1 Wednesday, 20 April 2005
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] Could we have the appearances
11 for the Prosecution first of all.
12 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon, Your
13 Honours, counsel, and everyone in and around the courtroom. For the
14 Prosecution, Matthias Neuner and Daryl Mundis, assisted by Andres Vatter.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could we have the appearances
16 for Defence counsel, please.
17 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. President --
18 good day, Mr. President, good day, Your Honours. On behalf of
19 Mr. Hadzihasanovic, Edina Residovic, lead counsel, and Stephane Bourgon,
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
22 And the other Defence team, please.
23 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Good day, Your Honours. On
24 behalf of Mr. Kubura, Rodney Dixon, Fahrudin Ibrisimovic and our legal
25 assistant, Nermin Mulalic.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] On the 20th of April, I would
2 like to greet everyone present, members of the Prosecution, Defence
3 counsel, Mr. Bourgon who is constantly in this courtroom. I greet the
4 accused, General Hadzihasanovic and Brigadier Kubura. Naturally, I
5 wouldn't want to forget to mention everyone else in or around the
7 We'll be hearing two witnesses today. I'd like to inform the
8 Defence that a hearing is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. As this
9 courtroom will be available in the morning, would it be possible for the
10 Defence to appear in the morning rather than the afternoon if we have to
11 have a hearing tomorrow?
12 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, as far as
13 Mr. Kubura's Defence is concerned, working in the morning is not a
15 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, that isn't a
16 problem for us either.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And the Prosecution?
18 MR. MUNDIS: Mr. President, the Prosecution is always ready at the
19 Trial Chamber's convenience.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well.
21 Mr. Registrar, could you please check to see whether the courtroom
22 is in fact available in the morning.
23 Before the witness comes into the courtroom, are there any issues
24 that either of the parties would like to raise?
25 Mr. Mundis.
1 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President.
2 Very briefly, I informed the Chamber's legal officer and the
3 counsel for both accused prior to court today that we are in the final
4 stages of finalising our application to re-open the Prosecution case. It
5 is clear to us that we will not be able to condense our pleadings into the
6 ten-page limit as prescribed by the practice direction, and we would
7 respect request the Chamber's leave to file a motion of no longer than 20
8 pages. I anticipate it being actually closer to 15 to 18 pages, but for
9 the sake of caution I would respectfully ask for 20 pages, and as the
10 Trial Chamber is aware, there will be a number of annexes, but of course
11 annexes are specifically excluded from the page limits by the relevant
12 practice direction. I am hopeful that we can get that filed tomorrow, but
13 alternatively it might be Friday or perhaps even as late as Monday. We
14 are awaiting a few translations of some of the annexes, but we do
15 anticipate it will be up to but certainly no longer than 20 pages, if the
16 Trial Chamber will so permit us.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We will grant your request. You
18 will be granted 20 pages, the possibility of filing 20 pages. There are
19 no other issues to be raised.
20 Mr. Registrar, I'll give you the floor now because we have to deal
21 with the numbers. We have to clarify something to do with the numbers.
22 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] The day before yesterday we
23 admitted two Defence exhibits for General Hadzihasanovic, 2020 [as
24 interpreted] was the number. It was said to be under seal; that was a
25 mistake. DH2163 had an English version DH2163/E.
1 [In English] DH2163 and DH2163/E which is admitted under seal and
3 [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you for this information.
5 Mr. Usher, could you call the first witness into the courtroom,
7 How much time does Defence counsel think they will need for the
8 first witness?
9 MR. DIXON: Your Honour, we'll need no more than approximately 45
10 minutes for examination-in-chief. Thank you, Your Honour.
11 Your Honour, and I can add that there are no maps or documents to
12 be shown to this first witness.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We have a question for General
14 Hadzihasanovic's Defence counsel.
15 The Judges examined the issue yesterday. As far as the questions
16 that you put to witnesses after the questions put to witnesses by
17 Mr. Kubura's Defence counsel is concerned, we would like to know whether
18 General Hadzihasanovic's Defence is an independent team, a team
19 independent of Mr. Kubura's Defence team. Because up until now our
20 impression was that you were in a certain sense acting together. Or are
21 you a unified team? The consequences would not be same.
22 If you're an independent Defence team, you have the right to
23 cross-examine and to put leading questions to witnesses. But if you are
24 to be considered as a single team, as a unified team, in such a case you
25 don't have the right to put leading questions to the witness. All you can
1 do is conduct your examination-in-chief and put neutral questions to
2 witnesses. That is the situation, and depending on the way you consider
3 yourselves, you will be allowed to examine in one way or another way.
4 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, from the very
5 beginning of this case on a number of occasions we have said that the
6 Defence team for General Hadzihasanovic is independent of Brigadier
7 Kubura's Defence team; both teams acting independently. However, it's
8 true that in exceptional situations, there are certain common elements
9 shared by the Defence teams. And we informed the Trial Chamber of the
10 fact on a number of occasions. We have filed joint motions, and that was
11 mentioned in the motions concerned. And we treated our expert witnesses
12 as common expert witnesses because they testified about issues that
13 concerned the professional knowledge they had, the expert knowledge they
14 had. It's only in those three occasions -- on those three occasions that
15 we had witnesses that were common to both teams.
16 So, in conclusion, General Hadzihasanovic's Defence team is acting
17 independently, which is also the case for Brigadier Kubura's Defence team.
18 Thank you very much.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. As a conclusion
20 drawn by the Judges the other day, and that is that if you are an
21 independent team the party to ask the last questions after the Judges'
22 questions is the party that has called the witness. Do we agree on that?
23 As far as this rather complex issue is concerned, what would the
24 Prosecution like to say? Any comments?
25 MR. MUNDIS: No, Mr. President.
1 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. So we will proceed
2 in the light of what you have just said. As you are an independent
3 Defence team, you have the right to cross-examine, you can ask questions
4 after the Judges' questions.
5 Brigadier Kubura's Defence team has no objections, no comments to
6 make? Very well. We are in agreement.
7 In that case, we will now call the witness into the courtroom.
8 [The witness entered court]
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Good day, sir. I would first
10 like to make sure that the equipment is functioning correctly. Can you --
11 are you receiving the interpretation of what I'm saying? If so, please
12 say yes.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can understand you.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So before you take the solemn
15 declaration, could you please tell me your first and last names, your date
16 and place of birth.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My name is Elvedin Omic. I was born
18 on the 29th of December, 1972, in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Sir, are you currently employed?
20 Do you hold a position of any kind? And if so, what kind of position do
21 you hold?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. I am an officer in the
23 Federation army, in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I currently work
24 for MONUC which is a UN mission in Congo.
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You have said you are an
1 officer. What is your rank? A captain? A general? What is your rank?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I am a major.
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In 1992 and 1993, did you have a
4 post of any kind? If you were in the military, which unit were you in and
5 what rank did you have?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In 1992 I was a soldier. In June
7 1992 I joined the Bosnia and Herzegovina Territorial Defence, and in 1993,
8 in March, I joined the 7th Muslim Brigade, again in the capacity of a
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Major, have you already
11 testified before a national or international court with regard to the
12 events that took place in your country in 1992 and 1993, or is this the
13 first time?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I have never testified before; this
15 is the first time.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could you please read out the
17 solemn declaration.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
19 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
20 WITNESS: ELVEDIN OMIC
21 [Witness answered through interpreter]
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You may sit down, Major.
23 Before I give the floor to the Defence team for their
24 examination-in-chief, I would like to provide you with some information
25 about the procedure that we will be following here. First you will have
1 to answer the questions put to you by Brigadier Kubura's Defence team.
2 They expect that their examination-in-chief will last about 45 minutes.
3 After that stage, the Prosecution, who are to your right, will conduct
4 what we call the cross-examination, and they will probably take the same
5 amount of time, three-quarters of an hour.
6 Then the Defence team, to your left -- but I forgot to mention
7 that General Hadzihasanovic's Defence may also put questions to you if
8 they wish to do so. But once the Prosecution has completed its
9 cross-examination, Defence counsel may re-examine you. The three Judges
10 sitting before you may at any point in time put questions to you, but we
11 prefer to wait for the end of the questions because quite frequently the
12 matters that interest us have been dealt with -- will have been dealt with
13 and there is no reason for us to intervene. We might intervene in order
14 to obtain clarifications from you or because we believe that there are
15 some gaps in your testimony. And it would be in the interest of justice
16 to put some questions to you. As you are a member of the military, we
17 might ask you questions that are purely technical and military questions.
18 After this stage, or during your testimony, the parties may show
19 you documents, military documents, or documents from the 7th Brigade.
20 I should also like to point out the following: You've just taken
21 the solemn declaration which means that you should not give false
22 testimony, as you are well aware, especially since you are an officer.
23 And as a witness, you may refuse to answer a question in particular if you
24 think that the question -- the answer could subsequently be used against
25 you, to level charges against you. Rest assured this is a case that we
1 have never had to deal with to date. But if such a case should arise, the
2 Chamber may compel the witness to answer the question, but the Chamber
3 grants the witness a form of immunity. This is all very technical, but
4 it's a difficulty that we have never encountered.
5 The procedure followed is an oral procedure, this is why you will
6 see everything that is being said transcribed on the screen that is in
7 front of you, and this is why your answers are so important. Try to
8 answer the questions as fully as possible in order to assist the Judges
9 when they have to assess all the evidence presented.
10 If you run into difficulties of any kind, don't hesitate to inform
11 us of the fact. As we will be having a break every one and a half hour,
12 we will probably be having a break at about 3.30 or 3.40, a 20 or
13 25-minute break. This is how we will be proceedings, and without wasting
14 any more time, I will now give the floor to Defence counsel, who will
15 conduct the examination-in-chief.
16 I see that it is Mr. Dixon who has already got his lectern in
17 front of him.
18 MR. DIXON: Thank you, Your Honours.
19 Examined by Mr. Dixon:
20 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Omic.
21 You said in response to a question asked by the President that you
22 are currently working for the UN mission, MONUC, in the Congo. Can you
23 explain from when you have been stationed in the Congo?
24 A. I've been in the Congo since November 2004, since the 25th of
25 November, 2004, to be more precise.
1 Q. And how were you assigned to go there?
2 A. I was selected by the General Staff; they suggested that I should
3 go there. The government of Bosnia and Herzegovina sent me to be part of
4 the UN mission in the Congo.
5 Q. What is your role in the UN mission?
6 A. I work as a military observer.
7 Q. What functions do you perform as a military observer?
8 A. Currently I'm in Bukavu, the town of Bukavu, I work at the
9 airport. I monitor local flights. Arms embargo tasks are involved, the
10 import and export of weapons from Congo. Sometimes we carry out controls
11 in other areas and we inform the authorities of these controls.
12 Q. Who do you work with as part of the UN mission?
13 A. I work with my colleagues from other countries. There are
14 currently five of us in the team. One of them is from Paraguay, there is
15 another person in Indonesia, a third person is from Morocco, the fourth
16 person is from Nepal, and I'm the fifth person from Bosnia and
18 Q. Before your UN mission to Congo, had you had any other
19 international experience with the Bosnian army outside of Bosnia?
20 A. Yes. Before I went to the Congo I was trained in various other
21 countries, trained in peacekeeping operations. The training was in
22 Romania, Greece, and Malaysia.
23 Q. Thank you. I want to take you back now to the start of your
24 military career. When and where did you receive your military training?
25 A. Initially I was in the JNA; I received my military training there.
1 I went to serve in the JNA as a recruit. That was in June 1991. I
2 remained there for three months, up until September 1991.
3 Q. Where did you receive this training in the JNA?
4 A. In a town called Sabac, which is in the western part of Serbia.
5 Q. When did you leave this town and can you explain to the Trial
6 Chamber why you left?
7 A. I left the town, or rather I left the JNA and returned home in
8 September 1991, because as a recruit in the barracks I had seen a lot of
9 Serbian volunteers. They weren't regular troops. There were a lot of
10 Serbian volunteers who had gathered there, and they would be sent from
11 there to the battlefield in Croatia.
12 After all those events, I spoke to my family members -- I spoke to
13 my father, to be more precise, and he ordered me to return home. He told
14 me to return home and to leave the former Yugoslavian army, the Yugoslav
15 People's Army.
16 Q. Mr. Omic, where is home?
17 A. In Zenica, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
18 Q. When did you arrive back home?
19 A. Well, it was at the beginning of September 1991, but I don't know
20 the exact date.
21 Q. When you arrived back in Zenica, what did you do then?
22 A. When I arrived back in Zenica, since JNA units were still present
23 in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I couldn't sleep at home. I
24 spent more than two months in hiding because there was the possibility of
25 the former JNA military police coming to arrest me. And that is why
1 during that period I spent more than two months, during which I slept in
2 the houses of relatives of mine.
3 Q. Why did you not want to serve in the JNA?
4 A. I didn't want to remain in the JNA because at the time the JNA was
5 engaged in the battlefield in Croatia and they were fighting the Croats,
6 and I didn't want to be part of that.
7 Q. Did you come out of hiding after two months, was the time period
8 you mentioned, and what did you do at that stage?
9 A. After two months -- I know the Presidency of Bosnia and
10 Herzegovina took a decision according to which young men from Bosnia and
11 Herzegovina did not have to go and serve in the JNA. So I went to the
12 Secretariat of Defence in Zenica municipality. I went to report there,
13 and I told them when I left the JNA, and I told them that I was currently
14 in the town of Zenica.
15 Q. What did they say to you?
16 A. They told me that that wasn't a problem and that I wouldn't suffer
17 any consequences for what I had done. They said that I could go home in
18 peace. And that was at the end of 1991.
19 Q. Moving then into 1992, did you at any time in 1992 continue with
20 your military service and how did that happen?
21 A. In April 1992, after all those events, I once again went to that
22 defence secretariat of the municipality of Zenica and asked to be
23 mobilised and included in the Territorial Defence units. I wanted to join
24 the Territorial Defence in defending my country, but I was told that they
25 were unable to mobilise me at that stage because there were not enough
1 weapons. And I was told to go home. That was in April 1992.
