1 Monday, 8
2 [Open session]
3 [The witness entered court]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.33 a.m.
6 MS. SOMERS: With the Chamber's permission, I
7 would like to inform it that at some point, and perhaps
8 the earlier the better, we would like to ask for a very
9 brief closed session to establish a matter that may
10 affect the witness's sense of security. If the Court
11 would like to do this now, I am certainly prepared to
12 address it.
13 JUDGE MAY: Yes, we'll do it now.
14 [Private session]
13 pages 18081-18107 redacted – private session
1 [Open session]
2 MS. SOMERS:
3 Q. I would like to present to you some documents
4 which were only gathered by the Office of the
5 Prosecutor very quickly in response to your evidence,
6 and therefore I apologise to the Chamber that we have
7 only the Croatian or the Bosnian Serbian Croatian
8 edition. If in fact --
9 [Trial Chamber deliberates]
10 JUDGE MAY: We're not going to admit that.
11 It's against the Rules.
12 MS. SOMERS: May I simply ask questions from
13 the documents and see if the witness can identify them?
14 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
15 MS. SOMERS: I'd appreciate that.
16 JUDGE MAY: You can put something to him, but
17 you can't put the documents in.
18 MS. SOMERS: That's fine. I will have to ask
19 that a copy of it be distributed to the witness and put
20 on the ELMO, simply so that it can be seen. It will be
21 Z350.1, which we will not ask for admission at this
22 time; Z59.1 -- I'm sorry. 259.1. Those two at this
23 point in time.
24 Q. Commander Totic, looking at -- sorry,
25 Brigadier Totic, looking at 350.1 -- if it is visible
1 to the interpreters; if not, I would ask that a copy be
2 given -- they have one.
3 This is a document signed by you on the 4th
4 of January, 1993. Do you recognise it?
5 A. I do.
6 Q. And would you be kind enough to read it out?
7 It is very brief. In that way, we will avoid having to
8 attempt to get a written translation later.
9 A. "This is a record on the turnover of
10 materiels, of the technical materiel, between Zenica
11 and Trosic, according to the leading document, which is
12 in Zenica, with the HVO in Zenica."
13 Q. Excuse me. You're reading -- I had asked for
14 350.1. Did I -- unless I'm confused, I believe it was
15 350.1, the other document under your signature. I
16 think we'd asked for that first.
17 A. "This is a receipt confirming that
18 Mr. Danimir Bilic was mobilised into the Croat Defence
19 Council in Zenica on the 1st of April, 1992. He was at
20 the front in Jajce on the 14th of October, 1992, and at
21 Turbe between the 19th, 22nd December, 1992. He
22 remains a member of the HVO in Jure Francetic Brigade.
23 This certificate is issued for the regulation of his
24 rights in the Republic of Croatia and for the issue of
25 passport and other personal identification documents."
1 I see nothing unusual there. The young man
2 wanted to change to the Croatian army. He wanted to
3 have his domovnica and his passport, and I did it
4 because it's his right to live wherever he wants to.
5 Q. The next document, Z259.1, it is -- without
6 reading the whole document, it is a list, as you
7 indicated, and the last paragraph, would you please
8 read it into the record.
9 A. "All possible misunderstandings relative to
10 these goods and materiel were resolved between the
11 president of HVO Zenica Mr. Dominik Sakic and Mr. Vlado
12 Knezevic, representative of the HV from Beograd."
13 Your Honours, Tomislav Trosic, referred to
14 here, was a member of the Foreign Legion, who arrived
15 in Zenica owing to some of his relations, that is,
16 Dominik Sakic, who was the HVO president. He brought
17 certain things there, and he asked me to sign so that
18 he could justify his trip when he went back to
19 Croatia. And I said I could not do it, that I would
20 keep this document, because he wanted to sell it, sell
21 these things. So I sent him to the president of the
22 HVO, Mr. Sakic, and Mr. Vlado Knezevic, because he said
23 to him to bring this equipment there and he was a
24 member of the HVO.
25 Q. Brigadier Totic, your relationship, your
1 attitude toward political leaders, how would you
2 characterise it?
3 A. Your Honours, I am a soldier, and at no time
4 did I doubt the political leadership. I had no
5 ambitions, nor do I have any, to engage in political
6 life. I respected the political leadership.
7 Q. Brigadier Totic, are you familiar with a
8 magazine called Bojovnik?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Explain what Bojovnik is.
11 A. Your Honours, Bojovnik means a soldier. It
12 is a Croat word for soldier, for a combatant.
13 Q. Is there a magazine that bears that name that
14 is an HVO publication principally out of Zenica?
15 A. Yes. That is a magazine issued by the HVO
16 Zenica, and its title was Bojovnik bass.
17 MS. SOMERS: I would ask the usher to
18 distribute Z376.3. The English translation, to which I
19 will be referring, appears on the second page.
20 Q. Brigadier Totic, there is a Croatian copy
21 attached to this document. You were asked by the
22 interviewer from Bojovnik magazine from January of
23 1993, which appeared in January of 1993, question:
24 "Are you satisfied with the disposition and the area
25 designated to the provinces ..." This is presumably
1 about Vance-Owen, Mr. Totic.
2 Your answer: "I am a soldier and I shall
3 give my unreserved support to anything created or
4 agreed upon by the elected Croat leaders. That is my
5 duty, and I'm sure all the Croat soldiers shall do the
7 Is that how you felt then and is this how you
8 feel now?
9 A. To this day, I feel and think that it is the
10 soldier's duty to accept everything agreed upon by the
11 lawful political leadership.
12 Q. Z331 is also a Bojovnik article, and there's
13 just a brief passage to which I shall be referring and
14 ask you about.
15 So you know, Brigadier, there has been film
16 footage of the event of the swearing-in ceremony in
17 Zenica, and the particular passage I would like to ask
18 you about, and your reaction to it, is contained on the
19 first page of the translation. It reads. It is by
20 Dario Kordic, and Kordic is saying:
21 "I am particularly pleased that we have
22 turned out here today in such large numbers. I am
23 pleased that we are here on Croatian territory, on the
24 integral territory of the Croatian Community of
25 Herceg-Bosna. The Croatian territory of Zenica was
1 Croatian, it still is now, and will be Croatian
2 territory. Therefore, it is now, and will be, the
3 Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna, whether some like
4 it or not."
5 Did you share that view that was expressed at
6 the swearing-in ceremony? Is that your view?
7 A. Your Honours, the Croat Community of
8 Herceg-Bosna, as I saw it then, and today, is a
9 community which was formed to protect Croat national
10 interests throughout the territory of
11 Bosnia-Herzegovina. No division was ever raised as an
12 issue, nor did I ever think about that.
13 Q. One question. There is a reference on the
14 cover page of the translation, the front page, which
15 indicates that General Slobodan Praljak was also in
16 attendance. Did you see General Praljak at that
18 A. Yes, Your Honours, I greeted him, General
19 Praljak. Before that he [Realtime transcript read in
20 error "I"] was an officer in the Croatian army. At the
21 beginning of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, he returned
22 to Bosnia-Herzegovina to defend his homestead, like
23 many other Croats. General Praljak was born in
25 MR. SAYERS: Your Honour, if I might just
1 interrupt. There appears to be an error in the
2 transcript. I'm sure it will be corrected, but it
3 says, at page 33, line 23 to 24 --
4 JUDGE MAY: I'm sorry.
5 MR. SAYERS: I'm sorry, Your Honour. There
6 appears to be an error in the transcript. It says --
7 the English says, "Before that I was an officer in the
8 Croatian army," and I think what Brigadier Totic was
9 before that he was an officer in the Croatian army;
10 i.e., General Praljak.
11 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
12 MS. SOMERS: Z444.1, please.
13 Q. Brigadier Totic, this is an order of 6
14 February, 1993, signed by you, and I am interested only
15 in paragraph 4 of the order. It is addressed, of
16 course, to all members of your brigade, the Jure
17 Francetic Brigade. It says:
18 "In an appropriate manner, point out to all
19 HVO members the enormous damage we do ourselves by the
20 use of fascist greetings and all other greetings
21 evocative of fascism. Zenica studio of the Croatian
22 Community of Herceg-Bosna may be used in the carrying
23 out of this assignment."
24 What prompted your issuing this order?
25 A. I was prompted to issue this order by a
1 simple reason, because at that time, in 1992, and even
2 in 1993, there were individuals who wore also some
3 insignia which could be associated with the fascists,
4 with the Nazi party, and so forth. And the official
5 view, the official position, was to fight against it,
6 because we have nothing to do with it.
7 Q. The use of HV army insignia was a problem in
8 your area, was it not?
9 A. Your Honours, it wasn't only the Croatian
10 army insignia that were worn. I think there were more
11 German insignia, because the uniforms that we -- the
12 uniforms that we bought, I mean the state that we
13 imported those uniforms from, simply had these
14 insignia, and at the same time it was something of a
15 fad at the time, something of a fashion at the time, to
16 put on all sorts of insignia, different emblems.
17 MS. SOMERS: I would like to ask that Z293.1
18 be presented. In an unusual turn of interpreting fate,
19 we have only a French translation, and we should
20 hopefully have an English one for the Court, on this
22 Q. Looking at paragraph 3 of an order that is
23 signed by -- if you can tell the Court who Zoran Covic
24 is, please. Who is that?
25 A. Your Honours, Zoran Covic was my deputy.
1 Before that, in early 1992, in early April, or rather
2 early May, when the HVO was founded, he was the
3 commander of the Croat staff for military matters. For
4 a short while he was the commander of the Municipal
5 Staff. And on the 29th of July, 1992, I took over from
6 him the command of the staff in Zenica and he was my
7 deputy. And later on he also was my deputy in Jure
8 Francetic Brigade, I believe sometime in February 1993.
9 Q. Would you be kind enough to read out loud the
10 very brief paragraph 3, and then it can be translated
11 for the English-speaking Judges as well. Thank you.
12 A. "Members of the HV present in these lands with
13 HV insignia should be warned to remove those insignia
14 because in this manner we're merely involving,
15 embroiling, the HV in these problems."
16 That is Zoran Covic. And, Your Honours, I
17 have already said there were no organised HV units,
18 that it was individuals who came from the Republic of
19 Croatia to defend Bosnia-Herzegovina, and with them
20 they also brought their uniforms.
21 Q. Can you describe the interrelations or the
22 interaction between your brigade and the brigade in
23 Busovaca, the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade?
24 A. Your Honours, the relationship between me and
25 the commander of the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade were
1 very fair. I often met the commander at meetings at
2 the command of the Operative Zone.
3 Q. Was there, if you recollect, a fair amount of
4 exchange of troops and materiel from your units down to
6 A. Well, Your Honours, we had to help one
8 Q. And in order to achieve a state of full
9 military readiness, or full combat readiness, did you
10 also assist each other in arming and informing your
12 A. I don't understand the question.
13 Q. Let me rephrase it. In order to obtain a
14 state of full combat readiness, did you need to also
15 help each other out, the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade
16 receiving assistance from the Jure Francetic Brigade?
17 A. Assistance to one brigade or the other,
18 anything that would be ordered from above through the
19 chain of command would be done; that is, whatever was
20 ordered by the Operative Zone.
21 Q. We'll come back to this point. I need to
22 locate some documents which have slipped to the
24 In the meantime, I want to ask you about your
25 evidence that if you had been given an order by Dario
1 Kordic, your response, I believe, was that you would
2 return the order up to the other chain of command, or
3 the military chain of command. You testified that you
4 were not aware of any order given by Kordic that had
5 been, in fact, obeyed or carried out by any HVO member;
6 is that correct?
7 A. Yes, that is correct. I do not know of any
8 such order.
9 Q. This Chamber has seen, in the course of a
10 number of witnesses, the testimony of a number of
11 witnesses, Z100, which is an order issued by Dario
12 Kordic on the 10th of May, 1992, ordering the arrest of
13 Dzemal Merdan. You were aware, are you not, that
14 Merdan was arrested? That is your testimony; correct?
15 A. I am aware, Your Honours, from the
16 conversation Mr. Dzemal Merdan and myself, and he said
17 that he had been arrested. I don't know anything else.
18 Q. I take it your answer is you did not know
19 that Dario Kordic issued the order for this arrest?
20 A. No, I was not aware of that, I do not know
21 it, and I don't believe it.
22 Q. May I ask you if you were aware of whether or
23 not you know if Dario Kordic ordered the disbanding of
24 the Territorial Defence in Busovaca in May of 1992?
25 A. No, I'm not aware of that.
1 MS. SOMERS: Your Honours, I would ask --
2 would the Court consider five minutes early, and then I
3 would be able to try to consolidate some of these
4 documents and get on with this a little bit quicker.
5 JUDGE MAY: Yes, we will, but how long -- how
6 much longer do you anticipate being, Ms. Somers?
7 MS. SOMERS: I will not go beyond the lunch
8 break, that is for sure.
9 JUDGE MAY: Very well. We'll adjourn now,
10 half an hour.
11 --- Recess taken at 10.56 a.m.
12 --- On resuming at 11.32 a.m.
13 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Ms. Somers.
14 MS. SOMERS: Exhibit 371.2, Z371.2, please,
15 which we will seek to introduce. And there is another
16 one that we will not seek to introduce but rather only
17 show the witness, for failure to have a translation,
18 which is Z253.1. I will deal with them individually.
19 Q. Brigadier, you have before you two documents,
20 the first of which I would just ask you to look at. It
21 is not translated, and therefore I will simply give you
22 a bit of data and ask you to fill it in.
23 It is a document under your signature,
24 Z253.1, dated 24 October 1992, and the second point
25 there indicates that: "All the forces of the HVO Zenica
1 are in a state of full combat readiness." Can you tell
2 the Judges, please, what was occurring at that time,
3 and explain why you had your forces in full combat
5 A. Your Honours, it is only now that I see this
6 document. Quite a bit of time has elapsed. I don't
7 know exactly what was happening at the time. I just
8 know that I issued this order on the basis of the order
9 that I received from the Operative Zone of Central
11 Q. Looking at the second document dated 16
12 January 1993, which we will seek to have admitted,
13 Z371.2, the date of it is, as I said, 16 January 1993.
14 Can you explain, please, why, under your signature,
15 this order also puts your troops in a state of full
16 combat readiness?
17 A. Your Honours, in the preamble it says: "On
18 the basis of order number", et cetera, et cetera, "the
19 Main Staff of the HVO," et cetera, so I only carried
20 out orders.
21 Q. You have no independent recollection of why
22 you put a large number of people in a state of full
23 combat readiness?
24 A. No. I do not recall.
25 Q. Briefly, you had indicated earlier, when we
1 were discussing the relationship between your brigade
2 and the Zrinjski Brigade in Busovaca, that there was,
3 if you will, a philosophy to help one another. Can you
4 recall roughly the number of times, under your order,
5 assistance was rendered to that brigade?
6 A. Your Honours, I cannot say exactly now how
7 many times. I just know that I did give help.
8 MS. SOMERS: Again, I'm not seeking to
9 introduce these particular items, but I'm asking the
10 usher merely to present them to the witness. They are
11 under his hand. Please, if they could be put on the
12 ELMO, it would be helpful to all of us. That is my
13 copy. Thank you.
