1 Monday, 22 November 2004
2 [Open session]
3 --- Upon commencing at 3.00 p.m.
4 [The accused entered court]
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Madam Registrar, could you call
6 the case number, please.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Case Number IT-01-47-T, the Prosecutor versus
8 Enver Hadzihasanovic and Amir Kubura.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Madam Registrar.
10 Could we have the appearances for the Prosecution.
11 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon,
12 Your Honours, counsel, and everyone in and around the courtroom. For the
13 Prosecution, Daryl Mundis. I am assisted today by our intern, Lisa
14 Hartog, and our case manager, Mr. Andres Vatter.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could we have the appearances
16 for the Defence.
17 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Good day, Mr. President, good day,
18 Your Honours. On behalf of General Hadzihasanovic, Edina Residovic,
19 Muriel Cauvin, our legal assistant, and Alexis Demirdjian, our legal
20 assistant. Thank you.
21 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Good day, Your Honours. On
22 behalf of Mr. Amir Kubura, Rodney Dixon, Fahrudin Ibrisimovic and Nermin
23 Mulalic, our legal assistant.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I would like to great everyone
25 present today on the 22nd of November. I'd like to greet the Prosecution,
1 Defence counsel, the accused, and Madam Registrar who is back with us now
2 after a long break. I would also like to greet everyone else present. We
3 are starting 45 minutes late because of problems we had in bringing the
4 accused here for reasons I am not familiar with. We'll try to make up the
5 time lost. If there are no particular issues to be raised, we'll bring
6 the witness into the courtroom. Could the usher please fetch the witness.
7 [The witness entered court]
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Good day. I'd first like to
9 make sure that you're receiving the interpretation of what I am saying.
10 If so, please say that you can hear and understand me.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can hear and understand you.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You've been called here as a
13 witness for the Defence. Before you take the solemn declaration, I would
14 be grateful if you can tell me your first and last names, your date and
15 place of birth.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I name is Fikret Cuskic. I was born
17 on the 29th of February, 1956, in Trnopolje, Prijedor municipality, in
18 Bosnia and Herzegovina.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. Are you currently
20 employed and, if so, what is your job?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm not employed. I'm a pensioner.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In 1992 and 1993 did you hold a
23 position of any kind? Did you have a job? If so, what kind of job did
24 you have? And if you were a member of the military, which unit were a
25 member of and what rank did you have at the time?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] By profession I am an officer. In
2 1991, in September, I left the JNA, and afterwards I was an officer of the
3 Croatian army. I was an officer in the Croatian army. And in 1992, in
4 July, I was with a volunteer unit formed in the Republic of Croatia. And
5 with that unit, I arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Bosnia and
6 Herzegovina I was a brigade commander. That was in 1992 and 1993.
7 Towards the end of 1993, I became the commander of the Bosanska Krajina
8 operations group in addition to having the post of a regular commander.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Did you have a rank of any kind
10 as an officer?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In 1991 on the 20th of July, I
12 fulfilled all the legal conditions to become a major in the JNA. And I
13 was suggested for this rank by the command. I was suggested to be given
14 this rank. But on the 16th of September, 1991, I never -- I left the JNA,
15 so I never used that rank. In 1992 there were no ranks in the BH army, so
16 that was only in December. I think it was on the 23rd of December, 1993,
17 that I became a brigadier in the BiH army.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Have you already testified about
19 the events that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 and 1993,
20 either before an international or a national court? Or is this the first
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I have never testified before an
23 international court. And in Bosnia and Herzegovina I have testified
24 before the state court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I was called as a
25 witness for the Prosecution in the Meqtauf [phoen] case.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You were called as a witness in
2 the Meqtauf case. Was this during the trial or during the pre-trial
4 THE WITNESS: Yes.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. Could you please
6 read out the 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 sit down.
10 I'd like to provide you with some information. But first of all,
11 how would you like to be addressed, as mister or my general? What form of
12 address would you prefer?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Mister, but I was a brigadier, that
14 was the last rank I had.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. You prefer to be
16 called mister. You will first have to answer questions put to you by
17 Defence counsel. They will be examining you today and perhaps tomorrow.
18 According to the schedule we have, you will be testifying for a two-day
19 period. After Defence counsel has completed their examination-in-chief,
20 the Prosecution to your right will also ask you questions. They will
21 conduct their cross-examination. After that stage, Defence counsel may
22 ask you additional questions. The three Judges sitting before you may ask
23 you questions at any point in time, but as a rule the Judges prefer
24 waiting for the parties to complete their examination -- cross-examination
25 before asking you questions. If Judges ask the witness questions, the
1 parties may ask additional questions after the Judges' questions. Usually
2 Judges ask questions to clarify a witness's answers, either because the
3 Judge believes that there are certain gaps that need to be filled.
4 You will notice that the questions put to you by the Defence will
5 be different from those put to you by the Prosecution or by the Judges.
6 Try to provide concise answers and clear answers to the questions put to
7 you. You may not be familiar with this but we don't have any written
8 documents concerning your testimony, which is why your oral answers are so
9 important. If you don't understand a question, ask the person putting it
10 to you to rephrase it.
11 I would also like to point out that as you have taken the solemn
12 declaration you have said you will speak the truth and this means you
13 should not give false testimony. False testimony constitutes an offence
14 and it is an offence that is punishable.
15 Secondly, you will have to answer the questions put to you by both
16 parties, but when providing an answer if you think that your answer might
17 contain information that could be used to prosecute you at a subsequent
18 date, in such a case you can refuse to answer the question. But in such
19 an exceptional case which never the less may occur, the Trial Chamber can
20 compel you to answer the question. However, you are granted a form of
21 immunity and your answer can't be used against you. So roughly speaking,
22 this is how we will be proceeding today.
23 But I would like to ask you something else. You have told us that
24 you testified as a witness of the Prosecution in the Meqtauf case. When
25 testifying in this case, were you granted any particular protective
1 measures? Did you testify in public or did the Prosecution grant you
2 protective measures of any kind?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, look, the Meqtauf trial hasn't
4 started yet. It will be on the 16th of December. I gave a statement in
5 the pre-investigative phase. That's the situation.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So at the moment you -- you
7 should know that I can ask for this issue concerning your testimony in the
8 Meqtauf case to be deleted from the transcript, from the recording. If
9 you would like such measures to be taken you can ask for these measures to
10 be taken.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's not necessary.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
13 In that case, I will now give the floor to Defence counsel who
14 will add some more information to what I am saying.
15 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
16 WITNESS: FIKRET CUSKIC
17 [Witness answered through interpreter]
18 Examined by Ms. Residovic:
19 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Cuskic, may I address you as General since
20 I'm used to addressing you in this way?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Thank you.
23 The Presiding Judge has provided you with a lot of information
24 about these proceedings, but I would like to ask you to pause after I put
25 a question to you. Since we speak the same language, it is necessary for
1 my question and your answer to be interpreted to enable everyone in the
2 courtroom to follow you. This is why I would be grateful if you could
3 make a brief pause after I have put my question to you. Have you
4 understood me?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. You said that you were a professional officer. Could you please
7 tell me something about your educational background. Which schools have
8 you completed?
9 A. I completed the military secondary school in 1975 -- in 1979 in
11 Q. General, could you tell us about the last position you had in the
12 JNA and which duties do you have at the time?
13 A. The last position -- the official position I had was in the
14 Varazdin garrison in the 30 -- 32nd [as interpreted] Mechanised Brigade.
15 I was a commander of a mechanised battalion in that unit.
16 Q. You told us when you left the JNA. Could you please tell us why
17 you left the JNA.
18 A. The main reason -- to be frank, there were a number of reasons,
19 but the main one was that I became convinced it was no longer the JNA, it
20 was no longer a Yugoslav army. It had become something else. Given the
21 conflict in the former Yugoslavia, this army sided with one people instead
22 of remaining the army of all the peoples in Yugoslavia. This army became
23 a Serbian army, and that's why I left it.
24 Q. General, where did you go on that occasion, and did you join
25 another army?
1 A. I remained in Varazdin. And as of the 1st of December, 1991, I
2 became a member of the reserve forces of the Croatian army in the 1st
3 Mechanised Brigade in Varazdin. And on the 10th of January, 1992, I
4 signed a professional agreement and started performing the duties of the
5 command of an armoured mechanised battalion which was responsible for
6 training all the members of the tank corps in the Croatian army.
7 Q. How long did you remain in the Croatian army, and why, and when
8 did you leave the army?
9 A. Let me just clarify this since the answer will be complex. I
10 stayed in the Croatian army until the 31st of December, 1992, officially.
11 But in mid-May the headquarters of the Croatian army authorised me to go
12 to Bosnia and Herzegovina. And in the territory of Croatia, I was able to
13 organise volunteers. In June and July, I gathered volunteers from Western
14 Europe, Bosnian citizens. I trained them in Klana, near Rijeka. I quit
15 the unit. And then on the 8th of July I entered Bosnia and Hercegovina
16 together with the unit. But officially, in legal terms, I was still a
17 member of the Croatian army. I received a salary up until the new year
18 between 1992 and 1993.
19 Q. When you reached Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Bosnian
20 volunteers, did you join the defence and where did you participate in
21 combat operations?
22 A. I formed the unit in accordance with an order from the supreme
23 command staff in Sarajevo. Sefer Halilovic issued the order and that's
24 how I reached Bosnia. I first went into action in the Gorazde/Igman area.
25 Was to lift the blockade of Igman. This was in the second half of July,
1 and I participated with the unit in the liberation of Trnovo in 1992, in
2 August 1992. And afterwards, as ordered by Mr. Halilovic, I and the unit
3 went to the Travnik sector. Since you are familiar with the situation
4 concerning Prijedor, Banja Luka, and Bosanska Krajina. There were a lot
5 of refugees in the area, and there was the 1st Krajina unit in Travnik,
6 and we wanted to help our area, and this is why we have been provided with
7 authorisation to relocate in the territory of the municipality of Travnik.
9 Q. When did you arrive in Travnik and where did you find
10 accommodation for yourself and your unit?
11 A. I arrived in Travnik on the 21st of August. And I think the unit
12 arrived there on the 25th of August. The municipal staff in Travnik
13 provided me with the school in Han Bila as a temporary base. This was
14 just a base. But we were involved in operations in the area between
15 Karaula and Jajce. That was after the 5th of September we were engaged in
16 combat operations in that area.
17 Q. Who was your superior commander at that time, General, or your
18 superior command rather?
19 A. My superior command was the sector staff in Zenica.
20 Q. General, could you please briefly explain to us what was the
21 general and military situation in Travnik towards the end of August 1992
22 when you came there with your unit?
23 A. I would like to share with you some of my thoughts of the general
24 situation in the territory of Travnik municipality. The situation
25 bordered on chaos and it is a bit of an understatement when I say that.
1 There were tens of thousands of refugees in Travnik, mostly Bosnians who
2 had been expelled from their homes. They either stayed in Travnik, or
3 Travnik was just a transit point for them. It was a humanitarian
4 disaster. There was a lack of everything. It was very difficult to
5 provide these people with any humanitarian aid because the area was
6 completely blocked. Roads to Herzegovina were bad and overburdened. And
7 the other territory was controlled by Serbs. That is why it was very
8 difficult to feed people.
