1 Friday, 28 July 2000
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.33 a.m.
6 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Let the witness take the declaration.
7 WITNESS: STIPO CEKO
8 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the
9 whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
10 [Witness answered through interpreter]
11 JUDGE MAY: Thank you. Take a seat.
12 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
13 Examined by Mr. Kovacic:
14 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Ceko. Can you hear me?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. I shall first ask you to give the Court your full name for the
18 A. I am Stipo Ceko.
19 Q. Secondly, I should also like to ask you to, after you hear my
20 question, wait a little before you answer so that the interpreters can
21 have time to interpret our exchange into the other official languages of
22 the Court, and I shall also wait after I have heard your answer.
23 Very well. So Witness Ceko, let us just quickly go through your
25 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] I shall ask my learned friend, if he
1 objects to leading questions on any of the points, to tell us in advance,
2 but I think I can go -- I can lead the witness through this introductory
3 part, as has already become the custom here.
4 Q. So you were born on the 4th of October, 1952 in Kruscica; is that
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. You are married and father of three?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And what is your profession?
10 A. I have come from the secondary vocational school in applied
12 Q. And where did you matriculate?
13 A. Could you repeat it, please. I didn't hear you.
14 Q. Where did you complete your secondary education?
15 A. I completed my secondary education in Tuzla.
16 Q. Did you serve with the JNA?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Did you get any rank?
19 A. No. I did not get any rank. I was a private.
20 Q. Witness Ceko, in 1992 and 1993, in other words, during the war, or
21 rather wars in Bosnia, you held different posts, but basically you were an
22 officer responsible for logistics, first for the Municipal Staff; is that
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And then, after the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade was formed, you had
1 the same job?
2 A. Yes, the same job for the Stjepan Tomasevic.
3 Q. And finally, when the Vitez Brigade was formed, you were again in
4 the same job?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Witness Ceko, when the war ended, you went on working for the army
7 of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina which was established then?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And what rank did you acquire in the army of the Federation?
10 A. I acquired the rank of a Major.
11 Q. And you retired recently?
12 A. Yes. Or to be more precise, in 1997.
13 Q. Witness Ceko, since we are talking about ranks, during the HVO,
14 that is, in 1992 and 1993, the HVO did not use ranks for its officers, did
16 A. Yes, it is true. It did not use them.
17 Q. But there were only the posts, the functions, that is, office
18 responsible for this or for that, office of such-and-such, and so on, but
19 there were no ranks; is that correct?
20 A. Yes, yes.
21 Q. Witness Ceko, is it true that you have been Mr. Cerkez's neighbour
22 since 1967?
23 A. Yes, it is correct.
24 Q. So you know him well?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Did you ever work with him?
2 A. I worked in the same company with him, but we were not employed in
3 the same jobs, but the same company.
4 Q. Very well. And that company was the SPS, was it?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. That was the largest employer in Vitez, wasn't it?
7 A. Yes, yes, sure.
8 Q. As far as you remember, very roughly speaking, how large was the
9 staff of the SPS, the Vitezit? How many people worked there?
10 A. At the peak of its activity, I believe there were some 3.000
11 people in the SPS compound, as far as I know.
12 Q. Thank you. And the ethnic composition of the employees, I
13 presume, reflected the population structure.
14 A. Yes, of course.
15 Q. One cannot say that any ethnic group was represented in any other
16 way in the SPS?
17 A. Yes, quite correct.
18 Q. Thank you. Witness Ceko, before the war, did Mario Cerkez, what
19 we are talking about, at that time, did Mario Cerkez also have friends and
20 acquaintances among Croats or among the Muslims too?
21 A. Mario Cerkez socialised with all the citizens in the municipality
22 of Vitez, equally with Serbs and Muslims and Croats; with everybody.
23 Q. And you yourself were one of his friends, weren't you, and you had
24 common friends too, didn't you? Does that also mean you?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Thank you. Witness Ceko, do you remember, in 1992 [as
2 interpreted], when contributions -- when funds were -- in 1990 when the
3 funds were raised amongst the citizens there for the building of the
4 mosque, do you remember that? And could you -- would you say that it was
5 in the latter half and towards the end of 1990, on various occasions?
6 A. I wouldn't know exactly, but yes, I do think that it was roughly
7 that time, 1989, perhaps 1990, 1991. I can't really remember, but that
8 was roughly at that time.
9 Q. And did you, as a citizen of that place, contribute for the mosque
11 A. No, I did not, because at that time I was rather bad off
12 financially. But I know that my father, yes, contributed to help the
13 construction of the mosque in Kruscica, and I know very many other people
14 from Vitez who also donated some money.
15 Q. You and your father are homesteaders there; you've lived there for
16 a very long time?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And so did Mario Cerkez and his father, didn't they?
19 A. Yes. And I also think that he also donated some money for the
20 construction of the mosque in Kruscica.
21 Q. You heard about that?
22 A. Yes, I heard about that.
23 Q. And did you ever see the document, some receipt for the money?
24 A. I saw it, my father's.
25 Q. Your father?
1 A. Yes. That is, that he gave the money.
2 Q. You know that?
3 A. Yes.
4 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. I should like now to
5 introduce a document, because I want the witness to confirm the contents
6 of it.
7 Q. Witness Ceko, when this document reaches you eventually, will you
8 please tell us, is that the receipt for those donations that I asked you
9 about a while ago?
10 Could we have the number, please?
11 THE REGISTRAR: It will be marked D92/2.
12 A. Can I --
13 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Could this document, based on what we talked about, confirm what
15 we were talking about?
16 A. Yes. Yes. Those were the receipts that people were issued when
17 they would donate money for the mosque.
18 Q. Thank you. You can put it aside. Witness Ceko, Mario Cerkez was
19 mentioned on the eve of the war, or rather, the disintegration of
20 Yugoslavia. Did, at that time, Mario Cerkez show any interest in the
21 political life, in political developments or participation in the
22 political life?
23 A. At that time, precisely, Mario Cerkez showed no signs of being
24 interested in political developments because at that time, those national
25 parties began to emerge. As far as I know, however, he was never a member
1 of a party not -- nor did we ever go to any of their conventions. He
2 simply -- I think once we went somewhere, but he wasn't simply interested
3 in politics.
4 Q. And when those national parties began to emerge in 1990, 1991,
5 there were some conferences, some conventions all the time, weren't there,
6 almost on a daily basis, all the time; do you remember?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And you say that it was only once that you attended, you and Mario
9 together attended such a meeting?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And then basically, had he attended more of such meetings, you
12 would have known about that?
13 A. Oh, yes, of course.
14 Q. And do you know if Mario Cerkez was a member of the HDZ?
15 A. Mario was not a member of the HDZ. I know that in 1991, 1992,
16 1993 that during all those years, he was not a member of the HDZ.
17 Q. Very well, thank you. Is it correct that to you and other
18 friends, Mario Cerkez began to say that as far as he could see the pre-war
19 developments, that sooner or later there would be an armed attempt by the
20 army of Yugoslavia to prevent the disintegration of Yugoslavia and try to
21 keep Bosnia by force, by weapons?
22 MR. NICE: I'm very sorry to interrupt. There must be a limit as
23 to how much we can get the impressions of one man out of the mouth of
24 another. That was a leading question about what was in the state of mind
25 of someone else. I'll try not to make any further objections because I
1 know the difficulties that Mr. Kovacic has, but there it is.
2 JUDGE MAY: Once we get to controversial matters, just deal with
3 the matter neutrally.
4 MR. KOVACIC: I apologise. I was just expecting whether my
5 colleague will --
6 JUDGE MAY: Well, don't -- try, yourself, Mr. Kovacic, to find a
7 way to organise the matter and organise yourself. Once we start getting
8 towards matters of dealing with the war then, on the whole, then they may
9 well be controversial such as this one.
10 A. Should I answer this question or --
11 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. I'll rephrase it. What was Mario's attitude to and his view as to
13 what could be expected during those days on the eve of the breakout of the
15 A. Mario Cerkez, who followed the developments in Croatia, thought --
16 realised what might happen, and we often talked and he told me that an
17 open aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina was very likely with a view to
18 keep him -- Bosnia-Herzegovina within Yugoslavia. And he even told me on
19 that occasion it will reach us no doubt, and we shall have to organise
20 ourselves somehow, our villages, our areas, our families.
21 Q. And did you agree with that at that time or later on perhaps?
22 A. Well, yes, in principle.
23 Q. At that same time, 1990, 1991, is it fair to say that economic
24 problems in your environment began?
25 A. True. In 1991, following the aggression on Croatia, there was
1 also some economic troubles that found the reflection in
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina, more precisely our company, the SPS. There was a
3 shortage of raw materials, we could not collect the money that were due
4 us, there were no funds. So that the volume of production began to
5 decline from one day to the other.
6 Q. And is it at that time that some people were suspended, were laid
7 off temporarily?
8 A. Yes, I was laid off for some five or six months, but repeatedly
9 depending on the amount of work that there was.
10 Q. Do you know if Mario Cerkez was ever laid off temporarily?
11 A. Yes, I do. Perhaps even more than I was. I wouldn't know exactly
12 but yes, he was.
13 Q. Do you know what was the chief criterion of the employer, that is,
14 the factory, for laying off people?
15 A. Yes, I do.
16 Q. And what was it?
17 A. The criterion was the work place, the job, that is the
18 requirements of that particular job only, exclusively, nothing else. That
19 is, if there was work, then one went on working. Where there was no work
20 and where the volume of production had dropped, people were simply
21 temporarily sent home.
22 Q. Do you -- would you say that the ethnicity of workers was one of
23 the criteria to lay off people?
24 A. No. No. That was not it. Out of the question. It really
25 depended only and exclusively on the requirements of the job. All --
1 people of all ethnicities were laid off.
2 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Could we have this document
3 distributed, please.
4 Q. Witness Ceko, I will ask you now to read this certificate, who
5 issued it, why, and then I'll have two questions to ask you about that.
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Will you please just tell me the name of the company
8 Vitezit-Cromem, what is that company?
9 A. Vitezit-Cromen Ltd. was the successor to the SPS because it
10 changed its name and became this.
11 Q. Here, we have a different -- four different periods of time during
12 which, according to this certificate, Mario Cerkez was temporarily laid
13 off. Do you find it acceptable regarding the time? Of course, I know you
14 can't give us exactly to a day, but would that be the period of time?
15 A. Yes, yes. I even thought that there were longer periods when he
16 was at home waiting to be called back.
17 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Yes, thank you. Can I have the
19 THE REGISTRAR: The document will be D93/2.
20 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Is it true that in early 1993, Cerkez was planning to get -- a
23 A. Yes, it is.
24 Q. What wedding was it?
25 A. It was the church wedding.
1 Q. And was Cerkez already married in a civil ceremony?
2 A. Yes. Cerkez had contracted a civil marriage some 10 or 12 years
3 before that. That is, at any rate, he got married before me and he was
4 living with his wife, Slavica, and her two children.
5 Q. And you do not know why did he decide to also undergo a church
7 A. I think I do know reasons too.
8 Q. Oh, I see, you do. Will you tell us?
9 A. In May, 1993, there was to be the Holy Communion. It is the
10 ritual with us, the Catholics, and the children began to talk about it and
11 I think it was at the urging of children that they wanted to receive
12 their -- their First Communion, and because they could not do that unless
13 their parents had been wed in the church, I think that was the reason why
14 he decided to do that too.
