1 Tuesday, 15 March 2005
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.31 p.m.
5 JUDGE LIU: Call the case, please, Mr. Court Deputy.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. This is case number
7 IT-01-48-T, the Prosecutor versus Sefer Halilovic.
8 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.
9 Before we have the witness, are there any submissions?
10 Yes, Mr. Weiner.
11 MR. WEINER: Yes. Good afternoon, Your Honour. The Prosecution
12 has two oral applications. The first one concerns an application in
13 relation to the six remaining 92 bis witnesses.
14 As the Court knows, initially we had eight 92 bis witnesses on our
15 list. There are now six remaining. What we are -- what we would like to
16 do is all of -- is take all of them except one, Mr. Zebic, who is
17 scheduled to testify tomorrow -- take all of them except Zebic and use
18 those witnesses as 89(F) witnesses. It is a very similar procedure, and
19 the 89(F) process has been used in this case, as the Court knows. It's
20 been used in the Limaj case, in the Krajisnik case. It's been used in the
21 Milosevic case. It has been authorised by the Appellate Chamber. And we
22 would like to 89(F) those witnesses in the same manner that we would do
23 them under 92 bis.
24 Thank you.
25 JUDGE LIU: Well, I wonder whether any of those witnesses are
1 intending to have some protective measures because, you know, I might ask
2 for the response from the Defence, and Defence counsel may deal with them
3 one by one by mentioning their names. So I wonder whether we'll go to the
4 private session.
5 MR. WEINER: As a protection, I think we should go to the private
6 session. At this point, I don't believe any of them will be asking for
7 protective measures. However, some witnesses when they arrive here do
8 explain some sort of change of circumstances and make that request upon
9 arrival. So maybe as a protective measures we should go into private
10 session for this.
11 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.
12 Mr. Morrissey, any response? If you are going to deal with those
13 witnesses one by one, we should go to the private session.
14 MR. MORRISSEY: Thank you, Your Honour. I'm not in a position to
15 deal with them one by one yet. We only received notice of this
16 application this morning. We're busy with other things, and we're just
17 not ready to respond, I'm sorry to say.
18 It is necessary to respond on a case-by-case basis. There may be
19 among these witnesses one or more who are appropriate to deal with on this
20 basis, and there may be some who aren't. There's one, at least, in my
21 mind who I -- I haven't had time to research it or to reread that person's
22 statement yet, but I'd be very --
23 JUDGE LIU: I think we have a technical problem.
24 Maybe you could try it again, Mr. Morrissey.
25 MR. MORRISSEY: Your Honours, the transcript captured the words I
1 had to say up to now, but I'll recommence.
2 Your Honours, we're into the ready to deal with this application
3 on a case-by-case basis. It should be dealt with on a case-by-case --
4 MR. WEINER: I'm sorry.
5 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
6 MR. WEINER: The LiveNote is not working here.
7 MR. MORRISSEY: Your Honour, the crushing inequality of arms that
8 affects the Prosecutor seems to be working because it's working very well
9 for us.
10 JUDGE LIU: Me too.
11 MR. MORRISSEY: Should I say the word "testing" to see if it
12 emerges on the screen?
13 MR. WEINER: We have two that are functioning, so we can
14 continue. Thank you.
15 MR. MORRISSEY: If the Prosecution is comfortable, I'll proceed.
16 Are you okay?
17 MR. WEINER: Yes.
18 MR. MORRISSEY: Thanks, Your Honour.
19 Your Honours, first of all, this application really needs to be
20 brought with more notice to the Defence. I'm not sure what position the
21 Chamber finds itself in, but the Defence, we received notice of this
22 application this morning. And it's -- it raises issues of law and it
23 raises, frankly, issues of differentiation between the witnesses. So it's
24 not a matter we're -- I'm even able to respond yet, I'm sorry to say. I
25 don't mean to be obstructionist about it, but that's the position we're
1 in. This application has just come on rather suddenly, from the Defence
2 point of view, and we can't answer it. We can't say what our position is
3 in respect of each witness.
4 I can say in general terms a couple of things: We would be
5 against any general ruling. It should be done on a case-by-case basis, of
6 course. Each witness has their own story to tell and each witness may
7 have something controversial or less controversial to say. So from that
8 point of view, I'm not -- we don't -- we certainly don't support this
9 application, but I'd like some time actually to consider how we deal with
10 it. It's not desirable to delay these matters. I fully understand that.
11 But we're just -- we're just not ready, unfortunately.
12 Now, I understand the Prosecutor's second motion may concern
13 Mr. -- one of these very witnesses. I'm just not sure about that, but I
14 think that is the fact.
15 JUDGE LIU: Well, yes. Could I ask you -- when will you be
17 MR. MORRISSEY: Well, Your Honour, what we -- what occurred to me
18 as a helpful way of dealing with it would be that the Prosecutor could put
19 a brief written submission about this. Because it does involve some
20 matters of principle and because it deals with witnesses whose stories
21 differ - I don't mean from each other, but each one gives evidence about
22 something quite different - that the Prosecution, if they were able to put
23 this matter in a sensible written submission -- it doesn't have to be
24 lengthy, but it needs to spell out why it is that it's in the interests of
25 justice to take this step. It can't be about saving time because the
1 witness Zebic, they're proposing not to use that process with him. They
2 may have good reasons for doing what they're doing in respect of Zebic.
3 Frankly, I haven't -- I haven't even looked at the proofing notes for
4 Zebic yet, because we just got those this morning. But whatever the
5 interests of justice may be, it ought to be justified in a sensible way
6 and give the Defence an opportunity to respond. We don't need long.
7 And frankly, Your Honours, we'd respond on -- on Thursday. If we
8 could receive something tomorrow, we'd respond immediately. But it can't
9 be -- we can't be rushed like this. I've been preparing Mr. Okovic this
10 morning. That's really what I've been doing. I feel a bit embarrassed to
11 be inarticulate about it right now, but that's because I'm caught on the
13 JUDGE LIU: Well, it is our original plan to do everything orally
14 or in the simplest way.
15 MR. MORRISSEY: Yes.
16 JUDGE LIU: But we will hear Mr. Weiner on this issue, whether
17 you're in the position to submit some very short submissions on that
19 MR. WEINER: As the Court pleases. If -- if you would like it in
20 writing, we can do it in writing; if not, I can do it orally. It's very
22 JUDGE LIU: Well, I believe Mr. Morrissey would like to have it in
23 writing, but not the Trial Chamber. But since there is a request from the
24 Defence, would you please submit your written submissions on that effect,
25 but keep it as concise as possible and file it tomorrow so that
1 Mr. Morrissey could deal with it on Thursday.
2 MR. WEINER: That's fine, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.
4 How about the next issue?
5 MR. WEINER: The next one is much simpler, and it is a joint
6 motion between the Defence and the Prosecution.
7 Your Honour, at this point we are scheduled to return to court
8 after the holiday on the 29th, which is the Tuesday after Easter Monday.
9 Since there will be witnesses flying in to testify later in the week and
10 since it is a holiday - both Sunday and Monday are holidays - it has been
11 done in the past and we would be making a request in this case that we
12 could start on Wednesday; therefore, when witnesses fly in, they will not
13 have to be picked up during the holiday, that people don't have to go out
14 and talk to them during the holiday. So it would be easier for both the
15 Victim and Witnesses Unit in going to the airport, transporting witnesses;
16 it's easier for us to get witnesses in on the Tuesday than the weekend;
17 it's less difficult to get people when it's not a holiday; and it's also
18 easier because when they come in, the Prosecution generally meets them on
19 that day. It's easier for the Prosecution not to come in and meet them on
20 the holiday.
21 So we would request that trial begin on the 30th. That way the
22 witnesses could arrive on the 29th, we could meet with any new witnesses,
23 and continue on the 30th.
24 JUDGE LIU: Is there anything to add, Mr. Morrissey?
25 MR. MORRISSEY: No. The Defence joins in that request. It will
1 assist us in terms of proofing notes and the like so that we -- we join in
2 that request as well.
3 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.
4 [Trial Chamber confers]
5 JUDGE LIU: Well, after consultations with my colleagues and based
6 on the joint submission by both parties, we decided that we will continue
7 the proceedings on the 30th of March so that the -- both parties will have
8 enough time to prepare for the witnesses coming that week. It is so
10 And there's another announcement: That for this week's sitting,
11 on Thursday and Friday we will sit in the morning session instead of the
13 Yes. And I believe that the next witness is ready.
14 MR. WEINER: There is another matter for the Court.
15 JUDGE LIU: Yes, please.
16 MR. RE: Yes. The next witness is Mr. Kemo Kapur. My learned
17 colleague Mr. Weiner said there is another issue and that's relating to
18 the use of 89(F) with that witness.
19 I'm not sure whether we actually made a formal application. The
20 Prosecution certainly spoke to our Defence colleagues last week, and I
21 understand that there was no difficulty with that particular witness
22 giving his evidence via the provisions of 89(F), he being one of the
23 witnesses who was on the Rule 92 bis list before.
24 On the list that we submitted last week, we originally had
25 Mr. Kapur to give his evidence later in the week. However, he is in fact
1 a serving judge of the lower court in Sarajevo and is basically needed
2 back at work as soon as possible. And when he arrived yesterday, we
3 asked -- we spoke to the Defence and asked if we could move him forward to
4 accommodate his judicial duties in Sarajevo. And the Prosecution proposes
5 to lead his evidence by -- by way of Rule 89(F) and makes the application
6 that it be done so in the interests of justice.
7 The statement doesn't go to the acts or conduct of the accused.
8 We have prepared an eight-page new statement which combines the salient
9 features and relevant features of his statement to the Office of the
10 Prosecutor in December -- sorry, in 2000, and some parts of the statement
11 he made to the military security service in December 1993, and there is
12 very minor additional matter which arose right out of proofing yesterday,
13 and it is simply this: The witness -- and it is in his statement, and
14 I've discussed this with my learned colleague. The witness says that he
15 was the chief of military police for the 9th Motorised Brigade. He says
16 every morning there were daily meetings in the command headquarters of all
17 the subordinate commanders, and on one day in 1993 - he doesn't know
18 when - Mr. Halilovic attended the meeting for about half an hour and,
19 apart from exchanging pleasantries, didn't say anything else. That's the
20 only reference to the accused, Mr. Halilovic, in the entire statement.
21 Now, I understand from discussions with Defence that until that
22 last matter was raised, there was no opposition to the use of 89(F). I
23 understand that they were seeking instructions from their client in the
24 extended delay because of the technical problems, and I don't know what
25 the situation is at the moment.
1 The Prosecution's submission is this is a witness who is basically
2 uncontroversial, who provides evidence about the activities of the 9th in
3 Sarajevo before September 1993. Your Honours have been provided with a
4 copy of the proposed 89(F) statement. In reality, it will take -- to lead
5 that evidence orally, it will probably take maybe two hours or so to do
6 so. To lead the evidence by way of 89(F), it will take basically a few
8 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Any objections, Mr. Morrissey?
9 MR. MORRISSEY: Well, there is, Your Honour. We don't -- we don't
10 consent to this. We oppose it being done.
11 Your Honours, there was -- there were discussions last week. I
12 might prefer to leave of discussions that happened between counsel outside
13 of the court and just leave -- leave the Court with the submissions to
14 deal with. But we were provided today with the Bosnian version of the
15 proofing notes by email at around midday, perhaps a little after midday.
16 Because of the situation that exists in the Defence room, it took us time
17 to have that printed because there was a lengthy Milosevic document being
18 printed, so that upon attending in court today, Mr. Halilovic was shown
19 this document for the first time in Bosnian.
20 Now, we -- the Defence is -- is prepared to cooperate to the best
21 of our ability in these matters. We don't want to keep the person from
22 their duties needlessly. It seemed to me an appropriate compromise was
23 this: That the witness Okovic should proceed now; he should proceed
24 first, as he was going to do, as we've all thought he was going to do,.
25 We'd be prepared to accommodate the other witness, Mr. Kapur, shortly
1 afterwards, but that, of course, is subject to the rulings, the 89(F)
2 rulings that Your Honours must make.
3 It may be that overnight we could give some thought to an
4 expedited response to the Prosecution's wishes in relation to Mr. Kapur.
5 It may that be we could hurry that up and we could respond tomorrow
6 morning in terms of the 89(F) component of all of that.
7 For myself -- Mr. Mettraux is the person concerned with taking
8 that witness, but we wouldn't object to Mr. Kapur being imposed after this
9 witness. That, we think, would give us time. But frankly, our plans were
10 based on a different schedule, so that we weren't ready. You know, we
11 don't want to embarrass this witness, but these applications, they've got
12 to -- they've got to be made earlier.
13 In this case, the Prosecutor's provided us with details, and we
14 couldn't really give a final version of what we wanted to say until after
15 we had the proofing notes and the statement. We've got them now. I've
16 got some concerns about it, frankly, myself. We don't -- we don't consent
17 it to that being done, and we submit that what should happen is that Mr.
18 Okovic should proceed. We would be prepared to talk to the Prosecutor
19 further overnight. It may be we could resolve the 89(F) issue orally
20 first thing in the morning -- or first thing in tomorrow's session.
21 MR. RE: Your Honour, could I just note two things I neglected to
22 say before: First, we actually provided the Defence with the 89(F)
23 statement which you have before you at the moment last night - I think at
24 about 7.00 or so - with a very minor change to it this morning. The
25 witness approved it yesterday.
1 We actually went to a fair amount of trouble to have a Bosnian
2 version translated and prepared for the Defence today. There's no
3 requirement for us to provide the Defence with a Bosnian version, but we
4 have provided two identical signed versions, one in English and one in
5 Bosnian, and the Defence have been on notice of the entirety of the
6 statement since last night, and there's nothing new in the statement,
7 apart from the -- apart from the statement that Mr. Halilovic attended a
8 meeting for half an hour one morning.
9 So in my respectful submission, the Defence aren't taken by
10 surprise because the evidence is exactly what the witness would have --
11 what we would have led from the witness anyway from his statement to the
12 OTP and some parts from his earlier statement. There's nothing knew there
13 at all.
