1 Tuesday, 25
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.40 a.m.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours.
7 Case number IT-95-14/2-T, the Prosecutor versus Dario
8 Kordic and Mario Cerkez.
9 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Before we begin, there's a
10 matter I want to deal with, with the Senior Legal
11 Officer. There are matters of administration.
12 [The Presiding Judge and the Senior
13 Legal Officer confer]
14 Mr. Nice, just one matter which concerns the
15 trial before we go on with the witness.
16 I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, General.
17 There are some administrative matters which we're
18 having to deal with, but we'll start your evidence as
19 quickly as possible.
20 I think we left matters, when we had our
21 Status Conference, that there was a possibility that
22 we'd be starting the Defence in May. That may have to
23 be reconsidered. The work of the Trial Chamber, the
24 overall work of the Trial Chamber, is under
25 consideration, and the position is by no means resolved
1 in the way we thought perhaps it had been last week.
2 So I'm saying so that nobody should be under the
3 misapprehension that there will be a long break. There
4 may end up by being a shorter one. But as soon as we
5 have definite answers, we'll try and let you know.
6 MR. NICE: Thank you very much. And of
7 course, we know, as the Chamber explained, that
8 consideration is being given to breaking the hearings
9 of the Defence and, obviously, the earliest we can know
10 about that the better --
11 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
12 MR. NICE: -- for all sorts of reasons.
13 JUDGE MAY: That is the matter under
14 consideration, and it may be reconsideration.
15 MR. NICE: Thank you.
16 MR. STEIN: I'd like to throw our egg in when
17 we have a chance, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE MAY: If there's something you want to
19 say briefly, say it now.
20 MR. STEIN: The short of the story is the
21 longer you can give us between the close of the
22 Prosecution's case and the opening of our case, the
23 shorter our case will be. That's the short version of
25 WITNESS: DZEMAL MERDAN [RESUMED]
1 Examined by Mr. Nice:
2 MR. NICE: We left off last week looking at a
3 video which was defective to the extent that it had no
4 soundtrack. The Chamber expressed some concerns as to
5 the value of the video or at least that part of the
6 video that dealt with the interview of a soldier,
7 because the witness wasn't able to say whether this was
8 the particular video he had himself seen.
9 The video now does have sound. The position
10 is that the video will be laid before the Chamber
11 either through this witness, or if the Chamber rejects
12 that, as part of the material on international armed
13 conflict for it is to that issue that it goes.
14 I don't press the issue of whether it should
15 be played now. I'm entirely in the Chamber's hands.
16 It's through this witness it would be only of value in
17 that it is similar to if not identical to the video
18 that he had himself had seen.
19 JUDGE MAY: It perhaps fits more naturally
20 into another part of the case.
21 MR. NICE: It can come as part of
22 international armed conflict and will be presented as
23 part of the materials there.
24 JUDGE MAY: We'll hear it then or see it
1 MR. NICE: Yes. I think it will have to be
2 added to that body of material because it had formally
3 been counted as part of this. But we'll remember, I
4 hope, to deal with that.
5 May the witness, see, please, Z45,1, which I
6 think is in the stack of exhibits that the Chamber
7 already has. It's the identity card of a soldier.
8 Q. General Merdan, what, if anything, can you
9 tell us about this document, please?
10 A. I was given this document by a member of the
11 army of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. According
12 to that member of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ivan
13 Sarac was killed in the Brod area between Tisovac and
14 Podolci. And from what I know, his grave is there and
15 a monument has been erected to Ivan Sarac who was
16 killed there. His military document shows that he was
17 a member of the army of the Republic of Croatia.
18 I can also document it with a photograph of
19 the monument which was erected there.
20 Q. In the summary, we go to paragraph 41. Did
21 you represent the BiH side in the Busovaca Joint
23 A. I did, yes. Correct.
24 Q. You can answer any further questions from my
25 learned friends about that. What, if any, knowledge
1 did you have prior to April the 16th, 1993 of the HVO's
2 position of large-calibre artillery?
3 A. I knew that the HVO had large-calibre
4 artillery, and I knew about that since the late --
5 since late 1992.
6 Q. Where was that artillery situated?
7 A. Those artillery weapons were in the territory
8 of the municipality of Vitez, or better said, near the
9 quarry which is between the Vitez and Travnik
10 municipalities, and I think that that particular area
11 is part of the Vitez municipality.
12 MR. NICE: May the witness please have map
13 2781,2 again before him.
14 Q. In May of 1993, were you given some
15 responsibility for an aid convoy destined to go to
17 A. Yes, that is true. As the deputy commander
18 of the 3rd Corps, I was issued the order to escort a
19 convoy due to Tuzla from the area of Gornji Vakuf to
20 Novi Travnik, and then from the village of Sivrina Selo
21 to Zenica, and then onward to Tuzla within the 3rd
22 Corps area of responsibility.
23 Q. Can you just point out on the map and then
24 just tell us what, if any, difficulties or obstructions
25 you encountered?
1 A. In the area of responsibility where I
2 escorted the convoy, that is, the 3rd Corps area of
3 responsibility, I took over the convoy in the village
4 of Bistrica, Gornji Vakuf, and I escorted it -- I
5 followed it to the village of Opara or, rather, the
6 village of Trenica near Novi Travnik. And from Novi
7 Travnik to the village of Sivrino Selo, I don't know
8 what happened to the convoy. When I took over a part
9 of the convoy -- you cannot see the village of Trenica
10 on the map. It is not shown here where I left the
11 convoy, but you can see the -- you can see the village
12 of Sivrino Selo, when I took the convoy over again or,
13 rather, a part of the convoy, the one that had managed
14 to get through to the area.
15 Q. What should have happened between those two
16 places? Who should have escorted the convoy?
17 A. That territory between the villages of
18 Trenica and Sivrino Selo, through that area the convoy
19 was to be escorted by the Croat Defence Council because
20 that was an area where my life was in peril.
21 Q. You having left the convoy at the one village
22 and positioned yourself at Sivrino Selo to meet it
23 again, how had you got from one place to the other, as
24 a matter of history?
25 A. From the village of Trenica towards Sivrino
1 Selo, I took -- I walked -- I used mountain paths
2 towards an area called Mescema, Travnik, Ovnak, to
3 Sivrino Selo. That was the road.
4 Q. Part of the convoy arrived at Sivrino Selo.
5 What did you discover about the part of the convoy that
6 did not make it?
7 A. In Sivrino Selo, I learned from the drivers
8 who made it to Sivrino Selo that the convoy had been
9 attacked by the Croat Defence Council. Their lorries
10 showed signs or, rather, damage from light weapons.
11 The drivers were very sad. They were crying. They
12 could not believe that it could have happened.
13 As for the part of the convoy which did not
14 make it to Sivrino Selo, I really do not know what came
15 to pass to it. I suppose it stayed somewhere in the
16 area controlled by the Croat Defence Council.
17 Q. In September 1993, paragraph 44, did you
18 express your views on the Geneva Peace Plan?
19 A. I expressed my view about the peace plan,
20 yes, that is true.
21 Q. What was your view as to its possible
23 A. I was really doing my best to implement on
24 the ground all the peace plans agreed at the highest
25 level, and I tried to see the agreement enforced in
1 practice. However, in practice, we failed in
2 implementing the peace plans, particularly when it
3 comes to the joint command, the joint operations
4 against the Serb aggressive on Bosnia-Herzegovina.
5 MR. NICE: May the witness see Exhibit -- or
6 at least have before him Exhibit Z1226.
7 Your Honours, there are limits, of course, to
8 the value of the testimony of one witness on the
9 document of another. This particular one is an ECMM
10 report upon which the witness's comment might be
11 valuable. I think I'll probably avoid putting in the
12 others that are in the stack. 1226,1. If that's laid
13 on the ELMO, please, as it's in English.
14 Q. General Merdan, I'm going to read a passage
15 under an entry of the ECMM and just ask whether this is
16 an accurate description of your position at the time.
17 It reads:
18 "HCC met Mr. Merdan and discussed the
19 implications of the rejection of the peace plan. He
20 said the peace negotiations must continue. When asked
21 if the BiH might sign an agreement after further
22 territorial gains from HVO in Central Bosnia, he said
23 it was possible but such a peace would not last. He
24 stated that the Geneva plan was fundamentally flawed,
25 as it insisted on ethnically-pure republics. He went
1 on to say that the attempts of Mr. Abdic to establish
2 an autonomous province in Western Bosnia was motivated
3 by individual gain and doomed to failure."
4 Does that accurately reflect your view at the
5 time? If not, please comment.
6 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Mr. Nice,
7 could you -- before the witness answers, could you tell
8 the Chamber, which Geneva plan are you referring to?
9 What plan are you referring to?
10 MR. NICE: I would try to get the witness to
11 help us at this stage.
12 Q. Which plan were you referring to here,
13 General Merdan?
14 A. As far as I know, Mr. Izetbegovic and
15 Mr. Mate Boban had signed an agreement on the situation
16 in Central Bosnia, deciding to set up a joint command
17 to resolve the conflict between the army of the
18 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Croat Defence
19 Council. It is true that the peace negotiations about
20 which we learned in a third 3rd Corps command, we
21 commented on them, and I believe then and I still
22 believe and I'm positive that in that territory or even
23 beyond it, there cannot exist any ethnically-pure
25 It is quite obvious that in the areas
1 controlled by it, the HVO wanted to create
2 ethnically-pure territories, and this has never
3 happened in the history of mankind, and that is why I
4 firmly believe that ethnically-pure territories cannot
6 And regardless of the situation which
7 prevailed at the time, I tried to arrive at a peaceful
8 solution in that area so as to bring the number of
9 victims to a minimum, and I thought that any attempt to
10 create an ethnically-pure territory was doomed to
11 failure from the start.
12 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Excuse me,
13 Mr. Nice. I should like to ask the witness,
14 General Merdan, the plan which was signed by
15 Messrs. Izetbegovic and Mate Boban and your reaction to
16 it, could you put a date to it, an approximate date to
17 the plan and the time when you reacted to it?
18 A. I cannot recall the date when the agreement
19 was signed, because the Commander of the 3rd Corps
20 received the information about the so-called packet
21 link. And as for that peace treaty or, rather, the
22 agreement between Izetbegovic and Boban, I saw that
23 through the packet link. A document referred to the
24 establishment of a joint command and an attempt to put
25 an end to the conflict between the army of the Republic
1 of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Croat Defence Council in
2 Central Bosnia.
3 Q. The ECMM passage that I read out then, does
4 that accurately reflect your views at the time?
5 A. It does accurately reflect my views.
6 Q. Paragraph 45. Don't give the substance of
7 this until I've explored with you the route by which
8 you learnt of the information.
9 Towards the end of 1993, did you learn
10 something -- don't tell us what -- from a military
11 observer of what that observer had seen close to the
12 front lines of Santici and Sivrino Selo? Just yes or
13 no, please.
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. As related to you by the military observer,
16 was he telling you something he or she saw himself or
17 was it something that had been relayed to him or her?
18 A. I cannot recollect what the observer told me
19 at the time exactly, and I don't know how he learnt
20 about what he told me.
21 Q. The information coming to you from that
22 observer, how fresh was it in terms of was it something
23 that had happened the same day, the day before, or
24 weeks before?
25 A. I don't know which information you're
1 referring to, but I had contacts almost on a daily
2 basis with representatives of the European Monitoring
3 Mission and of UNPROFOR in the area. So could you
4 please clarify which report you're referring to? Then
5 my answer would be clearer.
6 Q. Yes. Something concerning Kordic, but don't
7 tell us what the content was for the time being.
8 A. A representative of the monitoring mission
9 told me that he had seen --
10 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... When he
11 told you what he told you, was it fresh information or
12 was it something that was already days old or can't you
14 A. I'm afraid I cannot remember.
15 MR. NICE: Your Honour, I'm not sure that
16 it's going to take us much further.
17 JUDGE MAY: No.
18 MR. NICE: Can the witness see, please,
19 1147,, please? This is an organigramme dealing with
20 the BiH 3rd Corps.
21 Q. Do you have a few comments on this, I think
22 by way of amplification or correction? We look at the
23 centre of the document, coming down from the top,
24 "Hadzihasanovic" and then your name, and then -- first
25 of all, your name has been misspelt. It should be
1 "Dzemal." The next name, I think, M-a-h-m -- what's
2 the next letter? Should it be an "U" or a "Y"? Yes.
3 A. "L". It should be"L". Dzemal.
4 Q. "Sakib" is Sakib?
5 A. "Majmoljin." In stead of an "N" there should
6 an "L," "Majmoljin."
7 Q. And two names down it should be "Dugalic,"
8 not "Dugavic"?
9 A. Yes. "Ramiz Dugalic," "L".
10 Q. If you look, please, to the right of the list
11 below that, right at the right-hand side where it's
12 just got a "X," what can you tell us should be there,
13 if anything?
14 A. That could be a command of the 3rd Corps with
15 units attached to the headquarters and linked to the
16 command of the 3rd Corps.
17 Q. Is the organigramme otherwise broadly
19 A. It is mostly accurate, only here we have an
20 indication of five operative groups, whereas the
21 3rd Corps had four operative groups rather than five in
22 this period of time.
23 Q. Thank you very much. Finally, can you,
24 please, from your experience, tell us what was Kordic's
25 role in politics or military matters in Central Bosnia
1 at the time you dealt with him, please?
2 A. In my deep conviction, and I have presented a
3 number of examples here in the Tribunals, is that Dario
4 Kordic had an exceptionally important role both in
5 political life and military affairs in the area of
6 Central Bosnia, particularly when important decisions
7 were being made, and it is my opinion that Dario Kordic
8 was the key figure at the time in the political and
9 military life of Central Bosnia.
10 Q. Thank you very much. You will be asked
11 further questions.
12 Cross-examined by Mr. Naumovski:
13 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] A few
14 technical adjustments, Your Honour. Thank you.
15 Q. General Merdan, may I introduce myself. My
16 name is Naumovski, an attorney from Zagreb. I'm one of
17 the Defence counsel for Mr. Dario Kordic. I've few
18 questions for you.
19 Before I start, some customary advice as we
20 know each other well and understand one another well.
21 I'm sorry. Please wait a few seconds until the
22 interpretation has been completed, and I shall be
23 patient and wait for the interpretation of your answers
24 before going on. Do you understand me?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. A few introductory remarks first. As stated
2 at the beginning, you graduated from the military
3 academy in Split. You graduated there at the naval
4 academy in Split, did you not?
5 A. Yes. That is correct.
6 Q. Your entire career in the former JNA was
7 served mainly in the naval/military area, as it was
8 known then, and one of your last duties was in the
9 brigade of rocket vessels or gunships, something like
10 that, in Split, was it not?
11 A. Yes. Before leaving the Yugoslav People's
12 Army, I was in Split, in the brigade called the Rocket
13 Brigade, rocket-armed gunships and boats, and I think I
14 was there until sometime in July, when the command was
15 transferred to the island of Vis.
16 Q. Quite. That was the time when the JNA was
17 preparing its attack on Croatia or, rather, the
18 beginning of the war in Croatia, because it was roughly
19 at the end of the summer in '91 that the war broke out?
20 A. Yes. There were combat operations ongoing in
21 the Republic of Croatia already, and the JNA had
22 already started combat operations at the time.
23 Q. You left the JNA sometime in November 1991 by
24 mutual consent, as far as I remember.
25 A. No, that is not correct. I left the Yugoslav
1 People's Army at the end of September 1991 and not at
2 the end of November 1991, and it wasn't by consent. I
3 was released. I had asked to be relieved earlier on,
4 but I was not granted permission.
5 Q. Very well. But we can agree that you left
6 the JNA after the war was well under way in the
7 Republic of Croatia?
8 A. Yes, that is correct. One could put it that
10 Q. Continuing this brief review of your career,
11 if I understood you well, on the 15th of April, 1992,
12 you became what was known then as the commander of the
13 Territorial Defence of the district of Zenica, the
14 former region of municipalities.
15 A. The dates are not quite correct. It wasn't
16 in April 1992. I wasn't immediately appointed
17 commander of the district defence headquarters of
18 Zenica. At that time on that date, I was a member of
19 the district staff, and later on I became the commander
20 of that district staff of Zenica.
21 Q. Can you perhaps give us a more precise date
22 when you became commander of the Territorial Defence of
23 the district of Zenica?
24 A. In June 1992.
25 Q. Thank you. On Thursday, I think it was, you
1 said that sometime in November 1992, you were formally
2 appointed to the 3rd Corps, even though the 3rd Corps
3 of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina actually started
4 operating on the 1st of December, 1992?
5 A. Yes, that is correct. The order was drafted
6 in November on my appointment, and the command of the
7 3rd Corps started operating on the 1st of December,
9 Q. You were later appointed deputy commander of
10 the 3rd Corps. For what particular area of activity
11 were you appointed? Did you cover a particular
12 department, if I might put it that way?
13 A. Within the system of control and command, the
14 deputy commander of a corps did not have any special
15 area of responsibility like the other officers did. He
16 was the deputy of the commander. He stood in for the
18 Q. Thank you. A few more questions regarding
19 the period between the time when you left the JNA and
20 your activities as deputy commander of the 3rd Corps.
21 Upon leaving the JNA, you were in contact
22 with Meho Karisik, I think his name was -- he was your
23 teacher in Split, I think -- regarding, as could be
24 seen later on, the question of the establishment and
25 foundation of the Patriotic League. I don't think we
1 need go into any details, but this is just a broad
2 question. Would you agree with that?
3 A. Yes, that is correct. At the end of 1991, I
4 got in touch with Mr. -- he is now deceased -- General
5 Meho Karisik, who was my teacher for a time at
6 the naval academy.
7 Q. This Meho Karisik was appointed commander of
8 the Patriotic League headquarters, formed sometime in
9 August 1991, was it not?
10 A. I don't know whether he was appointed
11 commander of the Patriotic League, but he did have an
12 important role in the Patriotic League.
13 Q. My final questions regarding the Patriotic
14 League. On the 7th, 8th, and 9th of February, 1992, in
15 a village called Mehurici in the Travnik municipality,
16 a military congress of the Patriotic League was
17 organised by Sefer Halilovic and a number of other
18 people. That military congress of the Patriotic League
19 was held in the house of Fikret Ajanovic, and that was
20 actually the first military consultation of regional
21 commanders of the Patriotic League for the whole of
23 A. Yes, that is true. At the time, a
24 consultation was held of the commanders of the
25 Patriotic League for various regions of
1 Bosnia-Herzegovina. I cannot remember exactly the name
2 of the owner of the house, but I know where the house
4 Q. The place of Mehurici is known in the
5 Federation as one of the main strongholds of the
6 Mujahedin forces, with quite a number people coming to
7 settle from outside Bosnia-Herzegovina?
8 A. I don't think that is quite correct. There
9 are no Mujahedin forces there, but it is inhabited by
10 mostly Muslim people.
11 Q. But to round off this set of questions on the
12 Patriotic League, since you are from Busovaca, I assume
13 that you know that a detachment of the Patriotic League
14 was formed at the time in Busovaca as well. The
15 commanders were Dervis Sarajlic, Senad Ekmescic,
16 somebody Abdulah Muminovic, and I don't know the other
18 A. Yes, that is true. There was a detachment --
19 not really a detachment, because "a detachment" means a
20 large number of people. A group of founders of the
21 Patriotic League did exist in the territory of Busovaca
23 Q. General Merdan, your rank is Brigadier-
24 General and you are Assistant Defence Minister of the
25 Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina for personnel, are you
2 A. No, that is not correct. I am a Brigadier-
3 General of the Federation's army, and I hold the
4 position of Deputy Assistant Minister. So I am Deputy
5 Assistant Minister for personnel, not Deputy Minister.
6 Q. Very well. But before that, you were head of
7 the department for military education in the Bosnian
8 component headquarters of the Federation army?