9 As far as the military situation is concerned, it was very
10 complicated. Jajce was still free and its defence was recruited from the
11 territory of Travnik municipality. There was a pocket or a corridor,
12 rather, which went through Turbe and Karaula, through a forest in Kruscica
13 and Ledice [phoen] all the way up to Jajce. At a great risk, Jajce could
14 be helped to a certain extent. When I say "risk," I mean that this
15 corridor was not more than 2 or 300 metres wide at places.
16 On the other hand, the military organisation at that time was in
17 its initial stages. There were a number of various military structures
18 co-existing in the same area. There were HVO units, there were HOS units,
19 there were Territorial Defence units, and there were also some MOS
20 units. Not many, however, there were some. In the areas of defence
21 facing the Chetniks, the areas covered were very small and fragmented.
22 The defence lines were very long and not conducive to successful defence.
23 Let me share an example with you. For example, the front line
24 around Jajce was about 136 kilometres long. And it was manned by the
25 Territorial Defence by a unit which was the size and the strength of a
1 detachment. I don't know about HVO units, but those were also very small
2 and fragmented during that period of time. The most tragic thing and the
3 saddest thing of all was that Territorial Defence units were not equipped.
4 Only a very small percentage of men had infantry weapons. There were no
5 communications means. There were no transport means that would serve for
6 manoeuvres. The overall logistic situation was extremely difficult.
7 And one more thing that I would like to mention which is very
8 important was the issue of staff. I am referring to the quality of staff.
9 The staff were not up to the situation. They were not in the position to
10 conduct the operations that were taking place. I am particularly
11 referring to the lower levels, company commanders, detachment commanders.
12 Q. General, in such a situation that you have just described for us
13 very succinctly, but also very well, as a legitimate army of Bosnia and
14 Herzegovina, the Territorial Defence should have mobilised all citizens of
15 Bosnia and Herzegovina. Tell me, what was the composition of your brigade
16 at that time?
17 A. The composition of my brigade was very specific. During that
18 period of time my brigade was composed almost exclusively of volunteers.
19 I'm talking about the 7th Brigade of the BiH army. We had about 320 men
20 all together who came from some 60 municipalities of Bosnia and
21 Herzegovina but most predominantly from Bosanska Krajina. They had
22 arrived from 13 different European countries. And together with me, they
23 arrived in Bosnia. In our unit we also had some Croats who hailed from
24 the territory of Bosanska Krajina. The percentage more or less reflected
25 the composition and make-up of the population in the territory from which
1 most of the members of my unit came.
2 Q. Since there was general mobilisation, when you arrived in Travnik
3 could you notice that there was an equal response to the call-up by
4 Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs, or rather was the situation different?
5 A. The Territorial Defence was mostly replenished from the ranks of
6 Bosniaks. There were some members of the Territorial Defence who were
7 educated, who were former officers, who joined the Territorial Defence of
8 Bosnia and Herzegovina. For example, the late Major Mihajlo Petrovic who
9 is -- who was a native of Serbia. However, he remained in Bosnia and
10 Herzegovina and was the commander of the Vlasic detachment which was part
11 of the Territorial Defence of Travnik.
12 Q. What about the Croatian population? What units did they join?
13 A. They mostly joined the HVO.
14 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, during my
15 examination-in-chief I would like to use some documents. I would kindly
16 ask for this binder to be given to be witness. We have ample copies for
17 the Trial Chamber, for the registry, and for our learned friends in the
18 courtroom. I apologise. Let me just wait for the binders to be
19 distributed across the courtroom.
20 Q. General, you've told us that there were other units from the
21 territory of Krajina there mostly composed of persons who had been
22 expelled from Krajina. What units were those?
23 A. There was the 1st Krajina Battalion in the Travnik barracks. At
24 the beginning of November, it was transformed into the 1st Krajina
25 Brigade. Its core was established in Zagreb in May. It arrived in
1 Travnik in June, and it was given the barracks as their headquarters.
2 Q. Can you please look at the documents under the title "The 17th
3 Krajina Brigade," numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. Tell me, please, do you know
4 what these documents are about, what they are regarding?
5 A. These are orders to establish the 1st Krajina Battalion. They
6 were issued by the Main Staff of the armed forces of Bosnia and
7 Herzegovina. The second document is the order regulating its combat use,
8 and it says that it will be under the command of the sector staff in --
9 the regional staff in Zenica.
10 Q. For the record I would like to say that these documents are number
11 0432, 0466, 0458, and 0493.
12 General, you may proceed. These documents are documents
13 testifying to the organisation and the use of those Krajina units that you
14 found in Travnik, or when you arrived there. Am I right?
15 A. Yes. The 1st Krajina Battalion, and in November it became the 1st
16 Krajina Brigade. There is also a document on the establishment and a
17 document regulating the combat use of that unit.
18 Q. General, during that period of time did you participate in any
19 combat operations? What problems did the defence of Travnik face when --
20 after Jajce fell?
21 A. I have already said that on the 6th of September, 1992, we had our
22 first combat operations as the 7th Brigade of the BiH army. And this was
23 between Karaula and Jajce. The next combat operation was on the 13th of
24 October due to a very difficulty situation in Jajce on the order of the
25 regional staff of the Territorial Defence. We were engaged. This was
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 requested by Jajce. We were engaged in the defence of Jajce. I remember
2 Commander Blazevic. He was the commander of the HVO in Jajce. He was
3 engaged in combat. The situation in Jajce deteriorated by the day because
4 the Army of Republika Srpska was engaged in a very well-planned combat
5 operations with a view to taking Jajce. The fragmented forces of the
6 Territorial Defence and the HVO could not put up any defence against those
7 efforts. And in psychological sense, and in operational sense, this all
8 had an impact on the defence of Travnik.
9 A particular difficult situation was felt after the fall of Jajce.
10 A total of 35.000 people all of a sudden poured into the territory of
11 Travnik municipality. And the most difficult thing of all was the fact
12 that when Jajce fell, to this very day the withdrawal of the HVO from
13 Jajce remains a mystery. All of a sudden over night without any
14 announcement, they withdrew so that the Territorial Defence forces
15 remained. And there on they were left out in the cold and they were
16 forced to retreat from Jajce. And this had a long-term impact on the
17 future relationship between the former allies.
18 Q. Did your 7th unit become engaged in another important operation at
19 the access or route to the town of Travnik?
20 A. Yes. The regional staff commander ordered that the unit become
21 fully engaged in the defence of Karaula. This is a big village before
22 Turbe and Jajce. And I personally was appointed, or designated as the
23 commander of the Karaula detachment. However, in spite of incredible
24 efforts to try to defend that area, we failed. And Karaula fell on the
25 15th of November, 1992.
1 Q. After the fall of Karaula, were there any organisational changes
2 in the BH army? And if there were any such changes, what kind of changes
3 took place?
4 A. At the time there were many significant changes. They were very
5 significant in terms of strategy. There was the decision on the formation
6 of the 3rd Corps, encircled Banja Luka Corps, with its temporary base in
7 Zenica and brigades were formed in the zone of responsibility of the 3rd
8 Corps. So the defence forces became more substantial. And the conditions
9 were created to develop all elements of the system of defence in the zone
10 of responsibility of the 3rd Corps. And this would make it possible to
11 have a better system of command and control. And it would be possible to
12 use 3rd Corps units more efficiently.
13 Q. General, tell me, at the time did you assume any duties? If so,
14 what duties did you assume and how long did you perform the duties?
15 A. As I have already said, after the fall of Jajce the situation in
16 Travnik was chaotic, and this had an effect on the 7th and the 1st Krajina
17 and on the refugees because morale was bad and men who were able-bodied
18 would disappear. And in order to bring units up to strength, in order to
19 strengthen the system of command and control and make units were
20 efficient, a decision was taken to form Krajina Brigade. So on the 25th
21 of November, 1992, the 17th Krajina Brigade with its headquarters in
22 Travnik was formed. It was based in the Travnik barracks, and I became
23 the commander of that brigade. I performed those duties until the 7th of
24 April, 1994. But for the last six months, from the end of 1993, in
25 addition to having those duties I was also the commander of the Bosanska
1 Krajina operations group.
2 Q. General, which other BH army units, as far as you know, were
3 formed at the end of 1993 in Travnik, with a command post in Travnik?
4 A. In the town of Travnik itself, the 17th Krajina had a command
5 post, the 312th local Travnik Brigade had a command post, and the 1st
6 Battalion of the 7th Muslim Brigade also had a command post in Travnik.
7 In the territory of the Travnik municipality there was a 306th Brigade and
8 its command post was in Rudnik administration building in Han Bila. It
9 wasn't in the town of Travnik itself.
10 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness please be asked to slow down.
11 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Tell me as far as these newly formed units of the BH army are
13 concerned, were they up to strength? What sort of officers did they have?
14 What sort of equipment? What sort of weapons? Were any changes made or
15 did the situation remain such as it was in the Territorial Defence as you
16 just described it?
17 A. With the formation of the 3rd Corps command the conditions were
18 created for solving the problems present in the Territorial Defence. So,
19 for example, at my request as the brigade commander, the command of the
20 3rd Corps and some of the reserve forces were transferred from other units
21 in order to become members of my units. So it was possible to move
22 officers from one municipality to another, from one unit to another.
23 Secondly, as far as the logistics of the BH army is concerned, the
24 situation became better, it improved. So far the units had to rely on War
25 Presidencies for logistics supplies. And on occasion, the War
1 Presidencies would also command Territorial Defence units. This was no
2 longer the case. So the chain of command, the system of control, became
3 strengthened. The corps commander had authority, he had the right to
4 command all the units within the 3rd Corps. So these positive changes
5 were soon felt. The system of command and control became more efficient
6 as well as combat readiness, as well as the logistics supplies, and chain
7 of information, standards, et cetera, all improved. And in the territory
8 there were elements that provided command and control. Discipline was
9 better, there were many other elements. But I can't go into all the
10 details, however everything improved.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could you please slow down a bit
12 because the interpreters are finding it a little difficult to follow you.
13 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. In view of these positive developments, General, could you tell
15 us: If you compared today the situation of the BH army before the 3rd
16 Corps was created, with the situation a year later in 1993, as an officer,
17 could you say how much progress was made as far as creating an army in
18 that area is concerned?
19 A. Well, yes. In spite of the fact that that was perhaps the most
20 difficult period for the ABiH and especially for the 3rd Corps, it's my
21 personal belief that during that period much progress was made as far as
22 the construction and development of the ABiH is concerned.
23 Q. When you became brigade commander, the commander of the 17th
24 Krajina Brigade, could you tell us what your main combat and military
25 tasks were. As a commander, what tasks did you have and what duties did
1 you have to perform as a commander?
2 A. Well, my tasks were the tasks of a brigade commander and I was
3 responsible for subordinate units, for subordinate units, for the correct
4 use of subordinate units. And as far as engaging in combat is concerned,
5 bear in mind the specific structure of the 17th Krajina Brigade, which was
6 mainly composed of volunteers and refugees, so they didn't have their own
7 local territorial area, we became a manoeuvre brigade within the 3rd Corps
8 and we were engaged in all areas of the BH battlefield whenever the need
9 arose. So we would take on such tasks, because in spite of our desire to
10 get Bosanska Krajina back, we thought that the shortest way wasn't perhaps
11 the best way to get Bosanska Krajina back. So we got involved in the deep
12 blockade of Sarajevo and in helping other BH army units, and sometimes we
13 got involved in helping units that weren't involved in the 3rd Corps.