14 MR. MORRISSEY: Your Honours, I think I'll have to respond to
16 Your Honours, up until yesterday, there was nothing to suggest
17 that Sefer Halilovic had been in the company of this witness at a meeting.
18 Now, after 11 years or so, we learn -- you know, at this time, we -- for
19 some reason we learn about -- that the Prosecution are proposing to lead
20 evidence that he was.
21 Now, that's new. It's -- given my friend's explanation, it may
22 not be that significant, as he's explained it. But as Your Honours have
23 received that statement, you'll see that the way it's phrased is rather
24 ambiguous. You see, it doesn't make it clear that he didn't take part in
25 any discussions.
1 The proofing -- the note that you've got says that there used to
2 be discussions of -- of all sorts of matters, including criminal type of
3 matters, and that Mr. Halilovic was there. And it's all in the same -- it
4 was originally, at least in the version we were given at first, all in the
5 same paragraph. So it looked rather as if it was being suggested that
6 Mr. Halilovic was privy to such discussions. That's how the note looked.
7 Now, the new version of it that we've received today - and that's
8 what I'm talking about, the final version - seems to clarify that to a
9 degree, but it's a matter that concerns Mr. Halilovic. And to be rushed
10 into it like this with an hour's notice is a practice that shouldn't be
11 encouraged. It shouldn't -- you know, we're prepared to deal on a
12 case-by-case basis with anything. But when a witness is ready to be dealt
13 with on Wednesday or Thursday, it upsets the preparation; it causes
15 So a compromise seems to me to be the one I've suggested. That
16 seems to me to be a way of accommodating the witness and allowing him to
17 go back soon, as soon as possible, not to put him back to the end of the
18 week, where he was supposed to be. But right now we -- we have new
19 information. We'd like the time. Mr. Halilovic has only just read the
20 material. And when I say he's read it, he's been provided it. I don't
21 even know if he has read it yet, because as I provided it to him and
22 explained what was happening, we were summoned into court.
23 So that's how we stand.
24 JUDGE LIU: Well, Mr. Re, could I ask you a question. What was
25 the time frame for that meeting in which the witness saw Mr. Halilovic.
1 MR. RE: It's 1993, when he was Chief of Staff. The witness
2 cannot be more specific.
3 The -- I discussed this with my learned friend in some detail.
4 The witness will say there was a meeting. There's a daily meeting every
5 morning of the brigade, and Mr. Halilovic attended one on one occasion
6 only. He was there for about half an hour. The witness does not remember
7 what was discussed. As far as he remembers, Mr. Halilovic was silent,
8 apart from exchanging pleasantries. And that is as far as we take it.
9 That will be his evidence on that point.
10 JUDGE LIU: Well, if we have, you know, so many things unclear,
11 what's the purpose for you to introduce this kind of material into
12 evidence at this stage?
13 MR. RE: I'm sorry, I don't understand. If --
14 JUDGE LIU: Well, if, you know, his statement -- you know, there
15 are a lot of things that are unclear, then what is the purpose for you to
16 introduce this kind of evidence? I mean concerned with the meeting.
17 MR. RE: The Prosecution case is that Mr. Halilovic had a
18 relationship with Celo, Ramiz Delalic, who was the deputy commander of the
19 brigade, and that there is evidence from other witnesses about
20 communications between the two of them. This small piece of evidence may
21 be corroborative of that by the fact that he attended a meeting. But on
22 the other hand, we of course recognise that we don't know where
23 Mr. Halilovic was the rest of the time. He may well have been attending
24 brigade meetings on a daily basis throughout Sarajevo or Bosnia, we don't
25 know. But it does corroborate a small part of the Prosecution evidence.
1 That's as far as we take it. We don't seek to put it any higher than that
2 other than to say he attended a brigade meeting one morning which
3 corroborates to a small extent the fact that he had a relationship with
4 Mr. Delalic. That's all.
5 JUDGE LIU: So you are going to consider the counter-suggestion
6 put forward by Mr. Morrissey that we'll hear Mr. Okovic and tomorrow we'll
7 hear this 89(F) witness.
8 MR. RE: The Prosecution is in the Trial Chamber's hands on that.
9 If the Defence feels that it has not had time to take instructions on
10 whether or not Mr. Halilovic attended that particular meeting and whether
11 it has any significance to their defence and isn't in a position to deal
12 with that today, I understand. Although I do say we did inform them of
13 this last night, we're in the Trial Chamber's hands, and if the Trial
14 Chamber thinks it preferable to call Mr. Okovic first, we will accommodate
16 [Trial Chamber confers]
17 JUDGE LIU: Well, after consultation with my colleagues, the Bench
18 decided that we will hear Mr. Okovic first for today, and then tomorrow
19 we'll come to that 89(f) witness.
20 MR. MORRISSEY: Your Honours, we're grateful for that indication.
21 Could I indicate we'd be prepared to expedite the 89(F) argument
22 generally. I don't know if the Prosecutor can -- can do this, but if they
23 could get something to us of any sort this evening, we would -- we'd
24 produce our response tomorrow morning so that the 89(F) issue could
25 proceed in an orderly way. We're happy to do that although we asked for
1 two days. It may be too soon for the Prosecutors, I don't know, but if
2 they can -- if they can give us something night we'll respond tomorrow
3 which might help.
4 JUDGE LIU: Thank you. Well, could I have Mr. Okovic. Is he
5 available now?
6 MR. WEINER: Mr. Okovic should be available. If you could give
7 me -- give us a couple minutes, maybe a five-minute break we'll find Mr.
8 Okovic, and also Attorney Chana will be leading that evidence. So we would
9 get her down from the third floor.
10 JUDGE LIU: Yes. We will have ten minutes' break and we'll resume
11 at ten minutes past three.
12 --- Recess taken at 3.00 p.m.
13 --- On resuming at 3.11 p.m.
14 [The witness entered court]
15 JUDGE LIU: Good afternoon, Witness.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon.
17 JUDGE LIU: Would you read the solemn declaration, please.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
19 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
20 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much. You may sit down, please.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
22 WITNESS: ZAKIR OKOVIC
23 [Witness answered through interpreter]
24 JUDGE LIU: Ms. Chana.
25 MS. CHANA: May it please Your Honours.
1 Examined by Ms. Chana:
2 Q. Could you give us your full name for the record, please.
3 A. My name is Zakir Okovic. I was born on the 6th of November, 1959.
4 MS. CHANA: Your Honour, I will lead the witness on his personal
5 particulars with your permission.
6 Q. Mr. Okovic, in 1986 you graduated in physics from Sarajevo
7 University; is that correct?
8 A. Yes, that's correct.
9 Q. And before the outbreak of the war, you lived in Sarajevo where
10 you worked as the director of Zaks firm?
11 A. Yes. Correct.
12 Q. From 1980 to 1981, you served as a private in a JNA air force
13 unit. Would that be correct?
14 A. That's correct, yes.
15 Q. On 4 April 1992, you joined the TO in the municipality of Stari
16 Grad, Sarajevo.
17 A. Correct.
18 Q. You then joined a military police unit which was under the command
19 of Dzevad Topic, and you stayed there for about five to six months.
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. After that, you became a member of the Solakovic Battalion of the
22 1st Corps?
23 A. Correct.
24 Q. Mr. Okovic, who was the deputy battalion commander of this unit?
25 A. It was Mr. Samir Pezo.
1 Q. And who was the security chief -- the chief of security assigned
2 to this particular corps?
3 A. I remember that man only by nickname. His nickname was Pike. I
4 cannot recall his real name.
5 Q. Thank you, Mr. Okovic. And who was the chief of security of the
6 1st Corps?
7 A. I think it was Sacir Arnautovic or something like that. I'm not
8 absolutely sure. At that point in time.
9 Q. And what was your job in the Solakovic's unit?
10 A. I usually prepared offensive actions in the unit and led those
11 actions without any other order but the personal order of my commander.
12 Q. And who was your commander?
13 A. It was Solakovic, Mr. Solakovic.
14 Q. And the first name, sir?
15 A. Adnan Solakovic.
16 Q. What was your title? What was your title in this unit?
17 A. Operations officer for combat activities or something like that.
18 In that unit, there were no strict orders as to who was doing what job.
19 Q. Mr. Okovic, I will now ask you to cast your mind to early
20 September 1993. Can you tell us any event which happened at that time?
21 A. In early September, my commander was summoned to the command of
22 the 1st Corps, and as I was in charge of offensive actions at the line,
23 the commander said I was to accompany him. We arrived at the meeting in
24 the command of the 1st Corps or, rather, in the office of the corps
25 commander, Karavelic.
1 Q. And who else was present when you arrived at this office?
2 A. There was Mr. Sefer Halilovic in the office also.
3 Q. Anybody else?
4 A. The corps commander, Vahid Karavelic, commander of the 1st Corps,
5 my immediate commander Adnan Solakovic, and I think -- I can't really
6 remember, but I think that Pike was there, too, as the security man.
7 Q. Mr. Solakovic, can you give a date to this meeting, if you
9 A. I cannot recall the precise date, but I think it was one or two
10 days before the trip to Herzegovina.
11 Q. And what date would that be, if you remember the trip to
13 A. I think it was the 9th, the 9th of September.
14 Q. Are you sure of that date?
15 A. No, I'm not sure.
16 Q. All right. As we go along, perhaps you'll remind yourself. Now,
17 what happened at this meeting?
18 A. At this meeting, Mr. Halilovic explained the significance of the
19 operation that was being carried out in Herzegovina. He said that Mostar
20 was under siege and the siege had to be lifted. He insisted that our unit
21 be sent to Herzegovina.
22 Q. And what kind of operations were these?
23 A. These were classical combat operations, practically to liberate
24 part of the territory in order to make life easier in Mostar, which was
25 encircled. It was to liberate the line we were attacking in order to
1 create an open communication to Mostar and to break the encirclement of
3 Q. And what exactly was Mr. Halilovic asking for, if anything?
4 A. Mr. Halilovic only insisted that our unit participate in these
5 offensive actions, at least according to the best of my recollection.
6 Q. And what was Vahid Karavelic's view on the matter?
7 A. I think at that point in time, when all the units able to
8 intervene in the Sarajevo war theatre, which was very unstable at the
9 time-- he was reluctant to agree to what Mr. Halilovic was asking.
10 Q. And what transpired?
11 A. That was my feeling, that he was unwilling to let our unit leave
12 the town.
13 Q. Why was he unwilling to let your unit leave the town? What were
14 the considerations placed on the table, as it were, at this meeting?
15 A. Well, the town would be left without an intervention unit able to
16 act at the front line defending the town.
17 Q. And were your units holding part of the front line in Sarajevo?
18 A. No. Our unit was an intervention unit of the 1st Corps. It would
19 intervene where the line was under threat, where it was about to fall, and
20 in similar situations.
21 Q. So what was the conclusion at this meeting?
22 A. The final conclusion was that an order should be issued that our
23 unit was to be sent to carry out the operation in Herzegovina.
24 Q. And after you got this order for you to go, how many of you were
25 prepared to go to Herzegovina?
1 MR. MORRISSEY: Well, Your Honour, I object to that. The witness
2 gave an answer a minute ago and he said that the conclusion was that an
3 order should be issued. Now, it may be that in due course he did receive
4 an order, but that should be established before we jump forward to what
5 happened as a result of it.
6 JUDGE LIU: Well, maybe the Prosecution did not believe that is
7 important for that order, but you have the full right to cross this
8 witness on that issue.
9 MR. MORRISSEY: Yes, Your Honour. As the Court pleases.
10 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
11 MS. CHANA: Most obliged, Your Honour. I will -- for the sake of
13 Q. Was such an order issued, Mr. Okovic?
14 A. I didn't see such an order. It was taken over by my commander. I
15 received an order from my commander that I should prepare the unit to set
17 Q. And can you tell me who eventually decided that these -- your
18 units will be going to Herzegovina? Whose decision was it?
19 A. It was Karavelic. He was the corps commander. He had to make the
21 Q. And do you know from whom this order came?
22 A. I don't know that because I was not in a position to know.
23 Q. Right. But what were you required to do? What were you asked to
24 do by Mr. Karavelic immediately?
25 A. To prepare the unit to get moving and on the following day to set
1 out to Herzegovina.
2 Q. Now, which commanders were to go with you as you were going to set
3 out to go to Herzegovina, other than yourself?
4 A. I didn't know at the time.
5 Q. Right. So what day was it that you set out to go to Herzegovina?
6 A. I think we set out on the 9th of September, but I'm not sure of
7 the date. It was one day after that meeting.
8 Q. Yes. Perhaps if I show you a document which might assist you with
9 some of the dates, Mr. Okovic.
10 MS. CHANA: Your Honour, I would like to show the witness -- which
11 65 ter is 78, which would be 01083147.
12 May I give the Bosnian copy to the witness, please. Thank you.
13 Q. Mr. Okovic, could you tell us what is this document?
14 A. This document is a report on combat activities of the unit in the
15 period from the 8th to the 19th of September, and it was compiled after
16 the return of the unit to Sarajevo.
17 Q. And the date it was compiled was the 25th September 1993?
18 A. Yes. Yes.
19 Q. Is this a report you compiled after you came back from your
20 mission to Herzegovina?
21 A. Yes, that's the report.
22 Q. Although I wanted to keep in chronological order, I'm showing you
23 this document so you may -- may look at it and see the notations you made
24 at the time and especially about the dates, and then I will ask you this
25 question again as to when you set out for Herzegovina and perhaps the
1 document will help you, but I will talk about the document later.
2 When did you -- when did --
3 MR. MORRISSEY: Sorry, I was just going to add -- I don't have
4 any -- any objection to the witness refreshing his memory from this
5 document, if -- if that would assist matters.
6 JUDGE LIU: Yes.
7 MS. CHANA: Thank you, Counsel.
8 Q. Can you tell us now, after refreshing your memory with this
9 particular document, when was it that you set out for Herzegovina?