15 Q. Thank you. And do you know what date was fixed for the wedding?
16 A. Yes, I do remember.
17 Q. And which was the date?
18 A. It was the 15th of April, 1993.
19 Q. At about what time?
20 A. I think it was to take place in late afternoon. Around 5.00 or
21 6.00 is when these ceremonies were held. That was the time for both
22 baptisms and weddings.
23 Q. And did the wedding take place?
24 A. No, it did not.
25 Q. Will you tell us, please, why not.
1 A. On the 15th of April, 1993, we came from work, because we were
2 next-door neighbours. And we had just arrived home in order to have a
3 shower and change and get ready for the wedding. But when we arrived
4 home, his wife, Slavica, said that the Commander of the Operative Zone had
5 been asking for him and wanted him to call him immediately.
6 So naturally, I went back into my house. I had a shower and
7 dressed and got ready. But Mario never came back. And sometime in the
8 evening or in late afternoon, a summons came to me, or rather I was being
9 called. The wife told me that the Commander was phoning to tell me that
10 they had to report to the command of the brigade.
11 Q. Witness Ceko, in view of the next day and the events that ensued,
12 could you perhaps remember when you were told that the wedding had been
13 postponed? Who told you that, and can you remember any of these details?
14 A. I do not know that the wedding was delayed, because when I
15 returned home -- and I came home after midnight, after 12.00, so the
16 wedding simply could not take place.
17 Q. Yes. But you told us that you had got ready, you came home,
18 dressed up. Was it your wife who came to tell you that you were not going
19 to do that, or was it Cerkez who came to tell you that the wedding was
20 off, that you would not be going to the church?
21 A. Nobody told me that.
22 Q. Very well. But you are positive that the wedding ceremony did not
23 take place?
24 A. Oh, yes, 100 per cent.
25 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Very well. I should now like to
1 produce another document, and I should like to invite the witness to
2 comment on it.
3 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Excuse me, Mr. Kovacic. I'm
4 following the transcript. I'd like to ask a question of the witness. You
5 were supposed to attend the wedding, if I understood him right. That was
6 on the 15th of April, 1993. He went home. I failed to understand how it
7 came about -- I'd like to know who gave him a call, who phoned him that
8 day -- I think it was at the end of the afternoon -- who rang him up to
9 tell him that, according to the transcript -- [In English] "They had to
10 report to the command of the brigade. The wife told me that the Commander
11 was phoning to tell me..." [Interpretation] So whose wife is mentioned
12 here? Could you give us some more details on what happened that night,
13 that evening? Thank you, Mr. Ceko.
14 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation].
15 Q. Very well. Please tell us about this in detail now.
16 A. On the 15th of April we worked, as usual, at headquarters until
17 about 3.00 or 4.00 in the afternoon. We went home together, both I and
18 Mario Cerkez. On the way, we took our time. I think we arrived home only
19 around 4.00. Since we live right next door, since we are next-door
20 neighbours, when we got --
21 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] You mention -- you mean Mario
22 Cerkez? So when you say that you live next door, you mean his house and
23 your house are close to one another?
24 A. Yes, yes.
25 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] So you came back from work about
1 the same time as he did, around 4.00; is that right?
2 A. Yes, precisely at the same time. May I proceed?
3 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Please do.
4 A. Then when we arrived in the yard in front of the house, Slavica,
5 the wife of Mario Cerkez, went out and said that he should report
6 immediately to the Operative Zone, that Blaskic was looking for him. And
7 he returned immediately and I stayed at home.
8 I waited at home. I took a shower, I changed, and I was waiting
9 for Mario to come back home as well so that we could go to the church for
10 the wedding. However, Mario did not return at all.
11 And I was also called up from the command of the Viteska Brigade.
12 I was called from home to go to the command of the Viteska Brigade, which
13 is what I did. And I did not return until midnight that night, that is,
14 midnight between the 15th and the 16th. So due to that fact, we could not
15 go to attend the wedding. That is how I know that the wedding did not
16 take place on that day, although it had been scheduled.
17 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Could you tell the Chamber why
18 you were rung up urgently to report to the brigade command that night?
19 Why did they call you as a matter of urgency and why did you stay until
20 midnight on that night?
21 A. I know why they called me from brigade headquarters. Mario told
22 the officer on duty in the brigade to get all the members of the command
23 to the brigade together so that they could wait there at the brigade
24 command. That is why I was called into the brigade command. That is to
25 say, that Mr. Mario Cerkez called the duty officer to tell him to get all
1 the members of the brigade command together so that they would wait for
2 him. And that is why I was called, because I was a member of the brigade
3 command as well.
4 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] [Previous translation continues]
5 ... that you met together with Mario Cerkez on that night?
6 A. Yes. We met with Mario Cerkez that same night. I think it was
7 around 2100 hours, 2130. Mario Cerkez came to the brigade command and we
8 held a short briefing then. May I proceed?
9 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Please do. But you have to tell
10 us what the briefing was about.
11 A. Yes. Yes. At that meeting, Mario Cerkez told us that an order
12 would arrive from the of the Operative Zone, that we would have to be
13 combat ready, because there has been some information that on the next day
14 there could be an attack of the BH army on the municipality of Vitez.
15 Also at that brief meeting I found out that the attack could
16 possibly take place from Kruscica and Vranjska -- that was the
17 estimate -- towards the centre of Vitez.
18 I also know that our task was -- that is, the task of the Viteska
19 Brigade at that time -- to try to stop the BH army from passing, that is
20 to say, to blockade the roads from Kruscica and Vranjska towards Vitez.
21 So that was our task. And I know that he entrusted Anto Bertovic with
22 this -- at the time he was Commander of the battalion we had in the
23 brigade at the time -- to get all these people together, to inform all the
24 people he could get in touch with, and that they should report and try to
25 blockade those roads: Kruscica, Vranjska, towards Vitez. That was our
1 assignment. After that, Mario Cerkez went someplace, I don't know where,
2 and I did not see him again until the next day.
3 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Could you tell the Chamber,
4 provided you know about it, what Cerkez did between the time when you left
5 him at 4.00 in the afternoon and the time of the meeting, later on?
6 A. I'm sorry. Could you please repeat your question, because I did
7 not manage to register everything.
8 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] [Previous translation continues]
9 ... came home together -- it was 4.00 -- that Mr. Cerkez's wife told him
10 that he had to call urgently Mr. Blaskic. Then you went to the
11 headquarters of the brigade, I suppose in Vitez, and you said that you met
12 with Cerkez at 9.00 in the evening. Do you know what he did between 4.00
13 in the afternoon and 9.00 in the evening?
14 A. I don't know.
15 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] You don't know whether he was at
16 the headquarters of the brigade in Vitez?
17 A. I don't know, but I think he was at the command of the Operative
18 Zone. I don't know about the command of the brigade in Vitez. Nobody
19 said that to me and I didn't ask. When I arrived, he was not there. And
20 also he was not there, as I told you, until about 2100 hours. I don't
21 know exactly. I was not there.
22 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] The command of the Operative
23 Zone, what does that mean? Where is it located?
24 A. The Commander of the Operative Zone --
25 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] I'm talking about the command,
1 about the headquarters there where Mr. Blaskic was.
2 A. The command was at the Vitez Hotel, right next door to the
3 building where the brigade headquarters was.
4 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] And Mr. Blaskic was at the
5 headquarters of the command on that afternoon?
6 A. At whose command? Of the brigade or the Operative Zone?
7 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Of the Operative Zone.
8 A. He was probably at the command of the Operative Zone. I don't
9 know. I think he was there.
10 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Thank you.
11 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Perhaps we could complete one question here and then go back to
13 our chronological order, as I had planned originally. Do you know whether
14 that night Cerkez returned home at all or not? Was he at home that night
15 or not?
16 A. It is only in the morning, on the 16th, at 5.00 in the morning,
17 that I saw his car in front of the house, when I went back to the brigade
19 Q. But you do not know when he came during the night?
20 A. No, I don't know.
21 Q. And when you returned to the command in the morning, did Cerkez
22 come before you or after you?
23 A. After me.
24 Q. Can you perhaps tell us roughly whether he came a few minutes
25 after you, half an hour after you? Can you remember?
1 A. Well, perhaps it was about an hour later. I can't remember
2 exactly, but perhaps around 6.00; that's when he came.
3 Q. So until that time, in the meantime, until he came, and after you
4 had left, Cerkez was obviously at home; right?
5 A. Well, I believe he was at home, because when I left, his car was
6 in front of his house.
7 Q. But you did not see him?
8 A. No. I only saw his car in front of the house.
9 Q. So now let us complete this particular line of questioning so that
10 we don't have to go back. Cerkez's house, where you live, is this near
11 the zone that you mentioned precisely, that is, the road between Kruscica
12 and town?
13 A. Yes, exactly. Cerkez's house and my house are in the immediate
14 vicinity, that is to say, on the very border between Vitez and Kruscica,
15 so that is to say, in the immediate vicinity of the area where this attack
16 on Vitez was expected.
17 Q. Thank you. Let us go back to where we had stopped earlier. I
18 would like to have a document -- oh, it has been distributed.
19 Witness Ceko, please take a look at this document. Have you ever
20 seen this document?
21 A. I have not seen this document.
22 Q. You did have the opportunity of --
23 A. Seeing such documents?
24 Q. Yes.
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Please look at the stamp on page 2, the big one, multicoloured.
2 Is this the stamp of your municipal parish office?
3 A. This is the stamp of the parish in Vitez.
4 Q. Of the parish office?
5 A. Yes, of the parish office of the church that is in Stari Vitez,
6 Sveti Juri, St. Juri.
7 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. Can I please have a
8 number for this document.
9 THE REGISTRAR: D94/2.
10 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
11 Q. During the spring of 1992, in Vitez, did political parties talk
12 about possible joint organisation of the defence of your area against
14 A. Yes, they did. It was in early 1992. It could have been April or
15 May, 1992.
16 Q. Yes, sorry. Go on.
17 A. Well, they tried to reach an understanding to set up a joint
18 brigade, a Muslim/Croat Brigade, I mean, to have it organised so that it
19 could organise the defence of the municipality of Vitez against the
20 aggression of the JNA and the ARS. However, it never came true. At that
21 time, it was offered to me to organise one of the logistical duties in
22 that -- well, let's call it brigade which I had accepted in principle.
23 However, it was never operationalised, that is, the joint Brigade was
24 never formed.
25 Q. And is it fair to say that this initiative waxed and waned and
1 that it lasted for sometime?
2 A. Yes, that is true. People would say, "yes, let's do it," and then
3 it will grind to a halt and then once again, people start talking about it
4 but it never came true.
5 Q. And were even some preparations taken, you told us some posts were
7 A. Yes. Certain posts were mentioned in the brigade that I was
8 offered, for instance, a post in the logistics and I had accepted it. And
9 there were already some discussions about the name of the brigade and that
10 for a while, HMVO was the topical name, that is, Croat Muslim Defence
11 Council, but I think this was not accepted by the representatives of the
12 SDA and there were some other difficulties. There were also attempts to
13 print some membership cards for that brigade because people thought that
14 it was about to be formed.
15 Q. And tell us, please, you -- you were using the term the 1st Vitez
16 Brigade; is that it?
17 A. Yes, at least that was at that time.
18 Q. Which means that had it been formed, that is what it would have
19 been called?
20 A. Well, yes, we talked about the 1st Vitez Brigade, HMVO, and there
21 were different proposals on the table, as far as I can remember.
22 Q. Very well, thank you. Witness Ceko, could you now explain in a
23 few words, what were village guards?