2 I waited for a while. And then on a number of occasions I went to
3 see them, but every single time they told me they had no weapons. And
4 then in June of 1992 I finally went there again and I said that I simply
5 would not leave unless I was mobilised, and then I was sent to a unit.
6 That was the 1st Zenica Brigade, the 1st Battalion, and that's when I was
7 mobilised as soldier. And at first, I did not have any weapons.
8 Q. When was the first time that you received a weapon?
9 A. It was perhaps some 20 days after my joining that unit, when we
10 went -- when my unit was sent to Visoko, and after those of us who stayed
11 behind in Zenica had to replace them, to take over their shift in that
12 area in the municipality of Visoko, the ones going on leave gave their
13 arms to us, since we were going to replace them. And that was the first
14 time I got any weapons from the BH army.
15 Q. I want to move ahead now to 1993.
16 Did you join any unit of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina in
17 1993 and when was that?
18 A. I was a member of the armed forces of the units within the armed
19 forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina -- well, since June 1992, but by the end
20 of that year I was seriously ill. I had severe pneumonia, and the medical
21 commission released me from military service, and that was in the
22 beginning of March 1993. And when I was given that letter, I went to the
23 secretariat once again and asked to be mobilised notwithstanding, that is
24 to say, in spite of the fact that I had been ill, because I had recovered
25 then. And I was again mobilised in March 1993, and I joined the
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 7th Muslim Brigade.
2 Q. Which unit of the 7th Brigade were you mobilised into?
3 A. That was the 2nd Battalion, the 1st Company, the 1st Platoon, and
4 the 1st Squad.
5 Q. Did you have any rank?
6 A. No. At that stage I was a simple soldier.
7 Q. Where were you based at that time, in March 1993?
8 A. We were stationed at the secondary school at Bilmiste.
9 Q. In June of 1993, do you recall being engaged into a military
10 operation and could you assist the Trial Chamber with how that happened?
11 A. By the beginning of June we had two operations. Whilst I was in
12 that unit, Ovnak and Kakanj, those were the two operations. How it came
13 to that on that day in the beginning of June, I really can't remember the
14 exact date. I think it was on the 7th or 8th of June -- the 6th or
15 the 7th, I'm not sure, and the commander of our squad came to see us in
16 the morning and he told us to get ready and that we were going to engage
17 in an operation. We asked him where we were meant to go, but he answered
18 that he was in no position to tell us at that stage, that we just had to
19 carry out all the necessary military preparations for such an operation.
20 On that day we carried out our preparations, and in the evening,
21 in the early evening hours, we were taken to the bus in front of the
22 building at Bilmiste. And a company commander came along and he told us
23 that the operation would be at Ovnak. Thereupon, we boarded the buses.
24 We were driven to a place called Pojske and we got there that night. We
25 spent the night there then. And the day after, we spent the entire day at
1 that village called Pojske. And the following night we set off and
2 started the operation, and the following morning, early in the morning --
3 actually, the information [as interpretation] started at Ovnak.
4 Q. Perhaps if there could just be a clarification for the transcript.
5 You said the information started at Ovnak. Should that be the
6 operation started at Ovnak. If you could just clarify that.
7 A. Yes, the operation, not the information.
8 Q. How long did the operation at Ovnak last?
9 A. I remember that it did not take very long. The operation started
10 in the early morning hours. Initially the HVO offered resistance for no
11 longer than an hour, and afterwards they stopped their resistance. And I
12 think we completed our task at some point around noon, at lunchtime, early
14 Q. When the operation was completed, what orders did you receive at
15 that point, at lunchtime on that day?
16 A. When the operation was completed, the squad commander issued the
17 order to gather and to follow the situation and make sure that there is no
18 counter-attack on the part of the HVO and to take some rest. Those are
19 the orders that we received upon completing this operation.
20 Q. You have said that the operation was in the Ovnak area. Did you
21 stay in the Ovnak area that entire day or how long did you stay there?
22 A. Yes. That operation was in the area of Ovnak. We stayed there
23 all day until sunset. And at sunset, the company commander came and
24 issued the orders to go back to the village of Pojske.
25 Q. How far away is that approximately from the Ovnak area where the
1 operation was?
2 A. Not far at all. I think some three to four kilometres, no more
3 than that. It could be less, but it's certainly not more.
4 Q. How did you get back there from the Ovnak area?
5 A. On foot.
6 Q. What time did you arrive there on that day, in Pojske this is?
7 A. I don't know at what time, but I do know that it was in the early
8 evening hours, not late at all.
9 Q. Did you stay the night there?
10 A. Yes, we did. We spent the night at Pojske.
11 Q. What were the next orders that you received?
12 A. The squad commander informed us that we would be spending the
13 night there, and that was the orders that we received for that night. On
14 the following day at some point at around 11.00 maybe, a bit after
15 breakfast, the squad commander came along again and he asked us to get
16 ready for another operation.
17 Q. Where was this operation to take place?
18 A. That operation took place at Kakanj.
19 Q. When did you leave for Kakanj?
20 A. We left for Kakanj on that day, in the afternoon.
21 Q. Just to clarify, that is the afternoon after the Ovnak operation,
22 the afternoon following the night that you stayed in Pojske. Is that
24 A. Yes. After we spent the night at Pojske, on the following day in
25 the afternoon we received orders to go to Kakanj.
1 Q. How did you get to Kakanj and when did you arrive there?
2 A. We were driven by buses again. We went to a village called Sabac
3 and we got there at night. I really can't remember the exact time, but I
4 do know it was at night. And we stayed the night there at a village
5 called Sabac.
6 Q. When did the operation in Kakanj then commence?
7 A. Well, we got to that village called Sabac near Kakanj that night;
8 we spent the night there. And on the next day -- well, we spent the next
9 day in that village. And the next night we went into action, so that in
10 the early morning of the following day we started the operation at Kakanj.
11 Q. Thank you. I'm not going to ask you any questions about that
12 operation, but if we could go back to the operation in Ovnak that morning
13 that you described to the Trial Chamber. You said that you were engaging
14 the HVO forces. Could you please assist us with the number of people in
15 your company who were involved in that operation.
16 A. I really don't know the exact number of soldiers in that company,
17 but I suppose there were about 80 of us. In my own squad, I think there
18 were from seven to eight soldiers, no more than that.
19 Q. When you were engaged in this operation, did you at any time enter
20 any houses or buildings or see anybody else enter premises like that?
21 A. In the course of that operation, we came upon some houses and we
22 went into those houses. Following the orders from the squad commander, we
23 went in to make sure there was no one in there, that there were no
24 soldiers there. We went in and we checked whether there were any soldiers
25 there or not. After establishing that there were soldiers [as
1 interpreted] in those houses, we would leave and that was it. And in the
2 same way, my colleagues from my squad went into some houses, but not all.
3 There were some smaller houses where we could see through the windows that
4 there was nobody in there. We did not even go in.
5 Q. Could I clarify for the transcript. Did you find any soldiers in
6 any of these houses or buildings?
7 A. No, we did not. We did not find any soldiers.
8 Q. And why did you go into the houses?
9 A. The squad commander simply did not want us to not check out those
10 houses because he felt that there was a possibility for soldiers hiding in
11 those houses and that we might have been threatened and that we could have
12 been attacked from behind. And we had to check whether there was anyone
13 in those houses or not, and then we went ahead with our operation.
14 Q. When you were in those houses, did you take any goods or see
15 anybody in your units take any goods from those houses?
16 A. Definitely not. None of the soldiers in my squad or in my platoon
17 took anything; I did not see that. There were cases of soldiers in the
18 course of such operations when they entered houses, taking a bottle of
19 water or fruit juice or a piece of bread, and that was all. But no one
20 definitely took any goods from those houses, because at that moment we
21 were engaged in a military operation, that's the way we saw it. And what
22 we wanted was to stay alive. And I myself -- my colleagues, I mean it
23 didn't even cross our minds to go and take something like that and risk
24 our lives. And that would have slowed us down and that might have cost
25 our lives basically.
1 Q. As an ordinary soldier, could you inform the Trial Chamber what
2 orders and instructions, if any, you got from your command before you went
3 into this operation about how to deal with houses, residences, and
5 A. Yes. On the occasion of every operation during my time within
6 the 7th Brigade, on the occasion of every operation either the commander
7 or someone from the command would address us and issue such orders, that
8 is to say, do not kill innocent people, do not kill women and children, do
9 not kill prisoners, and do not destroy any property. Those were the
10 orders and the instructions that we would get prior to every single
11 operation during my time at the 7th Brigade.
12 Q. On that morning in the Ovnak area, did you witness any destruction
13 of houses or buildings by the units of your brigade, by the people you
14 were with?
15 A. The only damage that I saw was bullet holes, bullets that had
16 ricocheted or something like that, but there was no other damage.
17 Q. You talked about bullet holes. What had happened to the HVO that
18 you were fighting against that morning?
19 A. After they stopped resisting our forces and started to withdraw,
20 we followed them. We were chasing them, so to say. We were engaged in
21 that chase up until the moment when we received orders to stop.
22 Q. And those orders were received around noon on the day you told us.
23 Is that right?
24 A. That's right. Early at noon.
25 Q. During this operation, did you see any other members of any other
1 brigades and units of the Bosnian army present and involved in this
3 A. Yes. In the course of that operation, I did see members of other
4 brigades who were in the area.
5 Q. Did you see any civilians in the area?
6 A. Not in the course of the operation. After completing the
7 operation -- well, there were quite a few civilians there in all those
8 areas which had been liberated during the operation.
9 Q. And any members of civilian authorities?
10 A. Yes, there were the representatives of the civil defence. And as
11 far as I know, they should have taken over the control over those areas
12 that we had crossed, the villages that had been liberated in that area,
13 the area that we had covered.
14 Q. Mr. Omic, you have talked about receiving a number of orders
15 during that day. Could you assist the Trial Chamber with the way in which
16 communications worked within your squad and higher up through the chain of
17 command as well.
18 A. Do you mean the means of communication?
19 Q. Yes. How were orders conveyed, how did communication take place
20 from the command down to you and back again, please.
21 A. We as soldiers communicated with the squad commander, and he
22 communicated with us on the basis of hand signals and his voice. And he
23 communicated with the platoon commander in the same way.
24 Q. Do you know how the platoon commander was communicating with those
25 above him?
1 A. I think that he had the radio device, the platoon commander. I
2 think he did.
3 Q. Mr. Omic, I'm not going to ask you any more questions about
4 operations following Ovnak, but could you inform us whether in the summer
5 of 1993 you were promoted?
6 A. Yes. In the summer of 1993 - I think it was in July - I was
7 promoted and I became squad commander.
8 Q. At the beginning of November 1993, where were you?
9 A. In the beginning of November 1993, I was sent by the command of
10 the 7th Muslim Brigade to Sarajevo for training. This was the training
11 for commanders of reconnaissance units, and it was organised by the
12 General Staff in Sarajevo at the barracks that used to be called Marsalka.
13 Q. How long did you participate in that training for?
14 A. That training lasted two months exactly, November and December
16 Q. You were not involved in the military operations in the Vares
17 area, were you?
18 A. No. Because at that time I was on training in Sarajevo, at that
19 time that I've just mentioned.
20 Q. You've already said to the Trial Chamber that you have served in
21 the Bosnian army since then and that you were appointed as a major. When
22 was that?
23 A. I was promoted to the rank of major after the war, in 1998.
24 Q. You are currently with the UN. How long will you be on mission in
25 Congo for?
1 A. One year. But I started in November last year and it will run
2 until November this year.
3 Q. I thank you, Mr. Omic. I have no questions for you, but my
4 learned friends from the Prosecution may have some additional questions.
5 Thank you for your testimony.
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Defence counsel.
7 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, we don't have any
8 questions for Mr. Omic. Thank you.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'll now give the floor to the
10 Prosecution for their cross-examination.
11 Cross-examined by Mr. Neuner:
12 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Omic. My name is Matthias Neuner, and I am
13 appearing here on behalf of the Prosecution and I am going to put a couple
14 of questions to you. If you don't understand any of these questions,
15 please ask me to repeat the question and I'm also prepared to rephrase the
17 Mr. Omic, who -- what is the name of your immediate commander in
18 the SUP unit of the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade in
19 1993? Can you please state the name?
20 A. My squad commander at the time was Kasim Kokic.
21 Q. And your squad commander reported to the 1st Company commander I
22 understood. Can you please state his name, 1st Company commander of the
23 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade in 1993.
24 A. The squad commander didn't have to report to the company
25 commander; he had to report to the platoon commander, whose name was
1 Sukrija Durmis, whereas the platoon commander had to report to the company
2 commander, whose name was Ragib Catic.
3 Q. Thank you. And Mr. Ragib Catic, he reported to the battalion
4 commander. And in May/June 1993 during the operation in Ovnak, the
5 commander of the 2nd Battalion was Mr. Serif Patkovic?
6 A. Correct.
7 Q. What do you know about Mr. Serif Patkovic?
8 A. At that time I knew nothing about him apart from the fact that he
9 was an officer from the former JNA. And I knew that at that time he was
10 the battalion commander.
11 Q. And do you know whether Mr. Patkovic was promoted during the time
12 period you stayed within the 2nd Battalion in 1993?
13 A. I don't think he was. I'm not sure, but I don't think so.
14 Q. You testified that your barracks were located in the secondary
15 school in Bilmiste in Zenica?
16 A. Yes, that's correct. That is the same school that I had completed
17 just a few months earlier on.
18 Q. Were there any other units' commanders stationed at this secondary
19 school in Bilmiste in 1993?