10 A. In view of the fact that I signed the document, I can see from it
11 that we set out on the 8th of September, 1993.
12 Q. And who came along with you as you set out?
13 A. I was the leader of the trip, and I was commanding the unit as it
14 travelled to Herzegovina. With me were the company commander and the
15 lower-level commanders of the subordinate units, logistics men and so on.
16 There was no one else from my command apart from myself.
17 Q. And how many soldiers accompanied you?
18 A. I don't recall the exact number, but I think it was about -- well,
19 less than a hundred men.
20 Q. And what was the ethnic composition of these soldiers?
21 A. The ethnic composition of the unit from the beginning to the end
22 of the war remained multi-ethnic. There were also Serbs, Croats, Roma,
23 Jews, but of course most of the men were Muslims.
24 Q. Now, if you look at this document, Mr. Okovic, it says: "Pursuant
25 to the order of the 1st Corps commander of 7 September 1993, a company of
1 125 soldiers were prepared for sending in the area of Jablanica. At 2130
2 hours the company was transferred through the DB object in the region of
4 Would that be correct that you set out at night at 2130 on the 7th
5 of September, as reflected in your -- in your report?
6 A. This is probably correct, because I drew up this report based on
7 my notes, and I remember it was night. The soldiers passed through the
8 tunnel at night.
9 Q. So what time did you arrive in the morning to your destination,
10 and what was that destination?
11 A. In the morning, we arrived at Jablanica. Early in the morning.
12 Q. Where did you go?
13 A. Zuka waited for us in Jablanica. He was the commander of the
14 Zulfikar detachment. He gave me a logistics man of his, who took us to
15 Grabovica, to the village of Grabovica, and he took us to where we were
16 going to be camped.
17 Q. And why did you report to Zuka, Alispago Zulfikar?
18 A. I think that's what it said in the order on our departure for
19 Herzegovina, and it was his area of responsibility anyway, so he was the
20 one who was providing logistical support for us, accommodation, food for
21 the soldiers, and so on.
22 Q. Now, this would be on the 8th of September; right? We just -- I
23 want to make sure that our dates are quite clear as we move along. So
24 where did you go next?
25 A. We went to the village of Grabovica, and we took up two empty
1 houses. This is where the soldiers were billeted. And I set up a command
2 at the old railway station building. That's where the railway station
3 used to be. That was the building where I set up the command at.
4 Q. Now, when you arrived in Grabovica, what did you see?
5 A. I don't understand the question.
6 Q. People. In the sense of people.
7 A. Yes. We were accommodated on the right bank of the Neretva River.
8 I think this was populated by Croat citizens. It was 100 per cent Croat,
9 I think.
10 Q. And this is on the right side of the Neretva, did you say?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. In a minute I'm going to show you -- I'm going to show you a
13 photograph, Mr. Okovic, and I'd like you to identify which of the -- which
14 house that you were billeted in.
15 MS. CHANA: Could P3 be put on the screen, please. Thank you.
16 Q. And what was on the other side of the river, the side that you
17 were not billeted on?
18 A. We were accommodated in this area here. On the other side of the
19 river, there were some prefabricated huts for workers, and that's where
20 refugees were accommodated.
21 Q. Now, Mr. Okovic, I want you to take that pen, please, which is
22 being offered to you, and would you mark where you were billeted first,
23 and put a "1" and then circle that "1," would you.
24 A. My unit was billeted there.
25 On this side, I think in these prefabricated huts, the refugees
1 were accommodated -- Muslim refugees. That's marked with the number "3."
2 And then on the photograph you can't see the place where -- this was just
3 before the turning for Mostar. This is where Cedo's Wolves unit was
4 accommodated. That's somewhere around here, but you cannot actually see
5 it on this photograph.
6 Q. Is that the corner there, with the little red dot there?
7 Could you just draw an arrow away from there --
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. -- please and put a "4" there.
10 A. [Marks]
11 Q. Thank you.
12 Now, let's take number 1. That's where you were billeted. And
13 could you tell us who was billeted in this particular house where you
15 A. You cannot really see it very well here. This has been rebuilt,
16 restored. The house is probably still there, but it's now covered with
17 the foliage from trees and so on.
18 We found two Muslim refugees from Stolac who were living in that
19 house together with a Croat couple, and we found them in the house.
20 Q. And how old was this Croat couple that you found in the house?
21 A. I think that they were in their 60s.
22 Q. So how many soldiers were in the house which you have marked "1"
23 on the photograph?
24 A. We were using just one room. How shall I put it? It was on the
25 south side of the house. The other rooms were being used by those
1 refugees, the two refugees, and the couple. Later, because we were short
2 of space, I asked if it would be possible for them to let us use one more
3 room, which they did later.
4 Q. And what about number 2, where you marked the circle? Who was
6 A. That house was empty, and that's where the members of the unit
7 that I belonged to were billeted.
8 Q. How many soldiers are we talking about in that house?
9 A. You could see one more house. You cannot see it on this picture.
10 It was sort of semi-knocked down, that house, and the rest of the soldiers
11 from our unit were accommodated there.
12 Q. Now, these two Muslim refugees from Stolac, were they men or
14 A. They were middle-aged men.
15 Q. So -- thank you for this. Thank you very much for this.
16 MS. CHANA: I'd like to introduce that into evidence, Your Honour.
17 JUDGE LIU: I guess there's no objections.
18 MR. MORRISSEY: That's correct, Your Honour.
19 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much. It's admitted into the
21 MS. CHANA:
22 Q. Now, what did you --
23 THE REGISTRAR: That will be Prosecution Exhibit P271, and the
24 previous document that was shown with ERN 0108-3147 is marked MFI270.
25 JUDGE LIU: Thank you.
1 MS. CHANA: Thank you.
2 Q. Now, could you please tell the Court what you did on that day.
3 A. I deployed the unit to a day of rest that day, and practically
4 that's how we spent the day, resting and waiting to start implementation
5 of our task.
6 Q. Did somebody arrive or some people arrive in Grabovica on the 8th?
8 A. Are you thinking of military personnel or civilians?
9 Q. Military personnel.
10 A. Yes. At around noon, the camp where we where was toured by
11 Vehbija Karic.
12 Q. And anybody else with Vehbija Karic?
13 A. Zicro Suljevic and Mr. Bilajac.
14 Q. And who were these three men?
15 A. As far as I'm concerned, they were members of the Main Staff of
16 the B and H army.
17 Q. And what happened once these -- when these men came?
18 A. My first question was, "What do I need to do?" I wanted to have a
19 specific task. I wanted to prepare the unit for the implementation of the
20 task. I asked for the map. I asked for information in order to prepare
21 for the implementation of the assignment.
22 Q. Did they come to discuss the assignment or did they come for any
23 other reason?
24 A. They came to see the unit, whether it was prepared to carry out
25 the task. I tried to explain that -- actually they tried to explain how
1 this whole operation would be carried out.
2 Q. And what exactly did they say in that -- to that effect?
3 A. In terms of implementing the task, I asked for the map, for
4 information about the enemy, which they did not have on them, and so on.
5 Q. Was anything agreed at this particular time, before they went?
6 A. When they did not provide the information about the enemy
7 strength, lines, the map, where the enemy was located, I insisted on some
8 kind of reconnaissance so that we could see what we were attacking, where
9 we were attacking, to prepare for the implementation of the assignment.
10 So they accepted that, and they said that they would pass this on up the
12 Q. And "up the chain," what would that mean?
13 A. To the higher command. Probably to a more superior officer
15 Q. What was your understanding as to who was their superior officer?
16 A. I understood it to mean, since Mr. Halilovic was the most senior
17 officer of the B and H army there, that they had to talk to him. That is
18 what I thought.
19 Q. And what -- how long did this meeting last?
20 A. Not longer than an hour.
21 Q. What did you do after?
22 A. After that, I think that they told me that a reporting session was
23 scheduled in Konjic and that somebody would come and that I should attend
24 this briefing.
25 Q. So did you attend this briefing?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And what time did you leave for Konjic?
3 A. I don't know the exact time, but it was already dark. It was
4 already night.
5 Q. And where did you go in Konjic for this meeting -- this briefing?
6 A. I think that it used to be a factory or something, in the centre
7 of town. We were -- we went to some conference room or hall.
8 Q. And who was present at this briefing?
9 A. Mr. Sefer and all the ones that I mentioned before: Karic,
10 Bilajac, Zicro. I think they were there too. Mr. Gusic was there.
11 Mr. Alispago was there. And the commanders from local units were also
12 present. I didn't know any of them. I think that the chief of the Konjic
13 municipality was also there.
14 Q. So how many people would that be all in all?
15 A. I think that there were more than 12 people there. I'm not sure
16 about the number though.
17 Q. Now, what was discussed at this meeting?
18 A. I understood that to be a preparatory meeting for the
19 implementation of the assignment, and the contents of the discussions were
20 on that matter.
21 Q. And were there any assignments given?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And who were they given by?
24 A. The tasks were already prepared, as far as I understood, and they
25 were just read out on that occasion.
1 Q. Who read them out?
2 A. I think it was someone from the Main Staff, one of the senior
4 Q. Who was the most senior officer there?
5 A. Mr. Sefer. He had the highest rank and he was practically
6 conducting the meeting.
7 Q. Did you discuss subordination of units and soldiers?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. What did you discuss in respect of that?
10 A. My unit was to be resubordinated to Mr. Zulfikar's command because
11 he was issuing orders specifically for that axis along which we were
12 supposed to act.
13 Q. And what would this axis be?
14 A. It was the Vrdi axis. That was the name of the village, or
15 Antena, because there are some kind of TV aerials, antennas there also. I
16 don't remember. That was the axis of attack for the unit to which I
18 Q. And who else was going to be part of this particular axis, the
19 combat on this axis?
20 A. It was only then that I heard that we would be resubordinated
21 under Mr. Alispago's command. These were members of the 9th and the 10th
23 Q. And who was Zuka's unit or Zuka himself subordinated to?
24 A. Probably to the commander of the operation.
25 Q. And who was the commander of the operation?
1 A. As far as I was concerned, that was the most senior-ranking
2 officer who was there, but I don't know who that was under orders.
3 Q. Can you clarify that? And I'll ask the question: You said the
4 most senior-ranking officer who was there. Who was the most
5 senior-ranking officer who was there?
6 A. The most senior-ranking officer was Mr. Sefer.
7 Q. What did you do after this meeting?
8 A. After the meeting, I agreed with Mr. Zuka to set off for
9 reconnaissance the next morning.
10 Q. Did you go back to Grabovica that night?
11 A. Yes, I did.
12 Q. And when you went back to Grabovica, what did you do?
13 A. I conveyed the conclusions from the meeting or the briefing to the
14 company commanders -- actually, to the company commander and the platoon
15 commanders, and I decided who would go out for reconnaissance.
16 Q. Then what -- how did the night end?
17 A. I don't understand the question.
18 Q. Did you do anything else or did you go to bed? I mean, let's
19 finish the 8th.
20 A. We went to sleep so that we could prepare and be rested for the
21 next day's assignment.
22 Q. So, now, the next day, being the 9th of September, 1993, what did
23 you do?
24 A. That day I went for reconnaissance, and a part of the unit --
25 actually, with a part of the unit, three or four men, while the rest of
1 the unit stayed in Grabovica.
2 Q. Who accompanied you to this reconnaissance other than your own
3 company commanders.
4 A. Zuka was there. Pecar was there, on behalf of the 10th Mountain
5 Brigade. I think his name was Senad Pecar. And another soldier was
6 there. His name was Dzeki or something.
7 Q. What time did you leave in the morning for reconnaissance?
8 A. Very early.
9 Q. So did you return to Grabovica later that day?
10 A. We came back late in the evening.
11 Q. What time would that be?
12 A. I think that it was about 10.00 or 11.00 at night. I'm not sure.
13 Q. When you arrived back at Grabovica, what did you do?
14 A. I found my commander and deputy commander, who had arrived during
15 the day to Grabovica, and I reported to them about what we did during the
16 reconnaissance, and we agreed on what had to be done for the unit to move
17 out on the deployment of the men. Simply we were preparing our combat
19 Q. You said your commander, which is Adnan Solakovic, and his deputy,
20 Samir Pezo -- are these the two that -- that had arrived in Grabovica that
21 you alluded to earlier?
22 A. That night when I returned, they were there. It was the first
23 time that I saw them, so they must have arrived at Grabovica in the
24 course of the day.
25 Q. Did you hear whether anybody else had arrived at Grabovica during
1 the course of that day?
2 A. Yes. I was told that members of the 9th Mountain Brigade had
3 arrived and that they had been billeted in the same village as us.
4 Q. Did you hear anything that night?
5 A. I was tired that night and I didn't hear anything, because I had
6 walked more than 30 kilometres that day.
7 Q. The next morning - that would be 10 September 1993 - what did you
8 do then?
9 A. When we got up in the morning, one of our soldiers - I don't
10 remember the name - came and said that he had found a body by the road.
11 That road went through that village. And the soldier -- oh, and that it
12 was the body of a soldier and that he wasn't from our unit and that they
13 didn't know who it was.
14 Q. And do you -- sorry, one minute. And did you find out whose unit
15 that particular soldier belonged to?
16 A. Later, we found out that it was a member of the Zuka's unit.
17 Q. And what ethnicity did this particular soldier belong to that you
18 were informed about?
19 A. I heard from Zuka that he was a Croat.
20 Q. What happened next?
21 A. After that, we had a meeting, small meeting, of the command and we
22 decided to transfer all the members of our units of different or of other
23 ethnic groups who were not out on combat assignment to our unit, to a
24 different building for their own safety.
25 Q. Why for their own safety?
1 A. Because the soldiers were upset because they had heard stories
2 that some people from other units had asked for these people saying, "You
3 have Serbs. You have Croats. They should be killed," and so on. But
4 these were just stories. So in order to prevent anything like that from
5 happening, we made the decision to act in this way.