14 Q. The first document is dated, I believe, 15
15 February. Is that correct? It's a little difficult
16 for me to see. 15 February 1993. What was the
17 relationship in that document between your unit and the
18 brigade in Busovaca, as expressed in paragraph 4? Just
19 tell the Judges, please.
20 A. When the unit is rallied together, it is put
21 under the command of the brigade of Nikola
22 Subic-Zrinjski in Busovaca. Your Honours, this
23 happened after the incidents in Dusina. The Croatian
24 population of the municipalities of Zenica and Busovaca
25 have family ties.
1 After that, I was put in a difficult
2 position, in a moral dilemma, what to do. People went
3 there consciously to defend it because Busovaca had
4 been attacked. The unit that is mentioned here that is
5 to be sent to Busovaca was established from the point
6 of view of a formation, and it was immediately put
7 under the command of Nikola Subic-Zrinjski. Their
8 tasks were exclusively defensive, that is to say, the
9 defence of Croatian villages, nothing else.
10 Q. Is that stated in the order, that it is
11 exclusively defensive?
12 A. I knew what this was about.
13 Q. Please answer my question. Is that stated in
14 the written order?
15 A. It is not stated in the written order here,
16 but I know what it was.
17 Q. Thank you. The next document, please. And
18 any order is fine, since you have my copy. Can you
19 please read the date of the document? And if you can
20 lower it a bit, Mr. Usher, it would be helpful. Thank
21 you. Sorry, that doesn't help. It's too fuzzy for
22 us. Can you determine that, Brigadier, what the date
23 of that document is that you signed?
24 A. Point 1, the 9th of March, 1993.
25 Q. Looking at point 4 of that document, what are
1 you ordering?
2 A. The unit is placed under the command of the
3 Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade in Busovaca. That is to
4 say, when one shift returns, the other one is supposed
5 to go. I do not have the right to command -- to issue
6 orders in the zone of responsibility of other brigades.
7 Q. Thank you. Is there anything on that
8 document about the nature of the action or the nature
9 of the assignment there, defensive or offensive; is it
11 A. No.
12 Q. The next document, please. That one appears
13 to be -- I'm sorry, Brigadier. Can you assist me in
14 giving the date of that? Is it February? Is that a
15 "2" in the middle?
16 A. I can't see it very well. Possibly February.
17 Q. And what are you ordering in that document?
18 A. Your Honours, in this document I am ordering
19 that the commander of the Mixed Anti-Armour Unit send
20 five grenades for a plain recoilless gun to the Nikola
21 Subic-Zrinjski Brigade. This shows quite clearly that
22 we did not attack anyone, nor were we preparing to
23 attack anyone. I said on Friday that we were
24 logistically quite unprepared for the attack of the
25 Muslim units on us.
1 Q. Does the word "attack" appear anywhere on
2 that order? I must have missed it.
3 A. The words are the following: "On the basis
4 of expressed needs and in order to fill the ranks of
5 the Nikola Subic-Zrinjski Brigade."
6 Your Honours, five grenades, if a brigade
7 does not have five grenades, which commander would dare
8 attack anyone? That is proof of the logistics position
9 that we were in then. We did not even contemplate
10 attacking someone. It was only defence that was our
12 Q. Did I also miss "defence"? Is that word
14 A. This is not a combat order.
15 Q. Thank you very much.
16 MS. SOMERS: I'd like to ask the usher to
17 present Z371.1. Again, those documents will not be --
18 the ones that have just been looked at will not be
19 introduced. And also, just to look at and not to
20 introduce, Z309.1. Two quick points on these orders.
21 Looking at 371.1, just a quick question: Can
22 you explain, please, in paragraph 1, where it says,
23 "Personal weapons distributed from the HDZ, Croatian
24 Democratic Union, and HVO" why -- where would the
25 weapons for the HDZ have been used? Can you explain
1 why the HDZ is holding weapons, please? That is a
2 political party, is it not?
3 A. Your Honours, this order is dated the 16th of
4 January, 1993. I ordered the exemption of personal
5 weapons that were distributed from HDZ sources. You
6 know that the people were self-organised and that arms
7 were given to persons through the Crisis Staff of the
8 HDZ. When it was established that these weapons were
9 distributed to persons who were either not able-bodied
10 or too old, I ordered that these weapons be exempted.
11 Q. Again, the HDZ is listed as a holder of
12 weapons on the untranslated document, Z309.1, in
13 paragraph 3. Is that also your explanation for why the
14 HDZ, a political organisation, is holding weapons? If
15 you look at paragraph 3, please, in the Croatian
17 A. Your Honours, the HDZ did not possess
18 weapons. Individuals who did have weapons and did not
19 want to hand them over claimed that weapons were given
20 to them by the HDZ.
21 Q. You were appointed by Dominik Sakic to your
22 position; is that correct? You were actually given the
23 position of brigade commander by Sakic?
24 A. No. Dominik Sakic, as president of the HVO
25 of Zenica, could only make a proposal. I was appointed
1 through the order of the commander of the Operative
2 Zone of Central Bosnia, and later of the commander of
3 HZ HB, Mr. Mate Boban. That is the same way I was
4 appointed brigade commander.
5 Q. Then Sakic nominated you; is that correct?
6 A. Possibly he made this proposal, but I don't
7 know of it.
8 Q. Could I just ask you if this brings --
9 refreshes your recollection. It would be Z172.1. It
10 is not to go into evidence. Just read it, please.
11 MS. SOMERS: Could it be put on the ELMO,
12 please, as well.
13 Q. What does it say about you in that particular
15 A. It says that he appointed me, but he did not
16 appoint me. This is the first time I see this
17 decision. He did not appoint me to this position. I
18 personally never saw this decision.
19 Q. This decision of 28 July 1992, from the HVO.
21 Do you recall any instances where there was
22 interaction between you and Sakic on matters of
23 nomination or -- of nomination for various positions or
24 of any political military decisions? Did you keep a
25 separate role or were you closely allied in your work
2 A. I never had a political role, or was I ever
3 interested in something like that.
4 Q. I'd just like to ask you if you could take a
5 quick look at this document, which is Z244.1?
6 MS. SOMERS: And also, Mr. Usher, if it's not
7 difficult, Z451.2. Not for admission; simply for
9 Q. Looking at 244.1, this is -- it purports to
10 be candidates for some legal organs for HZ HB, a
11 nomination that is coming from Zenica, presumably, and
12 it is -- it should be signed by Dominik Sakic as
13 president; however, your signature appears there.
14 Could you explain that, please.
15 A. Your Honours, I do not remember this
16 document. This is not a document of mine.
17 Q. And that is not your signature?
18 A. The signature could be, but the document is
19 not mine, for sure.
20 Q. Look at the next document, 451.2, dated 8
21 February 1993, this bears a joint signature, both for
22 yourself and for Dominik Sakic. Why did you have to
23 add your signature to this? Explain that, please.
24 Actually, if you don't mind taking a minute and just
25 reading, quickly, the paragraphs. They're very short.
1 THE INTERPRETER: Could the document be
2 placed on the ELMO as well, please.
3 A. Your Honours, this document speaks of an
4 initiative of the commands of the brigades of Zenica
5 and Vares, to have a joint meeting held, where the
6 current military and political situation would be
7 considered in the areas of the municipalities of Zepce,
8 Maglaj, Zavidovici, Kakanj, Vares, and Zenica, as well
9 as the possibility of cooperation and links between the
10 mentioned municipalities. It is correct that I
11 designed this, and the president of the HVO too. I
12 think this was after the Vance-Owen Plan, or before the
13 Vance-Owen Plan. It speaks of the municipalities that
14 were supposed to be part of a special separate
15 province. Today it is also a single province.
16 Q. If you would be kind enough, as I asked you,
17 just to read the centre paragraph, "Sosenuca" [phoen],
18 from that point on.
19 A. "The meeting will be held on Thursday, the
20 11th of February, 1993, beginning at 12.00 at the
21 Croatian House, the former culture centre, and it
22 should be attended by representatives of the commands
23 of the brigade, presidents of the HVO, and presidents
24 of the HDZ party of the above-mentioned
1 Q. Thank you very much. You had made reference
2 to the district military courts, and it was your
3 evidence that those had no influence by any political
4 figures. Can I ask you, please, have you familiarised
5 yourself with the Narodni list, which deals with the
6 decree on district military courts for Herceg-Bosna?
7 A. I do not recall. I know it was published,
8 but I can't remember now.
9 Q. Do you recall who appoints the judges to the
10 district military courts?
11 A. No, I don't know. That was never my own
12 province of work.
13 Q. I see. Then you're hearing for the first
14 time as I tell you that the Presidency of HZ HB
15 appoints judges and lay judges to the district military
16 courts upon the recommendation of the head of the
17 Defence Department for the HZ HB; that is your
18 evidence? This is the first time you've heard that?
19 A. I think that district military prosecutors
20 are appointed by the military, and at the top it is
21 quite possible that there is a supreme commander.
22 Q. Yes, except we were talking about district
23 military courts, which I believe is what you had
24 referred to, but thank you.
25 A quick question about a gentleman you
1 referred to in your evidence named Dragutin Zvonimir
2 Cicak. When did you arrive back on the territory of
3 Bosnia exactly from your time in the JNA?
4 A. I was in the territory of Bosnia. That is
5 where I served in the former JNA. I was trained in
6 Sabac, and I returned from there on the 4th of
7 December, 1991. That is when I was appointed company
8 commander in the territory of Bihac, which is the
9 territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
10 Q. Did you keep yourself current about
11 developments in Busovaca in 1991? Were you following
12 any of the newspapers or did you follow any of the
13 electronic broadcasts or media broadcasts concerning
14 the political situation in Busovaca?
15 A. During 1991, Your Honour, I was undergoing
16 training and I lived in Sarajevo. There was very, very
17 little talk of Busovaca. Busovaca is a tiny town on
18 the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
19 Q. Then you had not followed the discourse in
20 the media between Dario Kordic and Dragutin Cicak?
21 A. No.
22 Q. Then you were not aware of the threats made
23 by Mr. Kordic to Mr. Cicak in writing that were
25 A. Your Honours, I state with responsibility
1 that I was not familiar with any altercations. I only
2 know about the tour of the army, and there was a
3 delegation there that Cicak was on. And it is only
4 then I realised how much hatred he had for Dario
6 Q. Then your answer --
7 A. Busovaca --
8 Q. Excuse me, please finish.
9 A. In Busovaca. I really did not know about any
10 of this. I finished.
11 The reasons for Mr. Cicak's animosity are
12 quite unknown to me, and I'm not aware of them.
13 Q. Were you offended by Mr. Cicak, who is a
14 Bosnian Croat or a Bosnian of Croatian extraction,
15 appearing before you in an army -- or in a TO uniform?
16 Did that offend you?
17 A. Yes, it did offend me, as a person and as a
18 Croat. The man who was president of the HDZ, and he
19 told me then that he was president of the HDZ in
20 Busovaca, and then that he transferred to the
21 Territorial Defence and started making false
22 accusations, I could not understand that, and that
23 offended me as a man and as a commander.
24 Q. My question to you is did it offend you
25 because he was a Croat and that he was in a uniform
1 that was associated with perhaps not the HDZ?
2 A. No. I did not discuss that at all, nor did I
3 think about it at all.
4 Q. Did it offend you that Stjepan Siber is a
5 Croat who is also high ranking in the army of
7 A. What offended me was that Colonel Stjepan
8 Siber was a member of the army at the time when we
9 Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina were subjected to
10 aggression and, one could say, destruction by the army
11 of Bosnian Serbs, first and foremost, and after that
12 also the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
13 Q. Did you, at any time when you left the JNA,
14 ever consider joining the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
15 A. No, because at the very outset, Your Honours,
16 it was quite obvious where things were heading in
17 Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Territorial Defence was a
18 farce. The army of Bosnia-Herzegovina developed out of
19 the Patriotic League, that is, the military branch of
20 the SDA.
21 Q. After you were released from captivity, are
22 you aware of any investigations that were done into the
23 circumstances surrounding your kidnapping?
24 Specifically, I would like to ask you to take a look at
1 A. Yes, Your Honours, I am familiar with all of
2 this. I gave these documents to the representative of
3 this Honourable Court, Mr. Stefan Obers, and not only
4 this but also many other documents, on the basis of
5 which criminal proceedings were initiated before the
6 municipal court -- the district court in Travnik, with
7 its temporary seat in Vitez.
8 Q. Then this document, which is dated 15 April,
9 represents the effort by the officials in Zenica, it
10 appears spanning a number of ethnicities from the
11 names, to look seriously into the circumstances
12 surrounding your kidnapping, is that correct, a real
14 A. Your Honours, this document shows that this
15 is an on-site investigation report of the investigating
16 judge of the district military court in Zenica. The
17 district military court in Zenica was established by
18 the representatives of the army. At that time, already
19 over 97 per cent of its members were Muslim at the
21 Q. Have you ever received any awards for your
22 military role from the Republic of Croatia?
23 A. Your Honours, from the Republic of Croatia I
24 received a medal for participation in the liberation
25 operations, Summer and Storm, and I also have the
1 decoration of the Croatian trefoil.
2 MS. SOMERS: Exhibit Z1476.2, please. This
3 document appears only in the original language, Your
4 Honours. I believe that the explanation of the witness
5 will give it sufficient English and/or French
6 background so that it will be clear.
7 Q. Looking at entry number 82 of this document,
8 that is your name; is that correct?
9 THE INTERPRETER: May we have it on the ELMO,
11 A. Your Honours, I have already said that I was
12 appointed -- that is, decorated with the order of the
13 Croatian trefoil, and that is under entry 82. That is
14 my name.
15 Q. And what does it say under your name and your
16 serial number? Could you read, please, the very brief
17 line under it?
18 A. "The commander of the military district of
19 Vitez." At that time, I was with that command, and
20 throughout the war I was there, since my exchange,
21 until 1997.
22 Q. Can you explain to the Court, please, what
23 the Croatian order of the trefoil is and for what it is
25 A. Your Honours, I really cannot answer that
1 question, because I do not know for what it is
2 awarded. But I believe it is awarded for the promotion
3 of Croat interests, and this came as a result -- that
4 is, the decision on decorations resulted from national
5 liberation operations in north-western Bosnia, where on
6 the basis of the Split agreement it had been agreed
7 that the Croatian army units could enter the territory
8 of Bosnia-Herzegovina to help with the liberation of
9 parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina, that is, territories until
10 then occupied by the army of Bosnian Serbs.
11 After the conclusion of the Dayton Accords,
12 all these units were withdrawn, were pulled out from
13 the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and they were only
14 in the territory of north-western Bosnia-Herzegovina.
15 Q. Who signed this document, giving you an award
16 the nature of which you do not know, but whose
17 signature appears on the very last page of this
19 A. The president of the Republic of Croatia,
20 late Dr. Franjo Tudjman.