24 A. Village guards, that was -- well, it was the armed people, people
25 arm, themselves, their own initiative and guarded their villages against
1 gangs and whatever else might come. They organised themselves. They
2 would elect their commander amongst themselves. They stood guard and
3 protected their villages.
4 Q. Could you tell us when did this self-organisation in the villages
6 A. Well, it began, I think, already in late 1991 and went on in
7 1992. Late 1991 or beginning of --
8 Q. And where you lived in the northern part of Kruscica, close to
9 Rijeka, were there any village guards there?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And were those guards monoethnic, were they mixed, did they take
12 shifts or not?
13 A. Well, since I live in Kruscica, of course, I know best the
14 situation in Kruscica. In Kruscica, there were both monoethnic and mixed
15 guards, Croats and Muslims, since Kruscica is the largest village in the
16 municipality. There are several hamlets next to the village of Kruscica,
17 and they were simply Croat hamlets and there they would have purely Croat
18 guards. And on top of Kruscica near to the fish pond, there were mixed
19 guards, that is both Croats and Muslims. And the hamlet above Rijeka, to
20 the left of Rijeka, Baresine Kuce is what we call it, they also had mixed
21 guards made of Croats, Muslims and Romanie.
22 Q. Did any authority, be it civilian or military, in 1992 or until
23 the conflict in April 1993 run or control the village guards? Did any
24 authority control those village guards?
25 A. No. No. Because in 1991, people began to arm themselves and to
1 organise themselves. At that time, that was not a lawful activity so
2 that --
3 Q. Was that the time when the JNA still functioned?
4 A. Yes, the JNA still functioned.
5 Q. Thank you. And I think we can move on to another topic. What was
6 the Municipal HVO Staff in your municipality, in Vitez?
7 A. The municipal government organised a Municipal Staff. That was a
8 body, a civilian body, the task of which was to organise the defence
9 against the Serb aggression, that is, against the JNA and the army of
10 Republika Srpska.
11 Q. At that time when you -- I apologise, we forgot to do this. When,
12 to the best of your recollection, did the -- was it begun to organise the
13 Municipal Staff?
14 A. I don't know. April, May, it could have been, 1992.
15 Q. And could you tell us if, at that time -- could you now go back
16 into the past and tell us if the central government of the Republic of
17 Bosnia-Herzegovina was operational?
18 A. No, it was not at that time.
19 Q. The state had already begun to fall apart and so that the
20 government did not function, that is, one could feel there were problems
21 in every day life?
22 A. Oh, yes.
23 Q. And the activities that you talked about regarding the task of the
24 Staff, at about what time did the Staff organise the first armed groups
25 which then participated in certain activities against the ARS?
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 A. Well, that was roughly at about that time. I know there was an
2 action of some ten men who volunteered and went to Slimena. That action
3 was led personally by Mario Cerkez and Colonel Filipovic, that is, they
4 brought together a group of volunteers from Vitez and went to there to
5 take over the depot from the JNA, and I believe it was on the 3rd of May.
6 Q. You mean the 3rd of May, 1992?
7 A. Yes, yes, 1992.
8 Q. So Cerkez headed a group of volunteers from Vitez.
9 A. Yes, from Vitez.
10 Q. Did the group comprise Croats only?
11 A. At that time, no, it wasn't only Croats. There were also some
13 Q. And that action was not conducted only by the group from Vitez, it
14 was a coordinated action involving several municipalities -- several
15 places in the municipality and several groups of soldiers.
16 A. It was a joint action.
17 Q. Would you remember if that Vitez group had also a crew, a Muslim
18 crew of an anti-aircraft gun and that there were Muslims from Vitez?
19 A. Yes, yes.
20 Q. Thank you. And who was the Chief of the Staff when it was formed?
21 A. You mean the Municipal Staff in Vitez? The Commander of the
22 Municipal Staff was Marijan Skopljak from the very beginning.
23 Q. Could you tell us until when was Marijan Skopljak the Chief of
25 A. Marijan Skopljak remained the Chief of Staff until about the end
1 of 1992, perhaps -- November, perhaps, because it was at that time that
2 the defence office attached to the HVO government was formed. And with
3 some other members of the Staff, he then moved over to the defence office
4 and some other members of the Staff had stayed behind in the Staff, but it
5 had already fallen apart.
6 Q. Witness Ceko, tell us, please, is it true that in the early days
7 of the Staff, you and Mario were, by and large, responsible for the
9 A. From the very beginning of the Staff, Mario Cerkez was mostly
10 responsible for those matters and I helped him. But after a short while,
11 I took over the logistics from Mario, and Mario was then responsible for
12 operative matters, that is, organisation of groups and so on and so forth,
13 and I took over the logistics.
14 Q. Witness Ceko, can we agree that at the time when the Staff ceased
15 to operate, that is, when the defence office was established and you told
16 us that that was sometime in late November, that at that time, Cerkez had
17 been promoted, I mean conditionally speaking, since there was no official
18 nominations, that he had then become the second highest official in the
20 A. Yes, de facto, Mario Cerkez became the second man, man number two
21 in the Staff.
22 Q. You told us that in the early days, the Staff was in Marijan
23 Skopljak's house. Could you tell us roughly until about when that was the
25 A. That was for about a month perhaps. It could have been April. In
1 the beginning in Marijan Skopljak's house or rather in his garage, and
2 then they moved to the Vitez Hotel. It could have been for about a
4 Q. And when Blaskic's Operative Zone came, then you moved from the
5 hotel. When Blaskic's Operative Zone came, then the Municipal Staff was
6 not transferred from the hotel, that is, you stayed in the hotel?
7 A. Oh, yes, we stayed in the hotel.
8 Q. Thank you.
9 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Could the registry please help me to
10 show the 66/2, D66/2. Could the witness be shown it? It's a photograph.
11 Could we have it on the ELMO, please.
12 Q. Witness Ceko, will you please look at this house and tell us if
13 you recognise it?
14 A. I do.
15 Q. Whose is it?
16 A. This is Marijan Skopljak's house.
17 Q. Could you show us which part of the house housed the Staff? Use
18 the pointer, please, to indicate where was the Staff.
19 A. Just a moment. So it was in this auxiliary building, yes, the --
20 in the upper door.
21 Q. And will you tell us, what is this black part, this dark part in
22 front of the house?
23 A. You mean in front of the house, what is it?
24 Q. Yes.
25 A. Yes, this is kind of a porch and this is where the restaurant was.
1 Q. The restaurant?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And it also belonged to Marijan Skopljak, did it?
4 A. Yes, it all belonged to Marijan Skopljak and this thing over here
5 is the cemetery.
6 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. But since we are looking
7 at photographs of houses, perhaps we should also clarify another thing. I
8 should like to produce another exhibit and ask the witness to tell us if
9 he can identify this house.
10 THE REGISTRAR: The document will be marked D95/2.
11 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Witness Ceko, will you please have a good look either on the ELMO
13 or in front of you, wherever you can see it better, and tell us if you can
14 identify it?
15 A. Yes, this is Mario Cerkez's house.
16 Q. Is there any -- do you have any doubt about that?
17 A. No, none whatsoever.
18 Q. And did you contribute to the building of this house, personally?
19 Did you invest your work into this house?
20 A. Yes, I did.
21 Q. Thank you.
22 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Excuse me, Mr. Kovacic.
23 When was the house built?
24 A. This -- the construction of the house began, I think, in 1985 or
25 thereabouts, 1984, 1985 perhaps. I'm not sure. It could be plus or minus
1 two years. I don't even know when I began to build my house.
2 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] You contributed to the building
3 of the house as what, in what capacity?
4 A. I wasn't really building it, but since we are next-door
5 neighbours, then it is a custom with us to help one another. So I often
6 helped him when he built it and, of course, he had some masons, but he,
7 himself, did most of the work and his father and his father-in-law and I
8 only helped him from time to time.
9 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Thank you.
10 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
11 Q. Perhaps just one question to explain. Was it a custom in your
12 area when somebody builds a house that you invite an entrepreneur to do
13 it, that is, you entrust the whole business to a company or to build it
14 yourself with the help of friends and relatives, and perhaps a
15 professional builder now and then?
16 A. Well, the custom with us is to build the house yourself with
17 friends, to organise work jointly because nobody had enough money, nobody
18 could afford a company to hire a company or an entrepreneur. We would
19 only perhaps hire a mason or a carpenter, but otherwise we'd do it
21 Q. Thank you. In September/October 1992, did the Main Staff form
22 units to go to fight and defend Jajce against the aggression of the ARS
23 and the JNA?
24 A. Yes. In September/October 1992, the Municipal Staff also sent
25 shifts to Jajce to try to defend it against the JNA and the ARS at that
1 time. The Muslims and Croats were putting up joint defence at that time
2 in Jajce.
3 Q. Would you remember if -- do you remember, perhaps, how many men to
4 a shift there were? What was the maximum number?
5 A. Well, it would be about the strength of two platoons, about 60 men
6 or something. As many as one could gather at the time.
7 Q. Thank you. You remember that on the 19th of October, 1992, the BH
8 army blocked the road through the Lasva Valley in the Vitez municipality
9 at two places?
10 A. Yes, I remember it very well.
11 Q. Is it true that these roadblocks prevented the departure of the
12 HVO members from the Busovaca/Kiseljak in the direction of Jajce?
13 A. The barricades, that is, the passage was prohibited at two places
14 near Bila and Bilovit [phoen] and they wanted to prevent the passage.
15 That is, a shift from Busovaca/Kiseljak was to go up there, but they set
16 up barricades and one could not get through.
17 I wasn't at the roadblock in Ahmici, but on the 19th I personally
18 went to collect our comrades in Bila, to go to -- to collect bread --
19 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter apologises.
20 A. [Previous translation continues]... to collect bread from Bila
21 because that is where it was baked for us, but I couldn't get through and
22 that is how I learned that the roadblocks had been set up.
23 MR. KOVACIC: We have in the transcript "comrades" instead of
24 "bread." The witness said that he was going in Bila to pick up bread,
25 not --
1 JUDGE MAY: I think he said, initially, he said he was going to
2 pick up comrades or something of the sort.
3 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter's mistake. I apologise.
4 JUDGE MAY: It was bread. Yes.
5 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
6 Q. And then you saw for yourself that the road had been blocked there
7 near Ahmici next to the Catholic cemetery?
8 A. No, I did not see it there. I saw it in Bila, not down there. I
9 did not see about the one down there, but I heard that it had also been
10 set in front of Ahmici, and I saw the second one up there.
11 Q. Thank you. And afterwards did you hear about the one that you saw
12 near Bila? And that was next to the Bosna construction company, was it?
13 A. Yes, yes.
14 Q. Did you hear afterwards, either that same day or at any time, that
15 that roadblock had been removed of their own free will, that Franjo Nakic
16 managed to prevail in the negotiations?
17 A. Yes. I heard that Mr. Franjo Nakic and others negotiated with
18 Muslims. And the one which was in Bila, next to Bosna, as you say, was
19 removed subsequently as a result of those negotiations.
20 Q. Very well. Thank you. But I'm asking you about this event,
21 because the Court has heard a great deal about this. Where did you have
22 the materiel depot at the time?
23 A. At the time, the materiel depot of the Vitez Municipal Staff was
24 in Kruscica, next to the Lovac Motel. That was a building near Lovac
25 Motel, the Sumadija company. That is where the Staff had its depot.
1 Q. Witness Ceko, Kruscica is predominantly a Muslim village, is it?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And especially in that part, in that part where the motel is and
4 where the fish pond is. And in October 1992 the Municipal Staff continued
5 to hold -- to keep a depot in a Muslim village?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And you were responsible, you were in charge of that depot, were
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And that situation, because you had the road blocked, you had your
11 depot in the middle, in the heart of a Muslim village, did it -- were you
12 concerned about this?
