1 Thursday, 25 November 2004
2 [Open session]
3 --- Upon commencing at 2.17 p.m.
4 [The accused entered court]
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, could you call
6 the case, please.
7 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Case
8 number IT-01-47-T, the Prosecutor versus Enver Hadzihasanovic and Amir
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. Could we have the
11 appearance for the Prosecution.
12 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon,
13 Your Honours, counsel, and in every one in and around the courtroom. For
14 the Prosecution, Mrs. Tecla Henry-Benjamin, Daryl Mundis, and our case
15 manager Andres Vatter.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you Mr. Mundis. And could
17 we have the appearances for Defence counsel.
18 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Good day, Mr. President; good day,
19 Your Honours. On behalf of General Hadzihasanovic, Edina Residovic,
20 counsel, Stephane Bourgon, co-counsel, and Alexis Demirdjian, our legal
21 assistant. Thank you.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And the other Defence team.
23 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Good day, Your Honours. On
24 behalf of Mr. Kubura, Rodney Dixon, Fahrudin Ibrisimovic, and Nermin
25 Mulalic, our legal assistant.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The Trial Chamber would like to
2 greet the Prosecution, the Defence counsel, the accused and everyone else
3 in the courtroom.
4 We have a witness who will be testifying here in a minute, but
5 before we call the witness in, there are certain documents that weren't
6 tendered into evidence yesterday. These documents were used when Mr.
7 Hadzialic was testifying. You may take the floor.
8 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. We
9 didn't have enough time yesterday to tender the documents into evidence.
10 Out of the five documents shown to Professor Hadzialic, we suggested the
11 following be admitted into evidence. Four documents, document 0977, 0995,
12 0996, 0981. These are documents recognised by the witness. He commented
13 on the documents, and they relate to the knowledge the witness had in
14 1993. Thank you.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Mundis.
16 MR. MUNDIS: The Prosecution has no objection to the documents
17 being admitted into evidence, Mr. President.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, could we have
19 four numbers, please.
20 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] The references for these documents
21 will be DH977, English version DH977/E. DH981, English version DH981/E.
22 DH995. The English version will be DH995/E. And finally DH996. The
23 English version will be DH996/E. And that completes the list of
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Just a minute. Among the
1 documents presented, I have 977, then 995, 996, and 981. The order that
2 you presented these documents in was different, but that doesn't matter, I
4 I think that Defence counsel wanted to take the floor to make some
5 submissions, but please do so briefly because the witness is waiting. I
6 think it was Mr. Bourgon who had some submissions to make.
7 MR. BOURGON: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Good day,
8 Madam Judge; good day, Your Honour; good day, Mr. President. I would
9 previously like to address the Chamber with regard to the translation
11 We informed the Chamber about a week ago that there would be a
12 meeting between the Registry and the Defence in order to see what we could
13 do to ensure that the documents included in Defence's list might be
14 translated in good time so that they can be used with the witnesses. The
15 Defence is satisfied with the meeting that we had, but nevertheless, we
16 are currently faced with the possibility that a significant number of
17 documents might not be translated in time. The situation up until court
18 recess isn't a problem. However, after the new year, in 2005, the
19 translation issue might and problem. The documents that are required for
20 the hearing of certain witnesses may not have been translated. We are
21 exploring the possibility so that the Registry -- but we would like to
22 inform the Chamber immediately of the problem that might arise.
23 And secondly, Mr. President, there is an another issue I would
24 like to address, but perhaps I'll do so after the witness has been heard.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] As far as the translation issue
1 is concerned, we'll follow this closely. We hope that you will be in a
2 position to ensure that all the documents are translated when the witness
3 is called in January, but there might be a technical possibility. If a
4 document hasn't been entirely translated, you may proceed as you have
5 proceeded to date. You may ask the witness to read out the relevant
6 phrase, the relevant passage in his own language and you can have the
7 document marked for identification and wait for the full translation to be
8 provided at a subsequent date. But in such a case, you should focus on a
9 line, paragraph, or half a page. In such a case, the witness could read
10 out the relevant passage in his own language, and this will be
11 interpreted. This is a technical solution, but there maybe other
13 Mr. Bourgon.
14 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
15 MR. BOURGON: [Interpretation] I'll talk about this with my
16 colleague from the Prosecution. It might be prejudicial to the
17 Prosecution, but if we manage to present the documents to them in advance
18 so that there are no misunderstandings, in such a case this is a possible
19 way of proceeding. Thank you, Mr. President.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If the parties can meet in
21 advance and sort out the problem, it would be preferable to do that than
22 to raise issues before the Trial Chamber, because this takes time which is
23 to the detriment to the proceedings. Naturally you should address us if
24 there are problems you can't deal with, but if you, the Prosecution and
25 the Registry, are in a position to solve the problems that arise and find
1 practical solutions, all we can do is support you in this practical
3 I will now call the witness into the courtroom. Could the usher
4 please call the witness into the courtroom.
5 [The witness entered court]
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Good day, sir. I'd first like
7 to make sure that you are receiving the interpretation of what I'm saying
8 into your own language. If so please say yes.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You have been called here as a
11 witness for the Defence. Before you take the solemn declaration, could
12 you tell me your first and last names, the date and place of birth.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My name is Brkic Nezir. I was born
14 on the 18th of December, 1942 in Lasva, Zenica.
15 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness please approach the microphone
16 or speak more loudly.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Are you currently employed, and
18 if so, what is your job?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm retired.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In 1992 and 1993, were you
21 employed? Did you hold a position of any kind, and if so, what position
22 did you hold?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was employed -- I worked for the
24 railways in Zenica, and I worked as the president of the local commune in
25 the Zenica local commune.
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13 French transcripts correspond
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So the president of
2 the Lasva local commune. Have you already testified about the events that
3 took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 and 1993, either before an
4 international or national court, or is this the first time?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is the first time.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could you please read out the
7 solemn declaration that you will be shown in your own language.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
9 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, you may sit down.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
12 WITNESS: NEZIR BRKIC
13 [Witness answered through interpreter]
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So before I give the floor to
15 Defence counsel, their examination-in-chief, I would like to provide you
16 with some information about the procedure that we will be following today.
17 You will first have to answer the questions put to you by Defence counsel.
18 You know them. You have certainly met them already. They are to your
20 Once they have completed their examination-in-chief, which could
21 take up to an hour and a half, the Prosecution, who are to your right,
22 will conduct what we call their cross-examination.
23 As a rule, the Prosecution is granted the same amount of time as
24 the Defence. After this initial stage, if necessary, Defence counsel may
25 put additional questions to you, questions that are related to the
1 Prosecution's questions. Then the three Judges sitting before you may ask
2 you questions either to clarify some of the answers you have provided to
3 the parties or in order to fill in any gaps in your testimony. In such a
4 case, the Judges may show documents and ask you to comment on documents
5 that have already been admitted into evidence. These documents are in the
6 hands of the registrar.
7 If you feel that a question is complicated, ask the person putting
8 it to you to rephrase it. We don't have any written documents that
9 concern your testimony, so we do not know where you've been. We do not
10 know what you'll be testifying about. This is why your answers are so
11 important, and this is why the comments you make about certain documents
12 that will be shown to you are so important.
13 There are two other factors I would like to draw your attention
14 to, two other important factors. Firstly, you have just taken the solemn
15 declaration, which means that you'll speak the truth and nothing but the
16 truth. This should exclude false testimony, because throughout the world,
17 false testimony is an offence that is sanctioned. A witness could be
18 given a prison sentence or a fine for having given false testimony. But
19 I'm telling you this in order to inform you of the fact.
20 And secondly, this shouldn't be relevant to you, but when a
21 witness answers a question, the information that the witness provides
22 might be used against the witness, but the witness can refuse to answer
23 such a question. However, the Trial Chamber can compel the witness to
24 answer the question, but if this occurs, the witness is granted a form of
25 immunity. This is a measure that exists in order to ensure that the truth
1 is established.
2 You should be aware of the fact that the parties are putting
3 questions to you to establish the truth with regard to the events that you
4 witnessed. You won't be questioned in order to make you feel uneasy.
5 So far, everything has proceeded without any problems, with other
6 witnesses. If there any problems, inform us of the fact. We'll try to
7 deal with them. You should also be aware of the fact that we have to have
8 a break after an hour and a half for technical reasons, and this will
9 allow you to have a brief rest before we resume. Usually we'll have about
10 two 30-minute breaks. And this would allow you to have a rest because by
11 the end of the day you might be very tired.
12 Without wasting any more time on that, I'll give the floor to the
14 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Could
15 we briefly go into private session, because I have a request to make?
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Registrar, shall we go into
17 private session, please.
18 [Private session]
12 Page 12308 – redacted – private session.
2 [Open session]
3 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] We are in open session,
4 Your Honour.
5 Examined by Ms. Residovic:
6 Q. [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Mr. Brkic. The president of the
7 Trial Chamber has drawn your attention to a number of matters which you
8 should know as a witness before beginning your testimony. I should like
9 to draw your attention to just one further matter.
10 You and I are speaking the same language, and you could easily
11 answer my questions promptly, as soon as you hear them. But please, once
12 you have heard my question, make a pause before beginning your answer so
13 that the interpreters can interpret everything properly so that the Trial
14 Chamber and everybody in the courtroom can follow.
15 Have you understood what I have said?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Where are you living now, Mr. Brkic?
18 A. I'm currently living in Lasva, where I was born, which is near
20 Q. What is your profession?
21 A. I am retired, but I used to work in the railways as a treasurer, a
23 Q. Tell me, Mr. Brkic, where is Lasva, in which municipality?
24 A. Lasva is on the border of the Zenica municipality. The local
25 community borders with the municipality of Kakanj and Busovaca. So the
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13 French transcripts correspond
1 three meet at that point.
2 Q. Could you tell us whether the Lasva consists of several villages,
3 and if so, could you tell us which they are?
4 A. Yes, I can. Lasva, the local commune of Lasva, consists of four
5 main villages, but then each of those villages has another hamlet.
6 There's Dolipolje across the Bosna River valley downstream from Sarajevo
7 to the right, and to the left is Lasva, Donja Visnjica, Gornja Visnjica,
8 Dusina with its hamlets, Brdo, and Sajtovici.
9 Q. Mr. Brkic, could you tell us who inhabited the Lasva local
10 commune? What was the population -- of which ethnicity was your local
12 A. It was inhabited by Muslims, who are now known as Bosniaks,
13 Croats, and Serbs. So all they religions were represented.
14 Q. What was the majority population there?
15 A. 75 to 80 per cent were Muslims. We didn't have precise figures,
16 but the Serbs and the Croats roughly accounted half each of the rest. We
17 don't really have real statistical data about that.
18 Q. Mr. Brkic, you said that the local commune was at an intersection
19 of three municipalities, though you belong to Zenica. Tell me, which
20 villages of your local commune bordered on Busovaca?
21 A. The local commune bordered on Busovaca municipality, and the
22 closest village was Dusina with its hamlets Ducina and Brdo.
23 Q. Tell me, Mr. Brkic, was the Lasva local commune important for some
24 particular reason for the region and for Bosnia-Herzegovina?
25 A. Yes, of course. I have to go back a little. During the Second
1 World War, Lasva was the main railway junction for Sarajevo, Jajce, and
2 even as far as Drvar. The Germans built through bunkers. One bunker is
3 next to the bridge, then another one across the Visnjica stream, and then
4 a third, because the Germans had a strategic interest in this location.
5 Today, in addition to the railway line going from Sarajevo to
6 Zenica and Doboj, the regional road going to Jajce, Bugojno, Kiseljak
7 passes through Lasva as well.
