1 Tuesday, 11th January, 2000
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.35 a.m.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours.
7 Case number IT-95-14/2-T, The Prosector versus Dario
8 Kordic and Mario Cerkez.
9 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Kovacic.
10 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
11 WITNESS: ANTE BRELJAS [RESUMED]
12 Cross-examined by Mr. Kovacic:
13 Q. I would first like to ask the usher to put in
14 front of the witness the Croatian translation of his
15 earlier statements which he had on the table
16 yesterday. If I may, just for the record, note that
17 there are two omissions in transcripts. It was on the
18 page 72, line 25, but the words "Gardiska Brigada" were
19 omitted, and on page 105, line 17, the witness there
20 said that he was talking with area commander. The word
21 "area" is omitted. And then if I may continue.
22 [Interpretation] Mr. Breljas, good morning.
23 A. Good morning.
24 Q. At the closing of the session yesterday we
25 talked about your appointment to the post of the IPD
1 officer. With regard to that, if you could just
2 additionally tell us whether anybody explained to you
3 the duties of an IPD officer based on the organisation
4 of that time.
5 A. Sir, nobody needed -- nobody could actually
6 explain anything to me. I was explaining things to
7 them. I knew, and they didn't.
8 Q. Very well. Thank you. Given the role of
9 Marinko Plavcic, who in fact carried out the duties of
10 the IPD assistant commander for the Vitezovi, you were
11 formally deputy?
12 A. Yes, I was, until Mr. Stewart at one point
13 came with a group of journalists for some kind of
14 control, and I asked him whether these journalists came
15 with him. He said they did not. Then I rounded up the
16 journalists and asked them who they were. I told them
17 that they could not work there, take any pictures,
18 until they received any permission from the competent
20 Q. Mr. Breljas, we would gladly hear you out,
21 but let's leave it alone. When were you promoted to
22 the assistant for IPD?
23 A. Ten, twelve days after all of this, after
25 Q. So can we say in early May?
1 A. No. Well, let's say that it was the second
2 half of May.
3 Q. Very well, thank you. So now you had an
4 operative relation to the officer in the headquarters
5 or, as you call it, the military district at a higher
6 level. How do you mean at a higher level?
7 A. I worked with the IPD officer at the Central
8 Bosnia operative zone.
9 Q. Who was this officer for IPD at the Central
10 Bosnia operative zone?
11 A. I started this much later because nobody had
12 explained to me what the duties were. I knew what the
13 duties were, but I did not know where to go. So I
14 cannot recall the name of this IPD officer. I believe
15 that he was a veterinarian or something like that.
16 Q. Mr. Breljas, would it refresh your mind if I
17 said that at first it was Mario Prskalo?
18 A. No, it was not Mario Prskalo. But this was
19 not Mario Prskalo; this was somebody else.
20 Q. Let's just try to clear up this matter,
21 because this may become useful later on. Mario Prskalo
22 was the person who was injured by a sniper coming out
23 of the war area on the 17th of April?
24 A. I did not hear of that.
25 Q. How about Mario Ramljak?
1 A. I don't think that I should meddle in names.
2 I am bad with names. I know faces.
3 Q. Very well. That is an answer too. Is it
4 true that not very regularly, but approximately once a
5 week, the IPD meetings at the operative zone took
7 A. That is not true. It was once a week. I'm
8 confused about the dates, but it was Wednesday or
9 Friday, because I confused them with the press
11 Q. So it was as often as once a week?
12 A. Yes, it was once a week, and once a month you
13 had to have a report.
14 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic,
15 in your exchange with the witness, please make a
16 pause. And I address myself to the witness as well, to
17 wait a few seconds for the interpretation, because the
18 interpretation is going at such a pace that it is
19 difficult to follow.
20 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Mr. Breljas, this is my fault. We speak the
22 same language and so we respond right away. We need to
23 pause between questions and answers.
24 With regard to these meetings, the
25 chairperson was the IPD officer whose name you cannot
2 A. I just remember that it was Ramljak.
3 Q. As a rule, he was the one who chaired it?
4 A. Yes, he conducted -- he led these meetings,
5 because it was his duty.
6 Q. And IPD officers from within the operative
7 zone also attended?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. You told us, but it wasn't quite clear, so
10 let us try to clarify this. In your previous
11 statement, and yesterday, you said that the Vitezovi
12 administratively were known as the 4th brigade, and
13 basically for the logistical reasons?
14 A. Yes, we -- whatever the operative zone of
15 Vitez had, it was divided into four parts. The
16 Vitezovi formed this fourth part and this is how
17 everything was distributed.
18 Q. There was no other organisational link
19 between the Vitez Brigade and the Vitezovi?
20 A. Nothing in terms of orders, but there were
22 Q. You mentioned your role when you spoke about
23 the Tuzla convoy?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. I will also remind you that you mentioned
1 this in your statement, a rather comprehensive
2 statement you gave in 1996, to the Bosnian
4 A. That is what I spoke about to the Bosnian
5 authorities. This is what they were mostly interested
7 Q. You have it in front of you from 1996. In
8 the Croatian text this is page 6, paragraph 5, and in
9 the English version it is page 10, paragraph 2. Did
10 you find that?
11 A. Yes. I don't need to remind myself.
12 Q. So did you look at it?
13 A. I remember it very well, because it was
14 the -- it is the greatest embarrassment of the Croatian
15 people. Actually, not the Croatian people; they're
16 honest, but it's these bandits who did it.
17 Q. Let me read it to you.
18 JUDGE MAY: Just a moment. Is this being
20 MR. KOVACIC: As I said, Your Honour, it is
21 in the English text. It is a statement, previous
22 statement of the witness to the Bosnian authorities,
23 dated 7 November 1996, and in the English text it is on
24 page 10, the very last paragraph, on the bottom of the
25 page. One before last. I'm sorry.
1 JUDGE MAY: This is the paragraph which
2 reads: "Kraljevic asked me to interpret ..."
3 MR. KOVACIC: Exactly, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE MAY: The English translations would
5 appear in the text -- in the transcript, if you're
6 going to put something about it.
7 MR. KOVACIC: Could it be put on the ELMO?
8 JUDGE MAY: Perhaps it could be put on the
9 ELMO, and you could read it in Croatian and it could be
11 MR. KOVACIC: So we see on the ELMO the
12 marked paragraph that I will read in Croatian. Is that
13 correct, Your Honour?
14 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
15 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
16 Q. "Kraljevic asked me to interpret and tell the
17 U.N. soldiers something to the effect that they could
18 not go any further or they would be attacked, or they
19 would be accused falsely of transporting wounded from
20 Stari Vitez, at which they even offered their tanks for
21 inspection. But in spite of this, they were not
22 allowed through. I stayed in Dubravica until 0200 the
23 following morning, barring passage to the UNPROFOR when
24 Kraljevic ordered me, by courier, to let them through."
25 Mr. Breljas, you gave this statement in 1996
1 when your memory was fresher?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. There you never mentioned by a single word
4 Mr. Cerkez, and you mentioned him for the first time in
5 1998. Could you please tell us what is correct here?
6 A. What is correct is that I saw Mario Cerkez
7 there when I arrived. He asked me to interpret, and I
8 told him that I did not want to do that because
9 Kraljevic was my commander and he was the only one whom
10 I recognised. When he arrived, then whatever he told
11 me, I interpreted, and I told the Major, the commander
12 of this tank and transporter, everything that was asked
13 of me.
14 Q. So, Mr. Breljas, to sum up, you say that the
15 statements you gave in 1998, in 2000, is more detailed
16 and more correct?
17 A. No. I just omitted it in the first because I
18 didn't think that it was necessary, because we were
19 just discussing the stopping of this convoy, and I did
20 not think that Mario Cerkez had anything to do with it,
21 whereas there were people who knew more about it, and I
22 knew that this was an institution where I needed to
23 provide more detail so nobody would try to lay any
24 traps for me.
25 Q. Mr. Breljas, you -- at the end of the
1 statement it says that you dictated this statement and
2 that you accept it by placing your signature on it?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. So, as you mentioned two persons regarding
5 this incident, Darko was the commander?
6 A. No. Mario was the commander, but I only took
7 orders from Kraljevic. But Mario was the commander of
8 all this.
9 Q. Very well. Thank you.
10 JUDGE MAY: Have you finished with that
12 MR. KOVACIC: Yes. I've finished with that
13 document. I will kindly ask the usher to show
14 yesterday presented Exhibit Z1380.
15 Q. [Interpretation] This is, again, a
16 comprehensive document. Yesterday, Mr. Breljas, you
17 saw that, and it will be placed in front of you. It is
18 a report of the Vitezovi, addressed to the headquarters
19 of the HVO, HRHB in Mostar. Let me ask you a couple of
20 things in connection with that.
21 Yesterday you did not give a clear answer
22 with respect to who was superior to the Vitezovi, to
23 whom they reported, and I would like you to look at
24 this document. Do you have it in front of you?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. First, it is beyond dispute that this is a
2 report of Vitezovi, dated 18 February 1994, addressed
3 to the main headquarter in Mostar.
4 A. Let me look at this signature.
5 Q. Look at the header and look at the
7 A. First of all, this is not true. This was
8 written at a time when Mr. Kraljevic was already
9 demoted. They wanted to destroy him. So there are
10 many lies in here. He used irrelevant truthful facts,
11 and he interspersed them among the lies, because he
12 wanted to destroy Darko Kraljevic.
13 Q. Excuse me, sir. Is this report sent to the
14 main headquarters in Mostar?
15 A. I don't know. The only thing I can say, that
16 I handled all the reports and orders sent by Darko
17 Kraljevic, and this was not done by him.
18 Q. In other words, you do not know, sir.
19 A. No, I don't.
20 Q. Very well. Do you agree that Vitezovi were
21 under the command of the HVO -- that is, the main
22 headquarters in Mostar -- or do you not agree with
24 A. For a period of time, until Darko Kraljevic
25 was killed; that is, in early 1993 they came under the
1 command of Mostar.
2 Q. So you agree with that. But they were -- in
3 operative terms, they were under the Central Bosnia
4 operative zone commander?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. So that was Mr. Blaskic?
7 A. No. Mr. Blaskic only became commander
8 sometime in July 1993. Until then he was in Vitez, but
9 nobody really followed him and respected his orders.
10 Q. So you are saying that Blaskic, in early
11 1993, did not have an operational control?
12 A. No, he never did at that time.
13 MR. KOVACIC: So far in these proceedings
14 there was a couple of -- there were a couple of written
15 comments signed by Blaskic in the first half of a
16 year. I am not talking about the later period, from
17 which one we can clearly conclude that those comments
18 are addressed to all subordinate units, and usually and
19 explicitly Vitez unit is listed. So if you want, I can
20 go, I can take a couple of them and show them the
21 witness or we just put it on the record.
22 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Kovacic, you must take
23 whichever course you think is right. You can make
24 comments, of course, on the documents in due course at
25 an appropriate time.
1 MR. KOVACIC: Then I will go for the
2 comments, because I don't think that we should waste
3 the time on the wrong information.
4 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
5 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
6 Q. [Interpretation] Witness Breljas, yesterday
7 you mentioned taking of the prisoners to dig trenches,
8 in other words, use them for military purposes, and you
9 mentioned specifically two persons. Certain Mile
10 Vinac, do you actually know where he belonged within
11 the HVO organisation?
12 A. I don't know if he was Mile, but I know that
13 his name was Vinac. Organisationally he belonged to
14 the Vitez Brigade. He was a commander of the labour
15 platoons. He rounded up both civilians and detainees
16 to do different kinds of work in and around Vitez. I
17 don't know his first name, but it was Vinac.
18 Q. Very well, Mr. Breljas. If I put it to you
19 that he was part of the civilian administration in
20 Vitez, would you still claim that he -- with certainty
21 that he was a member of the brigade?
22 A. I do not agree that he was a civilian.
23 Q. You are sure that he was a member of the
25 A. Don't talk about certainty. I know that he
1 did this on behalf of the brigade, and who he was
2 organisationally within the municipality, I don't
3 know. I had enough of Vitezovi to deal with.
4 Q. Mr. Breljas, perhaps we can clarify this.
5 Nobody expects of you to know everything. You can say,
6 "I am sure" about something, you can say, "I think
7 that this is" or "I don't know," but do you
8 categorically affirm that he was a member of the
9 Viteska Brigade?
10 A. No.
11 Q. Yesterday you mentioned the second person
12 whom you linked to the Vitez Brigade. His nickname was
13 Zabac or Frog; is that correct?
14 A. That is correct.
15 Q. Without going through all these statements,
16 in no statements previously, either in one in '96 or
17 the one in 1998, did you mention his name?
18 A. Look, there was a dilemma here. I don't know
19 whether Zabac was a member of the Kaonik Camp or a
20 commander of the police of the Vitez Brigade. This is
21 my dilemma. I know both of them. The one in Kaonik
22 was a short man and sort of stocky, and the one in the
23 Vitez Brigade was sort of medium height and thin. And
24 I have confusion over names, which is reflected in my
25 statements. I was an outsider, so I could not place
1 names and faces together. So I don't know who he was,
2 but one of them was Zabac.
3 Q. Mr. Breljas, if I mention the name Aleksovski
4 to you, do you know who that is; a short one?
5 A. Yeah, right. Then Zabac was the commander of
6 the police and he was in the Vitez Brigade. Then that
7 is all right.
8 Q. And which military police do you mean, the
9 military police or the Vitez Brigade?
10 A. But the brigade does not have a military
11 police. They have a platoon which is there responsible
12 for the military area. Excuse me, but I know that men
13 called their police and they came, arrested this
14 soldier, and kept him in custody for five days.
15 Q. Right. Thank you. I should like the witness
16 to be shown Z1335,1 and Z808.
17 Mr. Breljas, it is the two lists of the
18 facilities. One of them is yours on December '93.
19 That one is signed by your colleague Cilic on the 24th
20 of April, '93. You said that some names appeared on
21 both lists. I should merely like to ask you to look at
22 the first list, Cilic's list, which is document Z808,
23 and look at the name in the upper part under 2, "Kolak
24 Lovro," and "Brankov" in brackets. Brankov in brackets
25 is the father's name. That is, I think, how we usually
1 do it; we put the father's name of the soldier in
2 brackets. Is that correct?
3 A. Yes, it is.
4 Q. And then we come across that same name in
5 your list under number 9, "Kolak Lovro," and then in
6 brackets it says "Marko," so that is not the same
7 person. Or perhaps it is a confusion?
8 A. Excuse me, sir. Listen to me. In Vitez
9 there are only three or four surnames, so whether he is
10 Marko or Marko, it is really very difficult to clarify
11 that. But be that as it may, my list is the list of
12 men killed in PPN Vitezovi, but when the Vitez Brigade,
13 somebody else started sending in their males into
14 Vitezovi, he was sent to Vitezovi and he was killed
15 with the Vitezovi, and that is how I filed him. And
16 then at the end, when I took it to the military
17 district, I realised then that he'd also been on the
18 roster of the Vitez Brigade. So, you know, I mean, he
19 was killed when Vitezovi -- and if the Vitez Brigade
20 also put him on his list, on this list, then I can do
21 nothing about it.