21 MS. SOMERS: The last exhibit, Z1466.2. It
22 has a summary translation attached to it, Your
23 Honours. I hope that that will suffice for the
24 purposes of the questions.
25 Q. Brigadier, these are concerning the military
1 district of Vitez. Your name appears on the first page
2 in the Croatian language, if I am correct, the one sort
3 of in the middle under "B". You are the fifth person
4 down, is that correct, and that is your signature next
5 to your name?
6 A. Your Honours, I do not understand that
7 question, but it is true that I am here under
8 number 5, --
9 Q. That is --
10 A. -- which means nothing. This simply means
11 that we were receiving the rank insignia.
12 Q. And above you, under "Section A", the third
13 name down for receipt of rank insignia on the rank of
14 brigadier is the name of Dario Kordic, bearing a
15 signature next to it. Do you see that?
16 A. I see that name, I see the signature, but I
17 do not know if that is his signature. And after all,
18 politicians may also be awarded ranks without, however,
19 having a commanding role.
20 Q. Now, the rank that you were afforded was --
21 you took it seriously and you carried out the duties of
22 that rank, did you not? This was a serious document,
23 is it not?
24 A. I did.
25 Q. Have you ever at any time had any discussion
1 with Colonel Dario Kordic about his relationship with
2 Mate Boban? You have indicated you have never met
3 Boban. Have you ever talked to Kordic about Boban?
4 A. I never talked about -- discussed Mate Boban
5 with Mr. Dario Kordic.
6 Q. Did you ever discuss any matters concerning
7 the late President Tudjman with Dario Kordic?
8 A. No.
9 Q. If I understand correctly, you have no
10 knowledge whatsoever of the relationship Dario Kordic
11 had with Mate Boban or with Franjo Tudjman, no
12 knowledge at all; is that correct?
13 A. Your Honours, how could I know that? I
14 haven't the slightest.
15 MS. SOMERS: Thank you. No further
17 MR. SAYERS: No questions, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE MAY: Brigadier Totic, thank you for
19 coming to the International Tribunal to give your
20 evidence. It is concluded and you are released.
21 [The witness withdrew]
22 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Naumovski.
23 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you,
24 Your Honours. I believe that our next witness is
25 ready. Our next witness is retired Brigadier Luka
2 MS. SOMERS: Could I ask the Court just to
3 give us a moment? Mr. Nice will be attending. I know
4 he would like to. If it's possible, just for a minute,
5 to make sure he's aware.
6 JUDGE MAY: We'll be waiting for the
7 witness. Let him come too.
8 MS. SOMERS: Thank you.
9 [The witness entered court]
10 JUDGE MAY: Let the witness take the
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly
13 declare that I will speak the truth, the whole truth,
14 and nothing but the truth.
15 WITNESS: LUKA SEKERIJA
16 [Witness answered through interpreter]
17 JUDGE MAY: Take a seat. Yes, Mr. Naumovski.
18 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you,
19 Your Honour.
20 Examined by Mr. Naumovski:
21 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Sekerija.
22 A. Good afternoon. I should like to greet all
23 those present in the courtroom.
24 Q. Will you please be so kind and give us your
25 full name, to begin with.
1 A. I am Luka Sekerija. I was born on the 29th
2 of August, 1954, in the village of Ploca, the
3 municipality of Uskoplje, also known as Gornji Vakuf.
4 I am a Bosnian Croat by ethnicity and I am a Roman
5 Catholic by religion. I am a citizen of
7 Q. Thank you. Will you tell us, very briefly,
8 about your education? I will lead you through these
9 questions. I believe there will be no objections to
10 try to finish with this as soon as possible. So you
11 attended your high school at Uskoplje, then a higher
12 administrative school in Novi Sad in Vojvodina; is that
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. I have to remind you. Would you please pause
16 a little before the end of my question and your answers
17 so that you give time to interpreters for that.
18 And tell us about your family life. You are
19 married and you are a father of four. You live in the
20 village of Trnovaca in the municipalities of Uskoplje,
21 don't you?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. You are retired at present, but from time to
24 time you work for the municipal government in Uskoplje
25 as an economic advisor, consultant?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And just one thing more. Before you retired
3 from the HVO, you had the rank of an HVO brigadier; is
4 that correct?
5 A. It is.
6 Q. You are the first witness for the Defence to
7 testify about Uskoplje, so could we get just some basic
8 data about Uskoplje, or rather its former name, Gornji
9 Vakuf, although the Court knows now that there are two
10 municipalities; the Croats have the municipality of
11 Uskoplje and the Bosniaks have the municipality of
12 Gornji Vakuf. Could you give us just a few data about
13 the population census of 1991, just roughly. You were
14 about 10.000 Croats in that area. And what about other
16 A. It is true that there was over 10.000 Croats,
17 that is 10.700, about 3.000 [as interpreted] Bosnian
18 Muslims, and about 1.000 Serbs and others, a small
19 number of others.
20 Q. In the village in which you were born, the
21 village of Ploca, which people were in the majority
23 A. It was a purely Croat village. In that area
24 where I was born, the population was entirely Croat.
25 Q. And what about the results of the first
1 multiparty elections, which also took place in the
2 municipality of Uskoplje in late 1990?
3 A. Well, let me see. The principal party of
4 Bosnian Croats, the Croat Democratic Union, won about
5 45 per cent of all the Croat voters. The party of
6 Bosnian Muslims, the Party for Democratic Action, won
7 about 50 per cent. On the basis of these results, HDZ
8 and the SDA set up their joint government in Uskoplje.
9 The mayor was a Muslim, Muhamed Palalic, and the
10 president of the municipal government, or the executive
11 order as it was called then, was Zdravko Batinic, and
12 he was a Croat.
13 Q. Let us go back to your biography, and I am
14 referring to the chapter entitled "Service in the TO,"
15 paragraph 9.
16 Mr. Sekerija, between the 10th of September,
17 1974, until the end of November, 1975, you attended a
18 school for infantry reserve held by the former JNA in
19 the town of Bileca in Bosnia-Herzegovina; is that so?
20 A. It is.
21 Q. And when you completed that school, you
22 joined the Territorial Defence in Gornji Vakuf as a
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And with the Territorial Defence in Uskoplje,
1 you served for some 15 years; that is, from the 20th of
2 September, 1976 until September 1991?
3 A. Correct.
4 Q. And at the end of that period of time in your
5 career, what rank did you have then?
6 A. When I left, the Territorial Defence was just
7 a matter that it fell apart. In the former system I
8 had the rank of the captain, first class.
9 Q. In the Territorial Defence, throughout your
10 service with it, there were other professionals in
11 addition to yourself. You were about 11 professional
12 officers all together in it?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And who were commanders during that time
15 while you served with the TO?
16 A. I had 11 colleagues with me. Nine of them
17 were Bosnian Muslims, one Croat, and myself as a
18 Croat. As a Croat, I could never become the commander
19 of that Territorial Defence staff, or rather the
21 Q. And who was that?
22 A. They were all Muslims, including the last
23 one, Fahrudin Agic, who kept that duty until the
24 outbreak of the war.
25 Q. Very well. Thank you. We can move on to the
1 next chapter, paragraph 12. So you put an end to your
2 career with the Territorial Defence in December 1992,
3 and already in April 1992 you joined those early
4 national organisations of you, the Croats, and went to
5 fight on Kupres, where the army of Bosnian Serbs had
6 already undertaken military operations?
7 A. Yes, because the boundary between my
8 territory, my municipality and Kupres, these two
9 municipalities are adjacent, so that, with 70
10 volunteers, I went to help -- I can call it help -- on
11 Kupres, to help fight against the army of Bosnian
12 Serbs, until the 10th of April, 1992, when we withdrew
13 from that area which was taken by Serbs.
14 Q. You think in military terms they were
16 A. Absolutely.
17 Q. So if I understood properly, the motive which
18 drove you to go and fight against the army -- or rather
19 against the Yugoslav People's Army, which at that time
20 was converted into the army of Bosnian Serbs, was what,
22 A. Only the defence of the territory, because,
23 as I said, we have a long boundary we share with Kupres
24 across the Radusa mountain.
25 Q. And at that time when you joined -- well,
1 HVO; let us call it that. By that time, who commanded
2 the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia?
3 A. When the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia was
4 formed, the first commander was Brigadier Zarko Tole,
5 who stayed there for a while. And after he was
6 captured by the army of Bosnian Serbs, I don't know his
7 fate after that, but I know he spent some time in
8 Bosnian Serb prisons.
9 Towards the end of April he was succeeded as
10 the commander of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia
11 by Ivan Zorica, nicknamed Zulu, and a little later than
12 that, that is in June that same year, he was replaced
13 by Colonel Tihomir Blaskic.
14 Q. And when Colonel Blaskic came and he was
15 appointed the commander of the Operative Zone, you were
16 already working in that -- I do not know whether one
17 could call it a staff, but you were there in the early
18 stages of this toja [phoen], weren't you?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And in this Operative Zone of Central Bosnia
21 staff, you were there sometime between May 1992 until
22 about January 1993; is that correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Tell us, where were the headquarters of the
25 Central Bosnia Operative Zone in those early days when
1 you joined it?
2 A. The Operative Zone of Central Bosnia was
3 formed, as I have already said, by Mr. Brigadier Zarko
4 Tole, and his seat was at the Jasa factory in
5 Uskoplje. And I was then appointed to the same duty as
6 the head of that command. And the operations officers,
7 late Zvonko Fontana, artillery man Salih Omerovic, who
8 was killed by the Chetniks on Radusa, and we tried to
9 set up that Operative Zone.
10 Very quickly, in no time at all, after about
11 ten days of our work, the army of Bosnian Serbs
12 captured Zarko Tole and took him to prison. And Zulu
13 was appointed to the post of the commander. He was
14 there for a while. And in late June that same year the
15 commander of the Operative Zone Central Bosnia was
16 taken by the then Colonel Tihomir Blaskic.
17 Q. Tell us, please, where did the headquarters
18 move when Tihomir Blaskic came to head it?
19 A. About ten days or a fortnight after Colonel
20 Blaskic came to -- had that staff, it moved to Motel
21 Lovac in Kruscica, in the municipality of Vitez.
22 Q. And after that?
23 A. And after that, when they were pushed out of
24 that area, the command moved to the Vitez Hotel in
25 Vitez. I believe it was also called Vitez. And it was
1 there until the end of the war.
2 Q. You told us a moment ago that you were the
3 head of the staff -- that is, that you worked for the
4 staff and then became the head between May 1952 [as
5 interpreted] and January 1993. But to be accurate, it
6 ought to be said that you were absent from your work
7 for about a month, sometime between September, October,
9 A. Correct, because I suffered some injuries in
10 Jajce in conflicts with the Bosnian Serb army. My
11 collarbone was broken and I sustained some other
12 injuries in that incident which befell me, and then I
13 had my collarbone, or rather my spine, in cast. And I
14 therefore was on sick leave for a month or two.
15 Q. Very well. Thank you. Just to correct one
16 thing. I spoke about May 1992, not 1952, as it says in
17 the transcript. It is obviously a slip.
18 So tell us, please, you were the head of the
19 staff at the time when Mr. Franjo Nakic was appointed
20 to the same office. You met him, you turned over the
21 office to him.
22 A. True, because of the injuries I had
23 sustained, and jobs which required somebody to be there
24 all the time. And at the time I was not really ready
25 because of my personal health problems, so I quit the
1 post of the Chief of Staff in late 1992, or rather
2 early 1993, and I returned to my municipality to
4 Q. So you introduced Mr. Nakic to the job and
5 you left for a month or so. So tell us, when you went
6 back to your municipality, to Uskoplje, tell us, you
7 became the Chief of Staff in the Dr. Ante Starecevic
8 Brigade, and it was commanded by whom?
9 A. It was commanded by Totic.
10 Q. Just very briefly -- I'm moving on to
11 paragraph 17 -- what was the composition of the Ante
12 Starcevic Brigade? Who were the members of that unit?
13 But will you please remember that you have to wait,
14 before you answer, for the question to be interpreted.
15 A. Very well. All members of the brigade of Dr.
16 Ante Starcevic in Uskoplje were local Croats from the
17 territory of Uskoplje. Amongst those soldiers, there
18 were also several volunteers who had returned from
19 Croatia, from the Croatian army, that had been born in
20 that area. After the war broke out in our country,
21 these self-same returned to the territory of Uskoplje
22 to defend their own homes and families.
23 In Dr. Ante Starcevic's brigade, there were
24 seven such volunteers. Of those seven men, two were
25 killed during the war. One suffered wounding, two left
1 the area and went to third countries, that is, to the
2 United States, and two are still in Uskoplje.
3 Q. Just one more detail related to those men.
4 Were those men privates or were there some officers
5 among them?
6 A. No, there were only privates in the Croatian
7 army. They returned to their municipality, to their
8 home turf, and joined the HVO units in Uskoplje or,
9 rather, to be more specific, the Dr. Ante Starcevic
11 Q. And so at the outset when you -- in the early
12 days of the formation of the army, Uskoplje was in the
13 joint Operative Zone of Central Bosnia. But when you
14 became the Chief of Staff of the brigade in late
15 January 1993, the Ante Starcevic Brigade was within a
16 different operative zone; is that so?
17 A. Yes, at the time when the Uskoplje Dr. Ante
18 Starcevic Brigade was under the direct command of the
19 Operative Zone of Tomislavgrad and the commander there
20 was then Colonel Zeljko Siljeg.
21 Q. Very well. Just one question more. And in
22 the military hierarchy, who was the superior command to
23 this Operative Zone?
24 A. Well, in the chain of command or, if you
25 like, the command hierarchy, all operative zones were
1 commanded exclusively by the Main Staff of the Croat
2 Defence Council, and it was in Grude at the time.
3 Q. To avoid any confusion, the Main Staff of the
4 Croat Defence Council moved from one place to another,
5 it had different seats?
6 A. Yes. It was first in Grude, then in Posusje,
7 and then moved to Mostar.
8 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
9 We can move on. Your Honours, we've reached paragraph
11 Q. Tell us, please, you lived in that area, you
12 could feel all the predicaments, everything that
13 happened in Central Bosnia. The Court has already
14 heard about what took place -- what happened in Bosnia
15 in '92 and '93, but tell us something about the lot of
16 Croats in that broad area of Central Bosnia, and what
17 did other sides aspire to, especially the army of
18 Bosnia and Herzegovina?
19 A. Well, it was like this: In late '92 and
20 early '93, the strategic goal of the Muslim leadership
21 was to expel Croats from the territory of Central
22 Bosnia in order to bring in and settle Muslims in those
23 same lands who had fled from the areas taken by the
24 army of Bosnian Serbs.
25 Q. Tell us, please, about the strategic goals
1 insofar as the military industry is concerned.