14 Q. General, please have a look at document 5. Have a look at item 1.
15 The date on the document is the 10th of December, 1992.
16 A. Sorry. Which binder is it in? Which section?
17 Q. It's in the first section, 17th Krajina Brigade.
18 A. Number 5?
19 Q. Yes. The Prosecution number is P403.
20 Could you tell me what item 1 means? In item 1 the tasks of the
21 commander of units in given areas are assigned. What sort of
22 responsibilities -- what sort of military responsibilities does a
23 commander in a given zone have?
24 A. This is a document from the 3rd Corps commander. The purpose is
25 to engage the units of the 3rd Corps in a planned manner. They are to
1 make subordinate units and commanders responsible for ensuring that
2 certain areas in the zone of responsibility of the 3rd Corps are stable,
3 certain areas where they faced the Chetniks. And they're responsible for
4 taking measures for liberating given areas. As a brigade commander, I can
5 plan the defence in that zone, I can plan future combat operations in
6 order to liberate territory in the zone of combat operations.
7 Q. Who did you have command and control over in that zone?
8 A. I commanded my own unit and perhaps another unit assigned to me.
9 For example, it says the 17th Mountain Brigade with the 1st Sabotage
10 Detachment. So I have control over these units. But according to the
11 standards of the former JNA and according to the rules of combat that we
12 followed, it was my responsibility to act within the zone and to develop
13 cooperation with all the organs of power, with the police, with commercial
14 enterprise, with the civilian protection. And it was also my
15 responsibility to cooperate with my left and right neighbour. So as a
16 unit commander in a given zone of responsibility, these were the
17 responsibilities that I had.
18 Q. Did the BH army units ever take full control over the territory
19 they were present in, or was the situation different? Who had power over
20 that area?
21 A. Well, look, the ABiH was under the civilian command of the BH
22 Presidency. And as soldiers we had been trained and we were loyal to the
23 civilian command. So General Hadzihasanovic received an order from Sefer
24 Halilovic and later from General Delic. And I received orders from
25 General Alagic later on. But as to taking over power, well, we can't
1 speak about that. The Civilian organs of power had power. But the power
2 had been divided between the HVO and the SDA on the other side. It
3 depended on the situation in certain municipalities. That's how the
4 situation went.
5 Q. Thank you. You mentioned the serious problems that the ABiH had
6 to face, mostly legitimate defence forces in the country. So could you
7 please have a look at document number 6 and could you tell me: Since your
8 brigade is referred to and other brigades as well whether this document
9 reflects some of the problems that commanders had to face, some of the
10 problems they had to deal with in those very complicated situations. The
11 document is Prosecution Exhibit P330.
12 A. Well, this is a record from a briefing that we had, a briefing
13 with brigade -- with the brigade and the district defence staff. I can't
14 remember the subjects discussed at the briefing but it's an authentic
15 document and it reflects the situation and most of the problems that we
16 had to face in December 1992. And this is characteristic of the 17th as I
17 have already said. It was composed of volunteers from Bosniaks who were
18 from Western Europe, and of refugees from the territory of Bosanska
19 Krajina. On the whole these were people who had lost everything and this
20 was the only solution for them. In December 1992 in the 17th Krajina
21 Brigade, most people had only completed six classes of primary school and
22 I think that this shows how difficult the situation was. In terms of
23 command and control in such units we had to make great efforts in order to
24 ensure that everything functioned properly.
25 Q. Thank you. Let's now go back to some of the problems that you
1 mentioned and some of the problems you faced after the fall of Jajce when
2 there were certain misunderstandings as a result of the way in which the
3 HVO had behaved in the course of those fights. Tell me, after that event
4 were there any excesses, were there any incidents, were there any clashes?
5 Did the HVO attack any ABiH units at the time?
6 A. Well, look, incidents or axes, well, there were such things even
7 before. Because in such a territory if you have two armies which aren't
8 under a single command, incidents are inevitable. I personally thought
9 that a conflict would break out because throughout history this has been
10 the case. I'll just tell you about what I myself experienced.
11 Often I would go to Croatia to visit my family who had remained in
12 Varazdin. My combatants would return from medical treatment from London,
13 Slovenia, Croatia. They would return from a leave that they had spent
14 with their family, and often they would be maltreated at HVO checkpoints.
15 Their equipment would be seized, their food would be taken from them at
16 checkpoints. And they would be -- or men would be imprisoned and beaten
17 up. This was especially the case in the Tomislavgrad area. Combatants of
18 mine would be stopped, beaten up, imprisoned for no reason. And it was
19 their greatest satisfaction to fight -- to beat up combatants from my unit
20 who were of Croatian nationality. For example, Toma Kunovski and Mirko
21 Dandic. I think Jajce fell on 20th of October, and there were even more
22 serious incidents. There was a conflict in Novi Travnik on the 25th or
23 26th of October. There was an attack on Prozor and Bosniaks were expelled
24 from Prozor. Almost everything -- all Bosniak property in Prozor was
25 burned. So the fall of Jajce only made the situation in Central Bosnia
1 worse. Because, you know, there is Gornji and Donji Vakuf near Prozor.
2 That was the situation.
3 Q. The HVO was your proclaimed ally in fighting the JNA and the
4 Serbian forces. Did they jointly participate in combat operations
5 especially when it came to the deep blocking of the capital Sarajevo? Did
6 they participate in those combat activities together with you?
7 A. The only cooperation in combat that we had with the HVO was in the
8 territory of Jajce municipality. As we were billeted in the Travnik
9 barracks when I learned about the defence of Travnik and I was engaged
10 with part of my units in the territory of Bijeli Buc, which was in the
11 territory of Turbe. I had a situation that 90 per cent of the lines
12 facing the Chetniks were held by the BiH army. Almost everything except
13 for one small area in Vlasic plateau where the HVO was truly on the front
14 lines, all the rest of the lines in Travnik municipality were held by the
15 Territorial Defence, later on the Travnik Brigade.
16 The HVO already at that time had their own defence lines which
17 were behind our backs from Ocena [phoen] towards Gradina and Turbe. What
18 was the objective of that, I really don't know. There was no military
19 justification for that. As for the de-blocking of the town of Sarajevo,
20 the HVO did not want to participate in that, they didn't want to help us
21 in any shape or form. I would even say that they aggravated the situation
22 and I'm going to give you some examples. When my battalion was marching
23 towards Sarajevo, we stopped at the Kaonik checkpoints and there we were
24 ill-treated. The unit was 5 or 600 units strong and they pretended they
25 needed some more approvals on top of all the things we had.
1 I apologise, I'll try to slow down for the interpreters.
2 I apologise. I didn't finish. And during combat activities my
3 brigade was engaged by the Territorial Defence as staff, not only in order
4 to de-block Sarajevo, but to help Sarajevo towards the end of December and
5 later on for the next two or three months. And very often we thought that
6 our successes would have been greater if the HVO were to allow us to go
7 through the territory of Kokoska in the depth of the Chetnik territory.
8 However, they never allowed us to do that. On the contrary, they would
9 make our soldiers waste time and lose their lives in the territories that
10 were mined on the contact zones.
11 Q. Now, as we're talking about the relationship with the HVO, can you
12 please look at documents numbered 1 to 8. These are DH36, DH35, new
13 number 0459, 0490, 0596, 0609, 0645. For the record, I have just read out
14 the numbers of the documents that I've asked the witness to have a look
16 I'm going to ask you a few questions about these documents,
17 General. General, these are HVO documents. Have you ever seen them
18 before? My second question to you is: Did you feel in real life that the
19 HVO behaved in the way described in these documents?
20 A. Unfortunately I have never seen these documents before. If I had
21 seen them, I believe that my behaviour and my decisions and actions at the
22 time would have been different. These two first documents from the
23 strategic level, documents that originated from Boban and Roso showed that
24 the proclamation of secession and the proclamation of war and the request
25 for capitulation issued to all the forces that were not part of the HVO in
1 the so -- in the so-called territory of Herceg-Bosna. For every normal
2 member of the Territorial Defence which was subsequently the army of
3 Bosnia and Herzegovina, this was unacceptable.
4 As for document number P0409, I felt this on a number of occasions
5 together with my units. I told you that we were naturally turned towards
6 Croatia because a lot of us had lived there, a lot of us had been
7 volunteers from Croatia. We arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina and all of
8 a sudden we couldn't pass. We were robbed at checkpoints. For example,
9 towards the end of October 1992, owing to my ID card of an officer of the
10 Croatian army, I survived the ill-treatment near Mostar. In January 1993
11 I was ambushed in the area of Gostunj. A member of the HVO confiscated my
12 Jeep and all the equipment and arms that were in the Jeep. And the -- we
13 also had examples that the wounded that we sent for check-ups in Zenica
14 were ill-treated at checkpoints and beaten to death. There are documents
15 proving that. Mr. Blaskic received our protest regarding the situation.
16 Q. General, can you please tell me: Where was your unit engaged in
17 January 1993 and what combat problems and combat situation did it -- did
18 the 3rd Corps of the BiH army face at the time?
19 A. In -- I would say from the moment the corps was established on the
20 25th of November, 1992, up to mid-December of that year, we made a lot of
21 effort, maximum effort, in order to train the command of our brigade. We
22 tried to introduce order and discipline into the command and the
23 subordinate units. We tried to improve the logistics in the brigade
24 because the convoys and the aid that we had received so far from the
25 countries of Western Europe were cut off at the time. We also tried to
1 strengthen those elements of the brigade that supported the control and
2 the command system in the brigade. I'm referring to the communications
3 system. We tried to enforce the bodies for moral guidance and security.
4 We tried to reinforce the military police and all of the logistics that
5 existed in the brigade. Up until the end of December, we had two
6 battalions completely ready to be used. Towards the end of December on
7 the order of the corps commander, my battalions were sent to the zone of
8 the 1st Corps and was -- were resubordinated to the command of Visoko in
9 order to carry out some operations. Later on my 2rd Battalion was engaged
10 and then the 3rd Battalion of the 7th in Krajina Brigade was engaged. In
11 the subsequent period between the new year and the beginning of April,
12 save for a very short period of the first combat with the HVO towards the
13 end of January 1993, we were absolutely engaged in -- on the front line
14 facing the Chetniks under Visoko frontline. I've already said in the
15 introduction we were already considered to be the manoeuvre brigade of the
16 3rd Corps.
17 Q. What happened during the first conflict with the HVO in the
18 territory of the 3rd Corps? Where was your brigade at the time or where
19 were parts of your brigade at the time and how were they deployed?
20 A. At that time I had the 1st and the 2nd Battalion of the 7th
21 Brigade. They were in Visoko. The 1st Battalion was undergoing
22 establishment. We did not have enough weapons for three battalions,
23 unfortunately. And this would be our combat deployment. In the general
24 area, there were already fierce attacks on the part of the HVO, on Gornji
25 Vakuf, and the situation in Gornji Vakuf became very critical which had an
1 impact on the Lasva Valley and the central Bosnian area. After
2 mid-January, ethnic cleansing started in the territory of Busovaca
4 Q. As the commander of the 17th Krajina Brigade, did you receive
5 certain tasks and missions to deploy your troops in some of these
7 A. Based on the assessment by the 3rd Corps commander, my units were
8 engaged as follows: The 2nd Battalion from Visoko was given the task to
9 start moving via Prapratnica, Kocuni, Fornica, and to arrive from the
10 Gornji Vakuf sector in order to help defence there. My 1st Battalion was
11 given the task to March across the Lasva junction and Zenica to Han Bila
12 and to be prepared for a possible HVO attack in that area. At the
13 beginning, my support unit remained in Visoko. Later on there was another
14 order by the 3rd Corps, according to which this unit was deployed in
15 Janjici village in order to be ready to provide fire support to the units
16 which were engaged on that axis. The 3rd Battalion was still under
17 formation. It was in the barracks in Travnik. It was not ready to be
18 used in combat because it didn't have any weapons.