20 A. Are you thinking of unit commanders from the 7th Brigade? If
21 that's the case, my answer is yes. But there were commanders from other
22 units from that battalion who were in that building. Because the
23 2nd Battalion was also in that building, in that school. The commanders
24 of other units from the 2nd Battalion were also in that school, in that
1 Q. So would it be a fair summary that the command of the
2 2nd Battalion stayed in the secondary school in Bilmiste, as did the
3 brigade command of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And your 2nd Battalion command, were they -- was this command
6 staying on the same floor as the brigade command or on different floors?
7 A. No. In Bilmiste there were two buildings, or rather two schools.
8 We, the 2nd Battalion, were in one of the buildings with the battalion
9 command and all the units, and in adjacent building, that's where the
10 brigade command was located.
11 Q. You say "adjacent building." How far away from the building where
12 the 2nd Battalion was housed, how far away was this adjacent building
13 where the commands of the brigade stayed?
14 A. From the building that the 2nd Battalion was in to the building
15 that the brigade command was in, it's about 30 metres. They are linked
16 via a corridor. It was possible to leave the battalion command and enter
17 the building in which the brigade command was located. So it was about 30
18 metres away.
19 Q. And you yourself, did you ever enter the premises where the
20 brigade command stayed in 1993?
21 A. Yes. I entered that building, not the offices, but I did go to
22 the building in which the brigade command was located.
23 Q. So what did you do in that building?
24 A. I cleaned it.
25 Q. The offices of the commander, where were they -- of the 7th Muslim
1 Mountain Brigade, where were the offices located when you cleaned the
3 A. They were probably in their offices performing their daily duties.
4 Q. And the office itself, where was the office located of the brigade
5 commander? On the ground floor? On the first floor?
6 A. The brigade commander's office was on the first floor.
7 Q. Did you know about any staff officers' meeting taking place -- how
8 frequently, for example, was your superior meeting with senior officers?
9 A. Well, as a soldier I had no information about such matters. I
10 didn't know how frequently there were staff meetings. As soldiers we had
11 meetings with the squad commander, but I really don't know how frequently
12 my superior officers would meet the brigade commander or members of the
13 brigade staff.
14 Q. My last question relating to the secondary school: Was there a
15 kind of logistical section on the compound of the school where -- a
16 warehouse where equipment and materiel could be stored?
17 A. Yes. There was a quartermaster equipment warehouse in the
18 basement of that very same building. I'm not quite sure how to explain
19 this, but if you enter via the door where is to the side, right next to
20 that door there was the entrance to the warehouse for quartermaster
22 Q. Just for clarification, you're referring to the building of the
23 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade, or are you referring to
24 the building where the command of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade was
25 located? Where was the warehouse exactly?
1 A. I thought that you were asking me about the building in which the
2 brigade command was located, so I was thinking of the building in which
3 the brigade command was located. In the basement of that building, there
4 was a warehouse which contained quartermaster equipment.
5 Q. You testified you joined the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade in March
6 1993. Did you receive any training upon joining the unit or thereafter?
7 A. We had training in the unit on a daily basis, whenever we weren't
8 involved in an operation or whenever there weren't any other daily tasks
9 that we had to carry out. There was training at all times on such
10 occasions in the unit.
11 Q. And did you receive also any specific training relating to war
12 booty and what procedures to be followed? Did you get any advice on war
13 booty during these trainings?
14 A. As part of the training that we were provided with, tactical
15 training and other sorts of training, we were also provided with
16 instructions as to how to conduct ourselves in combat and as to how to use
17 weapons and ammunition -- what to do with weapons and ammunition when we
18 captured weapons and ammunition that belonged to the enemy.
19 Q. You went to the wider area of Ovnak in the beginning of June 1993,
20 and was this first of all an operation which was under the command of a
21 tactical group?
22 A. As I have already said, I was a member of the 1st Squad. As a
23 soldier, I really didn't know which formation the battalion brigad [as
24 interpreted] was in. I didn't know whether some sort of a tactical group
25 had been formed because no one provided me with such information of that
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 type. So I really don't know whether we were in fact part of some sort of
2 a tactical group.
3 Q. You mentioned several times the place or the location of Pojske.
4 I have here a map with me. Would you be in a position to show where that
5 place, Pojske, was to which you went at the beginning of June 1993?
6 A. Yes, of course.
7 MR. NEUNER: With the assistance of the usher, can I have these
8 copies distributed, please.
9 This is a combined version of Defence exhibits DH87 until DH90, a
10 map from the west -- the area west of Zenica, for the record.
11 Q. Can you please point to the place or location Pojske -- which is
12 called Pojske.
13 A. It doesn't say that this is Pojske, but Pojske is beneath the
14 village of Vrselje; it's in this area here, but you can't see the name.
15 Q. Can you please encircle the area which you referred to as Pojske
16 and mark it with a 1 next to it, please.
17 A. [Marks].
18 Q. And the next day when the combat operations started, can you
19 please mark with an arrow in which direction your unit went, to which
20 villages did you go and where was the retreating point, so to speak? Can
21 you please first of all point with a pointer to the direction in which you
22 went and later mark it -- or mark it with an arrow.
23 A. The area that we went to to carry out our operation was called
24 Crni Vrh, but I really couldn't show you the direction of our advance. As
25 I have already said, I was an ordinary soldier at the time. I didn't have
1 a map and no one had issued orders to me on a map and I never saw what the
2 advance axis was for our unit on the map. As a private, I'd been assigned
3 the task in the field. Commanders of the squad would point to individual
4 hills, individual areas, individual points, but I never had a map, never
5 received a map from my superior officer. So I wouldn't want to make a
6 mistake by indicating the route that my unit took to advance on the map.
7 Q. Just -- did the hamlets, villages, places through which you went
8 through during your operation, did they have any signs, like name signs?
9 Did you see any village names while you were advancing?
10 A. No, not at that time. During that operation, I knew that I was in
11 the Ovnak sector, but I didn't pass through any large villages. But the
12 houses that we came across in the course of our operation didn't have
13 any -- any signs indicating the name of the place. There were no such
15 Q. How many kilometres did you proceed during the operation? You
16 were walking for hours? You were walking for minutes? How far, from your
17 recollection, would you think you would have marched that day? You said
18 you started early in the morning and at noon you rested.
19 A. I said that we set off around midnight before the operation, the
20 night before the operation, and then we walked until dawn. And at dawn,
21 we commenced the operation and we finished around lunchtime.
22 Q. At what point -- or before you returned to Pojske, did you meet
23 any other unit so -- and maybe from that point you have returned. Did you
24 encounter -- I mean ABiH unit so that you knew the areas occupied by ABiH
25 forces so that this is a convenient point to return? I'm just asking did
1 you -- do you recall any units which you might have met along your way
2 from the ABiH?
3 A. While the operation was ongoing, I didn't see members of other
4 brigades, of other units, apart from units from the 7th Muslim Brigade.
5 Once the operation was over, I then saw men who were not from our brigade.
6 MR. NEUNER: Mr. President, I think this is a convenient time for
7 a break.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We'll have our break now. It's
9 25 to 4.00 and we will resume at 4.00.
10 --- Recess taken at 3.34 p.m.
11 --- On resuming at 4.01 p.m.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I'll give the floor to
13 Mr. Neuner to continue with his cross-examination.
14 MR. NEUNER:
15 Q. Good afternoon again.
16 A. [In English] Good afternoon.
17 Q. Mr. Omic, having had the break, a couple of minutes to think, do
18 you maybe now recall in which direction your march or your operation went
19 on this particular day, 7th or 8th of June, 1993, in the Ovnak area?
20 A. [Interpretation] As I have already said, we were moving from the
21 village of Pojske towards the village of Crni Vrh. I really can't
22 indicate the route on the map. I am afraid of making a mistake -- because
23 let me repeat, that I did not receive an order on a map, and I didn't see
24 a plan for the operation on a map -- with reference to a map at that point
25 in time.
1 Q. I understand. Just one more question. If I look on the map which
2 you have encircled, where you have a specific location encircled, Pojske,
3 there is a hamlet or village there which is called Vrselje. Do you see
4 that, Vrselje, village which is more or less around the circle which you
5 draw. Do you see that on your map?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Have you yourself been in Vrselje either before you came or before
8 you went away from the area?
9 A. I went to the village of Vrselje after the war. I don't know in
10 which year exactly, but I do know that I went there after the war.
11 If you want to reach the village of Vrselje, you have to pass
12 through the village of Pojske, although you can't see it on the map. If
13 you look at the map you will see elevation 950 I think. Just before the
14 elevation there is the village of Vrselje, and the village of Pojske is
15 before the village of Vrselje. I'm not sure, but I think that the village
16 of Vrselje has been marked twice. I think that this is the village of
17 Pojske, whereas Vrselje is almost on the top of this hill.
18 Q. Do you know that for the -- I will call it now for today for the
19 so-called Ovnak operation, for the operation in the Ovnak area, that
20 the -- or that a command post was located in the village of Vrselje
21 on 6th, 7th, and 8th June. Do you know this?
22 A. I know that now. However, at the time that the operation was
23 being carried out, I didn't know that the command post was in the village
24 of Vrselje.
25 Q. When you returned after the operation to Pojske, can you please
1 clarify, did you take then a bus to Kakanj or did you walk? You might
2 have said it already, but can you please clarify.
3 A. Having returned from the Ovnak operation, having returned to the
4 village of Pojske, we spent the night there. We had a good breakfast. We
5 had a rest, and then in the afternoon buses took us to Kakanj.
6 Q. And while leaving the more or less immediate combat area, were you
7 checked or your bus in which you were sitting, was this bus stopped and
8 checked by anybody?
9 A. What do you mean checked? We were stopped at the checkpoint in
10 Vlasi. There was a checkpoint there, but what do you mean checked? I
11 really don't understand.
12 Q. Checked in the sense of that on the road towards Zenica probably,
13 on the road that there was -- that there were some uniformed persons who
14 maybe asked some questions to the soldiers, like you, who have boarded the
15 bus. Did this occur? If it didn't occur, just state so.
16 A. After we boarded the buses, we weren't checked, as I have said.
17 But before getting on the buses, the commander of the unit, or rather my
18 squad commander checked the squad, and before, the military police was
19 present, too.
20 Q. And on your way to Kakanj did you stop at Zenica, at the Bilmiste
21 barracks, or did you drive through with the bus right away?
22 A. I really can't remember. I know that we went to Kakanj on that
23 very same day. As to whether we went to the barracks in Zenica or not, I
24 really don't know.
25 Q. Thank you very much.
1 MR. NEUNER: The Prosecution has no further questions.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] As far as additional questions
3 are concerned, the Judges deliberated a while ago. In theory, if Defence
4 counsel is acting independently, they should not be taking the floor. So
5 only Brigadier Kubura's Defence counsel has the right to additional
6 questions now.
7 MR. DIXON: Thank you, Your Honour. We have no additional
8 questions arising from Mr. Neuner's questioning. Thank you.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I just have a few brief
10 questions of a technical and military kind.
11 Questioned by the Court:
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Page 31, line 14, you said that
13 the military police were there, as far as you can remember. Since all
14 this happened a very long time ago, and perhaps you don't remember
15 everything, but when you were in Ovnak were there any elements of the
16 military police there or not?
17 A. Yes. Military police members were in Ovnak, too, and they were
18 monitoring the movement of units from Ovnak towards Pojske after the
19 operation had been completed.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When you say that they were
21 monitoring, what does that mean exactly? What were they doing?
22 A. I'm not sure whether these are the orders that they received, but
23 given the way they were behaving at that point in time I think that they
24 were observing whether soldiers were carrying weapons that weren't theirs
25 at that point in time and observing whether they were carrying property
1 that they had found in the village. I think that that is what their task
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] When you returned to Ovnak -
4 this is something you haven't mentioned, you said nothing about it and I
5 didn't understand this part of your testimony very clearly - at that time
6 was there fighting with the HVO? Were you exchanging fire? Did you
7 return to Ovnak, and was the place deserted? There were no HVO soldiers
8 there. When you arrived there, was there ongoing fighting or not? What
9 could you tell us about this?
10 A. In the early morning hours when we started to carry out the
11 operation, the HVO mounted a fierce resistance; however, it did not last
12 for very long, not even an hour. After that, they started withdrawing,
13 and we continued to carry out our operation by pursuing them.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. When they withdrew,
15 there were no more HVO soldiers in Ovnak when you entered the place?
16 A. I didn't see a single one after that.
17 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So you did not take any HVO
18 prisoners in Ovnak?
19 A. No, not in that operation.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And as far as you can remember,
21 were there any civilians and inhabitants of Ovnak who had remained there,
22 because you said that you had entered the houses. Did you meet any
23 civilians there or had the village been completely deserted?
24 A. While carrying out the operation, as I have already said, we
25 passed by some houses. We didn't find any civilians or military members
1 in those houses. I heard that in one place the civilians had taken
2 refuge. They had all assembled in one place. That's what I had been
3 told, though I didn't personal witness that. I heard they had taken
4 refuge in a safe place while the operation was being carried out. But
5 while we were passing by those houses in the course of the operation, we
6 did not come across any soldiers or any civilians.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In Kakanj, my question is the
8 same: When you arrived there, there was no ongoing fighting or was there
9 fighting there?
10 A. We started the operation, as I said, in the early morning hours,
11 and the fighting in Kakanj was fierce. However, in the places that we
12 passed through we did not meet any soldiers or civilians. We reached a
13 place where the -- inhabited by Bosniaks and Muslims. It had been
14 encircled for two or three days by HVO forces.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And as far as you can remember,
16 in Kakanj the soldiers who were involved in the operation, did they take
17 any prisoners there or not?
18 A. As far as I know, they didn't. I really don't have any
19 information about the other units. But as for the unit that I was in, we
20 did not take anyone prisoner in the course of that operation.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Very well. You said that you
22 were in the 1st Squad of the 1st Platoon of the 1st Company of the
23 2nd Battalion of the 7th Brigade. It's complicated, but it's necessary to
24 go right up that chain. You were at the very bottom because you weren't
25 even a squad commander, although you're a major right now. But at that
1 time you were a private and so the squad was commanded by Kasim Kokic.