22 Q. Right. But from what you said, I gather two
23 things: Same first names and surnames are quite
25 A. Well, you have Ramljak, for instance. Half
1 of the Vitez military district is Ramljak. And then
2 you have to go into names of fathers, mothers. It's
3 all very difficult.
4 Q. Yeah, right, but will you please try to
5 answer my questions and then we shall be able to
6 proceed faster. There were also cases when soldiers
7 changed units, isn't it?
8 A. Yes, but that was towards the end.
9 Q. Thank you. So that would conclude that part
10 of my examination. But it reminds me: The list
11 mentions, and you also mentioned yesterday Plavcic, who
12 was killed near Novi Travnik. And I conclude from that
13 that the Vitezovi or, rather, that you are aware that
14 the Vitezovi also operated outside the municipality of
16 A. The Vitezovi, I don't know. I was not there
17 at the time. But the Vitezovi also operated in
19 Q. No, no, no. I mean the Vitezovi which had
20 its seat in Vitez, Kraljevic's.
21 A. Yes, I heard about that. I heard that, but I
22 don't know.
23 Q. But at the time when you were there, there is
24 no doubt that they were also in Novi Travnik?
25 A. They were -- the farthest they got -- what
1 was that place where the -- where the fire was set
2 afire? Yes, Opara. Opara, that is furthest they got.
3 And then on the other side, Prosje, something like
5 Q. Right. But that is outside the municipality
6 of Vitez?
7 A. Yes, it is outside it.
8 Q. Thank you. You yesterday told us, and it was
9 page 68, about a command of the Vitez Brigade, that the
10 Vitezovi -- according to which Vitezovi were made
11 responsible for catching the deserters or, rather,
12 draft dodgers, and to take them back to the front.
13 A. Yes, that is so.
14 Q. Will the witness be shown Z1279. It was on
15 another document produced yesterday. Will the usher
16 please place the English text on the ELMO. And you can
17 turn to page 5, the bottom half of the page.
18 A. The pages are not marked here.
19 Q. That's quite true. The Croatian version does
20 not have that. So will you please look at the last
21 page. But you should remind yourself who is writing to
22 whom. So who is this addressed to?
23 Page number 5 of this document, lower part of
24 the page. Last page of the document, usher. I'm
25 sorry, one before that, number 5. Right. And lower
1 part of the page to be -- down, down, down, down. This
2 part. Correct. Fine.
3 So, Mr. Breljas, we could see that this was a
4 document of the Travnik defence administration, and it
5 was a sector in the Ministry of Defence of the HZ-HB;
6 that it was signed by the head of the administration,
7 Anto Puljic. And on the last page I'd asked you to
8 look at, will you please look at item 4. It says:
9 "Owing to inefficient mobilisation, an order was
10 issued to the military police which brought people to
11 the front line but was inefficient because the military
12 conscripts abandoned positions without permission and
13 came back."
14 Then in 5 it says: "The Vitezovi special
15 purpose unit was successful in carrying out its orders
16 and brought all the military conscripts to the front
17 line. After this, unfit military conscripts were
18 released from military service completely or engaged
20 So it is quite obvious that some authorised
21 body issued a written order to this effect to the
23 A. That is not true, because such a written
24 order could have been issued only to me, or if they
25 bypassed me wrongfully and then reached someone else.
1 Whatever was done, illegally, unlawfully, I know
2 nothing about that. I was -- had nothing to do with
4 Q. But you said that the Vitez Brigade gave such
5 an order to the Vitezovi, and before that you also said
6 that Cerkez had issued -- had Cerkez issued an order to
7 the Vitezovi, they would have killed him.
8 A. I don't understand you.
9 Q. That is what you said yesterday. You are
10 affirming that the Vitez Brigade asked the Vitezovi to
11 capture the draft dodgers?
12 A. No. That is not what I said, sir. All I
13 said was that the name of the Vitezovi was to be
14 marred. And when people were fleeing, they were trying
15 to make Vitezovi go round the houses and thus tarnish
16 the image among the civilian population, that they were
17 the ones that were rounding up people and taking them
18 to the front.
19 Q. I see. So you are not claiming that they
20 were doing that on the orders of the Vitez Brigade?
21 A. No, I'm not, because I'm also claiming that
22 it did not come from Novi Travnik.
23 Q. Right. Now some minor things. Excuse me,
24 Mr. Breljas. I'm sorry. We can do this very quickly.
25 Yesterday you said certain things, and we
1 agreed that the Vitezovi Brigade was in the elementary
2 school in Dubravica.
3 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic,
4 I should like to ask the witness, Mr. Breljas, who is
5 it that wanted to tarnish the image of the Vitezovi?
6 You said that somebody was trying to tarnish the image
7 of the Vitezovi among the civilian population. Who was
9 A. The HVO.
10 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Why do you
11 say that? Why do you think that?
12 A. Because the Vitezovi enjoyed a major
13 reputation, and even today they are very famous. Yes,
14 they were perhaps slightly aggressive, actually at some
15 times rough, but they were the best soldiers in that
16 area. So when the HVO was taking over the command from
17 the HOS, they could not destroy that name, the name of
18 Vitezovi, and they had to first to raise it as high as
19 they could so as to bring it down as much. So that
20 they brought in moles to destroy that unit from inside,
21 such as Vinac and other people, and there were quite a
22 number of other people who were working in order to
23 damage the representation of Vitezovi.
24 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] So in your
25 mind, it is the HVO which conducted this operation to
1 tarnish the image of the Vitezovi?
2 A. Yes. That is correct. And to break down
3 that unit.
4 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Thank you.
5 MR. KOVACIC: If I may continue.
6 Q. [Interpretation] A place near Dubravica where
7 people gathered regularly, an alternate military
8 district command post, was in Kolonija, wasn't it?
9 A. That was before me, and after that it was
10 across the street from Vinac, in that other part where
11 the school was later on.
12 Q. But that is the same block of buildings,
13 isn't it?
14 A. Right.
15 Q. So the two of us know it. But a block is a
16 block of buildings within the town of Vitez?
17 A. Yes. That is correct.
18 Q. Now, another thing. Darko Kraljevic lived in
19 Rijeka, in the immediate vicinity of the military
20 station and Sumarija?
21 A. That's where his house was, but he also had a
22 flat in Vitez.
23 Q. Yes, but he had a house up there and his
24 mother lived there?
25 A. Yes, that is quite true.
1 Q. And his fellows, his men, all gathered there
2 and guarded the house?
3 A. Yes. There were some Vitezovi who were
5 Q. So we could say, tentatively, that those were
6 three principal places, the points where the Vitezovi
7 gathered and communicated?
8 A. Yes, that is quite correct.
9 Q. Now, in view of the beginning of this
10 story -- you couldn't remember the date exactly. I'm
11 referring to the 15th and the 16th -- you said that you
12 associated things with events. Now, would you perhaps
13 remember if on one of those days or, more specifically,
14 on the 13th of April, 1993, an attempt was made against
15 Darko Kraljevic's life in Kruscica? Subsequently the
16 information arrived that an attempt had been by Neso
17 Hurem, as the local MOS. Do you remember that?
18 A. I was not there at the time, but I remember
19 it. I wasn't there, and I can't really talk about it,
20 because I do not doubt details. Kraljevic would not
21 let people even talk about it later on.
22 Q. So it was before you arrived?
23 A. No. It was while I was in Zenica.
24 Q. Right. Thank you. You spoke about lighting
25 candles, paying homage to the dead on the 1st of
1 November, 1993, and you said that on behalf of the
2 brigade, it was Cerkez who came to light a candle.
3 That is correct?
4 A. Yes, it is correct.
5 Q. So could you please tell us first the day of
6 the dead, the All Souls Day in our parts and in Bosnia
7 and throughout Yugoslavia but especially in Bosnia.
8 That was a very important day, a tradition, and it was
9 always marked? Isn't it true?
10 A. Yes, it is.
11 Q. And is that why you organised it, as an IPD
13 A. Yes, it is.
14 Q. And a priest also came, didn't he?
15 A. A priest did say that he would come, and I
16 was there waiting for him until half past 1.00. And
17 then I went to have my lunch, but he wasn't turning up,
18 wasn't turning up, and then I grew hungry and I left.
19 And I left Miskovic's assistant there. So she was
20 there, and I went to have my lunch, and it was during
21 that period of time that a priest came or, rather, not
22 a priest but a friar.
23 Q. Right. But that was not the only place in
24 the Lasva Valley where homage was paid to the victims.
25 A. No, no, no. That was not the only place. It
1 was all practically the width and breadth of the
2 valley. But there were snipers and it was hazardous,
3 it was dangerous, and people were trying to find some
4 shelter where they would conduct the ceremony.
5 Q. And I suppose that you know that Cerkez came
6 to the place from another place like that, and then
7 went on to a third place?
8 A. I wouldn't really know, but I do believe that
9 that is how it was, because yes, he went to those
10 places. That is true.
11 Q. And tell us, do you remember if Cerkez was
12 wearing a black jacket on such an occasion? On that
13 occasion. Excuse me.
14 A. I think that he was wearing a camouflage
16 Q. But isn't it -- shouldn't it -- isn't the
17 black -- aren't black clothes prescribed when you go to
18 the cemetery on such occasions? At least, I mean
19 military black clothes.
20 A. I don't really want to insist on it, but I do
21 think he was wearing camouflage clothes.
22 Q. Right. Thank you. From your statements, it
23 was said that you agree that the only common higher
24 superior officer to Darko Kraljevic and Mario Cerkez
25 was Mr. Blaskic.
1 A. Listen. Mr. Blaskic held that post, but
2 nobody obeyed him, and nobody complied with his orders
3 until mid-1993.
4 Q. Right. But perhaps there was another person
5 who was their superior, superior to both of them?
6 A. Yes. That was Mr. Dario Kordic.
7 Q. You don't have any documents about that or
8 something like that?
9 A. Naturally, I don't, because he never gave
10 anything like that.
11 Q. So it would be just your estimate?
12 A. No. This is not an estimate. This is a
13 knowledge. This is an awareness that I have, but I
14 have no proof.
15 Q. Right. I will not show you an order issued
16 by Blaskic. We can let it be. But, Mr. Breljas, one
17 minor thing: Mr. Breljas, you told us about the
18 strength of Vitezovi, and in the end I should like to
19 ask you what is true and what is not. It seems to me
20 that something was omitted, though not deliberately,
21 but you will tell us. In your statement to the
22 Prosecution in 1998, that is the statement some 30
23 pages long, and you can look at page 15 of the
24 statement, you said that at that time, at the beginning
25 of the war, Vitezovi were some 367 men strong, and we
1 have it written out. So perhaps I should show it all
2 to you, and you will tell us what is true, what is
3 not. The English text, page 15. Then you say here --
4 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Kovacic, I'm finding this
5 difficult to follow.
6 MR. KOVACIC: I'm sorry.
7 JUDGE MAY: And you're also going rather
8 fast, if I may say so. Could you slow down a bit?
9 MR. KOVACIC: Certainly. Certainly.
10 Q. [Interpretation] The statement that you made
11 to the Prosecution in 1998. In the Croatian text it is
12 page 13. In the English text it is page 15. And you
13 said that there were 367 Vitezovi in the beginning when
14 you arrived, and that figure is written out in words.
15 Then yesterday you said that there were 180 of them,
16 sometime early during your testimony yesterday. And
17 the third figure is in the summary which the
18 Prosecution prepared for your testimony of the
19 7th December 1999, and that is you signed every page,
20 and item 5 says that the number was around 350. Then
21 you mention 180 of those who were in Dubravica.
22 Could you please tell us, at long last, which
23 one of these figures is correct?
24 A. Sir, nobody knows that. Not even Darko
25 Kraljevic would have the exact number. When I refer to
1 360 Vitezovi, I'm talking about those who are on record
2 and who are on Vitezovi rosters.
3 When I came to Posusje, I had about 400
4 Vitezovi on the payroll. Then I personally, and I was
5 in the barracks all the time, I knew that there were
6 never more than 180 of them in the barracks; that is, I
7 know of 180 Vitezovi. And all the other figures about
8 the payrolls, those who were at home, those who were
9 there on these lists in order to hide from other units
10 of the Vitezovi, I don't know them.
11 Q. Right. So at least we've clarified this.
12 And may I ask you, then, what does this mean? Because
13 in the next -- in the sentence it says that in addition
14 to a certain number of those who were members of
15 Vitezovi secretly. What does that mean?
16 A. Well, there were several scouts in Vitezovi
17 about whom nobody knew anything. And there were some
18 people illegally; that is, there were some who operated
19 illegally. Nobody knew about them either, even Blaskic
20 or Darko Kraljevic's superiors. Those were Vitezovi
21 who worked directly for Darko Kraljevic, until he saw
22 that everything was going wrong, that they were
23 beginning to drink and things like that.
24 Q. But you don't know how many of them were
25 there, roughly?
1 A. Yes, I could give you the number, but I
3 Q. Right. Thank you.
4 MR. KOVACIC: I would like if you could put
5 on the table in front of the witness the document we
6 saw yesterday, Z1153.1.
7 Mr. Breljas, you have the Croatian version of
8 the document. Can you see the Croatian version? Put
9 the English text on the ELMO. Beginning the first
11 Mr. Breljas, we saw this document yesterday.
12 Again, it is the Travnik Defence Administration,
13 Mr. Puljic writing to the head of the Defence for
14 Vitez, Mr. Marijan Skopljak. Is that correct?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And we see here a certain number of people,
17 eight to be specific, who were working on Vitez
18 television at the time, are now being assigned to the
19 Vitez Brigade; in other words, mobilised. The question
20 is the following: Do you know anything about the
21 composition of work platoons and the labour obligation
22 that existed at the time?
23 A. I do.
24 Q. Isn't it clear that this is what the document
25 is about: They were employed in the television, but as
1 of the 3rd of August, the need for troops increased,
2 the situation was becoming difficult, and certain
3 services that were not of vital significance were being
4 mobilised and sent to join the army?
5 A. No, that is not quite right. There was
6 Zildum, who was an honest person, a journalist, and who
7 couldn't get on with these other thieves, and he was
8 sent to command a reserve unit. But those who were
9 obedient, they stayed on.
10 Q. But a list is attached to this document with
11 some remarks, an attached page, attached paper. And a
12 matter at the bottom -- at the bottom of the document
13 is clear. A little bit higher, please. Okay. Fine.