13 A. Yes, because on the 19th, the roadblock in Bila was removed, but
14 the other one below Ahmici remained. And after negotiations, after
15 several rounds of negotiations -- or at least that's what I heard -- with
16 representatives of the SDA, that is, Muslims, to remove the barricade.
17 However, on the 19th the roadblock was not removed, and I was really
18 worried about this, because the depot was in Kruscica. Because all that
19 day, that is, the 19th of October, we could not reach an understanding. I
20 was afraid that I would lose that depot there, because in the Kruscica
21 school there was a unit of the BH army, and that was a company, I should
22 say, of about a hundred men or so. And I was afraid that I might be
23 conflict and that I would lose my materiel.
24 So I suggested to the Commander, that is, the Chief of Staff,
25 Marijan Skopljak, to try and pull out the materiel from the Kruscica
1 depot. And he said, "We'll see." And after that, that is, perhaps two or
2 three hours later, Mario Cerkez called and said that he would try to
3 organise the salvage of the materiel from up there. And that's how it
4 was. In the evening, Anto Bertovic called and said that he was calling to
5 see to resolve the matter. Should I go on?
6 Q. Yes. Perhaps it would be best if you told us the whole story.
7 A. Yes. Well, Anto came and he said that he was in charge of the
8 attempt to get this ammunition out, and I said, "No problem. I am ready
9 to come with you." And he came with a group of soldiers. I think that,
10 by and large, those were men from the military police.
11 So we went to Kruscica, to the depot. We somehow made our way
12 there. And we loaded the ammunition, because that was the most important
13 thing at the time. Two smallish lorries. One was a small TAM and the
14 other I think TAM 110. And we loaded them with ammunition. And because
15 we could not pass through Kruscica, we started from Kruscica towards
16 Plavac Motel, that is, by the summer cottage in the locality of Bistro, by
17 the Plavac Motel, to Zabrdze, in order to go around Kruscica and reach
18 Vitez. However, on our way to Plavac Motel, we came across an ambush laid
19 by a small group of ABiH soldiers, and there there was an exchange of
21 So the action was led by Anto Bertovic and there was an exchange
22 of fire. We lost two soldiers that night. But we nevertheless made it
23 through that place and brought the ammunition and stored it in the
24 warehouse which is next to the Vitez municipal hall. Anto Bertovic was
25 slightly wounded on that occasion, one man was captured, and the other one
1 turned up in the morning, so that we learned that he had simply lost his
2 way as he fled.
3 So we pulled out those two lorries --
4 JUDGE MAY: Just a moment. It's very difficult to follow all this
5 detail. I'm not sure that it's really necessary. Do I understand the
6 position right that in Kruscica, the Municipal Staff had its headquarters
7 at Marijan Skopljak's house and also had a depot in which there was
8 ammunition and other equipment? Is that the position? It should be made
9 clear, then. It's not clear. As I understand it, what the witness is
10 saying is he's trying to remove the ammunition from the Kruscica depot
11 because of the incidents on the 19th. But we hadn't heard of the depot
12 before. It suddenly emerged in the evidence. Perhaps you could clear it
13 up, shortly.
14 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Mr. Ceko, may I? Mr. Ceko, I'm going to put questions to you,
16 step by step. Since when have you had this logistics base in Kruscica?
17 When was it first established?
18 A. The logistics base in Kruscica was established at the beginning of
19 the month of May, 1992.
20 Q. How far away is it, approximately, of course, from the house of
21 Pero Skopljak -- sorry, Marijan Skopljak? At that time your headquarters
22 was there; right?
23 A. It is three kilometres away.
24 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Perhaps the best would be if I ask
25 for D85/2 to be shown. That's one of the maps that we were using
1 yesterday. Perhaps the witness can show where the house of Mr. Marijan
2 Skopljak is and where this logistics base was.
3 Could the video director please zoom in on Kruscica? Could we see
4 the town of Vitez more, the lower part of the map, towards the south.
5 Perhaps it would be a good thing to move the camera lower, please, or
6 perhaps the usher can help us with this. This is good. This is fine.
7 Q. Mr. Ceko, please show the road that you lived on.
8 A. It is this road.
9 Q. Oh, so that's the road that goes south to Kruscica?
10 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter cannot hear the witness at all.
11 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Could you please show the house of Mario Cerkez, the one that you
13 showed on the photograph a few minutes ago.
14 THE INTERPRETER: Again the interpreter does not hear the
15 witness's answers at all.
16 A. From the main crossroads, it is about 400 metres towards Kruscica.
17 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
18 Q. And your warehouse at the motel that we discussed.
19 A. [Indicates]
20 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Very well. Thank you. We can leave
21 the map all together now.
22 JUDGE MAY: It's variously been called a warehouse, a depot, a
23 base. Is it all the same place?
24 MR. KOVACIC: Yes, Your Honour, but that is how they call it, so
25 I'm using their terms.
1 JUDGE MAY: I'm sure you are. It's very confusing. If we can
2 stick to one term, it would be easier. And do I understand that it was in
3 the motel?
4 MR. KOVACIC: Yes, correct.
5 JUDGE MAY: Remind me of the name, please.
6 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Witness?
8 A. Your Honour, may I intervene? This was not at the motel. This
9 was a facility next door to the Lovac Motel. It was a log cabin. It was
10 the warehouse of the Sumadija company from Kruscica that was there.
11 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
12 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. Just by the motel?
14 A. Yes, just by the motel.
15 Q. If we call this "the depot by the motel," is that a clear term?
16 A. Yes, it is clear to me.
17 Q. The depot where you unloaded the materiel that you brought into
18 town, can you explain where that is?
19 A. Well, the depot where we brought the ammunition is three metres
20 away from the building of the municipality of Vitez, just by the municipal
22 Q. So that is the very centre of town, isn't it?
23 A. Yes, that's right.
24 Q. Thank you. For the second time now during your testimony you have
25 mentioned, just now, Mr. Anto Bertovic. Perhaps we should not leave any
1 doubts there. Do you think Anto Bertovic is an honest man?
2 A. I do.
3 Q. Do you agree that he is a good and able soldier?
4 A. Yes, I also agree that he is a good and able soldier.
5 Q. Thank you. When did you find out and what did you find out about
6 the elimination of the roadblock near the village of Ahmici by the
7 Catholic cemetery?
8 A. You mean what I found out or when I found it out?
9 Q. What and when.
10 A. I found out on the 20th of August that there was an armed conflict
11 at the roadblock and that the roadblock was removed. I also found out
12 that a soldier from Kiseljak got killed and also a young man from Ahmici
13 was killed. That's what I heard through hearsay.
14 Q. But you yourself, you were not there, nearby?
15 A. No, I was not.
16 Q. Was there any group under the control of the HVO Staff in Vitez
17 that was involved in this action?
18 A. No.
19 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] I would like to ask the Trial
20 Chamber for their permission to move into private session for a few
21 minutes, please. We need to mention the name of a person whose name
22 should not be mentioned in public.
23 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
24 [Private session]
13 page 23465 redacted – private session
5 [Open session]
6 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. The person that we just identified now as AS, was this person
8 involved in any way? Did you see that person the night when you were
9 bringing the ammunition from the depot up there into town?
10 A. No. I do not remember having seen that person at all.
11 Q. Do you know that person otherwise?
12 A. Yes, I do.
13 Q. How come you know him?
14 A. I know him. I know him. He's my neighbour. He lives in the
15 neighbouring village.
16 Q. So he lives near you?
17 A. Well, he lives about two kilometres away, as the crow flies, from
18 my house.
19 Q. Tell us, please: Did you ever, at any time, not only within this
20 time frame that we are discussing now, were you ever together with Mario
21 Cerkez, your assistant Mimo, and this person that we are mentioning? At
22 any point in time were you together with these people that you can mention
23 that? Were you all together at any point in time?
24 A. No. We were not together at any point in time, all this group
25 together: I, Mimo, Mario Cerkez, Mlakic, and the person that you call
1 AS. We were never together, the four of us, at a certain point in time.
2 Q. All right. Let's take care of that all together. During the war,
3 did you ever hear Cerkez mention any threatening or derogatory terms as
4 far as Bosniak Muslims are concerned?
5 A. No, never. I never heard Cerkez speak that way. I never heard
6 any swear words or any threats addressed to Muslims. No, that was never
7 the case. No. Cerkez is a serious man. Not even during the most
8 intensive conflicts, never.
9 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. So we can move out of
10 private session now.
11 THE REGISTRAR: We are out of private session.
12 MR. KOVACIC: Yes, I'm sorry.
13 Q. [Interpretation] Witness Ceko, can you tell us when the Stjepan
14 Tomasevic Brigade was established?
15 A. The Brigade Stjepan Tomasevic was established at the beginning of
16 December 1993 [as interpreted].
17 Q. Is it correct that approximately -- or rather a bit earlier, the
18 defence department was established because the HVO Staff had practically
19 stopped to operate, and you who were on the Staff were told that now a new
20 brigade would be established soon?
21 A. Yes. We were told that soon a new brigade was to be established.
22 All of us who stayed in the Municipal Staff in order to prepare the
23 organisation of shifts, indeed, on the 1st of December, I think it was, we
24 went to Novi Travnik, and about seven or eight of us -- it was about seven
25 or eight of us.
1 Q. Yes?
2 A. So we from the Staff, and perhaps somebody else, we went at the
3 beginning of December. Perhaps it was the 1st of December. We went to
4 Novi Travnik, and that is where the command post of the Stjepan Tomasevic
5 Brigade was, at the hotel, at the new hotel.
6 Q. Let us just correct the transcript. Page 37, line 14. You were
7 talking about the beginning of 1992, weren't you?
8 A. Yes, 1992.
9 Q. And then, indeed, at the beginning of December, you were sent to
10 this brigade. Where was its seat?
11 A. Its seat was in the new hotel in Novi Travnik.
12 Q. It was never in Vitez?
13 A. It was never in Vitez. The headquarters of the Stjepan Tomasevic
14 Brigade was never in Vitez.
15 Q. Do you know whether there were ever any such plans to have it in
17 A. No, I don't know about that.
18 Q. Who was the first Commander of this brigade?
19 A. The Commander of the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade was Borivoje
21 Q. Who was his deputy?
22 A. His deputy was Mario Cerkez.
23 Q. What post did he hold?
24 A. Chief of Staff.
25 Q. When was Malbasic reassigned to another post?
1 A. At the beginning of 1993, Borivoje Malbasic was sent to another
2 post and Mario Cerkez was appointed acting Commander of the Stjepan
3 Tomasevic Brigade.
4 Q. Tell us, witness: This word that you keep using, "deputy
5 commander," we've heard it a few times.
6 A. Well, that is the acting commander, the person who acts as the
7 commander of the Brigade, so in fact, it is the commander.
8 Q. Well, this acting -- this word "acting commander," it implies a
9 temporary nature, doesn't it?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. But there is no doubt that Cerkez was then Commander?
12 A. Yes. For us, he was the top man then.
13 Q. Thank you. What was the only task of the brigade at that time?
14 A. At that time the only task of the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade was to
15 consolidate the defence line above Novi Travnik -- Slatka Voda, Mravinjac,
16 Kamenjas, Vucja Glava -- against the JNA and the ARS.
17 Q. Can you remember at least some colleagues who were members of the
18 command of this brigade in addition to you and Cerkez?