9 A. No, that is not correct. Before that, I was
10 Deputy Assistant Minister for the inspectorate in the
11 Defence Ministry, and before that I was head of the
12 department for military education in the Ministry of
14 Q. Thank you. You made a statement to the
15 investigators of this Tribunal in February 1995. That
16 was the one and only statement that you gave to the
17 investigators, not counting the interviews you had
19 A. Yes, that is correct. It was then that I
20 made an official statement for the Judges from The
21 Hague. At least that is how they introduced themselves
22 at the time.
23 Q. Were you a witness in any trial that is being
24 conducted against Croats in the territory of
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina, but primarily I'm referring to the
1 area of Central Bosnia?
2 A. No. This is my first testimony of this kind.
3 Q. During the time of the war, did you keep any
4 kind of diary?
5 A. I did not, but I did take note of events on
6 the ground.
7 Q. So you do have some notes that you took
8 regarding events that you considered to be important?
9 A. Yes. What I had time to take note of, I
11 Q. I assume you reviewed those notes before you
12 came to testify here. Do you have them on you,
14 A. I do have them on me, but for certain reasons
15 I have not had time to look into them in detail. I had
16 some private obligations to take care of.
17 Q. So you didn't have time to study them, but
18 you did review them in the interim from '95, when you
19 made your statement to the investigators, to the
21 A. I did review them, but I didn't study them
23 Q. Were only official data taken note of in
24 those notes, that is, things linked to your official
1 A. I took note of what I saw, experienced, and
2 had time to take note of.
3 Q. Yes, I understand. That's what I meant.
4 What I was going to say, there's nothing in those notes
5 of a private nature, of a personal nature, relating to
6 family matters. They relate exclusively to official
8 A. No, no. These are notes. It is not a diary
9 so there are private and personal things in there.
10 Q. Very well. Thank you. Let me ask you now a
11 few questions about the relationship of Mr. Blaskic and
12 Mr. Kordic within the frameworks of the
14 The first of those topics would be what you
15 said relating to the fact that Mr. Kordic stood in for
16 Colonel Blaskic at the tripartite talks held in
17 December 1992 at the airport of Sarajevo. Do you
18 remember what you said about that?
19 A. Yes. I remember very well what I said. The
20 only thing I'm not sure of was that it was in December
21 of that year, but, otherwise, that was how it was.
22 Q. You personally, General Merdan, were never
23 present at any tripartite talks which were also
24 attended by Mr. Kordic on the Croatian side?
25 A. No, I was not present at that kind of
1 negotiations, but I was present at other negotiations
2 between the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Croatian
3 Defence Council, which was also attended by Dario
5 Q. Very well. We'll come to those later. But
6 I'm now focusing on these negotiations at Sarajevo
8 If I understood you correctly,
9 General Merdan, you don't really know the real reasons
10 for General Kordic substituting for General Blaskic at
11 those negotiations?
12 A. I'm convinced that I do know the reasons. I
13 tried to convey them, because Dario Kordic was not
14 satisfied with the work of Filip Filipovic, who is also
15 a Brigadier-General today, and he dismissed him from
16 his position. And on a number of occasions I had the
17 opportunity to see that Dario Kordic would take over
18 the initiative and make the decisions whenever
19 something important had to be decided.
20 Q. I understood what you said, but please listen
21 to my questions and answer them briefly, because in
22 that way we will save time.
23 I just ask you whether you agreed with what I
24 said, and that is that it is merely an assumption on
25 your part why Kordic replaced Blaskic at that meeting;
1 that is, because of his dissatisfaction with
3 A. Yes, that is an assumption but based on
4 previous reactions of Dario Kordic.
5 Q. Do you know at all who proposed that
6 Mr. Kordic, together with Ignjac Kostroman, substitute
7 for Colonel Blaskic at the talks at Sarajevo airport?
8 A. No. I do not know that.
9 Q. Do you know that Colonel Blaskic himself
10 asked he be replaced at those talks?
11 A. I never spoke to Tihomir Blaskic about that.
12 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honours,
13 I wanted to show General Merdan an exhibit, D52/1.
14 However, since the General has agreed with me that this
15 was just an assumption on his part as to the reasons
16 for the substitution, I don't need to show him the
17 document. It is a letter by Colonel Blaskic, in which
18 he proposes --
19 JUDGE MAY: Very well, Mr. Naumovski.
20 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
21 Q. Yes. You told us, General Merdan, that
22 Colonel Blaskic, on a number of occasions, was unable
23 to make decisions and then Kordic made them. How do
24 you know that? I did not hear or, rather, Their
25 Honours haven't heard a single concrete example of
2 A. In my testimony, I said this on a number of
3 occasions. When I was captured and arrested. Also, at
4 meetings at which Blaskic was present and Kordic was
5 absent, Blaskic could not always make a decision on the
6 spot, especially when the decision was important. I
7 said that he always had to consult somebody, and my
8 assumptions are based on what I personally experienced
9 and saw, and I spoke about those things at some
11 Q. Correct. You did speak about those things,
12 but you said that he had to consult somebody, and as
13 far as I understood you, we assumed that he did consult
14 someone. But you yourself said that you know that his
15 superior was the commander of the HVO headquarters,
16 Brigadier Milivoj Petkovic. So he may have consulted
17 him. Would you agree with me?
18 A. In the system of control and command, Milivoj
19 Petkovic was portrayed in that way, the way you have
20 put it, but I think that in practice, it was not always
21 the case.
22 Q. Very well. Let us not debate this any
23 further. I have my opinion; you have yours. But would
24 you agree with me that you do not, in reality, in
25 concrete terms, know who Blaskic consulted on any of
1 these issues?
2 A. Yes. I do know that regarding specific
3 issues, Blaskic consulted Dario Kordic.
4 Q. Give us an example, please.
5 A. An example is my arrest.
6 Q. Do you have any other example apart from your
8 A. No. I do not have any proof, because I do
9 not know who was at the other end of the line and how
10 the conversation went with Blaskic when Blaskic was
11 talking with someone.
12 Q. Very well. Thank you. Let's move on. Once
13 again connected to Mr. Kordic -- I'm continuing my
14 questions on that subject -- you mentioned that
15 sometime in January 1992, you say that there was a
16 celebration of the electoral victory of the HDZ.
17 Mr. Kordic made a speech in Busovaca, at a meeting
18 there. Do you recall that event?
19 A. Yes. I said that I saw a tape which was
20 filmed at the time. It was a videotape which exists in
21 the archives. But I was not present in the hall in
22 which Kordic made his speech, but there is a videotape
23 in the archives of that.
24 Q. I agree with you on that score, yes.
25 However, it was not the celebration of an electoral
1 victory of the HDZ, because the elections took place in
2 1990, in November. This was another celebration which
3 took place in Busovaca to celebrate the recognition of
4 Croatia as an international state, an internationally
5 recognised state, and this was on the 16th of January,
7 A. I cannot recall the date, because I wasn't
8 present, as I said. But I did say that I saw the
9 videotape which was filmed on the occasion, and I would
10 like to see the tape again so that I can confirm
11 whether I had seen it or not, if that is possible.
12 Q. General Merdan, you told us here that on that
13 particular tape, the one that you have mentioned, and
14 that is the only event that took place in January 1992
15 where there were a lot of people gathered for a
16 celebration, there weren't any other events, I can
17 assume that we're talking about the same event, and you
18 say that Mr. Kordic stated something to the effect,
19 "We're going to live now in a common state, in one
20 state, a single state, the State of Croatia." That is
21 the gist of your quotation.
22 I would like to ask you the following: Are
23 you quite certain that that statement was made by
24 Mr. Kordic himself?
25 A. Mr. Kordic, on several occasions, spoke of --
1 Q. I apologise for interrupting you, but I'm
2 just talking about that particular date, January 1992,
3 not any other events. That particular date.
4 A. I saw the videotape. I did not have occasion
5 to see it again, but it does -- but Dario Kordic's
6 speeches were intoned in that particular manner.
7 Q. Yes, but at that meeting he did not state
8 that. Another speaker said that, not Mr. Kordic. That
9 is what I am putting to you.
10 A. Well, we can look at the tape.
11 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honours,
12 the tape was shown. It was Z2699.
13 JUDGE MAY: We have the tape. We've seen
14 it. And rather than relying on secondhand evidence
15 about it, we'll rely on the tape itself. There is no
16 need to continue the questioning on this particular
18 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you,
19 Your Honours. That is precisely what I myself wished
20 to propose.
21 Q. So we can skip that bit now and move on,
22 General. Mr. Kordic and some events in Busovaca,
23 that's what we're going to talk about. You mentioned
24 the takeover of the barracks, the Draga barracks in
25 Busovaca. That took place on the 26th of April, 1992.
1 You were present on the occasion. You were in the
2 courtyard, I believe. Do you recall that, General?
3 A. Yes, I do remember the event. I was near the
4 courtyard; that is to say, near the barracks and the
5 courtyard that you mentioned, in that particular
7 Q. There were a lot of people there, were there
8 not? However, nobody, except an official delegation,
9 was allowed to enter the barracks, but this duty was
10 only assigned to the commission, the JNA on the
11 one-hand side and the other party, the representatives
12 of the Croats and Muslims from Busovaca who were to
13 take it over. Do you agree with me?
14 A. No, I don't agree with you. The decision, I
15 suppose, was taken by somebody else, but the decision
16 of the wartime presidency at which I was presented did
17 not take that kind of decision.
18 Q. Who was the leader of the delegation who was
19 to take over the barracks to represent the Busovaca
20 side, if I can put it that way? If you remember, of
22 A. While the war presidency was in session, I
23 cannot recall exactly who said that the barracks were
24 already being taken over, but from the meeting of the
25 war presidency, at the time the legal organ of power
1 and authority in the Busovaca area, we moved towards
2 the Draga barracks, and at the head of this team was
3 the president of the wartime presidency, Mr. Zoran
4 Maric. He led the group. When we came to the barracks
5 and wanted to enter, the soldier there did not allow us
6 to enter. He was a soldier of the Croat Defence
7 council. And I noticed inside Dario Kordic, who was in
9 Q. I've already said that there were a lot of
10 people from Busovaca present because this was an
11 exceptional event, because it meant finally the JNA
12 would leave the area. But what I wanted to ask you, in
13 fact, is whether you know -- perhaps I'm going to
14 remind you of this in asking my question -- that the
15 president, if I may call him that, of that joint
16 delegation which took over from the Busovaca side, this
17 particular barracks, was Mr. Florijan Glavocevic. He
18 signed the minutes and he escorted, if I can use that
19 term, the JNA as they were leaving the Busovaca area.
20 Have I jogged your memory somewhat?
21 A. Well, this event took place later on. You
22 are speaking about our arrival in front of the
23 barracks, and my own arrival in front of the barracks.
24 What you're talking about is another event. They are
25 two different events which took place on the same day.
1 Q. Very well. If I have made a mistake I do
2 apologise, but I think it took place at the same time
3 you were there, when Mr. Glavocevic toured the barracks
4 with somebody else -- I don't know what his rank was
5 but he was a representative of the JNA -- in blue
6 uniforms, and he took over the barracks. I'm thinking
7 about that event which took place in the early hours of
8 the afternoon on the 26th of April, 1992.
9 A. Well, I'm just telling you about what saw
10 when I was present. So I'm talking about the wartime
11 presidency meeting and the arrival of the war
12 presidency on the spot. I was refused entry into the
13 barracks as a member of the war presidency. Now, who
14 toured the barracks later on, these facilities, I
15 wasn't able to see because I wasn't able to enter the
17 Q. Very well then. I have just one more
18 question in that regard. Do you remember at all
19 whether Mr. Florijan Glavocevic was there wearing a
20 civilian suit and a tie? If you don't, say so.
21 A. Yes, I do remember that Mr. Glavocevic was
22 wearing a civilian suit and that he was not in
24 Q. Thank you, General. You have been using the
25 term "war presidency." In fact, it was not a wartime
1 presidency, if we have in mind the same body of
2 authority, and I can only assume that we are thinking
3 of the same organisation. The municipality elected
4 what was called a crisis staff. So what you mean, in
5 fact, is the crisis staff led by a Croat, the former
6 mayor Zoran Maric. And his deputy was a Muslim, the
7 president of the executive board of the Municipal
8 Assembly of Busovaca Mr. Asim Sunulahpasic. I think
9 that you have in mind that particular body.
10 A. Well, I think it was the war presidency at
11 that time, that it was called the war presidency of the
12 municipality at that time.
13 Q. I don't want to confuse Their Honours. The
14 war presidency was established by the Muslim side in
15 Kacuni in January 1993, whereas this particular organ
16 was called the crisis staff. And that is where the
17 difference lies, if I may remind you of that.
18 But never mind. Whatever it was called, it
19 was this joint body with the representatives of both
20 the Croats and Muslims within it, the legal authorities
21 in the Busovaca municipality. That is the organ we
22 have in mind.
23 A. The organ that I am thinking about is the one
24 that had constitutional provisions which allowed it to
25 make decisions, and Mr. Zoran Maric was at the head of
1 that particular organisation. So it was not a staff,
2 it was a body having the right to make decisions
3 according to the constitution that prevailed in
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina at that time. So I am talking about
5 the legal organ of parent authority.
6 Q. But I would like you to agree with me when I
7 said a moment ago that Zoran Maric's deputy was Asim
8 Sunulahpasic, because it was a joint body, was it not?
9 A. Yes, it was a joint body, that is true.
10 Q. Very well. Thank you. Let us move on to
11 another detail once again linked to Mr. Kordic.
12 You said that in January 1993 you heard that
13 somebody had filmed a tape of some kind with a
14 telephone conversation, and you say that you recognised
15 the voice of Dusko Grubesic. Do you remember that
16 particular detail?
17 A. Yes, I do.
18 Q. When you heard and recognised the voice of
19 Dusko Grubesic, what duty did Dusko Grubesic perform at
20 the time; do you know?
21 A. As far as I know, at that time he was
22 commander of the brigade of the Croatian Defence
23 Council for the Busovaca municipality.
24 Q. You said the following, literally, when you
25 spoke on Thursday: "I think that on the other side of
1 the line, thinking of the conversation, that it was
2 Kordic, but I'm not quite sure"?
3 A. Yes, that is precisely what I said.
4 Q. So you do not know who was on the other side
5 of the connection, you only assume that it could have
6 been Mr. Kordic; is that correct?
7 A. Yes, that's correct. That's what I said on
8 Thursday, and that's what I'm saying today as well.
9 Q. Thank you. Let's proceed. We have several
10 more questions in relation to Mr. Kordic.
11 You know the family, the Kordic family from
12 Busovaca, I assume, the mother, the father. Mr. Kordic
13 is a younger member of the family, but I assume that
14 you know the Kordic family, in general terms.
15 A. Yes, I had occasion to become acquainted with
16 the Kordic family, the mother and father. But, in
17 fact, I did not know them well.
18 Q. Well, all right. That's what I meant, but
19 you knew them. I assume that you know where Mr. Kordic
20 worked before, that he was a journalist in the
21 Vatrostalna company, he was a journalist writing for
22 several papers, and, in fact, he graduated as a
23 journalist. Did you know that, General?
24 A. I know that Kordic worked in Vatrostalna, but
25 what particular job he had there, I did not know.
1 Q. Did you also know that Mr. Kordic, in the
2 former state, had no military training, he had not
3 completed any military schools, so he did not have any
4 military knowledge and education, in fact?
5 A. No, I did not know whether Dario Kordic had
6 any military education or not.
7 Q. Well, very well. But you didn't hear of him
8 having any later on, did you? I assume you didn't.
9 A. No, I didn't hear this from anybody ever.
10 Q. Thank you. As we're talking about
11 Mr. Kordic, do you know, in precise terms, and I'm
12 going to remind you of some details, what duties and
13 when Mr. Kordic -- what duties he performed and when he
14 performed them? And I'm talking about the time after
15 the first elections. For example, do you know when he
16 was exactly President of the HDZ in Busovaca, when he
17 was the Deputy President of the HDZ for
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and so on?
19 A. No, I don't know these terms precisely, these
20 dates precisely.
21 Q. Did you know or do you know that Mr. Dario
22 Kordic was the Deputy President of the Croatian
23 Community of Herceg-Bosna from the 18th of November,
24 1991, to the 28th of August, 1993?
25 A. No, I'm not aware of those dates, but I do
1 know that he was Deputy President of the Croatian
2 Community of Herceg-Bosna.
3 Q. Do you know -- do you happen to know how many
4 Deputy Presidents the Presidency of the Croatian
5 Community of Herceg-Bosna had?
6 A. No. I did not study that question; nor was I
7 interested in it; nor am I interested in it now, in
8 knowing how many Presidents it had.
9 Q. Mr. Kordic, from November of 1992 up until
10 after the Washington Agreements, that is, 1994, he was
11 the Deputy President of the HDZ of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
12 Do you happen to know how many Deputy Presidents of the
13 HDZ of Bosnia-Herzegovina there were in that period?
14 JUDGE MAY: No. Here we are debating matters
15 which the General has said, in relation to a similar
16 question, he doesn't know. It's of no assistance to
17 the Trial Chamber, really, to know what the state of
18 knowledge of a witness such as this was. We will be
19 able to hear, in due course, your evidence about this
20 particular matter. So I suggest we move on to other
22 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Yes, Your
23 Honour, I accept that. But I should like you to
24 understand that in view of the assertions
25 General Merdan is making, I must see whether he knows
1 something more than what he has said. But I agree. I
2 shall move on, yes, Your Honour.
3 Q. A moment ago you talked about the situation
4 in Busovaca. May we agree that the President of the
5 crisis staff, or whatever we like to call it, and he
6 was President of the municipality of Busovaca before
7 that, that is to say, Mr. Zoran Maric; is that correct?
8 A. Yes, that is correct. I did say that, and I
9 think that the order by which I was arrested and
10 prohibiting the legal organs of authority, in one of
11 the points of that order it states that the decisions
12 of the wartime presidency are considered null and void,
13 and this was signed by Dario Kordic. I don't think it
14 says "decisions of the crisis staff." I think it says
15 "of the war presidency." And the original order
16 exists in the army archives of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and
17 I have submitted a copy to this august Tribunal.
18 Q. Do you also happen to know that that same
19 individual, Zoran Maric, was President of the HVO of
20 the Busovaca municipality from August 1992 onwards?
21 A. I believe he was, yes, because in the
22 municipality the Croatian Defence Council was
23 proclaimed, and in an order dated May 1992, this became
24 visible, that is to say, that the HVO was being
25 established, and so I assume that Mr. Zoran Maric was
1 appointed to that duty.
2 Q. Yes, he was appointed, but he was appointed
3 in August. Up until August, for several months
4 Mr. Glavocevic performed that duty. Did you know that,
5 perhaps? Were you aware of that?
6 A. After the conflict at Kaonik, I was no longer
7 present at meetings of the war presidency, so I do not
8 know whether that duty was later on performed by
9 Mr. Glavocevic.
10 Q. Well, we can move on, related to Mr. Kordic.
11 One of the individuals with whom you
12 connected with Mr. Kordic was Anto Sliskovic, and asked
13 by the Prosecution, you said that, in fact, he was
14 responsible to Mr. Kordic for his work, something along
15 those lines. And your conclusions are based on the
16 signing of a statement after you were released from
17 detention. It is Z101,1. Do you recall that,
19 The signature here is Mr. Sliskovic for the
20 regional staff at the bottom. Do you know what the
21 regional staff represented at that time, regional
22 headquarters? And I was talking about May 1992, in
23 that period.
24 A. In that particular month, I was arrested.
25 They did not wish to release me, and I spoke about that
1 in some detail, although a very strong, respectable
2 delegation of the parliamentary members of
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina insisted upon my being released, and
4 within that composition there were the representatives
5 of the Croatian people. And on that occasion,
6 Sliskovic said that I could not be released without
7 authorisation from Dario Kordic.