2 A. Well, they are as follows: The army of
3 Bosnian Muslims, the army of BH, as they called
4 themselves, in order to attain a strategic goal, took
5 all the special-purpose production units -- I mean the
6 armament, the weaponry-producing plants such as the
7 ammunition factory of up to 12.7 in Konjic, and it was
8 Igman Konjic; Bratstvo in Novi Travnik, which made all
9 types of barrels from infantry to cannon to other
10 pieces of weaponry; Slavko Rodic in Bugojno, which made
11 hand-held rocket launchers, 70-millimetre calibre,
12 hand-held defence bomb, M-75, which is prohibited by
13 conventions, all types of fuses and detonating devices
14 for mines, grenades, and so on and so forth. And there
15 was only a small part which was needed to round off
16 this production completely, and that was the factory --
17 the Vitezit factory of Slobodan Princip Seljo, as it
18 was called in the previous system, in Vitez.
19 Q. Tell us, please, you were educated, you were
20 a trained officer, and for years you were a trained
21 officer in the army. In your view, had the army of
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina managed to take the Slobodan Princip
23 Seljo factory, what did it mean in military terms?
24 A. It is quite easy to draw a conclusion. They
25 would have the total process of production of military
1 equipment in their own hands, and that would have been
2 sufficient for them to carry out their intention, that
3 is to say, the persecution of Croats in these parts.
4 And I thank God and the people who defended this area
5 for having done so. Had this not happened, God knows
6 where we would have been now.
7 Q. You agree with me that Uskoplje, as a town,
8 was of great strategic importance because it was on one
9 of the main roads linking that part of Bosnia and
10 Herzegovina to a southern part -- that is to say,
11 Central Bosnia, the north, et cetera?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Many have already said that basically this
14 civil war that was waged, not only in Central Bosnia
15 but elsewhere, was a war for roads.
16 A. Well, that's what they called the war, the
17 war for roads, the war for communications that could be
18 taken to pass. That is to say, it was a war for
20 Q. Yes. But as we said, first you have to hold
21 the roads for supplies, et cetera?
22 A. Absolutely, because whoever held the roads
23 had the possibility of procuring all the equipment that
24 was needed by soldiers in war; food, weapons, all other
25 equipment that was needed for waging a defensive war.
1 Q. Mr. Sekerija, before we move on to paragraph
2 21, that is to say, about the conflict that started on
3 the 11th of January, 1993, perhaps a few words about
4 whether there were any meaningful armed incidents
5 before that. Perhaps you have a few examples of this
7 A. Yes. The first incident between the Croatian
8 Defence Council and the Muslim army in the area where I
9 was occurred on the 17th of June, 1992, when the Muslim
10 self-styled leader, Hanefija Prijic, nicknamed Paraga,
11 attacked two vehicles in which HVO soldiers were being
12 transported. He disarmed them and put the vehicles
13 into the city swimming pool. There was about 20 or 30
14 centimetres of water in the pool at the time. I just
15 happened to be there then.
16 I established contact with the Muslim
17 commanders, asking them to do everything to prevent a
18 conflict, and we managed to pacify things and to bring
19 tensions down. We had the first casualties on that
20 day, two Croat soldiers were killed, and we also
21 managed to return the people who were imprisoned. And
22 that is when this distrust and intolerance started
23 between the two.
24 Q. Very well, thank you.
25 A. Also in 1992, there was a major conflict. I
1 personally think that I played a major role in this
2 context, and I convinced the military and political
3 leadership of the Muslims that we should not have a
4 war, because we really did not need a war then or
5 afterwards. We had a common enemy, and they were seven
6 or twelve kilometres away from us, as the crow flies,
7 depending on the terrain. That war would not have
8 brought any good either to Croats or to Muslims.
9 So we managed to agree to reach some kind of
10 agreement, and this was the case until January 1993,
11 when a real conflict broke out and when there were
12 terrible casualties on both sides. I'm going to talk
13 about this conflict later.
14 Q. Of course, we can move on to this part
15 immediately, but perhaps a small detail.
16 The headquarters of your brigade, Dr. Ante
17 Starcevic, was in the same factory, Jasa, where the
18 command of the Operative Zone was before that; is that
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Tell us, during this conflict that started on
22 the 11th of January, 1993, what was the strength of HVO
23 troops and what was the strength of BH army troops?
24 A. Well, this is the way it was: The conflict
25 that started sometime in the evening of the 11th of
1 January, 1993, occurred when the Ante Starcevic Brigade
2 had about 1.000 men. The Muslims had two or
3 three thousand soldiers, and they belonged to the 317th
4 Brigade, and they were commanded by Fahrudin Agic.
5 That is the same gentleman who was my commander.
6 Q. Yes, who was your commander in the TO. So
7 please now, in a few words -- this is paragraph 22,
8 Your Honours -- about this attack which occurred on the
9 11th of January, 1993, who was the attacker and which
10 way did the attack progress?
11 A. Well, this is the way it was: I remember
12 this very well. The forces of the army on the
13 territory of Uskoplje attacked all lines and all
14 villages of the Croatian Defence Council. It was an
15 all-out attack from all directions.
16 One should note that the Croatian Defence
17 Council in the territory of Radusa held a front line
18 against the Bosnian Serb army. That's when we had 180
19 soldiers at that front line. In order to make matters
20 even worse, part of this front line was held by the BH
21 army from Gornji Vakuf. And then they were withdrawn
22 only two days earlier, that is to say in the evening of
23 the 8th of January, 1992, and then there was this empty
25 Fearing the worse, that is to say, that the
1 Serbs could take the plateau of Radusa towards
2 Uskoplje, I decided, together with the other leaders
3 around 10.00 or 11.00 in the evening of the night, that
4 there I close the line with 70 or 80 soldiers more. I
5 don't remember exactly, but I needed 70 or 80 soldiers,
6 with equipment, in order to seal off this area where
7 the Muslims were withdrawn. This was done by way of a
8 plan, and -- that is to say, the Muslims attacked this
9 area on the 11th of January, although on that same day
10 Colonel Siljeg, Tokic and I, at the UNPROFOR base and
11 with the assistance of U.N. troops, we negotiated with
12 Selmo Cikotic.
13 Q. I do apologise. Let us not go any further.
14 Let us explain a detail to the Judges. You mentioned
15 Radusa. Radusa is a mountain where the front line was
16 between the army of the Bosnian Serbs and you were on
17 the other side?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Your conclusion concerning this -- that is to
20 say, after you were attacked on the 11th of January,
21 you realised, in hindsight, what the reason was why the
22 BH army withdrew from that part of the front line that
23 it held?
24 A. Yes, Your Honours, the very fact that three
25 days before the combat operations started, they
1 withdrew their forces from the Radusa plateau and then
2 attacked everything that was Croatian, and this went
3 from Radica Staje [phoen], Humac, Jasminik Skirta
4 [phoen], that was the line that was about seven
5 kilometres long, and this line was held by about 300
7 Q. Let's make the transcript as precise as
8 possible. When we talked about Radusa, we talked about
9 a front line between the army of the Bosnian Serbs and
10 you were on the other side; is that correct?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Now let us move on to paragraph 23. As you
13 already said, immediately after you were attacked, you
14 proposed -- let me put it that way -- to have a meeting
15 held, so that you tried to negotiate?
16 A. Well, this is the way it was: Your Honours,
17 on that very same day, the commander of the Operative
18 Zone of Tomislavgrad, or of the military district,
19 Colonel Siljeg, Tokic, and I asked the representatives
20 of UNPROFOR to call upon the military part of the
21 Muslim leadership, because I think that tensions were
22 at an all-time high and at any moment there could have
23 been an explosion, and we had to take people to Radusa
24 because this line had been abandoned, we asked the U.N.
25 to organise this kind of a meeting, and they accepted
1 this. They helped us meet at the U.N. base in
3 The Muslim army was represented by Selmo
4 Cikotic as the main negotiator, the commander of the
5 317th Brigade, Fahrudin Agic, and also some of his
6 officers. In order to avoid a conflict, we made a
7 proposal to Muslim commanders to form a joint command
8 at this very same moment consisting of Croats and
9 Muslims to work together to reduce the tensions and to
10 tell the people that they should not be afraid, that
11 there should not be a war because that war would not
12 suit either side, to reduce tensions and to have Muslim
13 soldiers return to the front line that they had
14 abandoned. Had there been more goodwill on the part of
15 the Muslim leadership, I think this conflict could have
16 been avoided.
17 The Muslims accepted this officially, but
18 then in the evening on that very same day, they
19 rejected our offer, and they attacked all positions and
20 all villages where there was a majority Croat
22 Q. Tell us, please, during these days of war,
23 during this first attack and the fighting that broke
24 out, you had the opportunity of touring some Croatian
25 villages or Croat families, houses in individual
1 villages through UNPROFOR, and you were at the village
2 of Bojska at the beginning of February?
3 A. Yes. Your Honours, I omitted to mention that
4 the conflict that broke out on the 11th of January
5 lasted approximately from 40 to 45 days. With the U.N.
6 forces, we heard that all the Croats who lived in the
7 village of Bojska -- that was a majority Muslim
8 village -- were killed. I had the opportunity of going
9 there and seeing things for myself.
10 When we arrived in the village, we saw that
11 all Croat houses had been destroyed, the Catholic
12 cemetery was destroyed, and in the house of 87-year-old
13 Franjo Okadar who lived only with his unmarried
14 daughter, Finka, who was approximately born in 1937 --
15 I know all of this -- when we entered this house the
16 late Okadar, who had been an immobile person for the
17 past three or four years and who was helped by his
18 daughter who lived with him, I saw a terrible scene.
19 The late Franjo Okadar lay on some kind of a
20 couch or sofa with his throat slit, and all the blood
21 had poured out of it. The corpse was there for about
22 two or three days and all the blood was still there.
23 While his daughter's body was naked from the waist
24 downwards, she laid on the floor dead, massacred. The
25 post-mortem showed that she had been raped. She had
1 over 30 knife stabs on her body. This is one of the
2 terrible scenes that I saw for myself.
3 With your permission, I would like to
4 continue. With the help of the U.N., we wrapped these
5 bodies in blankets.
6 JUDGE MAY: You've told us about this.
7 Mr. Naumovski, can we go on to deal with the relevant
9 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Straightaway,
10 Your Honour. I just have one more question.
11 Q. In addition to these two Croat bodies which
12 you saw for yourself, there were four other Croats
13 there who had been killed. You heard about them from
14 one of your subordinates; is that right?
15 A. Yes. When I was up there, a Warrior went
16 there to get the bodies of four other Croats who had
17 lived there, and Pero Midangic [phoen], my subordinate,
18 went there. I sent him there personally because I
19 couldn't go myself, due to other business I had to
20 attend, and he saw the bodies. And also there is the
21 post-mortem that was conducted by a doctor who was
22 assigned to this.
23 Q. So out of all the six Croats who lived in the
24 village of Bojska, all of them were killed; is that
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. There were certain incidents in the month of
3 June 1993?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Could you please tell the Trial Chamber, as
6 briefly as possible, what happened to a convoy
7 organised by Caritas? The two priests, Friar Vinko
8 Tomas and Friar Nikica Milicevic, were taken through
9 Uskoplje towards Fojnica?
10 A. Your Honours, with your permission, I don't
11 want to move on to the next point until I say the
12 following: When these convoys ended without anyone
13 winning --
14 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Sekerija, you have to realise
15 we have rules here, and one of them is to stick to what
16 is relevant. If counsel wants to ask you about
17 something, he will, or the Prosecution may
18 cross-examine you. But we'll get on more quickly if
19 you would just answer the questions that you are
20 asked. Thank you.
21 Yes, Mr. Naumovski. What was the point that
22 you wanted? You were going to ask about the convoy?
23 MR. NAUMOVSKI: Yes.
24 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Sekerija, I asked you
25 about this convoy. Could you please tell the
1 Honourable Judges what happened and under what
2 circumstances it came?
3 A. The convoy came from the direction of Vrana,
4 and it was stopped in the village of Bidris [phoen],
5 where the HVO had control. This was an exclusively
6 humanitarian convoy, and it was led by Friar Vinko
7 Tomas and the late Friar Nikica Milicevic, who was
8 killed by Muslims in the church in Fojnica.
9 As I passed through this area, I personally
10 ordered that the convoy should not go through
11 Muslim-held territory, although it had to go that way,
12 until we reached agreement on this, until we asked them
13 to let this convoy pass through, because this was
14 exclusively for humanitarian assistance.
15 In spite of my warning, Friar Vinko Tomas,
16 believing he was a servant of God and that the Muslims
17 would not do anything to him, as they entered the town
18 that was Muslim-held, they took the convoy, they beat
19 up all the drivers, they took all the goods, and then
20 for five or six days we had an exchange for these
21 people. We asked for them to be returned to us,
22 although they had been beaten so badly. So this went
23 on for five or six days.
24 Q. Thank you. We can proceed chronologically
1 Again there was an attack on the HVO in June
2 1993, that is to say, on the 24th of June; is that
4 A. Exactly.
5 Q. Who attacked, and how long did the fighting
6 go on, and did it stop at all until the ceasefire was
7 signed in the spring of 1994?
8 A. Before this conflict broke out on the 24th of
9 June, 1993, I was imprisoned by Muslim soldiers as I
10 was touring the Radusa front line in a village -- I
11 don't want to talk about this because nobody asked me
12 about it, but I'm going to say something else.
13 On the 24th of June, 1993, in the afternoon
14 hours, the villages of Kute, Vaganjac, Gaj and Gornji
15 Fojnica were attacked by all weapons that were
16 available, and the commander of the Muslim unit was
17 Hanefija Prijic, nicknamed Paraga. This was the second
18 time that he appeared as a local sheriff, taking
19 justice into his own hands. I don't know whether he
20 was under direct command, but he did have means of
21 communication to communicate with his commander, Agic.
22 Q. Perhaps you could tell us quite briefly, the
23 gentleman that you just mentioned now, let us say a few
24 words about his unit, under quotation marks.
25 There are some incidents that are linked to
1 it that occurred in Pavlovica?
2 A. Yes. Uskoplje, Novi Travnik, across
3 Pavlovica, is an area where many people disappeared.
4 This gentleman Hanefija Prijic, nicknamed Paraga, is
5 one of the leaders of these groups. He was a
6 highwayman. There is no other word for him and for
7 them, these people who committed all these atrocities.
8 Italian Caritas was going through this area, and they
9 imprisoned them. And also Mijo Milic was massacred,
10 and the driver, and killed.
11 The Italian member of Caritas just happened
12 to remain alive. When we finally got him, he reached
13 our positions, we didn't understand what he was saying,
14 but we found an interpreter. The Italian told us that
15 all his colleagues had been killed, that the vehicle
16 was taken away as well.
17 There is a video cassette, and we assumed
18 that this was the one and the same group that was doing
19 this all the time, the one led by Hanefija Prijic.
20 When he saw this videotape that we wanted to show him,
21 then he said this was the man who did it.
22 JUDGE MAY: Just a moment. Mr. Naumovski,
23 it's very difficult to follow this sort of evidence.
24 Perhaps you could just bring the witness to deal with
25 what is relevant.
1 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Yes, Your
2 Honour. These were just certain incidents that
3 preceded this. But now let us move on to a day of
4 bloodshed, the day of greatest bloodshed for the Croats
5 in Uskoplje.
6 Your Honours, this is paragraph 27, that is
7 to say, the events of the 4th of August, 1993.