19 A. Yes, I can remember.
20 Q. Please name those who you remember.
21 A. In addition to Mario and myself, in the command of the Stjepan
22 Tomasevic Brigade there was Zeljko Sajevic, Rudo Kurevija, Borislav Jozic,
23 Ivo Sucic, Drago Damjenovic, Jozo Zuljevic, Srecko Pavlovic.
24 Q. Very well. That is sufficient. Witness Ceko, is it correct that
25 in December 1992 and in January 1993, while Malbasic was Commander, that
1 Mario Cerkez was considerably involved in the way in which the
2 municipalities would finance this?
3 A. Yes, yes, yes. When the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade was
4 established, when Borivoje Malbasic was Commander, Mario's first and
5 primary task was to organise the system of financing, that is to say, to
6 organise the support of the municipalities of Vitez and Novi Travnik. I
7 think he did this very well, because this municipal support did start to
8 function, from both municipalities. He did that quite well. Before that,
9 these relations were impaired.
10 This was not his only task. His task number two was to improve
11 the quality of the defence line. That is to say that emphasis was laid on
12 the engineering aspect of the defence line against the ARS.
13 Q. Mr. Ceko, as far as this improvement of the quality of the defence
14 lines against the ARS is concerned, who was Cerkez's chief helper?
15 A. Could you please repeat that?
16 Q. Who worked with Cerkez, for the most part, on this engineering
17 enhancement of the defence line?
18 A. In addition to Cerkez, the command consisted half of people from
19 Vitez and half from Novi Travnik. So there was Sabljic, Zeljko from Novi
20 Travnik and others.
21 Q. All right. And others. And this Sabljic, is that the same person
22 who was commander after Cerkez left, or rather after all of you went from
23 Novi Travnik?
24 A. Yes. At that time he was chief of engineering in the command of
25 the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade. But then, since the brigade then split
1 into two parts, then he became Commander of this brigade of Stjepan
2 Tomasevic that remained in Novi Travnik. Sabljic Zeljko; I'm talking
3 about him.
4 MR. KOVACIC: I think this would be a good time.
5 JUDGE MAY: Yes. We'll adjourn now for half an hour.
6 --- Recess taken at 11.01 a.m.
7 --- On resuming at 11.31 a.m.
8 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Kovacic.
9 MR. KOVACIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
10 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Ceko, let us continue. Will you tell us,
11 please, you were, as you told us, in Novi Travnik at the time when you
12 were a member of the Stjepan Tomasevic Brigade command and Cerkez was
13 there at the same time. That is quite clear. Just now tell me this:
14 Between December 1992, that is, from the time that you came to Novi
15 Travnik until March 1993 while you were with the Stjepan Tomasevic
16 Brigade, was there, in the town, in Novi Travnik or in its immediate
17 environs, was there any significant conflicts between people, between
18 Muslims and Croats? I'm not asking you about the troops, I'm asking about
19 citizens. Were there any conflicts between peoples?
20 A. Between December 1992 until March 1993, there were now [as
21 interpreted] serious conflicts between Muslims and Croats. There were
22 incidents here and there at the expense of both peoples, that is,
23 perpetrated against one another but those were minor incidents, but there
24 were not any serious conflicts and especially there were no conflicts
25 between the HVO and the BH army.
1 Q. Are you quite sure that on no occasion, while you were there, was
2 there a confrontation between the HVO, between HVO units and any units of
3 the ABiH, I mean as formal and official units of the either of the two
5 A. Not at that time.
6 Q. Thank you very much. Do you remember, when was the initiative
7 launched to -- of the municipal government in Vitez to form a municipal
8 brigade which, later on, became known as the Vitez Brigade?
9 A. Yes, I remember that initiative to form a separate brigade, that
10 is, the Vitez Brigade by the municipal council in Vitez. That was in
11 early March 1993.
12 Q. Do you recall if, at that time, in early March until middle of
13 March, Cerkez conducted preparations for the formation of the brigade or
14 -- did you take a part in that?
15 A. Yes, I do remember until the middle of March 1993, certain
16 preparations were already underway to form the Vitez Brigade.
17 Q. And at that time, did you consider the options for the
18 headquarters of the command?
19 A. Yes, it was already decided by that time, or rather when the name
20 for the brigade was chosen, that that was the Vitez Brigade. And at that
21 time also, the command place for the brigade was identified, and that was
22 the Workers' University in Vitez. So those were the preparations at the
23 time. And names of people who were -- joined the command were already on
24 the table, were already discussed.
25 Q. Are you aware that pursuant to Blaskic's command of the 24th of
1 April, 1993, that Mario Cerkez was appointed the Commander of that
3 A. Yes, I know that. There was the order in writing by Blaskic
4 whereby Mario Cerkez was appointed the Commander of the Vitez Brigade on
5 the 24th of April, 1993.
6 Q. Did you see that order at that time?
7 A. Yes, I did. I showed it when we discussed it.
8 MR. KOVACIC: Yes. Your Honour, I don't think there is any need
9 to produce that document. It was here yesterday.
10 Q. [Interpretation] At that point in time, that is, as of that order
11 onward, did Mario Cerkez and his associates begin to systematically
12 organise the command of the brigade?
13 A. Yes. At that time, Cerkez was involved in the organisation of the
14 command of the brigade itself, that is, accommodation and establishment of
15 various services of the brigade. Because at that time, we were already
16 moving because the Staff moved from the Workers' University, they went
17 elsewhere, and we moved into those premises.
18 Q. Since you mentioned the battalion, the only unit under the command
19 of the brigade command at that time in those early days of the brigade was
20 which one?
21 A. At that time, when the Vitez Brigade was formed, the only unit was
22 this battalion which had formerly been a part of the Stjepan Tomasevic
23 Brigade, and that was the only unit of the Vitez Brigade at the time.
24 Q. And the commander of that battalion was?
25 A. Anto Bertovic.
1 Q. Did that battalion have some facilities where soldiers were
2 quartered all the time, I mean barracks?
3 A. The battalion in the Vitez Brigade did not have any barracks where
4 men would be accommodated all the time.
5 Q. So it did not have any facilities of the kind. So how did the
6 battalion form the units which it needed at various times for individual
8 A. The battalion engaged men by summons, that is, it had a list of
9 some 300 men. That is how strong it was at the time. So it would summon
10 men, and shifts would be formed and they would go to the front lines.
11 Q. And did members of the brigade who would be called up, did they
12 use the term "active duty formation"?
13 A. Yes, they did. They would call it active duty formation. That
14 was the expression they used.
15 Q. And this term, did it refer to the fact that somebody was on the
16 list from which men were called up?
17 A. Yes, quite so.
18 Q. And those summons that you mentioned, were they always in writing?
19 A. No. Sometimes there will be some in writing, but the men would be
20 called orally too because they were all volunteers. They were all
21 volunteers, and they would respond to either oral or written summons.
22 Q. And if a certain military conscript from that list or from some
23 other list that existed in the defence department or if -- because defence
24 office also had a list, and if somebody was summoned and would not respond
25 using whatever excuse, did he suffer any consequences for that?
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 A. No, nothing would happen then because at that time, I think not
2 everything worked -- not everything was in perfect order so there were no
3 instruments of coercion, that is to use -- to sanction the men, simply
4 somebody else would be called up and he would be sent off.
5 Q. But were there any attempts to bring in such a man because he was
7 A. Could you clarify the question?
8 Q. Did it ever happen that a determined effort was made to bring a
9 particular man in if he had failed to respond, because his knowledge or
10 his expertise was needed. So did you ever ask the police to bring him in?
11 A. Could you please tell me at what time are you referring to?
12 Q. I mean the Vitez Brigade.
13 A. Yes, there were such instances.
14 Q. And before that, during the Tomasevic or during the Staff, if
15 somebody wanted to dodge such summons, then he could do that, isn't it
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. However, when the Vitez Brigade was formed, then it became less
19 easy to dodge this duty but it was still possible?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. In other words, at that time, did you know, were you aware
22 basically every conscripts that responded to summons did it of his own
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And let me ask you, Witness Ceko, the first time that you joined
1 the work of the Staff and that was, here you told us, was in April/May,
2 1992, the Municipal HVO Staff in Vitez, I mean, did anyone tell you,
3 "Mr. Ceko, excuse me, but you're going to do this. So you start here and
4 you are bound to attend."
5 A. No, never. I volunteered and that is how I started working.
6 Q. And you volunteered why?
7 A. Well, I volunteered because I realised that I had to do something
8 to contribute to the defence of my place of my family.
9 Q. And does this apply to Mario Cerkez too?
10 A. It does.
11 Q. Thank you. Those soldiers of yours, now that we've already formed
12 the brigade, would you agree that this list of the active duty totalled
13 some 300 men at the time we are referring to after the brigade was formed?
14 A. Yes, I agree it was around 300 men.
15 Q. And when people from the list were summoned to go to front lines
16 against the Serb army, how long did one shift last?
17 A. The shifts were between seven and ten days.
18 Q. And at that time, the brigade held with those men from the
19 battalion, from the battalion's list, the sector at Slatka Vode/Kamenjas,
20 that part, is it?
21 A. Yes, yes.
22 Q. And at that time, and I mean before 16th of April, did the Vitez
23 Brigade have any other task, any other area of responsibility as you
24 soldiers put it?
25 A. Before 16th of April, yes. At that time, between November or
1 December 1992, that was its own area, that is, Jajce. After the fall of
2 Jajce in November, December, we began to send our shifts to Slatka Vode,
3 up there to the -- near Novi Travnik.
4 Q. But that was still during the Staff's time?
5 A. Yes, it was during the Staff's time, and it went on until April.
6 And in Tomasevic's time, yes, in Tomasevic's time, in Staff's time and in
7 Viteska Brigade's time.
8 Q. Thank you very much. And when those soldiers would come back from
9 their mission -- so they had spent seven days in Jajce, or, if we are
10 referring to this time near to 16th of April, seven days on Kamenjas at
11 the front lines up there -- what would happen to them?
12 A. Well, having completed a shift, seven days or ten days -- it
13 varied -- they would come back home and they would naturally return home,
14 return to their families or to their jobs, because when they would
15 complete their shifts, they would become civilians again and they would go
16 about their daily business.
17 Q. And if the brigade would need the same soldier two days later,
18 what would happen then?
19 A. Well, he would be summoned.
20 Q. And he would be reactivated?
21 A. Yes, he would be reactivated. He would be free until he would be
22 summoned again and before he left to the shift again.
23 Q. But always from that list?
24 A. Yes. The list was always the same.
25 Q. Thank you. His Honour, Judge Bennouna, already asked some
1 questions about the evening of the 15th of April, so there is no need to
2 go back to that. I'm just trying to see if we've covered all the points.
3 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Mr. Kovacic, yes, I received some
4 details for the Chamber regarding the day of the 15th of April, but now
5 I'd like to put questions to the witness regarding the morning of the
7 He said that he left at 5.00 in the morning and that Mr. Cerkez
8 arrived at 6.00 in the morning on the 16th. Is that so?
9 A. Yes, that was so. I went -- I left home at 5.00 to go to the
10 command, and I saw Cerkez there later. I think it was around 6.00. I
11 can't really remember.
12 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] But my first question is as
13 follows: Why did you go to the command at 5.00 in the morning?