2 As far as you know, within the 2nd Battalion, which was furthest
3 removed from you, were there any foreigners or were you all from that
4 country or from that area? Were there any non-Bosniak combatants there?
5 A. In my battalion, all the soldiers were citizens of Bosnia and
6 Herzegovina, not only from the area of Zenica since Zenica was a town in
7 which a lot of refugees from other areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina had
8 arrived. And as a result, there were people from the entire territory of
9 Bosnia and Herzegovina. But they were all citizens of Bosnia and
10 Herzegovina. There weren't any foreigners of the 2nd Battalion of the
11 7th Muslim Brigade.
12 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] My very last question of a
13 technical nature.
14 When you were in the 7th Brigade, did you receive a salary or did
15 you never receive any sort of salary?
16 A. In the course of the war, we received some form of compensation,
17 and they didn't call it a salary. We were given some Bosnian dinars.
18 That's what they called them at the time. Each soldier was supposed to
19 receive a certain amount. However, this wasn't paid to the soldiers on a
20 regular basis and it wasn't a very significant amount. I don't think you
21 could even have bought a toothbrush and toothpaste or shaving utensils.
22 At that time, these items were very expensive.
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
24 I'll now give the floor to the Prosecution.
25 Further cross-examination by Mr. Neuner:
1 Q. Mr. Omic, just a question. You were asked by the Presiding Judge
2 about the military police being present in the area. Do you know whether
3 this military police was from the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Mountain
4 Brigade, or was it from another unit?
5 A. As far as I can remember, at that time there was a military police
6 squad in the 2nd Battalion and there was military police at the brigade
7 level as well. I believe that both formations, the military police units
8 in the battalion and in the brigade, I think they were both there.
9 Q. You said they were both there, what do you mean by "there"? In
10 what location or -- in Ovnak or somewhere else? I'm just asking.
11 A. When I say that they were both there or present, what I mean to
12 say is that the formations of military police from within the
13 2nd Battalion and the military police formations which were within the
14 brigade, not all members of the military police but there were members of
15 military police from both of these forces, and they were stationed at the
16 exit from Ovnak when we went from Ovnak to Pojske.
17 Q. Now, you say when you went from Ovnak to Pojske, was this when you
18 came? Was this when you returned? Please just clarify. When you
19 returned from the area or when you went to the wider area of Ovnak/Pojske?
20 A. No, not before the start of the operation. When we were coming
21 back after completing the operation in those early evening hours, they
22 were present along that route that we took from Ovnak to Pojske.
23 Q. And did these military policemen tell you what they were doing or
24 why they were checking people? Did they mention something to you?
25 A. No, they did not explain the nature of their job. They were just
1 standing there. I can't really say that it was a checkpoint; it wasn't a
2 traditional sort of checkpoint. They just -- they were just standing
3 there at one point, and they were supervising the movement of their units.
4 And they would check out individual soldiers in order to check what they
5 had in their rucksacks. And that's how I concluded that that must have
6 been their task, although they did not tell us what was the nature of
7 their job at that time.
8 Q. So you yourself were asked for your ID or you had to open your
9 bag, you yourself? I'm just asking.
10 A. No, they did not ask me to. But they did it at random. And at
11 that time we had kind of a booklet of the Army of the BH, and they were
12 not normally checking our IDs or anything. But we used to wear ribbons of
13 different colour so we could recognise each other in the course of battle
14 and also outside of battle.
15 Q. So they were interested which units or which soldiers belonged to
16 which unit were moving in which direction --
17 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the Presiding Judge, please.
18 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You've just said "we had ribbons
19 in the course of the operations." Could you describe that armbands that
20 you were wearing? And then I'll give you the floor later.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It was just a piece of cloth in a
22 given colour. For every operation we had that in order to be able to
23 recognise one another in the forest or when there was poor visibility we
24 had certain colours, for example, white or green. It was a simple piece
25 of cloth in a given colour, which was either on our left or right
1 shoulder, depending on the orders we were given, in order to be able to
2 recognise one another.
3 MR. NEUNER:
4 Q. Just coming back to my question. The military police soldier --
5 first of all, how many military policemen were standing there? One
6 person? Two persons? Do you remember?
7 A. I really don't know. I can't tell you the exact number, but I
8 don't think I'll go wrong if I say it was perhaps one squad between six
9 and ten people, more or less, but I can't give you the exact number.
10 Q. And judging from what happened -- you yourself approached this
11 checkpoint or these four or five to six people with how many soldiers?
12 You were not alone or you were alone?
13 A. We moved as a company, the 1st Company, in a column. And then the
14 other units were following us. And we all took the same route, from Ovnak
15 to Pojske, so that all my colleagues or the colleagues from my own unit
16 and from the other units had to go past that place. I can't really call
17 it a checkpoint. It wasn't a checkpoint proper; it was just a place where
18 they were standing and overseeing the movement of units from Ovnak to
20 Q. You just mentioned that other units were involved, too, and were
21 going through that checkpoint. Which other units are you referring to
22 which were coming right behind after your squad?
23 A. What I mean is the units from the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim
24 Brigade, the 1st, the 2nd, the 3rd Company, and the other units. That's
25 what I meant.
1 Q. All three units from the 2nd Battalion were passing with you
2 towards Pojske when you returned. Is that correct?
3 A. Look, I was within the 1st Company of the 1st Battalion of the
4 1st Squad. So I was at the front of the 1st Company and -- as we were
5 going from Ovnak to Pojske. I myself did not actually see all the other
6 units. I did not see whether they actually did go past that place where
7 the military police were. I did not see it, but I believe they did
8 because we were moving along that route. And since we all took the same
9 route, I suppose everybody must have gone past that place where the
10 military police was.
11 Q. And you say that you were all moving past that place. Where did
12 you initially meet? Was this kilometres before or just shortly before
13 this if I call it temporary checkpoint. You just met the other units
14 shortly there before, can you just clarify, or you were walking already
15 for kilometres with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Company of the 2nd Battalion in
16 a row?
17 A. Look, after the operation was completed, the company with the
18 platoons and squads were stationed in one place, and the same went for the
19 other company and all the other units. So the squad commanders checked
20 squads, and the platoon commanders checked platoons, whether anyone was
21 missing, whether anyone had been wounded, the regular sort of military
22 check. And when we were given orders to go back to Pojske, we moved
23 towards Pojske in a column. And so one company was initially in one
24 direction, the other in another, et cetera. And when we were told to stop
25 from those initial positions, we went back along that route and we went
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 past the place where the military police was.
2 Q. So basically all companies from the 2nd Battalion moved past that
3 checkpoint towards Pojske on the 7th or the 8th, you don't recall exactly,
4 of June, 1993?
5 A. Let me repeat this. I did not stay at that checkpoint and I did
6 not actually see with my own eyes all these units passing by. But since
7 we're all going the same way, I believe they must have done. I myself did
8 not actually physically see them all, but I believe they must have done
9 since we were all going the same way.
10 Q. Just one more question for clarification. The bus you boarded
11 then, I think it was the next day, after your breakfast - you mentioned
12 that - on this bus was there only your squad or were there also members
13 from the other companies of the 2nd Battalion? Who was boarding that bus,
15 A. The orders were very clear in that respect. The 1st Company was
16 to board a bus. When we -- when the bus was full, the rest of the company
17 boarded the next bus. So in one bus there were mostly members of one and
18 the same unit, but if there was only one left behind, I mean anyone who
19 could not board the first bus, they would have boarded the bus with
20 members of some other company.
21 Q. How many buses all together are we talking here?
22 A. I really don't know.
23 Q. And your bus went towards Kakanj. Can you just clarify, towards
24 Zagrada near Kakanj -- I didn't get the name of the location near Kakanj
25 or at Kakanj where you went. Can you please spell the name of that
1 location where you went to.
2 A. When we got to that village I asked the locals what the name of
3 the village was and they said it was Zagrada.
4 Q. Can you spell it, please?
5 A. [In English] It's Z-a-g-r-a-d-a.
6 Q. Thank you. Is this a village which is a few kilometres away from
7 Kakanj proper?
8 MR. DIXON: Your Honour.
9 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. Dixon.
10 MR. DIXON: I rise hesitantly, but in our submission this is
11 outside of the scope of the questions hat Your Honours asked and could
12 have been asked at the time after examination-in-chief.
13 MR. NEUNER: I'm prepared to withdraw that question.
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. Neuner.
15 MR. NEUNER: I just have one question left with your permission.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Go ahead.
17 MR. NEUNER:
18 Q. The buses or the bus -- you went to Zagrada. Did the other buses
19 also go to Zagrada - it's my last question - or did they go to somewhere
20 else with the other company members?
21 A. Yes. All buses who were driving members of the 2nd Battalion got
22 to Zagrada there, and I remember it was a fairly inaccessible village, and
23 the buses had a great deal of trouble in turning around. That's how I
24 know that there were more buses and that all members of the 2nd Battalion
25 got to Zagrada by bus.
1 Q. So just to summarise, more or less the soldiers which went through
2 the checkpoint towards Pojske the next day boarded a bus and went towards
3 Kakanj, to be precise, the village of Zagrada?
4 A. Correct.
5 Q. Thank you very much.
6 MR. NEUNER: The Prosecution has no further questions.
7 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] No questions, sir.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Mr. Dixon.
9 MR. DIXON: Thank you, Your Honours, only one question.
10 Further examination by Mr. Dixon:
11 Q. Sir, when you mention the operation in Ovnak being completed in
12 the morning and you then withdrew to the village of Pojske with the other
13 members of the 2nd Battalion, did any of you go back to the Ovnak area
14 that day or there after?
15 A. Absolutely not. After the operation, we came to the village of
16 Pojske. We were tired and we spent the night there. And on the next day
17 we went to Kakanj. And if anyone had wanted to go back, there was simply
18 no possibility for anyone to go back and catch another bus and then get to
20 Q. Thank you, sir.
21 MR. DIXON: I have no further questions. Thank you, Your Honours.
22 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Major, your hearing has been
23 completed. I would like to thank you on behalf of the Trial Chamber for
24 having travelled such a long way to testify. You have made your
25 contribution to the establishment of the truth and you have answered all
1 the questions that we wanted to ask you.
2 However, before we release you, I'd like to know whether the
3 Defence -- no, rather the Prosecution would like to tender this map. Now,
4 what you need to do is write your name and the date of today on the map,
5 and then you must sign the document.
6 MR. NEUNER: While this is being done, Your Honour, I just had a
7 little conversation --
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Yes.
9 MR. NEUNER: -- with the Defence about this map. My understanding
10 is there are no objections by both Defence counsels against this map, but
11 I was just told to state for the record that this map is not coming out of
12 DH87 till DH90; it is 1:50.000, 1:50.000 measurement, and it is accepted,
13 that is my understanding, by both parties that this is an adequate map.
14 Thank you.
15 THE WITNESS: [Marks].
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Right then.
17 The Defence, you do not object to this map being tendered?
18 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] No objections, Mr. President.
19 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, we have no
20 objections, but for the sake of the transcript we would just like to
21 stress once again that it is a kind of compilation of maps, as it were,
22 because this map shows things clearly because you can -- I mean, you can
23 see certain places indicated twice, such as Susanj, Vrselje, et cetera,
24 but we have nothing against it being tendered because the witness found
25 the place where he was, and that's why the Prosecution is supposedly
1 suggesting this.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Right then. Your point will be
3 included in the transcript.
4 Registrar, could you give us a number, please.
5 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. So it
6 is tendered as Prosecution document P959.
7 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] In English, please, for the sake
8 of the transcript.
9 THE REGISTRAR: [Previous translation continues]... to be complete,
10 this piece of the evidence is admitted into the record under the reference
12 [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
13 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] It was a good idea to ask you to
14 repeat because the initial indication was P595.
15 Major, as I was saying I would like to thank you very much indeed,
16 and on behalf of the Judges I would like to wish you all the best on your
17 return trip and in the course of your duties. I am now going to ask the
18 usher to accompany you out of the courtroom.
19 THE WITNESS: [In English] Thank you very much.
20 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] And I'm going to take this
21 opportunity and ask the usher to bring in the next witness.
22 [The witness withdrew]
23 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Originally you had planned on
24 two and a half hours for this witness.
25 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Yes. But after the proofing we
1 realised that perhaps half the time and perhaps even less would be
3 [The witness entered court]
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
5 Good afternoon. I would first of all like to check that you can
6 hear the translation of what I'm saying in your own language. If that's
7 the case, can you please tell me.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I can indeed hear and
9 understand you.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You were called as a witness by
11 the Defence team for General Kubura. Before asking you to take an oath, I
12 would like to identify you. Could you give me your name, your family
13 name, and your date and place of birth.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm Major Kasim Podzic, and I was
15 born on the 14th of October, 1972, at Hadzici, near Sarajevo.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You've just said that you are a
17 commander. Could you tell me where you are a commander?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm a member of the BH armed forces,
19 so within the framework of the armed forces of the Republic of Bosnia and
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could you also tell me in 1992
22 and 1993, at that time did you have job? If it was a military position,
23 could you let me know what the name of the unit was, the unit that you
24 belonged to. And if you were a commander, could you tell me in what way,
25 what did you command.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Right. In 1992, I had completed the
2 military academy in the former JNA. Up until the 15th of April, 1993, I
3 was abroad. I was in the Republic of Macedonia. On the 15th of January,
4 1993, I joined the armed forces of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
5 and I stayed there until the 15th of March, 1993, within the first
6 anti-sabotage unit for the defence of Zenica. And between the 15th of
7 March, 1993, all the way until mid-January 1996, I was a member of the
8 7th Muslim Brigade. Between the 15th of March, 1993, and the beginning of
9 August 1993, I was an operations and training officer within the
10 2nd Battalion. And as of August 1993 until January 1996, I was a
11 commander of the 1st or the 2nd Battalion --
12 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter did not hear. The 2nd Battalion
14 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Have you already testified
15 before a national or international court with regard to the facts that
16 happened in your country in 1992 or 1993, or is it the first time you
17 testified before a court?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is the first time.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Could you please read the text
20 of the oath.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
22 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
23 WITNESS: KASIM PODZIC
24 [Witness answered though interpreter]
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] You may sit down.