8 Q. Could you tell us, briefly, how many civilian
9 casualties there were, what kind of an attack this was,
10 but as brief as possible, please.
11 A. Your Honours, on the 4th of August, 1993,
12 Bugojno and Travnik had already fallen to the Muslims,
13 one of the bloodiest and most difficult attacks on this
14 front line started. Twelve civilians were killed on
15 that day, seventeen soldiers were killed, and
16 forty-seven wounded. The forces of the army in
17 Uskoplje, rather, in Gornji Vakuf, that is to say, the
18 locally based 317th Brigade, were reinforced with other
19 Muslim troops, the Mujahedin units, and units of the
20 17th Krajiska Brigade.
21 Q. During those days, you were heavily wounded
23 A. Yes. On that very same day, to be more
24 precise, I was driving in a tank, because it was
25 impossible to pass otherwise because of all the
1 gunfire, the gunfire coming from the Muslim side. And
2 at that point the tank, T55, was hit by a Milutka
3 [phoen] anti-armour projectile. The projectile was
4 fired from Muslim sides and it hit the tank, where
5 there were four soldiers and myself. Two soldiers
6 burned down completely; two were heavily wounded, as I
8 Q. Not to go into all the details -- all of this
9 was mentioned in paragraph 27 -- but as a result of
10 this, you are a disabled person by 80 per cent, due to
11 the injuries that you sustained on that day?
12 A. Yes. Due to the injuries I sustained on that
13 day, I am a permanent invalid, 80 per cent.
14 Your Honours, with your permission, I wish to
15 mention a report of the UN forces. They sent the UN
16 headquarters, through their own chain of command, I
17 imagine, and I personally saw a copy of this document
18 that was written in English but that was translated
19 into the Croatian language as well. And I quote it:
20 "The Uskoplje front line at the moment is the
21 strongest concentration of manpower and technical
23 And now something else which is very
24 important. "Uskoplje is being attacked by 19.000 to
25 23.000 Muslim soldiers, and it is being defended by
1 1.800 to 2.500."
2 Q. Thank you, sir. We don't have to go into all
3 the details.
4 A. I do thank the Trial Chamber.
5 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Naumovski, this may be a
6 convenient moment.
7 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Just one more
8 question, Your Honour, please. I may forget later.
9 Q. When you spoke about this all-out attack in
10 August, in addition to this 312th --
11 A. No. 317th.
12 Q. Oh, yes. 317th. -- were there other BH army
13 forces that took part in this attack?
14 A. I already mentioned this, that there were
15 forces from Bugojno, because Croats were already
16 expelled from Bugojno and already expelled from
17 Travnik, so part of the forces from Bugojno, the
18 Mujahedin units from Travnik and the 17th Krajiska
19 Brigade, all of these units were in the territory of
20 the Uskoplje front line.
21 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you,
22 Your Honours. I agree that this would be a good time
23 for a break.
24 JUDGE MAY: One point of detail, and that is
25 that the evidence given about the population was that
1 the population of Gornji Vakuf in 1991 was 10.000
2 Croats and 3.000 Muslim. It appears from the summary,
3 and indeed from the other evidence, that should have
4 been 13.000.
5 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thirteen.
6 Obviously it was a mistake, either in terms of typing
7 or in the translation.
8 JUDGE MAY: Very well. We'll adjourn now.
9 Half past 2.00, please.
10 Mr. Sekerija, will you be back at half past
11 2.00, please, to go on with your evidence.
12 --- Luncheon recess taken at 1.03 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 2.35 p.m.
2 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Nice.
3 MR. NICE: I've asked for the witness to be
4 kept out just for a couple of minutes. There are a few
5 things I've got to deal with, and one of them has to be
6 dealt with before I cross-examine him, and so I thought
7 rather than interrupt the afternoon, if I just took a
8 couple of minutes of your time now, so much the
10 A matter that doesn't concern the witness at
11 all relates to last week, when we were in the small
12 courtroom, which, as the Chamber probably know, has a
13 small darkened glass booth with four -- space for four
14 members of the public. You can't be seen very well,
15 but nevertheless you're in there. Now, it's come to
16 our attention, rightly or wrongly -- it may well be
17 rightly -- that two of the people in there, certainly
18 on Friday -- can we have a private session before I
19 name the names?
20 [Private session]
13 page 18169 redacted – private session
13 page 18170 redacted – private session
13 page 18171 redacted – private session
13 page 18172 redacted – private session
13 page 18173 redacted – private session
23 [Open session]
24 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honours,
25 with your permission, just a word in connection with
1 what the Prosecutor said. I'm not going to mention any
3 The gentleman we discussed was not in the
4 courtroom on Thursday as well. There were two other
5 gentlemen in the gallery on Thursday, and I personally
6 saw them and met them after the trial. I was
7 introduced to them, and none of their names is the name
8 that we've just discussed. That is just what I wanted
9 to add by way of clarification.
10 [The witness entered court]
11 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] May it please
12 the Court, I would like to continue with this witness.
13 Thank you.
14 Q. Mr. Sekerija, we can continue from where we
15 stopped. The last thing you did, so to speak, or,
16 rather, the last duty you had in the HVO, when
17 Colonel Blaskic became chief of Main Staff of the HVO
18 in August of 1993, although you were still in a bad
19 condition from the point of view of your health, but
20 because of your expertise, your organisational ability,
21 and all your other abilities, he asked you to help out,
22 didn't he?
23 A. Yes. At that time, General Blaskic already,
24 after having assumed the duty of head of the Main Staff
25 on the 6th of August, 1994, met me and asked me whether
1 I wanted to work, because I was totally distraught from
2 a psychological point of view.
3 Your Honours, may I just mention that both of
4 my parents, my mother and my father, were killed in
5 this war. My house was devastated, and everything
6 around it. And I also have a wife and four children to
7 take care of. And I was totally distraught,
8 psychologically, as I already said.
9 I accepted this work, and I am thankful to
10 General Blaskic for having taken me with him and for
11 having returned me to life. So I did this from
12 September 1994 until the end of his tour of duty in the
13 General Staff of the HVO in Posusje.
14 Q. Let's just say one more thing. You did not
15 have any command duties in the General Staff; you were
16 simply head of an administrative office in that General
17 Staff of General Blaskic?
18 A. Yes, that's right. It was called Chef de
19 Cabinet of the head of the Main Staff. That is to say,
20 head of the administration of the General Staff of the
22 Q. So you held this tour of duty until the end
23 of 1994, when you retired; is that right?
24 A. Yes. First I received some kind of a salary,
25 and recently I have officially retired.
1 Q. Now we are moving on to the most important
2 chapter concerning our client; that is to say,
3 paragraph 30. When did you first meet Mr. Dario
5 A. Your Honours, I first met Mr. Dario Kordic in
6 May or June 1992. That man was a politician in the
7 Lasva Valley and worked at the Vila Ivancica in
8 Tisovac, a few kilometres south-west of Busovaca.
9 Mr. Kordic was a well-known public figure, and he made
10 public appearances and gave speeches.
11 Q. You had an opportunity of hearing many of his
12 speeches, and also you heard him on television, radio,
13 and read about him in the newspapers. He talked about
14 Croats. What was one of his basic tenants when he
15 talked about Croats, as compared to the other ethnic
16 groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
17 A. Mr. Kordic was a person I often saw on
18 television, and he said that Bosnian Croats are one of
19 the constituent peoples in Bosnia-Herzegovina, equal --
20 as well as the Bosnian Muslims and the Bosnian Serbs.
21 He never -- at least I never heard any such thing --
22 made any derogatory remarks about Bosnian Muslims, or
23 any other ethnic group, for that matter. He never
24 advocated violence or doing harm to anyone, and he was
25 adamant in stating that the entire civilian population
1 had to be protected, regardless of ethnicity or
2 religious affiliation. In his speeches, that is what
3 he said.
4 Q. Tell me, please, did you ever see Mr. Kordic
5 in Uskoplje, either in 1982 [as interpreter], when you
6 were at home, or 1983 [as interpreted] or 1984 [as
7 interpreted]; did you ever hear of Mr. Kordic coming
8 there at the time to Uskoplje?
9 A. I probably would have heard of this.
10 However, to the best of my knowledge, I never saw
11 Mr. Kordic in Uskoplje at any time in 1992, 1993, or
12 1994, any of these years. Actually, I only saw him
13 once at the front line in Jajce shortly before the fall
14 of that town to the Bosnian Serb armed forces. They
15 took it on October 30th, 1992. It was also quite
16 obvious from this that Mr. Kordic had hardly any
17 influence -- no influence whatsoever in the Uskoplje
19 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Excuse me.
20 Mr. Naumovski, I believe that the witness previously
21 said that he had seen Mr. Kordic on the front line, [in
22 English] on the front line in Jajce, [interpretation]
23 right before the fall of that town.
24 I should like to ask you, Brigadier, what was
25 Mr. Kordic doing on the front line, why was he there on
1 the front? In what capacity was he there?
2 A. As far as I know, as far as I know,
3 Mr. Kordic was exclusively a political figure, and as
4 far as I know, he came to visit the population of Jajce
5 and probably to talk to the political leaders of that
7 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] And why did
8 he go precisely at the time when the fighting was going
9 on? Why did he come to come during the combat? Did it
10 have anything to do with the conduct of military
11 operations perhaps?
12 A. No.
13 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] So it just
14 happened? He didn't come because of the fall of Jajce
15 or having anything to do with the fall of Jajce?
16 A. As far as I know, no. Mr. Kordic never
17 commanded units or did he ever issue any kind of orders
18 to use units for combat operations.
19 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Thank you.
20 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you,
21 Your Honour.
22 Q. Mr. Sekerija, perhaps we can add to this
23 question that the Honourable Judge Bennouna just put to
25 You said a few minutes ago Jajce had fallen,
1 the Serbs took Jajce. Was this a military defeat or
2 was this something else?
3 A. As far as I know, it was a military defeat,
4 because in that area the Serbs were much stronger and
5 much better armed from a military point of view, so
6 what happened to Jajce had to happen. We were defeated
7 in Jajce -- I'm talking about the HVO and the BH
8 army -- in a pure battle, so to speak. The Serbs
9 simply expelled the population that lived there and won
10 the battle.
11 Q. Thank you. You said that Mr. Kordic was a
12 politician. However, during this case, some witnesses
13 said that he was also addressed as "Colonel",
14 regardless of the reasons why he got this rank. My
15 question is the following: Did Mr. Kordic issue
16 military orders to you personally or did you hear of
17 some of your colleagues having received any military
18 orders from Mr. Kordic?
19 A. Mr. Kordic could not and did not issue orders
20 to me or to my colleagues. My only commander in
21 Central Bosnia was Mr. Blaskic, Mr. Tihomir Blaskic, as
22 commander of the Operative Zone. This was on a purely
23 military level.
24 Q. When your brigade and Uskoplje fell under the
25 Operative Zone of Tomislavgrad, then you fell under
1 that command; is that right?
2 A. Yes, that's right. Then my commander was
3 Colonel Zeljko Siljeg, as I mentioned earlier on, and
4 he was held responsible by the Main Staff of the HVO
5 according to the regular chain of command.
6 Q. Tell me, please, while you worked at
7 General Blaskic's headquarters, Colonel Blaskic's
8 headquarters, from June 1992 until January 1993, did
9 Colonel Blaskic ever tell you something like this, or
10 do you know whether Mr. Kordic ever issued any military
11 orders to Colonel Blaskic, or did he make any proposals
12 to him as to what kind of military orders should be
13 ordered, or something like that?
14 A. As far as I know, he never received orders
15 from political figures. The same goes for me, for my
16 own subordinates, and the soldiers who were under my
17 command. However, in the Operative Zone of Central
18 Bosnia or, rather, in all the municipalities that
19 belonged there, there was an uprising of the people.
20 There was an armed people there, and we tried to turn
21 them into an army. We managed as much as possible.
22 But another thing is also true, and that is
23 that in these municipalities, there were individuals
24 and small groups that fell out of the chain of command,
25 who exclusively worked for their own benefit and to the
1 detriment of the Croat people and Croat soldiers.
2 Q. If I understand you correctly, you are
3 referring to certain criminal elements.
4 A. Absolutely, absolutely.
5 Q. Mr. Sekerija -- Your Honours, we are moving
6 on to paragraph 35 -- you know that the Prosecutor
7 claims in this case of ours that the Croats and
8 politicians in Central Bosnia advocated violence
9 against other peoples, especially Muslims, and
10 discrimination against the Muslims. Please tell me, is
11 this true, in your opinion and according to your own
12 experience? After all, your experience is based on
13 your actual life there.
14 A. Your Honours, according to my experience,
15 this assertion is quite false.
16 During the first days of the conflict, in
17 April, May, June of 1992, and afterwards as well when
18 the HVO was defending the front lines against the
19 Bosnian Serb army at Jajce, the HVO forces were
20 responsible for defending approximately 70 per cent of
21 those front lines. As proposals were being discussed
22 for the division of arms at barracks formerly belonging
23 to the former Yugoslav People's Army --
24 Q. Excuse me. This is an interesting question
25 that should be clarified for the Honourable Trial
1 Chamber. That is where there was a difference of
2 opinion between you and Mr. Kordic.
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Could you please tell the Honourable Trial
5 Chamber about it?
6 A. Well, on one occasion in June 1992, when
7 there was already a conflict and incident in Gornji
8 Vakuf or, rather, in Uskoplje when the Muslims attacked
9 us, Mr. Kordic advocated the following: that from all
10 the weapons that were taken from the former JNA
11 barracks, that we simply give the Muslims a half.
12 I opposed this in the strongest possible
13 terms. How can we give them weapons when they've
14 already started attacking us? They don't even hold 10
15 or 20 or 30 per cent of the front line. So if the
16 front line is 70 per cent for the Croats and 30
17 per cent for the Muslims, I thought that it was
18 necessary to give 30 per cent of the total amount of
19 weapons for that part of the front line, whereas
20 Mr. Kordic had a completely different view. He did not
21 have command authority, but nevertheless that is what
22 he advocated, that it should be something like 50 per
23 cent to 50 per cent, I mean 50 per cent to the Muslims
24 and 50 per cent to the Croats.
25 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Excuse me,
1 Mr. Naumovski. Brigadier Sekerija says that he
2 disagreed with Mr. Kordic with regard to the
3 distribution of arms, that is, 70 to 30, if I
4 understood well, that Mr. Kordic was for a 50/50
5 per cent distribution. Now, whose opinion prevailed?
6 Mr. Kordic's?
7 A. Since Mr. Kordic was a political figure, he
8 exclusively had contact with heads of governments and
9 municipal officers in our zone of responsibility.
10 Sometimes I attended these meetings as well. It was
11 their duty to give logistic support to the military.
12 And at one such meeting I heard -- nevertheless, they
14 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Wait. Very
15 simply, tell me: At the end of the story, was it
16 Mr. Kordic's view which was adopted, 50/50 per cent, 50
17 per cent, 50 per cent distribution? Did that
18 suggestion regarding the distribution prevail; yes or
19 no, please?