8 The representatives then proceeded to contact
9 Dario Kordic, and according to their statements he was
10 located in the Tisovac area at the time where he had
11 his forward command post. And on the basis of that, we
12 were able to conclude that Sliskovic could not have
13 released me without the authorisation of Dario Kordic,
14 and then we can go on to deduce that Dario Kordic made
15 the decisions as to what Sliskovic would do. And in my
16 statements, I confirm this, the ones that were
17 published for the first time.
18 Q. Well, we're going to go back to that later
19 on, but you haven't answered my question. What was the
20 regional headquarters, in fact, in May 1992,
21 immediately after the Serbs launched the attack in the
22 region, the former JNA?
23 A. Well, I have already said and I can say so
24 again that I never entered into the substance of HVO
25 organisation. At meetings, I always wanted to look
1 towards the joint aggressor on Bosnia-Herzegovina who
2 was well defined at the time, so I did not deal with
3 organisational matters linked to the Croatian Defence
4 Council because I considered that it was not my place
5 to do so. I am only saying what happened in practice.
6 Q. Well, let me ask you this in a different
7 way. The period you're talking about, was it before
8 General Blaskic established his headquarters for the
9 whole Operative Zone in the village of Kruscica, and
10 that was in June, July, August 1992, that is to say,
11 before the military headquarters was set up?
12 A. Yes, you're talking about the period of May,
13 May/June, and I said that in October, I think it was
14 1990, but in the autumn of 1992, that is, I was at the
15 headquarters in the village of Kruscica, and this was
16 at the Lovac Hotel.
17 Q. Well, we agree, then, that what we are
18 talking about was before the Central Bosnia Operative
19 Zone led by General Blaskic was formed. Do we agree on
20 that point?
21 A. In May, as far as I know, to the best of my
22 knowledge, General Blaskic did not assume that post.
23 Q. But do you happen to remember that in May or
24 thereabouts, Filip Filipovic, today also a general of
25 the army of the Federation, dealt with matters of
1 military organisation and resistance to the JNA on that
3 A. Yes, I do know that. Colonel Filip Filipovic
4 at the time introduced himself as colonel. I do know
5 him, and on several occasions he contacted us in the
6 district command of the Territorial Defence. And at a
7 briefing which was held in Zenica, Filip Filipovic said
8 that he could not stand up to Kordic, because it was
9 our idea to set up a joint command in the Lasva River
10 Valley, and the proposal was that Filip Filipovic
11 should be the commander of that Operative Zone and I
12 myself, as a Bosniak, should be his deputy. But Filip
13 was not able to accept that because he told us at the
14 meeting that Dario Kordic did not agree with that
15 concept. And I think that afterwards, as far as Filip
16 told me, there was a verbal exchange and conflict in
17 the conception for combat operations in Central Bosnia,
18 and Colonel Filip Filipovic was replaced and Tihomir
19 Blaskic replaced him.
20 Q. So we can agree that Filip Filipovic at that
21 time was in charge of giving shape, if I can say that,
22 to the resistance to the aggression which took place in
23 that area at that time?
24 A. Yes, we can agree, for that particular time
1 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
2 Your Honours, I now have five or six
3 questions linked to the arrest of Mr. Merdan, so
4 perhaps this would be a good time to take a break,
5 rather than going into that question, because I won't
6 succeed in getting through it. But if you wish to, we
7 can continue, of course.
8 JUDGE MAY: Yes, that sounds like a
9 convenient time. What kind of progress are you making
10 now, Mr. Naumovski, with the witness? How long do you
11 anticipate being?
12 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] In view of
13 the topic in hand, I haven't got through a great deal
14 of material. I do have quite a number of questions
15 left, but I'll do my best to finish as soon as
17 JUDGE MAY: Would you keep that in mind. We
18 have several other witnesses who we need to hear this
20 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I shall
21 indeed, Your Honour.
22 JUDGE MAY: Very well. We'll adjourn for
23 half an hour.
24 --- Recess taken at 11 a.m.
25 --- On resuming at 11.35 a.m.
1 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Naumovski.
2 MR. NAUMOVSKI: Thank you, Your Honour.
3 Q. [Interpretation] General Merdan, let us
4 resume. We were about to talk about your arrest in
5 Busovaca in 1992. You mentioned document Z100.
6 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Mr. Usher,
7 could the witness please be shown Z100, in the Croatian
9 Q. It will be easier for you if you have it
10 before you. While we are waiting for the document,
11 could you tell me who was it that interrogated you
12 while you were in Busovaca? You know people in
13 Busovaca, don't you?
14 A. They were relatively young people.
15 Q. But you don't know their names, do you?
16 A. I know that one of them was called Svabo,
17 tall, fair, but they took shifts in front of me. And
18 who was behind me, I don't know.
19 Q. But do you know the names of people who beat
20 you, as you described it to us?
21 A. I could not see who was beating me, because I
22 was facing the persons sitting in front of me. So I
23 could not see who was hitting me behind my back,
24 because they would not allow me to turn.
25 Q. Will you please be so kind and look at this
1 document Z100. You are a soldier, I'm not, but I've
2 seen quite a number of such documents. It has the form
3 of a military order, and then there are various items
4 saying what one should do, what one shouldn't do, and
5 so on and so forth.
6 Do you see the signature at the bottom of the
7 document? It is the commander of the municipal staff
8 of Busovaca -- can you see that --"Ivo Brnada"? And on
9 the right-hand side there is Dario Kordic's signature.
10 Do you know it for certain that Ivo Brnada was indeed
11 the municipal commander of the HVO headquarters at that
12 time in 1992? Did you know that?
13 A. No, I did not.
14 Q. But would you agree with me that this is in
15 terms of the structure? You must have seen a whole
16 series of military orders issued by the HVO, but this
17 is an HVO order in terms of its structure, in terms of
18 the commander, and so on and so forth. The commander
19 will always sign on the right-hand side. I suppose it
20 was the same thing in the army of the B and H.
21 A. Any army, any organisational structure will
22 structure a document in a specific manner. As a
23 military man, I know there are instructions as to how
24 military documents should be structured. What I see
25 here, is it says that it is an order, and it is evident
1 that this is an order which was signed on the
2 right-hand side Ivo Brnada, and on the right-hand side
3 by Dario Kordic.
4 Likewise, as a military man who spent all his
5 life in the army, and all the armies the world over,
6 there is no dual leadership or dual command. One is
7 the order written by a commander of a relevant unit,
8 and he then will sign his own order.
9 Q. Thank you. But will you please cast a look
10 at these items at the beginning of the document, the
11 third, the second, rather, the third and the fourth,
12 which refer to the TO. Let me speed matters up. It
13 says that the TO should lay down the weapons. The TO
14 must replace under the HVO command and so on.
15 Now, my question to you, as a man who then
16 came to command the Territorial Defence in the Zenica
17 region, the TO never laid down its weapons, rather,
18 hand over its weapons to the HVO, did it, as this order
20 A. Which region do you have in mind?
21 Q. I mean the region covered by this order. The
22 municipality of Busovaca.
23 A. While I was in the area, before my arrest,
24 the Territorial Defence did not hand over its weapons.
25 But did they do that after I was arrested? I don't
1 know. However, I received information that the HVO was
2 seizing the armaments, the weapons that could be found
3 in the area.
4 Q. But you will agree with me that the TO
5 established its own command at Kacuni, with their own
6 men and weapons and so forth. Of course, people lived
7 in Kacuni and went to work regularly.
8 What I'm trying to say is after the order,
9 after this order, the TO continued to operate in the
10 territory of the municipality Busovaca in spite of this
12 A. The TO existed according to a decision of
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Bosnia-Herzegovina ordered
14 that all the units should be placed under the command
15 of the Territorial Defence. Needless to say, some of
16 the Territorial Defence units existed also in the
17 territory of the municipality of Busovaca.
18 Q. So this ultimatum that we read in this
19 document never came true in practice, did it, because
20 the TO continued to function?
21 A. No. This order was implemented throughout
22 the municipality of Busovaca in full, and for the most
23 part in all the areas controlled by the Croat Defence
24 Council. So the order was enforced in full.
25 Q. Let me rephrase it differently. Would you
1 agree with me when I say that the administrative
2 borders of the municipality of Busovaca at that time
3 were divided between the TO and HVO interests, spheres
4 of interests, that there were two spheres of interest?
5 A. There was no division before the conflict.
6 After the conflict the division did take place.
7 Please allow me. I wish to point out, in
8 front of this august Chamber, the Territorial Defence
9 units were focusing on the aggressor against
10 Bosnia-Herzegovina and along the front lines facing the
11 aggressor. And as I said it last time. Here were only
12 men who were taking a rest, because we did not have
13 enough weapons to arm all the men who had been
14 organised in the Territorial Defence.
15 Q. Yes, right. We are now moving on to another
16 topic, and we shall come back to it later. So let us
17 try to round off this part, the part that relates to
18 the time of your arrest.
19 You mentioned that a delegation from Zenica
20 had arrived, and one of the members of the delegation
21 was Mehrudin Saltinovic [phoen], a Muslim, and then
22 Dr. Barac, a Croat, and some other people. Was that
23 the delegation that you had in mind?
24 A. Yes, that was the one.
25 Q. And after that delegation arrived and had
1 talks in various places around the municipality of
2 Busovaca -- Your Honours, this is not in dispute --
3 this delegation also met and talked to Mr. Kordic
4 also. So when we're talking about this delegation,
5 that delegation did indeed come there, and after a
6 round of talks in the municipality, you were released,
7 and I think you were only in detention about two days
8 or something. I don't remember what you said.
9 A. Your Honours, I need to mention here that the
10 delegation which is mentioned here had talks with Dario
11 Kordic. Dario Kordic decided not to let me in, not to
12 admit me there, so the delegation came to my father's
13 house, where I was staying at the time, and informed me
14 that Dario Kordic would not release me. So they
15 conducted some consultations, and Mr. Dominik Sakic
16 left the delegation. He went to a place called
17 Tisovac, to Dario Kordic's headquarters, which was
18 guarded by uniformed soldiers. And when he came, he
19 told the delegation that Mr. Franjo Boras was with
20 Kordic in Tisovac and that Dario Kordic nevertheless
21 decided to release me.
22 Q. Let us just confirm what you just told us.
23 You heard it from Dominik Sakic?
24 A. Yes, that is correct. Dominik Sakic told the
25 whole delegation that was in my parents' house.
1 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] All right.
2 Your Honours, we naturally disagree with this
3 last sentence uttered by General Merdan, that Dario
4 Kordic opposed or did not oppose. Dario Kordic, and
5 that is how we put it, Dario Kordic heard what happened
6 to General Merdan from this delegation for the first
7 time, and he asked quite a number of people to find
8 facts about what had happened.
9 Q. Now, General Merdan, I have just one more
11 A. I wish to intervene. I disagree with the
12 counsel, because a day before that Mr. Bruno had been
13 to see me when I was in detention and said that Dario
14 Kordic would not allow them to set me free, and I want
15 you to call this witness in relation to my arrest.
16 Susnja, he is Bruno Susnja. His name is Bruno Susnja.
17 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Naumovski, we've gone over
18 this now. Let's move on to something else.
19 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Just one more
20 question. It is very important, and with this, I will
21 finish this.
22 Q. But, General Merdan, you will agree with me,
23 won't you, that when you came home after you were set
24 free, you were in your father's house in Busovaca, and
25 will you agree with me that Mr. Florijan Glavocevic
1 immediately came to see you in your house, that is, in
2 your parents' house, and that he expressed his regrets
3 about what had happened to you, that he came
4 immediately to see you, and that was the first time
5 that he had heard about that; is that correct?
6 A. Even before that, Florijan Glavocevic was
7 aware of what had happened to me, because he was in
8 contact with the military or, rather, the civilian
9 police of the Busovaca HVO, and that is where we had
10 the first contact. So Florijan Glavocevic did know
11 what had happened to me. He may not have seen my back,
12 but he was quite aware of what had happened.
13 Q. But you didn't answer me. Did he, indeed,
14 come to visit you in your house and express his
15 regrets? That was my question.
16 JUDGE MAY: What does it matter, as far as
17 Mr. Kordic is concerned, whether Mr. Florijan gave any
18 regrets or not?
19 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Because
20 Mr. Florijan Glavocevic came to express his opinion and
21 convey Mr. Kordic's opinion, that is, the astonishment
22 of what had happened to Mr. Merdan. That is all.
23 JUDGE MAY: Did Mr. Florijan say anything
24 like that to you?
25 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation]
1 Q. But was he in your house?
2 A. Yes, Mr. Glavocevic was in my house.
3 But, Your Honours, I wish to state some other
4 facts here, which are two.
5 JUDGE MAY: General, could we please
6 concentrate on the point. Did Florijan pass on the
7 regrets of Kordic? That is the simple point.
8 A. Florijan Glavocevic did pass it, but whether
9 he had indeed said that, I do not know.
10 JUDGE MAY: Thank you.
11 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] We can move
12 on to another topic.
13 Q. Let us now talk about your second arrest. In
14 autumn '92, Darko Kraljevic arrested you in Vitez.
15 That is what you said. We shall not go into that
16 again. We know that at your request, you were brought
17 to Mr. Blaskic's headquarters.
18 Would you agree with me that you absolutely
19 do not know who it is that Colonel Blaskic spoke over
20 the phone from a room which was not the room that you
21 were in?
22 A. What I wish to say is that it was not my
23 second arrest but one in a series of arrests to which I
24 had been subjected. I do not know, that is quite true,
25 who Tihomir Blaskic called to consult, but I pointed
1 out repeatedly that when Dario [sic] Kraljevic's units
2 arrested me and took me under custody, whenever I
3 showed that pass issued by Tihomir Blaskic, they would
4 not let me go. But when I showed the permit issued me
5 by Dario Kordic, then they always released me.
6 Q. But, General Merdan, don't make it more
7 difficult for me. We shall waste too much time. I
8 asked you very specifically. Right, perhaps one of the
9 arrests, but I'm talking about the arrest by Darko
10 Kraljevic and what happened in the room on the premises
11 of the Operative Zone of Colonel Blaskic. My question
12 was simple. You do not know who Tihomir Blaskic called
13 to talk about your arrest, you said?
14 A. True, that is what I said, and I said that I
15 guessed it was Dario Kordic. That was based -- my
16 assumption was based on the previous experience with
17 him, and I explained it and showed it to this -- to the
19 Q. So that is only your assumption?
20 A. Yes, because I did not see who he was talking
22 Q. Right, thank you. But if we're talking about
23 arrests, in that series there was yet another one.
24 In April 1992 you were detained. As a matter
25 of fact, it was an ECMM delegation, representatives of
1 the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the HVO. There was
2 Franjo Nakic, there was you, and I believe some other
3 people from the ECMM. And you were stopped, I believe,
4 by the head of the military police in Novi Travnik. Do
5 you remember that particular incident? You spent about
6 two or three hours there, didn't you?
7 A. I was stopped at various roadblocks in Novi
8 Travnik repeatedly and then taken into custody, so I do
9 not know which incident you have in mind. Was it
10 sometime in mid-April 1992?
11 Q. Quite so. Your delegation, the delegation of
12 which you were a member, was responsible for finding
13 those four abducted HVO officers, and I think it could
14 be on the premises of the military police in Novi
15 Travnik or, at any rate, in some official premises.
16 A. Yes, I do remember those details. It is true
17 that we had set off to look for the abducted
18 representatives or, rather, officers of the HVO from
19 Novi Travnik, and we set off to look for those men at
20 the site where they had been abducted. And the head of
21 the European Monitoring Mission at that time on that
22 commission was -- no, I can't remember the name, but I
23 know that he came from Spain, and we were brought to a
24 hotel in Novi Travnik.
25 Q. All I want to know, briefly -- and I was
1 wrong. I referred to April '92. Of course, it was in
2 April '93. But I wanted to ask you just one question
3 in this regard. Who did that officer who detained you
4 negotiate with over the telephone, and on whose
5 intervention were you then released? I believe his
6 name was Stipo Paraga [phoen]. It's just come to me.
7 A. Yes, if I looked at my notebooks, I would
8 also know the name of the man. It is quite true that
9 the commander would not release me, but he did set free
10 members of the European Monitoring Mission.
11 But having learned from my previous
12 experience, I asked representatives of the ECMM to stay
13 with me, because I could only guess what might happen
14 to me if I stayed there all alone. The commander would
15 not let me go, and they spoke to Tihomir Blaskic. A
16 representative of the ECMM requested that he speak to
17 him personally, and I do not know what they talked
19 But be that as it may, we had to wait long,
20 until late hours in the night. It wasn't only a couple
21 of hours, it was for many hours. I don't know who they
22 talked to, because they spoke from a different room.
23 But be that as it may, we were all set free after
25 Q. And that was what I was going to say. This
1 conversation that you just mentioned was with Tihomir
2 Blaskic. That is what I wanted us to agree on.
3 A. Yes, the first conversation was with Tihomir
4 Blaskic, but that commander refused the orders of
5 Tihomir Blaskic. They were waiting for consultations
6 from somebody else. That is true.
7 Q. Let us now round off this part when we refer
8 to Mr. Dario Kordic. You agree with me today about
9 four or five things, when you confirmed to this Court
10 that these are only your assumptions, your inferences,
11 that you were not aware that Mr. Kordic was involved
12 directly. But you involved Mr. Kordic, let him know
13 the situations, and consider him responsible for this?
14 A. I really don't know.
15 Q. You seem to be making some arbitrary views.
16 On the other hand, you showed that you dislike
17 Mr. Kordic, in that you're trying to embroil him in
18 everything, even when he has nothing to do with it?
19 A. Your Honours, I must disagree with this,
20 because this is only a conjecture based on some facts
21 presented by the Defence. I present a sum of my
22 conclusions, inferences based on facts that I came
23 across and which I showed to this august Chamber. So I
24 cannot agree with this Defence's conclusion.
25 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] All right,
1 thank you.
2 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Naumovski, let's move on
3 now. We really must make greater progress.
4 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation]
5 Q. [Inaudible] in relation to this document that
6 you have before you, and these are the events in the
7 then JNA barracks at Kaonik. The Chamber has already
8 heard a great deal about this, so we shall go only
9 briefly through it, as you also referred to it
11 The crisis staff of the Busovaca
12 municipality, which included Zoran Maric, Florijan
13 Glavocevic, Husein Hadzimejlic, and Asim Sunulahpasic,
14 and a number of other people, decided locally to
15 distribute the weapons from Kaonik on a 50/50 per cent
16 basis, isn't that so?
17 A. Yes, that is so.
18 Q. On the part of the TO, the duty was assigned
19 to Husein Hadzimejlic to deal with this, whereas the
20 Croatian side, in all these talks linked to the
21 takeover of the barracks, was led by that same Florijan
22 Glavocevic that we have referred to.
23 A. I think that is correct.
24 Q. However, in view of the structure of the JNA,
25 the talks went on for some time, people went to Zenica,
1 Besim Spahic was the town mayor at the time. Anyway,
2 finally the JNA agreed to leave, and these two persons,
3 Husein Hadzimejlic and Florijan Glavocevic, were to
4 take over the barracks on the 9th of May, 1992 as
5 representatives of the TO and the HVO.
6 A. The assumption may be correct.
7 Q. Would you agree with me that apart from the
8 local members of the TO, suddenly a large number of
9 unknown people appeared, some from Zenica, others from
10 Kacuni, and they -- some 100 men rallied on the side of
11 the TO, and they were in front of the discotheque known
12 as Leptir or butterfly.