8 Q. What was the main town that the inhabitants of your local commune
9 would go to most often?
10 A. Zenica, because that was where the municipality was. That is
11 where the schools were, secondary schools and university. And the
12 municipality was headquartered there. So all the inhabitants mostly
13 worked in Zenica, either in the ironworks or in the mines, or on the
14 railways. Anyway, mostly Zenica, regardless of ethnicity. Muslim,
15 Croats, and Serbs, all of them worked there.
16 Q. Tell me, Mr. Brkic, with the beginning of the war in 1992, did
17 certain changes occur in your local commune, and did a part of the
18 population move away from your local commune?
19 A. As I said before, the Lasva local commune was inhabited by all
20 three ethnicities, and shall we say it was one of the best local communes
21 in that sense, in the sense of brotherhood and unity. And we received
22 several tributes. And even just before the war we were rewarded
23 financially because we worked so well together.
24 However, when the referendum took place, that is how it started,
25 for the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina, we and the Croats took part.
1 The Serbs did not want to take part. They organised this plebiscite, and
2 they somehow started withdrawing from certain circles, from cooperation.
3 It was the Serbs who left first because, as far as I know, they were told
4 they had to leave by the new year. They were told to do this.
5 Q. How did you find out that the Serb population was going to leave?
6 Did anyone tell you that, or did you read about it somewhere?
7 A. I had a good friend who was manager of the post office. Kosta
8 Spiric. He's still alive. He's living in Doboj. We weren't quite house
9 friends, but very good friends. And he told me literally, "Nezir," my
10 nickname was Nesko, "we have to move out from those areas, all of us
11 Serbs. And remember, I will be the last to go, and before leaving, I will
12 come to your house and tell you." He came, and he kissed me. Tears went
13 down his cheeks. He said, "I've kept my promise. We are leaving, but
14 worse things will come, because by the new year this area will have to be
15 inhabited by only one ethnic group." And he was the last to leave,
16 sometime towards the end of November.
17 Q. Mr. Brkic, after the war started and a mobilisation was called,
18 did the local population respond and join certain military units, that is,
19 the Territorial Defence units as the legitimate army of the country?
20 A. Unfortunately, I have to admit it was only the Muslims who
21 responded. But the Serbs were exclusive about it. They said, "We don't
22 want to, and we don't -- we mustn't." And then it turned out that the
23 Croats were self-organising as an HVO unit, and unfortunately not attached
24 to Zenica but to the parish of Busovaca, even though they were inhabitants
25 of the Zenica municipality, and it would have been normal for them to
1 join, too.
2 Q. When your population started to organise and form a unit of
3 Territorial Defence, do you know what kind of weapons that village unit
5 A. I would first like to say something. I was elected president of
6 the local commune, even though I did not long to any party, because of the
7 results I had achieved in the previous period. I was president of the
8 local commune for many years, even though the leading parties were SDA,
9 HDZ, they elected me. I resisted a little. I said, "Why are you electing
10 me?" And they said, "You're a great man of confidential and prestige."
11 That's what they told me.
12 Would you remind me of your question?
13 Q. My question was: What weapons those village units of Territorial
14 Defence had.
15 A. As there was a military barracks in Zenica, it was common
16 knowledge that the barracks was a threat for the whole municipality and
17 for all of us. And then it was my initiative. I appealed to the people
18 that we organise ourselves and hold guard duty. The Serbs accepted, but
19 they came with sticks. We Muslims had six rifles, but the Croats at that
20 time didn't show any weapons although they had some. Later on it was
21 discovered that they did.
22 Q. That brings me to my next question. How did the Croat population
23 organise themselves in your local commune, and when did you find out that
24 they were arming themselves?
25 A. The Croat population, I appealed to them, and not just them, to
1 Serbs as well. I told them about what the old people said, what happened
2 in the Second World War. If an Ustasha came, then a local man would take
3 care that nobody hurt anyone. And the same applied to the Chetniks. A
4 man would be chosen to escort the Chetniks through the village so as not
5 to hurt anyone. The same applied to the Partizans.
6 And then I appealed to them, "Let's avoid all of this." And the
7 Croats sort of accepted, but when I finally discovered what they wanted on
8 the first day of Bajram - I think it was the 4th of April it was a long
9 time ago - Luka Rajic called me and said, "We have to put on a uniform and
10 arm ourselves today." "Who?" I said. And he said, "Our unit?" "What
11 unit? You kept saying that you didn't have any weapons." I asked, "Who
12 gave you such orders?" And he said, "Mr. Kordic." I said, "can I somehow
13 reach this Mr. Kordic?", because I was -- even though I was risking -- I
14 was taking a risk myself. As I live above the railway station, I said I'd
15 wait for you by the railway track. And Luka had his own car. I thought
16 he was alone, but then I saw another two combatants with him. They were
17 wearing uniforms and automatic rifles. I think they were Kalashnikovs. I
18 said, "What's this, boys?" And they said, "We have to put on uniforms."
19 And we reached the brick yards in Busovaca. Somebody said, "Here
20 he is." And it was Kordic. I suppose they recognised his jeep. And we
21 stopped there. And indeed I saw several men. I don't know how many. I
22 didn't pay attention. I didn't count them, but quite a large group. And
23 a truck from which weapons were being distributed. I didn't really want
24 to watch.
25 And Luka called him up, and he came up and he said, "Hello, boys."
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13 French transcripts correspond
1 And then they explained to him what it is I wanted. And he said, "Above
2 Busovaca there's a coffee bar. Go and wait for me there."
3 We waited for about an hour, an hour and a half. He came with an
4 escort. Two guys were with him. He congratulated me on Bajram, and he
5 asked me what it was we wanted. And I said, "Mr. Kordic, you know that we
6 Muslims are celebrating Bajram today, and it's not a good idea for your
7 boys to put on a uniform on this particular day and to go on patrol with
8 weapons. This could -- this would be an unpleasant surprise, and who
9 knows where it could lead." But he said, "But they have to." And I said,
10 "What do you mean?" And he said, "They have to protect you from the
11 Chetniks." And I said, "What Chetniks?" And he enumerated all those
12 villages, and I said not to worry about it. And again I appealed to him
13 not to put on uniforms today, that it was in our common interest. And
14 then he agreed.
15 Q. Tell me now, after this period, the Bajram holidays, when an HVO
16 unit was formed in Lasva, which brigade of the HVO did it join?
17 A. I don't know exactly the name of the Busovaca Brigade, but anyway,
18 it was the Busovaca Brigade. And we insisted that they join the Zenica
19 HDZ, or if there's an HVO unit there that they should join the unit over
20 there, because it would be easier for us to work together, but they didn't
21 want to.
22 Q. Mr. Brkic, if I have understood you correctly, you were elected as
23 the president of the local commune by the assembly of the local commune,
24 which was composed of representatives of all ethnic groups.
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Tell me, in that capacity in the course of 1992, did you feel that
2 HVO and HDZ representatives were behaving differently, and how did the
3 majority Muslim population react to their behaviour?
4 A. Just a minute. Well, it was a grim situation. 70 per cent of
5 those people who first attacked us, let's say the representatives of the
6 local communes. They said, "Why aren't you resisting? Why are you
7 letting them kill us?" But -- that's what they said. But me and my -- I
8 and my associates tried to calm tension, and we tried to contact with the
9 TO staff, the headquarters of Zenica to cool of these problems. But there
10 were provocations, and they started saying, "We'll have a Herceg-Bosna,"
11 and they said, "There will be Serbs up to Bosnia." And they said,
12 "We're not interested in the villages Dolipolje and Mahlici [phoen]." It
13 was very provocative.
14 I don't know whether I should start talking about checkpoints, but
15 they started establishing checkpoints. There was a checkpoint at the
16 railway station, and they controlled the neighbours on a daily basis.
17 That was very sad, but we tried to calm our people down. We tried to
18 avoid a conflict.
19 Q. Mr. Brkic, tell me, in the summer of 1992, why was there more
20 serious conflict between Territorial Defence representatives and HVO units
21 in your local commune? Please go ahead.
22 A. Well, first of all, there was this platoon of ours. They formed a
23 TD, a Territorial Defence platoon consisting of 25 men. They had hunting
24 rifles that they used to mount guard.
25 We received a certain number of rifles. There was one light
1 machine-gun among the guns we received. And the Croats, together with the
2 commander, Zvonko, he was their leader, wanted to take five of those 25
3 weapons we had. We didn't even know how many weapons they had. And then
4 there were certain excesses. So after a few days of negotiations, we came
5 to an agreement.
6 They gave us two members for the Territorial Defence in Lasva. We
7 gave them two rifles, and we had to give them another one. We gave them
8 three rifles.
9 Q. Please tell me: How well was the population in your local commune
10 informed about other events in the country, and was there some kind of a
11 relay in that area?
12 A. I forgot to mention that. Immediately after that event, the one
13 I've just described, we had a relay above the relay -- above the railway
14 station on a hill, and we worked on this with Sarajevo TV. And since
15 we're in a valley, that relay didn't provide us with a good picture. But
16 there was a second device for a second channel which they misappropriated.
17 No one will admit this. And this device was taken to Pobrijezje, the
18 second device was taken to Pobrijezje above Zenica. So as far as
19 information was concerned, we didn't receive any information from Sarajevo
21 The situation was very difficult for the population.
22 Q. In response to another question, you said that they started
23 establishing checkpoints. Who started setting up checkpoints and where?
24 A. Well, there was a checkpoint from the -- at the junction. It was
25 at the junction, but colleagues of mine will probably tell you more about
1 this. Or a colleague of mine who's a member of the military will tell you
2 more about this, but I can tell you what I know.
3 There was three checkpoints, in Raspotoc [phoen] and then in
4 Nijanici [phoen], and as we insisted on this, we tried to persuade the
5 unit commander of this, we asked for the checkpoint to be moved to the
6 Lasva junction for the protection of the junction. Later on, some guards
7 were placed there, about 20 men at the junction to make sure that no
8 bridges was blown up, because if that happened, the area of Central Bosnia
9 would have come to a bad thing.
10 So in front of the railway station they took a container, and
11 that's where they started controlling our neighbours, our people who
12 passed by on a daily basis.
13 Q. Tell me, Mr. Brkic, as far as these misunderstandings among the
14 inhabitants are concerned, did you continue to try and find peaceful
15 solutions to the problems, and did you inform the civilian organs in the
16 Zenica municipality about these matters?
17 A. At the time the Serbs were still living in the area with us, and
18 at some time in May, I think - I can't remember the exact date - we formed
19 a kind of Crisis Staff for the local commune. And there were Serbian and
20 Croat and Muslim representatives there. And every day we held meetings,
21 because there were daily provocations. There was shooting at night from
22 various directions. But we knew who had the greatest number of weapons.
23 Then there were various provocative acts. For example, they would stop
24 some of our neighbours coming back from work. There were always
25 complaints. There were conflicts.
1 Every day we tried to analyse what had happened, and we tried to
2 reach conclusions to prevent this from happening in the future. The
3 Croats all the said that this was fine, but they continued to act as they
4 did. The Serbs, well, they didn't say much, although they had weapons.
5 They just kept silent.
6 And I apologise. Just a minute. Every day we informed the
7 Territorial Defence Municipal Staff and the authorities in Zenica
8 municipality. We informed them of all the new developments in the area.
9 Q. You said that HDZ and HVO representatives accepted the conclusions
10 that you adopted at joint meetings. Tell me, did they implement these
12 A. No, not at all.
13 Q. In January 1993, did anything happen in the vicinity of your local
14 commune? Were there any events that had a significant effect on
15 relationships within the local commune?