20 A. Yes, with the help of the other presidents of
21 governments of various municipalities that were poorer
22 in that sense.
23 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] So
24 ultimately it was a decision which was taken by a
25 politician about a military matter, isn't it?
1 A. Well, one could not put it that way. It was
2 not a military issue. It is a question of logistic
3 support to troops fighting at the front line.
4 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Thank you.
5 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Microphone not activated]
6 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for
7 Mr. Naumovski, please.
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. This is the very beginning of
10 self-organisation; there still hasn't been a firm
11 establishment of any kind?
12 A. Precisely.
13 Q. Thank you. We can move on to paragraph 36.
14 A short while ago we referred to the claims of the
15 Prosecution that Croats, or rather Croat politicians,
16 advocated a certain discrimination against Muslims and
17 that that policy, in inverted commas, was applied
18 throughout the territory of HZ HB, including Zenica,
19 and so on and so forth. Tell us, please: Had you ever
20 heard, had anyone ever told you, did there exist an
21 official or unofficial, in inverted commas, persecution
22 policy against the Muslims in the area where you lived?
23 A. Your Honours, this claim is completely
24 false. Throughout my service with the HVO, I was
25 never, ever issued an order from my superior to
1 persecute or disturb or harass Bosnian Muslims, or any
2 other ethnic group. Moreover, I never received any
3 order to kill civilians or damage civilian property.
4 Moreover, I have never heard of any such orders being
5 issued by any HVO officer at any level of command, and
6 that is the truth indeed.
7 Q. So you personally never issued an order which
8 would be in this field in which I mentioned?
9 A. Naturally, to begin with, had I ever received
10 such an order, I wouldn't have carried it out;
11 secondly, I would have never issued such an order
13 Q. Thank you. After the ceasefire agreement was
14 signed, that is, following the Washington Accords and
15 so on and so forth, you again had contact with people
16 that you cooperated with before the war with whom
17 you -- against whom you fought during the war, and then
18 began to have contact with them again. Those are
19 Fahrudin Agic and Goran Cisic, high officials of the BH
20 army in your area. You also could hear about the
21 interviews of some Bosnia-Herzegovinian, ABiH soldiers
22 who were captured in your area of responsibility, if I
23 may put it that way. Tell us, in two sentences, what
24 was the substance of what you were told, both by those
25 officers and those captured soldiers?
1 A. Yes. For the first time after the signature
2 of the Washington Accord at the UN base, I met my
3 fellow workers from before the war, that is, Agic and
4 Cisic. And then I said, "Let's behave properly. So
5 what did we need all this for, all these victims, all
6 this devastation?" And they said they had such orders
7 from their superiors. And again, from individuals, not
8 only people from Jajce, but from East Bosnia, Krajina,
9 and all other places from which Muslims had been
10 expelled to our territories, we heard what we had been
11 promised by the political leadership if we fought here
12 in this territory and if we managed to gather with
13 Croats, then we would be able to keep their houses and
14 property and whatnot.
15 Q. Mr. Sekerija, before we bring this
16 examination to a close, my last question has to do with
17 a document, Z248.1.
18 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Could the
19 usher please help me? I have a copy of the Croatian
20 version. You don't have to look for it. Can you
21 please show it to the witness. And perhaps the English
22 version could be placed on the ELMO, but will you
23 please give it to the witness. Perhaps it would be
24 better to put the English version on the ELMO so that
25 everybody can follow.
1 Q. Will you please look at this document,
2 Mr. Sekerija. I have several questions about this
3 document. My first question: Is it the document that
4 you wrote and signed? You are the only person who can
5 answer that question, because your name figures on it.
6 A. Yes, it is my document.
7 Q. This document is dated 10th of January, 1993,
8 and you told us it was written one day before the
9 attack which happened on the 11th. And from what you
10 told us today, it was two days after the BH army pulled
11 out its forces from that front facing Bosnian Serbs.
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Tell us, please -- I have several questions
14 about this document. To begin with, around that time,
15 the 10th of January, 1993, you were formally under the
16 Operative Zone of Tomislavgrad, and your commander is
17 Colonel Siljak; is that so?
18 A. It is.
19 Q. From this document, it transpires that you,
20 however, sent, addressed this letter to the commander
21 of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, Tihomir
22 Blaskic; that is, not your commander, but the
23 neighbouring one, if I may call it that.
24 A. Correct. Your Honours, this is how it was.
25 I already said in my evidence that the Muslim forces
1 had pulled out from the front -- confronting the
2 Bosnian Serbs, and all the armament and all the
3 ammunition reserves, I simply had to send to that
4 area. The tension in the town was mounting. The
5 atmosphere was almost white hot. And I simply had
6 nothing to replenish the units that were there, so that
7 I simply drew on my personal acquaintance with Colonel
8 Blaskic and to ask him to give it to me if he has it.
9 So yes, indeed, I did send this letter, but my
10 request was not met and I did not get what I asked for
11 in this letter, because he did not have this materiel
13 Q. Colonel Blaskic is the first addressee in
14 this letter. However, we also see the name of the
15 vice-president of the Croat Community of Herceg-Bosna,
16 Dario Kordic.
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. So my first question is: Is this a military
19 document in the strict sense of the word? Is it a
20 military order or a document of that nature?
21 A. Oh, come. This is not an order. This is
22 simply a letter of request to Tihomir Blaskic to allot
23 me, to give me this materiel, which I did not get. So
24 this is not -- this is not an order. This is simply a
25 request, an application for something to comply with
1 it, if possible, and they did not meet my request. May
2 I continue?
3 Q. Yes, go on.
4 A. It also says -- here's Colonel Tihomir
5 Blaskic and the vice-president of the HZ HB, Mr. Dario
6 Kordic. Gentlemen, I wish to inform you about the
7 following: The signals, the kinds of communication
8 that we could maintain were very poor, so sometimes a
9 fax would go through and sometimes it wouldn't. And on
10 various occasions, whenever I needed to inform Colonel
11 Blaskic about various matters, I would send two
12 identical documents to two different addresses, because
13 Mr. Tihomir Blaskic and Mr. Kordic were very -- in the
14 vicinity of one another. That is, Mr. Kordic in
15 Busovaca, Mr. Blaskic in Vitez. So that if Mr. Kordic
16 received my letter and Mr. Blaskic didn't -- rather,
17 this document, in which I was requesting some materiel,
18 then Mr. Kordic would forward it to Mr. Blaskic.
19 I also thought that it would be useful for
20 Mr. Kordic to know that there was this white-hot
21 atmosphere, that the tension was really very high,
22 because the Muslim army's command was in Zenica. So
23 that Mr. Kordic, if he had an opportunity to read this,
24 could see that this looked like the beginning of a
25 conflict, then he could perhaps call his counterparts
1 on the Muslim side and ask them to bring the pressure,
2 the influence, on the Muslim troops to avoid the
3 conflict, and that is what this document was about.
4 And I did not ask from Kordic, nor could I ask
5 Mr. Kordic, to supply me with this materiel. I don't
6 even think that he knows what it is.
7 Q. Thank you, Mr. Sekerija.
8 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Your Honours,
9 this brings my examination-in-chief to an end. Thank
11 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
12 Cross-examined by Mr. Kovacic:
13 Q. Mr. Sekerija, good afternoon. My name is
14 Bozidar Kovacic, and with my colleague, Goran
15 Mikulicic, I represent the Defence of Mr. Mario
16 Cerkez. I have only a few questions in relation to
17 what you testified about today, merely to fill in some
19 If I understood you properly, you arrived in
20 the territory of Vitez or, more specifically, to
21 Kruscica, in June 1992; is that correct?
22 A. Correct.
23 Q. And you arrived there together with General
24 Blaskic; is that correct?
25 A. It is.
1 Q. And as of that time, that is, June 1992, at
2 that time you began to set up the headquarters for the
3 command of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia in
4 Kruscica; is that so?
5 A. It is.
6 Q. And that headquarters, the offices, were in
7 the Lovac Motel in Kruscica; is that correct?
8 A. It is.
9 Q. Lovac Motel is slightly outside Kruscica,
10 towards the hill, isn't it?
11 A. Correct.
12 Q. At that time, did you know, were you aware,
13 that Kruscica was predominantly, or rather
14 overwhelmingly, a Muslim village?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And nevertheless, you evidently had no
17 misgivings with setting up the command of the HVO for
18 the whole region in Kruscica?
19 A. No, none, because we thought that our one and
20 only enemy was the army of the Bosnian Serbs, or rather
21 the transformed former Yugoslav People's Army.
22 Q. Right. Since you raised the topic, at that
23 time, the only enemy of the Croat people in Bosnia, as
24 you saw it?
25 A. At that time, to be quite honest, the only
1 enemy of the Croat and Muslim people, I'd say, were,
2 and I'm referring to June 1992, was the army of Bosnian
4 Q. Thank you. The HVO began to take shape, some
5 defence was set up, front lines were established
6 against the Serbs. Tell me, is it true that in Vitez,
7 where you were at the time, the protaganist in the
8 defence, in the organisation of the defence, on the
9 side of the HVO, was the so-called Municipal Staff of
10 the HVO?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Is it true that the Municipal Staff, and I
13 think that the name already shows that, is a part of
14 the civilian administration in the municipality of
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And was the -- at that time, that is, in
18 1992, was the organisation in other municipalities
19 organised along the same lines, to your knowledge?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Is it true that the role of that municipal
22 authority was to organise and equip the municipal army,
23 in inverted commas, that is, because the HVO was
24 only -- was still in its embryonic stage, so that it
25 could begin to resist the Serb army along the front
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Was there somebody else setting up this army?
4 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone. The witness's
5 microphone is switched off.
6 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation].
7 Q. Did anyone else take part in equipping those
9 A. It is true that the municipal government and
10 the HVO, in all municipalities, set out to obtain as
11 much materiel as possible and equip that people, which
12 was to then grow into an army. So that is what it
13 looked like. And we also used the materiel from the
14 former depots of the former Yugoslav People's Army
15 which had fallen to the hands of Croats, that is,
16 Muslims, and that is how people armed themselves. So
17 we exclusively used the municipal potential plus
18 materiel taken over from the former JNA.
19 Q. Is it true that even people themselves, that
20 is, individuals, also purchased weapons and paid for
21 them themselves?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Tell me, please, Mr. Sekerija, in 1992, in
24 the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, did you -- from
25 the Main Staff of the HVO, that is, specifically from
1 General Petkovic, did you ever get any materiel from
3 A. As far as I know, and during my stay there,
4 it was very seldom, and this materiel was practically
5 completely insignificant in comparison with the
6 population that lived there.
7 Q. But you did get orders from Petkovic's staff,
8 didn't you?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And the municipalities then had to come up
11 with the troops in order to carry out those orders?
12 A. Yes, absolutely.
13 Q. Thank you very much. Mr. Sekerija, tell us,
14 please: Do you remember who was the head or the
15 commander of the Municipal Staff in Vitez in 1992?
16 A. As far as I know, the commander of the staff
17 in Vitez was Mr. Marijan Skopljak.
18 Q. Thank you. At that time, did you also meet
19 Mario Cerkez?
20 A. Yes, I met Mario Cerkez in late June or early
21 July, when I arrived in the territory of the
22 municipality of Vitez.
23 Q. Is it true that he was one of the chief
24 assistants to Marijan Skopljak?
25 A. He had a commanding post, but I don't know
1 which one. But he worked for that particular staff. I
2 believe he was vice-commander -- deputy commander or
3 something like that at that time, in 1992.
4 Q. Tell us, is it true that you were together
5 with Cerkez on an HVO shift in Jajce?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And did you get to know each other better at
8 that time?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. You told us today about the problem that you
11 had in Uskoplje, when the BH army left part of the
12 defence sector on Radusa, I mean the front against the
13 Bosnian Serbs, and when you tried to somehow replenish
14 those lines. Is it true that you were helped by troops
15 from other municipalities, HVO, I mean, troops from
16 other municipalities?
17 A. No. The only support, the only help, and it
18 wasn't help from other municipalities in Uskoplje, the
19 only assistance that was lent me, or rather some forces
20 from Vitez, and Mr. Cerkez knows it well, went to the
21 front line in Bugojno in August 1992, when the Bosnian
22 Serb army had practically reached the outskirts of the
23 town. It is called Garacki Podovi, the village of
25 Q. So if I understand you, an HVO unit from
1 Vitez came to help in another municipality?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Mr. Sekerija, tell us, please: It did not
4 happen very often, was it, that troops from one
5 municipality help out troops in another municipality?
6 A. When it came to the struggle against Bosnian
7 Serbs, it did happen. It did happen quite often that
8 people would come from one, two, or three
9 municipalities. A number of people would come
10 together, either volunteers or other people who did not
11 have to respond to call-ups, because they did not
12 account to anyone, but a unit would be formed and it
13 would be sent up to the front line in Jajce or, for
14 instance, in this case, in Bugojno, where I was myself
15 also with that particular unit.
16 Q. Is there any special reason, when you said
17 Cerkez should know that, is it that something important
18 happened to him then or you simply mentioned it because
19 he was there?
20 A. No, no, no, because he was there. Nothing
21 special happened. We were very lucky indeed, because
22 of some 180 to 200 men, and nobody was even wounded,
23 let alone killed. Everybody went home. And we did
24 manage to stop and push back the Bosnian Serb army.
25 The battle lasted for some five or six days and then
1 people went home.
2 Q. Thank you. At that time, when the defence
3 was being organised in 1992, is it true that the HVO
4 army had formed a unit for shifts that went to the
5 front, that is, some training; then they go to the
6 front, they do their shift of, I don't know, seven or
7 eight days or whatever, and they go back to their
8 villages? Is that correct?
9 A. It is.
10 Q. At that time, the HVO, in Vitez, at least,
11 had no barracks, had no bases?
12 A. No.
13 Q. There was a small logistical depot,
14 warehouse. You knew about that?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. But not only offices or any barracks were
17 troops to be billeted?
18 A. Yes. I already said that things were
19 developing spontaneously. Simply people wanted to come
20 up in arms and defend and we were trying to organise
21 them, but there was nothing. There was no barracks, no
22 ready-made armies.
23 Q. You mentioned today the 11th Krajina Brigade,
24 so let me ask you something about that. Have you ever
25 heard that the 17th Krajina Brigade was, in point of
1 fact, equipped and formed in Zagreb and then sent from
2 Zagreb by buses and came to Travnik as a reinforcement
3 for the fighting against the BSA in Travnik?
4 A. That is what I did hear. I did hear that
5 that unit had been equipped in Croatia and come to the
6 area of Travnik in order to fight against the army of
7 Bosnian Serbs.
8 Q. But you heard about that after the war for
9 the first time, isn't it; you didn't hear about that
10 during the war?
11 A. True, true. I mean, those were rumours.
12 They were stories, which I didn't really quite
14 Q. Thank you. Tell me, did you meet Cerkez
15 again in operations in '94, '95, and especially on
16 Kupres, when it was being liberated from Serb units?
17 A. Yes, I saw Mr. Mario Cerkez in Kupres in late
18 '94 and early '95 during the liberation operations
19 conducted by the HVO against the Bosnian Serb army.