19 Q. Now I'm going to ask you, General, to look at the part of the
20 binder called Dusina. Can you please look at documents 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and
21 8. This is towards the end of the binder.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could you please give us the
23 numbers again.
24 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] DH47, DH45, DH46, DH48, P524,
25 DH49, and DH50. You will find these numbers on top of these documents,
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 and the first document is: "Order: Administration for the military
2 police." This is a document issued by the Croatian community of
3 Herceg-Bosna and the Croatian defence council.
4 Q. Have you been able to locate the area where these documents are
5 found. Can you please look at these documents, all of these documents
6 save for document number 5. At this moment I do not need you to look at
7 this document because I want to ask you questions about the series of
8 documents that I've just mentioned to you.
9 A. I've read them.
10 Q. These are documents issued by the HVO and its bodies. Firstly,
11 did you ever see these documents before? The situation as it was in
12 January 1993, did it correspond the contents of these documents? The
13 orders that you received at the time, did they have anything to do with
14 this type of behaviour on the part of the HVO?
15 A. My comment about these documents would be as follows: One can see
16 that at the highest strategic level the H -- the BiH was being treated as
17 an enemy force. Secondly, new terminology was being used. We were no
18 longer the army. We were a Muslim element on the strength of the HVO.
19 And one can see what the goal of all of this was, to disable the
20 functioning of the BiH army in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina by
21 blockades, by disarming them, by engaging in plunder, by resubordination,
22 by incarcerating people, and so on and so forth. On the grounds we could
23 feel that. Of course, if I tell you that at the exist from Zenica towards
24 Ovnak, you know the structure of the population in Zenica and the ratio of
25 forces in Zenica. The HVO had a checkpoint. They stopped people, and
1 they acted according to these orders. In Kadnik a few kilometres from the
2 Lasva junction on the road towards Kakanj and further on towards Vitez and
3 Travnik they did the same. At the bend, the notorious bend near Travnik,
4 at Miscema, on the forest road from Travnik to Novi Travnik, and now, it
5 is only now that I understand why they behaved the way they did. On the
6 other hand, instructions, positions, orders issued by the command and
7 commander of the 3rd Corps were as follows: At any cost avoid conflicts
8 and not get engaged in conflict. Respond only if there was a direct
10 I have to point out that I attended a meeting with the president
11 of the Presidency, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic, in Travnik in mid-October 1992.
12 It was said at that time to the commanders and members of the territorial
13 staff that a conflict with the HVO should be avoided at all costs. This
14 is what Mr. Izetbegovic said. We suffered a lot. We tried to preserve
15 our dignity, we tried to alleviate the situation, to avoid conflicts at
16 all costs with certain officers with whom we could communicate, such as
17 was Mr. Filipovic in Travnik. We tried to deal with the situation
18 together with him, however the situation deteriorated and now I understand
19 that there were orders to that effect from the highest levels of command
20 of their forces.
21 Q. General, as you were explaining where your units were deployed
22 pursuant to the orders of the 3rd Corps, you mentioned that the HVO
23 occupied a territory some 2 or 3 kilometres from the Lasva junction. Can
24 you tell me: As an officer, what was the importance of that junction and
25 what is the responsibility of a corps commander in order to secure such a
1 position or such a feature.
2 A. The Lasva junction is the biggest communication hub in the area of
3 responsibility of the 3rd Corps. There is a railroad there going from
4 Visoko to Zenica, there is a crossroad of roads leading from Vitez to
5 Zenica and from Travnik to Zenica, a Travnik/Kakanj/Sarajevo road as well.
6 And a military responsibility with regard to that junction required from
7 any commander to take measures in order to secure such a feature. Because
8 this place was very important from the military and strategic point. On
9 the other hand, the situation that prevailed on the grounds, requested
10 from all the bodies, the customs, and all the other bodies that functioned
11 at the time, very few of them that they did in order to control the
12 territory to prevent smuggling, illegal moving of people, goods, and so on
13 and so forth.
14 Q. General, you've told us that you received certain combat missions
15 and tasks at the time. Tell me, please, did you receive an order to send
16 a mortar battery and to deploy it in that area?
17 A. I did, but at another stage. The order to move the battalion --
18 well, I think it was after the 20th of January that I received that order.
19 In order to take up a firing position and to be ready to provide artillery
20 support, this is an order I received a few days later. A firing position
21 was taken in the village of Janjici, but this battery wasn't used because
22 it arrived later on, and infantry action had come to an end. Some sort
23 after a cease-fire had been arranged. So fire wasn't opened from that
24 position, from those positions.
25 Q. If I said that the charges claim that units of the 17th Krajina
1 were involved in attack on Dusina, what would your response be? Did your
2 units participate in any way in the combat around Dusina or in the attack
3 on Dusina?
4 A. Absolutely not. Not a single unit, not a single member of the
5 17th Krajina was in a position to participate in the fighting in Dusina.
6 Q. Thank you. Have a look at document number 5, Prosecution Number
7 P129, and tell me: Is this order that you have just described and is this
8 a battery that was never used for the purposes stated in this order.
9 A. That's the order and that's the battery concerned. It mentions
10 the firing positions and the battery's tasks, but as I said the battery
11 was not put into use. I can also remember that I informed the corps
12 commander, General Hadzihasanovic, after conversation he had with
13 Mr. Izetbegovic in Geneva. Well, there was propaganda on the Croatian
14 television as to which we had burned down Croatian monasteries, we had
15 massacred the Croatian population. But I know that on the 26th an order
16 was issued to halt all activities and not to fire a single bullet. And
17 this is an order that I as a soldier respected.
18 Q. Thank you. Given the events that you described in the attacks of
19 the HVO on Prozor, Novi Travnik, Busovaca, Vakuf, tell me: At the time as
20 a brigade commander did you feel that there was a plan that the HVO had to
21 take control of the territory?
22 A. Well, I had my own belief. I had assessed the situation and I
23 thought that the HVO strategy was to try and take the area town by town.
24 They managed to do this in Prozor but not in Travnik. In January they
25 managed to do this in Busovaca. In April, they managed to do this with
1 Vitez. In June they tried to do this in Travnik, but they were stopped
2 there, more or less. So their strategy was to pursue the Vance-Owen Plan
3 that hadn't been accepted or signed. And naturally this couldn't be
4 accepted without policies having been adopted. This couldn't be done by
6 Q. General, when did you return to Travnik with your unit?
7 A. I returned to Travnik with my unit at the beginning of April, I
8 think it was on the 7th or 8th of April, I know it was just before Easter
9 and tension was escalating, tension between the HVO and the army was
10 rising. This resulted -- this was the result of Dario Kordic's visit to
11 Travnik. Dario Kordic said that Travnik would be a Croatian area and said
12 that units had to be disarmed and resubordinated, et cetera, et cetera,
13 and this was a factor that increased the tension in the town. When
14 arriving in Travnik I felt that the situation was very tense. You could
15 smell this in the air. We were expecting something ugly to happen, and
16 the subsequent events just confirmed this. On the other hand, I
17 apologise, in military terms the HVO had already occupied all the elevated
18 positions around Travnik from the Vilenica relay and then Sipovik, from
19 Sipovik to St. Antoni chapel, they had directed pots and pans [as
20 interpreted] on Travnik. And about 50 kilometres from my barracks they
21 had already become entrenched in a hill there and would go into action at
22 night. In the barracks, 18 of my men were wounded, although war had not
23 been declared.
24 Q. You said that unfortunate incidents occurred. What happened in
25 April and what sort of an effect did this have on the members of the ABiH,
1 or rather what sort of additional tasks did army commanders have to carry
2 out to avoid a full-scale conflict with the HVO?
3 A. Well, as I said in relation to the town tension was high. They
4 said that Travnik would be the capital of Herceg-Bosna. The tension was
5 great and the HVO had deployed its forces in a way that showed that they
6 wanted to take full control of the town of Travnik. And on the 16th of
7 April, we had the events in Ahmici. And this wasn't just a spark, this
8 was a fire which brought the situation which was already very bad to a
9 head. The barracks at the time -- the barracks that are still in Travnik
10 now, it's across the road from the Travnik hospital. My combatants would
11 observe the wounded being brought there from Ahmici. My entire command
12 was engaged in action, made efforts to ensure the system of command and
13 control functioned properly. And we managed to prevent soldiers from
14 engaging in a conflict with the Croats. And I think that other commanders
15 in the peripheral areas in the Vitez municipality, commanders of the 306th
16 and perhaps commanders from Busovaca and Zenica, I think these commanders
17 found it far more difficult to control their units and to prevent them
18 from carrying out chaotic attacks and taking revenge, et cetera. And
19 similarly in towns some Mafia and criminal circles intended to take
20 indiscriminate revenge against the population in Travnik. But by issue
21 orders, by engaging units, et cetera, we managed to prevent such issues
22 from occurring.
23 Q. General, in May did the situation improve? Were relations
24 improved? And what was done to deal with that difficult situation that
25 the army had to face? Were any decisions taken that you thought would
1 enable you to avoid a full-scale conflict with the HVO?
2 A. Well, look, our side made great efforts to avoid a conflict. The
3 commanders did everything they could. There were frequent meetings with
4 the political leadership of the War Presidency and of the HVO as well.
5 Attempts were made to find a compromise and to avoid a conflict. In
6 Travnik a joint command was formed and HVO officers and 3rd Corps officers
7 from the Travnik area became part of this command. Their objective was to
8 avoid a conflict. An operations plan was drafted which provided for many
9 measures that should be taken. It drafted a plan for action against our
10 joint enemy. And I thought that this conflict would be avoided. We had
11 already started preparing to liberate the territory of Bosnia and Krajina
12 and to face the Chetniks. So my sabotage detachment was given a task to
13 go to the Vlasic and Jajce axis. And my reconnaissance men went to Jajce
14 and returned from that area. Some of the combat units, I'm referring to
15 the 3rd Battalion, was engaged in the area of Bijela Budje, in the area
16 facing the Chetniks. We hoped that this operations plan made -- the level
17 of the joint command would be implemented. We hoped we would really start
18 fighting our common enemy together.
19 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I think it is a
20 good time to have a break now. Thank you.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. We will now have a
22 20- or 25-minute break and we'll resume at about 5 to 5.00.
23 --- Recess taken at 4.31 p.m.
24 --- On resuming at 4.59 p.m.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You may proceed.
1 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
2 Q. General, you said that you were hoping that the joint command
3 would create the conditions for you to engage in fighting together. Did
4 the HVO accept such cooperation in the month of May and what was the
5 situation like at that time in the area of your brigade and the 3rd Corps?
6 A. Well, look, while the brigade commander of the HVO in Travnik was
7 Filipovic, they would officially state that they wanted this operations
8 plan to be implemented. And when Leotar became the head of the HVO
9 brigade in Travnik, he's from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and just before the
10 conflict he became the brigade commander of the HVO in Travnik. And there
11 were individuals from the brigade command, above all people from the
12 village. For example, Gaso and Lovrinovic. There were indications that
13 it would be implemented, but they were only paying lip service to this.