13 A. I don't know what you mean, Kacuni
14 Territorial Defence, Busovaca Territorial Defence, or
15 something else. I think you're mixing things. The
16 Busovaca Territorial Defence had its units within the
17 Busovaca municipality under its control. I cannot see
18 that they can be considered outside units at Kaonik.
19 It is also true that in the area under the
20 control of the 3rd Corps or, rather, at the time under
21 the control of the district staff of Zenica, there was
22 the military police of the Zenica district staff, both
23 in Busovaca and in other places which were in the area
24 of responsibility of the Zenica district staff.
25 Q. I simply wanted to point out -- that was the
1 gist of my question -- that apart from the people known
2 by the inhabitants of Busovaca, there were people
3 unknown to them who arrived. Would you agree with
5 A. No, I would not. This was not a large group
6 of people. There may have been seven or eight military
7 policemen from the district defence staff, because on
8 the other side of the barracks were armed units of the
9 HVO. On the one side were the TO units from Busovaca,
10 some 70 to 80 men in all, and on the other side of the
11 barracks were units of the HVO.
12 Q. General Merdan, you were also present, you
13 were in the building on the first floor at the time of
14 this event?
15 A. Yes. That is correct. After a meeting of
16 the presidency, I went to the barracks, and at the
17 time -- I wouldn't call it the first floor, it is a
18 ground floor premises with an attic, so it is not a
19 multi-storey building, it is a ground-floor building,
20 and I was in a room in the attic of that building.
21 Q. Would you agree with me that an inhabitant of
22 Busovaca approached you then personally and said that
23 what you were doing was not good?
24 A. No, he didn't say that to me, and I don't
25 know who you have in mind when you say "an inhabitant
1 of Busovaca."
2 Q. I'll be very clear; the veterinarian surgeon
3 called Jovic. You know him, I assume.
4 A. Such a veterinarian in Busovaca did not exist
5 at the time.
6 Q. So you don't know anyone by that name? He
7 wears a moustache like the two of us.
8 A. No. Mr. Jovic -- I know a gentleman called
9 Jovic -- I think he's deceased -- but that man did not
10 talk to me at that time.
11 Q. Very well. So we have agreed on the people
12 who were injured. There were injuries on both sides,
13 as you said. So we can agree that there was an
14 exchange of fire at the time. There was some
16 A. No. No. That is not correct, because the
17 Territorial Defence at the time did not have any
18 weapons, because all the weapons were being used on the
19 front lines with the aggressors against the Republic of
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina. The shooting was provoked by units
21 of the HVO who were at the checkpoint at Senduline
22 Kuce, and units of the HVO wounded both persons, both a
23 representative of the HVO and a representative of the
24 Territorial Defence, because there was an all-out
1 Q. One-sided, as you were saying.
2 A. Yes, certainly, because the Territorial
3 Defence wasn't there. There were two trucks that had
4 left to pick up weapons which were supposed to be
5 shared 50/50, and the drivers and their escorts were
6 not armed, and they were fired at from the checkpoint
7 at Senduline Kuce.
8 Q. The Defence is contesting this. It has a
9 completely opposite position. Our submission is that
10 there was an exchange of fire by both sides.
11 Would you agree with me that the arrival of a
12 large group of unknown persons on the side of the TO
13 and the involvement of the TO military police resulted
14 in the thwarting of the local agreement reached at the
15 level of Busovaca municipality?
16 A. No. That is not correct.
17 Q. I should like to remind you of the document
18 that you had occasion to read in the introduction.
19 A. I said that there was a group of some six or
20 seven military policemen from the district staff of
21 Zenica who were patrolling the area, but they did not
22 participate in any incidents, because at the request of
23 the HVO, this group of men left the territory of
24 Busovaca municipality.
25 Q. Very well. General, we can move on. The
1 usher can take the document. We won't need it any
3 A few questions linked to the conflicts in
4 Novi Travnik. You told us what your role was in all of
5 that, and you referred to the authorisation you had
6 received from the commander of the BH army at the time,
7 Sefer Halilovic.
8 In that authorisation or power of attorney,
9 it is clearly indicated that it is being given to you
10 for negotiations with the main headquarters of the HVO
11 in Grude, Z2141,1, that you should negotiate with the
12 main headquarters in Grude. That is what is written in
13 that document. In other words, that you are authorised
14 to negotiate with the army of the HVO, the main
15 headquarters of the HVO army.
16 A. Regarding the conflict in Novi Travnik that
17 you are talking about, Dario Kordic was in Novi
18 Travnik, and he wanted to have talks, as I have been
19 informed by people from the UNPROFOR, but Dario Kordic
20 would not accept Refik Lendo and he requested to
21 negotiate with me. I was authorised to negotiate. I
22 received that authorisation through the UNPROFOR
23 representatives, but those negotiations with Dario
24 Kordic never took place regarding the conflict in Novi
25 Travnik. So I didn't talk to Dario Kordic regarding
1 the conflict in Novi Travnik.
2 Q. So we agree that you negotiated with the
3 authorised representatives of the main headquarters of
4 the HVO, that is, Colonel Blaskic as the commander of
5 the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, didn't you?
6 A. Could you please be more precise? Which
7 conflict are you referring to?
8 JUDGE MAY: We really have been through all
9 this. The witness has agreed that he did not negotiate
10 with Dario Kordic in this case:
11 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Very well,
12 Your Honours. We can move on.
13 Q. But this was October 1992 when you spoke to
14 Colonel Blaskic.
15 JUDGE MAY: No. No. Let us move on.
16 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
17 Q. Document D155/1 is a report by an UNPROFOR
18 officer, and it clearly specifies that in October,
19 Refik Lendo provoked the conflict between the HVO and
20 the BH army in Novi Travnik, which resulted in a number
21 of dead. That is document D155/1. You were involved
22 in all that. Do you agree with this conclusion?
23 A. No, I do not.
24 Q. Thank you. As briefly as possible, a few
25 words about the meeting in the Tisa Hotel. I should
1 have covered this earlier on, but I made a mistake.
2 We're talking about 1992, the same story that we have
3 discussed in Busovaca. Present at those talks were
4 representatives of all the institutions of Busovaca.
5 You said that Kordic was there, Kostroman, perhaps
6 Filipovic, and I don't know who else. So we agree, all
7 the municipal institutions were represented at that
9 A. No. That is not that meeting. The meeting
10 that I referred to here held in May 1992, it was not
11 the municipal institutions that were there. I was
12 there as a representative of the Territorial Defence,
13 and there were people that I mentioned; that is, Dario
14 Kordic, Ivica Kostroman, Ante Sliskovic, and Pasko
16 Q. Very well. We may not agree on who was
17 present, but that is not so important, but the
18 questions discussed, you discussed the joint struggle
19 against the common enemy, did you not?
20 A. Yes. That is correct. This was in May
22 Q. Again very briefly; would you agree with me
23 that both the TO force and the HVO forces from the
24 territory of Central Bosnia, Vitez, Busovaca, and the
25 whole region held the front line toward the Serbs? In
1 other words, that they jointly defended themselves
2 against Serb attacks or, rather, Jajce. And when Jajce
3 fell, the front line -- a new front line was
4 established above Travnik?
5 A. At the beginning of the war I was not
6 responsible for Jajce. I was later assigned to Jajce
7 as well. And the HVO front lines that I toured in
8 Jajce, they didn't have units on the front line but,
9 rather, in the rear, and they weren't really defending
10 those lines.
11 In other places along the defence lines
12 against the aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina,
13 there was a very small part of the front line just
14 below Mount Vlasic, and the rest was deep within the
15 territory where HVO units were deployed.
16 Q. I'm afraid I didn't quite understand you.
17 Would you agree with me that both Croats and Muslims
18 were defending themselves jointly against a common
19 aggressor? We're talking about April, May, June, July,
20 the whole of 1992.
21 A. The defence lines were such that only a very
22 small area was covered by the defences of the HVO,
23 maybe some 12 to 15 kilometres in the area below Mount
24 Vlasic. In other areas, HVO units were not deployed
25 for defence.
1 Q. Very well. Let us move on to another topic.
2 Chronologically, we have now reached, I think, 1993,
3 though we will begin, actually, with the events that
4 occurred in April.
5 You agree with me that a series of very
6 serious incidents preceded the renewal of the conflict
7 that occurred on the 16th of April, 1993, the
8 resumption of the conflict?
9 A. Those were incidents which occurred at
10 checkpoints under the control of the HVO in terms of
11 looting, seizure, disarming, and a series of other such
13 Q. Do you mean to say that these were provoked
14 only by the HVO or did they occur on both sides by BH
15 forces as well?
16 A. I don't know which period you're referring
17 to, but if the period is the month of April, there were
18 no checkpoints held by the Territorial Defence in the
19 Lasva Valley.
20 Q. Tell me, please, who held the checkpoint at
21 Ravno Rostovo in 1993?
22 A. I'm afraid you're not familiar with
23 geography, because Ravno Rostovo is not part of the
24 Lasva Valley.
25 Q. But in the broadest sense, this is the area
1 I'm concerned with. I'm not talking about the Lasva
2 Valley only but the only area that came under your
3 jurisdiction. It was the area of responsibility and
4 there was a checkpoint at Ravno Rostovo. Which forces
5 held that checkpoint?
6 JUDGE MAY: Look, the Rules permit you to
7 cross-examine on matters which arise from the
8 examination-in-chief. We are now moving much further
9 away from that. We are moving from the Lasva Valley.
10 We must complete this case, and these interminable
11 cross-examinations are not assisting.
12 Now, Mr. Naumovski, can I ask you -- can I
13 remind you of the Rule which requires you to
14 cross-examine purely on matters which arise out of the
15 examination-in-chief. Now, we'll move on from
16 checkpoints outside the Lasva Valley. We'll come back
17 to the Lasva Valley. You can ask about the 15th of
18 April in the Lasva Valley. Anything else you're going
19 to have to ask leave for.
20 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] With all due
21 respect, Your Honours, the checkpoints were mentioned
22 in the examination-in-chief.
23 JUDGE MAY: Not this one. Now, let's move
25 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Very well.
1 Q. Mr. Merdan, what about the checkpoint at
2 Kacuni? Is that the Lasva Valley and the area of
3 Central Bosnia?
4 A. The area of Central Bosnia, yes, but not the
5 Lasva Valley.
6 Q. You are familiar with the kidnapping of four
7 HVO officers on the 14th of April, 1993? You remember
9 A. Yes. I'm not quite sure, however, whether it
10 was the 14th or not without consulting my notes, but I
11 do know that HVO members from the Novi Travnik Brigade
12 were kidnapped.
13 Q. Do you know by whom?
14 A. At the time I didn't know, because I received
15 news about it from Mr. Nakic, but later on, when we saw
16 what was happening, it was linked to the kidnapping of
17 the commander of the HVO Zenica brigade, Mr. Totic, by
18 a group of Arabs for the purpose of exchange for Arabs
19 who were detained in Kaonik. So the idea was to
20 exchange them for the kidnapped members of the HVO.
21 Q. In a milinfosum number 166 of the 14th of
22 April, 1993, D70/1, it is indicated that your side
23 refused having anything to do with the kidnapping, but
24 it is also alleged that the Croats accused the Muslims
25 to cast the Muslims in a bad light. But surely it
1 wasn't the Croats themselves who kidnapped their own
2 officer. Someone must have done it, a unit that was
3 operating within the area of responsibility of the
4 3rd Corps, isn't it?
5 A. No, it is not. At the time, in the area of
6 responsibility of the 3rd Corps, there were no other
7 units except 3rd Corps units. Let's make that clear.
8 And I said that I learned subsequently who was behind
9 the kidnapping. And when I made a point of having an
10 exchange take place, I was chosen to bring over the
11 members of the HVO from Novi Travnik who had been
12 kidnapped by a group of Arabs.
13 Q. I beg your pardon, but we agree that this, as
14 you call them, group of Arabs were operating in
15 territory under the control of the BiH army; that is,
16 of the 3rd Corps.
17 A. Look, in fact, I don't know which Arabs
18 came. I think the people who had control of the entry
19 points of Arabs to Central Bosnia should be asked about
20 this, because we had no control over people coming
21 along the only road open to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and
22 that was the road coming from the Republic of Croatia.
23 As far as I know, all checkpoints along that road and
24 in that direction were under the control of the HVO.
25 So perhaps this question could be addressed to
1 Mr. Dario Kordic. He knows best how many Arabs entered
2 the territory and where they were stationed.
3 Q. We will not comment on this but let Their
4 Honours make their own judgement. What about Zivko
6 A. This occurred in the town of Zenica, the town
7 where the headquarters of the 3rd Corps was based.
8 Q. Who did that?
9 A. The same team of Arabs who had kidnapped
10 members of the HVO in the Zenica brigade. The same
11 people kidnapped Mr. Zivko Totic. I have said that on
12 a number of occasions already.
13 Q. And in this case, regarding the kidnapping of
14 Zivko Totic, would you agree with me that this group of
15 Arabs, as you call them, were operating in the town
16 where the 3rd Corps was headquartered?
17 A. At the time they were in Zenica, but they
18 were not operating in Zenica.
19 Q. Thank you. We'll be coming back to some
20 details in this regard. Let us move on. D2792. This
21 is the organigramme that the Prosecutor used in
22 examining you. So I'd ask the witness to be shown
23 Z2792, please.
24 During your examination-in-chief, I asked who
25 was the author of this organigramme.
1 A. I am not. It was shown to me when I was
2 making my statement. I am not the author, because
3 probably I would have designed it differently if I
5 Q. Very well. Let me rephrase it. Have you got
6 anything to do with this organigramme? If not, let's
7 not waste time, if it is not your own product, if it is
8 not the result of what you said.
9 A. I said I just made comment regarding this
10 diagram, this piece of paper.
11 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honours,
12 I appeal to you for assistance. The witness is not the
13 author of this chart. I would ask him some questions.
14 On the other hand, I see no point if he's not the
16 JUDGE MAY: What he said was it was made out
17 by members of the OTP in discussion with the witness.
18 Now, if you want to ask the witness -- if you want to
19 challenge any part of it, you should do so now. But
20 let us move on as quickly as we can.
21 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you,
22 Your Honours.
23 JUDGE MAY: Do you challenge -- perhaps it
24 may be helpful to know, do you challenge any part of
25 this document?
1 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Indeed,
2 because it's quite arbitrary. My main question would
3 be the following:
4 Q. Where, on the organigramme, is the government
5 of the Croatian Defence Council, headed by Mr. Jadranko
6 Prlic? Let me add that Ante Valenta was the
7 vice-president to Mr. Prlic, and they are not indicated
8 here. Would you agree with me?
9 A. I have already said that I cannot comment on
10 the organisational structure, because it was not
11 something I had studied. I felt that I had much more
12 important things to do than to go into the structure of
13 this organisation.
14 Q. But this document is an organigramme?
15 A. I just commented on it. I'm not the author
16 of this document, and I don't know who drew it up. I
17 just made comments on it.
18 JUDGE MAY: I don't think you can take it
19 much further, Mr. Naumovski.
20 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I agree with
21 Your Honour, because the witness clearly has told us,
22 quite frankly, that he is not the author, so we can
23 move on.
24 Q. In view of the fact that Vitezovi are
25 indicated but in the wrong place, you said that Blaskic
1 had some problems with Darko Kraljevic, and then you
2 added somebody always enquired about Kraljevic and your
3 conclusion was that that person was Kordic. But you
4 don't really know whether Colonel Blaskic ever
5 discussed Darko Kraljevic with Dario Kordic?
6 A. When HOS stops you at a checkpoint, a
7 checkpoint controlled by Darko Kraljevic, and you show
8 him a pass signed by Blaskic and they won't let you
9 pass, but when you show a pass signed by Dario Kordic
10 and you're allowed to pass, I don't wish to make any
11 conclusions from this. I have already conveyed what my
12 conclusion is. I think that the facts I have given are
13 highly-eloquent evidence of the position of Dario
14 Kordic in relation to Darko Kraljevic and his men.
15 Q. My question was slightly different. Can you
16 confirm that there was ever a conversation between
17 Colonel Blaskic and Mr. Kordic on Darko Kraljevic?
18 A. No, I can't. I said that I assumed that they
19 talked about it.
20 JUDGE MAY: No need to answer that question.
21 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
22 Q. A few questions, as quickly as we can,
23 regarding the negotiations, regarding the method of
24 work, more than anything else.
25 You said that there were some meetings
1 between the HVO and the BH army; that Blaskic left it
2 to Kordic to make the decisions. Give us one example,
3 or several examples if you're aware of them. I didn't
4 hear you mention any examples.
5 JUDGE MAY: I think the witness has already
6 dealt with this. It was various assumptions which he
7 made as a result of his experience and what he saw, and
8 I think you've already cross-examined him about it.
9 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] If Your
10 Honours feel that this topic has been covered, I can go
12 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
13 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Mr. Kordic was not involved in the ceasefire
15 agreements, which were quite numerous in the Lasva
16 Valley, was he, in any one case? Let me put it as
17 concisely as that.
18 A. As far as I can recollect, there was one
19 meeting in the UNPROFOR headquarters in Vitez, at the
20 elementary school, where a ceasefire was discussed,
21 among others, and on behalf of the 3rd Corps was the
22 command of the 3rd Corps, and that meeting was also
23 attended by Dario Kordic.
24 Q. Let me put it differently to you. You were a
25 member of the Busovaca Commission, and Their Honours
1 know all about that commission. Mr. Kordic was not a
2 member of that commission, and he did not participate
3 in any of its meetings, did he?
4 A. I never had occasion to see Dario Kordic
5 participating in the work of the Joint Commission.
6 Q. In line with instructions by Their Honours, I
7 wouldn't go through each of the ceasefires. There were
8 several. There was one signed in Zenica by Morillon,
9 Halilovic,, Blaskic, et cetera. But Mr. Kordic --
10 there's a series of such -- a whole set of such
11 negotiations and signed ceasefire agreements.
12 Mr. Kordic was not present at any one of them. Nor did
13 he sign any of those ceasefire agreements.
14 JUDGE MAY: The witness has already said that
15 he didn't see Mr. Kordic participating in the work of
16 the Joint Commission. Now, is that not sufficient for
17 your purposes?
18 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Yes, Your
19 Honours. I wasn't just referring to the Busovaca
20 Commission. I was thinking of other ceasefires as well
21 exclusively at the military level, and Mr. Kordic never
22 attended, nor did he sign them. But I suppose the
23 documents speak for themselves.
24 A. I said that he was present at one meeting.
25 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Yes, you've
1 told us that.
2 A. If necessary, I can repeat it.
3 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] No. I will
4 skip over a series of questions now that I had intended
5 to put to the witness in that connection.
6 Allow me to ask a few questions specifically
7 regarding the events in Kacuni in January '93 and what
8 preceded those events. Your Honours are already
9 familiar with this, and I hope we too can also agree
10 very quickly on this, that the BH army had set up a
11 checkpoint at Kacuni.
12 Q. It simply prohibited passage along that road,
13 as can be seen from Milinfosum 82D103/1. Do you agree
14 with me?
15 A. No, I do not agree with you. I have to
16 explain why I don't agree.
17 Before the conflict --
18 Q. Sir, my question is was a checkpoint set up
19 unilaterally by the BH army and all communication
20 interrupted on the 23rd, then the 24th, actually the
21 25th of January, '93, definitely?
22 A. Yes, the conflict in Busovaca broke out
23 before the 25th.
24 I should like Your Honours to bear in mind a
25 very interesting event in that connection, and that is
1 why the Defence is insisting on this date, the 25th of
2 January, 1993. But prior to that date, many things had
3 happened which provoked the closing of communications
4 between Busovaca and Kiseljak.
5 Q. That is precisely what I was going to say,
6 General Merdan. Would you agree with me that in
7 January, prior to the interruption of traffic, people
8 from outside Kacuni came to Kacuni?