20 Q. And to conclude, Mr. Sekerija, so you met and
21 talked to Mario Cerkez on various occasions in '92 and
22 then again in late '94 and in '95. Did you ever
23 observe in him some adverse ethnic attitude towards any
24 people or -- no, let me try to simplify it. Have you
25 ever observed any adverse attitude towards any people
1 or ethnic group in him?
2 A. No. Cerkez, as Cerkez, if I may say so, Your
3 Honours, was a very diligent, industrious and honest
4 man. In him, I saw a man of integrity, and I never
5 changed my opinion of him until the end of liberation
6 operations. I never changed my opinion about him. He
7 never drew my attention by saying anything about any
8 other ethnic group; Bosnian Muslim, or Serbs, or any
9 other group.
10 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very
11 much. I have no other questions.
12 JUDGE MAY: Let me ask you something,
13 Mr. Sekerija.
14 Questioned by the Court:
15 JUDGE MAY: If you were going to drive from
16 Gornji Vakuf, Uskoplje, would you go over the mountain
17 to Novi Travnik?
18 A. Yes.
19 JUDGE MAY: How long would that take you in a
20 normal journey?
21 A. It's 48 kilometres of Macadam road,
22 Pavlovica, right up the hill or ridge.
23 JUDGE MAY: How long does that take, usually?
24 A. About -- I said it's Macadam surface, so it's
25 one hour, one hour 20 minutes, depending on the vehicle
1 that you have.
2 JUDGE MAY: Yes, thank you.
3 Cross-examined by Mr. Nice:
4 Q. By way of a preliminary question, nothing to
5 do with your evidence, just tell me this: Have you,
6 before giving evidence, been advised not to speak to
7 the Office of the Prosecution lawyers, should they
8 approach you?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Well, let's turn to something rather
12 Are you in a position to say that there were
13 no troops from Croatia, no HV troops from Croatia, in
14 Gornji Vakuf during the war against the ABiH or not?
15 A. I state responsibly that no organised units
16 in Gornji Vakuf of the Croatian army existed while I
17 was -- until I was injured, that is to say, the 4th of
18 August, 1993, except the seven individuals that I
19 enumerated who had returned from the Croatian army to
20 defend their homes personally when the war began in our
22 Q. I may return to that probably tomorrow.
23 We go straight through to 1993, Major
24 Sekerija. When did you move from Vitez --
25 THE INTERPRETER: Mr. Nice, could you lower
1 down your microphone, please. Thank you.
2 MR. NICE: I'm so sorry.
3 Q. When did you move from Vitez to Gornji Vakuf?
4 A. At the end of 1992 and the beginning of 1993,
5 so before the beginning of the conflict on the 11th of
6 January, 1993.
7 Q. So were you there by New Year's Day or by the
8 first week of January?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. You had joined, in joining the HVO, an
11 expressly Croat force, hadn't you?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. When you went, as you did in the summer of
14 1992, to an oath-taking ceremony, it was an explicitly
15 Croat oath-taking ceremony, wasn't it? This was in
17 A. I apologise. I was never in Vitez attending
18 an oath-taking ceremony. I was just present once in
19 Fojnica at an oath-taking ceremony for the
20 newly-established unit, that is to say, the unit of the
21 staff of Fojnica, command of Fojnica. So I was not in
22 Vitez at the oath-taking ceremony.
23 Q. Did you see a film of the oath-taking
24 ceremony in Vitez?
25 A. No.
1 Q. The one in Fojnica, who presided over that?
2 A. The main protagonist of all the preparations
3 were the Municipal Staff of the HVO of Fojnica. And of
4 the guests, I myself was invited, and so was
5 Colonel Blaskic. There were other local politicians
6 and so on and so forth.
7 Q. So far as the one in Vitez is concerned, you
8 say you weren't there, but can you imagine why
9 Mr. Kordic should preside over such a ceremony?
10 A. I hear that for the first time, that
11 Mr. Kordic presided over the ceremony and the
12 oath-taking ceremony of the unit, because what usually
13 happened was the following: It was the Municipal Staff
14 that was responsible. And all the preparatory work, it
15 was the Municipal Staff which was responsible.
16 As to the oath-taking ceremony in Vitez, I
17 really cannot say because I do not know.
18 Q. We've heard a little bit about the salute
19 that is given and received at such ceremonies. I
20 wonder if you could just ask us to show us, please,
21 because the Chamber may not remember, what the salute
22 is when it's given by the person taking the ceremony.
23 Just show us physically what happens.
24 A. Yes. Me personally -- I personally, and all
25 my subordinates and the units that I was in command of,
1 which means units over the entire zone, the entire
2 portion of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, was
3 saluted exclusively on the basis of the offices of the
4 armed forces of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna,
5 which was signed by Mr. Mate Boban, and the salute --
6 do you want me to get up and show you? If so, I will
7 do this. This was the salute [indicates]. That was
8 the way in which the salute was given of the Croatian
9 Defence Council.
10 Q. But you know perfectly well that there was
11 another salute which is manifested in an entirely
12 different way, comes from an earlier period, and is
13 associated with the first two words "Za Dom"; correct?
14 A. It is correct that this was done by
15 individuals, and a very, very small majority of
16 individuals, and they were put right. Whenever they
17 wanted to do this and salute in this way, they were
18 told not to and that this was not a salute of the
19 Croatian Defence Council but that it was exclusively
20 the salute that existed in the rules of the armed
21 forces of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna.
22 Q. And would you be embarrassed to show us how
23 that salute took effect, when it did?
24 JUDGE MAY: There's no need.
25 MR. NICE: Your Honour remembers it. Then
1 let's move to the 6th of January, please.
2 May the witness have -- Your Honour, I'm not
3 going to introduce more than a couple, I think, of new
4 exhibits, but I'm going to ask him to look at and
5 comment on the Gornji Vakuf exhibits that we have that
6 cover his period there. 298.3, please.
7 A. This is in English?
8 MR. NICE:
9 Q. I'm afraid it is, so what we'll have to do,
10 we'll do it slowly so that you can have every
11 opportunity to listen to what's recorded. If the usher
12 will place it on the ELMO, and I will read it out at a
13 sufficiently slow speed so that the interpreters can
14 translate it and you can follow it. It's the first
15 side, please.
16 Now, this is a milinfosum. So far as the
17 UNPROFOR forces in your area are concerned, did you
18 find them to be, generally speaking, reliable?
19 A. Yes. I personally believed them.
20 Q. They appear for the most part -- there will
21 always be exceptions -- to be trying to be evenhanded
22 between one party and the other?
23 A. If we set aside individuals, the minority,
24 then the answer to that is "yes".
25 Q. Right. So if we look at this document, the
1 bits that relate to Gornji Vakuf start with a reference
2 to the bridge being destroyed on the Mostar road, the
3 action of Muslim extremists, and the comment: "It would
4 appear unlikely that Muslim forces would cut or damage
5 one of their main supply routes." So there's a source
6 suggesting the Muslims have blown a bridge up, the
7 British army saying it doesn't seem very likely. Do
8 you remember anything about that?
9 A. Frankly speaking, I cannot discuss that. I
10 don't know about that. I know that when the agreement
11 was signed, I did pass a pontoon bridge, but I really
12 don't know anything about that.
13 Q. The next entry I'm not going to deal with,
14 unless anybody wants to for completeness, but the third
15 entry is this: "At approximately 1500 hours on Monday
16 afternoon, the HVO raised an Ustasha flag in the town."
17 Why was an Ustasha flag raised in the town when you
18 were there and in charge?
19 A. I hear this for the first time from you. I
20 state responsibly that never any of my subordinates
21 raised an Ustasha flag anywhere.
22 Q. The entry in English goes on: "Muslims
23 reacted, and a Bosnian army soldier attempted to remove
24 the flag. An HVO policeman then fired at the Bosnian
25 army soldier in question, resulting in a sharp rise in
1 tensions in the town." Now, it doesn't stop there,
2 because it then says this: "The HVO and BiH commanders
3 managed to defuse the situation, and the majority of
4 the soldiers were reported to have returned back to
5 their respective barracks."
6 Now, an incident like this involving a
7 negotiated settlement between the HVO and BiH
8 commanders, first of all, it's something that would be
9 documented, isn't it? There would be documents about
10 this? There would be documents in existence about
11 this, wouldn't there, Major?
12 A. I repeat. It is correct that at around about
13 that date, the gentleman that you stated, that a
14 Croatian flag was raised at the post office in Gornji
15 Vakuf, at Uskoplje, and that, as such, it irritated the
16 Muslims who wanted -- first of all, they shot at it and
17 wanted to take it down, and then there was tension.
18 But it was no Ustasha black flag of any kind,
19 absolutely not.
20 Q. There was, of course, part of the HV flag,
21 part of the HVO flag, which was common in content to
22 the Ustasha flag; correct?
23 A. I don't see -- if it is not the emblem of the
24 Republic of Croatia or the Croatian people, then I
25 don't really see this.
1 Q. Are you saying to the Judges, so that I can
2 follow it, that the Croats behaved entirely blamelessly
3 throughout your period of time in all areas, or are you
4 accepting that there was fault on both sides? What is
5 your position?
6 A. I have already mentioned, Your Honours, that
7 it was an armed people and we wanted to place them
8 under command as soldiers. And I state responsibly
9 that there were individuals and groups who did not let
10 themselves be placed under any command and worked for
11 their own benefit and to throw blame on the Croatian
12 soldier, the Croatian people, and the Croatian man in
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina. And it is true that there were
14 groups of this kind on the Muslim side as well, because
15 for any quarrel, you need two. It takes two to make a
17 Q. I see. So you are saying that the organised
18 forces behaved -- the organised Croat forces behaved
19 blamelessly from start to finish; is that your
21 A. In most cases, yes.
22 Q. You're here, of course, to tell the truth and
23 the whole truth. In what cases, please, did the
24 organised HVO not behave blamelessly? Tell us.
25 A. It was exclusively a case of when their
1 individuals got drunk, and they would then lead to --
2 this would then lead to tensions, when they had
3 provoked the other side. But cases of this kind were
4 vigorously sanctioned.
5 Q. I shall ask you in due course about Ahmici,
6 but just give us advance notice. Do you know anything
7 about Ahmici?
8 A. Your Honours, Ahmici occurred, and that is
9 true. It is also true that a crime existed. I only
10 know this from the information media, and I really do
11 not know about anything else because I was not in the
12 area, and I do not wish to talk about it. I am under
13 oath here, and I have pledged to speak the truth, the
14 whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
15 Q. By this early part of January, what did you
16 understand Mr. Kordic's role or roles to be?
17 A. I didn't quite understand your question.
18 Could you please repeat it?
19 Q. Of course. By this part of January of 1993,
20 what did you understand Mr. Kordic's role, that is, his
21 function, his job, or his roles, that is, his functions
22 or his jobs, to be?
23 A. The exact function in 1992, as far as I know,
24 Mr. Kordic, until I left Central Bosnia, was the deputy
25 president of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna.
1 That was his official function, and I think that he
2 performed that function.
3 Q. And no other function --
4 THE INTERPRETER: "Vice-president". The
5 interpreter apologises.
6 MR. NICE:
7 Q. No other function?
8 A. As far as I know, no.
9 Q. By all means, have a look at it, but you'll
10 remember the document of the 10th of January, a few
11 days after your arrival at the area, that you've
12 already been asked about. Now, you say, as part of
13 your explanation for this document, that this wasn't an
14 order. But, of course, in your subordinate position,
15 you couldn't order Mr. Blaskic any more than you could
16 order Mr. Kordic, could you?
17 A. I had no need to issue orders to Mr. Kordic,
18 and I could not to Mr. Blaskic because he was my
20 Q. Well, please help me again, because I simply
21 didn't follow your answer. This request for munitions
22 in a war which, as you describe it, was run by the
23 soldiers, directed by their superior soldiers, why send
24 the request to Mr. Kordic?
25 A. Your Honours, I have already stated once, and
1 I shall reiterate, that I sent it to both addresses,
2 because Kordic could not send me that, even if he had
3 it, but in case -- because we are talking about old
4 improvised signals and communications, I sent it out to
5 both places because the state of affairs was really
6 worrying in the area in which I lived.
7 There were all civilians there, women,
8 children, on both sides. I thought if I succeed in
9 this and succeed in getting a part of this materiel to
10 defend the people living there, that would be well.
11 But unfortunately I did not receive anything.
12 And I repeat, I sent it to both addressees,
13 so if I did not succeed through one fax, that it should
14 reach the other fax. And that was the type of
15 communication that we had, because the communications
16 were, in fact, very bad but we had to use them under
17 these difficult conditions. One of these situations
18 was the one that the Prosecutor has just mentioned.
19 Q. If I understand you correctly, Major, you
20 were sending it to, as it happens, Mr. Kordic so that
21 he can check with Mr. Blaskic that he's received the
22 request, and then if Mr. Blaskic hasn't received the
23 request, Mr. Kordic can send him a copy of his; is that
24 what you're saying?
25 A. Yes, precisely so.
1 Q. And so two points emerge. One, we're going
2 to find, if we look for them, lots of other documents
3 to two people where one of them is really a fail-safe
4 recipient whose sole function is to pass the message on
5 to the principal recipient if, for some reason, the
6 principal recipient doesn't get his message; is that
8 A. Well, I've already said the communications
9 and links we had were not safe ones for the transport
10 of any messages. The faxes that we disposed of and the
11 PTT, which had fallen, the whole system had fallen, it
12 was very difficult to maintain any connections or links
13 of any kind. And that is why I repeat that this
14 document, which I sent to the Colonel, the then Colonel
15 and the now General Tihomir Blaskic, I sent to both
16 addresses so that he had to received them, because I
17 was in a very difficult situation. And I was in this
18 situation, as I've already explained, because the
19 Muslims had withdrawn their forces from the front line
20 in the face of the Serbs.
21 Q. I'm going to cut you short, because we don't
22 have endless time. The question was are we going to
23 find lots of other correspondence sent to two people in
24 exactly this same way, with the second person's
25 function being to check that the first person has
1 received it? Are we going to find lots of other
2 examples of this sort of correspondence, please?
3 A. I think that two or three -- I don't know
4 exactly. This was, after all, seven years ago, and my
5 wounding and everything else have affected my memory.
6 But I state that you could perhaps find two or three
7 such, or similar, documents, instances of communication
8 between me and Mr. Tihomir Blaskic.
9 Q. The second point that we must consider in
10 relation to all these documents, when they turn up, is
11 this: Why don't you say to Mr. Kordic, "Please check
12 that Mr. Blaskic has received the request"?
13 A. Your Honours, I mention here what I need and
14 the reason for which I need it, because I had in mind
15 that Mr. Kordic -- and I've said this already -- at his
16 level, would talk to the Muslim political leadership,
17 because he was a politician of the Croatian people.