14 There were still checkpoints, HVO checkpoints, on the roads, the main
15 positions around the town were in the hands. And in the course of the
16 night they would open fire from those positions on the town of Travnik.
17 Many civilians in Travnik were wounded and I have already said that there
18 were members of my unit in the barracks were wounded. This was reported
19 by the local and foreign media. CNN and BBC reported on these events.
20 And this shows that the situation in Travnik was one that the world was
21 familiar with, because at the time propaganda and Croatian television was
22 terrible. The way they portrayed the Bosniaks -- well, they were
23 portrayed in a way that showed them in a criminal light. I won't go into
24 all of this, though.
25 Q. Thank you. Have a look at the documents under the heading
1 "Relations with the HVO." Have a look at the following documents: 9, 10,
2 and 11, and tell me whether these documents reflect the situation such as
3 it was in May 1993. 9 -- the documents are 0999 and then 1087 and the
4 final one is 1096.
5 A. These documents are a partial reflection of the situation. This
6 is perhaps just the top of the iceberg. It reflects the incidents that
7 the HVO were involved in, the acts committed against our citizens and
8 citizens of Travnik. You can see that there were men who were brutally
9 beaten. Members of my unit, and I still have this image before we, this
10 image of bruised and wounded men. In the second document, there are a
11 number of such examples and this is an accurate reflection of the way in
12 which the HVO behaved just before the conflict broke out between the 20th
13 and 30th of May.
14 And the last document is a protest from Commander Alagic. It
15 relates to an incident. And unfortunately I was a victim in that
16 incident. It took place on the greatest Muslim holiday. We went to a
17 Bosniak village because a celebration had been planned there by members of
18 our unit, an ambush had been lain for us. And they shot in between my
19 legs and above my head. We were humiliated, insulted, they stole our
20 things from us. So if they are ready to do this to a commander of an
21 operations group, to a brigade commander, well how do you think they
22 behaved towards ordinary privates or towards the citizens of Travnik who
23 weren't regular members?
24 Q. General, in such a situation can the fact that the town was
25 surrounded, that the HVO soldiers had taken up position on elevated
1 positions around the town, tell me what happened in June. Was the town of
2 Travnik attacked at any point in time?
3 A. Well, I said that the factors mentioned already only made the
4 situation more complicated. Members of the 312th were killed. There was
5 the massacre in the village of Ahmici. Bosniaks were expelled from the
6 territory of Vitez municipality. Wounded men were brought in in May. The
7 HVO acted in provocative ways, opened fire, wounded men. So this was all
8 concentrated in this area. So as to whether the HVO thought that Bosniaks
9 would start fleeing from that area, as to whether they thought they could
10 take control of the situation I don't know. But on the 3rd of June
11 Travnik was attacked, there was an all-out attack. The artillery was
12 used, multiple rocket launchers were used, and the HVO had fully
13 surrounded Travnik and had linked up the Croatian settlements to the
14 south-west with Doca [phoen] and the territory of Novi Travnik and Vitez.
15 These villages had been linked up. We had to return fire and embark on an
16 operation to remove the threat. That was the result of the attack from
17 Slimena on Travnik. So there was a frontal conflict with the HVO in the
18 territory, in the entire territory of the municipality of Travnik.
19 Q. General, at the time were you confronted with the fact that the
20 HVO was no longer alone in attacking the ABiH? At the time were they
21 cooperating with the Republika Srpska army when implementing their plans?
22 A. Well, at the beginning of the conflict -- it's not at the
23 beginning of the conflict that we came across this factor. In May we
24 received information according to which the HVO had played a match with
25 Chetnik forces, and they went to Banja Luka afterwards and drank there
1 together. In Galica on the 13th of May, 1992, the Serbian forces killed
2 13 HVO soldiers. Furthermore, there were intercepted conversations in the
3 military district of Vitez. And in the area of the command of the 22nd of
4 the Republika Srpska army on Vlasic. There was information on agreements
5 that they tried to reach in the case of conflict between the army and the
6 HVO. We were counting on cooperation between the Republika Srpska army
7 and the HVO. We were expecting such cooperation. This is what actually
8 happened. It's a historical fact that the HVO completely evacuated the
9 population, its forces, from that area, because they couldn't occupy
10 Slimena. And on the Vlasic plateau they tried to move the troops to
11 Vares. And I think on the other hand an agreement had been reached to
12 take positions of the Republika Srpska army that were held by the HVO at
13 the time. That was Veliki Kik in our zone and the area of Vlasic facing
14 the relay transmitter. We managed to prevent this. On the other hand a
15 few days later I think in mid-June, on the 14th of June, the Republika
16 Srpska army in the area of Novi Travnik managed to come from the flank and
17 take our line on Bijeli Buc. And by engaging all the forces that we had,
18 we managed to regain the line and prevent a break-through of the Chetnik
19 forces because according to the documents we later captured, a commander
20 from the 19th brigade, we found out that they had planned to break through
21 to Miscema and Vilenica. This would have resulted in the loss of Turbe
22 for us and Travnik would have been surrounded by Chetnik forces, and
23 Travnik would have been in a very difficult situation. They would have --
24 probably have been able to take the Bratstvo factory of arms and this is
25 something that could be seen from the documents that had been captured
1 from the battalion commander.
2 Q. General, under the HVO and Republika Srpska army, can you look at
3 documents from 1 to 5 and can you tell me, please, whether these documents
4 reflect the situation that you have just described for us. Do these
5 documents describe the relationship between the HVO and the Army of
6 Republika Srpska? For the record while you're looking at the document,
7 these documents are DH232 ID, DH233 ID, and documents D1130, D1129, and
9 A. The first document is the document that I see for the first time;
10 it is very interesting. The command of the 1st Krajina Corps issued an
11 order to the command of the operations group on Mount Vlasic to support
12 the HVO with artillery fire. Item 2 of the said order shows that it had
13 provided for the medical care of HVO soldiers who were wounded. And the
14 document points to not only cooperation but the co-action on behalf of the
15 two allies who had one common enemy which was us. The second order, or
16 the second document regulates more precisely how the artillery support
17 would be provided in order to avoid fire being opened on UNPROFOR. This
18 served to prevent the Republika Srpska army to come under fire on the part
19 of the UNPROFOR forces.
20 The third document, which has 12 items and I'm going to focus on
21 two key ones -- actually, I'm going to focus on the introduction which
22 shows the objective of this order. It says here that representatives of
23 the HVO requested from us to take positions and then when the civilian
24 population is left they surrendered. And later on the document regulates
25 the way how HVO soldiers would be treated. It is obvious that BiH army in
1 the Travnik sector could have found themselves in dire straits if this had
2 been implemented. Owing to our combat readiness, good command and
3 control, and the intelligence we had gathered, this did not happen, thank
5 Q. And now can you tell us something about document number 5. You
6 have already mentioned what happened with the civilians in the territory.
7 A. If you will allow me I would like to go back to document number 4
8 and comment upon it. The HVO had a good chain of command and good
9 propaganda. It forcibly evacuated their own population from Travnik and
10 some 30 families from Bilic [phoen]. The propaganda said that the Krajina
11 men are coming, they will torch and burn your village. And in the 7th and
12 9, the Chetnik lorries collected all the weapons and the civilians were
13 evacuated to the Galica plateau. The propaganda up there was so powerful
14 and so strong. I can tell you that my family resided in Varazdin at the
15 time. In conversation with my own wife, when I spoke to her, she asked
16 me: Is it possible that this is what you are doing down there? And my
17 own wife, with whom I had two children at the time, had to be told by me:
18 Woman, how could you believe that I could torch a church or something like
19 that. On the other hand, Mr. Ranjinga [phoen], deputy commander of the
20 Travnik Brigade, showed an order to me to allow evacuation of all Croatian
21 civilians from Travnik. At that time Commander Alagic was not accessible
22 to me. I didn't allow that because it was not our goal to perform ethnic
23 cleansing. Our goal was to eliminate the military threat which would
24 possibly result in us being eliminated from the territory, from this area.
25 And document number 5 is a document issued by the president of the
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 represent, Dr. Radovan Karadzic ordering the Main Staff of the Republika
2 Srpska army to escort HVO soldiers with their weapons through the
3 territory of Republika Srpska all the way to Vares. They were not to be
4 captured, they were not to be retained. They were to be transported to
5 Vares. And the Croatian civilians were to be escorted either to
6 Hercegovina or to the Republic of Croatia.
7 Q. Thank you very much, General. Can you please tell me whether
8 during those combat activities when you were defending Travnik, did you
9 capture some of the HVO soldiers.
10 A. As far as my brigade is concerned we did have prisoners of war
11 from the ranks of the HVO. And their number differed depending on the
12 development of combat activities. We had anything between 40 and 20
13 prisoners. We interviewed all these men, and if we realised that they
14 were at home during combat operations, we would let them go home without
15 weapons. We kept the weapons because, as I already told you, I had an
16 entire battle without any weapons. On the other hand, members of the HVO
17 for whom there were some indications that they had committed war crimes or
18 similar crimes, the competent bodies took over those cases and their
19 numbers ranged between 10 and 20. It depended largely on the period of
20 time and the overall development of the situation. It depended on whether
21 criminal reports were issued and whether they were transferred to Zenica
22 and so on and so forth.
23 Q. General, can you please tell me: Where were these prisoners of
24 war accommodated?
25 A. Members of the HVO were in the prison in the Travnik barracks.
1 This was a very typical facility that used to belong to the former JNA.
2 On the upper floors there was one battalion of my brigade. And in the
3 basement there was a prison. And one part of the communications centre
4 and one part of the unit for the anti-electronic combat.
5 Q. Before these people were imprisoned and accommodated there, who
6 was accommodated in that prison? Who was kept in that prison?
7 A. When the 3rd Corps was established and their -- and its brigades,
8 we took a lot of measures to introduce order and discipline into our
9 ranks. And in order to establish our army within those activities, I had
10 to institute the disciplinary measures against a number of my soldiers who
11 had committed all sorts of violences. So they would be kept in the prison
12 until criminal reports were issued against them and until they were
13 transferred into the hands of the military prosecutor.
14 Q. Can you tell the Trial Chamber what were the conditions like in
15 that prison which your brigade had in the barracks. What were the
16 conditions for the members of the HVO who had been incarcerated there?
17 A. The prisoners of war which we had in the 17th Brigade had the same
18 conditions as my soldiers had if they were remanded in custody as
19 disciplinary measure. Their accommodation was the same, their food was
20 the same. They were engaged in some work. There was no distinction being
21 made between members of my unit who had committed certain offenses and our
22 prisoners of war. At the initial stages, until the moment I received full
23 instruction from the command of the 3rd Corps as to how prisoners of war
24 were to be treated, I tasked my assistant commander for morale as to how
25 these prisoners should be treated. Together with a priest, Pavo Nikolic,
1 who were the most senior Catholic priest in Travnik, they would have
2 weekly religious service, they would have three to five cigarettes a day
3 as well as my soldiers, they had three meals a day, they were allowed to
4 celebrate their religious holidays. This is what we were able to provide
5 for them and this was in accordance with standards and international
6 conventions. We had cooperation with the International Red Cross, and the
7 bodies of the 3rd Corps also controlled conditions of our prisoners and
8 they always commended us for the conditions that we provided for them in
9 the prison in the barracks in Travnik, the barracks in the 17th Brigade
10 was billeted in.