6 Q. And did you do that? Did you secure your units?
7 A. We did.
8 Q. I would like to show you a document at this point, which is -- the
9 65 ter is 173, and it's 03343024. It will come up on the screen. If you
10 look at the screen, it will soon be there.
11 A. This is a coded message.
12 Q. That's right. Can you tell us about this coded message?
13 A. This is a message. I don't know how to read it. You would need a
14 piece of paper in order to be able to read it. You would need to have the
15 encryption code in order to be able to decipher this message.
16 MS. CHANA: Is it not in the -- it has been deciphered, Your
17 Honour. Is it not on the screen?
18 JUDGE LIU: We don't have the English --
19 MS. CHANA: The English version?
20 JUDGE LIU: Unfortunately, no, we don't have it. We just have two
21 single numbers there.
22 MS. CHANA: Yes. That's what I'm trying to clarify, whether we
23 have the English.
24 MR. MORRISSEY: Your Honours, just to assist everyone, we have got
25 the English version on the screen at the moment. I think -- I'm told by
1 someone who knows about this that you have to go back to the main menu and
2 then select the English channel and then --
3 JUDGE LIU: Yes, thank you. We've got it.
4 MS. CHANA: Most importantly, does the witness have it?
5 Q. Do you have the -- before you now in English?
6 MS. CHANA: Perhaps he could be assisted. English or B/C/S. I
7 think the witness does speak English. That's fine. B/C/S is fine.
8 Q. Now, can you tell us who sent this message?
9 A. I have seen only one page of this message. Now I can see the
10 other page. This is a message that was sent by our chief of
11 communications and which was written by Adnan Solakovic as deputy
12 commander and me. And I think that we signed it.
13 Q. So who were you sending this coded message to? The name, please.
14 A. We sent did to the commander of the 1st Corps, Vahid Karavelic.
15 Q. Why did you feel the need to send a coded message at all?
16 A. Well, in that situation, we thought it best to send it to our
17 immediate commander and to send the message in code because -- well,
18 perhaps for our own personal safety.
19 Q. Let's look at this message. You say in this: "We carried out a
20 reconnaissance for three days, but it seems that the agreement with the
21 chief is off."
22 What agreement was this, "the agreement with the chief is off"?
23 A. I think this refers to the problem of resubordination of the unit
24 under the command of Zulfikar. I think that's what it refers to.
25 Q. And the chief here would be who? Who are you referring to
1 by "chief"?
2 A. I'm referring to Mr. Sefer probably.
3 Q. Then you go on to say: "The operation is being postponed more and
4 more. We have the order until Sunday, but it seems that it is off.
5 Strange things are happening. I am afraid for my soldiers, who are of a
6 different religion."
7 What were these strange things which were happening?
8 A. I think the "strange things" refers to the murders that happened.
9 Q. Which murders may these be?
10 A. Well, the first soldier was killed, the one I've already
11 mentioned, the member of Zuka's unit.
12 Q. Had you heard about other murders by the time you wrote this coded
13 message, other than the soldier that you mention?
14 A. Yes. We had already heard about five or six dead bodies that were
15 found in the village.
16 Q. And you go on to say: "People are simply disappearing over
17 night." And then you say: "Send us back into town any which you can. If
18 it is necessary, go to the head. Let him make up a reason for the
19 return," et cetera.
20 Then you say: "The chief put us under the command of Zuka." Now,
21 the "chief" here refers to, again, who?
22 A. To Mr. Sefer.
23 Q. And then you say: "I'm afraid that a conflict between us might
24 occur." What kind of a conflict were you alluding to there, and between
1 A. We were afraid that the people who had already murdered those
2 civilians might go on killing and that they might kill the members of our
3 unit who were of a different religion. That's what this refers to. And,
4 of course, we would defend our men, and then we would enter into a mutual
6 Q. Then you plead: "Do that as soon as possible. I do not want to
7 take part in these dirty games, and it is not as you were told."
8 What dirty games were you referring to there?
9 A. I think this is a metaphor of sorts to avoid saying what had
10 happened directly. We didn't know who would be reading this coded
11 message. What we meant was we didn't want to participate in events in a
12 place where such things were going on.
13 Q. Did you get a response to this coded message of yours?
14 A. We never received any reply.
15 Q. Did you report this to anyone else other than Karavelic?
16 A. Not me, no.
17 Q. Why was that? Why did you not go to anybody else?
18 A. After our return to town, things happened very quickly and no one
19 had time to discuss it or the inclination to discuss it.
20 Q. But while you were on the ground in Herzegovina at the time you
21 sent this coded message to your corps commander, there were other people
22 around in the area, in the region. Did you tell this to Sefer Halilovic?
23 A. I was at a very low level compared to Sefer Halilovic. I wasn't
24 even a commander. It was up to my commander to do it. And whether he did
25 it or not, I don't know.
1 MS. CHANA: Your Honour, just to let the record show that will be
2 MFI272. The coded message, Your Honour.
3 Q. Yes. Sorry.
4 MR. MORRISSEY: Sorry, Your Honours, if it's being tendered, I
5 don't object. Is it?
6 JUDGE LIU: Are you going to tender this document?
7 MS. CHANA: Yes, yes, Your Honour.
8 MR. MORRISSEY: No objection.
9 JUDGE LIU: Since there is no objection, this document is tendered
10 into evidence.
11 And how about the first document we used?
12 MS. CHANA: Which would be MFI270, Your Honour, and I would
13 tender that into evidence as well.
14 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Any objections?
15 MR. MORRISSEY: Sorry. I thought that that was already in, Your
17 JUDGE LIU: Well, I -- from the transcript, I do not see that the
18 Prosecution was tendering that document into evidence, so I just reminded
19 her about that.
20 MR. MORRISSEY: Well, yes. Sorry. Well, I can just say there is
21 no objection to the report that the witness referred to, and there was no
22 objection to the photograph also.
23 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much. Those documents, I believe
24 three of them, are admitted into the evidence.
25 MS. CHANA: Yes, Your Honour. I normally would do it at the end
1 of my evidence. I mean, that's -- but I can always do it as we go along
2 as well.
3 Q. Sorry, Mr. Okovic. Can we -- can I ask you that -- you did not go
4 to Sefer Halilovic, but do you know whether -- whether Solakovic, Adnan
5 Solakovic, went to him?
6 A. I don't know that.
7 Q. Right. Now we're still on the 10th of September, 1993. And what
8 did you do after you sent this coded report?
9 MR. MORRISSEY: Sorry. I just wasn't sure that the witness ever
10 said that it was sent on the 10th, Your Honours, and I'm not sure whether
11 that's the fact or not. That should be cleared up.
12 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Yes, we should establish that.
13 MS. CHANA: Yes.
14 Q. When did you send this report? It is dated --
15 MS. CHANA: Oh, sorry, 11th is the next day. Right. Sorry, Your
16 Honours. I'll just go back to the witness.
17 Q. What did you do on the 10th, after you were told that this soldier
18 has been killed and you had secured your units? What happened next?
19 A. On that day, part of the unit, as I said, and as far as I can
20 recall, was transferred to Dreznica. There were some problems about
21 transportation, and we spent the whole day doing that. And then when we
22 heard about what had happened down there, we sent this message.
23 It was sometime in the afternoon, late afternoon. I don't know
24 exactly when, but I think I saw on the message it said 1730 hours. If
25 this is the authentic document, then that's correct. But I am sure it was
1 in the afternoon, yes.
2 Q. Yes. Did you go anywhere yourself?
3 A. I think we went or that I went to the mountains again. I'm not
4 sure about the date, but I think I went to Prenj again.
5 Q. And who did you go to Prenj with?
6 A. With Zuka.
7 Q. Did Zuka come to Grabovica or you went to meet Zuka somewhere else
8 before you went to Prenj?
9 A. He came -- he came to collect me in Grabovica.
10 Q. And how long did you stay at Prenj?
11 A. We spent that night there, the two of us, at Prenj because the
12 artillery roster was being drawn up and the units were already ready to
14 Q. What time did Zuka arrive at the village in Grabovica?
15 A. I think it was in the morning quite early, but I can't tell you
16 the exact time.
17 Q. Did he do anything else while he was in Grabovica?
18 A. I don't remember.
19 Q. Right. So, now, you spent the night of the 10th September 1999 in
20 Prenj. What happened the next day?
21 A. I don't know whether the dates are correct, but after spending the
22 night at Prenj, the operation started. And it was interrupted sometime
23 late in the afternoon, and that's when we returned to Grabovica, as far as
24 I can recall.
25 Q. Who brought you back to Grabovica?
1 A. I think there was a vehicle waiting for us down there, because we
2 descended along the rocks. We didn't go the long way around. We came
3 down very quickly from the command post. It wasn't night yet.
4 Q. And what did you do when you arrived back at Grabovica?
5 A. There I found -- Zuka left me there. I don't think he even came
6 close to our camp. And there I found my commander, the deputy commander,
7 and Caco and some of his men.
8 Q. Did you -- did they say anything to you?
9 A. No. They were enjoying themselves, having fun.
10 Q. Did you hear anything else?
11 A. I heard from the men -- because I didn't want to join the company
12 sitting there, so he heard from some of the men who were in the house on
13 the other side, and they told me the whole story of what had happened.
14 Q. And what did they tell you?
15 A. That a lot of people had been killed in the village, women,
16 children, and so on.
17 Q. Did they tell you who these people were, what ethnicity they were?
18 A. You mean the people who were killed?
19 Q. Yes.
20 A. They were Croats by ethnicity.
21 Q. Were you told who killed them?
22 A. Nobody told me that.
23 Q. Did you ask?
24 A. At that point in time, nobody would certainly have told me, even
25 if I had.
1 Q. What else did you inquire about, if anything?
2 A. Well, I asked the commander that we should withdraw from this
3 operation as soon as possible, and he wanted the same thing, but
4 circumstances were different and this was not possible.
5 Q. So was it on this day that -- and that's what the report says,
6 your coded message of the 11th September -- that's when you sent your
7 message that we've already looked at?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Was there anything missing from any of the houses which had been
10 kept there?
11 A. Nothing was missing from the houses we were in except that they
12 told me Zuka had sent some men to take away a Croatian couple, to take
13 them to Jablanica.
14 Q. Was there a chapel in the cemetery where you were that something
15 happened to?
16 A. When I arrived there, I heard several explosions, and I asked what
17 was going on there. Nobody replied. It was only later on that I learned
18 that the Catholic chapel had been destroyed and that some graves had been
19 destroyed in the cemetery.
20 Q. Right. Did you do anything else on that day? That's 11 September
22 A. I think that on that day, together with the commander, we attended
23 a meeting at Zuka's, in his base.
24 Q. Was that on the 11th or was that the next day, on the 12th? Do
25 you remember?
1 A. I don't remember. I'm not sure. That is, I don't know if it was
2 the same day or the following day.
3 Q. So you went, you say, to Zuka's base?
4 A. Yes. Yes.
5 Q. Who else went with you?
6 A. I went with Commander Solakovic, and our security officer went
7 along too, Pike.
8 Q. And who was there when you got there? Who did you find there?
9 A. Zuka was there, Ramiz Delalic, and Mr. Sefer. I don't remember
10 whether anyone else was there.
11 Q. Did you attend this particular meeting?
12 A. No, I didn't.
13 Q. And were you told what happened at this meeting?
14 A. The commander conveyed to us that he had asked that we should
15 withdraw and that the operation should be ended, but that this proposal
16 had not been accepted. That's what he told me.
17 Q. And by whom was it not accepted?
18 A. Probably by the people who were at the meeting. I don't know.
19 MS. CHANA: Your Honour, this might be a convenient point to
20 break, if that's -- oh, should we go at 4.20? I just got a note.
21 JUDGE LIU: Yes. We will take a break that might be shorter. We
22 will take a 20-minute break, and we will resume at quarter to 5.00.
23 --- Recess taken at 4.22 p.m.
24 --- On resuming at 4:46 p.m.
25 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Ms. Chana.
1 MS. CHANA: Thank you, Your Honours.
2 Q. Mr. Okovic, before the break we were talking about the meeting at
3 Zuka's base. What did you do after this meeting?
4 A. After this meeting, we - that is, the commander and the security
5 officer - we were returning to the base in Grabovica. We came back.
6 Q. Did anything happen when you came back?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Could you tell us, please.
9 A. As we were leaving the tunnel, before turning off toward the
10 bridge leading to the right bank of the river where we were billeted in
11 Grabovica, we saw some people and we stopped there. Something was
13 When we stopped the vehicle and got out, we found Caco there and a
14 soldier - I don't know whether it was one of his men or somebody from
15 another unit - and a civilian. Caco was trying to set fire to the dead
16 body of an old man who might have been between 70 and 80. And then I said
17 to him, "How would you feel if somebody was trying to set fire to your
18 father like that?" And he said, "You want me to set fire to you too?"
19 He asked us to give him some fuel from the car so he could douse
20 the body with gasoline, but we did not do this. Then he made the civilian
21 go and find some petrol or oil so that he could pour it over the body and
22 set it on fire. The commander said that we should leave, and so we left.
23 Q. Before we go on, who is Caco?
24 A. "Caco" is Musan Topalovic's nickname. He was the commander of the
25 10th Mountain Brigade.
1 Q. Did you see this body on fire?
2 A. He didn't manage to set it on fire while we were there, but the
3 man had already been dead for some time. I didn't see who had killed him,
4 but he was trying to set fire to him.
5 Q. And this civilian who was there, what ethnicity was he?
6 A. I don't know.
7 Q. Did you try to stop him?
8 A. Well, it wouldn't have been a wise thing to do at that point in
9 time for any of us.
10 Q. Why would it not have been a wise thing to do?
11 A. Because Caco was that kind of person. He was ready to do
12 anything, and it wasn't wise to get into any kind of conflict with him.
13 Q. Had you heard about Caco before that time?
14 A. Yes. Yes, I had.
15 Q. What had you heard about him?
16 A. At the beginning of the war, he was a good fighter. But as the
17 war went on, I heard a lot of bad things about him.
18 Q. Was there anybody else that you heard bad things about as the war
20 A. I was only in town then, and I heard that in his area of
21 responsibility there were murders and things like that.
