and send
7 them to our superior command. The system of command and control over our
8 unit was established only after the 15th of June.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Before the 8th of June, you did
10 not have any orders from your commanders regarding the possibility of an
11 HVO offensive or a BiH army offensive? You did not have any written
12 documents to that effect?
13 A. Given the blockades which were in place during that period in
14 question, I was not in the position to see any written orders that would
15 imply preparations for attacks or anything that an order of that sort
16 would imply. Because the battalion command was also blocked, the brigade
17 command was in three different localities, and we did not have any other
18 means of communications, save for that Motorola that I've already
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And I have two more minor
21 questions before I end. When you were in Maline, there were 120 men with
22 you. As far as the HVO forces in Maline are concerned, how many of them
23 were there? How many of them were there?
24 A. I couldn't say because we didn't estimate their numbers, and
25 naturally it wasn't possible for us to assess the strength of the HVO
1 forces at their defence lines that I indicated on the map.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] But we have the Maline map
3 before us. We can see that there are a series of houses there, and we
4 have upper Maline and lower Maline. We have been talking about the 8th of
5 June. On the 6th and 7th of June, could you walk around upper Maline
6 where HVO soldiers were present? Was it possible to move around Maline
7 before the 8th of June? Did you do so and did you go to upper Maline?
8 A. No. The blockade had already been established. The lines had
9 already been established by that date. And between the houses at the line
10 of contact between the Bosniak and Croatian part, it wasn't possible to
11 pass through those lines.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So they couldn't come to see you
13 and you couldn't go to see them because there was a demarcation line, a
14 line that separated you, and were there soldiers who were at the line
15 around the clock, at these lines?
16 A. Naturally there were men at the defence lines all the time. That
17 concerns our forces, and I assume the case was the same on the other side
18 because this could be observed from the positions that we held.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And one last question. If I
20 have understood you correctly. On the 4th of June they launched an
21 attack. Did you sustain any casualties? Were there any wounded men?
22 Because the HVO attack seems to have been a large-scale attack, so were
23 any men in your battalion wounded on that morning between 4.00 and 6.00 in
24 the morning?
25 A. Mr. President, are we talking about the 7th or the 8th of June?
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The 8th of June.
2 A. The 8th of June. On the 8th of June we had two lightly wounded
3 soldiers. They had been wounded in the course of the combat operation on
4 the 8th of June in the early morning hours.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
6 Does the Prosecution want to ask any further questions?
7 Ms. Henry-Benjamin, no questions?
8 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: I have just two questions for the witness,
9 Mr. President.
10 Further cross-examination by Ms. Henry-Benjamin:
11 Q. In response to the question by the Bench you indicated there was
12 shooting in Gornje Maline. But would you have observed if there was any
13 looting and burning in the area?
14 A. Naturally after the shooting broke out at the positions I have
15 mentioned around Maline, some buildings caught fire as a result of the
16 fighting. On the whole, I think the buildings concerned were in
17 Gornje Maline.
18 Q. When I speak of dwellings, houses, would you have noticed if there
19 were any houses on fire, burning, and if there might have been looting of
20 these properties?
21 A. Do you mean on the 8th of June or at any other time?
22 Q. On the 8th of June and perhaps a little later after, on the night
23 and the next morning?
24 A. On the 8th of June in the course of the fighting, some houses also
25 caught fire. I don't know how many. You have a list in the document.
1 This was a record compiled by the civilian protection. Some buildings
2 which could catch fire easily were on fire. Naturally, after all those
3 events in the following days there was looting, too. Looting occurred in
4 parts of the settlement that had been abandoned by Croats.
5 Q. And just one more question, sir. You indicated to the Bench that
6 there were blockades set up by the HVO. But I'm not sure if you said
7 earlier on in the testimony, and maybe you could clarify for us, did the
8 ABiH have blockades set up as well?
9 A. Earlier on I said that in the army we tried to warn our members
10 that they shouldn't retaliate in kind, that is to say they shouldn't set
11 up blockades. On the whole, the HVO members had checkpoints at certain
12 positions and later they blocked all inhabited places. As a result, we
13 had to establish a defence line facing them so that we could defend our
14 villages and its population.
15 Q. So from your response, am I correct in assuming that the ABiH also
16 had checkpoints in place? Am I correct?