11 Q. General, did anyone at any period of time when prisoners of war
12 were incarcerated in the prison of your brigade ever have any objections
13 about the bad treatment of these prisoners?
14 A. Nobody ever had any objections. Representatives of the Red Cross,
15 Father Pavo Nikolic, the families of these prisoners of war all commended
16 us. They had a lot of trust in the way we treated them. I still bump
17 into some of these people in Travnik and they buy me drinks because I had
18 treated them correctly while they were imprisoned. I believe that we
19 provided these people with the conditions that could be provided for under
20 the circumstances.
21 Q. General, can you please look at the part of the binders containing
22 documents about the incidents in June. Can you look at document number 2
23 bearing the Defence number 1189. This is a document issued by the
24 Croatian Defence Council, the security services. And at that moment when
25 this document was issued, they were your enemy. Can you please look at
1 the document and once you have looked at it, can you pay attention to page
2 2 of the B/C/S text. The first paragraph speaking about the delegate of
3 the International Red Cross.
4 Even your then-enemy, did they accept that the conditions that
5 were offered to the incarcerated members of the HVO were the conditions
6 that met the standards and provided for the appropriate treatment of the
7 prisoners of war?
8 A. Yes. This is clear from this report. It says here that the
9 conditions were satisfactory and that the number of prisoners of war was
10 not great. I would like to repeat that members of the HVO from Slimena
11 and Dolac who were at home and who were disarmed at home, a few days we
12 released. And that is why there were only eight persons in the military
13 prison. At first this number was higher. There was some 40 of them at
14 the beginning of the conflict. As soon as we linked up with the Slimena
15 and as soon as my security organ established what the situation really
16 was, they were released and they were sent home to their families.
17 Q. You said that the criminal charges were brought against some of
18 these individuals. At the moment when this was done, did the military
19 commander have any responsibility towards such individuals?
20 A. No. The commander's responsibility stops there and the competent
21 body are -- bodies of the judiciary which are not part of the military.
22 So the military responsibility stops when the criminal charges are
24 Q. Could you please tell us, General, what happens if a person
25 against whom criminal charges have been raised and who is transferred to
1 the judiciary bodies and if such a person is supposed to be exchanged for
2 one reason or another, what happens then? Would a commander or the BiH
3 army as such have any role to play in that?
4 A. According to the laws of Bosnia and Herzegovina that prevailed at
5 the time, there was a procedure established involving such persons. There
6 were such persons against criminal charges were instituted for even war
7 crimes. And such persons were exchanged. There should -- there should be
8 the institute of abolition that preceded the exchange, and only after that
9 these persons could be exchanged for other persons kept by the enemy army.
10 And this was done with the mediation of the international institutions.
11 Q. Thank you very much. I would like to move on and ask you what was
12 the relationship of the BiH army and especially your brigade and you as
13 their commander towards the protection of cultural and religious
14 facilities. A little while ago you have mentioned propaganda and the
15 conversation that you had with your wife. Now I would like you to tell
16 how you implemented protection on the ground. What was your attitude and
17 the attitude of your soldiers towards such facilities and toward such
19 A. Well, all the regulations, all the instructions issued by your
20 superior command, all the guidelines, all the orders, provided that
21 civilians and should be protected as well as religious buildings and the
22 cultural heritage. In the zone of responsibility of the Bosanska Krajina
23 operations group. If there was such buildings in the operations zone, so
24 to speak, the military police would provide security for them. If these
25 buildings were in an urban centre where there was no combat, the MUP would
1 provide security for them. Or if the clergy thought that such buildings
2 could be under threat, we also provided security by using the military
3 police. So such buildings were always protected, either by the military
4 police in the zone of operations or by the civilian police in areas where
5 there was no combat. But on the whole this was our responsibility and
6 this was something that we had to deal with.
7 Q. What was your attitude towards religious facilities in Travnik and
8 towards members of the clergy who had remained in the town after the
9 fighting on the 3rd and 4th of June?
10 A. I personally believe that we had a correct attitude, military and
11 civilised attitude, towards religious buildings in the town of Travnik and
12 towards members of the clergy. I personally -- I was personally present
13 when Cardinal Puljic visited Travnik in mid-June - I can't remember the
14 exact date - and he expressed a satisfaction with the attitude of -- the
15 ABiH's attitude towards religious buildings and members of the clergy who
16 had remained in the territory which was under UN control [as interpreted].
17 Because I'm now referring to some of the details I can remember, perhaps
18 I'm a best witness than others. We provided protection for nuns who had
19 remained in Travnik. We provided military police protection for Pavo
20 Nikolic. The military police also provided security for religious
21 buildings in Doc [phoen] and Ovcarevo. The population had evacuated these
22 villages. We did all we could to protect such buildings. And I think we
23 succeeded in doing this. The church in Ovcarevo is intact. The church in
24 Doc is also intact, as far as I know. I personally visited the church in
25 Ovcarevo on a number of occasions because there were about 30 Croatian
1 families that remained to live there. And the documents found in the
2 parish were put in order and protected. They were saved. So I think that
3 given the conditions, the army had an attitude that was professional and
4 that was correct. And our police was engaged and members of our security
5 team were engaged in providing the security.
6 Q. In addition to the efforts made by the army, did you ever see that
7 religious buildings were attacked and damaged in Travnik?
8 A. Well, I wasn't a witness of such events. But immediately after
9 such an event I went to the site. I can't remember the exact date, but it
10 was in mid-June, perhaps up to the 20th of June. In the morning a group
11 of Mujahedin broke into a Catholic church in Travnik -- broke into the
12 Catholic church in Travnik and damaged some parts of the church. I
13 wouldn't say the entire building, but they damaged some parts, statues,
14 icons, et cetera were damaged. As soon as this was reported I went to the
15 church. I went to the site and, together with Commander Alagic who was
16 also in the barracks at the time, we did everything to instigate an
17 investigation and to determine the identity of the perpetrators. And to
18 the extent that it was possible, we wanted to repair the church. Civilian
19 protection units and workers were engaged, but this act of vandalism in
20 the Catholic church in Travnik which was -- was terrible, but it was
21 protected by members of the Territorial Defence staff and the civilian
22 protection. These people, they were elderly people and they didn't have
23 the courage to confront the perpetrators. So unfortunately this damage
24 was inflicted on the building.
25 Q. General, please have a look at the following documents now: Under
1 the heading "Travnik Church," documents 1, 2, and 3. The Defence numbers
2 for these documents are as follows: DH66, DH67, and DH68 ID. And could
3 you then tell me whether these two documents describe what you have just
4 testified about and could you tell me whether you know anything about
5 document number 3, whether you're familiar with anything referred to in
6 document number 3.
7 A. The first two documents are from the Travnik MUP; they are
8 criminal complaints. The second one is a record. You can see that there
9 was an incident and that the perpetrators weren't members of the ABiH.
10 There was a criminal report filed with the a security body in the ABiH.
11 So the first document is a criminal complaint and the second document is a
12 record on investigation. There is nothing particular I would like to now
13 say about these documents. These are things that happened and the
14 documents refer to these incidents.
15 The third document comes from Alagic's operations group. He is
16 informing the -- Mr. Pavo Nikolic about the request to provide security
17 for a building in Travnik, and it says that we would do everything we
18 could. A request is made to provide information on a vehicle that had
19 been taken from Mr. Pavo Nikolic. We wanted to identify the perpetrator
20 and try to get the vehicle back.
21 Q. Does this document say that the ABiH continued to carry out orders
22 issued on providing particular protection for religious buildings in
23 Travnik and on providing members of the clergy, priests, in that area?
24 A. Yes. In spite of the vandalism in the church in town, I can say
25 that even when the fighting was intense we cooperated well with
1 Mr. Pavo Nikolic. He performed his religious duties and we provided him
2 with all the necessary protection and assistance to ensure that he could
3 work normally, as well as his associates, and to ensure that he could
4 carry out his mission. This also contained the POWs in the barracks in
6 Q. General, I would now like to move on to another subject. This has
7 to do with the foreigners, in particular foreigners from Afro-Asian
8 countries. Did you find out that in the wider area of Travnik
9 municipality there were such foreigners. And if so, what could you tell
10 us about them?
11 A. Well, I was aware of the presence of foreigners in the
12 municipality of Travnik. As for the town itself, I must be frank and say
13 that they weren't located there. They didn't spend time on a permanent
14 basis there. They were in the area of Bila Valley, in areas such as
15 Mehurici, Ovcarevo, et cetera. The first time I heard about them was in
16 1992, perhaps when they participated in the defence of Karaula. Perhaps a
17 group of about 20 of them participated in the defence. But I didn't have
18 much information about them because they weren't members of the operations
19 group. They weren't members of the units that I cooperated with as a
20 commander. So I didn't have much contact with them. I didn't have much
21 information about them. I knew nothing in particular about them because
22 most of the time up until April I spent outside of Travnik in the area of
23 Visoko and Kacun.
24 Q. You said that you had information according to which at some time
25 in 1992 they participated in mounting a defence in Karaula. Do you know
1 who they acted with and do you know whether they had any sort of contact
2 with the Territorial Defence or with your brigade at the time?
3 A. Well, look, I've already said that after the fall of Jajce I was
4 appointed as a commander of the detachment -- of the Karaula detachment --
5 of the Karaula defence, and in addition to units of the Territorial
6 Defence which were part of the system of command and control. So it went
7 from the regional level to the municipal level et cetera, but there were
8 other units formed in the area. So perhaps national units such as the HOS
9 and HVOs. We had a MOS unit in Travnik which was composed of Bosniaks.
10 And this wasn't part of the Territorial Defence staff in Travnik, but it
11 was a unit that existed. And we had a group of Mujahedin in the village
12 of Gradina in Karaula. It wasn't part of the MOS, it was something
13 separate again. So that's my experience from the period during which
14 Karaula was being defended. That concerns these foreigners.
15 But as to what they did, I think they fought the Chetniks. They
16 didn't cause any problems for the locals. In 1993 after the formation of
17 the corps and the brigades, the Territorial Defence and some of the MOS
18 members became part of these operation units or of these area units which
19 had remained under the municipal staffs. But part of the MOS and part of
20 the groups of these foreigners were left hanging in the air. They formed
21 some sort of groups in that area and no one could gain access to them.
22 They were a mystery. They wanted to teach others about their perception
23 of Islam. They went after the local population. This area was a rural
24 area. And perhaps the people in that area were more religious than people
25 in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. For example, Bosnian Krajina.
1 So we knew that they were there, but as I said we did not know anything in
2 particular as to their numbers, we didn't know who they were, what they
3 had, we didn't know who was in command of them, et cetera, et cetera.
4 Q. General, did you ever find out about the formation of some sort of
5 a detachment composed of these foreigners; and if so, could you tell us
6 when this took place?
7 A. I've mentioned the situation they were in after the formation of
8 the corps command and the brigade commands. It was the end of August. In
9 order to place them under control, this El Mujahid detachment who was
10 present was formed. I know this because I cooperated closely with
11 Commander Alagic, who was present. And he was in the camp when this unit
12 was being formed and lined up.
13 Q. Since you were the brigade commander at the time and you have just
14 said that you were someone who closely cooperated with Commander Alagic,
15 tell me: Did you personally though whether the Mujahedin up until the end
16 of 1993, were they at any point in time placed under the command and
17 control of ABiH units up until the end of 1993? Do you know anything
18 about this? Were any attempts made to place the Mujahedin under the
19 command and control of the ABiH?