22 Q. Where did you go after you -- after this particular incident?
23 A. We went to the base, to Grabovica, to our command in the village
24 of Grabovica.
25 Q. And what did you do there?
1 A. Nothing. The commander and then our command discussed what we
2 should do next, because we had received approval from Sarajevo to
3 withdraw -- or we hadn't.
4 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction. Nobody from Sarajevo
5 contacted us.
6 MS. CHANA:
7 Q. So what were the competing arguments about staying or going?
8 A. In view of the fact that we were expecting a message and we hadn't
9 received any, this meant the orders we had were still valid and we were
10 supposed to take part in the operation that was being conducted in the
12 Q. Were you told that you were required to stay on?
13 A. Yes. The commander told me that, that the operation was
15 Q. What else did your commander tell you?
16 A. Nothing. He just said that we should proceed and that I should
17 prepare the men for the continuation of the operation.
18 Q. How long did you stay there in Herzegovina?
19 A. I think it was from the 8th or 9th until the 19th or 20th of
20 September. I think it was about 12 days in all, but I'm not sure.
21 Q. And what did you do on the 19th of September?
22 A. I think that that was when the operation ended. And a request was
23 made to the commander that we should stay there at the positions that we
24 had taken, but my commander did not accept this, and we withdrew to
25 Sarajevo with the unit.
1 Q. And once you got back to Sarajevo, did you then write this report
2 that I've already showed you? And that is Exhibit --
3 A. Yes.
4 MS. CHANA: -- 270, Your Honours.
5 Can I have this report back on the screen, please? Thank you.
6 Q. Now, you've looked at this report. Can you tell me whether there
7 is any mention of the murders in Grabovica in this report that you wrote
8 after you came back to Sarajevo?
9 A. There is no mention of the murders in this report because this is
10 a report about the combat task. And I did not feel it appropriate, nor
11 did my commander, because he signed the report, too -- he asked that I
12 sign it as well, although I was not really competent to sign it. We
13 didn't mention anything happening. I'm referring to these events, the
14 murders and so on. This was purely a combat report on offensive
15 operations during the military operation.
16 Q. To your knowledge, were there any investigations into this matter?
17 A. Nobody ever called me until 1998, when I was summoned to the
18 cantonal court in Sarajevo, and that was the first time I made a statement
19 about the events in Grabovica.
20 Q. And while you were in Grabovica on those particular dates - this
21 is the 8th, 9th, and the 10th, up to 19th September - did you see anything
22 being done about those murders?
23 A. No, I didn't see anything being done.
24 Q. Did you or your commander report this once you got back to
25 Sarajevo, other than this report that you've written? Did you tell
1 anybody else about it?
2 A. I didn't inform anyone because it wasn't within my competence. I
3 don't know whether the commander did or not.
4 Q. And in October 1993, did you change your position?
5 A. What exactly do you mean?
6 Q. In respect of your unit. Did you then replace Adnan Solakovic?
7 A. Yes.
8 MS. CHANA: Give me a moment.
9 [Prosecution counsel confer]
10 MS. CHANA: Your Honour, that will be my examination-in-chief.
11 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much.
12 Any cross, Mr. Morrissey?
13 MR. MORRISSEY: Yes, Your Honours. Thanks very much.
14 Cross-examined by Mr. Morrissey:
15 Q. Thank you, Mr. Okovic.
16 MR. MORRISSEY: Could I just start off by asking that the witness
17 be provided with a copy of that report.
18 Just give me a moment. Sorry, Mr. Okovic.
19 It's, I think, P271. It might be MFI271 at this stage.
20 Q. Mr. Okovic, the document that's going to be shown is that report
21 dated the - 270 it might be - the report dated 25th of September, 1993,
22 that you signed off on after your return from -- from Herzegovina. Do you
23 have that report on the screen?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Okay. I'm really just concerned right now to try to get the
1 dates as accurately as possible. And if it helps you to look at this
2 document, feel free to. And if the document doesn't help, you'd better
3 say so as well. But it's accurate that the -- the company set off late on
4 the 7th of September -- the company of the 2nd Independent Battalion, I
5 should say, set off late on the 7th of September and went through the
6 tunnel sometime that night; is that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And at that time, you were in command of those units because
9 Adnan Solakovic was going to come down the following day. Was that the
10 plan at the time?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Okay. And you arrived at Jablanica the following morning at about
13 0815 hours, and you halted at the Zulfikar -- the Zulfikar base in
14 Donja Jablanica; is that correct?
15 A. Correct.
16 Q. Very well. And at that time, did you personally meet with Zuka --
17 or, sorry, perhaps I should ask you this: Had you met Zulfikar Alispago
18 personally before this time?
19 A. Yes, during the events at Igman. I don't know exactly the date
20 when Igman was falling. That was the first time that we met, during
21 combat activities.
22 Q. I understand. And would that be in late July -- I understand you
23 don't remember the exact dates. Would that be in late July or perhaps
24 early August of 1993?
25 A. I think so. I'm not sure about the dates, but it was during the
1 fall of Igman and the cutting of the corridor to Gorazde. That's when my
2 unit was also assigned to defend Igman and that was the first time that I
3 met Alispago.
4 Q. Okay. Thank you. So when you arrived in Jablanica,
5 Donja Jablanica, on the morning of the 8th of September, did you see --
6 did you recognise Zulfikar Alispago at his base and did you speak to him
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And did he explain to you where your unit was to be based -- to be
10 billeted, I should say?
11 A. He gave me a logistics person, who showed me where we would be
12 billeted. I didn't know where Grabovica was at the time.
13 Q. No, I understand. Just thinking back the best way you can, was
14 the person who he delegated to help you with the billeting of the troops a
15 person who had the name Spaga?
16 A. I think that was his name. Spaga or Spago, something like that.
17 Q. Yes. And just to be -- just to be very clear, because none of us
18 were actually there: This person Spaga is different to Zuka. He's a
19 person under the command of Zuka; is that correct?
20 A. Yes. Yes. Yes, he was his logistics officer.
21 Q. Yes. Thank you. Okay. And to the best of your recollection, did
22 this representative of Zuka, Zulfikar Alispago, then guide your three
23 buses or your three trucks to Grabovica?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Okay. And to the best of your knowledge, you arrived in Grabovica
1 sometime in the morning of the 8th of September; is that accurate?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Okay. And after that -- after arrival, did Zuka's representative
4 there help to point out to you the appropriate houses that you could be
5 billeted in?
6 A. Yes. He told me that there were empty houses and that we can
7 locate the command in a certain house. This is an old building from
8 Austro-Hungarian times. That's where we set up the command. It was a
9 former railway station. The rest of the unit were billeted in the two
10 empty houses.
11 Q. Just to explain something that has been puzzling through the
12 trial. There was in Grabovica at that time a railway line -- not an old
13 railway line but a functioning railway line further up the hill at the
14 back of the village. Do you recall the existence of that railway line?
15 A. I know that it existed, but up until that point in time, I had
16 never gone up to the railway line. The railway line passes above the
18 Q. Yes, I understand. But when you refer to "the railway station,"
19 you're talking about a disused railway station that was down quite close
20 to the river, as you pointed out on the photograph; is that correct?
21 A. Yes. That is an old railway, a narrow-track railway which was
22 abolished, I don't know exactly when.
23 Q. Okay. All right. Now, upon arriving at that -- at that location,
24 you've indicated that you found dwelling in that building a couple -- and
25 I just want to be clear. Were there four people, four civilians in that
1 building; namely, two refugees and also an elderly couple of Croat
3 A. Yes, a married couple in their 60s who lived there. They -- it
4 was their house. They lived in that house. And two refugees from Stolac.
5 That's what I found out from conversations with them.
6 Q. Yes. Just exercising your mind the best way you can now, do you
7 recall whether one of those refugees was named or nicknamed Zulfo?
8 A. I don't remember. It's possible.
9 Q. Okay. Now, so far as you could see, relations between you and
10 your soldiers, on the one hand, and these civilians, on the other hand,
11 were correct and polite; is that correct?
12 A. That's correct.
13 Q. And I think you've indicated that your unit was a multi-ethnic
14 unit; is that right?
15 A. Yes, that's correct.
16 Q. The truth is that you were fighting to save a multi-ethnic Bosnia
17 protected by a multi-ethnic army; is that correct?
18 A. That's correct.
19 Q. And as far as you were concerned, mistreatment of civilians,
20 whatever their nationality was, was totally destructive to the war aims
21 that you had; is that correct?
22 A. That's correct.
23 Q. And quite apart from that policy sort of angle, you had friends
24 from all different nationalities both in the unit and outside it; is that
1 A. That's true.
2 Q. And when your units arrived in that village, the very last thing
3 you expected was that some of those villagers would be brutally killed by
4 any people; is that correct?
5 A. That's correct.
6 Q. Okay. Now, I want to ask you about the arrival of Vehbija Karic
7 and Suljevic and Bilajac, who came to the village and spoke to you about
8 the future conduct of the operation.
9 When they arrived -- are you able to be -- you indicated that that
10 took place around noon. I want to ask you how precise you're able to be
11 about that time. Is it possible that it was later in the afternoon, or is
12 it possible that it was earlier, or are you fairly confident that it was
13 around noon?
14 A. I think that it was around noon. Actually, after 2.00 p.m. in the
15 afternoon. I think that's when it was.
16 Q. Okay. Now, when you were present -- had you ever dealt with
17 Vehbija Karic before this occasion?
18 A. No, not really, since I was of lower rank. I wasn't an officer,
19 so I didn't have contacts with senior officers. I had my own commander
20 and communicated through him, even though I did know some of the people
21 from this group from before.
22 Q. Yes. Okay. Well, I understand that -- what you say about that.
23 Do you recall whether Vehbija Karic arrived in the village in a
24 car driven by his son? In other words, was Karic's son acting as the
25 driver for those -- those officers?
1 A. I don't know. I don't know who drove him. Somebody drove him,
2 but I don't know whether that was his son or not. I'm hearing that for
3 the first time.
4 Q. Okay. Just to conclude that, did you meet the driver, to the best
5 of your recollection?
6 A. No.
7 Q. I'm just going to ask that you be shown a map now.
8 MR. MORRISSEY: And I wonder if the court staff could assist,
9 please. This, I think, is -- it's the large map that we tendered. I
10 think it's MFI135.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Mr. Morrissey, that will be Defence Exhibit D131.
12 MR. MORRISSEY: D131. I'm sorry. Thank you. Yes, that is --
13 that's the document.
14 Q. This is a map with a heading on it of "Operation Neretva 93." You
15 may have seen it before; you may not have. I'm going to ask you that
17 MR. MORRISSEY: So I just wonder if that could be displayed,
18 please. Thank you.
19 Q. Oh, sorry. Pardon me, Mr. Okovic. I apologise for that.
20 Okay. Now, just first of all, do you recognise that as being a
21 map of the Neretva Valley area in Herzegovina?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And I'd just ask you to comment on a couple of aspects of it. Do
24 you notice that it's signed at the top left in the -- with the name
25 "Odobravam," "Komandant Rasim Delic"? Do you see that?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And is that a form of writing that you're familiar with? In other
3 words, that phrase "odobravam," meaning "I have approved it"?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Okay. Do you also see that in the capacity of Chief of Staff at
6 the bottom right of that map there's another signature there, and that is
7 the signature of Sefer Halilovic? Do you see that?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Okay. Do you recall being shown this map in the course of the --
10 of your trip to Herzegovina?
11 A. The first time I saw this map was during the investigation.
12 Q. How long ago was that? When you say "during the investigation,"
13 do you mean investigation for these proceedings here at The Hague or do
14 you mean for some -- on another occasion?
15 A. Yes, yes.
16 Q. At The Hague?
17 A. Here.
18 Q. Fine. Okay. Very well. To your knowledge, at the time of this
19 operation Sefer Halilovic had ceased to be the commander of the Bosnian
20 army; is that correct? And in fact he was now Chief of Staff; whereas,
21 Rasim Delic was the commander?
22 A. As far as I understood that situation at the time, I understood
23 that up until that time, you only had the chief of the Main Staff and now
24 the army was being formed and a commander of the army was being appointed,
25 as well as a Chief of Staff. That's how I understood it.
1 Q. Yes. I follow that. Did you come to know later on that
2 Rasim Delic became the commander of the army altogether?
3 A. Yes. That was immediately before this operation.
4 Q. Yes. And let me ask you: At the time of your involvement in
5 this -- in this operation, did you know of Rasim Delic's appointment as
6 head of the army, as the commander of the Main Staff? Or is that
7 something you found out at a later time?
8 A. I think that shortly before leaving to go down there, I found out
9 that a new commander had been appointed.
10 Q. I understand. Very well. So at the time when you were given your
11 tasks in relation to the combat activities that you had to take -- oh,
12 sorry. I'll withdraw that question.
13 You ultimately took part in an operation called "Operation
14 Defence of People's Rights." In fact, I'll just put the proper title to
15 you, and if you'll excuse me a moment.
16 You ultimately took part in an operation called "Defence of the
17 People's Rights, Vrdi 93"; is that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Okay. Would you -- it may be a bit -- a bit difficult at this
20 length of time, but would you mind just looking on that map that's in
21 front of you there and just seeing whether you can see depicted on that
22 map an axis of attack that -- that is in the area where you ultimately did
24 A. Yes. That would be that axis.
25 Q. Okay. Okay. Yes. Thanks. Very well. And I'm going to show you
1 that order, the Vrdi 93 order in a moment, but I just want to keep things
2 chronological at this stage, so -- very well, thank you.
3 Now, coming back to that map that you've got there. Karic didn't
4 show you that map? That's the short proposition.
5 A. No.
6 Q. Okay. And, in fact, part of the problem that you expressed to
7 Karic was that you wanted to know about the HVO positions.
8 A. Yes, because I was shown an empty map, a map that did not have the
9 positions marked on it.
10 Q. I understand. And for that reason, it was resolved that you
11 would go off with some other people the following morning to go and -- and
12 go on a reconnaissance.