14 Mr. Breljas, in the top part you have an indication by
15 hand, and then again for all of them it says, by hand,
16 "all to the front." So one can infer from this that
17 people who were working in the television station were
18 assigned to various military posts, they were
20 A. You are asking me things that I was not
21 interested in, then or now. What did I care about
22 these? I was concerned with the Vitezovi, and I can
23 tell you everything about them, but not about these
24 people. I really had no knowledge about them.
25 Q. But yesterday you mentioned a cameraman from
1 television as a brigade cameraman?
2 A. Yes. He was either a soldier or a TV
3 cameraman. I didn't call him a brigade cameraman. I
4 just said that a cameraman arrived whom I didn't know.
5 Q. So you don't know whether he belonged to the
6 brigade or not?
7 A. How could I know?
8 Q. Thank you. In point 23 of this summary you
9 said, and repeated yesterday, that Cerkez and Kraljevic
10 were schoolmates and that they knew each other well,
11 and you based their cooperation on that fact.
12 A. Well, they knew each other, they came from
13 the same village, they belonged to respected families,
14 and it was normal that they knew each other well.
15 Q. Let me ask you a few simple questions. Do
16 you know the age difference between the two of them?
17 A. I don't know how old Mario Cerkez is. I know
18 that Darko was 27.
19 Q. So the age difference is six years?
20 A. Very well. Six years.
21 Q. So then it is to be assumed that they didn't
22 go to school together?
23 A. I didn't say they went to the same form, but
24 I, as a child, and you, and all of us, some went to 8th
25 grade, others to 1st grade, in the same school, in the
1 same environment. Whether they went to the same school
2 or not, I really don't know. But I know that they were
3 good acquaintances.
4 JUDGE MAY: Let's move on from this point
5 about the school. The witness said yesterday that he
6 wasn't sure about the school.
7 MR. KOVACIC: Okay. Thank you, Your Honour.
8 Q. [Interpretation] On several occasions you
9 mentioned a person called Vlado Krizanac as a member of
10 the Vitezovi. Is this the one that was nicknamed Sidi?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. But he lived in Krizancevo Selo; you know
14 A. His house was there, but later on he moved
15 into an apartment in Vitez.
16 Q. So at the time of the outbreak of the
17 conflict, the 16th of April, he was in Krizancevo
18 Selo? That is only a couple of hundred metres from
19 your headquarters in Dubravica?
20 A. Let's say 500 metres.
21 Q. Not more than one kilometre.
22 A. Yes, one kilometre on the outside.
23 Q. Do you know that he was in Dubravica on the
24 16th of April, in the headquarters, in the barracks, in
25 the school, or was he on the front?
1 A. Yes, he was in the base in the school,
2 because Marinko Plavcic was at the gas station; this
3 was in the school. Vinac was --
4 Q. Yes, that is what you said earlier on in your
5 statement, but not in your testimony yesterday.
6 A. Yes. Yes, he was in the school.
7 Q. So to speed things up -- two pictures earlier
8 given as the evidence. Perhaps the witness could help
9 us with them.
10 JUDGE MAY: Yes. If they could be shown to
11 the witness and put on the ELMO too.
12 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Z21774 and
14 Q. These photographs were tendered with the
15 witness Lee Whitworth. Witness, these are members of
16 the Vitez Brigade. Can you recognise any of the
17 persons on this photograph?
18 A. No. The one in the middle is Ante Tikvic.
19 He is not a member of the Vitez Brigade but of the
20 Special Purposes Unit, Vitezovi.
21 Q. Yes, I apologise. I meant members of
22 Vitezovi. You know Ante Tikvic?
23 A. I know this one too, the one to the right.
24 And that one over there, that you can see only one eye
25 of, looks like Vinac to me, but I am not quite sure.
1 Oh, yes. And this one, of course, this is Niko
2 Krizanac. Of course I know him. And the one holding a
3 rifle, that is Niko Krizanac.
4 Q. And the one to the left, is that Jako
6 A. With his back turned. Wait a minute. Wait a
7 minute. I recognise him. That is Niko, Jako, Vinac
8 and Ante Tikvic.
9 Q. We can see clearly the patch on his uniform
10 that you described to us, but it is also clear from
11 this photograph that this patch does not correspond to
12 either of the two that we saw yesterday. They were the
13 patches under Z1530 and Z2790.
14 A. This is the Croatian coat of arms, I think,
15 slightly distorted, the Ustashas coat of arms with a
16 white background. It begins with three and four, and
17 then it gets wider and wider.
18 Q. But to speed things up, we agree that the
19 Vitezovi wore various patches, a wide variety?
20 A. Yes, of course.
21 Q. So, therefore, not only the two that were
22 shown yesterday?
23 A. The official was the PPN Vitezovi with a
24 Croatian coat of arms, but the people wore what they
1 Q. So can the witness be shown the second
2 photograph, please. So here. Can you recognise any of
4 A. Ante Tikvic is the first. Ante Tikvic from
5 Cajdras. I know this one too.
6 Q. Which one?
7 A. The one next to him.
8 Q. Yes.
9 A. I can't recognise this one. And the one at
10 the end is familiar.
11 Q. Is he the Krizanac from the previous
12 photograph with his back turned?
13 A. If that is him, then it is not Jako
14 Krizanac. In this photograph it looks like Jako
15 Krizanac to me, but here I am not sure.
16 Q. Anyway, these that you have recognised are
17 Vitezovi members?
18 A. Yes, the first two. Yes.
19 Q. Thank you. My last area would be to ask you
20 to identify for me some names, if you can recollect
21 them, members of Vitezovi. They are the names, most of
22 which have been mentioned in this case, but we are not
23 sure which unit they belong to. Dragan Vinac, you said
24 he was a member of the Vitezovi?
25 A. Yes. That is where the HVO started and that
1 is when he joined.
2 Q. But there is a Dragan Vinac from Donji
4 A. Yes, I heard about him. But that's the
5 problem, you see. You have so many people with the
6 same surnames.
7 Q. No, Dragan Vinac from Donji Veceriska, I
8 think that is one and the same man. Some others from
9 Donji Veceriska that I should like to mention that were
10 referred to indirectly: Josip Franjic, known as Jesus,
11 or Jesus, do you remember him, rapidly?
12 A. Now, wait a minute. I have to think about
13 it. I can't answer just like that.
14 Q. I apologise. I am just saying that you don't
15 have to give explanations; just try and remember, if
16 you can.
17 A. No, I'm afraid I can't recollect.
18 Q. What about Zoran Franjic?
19 A. That sounds familiar.
20 Q. Franjo Sapina?
21 A. Yes, I know him. He was Kraljevic's deputy
22 in the first period, wasn't he? No. No. He was a
24 Q. In the Vitezovi. All these are Vitezovi,
25 aren't they? Darko Drmic?
1 A. Yes, he's Plavcic's son-in-law, or vice
2 versa; I'm not sure. No, he is Plavcic's son-in-law or
4 Q. From Donji Veceriska?
5 A. No, from Dubravica.
6 Q. Fine. And Zoran Franjic, known as Goran?
7 A. I don't know where he is from.
8 Q. You don't know him. Very well. You
9 mentioned him in an earlier statement as a lieutenant,
10 as a logistics officer?
11 A. Whom?
12 Q. Zoran Franjic.
13 A. No. I mentioned Buha.
14 Q. No, wait a minute. Wait a minute. On page
15 14 of your statement.
16 A. Let me try and remember. Where is that
17 list? Alilovic was the logistics man. Alilovic, not
19 Q. I also have information that Marko Prskalo
20 was with you, working with you.
21 A. He wasn't in Vitezovi at all. There was
22 Stipa Batalja [phoen], who was in charge of the
23 warehouse, Jozo Buha.
24 Q. Witness Breljas, will you look at page 14 of
25 the Croatian version of your statement where you
1 mentioned names of members of the command. You
2 mentioned Zoran Franjic, lieutenant, logistics
4 JUDGE MAY: Just one moment. Page 15 of the
5 English, and it should be put on the ELMO so that we
6 can all see it.
7 MR. KOVACIC: I suppose so. You can use mine
8 if you want.
9 Q. [Interpretation] Witness, please look at page
10 14, where you see the list.
11 A. It's all right. I can read from the English.
12 Q. You start listing the people: Kraljevic,
13 Vinac, Sapina, Plavcic --
14 JUDGE MAY: It may be that this is important
15 at some stage in the trial. It may be simplest,
16 Mr. Kovacic, if you read out the list and so it's in
18 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. You listed as members of the command: Darko
20 Kraljevic, Dragan Vinac, Berislav Sapina, Marinko
21 Plavcic, Dragan Markovic, Zoran Franjic, Ivica
22 Alilovic, and your own name, Anto Breljas. That is
23 what you told the investigator. Is that what you still
25 A. Yes. I didn't mention Dragan Markovic and
1 Zoran Franjic. Miso Mijic is at the end and actually
2 he was always number 2.
3 Q. Miso Mijic has not been read out. Something
4 that I have in my notes.
5 Mr. Breljas, one more question for you, which
6 I have been prompted to ask by the question by His
7 Honour, the Judge. You mentioned that you had a
8 personal conflict with Dragan Vinac, the assistant
9 commander. Why?
10 A. I never was in conflict with him. However, I
11 saw that Dragan Vinac does not belong to the Vitezovi,
12 that he was only provoking problems and listing the
13 Vitezovi as thugs. There were very good guys in the
14 Vitezovi, very brave fighters, but he socialised with
15 all those who were looting, killing and causing
16 trouble. And I said to Darko Kraljevic, you know,
17 "Dragan Vinac somehow doesn't fit." And he said,
18 "What are you talking about?" But in fact he had
19 taken over command from Darko Kraljevic, and later on I
20 established why and how and whom he belonged to, and
21 this would lead me to much higher echelons which would
22 have far more serious consequences for me and for
23 people at much higher positions, so I wouldn't like to
24 go into it.
25 I have evidence that Dragan Vinac wanted to
1 destroy the Vitezovi, and he did do that and he
2 collaborated with Mario Cerkez and with Kordic. And
3 later on, when he saw that Blaskic had taken over
4 power, he joined Blaskic.
5 Q. So all this was your own assessment and you
6 conveyed your impressions to Darko Kraljevic. Thank
7 you. I have no further questions for this witness,
8 Your Honour.
9 Cross-examined by Mr. Lopez-Terres:
10 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. President, I have a few
11 points of clarification, after this cross-examination.
12 Witness Breljas, you spoke of the meeting
13 which was held in Dubravica between Dario Kordic, Darko
14 Kraljevic, Dragan Vinac, Miso Mijic and another person
15 you no longer recollect. You said that this meeting
16 was held during the night that preceded the attack on
17 Vitez and Ahmici. I am asking you whether you confirm
18 -- you are confirming that that meeting did indeed
19 take place in that night?
20 A. You see, there is something that both Defence
21 counsel confused me a little. The Defence of Mr. Dario
22 Kordic said that on the 16th I was picked up by
23 Mr. Stewart, that I had spent the night there and
24 things like that. And then Defence counsel of Mario
25 Cerkez said that on the 16th, in Dubravica, Kosina
1 [phoen] pointed his gun at me. However, there is a
2 very small possibility that either Zivko Totic was
3 captured on the 14th or what I said had occurred on the
4 16th. So there is a very small possibility, which I
5 exclude, but --
6 Q. But please answer my question, Mr. Breljas.
7 That meeting that you spoke about in Dubravica, I am
8 not talking about the date, I am not asking you the
9 name of the day. I am just asking you whether this
10 meeting in Dubravica took place in the night that
11 preceded the attack on Vitez and Ahmici.
12 A. Whether it was that night or the night after
13 the attack, I am a bit confused, to be quite frank.
14 Was it the first night of the attack or the eve of the
15 attack? I am afraid they have managed to confuse me as
16 to that date.
17 It is quite certain that Mr. Stewart did not
18 spend the night there, that I did not spend the night
19 in any kind of trench. That I can guarantee. I'm
20 quite sure of that. The only thing I'm not quite sure
21 of is whether that was the night after the attack or
22 the night prior to the attack. I'm not quite sure
23 about that.
24 Q. A further point of clarification. When you
25 say that you don't know whether it was the night or the
1 day prior to the attack, do you mean the night between
2 the 15th and the 16th of April or the morning of the
3 16th of April?
4 A. The point is that on the next day, the day
5 after that talk, I went to Ahmici. I went to Ahmici.
6 Ahmici had already been destroyed, which means --
7 Q. So that was the day after the meeting?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Very well. Thank you. We have just referred
10 to Miso Mijic who belonged to the secret service, the
11 SIS. Yes. You said that this gentlemen was frequently
12 in contact with your unit commander, Darko Kraljevic.
13 You never said that he was formally a member of the
15 A. He was always with Darko. He never separated
16 from him. Darko and he were always together.
17 Q. Did he wear the insignia of the Vitezovi on
18 his uniform?
19 A. I'm afraid I don't know.
20 Q. Did you see his name on the Vitezovi lists,
21 registers that you referred to?
22 A. Yes. He was on my list as a member of the
23 command. Darko Kraljevic, Miso Mijic. That is why I
24 always thought that Miso Mijic was Darko Kraljevic's
25 assistant. Later on I learned that Darko Kraljevic was
1 his assistant. I always had him on my list as a member
2 of the Vitezovi. There was Miso Mijic, Colonel, SIS,
4 Q. You saw the document that I presented to you
5 yesterday, according to which Miso Mijic appointed
6 Darko Kraljevic as his deputy in the SIS, which means
7 that one could be at the same time a member of the SIS
8 and of the Vitezovi.
9 A. Yes. And there were others who were also in
10 the SIS and in the Vitezovi. He was not the only one.
11 Q. Very well. Thank you. Mr. Breljas, do you
12 make a distinction between what we call the
13 administrative chain of command and the operational
14 chain of command in all military units?
15 A. Certainly. Of course there is a vast
17 Q. Would you agree with me that,
18 administratively, one can depend on Mostar and to be
19 under the command in Vitez of the sector when a
20 military operation is involved?
21 A. Yes. Certainly. Of course. That is how
22 things work, in fact.
23 Q. Thank you. You were shown some documents
24 this morning, the same ones I used yesterday. I should
25 like us to go back to one of them, document Z808. It
1 is the list drawn up by Mr. Zvonimir Cilic, the
2 propaganda officer of the Vitez Brigade. Z808. Do you
3 have this document now?
4 A. Yes. Yes. Yes, I have it.
5 Q. Could you please look at page 2 and tell us
6 what is the name under number 45?
7 A. Mile Vinac.
8 Q. And this person was apparently wounded during
9 the conflict and as a member of the Vitez Brigade. We
10 agree, don't we?
11 A. Yes. Yes.
12 Q. Thank you. I should now like to ask you to
13 look at another document which was also shown to you
14 this morning again, Z1279. It is a document dated
15 31st of October, 1993, drawn up by the defence
16 administration. Could you please look at page 5 of
17 this document, the point that was discussed already
18 this morning. And at paragraph 6, measures taken by
19 the administration. Do you see this paragraph?