9 A. No, that is not right.
10 Q. Do you agree with me, then, that on the 22nd
11 of January, 1993, at that checkpoint in Kacuni, there
12 was an attempt to kidnap Ignac Kostroman?
13 A. No attempt at kidnapping was made. There was
14 simply a check made who was passing through the
15 checkpoint, so that the dates are very important.
16 These are nights and not days. It's during the
17 nighttime, not the daytime.
18 Q. Would we agree, then, that on the 24th of
19 January, 1993, at 3 in the afternoon, Ivica Petrovic
20 and Igor Bogdanovic, two Croats, were killed at that
22 A. I cannot remember the exact date, because at
23 the time I was not in the area, and I don't know how
24 these two Croats you are referring to were killed. It
25 would be necessary to look into the reports regarding
1 that event.
2 Q. Colonel Stewart, as a witness, told this
3 Tribunal that you and your commander, General
4 Hadzihasanovic, he told you that you were responsible
5 for those events in January which took place in the
6 municipality of Busovaca, and yet you agreed with his
7 assertion. It is D153/1, and it is the book called
8 "Broken Lives," on page 232, and a milinfosum report
9 testifies to this, 95/1.
10 A. Bob Stewart would never have made a statement
11 of that kind. Perhaps Bob Stewart said that we were
12 responsible for shutting off communication and passage
13 through the area. And with the help of Bob Stewart, I
14 passed through those lines and I decided that the
15 checkpoint would be open to communication. That is a
16 fact, that is correct. But I cannot believe that Bob
17 Stewart said that Hadzihasanovic and myself were
18 responsible for the conflict at the checkpoint.
19 Q. Do you agree with me that in January, the
20 25th, 26th and 27th, so over those few days, there were
21 a whole series of killings and uprisings by the Croats
22 in the villages of Oseliste, Gusti Grab, Bukovci,
23 Nezirovici, Kacuni, of course, Kurvacici [phoen],
24 Javor, and Prosje? They are all villages which belong
25 to that geographic region, and one we are discussing?
1 A. Yes, the conflict in Busovaca had already
2 escalated and there were conflicts in those areas.
3 However, as far as I know, in that region the Croats
4 remained who wished to remain, and throughout the war
5 they stayed there, which means that nothing stopped
6 them from staying there. Those who wanted to leave had
7 already left. There was fighting, though, yes, that's
9 Q. My question was whether Croatian houses were
10 destroyed and set fire to, and the Milinfosum D105/1
11 testifies to that.
12 A. I passed through the area after the conflict,
13 and there were some houses which were destroyed, that
14 is true. But there were also other houses which were
15 not destroyed.
16 Q. I have one more question in this regard.
17 Do you agree with me that in the Silo, which
18 was a part of Kacuni, Silos, that that was a camp for
19 Croats from January onwards, particularly 1993, so I'm
20 thinking about the summer?
21 A. Your Honours, it is a very strong
22 characterisation, "a camp for Croats." That kind of
23 institution did not exist in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In
24 Silos, a unit or part of a unit was put up, a part of
25 the unit of the Busovaca Brigade, and part of the
1 prisoners, military prisoners, were located in that
2 Silo. It is a large complex in the area, compound in
3 the area, but it was not a camp for Croats. Nor did
4 camps for Croats exist in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
5 Q. Well, regardless of what you call them, do we
6 agree that the prisoners were there?
7 A. No. Please don't say that. I don't wish to
8 speak about camps for Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina, so
9 don't say that, don't qualify them as such. That is
10 not true.
11 JUDGE MAY: I must interrupt you. We'll get
12 on if you don't argue with counsel. I think the point
13 is was there a camp in the Silos. The answer is that
14 we've heard there was.
15 Now, is there any question you want to ask
16 about it?
17 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Yes. I just
18 wanted to ask him whether I had understood correctly
19 and does the General consider that there was a prison
20 in which there were Croatian detainees.
21 A. Yes, that is correct.
22 Q. Very well. Then we may proceed. I have a
23 few short questions now on different topics.
24 You spoke about the killing of Ibrahim
25 Hodzic, and you said that it was your duty to
1 investigate the matter. My question would be the
2 following: Do you agree with me that Mr. Dario Kordic
3 spoke publicly about this killing at a press conference
4 in February 1993, and he expressed his condolences to
5 the family of the deceased, and condemned this act, and
6 said that criminals had perpetrated it and that this
7 was not a good thing for the Croatian people?
8 A. Why then did Mr. Kordic -- just one moment,
9 please. I want to say the following: I learned about
10 the killing at a meeting of the European Monitoring
11 Mission, and together with the European Monitoring
12 Mission, as a joint commission, we set off to the site
13 to learn more about what happened. We were not allowed
14 to learn what had happened. So, please, that is
15 something that I have stated, and I have stated the
16 names of individuals who refused to let us see the
18 Q. My question was simple. Did you know that
19 Mr. Kordic said what I paraphrased a moment ago with
20 regard to the killing of Ibrahim Hodzic?
21 A. He did not say this in my presence, and I did
22 not have any contact with Dario Kordic at that time.
23 Q. Perhaps you learned this via television and
24 the radio?
25 A. Dario Kordic would never say, on television,
1 things of this kind. I cannot claim that he did so. I
2 didn't see it. All I can tell you is what I saw and
3 what I can back up by arguments.
4 Q. So you heard nothing about this?
5 A. I personally did not, no.
6 Q. I had occasion to see that you were present
7 in March 1993 in Donja Polje. One of the frequent
8 meetings of this Joint Busovaca Commission, you
9 attended it, and you and Franjo Nakic [realtime
10 transcript read in error "Tudjman"] spoke on the
11 occasion. You spoke about the work that you had done,
12 and all this was in 1993.
13 Do you agree with me, Mr. Merdan, and I see
14 that you said that you did, that there were extremists
15 on both sides, and, of course, you meant the HVO and
16 the BH army as being those two sides?
17 A. Yes, I believe so today, that extremists do
19 Q. Do we also agree that at that particular
20 time -- and those of you who worked on the Joint
21 Commission, this made your daily work more difficult
22 with people in the field -- that there was a lot of
23 misinformation and that this was very marked?
24 A. Well, look at it this way: I don't think
25 that there was misinformation put out, but there was
1 information put out by people that were exaggerated,
2 this information was exaggerated.
3 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Just one
4 moment. In the transcript, it says "Franjo Tudjman,"
5 and it should state "Franjo Nakic."
6 Q. So you used the word "misinformation ",
7 exaggerated misinformation. That's why I asked you
8 because that's what you said at that particular meeting
9 in Donja Polje. Your delegation, the Croatian
10 delegation, took part in talks with some journalists
11 and so on?
12 A. Well, I visited the front lines where the
13 fighting took place, together with Mr. Franjo Nakic in
14 the European Monitoring Mission, and our objective was
15 to calm the situation, to prevent any further
16 escalation, and to try and solve the problem through
17 peaceful means.
18 Q. Very well. Let us proceed.
19 I have two questions with respect to the HV,
20 the Croatian army. You travelled a great deal along
21 roads throughout Central Bosnia. That was where you
22 travelled; is that correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And I suppose you received a number of
25 intelligence information.
1 A. That's correct too.
2 Q. You personally never came across, in this
3 area, of a Croatian army unit, and you know what I
4 mean, in the military sense of the word, a military
5 Croatian army unit?
6 A. That is correct, I never met a unit of the
7 Croatian army in that area.
8 Q. You have explained to the Court and to all of
9 us in the courtroom, that is to say, you identified a
10 man, Ivan Sarac, who was killed in the Busovaca region,
11 and this is the identification card of that particular
12 individual. So this was an individual case.
13 Do you know whether anybody was from Croatia,
14 originated from Croatia? Do you know within which unit
15 this man Ivica Sarac was killed?
16 A. I don't know, but it says so on his I.D. You
17 can read it, you can read where he came from. But it
18 is also common knowledge that a member of the Croatian
19 army was taken prisoner, and we didn't see a picture of
20 him, but he said expressly that he was a member of the
21 unit of the Croatian army -- a member of the Croatian
22 army unit which was in the region.
23 Q. I am talking about Central Bosnia now
24 exclusively. Sarac, you say, died somewhere around
25 Busovaca. Now, I'm asking you whether you know within
1 what unit he was fighting when he was killed.
2 A. I do not know within which composition he
3 fought when he was killed.
4 Q. People used to have various insignia on their
5 uniforms in the region. They had various uniforms. Do
6 you agree that these insignia and emblems on the
7 uniform did not always reflect the unit they belonged
9 A. Well, yes, I saw people with HV insignia, but
10 I am talking about people we talked to and not the
11 people we did not talk to, and the talks I did not take
12 part in.
13 Q. Very well, General. We shall see the video,
14 and we'll have a chance to discuss it, but I should
15 like to put some facts to you, if I may.
16 When you spoke about the forces of the BH
17 army in April 1993, you said, in general terms -- made
18 a general conclusion and said that, "Our forces were
19 made up of everybody who was up at the front lines
20 facing the Serbs before the 16th of April." Is that
22 A. Yes, it is.
23 Q. Now, I'd like to draw your attention to the
24 following, and Their Honours have had occasion to hear
25 about this on the basis of many milinfosums and so on,
1 but a series of your brigades were mentioned who were
2 located in Central Bosnia. In concrete terms, the
3 303rd Brigade, the 303rd Mountain Brigade attacked
4 Kaonik from the Grablje direction in 1993, on the 16th,
5 and you must know that as a commander of the
6 3rd Corps.
7 A. The brigade did not launch the attack. Let's
8 clear that up. The 303rd Brigade had an area of
9 responsibility in other areas. So it was not the
10 303rd Brigade which was located there. There was a
11 reinforced unit which helped to defend the area from
12 the HVO, and that is where the escalation began.
13 Q. The 303rd Mountain Brigade of the BH army was
14 east and south of Busovaca and on that particular day.
15 A. Just one moment. Would you repeat the day
16 because the day is essential.
17 Q. The 16th of April I'm talking about. The
18 303rd Mountain Brigade.
19 A. That is April. You're thinking about April;
20 is that right?
21 Q. Yes. So the continuation of the escalation
22 of the conflict on the 16th. That's what we're
24 A. The 333rd Busovaca Brigade was, for all
25 practical purposes, from area under the control of the
1 Territorial Defence, that is correct. And within its
2 composition it had battalions. That is correct as
3 well. And these battalions were in the area of
4 responsibility of that brigade, and all the manoeuvres
5 that took place were geared towards the positions of
6 the Serbian aggressor.
7 Q. The 325th Mountain Brigade was in Kruscica
8 and north, that is to say, in Kruscica, and held --
9 that is to say, it attacked in the direction of Vitez.
10 And one battalion attacked Busovaca via the Bare
11 direction of this 325th Brigade?
12 A. The 325th Brigade was formed by the
13 population from the Zenica -- no, not Zenica, I
14 misspoke -- from the Vitez municipality, and it had two
15 battalions. One battalion, I can't remember if it was
16 the 1st or 2nd, but it was formed by the Muslim
17 population from the Kruscica area. Whereas the 2nd
18 Battalion -- that is to say, the 1st and 2nd Battalion,
19 it doesn't matter what their name was -- but it was
20 from the broader region of Poculica. The unit was
21 there to defend the line at Turbe and was not deployed
22 as you described it a moment ago. We are talking about
23 April 1993.
24 Q. Yes. That's exact. Very well. And the
25 308th Mountain Brigade in the Novi Travnik area, what
1 about that?
2 A. The 308th Brigade was deployed in the broader
3 region of Komar.
4 Q. I have several other examples. I don't know
5 whether I need mention them. The 309th Brigade, which
6 was in the Kakanj area, not on the front line facing
7 the Serbs?
8 A. The 309th Brigade, at that time, was deployed
9 in the region of Zavidovici, facing the Serb
10 aggressor. I'm talking about that particular period of
11 time. Do we mean the same period of time?
12 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Naumovski, I hope you can
13 bring this examination to a close by the time of the
14 adjournment. You have now been examining for longer,
15 yourself, than the examination-in-chief. You've been
16 examining for over two hours. We must ask you to make
17 progress. Remember that you will have the opportunity
18 to call evidence yourself.
19 Now, can you make efforts, please, to finish
20 by the adjournment.
21 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation]
22 Unfortunately, Your Honours, with all due respect, I
23 must say that I won't be able to conclude by one. You
24 must understand that this is a very important witness,
25 if none other than because of the function he held. He
1 was the deputy commander --
2 JUDGE MAY: We fully understand the
3 importance of the witness, but you must understand the
4 necessity of finishing these proceedings. It's not
5 right that parties should think that they can examine
6 at any length which they choose. It is the
7 responsibility of this Court to finish its
8 proceedings. This case has already been going for --
9 getting on for ten months, and I have to say that much
10 of that time has been taken up by cross-examination.
11 Now, I shan't order you to close your
12 examination, but during the adjournment you must tailor
13 it and make sure that it is relevant and make sure it's
14 not matters upon which you simply can't call evidence
15 in due course.
16 Mr. Kovacic, have you much for this witness?
17 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I
18 have been attending with great attention the questions
19 asked by Mr. Naumovski, and some of the questions that
20 I wanted to ask he has already asked, so I won't be
21 asking those. But I cannot plan ahead too much, but I
22 have got considerable material to get through. I hope
23 to be able to finish within the space of an hour,
24 perhaps a little more than that, but about one hour.
25 And if my learned colleague discusses some other
1 matters, I shall have to see. But within the direct,
2 of course.
3 [Trial Chamber confers]
4 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation]
5 Mr. Naumovski, could you please tell us; it is now five
6 minutes to 1. We shall be sitting this afternoon.
7 As you know, we resume our work at 2.30 and we work
8 until 4. How long do you intend to devote to the
9 cross-examination of General Merdan?
10 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Well, Your
11 Honours, I have planned to get through one final topic,
12 but it is extensive and relates to a whole series of
13 events which took place in the Lasva River valley from
14 January 1993 to the end of the year. So it is
15 difficult for me to be able to plan.
16 JUDGE MAY: How does it arise from the
18 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Just like the
19 topic that I have just touched upon; that is to say, it
20 relates to the army and its activities, and we
21 mentioned one particular unit which is the 7th Muslim
23 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Very well,
24 but could we try to plan our time now. Will you
25 terminate -- could you finish your cross-examination
1 within half an hour, so that Mr. Kovacic could use the
2 remaining hour this afternoon so that we could --
3 Mr. Merdan could finish his testimony and be allowed to
4 go? After all, he was here last week already. So do
5 you think he could be set free -- allowed to go this
6 afternoon? So we expect you will be able to organise
7 yourself so as to finish your cross-examination within
8 half an hour. Mr. Kovacic would then have the rest of
9 this time and then we would be able to finish with this
10 witness this afternoon. Thank you very much.
11 JUDGE MAY: And, General, just answer these
12 questions yes or no, because we can get on much more
13 quickly if you simply deal with these very briefly. I
14 shall watch to see if they do arise.
15 Now, what are the matters you -- tell us what
16 you want to put to the witness. Give us an idea
17 of what the matters are that you want to put to the
19 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Well, the
20 main topic is the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, with
21 particular reference to the 7th Muslim Brigade. Quite
22 simple, Your Honours. That is the main topic which I
23 have planned for after the lunch break.
24 JUDGE MAY: Very well. What is it you want
25 to ask about the 7th Muslim Brigade?
1 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] First, the
2 role of Mr. Merdan and his possible links with the
3 7th Muslim Brigade, and apart from that --
4 JUDGE MAY: Let's deal with that. Did you
5 have any links with the 7th Muslim Brigade, General?
6 A. The 7th Muslim Brigade was within the
7 composition of the 3rd Corps of the Army of the
8 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It had its Commander
9 who, in the chain of command, was directly subordinate
10 to the commander of the 3rd Corps. I, as his Deputy,
11 in his absence was in contact with the 7th Muslim
12 Brigade, but I never issued written orders because that
13 had to be done by the Corps Commander.
14 JUDGE MAY: Yes. What's the next question
15 about the 7th Muslim Brigade?
16 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Well, if I
17 may, Your Honour, I would like to oppose what the
18 General has just said by showing an article --
19 JUDGE MAY: Who wrote the article?
20 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] -- published
21 in the Washington Post. And from this it emerges --
22 JUDGE MAY: How is he going to comment on
23 some article in the Washington Post?
24 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Well, Your
25 Honour, from the text it is evident that that
1 journalist talked to Mr. Merdan. Otherwise, we not
2 have known what the premises he works in looked like
3 from the inside. That is my conclusion.
4 JUDGE MAY: What is the journalist's name?
5 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] The
6 journalist's name was John Pomfret, and the article was
7 published in the Washington Post on the 26th of
8 January, 1996, and it relates to the question I have
9 just put to the witness.
10 JUDGE MAY: General, did you speak to a
11 Mr. Pomfret in January 1996 from the Washington Post?
12 A. I did, Your Honour.
13 JUDGE MAY: Very well. You can put the
14 question. What is it?
15 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I would skip
16 over the introductory part where he mentions great
17 Iranian flag in your room, but the essential point is
18 what the journalist goes on to state later. And if I
19 may, I should like to ask Mr. Stein to read it out
20 because his English is so much better. Just one
22 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters kindly
23 request it be placed on the ELMO if possible.
24 JUDGE MAY: No. We're going to have it read
25 out. Let's read it quickly.
1 MR. STEIN: "But Merdan, western sources say,
2 also had another job as liaison with foreign Islamic
3 fighters here since 1992 and promoter of the Islamic
4 faith among Bosnia's recruits. Sources identify Merdan
5 as being instrumental in the creation of a brigade of
6 Bosnian soldiers called the 7th Muslim Brigade that is
7 heavily influenced by Islam and trained by fighters
8 from Iran's revolutionary guards. He has also launched
9 a programme, these source say, to build mosques on
10 military training grounds to teach Islam to Bosnian
11 recruits. In addition, he helped establish training
12 camps in Bosnia where revolutionary guards carried out
13 their work."
14 JUDGE MAY: Did you say that to Mr. Pomfret,
16 A. No. I did not tell the journalist that.
17 JUDGE MAY: Well, we'll adjourn.
18 Mr. Naumovski, would you bear in mind what has been
19 said, that this witness must finish today, and you must
20 allow Mr. Kovacic some time to cross-examine. So would
21 you organise your examination to wrap it up in half an
23 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I shall do my
24 utmost, Your Honour.
25 JUDGE MAY: Thank you. We'll adjourn now
1 until half past 2.
2 --- Luncheon recess taken at 1.03 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.36 p.m.
2 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Naumovski.
3 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you,
4 Your Honours. In accordance with your instructions, I
5 went through all the questions that I still had, and I
6 do believe that I will finish within the time you
7 allotted us. And also we showed the text of this
8 article in the Washington Post, but we did not get the
9 number, and we would like to tender it. So could we
10 please have the number?
11 JUDGE MAY: Yes. If you want to ask any
12 other questions about it, the witness should have a
13 copy. Do you want to ask anything else?
14 MR. NAUMOVSKI: No, thank you.
15 THE REGISTRAR: The document will be marked
17 MR. NAUMOVSKI:
18 Q. General Merdan, as I have promised the Court,
19 a group of questions -- a set of questions that I still
20 have to ask you, in addition to some less important
21 ones, is the 7th Muslim Brigade.
22 Sometime towards the end of your
23 examination-in-chief -- you don't have to give it to
24 the witness. Don't bother. So let me proceed.
25 You were shown Z1147,2, which is an
1 organigramme of the 7th Corps, and if I understand
2 it -- could it be shown the witness, please, and then
3 he will be able to tell us. It is Z1147,2. Could it
4 be shown the witness, please? It was one of the last
5 documents that were tendered today.