1 Before I give the floor to the lawyers that you have met during
2 the proofing, I would just like to provide you with some elements of
3 information as to the way this hearing is going to take place, as I do
4 with regard to most witnesses in order to make sure that it all goes well.
5 You will have to first of all answer questions put to you by
6 General Kubura's Defence team. These questions will be called within the
7 framework of what we call the examination-in-chief.
8 Following the questions by the Defence team for General Kubura,
9 General Hadzihasanovic's Defence team will also be allowed to ask any
10 questions they feel might be appropriate. Once the Defence team will have
11 asked all the questions, the Prosecution, sitting to your right, will also
12 ask you questions for more or less the same period of time within the
13 framework of what we tend to call cross-examination. After the
14 cross-examination, General Kubura's Defence counsel will be able to ask
15 additional questions, that is to say questions relating to the questions
16 asked by the Prosecution.
17 There upon, the three Judges sitting in front of you, if they feel
18 the need, will also be able to ask you questions. And once the Judges
19 will have asked all the questions, they will give the floor once again to
20 both the Defence and Prosecution, and they will be able to ask any useful
21 questions they feel they have to ask following your answers to the Judges'
23 I should also draw your attention to a number of other aspects of
24 the situation.
25 You have just taken an oath which means that, obviously, you must
1 tell the truth and you can't lie, because perjury is a crime, as you know.
2 Apart from anything else, I would also like to draw your attention to
3 another rather complex aspect of our procedure. If we ask you a question,
4 you're also allowed to say, I don't feel like answering that question.
5 Why can you say that? Only in case you might be led to think that this
6 answer might at some point be used against him and represent certain
7 elements which may be used against him. So in that case - and this I must
8 say has never happened so far, but it is a possibility which is provided
9 for in our Rules of Procedure - you might nevertheless be forced to
10 answer. But in that case, the Trial Chamber would grant you immunity.
11 Let me also draw your attention to another point. This is an -- a
12 basically oral procedure and this is the reason why can see the English
13 transcript of what I'm saying on the screen in front of you, and this
14 refers to everything else that is being said in the course of this
15 hearing. This is why it is particularly important to try when answering
16 these questions to be as specific as possible and as concise as possible
17 because a question, as you know, calls for a specific answer.
18 If you encounter any sort of difficulty, don't hesitate to let us
19 know; that's why we're there, to solve such problems.
20 In a little while, we shall have a short break, about 20 to 25
21 minutes, in order to make it possible for the tapes to be changed and also
22 to give you some rest. The Defence has told us that, a priori, they don't
23 think it will take too long, and it may well happen that we finish today.
24 If we don't finish today, we will continue tomorrow morning. So these are
25 some elements that I wanted to inform you about before I give the floor to
1 the Defence counsel, who is going to start with the examination-in-chief.
2 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
3 Examined by Mr. Ibrisimovic:
4 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Podzic, you have just answered some questions
5 put to you by the Presiding Judge. You have informed us of what you did
6 in the course of the war and after the war. But what do you do now and
7 where are you located?
8 A. I'm currently a member of the Federation army. I am part of the
9 peace mission in Congo, where I work as a military observer.
10 In the post-war period I completed a number of courses. I would
11 single out two courses, command staff courses, within NATO. There was a
12 peacekeeping operation course and an NBI training course.
13 Q. [No interpretation].
14 A. From the 25th of November of last year up until the 25th of
15 November this year.
16 Q. My question hasn't been entered in the transcript.
17 Since when have you had these duties and up until when will you be
18 performing these duties?
19 A. As a military observer -- I've been working as a military observer
20 since the 25th of November of last year up until the 25th of November of
21 this year.
22 Q. Mr. Podzic, you said that up until March 1993 you were a member of
23 the Territorial Defence in Zenica?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. When exactly did you join the 7th Muslim Brigade and how?
1 A. I became a member of the 7th Muslim on the 15th of March, 1993, in
2 accordance with an order from the superior command, or rather in
3 accordance with an order from the 3rd Corps.
4 Q. When you arrived in the 7th Brigade, were you assigned duties of
5 any kind and up until when did you perform your duties?
6 A. When I joined the 7th Muslim Brigade I was appointed as an officer
7 for operations and training within the 2nd Battalion. The duties were
8 similar to the duties of deputy commander of the battalion. I remained in
9 that position until the end of July or perhaps beginning of August 1993.
10 Q. Please, when answering the questions, could you answer a little
11 more slowly to enable the interpreters to follow you.
12 Who was your immediate superior?
13 A. My immediate superior was the commander of the 2nd Battalion,
14 Serif Patkovic.
15 Q. In what way was the battalion organised?
16 A. The battalion had about 400 members and it consisted of two
17 detachments. There were two companies in each detachment. There was an
18 accompanying company, two anti-sabotage detachments that reported directly
19 to the battalion commander.
20 Q. Where was your battalion located?
21 A. It was located in the Bilmiste barracks.
22 Q. When you arrived in 7th Brigade, who was the commander of the
23 7th Muslim Brigade?
24 A. The commander of the 7th Muslim Brigade was Mr. Asim Koricic.
25 Q. Did you ever meet Mr. Kubura when you joined the 7th Muslim
2 A. Yes, I also met Mr. Kubura.
3 Q. What duties did Mr. Kubura perform at the time?
4 A. When I arrived there he was the Chief of Staff of the 7th Muslim
6 Q. Do you know when Mr. Kubura became the commander of the 7th Muslim
8 A. At the beginning of August 1993. I remember that event because
9 that was the time when I became the commander of a battalion.
10 Q. The 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Brigade was located in
11 Bilmiste you said. Where were the men from the 2nd Battalion trained?
12 A. Since that would involve my duties as the operations and training
13 officer, all the training that took place at -- during that period of time
14 took place in the Bilmiste barracks.
15 Q. Mr. Podzic, as a member of the 2nd Battalion, were you involved in
16 military operations and activities at the beginning of June 1993? Were
17 you involved in the operations carried out by the 2nd Battalion of the
18 7th Muslim Brigade?
19 A. Of course.
20 Q. Could you inform the Chamber of the activities concerned and could
21 you inform them of the period concerned and the location?
22 A. In June, on the 8th of June, there was Operation Ovnak. On the
23 11th of June --
24 Q. I'm referring to June 1993. Allow me to interrupt you.
25 A. On the 8th of June there was the Ovnak operation, and on the 11th
1 of June, the Kakanj operation.
2 Q. Were you directly involved in the Ovnak operation?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Was your battalion directly involved in that operation?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Who issued orders to you while you were in the 2nd Battalion of
7 the 7th Muslim Brigade?
8 A. While I was the officer for operations and training, I received
9 orders from the battalion commander alone.
10 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, since we have
11 some documents that we would like to show this witness, could the usher
12 show these documents to the witness?
13 Q. Mr. Podzic, we've already had a look at these documents; we did so
14 in the course of the proofing. Could you tell me what Ovnak operation
15 was. When did it start and when did you become directly involved in the
17 A. Operation Ovnak was an operation to open up the Ovnak pass, to
18 link up the Zenica-Ovnak-Han Bila road, to establish a link between
19 Zenica, Han Bila, and Travnik. Preparations for the operation were
20 carried out I would say around the 5th of June, between the 5th and 6th of
21 June. We deployed in certain sectors. Reconnaissance was completed on
22 the 6th of June. On the 7th of June, we made an attempt to carry out our
23 combat task.
24 Q. Allow me to interrupt you. Let's take this in chronological
25 order. You said that on the 5th and 6th of June there were preparations
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 for the operation. Who gave you the order, or rather your battalion the
2 order to take part in the operation?
3 A. As an officer for operations and training, this task was assigned
4 to me by my battalion commander. My battalion commander was probably
5 assigned this task, or rather received this task from his superior
7 Q. Could you have a look at the document under tab number 2. P419 is
8 the exhibit number. Do you recognise the document? This is an order to
9 carry out an attack in which your battalion participated.
10 A. Yes. It's an order to attack signed by my battalion commander.
11 Q. When the order was received, how did the men and the units of the
12 2nd Battalion set off to carry out this combat task?
13 A. Buses deployed the members of the 2nd Battalion in the sector of
14 the village of Pojske, which is in the vicinity of Vrselje.
15 Q. Could you have a look at document under tab number 1.
16 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] For the transcript,
17 Mr. President, this is a new document, dated the 5th of June, 1993.
18 Q. Do you recognise this document, Mr. Podzic?
19 A. Yes. I'm familiar with this document. This is a marching order
20 for our battalion signed by my battalion commander.
21 Q. Have a look at item 2 of this marching order.
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. What does item 2 say exactly?
24 A. It says that certain means should be used for the march. It says
25 that the march should be -- that the men should be transported to carry
1 out the march by buses.
2 Q. Does -- did you actually carry out this order? Did you actually
3 do what it says under item 2?
4 A. Yes, we did.
5 Q. You said that the battalion arrived in the Pojske or Vrselje
6 sector. If you remember, can you tell us when you arrived there exactly,
7 at what time of day?
8 A. Well, it was at night, early dawn, on the 6th of June. And upon
9 arriving in the village of Pojske and Vrselje sector, the troops were
10 provided with accommodation.
11 Q. What further orders did you then receive?
12 A. On the 6th of June, 1993, officers from the battalion command and
13 officers of the basic units, of the main units used meant to carry out
14 reconnaissance in order to prepare for the task.
15 Q. When did the first combat start?
16 A. On the following day, on the 7th of June, there were attempts made
17 to carry out our task, but they were not successful. So one might say
18 that we engaged in combat on the 7th of June.
19 Q. What happened afterwards?
20 A. Since the attack was a failure, we had a meeting in the battalion,
21 a briefing. We reorganised our forces and decided to try to carry out our
22 combat task one more time on the 8th of June.
23 Q. On the 7th of June, where were the men of the 2nd Battalion?
24 A. The unit members were in the sectors in the collection areas.
25 These areas that are somewhat removed from the lines; they aren't exposed
1 to enemy activity.
2 Q. On the 8th of June, 1993, when did the fighting start?
3 A. The fighting for the 2nd Battalion started in the early morning
4 hours on the 8th of June, in the Crni Vrh/Usice sector. The purpose of
5 the fighting was to penetrate the enemy's lines.
6 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, we would like to
7 use a map, and with your leave we would like to show this witness a map so
8 that he can explain what he has just been testifying about.
9 Q. Mr. Podzic, you mentioned the village of Pojske and the village of
10 Vrselje a minute ago. So could you point to these locations on the map
11 and could you use a felt tip to encircle these villages.
12 A. [Marks].
13 Q. You could mark the locations with numbers 1 and 2.
14 You said that you penetrated the line and that you engaged in the
15 direction of Crni Vrh. Could you point to the location of Crni Vrh and
16 encircle that location.
17 You also mentioned the village of Usice, if it's easier for you to
18 find it.
19 A. I marked Crni Vrh with number 3, that's where the units started
20 moving. Number 4 indicates Usice. That was where we first started
21 fighting and where we penetrated the enemy's lines.
22 Q. You mentioned the Usice feature. What is Usice in fact?
23 A. We could say that it's a hill in military terms.
24 Q. There are two combat activities on that day. When did that
25 activity come to an end in that sector?
1 A. In the Crni Vrh and Usice sector, we breached the enemy line in
2 the morning, but to carry out the entire task we had to remain engaged
3 until the afternoon.
4 Q. Did you then receive another order from your battalion commander?
5 What happened then?
6 A. In the afternoon we established lines at the positions that we had
7 reached to the south of the village of Brajkovici and below the road from
8 Han Bila to Travnik. Our main task was to establish a new line and
9 prepare to hand over the line to units of the second echelon.
10 Q. Did you ever pass through that road?
11 A. As far as the Han Bila-Travnik road is concerned, no, I never
12 crossed the road nor did the troops do that because that wasn't part of
13 the task that we had been assigned.
14 Q. When conditions were established to hand the line over, what did
15 the 2nd Battalion do and what happened to the 2nd Battalion men?
16 A. In the afternoon on the 8th of June, members of the 2nd Battalion
17 withdrew to the Pojske sector, which is where we had set out from, and the
18 commander informed me that we had received a new task in a completely
19 different area. We could say that it was in the Zenica area.
20 Q. Did the members of the 2nd Battalion return to the village of
21 Pojske as ordered?
22 A. All the men from the 2nd Battalion returned to the village of
23 Pojske. They had arrived there by the evening.
24 Q. You said that the commander issued a new order to you. Who was
25 the commander and what was the order?
1 A. The commander of the 2nd Battalion ordered me to prepare to move
2 rapidly and to redeploy the battalion so that they could engage in combat
3 action in the Kakanj area.
4 Q. How long did you yourself stay in the Ovnak area where all these
5 activities had already come to an end?
6 A. I think that very same evening I already arrived in Kakanj, and I
7 was preparing to carry out early morning reconnaissance for the task that
8 had been assigned.
9 Q. Under tab 3, could you have a look at document DK23 and tell me
10 whether you are familiar with this document, and if so, what is the
12 A. Yes. I am familiar with this document; it's a plan of commander's
13 reconnaissance for the operation that I have just mentioned. That was the
14 new task that we were assigned. And as you can see, we didn't have
15 sufficient time really.
16 Q. The soldiers of the 2nd Battalion at the end of the fighting
17 returned to the village of Pojske, as you said. What was the next task
18 that members of the 2nd Battalion were assigned and what did they do?
19 A. The next task assigned to 2nd Battalion members was to prepare to
20 rapidly redeploy from the village of Brajkovici sector and to go to a new
21 area, the area of Kakanj.