20 A. Yes, I do.
21 Q. It is indicated, in the fourth line, that the
22 defence administration of Vitez was placed under the
23 provisional command of the Vitez Brigade. We agree on
24 that, don't we?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. So when the Vitezovi received the order to
2 bring conscripts back to the front, it was the Vitez
3 Brigade that had responsibility over the defence
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Thank you. Two final points of
8 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation] Thank you,
9 Mr. Usher. We're finished with that document.
10 Q. This morning another document was discussed
11 concerning people from Vitez television who were
12 mobilised to the brigade, and reference was made to one
13 cameraman during your cross-examination this morning.
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And in fact, in your statement and testimony
16 yesterday you always spoke of two different people, two
17 different persons, two cameramen.
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. The one you identified as having accompanied
20 you to Tisovac.
21 A. Stipovic, yes.
22 Q. Srecko Stipovic. You gave us his name and
23 you recognised his name on the document. You
24 identified him.
25 A. Yes. Correct.
1 Q. He was not on the front on that day. He was
2 with you at Tisovac.
3 A. Yes. That is correct.
4 Q. And then you also spoke of a second cameraman
5 who was to film the judge, Poricanin.
6 A. Yes. That's quite a different man, whom I
7 didn't know.
8 Q. Thank you. Did you know that Mr. Cerkez was
9 born in Rijeka? That is where Kraljevic lived, the
10 same place that Kraljevic lived in.
11 A. I know he was born someplace between the old
12 station and the centre of the town. I know that it was
13 in that area. Once somebody showed me Cerkez's house.
14 That is what I heard from others. I didn't know, but I
15 heard from others that Mario Cerkez's house was there.
16 And then a logistics man of his lived right next to
17 him. He had a house right next to him.
18 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation] Thank you,
19 Mr. President. I have no further questions for the
21 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Lopez-Terres, could you help
22 me with this: The Vitezovi, on some of these
23 documents, are referred to as "PPN."
24 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: Yes.
25 JUDGE MAY: What is the significance of the
2 MR. LOPEZ-TERRES: [Interpretation]
3 Mr. President, of course I don't speak the Croatian
4 language, but on the document shown to you as an
5 exhibit, you have the definition. It is an
6 abbreviation which means a special purpose unit, a
7 special unit, task force. In English it has always
8 been translated as a "special purpose unit."
9 JUDGE MAY: Thank you. Mr. Breljas, that
10 concludes your evidence. You are now released. Thank
11 you for coming to the International Tribunal to give
12 your evidence.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
14 [The witness withdrew]
15 JUDGE MAY: While the witness is leaving, we
16 were handed various statements which he had made.
17 Mr. Stein, yesterday, said he didn't want them
18 exhibited. Unless anybody else wants them exhibited, I
19 shall hand them back.
20 Mr. Nice, we've been given the summary of
21 Mr. Beese. Unless you propose to call him or ask to
22 call him next week, we've been given a broad indication
23 about that.
24 MR. NICE: I'll delay the calling of him for
25 a couple of weeks now, but may the summary stay with
1 you. I know that sometimes it's helpful to have the
2 summaries in advance.
3 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
4 MR. NICE: Indeed, I'm going to have served
5 on you the summary of (redacted), who I had
6 some hopes I might be able to call tomorrow, but I'm
7 not pretty well certain I won't be able to call
9 JUDGE MAY: Yes. It may be convenient if I
10 deal with our decision about the programme for
11 next week.
12 MR. NICE: Yes. And just before you do it,
13 in case it should have any bearing on it, I think that
14 the remaining evidence available, assuming I can't
15 whistle up (redacted) by telephone call now for
16 tomorrow, the remaining evidence, I think, will go into
17 tomorrow, but probably only just. I haven't checked
18 with Mr. Scott, who is calling the next witness, how
19 long he expects to be, but the third witness whom I'm
20 going to call and whose summary I will serve at the end
21 of this break will be very short indeed. I think we'll
22 just go into tomorrow. It would be nice to get
23 (redacted) over here, but although I contacted him last
24 week and had the number, he's not responding to the
25 phone number at the moment. So I'm not hopeful.
1 JUDGE MAY: Very well. Dealing with the
2 programme for next week, the issue arises whether we,
3 as two Judges, should hear the evidence under
4 Rule 15 bis. Mr. Stein, on behalf of the Defence,
5 raised the objection or the concern that Judge Robinson
6 would have much extra material to read.
7 I've taken the opportunity of speaking to the
8 Judge on the telephone in Jamaica. I passed on the
9 condolences which were expressed in Court yesterday. I
10 told him of the concerns mentioned about his having a
11 lot of material to read, extra material. He did not
12 regard this as a source of any difficulty, and he would
13 be well able to read the extra pages of transcript. In
14 our judgement, therefore, this deals with those
15 concerns and objections.
16 That being so, we have to consider whether it
17 is in the interests of justice, under Rule 15 bis, for
18 us to sit next week.
19 Given the length of time which this case has
20 taken already and is likely to take, and our duty to
21 pursue the matter expeditiously, we consider that it is
22 in the interests of justice to hear the evidence next
23 week, sitting as two Judges for three days, and we
24 consider it appropriate to apply the Rule.
25 Accordingly, we will sit next week for three
1 days, Monday to Wednesday, to hear evidence. Thursday
2 we shall not hear evidence, but it appears that it may
3 be convenient to have that time available for a Status
4 Conference, to discuss any matters which may be
5 outstanding, to hear what submissions we can. We can
6 discuss that over the next few days.
7 There is one additional matter about the
8 future programme, and it is this: That Judge Robinson,
9 in fact, will not be returning on Monday the 24th but
10 will return on Tuesday the 25th. Accordingly, we shall
11 not sit in this case on the morning, as it would be, of
12 the 24th -- there was only the morning available that
13 day -- but we will resume the hearings on the 25th.
15 MR. NICE: That's very helpful, Your Honour.
16 Next Thursday I think I shan't be here in the
17 afternoon, but in any event, it looks as though the
18 Status Conference will be likely to take place in the
20 JUDGE MAY: Yes, it certainly would. Very
21 well. We'll adjourn now. Half an hour. 11.35.
22 --- Recess taken at 11.08 a.m.
23 --- On resuming at 11.40 a.m.
24 MR. NICE: May the witness come in, but just
25 before he does, (redacted)
7 Mr. Scott, with more efficiency, will take
8 the next witness.
9 [The witness entered court]
10 JUDGE MAY: Yes, let the witness take the
12 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will
13 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
15 WITNESS: JOHANNES JACOBUS DE BOER
16 JUDGE MAY: Would you like to take a seat.
17 Examined by Mr. Scott:
18 Q. Thank you, Your Honour. Your Honour, it may
19 be that everyone in the Court already knows this, but
20 Colonel de Boer -- in my opinion, he speaks quite good
21 English -- prefers for these official purposes to speak
22 in Dutch. So we may have an additional layer of
23 translation to deal with.
24 Colonel de Boer, first of all, is your full
25 name Johannes Jacobus de Boer?
1 A. I am waiting for the interpretation.
2 Q. My understanding is there was going to be a
3 Dutch interpreter in the French booth, if I'm correct.
4 THE INTERPRETER: But from Dutch, Mr. Scott,
5 not into Dutch.
6 MR. SCOTT: All right.
7 JUDGE MAY: What's the position?
8 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, I apologise for the
9 difficulty. It appears that, if it's okay with the
10 witness, I put my questions -- if I understand
11 correctly where we are, I can ask my questions in
12 English, he can give his answers in Dutch, and his
13 answers will then be interpreted for the courtroom.
14 JUDGE MAY: The interpretation is only one
15 way, in Dutch to English?
16 MR. SCOTT: That's what I am hearing, Your
18 JUDGE MAY: Well, Colonel, I hope we can get
19 on like that.
20 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Your Honour.
21 JUDGE MAY: I am reminded to speak in the
22 microphone. I hope we can get on. I don't see that we
23 are doing very well so far. Let's start again.
24 MR. SCOTT: Sorry, Your Honour. I thought it
25 was all arranged. My apologies.
1 Q. Colonel, then, if at any time you don't
2 understand my English question, or if I am speaking too
3 fast, please alert me to that.
4 Colonel, is it correct then that your full
5 name is Johannes Jacobus de Boer?
6 A. Yes, that is correct.
7 Q. You are presently a colonel in the Dutch
8 Army, assigned at the Nederlands Defence College; is
9 that correct?
10 A. Correct.
11 Q. During the time, including November 1992 to
12 May 1993, Colonel, you were a lieutenant-colonel
13 serving as the commander of the 105th Dutch
14 Transportation Battalion; is that correct?
15 A. Correct.
16 Q. And from approximately November of 1992 to
17 3rd of May, 1993, you acted as the commander of the 1st
18 U.N., or perhaps UNPROFOR Transportation Battalion,
19 located or based in Busovaca; is that correct?
20 A. It is correct in that sense that I --
21 JUDGE MAY: Can we have the interpretation,
23 A. [Interpretation] And I left the area on the
24 3rd of May.
25 MR. SCOTT:
1 Q. I understand, sir, that before you arrived
2 for your full tour of duty in Bosnia-Herzegovina, that
3 in about July of '92 you visited on what might be
4 called a reconnaissance mission to orient yourself to
5 the area and prepare to move your unit into the area,
6 and at that time you met the mayor of Vitez, a man
7 named Ivan Santic. Is that correct?
8 A. That is correct.
9 Q. Let's clarify one point, please. In your
10 statement from 1995 you referred to having dealings
11 with a man named Skopljak. You recall that?
12 A. Yes, I do.
13 Q. Were you certain, or have you always been
14 certain that the person you dealt with, in fact, was
15 the mayor of Vitez?
16 A. I was certain that it was the mayor of Vitez.
17 Q. And on further recollection, have you in fact
18 remembered that the mayor of Vitez, in fact, was Ivan
19 Santic and not Mr. Skopljak?
20 A. I do not really remember the name meaning
21 that the mayor or, rather, the man I spoke to,
22 introduced himself as the mayor of Vitez.
23 Q. Very well. Let's move forward. Can you
24 relate to the Court a particular conversation you had
25 with the mayor of Vitez when you first arrived on this
1 reconnaissance mission in Bosnia in about July 1992?
2 And I don't want to get too much detail on this, but
3 can you relate to the Court any conversation you had
4 with him about a particular ethnic group?
5 A. Yeah.
6 Q. Please do.
7 A. Yes. During the conversation which I had
8 with the mayor, he said -- he stated that the Muslim
9 part of the Vitez population behaved hygienically, that
10 they were much below, much inferior to the rest of the
12 Q. And what was your reaction, sir, to
13 Mr. Santic stating this to you?
14 A. I was taken aback, but I did not react to
16 Q. Is it correct, sir, that after this first
17 meeting with Mr. Santic, the mayor of Vitez, that you
18 in fact, during your tour in Bosnia, had other meetings
19 or dealings with Mr. Santic from time to time?
20 A. That is correct.
21 Q. Is it correct, sir, that on one occasion
22 toward the end of your time in Bosnia, that is about in
23 the latter half of April 1993, is it correct that you
24 went to the Vitez town hall looking for Mr. Santic, you
25 saw HVO soldiers outside the building, a 20-millimetre
1 cannon located in front of the entrance to the
2 building, and you looked for Mr. Santic and found him
3 in the basement of the building?
4 A. Yes. That is quite correct.
5 MR. SCOTT: Your Honour, my continuing
6 apologies. Mr. Nice suggested that it would be better
7 if he didn't listen to his earphones in terms of the
8 English translation. It may be more confusing. I'm
9 not sure if that's the case, but it's coming from the
10 interpreters. I'm in the witness's hands as to what's
11 easiest for him, but I --
12 THE INTERPRETER: May we explain the slight
13 delay, because the interpretation is going into French
14 and from French into English. That is why there's a
16 JUDGE MAY: There's bound to be a delay. Let
17 us take things slowly but accurately, and particularly
18 to make sure the witness feels entirely comfortable
19 with the way things are being done.
20 MR. SCOTT: Thank you, Your Honour.
21 Q. All right. Finishing on that topic or that
22 item, sir, when you found Mr. Santic in the basement of
23 the Vitez town hall, he said something to you around
24 this time that the conflict between the Croats and
25 Muslims had intensified; is that correct?
1 A. It is.
2 Q. It is also correct that shortly after you
3 arrived in Bosnia, sir, you met another individual
4 named Zoran Maric, who you understood to be the mayor
5 of Busovaca, who at that time was wearing civilian
7 A. That is correct.
8 Q. Did you, during your time in Bosnia, meet a
9 man named Dario Kordic?
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. Did you meet -- I'm not going to lead here,
12 other than to point you to a particular date. Did you
13 first meet Mr. Kordic around Christmas of 1992?
14 A. Correct.
15 Q. Can you relate to the court, please, in your
16 own words --
17 A. Correct.
18 Q. Sorry. Can you relate to the Court, please,
19 in your own words, your interaction with Mr. Kordic at
20 that time? Can you tell the Court how Mr. Kordic was
21 introduced to you and the basic thrust of your
23 A. Sometime before Christmas 1992, I organised a
24 reception, I gave a reception in Busovaca, in my
25 headquarters. I met both the civilian and military
1 authorities of both sides, Bosnian Croats; that is,
2 Croats from Bosnia and Muslims from Bosnia, and we met
3 on the occasion of Christmas. I had invited both
4 parties on purpose, in order to show that my battalion
5 was an independent unit, and civilian and military
6 authorities were present from both sides, and even the
7 Muslim side were also represented by religious
9 Mr. Kordic was introduced to me by my
10 interpreter as Colonel Kordic. I had the opportunity
11 of talking to him for a certain period of time, and I
12 gained the impression that he was the military
13 authority or, rather, that he made part of the military
14 authority in the territory concerned, that is, the
15 Lasva Valley.
16 Q. At this particular time, Colonel, you were a
17 lieutenant-colonel; is that correct?
18 A. [In English] That's correct.
19 Q. Can you relate to the Court, please, could
20 you --
21 A. That is correct.
22 Q. Sorry. Can you tell the Court, please,
23 whether you observed or had the impression, in talking
24 with Mr. Kordic, whether he had any reaction to the
25 apparent fact that you were a lieutenant-colonel while
1 he was a full colonel?
2 A. My impression was that it amused him.
3 Q. Did you have any other impressions or
4 observations about Mr. Kordic's position or authority,
5 or his claims to having authority at that time?
6 A. Yes. My impression was that he did enjoy
7 that authority and that the fact that he had this
8 authority resulted perhaps in his slightly exaggerated
10 Q. All right. Let's move on, then, please. Is
11 it correct, sir, that during the month of February
12 1993, you noticed an increase in military personnel or
13 activity at something called the Bungalow restaurant or
14 hotel that was in the general Vitez area?