13 A. That's correct.
14 Q. And was it agreed at that stage with Karic, Bilajac, and Suljevic
15 who you would go with, or was that dealt with later on?
16 A. Since we were supposed to be resubordinated to the command of
17 Alispago Zulfikar and were supposed to operate along his axis and carry
18 out the reconnaissance, which was subsequently agreed upon and approved
19 that we go out and conduct this reconnaissance.
20 Q. I see. All right. Now, you've indicated that at some stage on
21 the afternoon or evening -- and I think your evidence was the evening,
22 actually, so I'll withdraw that.
23 You've indicated that on the evening of the 8th you went to a
24 meeting of certain officers; is that correct?
25 A. That's correct.
1 Q. All right. Now, in between the time of you meeting with
2 Vehbija Karic, and Mr. Bilajac and Mr. Suljevic, did you notice anything
3 going wrong in the village, such as gunshots being fired or civilians
4 expressing fear or indeed any trouble of any sort in that first afternoon,
5 or did things appear to be relatively peaceful while you were there?
6 A. Nothing was happening. Everything was peaceful and normal.
7 Q. As far as you could observe, the soldiers were behaving properly
8 towards the local civilians; is that correct?
9 A. That is correct.
10 Q. And, in fact, that's what you expected -- no, well, I'll -- well,
11 I mean, you expected your soldiers to behave properly towards civilians,
12 didn't you?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Now, were you aware of the arrival during that time of any other
15 troops? And in particular I'm referring to some units who came from
17 A. I heard that units from Sarajevo were coming, and that's when I
18 found out that the 9th and the 10th Mountain Brigade were coming.
19 Q. All right. And was it -- when you say you heard that, was it
20 expressed to you by Karic, Suljevic, and Bilajac that some other units
21 were coming down from Sarajevo and were going to join in the combat
23 A. I think that the three of them actually told me that.
24 Q. Yes, I understand. And -- but as to your own personal
25 observations, did you see any elements of the 9th Brigade arrive in the
1 village that afternoon while you were present?
2 A. I don't remember that.
3 Q. Okay. What you can say is that while you were there, no soldiers
4 behaved in a stupid, violent, or dangerous way, to your observation; is
5 that correct?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Okay. And do you concede this possibility: That some of the 9th
8 Brigade people might have arrived in that time but didn't behave in a way
9 that drew attention to themselves so you didn't notice them? Is that
11 A. I think it's possible that I didn't see them, but as far as I
12 know, I don't think that they had arrived at that time.
13 Q. Can you remember what time you set off to go to the meeting that
14 you've described?
15 A. The meeting in Konjic you mean?
16 Q. Yes. Yes, I do mean that one.
17 A. It was already dusk. Actually, I think it was dark already. It
18 was night.
19 Q. Very well. So is it an accurate estimate to say that it would not
20 be before 6.00 or 6.30 p.m.?
21 A. It's possible that it was around 7.00 in the evening. I don't
22 know. I'm not sure. But I know that it was already night.
23 Q. That's okay. Anyway, in the time that you were in Grabovica,
24 Karic, Suljevic, and Bilajac arrived on one occasion only; is that
1 A. Yes. That was the only time that I saw them.
2 Q. Yes. And on that occasion, there was no threats or aggression
3 shown towards the local population by Vehbija Karic. That's correct,
4 isn't it?
5 A. Not in my presence.
6 Q. No. And when you went to this conference in Konjic that you've
7 described, Karic, Suljevic, and Bilajac themselves were also at that
8 conference; is that correct?
9 A. I think that they were there, yes.
10 Q. And to your recollection, it was one of those three who
11 distributed the tasks that were handed out at that meeting; is that
13 A. That's how it was, I think, yes.
14 Q. Can you recall which one of them it was?
15 A. No. No.
16 Q. Very well. Now, at the -- at the meeting that you've described in
17 Konjic, you have mentioned on that occasion -- you've mentioned that a
18 number of other commanders were there. I want to ask about the presence
19 of -- of Sefer Halilovic at that meeting.
20 First of all, is it your recollection that Mr. Halilovic was
21 present at the whole meeting or not?
22 A. I think that he was, yes.
23 Q. Do you have a clear recollection of Mr. Halilovic at that meeting?
24 Perhaps -- well, I withdraw that question. I'll put it -- I'll put the
25 question again.
1 Was that meeting one which took place in a -- in a -- well, could
2 you just describe the physical room you were in when that meeting took
4 A. It was a conference room of some company, some factory. I don't
5 remember. A meeting room of some -- in some factory in the administrative
6 building, practically in the centre of Konjic.
7 Q. Okay. I understand. And to your knowledge, the 6th Corps of the
8 Bosnian army was based in Konjic; is that correct?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And did they play any role -- did the 6th Corps play any role in
11 providing transport for your troops to get to you from the tunnel down to
13 A. I don't know.
14 Q. Who provided you personally with transport to get from Grabovica
15 to this meeting at Konjic?
16 A. Zuka.
17 Q. Was it a vehicle that he put at your disposal which was on loan to
18 you, or did he come and get you or send somebody to come and get you?
19 A. I think that he sent someone to get me then, who attended the
20 meeting, and then later he gave me a white Yugo vehicle for my use.
21 Q. Yes. I was going to ask you about that Yugo a bit later, but
22 thank you for indicating that. But anyway, on this night, your first
23 night in Herzegovina, you were provided with a vehicle and driver to get
24 you to this meeting. Is that your recollection?
25 A. I didn't use that vehicle. I was driven to that meeting by
2 Q. Yes, I understand. And as regards that meeting, you went to it
3 effectively because Adnan Solakovic hadn't yet arrived in -- in
4 Herzegovina; is that correct?
5 A. That's correct.
6 Q. I understand. And you remained at that meeting, and how long did
7 it last?
8 A. Not longer than an hour or an hour and a half. Something like
9 that. I don't know.
10 Q. Okay. You've indicated that the tasks were handed out having
11 already been pre-prepared before you got to the meeting. And what I want
12 to ask you is: Did you -- was it explained to you what role Rasim Delic
13 had to play, if any, in this particular planning and authorising of this
15 A. I think -- I don't remember Rasim Delic being mentioned, but when
16 Mr. Halilovic was talking about the aims of the operation, he did mention
17 that it had been approved by the Main Staff, which means that Rasim Delic
18 must have approved it if he was the commander.
19 Q. Yes. Did Sefer Halilovic go into any more detail than what you've
20 just described, or did he move on to another topic?
21 A. I think Mr. Halilovic spoke all the time about how important it
22 was to carry out this operation. He didn't deal so much with who was to
23 do what or attack along what axis. It was the commanders of the various
24 axes who received specific orders. I did not receive any order on paper
25 that I could hold in my hands. It was Mr. Alispago.
1 Q. Yes. Well, that was the topic I was about to get to. To the best
2 of your recollection, the specific tasks that were given to you at the
3 time when you were deputising for Adnan Solakovic were actually assigned
4 to you by Zulfikar Alispago; is that correct?
5 A. That's correct, yes.
6 Q. Is it the fact that -- I'm jumping forward for a moment now to
7 another matter, and that's the relationship between your unit and
8 Alispago's. Did your -- did you and your commander both decline to be
9 fully placed under the command of Alispago but, rather, agreed to
10 cooperate in the plan that he drafted?
11 A. I think that together we asked that we not be put under the direct
12 command of Mr. Alispago but that the two of us should command the
13 execution of this task together.
14 Q. So effectively what you did was it agree to -- to carry out the
15 tasks that were on the plan assigned to you but not to become an organic
16 part of Zuka unit. Is that an accurate way to put it?
17 A. Correct, yes.
18 Q. I understand. And to your knowledge, that was the position taken
19 up by the 9th Brigade or those elements of the 9th Brigade present in
20 Herzegovina as well; is that correct?
21 A. I don't know that.
22 Q. Okay. Now, when you went back from Konjic back to -- to Grabovica
23 that night, I take it you got back to Grabovica pretty late at night; is
24 that correct?
25 A. Yes. Yes.
1 Q. Okay. And when you got back into Grabovica at that time, did you
2 notice any -- anything unusual happening, any singing by soldiers or any
3 discharging of firearms or any behaviour that was unusual?
4 A. I didn't notice anything unusual going on.
5 Q. When you arrived back late in the night of the 8th or, if it be
6 the case, early in the morning of the 9th, did any persons from the
7 2nd Independent Battalion point out to you that something funny had
8 happened in the village, or did that happen at a later time?
9 A. I don't recall. I don't think anyone said anything to me. It was
10 already late, and only the guards were there in front of the house.
11 Q. Who were those guards?
12 A. Our guards in front of the house in which we were billeted. They
13 were members of our unit.
14 Q. Do you recall what the names of those guards were now?
15 A. No.
16 Q. Do you recall Zoran Kovacevic?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Was he one of the guards?
19 A. It's possible.
20 Q. Do you recall an individual --
21 MR. MORRISSEY: Could we go to the private session, please, Your
23 JUDGE LIU: Yes, we'll go to the private session.
24 [Private session]
17 [Open session]
18 MR. MORRISSEY: Yes. Thank you. Sorry. Pardon me for that. We
19 have to jump sometimes.
20 Q. Okay. Well, the question was: When you arrived back from the --
21 from the meeting, did the guards point out to you there had been any
22 shooting or unusual behaviour of any sort during your absence?
23 A. In view of the fact that the house in which we were billeted or,
24 rather, in which the command was located was at the very entrance to the
25 village, I went only as far as that house. I did not go further in and
1 visit the soldiers billeted in other houses. I only asked the guard - and
2 it may have been Zoran Kovacevic or someone else. I don't remember - I
3 asked if everything was all right, and he said it was. I asked if there
4 were any problems, and he said, no, there was just a little shooting. And
5 that was the end of the conversation, as far as I can recall.
6 Q. Yes. So at that stage, you were told that there had been a little
7 bit of shooting, but you weren't told anything that caused you to think
8 that something really terrible was going on inside the village; is that
10 A. That night, nobody told me that anything so terrible had happened.
11 Q. No, I understand. And although it may not be in the military
12 textbooks to allow this, it was the case that sometimes soldiers let off a
13 few shots into the air just being young men, I suppose. Is that accurate?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. So that when you were told that you'd heard that there had been
16 some shots fired, you just thought to yourself, Silly boys, and you went
17 off to bed; is that accurate?
18 A. That -- yes, that could be true, because I trusted my men.
19 Q. Yes, I understand. And at that stage, you didn't take any
20 measures, nor did you feel the need to take any measures, to protect the
21 Croats and Serbs among your -- your own soldiers; is that correct?
22 A. Correct, yes.
23 Q. I understand. All right. Now, I take it because you'd been
24 travelling all of the previous night and you'd been to a meeting in
25 Konjic, you were pretty tired and you went straight to sleep. Is that
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Now, you had arranged a reconnaissance trip for the following
4 morning. And we're now moving to the morning of the 9th of September.
5 You'd arranged a reconnaissance trip. And I want to ask: You who was it
6 that went on that reconnaissance trip with you. Was that the trip that
7 you referred to involving Senad Pecar?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Okay. And was that also a trip that involved an individual of
10 Albanian background called Dzeki, who was the head of a small unit called
11 the Handzar Division?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And also -- now, I wasn't quite sure whether I'd heard you
14 correctly about this. Was Zuka himself part of that reconnaissance, or
15 did he just send a deputy or one of his soldiers?
16 A. It was he personally that went with me to reconnoiter, Zuka
18 Q. Yes. Now, on that occasion, is that when the white Yugo made its
19 first appearance, or did they come in another vehicle to get you?
20 A. No. It was some kind of all-terrain vehicle that he came in.
21 Q. Okay. What time did he arrive?
22 A. I think it was early in the morning.
23 Q. Was it light yet or just getting light?
24 A. It was already light. It had already dawned.
25 Q. Understanding that it's 11 years ago, could you do your best and
1 try to put a time, an approximate time on when it was that you were
2 collected by this vehicle?
3 A. I think it was around 9.00, but I'm not sure exactly. I know that
4 it was still early, early in the morning, I mean. About 9.00.
5 Q. Well, I'll just work backwards from that time. Let's -- let's say
6 9.00. But I understand that you're not being -- you're not purporting to
7 be exact about that. How long before that departure at 9.00 did you wake
9 A. Maybe half an hour before.
10 Q. And did you wake up because of an alarm clock, or because one of
11 the soldiers had been requested to wake you at a particular time, or did
12 something else wake you up?
13 A. No. We didn't have any alarm clocks. The soldier standing guard
14 woke me up.
15 Q. I understand. And was that because you asked them to do that
16 because you knew you had the job of a reconnaissance?
17 A. Yes, I asked him to wake me up.
18 Q. Were they the same soldiers who had been on the guard post the
19 night before when you came home?
20 A. There was one guard when I arrived, and there were some 20 men
21 billeted in that house, so I can't be sure who exactly woke me up.
22 Q. That's okay. I just really wanted to ask whether it was the same
23 one that you met the night before or not.
24 A. Well, it's possible it was the same one, but I can't really
1 Q. Did that guard, whoever it was that woke you up in the morning,
2 have any further news to tell you in terms of shooting or unusual things
3 that had happened in the night?
4 A. I think -- I can't be sure about the dates now, but I think that
5 was when they found that first dead body next to the road.
6 Q. Yes.
7 A. I'm referring to Zuka's soldier.
8 Q. Okay. Now, I want -- I'm going to ask you a number of questions
9 about that topic because it could be a matter of importance in this case,
10 as to when that was --
11 JUDGE LIU: Could we have a short break?
12 MR. MORRISSEY: Yes, certainly, Your Honour. Yes.
13 JUDGE LIU: Yes. We will a 20-minute break, and we will resume at
14 five minutes past 6.00.
15 --- Recess taken at 5.46 p.m.
16 --- On resuming at 6.06 p.m.