6 General Merdan, on this organisational chart
7 which I show you now is the box marked "X". In
8 addition to this, four aperitive groups. So what I'm
9 interested in is "X" at the end to the right. Is that
10 "X" the 7th Muslim Brigade, perhaps?
11 A. No, not in the chain of command, this is not
12 the 7th Muslim Brigade. "X" does not mean the 7th
13 Muslim command.
14 Q. All right. Could you please explain to us
15 what it means?
16 A. In the organisation such as this chart shows,
17 all it says is the Commander, Deputy Commander -- I
18 can't translate it because I don't speak English --
19 Mr. Mahmuljin also, then the secretary and so on and so
20 forth, and then there is also the Core Command in this
21 system which does not comprise only these five men but
22 also the staff, that is, other bodies, and there are
23 also units attached to the staff from logistics,
24 intelligence, reconnaissance units, military police,
25 and so on and so forth.
1 Q. Right. But below this "X" it says "Zenica"
2 and then "Commander Amir Kubura," that Amir Kubura was
3 one of the Commanders of the 7th Muslim Brigade; isn't
4 that right?
5 A. Yes, he was one of the Commanders of the 7th
6 Muslim, but it is not only allowed to show that this is
7 in the chain of command. Perhaps there should be a
8 dash or something to link them together.
9 Q. Well, that is precisely my question. Would
10 you agree with me that the 7th Muslim Brigade was under
11 the command of the 3rd Corps of the Army of
12 Bosnia-Herzegovina and that we should add a dash, as
13 you say?
14 A. Well, no, not really any dash. What I'm
15 saying is that the 7th Muslim Brigade was under the
16 command of the 3rd Corps command.
17 Q. Right. So if we're talking about the chain
18 of command and who makes part of the 3rd Corps, you
19 will agree with me that a special unit, El Mujahed, was
20 also under the 3rd Corps command and it numbered about
21 1.000 men?
22 A. Yes, that is true. But will you give me the
23 time frame, because we may be referring to different
24 periods of time. I say it was under the 3rd Corps
25 command, but again it depends on the period of time.
1 Q. I'm referring to the time when Asim Koricic
2 commanded the 7th Muslim Brigade, so that would be --
3 the brigade was founded on the 1st of December, '92, so
4 that would be that period until sometime in the summer
6 A. I believe you made a mistake, because Asim
7 Koricic was never a Commander of the 7th Muslim
8 Brigade. And the El Mujahed was founded, as far as I
9 know, in late '93 or perhaps early '94, and when it was
10 established, it was placed under the command of the 3rd
11 Corps command.
12 Q. If I understand you well, you say that Asim
13 Koricic was never the Commander of the 7th Muslim
15 A. No, Asim Koricic was never the Commander of
16 the 7th Muslim Brigade.
17 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I'm not
18 going to show the witness something that was said by a
19 third party, but Asim Koricic testified in the Blaskic
20 case, and he spoke about the 7th Brigade in Blaskic's
21 case. He was one of the Commanders of the 7th Muslim
22 Brigade who testified in the Blaskic case. There were
23 three of them altogether.
24 Q. Right. Well, this special unit, El Mujahed
25 was a special unit outside the 7th Muslim Brigade. Is
1 that so?
2 A. Yes, it is.
3 Q. And it does not appear on this organisational
4 chart, even though there is no date here. So we do not
5 know what period of time it covers. There is no date
6 on this organigramme.
7 A. No. I don't see the Mujahed detachment
9 Q. Right. But since we are talking about the
10 7th Muslim Brigade, would you agree with me that parts
11 of that Brigade were engaged to a certain extent in
12 conflicts fought in Central Bosnia between January 1993
13 until the Washington Accords? So January 1993 until
14 March or April 1994 or, rather, fighting started in
15 February 1993, 1994.
16 A. The 7th Muslim Brigade was invariably engaged
17 in the area controlled by the 3rd Corps mostly.
18 Q. Thank you. General Merdan, the 7th Muslim
19 Brigade or, rather, there was a major review of the 7th
20 Brigade on the 11th of November, 1993, and it was in
21 Zenica. I'm sure you will remember it. It was on a
22 day when Alija Izetbegovic, the then president of the
23 presidency reviewed the Brigade. Do you remember
25 A. I don't know which date you have in mind, but
1 Mr. Izetbegovic reviewed that brigade on two or three
3 Q. I'm referring to the 11th of November, 1993.
4 11th of November, 1993.
5 A. In the archives of the army of
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina, one can find the exact dates when
7 Mr. Alija Izetbegovic reviewed the 7th Muslim Brigade.
8 It is very easy to find that date, no difficulty at
10 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] If I may,
11 Your Honours, I would like to produce a document which
12 shows this unequivocally. This is a BBC summary, and
13 the source is Radio Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo. It
14 is a very short article. If I may, I would like to
15 produce it.
16 Q. I ask you this, because I wanted to ask you
17 something else. I wanted you to agree with me that you
18 also attended that particular review. That is why I
19 thought that you would remember.
20 A. Personally, I did not attend all the
21 reviews. I did attend some. I cannot really remember
22 which ones I did attend and which ones I didn't.
23 MR. NAUMOVSKI: Your Honours --
24 THE REGISTRAR: [Previous translation
25 continues] ... 262/1.
1 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Well, can it
2 be placed on the ELMO so the interpreters can see it.
3 JUDGE MAY: Is there a reference to the
5 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Not
6 explicitly in this article, and I was about to ask you
7 for help. I have prepared a tape which is about this
8 particular review. This tape is about 16 minutes long,
9 but since you gave me only half an hour, I have no time
10 to show the tape in its entirety. I believe I glimpsed
11 Mr. Merdan on this tape, but the recording is of rather
12 poor quality. But I hoped it would jog his memory.
13 However, as I have said, the tape is quite long. It is
14 about 15 or 16 minutes long.
15 If the witness doesn't remember, I might just
16 recount the contents of the reporting and then he'll
17 remember it. Not only on that day. I mean, that is
18 only the immediate reason. But we have a transcript
19 prepared both in English and in Croatian.
20 JUDGE MAY: Before we go any further, what is
21 the point of this line of questioning? What are you
22 trying to establish?
23 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I wanted to
24 ask some direct questions of General Merdan, and may I
25 start and perhaps he will remember.
1 Q. The host, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic, at that
2 review was -- of the brigade Mahmut Efendija Karalic --
3 do you remember that?
4 A. While Emir was with the 7th Muslim Brigade, I
5 do not know how many times Mr. Alija Izetbegovic came
6 into contact with that Brigade. All I say is that I
7 attended some of the reviews and didn't some of the
8 others, and I simply cannot remember which ones I did
9 attend and which ones I did not.
10 Q. Well, let me give you another detail which
11 might refresh your memory. I don't know if all the
12 reviews ended in the same way, but this one, before the
13 talks with the Commander of the Brigade began, they all
14 gathered in a gymnasium where the review took place.
15 And this was the first time that the anthem of the
16 Brigade was played. Somebody had written it for that
17 particular occasion.
18 A. At all the reviews we prayed for the -- for
19 those killed and those who suffered during that war.
20 So you cannot see a review or a recording of a review
21 at which we did not pray for those who were killed in
22 this war or suffered otherwise. So that can be no
23 proof that I attended that particular review. I always
24 prayed to the God for those who died in the war.
25 Q. All right. And I'll ask questions to this
1 effect. I won't insist on your being there if you
2 don't remember it.
3 The Commander of the Brigade, at the time
4 when this is happening, as it transpires from this
5 article, was commander Kubura. He was an army
6 Commander. However, President Izetbegovic was welcomes
7 and hosted by the Emir of the Brigade. Now, will you
8 please explain the Court what is Emir? How is it best
9 to translate it? I saw in English somebody used the
10 word "ruler," but what is the best way to translate it
11 into English? Does it have several meanings perhaps?
12 A. As far as I understand, the meaning of
13 "emir," it is an Emir which inspires faith in people
14 who are going to fight and whose duties in units are
15 purely religious, of a religious nature.
16 Q. Thank you. So Mahmut Efendija Karalic, the
17 Emir of the 7th Muslim Brigade, was, I believe, the
18 President of the Islamic Centre or whatever it was
19 called in Zenica. He founded the Brigade, also
20 financed it in part, and so on and so forth. Is that
22 A. I do not remember that, and I really cannot
23 say yes or no.
24 Q. This is what was also said by Mr. Asim
25 Koricic on page 2323 in Blaskic's case.
1 JUDGE MAY: You cannot cross-examine this
2 witness about what somebody else said in another case.
3 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I accept Your
4 Honour's --
5 Q. Apart from Emir, in the 7th Muslim Brigade
6 there were also several imams and mesjid, if I
7 pronounce it properly.
8 A. Yes. While in a -- lower organisational
9 units of the 7th brigade there were imams, and the
10 prayer took place in facilities which we call mesjid.
11 Q. The 7th Muslim also had different insignia,
12 but this is important and we shall mention only one,
13 and that was full -- full freedom of religion. So the
14 soldier, the combatants, have to live in line with
15 religion, in line with the religious precepts.
16 A. That's how it should be.
17 Q. So the religious obedience of every man,
18 including soldier, and life accordance to religious
19 rules is above all, above everything else?
20 A. Yes. Belief in God is above all.
21 Q. I should like the witness to be shown the
22 document D1/1, please. 1/1. It was our first
24 Tell us, General Merdan, as a JNA officer,
25 you learned about Geneva Conventions. That is
1 something that all the JNA officers were taught, is
2 that so?
3 A. Yes, it is.
4 Q. Mr. Merdan, what I want to show you, we
5 already explained it, these are the instructions for
6 Muslim combatants by Hafiz Halilmehtic and a professor
7 Hasan Makic. And it was published by the office of the
8 Mascurat [phoen] Of the Islamic community of the
9 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Let me just repeat
10 it. The office, that is the Mascurat of the Islamic
11 community, and that is the supreme body of the Muslim
12 community in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
13 A. Religious.
14 Q. Yes, religious. What I want to do is show
15 you just one column. I don't know whether you have
16 it. It's page 25. I don't know. It is page 25, and
17 each of those are prisoners of war.
18 The gist of the first paragraph, we do not
19 have to read it, it is that it is prohibited to kill
20 children, women and clergy. But will you please read
21 the second passage, the first two sentences of the
22 second passage where it says, "This is the general
23 rules binding on our soldiers. However, if the
24 commander, if the superior, decides that the situation
25 and the common interests request a different conduct,
1 the soldiers are bound to obey" -- "are duty-bound to
2 obey their superior."
3 And then if you will turn the page, 26, on
4 top, it also says, "The military command can also
5 decide if it is more useful and more in the common
6 interest to set free exchange or liquidate a hostile,
7 an enemy, a captured soldier, a prisoner, prisoner of
8 war." Did you understand what I just read? These are
9 religious instructions?
10 A. Yes, I did understand you.
11 Q. But not a prisoner, I mean a prisoner of war
12 rather than a detainee. I apologise. So these are
13 religious rules, and they are the basis, the
14 foundation, the basis which governed the conduct of
16 A. Well, I'm not the interpreter of religion.
17 Mahmut Efendija Karalic is a much greater believer, if
18 one may put it that way. I cannot really speak about
19 religion after what Mahmut Efendija Karalic wrote.
20 This is the first time that I see this document.
21 Q. Well, let me ask you explicitly then,
22 General Merdan. The Units under your command, in the
23 3rd Command, did they commit any crimes?
24 A. The Units under the command of the 3rd
25 Command did not commit any crimes.
1 Q. I have prepared several important, rather,
2 several major instances. The Court has already heard
3 about crimes in the village of Dusina in the Lasva
4 Valley. It is from the Busovaca side as you are
5 aware. Ten people were massacred on the 26th of
6 January. In that village there was a company of the
7 2nd Muslim Brigade, commanded by Serif Patkovic. You
8 must have heard about that crime?
9 A. This was not a crime, and one can find
10 recordings in the archives that the Croat combatants
11 were killed in that area during that conflict, and that
12 their names were submitted to people in the Croat
13 Defence Council because the bodies were in the Zenica
14 hospital where post-mortem was performed, and they were
15 handed over to the Croat Defence Council. There is the
16 record of the hospital which performed the
18 Q. I agree with you that the bodies were handed
19 over, and this photograph that you are referring to, I
20 hope the Defence will manage to get hold of it, that
21 Zvonko Rajic's heart was cut out. That is surely a
22 crime. And the nine others were shot as imprisoned
23 individuals in a house, they were disarmed, and among
24 them there are civilians. Have you heard about that?
25 A. I cannot tell you what the report from the
1 civilian hospital in Zenica says where the post-mortems
2 of the dead were carried out. I do not believe that
3 that hospital in Zenica could have cut that man's heart
5 Q. Tell me, did you undertake anything in the
6 3rd Corps to punish the perpetrators of this crime?
7 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation]
8 Mr. Naumovski, will you try to focus on the
9 cross-examination? We are not now trying the 3rd
10 Muslim Army for war crimes. We have two accused,
11 Mr. Kordic and Mr. Cerkez. There is a witness who has
12 come to testify on a certain number of elements raised
13 in the examination in chief by the Prosecutor. So
14 please try and limit yourself to those things rather
15 than going to other potential crimes. I think we've
16 already told you that. So please focus back on our
17 case, and I think you have no more than ten more
18 minutes at your disposal.
19 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I understand,
20 Your Honour, but I do appeal to you for your
21 understanding. This is the highest-level witness from
22 the 3rd Corps who was performing his duties at the time
23 in question, and it is my professional duty to ask him
24 about what he knows about those things. If he says he
25 knows nothing, then I will not continue.
1 Q. Having mentioned Totic and his kidnapping,
2 you participated in the negotiations over the release
3 of Totic and the exchange for the eight Arabs that had
4 been imprisoned.
5 A. No, I just took part in the actual exchange.
6 I did not take part in the planning for the exchange.
7 Q. So you were in Zenica when the exchange took
8 place in mid-May '93?
9 A. No. At the time of exchange, I was in Novi
10 Travnik because I was to take care of the captured
11 members of the Croatian Defence Council or, rather, the
12 kidnapped members of the HVO in Novi Travnik, and I was
13 in that area.
14 Q. Well, since you were not there, let me not
15 dwell on that matter any further.
16 Some very brief comments on some other
17 crimes. In the village of Maljine, on the 8th of June,
18 '93, 36 civilians were killed, executed, shot. As the
19 Deputy Commander of the 3rd Corps, had you heard about
20 that crime?
21 A. I repeat again that the army of the Republic
22 of Bosnia-Herzegovina did not commit a crime anywhere.
23 I learned about what you have just said from reports
24 that reached me from the area, and I know that the
25 battle area was being mopped up and that all the
1 casualties of that conflict were buried in two graves.
2 And as far as I know, these graves were dug up and the
3 bodies handed over to members of the HVO in the
4 presence of representatives of the International
6 Q. But who killed them? That's my question. Do
7 you know that?
8 A. I do not know whether they were civilians or
9 members of armed units. I didn't have occasion to see
10 those people or, rather, to see those bodies.
11 Q. Let me remind you of a name. Maybe that will
12 refresh your memory. One of the suspects was Abu Aja,
13 a Commander of the Abu Aja detachment. He was also
14 under the 3rd Corps. Does that name mean anything to
16 A. You're talking about the summer of 1993?
17 Q. Yes, the 8th of June.
18 A. And I'm saying that a Mujahedin detachment
19 was formed at the end of 1993 or maybe the beginning of
20 1994, and there are regular orders about that in the
21 archives of the BH army. So the Mujahedin detachment,
22 if it existed at the time, I don't know that it
23 existed, but it was not under the command of the 3rd
24 Corps in June.
25 Q. Could I infer from this, when you mention
1 some Arab groups and so on, that in the area of the
2 responsibility of the BH 3rd Corps, there were certain
3 units operating who were outside the chain of command
4 of the 3rd Corps?
5 A. I don't think that your question is precise
6 enough. Were there any units? I say that there were
7 no units. There may have been groups of men. I really
8 don't know how many Arabs there were in Central
9 Bosnia. I think that the HVO has the names and
10 surnames of the persons they stopped at checkpoints.
11 They have the names, I do not, because I don't know who
12 entered Central Bosnia. We were not controlling the
13 entry points to Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were under
14 the control of the HVO.
15 Q. Let's not go back to a topic we have already
16 covered. We are running out of time. But in
17 principle, would you agree with me that the army of
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina, on the 8th of June, 1993, launched
19 a major military operation in the broader area of
20 Central Bosnia, particularly Zenica or, rather,
21 Travnik/Novi Travnik, and that about 20.000 Croats fled
22 the area and retreated to Central Bosnia? And I can
23 list a number of villages that were destroyed at the
24 time; Grahovcici, Maljine, and all those villages, Guca
25 Gora. I'm sure you know those names.
1 A. The army of the Republic of
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina did everything it could to avoid a
3 conflict between the army and the HVO.
4 I'll be very brief.
5 When the conflict escalated in the summer of
6 1993, it was very difficult for us to protect the
7 fighters in that area for combat against the Serb
8 aggression. We have the maps of the HVO, and the
9 places are indicated which the HVO had ambitions to
10 conquer, if we can talk about conquest.
11 Q. Would you agree with me that a series of
12 Croatian villages were destroyed, about 50 villages
13 between Zenica and Travnik, 1.500 houses burned down,
14 and so on and so forth? Those are the exact figures.
15 There are exact figures.
16 A. Houses were destroyed, but they were not
17 burnt. They were destroyed after battle, because --
18 and in the course of battle, because there was fighting
19 in that area.
20 Q. So you're claiming that not a single village,
21 not a single house, was destroyed after the end of
23 A. No, I cannot claim that, because there were
24 some cases of houses and property being burnt
1 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] As I am
2 running short of time, Your Honour, I should like to
3 show the witness something that a European observer, a
4 monitor, said that Mr. Merdan said. The Centre for
5 Human Rights of the United Nations. There's just one
6 sentence I should like to refer to.
7 Q. The gentleman who wrote this said that you
8 said: "In this area under the control of the 3rd Corps,
9 not a single Croatian village was burnt and not a
10 single church was destroyed." And to save time,
11 mention is made here of the church in Guca Gora and
12 what happened to the Croats in Guca Gora. We've
13 already referred to that. And it says here that the
14 whole area was full of Mujahedins.
15 MR. NICE: Your Honour, I think the witness
16 ought to have a little more detail of what's being put,
17 and I wouldn't mind seeing it myself.
18 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Let's have the copy, if we
20 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Then I'll ask
21 my colleague Mr. Sayers to read it out, and we can
22 produce an exhibit. I just wanted to save time.
23 Perhaps we can put it on the ELMO, page
24 number 5. The pages are not marked, but will you
25 please, Mr. Usher, put page 5 on the ELMO. On the
1 bottom right-hand corner, there's a number.
2 THE REGISTRAR: The document is marked
3 Exhibit D263/1.
4 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] As I said,
5 Your Honours, these are notes or something like a diary
6 of the U.N. Human Rights Centre, dated the 4th of
7 October, 1993, and this was disclosed to us by the
8 Prosecutor. This is a meeting with Mr. Merdan which
9 took place on the 23rd of September, 1993. The
10 reference is to that meeting.
11 With Your Honour's permission, Colleague
12 Sayers will read some passages from this text to remind
13 Mr. Merdan.
14 JUDGE MAY: What are we trying to get with
15 this, Mr. Naumovski? What's the point of it all?
16 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] This European
17 monitor, a man from the Central U.N. Office for Human
18 Rights, consulted two other commanders, and they do not
19 agree with Mr. Merdan's conclusion.
20 JUDGE MAY: Don't repeat what is here. What
21 I'm asking you is what is the point of the question?
22 What are you trying to put to the witness? We can see
23 what's written here. Now, what do you want to put to
24 the witness?