22 Q. You mentioned the term "rapidly deploy," what does that mean
24 A. The battalion had been engaged in combat for three days, and
25 according to certain rules the men need 24 hours to rest. But we couldn't
1 abide by these rules. So when the units were withdrawn from the
2 Brajkovici area, we had to immediately prepare the unit to move. And
3 that's what I mean when I say prepare the unit to move rapidly.
4 Q. That means that that unit had to leave that sector as soon as
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And did the men actually manage to redeploy rapidly?
8 A. Yes. By the 9th, in the afternoon, the units were in the area of
10 Q. You said that during this period of time while Mr. Patkovic was
11 the battalion commander you were, one could say, the deputy commander of
12 the battalion. At that time, while there was action in the Ovnak area,
13 did you tell your battalion members -- or did you see that your battalion
14 members entered houses and looted them?
15 A. I was actively involved in carrying out the battalion's combat
16 task, and I did not notice any men or any units from the 2nd Battalion
17 acting in a way that might be described as entering inhabited places and
18 looting them.
19 Q. How did members of the 2nd Battalion leave the Ovnak area and how
20 did they travel to Kakanj?
21 A. In the same way that we had arrived there. The unit was taken
22 there by bus. They were taken to the wider Kakanj area by bus.
23 Q. When you said that the unit was rapidly redeployed, was it
24 possible for these soldiers during this period of time to leave and to go
25 home to have a rest? Was it possible for them to spend any time outside
1 the unit?
2 A. It wasn't possible for us to grant them leave, not even in the
3 Brajkovici [as interpreted] area. They were very tired. They were
4 exhausted. So -- but we couldn't even think about granting them leave.
5 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] I believe there's a mistake in
6 the transcript. The witness said that it wasn't possible for the soldiers
7 to have a rest in the Pojske area, and the transcript says "Brajkovici."
8 I think it's page 58, line 21 of the transcript.
9 Q. When exactly did the soldiers of the 2nd Battalion come to the
10 Kakanj sector and where did they come?
11 A. The soldiers of the 2nd Battalion came to the broader sector of
12 Kakanj, to the sector of Kakanj. I believe the village was Zagradje and
13 they got there as early as the late afternoon of that day.
14 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter did not actually hear the last
16 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation]
17 Q. Could you look at the document number 4 in this bundle of
18 documents, DK24, the Defence exhibit.
19 I'm just going to repeat the question I asked you earlier on
20 because it did not enter the transcript. When the -- when was it exactly
21 that the soldiers of the 2nd Battalion came to the sector of Kakanj?
22 A. On the 9th of June in the late afternoon, the sector of the
23 village Zagradje.
24 Q. Do you recognise this document and can you tell us what it stands
1 A. Yes, I did. This document is an order for attack for the
2 aforementioned operation in the sector of Kakanj.
3 Q. How soon after the carrying out of this military operation do the
4 soldiers need to come, to arrive at that deployment area in which these
5 combat operations are to take place?
6 A. On the basis of my experience and on the basis of some rules and
7 regulations, it should be at least 48 hours.
8 Q. You mentioned the village Zagradje. Can you take a look at this
9 order for attack, item number 14. Have you found it?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. KM, it means the command post of the brigade in the area of the
12 village Zagradje. Could you tell us where exactly this village is
14 Let me make it more specific. Is this village in the surroundings
15 of Kakanj and how far is it from Kakanj?
16 A. This is a village which is indeed in the surroundings of Kakanj,
17 the village called Zagradje. I believe it is about half an hour -- half
18 an hour's drive away from Kakanj, perhaps even shorter than that. I have
19 been to this village. That's where we prepared, where our units prepared
20 for the carrying out of this task.
21 Q. Thank you. One more question with regard to this same document.
22 Who signed this document and in what capacity, on the last page?
23 A. On the last page the document is signed by Mr. Amir Kubura as the
24 Chief of Staff.
25 Q. Thank you. I would like to ask you to look at the map on which
1 you marked certain positions and certain places that you referred to, and
2 could you please sign it and put today's date on it.
3 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] And the Defence would like to
4 tender this map into evidence for the Defence of Mr. Kubura.
5 THE WITNESS: [Marks].
6 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The Prosecution.
7 MR. MUNDIS: No objection.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The Defence.
9 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] No objections.
10 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar, a number, please.
11 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. It is
12 entered into evidence for the Defence of General Kubura, DK38.
13 Thank you, Mr. President.
14 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, this number is
15 incorrect. I think it should be more than 40 according to our evidence.
16 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Registrar?
17 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] The last number was 45. My
18 legal assistant has just pointed it out to me.
19 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President, and
20 thank you to the Defence for pointing it out. Yes, indeed, it would
21 be DK46.
22 [In English] DK46.
23 [Interpretation] I do apologise, Mr. President.
24 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, since we would
25 like to deal with another topic with regard to the -- one of the counts of
1 the indictment, perhaps this is a good time for a break. Perhaps we could
2 have a somewhat shorter break if you think it might speed things up with
3 regard to this witness.
4 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] So we shall have a break now.
5 It is 20 past 5.00, and we shall continue at a quarter to 6.00.
6 --- Recess taken at 5.22 p.m.
7 --- On resuming at 5.47 p.m.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] We will now resume.
9 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
10 Q. Mr. Podzic, I checked the transcript during the break and just in
11 order to make things quite clear I'd like to ask you another question.
12 Upon completing the operation of Ovnak, where did the soldiers of
13 the 2nd Battalion go back to, where were they redeployed? I'm thinking in
14 terms of the area of Ovnak; I'm not thinking of Kakanj.
15 A. Upon completing the operation, the soldiers went back to the
16 deployment area, the village of Pojske.
17 Q. Mr. Podzic, did you in the beginning of November of 1993 take part
18 in the combat activities around the city of Vares with your battalion?
19 A. No.
20 Q. Were you the battalion commander at the time?
21 A. Yes. I was a commander of the 2nd Battalion.
22 Q. Let me repeat this question once again, since a different answer
23 went into the transcript.
24 So once again, did you by the beginning of November as a commander
25 of the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Brigade participate in combat
1 activities in the vicinity of the city of Vares?
2 A. Yes, I did. I did participate in those activities.
3 Q. Could you look at the bundle of documents, number 6. The document
4 dated the 6th of November, 1993, and can you tell us what it represents.
5 Does it refer to the combat activities that you have just confirmed having
6 participated in?
7 A. The document is dated the 3rd of November, not the 6th of
9 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] For the sake of the transcript,
10 it's DK43.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, this is the order to attack,
12 and I participated in this with my battalion.
13 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Are you familiar with this document?
15 A. Yes. Yes, I am familiar with this document.
16 Q. On page 5, could you just look at the signature. Who signed this
17 document and in what capacity?
18 A. On page 5, it is signed by Mr. Amir Kubura, as the commander of
19 this brigade.
20 Q. Thank you.
21 Mr. Podzic, when you received this order, could you tell the Trial
22 Chamber when and in what way did you go to the sector of the city of
24 A. Upon receiving this order, on the 3rd of November, we redeployed
25 and we moved from the Bilmiste barracks in the deployment area in the
1 village of Strijezevo, the broader sector of Vares.
2 Q. Could you look at the document number 5 in your folder.
3 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] For the sake of the transcript,
4 it's a new document, Mr. President.
5 Q. Have you found it?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Have you recognised it?
8 A. Yes, I have. This is the marching order.
9 Q. Can you look at item 2 of this order and the part that
10 says "transport shall be organised in a combined way." There it is.
11 A. I have looked at item 2, and on the basis of this order, with
12 regard to my unit, the relevant transport would be by bus from the
13 barracks in Bilmiste to the village of Strijezevo.
14 Q. Was this order carried out in the way in which it is indicated
15 here in the order dated the 1st of November, 1993?
16 A. For the 2nd Battalion in line with the order, we went by bus from
17 the barracks of Bilmiste to the village of Strijezevo.
18 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I would just like
19 to make use of a map very briefly, and if you allow me I would like the
20 map to be placed on the ELMO and that -- in order to make it easier for us
21 to follow the testimony.
22 Q. Could you take a look at the map and indicate the village of
24 A. [Marks].
25 I've marked the village of Strijezevo. I've put the number 1
2 Q. Can you remember when you got to the village of Strijezevo?
3 A. We got there as early as the 3rd of November.
4 Q. What actual task did your battalion have, or rather what orders
5 did you issue to the members of your battalion upon arrival to the
7 A. Upon arrival to the village, in line with the general task, my
8 battalion was interested with the task to, on the 4th of November, carry
9 out an attack in the general direction of Strijezevo, Majdan Zimije, the
10 city of Vares, and to cover the main roads.
11 Q. In what direction was this attack supposed to take place according
12 to this order?
13 A. The shortest possible route from the sector of Strijezevo to go
14 down to the sector of Pajtov Han and to carry out along the road to the
15 city of Vares.
16 Q. Could you mark with an arrow just to make things perfectly clear.
17 A. [Marks].
18 Q. Have you carried out that task and at what time?
19 A. I myself and my battalion did carry out this task in line with the
20 orders we have received, in line with the planned time-scale, as well as
21 all the other tasks that followed on that day.
22 Q. Were there any combat activities on the road to the city of Vares?
23 A. My formation, my battalion, was moving in a V formation, according
24 to the NATO doctrine, two companies ahead and one in reserve. When we
25 came to the road, on both right and left, I mean the terrain was rather
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 narrow, and the leading elements of the two companies which went ahead
2 shot -- fired shots in the air. And they tried to uncover possible
3 ambushes at the outskirts of the city. Such a formation and such a
4 movement was maintained until we entered the city.
5 Q. When did you get to the city of Vares itself?
6 A. I think it was at around 11.00, between 10.00 and 11.00 in the
7 morning. And when entering the city, I met the UNPROFOR officer.
8 Q. Did you talk to this officer?
9 A. We talked for about 10 to 15 minutes. It was an officer of about
10 40 years of age, medium height. He came in an armoured vehicle with two
11 escorts, and he asked who the commanding officer of the unit was. I
12 introduced myself, and he repeated his question. He said, Are you the
13 commanding officer of this unit or of the checkpoint, because behind my
14 unit, at the very entrance to the city, a checkpoint had already been in
15 the process of being set up by the civilian police.
16 I confirmed that I was indeed the commanding officer of the unit
17 moving in the direction of the town. And initially I said that the
18 leading elements were the two companies ahead and that they were firing
19 shots in the air as a provocation; he recognised that. And in military
20 jargon he replied that there was no need for such shots because there were
21 no armed forces in town. I translated this request into an order of mine,
22 and I ordered for these shots to be stopped.
23 I would also like to point out that in one of the two companies
24 that went ahead, 70 per cent of members were originally from that very
25 town and the surroundings. And following this information that the HVO
1 forces had withdrawn from the town, some of them also starting firing
2 shots in the air, as a kind of celebration and joy. This was the first
3 liberated city and those were their homes. I told him so, and we stopped
4 those shots being fired after two or three minutes. He said that he would
5 like to take that opportunity, in the course of that conversation we were
6 having, to draw our attention to the fact that we had to act in a certain
7 military way in relation to the civilians we were to encounter in town,
8 and I replied that I can guarantee from my soldiers that they would act in
9 line with military honour. And I said, I hope you made the same request
10 to the HVO in the period of time that they spent in this city.
11 I was impressed by his answer to the effect that he himself had
12 lists with regard to the centre of town. He had lists of the non-Croat
13 population, and he asked for the same sort of military honour and
14 behaviour on the part of HVO in relation to those citizens. His two
15 escorts had their arms pointed at me, and I asked him to ask them to stop.
16 And he ordered them to do so, and they only obeyed his orders halfway.
17 Thereupon we parted and I never met this person again.
18 Q. After that, did you enter the very city of Vares and did the
19 soldiers of the 2nd Battalion enter Vares?
20 A. In the V formation that I've mentioned before, the reserve company
21 was stopped and it did not continue to move in the direction of the city.
22 The two companies that had already entered the city -- well, one continued
23 to move along the main road. They continued to move through the city
24 itself in the direction of the buildings and the settlements of Dastansko
25 and Przici. And the remaining third company started the manoeuvre of
1 linking up with our forces to the right and left.
2 Q. What was the situation in town when you entered?
3 A. Since the previous night the HVO and some inhabits withdrew from
4 the city, it was fairly chaotic, probably due to this very rapid
5 withdrawal and bad roads leading away from the town and the fact that
6 people left at night. There were a lot of things scattered about,
7 belongings, and coming out of the city there was a building built out of
8 concrete and wood, and it was on fire. I could describe this situation as
9 having arisen duly -- as having arisen partly intentionally and partly
11 Q. How long did you stay and how long did the soldiers that entered
12 the city stay there?
13 A. One company was -- the reserve company did not even enter, and the
14 other marched through the town very quickly, and they came out in the
15 northern part. And one company stayed to link up with the forces to the
16 right and left. This activity lasted until perhaps 3.00 p.m. I moved
17 along the main road and supervised the carrying out of this task.
18 Q. Did other units start coming to Vares, any other formations?
19 A. Right on the hills of my unit there was the civil police, and they
20 set up a checkpoint whilst I was talking to the UNPROFOR officer. And
21 that's why he asked me whether I was the commanding officer of that
22 checkpoint or those forces. And about a quarter of an hour later, three
23 other units appeared.
24 Q. Did you ever get an order whilst you were in Vares and what was
25 that order?
1 A. At around 3.00 p.m., when in the northern part of town I was
2 establishing some sort of defence line with a unit in order to pre-empt
3 any surprises and we were trying to link up with our forces to the right
4 and left, at that stage I received an order to organise my forces, carry
5 out controls, and to leave the town with the 2nd Battalion.
6 Q. Who issued that order?
7 A. I received the order from the commander of the brigade,
8 Mr. Kubura; it was in a written form and it was forwarded to other
9 officers in both oral and written form. And thereupon, we organised our
10 forces and led the 2nd Battalion out of the city.