17 JUDGE LIU: Yes, Mr. Morrissey.
18 MR. MORRISSEY: Thanks, Your Honours.
19 Q. Thanks once again, Mr. Okovic.
20 Mr. Okovic, before the break I was asking you questions about the
21 reconnaissance. And when you set out on that reconnaissance, you've
22 indicated that you went with Zuka personally. At the time when you left,
23 Adnan Solakovic had not yet arrived in the village. That's accurate,
24 isn't it?
25 A. Correct.
1 Q. And at the time when you set out, you didn't leave -- at that
2 time, you didn't have any idea that there was any danger for your soldiers
3 or anything crazy happening in the village, because otherwise you wouldn't
4 have left. Is that correct?
5 A. Correct, yes.
6 Q. And, in fact, it was really when you arrived back late that night
7 after the reconnaissance that you first heard of any of these really
8 tragic events taking place; is that correct?
9 A. Correct.
10 Q. So at the time you drive out of the village to go on
11 reconnaissance -- and we're talking now about the morning of the 9th at
12 about -- I know you haven't been precise, but at approximately 9.00 you
13 drove out of the village with Zuka in a jeep, and at that time you didn't
14 see any bodies lying on the road; is that correct?
15 A. Correct.
16 Q. If you had have seen bodies, you would have done something about
17 it, I take it; is that correct?
18 A. Well, probably, yes.
19 Q. Of course. So you -- you went on reconnaissance. And can you
20 indicate whether you were in radio contact with any persons or -- or any
21 form of communications contact with anyone back in Grabovica during the
22 day, or were you effectively cut off from the news while you were in the
24 A. The radio connection was very bad because the communications
25 centre hadn't yet been set up. So the connection we used for that
1 operation was very bad, and I practically had almost no contact with my
2 unit when I went out to do reconnaissance.
3 Q. Yes, I understand. When you came become late in the night of the
4 9th of September, can you say approximately what time - and I understand
5 it's approximate - approximately what time you got back?
6 A. Very late at night. Very late. I think it was just before
7 midnight or around midnight.
8 Q. Yes. I mean, I'm calling it the night of the 9th. But from what
9 you say, it could be late on the 9th or possibly in the very early hours
10 of the 10th; is that accurate?
11 A. I agree, yes.
12 Q. Okay. Now, after 11 years, I'm not going to expect you to assign
13 a particular date to any actions, but you may be able to recall the order
14 of events, and so I'll ask you some questions about the order of events.
15 You've indicated that you arrived in Grabovica on the 8th, and
16 you've indicated that you went on reconnaissance on the 9th, and you've
17 indicated that you arrived back in Grabovica from reconnaissance at the
18 end of the 9th.
19 Now, when you got back, it was at that time that you first heard
20 that some terrible things had happened in Grabovica; is that accurate?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And by that time, when you came back, had your commander, Adnan
23 Solakovic, and also Samir Pezo arrived in Grabovica?
24 A. Yes. During that day when I was absent, yes.
25 Q. Yes, I understand. So you -- and it follows from that that you
1 didn't see them arrive, nor did you observe the time at which they arrived
2 in the village; is that correct?
3 A. Correct.
4 Q. Okay. When you came back, is it accurate you were told that the
5 old Croatian couple who had been living in the railway station with you
6 had been rescued and taken away by a member of Zulfikar's unit, or is that
7 something that happened later on?
8 A. I remember I didn't find them there, that somebody had driven them
9 off, and somebody told me that someone from Zuka's unit or perhaps even
10 Zuka himself -- because he had arrived just before me. He had come back.
11 We didn't come back together from that reconnaissance.
12 Q. Yes. Thank you.
13 A. As far as I can remember, we didn't arrive at the same time.
14 Q. Yes. Well, you've anticipated the question that I had. But --
15 and you've answered it actually, so now I don't have to ask.
16 But so far as you know, Zuka arrived back at Grabovica just before
17 you did, and you heard a story that he had taken the old couple away to
18 safety; is that correct?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. I understand. Did you also hear, when you came back, that there
21 was a concern within your unit that Croatian and Serbian members of your
22 unit might be under some threat, or is that a concern that arose the
23 following day?
24 A. I think that during the night, we reorganised, that we knew those
25 strange things were happening, and it was during that night or on that
1 morning that all the members who were of other ethnic groups and who had
2 remained - because most of the unit was already in Dreznica - that we
3 transferred them to the command so that they would all be there together.
4 Q. I understand. Now, I just need some details about that to the
5 best of your memory. And, you know, please -- if you don't remember
6 something, please tell us. But I need to ask some questions about it.
7 Having arrived back at the end of the 9th or early on the 10th,
8 you received the bad news about what had happened. At that time, many of
9 your soldiers from the 2nd Independent Battalion had already left to go
10 south to Dreznica. Is that accurate?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. I understand. Of those who were left in the village, a decision
13 was taken by -- I'll ask you who by in a minute, but was a decision taken
14 to pull all of your soldiers back into the house at the old railway
15 station for their protection?
16 A. In view of the fact that very few people were left behind, we
17 could all be together in that one room on the south side, and I think that
18 practically all the men were in that one house together with the command.
19 Q. Can I just clarify that a little bit further. Did Adnan
20 Solakovic, or indeed Samir Pezo or you, issue an instruction or an order
21 to your men which remained in the village to come back to the old railway
22 station and stay there with you?
23 A. I wasn't in the position to make decisions above the commander's
24 head. It was the commander who decided that the men should gather in the
25 house where the command was. All I could do was suggest it to him. I
1 think we made the decision together.
2 Q. No, I understand what you say. But although you made the decision
3 together, is it the case that Adnan Solakovic issued that order that the
4 remaining men come back to your house?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. I see. And as far as you observed, that order was obeyed by the
7 remaining men?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Can I just ask you -- and again I know it's a long time ago, but
10 the timing could matter. When you got back late on the 9th or early on
11 the 10th, you've indicated this discussion took place and then you made a
12 suggestion and Adnan Solakovic gave the order. Was that order made during
13 the night - in other words, within an hour or two of you
14 coming back - or was it an order given the following morning, when this --
15 after day broke?
16 A. I don't remember exactly when that decision was made, but on the
17 next day all the men were in the command.
18 Q. Yes. And I take it that all the men were in the command early the
19 following morning. Is that an accurate statement?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Now, although I've stayed away from ascribing dates, would you
22 agree with me, based on what we've been through so far, that that
23 following morning was the morning of the 10th? In other words, you arrive
24 on the 8th in Grabovica; then on the 9th you go on reconnaissance; you get
25 back late and get the bad news; and then early the following morning,
1 being the 10th, the men gather in your house. Is that accurate?
2 A. It's very possible. I don't remember the exact date, as I said.
3 I don't know whether it was the 9th or the 10th.
4 Q. No, I understand. But have I put the order of events accurately
5 to you?
6 A. I think, yes.
7 Q. Thank you. Very well. Now, I want to turn to the events of the
8 10th. In other words, the day after you came back from reconnaissance.
9 On that day after the soldiers were gathered in your house, you
10 came to know of the death of a Croatian soldier from Zuka's unit; is that
12 A. Yes. I think that's correct, yes.
13 Q. And if you can help us with some details about this. Was it one
14 of the 2nd Independent Battalion's own soldiers who brought you this news?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Did you subsequently speak to Zuka, Zulfikar Alispago, about the
17 death of one of his own soldiers?
18 A. Very briefly. And I know that he was very angry because of what
20 Q. Yes. And when you spoke to Zulfikar Alispago about that murdered
21 man or that killed man, was that a conversation that took place in
23 A. I don't remember where we talked about it.
24 Q. Let me just -- I know it's a long time ago, but I just want one
25 more question about that. Did you speak to Zuka about that on that very
1 same day or was it on some later day?
2 A. I think that we talked about it later, not the same day.
3 Q. Yes, I understand.
4 Okay. Now, still remaining on this -- the day after the
5 reconnaissance, and effectively the first day that you had bad news to
6 deal with. Did you notice whether or not there were any new checkpoints
7 set up in the village? Not by your soldiers but by others.
8 A. Yes. At the entrance and the exit to the village, there were
9 checkpoints set up, barriers.
10 Q. All right. Did you have occasion to pass through those
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Did you recognise the soldiers who were manning those checkpoints?
14 A. No, I didn't know those people.
15 Q. Did they tell you whether or not they came from the 9th Brigade,
16 soldiers who were present in the village?
17 A. No.
18 Q. At the time when all this was happening -- can I just ask you
19 about your reaction. I take it you were quite concerned for the -- for
20 the safety of your own soldiers, at least the ones that remained in
21 Grabovica, and you were concerned not to provoke any attacks on your own
22 soldiers. Is that an accurate way to put things?
23 A. Yes, you could put it that way.
24 Q. Because I understand you had actually made a request in code to
25 Vahid Karavelic to get you out of there, but you hadn't received the
1 response that you were hoping for. Is that accurate?
2 A. That's correct.
3 Q. So your understanding of the situation was you had to stay in
4 Herzegovina and you had to make the best of a very dangerous situation; is
5 that correct?
6 A. Yes, you could understand it that way.
7 Q. Okay. Well, bear in mind, Mr. Okovic, that I'm a lawyer and I
8 wasn't there. So don't let me put words into your mouth. Is that an
9 accurate way that I've described that, or -- or not?
10 A. [No interpretation].
11 Q. Sorry. The translators didn't record what you said there. I just
12 have to ask you to answer one more time, please.
13 A. I think that I understood your question and that you could
14 describe the situation the way you did.
15 Q. Okay. Thank you. Very well.
16 Now, in terms of -- of the chronology, on the 10th of -- on this
17 day that we're now talking about, the day when all these soldiers from the
18 2nd Independent Battalion were drawn back to the house, on that day did
19 you receive -- just excuse me a moment. There is an order drafted by Zuka
20 that I want to show you and get you to have a look at. It's a combat
22 MR. MORRISSEY: Could the witness please be shown a document --
23 Excuse me one moment, Mr. Okovic, please.
24 Your Honours, you've probably noticed the absence of Mr. Cengic
25 today, and we're going to endeavour to negotiate the e-court as best we
1 can without him. And we've been given a great deal of assistance by
2 everyone, so now we'll try.
3 This is Defence document -- 65 ter number D47. I think it's
4 likely to be MFI273.
5 Q. Very well. This document's now going to be shown to you. It's a
6 combat order headed "Defence of the people's rights, Vrdi 93." Is that on
7 your screen yet, Mr. Okovic?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. All right. Would you mind just taking a moment to -- to inspect
10 that document? It's a little bit lengthy. It's not necessary for you to
11 remember every step of the planned operations and so on, but I just want
12 you to take the chance to read over it and see -- just satisfy yourself as
13 to what this document is before I ask you any questions about it.
14 A. "Development of the combat assignment." But I didn't see this
15 piece of paper. I saw a different piece of paper, handwritten. This was
16 probably typed out later. All I saw was a handwritten order.
17 Q. Could I just ask you to confirm whether -- although this is typed,
18 whether it says what the handwritten document said. And it might assist
19 you to notice a couple of things. First of all, would you --
20 A. I think it's the same paper, but this is actually just -- it's not
21 the original. I saw the draft material written by hand. This is an order
22 about the attack, the axis of attack, an order for the implementation of a
23 combat assignment.
24 Q. Yes, I see. Okay. Would you just look --
25 MR. MORRISSEY: Perhaps could the witness just be shown, please,
1 the final page of this document.
2 Q. I'm going to jump from page to page a little bit here,
3 Mr. Okovic. I'd just like you, first of all, to have a look at the final
4 page of that, and in particular look at the end of it.
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Okay. And you see there that that's signed by a person -- by
7 Zulfikar Alispago? Do you observe that?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And do you see -- do you see that the title under which he signs
10 it is SVK PSNO commander. And does that title mean to you that he was
11 referring to himself as a commander of a special unit of the Supreme
12 Command Staff?
13 A. Well, according to what it says here, probably yes.
14 Q. Yes. Okay.
15 Now we could go back, please, to the second page of this. What
16 I'm going to ask you to look at here is just part of the order which.
17 Concerns your unit, or purports to concern your unit anyway, and
18 I'll ask you to comment on it.
19 MR. MORRISSEY: Your Honours, in the English version, this is at
20 the bottom of the first paragraph on the second page. It's the last line
21 of that paragraph.
22 Q. But in the Bosnian version, Mr. Okovic, you will have to find it.
23 You'll have to help us.
24 There's reference to an established line being held until Boraca
25 captures the elevation of the repeater, Boraca with his right wing. And
1 then there's a reference to soldiers of yours being brought up. And it
2 says, "60 to 80 men," and "they have to mop up the terrain towards the
3 cemetery." Do you see that part?
4 A. Are you talking about the first paragraph or the second paragraph?
5 Q. I'm going to ask you about -- there are two paragraphs that refer
6 to -- let me just ask you a simple question first. Do you see a reference
7 to Adnan Solakovic's unit there?
8 A. Yes. The units are mentioned in the first paragraph as well as
9 the axis of activity of that unit, yes.
10 Q. Yes, yes. Now, looking at that -- at that document, do you recall
11 being given those instructions by Zuka in the handwritten order that you
13 A. Yes. It was practically extracted from this order. Each single
14 unit that took part in this operation, there was a yellow piece of paper
15 specifying the axis of operation for that unit, which elevations, which
16 points, and so on and so forth.
17 Q. I understand. So that the -- the handwritten document that was
18 given to you only concerned your unit. Is that -- am I right about that
19 or --
20 A. Yes. Yes.
21 Q. I see. I understand. So you got a part of this, effectively.
22 A. Yes. I never saw this piece of paper in its entirety.
23 Q. I understand. The other question I've got to ask you about is --
24 MR. MORRISSEY: Could the witness please be shown the first page
25 of the document.
1 Q. Okay. Now that document, at least in the typed version that we've
2 got, is dated the 11th of September, 1993. Now, I understand that
3 you're -- you're quite properly making the comment that you're not
4 prepared to remember the exact date of things, but can I ask you, given
5 the order of events that we've already got, your arrival on the 8th, your
6 reconnaissance on the 9th, and now we're on the 10th, and you've gathered
7 the soldiers back to your house and -- and so on, can you say when it was
8 that you saw the handwritten part of this order which you've indicated you
9 did see?