15 A. [In English] That is correct.
16 Q. You saw --
17 A. That is correct.
18 Q. You saw at that time that there were perhaps
19 15 to 20 military people there in uniform, some with
20 HVO patches?
21 A. That is true.
22 Q. I want to direct your attention now to a
23 second meeting with Mr. Kordic. Is it correct, sir,
24 that in March of 1993, General Morillon was visiting
25 the Dutch-Belgian Battalion in Busovaca, and while
1 General Morillon was there, the issue had come up -- or
2 excuse me, you had knowledge that the HVO were
3 allegedly holding three Muslim girls in the Busovaca
4 area; is that correct?
5 MR. SCOTT: I know what he said, but I'm just
6 waiting for the official translation.
7 JUDGE MAY: Let's move on. He said it's
9 MR. SCOTT: That's right.
10 Q. Going to -- well, around this time then, did
11 you have a meeting with Mr. Kordic about the three
12 Muslim girls?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And how did that meeting come about? Did you
15 initiate or ask for a meeting with Mr. Kordic, or did
16 he invite you to a meeting, or if you recall, if you
17 can just tell the Court the circumstances of that
18 meeting coming about?
19 A. When I say "we," I mean myself at the
20 battalion staff, so myself and the staff of the
21 battalion, the command of the battalion. So we decided
22 to establish contact with the HVO authorities in
23 Busovaca. And Kordic invited us to an operations room
24 in the PTT building.
25 Q. In Busovaca?
1 A. In Busovaca.
2 Q. And was General Morillon at the meeting?
3 A. General Morillon and myself went to that
5 Q. And when you responded to Colonel Kordic's
6 invitation, did you, in fact, go to what appeared to
7 you to be something called an operations room in the
8 basement of the PTT building in Busovaca?
9 A. Yes, that is so.
10 Q. And at that time, and at that location, did
11 you and General Morillon then negotiate with Kordic the
12 release of the three Muslim girls?
13 A. That is correct.
14 Q. Can you relate to the Court --
15 A. That is true.
16 Q. -- again in your own words, your observations
17 about the way that Mr. Kordic appeared at this meeting,
18 the way that he conducted the meeting?
19 A. When General Morillon and I entered, we were
20 received by Colonel Kordic, and a number of other
21 people were present in this operations room. All these
22 people were in camouflage clothes. I recognised one of
23 those individuals as the mayor of Vitez. What I was
24 going to say -- I mean the mayor of Busovaca.
25 Q. And who was that?
1 A. Zoran Maric, as I remember. His name was, as
2 far as I can remember, Zoran Maric.
3 Q. I apologise, Your Honour. One of the people
4 who were in uniform was Mr. Kordic; is that correct?
5 A. That is correct.
6 Q. Did you become familiar, during your tour in
7 Bosnia, with an HVO patch that had what I think
8 generally can be called the red and white checkerboard
9 symbol, used often in either Croatian or Bosnian
10 Croatian symbols or signs?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And did Mr. Kordic have such a patch on his
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Who conducted or led the meeting?
16 A. Colonel Kordic.
17 Q. Did Mr. Maric have any role in the meeting?
18 Did he say anything during the meeting?
19 A. He did not speak. He virtually said nothing.
20 Q. What was your observation of his demeanour or
21 behaviour toward Mr. Kordic?
22 A. I had the impression that he was his
24 Q. Did Mr. Maric in fact sit at the main table
25 with General Morillon, yourself and Mr. Kordic, or was
1 he located someplace else in the room?
2 A. He was not seated at the same table. He was
3 sitting on a chair against the wall.
4 Q. Now, as you are at this meeting, did you see
5 any maps, charts, diagrams in this operations room?
6 A. On the central table in the operations room,
7 at the table that we were sitting at, there was a map
8 of the Lasva Valley. Lines were drawn on that map and
9 I had the impression that those lines either
10 corresponded to the lines of separation between various
11 territories or were an indication of the advance lines
12 of the troops. And arrows were added to those lines.
13 These arrows were pointing at various small villages,
14 among them Ahmici.
15 Q. As a result of the meeting with Colonel
16 Kordic, were the three Muslim girls released later that
18 A. At the end of the meeting these three young
19 women were released.
20 Q. And from your participation and observation
21 at that meeting, can you tell the Court who made the
22 decision or issued the order that the three girls be
24 A. The decision was made by Colonel Kordic.
25 Q. All right. If we can move on, then. Is it
1 correct, Colonel, that these three Muslim girls, once
2 the decision was made to release them, were immediately
3 brought to your presence and released to you?
4 A. Yes, that is correct.
5 Q. Did you conclude from that, that these three
6 girls must have at that time been kept close by to the
7 meeting itself?
8 A. Yes, very close. Probably in the same
10 Q. The three Muslim girls, on being released to
11 you, said that they had been taken out of their house
12 before it was blown up, and they did not complain about
13 being mistreated or sexually abused; is that correct?
14 A. That is correct. That is what they stated
15 after I asked them about it.
16 Q. Is it correct, sir, that on the 17th and 18th
17 of April, 1993, while moving around the area, you saw
18 four dead bodies on the Busovaca-Vitez road, laying in
19 the parking lot close to the Catholic cemetery?
20 A. Yes, that is correct.
21 Q. You also saw across from the parking lot a
22 woman lying in the entrance of a house?
23 A. Correct.
24 Q. And these bodies were still located at the
25 same places or positions when you passed this same area
1 three or four days later; is that correct?
2 A. Yes, that's true.
3 Q. Is it correct, sir, that on the 20th of
4 April, 1993, you were making arrangements to hand over
5 command of the Dutch-Belgian Transportation Battalion
6 to Paulus Schipper, and you were essentially orienting
7 Mr. Schipper -- I don't recall his exact rank at the
8 moment, probably Colonel -- to the area around Vitez
9 and Santici?
10 A. Yes, that is correct. And Schipper at the
11 time was Lieutenant-Colonel.
12 Q. As part of your orientation of Colonel
13 Schipper, did you show him or point out to him the area
14 of Ahmici and make any explanation or statements to him
15 about what had happened in Ahmici in the several days
16 prior to this?
17 A. At that point in time we were moving where my
18 company was in Santici towards my headquarters in
19 Busovaca -- to my headquarters in Busovaca. As we
20 moved, we passed by the village of Ahmici. We saw
21 fresh destruction, as well as the five bodies that I
22 have referred to. Not in Ahmici, but along the road.
23 And I addressed Schipper and told him that in my
24 opinion this was the result of ethnic cleansing.
25 Q. Did you have an understanding that this was
1 ethnic cleansing done by one side or party or the
3 A. I think that the ethnic cleansing operation
4 was the work, in any event, of the Bosnian-Croat side,
5 because the five bodies were, in my view, the bodies of
7 Q. Very well, sir. And is it correct that you
8 left -- you completed your tour, in other words, and
9 left Bosnia on approximately 3rd of May, 1993?
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. And simply for the record, did you sign --
12 did you sign an outline that was prepared for you
13 yesterday, and in signing that were you able to verify
14 that all of it was correct and true to the best of your
16 A. Yes, that is correct.
17 Q. Thank you. No further questions, Your
19 Cross-examined by Mr. Sayers:
20 Q. Good afternoon, Colonel. My name is Steven
21 Sayers and I am one of the attorneys who represents
22 Dario Kordic. I have a few questions for you. The
23 attorneys to the extreme left here are Mr. Kovacic and
24 Mr. Mikulicic, and they represent Mr. Cerkez. I do not
25 know whether they will have questions for you.
1 Do I understand you that, with the exception
2 of the initial reconnaissance trip that you made in
3 July of 1992, that you spent a total of about seven
4 months as the commander of the 1st Nederlands Belgian
5 United Nations Transport in Busovaca, from November
6 until you left, as you testified, on May the 3rd, 1993?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And in the seven months or so that you spent
9 in Busovaca itself, do I understand you to say that you
10 only ever met Mr. Kordic on two occasions; twice?
11 A. Personally, yes.
12 Q. All right. Did you ever ask him whether he
13 had any military authority at all?
14 A. No, I personally never put that question to
16 Q. You never asked him what his relationship
17 with the commander of the HVO Central Bosnia operative
18 zone, Colonel Blaskic, was, did you?
19 A. No.
20 Q. Similarly, you never asked him what
21 relationship, if any, he had with the brigade that was
22 stationed in Busovaca, the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski
23 Brigade, did you?
24 A. Personally, no.
25 Q. You did meet Colonel Blaskic on several
1 occasions, did you not?
2 A. I think on two occasions I met him.
3 Q. And you had several conversations, I take it,
4 with the commander of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade
5 in Busovaca, Commander Dusko Grubesic; correct?
6 A. I remember speaking to other military people,
7 but I don't know if it was the person whose name you
9 Q. I would like to show you a document that
10 appears to be a chronology assembled by the Dutch
11 Battalion. It contains a number of documents. We have
12 received this from the offers of the Prosecution. I
13 don't know precisely what it is, but I'd like you to
14 identify the document, if you can, sir, for the
15 record. Thank you.
16 A. I shall try to do that.
17 Q. Thank you very much indeed, Colonel.
18 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Sayers, does the witness have
19 the original of this?
20 MR. SAYERS: I don't know. Perhaps I can ask
21 him the question, Your Honour.
22 JUDGE MAY: You merely got the translation.
23 MR. SAYERS: Exactly.
24 Q. Colonel, I'm afraid that we do not have the
25 Dutch original of these documents, if indeed the
1 originals were prepared in Dutch. I'd just like to ask
2 you if you recognise the document that I've just put
3 before you as a chronology of events and meetings and
4 duties performed by units under your command. It looks
5 as if the dates are from April the 1st, 1993 until
6 sometime in the middle of May 1993. So if it is a
7 record, it appears to be an extract.
8 A. I remember having seen a part of this
9 document in the file, battalion information, in the
10 logbook of the battalion. That part of the document I
11 handed over to the representative of this Tribunal who
12 interviewed me in 1995. And this document looks the
13 same as that one. The original document was in the
14 Dutch language. And this document, I do not find
15 anywhere the name of my battalion at the top of a
16 page. I infer from this that this document might have
17 been drafted on the basis of the material that I
18 provided. It could have been drafted with the help of
19 that document, but not necessarily so.
20 Q. Thank you, Colonel.
21 JUDGE MAY: The matter may be resolved in
22 this way: Maybe we can ask the Prosecution about
23 this. Is there any dispute, Mr. Scott, about this
25 MR. SCOTT: None that I'm aware of, Your
1 Honour. It did come to us -- what counsel has is the
2 same that we have. To be perfectly candid with the
3 Court, I don't have the Dutch original with me.
4 Presumably it's within the bowels of the OTP somewhere,
5 but there's not question for us that it is the record
6 of this battalion.
7 JUDGE MAY: Yes. It may be that at some
8 stage a comparison could be made to ensure that this is
9 the right document, but for the moment we can admit it
10 if that's what is asked.
11 MR. SCOTT: The Prosecution, Your Honour, we
12 have no objection.
13 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Do you want this document
15 MR. SAYERS: Yes, Your Honour, we would.
16 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
17 THE REGISTRAR: Document is number D150/1.
18 MR. SAYERS:
19 Q. Thank you for looking over the document,
20 Colonel. It may be helpful to keep it in front of you,
21 because I will be referring to some few entries during
22 the course of my questioning.
23 JUDGE MAY: And if we were to refer to it as
24 a logbook, would that be the right way to refer to it?
25 A. [In English] Yes, Your Honour.
1 JUDGE MAY: Thank you.
2 MR. SAYERS:
3 Q. Now, Colonel, did you keep a contemporaneous
4 journal yourself, separate and apart from this
6 A. Not myself.
7 Q. All right. You gave a statement to the
8 Prosecution, I believe, and I think you've referred to
9 this earlier, but just so the record is clear, on the
10 12th of April, 1993?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And you've reviewed that statement as you
13 prepared for your testimony today?
14 A. Yes. I reread it.
15 Q. Do you know, sir, whether the logbook
16 contains any entries regarding the meetings that you
17 have described, the first meeting with whoever it was
18 who represented themselves to be the mayor of Vitez to
19 you, Mr. Skopljak or Mr. Santic, or either of the
20 meetings that you had with Mr. Kordic about seven years
22 A. I don't know whether that appears in this
23 logbook. I am not the author of the logbook. A
24 logbook is a compilation, actually. It is the work of
25 the officer in charge of information in the
1 headquarters of my battalion.
2 Q. Would you, however, typically report any
3 significant meetings or events to your battalion
4 intelligence officer or information officer, who would
5 then be responsible for preparing the pertinent entries
6 in the chronological logbook maintained by your
8 A. As I moved around quite a lot, this officer
9 would certainly use the results of my trips and my
10 observations as a source of information, as one of the
11 sources of information at his disposal, and that is why
12 he would debrief me after such a trip.
13 Q. Thank you, Colonel. But both of the meetings
14 that you had with Mr. Kordic occurred in Busovaca, so
15 you would not have been travelling around at that time
16 and so you could have reported the results of those
17 meetings immediately to your intelligence or
18 information officer at the battalion; right?
19 A. The first meeting, I didn't have to report
20 about that meeting because he was present; he
21 participated. He did not take part in the discussion
22 that I referred to, but he was present during the
23 reception. And I didn't report about the second
24 meeting also because he was involved from the very
25 moment that preparations for the meeting began, as I
1 have described.
2 Q. All right. So your intelligence officer knew
3 about this meeting. He knew why it was being arranged
4 and he knew the outcome, which I take it you reported
5 to him following the meeting's conclusion.
6 A. That is correct.
7 Q. And this meeting occurred sometime -- we
8 don't know when -- in March of 1993, to your best
9 recollection, seven years after the event; correct?
10 A. Seven and a half years after the event.
11 Q. Did you refresh your recollection of this
12 meeting by looking at the logbook and seeing any entry
13 that described this meeting in it, sir, or are you
14 operating just on pure recollection?
15 A. I rely on my recollection, because I don't
16 have the logbook, either in the original or a copy of
17 it, and I was not able to consult it after a selection
18 has been made in the logbook.
19 Q. Just two brief questions in connection with
20 some of the entries in this logbook --
21 JUDGE MAY: Before we go on, is there any
22 entry about the meeting?
23 MR. SAYERS: No, Your Honour. In fact, it
24 appears that the logbook only begins on April the 1st,
25 1993, which would have been some weeks, at least, maybe
1 a month, after this meeting.
2 JUDGE MAY: That's a fair point.
3 MR. SAYERS:
4 Q. If you could turn to the entry for April the
5 25th, 1993, sir, and these documents were assembled a
6 little confusingly, but they have a number on the
7 bottom right-hand side, right-hand corner, I'm sorry.
8 The number is 00284440 and has the date at the top of
9 the page.
10 You were aware, were you not, that Busovaca
11 was the seat of the vice-president of the Croatian
12 Community of Herceg-Bosna, Dario Kordic? This is
13 actually referred to about halfway down the page.