16 A. Well, I don't know the exact date. I don't know when exactly
17 Herceg-Bosna was proclaimed, but there was an effect on our Croats. They
18 started behaving differently. And whenever there was an incident, a
19 clash, up in Gornji Vakuf or Prozor, this always had an effect on our
20 area. People started organising themselves. People were always excited.
21 They were running to and fro, transporting things in various directions.
22 Whenever something happened in the surroundings this had a get on our
23 area. And especially, this was the time when the events started unfolding
24 in Kiseljak, Busovaca, and Merdani, in Loncari, et cetera.
25 That's about -- well, Merdani was the closest place to Lasva, to
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13 French transcripts correspond
1 the Lasva junction. It was at a distance of about two or three
3 Q. According to your information, what was happening in Merdani.
4 A. It's true I didn't hear much about that because I was at work
5 every day. But the soldiers who were at the junction and their commander
6 told me that Merdan had been shelled two or three days before the conflict
7 in Lasva or perhaps five or six days before. I don't know exactly. They
8 said that Merdan had been attacked and shelled, that a line had been
9 penetrated. I don't know how they survived.
10 Q. Mr. Brkic, when returning from work, did you notice refugees
11 arriving in Lasva, and if so, where were these refugees arriving from?
12 A. Well, since I couldn't monitor the situation every day, at every
13 meeting at the Crisis Staff, after 1700 hours we would try to examine what
14 had happened. That's how we had organised the Crisis Staff. Every day
15 reports were submitted. There was a Serb who was responsible for reports.
16 There was a Bosniak, and there was a Croat responsible for reports.
17 Refugees were fleeing from Merdan, from Busovaca, from Kacuni,
18 from Slokovici, and they would come to Lasva. Many of them would come to
19 Lasva and stay with, friends, relatives. They were trying to save their
21 Q. Are Busovaca and Merdan close to the Lasva local commune, and what
22 sort of a distance are we talking?
23 A. I said that Merdan was 2 or 3 kilometres away and Busovaca is
24 between 5 and 6 kilometres away.
25 Q. At the time in the local commune did you think there was an
1 imminent threat to your local commune, and did you attempt together with
2 HVO representatives to reach some sort of agreement?
3 A. As I said, we discussed all these problems every day, and I
4 pleaded with them, especially Zvonko, who was a deputy commander, deputy
5 president in the local commune in a certain sense. He was the driver. He
6 was involved in various affairs, but he didn't want to accept certain
7 things. I told Zvonko: You'll only cause problems for your people and
8 for my people. I -- I begged him. However, it was all to no avail. And
9 just before the conflict, at about 9.00 in the evening, there was no
10 electricity. We called the duty officer in the local commune. He said
11 the Croats were there and they wanted an urgent meeting. We mentioned the
12 people who were there. I asked whether they had weapons, and I said I
13 wouldn't turn up if they didn't -- if they had weapons on them, because
14 I've never carried a weapon.
15 And someone, Kristo Anto came to see me. He said, "Come on, take
16 your weapons outside." Because I went there alone. I was the only Muslim
17 to go there. And there was another Muslim on duty. There was a refugee
18 from Kotor Varos called Siljo. I don't know his real name. And they had
19 weapons again. And I said, "Anto, why did you say that they didn't have
20 any weapons? I can see weapons here." But what was I to do? That's what
21 happened. I asked what the problem was, and they said the troops had arrived
22 at the estuary. I said, "What troops?" He said 100 or 200 of them, I don’t
23 know how many, or what they wanted. Let's drive them away," they said.I said,
24 "Who's going to drive the soldiers away?" "You and I, said Zvonko. I
25 said, "Come on Zvonko, who am I, who are you to do it anyway?
1 They are probably there because they were ordered by someone to turn up. I
2 said, "Zvonko, I’m no expert in these things, I assume that junction has to
3 be guarded."
4 So finally he said, "I'll call a thousand troops from Busovaca."
5 I said, "As far as I'm concerned, Zvonko, you can call as many troops as
6 you want but I'm not going to meddle in those matters as a member of the
7 civilian authorities." I suggested that on the following day at 8.00 they
8 should wait for me at the station and I would turn up. Although I was
9 late for work on that day. I had problems at work. But I justified my
10 absence. I waited for them until half past eight. They didn't turn up.
11 I think it was the 24th or the 25th. I don't know exactly. It was in
12 January 1993.
13 Q. I apologise. You said that you proposed conclusion. What was the
14 nature of that conclusion? What did you suggest?
15 A. I suggest we go to the Territorial Defence Municipal Staff in
16 Zenica to reach an agreement down there and for them to say what the task
17 of that army was. And then I said, "Zvonko come back to Zenica." That
18 was also part of the conclusion, that he should return. He accepted that,
19 but he didn't want to go. That's what I assume at least.
20 Q. Thank you. On that day just before those clashes on the 26th of
21 January, at the meeting of the Crisis Staff and upon returning from work,
22 did you find out that certain HVO members had been arrested? I apologise.
23 Did you find out that the HVO had arrested certain BH army members?
24 A. Yes. There were HVO soldiers who intercepted two of our
25 neighbours. They were neighbours of ours. I don't know where they'd
1 been. I don't know if they had weapons or not, but these two soldiers
2 arrested them and they were taken to some kind of a house. Perhaps Marko
3 Rajic's house. I don't know why this was done. I called Zvonko and I
4 said, "Zvonko don't play around. You started causing problems. Release
5 the men. They're neighbours of yours. You will have to look them in the
6 face tomorrow." I don't know whether he listened to me, but these men
7 were released.
8 Q. Mr. Brkic, where were you on the 26th of January, 1993?
9 A. As I said, every day I went to work in Zenica. I returned at 1600
10 hours from work. Because I worked in the company as a cashier. If the
11 director or anybody else needed something, I had to be there.
12 Q. When you returned from -- when did you return from work on that
13 day and what did you find out?
14 A. Well, some people said, "Have you heard what happened in Lasva?"
15 I said, "No." When I returned home my wife told me certain things.
16 Someone from the local commune called me. Someone's on duty all day and
17 all night. And I was called they said, well, there were Muslims, Croats
18 and Serbs who were on duty. There was someone who was always present
19 there, and I was informed that there was a conflict. There were wounded,
20 dead on both sides. Nothing was official because night was falling.
21 There was nothing official that could be said. However, through the
22 window of the local commune building, I noted a group of Croatian
23 neighbours. I think Ivica Kristo, called Taraba, was leading them. And
24 this other person who was in front of the local commune said there was
25 another group crossing a meadow. There was a Faruk Barucija who was
1 leading them. Where to? Apparently to the school building. I didn't
2 want to get involved in that affair because everyone had their own duties.
3 The army had its own duties, and I was part of the civilian authorities.
4 I did intervene with one commander perhaps. I don't know who that man
5 was. I sent him to see someone. I asked him to make sure that these
6 people weren't maltreated. He said nothing would happen. I said those
7 civilians shouldn't remain in the school for too long and it was too cold.
8 I don't know if they stayed there for long, perhaps two or three hours. I
9 don't know exactly. And later on I found out that the military police had
10 taken those troops away, the troops that had surrendered. They'd taken
11 them to the KP Dom. As far as I heard they took them to the Zenica KP Dom
12 and civilians saw them returned home. Some remained with the Muslims in
13 the neighbourhood. Others went to Zenica by train to stay with family, et
15 Q. Tell me, whether on that day or later on -- I'll rephrase that
16 question. I apologise.
17 Awhile ago you said that you heard that there had been men killed
18 on both sides. At the time or later, did you hear anyone had been killed
19 or did you have information of another kind?
20 A. As far as I know, I heard that there were men who had been killed
21 on both sides. That's the information I was provided with. But the
22 person who gave me the information was killed. It was an all-out fight.
23 Some troops were advancing from the estuary and they wanted to avoid
24 passing through the village where there were Croats. They wanted to avoid
25 passing through the -- avoid passing through their checkpoints. They
12 Blank page inserted to ensure the pagination between the English and
13 French transcripts correspond
1 wanted to bypass the village and head in the direction of Kacuni. I don't
2 know what sort of a task they had, but the person who told me this is
4 He said that at the first house they reached, the company
5 commander, Camdzic, I think his name was, was killed by a sniper, and the
6 man next to him was killed too. At the time I didn't know who was killing
8 That's what I know. As for a massacre, I never heard anything
9 about that.
10 Q. Mr. Brkic, do you know where the wounded or dead were taken to?
11 A. As I was working in the railways, as president of the local
12 commune, I had to take certain measures on the basis of instructions from
13 the municipal authorities and the TO staff from Zenica. I formed a unit,
14 CZ, for supplies, and I -- a Civil Defence unit. And I had a good leader
15 who worked very well. And I said there's the Civil Defence in Zenica, and
16 you come to an agreement with them as to what should be done. And they
17 worked very well. They went to clear up the area and took the casualties
18 to Zenica.
19 There was also a lot of cattle roaming around. Whatever they
20 could catch, they gave to Muslim neighbours with a receipt, whether it was
21 a cow or a bull or whatever. So they really worked as professionals.
22 And let me also add, certain Croats would come and take the
23 cattle, but then again, with receipts. Everything had to be registered.
24 Whoever took the cattle and then people who took them back. Everybody had
25 to sign a piece of paper.
1 Q. When you mean CZ, you mean Civil Defence, don't you?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Tell me, Mr. Brkic, after this -- the -- this fighting on the 26th
4 of January, did the local commune take any measures to assist the local
5 population that was left behind and to, as far as possible, take care and
6 protect property?
7 A. There's a village above Dusina. It's at a junction of two roads.
8 It's a bit isolated from the other villages. And two or three old ladies
9 were left there. And this guy, the Civil Defence commander, and I told
10 him to go and see those ladies. Somebody could kill them. You never
11 know. Or they could rob them. And what should be done with those ladies
12 and their property?
13 He received instructions from the municipal Civil Defence of
14 Zenica that these ladies should be brought lower down to another village
15 where Bosniaks live, and they were put up with this lady Milka. They
16 spent ten or 15 days there. Whatever food they had and furniture,
17 everything was put there.
18 Then they were also told to collect all the things in those houses
19 and to put them in the school building, so when the Croats returned
20 tomorrow, they could particular up their property. But again, lists were
21 made of all the household goods taken from the houses, and everything was
22 registered. The idea was that it should be returned it their owners one
24 Q. Who collected and listed these items? Was it done by individuals
25 or by a commission?
1 A. In the Civil Defence staff in Lasva, there were four men, three
2 Muslims and one Croat, Drago Rajic, who remained living there. And we
3 would send him, as well. Not to load things but simply to be present, to
4 make sure that everything was done well. And I gave strict instructions
5 to make sure that nothing should go missing. You never know. I thought
6 even they might steal something. So a record was kept of everything. And
7 Drago Rajic had no complaints at all.
8 Q. Is this road through Lasva towards Dusina and Kacuni nowadays
9 being used by men, the military, civilians? I mean, at the time did it
10 become a means of communication with free territory?
11 A. Yes. That was the only route from Zenica to Sarajevo, the one
12 through Lasva, via Kacuni, and then to Fojnica. I don't know exactly how it
13 went from there to Sarajevo. In any case, that was the only communication
14 because the bridge had been destroyed in Visoko, both the railway and the
15 road bridge. The area up there was held by Serbs-Cekrcici. The road on this
16 side, towards Kalinovik, had already been destroyed by Croats, and a road
17 block had been set up. So the only communication went through Lasva. Then
18 around the Heliodrom, from Mostar where people were detained. Two or three
19 months later, people would pass through Lasva to go to their homes. Once at
20 a bus stop I saw a man going from Zavidovici to see relatives in Mostar.