25 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] "So the
1 people you spoke to do not agree with your conclusion
2 that not a single house or a single church was
3 destroyed?" That would be the gist of my question.
4 JUDGE MAY: That's not a question, that's a
5 comment. Does anything that you've heard make you
6 change your evidence, General?
7 A. I will not change my evidence. In the church
8 in Guca Gora, I arrived in an UNPROFOR vehicle because
9 the battle was ongoing. With me was the UNPROFOR
10 commander at the time, and when we entered the church
11 in Guca Gora, we found about 250 to 300 civilians there
12 who needed to be evacuated, upon UNPROFOR's proposal,
13 from Guca Gora.
14 At the time, I met in the church an HVO
15 commander. I think his name was Pero. He used to work
16 in the TO staff before the war, and he told me that
17 civilians had been brought there intentionally, that
18 there were minefields placed there in the church after
19 the Croats got there, and that the Croats cannot be
20 taken out but that they had to be evacuated by UNPROFOR
22 I was at the head of that column. To avoid
23 any fire being opened on them, all those people were
24 evacuated from the Guca Gora church safe and sound.
25 That is the truth.
1 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation]
2 Mr. Naumovski, we don't need to read now. We have
3 heard the witness and you can go on, and that brings to
4 an end of the time at your disposal.
5 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Yes, Your
6 Honour. That's what I thought. I will not expand on
7 this topic any further, Your Honour, but a couple more
8 details about the 7th Muslim Brigade.
9 Q. Ekrem Mahmutovic, a witness in this Court,
10 told us and agreed with me that the 7th Muslim Brigade
11 that entered the town of Vares, when it was abandoned
12 by the Croats, simply destroyed the town and that he
13 was ashamed on that score. Do you agree with that?
14 A. No. The 7th Muslim Brigade did not destroy
15 the town of Vares.
16 Q. Very well, thank you. Would you agree with
17 me that about 15 to 20 thousand Croats were chased out
18 of the area of Kraljeva Sutjeska in Vares in June 1993?
19 A. I do not agree with that statement, because
20 the Croatian population was not expelled anywhere. The
21 Croatian population was chased out by HVO soldiers.
22 This happened in Kakanj as well. We have statements of
23 Croats who are alive to this day and who stayed
25 Q. Tell me, please -- I beg your pardon. I
1 forgot about the interpreters. Was the area of Fojnica
2 under the 3rd Corps, was it in your area of
4 A. For a certain time, yes.
5 Q. The 1st and 2nd of July, '93, is my question.
6 A. Could you repeat the date?
7 Q. The 2nd of July, 1993.
8 A. I cannot tell you exactly now, but it is true
9 that units of the 3rd Corps were deployed in that
10 area. Whether this was so at that point in time, I
11 can't tell you without looking into the reports which
12 are in the archives of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
13 Q. Very briefly, do you know that the town of
14 Fojnica was proclaimed a zone of peace and that an
15 agreement to that effect was signed in the presence of
16 representatives of the International Community?
17 A. This agreement, in the presence of the
18 European Community, was one of many. I can't exactly
19 remember that particular date when Fojnica was
20 apparently proclaimed a town of peace.
21 Q. But you're a military man, so could you agree
22 with me that at the beginning of July, a major
23 offensive was launched by the BH army against the HVO
24 and that thousands of Croats had to leave Fojnica
25 municipality and the town itself, of course?
1 A. You didn't say which year.
2 Q. In 1993.
3 A. At that point in time, I was not in the
4 Fojnica area, I was elsewhere.
5 Q. At the time conflicts had escalated?
6 A. No, I wasn't there at the time, I wasn't in
7 Fojnica, so I can't confirm that.
8 Q. These were a few questions relating to the
9 3rd Corps, and you were the Deputy Commander, and
10 that's why I think they're relevant, and that's why I
11 address them to you.
12 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honours,
13 with such a witness, one could go on forever with
14 questions, but it is my duty to heed your advice, and
15 that would end my cross-examination. Thank you for
16 your patience, and thank you too.
17 A. I'm always at the disposal of this Honourable
18 Tribunal. If necessary, I can go on testifying for any
19 length of time.
20 JUDGE MAY: Thank you. Yes, Mr. Kovacic.
21 I trust, General, we're going to finish
23 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour. I'll
24 do certainly my best and I hope I will.
25 Cross-examined by Mr. Kovacic:
1 Q. General, my name is Bozidar Kovacic. I'm an
2 attorney from Rijeka, and with my colleague Goran
3 Mikulicic I represent Mario Cerkez, the second accused
4 in this case.
5 I should like to refer you to the advice
6 given at the beginning regarding interpretation, but I
7 shall ask to phrase my questions so that you can answer
8 them in most cases with a yes or no. Of course, you
9 realise that if certain clarifications are required, of
10 course you will have a chance to do so in the
11 re-examination by the Prosecutor, except if you
12 consider that to be absolutely necessary.
13 Something that my colleague asked you about
14 earlier on, but I think it is more or less clear now,
15 regardless of the fact that you and colleague Naumovski
16 did not agree on the name of the joint body which
17 operated in Busovaca in the course of 1992 as being a
18 joint body with both Muslims and Croats represented,
19 you said it was a legal body that functioned in
20 Busovaca in 1992. I know that. But answer with a yes
21 or no if you know. Was that same model applied in
22 other surrounding municipalities?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Specifically that would include Vitez
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Thank you. General, without entering into
3 the dates of the formation of the army and the
4 transition from the TO to the army, there's quite
5 enough material in the record already about that. I
6 think you mentioned it indirectly. Do you recall that
7 in Vitez, in the town of Vitez, a celebration was held
8 of the anniversary of the BH army on the 14th and 15th
9 of April, and on one of those two days you were present
10 as a representative of the 3rd Corps. Is that
12 A. Could you please give me the year?
13 Q. I apologise. 1993. Just before the
14 conflict. The 14th and 15th of April, 1993.
15 A. I cannot recall, but the 15th of April is the
16 day of the founding of the army of the Republic of
17 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Possibly I was there, but I cannot
18 remember just now.
19 Q. So you don't know any details, whether the
20 celebration went on for two days or not.
21 A. No.
22 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
23 Could the Registry, please, provide the witness with
24 all the documents that I handed over earlier on. To
25 abbreviate things, I will ask the witness to look at
1 two documents. They are all attached together so that
2 we can distribute them all to everyone without wasting
3 any further time. The one I gave during the lunch
5 Q. General, would you be kind enough to look at
6 the map first and keep the other documents aside. Put
7 them to the side so they don't bother you.
8 On the basis of data or, rather, maps
9 provided by our learned friend the Prosecutor, would
10 you please look at this map first? My first question:
11 Would you agree that the blue dotted line marks the
12 territory of Vitez municipality, as far as you were
13 aware, of the administrative divisions? Does that
14 correspond to your knowledge, the territory of Vitez
16 A. Roughly, yes.
17 Q. Very well. Thank you. Do you think that
18 there is any major deviation on this map? I consider
19 that it is quite possible there might be some minor
20 corrections required, but what is essentially, I think,
21 is correct?
22 A. It is difficult for me to answer this
23 question, because I do not know with precision the
24 territory of Vitez municipality, but in rough terms,
25 this does correspond.
1 Q. Tell me. In green are the numbers of the
2 brigades of the BH army. So those are units that have
3 been mentioned as being present in this territory of
4 Zenica, Travnik, Lasva Valley, and in some places, in
5 the course of the conflict from April 1993 onwards,
6 without entering into the situation prior to that date,
7 they were in contact with HVO units that were operating
8 in the territory of Vitez municipality. Is that
10 A. What is shown on the map is not correct.
11 Q. I'm not claiming that geographically this is
12 correct. These were just units that were present in
13 the area, in the broader sense. Can you confirm that
14 those units existed in that area?
15 A. The way in which you have indicated on the
16 map, they did not.
17 Q. Very well. Let me go on to my next question
18 then. Tell me, General, regardless of their actual
19 deployment, which is not important just now, they
20 certainly had their own area of responsibilities.
21 That's what you're referring to, aren't you?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. So each military unit, when deployed in a
24 certain area, has a designated area of responsibility.
25 Can we agree?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Thank you. Tell me, please, General, while
3 we're still on this topic, you're a highly educated
4 military man. You were certainly familiar with the JNA
5 doctrine, of which you were a member during
6 ex-Yugoslavia. Is it true that the Commander of every
7 Unit must know two lower levels of the disposition of
8 his units? If we're talking about a Corps, the Corps
9 Command must know the deployment of the Brigades and
10 deployment of Battalions. Would that be correct?
11 A. That depends on the tactical situation.
12 Q. Very well. So in some situations this is
13 correct. In others, it is not?
14 A. In principle, a Corps in any army does not go
15 down to the level of Battalion. So the 3rd Corps
16 didn't go down to the level of Battalion, only to the
17 level of independent battalions, which were directly
18 under the command of the 3rd Corps.
19 Q. Very well. Thank you. You can leave -- put
20 the map aside. I don't think we'll need it any more.
21 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] And could I
22 have an exhibit number, please?
23 THE REGISTRAR: The map will be numbered
25 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Kovacic.
1 MR. KOVACIC: Yes, sir.
2 JUDGE MAY: In case this were to mislead,
3 this witness, of course, has not accepted that the
4 markings on the map represent the positions of units or
5 anything of that sort. So we can simply admit it as a
6 map, roughly, of Vitez municipality, nothing else.
7 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Correct,
8 Mr. President. We will be coming back to that through
9 a number other documents, but just to be sure I
10 understood this correctly, I think the witness said
11 that he didn't confirm such a deployment, the positions
12 of those units. Can I ask him once again so that we
13 can be sure?
14 JUDGE MAY: No. He said he couldn't confirm
15 the deployment. So let's move on.
16 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Very well.
17 Q. Mr. Merdan, General, sometime at the
18 beginning of your testimony on Thursday you said that
19 you were aware that Cerkez -- I beg your pardon. Let
20 me ask you another question first to lay the ground
22 In your testimony, when talking about various
23 incidents, you mentioned various units that existed
24 within the HVO in the territory of Vitez municipality.
25 Is that correct, that there were several units within
1 the territory of Vitez municipality?
2 A. Yes. That is correct.
3 Q. Then you also told us that it is your belief
4 that Cerkez, as the Brigade Commander, was responsible
5 for the area of Vitez. We were just speaking about
6 areas of responsibility. Did you know exactly what the
7 area of responsibility was of the Vitez Brigade on the
8 day the conflict broke out, the 16th of April, 1993?
9 A. As far as I know, and according to
10 information conveyed to me, the HVO was deployed in
11 accordance with the territories of municipalities, and
12 that is how their units were deployed.
13 Q. But, General, you just said as far as you
14 know. Please, do you have any document or any specific
15 report on the basis of which you can claim that the
16 Vitez Brigade within Vitez municipality was responsible
17 for the whole territory of Vitez or for a particular
18 part of it? You do not have any such document; is that
20 A. The Brigade Commander is responsible for the
21 area and, therefore, Mario Cerkez, who was a Commander
22 of the HVO Vitez Brigade, and I consider him to be
23 responsible for the whole area of Vitez municipality.
24 Q. Unless he had a clearly designated area of
25 responsibility assigned to him by a superior command;
1 is that correct?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And you didn't see any written order from
4 which you could infer that he was responsible for the
5 whole area of Vitez municipality. You are basing your
6 response on a model.
7 A. I'm claiming this on the basis of meetings
8 with Mr. Mario Cerkez and meetings of the joint
9 commission. At all meetings held in the presence of
10 the European Monitoring Mission, Mario Cerkez claimed
11 that he was responsible for those areas which were the
12 subject of discussion at the meeting, and they were all
13 on the territory of Vitez municipality and his area of
15 Q. But after the 17th of April, 1993.
16 A. Yes, after that date as well.
17 Q. But not on the 16th.
18 A. Before the 16th and before the 15th as well.
19 Q. Very well, General. Let me ask you something
20 else concerning areas of responsibility. The area of
21 responsibility of the Vitez Brigade, until the
22 beginning of the conflict in April 1993, was in quite a
23 different position. It was in the area of Novi
24 Travnik, on the front line towards the Army of
25 Republika Srpska. You know that.
1 A. No, it wasn't there. The Vitez HVO Brigade
2 was not there.
3 Q. Is it not correct that they were west of
4 Dzakovici which we can see on this map, that that is
5 where they were deployed?
6 A. For a time, the HVO Novi Travnik Brigade was
7 deployed there.
8 Q. And the Vitez Brigade?
9 A. Not as far as I know.
10 Q. And where was the Vitez Brigade, as far as
11 you know?
12 A. The Vitez Brigade was not deployed in that
13 area, the Vitez HVO Brigade.
14 Q. So you're claiming that until the outbreak
15 the conflict, the Vitez Brigade was not deployed in a
16 sector near Turbe or, rather, Mount Vlasic?
17 A. No. An HVO Brigade commanded by someone, I
18 think his name was Nakic, was deployed there. That was
19 his area of responsibility.
20 Q. Are you referring to the first half of the
21 month of March? Are you talking about the Stjepan
22 Tomasevic Brigade?
23 A. At this point in time I can't recollect the
24 exact dates, whether it was from the 1st of March --
25 until the 1st of March, 1993.
1 Q. So let me put it differently. Regardless
2 organisationally, to whom did they belong? Were there
3 low-level units, battalions, or other units? Were they
4 HVO members on the front throughout 1993, not to
5 mention 1992, until the beginning of the conflict?
6 A. That is possible. That is quite possible.
7 Q. Very well. Thank you. But we'll be coming
8 back to that later. As far as the 325th Brigade is
9 concerned, of the BH Army, it had three battalions in
10 the municipality area. And to shorten time, it was in
11 Kruscica, Poculica, and Stara Bila; is that correct?
12 A. No. At that time the Vitez Brigade did not
13 have three battalions. It had two battalions and other
14 units attached to it.
15 Q. You mean the 325th Brigade?
16 A. Yes, I do. We're thinking about the same
18 Q. Very well. Thank you. In Kruscica there was
19 Mr. Hakija Cengic, if I am correct, when the conflict
20 broke out; is that right?
21 A. Yes, that's right.
22 Q. In Poculica there was Mr. Sivro Sifet; is
23 that correct?
24 A. Yes. That is correct.
25 Q. And if I tell you that in Stara Bila a
1 Captain of the former JNA was there, Captain 1st Class
2 by the name of Salkic -- I don't know his first name --
3 does that -- do you remember that? He should have been
4 in Stara Bukve, in Bila?
5 A. No. The 325th didn't have a battalion there,
6 and I do not know the gentleman you have in mind.
7 Q. Then there was a MOS unit there which was in
8 Kruscica under the command of Nesib Herum; is that
10 A. As far as I know, the MOS unit was not within
11 the composition of the 3rd Corps.
12 Q. Very well. Thank you.
13 A. In the 3rd Corps we had only one brigade with
14 the prefix "Muslim."
15 Q. Very well. Thank you. You mentioned this on
16 several occasions; an officer in the HVO, Mr. Filip
17 Filipovic, a well-known officer. And I'd like to ask
18 you, General, whether Filip Filipovic, in the course of
19 1992, together with the BiH Army, co-operating with it,
20 organised many operations in defending the territory
21 against the Serbs; that is, in Central Bosnia.
22 A. Not many. He did some, but without
23 co-ordination with the BiH Army; that is to say, without
24 co-ordination with the Territorial Defence, because he
25 did not wish to have co-ordination or probably he did
1 not -- was not allowed to co-ordinate.
2 Q. Let us mention some of the more important
3 points, and I'm sure you'll remember that at least in
4 some of these operations, co-operation did indeed
5 exist. And I think that this is essential, because
6 there must have been co-ordination.
7 First of all, there was the operation at
8 Slimena, when it was decided to take back the weapons
9 of the Territorial Defence which the army had seized
10 from the municipalities, and that was an operation led
11 by Filip Filipovic. Cerkez was his assistant, and the
12 forces of the HVO took part as well as the forces of
13 the BH Army; is that correct?
14 A. There was an agreement that we launch a joint
15 operation, but we didn't do so because Filip Filipovic
16 attacked the barracks without the knowledge of the
17 command of the general staff of the Travnik Defence.
18 So he attacked without their knowledge, so there was no
20 Q. Very well, General. Filip Filipovic attacked
21 the barracks with his forces; is that correct?
22 A. Yes, it is.
23 Q. The Muslims joined in on the following day
24 and took weapons with the HVO; is that correct?
25 A. Yes, it is.
1 Q. Very well. So they divided up the bounty?
2 A. No, they did not divide up the bounty. That
3 is not correct.
4 Q. You mean everybody took their own?
5 A. Yes. There was a free-for-all. Everybody
6 took what they could.
7 Q. Very well. In June 1992, there was a
8 large-scale operation to take over the barracks in
9 Travnik, and the HVO, with Filip Filipovic, took part
10 in that again; is that right? He was not the leader of
11 that operation but he was there with the HVO units that
12 he commanded; is that correct?
13 A. Yes, it is.
14 Q. The operation was led by the BH Army, was it
16 A. No, that is not correct.
17 Q. So it was led by the HVO?
18 A. They jointly led the operation.
19 Q. So there we did have co-operation and
20 co-ordination; is that correct?
21 A. Well, not fully, because Kordic did not want
22 to have that co-operation. He entered the barracks
23 himself and then took away the weapons that were to be
24 found there. And thank God there wasn't an incident on
25 the occasion; otherwise, there would have been many
1 dead bodies.
2 Q. General, I'm now asking about Mr. Filipovic
3 and I'm not asking about Kordic. We agree that
4 Filipovic was the leader of that operation?
5 A. I say that there was limited co-ordination.
6 Q. Let us mention some similar operations. And
7 you tend to minimise them in your testimony, but I
8 should like to remind you of the HVO role in the
9 defence of the town of Jajce in the fighting of the
10 8th -- from August to November 1992. It is not true
11 that the role of the HVO was a minor one, as you
12 stated. The HVO held this, and the Vitez and the Novi
13 Travnik people know this. There are documents about
14 that. Do you agree?
15 A. You mean after the fall of Jajce or before
16 the fall of Jajce.
17 Q. I mean before the fall of Jajce, between
18 August and November, and even after the fall of Jajce?
19 A. Before the fall of Jajce, according to my
20 information, the HVO brigade of Jajce was up there.
21 Now, whether people came from the HVO brigade in Vitez,
22 I don't know. Possibly, they were there at the front
23 lines. The possibility exists, but I cannot claim that
24 that is so.
25 Q. Thank you very much. After that, at Turbe in
1 August 1992, there was another large-scale operation in
2 the region near the Konak village in the Vocnjak
3 region. Do you recall that?
4 A. Once again, both sides, both armed sides,
5 took part. Yes, there was an operation there, and the
6 HOS Units were in the lead there, which I think were
7 commanded by Holman. Mladen Holman was the Commander
8 of that unit. I think Anto Prkacin was there as well
9 at that time.
10 Q. We'll go back to that, but on the HVO side
11 there were different units, and Filipovic was in charge
12 of co-ordinating them on the HVO side?
13 A. Probably, yes, he was in charge of
14 co-ordination, but we did not effect co-ordination with
15 Filipovic. We did so with HOS.
16 Q. Next there was a line on the Vlasic Plateau,
17 and it was Karagic, Kostolac, Galica, that was how the
18 line ran, and in the Sesici region, they were Units of
19 the BH Army, it was in September, so we knew the
20 connection lines. So there must have been a joint
21 plan, must there not? Would you agree with that?
22 A. On the map, and I said that the units of the
23 Croatian Defence Council held a small portion of the
24 line of defence towards Vlasic, that is what I said
25 earlier on in my testimony.
1 Q. And do you know whether these were units from
3 A. No. It was the area of responsibility of the
4 2nd Brigade, and I do not exclude the possibility that
5 members of the HVO from Vitez did take shifts.