10 A. It's possible that it was the same -- on that same day, the 11th
11 of September.
12 Q. I understand. All right. Now, I want to --
13 MR. MORRISSEY: Your Honours, I offer that document for tender.
14 JUDGE LIU: Any objections, Ms. Chana?
15 MS. CHANA: No objection, Your Honour.
16 JUDGE LIU: Well, this document is admitted into the evidence. We
17 already have a number on it.
18 THE REGISTRAR: It will be Defence Exhibit D273.
19 MR. MORRISSEY: Now, could the witness please be given another
20 opportunity to look at D270, which was the report that he wrote on the
21 25th of the 9th.
22 While this documents's being --
23 I'm sorry. Your Honours, it's been pointed out to me that I've
24 claimed the credit for that as a Defence document, but it's really P270.
25 Q. Sorry, Mr. Okovic.
1 Now, this document might assist in continuing the chronology,
2 which is what I'm really asking you about here.
3 Do you have that document on the screen yet, your report?
4 A. [Inaudible response]
5 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter did not hear the witness.
6 MR. MORRISSEY:
7 Q. Okay. The interpreters indicated they did not hear your answer,
8 Mr. Okovic. I'm sorry. Now, do you have that document in front of you?
9 A. Yes, yes. Excuse me.
10 Q. Thank you. Because you've got a Bosnian version, I'm just going
11 to ask you to go to the section beginning with the words "On the 10th of
12 September, 1993 ..." I'm going to ask you to clarify a couple of things.
13 Do you have that paragraph in front of you now?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Okay. Thanks. Actually, sorry, there is one other thing I wanted
16 to ask you about before that. Do you see that bit "On the 9th of
17 September, 1993, was used for rest and billeting soldiers in Grabovica"?
18 Do you see that line there?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Can I just ask you this: I take it that you didn't record the
21 facts about the bad things that really did happen in the village on that
22 occasion for two reasons: Firstly, this is essentially a combat report
23 and, as far as you could see, these killings had nothing to do with combat
24 whatsoever; and secondly, because you weren't certain into whose hands
25 this report might fall and you weren't certain whether it was safe for you
1 to communicate that information. Have I stated that accurately?
2 A. This is a combat report, and it wasn't up to me to mention in a
3 combat report something that was happening 40 kilometres behind the lines.
4 It wasn't in my competency to do that. That is a -- that is a different
5 question. I couldn't make the decision whether to put that in the report
6 or not by myself.
7 If you want to hear my opinion, though -- I was just an
8 individual, and it would not have been wise to put that in the report.
9 Q. Yes. Okay. That really was my question. But I take it your
10 answer is that it wasn't up to you to decide what was in that report. Is
11 that right?
12 A. That's correct.
13 Q. I understand. All right. Now, returning to my original question,
14 which concerned the 10th of September, 1993. Now, here you've mentioned
15 that "The battalion command reached the camp of our company." Now I take
16 it what you really meant by that was that because you were away - you had
17 been away all day on the 9th on reconnaissance - it was on the 10th, if
18 you like, the early hours of the 10th, that you found out about the
19 command reaching Grabovica. Is that correct?
20 A. It's possible. Are you thinking of the unit of the 9th Mountain
21 Brigade or --
22 Q. No, no. Pardon me. My question must have been badly phrased.
23 No, it's just that you've written here that "On the 10th of September, the
24 battalion reached the camp of our company." Do you see that sentence?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Okay. In reality, it appears that the battalion commander arrived
2 the day before -- well, perhaps -- let me ask you -- I'll ask you a
3 different question about this. Perhaps I'm -- I'm going down the wrong
4 path altogether.
5 Where do you get these dates that you've put in this report? Did
6 you get the dates from other notes that you'd taken?
7 A. I have that from my notes. I kept notes of what I did each day in
8 relation to the combat assignment. So we only have fragments in this
9 report. We didn't really go into detail of what was going on.
10 Q. Yes. Well, that's -- I wondered about that. Okay.
11 Well, look, could you go on to the next section, then, that
12 commences -- that concerns the 11th of September? Do you have that part?
13 It's the next paragraph, I think.
14 A. Yes. Yes.
15 MR. MORRISSEY: It's still on page 1 of the B/C/S version but on
16 page 2 of the English, Your Honours.
17 Q. So on the 11th of September, we can conclude that there was a
18 further command reconnaissance of the Vrdi region; is that correct?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And later -- look at the end of that paragraph, if you wouldn't
21 mind. Later on, you had a meeting - and this is later on on the 11th -
22 you had a meeting with the commander of the Zulfikar detachment. When I
23 say "you," I mean Solakovic had a meeting with the commander of the
24 Zulfikar detachment; is that right?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. I understand. And then on the 12th, the unit or parts of your --
2 of your company went down to a place near to Arapovo Hill; is that
4 And while you're looking at that, when you get to the point where
5 you need to turn over the page, you say so and the court staff will help.
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Okay. And then on the 13th of September, your units concluded
8 some further reconnaissance in the area of the repeater, the repeater
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And then on the 14th of September, your unit arrived at -- or near
12 to Dreznica and commenced participation in some combat activities?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. In particular, the occupation of the road from Vilina Polja.
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And later that day, the HVO resistance was noticed and further
17 plans were made for the use of your units in combat; is that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Very well. And on the 15th of September, further combat took
20 place in which your units or parts of them were engaged. And then later
21 in the day Zuka, Zulfikar Alispago, ordered that some of your units were
22 allowed to rest from combat for a while; is that correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. That's okay. And just indicate when you need the page to be
25 turned over, because I'm working with an English version here.
1 Then on the 16th of September, because you met a great deal of HVO
2 resistance, an attack was then directed towards the hill known as Medvjed;
3 is that correct?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Very well. Now, I've got some questions about the fighting at
6 Medvjed partly because other witnesses are going to be called who were
7 following and listening to this fighting on a radio.
8 So the fighting at Medvjed was led by Zulfikar Alispago, who was
9 present - not actually running up the hill of Medvjed, but nearby -
10 leading the action; is that correct?
11 A. Yes. Yes.
12 Q. I understand. And during the time of that -- the attacks on
13 Medvjed, those attacks seemed at the time to be progressing very
14 successfully, didn't they?
15 A. Yes, that's correct.
16 Q. Okay. Now, on the 17th, the whole of your unit, with the
17 assistance of some soldiers of the 9th Brigade and the Zulfikar
18 detachment, continued the advance and reached the targets that you were
19 supposed to reach; is that correct?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And, in fact, a hill called Golubic was occupied and captured; is
22 that correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Okay. Then on the 18th of September, your unit was again involved
25 in fighting and once again fought alongside parts of the Zulfikar
1 detachment and the 9th Motorised Brigade in the area of Medvjed; is that
3 A. [No interpretation]
4 Q. Were you in the position -- sorry, and perhaps I should ask you
5 this: During that fighting, which soldiers appeared to you to be leading
6 the 9th Brigade men? In other words, who were the senior 9th Brigade
7 people leading their soldiers?
8 A. I don't know. I didn't have direct communication. I just heard
9 it over the radio, and I was only paying attention to what was happening
10 to our unit.
11 Q. I take it it was a pretty hot fight.
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Very well. On the 19th of September, did Zulfikar Alispago issue
14 an order to fortify the lines which you had successfully reached and to
15 withdraw some combat units?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And in particular did Zulfikar Alispago on the 19th of September,
18 1993 withdraw from combat units of the 2nd Independent Battalion, the 10th
19 Brigade, and the 9th Brigade, and that order was complied with on the
20 evening of the 20th of September, 1993?
21 A. I don't remember the exact date, but it was the other way round:
22 The 9th and the 10th were pulled out first, and we were the last to be
23 pulled out of combat.
24 Q. Yes. Now, can I just ask you about that. Were they pulled out on
25 the same day as you but earlier in the day, or were they pulled out a day
1 earlier than you?
2 A. I have no idea about the time, but they were pulled out before us,
3 before our unit, because we had some casualties, some killed and wounded,
4 and we should have pulled out earlier. This -- the terrain was quite
5 rough. We had to use mountain-climbing equipment and ropes in order to
6 bring out the dead and the wounded.
7 Q. Yes. Well, could I ask you this: By the time you came out, the
8 units of the 10th and the 9th had already gone; is that accurate?
9 A. I didn't see any members of the 9th or the 10th in Grabovica, no.
10 Q. When you -- when you were pulled out, you and your units went back
11 to Grabovica briefly; is that correct or not?
12 A. That's correct.
13 Q. Okay. And I think you've indicated when you passed through
14 Grabovica you saw no soldiers from the 9th or the 10th on that occasion.
15 Now, my question is: Were you asked --
16 A. I was the last to arrive in the village.
17 Q. Yes, I understand. Were you asked by Zulfikar Alispago or indeed
18 by Sefer Halilovic to remain in Herzegovina to help hold the lines and to
19 hang onto what had been gained?
20 A. My commander told me they were saying we should stay and that he
21 was opposed to us staying. We were supposed to keep those positions.
22 However, he said we had done our job and that we should now go back to
24 Q. Okay. Who was it who -- according to what Solakovic told you, was
25 it Halilovic who asked him to stay in Herzegovina or Zuka?
1 A. I'm not sure I know the answer to this question.
2 Q. Well, could I ask you this question, then: Do you know whether or
3 not Adnan Solakovic was in contact with Zuka at around that time?
4 A. In view of the fact that I was the last to arrive in the village
5 when our last soldier had withdrawn from the combat positions, I don't
6 know what had been going on either in the command or in Grabovica. I
7 don't know who he had contacted. But both he and I insisted that we
8 withdraw to Sarajevo. Who it was who asked him to say, that we should
9 stay, well, I'm not sure of that.
10 Q. Well, that's okay. Whoever it was who asked, was not obeyed.
11 That's correct, isn't it?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Just a question about communications equipment and the -- and the
14 setting up of a base. You indicated to me -- I'm going back now to early
15 in your arrival at Grabovica. You indicated that you went out on
16 reconnaissance the day after you arrived and that you were gone most of
17 the day. You'll recall I asked you some questions about communications
18 equipment and you said it was pretty bad.
19 Can I ask you this question: Once Adnan Solakovic arrived down in
20 Herzegovina, do you remember whether or not that old railway station
21 became something of a communications base? In other words, was any radio
22 equipment installed there after Adnan came?
23 A. Yes. We installed our own radio equipment there. The equipment
24 arrived with the commander, and we set up our communications there that we
25 used internally for our own use.
1 Q. I understand. And was it using that -- sorry, just to be clear,
2 was that -- when -- let me just start that again. I'm sorry. The
3 question ran away from me.
4 When you came back from your reconnaissance trip on the second day
5 and you saw Adnan, Samir Pezo, and you heard the bad news, was the
6 communications equipment already set up at that point, or is that
7 something that you did the following day?
8 A. We struggled to set up this connection with Sarajevo throughout
9 the day. It was a big problem to set up this equipment, the antennas and
10 so on, and we waited for a long time to send this message to Sarajevo,
11 because we were unable to establish the communications. The equipment
12 wasn't functioning properly.
13 Q. I understand. And it was on that equipment that you ultimately
14 sent the coded message which was shown to you by the Prosecutor early on;
15 is that correct?
16 A. Correct, yes.
17 Q. Yes, I understand. Are you able to say now whether that --
18 Just excuse me a moment. I just want to check a date. Would you
19 excuse me, Mr. Okovic.
20 MR. MORRISSEY: Would Your Honours just excuse me a moment,
22 [Defence counsel confer]
23 MR. MORRISSEY:
24 Q. I'm sorry. What I'm searching for here, Mr. Okovic, there's no
25 secrets about it. We have a copy of that coded message that you sent, and
1 it's got a date on it, and I just want to be able to put the date to you
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. So if you'd just excuse me a moment.
5 MR. MORRISSEY: Your Honours, I'll -- sorry --
6 Q. Mr. Okovic, the date on that document was the 11th of November --
7 oh, sorry, pardon me, the 11th of September.
8 And my question to you is this: When you -- when you set up that
9 radio equipment, you've indicated it took a long time for it to become
10 functional and it took you a long time before you could send that message.
11 Is it possible that the message did not get sent until the following day?
12 A. No. I think it was on that day in the afternoon that the message
13 was sent and that our communications officer struggled the whole day to
14 get the equipment working. We would probably have sent it much earlier
15 than we did had the equipment been functioning properly.
16 Q. Okay. Well, I understand your answer.
17 And then just to preserve that chronology, it was later on that
18 day -- or that evening -- sorry, I'll withdraw that question.
19 MR. MORRISSEY: Your Honours, I've got a new topic to go to now.
20 I think there's probably another half hour of cross-examination altogether
21 remaining for this witness. It might be appropriate to ...
22 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Maybe we could break here.
23 Well, Witness, I believe I have to keep you here for another day.
24 As I did say to other witnesses, do not talk to anybody and do not let
25 anybody talk to you. Do you understand that?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I do understand, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE LIU: Thank you very much. I wish you have a good rest
3 today, and we will resume tomorrow afternoon.
4 And by the way, I would like to say that on Thursday afternoon, we
5 are still sitting in this courtroom in the afternoon, not in the morning.
6 I hope nobody made any plans yet. Yes, Mr. Morrissey.
7 MR. MORRISSEY: Your Honours, although it is an entirely private
8 matter, may I -- we are sitting in the morning on Fridays -- on Friday?
9 JUDGE LIU: Yes. Yes.
10 MR. MORRISSEY: That's a plan which might, if it's now changed,
11 result in the death of counsel at the hands of his family but we will act
12 upon it. Thank you.
13 JUDGE LIU: Thank you. I apologise for this.
14 But anyway, the hearing for today is now adjourned.
15 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.59 p.m.,
16 to be reconvened on Wednesday, the 16th day of
17 March, 2005, at 2.15 p.m.