21 Q. Mr. Brkic, since various people and troops were passing through
22 your village, did you take the initiative for civilian municipal
23 authorities to take certain steps so as to be able to fulfil your duties
24 as the civilian authority and to protect the property?
25 A. Yes, certainly. Around the 16th of February, 1993, I wrote a
1 letter, an official letter, though I made several phone calls. I wanted
2 to make sure for myself. And I addressed a letter to the president of
3 Zenica municipality, to the SDA party and the HDZ party, to the chief of
4 MUP, all the important figures that a meeting should be held. And it was
5 held. Whether it was a week later I'm not sure when. And they went to
6 see this settlement Taraba. The Croats went there. They saw what the
7 situation was like. They visited Rajici and Donja Visnjica, and they went
8 to the school, and I asked the gentleman on both sides, "Will you please
9 tell us whether all the property was taken care of properly." Everything
10 was piled up neatly and a piece of paper saying who the owners were. They
11 were full of admiration and they praised all of us, and they said, "If
12 only we had more such people."
13 And then I insisted some Croats were still living there for
14 another month or two, and I insisted on the protection of those Croats and
15 the return of others, that the police should protect those people. And a
16 conclusion was adopted to that effect, and already a day or two later a
17 kind of unit of the police was organised. I don't know exactly what they
18 were called. The police station in Lasva. And in the settlement
19 Kolonija. And no one could pass without them seeing him. And the police
20 did their jobs. I don't know the details. But anyway, they did -- they
21 did say what could be saved.
22 Q. Mr. Brkic, since in 1993 the conflicts continued between the army
23 and the HVO, the inhabitants in Lasva and the surrounding villages who had
24 left after the 26th of January, did they return or, if not, do you know
25 where they went?
1 A. As far as their return is concerned, I'm not satisfied nor can we
2 be satisfied, but now why? One must be frank. Lasva is an ordinary
3 village. You probably are not familiar with it. And these guys, these
4 Croats who mostly went to Busovaca, Vitez, they went to Croatia, to
5 Canada, to America, they can be found all over. And the village such --
6 such as Donja Visnjica, their homes their houses are there in Rajici as
7 well. Not a single one has been destroyed. We have a couple that has
8 returned, a couple with their son, without any problems. No one is
9 upsetting them. He has planted strawberries there. He is absolutely
11 Q. You are now telling me of the situation as it is today, but tell
12 me, did any of your communes -- do any of your communes who are living in
13 Busovaca nearby come to visit their property, their cemeteries, and what
14 are your relationships like? Is there any tension between you or do you
15 exchange normal greetings if they do come to the local commune?
16 A. Just below my house there is a Croat who built a house before the
17 war, Batonjic, Mato. I didn't make any difference between ethnicities. I
18 always wanted to protect everything, and I made sure that that house was
19 not touched, and he's very grateful to me for this. And when he comes we
20 have a cup of coffee. We exchange greetings regularly. And not just with
21 him, but there are others too. But there are others who won't even look
22 at me, but I don't care. I don't know what they consider me to be,
23 although I always had the best intentions. These were all younger men
24 than me. I would always address them and treat them as if they were my
1 Q. Now let me go back once again to 1993. You said that you
2 protected the property, that you took care of it in the school, counting
3 on your neighbours' return. As we see now, many of them have not returned
4 to this day.
5 Tell me, what did the Civil Defence do with those belongings, and
6 on whose instructions?
7 A. A large number of refugees, not just from Busovaca and Merdani and
8 even from Srebrenica, there are three or four families from Srebrenica.
9 There are those from Jajce and Kotor Varos. There are refugees in Lasva.
10 Most of them moved into Serb houses that were empty, and then also into
11 Croat houses. And it was always the Civil Defence who organised this.
12 And the school was about to start working, so these things were in two
13 rooms and the whole corridor. So these things had to be moved out. We
14 didn't know where.
15 And then the commander of the Civil Defence asked the Municipal
16 Staff what to do with those things. And then temporarily those belongings
17 were given to those refugees, but again with a receipt to indicate what --
18 who took what.
19 Q. Mr. Brkic, is there still a record to this day on the way in which
20 these goods were distributed temporarily if they were temporarily given to
21 others to use them instead of being returned to the their owners? The
22 question is, is there a record of all this in your local commune?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Brkic.
25 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] In view of the witness's health, I
1 have tried to be as brief as possible in my examination-in-chief. Thank
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Thank you. It is
4 half past three.
5 Sir, we're going to have a break, which will give you a chance to
6 rest, and we will resume work at 4.00, and the Prosecution will have
7 questions for you. But of course I will also give the floor to the other
8 Defence team who might also have questions for you, and then the
9 Prosecution will cross-examine you. So have a good rest, and we will
10 resume at 4.00.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
12 --- Recess taken at 3.32 p.m.
13 --- On resuming at 4.04 p.m.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We will now resume. Does the
15 other Defence team have any questions for this witness?
16 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
17 Mr. Brkic's testimony does not relate to the charges against Mr. Kubura,
18 and as a result, we have no questions for this witness.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. I'll now give the
20 floor to the Prosecution for their cross-examination.
21 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon,
22 Mr. President; good afternoon, Your Honours; good afternoon to my
23 colleagues on the other side.
24 Cross-examined by Ms. Henry-Benjamin:
25 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Brkic, my name is Tecla Henry-Benjamin, and
1 I'm one of the Prosecutors representing the Prosecution in this case this
2 in afternoon.
3 As the President of the Trial Chamber indicated earlier this
4 afternoon, I am going to ask you a few questions so as to clarify certain
5 things. However, if you feel at any time that you have not understood the
6 question, feel free to interrupt me. I will surely repeat it or rephrase
7 it as you so request.
8 I note your health, and I would take that into consideration.
9 Thank you.
10 Mr. Brkic, apart from your position as president of the local
11 community of Lasva, did you hold any other positions in any other
13 A. I don't know whether I was clear enough, but I was the president
14 of the Crisis Staff for a certain period of time. Then Hazim Barucija
15 replaced me, so the two of us took turns. When he joined the army, then I
16 took over again.
17 Q. And were you ever a member of the Lasva Peace Council?
18 A. You mean in the earlier period. Before the war I was the
19 president of the peace council for a long time, but not during this
21 Q. Thank you, sir. Now, could you just give us an idea of your --
22 your duties as president of the local community of Lasva. Basically, what
23 does it entail -- or what did it entail?
24 A. Well, the local commune is an institute which improves living
25 conditions in local communes. It takes local actions. It tries to
1 improve living conditions, communications, the water supply system, the
2 electricity system, et cetera.
3 Q. And most of all, would I be correct in saying that it assisted in
4 trying to keep peace in the area?
5 A. Well, before the war that wasn't necessary, but in wartime
6 conditions, the local commune Statute didn't provide for that. But we
7 organised ourselves in a certain way on the basis of how we had lived
8 together before the war. We tried to come to an agreement to ensure that
9 the territory wasn't affected, because we thought we should first mount
10 village guards and then Crisis Staffs to analyse the problems on a daily
11 basis and to ensure that these problems did not occur the following day.
12 Q. Prior to the outbreak of the conflict, was the Lasva school used
13 as the location for negotiations between the Muslims, or the Bosniaks, as
14 referred to, and the Croats so as to maintain peace and stability in the
16 A. I couldn't say, because I worked every day. I had certain
17 information. Perhaps my colleague who will be appearing here tomorrow
18 could answer your question. I heard that certain Croatian representatives
19 from Croatia came, and that was at the beginning or in mid-April. I don't
20 know the exact date. It was a long time ago. Something was discussed at
21 the meeting, but as to what was discussed, I don't know as I wasn't
23 Q. But as president of the -- of the local community Lasva, weren't
24 you kept informed and abreast as to what transpired?
25 A. Well, I should have been informed, but the situation was such. It
1 was just before the war broke out, and people no longer trusted each other
2 in Bosnia and in -- in the Lasva valley itself. You could see what the
3 Serbs wanted. They didn't want to live with us. I said Croats -- the
4 Croats also started implementing their policies. They started fighting
5 for themselves. They organised themselves in a certain manner. So I
6 found out that there was a meeting, but as to the purpose of the meeting
7 and as to what was discussed at that meeting, I never found out about
8 this, believe me.
9 Q. Thank you, sir. But -- okay. Let's move then to post -- or,
10 rather, during the outbreak, the actual outbreak of the conflict. Do you
11 know if there was ever an attempt made by the two groups, the two mixed
12 groups, the Muslims and the Croats, to try to negotiate with respect to
13 coming to some peace plan in the area? And that is during the outbreak.
14 Are you aware of any such meeting of the two groups?
15 A. I don't know. I should have been present as the president of the
16 local commune and of the Crisis Staff, but I really don't know anything
17 about this meeting. Where was that meeting held? Could you tell me?
18 Q. My -- my information tells me that it was held in the school, the
19 Lasva school.
20 A. During which period?
21 Q. During the conflict. The very day of the conflict. I think it's
22 1600 hours in the evening.
23 A. I don't know anything about that meeting. I know I was in the
24 local commune at 1700 hours with the person on duty, and there were two
25 other member of the Crisis Staff, and we were trying to agree what we
1 should do on the following day. We were trying to organise ourselves.
2 But as for a meeting with two groups, as for a meeting between the army
3 and the HVO, I know nothing about this.
4 Q. Now, could you, for the benefit of the Trial Chamber, tell us if
5 you knew that there was preparation for the attack?
6 A. By whom?
7 Q. If I were to say to you that at least seven to ten days before the
8 attack or the outbreak of the conflict on the 26/1/93 that a large
9 concentration of members of the ABiH was noticeable in the Lasva-Dusina
10 area, would that be correct?
11 A. Well, these troops, as far as I know, because I didn't really
12 meddle in military policies and in their tasks, it wasn't my right, my
13 task was to take care of the civilian population to the extent that was
14 possible at the time. The situation was chaotic, I must say. No one
15 listened to anyone. No one had any respect for anyone, et cetera.
16 I found out that there was some sort of a unit that -- one that
17 consisted of 10, 20, or 50 soldiers, I really wouldn't know, nor do I know
18 what their task was.
19 Q. So then, am I correct in assuming that you personally was never
20 involved in direct preparation for the attack that was to take place on
21 the 26th? You as president of the local commune was not involved in this
22 at all?
23 A. I wasn't involved in that. I wasn't familiar with that event.
24 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, the witness has
25 answered the question, but I'd like to object for the sake of the
1 transcript, because the witness never mentioned an attack, nor did he
2 mention any preparations for an attack, and therefore, there are no
3 grounds upon which my colleague could ask this witness this question.
4 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, if my learned friend would
5 look a couple questions above, I did ask him if there was a presence some
6 seven to ten days before the attack, and he did answer on the 26th of
8 Q. Okay, sir, could you tell us whether you were aware of what
9 transpired on the 26th of January, 1993, in Lasva? Could you tell us if
10 you know what happened? If something happened, could you tell us what
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If I haven't intervened, that
13 means that the Prosecution may go ahead and put this question to the
14 witness. The witness may say what happened on the 26th of January.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think I have already told you what
16 happened. I was at work. I went to work at 6.00 in the morning and
17 returned home at 4.00 p.m. I was told that there were problems in Lasva,
18 that there were men who had been killed and wounded on both sides. I
19 returned home to have lunch with my family. I was called to come to the
20 local commune. I found out that there had been a clash, but that person
21 hadn't been on the site so he couldn't tell me much about it. This
22 happened two or three kilometres above the local commune in a village
23 called Dusina, if there was such a conflict. But I'm not sure of that,
24 nor do I know anything about the nature of this conflict.