11 Q. Did your battalion follow the orders, your orders I mean, and did
12 they leave?
13 A. I've organised my units fully, and I issued some additional oral
14 orders specifying the place where they had to gather. It was a square in
15 the city, a rather large square. And soldiers had to have their soldier's
16 kits with them, only exclusively, their rifles, their rucksacks, their
17 ammunition. And they had to move through the checkpoint in a column. I
18 mean the checkpoint that I had mentioned being set up.
19 At that checkpoint, there was the combined civilian and military
20 police. To the left, if we think in terms of the way out of town, there
21 was the deputy of the brigade commander and one officer from the 3rd Corps
22 command, and two representatives of the civilian authorities who were
23 watching my unit and my battalion as they went past and they went through
24 that checkpoint. I think that the deputy commander, the brigade deputy
25 commander, on the basis of random sample singled out two soldiers and
1 asked me to check their rucksacks. We found nothing in those rucksacks.
2 And as they went through the checkpoint, the soldiers were allowed to
3 carry only their soldier equipment and kits.
4 Q. Who was the deputy commander of the brigade?
5 A. Mr. Brzina, Halil. He was to the left and controlled any movement
6 that was there.
7 Q. Can you have a look at the document under tab number 7, please.
8 Do you recognise the person who drafted the document?
9 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] For the sake of the transcript,
10 Mr. President, this is a new document.
11 Q. Mr. Podzic, who was this combat report forwarded to, addressed to?
12 A. This is a combat report addressed to the command of the 3rd Corps,
13 and it's from the assistant Chief of Staff of the 7th Muslim Brigade,
14 Mr. Zunic.
15 Q. Does this report reflect what you have just been testifying about?
16 A. Well, yes, it does, and it was drafted on the basis of our reports
17 once these tasks had been carried out.
18 Q. Could you have a look at document under tab number 8, under tab
19 number 9, the document under tab number 9 is a new document and the same
20 is the case -- or rather, number 9 is -- number 8 is a new document and
21 number 9 is P478.
22 A. Yes. This is an order -- or these orders, since we have two
23 documents here. And after the town was left, an order was issued
24 forbidding unit members to enter and stay in the house. It also mentions
25 the penalties that will be imposed on anyone who violates the order.
1 Q. Thank you.
2 Mr. Podzic, did members of your battalion loot the town of Vares?
3 A. Members of my battalion participated in the liberation of the town
4 of Vares, and they did not do anything that could be described as theft,
5 let alone looting. I think that when we left this town in an organised
6 manner, we did so in a highly professional and disciplined way. And
7 individuals from various fields witnessed this fact, two levels of
8 command, brigade command, the command of the corps. There were
9 representatives of the civilian authorities and some civilians who
10 witnessed this fact.
11 Q. Could you have a look at document under tab 10; it's a new
12 document. Could you tell us what this document is?
13 A. I'm familiar with this document. This document is a scroll of
14 honour for our brigade, or rather for the unit that I was a member of, and
15 it is for the extraordinary contribution and for the maintenance of the
16 continuity of authority. It was signed by the then-head of the
17 municipality, Mrs. Mervana.
18 Q. Could you tell us the date?
19 A. The date is the 18th of March, 1994.
20 Q. Thank you, Mr. Podzic. This concludes our examination-in-chief.
21 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] I would just like to ask the
22 witness to sign the map, and then we would like to tender it into
24 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The Prosecution with regard to
25 the map?
1 MR. MUNDIS: No objection.
2 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] [No interpretation].
3 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I note that there are no
5 Mr. Registrar, but no mistakes this time, please.
6 THE REGISTRAR: [Interpretation] The number is DK47. This is the
7 exhibit number for Mr. Kubura's Defence team.
8 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
9 Do you have any questions?
10 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] No. Thank you, Mr. President.
11 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] The Prosecution.
12 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you, Mr. President. We do have some questions.
13 I'm not sure if we will be able to finish this evening, but I will
14 commence if the Chamber would like me to do so.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Go ahead.
16 MR. MUNDIS: Thank you.
17 Cross-examined by Mr. Mundis:
18 Q. Good evening, Mr. Podzic. My name is Daryl Mundis and along with
19 my colleagues here we represent the Prosecution in this case. I do have
20 some questions for you, sir, but before I do that I would like to simply
21 let you know that it is not in any way our intention to confuse you with
22 any of your questions. And I would ask you, sir, if you don't understand
23 any of my questions, simply to tell me that and I will rephrase or repeat
24 the question so that you understand it. Is that clear, sir?
25 A. Good evening. Yes, it's clear.
1 Q. Thank you. Let me start, sir, by asking you a couple of
2 additional questions about Vares, since that's where we ended, or the
3 Defence for Brigadier Kubura ended.
4 You've mentioned a couple of times that there was a person from
5 the 3rd Corps command, and I'm wondering if you can recall precisely who
6 it was from the 3rd Corps who was present in Vares in November at the time
7 this campaign was undertaken?
8 A. Unfortunately I can't remember who that person was, but he was
9 certainly from the corps command of the 3rd Corps.
10 Q. Do you recall, sir, what position this person had within the
11 3rd Corps?
12 A. No, I don't.
13 Q. Do you recall at the time you entered Vares whether you were aware
14 at that point in time that the HVO had already withdrawn from the city of
16 A. No. That was why I said that we opened fire -- we fired in the
17 air in provocation.
18 Q. Okay. So -- just that we're then clear, sir, the first time you
19 became aware that the HVO had in fact previously withdrawn from Vares was
20 when the UNPROFOR officer informed you of that. Is that -- is that
21 correct, sir?
22 A. The UNPROFOR officer met me at the entrance to the town, and he
23 said that it wasn't necessary to open fire since there were certainly no
24 more HVO members in the town.
25 Q. Okay. And again, just so we're clear, that was the first time
1 that you became aware that the HVO had previously withdrawn from Vares?
2 A. That was the first time that I was informed that all of the men
3 had withdrawn from Vares.
4 Q. And do you remember, sir, or can you be more precise as to what
5 the UNPROFOR officer told you as to when the HVO had withdrawn from Vares?
6 A. As far as I can remember, he didn't say when. He had the bearing
7 of a member of the military. He immediately warned us to stop firing in
8 the air and assured us that all members of the HVO had left Vares.
9 Q. Okay. But you don't remember if he told you they -- the HVO left
10 earlier this morning or the HVO left yesterday or the HVO left two days
11 ago? You don't remember him specifically telling you when the HVO had
12 withdrawn from Vares?
13 A. I don't remember him telling me.
14 Q. And, sir, I assume, but I would just like you to verify or correct
15 me if I'm wrong, but I assume since you told us that no members of the
16 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade were in any way involved
17 in theft or looting, it would follow then that no one from the
18 2nd Brigade -- or 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade was
19 arrested or disciplined or prosecuted for any acts of theft or looting in
21 A. I have already testified and confirmed that we had left the town
22 in an organised manner. We hadn't taken any property from the town, and I
23 confirm that at that point in time none of the soldiers had anything that
24 wasn't military equipment. But I did not say that no one was processed
25 before and afterwards, not only from this unit but from other units, too.
1 Q. Okay. And again, sir, in order that we're all clear, are you
2 telling us that no soldiers from any unit of the 7th Muslim Mountain
3 Brigade was arrested or disciplined or prosecuted for the crime of theft
4 or looting in the city of Vares during the campaign in November -- early
5 November 1993?
6 A. I'm saying that in the course of the operation on the 4th, when
7 leaving the town no men from the 2nd Battalion engaged in looting.
8 Q. I understand that, sir. My question is related but is slightly
10 My question is: Were you aware, as the commander of the 2nd
11 Battalion of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade, whether any of the soldiers
12 in your battalion were ever arrested, disciplined, or prosecuted for the
13 offence of theft or looting concerning the events that occurred or the
14 campaign that occurred in the city of Vares in the first week of November
16 A. I don't remember.
17 Q. Other than the one concrete and wood building that you told us
18 about that was on fire, did you observe any other destruction of buildings
19 or houses or any other structures in the city of Vares after the arrival
20 of your battalion in that city?
21 A. I've already said that the situation in the town was fairly
22 chaotic, and I even expanded on this in a certain manner and said that
23 this was probably caused by the HVO's withdrawal. To a certain extent,
24 that was probably intentional. What I noticed was the building on fire in
25 northern part of the town.
1 MR. MUNDIS: Mr. President, I note for the transcript there needs
2 to be a correction on page 75, line 12, the witness's answer was "I don't
3 remember." And the following sentence is actually the next question, that
4 is "other than the one concrete and wood building," is the next question.
5 Q. Let me ask you again, sir, if you were aware or had knowledge of
6 whether any soldiers in the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Mountain
7 Brigade were ever arrested or disciplined or prosecuted for any crimes
8 involving unlawful destruction of buildings or arson or torching buildings
9 or any offences related to property in the sense of buildings or
10 structures in the city of Vares?
11 A. No.
12 Q. Let me turn briefly to the situation in the Ovnak area in June of
14 You told us earlier, sir, as reflected on page 58, line 10 of the
15 transcript, that there was no looting by soldiers of your battalion, the
16 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade, in the Ovnak area. Is
17 that correct, sir?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Now, I know, Witness, that at that point in time you were not the
20 battalion commander but were rather the operations and training officer
21 for that battalion. But were you aware with respect to the events in the
22 Ovnak area in June whether any soldiers of the 2nd Battalion of the
23 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade were ever arrested, disciplined, or prosecuted
24 for the crimes of looting or theft with respect to events that took place
25 in Ovnak in June 1993?
1 A. I don't remember.
2 Q. Did you observe at any point in time while your unit was in the
3 immediate vicinity of Ovnak whether any soldiers of your battalion were
4 engaged in any unlawful destruction of property, again to include
5 lighting -- intentionally lighting buildings on fire or intentionally in
6 any way destroying property in the form of buildings, houses, sheds,
7 barns, et cetera?
8 A. No, I never noticed anything of that kind. And given the way the
9 unit was used, the unit advanced very rapidly so I can't see how someone
10 could have found the time to engage in such activities.
11 Q. At the time that this operation was being undertaken, did you
12 observe any buildings, houses, barns, or sheds that were on fire?
13 A. I did not notice any buildings on fire, but before the beginning
14 of the operation the first defence line of the HVO was at the limit, at
15 the outskirts, of an inhabited place. And they had previously had certain
16 buildings that were damaged. That was at the entrance to Ovnak.
17 Q. But again, at the time that you were there with the 2nd Battalion
18 of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade, you did not observe any buildings on
20 A. No, I didn't.
21 Q. Were you aware, sir, of any soldiers of your battalion being
22 prosecuted, arrested, or disciplined in any way for any types of offences
23 against property in the Ovnak area with respect to events in June of 1993?
24 And again, I'm referring to torching of buildings, arson, or any other
25 kind of unlawful destruction of property in the Ovnak area.
1 A. I don't remember, and also because I was the -- an officer in the
2 staff, I don't remember such a case.
3 Q. Let me turn now, sir, to the issue of training, and I understand
4 that you were responsible for training in the 2nd Battalion of the
5 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade from mid-March 1993 until August 1993, when
6 you assumed command of that battalion.
7 You told us earlier - again reflected on page 51, line 8, of the
8 transcript - that the training took place -- the training for your
9 battalion took place in the Bilmiste barracks. Is that correct?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Were there any locations outside of the barracks where soldiers of
12 the 2nd Battalion, 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade underwent training?
13 A. No.
14 Q. At any point in time, sir, while you were the trainings and ops
15 officer for the battalion, were soldiers from your battalion trained by
17 A. From the time that I arrived in the 7th Brigade and from the time
18 that I assumed my duties in the battalion and onwards, no, that never
20 Q. Did you become aware at any point in time whether foreigners were
21 involved in training the battalion or its members prior to the time that
22 you joined the battalion?
23 A. No.
24 Q. Sir, you told us -- or in response to a question from the Defence,
25 that the commander of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade was Asim Koricic,
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 and he was the commander until the beginning of August 1993, and this is
2 reflected on page 50, line 19.
3 My question to you, sir, is: From the time period when you first
4 joined the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade in mid-March
5 1993, did you ever see Asim Koricic?
6 A. Yes, I saw him. I think that was in the beginning of April -- at
7 the beginning of April in Visoko. He was the brigade commander in the
8 village of Srhinje.
9 Q. And again, sir, this would be April 1993?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Now, prior -- was this is only occasion that you saw him during
12 1993 or did you see him on other occasions in 1993?
13 A. Soon after that event, I'm not sure when that occurred, it was at
14 the beginning of April though, but he went abroad. That's the information
15 I had, and I believe that he arrived at the end of September or the
16 beginning of October 1993. And on that occasion, I saw him again.
17 Q. Now, do you know where he went abroad and for what purpose?
18 A. Apart from knowing that he had gone abroad, I did not know where
19 he was nor did I know why he had gone abroad.
20 Q. Do you know or did you hear any discussions at any meetings that
21 you attended whether he had authority from the corps commander to be
22 abroad, or did he just simply disappear and go abroad?
23 A. Since at the time I was a member of the battalion staff, all the
24 meetings I attended were held in the battalion; they concerned the tasks
25 to be carried out within the battalion. I didn't have access to any
1 information that did not concern the battalion, so the sort of information
2 on the authority that various individuals had was not the kind of
3 information I had access to.
4 Q. Witness, to the best of your recollection and knowledge, following
5 the period after Mr. Koricic went abroad until the period at the beginning
6 of August 1993 when Amir Kubura was formally appointed as the commander of
7 the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade, who was in command of that brigade?
8 A. I was an officer for operations and training in the battalion, and
9 it was the battalion commander who assigned tasks to me. The battalion
10 commander would be assigned tasks by the brigade commander, and I could
11 not provide you with any information as to other elements within the chain
12 of command.
13 Q. So basically you don't know the answer to the question that I just
14 put to you. Would that be correct?