14 A. At 5.00 in the morning on the 16th of April, 1993, I went to the
15 command, because the night before, at the short briefing that we had, if
16 you remember, there was a possibility of an ABiH attack along the
17 Kruscica-Vranjska direction, in the direction of the centre of the town of
18 Vitez. So the degree of alertness or preparedness was raised, and that
19 was why I left early, at 5.00.
20 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] And you say that Mr. Cerkez
21 came -- arrived at 6.00 that morning?
22 A. Yes, thereabouts. Around 6.00, as far as I can recall.
23 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Could you tell us whether there
24 was a meeting on that morning when you got there?
25 A. That morning -- because not far from that I had the depot, not far
1 from the headquarters of the brigade, that is, next to the municipal hall,
2 so I went there too. And if there was a meeting that morning, I was not
3 present at it.
4 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] And what did you do that morning?
5 A. That morning I spent most of the time, that morning and the day,
6 in the materiel depot, because I had a small office there. And I was
7 simply checking the state, what we had at our disposal; if there was a
8 serious conflict, what we had available there, so I --
9 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Was there any fighting that
10 morning, as was anticipated? Was there an attack towards Kruscica, as you
11 mentioned before?
12 A. That morning, sometime around half past 5.00, several shells hit
13 the centre of the town of Vitez itself, that is, near the headquarters
14 of -- near the cinema, and one could hear gunfire from all sides. And
15 there was a general melee there, and it was in the morning, around half
16 past 5.00.
17 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] You had received instructions the
18 day -- the night before. Did they all relate only to instructions
19 regarding the defence of the Vitez town?
20 A. Yes. Only along the Kruscica-Vranjska directions, and that is
21 where we expected the attack.
22 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] So you received no instructions
23 as to starting any offensive?
24 A. No.
25 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] As to the shells that fell in
1 Vitez on that morning of the 16th of April, you don't know where they came
2 from, do you?
3 A. Well, I don't know. From surrounding hills, I guess. From
4 surrounding hills.
5 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Which action did you take on that
6 16th of April?
7 A. I, you mean? Well, I was in this materiel depot. And since this
8 gunfire started in the morning, and there was a general confusion, a
9 general melee, I had to be present in the depot all the time, because some
10 people, as they were moving, people were coming and asking for weapons and
11 other things so as to defend themselves, so that I had to be in the depot
12 all the time, practically, because I was in charge of it.
13 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] And did you provide a lot of
14 equipment that day?
15 A. No. No. I did not issue.
16 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] You've just told us that there
17 were a lot of people coming to see you on that morning on the 16th of
18 April in order to obtain weapons or ammunition, and you didn't give any?
19 A. Yes, people came, but I did not say many people came. Men came to
20 ask for it, but I didn't have any weapons or equipment or uniforms, so
21 that at the time I didn't issue them with it. So I had nothing to supply
22 them with, and so I didn't.
23 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Listen. Something has got to be
24 explained to this Court, because I fail to understand your version of
25 events. You said that the night before you met, that Mr. Cerkez was
1 called as a matter of urgency, that the wedding was cancelled, there was
2 an imminent threat of attack, that you got up very early in the morning,
3 and then nothing happens in the morning -- during the day of the 16th of
4 April. Could you explain all this to us, because we don't understand very
5 well what you're telling us.
6 You're telling us that there's a lot of chaos on the 16th of
7 April, that it was a situation of alert that had been triggered, that the
8 wedding had been cancelled, so that you were expecting the worst on the
9 16th. And then you say -- you end up saying that nothing happened on that
10 day. So I'd like to know what happened, what did happen on that day.
11 What was happening that justified this commotion on the 16th of April?
12 There's something missing in the events you are relating.
13 A. Yes. Well, in the evening of the 15th, after the short brief, I
14 left my men on duty in the depot, my men who were there, just in case
15 something happened. And then in the morning I went to the depot, that is,
16 to the headquarters of the brigade. And around half past 5.00, several
17 shells hit the centre of the town of Vitez, near the headquarters, that
18 is, near the cinema. And gunfire came from all sides.
19 Later on I learned that there had been an attack up there at
20 Poculica, followed by Kruscica and Vranjska and Krdo Dol [phoen] and
21 Krcevine, surrounding villages.
22 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] But the 16th of April, not about
23 the 15th; is that so?
24 A. All I said, that on the 15th I assigned men to stand guard at the
25 depot and then I went back home. And now I'm talking about the 16th, when
1 the town was shelled, when we heard the gunfire from all sides. And I was
2 notified that there had been an attack at Poculica, that all the Croat
3 villagers in that village had been captured, and that was followed by an
4 attack from the direction of Kruscica and Vranjska and surrounding
5 villages, I think at Krcevine and Jardol, along that route.
6 And when I said that I was not issuing anyone with anything, then
7 this is what I meant: I didn't issue, with any weapons, those men who
8 were not members of the brigade. That is, at that time, the brigade had
9 only one battalion, and when the fire began, when the attack began, then
10 some men who were not members of the brigade came to the depot trying to
11 get something. But at that time, the situation in the depot was
12 critical. It was not satisfactory. We simply had no weapons at all. We
13 had some ammunition and we didn't have any materiel, that is, uniforms,
14 clothing, and the rest.
15 And I said those men who came of their own, I did not issue them
16 with anything. But that morning [as interpreted] also the general
17 mobilisation was proclaimed, because the men were gathered and were sent
18 to the front lines where there were major conflicts, and I had nothing to
19 give them. That is what I meant.
20 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Those who went to see you who
21 were not members of the brigade, were they organised or did they come on
22 an individual basis?
23 A. They were individuals who came, of their own initiative. And
24 there were also those who were summoned later on, those who responded to
25 summons. Because we've already heard about the conflict. It was
1 escalating and general mobilisation was proclaimed.
2 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Thank you.
3 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
4 Q. Maybe I should continue from the point where the Honourable Judge
5 stopped. When was mobilisation declared?
6 A. Well, I said I can't remember. I know it was declared immediately
7 that day, but whether it was immediately in the morning, I don't know. It
8 was probably sometime in the afternoon.
9 Q. Thank you.
10 A. I don't know exactly.
11 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] We have noticed a rather serious
12 mistake here in the transcript, page 52, line 6. It says that
13 mobilisation was in the morning, and the witness said "on that day." And
14 now he said that he thought that it was not in the morning of that day.
15 Q. So you are sure the mobilisation was declared on that day, but you
16 do not know when?
17 A. That's right.
18 Q. Was mobilisation declared the previous day?
19 A. No. No, it was not.
20 Q. Thank you. In response to the Honourable Judge's questions, you
21 mentioned various places: Jardol, Poculica, Kruscica. What happened in
22 those places? Tell us what happened in those places. Who attacked whom?
23 A. The BH army attacked the men who were village guards at that
24 time. They were guarding their villages and they attacked them.
25 Q. That morning or that night, or perhaps even before that, what do
1 you know? I mean, what happened at Kuber?
2 A. The previous night, the 15th of April, in the evening, that is,
3 the duty officer at the brigade command received information that there
4 were some problems at Kuber, that the BH army attacked Kuber. However,
5 the duty officer did not manage to establish contact at all and he did not
6 know whether this was correct or not, until the next morning. And the
7 next morning it was learned that indeed, on the evening of the 15th Kuber
8 had been attacked and that Kuber had been lost and that some men had been
9 killed. There are two men that are missing until the present day, that
10 are still registered as missing. So I forgot to mention Kuber a few
11 minutes ago. I forgot that.
12 Q. Tell me please, Mr. Ceko: As an inhabitant of that area -- and
13 roughly speaking, you were familiar with the situation: where, whose
14 military was, et cetera -- for you personally, for you personally, without
15 anyone having explained it to you, what does this information mean for you
16 at that point in time, that something was going on in Kuber? What is the
17 first thing that that came to your mind?
18 A. Well, the first thing that came to my mind was that the BH army
19 attacked the Viteska Brigade that was at Kuber, because they were right
20 next to each other at Kuber. This is a dominant feature. This is where
21 they both were.
22 Q. Perhaps we could explain this to the Court. This was never
23 explained before, I think. As soon as resistance against the Serbs
24 started in the early months of 1992 --
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. -- there were some guards at Kuber, right?
2 A. Right.
3 Q. Those were mixed guards, right?
4 A. Well, they were not mixed guards. This -- Kuber is actually a
5 broader notion, but this is a dominant feature between Vitez and Zenica.
6 That is where one of our groups was --
7 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness slow down, please.
8 A. [Previous translation continues] -- and then there was also a
9 Muslim group that was next to them, so they were next to each other, but
10 they were not together.
11 JUDGE MAY: There's a request from the interpreters for the
12 witness to slow down.
13 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. So early in 1992, both sides, at that time, had their guards up
15 there at Kuber with what intention in mind?
16 A. Yes. They stood guard up there in Kuber with the intention of
17 observing the JNA movements in Zenica. At that time, the JNA was in
18 Zenica in barracks, and from up there you could see barracks and
19 movements, and that is why this group was located up there.
20 Q. So you were observing the JNA who was your only enemy at that
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And this observation in more active or more passive form continued
24 all the way up to the conflict?
25 A. Yes, that's right.
1 Q. So let us complete the subject of Kuber once we've embarked on
2 it. The next few days, the BH army took all the dominant features in
3 Kuber; is that correct?
4 A. Yes, that's correct.
5 Q. The HVO had to withdraw from Kuber?
6 A. Yes, that's correct.
7 Q. And from that moment onwards, throughout the conflict, the BH army
8 had Kuber under its control; is that correct?
9 A. Yes. But the HVO, I mean the brigade withdrew a bit lower and
10 that is where it established its defence line. The BH army was up there.
11 Q. That is precisely what I wanted to hear from you, that you were
12 below. Could we again use the map we used yesterday and have it put
13 before the witness. Number 85, I didn't really plan to go into all of
14 this, but -- Mr. Ceko, please take a look at the map. You're a local
15 man. Please show Kuber, the entire chain of mountains that is called
17 A bit to the right, please, Mr. Usher, please, a bit to the
18 right. [In English] Sorry, on the opposite size. Yeah, that's it.
19 A. Kuber.
20 MR. KOVACIC: Could I ask that the picture is from the higher
21 aspect -- yeah, okay, perfect.
22 Q. [Interpretation] Could you please show Vitez now?
23 A. There.
24 Q. And Zenica?
25 A. [Indicates]
1 Q. Up there where it says the 7th Muslim, up there, over the name.
2 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters cannot hear the witness.
3 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
4 Q. Does that mean for you that Kuber is a natural wall, a wall, so to
5 speak, between Zenica and Vitez?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. You said that when the army took Kuber -- could you show me on
8 which side of Kuber was the part that was held by the HVO?
9 JUDGE MAY: Why are we going into all this detail? Could you
10 explain what you intend by it? We've got the point about Kuber. It's a
11 large feature, although quite why the Viteska Brigade is guarding it, we
12 don't know. Now, do we need any more detail about it?
13 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, I just got where I wanted to come, to
14 show that there was actually an attack the next morning, at least on this
16 JUDGE MAY: There was a report of an attack, that's the evidence
17 you have, on the 15th.
18 MR. KOVACIC: And then witness said on my direct question that the
19 next couple of days, the army took over Kuber gradually. It started,
20 obviously, on 15.
21 JUDGE MAY: Why was the Viteska Brigade responsible for Kuber?
22 A. The Viteska Brigade, I don't know. I didn't understand your
23 question. I mean, what do you mean "responsible"?