25 Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, if I have misunderstood you, but could
1 you tell us the distance between your village and Dusina, as you just said
2 to us, please?
3 A. From my village to Dusina, well, it's -- the distance between the
4 two villages is about a thousand -- 800 to 2.000 metres.
5 Q. And is it your evidence that something may have transpired on the
6 26th of January, 1993, but you are not aware of what happened?
7 A. Could you please rephrase your question and be perhaps a little
8 more specific?
9 Q. Okay. Earlier on I asked you about the 26th of January, 1993, and
10 a conflict, and you, in response, said to me that the conflict took place
11 in a village a little higher than yours called Dusina. And then you
12 subsequently said that Dusina was about 800 to 2.000 metres away from your
13 village. And my question to you is: Is it your evidence that you were
14 not aware of what may have transpired on the 26th of January in the
15 village of Dusina?
16 A. My village is between 1.000 and 800 metres and 2.000 metres away
17 from the other village. When I arrived, when I returned from work, I
18 found out -- I was told by certain workers that there had been a -- some
19 kind of clashes in -- in Lasva and that there were men who had been killed
20 and wounded on both sides.
21 I'll repeat this. I returned home. I had lunch. We ate what we
22 had to eat, my family and I. I was called by a person from the local
23 commune who said there was something I had to be informed of. I went to
24 the local commune and asked this person to tell me what the problem was.
25 He said that there had been a clash in Dusina, but he couldn't tell me
1 anything about the number of men who had been killed or the number of men
2 wounded. We tried to see what we could do as civilian authorities.
3 Q. And as the civilian authorities, could you tell us what you did,
4 if you did anything?
5 A. Well, first of all, I sent a man to see the unit commander in the
6 school where these Croats were kept. This 30-year-old man appeared, and I
7 said, "Please make sure that these people are not maltreated." And he
8 said, "Don't worry. They haven't been maltreated, and they won't be
9 maltreated." That's what he said, literally. I said, "See what you can
10 do." I don't know what the army should have done. And I said, "Make sure
11 that this doesn't last for long because it's very cold."
12 After two or three hours, the problem was solved, because the
13 soldiers were taken by the military police to the Zenica KP Dom. And some
14 of the civilians returned home. Some went back there to families in
15 Zenica, and some remained with their Muslim neighbours in Lasva to spend
16 the night there.
17 Q. Would you be able to state for us who was this person that you
18 would have sent to the school? Do you recall?
19 A. Yes. Yes. The man was dead. He died of cancer three years ago.
20 Q. I am not sure if the record has taken -- I'm not sure if we've
21 gotten the record of his name. Could you please give us his name again,
23 A. Omer Helvida [phoen].
24 Q. Thank you. Now, you would have sent somebody to the school to
25 investigate, as you stated, and it seems to me, and you could correct me
1 if I'm wrong, that you may have been concerned why you sent somebody to
2 the school. Am I right?
3 A. Well, let me tell you, I am a person who lived with those people
4 very well, and right up until then we were good neighbours, and without
5 any concern, as a person, I asked this man to make sure that there
6 shouldn't be any problems, any trouble there. And I know that what
7 happened to people who were detained in various schools, in various
8 places, and I wanted it make sure that our people did not cause any
9 similar trouble to what the Serbs had done.
10 Q. What was the prevailing atmosphere on the 26th of January, 1993,
11 in the Lasva Valley?
12 A. As I said, I came at 4.00 in the afternoon. This is wintertime.
13 It gets dark by half past four in Bosnia already. And it was dusk. I
14 couldn't see much. But just -- I saw the Croats being brought there as
15 they were going along the road. I saw them through the window. And on
16 the other hand, the man on the duty, Barucija Faruk saying that another
17 part of the population was coming across the fields to the school. That's
18 all I saw because it was already dark by then.
19 Q. On that day, in your opinion, what was this conflict all about?
20 Was it a conflict between two armies? Was it?
21 A. As far as I know, the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina went on
22 assignment. I don't know what the assignment was, but they went as some
23 sort of a patrol from the crossroads. And again, this is on the basis of
24 what this associate of mine told me. He worked in the railways too. And
25 then there was all-out fighting, he said. People didn't know who fired at
1 whom. He fled home, in fact.
2 I don't know how to put it otherwise. I'm no specialist. Whether
3 it was an attack or defence or a conflict, anyway, it happened. This
4 company commander was killed from a sniper for no reason, as far as I
5 learnt. He was passing by a house. I know that, too, that they didn't
6 want to go through the villages, not to upset the Croats, not to frighten
7 the Croats.
8 Another man following him who tried to pull him out was also hit,
9 and that is when the all-out shooting started.
10 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, with the Trial Chamber's
11 position, could the witness be shown Prosecution Exhibit P649, please.
12 Q. Sir, I don't really want to keep you too long, so I'll guide you
13 to the area that I'm looking at, and it's -- it's page 2, really of --
14 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, my learned friend
15 should first lay the foundation for asking this question. We have to know
16 whether the witness is aware at all of this document, whether he ever saw
17 it, and to ask certain questions, and if there are any contradictions and
18 if it's for credibility's sake, then she might ask him questions. But
19 simply to give him a document and ask him to read it, I don't think it is
21 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President --
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Henry-Benjamin.
23 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, I think we went through this
24 on a couple of occasions with my learned friend, and I think I had
25 explained to the Trial Chamber in great detail that, firstly, this is
1 cross-examination, and the length and the breadth of cross-examination is
2 completely different to examination-in-chief.
3 Secondly, once there is some nexus or there is some link with
4 respect to the document, the witness can be asked questions on the
5 document, whether it is to clarify or it's for credibility reasons.
6 This witness is a witness who the Defence brought with respect to
7 the Lasva Valley and what happened in the Lasva Valley. This document
8 speaks entirely to what happened in the Lasva Valley. There's no need
9 under cross-examination for the Prosecution to lay any foundation. Once
10 there's a link, the witness can be asked questions on the document.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Let me summarise for
12 the Prosecution. This document establishes a link between the -- there is
13 a link between the witness and the document. Indeed, I see that there is
14 mention of the death of HVO members and also of the village of Dusina. So
15 there is a link.
16 As for the document itself, the Defence rightly asks whether the
17 witness is aware of the document. If he knows it, what he says can have
18 some importance. If he's not aware of the document, then clearly his
19 words or his comments about it will have very little value.
20 So Ms. Benjamin, would you ask the witness whether he's familiar
21 with this document, and then ask him about the contents and the link, and
22 then you can ask him about the link between him and the document.
23 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Thank you, Mr. President.
24 Q. Mr. Brkic, if you look at the document, would you be able to say
25 if you're familiar with what's in the document?
1 A. To tell you the truth, I see this document for the first time in
2 my life. I don't know what I could say about it. I -- to be able to
3 comment on it I need to read it. But what you said before, that I was
4 familiar with the Lasva Valley events, Lasva Valley is a considerable
5 area, from the spring of the river to Travnik. So it's a big area. I
6 wish to avoid all confusion about that.
7 Q. I think the comment referred to the evidence that was led, the
8 area of the Lasva Valley that you were in and Dusina, and it was in that
9 respect that the document was shown to you, or the document is shown to
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Wait a moment, please. Allow me
12 to intervene. The document, P649, that I have in my hands, my impression
13 is that there are two documents. There is the document signed by Dr.
14 Prlic, but there is also another document dated the 26th of January, again
15 by Dr. Prlic. Which document, actually, are you asking him about? Maybe
16 the cause of the misunderstanding. Because the reference to Dusina is in
17 the second document and not in the first.
18 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, it's the document that's dated
19 25th of January, 1993. And you're quite right. I think both documents
20 are marked P649, but it is the one that is dated 25th of January, 1993.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Regarding the document of the
22 25th of January, go directly to your question, please.
23 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN:
24 Q. And, sir, I would just ask you to look at the second paragraph,
25 and it is a description of -- of what actually took place. And my
1 question to you --
2 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, if we're talking of
3 the document dated the 25th of January, according to the indictment, the
4 events in Dusina occurred on the 26th, and I don't know the purpose of
5 these questions by my learned friend about a document and an event that
6 took place prior to that date and are not covered by the indictment.
7 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, I think my friend, even in her
8 examination-in-chief, alluded to the fact that Lasva -- the incidents in
9 Lasva took place on the 25th. The incidents in Dusina took place on the
11 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] I never said anything like that.
12 The witness spoke about the 25th in the village of Merdani, which is not
13 part of the local commune of Lasva.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Ms. Benjamin, the Defence is
15 telling us that regarding the 25th of January, the witness was speaking of
16 the village of Merdani.
17 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, the witness, with all due
18 respect, may have been talking about Merdani, but the witness was in the
19 Lasva area, or his area that he speaks of, on the 25th of January, and I'm
20 sure he is quite competent to guide us through as to what happened.
21 If it is that the Prosecution -- the Defence believes that
22 foundation has to be laid, then I would ask the Trial Chamber to please
23 give us some guidance as to how this would be done in future. And in
24 light of that, I will withdraw the document until we can get further
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You can continue with your
2 questions, but in order to save time, go directly to the line with the
3 reference to Dusina and his position as president of the local commune and
4 put the question to him regarding that particular aspect, because let us
5 not forget that he spoke about the Crisis Staff that he set up, and the
6 Crisis Staff was established, apparently, before the 26th. And anyway, I
7 will be asking him about that.
8 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Thank you, Mr. President. That's precisely
9 why the document was shown to him.
10 Q. But, sir, I'm going to take you, as I said earlier before the
11 interruption, to the second paragraph. I am not sure what page it would
12 be in your language, but I'll take you down to line nine.
13 A. Second paragraph?
14 Q. Yes. Yes, please. And line --
15 A. About people killed?
16 Q. Can I read it for you in the interests of time? "All Croatian
17 houses in the ethnically mixed village of Dusina have been set alight and
18 the women and children and elderly are subject to downright slaughter and
20 And my question that I wanted to ask to you with respect to that
21 was if you could comment on that for us, if you could shed some light on
22 that report for us.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Have you understood the
24 question? There is a document that you're not aware of coming from a
25 Croat entity, and in that document there is the sentence that has been
1 read to you. So the Prosecution is asking what you think about it, what
2 your comment would be regarding that passage. You may have nothing to
3 say. You may say it's false, but what counts is what you're going to tell
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I'm just looking at
6 the number of dead, 33. It was nothing like that. I never heard of such
7 a figure. I never heard of any slaughter or lighting of houses as far as
8 I know. But I must say I wasn't on the spot. Maybe I went there a month
9 later to see for myself what had happened to the houses.
10 The houses were quite intact until the next day, when HVO units
11 from Busovaca shelled a house in Kegelji, and the roof tell in. And
12 shells were not dropped only on Dusina but in other villages inhabited by
13 Serbs across the Bosna River.
14 So whoever wrote this, he, in my view, did not have the proper
15 information, although I don't know much about it either. But that so many
16 were killed and that such suffering was caused is out of the question.
17 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN:
18 Q. Thank you, sir. Would you be able to assist us, if you can, that
19 is, as to which units of the ABiH were present in the area at the time?
20 A. I'm really sorry. I'm unable to discuss those details because I
21 was not involved in the army, nor did I have any right to interfere. They
22 didn't interfere with my civilian activities. So I really can't answer
23 that question.