15 MR. MUNDIS: Mr. President, I see my learned friend -- excuse me,
16 sir, but I see my colleague on his feet.
17 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. I apologise for
18 interrupting you, but I think there's a mistake in the transcript. The
19 witness said that the command battalion received an order from the brigade
20 command, not from the brigade commander.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The battalion and the battalion
22 commander received tasks from the brigade commander, and I received tasks
23 from the battalion commander. But I had no responsibility for the sort of
24 tasks that were issued.
25 MR. MUNDIS:
1 Q. So again --
2 MR. MUNDIS: And I thank my colleague for that.
3 Q. Let me again ask you the question. It seems to me based on your
4 answers, then, you weren't in the position to know who was exercising the
5 command functions for the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade, in light of the
6 fact that your own orders were being directly given to you by the
7 2nd Battalion commander. Is that a fair summary of the situation, sir?
8 A. A correct summary would be to say that a subordinate officer has
9 the duty to know his immediate superior. In that -- in my case, it was
10 the battalion commander. He would receive orders. And as to how orders
11 were issued at other levels, I really couldn't say. It really wasn't for
12 me to show interest in this.
13 Q. Thank you, sir. Let me ask you: Do you still have the bundle of
14 documents that the Defence gave you or ...
15 Could you please turn to tab 1, the first document -- could you
16 please turn to tab 1, the first document. And I'm wondering, sir, if you
17 can help us out with respect to the addressees or the units to which this
18 document was delivered. I see down towards the bottom it says "commander
19 of Polo."
20 Can you tell us what that is? Do you have any idea or any
21 knowledge what Polo, P-o-l-o, refers to?
22 A. Yes. I think that this abbreviation means anti-armour rocket
24 Q. So the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade in June of 1993 had some kind
25 of anti-armour rocket launcher unit. Would that -- is that what you're
1 telling us?
2 A. As far as I can remember, we had a number of units that were in a
3 state of readiness, and they were manned but they didn't have the adequate
4 type of weapons that such a unit should have had. The brigade, or rather
5 the unit had to be organised as it should have been organised in
6 accordance with the establishment rules, although it didn't have adequate
7 weapons. But I don't think that we had such weapons systems at that time.
8 Q. Let me ask you about the unit that's listed immediately above that
9 on the addressee list. It says "one times commander of guerrilla group."
10 Do you know what that's a reference to?
11 A. Yes. Within the 2nd Battalion there were two anti-sabotage
12 platoons, which in 1993 were called guerrilla units. But at the beginning
13 of 1994, they were transferred into reconnaissance and sabotage units.
14 Q. Did these two anti-sabotage platoons, which in 1993 were known as
15 guerrilla units, have any names?
16 A. One was called Planina, mountain, and the other town, or rather
17 Grad. Mountain was supposed to be used in mountainous terrain, and town,
18 the unit town was to be used for combat in towns and in inhabited places.
19 Q. And, sir, these two guerrilla units, the Planina and the Grad, or
20 the mountain and the town guerrillas, these two units remained within the
21 2nd Battalion of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade throughout 1993 and into
23 A. In 1993 we had these two platoons and in the course of 1994 as
24 well. They sustained terrible losses. I think that at least 30 to 40
25 per cent of them were killed. I know almost all the members of these
1 units; they were wounded on two or three occasions. Sometime in the
2 course of 1994 one group was formed of the men that remained from these
3 two groups.
4 Q. And, sir, these two units, were they considered in effect to be
5 elite units?
6 A. These two units were prepared and used to carry out extremely
7 complex tasks, for example, infiltration, destroying very strong points of
8 resistance. And given the purpose, they were more noticeable, they stood
9 out, in the battalion.
10 I would also like to add that the name "guerrilla" was frequently
11 used, and it is still used to this very day in many countries where war is
12 waged in such a manner that attacks are carried out in this manner without
13 any artillery support, attacks against very strong points of resistance,
14 against artillery strongholds, et cetera. This is a manner of fighting
15 that is the reason for which units have this name.
16 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: The witness did not
17 mention anti-sabotage units, just a sabotage unit.
18 MR. MUNDIS:
19 Q. Were these two units, sir, based in any particular place during
21 A. These two units were part of the 2nd Battalion. They were
22 billeted in the Bilmiste barracks in the same building where the battalion
23 command was located, on the floor above.
24 Q. And, sir, who was responsible for the training of these two units?
25 Did that also fall within your responsibility, or was there a special
1 training regime that these units underwent in light of their purpose and
2 the missions that were entrusted to them?
3 A. These two units were directly linked to the battalion commander,
4 and every unit commander is directly accountable and responsible for the
5 training of his soldiers, so the commander was responsible for their
6 training. Of course, as an operations and training officer, I did develop
7 training plans. And within the framework of the training of this unit --
8 well, their training was somewhat more complex if we compare it to the
9 infantry troops, for example.
10 Q. Sir, other than -- other than the two guerrilla unit that you've
11 just told us about, were you aware of any other units within the
12 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade during 1993 that also used the
13 term "guerrilla" as a descriptive term for their unit?
14 A. No.
15 Q. So you've never heard of a unit called the Plavi Sokol or Blue
16 Falcons Guerrilla Unit?
17 A. One of these units that we have been talking about is precisely
18 that unit, guerrilla Grad, town, was basically the Blue Falcon Platoon,
19 Plavi Sokol.
20 Q. Have you heard or were you aware in 1993 of a unit known as the
21 Turkish guerrilla?
22 A. I had heard of that unit.
23 Q. Had you heard, sir, in relation to that unit that it had formally
24 formed part of the 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade or that it was part of the
25 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade?
1 A. At the time when I arrived at that unit, it wasn't an integral
2 part of that brigade. It wasn't later as far as I know on the basis of
3 conversations I had with other people. It had not been a part of it
4 before either.
5 Q. Can you tell us what you had heard with respect to this unit?
6 A. Very briefly and roughly, I heard that in the Zenica sector there
7 was the so-called Turkish guerrilla and that it was somewhere at the
8 outskirts of town. Considering the dynamics of the use and the task of
9 the unit that I belonged to, it is quite logical that I had no more
10 specific information, not only with regard to this unit but many other
11 units as well.
12 Q. Thank you, sir.
13 MR. MUNDIS: The Prosecution has no further questions,
14 Mr. President.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Defence, please.
16 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I
17 have three questions only and it won't take long.
18 Further examination by Mr. Ibrisimovic:
19 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Podzic, my learned colleague has shown you
20 number 1 in the folder. Could you simply read out the preamble to this
21 document, the marching order.
22 A. "In the spirit of the upcoming task and in accordance with the
23 order of the 7th Muslim Brigade" --
24 Q. The command or the commander?
25 A. The command of the 7th Muslim Brigade.
1 Q. Thank you. Another question: You said that you knew most members
2 of the unit that was stamped guerrilla units. Who were members of those
4 A. I can actually state with a great degree of certainty. I know all
5 of them.
6 Q. Were they all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina? Were they all
8 A. They were all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina; they were all
9 Bosniaks, and they were all people who had been born and were living in
10 either Zenica or in the surrounding sectors. I could even tell you what
11 villages they came from.
12 Q. Thank you very much.
13 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] I have no questions,
14 Mr. President. Thank you.
15 Questioned by the Court:
16 JUDGE SWART: Good afternoon, Witness. I would like to put you
17 one or two questions on your stay in Vares.
18 You said you entered Vares in the morning at 10.00 or 11.00 and
19 you had a conversation with UNPROFOR officer. And you said also about a
20 quarter of an hour after that conversation other -- three other units
21 appeared. Could you tell us what kind of units that they were?
22 A. Yes. I was engaged in that conversation. As I said, it lasted
23 for about 15 minutes, or rather about a quarter of an hour after we
24 entered, several other units showed up and they were units of the armed
25 forces of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I can assume this -- I
1 mean, it is beyond my level, but I believe that they were units from the
2 1st Corps of the armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And in terms of
3 the operational level, their task was to take over the lines that we had
4 established and to set up a new line which had been somewhat damaged in
5 the area of responsibility of that operations group, to position the
6 reserve forces, and to set up a checkpoint. Certainly we are talking
7 about two different units and the police force that set up the checkpoint.
8 JUDGE SWART: I suppose they came from the north, is that right,
9 and you came from the south?
10 A. No. Those units were behind my units, perhaps 15 minutes behind
11 us. As far as I can remember, in terms of the general idea, to the north
12 there were the members of the 2nd Corps and I believe that they, too,
13 entered from the north.
14 JUDGE SWART: You also said that two of your units crossed the
15 town quickly, and the third unit tried to link up with other units in the
16 field. Now, you said that: "3.00 I was trying to establish some defence
17 line in the northern part of the city, then I got an order to leave
19 Between 2.00 and 11.00 in the morning and 3.00 in afternoon, where
20 were you yourself?
21 A. Allow me to say by way of introduction that one of the reserve
22 units did not enter the city at all, and the two units that were at the
23 front of the battalion entered the city. One continued to the north in
24 the direction of Dastansko and Przici, and one started linking up with the
25 forces to the right and left in town. So this is what I've had already
2 I had also mentioned before that after we directed the unit to the
3 northern part of town, in the direction of Dastansko and Przici, and after
4 we started linking up with the other forces, we also controlled the road
5 from the south to the north of town, from one unit to the other, and
6 that's of course the duty of the commander and the deputy commander.
7 JUDGE SWART: When you got the order to leave Vares, I understand
8 that you were at the northern part of the town where your two units were,
9 but maybe I'm mistaken. And supposing this to be the case, in what
10 direction did you leave the town? Where did you go to?
11 A. I said that I received orders to withdraw the battalion from the
12 city, and I received a whole series of oral instructions as well, one of
13 which was with regard to the southern part of town. I was meant to
14 concentrate all my forces, two companies that is, in that part of town, to
15 gather my forces that is, and to take them out through the checkpoint in
16 the south of the city, in the direction of our initial deployment sector,
17 that is to say, the village of Strijezevo. So we marched to -- out of
18 town to the south in the direction of the village Strijezevo.
19 JUDGE SWART: And when marching through Vares to the south, to the
20 village Strijezevo, did you notice anything in particular?
21 A. The main characteristics I would like to stress in the course of
22 this march, that is to say, we went through the checkpoint and I've
23 described the way it was done, who was present, as well as the movement of
24 the other units. And the forces from probably the police and the
25 1st Corps they were moving and ended in the direction of the city.
1 JUDGE SWART: Thank you very much.
2 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] I have one question only; it's
3 going to be very quick, and we are going to try and conclude today.
4 You referred to the mountain guerrillas. One witness we had some
5 time ago who was a member of the military police within the 3rd Corps had
6 explained to us that the mountain guerrillas belonged to the 7th Brigade
7 and that there was a kind of inquiry carried out with regard to them and
8 due to the fact that they engaged in illegal behaviour.
9 Do you have any recollection of such an investigation with regard
10 to this so-called mountain guerrilla?
11 A. Since all investigations and inquiries are carried out under a
12 veil of secrecy, I had no information of any units or individuals from
13 this battalion being the subject of such an inquiry or any investigation.
14 But on the basis of individual accountability and responsibility, there
15 were indeed members. I do remember the fact that some members of the unit
16 were actually put on trial.
17 MR. MUNDIS: No further questions.
18 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] No further questions. Thank you.
19 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] No further questions. Thank
20 you, Mr. President.
21 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Commander, for having
22 come to testify here in The Hague. Your hearing has finished, and I'd
23 like to wish you all the best and a safe return home and all the best in
24 your work. I would like to ask the usher to accompany you out of the
1 In a couple of minutes -- and I'm turning to the Defence team for
2 General Kubura, there will be no hearing next week. Could you announce
3 the programme for the week after.
4 [The witness withdrew]
5 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] First of all, two things: What
6 documents would you like to tender, and then the programme?
7 MR. IBRISIMOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
8 There will be some work for the registrar. We've got the document
9 number 1 on our list, the marching order of the 5th of June, 1993; the
10 document number 5 on the list, dated the 1st of November, 1993; and the
11 document number 7, the 4th of November, 1993; and number 8, dated the 5th
12 of November, 1993; and number 10, dated the 18th of March, 1994.
13 I can tell you straight ahead so as not to waste any more time, we
14 know that we are not having any hearings next week, and by the beginning
15 of next week at the latest we'll be submitting the list of witnesses that
16 we'll be calling before this Court after the break. For the week after
17 the break, we'll presumably have four witnesses for the first four days of
18 hearing, as we had agreed previously.
19 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Okay. So we shall start again
20 on Monday, the 2nd of May, at 2.15. Is that so, registrar? You had the
21 list of hearings earlier. It is Monday, the 2nd of May.
22 So out of these five documents --
23 MR. MUNDIS: No objections.
24 MS. RESIDOVIC: [Interpretation] [No interpretation].
25 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] Five numbers in English very
2 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you, Mr. President. In English and with no
3 mistakes I hope.
4 [In English] The 5th of June, 1993, is admitted into evidence
5 under the reference DK48, with an English version DK48/E; the second
6 document dated 1st of November, 1993, is admitted into evidence under the
7 reference DK49, with an English version DK49/E; the third document dated
8 4th of November, 1993, is admitted into evidence under the reference DK50,
9 with an English translation DK50/E; the document dated 5th of November,
10 1993, is admitted into evidence under the reference DK51, with an English
11 translation DK51/E; and finally, the document dated 18th of March, 1994,
12 is admitted into evidence under the reference DK52, with an English
13 translation DK52/E.
14 Thank you, Mr. President.
15 JUDGE ANTONETTI: [Interpretation] If there are no other items
16 outstanding, no questions, no questions from the Prosecution either. In
17 that case, I apologise to the interpreters for having worked ten minutes
18 longer, but we won't have a hearing tomorrow after all.
19 So do please come back on the 2nd of May, on Monday.
20 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.09 p.m.,
21 to be reconvened on Monday, the 2nd day of
22 May, 2005, at 2.15 p.m.