20 A. Well, this would mean that the commander of the unit or this
21 period commander was able to issue orders, control them, change the
22 orders, amend the orders, et cetera. I won't go through everything. As
23 far as the El Mujahid detachment is concerned, in spite of the order on
24 its formation and in spite of the order on the formation of the 3rd Corps,
25 I claim -- I'm claiming that no one, not a single commander, not a single
1 brigade commander had control over this detachment in the area where the
2 detachment was located. And this is the case for one reason. I know that
3 no -- not a single officer from the ABiH officer could enter the camp
4 without having obtained authorisation from inside the camp. And whenever
5 a commander issued an order, for example, to me, I didn't think about
6 this. I just carried it out. I carried out these orders. But when they
7 were formed, when this unit was formed, you always had to use negotiation
8 teams to see if they would participate in actions or not, to see whether
9 they would receive any markings. So even if they did participate, they
10 had their own principles that they followed when using their units. They
11 didn't follow the same principles we did. And often this had negative
13 Q. General, in spite of the fact that they weren't under army control
14 and command -- or in addition to that fact, tell me whether they caused
15 any problems for the ABiH.
16 A. Well, they caused problems not only for the ABiH but also in the
17 territory for the civilian proposition. They imposed their customs. They
18 maltreated people if they weren't dressed as they thought they should be
19 dressed. They would destroy cafes and bars where alcohol was served, et
20 cetera. And I personally had a problem because on one occasion they
21 imprisoned a member of a unit of mine who they did not like because he had
22 had a little too much to drink. They kept him tied up in the camp for two
23 days. They maltreated him, forced him to learn the Koran by heart.
24 Shaved his head, et cetera. It was a nasty situation, and his experience
25 with that detachment was a negative experience.
1 Q. Please have a look at the section entitled "The Mujahadin". Have
2 a look at document number 1.
3 General, this document originates from the 17th Mountain Krajina
4 Brigade. Is this the incident that you have described for us? What
5 efforts did you make as a commander of the BiH army in order to set a
6 member of your unit free?
7 A. This is the official note drafted by the brigade's lawyer, Smajil
8 Dzaferagic. This information is correct and complete. As the brigade
9 commander I have to be honest and admit that I was thrown off balance when
10 all this happened. I sent a direct message via certain Islamic circles in
11 Travnik, and the message was that my weapons are turned towards their camp
12 and that I would attack them if they didn't send my soldier free. I
13 thought that I had a legitimate right to do that because the life of my
14 soldier was jeopardised. After that message some hours later a delegation
15 appeared from the camp in Mehurici together with some people from Travnik.
16 And after a discussion that took place, they said that they had been wrong
17 for keeping them -- keeping him and that they would set him free.
18 Q. The units and the individuals over whom a commander has control
19 and command, would such a commander discuss issues with them or would his
20 attitude towards such individuals and units be different. Can you tell
22 A. Through the chain of command and through the security bodies, I
23 tried to use normal military means in order to have this soldier set free.
24 When this failed, I did what I have just described to you, which shows
25 that no regular means and no regular chain of command could secure such a
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 release. The only thing that could work was this ultimatum and the
2 intervention on the part of the people from the Islamic community and the
3 municipal leadership of Travnik.
4 Q. Thank you very much. And now I'm going to ask you to move on to
5 another subject.
6 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, it would take me
7 another 15 minutes and this would exceed the time that has been allocated
8 to me. May I have your permission to continue questioning this witness?
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] As far as the time is concerned,
10 we started at 5.00, theoretically. We can proceed until 6.30 because of
11 the technical issues. After 6.30 when we will have to have a break, it
12 would already be 7.00. So we -- today we have to finish at 6.30. So I
13 think it would be best for us to continue until 6.30 or maybe until
14 quarter past 6.00 and maybe the other Defence team will have questions
15 after that. And then tomorrow we can give the floor to the Prosecution
16 for their cross-examination.
17 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
18 Q. General, you have already told us that as the brigade commander
19 you took a number of measures in order to introduce order into your
20 brigade and in order to discipline them. What was the importance of the
21 fact that the troops were trained, that they followed orders, and that
22 they could be disciplined?
23 A. The main prerequisites for the functioning of the army is for the
24 troops to obey rules, regulations, and discipline. Every organised unit
25 has to function according to a set of rules and regulations. I personally
1 believe that the awareness of the need for discipline and seriousness is
2 also a source of morale boost in such a unit. We took a number of
3 disciplinary measures. We formed the bodies within the brigade structure
4 in charge of developing morale and providing for military discipline in
5 the unit. We also invested a lot of additional effort by way of holding
6 meetings, by way of establishing a strong chain of command. This all
7 served to provide for a better functioning of the chain of command within
8 the brigade starting with the brigade commander down to the various
9 departments. When I look at the whole situation today, I believe that we
10 succeeded in all of these efforts.
11 Q. You were talking about the poor quality of staff in your brigade
12 and in the corps. Was there some sort of training of staff and who was in
13 charge of this training, if there was any?
14 A. When I mentioned a lack of staff, I primarily meant the lack of
15 officers and non-commissioned officers from the former JNA. If my memory
16 serves me well in the 17th Brigade during that period of time when it was
17 being established and for the next six months, there were only six
18 professional officers from the former JNA. However, we had a plan
19 pursuant to the orders and instructions of the 3rd Corps. We engaged our
20 own staff, and believe me, sometimes we worked around the clock. We
21 managed to train firstly the officers, then the brigade commander, and
22 finally the troops themselves. We carried out intensive training in our
23 unit. Whenever their troops were not engaged in combat, they would
24 undergo training. We trained our officers, we trained the brigade
25 command, and we trained them in all sorts of areas, how to boost morale,
1 how to boost security, how to obey rules and regulations and so on and so
2 forth. We had to do that. We had to raise the level of knowledge and
3 training. The situation was difficult as it was, and if we wanted to win
4 we had to train our staff.
5 Q. General, in your effort to train your people, did you create a
6 system that helped you to approach -- the way individuals who failed to
7 obey rules or regulations could be disciplined?
8 A. Absolutely. In my capacity as a commander, I had to have a
9 service that would provide for the implementation of my orders, such a
10 service that would provide me with good information to enable me to issue
11 my orders. In the segment of improving discipline, of stepping up its
12 discipline, we developed a military security service with the help of the
13 3rd Corps. We didn't -- I didn't have a security specialist. My security
14 officer was an engineer, a civil engineer. So we had instructions from
15 the superior command and we also had our own plan, the plan of the 17th
16 Brigade. We managed to develop all the elements envisaged by the
17 establishment order for the mountain brigade. Those which are responsible
18 for monitoring, assessment, and securing morale and discipline. We had
19 lawyers in the brigade, the security organs. We had a military police
20 platoon, all of whom were in charge of both the prevention as well as of
21 the disciplinary measures. I was in charge of disciplinary measures and
22 there were also lower-ranking commanders who were in charge of
23 disciplinary measures in their respective units. We adhered to the rules
24 and regulations which prevailed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and covered the
25 army at the time.
1 Q. Given the situation that you started from, tell me please, after
2 the efforts that you invested, did you yourself order some repression
3 measures against those soldiers who failed to obey orders and who violated
5 A. Absolutely. And unfortunately that was the case. I personally
6 had to issue disciplinary measures starting with reprimand and
7 counselling, but I also had to resort to the measure of detention. During
8 the four initial months, I remanded about 80 soldiers in custody for
9 disciplinary violations.
10 Q. Did you have bodies who would investigate any suspicion that your
11 soldiers had committed crimes, and were there also cases of criminal
12 reports being filed?
13 A. I've already said that with the assistance of the command of the
14 3rd Corps the security service was established in the brigade and was
15 trained to perform duties from the -- from their purview. Some 30
16 criminal charges were filed for crimes that were committed by members of
17 the 17th Brigade. Most of these criminal reports were taken further.
18 Q. After the combat operations and the defence of Travnik, did you
19 face some additional problems relative to the cases of looting from the
20 buildings that had been abandoned? Did you do anything in that respect?
21 Did you and your bodies do anything in that respect?
22 A. I would like to remind you that the Travnik region had been cut
23 off from the rest of the world for six months before that. And nothing
24 that would be sent to Travnik ever reached Travnik. There are about
25 20.000 refugees from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Travnik at the
1 time. The situation was chaotic at the moment when the conflict with the
2 HVO broke out, and obviously there were cases of plunder and arson.
3 However, I claim full responsibility that the command of the 17th Brigade
4 invested a lot of effort in order to prevent any such cases. If such
5 things were committed, we did our utmost to detect those crimes and to
6 punish the perpetrators. I witnessed the return of Croats to Paklarevo
7 in 1994 and 1995. They also returned to Bilici and Ovcarevo. And I can
8 tell you that we were successful to a very large extent, and now when I
9 look back at the situation, and when I remind you that we had two enemies,
10 that we had very little arms, that we didn't have enough ammunition,
11 despite all that, we engaged some of our troops, our military police, in
12 order to try and prevent any crime, any violation of law. Sometimes we
13 would go even to the areas which we were not authorised and we would clash
14 with the civilian bodies of authority, because it would sometimes occur
15 that Commander Alagic or I myself issued orders to the MUP to block a
16 certain area. Our main goal was to prevent the movement of people who
17 were committing crimes. On the other hand, we very often cooperated with
18 the civilian bodies of authority. A curfew was introduced together with
19 the War Presidency. The civilian police were mostly engaged in the
20 control of the territory in order to prevent any incidents. And when we
21 detected perpetrators, we would issue -- we would issue criminal reports
22 to the civilian bodies of authority.
23 Q. General, can we move on very quickly and look at the documents
24 under the title "Measures." I would ask you to just briefly tell us about
25 document number 1, Defence number is DH0897. Is this one of the documents
1 that speak about your activities aimed at improving safety in the area as
2 early on as in April 1993?
3 A. I have to tell you that Ahmici took place on the 16th. On the
4 19th of April, the HVO tried an attack on Travnik from the of direction
5 Jankovici and Kali Bunar. The tensions in town increased dramatically. In
6 the evening there were negotiations. This was stopped. They returned to
7 Jankovici. However, the situation in town remained really difficult. On
8 the other hand, some of those criminals on the Bosnian side, the part of
9 the underground wanted to make the most of the state of confusion and they
10 started ill-treating and harassing Croats in town. There was something
11 hanging in the air, as I've already told you, and this was an order from
12 my battalion commander pursuant to my order in connection with the
13 agreement that was achieved with the War Presidency. An order was issued
14 to the effect that -- of engaging my unit in order to restore peace and
15 order. We hailed from Krajina and we were not -- we did not have any
16 personal interest in the area. We were very objective. Our point of
17 interest was Krajina. This was something that we were dragged into. And
18 I believe that a Croatian citizen trusted a Krajina man more than any
19 other army. That's why part of my 4th Battalion was engaged. This
20 battalion had been formed in the meantime and their task was to secure
21 order and peace, to control movements in town in order to prevent any
22 incidents and undesirable situations and to save the face of the army
23 under such conditions.