14 A. Could you please repeat your question?
15 Q. Yes, sir, I will. Just reading from your
16 battalion's log entry there, it says: "Busovaca is a
17 village with a 95 per cent Croat population, where the
18 Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade headquarters, the old
19 post office, and the seat of the vice-president of the
20 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, Dario Kordic, is
22 Just one question. Were you aware that
23 Mr. Kordic was one of the vice-presidents of the
24 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna?
25 A. [In English] Not at that time.
1 [Interpretation] Not at that time.
2 Q. Were you ever aware? Sir, you wanted to say
4 A. Yes. I was saying that I think that I was
5 not aware of it at the time.
6 Q. Were you even aware that there was an entity
7 by the name of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna,
8 sir, at the time?
9 A. As far as I can remember, at that time it was
10 a kind of an attempt by Bosnian Croats. And how far
11 they had gone in achieving that objective, I do not
12 think I had any precise knowledge.
13 Q. Suffice to say, Colonel, that you did not
14 have any discussions along those lines with Mr. Kordic
15 regarding his position within the Croatian community of
16 Herceg-Bosna; isn't that fair to say?
17 A. That is completely correct.
18 Q. And one other brief question as we --
19 A. Yes, you can put it that way.
20 Q. You knew that the HVO commander in Busovaca
21 was Dusko Grubesic. And I'd just like to ask you to
22 take a look at the April the 20th, 1993 entry under
23 "Busovaca," and the page number is 00284431. There's
24 an entry in your battalion logbook that says at 1600
25 hours the HVO Busovaca commander, Grubesic, allowed
1 passage of traffic from both sides, but warned that he
2 did not have control of all of his soldiers and that
3 U.N. employees might be endangered as a result.
4 Just one question, sir. Does that jog your
5 memory as to whether you actually spoke with the HVO
6 Busovaca brigade, the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade
7 commander, a gentleman by the name of Grubesic?
8 A. As I have just explained, it is quite
9 possible that we spoke, but I cannot remember it with
10 any accuracy or with any certainty.
11 Q. All right. And a final question in
12 connection with these entries in the logbook. If you
13 would just turn to the entry under April 22nd, 1993.
14 There is a logbook entry referring to the HVO Central
15 Bosnia operations zone commander, Colonel Blaskic, who
16 charged his commanding officers with ensuring that an
17 agreement was implemented. And if you take a look at
18 the enclosure that immediately follows, it is actually
19 an order that is signed by that same person, Commander
20 Colonel Tihomir Blaskic. The question that I have for
21 you is: You were aware that Colonel Blaskic was the
22 HVO operational zone commander in Central Bosnia,
23 weren't you, sir?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. All right.
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Let me just step back a bit. You say that
3 you travelled to Central Bosnia to perform an initial
4 reconnaissance for your battalion in July of 1992, and
5 that you decided to meet the political leaders in the
6 town of Vitez. Do you remember that?
7 A. [No audible response]
8 Q. All right. In your statement you identified
9 the gentleman that you met on several occasions as Pero
10 Skopljak. Let me just ask the usher to put page 1 of
11 your statement on the ELMO. Do you have a copy of it
12 with you? If not, I can give it to you. You do.
13 Thank you. All right.
14 Now, sir, this statement was given about two
15 years after your tour of duty ended. Did this
16 represent your best recollection?
17 A. When the statement was given, it was right
18 before that statement. I was interviewed by two
19 gentlemen from this Tribunal and I told them that I had
20 met the mayor of Vitez, but I could not recall his name
21 any longer. And they indicated to me -- these persons
22 indicated to me that the mayor of Vitez could have been
23 called that.
24 Q. All right. Did you have an interpreter with
25 you at the time?
1 A. No.
2 Q. And, frankly, you cannot remember who it was
3 that you met? You do not know the name of the person
4 that you met, do you? I think you've already said
6 A. The person whom I met introduced himself, and
7 I am positive about that, introduced himself as the
8 mayor of Vitez, but I really cannot now give a name to
10 Q. Let's move on. You say that you had several
11 meetings with the mayor of, or the person that you
12 understood to be the mayor of Busovaca, Zoran Maric.
13 On page 1 of your statement you say that he appeared to
14 be the HVO commander of the Busovaca municipality. Do
15 you still abide by that view, sir?
16 A. That was my impression, and it has not
18 Q. All right. Just a few questions regarding
19 your impression of the HVO military chain of command,
20 sir. You were aware that the general staff of the HVO
21 was located in Mostar; correct?
22 A. No, I was not aware of that.
23 Q. All right.
24 A. No, I was not aware of that.
25 Q. If that's the case, then I will not ask you
1 any further questions on that subject.
2 In connection with the Central Bosnia
3 operative zone commander, Colonel Blaskic, you actually
4 met with him on April the 21st, 1993 to negotiate the
5 unobstructed passage of a convoy through a roadblock in
6 Busovaca; correct? And if it would help you, sir, you
7 might want to take a look at the logbook entry for
8 April the 21st, 1993.
9 JUDGE MAY: What page is that, please?
10 MR. SAYERS: 00284494, Your Honour.
11 Q. Here it says that Lieutenant-Colonel de Boer
12 went to negotiate unobstructed passage through the
13 roadblock in Busovaca with Commander Blaskic, Central
14 Bosnia HVO commander. And that's in April of 1993, the
15 21st, to be precise; correct?
16 A. Could you repeat the date, please.
17 Q. Yes, sir. Sorry. April the 21st, 1993. You
18 have the question in mind, Colonel, or would you like
19 me to ask it again?
20 A. Just a moment, please.
21 Q. Sure.
22 A. I've just read the paragraph. Could you now
23 repeat the question, please.
24 Q. Do you have a recollection that at 9.15 a.m.
25 on the 21st of April, 1993, you went to negotiate
1 unobstructed passage through a roadblock in Busovaca
2 with Commander Blaskic, the Central Bosnia HVO
4 A. I remember that at that time. Yes, that is
5 something that, yes, could have happened. As I have
6 just said, I -- I think that what was said was quite
7 correct. I think that the interpretation is not quite
9 Q. In what way, Colonel?
10 A. I will repeat what I said. I said that at
11 that time there were a number of incidents, as shown by
12 the document. I also remember that I tried, that I
13 endeavoured to conduct negotiations in order to achieve
14 the freedom of passage, freedom of movement. It is
15 quite possible that I was planning to do it with
16 Blaskic. I remember having discussed it with military
17 and, as a result of this, we did indeed manage to be
18 promised freedom of movement, but I have -- I have
19 certain doubts if the person that this was discussed
20 was Blaskic. As a matter of fact, I think that it was
21 not Blaskic at all. However, if what is said in the
22 text is correct, I believe that it is correct because
23 the text says what my intention was.
24 Q. Very well. As the Court has observed several
25 times, Colonel, this is not a memory test. All you can
1 do is give us your best recollection.
2 Let me just ask you a few brief, general
3 questions about the fighting that broke out around the
4 Busovaca area in January. You were actually present
5 throughout that fighting, were you not, in January
7 A. Yes, indeed, I was in the zone in Busovaca or
8 with one of my other units. And one of those units was
9 a Belgian unit, which was near Belgrade in January.
10 Q. And if I might just interrupt, and I
11 don't --
12 A. And that is how I went to see that unit.
13 Q. I was just asking you whether you were
14 present for the -- during the fighting in January of
15 1993 in Busovaca.
16 A. Present, yes. But where?
17 Q. Just a few general questions. There is not
18 any doubt that in the latter part of January the Muslim
19 forces, the ABiH set up roadblocks at Kacuni, and
20 during the fighting actually established control over a
21 significant portion of the main supply route from
22 Kacuni, just a few kilometres south of Busovaca to
23 Bilalovac, just north of Kiseljak; is that correct?
24 A. It is.
25 Q. There is equally no doubt that the ABiH
1 forces controlled the main supply route just to the
2 east of the Kaonik junction at Katici and Merdani;
3 isn't that correct?
4 A. That is correct, as far as I can remember.
5 Q. So the position is that the Muslim forces
6 controlled both parts of the main supply route, the
7 part leading from Busovaca to Zenica, and the part
8 leading from Busovaca to Kiseljak, leaving the only
9 portion of the main supply route that was under Croat
10 control that comes from Busovaca to Vitez; correct?
11 A. Yes, it is, I believe.
12 Q. And were you aware that to the northeast of
13 Busovaca the Muslim forces had launched an attack on a
14 variety of villages, including the villages of Dusina
15 and Lasva?
16 A. I'm not certain.
17 Q. You never heard about an incident in which
18 12 Croats were tortured and killed by members of the
19 7th Muslim Brigade on January the 26th of 1993?
20 A. I don't remember talk -- I never heard any
21 talk about that.
22 Q. According to the 1991 census, the village of
23 Oseliste, which is just south of Kacuni, immediately
24 south of Kacuni, was 100 per cent Croat. Isn't it true
25 that the Croats were expelled from Oseliste in late
1 January of 1993, sir, and that their houses were
3 A. [In English] I don't know that.
4 [Interpretation] I don't know.
5 Q. All right. Let me just ask you some
6 questions in connection with the meetings that you had
7 with Mr. Kordic, the first one being the reception that
8 you sponsored for representatives of the Croat side and
9 the Muslim side around Christmas of 1992.
10 A. That is correct.
11 Q. A large number of dignitaries from various
12 municipalities and from representatives of the armed
13 forces on both sides attended your function, did they
15 A. Indeed.
16 Q. And Mr. Kordic was one of those, and he
17 attended with his wife, I believe; correct?
18 A. Correct.
19 Q. Now, Mr. Kordic did not speak in disparaging
20 terms about Muslims to you, did he?
21 A. [In English] He never did.
22 Q. And in your statement, sir, of 1995, there's
23 no mention of the fact that Mr. Kordic was apparently
24 introduced to you by your interpreter as Colonel
25 Kordic? If you'd just take a look at page 2 of your
1 statement. I believe there's a reference to your
2 meeting with Mr. Kordic at the Christmas party that you
4 MR. SAYERS: If the usher could put it on the
5 ELMO, it would be helpful.
6 A. Yes. I'll have the text before me.
7 MR. SAYERS:
8 Q. There's no reference there to the fact that
9 Mr. Kordic was introduced to you as a Colonel, is
11 A. No. True.
12 Q. Now, the second meeting that you had with
13 Mr. Kordic is the one that you've described in March of
14 1993, and this -- the occasion of this meeting was a
15 visit to the area by the military commander, the number
16 one military officer of all of UNPROFOR in
17 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lieutenant General Philippe
18 Morillon; isn't that correct?
19 A. [In English] That's correct.
20 Q. And this was a high profile event in a small
21 place like Busovaca, the visit of an important military
22 officer such as General Morillon; correct?
23 A. It was the first time that a General was
24 visiting my battalion.
25 Q. As far as you know, Colonel de Boer, this is
1 the first time that General Morillon had ever visited
2 Busovaca; correct?
3 A. I don't remember any other occasion on which
4 he visited Busovaca.
5 Q. So it would be fair to say that this was a
6 big event and that there were a number of people
7 involved in the meeting that you described, both civil
8 and military, including the mayor of Busovaca, as you
9 previously identified, Mr. Zoran Maric; is that
11 A. No, it is not. General Morillon was coming
12 to pay a visit to my battalion, and this visit was
13 prepared in a manner which would ensure that he visits
14 the headquarters and then also visit individual units.
15 Initially a meeting with civilian or military
16 authorities had not been envisaged.
17 Q. I fully understand what you're saying,
18 Colonel, but the fact is that your intelligence officer
19 or your S3 operations officer contacted Busovaca
20 specifically to inquire about the three young girls
21 that you've testified about, and it was Mr. Kordic who
22 invited you and General Morillon and your entourage to
23 come to the operations room in Busovaca; isn't that
25 A. That is correct, yes.
1 Q. And not only Mr. Kordic was there; you've
2 also identified Mr. Maric as the mayor of Busovaca. He
3 was there too, right?
4 A. That's correct.
5 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Sayers, we have to adjourn
6 promptly. Would that be a convenient moment?
7 MR. SAYERS: Yes, Your Honour, it would.
8 JUDGE MAY: Colonel, we're going to adjourn
9 now. Would you be back, please, for half past 2.00,
10 and we'll continue.
11 A. [In English] Of course, Your Honour.
12 --- Luncheon recess taken at 12.58 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.45 p.m.
2 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Sayers.
3 MR. SAYERS: Thank you, Mr. President.
4 Q. Good afternoon, Colonel. We had just taken
5 our break as we were discussing the release of the
6 three young girls in Busovaca into your custody and the
7 custody of the Lieutenant General Morillon.
8 The girls told you that they'd actually been
9 well treated, not merely that they had not been
10 mistreated and not been abused; isn't that true?
11 A. [In English] That's true.
12 Q. And you don't actually know where these young
13 girls had actually been kept, do you?
14 A. No, I don't know.
15 Q. Just one question in connection with the map
16 that you observed in the operations room of the brigade
17 headquarters. The lines that you actually saw, sir --
18 and you may wish to take a look at your statement.
19 It's not actually numbered, but I think it's the second
20 page, the first full paragraph, the statement you gave
21 in April 1995. In that statement you said you thought
22 that the lines on the map depicted the HVO perception
23 of the confrontation lines with the Bosnian Serb army,
24 and that's still your impression today, isn't it?
25 A. Because I had the map upside down in front of
1 me at the time. I wasn't sure what the lines stood
3 Q. All right. But you did say five years ago
4 that you believe that these lines depicted the HVO
5 perception of confrontation lines or what the HVO felt
6 was the forward line of troops of the Bosnian Serb
7 army; right?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And you also gave testimony this morning
10 about arrows that you saw, but you stated five years
11 ago that you were not sure where the arrows terminated,
12 but you do know that they pointed either at Ahmici and
13 surrounding villages or past it.
14 A. That's correct.
15 Q. So you're not saying that the arrows actually
16 pointed at Ahmici today, are you?
17 A. No.
18 Q. No. Good. Just a few questions, sir, in
19 connection with this logbook and then I'll be through.
20 Were you aware that on the 14th of April,
21 just before the eruption of hostilities, four HVO staff
22 officers had been kidnapped in the Novi Travnik area?
23 A. No.
24 Q. If you could just take a look at the entry
25 dated April the 15th, 1993, and it's page number
1 00284425, paragraph 5. I'll just read it.
2 MR. SAYERS: The usher may want to put it on
3 the ELMO so that the -- we have an extra copy, so if
4 this could go on the ELMO, that might help out the
6 Q. Paragraph 5 says, under the "Novi Travnik"
7 heading: "The HVO and BiH accuse each other of the
8 alleged kidnapping of four HVO officers. Till today,
9 no incidents have occurred, but HVO checkpoints hinder
10 freedom of movement of Muslims. According to the BiH,
11 it is a false accusation intended to shed bad light on
12 the local Muslim units."