24 Q. But awhile ago you had indicated to us that you had sent one Omer
25 Helvida to the school to see the unit commander in the school where the
1 Croats were kept. Am I correct?
2 A. I was quite clear. I came home at 4.00 p.m. I went there at 5
3 p.m., a call to come by the late Omer who explained to me that there had
4 been problems, that the Croats were being held down there, and I said that
5 I saw some Croats going towards the school. And I appealed to him as a
6 man, as a humanist, and having learnt from the TV and from the press what
7 the Serbs were doing elsewhere to make sure that we didn't act in the same
8 way, that we must save those people and make sure that there's no
9 mistreatment, even though there was no danger to then.
10 He wasn't a commander. He was just some sort of squad leader or
11 something, who was together with five or six men watching that school.
12 And the man told -- told me there hasn't been any mistreatment nor will
13 there be.
14 Q. So am I correct in I'm saying that you cannot assist this Trial
15 Chamber as to, one, which unit or what unit was in the Lasva school on the
16 26th of January? You cannot assist us here today?
17 A. I can't. I really can't.
18 Q. And I believe, as well, that you will not be able to assist us as
19 to the commander of that unit either?
20 A. Yes, I can't.
21 Q. Thank you. Now, I'm just going to ask you just --
22 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreters note the witness said, "Yes, I
23 can't assist you."
24 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Thank you. We just got it corrected. Thank
1 Q. I'm just going to ask you this because you see you were the
2 president of the local community of Lasva, and so I get the impression
3 that you were involved with what was going on and everything that was
4 happening in the community. Am I correct?
5 A. You mean what happened or what should have happened?
6 Q. What actually happened in and around the community?
7 A. I've already said that I took all possible steps as far as the
8 civilian authorities are concerned. What happened, happened. One must
9 admit that, that it was my duty as a man, as president of the local
10 commune, to save what could be saved.
11 Q. Well, I ask you that question because, you see, there's evidence
12 before this Court that certain things transpired, and so I wanted to lay
13 the foundation first. As president of the local community of Lasva, I
14 wanted you -- or, rather, I would like you, for the benefit of the Trial
15 Chamber, tell us exactly what your role was and exactly how you were
16 involved to see if you can assist us here.
17 A. Perhaps I've already said this, but I had my tasks to perform as a
18 member of the civilian authorities. At that time, no one could have much
19 control, because people didn't trust each other. There were even Muslims
20 who didn't trust me, because I said, "Listen, let's try to avoid a chaotic
21 situation. Let's try to save what can be saved." And my task was to have
22 meetings of the Crisis Staff, to analyse what had happened, analyse why
23 shooting had broken out. And some Croat, for example, the late Zvonko
24 Rajic, was made responsible to deal with the problems. If there was any
25 shooting among the Muslims, but we didn't have ammunition or anything,
1 because we were guarding every bullet that we had. On the whole we had
2 hunting rifles, but there was a Muslim who had certain responsibilities,
3 and the Serbs didn't shoot. They were preparing to leave, and they left.
4 We analysed what had happened every day. We tried to solve the
5 problems and to ensure that that there were no incidents. That was my
6 main and most important task. I don't know if I have been sufficiently
8 Q. I think you have tried your best. And let's take, for example,
9 Zvonko Rajic. Would you be aware of what eventually happened to him? Do
10 you know?
11 A. No. I heard that he was killed. I heard about that. I had to
12 hear about that. I heard that he was killed, and on that day when I
13 returned at 5.00 p.m., I heard that he had been killed, but as to who else
14 had been killed, I don't know. He was a leader. And the first news we
15 obtained concerned Zvonko Rajic. As to how he was killed and who killed
16 him, I don't know. I was working in Zenica. I was 20 kilometres away
17 from that site. The telephones weren't working because there was no
18 electricity. If there's no electricity, the phones lines don't work.
19 Q. But did you come home in the evenings after work? Did you come
20 into the Lasva area where you lived in the evenings after work? Did you
21 come home?
22 A. On that day?
23 Q. On that day and prior to that day and after that day. Did you
24 normally come home?
25 A. Every day. I went to work and returned, apart from the weekend.
1 Q. So if I were to assess what you have just said and I were to
2 arrive at the conclusion that even though you lived in the Lasva Valley,
3 even though you were president of the local community of the Lasva area,
4 you were not aware of anything that went on? Anything that you knew is
5 what you heard or what somebody told you, am I right?
6 A. You're right.
7 Q. You had no personal knowledge of any of these things?
8 A. What are you referring to specifically?
9 Q. What transpired during the conflict on the 25th and on the 26th.
10 Do you know what was the outcome, what was the consequences of the
11 conflict? Do you know?
12 A. All I knew was what I was told by associates, assistants.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, if you feel -- if you don't
14 feel well, tell us. I can see that you don't feel quite comfortable. We
15 can stop if necessary.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's no problem. We can continue.
17 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, I think we just have -- we
18 just have one more question and then I think I'm going to release him.
19 Q. My question to you is: Hasim, Hasim Barucija -- do you know
20 somebody by the name of Hasim Barucija? I'm not sure if I'm correct --
21 pronouncing it correctly.
22 A. His name is Hasim Barucija, you're right.
23 Q. Do you know that person?
24 A. I do.
25 Q. Would he be one of the persons who informed you as to what
1 happened in your absence while the conflict was going on? You referred to
2 people telling you. Would he be one?
3 A. No. He had his tasks in the army. We wouldn't see each other, or
4 perhaps only once a week to have coffee together, but that was all.
5 Q. No. (Redacted)
8 reason why I asked the question as to who, you know, might have been
9 informing you as to what transpired.
10 A. No, no.
11 Q. Thank you very much, sir.
12 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, this concludes the
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The Defence counsel.
15 Re-examined by Ms. Residovic:
16 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Brkic, my learned colleague asked you whether
17 any meetings were held, as we can see on page 30. I apologise. Let me
18 just have look. On page 35, lines 16 and 17. My colleague asked you
19 whether any meetings were held before the attack or in the course of the
21 My question is -- Mr. Barucija [as interpreted] I apologise. I
22 apologise. There was a translation mistake, but I will ask you this
23 question: As president of the local commune of Lasva, when the troops
24 came to the junction, did you have this meeting that took place before the
1 A. Yes. This person, Anto Kristo, came to see me and he said, "Do
2 come." I said, "Anto, I don't want to see any weapons."
3 Q. We've heard about that. But did you then go to Zenica to see the
4 civilian and military organs and to ask why these troops had appeared at
5 the Lasva junction?
6 A. Well, that was our conclusion. Then I stayed on after work. I
7 left at 9.00. I even had problems at work because -- and my superior
8 said, "You can't behave like this. If -- you should go home and deal with
10 Q. Who didn't come?
11 A. Erudzin [phoen] Zvonko.
12 Q. My colleague also asked you whether you knew anything about the
13 events that transpired, and you said what you said. You said you had no
14 personal knowledge of the event itself. But tell me, did you see the
15 results of these events? Did you see the people who had been taken to the
16 school? Did you see them being taken to the school? Did you notice the
17 results of what had taken place that day?
18 A. I've told you what I saw through the window of the local commune.
19 Ivica Kristo was taking some of the Croatian population away, and Faruk
20 Barucija was leading other people away across a meadow. He was taking
21 these people via another route. The police weren't there. The army
22 wasn't there. They weren't being forced. And there were even old women
23 who had been transported in a car. There were three or four women in a
25 Q. My learned colleague showed you P649, the document P649, which I
1 think you still have you -- have before you. It consisted of two
2 documents. One is dated the 25th of January, and the other the 26th of
4 Tell me, on the 25th of January in the local commune of Lasva, or
5 in any other village in Lasva, in Dusina, in Kegelj, in Visnjica, was
6 there an armed conflict of any kind or were there any incidents that
7 resulted in death?
8 A. Well, I don't know about the dates, whether it was on the 24th or
9 25th, with you these two members of the Territorial Defence were arrested.
10 They didn't have weapons. I don't know where they were going. But when I
11 phoned Zvonko and I told him that there was a problem, I said, "Release
12 the people." It looked terrible. That was on the 24th or the 25th. I
13 don't know the exact date.
14 Q. Had an armed conflict occurred, regardless of whether it was an
15 incident an attack or an action in defence, would you have known or learnt
16 about that event after you returned from Zenica? I'm talking about the
17 25th of January.
18 A. Yes, of course.
19 Q. Mr. Brkic, now whether it was the 25th or on some other day, tell
20 me whether all the Croat houses in the village of Dusina were ever set on
22 A. Absolutely not. I -- those houses were left intact until the
23 next -- two days later when Croat forces from Busovaca or Kiseljak, I
24 don't know where they were shelling from. Unfortunately they hit the roof
25 of Jozo Kegelj's house, and it burnt down. Those shells were flying
1 towards Lasva, across the Bosna river, because of the hill probably. They
2 were shooting at random, in all directions.
3 Q. Mr. Brkic, did you ever hear that on that day or the days that
4 followed a slaughter had been committed over women, children, and old men?
5 A. That is out of the question. You have information about what
6 happened, how these things happened. I really don't know because I didn't
7 witness it and don't want to talk about it.
8 Q. I have just one more question for you. Do you know Hrvoje
9 Sarinic, Mr. Brkic?
10 A. No, I don't.
11 Q. And do you know Jadranko Prlic? Was he from the area?
12 A. No. I know him from television as prime minister and a minister.
13 I think he's from Herzegovina, from Mostar, somewhere like that.
14 Q. And finally, you spoke several times about the late Omer, who told
15 you about the event that took place that day. Can you tell me, if you
16 still remember, what he said to you on that occasion how that conflict
17 started? Let us call it a conflict as well, because you yourself can't
18 define it otherwise. How the conflict started that morning according to
19 what Mr. Omer told you when you came to the local commune building.
20 A. He told me literally. He comes from the village of Dusina, but he
21 was in the Crisis Staff, and he was an honourable man. He had time to
22 tour those places. That day he happened to be in the village of Brdo.
23 What he was doing there, I didn't ask him, nor did I ever learn that.
24 He said, "I noticed that there were troops coming towards Brdo
25 from the junction. They reached the first house." That is what he told
1 me. "Somebody from the Croat houses, there are two or three such houses
2 on a small hill, and somebody shouted, "Halt, I'll shoot." And the boys
3 took shelter behind the house. How many were there he couldn't tell me.
4 And the man going went in front, this Rajic, he said, "What do you want?"
5 And he was hit by a sniper. I suppose those snipers know what they're
6 doing. Then the second guy who was behind him, who wanted to pull him
7 out, he was hit, too, and then the shooting started on all sides. That is
8 what he told me.
9 Q. Thank you. Just one more question. As you were president of the
10 local commune, and all the ethnicities living there, I assume, elected
11 you, which means they had confidence in you, you said that some Croats had
12 stayed behind. They remained to live there for a certain period in your
13 local commune. Did anyone among your Croat neighbours ever give you a
14 different version of the events from the version given to you by Mr. Omer?
15 A. As regards Zvonko Rajic and his late father, about seven days
16 later he came to see me at home. He didn't have shoes. He asked me
17 whether I had some shoes to give him. I don't know how come he was left
18 without shoes. And I found some shoes. Even the size was not right, but
19 he said, "That's fine, neighbour." And I said, "Now, what happened?" And
20 he said, "Well, what happened, happened. It's over now."