24 JUDGE MAY: I thought your evidence was that the Viteska Brigade
25 had guards up on Kuber. Was that right?
1 A. No. Viteska Brigade did not guard Kuber. It was men who were
2 guarding it up there. It was those village guards.
3 JUDGE MAY: From where did they come?
4 A. From their own villages, Kratine, Nadioci, below Kuber. The
5 locals from underneath Kuber, the villages of Nadioci and Kratine.
6 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Mr. Ceko, to complete the
7 question put by the Presiding Judge, could you tell us whether there is
8 any correlation or relationship between the Viteska Brigade and the
9 village guards, because you say that when the attacks that you anticipated
10 took place, the village guards were guarding those places.
11 So what was the relationship between the Viteska Brigade and those
12 guards, village guards?
13 A. At that time, the relationship between Viteska Brigade and the
14 village guards was nonexistent. There wasn't any. Because sometimes, men
15 from one of the battalions of the Viteska Brigade would be on the village
16 guards. Of course, when they finished their shift against the ARS, they
17 would be free and, from time to time, they would be sent to the village
18 guards because they were self-organised, they made their own shifts and
19 that was in various villages and that was Kuber, too, because Kuber is
20 considered to be a village.
21 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Just a minute, Mr. Ceko. Do you
22 mean to say that the Viteska Brigade had no authority whatsoever over the
23 village guards?
24 A. Yes, it did not until the 16th. It did not have authority over
25 village guards.
1 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] When did it start having
2 authority over the village guards?
3 A. When general mobilisation was declared on the 16th sometime in the
4 afternoon, and then call-up papers were sent out. Men who were on the
5 village guards and who were not actively engaged anywhere in this way
6 became members of the Viteska Brigade. So, that is to say, that from the
7 16th onwards, all became members of the Viteska Brigade. Until then,
8 there was only one battalion numbering about 300 men in the Viteska
10 JUDGE BENNOUNA: [Interpretation] Thank you.
11 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. Perhaps
12 just another detail in this connection.
13 Q. You said from then onwards, the village guards joined the brigade,
14 but that was a process, wasn't it? Is that correct?
15 A. Yes, that is correct.
16 Q. Can we say now that from a given point onwards, all village guards
17 became members of the brigade?
18 A. From the moment, from the moment they were mobilised, they became
19 members of the Viteska Brigade. They are resubordinated to the command to
20 the Viteska Brigade.
21 Q. Mobilisation was declared?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And then it is established who has done what and who is doing what
24 and lists were established et cetera; is that right?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. In your opinion, how long did this process last, one day, two
2 days, three days? What are we talking about, at least for the main part,
3 what about -- I'm sorry, perhaps I am complicating things a bit too much.
4 No, let's go back to this later.
5 Another thing that was mentioned here. When you explained this
6 situation in relation to Kuber, Mr. Ceko, you were not the operations
7 officer of the brigade?
8 A. No, I was not. I came from civilian life. Even when I did my
9 military service in the former JNA, I did not have any rank. I was never
10 interested in the military. I was a normal man, a civilian, and that is
11 how I started gaining experience from 1992 until the end of the war.
12 Q. Thank you. Since you've mentioned these places already, on the
13 first day, on the second day, during these critical days, did you find out
14 what happened in Sivrino Selo? Were there any events that occurred there
15 or not?
16 A. Yes. Sivrino Selo is a mixed community. A few families -- well,
17 Miskovici what's it called -- oh, I can't say now -- but they were all
18 detained in Sivrino Selo. Yes, yes, it's called the hamlet of Miskovici.
19 Q. What detained them?
20 A. It was the BH army who detained them.
21 Q. So Croats from the Croat part of the village were detained?
22 A. Yes, yes, that's right.
23 Q. Perhaps yet another detail. Let's go back to the 15th of April in
24 the evening, the meeting that you attended at the brigade. After the
25 meeting, I mean did Cerkez leave before you or after you?
1 A. You mean on the 15th in the evening?
2 Q. Yes.
3 A. He left after me.
4 Q. You and your fellow officers who stayed there after Cerkez, did
5 you discuss all of this amongst yourselves -- did you talk about whether
6 this information that Cerkez had received was plausible or not?
7 A. Well, yes. When Cerkez left, we officers from the brigade
8 discussed this, and I got the impression from this discussion that most of
9 my colleagues from the command believe that there would not be a serious
10 conflict, that perhaps there could be a minor incident and that everything
11 would end at that. That was my estimate on the basis of the discussion I
12 had with my colleagues because before that, there were also such pieces of
13 information that were received but in the morning ...
14 Q. Is it correct that on several occasions before, there were such
15 alarms and that the state of readiness was brought up?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And during these earlier warnings that something would happen, did
18 something actually happen or did nothing happen?
19 A. Well, nothing happened. And that is why we believed that nothing
20 would happen, perhaps that there would be a minor incident but nothing of
21 a more serious nature.
22 Q. Thank you. Witness Ceko, tell me, please, your primary concern on
23 the 16th of April was to get ready in order to carry out the duty that you
24 were supposed to carry out. What did you do? You said a few minutes ago
25 that your supplies were very scarce. You said that had you no weapons at
1 all and that you had very little ammunition and you didn't have other
3 A. Yes, on the evening of the 15th, I looked through documentation
4 and I saw that the situation was one that, indeed, does cause concern.
5 And the next day, I contacted the Assistant Commander for Logistics of the
6 Operative Zone of Central Bosnia, both orally and in writing and I asked
7 him for materiel. I especially thought that if there would be
8 mobilisation that it would not be possible to equip everyone and to
9 provide them with the necessary equipment. So I contacted Central Bosnia
10 considerably because I asked them for more supplies of materiel.
11 Q. As assistant commander in the brigade command, is it natural for
12 you to establish communication with the assistant commander in the higher
14 A. Yes, yes.
15 Q. So as far as your area of responsibility is strictly concerned,
16 that is to say logistics, you don't have to go through your own commander
17 and ask for this from the superior command?
18 A. I don't have to go through my own commander, but it is natural
19 that I provide information to the commander so that he can help me with
20 the organisation of such affairs but, of course, I can also go through my
21 superior commander.
22 Q. Who was in the command of the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia?
23 Who was the person who was the Assistant Commander for Logistics?
24 A. The Assistant Commander for Logistics of the Operative Zone was
25 Franjo Sliskovic.
1 Q. Did you have a good cooperation with him?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And was there follow up on those requests? What was the situation
4 with supplies during the following days?
5 A. Yes, on the basis of my request, and I suppose that Commander
6 Mario Cerkez, as I had notified him that we are very short of supplies and
7 that we were very -- our ammunition supply was meagre and everything, he
8 must have had contact with the commander. So on the evening of the 16th
9 we were sent a small supply of ammunition and several times, once again in
10 the days that followed, but those were all very small quantities.
11 Q. And what was the situation with weapons, because the mobilisation
12 was already underway, whence the weapons for mobilised men?
13 A. Mobilised men. Quite a number of people had weapons. That is,
14 village guards, they had weapons with them, and also, perhaps, some other
15 men who were mobilised or perhaps had weapons in some other unit or simply
16 -- one didn't know before that he had any weapons because he was not
17 recorded, but he might have had some weapons at home. They had weapons,
18 but other men simply didn't, and we couldn't arm them because we did not
19 have in store any weapons at all.
20 Q. Which means that those men who were mobilised from amongst the
21 village guards, that they were desirable conscripts candidates for
22 mobilisation because they had their weapons?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Whereas they didn't have to hold true of those others because they
25 may not have had their weapons?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. But let me ask you, Witness Ceko, in your -- those weapons came to
3 your depot and left. Before and after, what sources, what was the
4 provenience of those weapons that arrived in Bosnia, as a man who was
5 there and handled those weapons?
6 A. Well, yes, in the early days, there was this illegal arming. That
7 is, people themselves, people from some villages sold their property,
8 people even sold their cows in order to purchase rifles. So some people
9 -- that is how some of the people were armed. And most other people set
10 out to take the JNA barracks in Slimena, and that is how people collected
11 from there most of the weapons and the ammunition.
12 Q. And during the Municipal Staff or later on during the time of
13 brigades, did the HVO government manage to procure a significant quantity
14 of weapons in an organised manner?
15 A. No, not in a more organised manner. A more organised supply of
16 weapons did not begin before mid-1992 when the -- when the Operative Zone
17 of Central Bosnia was set up. I think it was sometime in mid-1992, I'm
18 not sure about the date, and it was only then that the supply of weapons
19 was better organised, but where the weapons came from I wouldn't know.
20 Q. Which means that the Operative Zone had its own line of supply and
21 you, the brigade subsequently -- when the brigades were formed, had your
22 own line of supplies?
23 A. No.
24 JUDGE MAY: Just a moment. Both of you are going too fast.
25 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
1 Q. You expected -- will you please explain it in your own words?
2 A. The brigade did not undertake the organisation of the supply of
3 weapons by itself, but when the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia was set
4 up, it -- the weapons and ammunition and all the other military gear was
5 done more systematically, and that began sometime in the summer of 1992,
6 when this zone was set up. And from then on, all the logistical support
7 of the brigades went to the Superior Commander of the Operative Zone of
8 Central Bosnia, to the logistics department.
9 Q. So let us go back to the conflict. The conflict broke out, and
10 you needed supplies. The Vitez pocket in those first two or three days
11 was increasingly surrounded which was the only land route that you could
12 use for your supplies.
13 A. Well, practically as of the 16th of April 1993, Central Bosnia,
14 the Lasva Valley, was isolated, so there were no land routes left. And
15 since from the depot of the Operative Zone, because they were down to the
16 critical left of ammunition, they organised their convoy that went through
17 Busovaca to Sebesic because that was, at that time, the only land route
18 that could be used for our supplies. That is through Busovaca and
20 Q. Could you show it on the map? The map is next to you.
21 A. Excuse me. I'm not an operations man and I am not sure I can find
22 my way about maps.
23 Q. Perhaps this is not important. I thought perhaps you could help
24 us. But at any rate, going through these points that you mention which
25 were used by your convoys --
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Could you tell us: When was it that the BH army cut off this
3 route for the convoys, once and for all, when it could not used anymore?
4 A. That route was cut off once and for all in late June 1993. I
5 think, to be more exact, that it was on the 15th of June, 1993.
6 Q. And as of that day, there is no land route available to you for
7 your supplies? Land route, I mean --
8 A. No. As of that day -- well, there were some brave individuals who
9 would use a mountain pass to get through Sebesic, and they brought what
10 they could carry, perhaps, but that was the only way.
11 Q. And tell us: As regards that route around Sebesic, we're
12 referring to convoys which used mules and horses?
13 A. Yes, yes, because this is a mountain path, very narrow. The only
14 way to -- one could use only mules or horses.
15 Q. No vehicles?
16 A. No, no, no. No, no, no. We used horses, and that was the only
17 way of transport.
18 Q. Now, when the front lines were defined in the municipal area, what
19 was your other task, apart from weapons, that is, ammunition? What were
20 you expected to supply your troops with now?
21 A. When the front lines were defined in the municipality of Vitez,
22 one of my tasks, one of my hardest tasks, perhaps, was to organise the
23 support with food supplies; that is, I had to organise kitchens,
24 personnel, in all the villages. And I wasted -- I spent a lot of time
25 organising it, to feed the troops. And it was established -- it took
1 place only some 10 or 15 days after the conflict broke out. And until
2 that time, these troops were fed by local -- by villagers. And the troops
3 too, more or less; every soldier went back to his village. And there were
4 problems when we tried to get a man from one village to send to some
5 other. Where there was more stronger attack, it was a major problem,
6 because everybody went to the boundaries of his own village.