13 Do you recall any discussion of that
14 particular incident at all?
15 A. No.
16 Q. All right. Would it be fair to say, though,
17 sir, that in your experience it was relatively routine
18 for the Muslims to blame the Croats for incidents and
19 for the Croats to do the same to the Muslims?
20 A. It happened very often indeed.
21 Q. Actually, sir, you were present in Busovaca
22 when an entity called the Busovaca Joint Commission was
23 formed following the hostilities in January. Do you
24 recall that?
25 A. It was the ECMM, yes. Yeah, I remember.
1 Q. That was presided over initially by Jeremy
2 Fleming, I believe, and then by Mr. Mats Torping, and
3 then during your tour of duty I believe by Mr. Van der
4 Pluijm. Do you recall those being the presiding ECMM
5 monitors who presided over the proceedings of the
6 Busovaca Joint Commission?
7 A. The first two did that in the time I was
9 Q. Did you attend any meetings of that joint
10 commission, sir?
11 A. Never.
12 Q. If you could just turn to the next page, sir,
13 under the date of April the 16th, 1993, paragraph 5.
14 I'd just like to ask you whether you have any
15 recollection of an incident in which commander Zivko
16 Totic, the commander of the HVO Brigade in Zenica, the
17 Jure Francetic Brigade, had been kidnapped and four of
18 his bodyguards had been murdered, along with a
19 passer-by. Do you recall that incident?
20 A. I never heard about it.
21 Q. So you have no views on whether the
22 observation made in your battalion's logbook that the
23 direct cause of the fighting in the Vitez-Santici area
24 seems to be the recent kidnapping of the HVO commander
25 from Zenica in which four of his bodyguards and a
1 civilian were killed, and the alleged kidnapping of HVO
2 officers in Novi Travnik. That doesn't jog your memory
3 as to whether that was the subject of discussion with
4 your intelligence officer or information officer?
5 A. It may have been discussed internally, along
6 the channels of military security, but personally I
7 never discussed that with anybody else.
8 Q. So the observation made in the battalion
9 logbook concerns something about which you essentially
10 have no opinion, is that correct; i.e. the cause of the
12 A. That's exact, yes.
13 Q. Very well. The next entry I'd like to draw
14 your attention to is for the 19th of April, 1993, page
15 00284430, under item 3, "Vitez." The logbook from your
16 battalion discusses houses in Gornji Veceriska,
17 Podbrezje being searched completely, and then the
18 observation appears that most of the Croat villages
19 west and southwest of Zenica have been ethnically
20 cleansed. Did you ever see any of those villages, sir,
21 that had been ethnically cleansed, the villages
22 mentioned in this logbook?
23 A. No, I never visited any of those villages.
24 Q. Did you hear that such activities were going
25 on in the area of the north of Busovaca and to the
1 southwest of Zenica in middle of April 1993?
2 A. Not any other way than as it's stated here,
3 or as it's depicted here.
4 Q. All right. If you would just turn to the
5 next page, there's an entry under the heading of
6 Busovaca for the 20th of April, 1993, recording that at
7 about 4.00 in the afternoon the HVO Busovaca commander,
8 Grubesic, allowed passage of traffic from both sides,
9 but warned that he didn't have control of all of his
10 soldiers. I've previously been over this with you, and
11 you said that you did not have any recollection of
12 that. Who from your battalion did actually deal with
13 the brigade commander in Busovaca; do you recall?
14 A. I think that most of it was done by my
15 intelligence officer.
16 Q. All right. Thank you, sir. Moving smartly
17 along. I think I only have about five more minutes of
18 questions for you. The next entry is on page
19 00284433. At the top of the page there is a reference
20 to high-level discussions on the 20th of April, 1993,
21 at the BiH command in Zenica between General Halilovic,
22 the commander of the -- supposedly, the 3rd BiH Corps;
23 and General Petkovic, the HVO commander; and Colonel
24 Blaskic, the HVO Central Bosnia operations zone
25 commander; along with the UNPROFOR commander,
1 Lieutenant-General Morillon. Were you aware of those
2 high-level discussions going on in Zenica, aimed at
3 producing a cease-fire as a result of the mid-April 1993
4 outbreak of fighting?
5 A. Not when it took place or when such meetings
6 took place, but shortly after that, yes.
7 Q. All right. Did you ever meet either General
8 Halilovic or General Petkovic?
9 A. I happened to be once at the headquarters of
10 the 3rd Corps, but I can't remember any names of the
11 people I spoke to there.
12 Q. All right. Were you aware that General
13 Petkovic was the superior officer of Colonel Blaskic?
14 A. It seems to be obvious from the text, but
15 then I didn't know. I didn't know then at the time.
16 Q. Were you aware that Mr. Kordic was not
17 involved in any of the cease-fire negotiations at any
19 A. I didn't know. I didn't know.
20 Q. All right. Just a few final questions here.
21 If you would turn to the entry for April the 29th,
22 1993, page number 00284446. There is a reference to
23 the Busovaca area, page -- paragraph 3, rather, and the
24 village of Kazagici. And the entry states that after
25 the BiH had occupied the village, within 24 hours
1 severe damage to the houses was ascertained and almost
2 every house had been set on fire. Were you aware of
3 the damage done to Kazagici on the -- before the 29th
4 of April, 1993, sir?
5 A. No, I wasn't.
6 Q. And finally, the next entry is May the 1st,
7 1993. I think it's the two pages on from the one that
8 you have. There is another reference in Busovaca to
9 Commander Dusko Grubesic. But right beneath that,
10 under the paragraph 3, the heading for Jelinak, there
11 is a reference to about 10 or 15 houses in the Croat
12 village of Jelinak being set on fire. Were you aware
13 of that incident of arson, sir?
14 A. No, I wasn't.
15 Q. Colonel, thank you very much. I have no
16 further questions for you.
17 Thank you, Your Honour.
18 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, we will not have a
19 question in cross. Thank you.
20 Re-examined by Mr. Scott:
21 Q. I have about four questions, Your Honour.
22 Colonel, in reference to the questions about the
23 meeting, the two meetings you had with Mr. Kordic, and
24 your recollection of those meetings, I think we all can
25 agree that the statement that was taken in April 1995,
1 giving the account of these meetings, was substantially
2 closer in time than today; correct?
3 A. That's correct.
4 Q. And it was your testimony today that it was
5 Mr. Kordic who completely conducted and ran that
6 meeting and decided to release the Muslim girls; is
7 that correct?
8 A. Absolutely.
9 Q. Mr. Sayers asked me a question about who, if
10 it was not Colonel Blaskic, would have been involved in
11 clearing a particular roadblock, and you, I think -- I
12 think you expressed the opinion that you didn't really
13 think it was Blaskic. Do you remember those --
14 A. That's right. Yes.
15 Q. Do you have any recollection of who it was --
16 who else it might have been, or it was, other than
17 Colonel Blaskic?
18 A. I can't remember any of the names.
19 Q. Very well. Finally, just in terms of the
20 logbook. If I could ask you to look and, with the
21 usher's help, look again at the entry for the 16th of
22 April, 1993.
23 JUDGE MAY: Page, please.
24 MR. SCOTT: Yes, Your Honour.
25 Q. It would be -- the last four digits would be
2 Mr. Sayers had directed your attention to the
3 first part of paragraph 5, in reference to the
4 kidnapping. Let me please complete the reference by --
5 if I can direct your attention to the end of paragraph
6 5. Was that the assessment made by your operations
7 officer, the person preparing this log; that is that
8 the tensions between the BiH and HVO in Central Bosnia
9 resulted from attempts made by the HVO to form an
10 independent "Croatian community of Herceg-Bosna"?
11 A. I think that it is more likely that it is
12 from the intelligence cell in the BritBat, because that
13 cell was more -- most important source of information
14 and was used as him for such.
15 Q. It's fair to say that the various UNPROFOR
16 components shared information with one another?
17 A. Of course.
18 Q. And I think the final question is in
19 reference to the 19th of April in your log. And I'll
20 find the page number in a moment. It would be 4430.
21 If you have that, I would like to direct your
22 attention, sir, to item 3. And again Mr. Sayers made
23 reference to the Croat villages west and southwest of
24 Zenica. Two questions. Were you or anyone in your
25 command ever able to verify that that ethnic cleansing
1 had ever occurred, or was this just, as far as you
2 know, information that was being reported from some
3 other source?
4 A. My intelligence officer went together with a
5 member of the BritBat a couple of times. That means
6 that sometimes he was able to observe things himself,
7 but I couldn't tell you in any safe way that this was
8 of the incidents that he was able to observe himself.
9 Q. And my last question about that is: Was it
10 ever reported to you or did it ever come to your
11 attention the concern or allegation that the Croats
12 themselves had taken actions to move their own people,
13 that is Croats, out from that area?
14 A. I remember that throughout that period, the
15 period when we were there, such rumours were heard
16 regularly, but that came from all parties.
17 MR. SCOTT: No further questions, Your
18 Honour. Thank you.
19 JUDGE MAY: Colonel, thank you for coming to
20 the International Tribunal to give your evidence. You
21 are released.
22 THE WITNESS: Okay.
23 [The witness withdrew]
24 MR. NICE: Before the next witness comes in,
25 may we have private session for a short period of time
1 to correct something that was an error I made, and
2 indeed to deal with one other administrative matter at
3 this time.
4 [Private session]
13 pages 11916 to 11925 redacted – in private session
23 [Open session]
24 [The witness entered court]
25 JUDGE MAY: The witness take the
2 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will
3 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
5 WITNESS: CORNELIUS VAN DER PLUIJM
6 Examined by Mr. Nice:
7 Q. Your full name, please, sir. Your full name
9 A. My full name, Cornelius Van der Pluijm.
10 Q. Mr. Van der Pluijm, there is in Court, I
11 think, still an interpreter who can interpret from
12 Dutch into English. There is not, I'm afraid, somebody
13 available to translate from English into Dutch.
14 Accordingly, if you have any difficulty understanding
15 an English question, please ask us to repeat it or
16 rephrase it.
17 A. Okay.
18 Q. But if at any stage you wish to speak in
19 Dutch to amplify or clarify an answer, please do so,
20 reflecting or respecting the need for a small pause, a
21 little gap of time after you do so, so that we can
22 benefit from the translation.
23 I think you've been present at this building
24 yesterday, when a summary of your evidence was
25 prepared; is that correct?
1 A. That's correct.
2 Q. You are happy with the contents of that
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. I don't know if the witness may have it
6 before him. I don't know if there's any objection?
7 JUDGE MAY: Any objection?
8 MR. SAYERS: Not from Mr. Kordic's Defence,
9 Your Honour.
10 MR. KOVACIC: The same with us.
11 MR. NICE: I'm grateful.
12 Q. Mr. Van der Pluijm, a retired Major in the
13 Dutch army, were you head of the logistics for reserve
14 training at the Dutch army base, having worked with
15 infantry, mortar and logistics? Is that correct?
16 A. That's correct.
17 Q. Serving as an ECMM monitor from the 12th of
18 January to the 7th of April of 1993, and arriving at a
19 time when the situation between the Muslims and Croats,
20 particularly in the areas of Busovaca, Kiseljak,
21 Travnik and Novi Travnik, was tense; is that correct?
22 A. That's correct.
23 Q. How did you find the trust between the
24 parties? Use your own words, please.
25 A. Yes, I found out that they didn't trust each
1 other at several circumstances, but especially in their
2 promises to each other.
3 Q. Thank you. I am going to return to all
4 documentary matters in an orderly way in a few minutes,
5 and first of all go straight to paragraph 7 and the
6 paragraphs that follow that.
7 In the course of your time as a monitor, on
8 how many occasions did you meet Kordic?
9 A. I met him once and I saw him another time.
10 Q. When you say you saw him another time, in
11 whose presence was that, and where?
12 A. As far as I know, it was in a meeting in the
13 English battalion in Vitez with English Colonel
14 Stewart, with some members from ECMM, with Mr. Blaskic,
15 and with Mr. Hadzihasanovic.
16 Q. Can you remember now the content of that
17 meeting or not?
18 A. No, I don't know exactly. I can only guess.
19 So, no.
20 Q. I am turning to the second incident, the time
21 when you met him. Before I come to that, although you
22 may have difficulties in fixing the times of these
23 meetings, do you think they occurred before or after
24 the time when you went on leave on the 26th of
1 A. I think before the term.
2 Q. Very well. Let's deal with the meeting with
3 Mr. Kordic. Did this relate to the visit of a Dutch
4 General, General Maars, to your area of responsibility?
5 A. Yes, the General Maars wanted to visit the
6 Dutch battalion in Busovaca.
7 Q. What happened, so far as his movement was
9 A. I learnt -- I heard in the headquarters from
10 Dutch battalion that he was stopped at the checkpoint
11 on his way from Kiseljak to Busovaca. When I heard, I
12 met Kordic and asked him to stop this blockade and let
13 him pass to the headquarters of the Dutch battalion.
14 Q. Take that in a little detail.
15 A. I beg your pardon?
16 Q. We'll take that in a little detail.
17 Whereabouts did you go to see Kordic?
18 A. In his headquarters in Busovaca, in a
19 building in the centre of the village.
20 Q. Was he guarded or not?
21 A. Yes, he was guarded.
22 Q. When you got through to see him, was he alone
23 or accompanied?
24 A. He was accompanied. As far as I know, there
25 was also an English interpreter.
1 Q. How was he dressed?
2 A. I don't know.
3 Q. Civilian or uniform?
4 A. I don't know. I think -- no, I don't know.
5 Q. Did you have interpreter or interpreters with
7 A. Yes, I had two interpreters with me.
8 Q. Were they local?
9 A. One of them was local.
10 Q. Can you tell us anything about their attitude
11 at the time?
12 A. It was a Muslim girl, and she was afraid.
13 She had problems already near the entrance of the
15 Q. Did you explain the position to Mr. Kordic?
16 A. My position?
17 Q. No, the position of your General.
18 A. Yes, I explained it. And I said it was not
19 the way we had contact, to blockade this General on his
20 visit -- only on his visit to Dutch troops.
21 Q. First, what was his attitude? And then,
22 going on from there, tell us what happened and what he
23 did. Attitude first.
24 A. He found it not a big problem. He smiled.
25 And when he saw I was angry, he agreed to call the
1 checkpoint and to let the General pass.
2 Q. Did he make a phone call?
3 A. Yes, he made a phone call.
4 Q. In your presence?
5 A. Yes, in my presence.
6 Q. To whom did he telephone, as far as you could
7 understand it?