21 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I have
22 no further questions, but I would like to appeal to the Trial Chamber that
23 I did not wish to interrupt during the cross-examination as some of the
24 questions related to destruction and looting, which is not part of the
25 indictment, these charges have been withdrawn, and I feel that witnesses
1 should not be questioned about those events now.
2 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] No questions, Mr. President.
3 Thank you.
4 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, may I? I think I need to
5 respond to my friend, because nowhere in the cross-examination was looting
6 and burning raised. And I think, if I'm not mistaken, the
7 examination-in-chief might have asked questions about houses, and that's
8 how we came to the document and the part that spoke about the Croatian
9 houses. We were talking about the killings. So I just wanted to clarify
10 that for the Trial Chamber.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
12 Questioned by the Court:
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, I have a few questions,
14 because your answers are rather perplexing for me. I shall try to
15 understand what exactly was your function as president of the local
16 community. I would like to know -- the Defence has already asked you
17 about this, but it is important for the Judges to be fully informed.
18 When you were elected, were you elected by the inhabitants of
20 A. According to the statute of the Lasva local commune, which was in
21 force before the war, it was as follows: There was about 1.300
22 inhabitants, and the Assembly should have consisted of 13 delegates.
23 According to certain percentages that were agreed, there should have been
24 nine Muslims, two Croats, and two Serbs. And all this was abided by
1 The Serbs were those who proposed me as president, the Serbs. I
2 said, don't keep proposing me. I was president for so long before the
3 war. And I was quite tired and exhausted. I was active for 25 years. My
4 purpose was to promote living conditions of my neighbours.
5 Then both Muslims and Croats responded and said, "Zvonko, you have
6 to be president." But I said straight away, "If you're going to be guided
7 by party politics, I won't be the president." And they all agreed, and
8 they said that they would respect me. Then we elected the working bodies,
9 president of the council, of the priest council, various commissions,
10 Civil Defence staffs, and we formed all those bodies at the constituent
12 Everything was fine until the referendum was schedule, the
13 referendum on the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Serbs were
14 explicit and said, "Don't take it against us, but we're not going to take
15 part, and we have orders not to take part." I -- we and the Croats
16 responded in very large numbers. I was surprised, I must say, that so
17 many people should come to vote which were not interested in the past so
18 much in voting.
19 And everything was fine until the barracks, the military barracks
20 in Zenica, was evacuated. We kept guard duty, village guard duty,
21 together, as I have already said. We had hunting rifles. The Croats had
22 two or three -- I don't know what they really were. Like some special
23 kind of rifle. Drum rifles. And this went on until May. I think it was
24 in May or June that the barracks was evacuated from Zenica, and then the
25 situation deteriorated from one day to the next.
1 That is when we formed the Crisis Staff. Again, four Muslims, two
2 Serbs, two Croats in the Crisis Staff. And I led the Crisis Staff for a
3 month or two, and then I said to myself that it was too tiring because I
4 had to work every day. I have two children and a wife. I had to take
5 care of my family as well. You know, there was a crisis of food. We were
6 hungry. I have to tell you. I'm sorry, but that's how it was. We had to
7 sow and plough in order to survive.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. We understand that
9 you were president of this community for a long time, for at least 25
11 A. Yes. I wasn't always the president. I was sometimes president of
12 the socialist alliance, president of this commission or that, but
13 president of the community for about ten years or so.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When you were elected by the 13
15 delegates, did everyone vote in favour? Were you elected unanimously?
16 A. Yes, a hundred per cent, a hundred per cent.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Can we deduce from that that you
18 knew virtually all the inhabitants of the village of Dusina, Lasva, Brdo?
19 You must have known everybody.
20 A. I didn't know each and every one, but most of the population.
21 Didn't know the children, of course. Yes, I enjoyed a great deal of
22 confidence among those people, and I trusted them too.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You told us that the electoral
24 body -- or, rather, that the electorate had -- or the number of
25 inhabitants was 1.300. Was there a civilian police there for policing
1 work? Who was doing the policing for these 1.300 people? If there's a
2 theft or a traffic accident, who did the policework?
3 A. There was a police station in Lasva. The inhabitants, there were
4 1.300, but the police station was in Drivusa, nine kilometres away from
5 Lasva, halfway between Lasva and Zenica. Up until -- was it 1991? That
6 is just before the elections in December. There was four or five men who
7 were patrolling every day, but not at night.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] As part of your elected
9 function, when an inhabitant of the commune died as a result of suicide or
10 due to various accidents, would the president of the commune go to see the
11 person, the conditions of his death? Did this occur in the past 25 years
12 of your activities and mandate?
13 A. I am glad to say that we didn't have any such instances. You
14 probably mean murder. That never happened in Lasva, because it was a
15 peaceful oasis. The co-existence was extremely good. I wish to repeat
16 once again. And if somebody should die in a family or should get killed
17 in a car accident or hit by a train or something --
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. But during the 25 years of
19 your active life, surely somebody had an accident. His car turned over or
20 was hurt by an animal. Did that never happen, any such accident?
21 A. I hadn't finished my answer. Yes, there were such cases, but then
22 there would be a funeral, and all three faiths would attend, always.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] But when an accident occurs,
24 would the president of the local commune go to see, on the spot, what had
25 happened? Wouldn't he do that to comfort the villagers and to take all
1 the administrative measures required? Did such occasions occur?
2 A. No, Mr. President. Exceptionally. I shall tell you about a case
3 among the Kegelj. A young woman died overnight. It was never established
4 what she was suffering from. And as the local community, we organised
5 going to the funeral together. And then representing Serbs, Croats, and
6 Muslims, we collected money and took a gift to the family.
7 And this was not an isolated occasion. We would do that
8 regardless of the faith of the person involved.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You said a moment ago in
10 answering some questions that within the Crisis Staff you met
11 Mr. Zvonko Rajic. When you learnt of his death, didn't you go to see on
12 the spot the conditions under which he died, even though he was somebody
13 you knew personally? Didn't you feel the need to go and see him, at least
14 to comfort his family and take all the appropriate civil steps? Didn't
15 this -- wasn't this part of your duties as president of the local
17 A. As far as going on the spot, I don't know whether you understood
18 me. I was working until 4.00 p.m. that day. I came home, had lunch. I
19 was called to go to the local commune at 5.00 p.m. it was or dark. Now, I
20 if Zvonko Rajic was left on the spot where he died, I assume he was,
21 because the next day all the dead people were collected, both Muslims and
22 Croats, by Civil Defence and taken to the mortuary following the
23 instructions from the Civil Defence of Zenica.
24 The next day, again I went to work. And I said a moment ago that
25 his father came to see me to ask for shoes. I saw him the next day
1 expressed my condolences. His name was Ivo, and I said, "You know, this
2 should never have happened." And he said, "Let that be, neighbour. Let's
3 not take about that now."
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I must appeal to your memory
5 now. Let's try and go back to the 26th of January. You said that you
6 went to work. Could you tell us exactly at what time you left and how far
7 was your workplace from your home? So when did you leave, and how far was
8 your workplace from your home?
9 A. The local train left Kakanj for Zenica at 6.15. This is the
10 workers' train, because the workers in the mines and all the companies --
11 all workers in Zenica would take this train.
12 I was working in the part -- a department of the railways as an
13 accountant, and I worked until 3.00 p.m., and I took the train at 3.30,
14 and the distance is 18 kilometres by train, the distance between Lasva and
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, according to what you are
17 telling us, you got on the train at 6.15, and I heard you mention the
18 Kakanj station. How far is it --
19 A. In Lasva.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] It's the Lasva station. How far
21 is the Lasva railway station from your home? You must have gone to the
22 station on foot. How far is your house from the station?
23 A. Two hundred metres.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] It's 200 metres away. So if I
25 told you that witnesses have stated that they heard shots, they heard the
1 sound of weapons, they heard the sound of explosions, before 6.00 in the
2 morning -- so given the position you were at at 6.15, didn't you hear
3 anything when you took the train? You heard absolutely nothing? What
4 would you say?
5 A. Let me tell you where I usually live. I live by the railway
6 sayings, but above me, above my settlement, there's a -- a big hill that
7 protects the village. If there was artillery firing, you wouldn't hear
8 it. And on the hill there's the relay which enabled us to receive TV
10 So if artillery guns had been firing, I would have probably heard
11 that. But if infantry weapons were used, I couldn't have heard that. The
12 configuration of the land is such that it's difficult to hear these
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you're saying that when you
15 got on the train at 6.15, everything was peaceful. Nothing happened.
16 There was nothing happening at the time. The village was calm and
17 peaceful. You got on the train to go to Zenica.
18 A. Yes.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And you say that you worked
20 until 1530. While you were at work, no one called you to tell you that
21 something was happening and that it was necessary for you to return as
22 president of the local commune. No one said anything about this.
23 A. No one.
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you went back to your
25 village, and you say that it was only at 1700 hours that you found out
1 that something had happened. At what time exactly did you find out that
2 something had happened?
3 A. I've already said I returned home to have lunch with my family.
4 The phone rang. The late Omer Halvida said "Please, come quickly,"
5 because --
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The translation says you
7 returned to have lunch, but at what time do you ever lunch, 1700 hours?
8 What time do you have lunch.
9 A. I returned at 1600 hours, so by the time the food was ready, it
10 was 16.15, 16.30 at the latest. The phone rang. Omer had phoned and
11 said, "Come quickly, I have to tell you something." I said, "Let me just
12 have a bite and I'll turn up." And I went to the local commune and that's
13 where I found out about the events.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you went to the offices of
15 the local commune. On your way there, on foot, did you see members of the
16 military in the village, any foreigners? Did you see anyone in the
17 village or, as usual, did you only see the villagers or was there no one
18 in the streets, or did you see anything else apart from inhabitants of the
20 A. Well, on my way there -- well, the school's above a railway
21 building, but down below I met a neighbour who told me that there was
22 chaos down there and that I should hurry up. But he didn't notice the
23 population moving around a lot. It didn't seem as if there was an
24 emergency until I saw this group of Croats being taken way in a certain
25 direction. But I didn't see any troops until Omer told me that there was
1 some kind of a platoon or detachment, I don't know what, that was
2 providing security for the school.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Kristo, also called Taraba, who
4 is this person? Who is Kristo? Because you say there is a group led by
5 Kristo. Who is Kristo?
6 A. He was a young man, 22 or 23 years old, a big friend of Faruk
7 Barucija. Barucija had a cafe, and Tarabic, Ivica, that's how we called
8 him, as far as I know didn't meddle with the HVO army, but he would see
9 Faruk in that cafe, et cetera. On that day he wasn't in uniform. That's
10 what I found out. Taraba wasn't in uniform. As to who gave them orders
11 and what they were ordered to do. I don't know if they just collected the
12 Croatian inhabitants and took them away, but I know nothing about what
13 actually happened.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When you saw Taraba, he wasn't
15 in uniform and this is a person who would go to Faruk Barucija's cafe.
16 The Kristo -- this person called Kristo, did he have a weapons? Did you
17 see him carrying a weapon?
18 A. You're referring to the day when the civilians were being taken
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes.
21 A. No.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And he was taking the Croatian
23 civilians away. These were inhabitants of the village whom you knew?
24 A. Yes. Yes.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So why didn't you go to see them
1 and ask them what was happening? Why didn't you ask them why there was a
2 group being led by a young man towards a certain location? Didn't you
3 have such intellectual curiosity? Didn't you approach this group that
4 consisted of inhabitants of your village who had elected you?