24 Q. Can you please look at document number 2 and tell me whether you
25 are familiar with the event in which the commander of the OG showed his
1 dissatisfaction with the work of the judiciary. This document is number
3 A. I've already told you that the judiciary was not incorporated into
4 the army. Commander Alagic, through his chain of command, sent a document
5 to the corps command. In this document we expressed our dissatisfaction
6 with the lack of efficiency of the regional court in Travnik, regional
7 military court. This is their response to the operations group, to the
8 presidency of Travnik, to the command of the 17th Krajina Brigade, to the
9 312th Brigade, and to the command of the 3rd Corps in Zenica, the -- which
10 was the authorised command that had addressed the command of the
11 operations group. In this document they explained how come they were not
12 efficient. First of all, they lacked staff and so on and so forth.
13 However, the situation was such and we demanded for the military
14 prosecutor's office to be more efficient because we believed that their
15 lack of efficiency compounded the situation and that it encouraged
16 possible perpetrators of crime, because if those people saw that somebody
17 had not be punished for the crimes they had committed they would be
18 encouraged to commit crimes in turn.
19 Q. General, can you please look at document number 4. Tell me, is
20 this one of the organs in the system or within the system that you
21 established to ensure better discipline in the army?
22 A. This is an order from the commander of the operations group. It's
23 dated the 8th of June. That is when these unfortunate incidents occurred
24 that were provoked by the conflict with the HVO. It is an attempt to
25 ensure that the units act responsibly in a disciplined way and to ensure
1 that they respect the orders. This is why the commander, Alagic, issued
2 this order, to form special military courts in the 17th Krajina Brigade
3 and then the 312th Brigade. All of us who were part of the chain of
4 command below Alagic in the 17th and the 312th understood that this was a
5 warning. Superior command was -- categorically wanted citizens to be
6 protected, their property was to be protected in their zone of
8 Q. Thank you. This was Defence document 1132. We have already
9 spoken about how you received orders for the protection of religious
10 buildings, et cetera. Just tell me whether this document under number 5
11 is one of the documents, or rather orders from the 3rd Corps command
12 stating that all subordinate units should be particularly careful in
13 relation to religious buildings and members of the clergy. This document
14 is document P186.
15 A. Now, this a complex document. It probably resulted -- it was
16 probably the result from reports from the field. It tries to regulate the
17 attitude towards religious buildings and it says that civilians, children,
18 should not be imprisoned. It states that private property shouldn't be
19 destroyed and torched. And it says that this is the case for other social
20 buildings, whatever their purpose. The littering of properties is
21 forbidden regardless of the owners. This is stated in items 2 and 3. And
22 you can see that the corps command acted in very difficult and complex
23 situations. But in spite of the situation they reacted rapidly and issued
24 orders to the subordinate units regarding their behaviour in the field.
25 Q. Have a look at document number 6 and could you tell me whether
1 this document refers to some of the measures taken in order to protect
2 property. This document is a document number 1155.
3 A. I'll have to provide you with an explanation since this is a
4 document from the command of the operations group. When the conflict with
5 the HVO broke out, unfortunately the commander of the operations group was
6 alone. And when examining the problems in the zone of responsibility --
7 well, it was quite simply necessary to form other bodies, other structures
8 in order to make sure that the orders and requests were implemented. So
9 during that period, a deputy commander for security in the operations
10 group was appointed. But this document shows that there was an assistant
11 commander for civilian affairs, Enes Belagija, and this was one attempt to
12 find someone who would be responsible for a given house. For example,
13 someone could be responsible for creating conditions for property to be
14 returned, but it was very difficult to control the area because there were
15 many villages that had been completely abandoned. So some groups took
16 advantage of this fact and entered the villages and engaged in acts of
18 Q. Very well, General, we have spoken about these measures already.
19 But when going through these documents could you just tell us whether the
20 documents relate to some of the measures we have spoken of. Document
21 number 7, for example, could you say whether this document is an example
22 of the measures you took against members of your brigade who perpetrated
24 A. Well, yes, absolutely. This shows what measures were taken
25 against members of the brigade who had committed crimes. You can see that
1 on the 9th -- 10th of June a report was filed to a district military
2 court. So we proceeded quite rapidly and efficiently.
3 Q. This document was document number 1156. Could you please have a
4 look at document number 9 now, or rather document number 8. Is this a
5 document that refers to other measures that you took?
6 A. This document is dated the 12th of June, and I've already said
7 that in Bilici and Ovcarevo there were Croatian families that remained
8 there and they wanted to go to Galica. So these also were measures we
9 took to ensure that the people could go away and try and establish contact
10 with the Croats and to ensure that people could return to their property
11 and their villages.
12 Q. This document is number P466. Have a look at document number 9.
13 The number is 1186. This is a document from your brigade. Tell me
14 whether this document shows what sort of measures were taken. Firstly,
15 does it refer to how crimes were committed and does it refer to the
16 measures taken once you determined that the perpetrators were army
18 A. Well, this document shows two things. First of all, out of 32 HVO
19 members who were captured, there were 20 of them in the barracks and 12
20 had already been released because they were processed and they returned to
21 their homes. So they were fighting for their homeland. They hadn't
22 committed any crimes. And secondly, it shows what the security service
23 did in order to prevent the acts that we have been speaking about. The
24 date is the 14th of June, so by that time a criminal report had been filed
25 with the Prosecution for theft. But there were other members of our
1 brigade who were being investigated, and statements were to be taken and
2 other evidence presented -- other evidence that concerned their
4 Q. Please have a look at document number 10; this is 1188, document
5 1188. A minute ago you mentioned efforts made to make sure that Croatian
6 citizens could return to their homes. Is this one of the ways in which
7 you attempted to make this possible?
8 A. Well, the civilian authorities and the military authorities made
9 this attempt together. They wanted to appeal to the people of Croatian
10 nationality who had left Travnik to return. As you can see, I signed the
11 document for Commander Alagic and you can see it mentions the
12 vice-president and --
13 Q. Document number 12 is an order from the 3rd Corps. Does this
14 document have to do with the same attempts to protect religious buildings
15 or buildings of religious nature that belonged to other ethnic groups?
16 A. This is an order from the corps commander issued to brigade
17 commanders, and he is making him responsible to act together with the
18 military police from the 312th and, with some of the police from the 3rd
19 Corps, they are to provide security in Guca Gora to prevent looting and
20 the torching of buildings. This is what we did. The corps command did
21 this at its own level. And they engaged their own forces to provide
22 security for the Guca Gora sector.
23 Q. General, as a brigade commander in that year, were you familiar
24 with the attitude of the 3rd Corps as far as taking measures to prevent
25 crimes are concerned. And if it is necessary to investigate a crime and
1 punish the perpetrators if they were army members, did you know what the
2 3rd Corps's attitude was to the obligations that the army members?
3 A. Well, for us soldiers what the corps ordered was the law. We had
4 to carry out their orders. I've already said that for this reason organs
5 were formed within the unit. And with the help of the corps command they
6 were trained and prepared to carry out their tasks and their missions.
7 Q. General, have a look at document 12. The Defence number is 1224.
8 This was a document sent to you from the 3rd Corps and it has to do with
9 the document of your own. Can you tell me what this document is about.
10 A. I have already said that in mid-May on the Vlasic plateau in the
11 zone of the 306th together with members of the reconnaissance group I sent
12 out my reconnaissance platoon in order to gather information about the
13 Chetniks in the direction of Jajce. And that platoon was engaged as part
14 of the 306th against the HVO. It was sometime in mid-May -- I apologise,
15 in June. Members of the platoon arrived in the barracks in Travnik, and
16 one soldier told me that he had information according to which a group of
17 HVO members had been kidnapped by the Mujahedin. And rumour had it that
18 they had been killed. Since I knew that Commander Alagic wasn't informed
19 about this, I think he was in Krpeljici at the time, I by-passed that
20 chain of command and I forwarded a letter to the corps commander, and this
21 was an answer to that letter. I was quite categoric in that letter. I
22 was quite severe because I was seriously affected by this information.
23 The letter stated that he was in full agreement with my position and an
24 investigation had been instigated. And he said it was necessary to be
25 rigorous -- be attacked rigorously. And this would be the corps
1 commander's request. So this provided me with a guarantee that an
2 investigation was going to be conducted and that if the perpetrators were
3 from the army, the relevant measures would be taken against them.
4 Q. Thank you. Number 13 is a document that also comes from your
5 brigade and mentions the measures that you took against individuals who
6 had committed crimes. Is that correct? The document is Defence Number
8 A. This document shows that some measures were taken, measures that I
9 was responsible for, disciplinary measures were taken. 60 days in prison
10 in one case and 30 days in prison in another case. There was a criminal
11 report for members of the 17th, members who had committed crimes.
12 Q. General, let's have a look at document number 15. When answering
13 my questions you mentioned measures that included training soldiers. My
14 question is: Is this 3rd Corps order one of the measures taken by the
15 army to train its soldiers and to ensure that there was discipline among
16 the troops so that it could perform its tasks?
17 A. Well, that's absolutely correct. But I would add something.
18 Because in wartime conditions if you're fighting a war against two
19 enemies, well, you can see that less than nine months the corps command
20 formed a training centre for officers. That's just one of the measures.
21 But perhaps this was one of the best measures. It was not just training
22 troops, it was to ensure that there was order and discipline among the
24 Q. General, as a general in the federation army and given that you
25 used to be a professional officer in the JNA and in the Army of the
1 Republic of Croatia, so now when you look back to the year 1993 could you
2 tell me whether you as a brigade commander did everything that was in your
3 power -- did you do everything you could do, and did your commanders do
4 everything they could do to train or create an army and to prevent any
5 crimes from being committed, or rather in order to punish the perpetrators
6 of crimes if crimes were committed?
7 A. Well, even today I can proudly say that we did everything that was
8 possible in the conditions that prevailed, everything that was possible to
9 prevent crimes. And if crimes were committed, we did everything we could
10 to punish the crimes, to take measures in accordance with the laws of
11 Bosnia and Herzegovina. Superior commanders issued orders, instructions,
12 they provided insistence, they carried out control and created the
13 conditions to the extent this was possible to ensure that we could carry
14 out our mission, and that we could carry out these tasks. You can see
15 from this example that as soon as the communications blockade was broken
16 up, efforts were made to improve the treatment of POWs, to ensure that
17 prisons were visited, et cetera, et cetera. So as a soldier and as a
18 citizen and as an officer, as a member of the Croatian army and as a
19 member of the BH army, my conscience is clear. There were individuals,
20 but these individuals were punished. But as the conditions were very
21 difficult we operated to the best of our ability.
22 Q. Thank you, General.
23 [Defence counsel confer]
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Does the other Defence team have
25 any questions for this witness?
1 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. We
2 have some questions for this witness, but I'm afraid that we have run out
3 of time. So we would accept your suggestion. We will do whatever you
4 suggest. Should we proceed or should we start tomorrow afternoon?
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Well, we'll start
6 with your examination at the beginning of the hearing tomorrow at 2.15,
7 since this week our hearings are held in the afternoon. Tomorrow you may
8 start with your examination and then the Prosecution will start with its
10 General, you will have to come back tomorrow since your testimony
11 is not over yet. You shouldn't see anyone in the meantime since you have
12 taken the solemn declaration and you are now a witness testifying in the
13 interests of justice, you're not a witness for either of the parties, so
14 you shouldn't see anyone in the interim period. You will be back tomorrow
15 at the hearing that will start at 2.15.
16 I will see everyone at the hearing that starts tomorrow at 2.15.
17 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.31 p.m.,
18 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 23rd day of
19 November, 2004, at 2.15 p.m.