18 And that Muslim leadership was located in Zenica, and
19 the units of the BiH army from Gornji Vakuf belonged to
20 the command in Zenica, in fact, and that is what I had
21 in mind. I haven't got the document in front of me,
22 but I think it says that there is great tension and so
23 on and so forth. I haven't got the document in front
24 of me to be able to quote it exactly, but it does
25 state --
1 MR. NICE: [Previous translation continues]
2 ... 248.1.
3 A. I have already said, and let me repeat: In
4 the municipality of Gornji Vakuf and Uskoplje, that
5 area, there was great tension. Tensions were running
6 high. The situation was highly complex, and I, as a
7 Croat, was worried about my own family, for me, and for
8 all Croatians in the area, by leaving the front line,
9 the Muslim armies facing the Serbs. And now everything
10 that I have -- and please believe me, Your Honours --
11 everything I have, I mobilised additional manpower, 70
12 or 80 of them; I don't know exactly. I think this
13 exists in writing somewhere. But I mobilised
14 additional manpower and closed off the area that was
15 attacked by the Muslims.
16 And in that space of two days, tensions were
17 so high, they reached a peak, and I had nothing to
18 defend the people with. And that is why I resorted to
19 my connections and the people I knew, and I asked
20 Colonel Siljeg, if he had this, to send it to me. And
21 at the same time, I drew the attention of Mr. Kordic --
22 Q. Major, I'm going to interrupt you again. Of
23 course, you must develop an answer that's responsive to
24 my question, but I don't think you're answering my
1 If you look at the letter that you've asked
2 to see, can you point to anything that would show that
3 Mr. Kordic has got to check that Mr. Blaskic has got
4 the request? It's not there, Major, because the
5 account you're giving is entirely fictional.
6 A. It is true that it does not exist there, but
7 I also write why I need what I need, and that would be
8 a signal to Mr. Kordic to contact the Muslim leadership
9 of Zenica and to prohibit all war, if that is possible,
10 in the Uskoplje area, or the area of Gornji Vakuf, to
11 be more precise.
12 Q. I'm going to turn from this document with
13 this suggestion to you for you to deal with. You have
14 given this explanation about this document because you
15 know that this document reveals, with total clarity,
16 that Mr. Kordic was -- and you knew him to be --
17 involved in military decisions, and that's the truth,
18 isn't it?
19 A. No, that is not the truth.
20 MR. NICE: Can we look, then, next, please,
21 at 298.5. Now, this is another report from the British
22 officers, the third sheet in the English, please.
23 JUDGE MAY: What's the date, please?
24 MR. NICE: I'm so sorry. It's the 16th of
1 Put it on the ELMO, on the third sheet. It
2 begins with "Gornji Vakuf, GV". It says this, and I'd
3 like your comment on its accuracy just so that we can
4 get the picture:
5 "Gornji Vakuf reported that there was still
6 sporadic gunfire and the occasional mortar landing on
7 the town this evening. Last night, Gornji Vakuf came
8 under artillery fire. The resultant craters were
9 believed to be attributed to light artillery shells."
10 And then the comment of the officer, that's
11 the British officer:
12 "Gornji Vakuf is out of range of light Serb
13 artillery rounds. If (one of the soldier's)
14 assessments of the craters is correct, then the Croats
15 or Muslims must have been responsible for last night's
17 After that comment, the report goes on:
18 "The situation is reported to be worsened by
19 the hard core of extremists on both sides who do not
20 appear to be under the control of their respective
21 commanders. Information leads us to believe that the
22 HVO have a tank or SP gun in the village of Podgrade
23 and a concentration of forces in the area of Metlika.
24 The HVO were also reported to have attacked the Muslim
25 villages of ..." Then it's H-e-r-e. I'm not sure of
1 the correct name for that village. "... and
2 Pridvorci." And then this comment: "HVO Prozor have
3 continually attempted to control these two villages."
4 It goes on to deal with an earth wall that it
5 was said had been constructed by the HVO to stop
6 vehicles entering the villages.
7 Now, that's quite a long entry, and I'm sorry
8 it's not in your own language, but does that sound to
9 you to be about an accurate assessment of things in
10 Gornji Vakuf on the 16th of January?
11 A. Your Honours, I remember full well those
12 January days, and they were indeed difficult times.
13 But let me tell you one thing: that it is not true, it
14 is not correct, that the Serb artillery, from their
15 positions at Kupres or from Radusa Planina, could not
16 reach this range.
17 And by way of example, let me tell you of the
18 radio links. We were able to hear the Serbs commanding
19 and saying, "Send five grenades to the Croatian and
20 Muslim sections." And when we make a truce there, then
21 the shells would arrive from this plateau. And it is
22 not true that it was light artillery weapons that were
23 used. But it was a T-84 tank and 120-millimetre
24 shells, grenades, and that we would establish a truce
25 of some kind. We would be shelled by the Serbs, both
1 us and the Muslim side, the Croatian positions and the
2 Muslim positions as well.
3 Q. Do you accept that there were extremists out
4 of control on both sides?
5 A. Yes. I already said that. They are
7 Q. Do you accept that the HVO had attacked the
8 villages I've attempted to name: Pridvorci and one
9 other, Here? Do you accept that those attacks had been
10 made by the HVO?
11 A. By the HVO? Gornji Vakuf, that is, Uskoplje,
12 I guarantee that we did not; nor did we have any
13 weapons to do that. The village of Pridvorci must be
14 not less than 17 or 18 kilometres from Uskoplje, that
15 is, the Croat positions in Uskoplje. Whether there was
16 any war in Prozor or somewhere else, that is something
17 that I really cannot go into.
18 Q. Quick look at Exhibit 378, please. It's the
19 third sheet, I think, in, including the -- and this is
20 an ECMM report. I can't remember now if I asked you,
21 but did you find the European monitors reliable and
22 honourable men and women? I think there were women.
23 Did you find them honourable people?
24 A. Mostly, yes, I personally trusted them.
25 Q. The third sheet then deals with Gornji Vakuf,
1 under the heading "Split Regional Centre." And it says
2 this for the 19th of January, a couple of days later,
3 it says:
4 "Because of mortar and artillery fire from
5 both the Muslims and the Croats, movement in the area
6 of Gornji Vakuf and Prozor is restricted. This makes
7 monitoring the areas very difficult. Attempts are
8 being made to bring about a ceasefire in both towns,
9 but so far to no avail. The cause of the violence
10 appears to be that the Croat Defence Council claims
11 that the Muslims in the area should be under their
13 You were advancing that the Muslims in the
14 area should be under your control, weren't you?
15 A. Your Honours, it is quite true that I said on
16 the day when the conflict broke out, on the 11th of
17 January, 1993, I personally proposed to set up a joint
18 command. But it was never said that I would command
19 their units or they command mine, to set up a joint
20 command made up of Croats and Muslims, to bring the
21 tension down, to return the troops, that is, against
22 the Bosnian Serb troops, and thus resolve this problem
23 which could lead to horrendous devastation and
24 casualties. I never even thought to place the Bosnian
25 Muslims in Gornji Vakuf under my command. All that I
1 was suggesting was to set up a joint command, to have
2 both Croats and Muslims, and to have it as one command,
3 and for it to command both armies. But it was
4 impossible at the time and it never bore fruit. And
5 the reason for that was that the Muslim stream, which
6 lived in Zenica and which issued orders to Muslims in
7 Gornji Vakuf, if you really care about the truth.
8 Q. I'm not sure that that answers the question.
9 Was the HVO saying that the local Muslims should put
10 themselves under HVO command; yes or no?
11 A. No.
12 Q. And so your only explanation for the fighting
13 is what, and for the rise in tension, is what?
14 A. I already said that. In a discussion at the
15 end of the war, after the ceasefire was signed with
16 Agic and Cisic, when I said, "Why do we need all this?
17 Why did we need all these victims, all these ravages of
18 the war?" Then he said, "In late 1992, we were to
19 attack you in October of 1992. And then we tried on
20 the 11th of January and then it failed. We simply
21 received the order from the political and military
22 leadership of the Muslim people in Bosnia to expel
23 Muslims from the area." That is what they managed to
24 do, from Travnik, from Bugojno. And we, thank God,
25 managed to remain there in Gornji Vakuf, that is,
2 Q. I'm not in any position to accept a word of
3 what you're saying about that, coming completely fresh
4 to me today, but I see you say of the Muslims that they
5 received orders for their actions from the political
6 and military leadership. Is that because, in your
7 area, and following on the Yugoslavian state, it was
8 always political and military leadership that told you
9 what to do?
10 A. From what I know, that was the case for the
12 Q. How do you know that was the case for the
13 Muslims? How do you know that was the case for the
15 A. I've just told you, sir. Your Honours, I
16 just gave you the information for which I learnt what
17 happened. These people are eyewitnesses. We were
18 friends for 15 years. We worked in the same building.
19 We had even the same or similar jobs. And some traces,
20 some vestiges of friendships survived the war. And
21 from that discussion, from that conversation with them,
22 is what -- that I heard, what I'm telling you, in that
23 conversation with them. Because both they, and we
24 turned them together against the army of Bosnian Serbs
25 and became a kind of something like partners.
1 MR. NICE: If I can do perhaps two more
2 documents before we close this afternoon. May the
3 witness see 374.1.
4 JUDGE MAY: So that we can follow this
5 evidence, you're saying that Agic and Cisic told you,
6 after the Washington Accords, that they had had orders
7 to expel Croats from the area? Is that your evidence?
8 A. Correct. Because Uskoplje, that is, Gornji
9 Vakuf, was the front door to Central Bosnia.
10 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Thank you.
11 MR. NICE: Look at 374.1, please. This is a
12 document you're probably familiar with, but I want you
13 to see the contemporaneous documents so that we can
14 have them all of a piece.
15 Q. This is one day earlier, the 18th of
16 January. It's a situation report, signed by Commander
17 Zvinko Totic. Now you've got an original version, not
18 very well copied, I'm afraid, but you can follow it.
19 And it says:
20 "This morning the enemy attempted to carry
21 out an infantry attack from the direction of Voljice
22 towards Galecnica and beyond towards Podgradze, which
23 our units successfully repelled. At the same time, the
24 enemy ..." And then it uses the word "balija", which
25 is a derogatory term for Muslims.
1 Why should that terminology be being used in
2 military documents, please?
3 A. About a document which is not mine, Your
4 Honours, I simply could not comment on such a
5 document. But in return, Bosnian Muslims called Croats
6 Ustasha, and those Bosnian Croats called the Muslims
7 balijas. And I think that was the reason why it says
8 "balija" here, I think; that is, in this part here,
9 this derogatory name for them.
10 Q. It goes on to say that they launched an
11 artillery attack and it names the various locations.
12 "Fire was returned fiercely against the
13 enemy's artillery, their lines and the town. During
14 the day, the settlements of Zdrimci and Hrasnica, the
15 TV transmitter and part of Uzricje-Dusa area were
16 cleared. Part of the BH army's forces were trying to
17 move from Bugojno ..." And so on. You can read all
18 that. This was achieved.
19 "The enemy is trying, where possible, to
20 regroup forces and to start new offensive combat
21 operations. Hence, forces from their part of the town
22 are trying to re-group and withdraw along the Gornji
23 Vakuf-Rasce road, organise themselves there, dig in,
24 set up the defence of the town, and at the same time,
25 secure a corridor while troops and civilians withdraw
1 from what part of the town towards Vranica and
2 Voljevac. As we write, the attack launched against
3 Pajic Polje has been halted."
4 It goes on to say:
5 "All units of the brigade, and additional
6 units, are working in coordination, and command is
7 being exercised through radio and inductor
8 communications. Since our last report, we've had three
9 dead and five wounded."
10 Does that appear to you to be an accurate
12 A. Your Honours, reports were written on a daily
13 basis. In this report here, it says that it was
14 written on the 18th of January, and it was a report to
15 the Operative Zone of Tomislavgrad, our superior
16 command, and the report is a report I might accept.
17 But here, this is signed by my commander, Zrinko
18 Totic. So, more or less, I think it is rather
19 accurate, but I wouldn't really vouchsafe for it. So I
20 will accept this report as a report which shows, and
21 shows very well, that the HVO forces were attacked
22 along these, and these, and so on and so forth, lines,
23 as the report says.
24 Q. And finally, you'll accept -- we can see it,
25 if necessary, in document 381 -- that on the 20th of
1 January, a ceasefire was negotiated by the ECMM, by the
2 head of the Split Regional Centre. It's on the bottom
3 of the second sheet, where it says, last two lines:
4 "Head of RC Split yesterday evening arranged
5 a ceasefire between the Croats and the Muslims in the
6 area of Mostar and Gornji Vakuf, where fighting has
7 been intense for the last few days. The area was
8 described as tense."
9 You see, the documents we've looked at -- I
10 don't know whether I've missed any that we've
11 produced. I hope not -- don't show a unilateral
12 aggressor and victim, do they, Major? They show people
14 A. It is correct that the documents are about
15 fighting, but the Croat people was attacked on the 11th
16 of January and could not but defend themselves. I
17 don't think that is a fact; that is the truth, and I
18 can never deviate from it, when you say that I'm not
19 answering. I'm telling you about what happened, the
20 fateful day for Uskoplje and Uskoplje Croats, and that
21 was the 11th of January, when they were attacked from
22 all directions, with all weapons available, whilst
23 there are 300 soldiers on the front line against the
24 Serbs, protecting Croat and Muslim villages. It was
25 then that we were attacked in the area, in the urban
1 area, the area of the town, from all the means
3 Q. And the independent observers cite, as causes
4 of immediate attention, the raising of the Ustasha flag
5 and the desire of the HVO to control the Muslims?
6 A. That's what they think. But I can claim,
7 under full responsibility, that never, at least to my
8 knowledge, neither my commander, nor I, nor anybody
9 from the command ever requested to place Muslim
10 soldiers under our command. That is absurd. Yes, we
11 sought to set up a joint command, but all our efforts
12 were thwarted.
13 And I also claim responsibly that the Ustasha
14 flag was never hoisted, apart from the flag of the
15 Croat people of Bosnian Croats, and that is the
16 blue/white/red with the chequerboard in the middle, and
17 that is the flag of the Croat people. I simply refuse
18 to accept anything about the Ustasha movement or the
19 Ustasha flag. Perhaps the Muslims said that that was
20 that, but I'm telling you that what I'm telling you, it
21 was the truth.
22 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Nice, that may be a
23 convenient point.
24 MR. NICE: I'll deal with all the other
25 matters I can deal with tomorrow. The other matter of
1 the two named gentlemen, I'm almost bound not to be
2 able to deal with, unless something extraordinary
3 happens overnight.
4 JUDGE MAY: Very well. I'll say something to
5 the registrar.
6 [Trial Chamber confers]
7 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Sekerija, we're going to
8 adjourn now until tomorrow morning, half past 9.00.
9 Would you be back then, please, to finish your
11 Would you remember, during the adjournment,
12 not to speak to anybody about your evidence until it's
13 over, and that does include the Defence team, and don't
14 let anybody, of course, speak to you about it.
15 Half past 9.00 tomorrow.
16 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
17 4.19 p.m., to be reconvened on
18 Tuesday, the 9th day of May, 2000,
19 at 9.30 a.m.