5 A. Well, I knew what happened to them. Omer told me about them. I
6 felt uneasy about this. It was very unpleasant for me. So I don't know
7 why I didn't approach them.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you drew the conclusion that
9 this group of Croatian inhabitants, Croatian villagers who were in certain
10 sense detained, they weren't free, they couldn't move around freely, what
11 was the conclusion that you drew when you saw these people, when you saw
12 these inhabitants of the village, these Croats who were being led it a
13 certain location by Kristo? In your opinion, were they free to come and
14 go, or what conclusion did you draw at the time?
15 A. Well, first of all I was surprised by what was happening. And
16 later, after a certain amount of time had passed, I didn't know. It was a
17 chaotic situation. And during that month, I lost ten kilos because of
18 those problems.
19 I came to the conclusion that in order to avoid incidents and in
20 order to save the population, to shelter them at the time, I concluded
21 that, well, we should wait for it all to be -- we should wait for it all
22 to calm down. But as to who issued this order, I don't know.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] According to the translation,
24 you said in order to save these people. If you say they should be saved,
25 does that mean that you believed that they were in danger?
1 A. Well, no. Look, it's a village. I don't know how I would answer
2 that question, to be quite frank, but I think they should have been
3 sheltered at that time. The population should have been sheltered until
4 the situation had been dealt with, until the situation had calmed down, if
5 you can understand what I'm saying.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. It is now half past
7 5.00. We will have our break, and we will resume at about 6.00 p.m.
8 --- Recess taken at 5.30 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 6.03 p.m.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. I have just a few
11 more questions for you.
12 You said that at 6.15 you got on a train at the Lasva railway
13 station. Is there just one Lasva railway station or a number of railway
15 A. Just one railway station.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And is this a fairly modern
17 railway station or has it been there for a while?
18 A. Well, it's an old railway station. It was built at the time of
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So it's a very old railway
22 A. Yes. Yes.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When you took the train, did you
24 notice any HVO soldiers at the station? So when you got into the train at
25 6.15, did you notice any HVO soldiers?
1 A. To tell you the truth, I wasn't paying much attention, so I
2 couldn't have seen them.
3 Let me tell you about the train. These were freight wagons, apart
4 for perhaps two wagons which were the usual kind.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Since -- if there had been
6 members of the military at 6.15 at the railway station, especially if
7 there had been 50 of them, you would have noticed them.
8 A. Yes, certainly. Naturally I would have seen them.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. I'm going to show
10 you a document now. The document is document number P200.
11 This document relates to the Lasva railway station.
12 Could you show me the document. I'd like to check that it's the
13 right one.
14 Have a look at the first page of this document have a look at the
15 last paragraph. It says Zenica there, and in the middle of the paragraph,
16 what can you see in the middle of the paragraph? What can you read in the
17 middle of the paragraph?
18 A. On which page, on the first page?
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. In the middle of the
20 paragraph that concerns Zenica. What can you see there?
21 A. Yes, I've found the passage.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You can read it out. You can
23 read the paragraph out loud.
24 A. "Zenica," is that what you're referring to?
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes. But not at the beginning
1 of the paragraph, in the middle of the paragraph.
2 A. "There's sporadic shooting from the aggressors." Is that what
3 you're referring to?
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Is there a paragraph that starts
5 "A group of 50 HVO members"? Is there a paragraph that starts with these
6 words? Can you find them?
7 A. "A group of 50 HVO members which is located in Lasva, the old
8 railway station, the school. The railway station is down by the rails,
9 and the school is up above. And there was someone called Zoran Rajic." I
10 suppose they mean Zvonko. "They opened fire on civilians and BH army
11 members at the Lasva checkpoint. In the morning, the inhabitants of
12 Dusina were attacked by HVO members. They were shelled. They arrested
13 civilians in Dusina and took them away in an unknown direction. In
14 addition to" --
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Please speak up.
16 A. "In the morning hours the inhabitants of Dusina were attacked by
17 HVO members and shelled, and on that occasion HVO members arrested
18 civilians from Dusina and took them away in an unknown direction. Apart
19 from the shelling, HVO members opened sniper fire."
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. What do you think
21 about what this military document refers to? It's a document from the 3rd
22 Corps. As far as you know, were any civilian arrested by the HVO and
23 taken outside the Dusina village, taken away from the Dusina village?
24 What is stated here -- in your opinion, does what is stated here
25 correspond is to what actually took place, because you returned around
1 1700 hours. You returned to Lasva. So what you have just read out, would
2 you say that what you read out corresponds to the knowledge you had of the
3 events that had transpired? What would you say?
4 A. I really couldn't say anything about this document, because I
5 didn't have any such information.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. If inhabitants of
7 the village of Dusina had been arrested by the HVO, you would have found
8 out about this in one way or another.
9 A. Well, I assume I would have found out about this.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. I'll now address the
11 Prosecution, unless my colleagues have questions for the witness.
12 Does the Prosecution have any other questions for the witness?
13 And could we have the document, please.
14 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Mr. President, I just have one question that
15 arises out of the questions from the Bench.
16 Further cross-examination by Ms. Henry-Benjamin:
17 Q. Mr. Brkic, in response to the President of the Trial Chamber, you
18 indicated that when you got home at about 14.30 you received a phone call
19 from Mr. Omer asking you to come right away. My question to you would
20 be: What about your wife, your family. Nobody indicated to you as to
21 what transpired that day, as to how these events unfolded that day? Your
22 family didn't discuss anything about this?
23 A. My wife works in Janjici, an outpatient's clinic about six or
24 seven kilometres from Lasva. She also arrived about half past 2.00 by bus
25 because transportation wasn't regular. There were no buses. She should
1 have come at 12.00, but she arrived at half past two. Then she prepared
2 lunch. The children were still small. She also said something in the
3 case, something's not right, something's wrong.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'm sorry, we're not getting the
5 translation. Could you ask your question again, and I hope the
6 interpretation will come, because I didn't hear anything.
7 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Thank you, Mr. President.
8 Q. My question to you, then, was you had indicated to the Trial
9 Chamber that you had gotten home at about 4.30, and then you received a
10 phone call from one Omer who informed -- who asked you to come. A
11 question from the Defence that unfolded. And my question to you is: What
12 happened to your family? You know, nobody indicated to you, you know,
13 what transpired on the day, how the events unfolded? And I think you
14 started to answer. So could you please answer for the benefit of the
15 record, then.
16 A. Can I? As my wife was working and is still working in an
17 outpatient's clinic in Janjici, it is five to seven kilometres from Lasva,
18 she should have arrived about 12.00 or half past twelve, but as the buses
19 were not regular, she arrive at about half past two, and once she got
20 home, she had to prepare lunch for the children and for me.
21 Also, we had a cow in the shed, and she had to take care of all of
22 that. So she didn't have much time to question any developments. She
23 just did say that something appears to be wrong.
24 Q. What about your neighbours? Nobody was aware of what went on that
1 A. I was telling you that when I went to the local commune, I met a
2 neighbour, only one, and he said that there are problems, and you better
3 go there, that's all.
4 MS. HENRY-BENJAMIN: Thank you, Mr. President.
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And the Defence.
6 Further examination by Ms. Residovic:
7 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Brkic, I only have two questions for you.
8 One is that you said that you saw through the window of the local commune
9 building a group of people being led by Mr. Kristo Ivica. Tell me, what
10 is the ethnicity of Ivica Kristo, and what was the ethnicity of the people
11 you saw going towards Lasva?
12 A. That's quite clear. Ivica Kristo is a Croat, and these others
13 were all Croats. Yes, that is to make things quite clear.
14 Q. Tell me, Mr. Brkic, you have answered the question of my learned
15 friend regarding the competencies of the local commune. His Honour asked
16 you to explain your competences in the event of any accidents, deaths,
17 killings, et cetera.
18 Tell me, please, did the local commune before of the war, during
19 the war, and even today ever have the competence to investigate?
20 A. No. That's out of the question. The local commune is just a
21 basic cell meant to improve living conditions of the locals, things to do
22 with roads, water supply, electricity supply. And should there be any
23 disputes over boundaries, property, then it might intervene. There was
24 other -- there were other bodies that were responsible for such things,
25 like the police, et cetera.
1 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I have
2 no further questions.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you. The other Defence
5 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] No questions. Thank you,
6 Mr. President.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In that case, sir, your
8 testimony is over. I thank you for coming to The Hague. I know you had
9 to overcome certain problems. We thank you for answering all the
10 questions put to you. We wish you a safe return home, and best wishes for
11 your health.
12 I'm going to ask the usher to be kind enough to escort you out.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you too.
14 [The witness withdrew]
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I know that the Defence wanted
16 to take the floor, and as we have some time left, I give them the floor.
17 MR. BOURGON: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We are in open session.
19 MR. BOURGON: [Interpretation] I would like to ask that we go into
20 private session, please.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. Mr. Registrar, let
22 us go into private session.
23 [Private session]
12 Pages 12376 to 12379 – redacted – private session.
16 [Open session]
17 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] We are in open session,
18 Mr. President.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The Defence has given me a list
20 for next week. There's one witness for Monday. I'm not going to say the
21 name. Tuesday to be confirmed, Wednesday there's a witness, Thursday
22 there's a witness, and Friday there's a witness. So I'm a little worried
23 about Tuesday. What is the problem? Where do we stand? What are the
24 chances of having someone for Tuesday? So I'm asking the Defence.
25 MR. BOURGON: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. The
1 witness for Tuesday is a witness who doesn't appear on our witness list.
2 This is a witness that we haven't met yet, but we have been given a chance
3 to meet this witness on Saturday. To avoid costs for the Tribunal, if the
4 witness can provide information that will be of assistance for the
5 Chamber, then we will call him for Tuesday to avoid him coming -- making
6 two trips to The Hague.
7 I spoke to my colleague about this a moment ago. If we see that
8 this information -- that this witness doesn't have the information that we
9 think he has, then we'll have to make some changes and plan another
10 witness for Tuesday.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I see. For the moment,
12 everything has not yet been resolved. Would you then call the witness for
13 Wednesday for Tuesday and find someone else for Friday? Otherwise, we'll
14 be losing -- wasting a day.
15 MR. BOURGON: [Interpretation] Yes. Mr. President, we will fill
16 the week in one way or another. If the witness can't come for Tuesday, we
17 will certainly fill in the time for the whole week.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The Chamber is glad to hear
19 that. We will not be wasting any time, then.
20 As I have already told you, Wednesday, the 7th of December, there
21 won't be any hearing because this courtroom will be used by the Judges for
22 a Plenary. So we won't have a hearing on the 7th of December. Or is it
23 the 8th? No, it's the 8th, Wednesday the 8th. But as the courtroom needs
24 to be prepared for this, the hearing planned for Tuesday will be held, I'm
25 told, in the afternoon, though it should have been in the morning. So at
1 the last moment, Tuesday the 7th, we will have a hearing on -- at 2.15 and
2 not in the morning.
3 I'm sorry. No, I'm sorry. It's the day after, that is the
4 Thursday the 9th when the hearing will be in the afternoon, because they
5 won't -- otherwise, they won't have time to prepare the courtroom. I
6 don't know why, whether they're moving walls or what, but anyway, it will
7 not be possible to sit in the morning on Thursday, but we will be sitting
8 in the afternoon.
9 I wanted to inform you of this. The simplest would be to
10 eliminate the Plenary, but that is impossible. So we won't be having a
11 hearing on Wednesday, the 8th of December.
12 If there are no other matters to deal with, I thank you, and we
13 will meet again for the hearing, which will, as usual, on Friday be in the
14 morning. So tomorrow at 9.00 a.m. Thank you.
15 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.34 p.m.,
16 to be reconvened on Friday, the 26th day
17 of November, 2004, at 9.00 a.m.