8 A. I think to the checkpoint, but I don't know.
9 Q. How long or short a call was it?
10 A. A short call. A few minutes.
11 Q. After that, what did he say to you?
12 A. "All arranged."
13 Q. And as you understood it from information
14 coming from your fellow --
15 A. Yes, it was arranged. Yes.
16 Q. And the General was allowed to pass?
17 A. Yes, he was.
18 Q. Paragraph 9. What was -- and again, don't
19 read slavishly from the summary, because the Chamber
20 would prefer to hear it in your own words. What was
21 the view you formed of Kordic's position, whether it
22 was military, political, or whatever you like?
23 A. I think he was an authorised civilian from
24 Busovaca and such, as a Major or some political leader
25 from the village.
1 Q. How, if at all, did his position interact
2 with Blaskic's?
3 A. I don't know. I don't know. I have a
4 meaning, but -- I don't know. It's only feelings.
5 Q. What did you notice about Blaskic in meetings
6 and about his exercise of authority?
7 A. Blaskic seemed to -- let me say it another
8 way. The other party was Mr. Hadzihasanovic from the
9 BiH. He took at those meetings decisions, and Blaskic
10 didn't not -- not always. It seemed as if he had to
11 call, and often he said so, to call and to advise at
12 first his commanders.
13 Q. Did he ever identify who those commanders
14 were to whom he had to refer?
15 A. Sometimes he mentioned a corps, but I don't
16 know which corps. A commander of a corps, but I don't
17 know which corps. I don't remember that.
18 Q. In the area of Busovaca itself, was there
19 anybody of the political nature superior to Kordic, to
20 your knowledge?
21 A. No, I don't know.
22 Q. Did you meet the defendant Mario Cerkez at
24 A. Yes, I met him, but not talked with him. Not
25 in a personal contact.
1 Q. What view, if any, did you form of him, and
2 explain why.
3 A. When I saw him, it was on headquarters in
4 Vitez. I am a soldier, and he also, but I don't think
5 that the discipline in that headquarters was very high,
6 because we could pass without any problems; the guards
7 was smoking. The guards, they were talking to my
8 interpreter, because of knowing each other, smiling.
9 Not disciplined.
10 Q. I'll deal with paragraphs 11 to 13 and then
11 turn to documents. Did you have observations of the
12 communication abilities of the HVO? If so, what were
14 A. Only telephone and mobiles. I've seen that
15 on headquarters of Kordic, but also during our meetings
16 with HVO and BiH.
17 Q. How easy or otherwise did it appear for the
18 HVO to make contact when they needed to?
19 A. Not difficult.
20 Q. In February of 1993 at, I think, the Busovaca
21 bus station, was there an exchange of some 200 people,
22 of whom the Muslims were mostly of non-military age,
23 being exchanged with Croats who had been held
24 prisoner? Was there such an exchange?
25 A. Yes, there was such an exchange.
1 Q. The condition of prisoners or people on both
2 sides being what?
3 A. From both sides people were injured,
4 maltreated. You could see that. In bad condition.
5 Q. At one stage, and as part of your monitoring
6 process -- process of monitoring prisoners, did you
7 discover that Dzemal Merdan's father was said to be
8 held in the local police station in Busovaca, although
9 the police chief initially denied having any such
10 prisoners? Is that correct?
11 A. That's correct.
12 Q. In due course, on your insistence, were you
13 shown two empty and then a third cell where Merdan's
14 father was indeed held?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. What was said about the nature of the person
17 in that cell?
18 A. I don't understand the question.
19 Q. What were you initially told by the police
20 chief or somebody on his behalf about the person held
21 in that cell?
22 A. At first he said they had no political
23 prisoners, only criminals. After that, when I
24 discovered Mr. Merdan, he apologised. He said to the
25 guards, "What are you doing now?" or something of
2 Q. I think Merdan's father was about 70 years
3 old at the time.
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Apparently had been kept for some time
6 without lights on and so on?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. We -- perhaps we can just go on to
9 paragraph -- perhaps I'll deal with paragraph 15.
10 On the 23rd of February was there a complaint
11 made to you by Blaskic about food for Croats?
12 A. Yes. That's right.
13 Q. You set out in the summary how that was
14 resolved. In the event, were food trucks searched at
15 an ABiH checkpoint?
16 A. Yes. That's correct.
17 Q. What were they found to contain?
18 A. They found grenades, hand grenades,
19 ammunition in those trucks, covered by potatoes.
20 Q. So to that extent the ECMM had been tricked?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Paragraph 18. I think there was one
23 operation where you were involved in the retrieval of a
24 body of a killed ABiH soldier from behind Croat lines,
25 and where you were assisted by an interpreter of Muslim
2 A. Yes. That's correct.
3 Q. When you approached Croats with a Muslim
4 interpreter, what happened to the interpreter?
5 A. The Croats recognised him as a Muslim boy
6 from -- a Muslim boy from Zenica, but he had also
7 apartment of a father, had also an apartment in a house
8 in Busovaca, and they started to beat him.
9 Q. In your presence?
10 A. Yes. Only once. And then I -- then I got
11 the man who beat the boy, and I did nothing but only
12 said, "Stop it," and he stopped.
13 Q. Paragraph 4, to begin with, on the very short
14 document examination. The first document has already
15 been produced and need not be referred to again,
16 although the witness deals with it in the first
17 sentence of paragraph 4.
18 Is it right that on the 30th of January, the
19 decision was made to set up the Busovaca Joint
20 Commission and that that was agreed to by Blaskic and
22 A. Yes. That's right.
23 Q. Very briefly, how was that commission to
25 A. We found out that only visiting the local
1 commanders, authorities, was not enough, and we created
2 what we called the joint commission to get the local
3 commanders together under our supervision to talk and
4 to make agreements. It was our own initiative. It was
5 not an order.
6 Q. Paragraph 14 for the next chronological
8 MR. NICE: May the witness have a bundle of
9 documentary exhibits, because I'm going to go through
10 them in order. If there's a spare bundle, it may be
11 the witness could have one to follow at his desk, with
12 the usher putting others on the screen, if there is a
13 spare. Then this makes life easier for everyone.
14 Thank you so much.
15 Q. Document 471 is, as we see, an internal
16 document, I think producing joint orders negotiated
17 under the chairmanship of Jeremy Fleming. Was he the
18 chairman of the commission?
19 A. Yes, he was the chairman.
20 Q. If we could turn to the second sheet. Turn
21 over to the next page, please. We can see that at the
22 meeting on the 13th of February, the team was formed
23 with decisions being made and joint orders being
25 What did you expect to happen as a result of
1 this, please, Mr. Van der Pluijm?
2 A. We had full trust about the results of this
3 commission, because both parties wanted to take a deal
4 to our meetings, with their highest local commanders.
5 Q. So what were you expecting? Were you
6 expecting peace to break out?
7 A. Yes. I thought, when we started, we have
8 ended the war in Central Bosnia. Both parties on one
9 line and in one office, and they said to us, "Yes, we
10 will do that. We are crazy to fight each other on this
11 way, and we will stop our cruel destroying, shooting,
12 burning," and so on and so on.
13 Q. We can see what was nominally agreed there.
14 In the event, did peace break out? Were commitments
16 A. No, not -- not at all. It's too heavy. But
17 not all the commitments were fulfilled.
18 Q. As between Hadzihasanovic on the one side and
19 Blaskic on the other, were they equally good or equally
20 bad at delivering on promises, or was there a
22 A. I have a personal interpretation, but that's
23 not real, I think. Both gave their full co-operation
24 according to the agreements. It appeared also in the
25 people they sent to our commission, Merdan, and Nakic,
1 and other representatives.
2 Q. You say you have a personal interpretation,
3 and it was for that which I was asking.
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. You were there. You saw what these people
7 A. It was easier to co-operate with
8 Hadzihasanovic than with Blaskic.
9 Q. Because?
10 A. Because as I told before. Hadzihasanovic
11 said, "I'll give the orders. Okay. We'll do that."
12 And Blaskic was always, "Yes. I have to talk with my
14 Q. The next document is 548.2, misdescribed in
15 paragraph 4 as 548.1, but it is that document. It's a
16 document of several pages. It's really included as a
17 background paper that explains how the Busovaca Joint
18 Commission was working and is available for those
20 If we turn over, for example, to the fourth
21 page, which has got the number 0475826 in the top
22 right-hand corner, it describes, under the present
23 situation, the physical arrangements for the joint
24 commission. At the next page it sets out those who
25 were supporting the commission, and deals with all
1 other matters relating to that commission, and I'm not
2 going to go through it in detail.
3 Am I correct, Mr. Van der Pluijm, that that
4 is indeed a description of how the commission should
5 have been working?
6 A. Yes. That's correct. Our superiors wanted
7 to know what we did.
8 Q. We go then to the next exhibit, 556.1,
9 paragraph 16. This, I think, is a joint commission
10 report. If we turn over to the end of the document,
11 which is under page 475817, are those signatures or
12 either of them yours?
13 A. You did ask --
14 Q. My mistake. Is it your report?
15 A. Yes, it's my report. I have, yeah, signed
17 Q. And are you here reporting on the fulfilment
18 of the joint orders that had been made a little
20 A. I don't know exactly -- understand your
22 Q. If you turn to page 475815 in the top
23 right-hand corner.
24 A. Uh-huh. This one. Okay. Yes.
25 Q. You see the conclusions that you then set out
1 as to the joint orders signed on the 13th of February,
2 recording that up and until the 19th of March, after
3 five weeks they hadn't been fulfilled, not even as to a
4 major part. Is that correct?
5 A. Yes. What's a major part? Yes, it's
7 Q. You see you record in the middle of this page
8 the continuing existence of mistrust and some hate.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. By this stage -- and we can find it in the
11 document, if necessary, but it's here to record
12 matters -- by this stage how was the progress with the
13 removal of checkpoints? How was progress with exchange
14 of prisoners?
15 A. The exchange of prisoners was, as far as I
16 could check it, and I checked personally with most of
17 the presence in the area, was really fulfilled, no
18 prisoners. Only in one prison I saw some, as they call
19 it, criminals, thieves and so on, and the other prisons
20 were empty.
21 The checkpoints almost changes every day.
22 Sometimes they were removed and after a few days they
23 were again manned. We succeeded in manning the
24 checkpoints by civil police and mixed police from
25 Croatic and Croatian Muslim side. Only -- I mean three
1 checkpoints in the area of Novi Travnik, Zenica, and
2 Vitez have been always there and manned by soldiers.
3 Q. The next document is 570.1, being an
4 agreement under the heading of the co-ordination
5 committee of the joint commission. Do you remember
6 this agreement?
7 A. Yes, I know.
8 Q. Tell us about it.
9 A. The joint commission was accepted at that
10 time by ECMM, and they accepted also the great
11 importance. So we got -- how do I say that -- more
12 important commanders, leaders, than we as a common
13 ECMM. And that was the result of -- that results in
14 the agreement signed by -- at that time, I mean --
15 Q. If you go over the following page, we can see
16 the limited number of signatures.
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Hadzihasanovic, Karic, Stewart.
19 A. And Jean-Pierre Thebault. I mean, that was
20 the head of the ECMM mission at that time.
21 Q. Was there much confidence in this plan?
22 A. Yes, as every plan we made, but we were often
24 Q. And so far as this plan was concerned?
25 A. It was at the end of my mission, so I -- one
1 of my -- now, the most important thing of my mission
2 was at that time to remove all the checkpoints, and
3 that was what I checked every day, and it was one of
4 the results were almost fulfilled. I already mentioned
5 the checkpoints were not removed.
6 Q. Part of your duty under -- or part of the
7 duties under this agreement was to investigate
8 complaints of harassment by Muslims. Were there much
9 such complaints?
10 A. Yes. There were complaints. It depends on
11 the location.
12 Q. Was there any particular complaint concerning
13 a Muslim on a bridge close to the camp, that you
15 A. On the bridge near the Dutch company, you
17 Q. Yes.
18 A. Yes, I heard they reported me that there was
19 shooting at a Muslim man on the bridge near the Dutch
20 alpha company in Busovaca. The man was killed.
21 Q. The final document, 573 -- final two
22 documents, 573,1 and 599,1. These documents --
23 THE REGISTRAR: I just want to inform you
24 that document 573,1 has already been numbered. So
25 maybe it can be 573,2.
1 MR. NICE:
2 Q. The documents that you have before you -- I'm
3 sorry about that. The documents that you have before
4 you, they tell us something about the state of
5 checkpoints at the time of your departure from the
7 A. All the checkpoints?
8 Q. About the manning of the checkpoints.
9 A. The manning of the checkpoints. One of them
10 -- subject from agreement was to man the checkpoints
11 by both parties and not by soldiers. Most of the
12 checkpoints were at the moment from my report manned by
13 civil police. And some of them also mixtured -- I
14 called that mixtured Muslims and Croats.
15 Q. So when we look at the document 573 with a
16 point 1 or point 2, if you look at that document that's
17 in front of you at the moment, and we look at -- first
18 of all, tell us what this document is. So far as you
19 understand it, what is this document, Mr. Van der
21 A. It's the document I made for myself to check
22 the checkpoints.
23 Q. The first entry is "NO2 Bilesevo," and then
24 there is a reference to civil police from the local
25 police at Kakanj. Interpret that entry very briefly
1 with the conclusion you've already told us about in
3 A. You mean that I have to declare or to say --
4 Q. Explain the entry, yes.
5 A. Yes, it's only -- it's on the road from
6 Zenica to Kakanj, half -- no, near Kakanj, and they had
7 just a little house in which they had their
8 headquarters manned by -- I said before, two policemen
9 from both sides, and some as a reserve in the house.
10 Q. So the presence of policemen -- sorry. So
11 the presence of policemen, as opposed to merely the
12 military, represented some progress for the joint
14 A. Yes, I think so. Yes.
15 Q. Then the last -- so that's one example. If
16 we go to the very last document, 599,1. Go over in
17 this report -- I'm sorry, my mistake. Yes. It's on
18 the first sheet. Effectively the second paragraph,
19 where you record or where there is recorded five black
20 points all on the HVO side. Just explain that to us,
22 A. We call that black point because they didn't
23 fulfill our agreements according to manning of the
24 checkpoints. A checkpoint manned by soldiers with
25 sometimes heavy weapons.
1 Q. So progress on checkpoints, but not complete
3 A. Yes
4 MR. NICE: Thank you very much. That's
5 all I ask of this witness.
6 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Sayers, will you be brief
7 with this witness, or will it be more convenient to
8 deal with cross-examination in the morning?
9 MR. SAYERS: I think, given the witness's
10 testimony, I can be brief, but I would prefer to start
11 tomorrow morning and go through my notes and eliminate
12 the irrelevant stuff. Thank you.
13 JUDGE MAY: Very well. Tomorrow morning.
14 Mr. Van der Pluijm, could you be back,
15 please, tomorrow morning at half past nine to conclude
16 your evidence. During the meantime, please don't speak
17 to anybody about it, and that does include members of
18 the Prosecution.
19 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
20 4:10 p.m., to be reconvened on
21 Wednesday, the 12th day of January,
22 2000, at 9.30 a.m.