17 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I notice that the
18 previous question, this question, has nothing to do with the questions
19 that you put to the witness.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. The question as directly
21 to what I asked the witness. The witness said in response to our
22 question, to my question, said that the village was separated into parts,
23 since there was the upper and the lower part. The HVO was in the upper
24 part and they were in the lower part. And there was a line that had been
25 established between the two parts. The Prosecution wants to know whether
1 there were checkpoints at this line. The witness can answer the question.
2 Witness, you have heard the question.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mr. President, there weren't
4 checkpoints there anymore. These defence lines had been fully established
5 on both sides. I wasn't referring to checkpoints that one would have to
6 pass through. There were defence lines and this meant that we had to
7 mount a defence if an attack was launched.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So there were no
9 checkpoints, it was a defence line. This question has helped us clarify
10 the matter.
11 Ms. Henry-Benjamin, any other questions?
12 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: None thank you, Mr. President.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Defence counsel.
14 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, in order to clarify
15 a few things, I'll just ask the witness several questions.
16 Further examination by Ms. Residovic:
17 Q. [Interpretation] On the 7th of June when Donje Maline was
18 attacked, who was in Donje Maline, the members of which army were there?
19 A. Members of the 2nd Mountain Battalion of the 306th Brigade were
20 there. In Donje Maline there were also members of the 312th Mountain
21 Brigade who were on leave with their families because their families had
22 been expelled from Vlasic, Karaula, and from other parts of Travnik
23 municipality. So the members of the 312th who were in Donje Maline on
24 leave with their families and they were under the blockade that I have
25 mentioned, they were there together with members of the 306th.
1 Q. Tell me, the 120 men you have mentioned, what sort of the weapons
2 did they have?
3 A. Infantry weapons. Not all of the men had the infantry weapons.
4 They would take turns to use it. And they also had the weapons that the
5 population had from before, for example, hunting weapons.
6 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, who was in control of Gornje Maline on the 7th of
7 June? Which army had full control over Gornje Maline?
8 A. Are we talking about the 7th of June?
9 Q. Yes.
10 A. The HVO forces had control there.
11 Q. This is something you have already clarified in response to a
12 question put to you by the Chamber. On the 7th of June a combat line had
13 already been established between the villages. Is that correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Could you please tell me, when the Presiding Judge put a question
16 to you, you said that in the afternoon on the 8th of June you were heading
17 in the direction of Guca Gora. Tell me, when did you yourself drive
18 through Guca Gora? When was the first time you did this after the combat
19 operations on the 8th of June?
20 A. I think it was on the 10th of June.
21 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, on the 8th, on the 9th, and on the 10th while you
22 were in the area, did you at any time enter the area of Gornje Maline?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Earlier on in response to a question I put to you, you said that
25 the first time you entered Gornje Maline was after 20 or 25 days. Was
1 that what you said?
2 A. Yes, more or less.
3 Q. You also said that later certain property was looted. Tell me,
4 when you arrived there 20 or 25 days after the 8th of June, was that the
5 first time you found out about the looting of property from abandoned
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'd like to point out to the
8 Defence that I asked no questions about looting. Please restrict your
9 questions to the 8th of June. I didn't ask any questions about looting.
10 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. President. But my
11 learned colleague did ask such a question, so I thought it would be good
12 for the witness to clarify his answer.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please answer the question very
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Naturally, when I was in
16 Gornje Maline during that period I noticed that houses in which Croats had
17 lived had been looted.
18 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation].
19 Q. My last question: Do you know who was involved in the looting and
20 who controlled and protected the buildings at the time in your area?
21 A. I didn't know who the perpetrators were, but I knew that the
22 civilian police, the Ministry of the Interior, was responsible for
23 controlling the area that had been left by the Croatian inhabitants.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
25 Defence counsel?
1 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] I have just one question.
2 Further cross-examination by Mr. Ibrisimovic:
3 Q. Mr. Tarakcija, you said that the 1st and 4th Battalion of the
4 306th had to lift the blockade in the direction of Mehurici? They had to
5 go from Mehurici towards Maline?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Is it correct that the 1st and 4th Battalion of the 306th Brigade
8 carried out that task?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Thank you.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
12 I would like to thank you for having come to testify here. We
13 wish you a good trip home and I will ask the usher to escort you out of
14 the courtroom.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you. I hope I have been of
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We have a few more minutes.
18 Tomorrow we will be sitting at 9.00 and we have another witness scheduled
19 for tomorrow. Thank you and I will see everyone here tomorrow at 9.00.
20 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.47 p.m.,
21 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 18th day of
22 November, 2004, at 9.00 a.m.