6 Q. Yes, that they had one-week shifts.
7 On the sector Dzelilovac, Potkraj, Paklarevo
8 in November 1992, there was co-operation there with the
9 commander of Turbe with Mr. Sulejman Leko; is that
10 correct, would you say?
11 A. Co-operation did exist but to a lesser extent,
12 and we had problems there in having the unit pass
13 through towards Jajce.
14 Q. Very well. Thank you. And so on and so
15 forth. I'm not going to enumerate them. There were
16 many other points. So you say that the co-operation was
17 poor, but it seems to me that it did exist, and we
18 agree there, don't we?
19 A. [No audible response]
20 Q. I should now like to ask you to have a look
21 at the documents that I gave you. First of all, not
22 the first document that you have before you but the
23 second one, the one underneath. Yes, that's right.
24 The first three pages are in English, and then you have
25 the Croatian text. It is Document 01237/93 of the 3rd
1 of June, 1993. Could you turn to the last page, and
2 the signatories are you yourself and Nakic.
3 So from this document, we can see that there
4 was co-operation for a joint resistance against the
5 Serbs; is that correct?
6 A. Yes. We always aspired towards that goal,
7 but we never realised it.
8 Q. Tell me, please, for purposes of
9 illustration, as we have this document in front of us,
10 under point 41 on the second page, once again the need
11 is asserted to determine the areas of responsibility,
12 in this case towards the Chetniks, and then it goes on
13 to define more precisely what that involves; is that
15 A. Yes, it is correct that we would agree in
16 this way, but nothing was done in practice.
17 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] May I have an
18 exhibit number, please, for this document?
19 THE REGISTRAR: The document is marked
21 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
22 Q. General, if I might ask you now to take a
23 look at the second document on the table. Once again,
24 you have the English version first and the Croatian
25 original version after that. I should like to draw
1 your attention to the title and the introductory
3 It is a report from a joint meeting of the
4 HVO staff and the BH Army in Vitez. It is at communal
5 municipal level, signed by Sefkija Djidic, the
6 number-one man of the BH Army in the Vitez
7 municipalities, and the Commander of the Battalion that
8 functioned in Vitez at the time, Mr. Anton Brkovic.
9 From the introduction, you see that a meeting
10 was held on the 18th of December, 1992. We see that
11 the individuals present on the HVO side were the
12 representatives of the HVO staff of Vitez, the Defence
13 representative, Marijan Skopljak, and the Commander
14 Petkovic who signed the document, and the officer of
15 the battalion, Ivan Budimir. And on behalf of the BH
16 Army, it was signed by Sefkija Djidic, the head of the
17 command, and Sulejman Kalco, the Cmmander of 325th,
18 Esad Dzenanovic [phoen], the Commander of the 1st
19 Battalion of the 325th Brigade, and Hakija Dzelilovic,
20 and so on and so forth. Therefore, there we see that
21 we have the representatives of the 325th, that is to
22 say, the units which functioned within the composition
23 of the 325th Brigade in the area of Vitez, and the
24 representatives of the municipal staff of the HVO.
25 Once again, they agreed on different points.
1 They informed each other about the formation of units.
2 They set up a joint operative body for the defence of
3 the municipality, and they assign tasks for the coming
4 Christmas and New Year celebrations and holidays.
5 I should like to ask you, finally, whether
6 you, as a member of the command, the second man in the
7 Corps, the number-two man, whether you received this
8 report. Do you know about it? Are you aware of it?
9 A. Probably this report exists in the archives
10 of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
11 Q. Do we agree that this is, yet again, an
12 example of where a form of co-operation was attempted to
13 have as best defence against the Serbs as possible?
14 A. Yes, that is correct, but this is only on
16 Q. Very well. Let me ask you in a different
17 way, Mr. Merdan. Regardless of the quality of the
18 co-operation, which quite obviously you're trying to
19 minimise, that is to say, you consider that it was not
20 sufficiently satisfactory, that the HVO and the BiH
21 Army in the Lasva River Valley, had they not existed,
22 how could they -- if they did not co-operate, would the
23 Serbs not have taken over the area?
24 A. The Serbian aggressor, had he been able to,
25 he would have taken over the area, but they were
1 stopped after Jajce and were not able to go forward.
2 Q. General, may I ask you, you say they were
3 stopped, they were halted, so it was through the
4 efforts of both sides, which according to the
5 presidency decision was both the HVO and the BiH Army,
6 regardless of whether one side was more deserving than
7 the other for this?
8 A. No, I don't agree.
9 Q. So you are telling us, General, if I
10 understand you correctly, that the HVO role, in the
11 defence of the Serb aggression in the Lasva Valley, was
12 not essential at all?
13 A. That is not what I said, no.
14 Q. Then I do not understand you, General. Could
15 you explain it to me?
16 A. I'll try and explain it to you.
17 We really did try to set up a joint command
18 in a specifically difficult situation after the fall of
19 Jajce, and I talked about this because the Prosecution
20 asked me for an answer to that question.
21 So in Travnik we established -- we tried to
22 establish a joint command, and I spoke about an
23 operative room where Dario Kordic was located in the
24 building of the railway and transport company. It was
25 the ZTO building. There was a hall where we would have
1 our meetings, our joint meetings.
2 And we went out to the front lines to dig
3 fortifications, but the HVO did not go out to the
4 lines. It did offer artillery support. So the HVO was
5 in the second line of the defence, not in the forefront
6 of the defence. And although he did supply artillery
7 back-up and had strong weapons, the weapons that the
8 HVO had, had we been able to unite them, quite
9 certainly the Serbian aggressor would have done much
10 less harm to Bosnia than they did do.
11 Q. Please put me right, General. You are, in
12 fact, criticising -- I'm saying the following: that
13 the existing potential could have been used to much
14 better effect than it was. Is that the substance of
15 what you're saying?
16 A. The substance of your question a moment ago
17 was whether or not co-operation existed in matters of
18 defence. I say that it was very small, there was very
19 little joint co-operation, and that the combat potential
20 could have been put to better use had there been better
21 co-operation between the command and the units of the
22 BiH Army on the one side and the HVO on the other.
23 Q. Thank you, General. I don't know whether
24 there is the same proverb in other countries, but we
25 say it's easy to be a General after the battle. What
1 you're saying is your analysis of the situation after
2 the events had taken place; is that correct?
3 A. No. It is my assessment and evaluation
4 during that period and the events that took place at
5 that time. I'm not a General after the battle. I'm a
6 General before the battle, Mr. Kovacic.
7 Q. Thank you. But I think that you will accept
8 that other individuals, other officers, have other
10 JUDGE MAY: That's pure comment. Now let's
11 move on and get on with the questioning.
12 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. You mentioned, at the beginning of your
14 direct examination, something. You gave us, that is to
15 say, a brief history of how HOS was formed and how it
16 developed, and you said that it was not equally
17 represented in all parts of Central Bosnia. I should
18 just like to ask you a brief question to clarify
20 You said that in Zenica, the HOS was placed
21 under the control of the Territorial Defence, and you
22 also said in this connection that after the beginning
23 of the conflict, and I suppose that this was April
24 1993, that the HOS disintegrated in Zenica, it was
25 dismantled, and that some of the members went to the
1 Lasva Valley.
2 Would you agree that some members of HOS from
3 Zenica, when it dismantled, went to the Vitez
4 municipality? Do you know anything about that,
6 A. First of all, I should like to apologise to
7 this august Tribunal to say -- in saying that I was a
8 General before the battle. But now let me answer your
9 question, the question that has been asked me.
10 I do not have any information as to where the
11 members of HOS went from the Croatian people who were
12 in HOS in Zenica, the Croatian members.
13 Q. Very well, thank you. So you don't know.
14 But you said yourself that they had gone to the Lasva
15 River Valley area?
16 A. To all intents and purposes, they had nowhere
17 else to go but there.
18 Q. Thank you. Before we round up, in the HOS in
19 Zenica, under Zeljko Holman's command that you
20 mentioned a moment ago, there were 80 per cent Muslims,
21 Muslim members, at one time. Does that correspond to
22 your own information, General?
23 A. Whether it was 80 per cent or not, I don't
24 know, but quite certainly there were more Muslims in
25 the HOS units in Zenica than there were Croats from
2 Q. But Holman left the Territorial Defence in
3 1992, did he not? I think it was sometime in September
4 or perhaps October. Is that correct?
5 A. I cannot say. I don't know whether he left
6 during that -- the HOS units during that time.
7 Q. Very well. Thank you. According to this
8 diagram -- and I'd like to ask the witness to be shown
9 the diagram so as to avoid misunderstanding, Z2792 --
10 looking at this diagram which you have had before you
11 three times already, according to the diagram -- and
12 you question this diagram, and so do I, at least in
13 certain sections -- Blaskic could not have given orders
14 to Kraljevic; is that correct?
15 A. That is correct, yes.
16 Q. Could Blaskic give orders to Cerkez,
17 according to the state of affairs on this diagram?
18 A. That is correct, yes.
19 Q. He could have ordered Cerkez?
20 A. Yes, he could have. Who do you mean?
21 Q. I mean Blaskic.
22 A. Yes, Blaskic could have.
23 Q. But according to this diagram, it would
24 appear that Darko Kraljevic could issue orders to
25 Cerkez, were this diagram correct?
1 A. No, you can't deduce that from this diagram.
2 Q. You mean because there isn't the little line
3 leading downwards?
4 A. Well, the diagram that I have in front of
5 him, I say, no, he could not have.
6 Q. Very well. Look at the one-but-last line,
7 that is to say, the line below "Nakic", or "Blaskic"
8 because Nakic is just the deputy commander, but along
9 that same line there, the line of the brigade, the
10 Vitez Brigade under Cerkez' command, we also have two
11 other boxes, one stating that there was a certain Anto
12 Krizanovic and the other box with the name Nenad
13 Santic. I'm, first of all, going to ask about Anto
14 Krizanovic. You said that you did not take part in the
15 compiling of this document?
16 A. No, I just commented on it.
17 Q. But as the commander in the area, did you
18 ever hear of this individual called Anto Krizanovic as
19 being the commander of anything?
20 A. I personally never heard of that, no.
21 Q. Nor have we heard of it. So you know nothing
22 about what that is supposed to mean. Thank you. I'd
23 now like to move on to the next topic.
24 General, could you please tell me whether you
25 were informed of the fact that when you were arrested
1 on the 14th of April, 1994, in Travnik -- you told us
2 about that today during the direct-examination -- you
3 said that at your request, a representative of the ECMM
4 remained here because you had a very bad experience
5 with all of that, but I should like to remind you, and
6 please tell me what you think about it: On the
7 occasion, Mr. Franjo Nakic was with you, was he not?
8 A. Well, "unfortunately" is not the right term
9 to use.
10 Q. Well, I apologise. That was ironic. I was
11 speaking ironically. But Franjo Nakic was with you,
12 was he not? Perhaps you haven't --
13 A. Yes, I've understood the question. I'm just
14 trying to remember, because I see that you think that
15 it is very important. I do not think Franjo Nakic was
16 there with me then, but I cannot say for sure.
17 Q. Perhaps I can refresh your memory, and then
18 you'll be able to give us a yes/no, answer. When the
19 military police arrested you -- Stipo Dvorka, that name
20 was mentioned, I know it was that particular
21 individual -- on the occasion, Nakic expressly stated,
22 he said to the policeman, "Then you can consider me
23 under arrest as well," because he cautioned them that
24 you were there as a negotiator, as member of a joint
25 commission. Does that refresh your memory to any
2 A. Yes, it could have been that way. Perhaps it
3 was. I cannot say hundred per cent, but there were
4 other witnesses there. And, please, if it is important
5 for the Court, there are also the interpreters of the
6 ECMM, there were the drivers of the ECMM, there was a
7 man from Spain who led the team, and perhaps you should
8 ask other witnesses about it. If it is of such
9 paramount importance, then you should ask them. I'm
10 not really sure. There were times when Mr. Franjo
11 Nakic behaved very correctly. Yeah. Right, right.
12 JUDGE MAY: General, I don't know what the
13 point of all this is.
14 What is the point, Mr. Kovacic? What are you
15 trying to establish?
16 MR. KOVACIC: I was about to come to it. The
17 point is that the brigades could not control the
18 military police and yet they came to visit their
19 brigade. So I had to lay the foundation to my
21 Q. At the end of the story about the arrest and
22 all this detention, it all took several hours. And
23 during all those contacts, negotiations, the local
24 Brigade Commander and Franjo Nakic told you explicitly
25 that they did not have and had no authority over the
1 military police and apologised because they felt
2 embarrassed by this whole incident. Could you confirm
3 this or deny this or is it that you don't remember?
4 A. I don't remember the detail. It was a long
5 time ago. I simply do not remember.
6 Q. Thank you. That is quite natural.
7 General Merdan, you will agree, won't you, that after
8 the conflict broke out between these two sides, between
9 the Croat and Muslim or, rather, between the HVO and
10 the BH Army in the Lasva Valley, started before that in
11 Novi Travnik in 1992, in Busovaca in 1993. In Vitez,
12 however, the conflict had not broken out yet. There
13 were some incidents, but there was no serious major
14 clash between the two sides. Would you agree with
15 that? Just yes or no, please.
16 A. No, I wouldn't agree with that statement.
17 Q. So you do not think that is correct. Right.
18 You mentioned that in October 1992 there was a meeting
19 or, rather, meetings which were attended by
20 General Praljak from Croatia. It is not said anywhere,
21 but that must be quite clear, that all these meetings
22 had to do with the position to be taken in the war
23 against the aggressor, that is the JNA, and local
24 Serbs; that is, co-ordination of joint operations of the
25 Army of BH and HVO; is that correct?
1 A. That is what General Praljak said.
2 Q. But these were not the commissions --
3 negotiations to deal with peace, to settle disputes
4 between Bosnians and Croats, no?
5 A. That is correct.
6 Q. So the only question there was the defence?
7 A. The joint defence.
8 Q. I see. Thank you. The agreement -- one of
9 the agreements was mentioned, and you said that the
10 units outside the Lasva Valley. The term, the
11 expression "units outside of the Lasva Valley" meant
12 the HVO, the Croat troops. But isn't it true that in a
13 series of peace agreements throughout 1993, especially
14 those concluded by the joint commission, the local
15 commission with the headquarters in Nova Bila, they
16 always referred to units outside -- they always meant
17 all units of both sides outside that area proper.
18 So if the agreement was being reached at the
19 municipal level, then units outside the municipality,
20 if it was at a high level, again units outside that
21 particular region. Is that correct?
22 A. No.
23 Q. So you think that whatever agreement of this
24 whole host of agreements, units mentioned outside the
25 area should move further away and that refers -- that
1 means only the HV.
2 A. I still repeat that I did not see the Units
3 of the Croatian Army. I saw individual members of the
4 Croatian Army, but I saw videotapes -- men who had been
5 captured, affirming that they were members of the
6 Croatian Army and Croatian Units. But those who were
7 captured had not been captured in the territory of
8 Central Bosnia.
9 Q. They were people from Gornji Vakuf?
10 A. No. Six Croat soldiers, whom I released in
11 Gornji Vakuf, had come from Central Bosnia. One of
12 them said that he was a member of the Croatian army,
13 and he had come from Osijek. That is from the unit
14 called Osijek, which was part of the Croatian Army.
15 Q. But you have no document to know that he was,
16 as such, in Central Bosnia, even as an individual?
17 A. Yes, because Blaskic told me to release them
18 because the traffic was stopped, everything was
19 blocked. And I was arrested then. I was arrested by
20 the HVO Commander Sebesic, his name was, or Cobanac, I
21 believe he was called, and at that time I really had
22 major difficulties in getting through to Gornji Vakuf
23 to release men who had started from Central Bosnia to
24 Herzegovina; that is, Croatia.
25 Q. Right. Thank you. At the commission
1 sessions, the HVO insisted on the units moving out of
2 the area, and explicitly it is mentioned here -- let us
3 not go through a million documents here -- both the
4 Krajinians and the Mujahedin, and so on and so forth.
5 Those units were mentioned. Is it true that the HVO
6 insisted that they be moved away when the ceasefire is
7 signed? Would you please be accurate about the date
8 because that is important. As of April 1993.
9 A. As of April 1993. In April 1993, the 17th
10 Krajina Brigade was founded, that is true, but not the
11 Mujahedin detachment. And the seat of the 17th Krajina
12 Brigade was in Travnik for the major part, even though
13 it was a manoeuvring Brigade, but headquarters and
14 their relatives or refugees were in Travnik.
15 Q. They had come from Cacin [phoen] Krajina to
16 that area.
17 A. No.
18 Q. But what part of Bosnia did they come from?
19 A. They came from those areas when they were
20 expelled by the Serb aggressor. The Commander of the
21 Brigade at that time was Fikret Cuskic, and he arrived
22 from the territory of the Republic of Croatia where he
23 had served with the Yugoslav People's Army.
24 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic,
25 could you please tell the Court -- because it is now
1 ten past 4, and we really should organise work --
2 how much longer do you think you will take to
4 MR. KOVACIC: I'm quite sure that I could
5 finish within half an hour.
6 JUDGE MAY: Well, you must do so, because
7 you've had 50 minutes already. Your client was barely
8 mentioned by this witness. Yes. We'll adjourn now.
9 Mr. Nice, are you going to be very long in
11 MR. NICE: I've got several questions, most
12 of them acceptable to yes and no answers. I usually
13 don't take very long in re-examination.
14 JUDGE MAY: You have a witness waiting, I
16 MR. NICE: I have two witnesses waiting for
17 tomorrow. Perhaps fortunately, as it were, one of them
18 is recovering from flu, and I think he's quite content
19 not necessarily to be started tomorrow. Then I've got
20 another one for the following day.
21 JUDGE MAY: Yes. A final exhibit number.
22 THE REGISTRAR: Document that was submitted,
23 the report dated 18 December, 1992, will be numbered
25 JUDGE MAY: General, I'm sorry that we have
1 not been able to complete your evidence today. I must
2 ask you to return tomorrow, please, at half past 9,
3 when we will finish your evidence I hope in fairly
4 short order so that you can get away.
5 MR. NICE: May I make one point --
6 A. Whatever you order me to do, I shall comply
7 with that.
8 JUDGE MAY: Thank you.
9 MR. NICE: I was only going to make one point
10 about an exhibit, better made today while it's fresh in
11 our memory than put off to extend the
12 cross-examination; that is, the article from the
13 Washington Post that was read out. The only passage
14 that was read out is what other sources said about the
15 witness. I couldn't object at the time, not having the
16 document in my hand. It appears from the Washington
17 Post that the passage was never put to him, and none of
18 the witnesses' quoted observations or answers were
19 relied on. So its value as a document seems to be very
21 JUDGE MAY: You could deal with it, if you
22 want, in re-examination, as far as necessary.
23 MR. NICE: Very well.
24 JUDGE MAY: While we're talking about
25 exhibits, let me clear this up. There's -- 2463.4 was
1 a transcript which was handed in, which I don't think
2 we're going to need.
3 MR. NICE: That's correct. That goes with
4 the video that we didn't use.
5 JUDGE MAY: So we can hand that back, can
6 we? Please. And likewise, a document has found its
7 way onto my desk -- perhaps we better deal with it
8 tomorrow -- called "Structure of the HZ-HB, 1992-1993."
9 I don't know where it comes from. Perhaps we can deal
10 with it tomorrow.
11 MR. NICE: Oh, yes. I think that's a
12 document provided in the Status Conference pursuant to
13 a request or discussion about the desirability of
14 having an organigramme generally.
15 JUDGE MAY: We can discuss that in due
16 course. 9.30 tomorrow, please.
17 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned
18 at 4.14 p.m., to be reconvened on
19 Wednesday, the 26th day of January, 2000
20 at 9.30 a.m.