7 Q. Does that mean that people saw this war as a defence of their own
8 hearth, of their own village?
9 A. Yes, quite.
10 Q. And during your work for the HVO -- you were an officer, you had a
11 function there -- did you ever hear that there was some official or
12 unofficial policy of persecution and disturbance of the Muslim population,
13 the civilians, by the HVO?
14 A. As an HVO officer, I affirm that there never existed, official or
15 unofficial, policy of persecution or harassment of Muslims in the
16 territory of the municipality of Vitez.
17 Q. Tell us, please, Officer Ceko: In those days after the formation
18 of the brigade, the Vitez Brigade, who was responsible? What unit
19 provided security, took care of the security of the building and personnel
20 of the command of the Vitez Brigade?
21 A. As of the formation of the brigade, the security of the
22 building -- and personnel, of course, in the command -- was in charge of a
23 small platoon of the military police, the 4th Battalion of the Military
25 Q. And was this platoon under the command of the Brigade Commander?
1 A. No. They were under the command of the Commander of the 4th
2 Battalion of the Military Police.
3 Q. And in point of fact, within this general term, "security," what
4 was the role of that platoon? What did it do?
5 A. Well, its principal task was to guard the building, the whole
6 building, the reception desk; then the civilians and everybody else who
7 might come to the headquarters, to the command of the brigade, so to ask
8 of them from the reception desk to the command officers. Those were the
9 tasks of the particular platoon which was securing the headquarters.
10 Q. And you called that unit the brigade military police; is that
12 A. Well, yes. Most -- most people -- most people are members of the
13 command even, and that same building -- in that same building there were
14 other people too. There were the radio and television station, and most
15 of them referred to it as the "brigade military police," because they were
16 with us every day, from the very beginning. They were with us in the mess
17 and so on and so forth. They lived and worked with us, sharing the
19 Q. And do you know, when did this, in inverted commas, "brigade
20 military police," was truly placed under the command of the brigade
21 command, that is, became part of the brigade?
22 A. Yes, I do know when that happened.
23 Q. And when was it, to the best of your recollection?
24 A. That was in August, perhaps mid-August 1993. The order was issued
25 that it was to be subordinated to the commander of the brigade, because
1 when there was a minor task to do, then it was difficult to do it.
2 Usually in case of -- in such cases when some of the conscripts failed to
3 report, and then a request had to be sent to the 4th Battalion of the
4 Military Police to bring in the men, and then they would have to issue the
5 order to the policemen to bring those men. So it was difficult, really,
6 to do it, and that was why it was decided to attach them to the brigade
8 Q. Does that mean that even those routine jobs, such as the one that
9 you mentioned, to bring in a military conscripts who failed to report,
10 that actually it was up to the goodwill of those policemen of yours
11 whether they would do it, or you had to ask their command to do that?
12 A. [Microphone not activated] ... to send a request to their
14 Q. Thank you. Mr. Ceko, as of the 16th of April onward, for a while,
15 in the building of the command, in the building of the cinema, or rather
16 the Workers' University, as it was called, there were also interned some
17 people. Did you see those people interned there?
18 A. Yes, I did.
19 Q. Those were citizens of Muslim ethnicity; is that correct?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Would you know if those people were also interned in some other
22 places, or rather, at some other locations in the town of Vitez?
23 A. Yes. I do know. In the building of the former social auditing
24 service and the chess club in Vitez.
25 Q. Did you personally see those other locations where they were
1 interned, in the auditing office and the chess club?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Which HVO unit controlled those locations? Which unit guarded
4 them at those locations?
5 A. The internees in those places were guarded by the military police.
6 Q. Would you know if there were some interned persons at other
7 locations outside the town?
8 A. Yes. They were also in the Dubravica elementary school and the
9 veterinary station at Rijeka.
10 Q. And who controlled those two locations?
11 A. Those two locations were controlled by the special purpose unit
13 Q. And in the elementary school in Dubravica, that is where Vitezovi
14 had their base; is that correct?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And at Rijeka, the veterinary station, they also used to gather
17 there all the time?
18 A. Well, yes, they gathered there very often, because the commander
19 of that unit lived at Rijeka, in the forester's lodge, quite close to the
20 veterinary station.
21 Q. When you say "commander," who was that commander?
22 A. It was Darko Kraljevic.
23 Q. You know that he is deceased?
24 A. Yes, I do.
25 Q. And by the way, you knew Darko Kraljevic, because it's not all
1 that far away from your house?
2 A. Yes, I knew him, because it's a rather small place, so we all knew
3 one another.
4 Q. And is it true that physically he was very much like Mario Cerkez,
5 about the same height?
6 A. Yes. They were about the same height. They're both dark-haired.
7 Yes, they looked very much alike.
8 Q. Thank you. But there's another difference. In Dubravica -- no.
9 Let me try to phrase it clearer. In the early days, it was the auditing
10 office, the chess club, the cinema. Could you tell the Court if only men
11 were detained there?
12 A. Yes. Only men, and only men of military age.
13 Q. Are you quite sure that at that time there were no women there?
14 A. I passed by very often and I never saw them, nor did I hear
16 JUDGE MAY: I'm not sure if we have the evidence. I may have
17 missed it. Who guarded the cinema?
18 MR. KOVACIC: The witness just said the military police.
19 JUDGE MAY: Well, he's going too fast. It's difficult to follow.
20 Remember that we have to follow this. I certainly heard the chess club
21 and I certainly heard the auditing office, but I didn't hear the cinema.
22 Is that right, Mr. Ceko? Who guarded the detainees in the cinema?
23 A. The detainees in the cinema were guarded by the military police.
24 JUDGE MAY: And who commanded the military police in the cinema?
25 A. I recall that one of the commanders was Anto Kovac.
1 JUDGE MAY: Thank you.
2 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Mr. Ceko, I suppose -- or rather, do you know who was this Kovac's
5 A. Anto Kovac's -- the commander of this platoon securing the command
6 of the brigade, his commander was Pasko Ljubicic, the Commander of the 4th
7 Battalion of the Military Police.
8 Q. And you would know precisely who was between him, that is, the
9 Commander of the 4th Battalion, and this down there?
10 A. No, I don't. I think that for a while it was Vlado Santic.
11 Q. But you do not have any precise information, or is it the time
12 frame that bothers you?
13 A. No. It is the time frame that confuses me. And of course men
14 changed there.
15 Q. Very well. But the seat of the 4th Battalion of the military
16 police was in the hotel?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And how many metres is that away? A hundred metres away from you?
19 A. Less than 100 metres away.
20 Q. Very well. Just two minor points in relation to the interned
21 persons. You know, and you saw, that at these places of internment in the
22 cinema in the --
23 THE INTERPRETER: Could Mr. Kovacic please slow down.
24 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. -- in the SDK [as interpreted], in the chess club, and in the
1 cinema, it was only men who were detained there?
2 A. Yes, that's right.
3 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter did not get Mr. Kovacic's
5 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Kovacic, the interpreters didn't get your
6 question. They are also asking you to slow down.
7 MR. KOVACIC: [Interpretation]
8 Q. Mr. Ceko, we will have to go back. I have to put this question
9 again to you. In the school in Dubravica, who was there? Who were the
10 persons who were interned there?
11 A. In the school in Dubravica, persons of Muslim ethnicity were
12 interned there. There were some able-bodied men, there were women, there
13 were children. That's what I heard. I was never there, but that's what I
14 heard. I heard that it was that way.
15 Q. In view of the location of your office and in view of the fact
16 that from time to time you would come to the cinema building where your
17 headquarters was, on those occasions did you ever see any person being
18 mistreated? Did you ever see anything like that yourself?
19 A. No, I never saw that.
20 Q. Did you ever hear of any mistreatment?
21 A. No, I did not hear of any mistreatment either, any mistreatment of
22 the interned persons.
23 Q. Did you, yourself, see doctors coming to visit, Red Cross and
24 things like that?
25 A. Yes, I did see a group of doctors with the Red Cross. They came
1 into the cinema. They came into the cinema hall and they talked to these
2 people and they helped them and they asked them things. I don't know.
3 Q. Did you have the opportunity of seeing interned persons being
4 visited by their families?
5 A. Yes. I saw that quite often. They had visitors all the time. As
6 a matter of fact, on one occasion I was present when a man's daughter
7 came, and he was allowed to go home and take a bath, and then he returned
8 to the cinema.
9 Q. Did you ever have the opportunity of seeing these persons taken
10 out, taken out to work for the military or for the defence, to dig
11 trenches, for example?
12 A. No, I did not have the opportunity of seeing that.
13 Q. But did you hear about that later, that there were such cases?
14 A. Yes. Later I did hear about a couple of such cases. I personally
15 did not see this, but I know that at that time work units had already been
16 established for digging trenches at the defence lines, and of course there
17 were Muslims and Croats and Serbs, naturally, in those work units.
18 Q. Who was in charge of establishing work units and taking care of
20 A. It was the defence department, the civil defence unit.
21 Q. And where was the defence department? That was part of the
22 municipal government in Vitez; is that right?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Mr. Ceko, since there has been lots of diverse information in this
25 trial, we'll ask you to help us out with something else. When the
1 conflict already broke out in 1993, are you sure that the headquarters of
2 the Operative Zone of Central Bosnia is in Vitez?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And that was in the hotel?
5 A. Yes, in the Hotel Vitez.
6 Q. In the hotel, that is also where the 4th Battalion of the Military
7 Police has its headquarters; is that correct?
8 A. Yes, yes.
9 Q. The military police, the members of the military police, they had
10 permanent accommodation where?
11 A. I think they were in the hotel in Vitez.
12 Q. Were some of them in another building quite close to your depot
14 A. Yes, yes, in the building where the Court is nowadays, where the
15 Court is now; that is to say, the building right next to the depot.
16 Q. And you saw a certain number of soldiers from the military police
17 staying there 24 hours, around the clock, not going home?
18 A. They were there all the time.
19 Q. In addition to those we've mentioned just now, in town there were
20 also the so-called PPN Vitezovi. They operated in the area too; is that
22 A. Yes. The Vitezovi were also in the town of Vitez.
23 Q. From time to time, or permanently, did the PPN Zuti come to the
24 area and operate there?
25 A. The PPN Zuti did -- the PPN Tvrtkovci came to Vitez from time to
1 time, and then there were also the PZO, and then also the members of the
2 Travnicka Brigade, then Jure Francetic, the Zenica battalion, and also
3 others. Also some from the Ludvig Pavlovic unit were in Vitez from time
4 to time.
5 Q. Ludvig Pavlovic, as an organised unit, it is mentioned that they
6 left already in February 1993.
7 A. I don't know exactly. I know that Bruno Busic's unit left
8 sometime in January 1993. They were in Travnik, where we were, where we
9 had the command of Stjepan Tomasevic, and I am not sure that all of them
10 had left later, I mean all the Ludvig Pavlovic people.
11 Q. Perhaps let us explain in a word or two. The PPN Zuti, whose unit
12 was that? Where did they come from?
13 A. That was the unit from Nova Bila.
14 Q. In your opinion, to the best of your knowledge, all these
15 mentioned units, who are they subordinated to? Who is their superior,
16 their joint superior?
17 A. I don't know exactly who commanded them and who their superior
18 command was. I just know that there were problems and I know that they
19 were not under Blaskic's command. But who commanded them exactly, that I
20 don't know.
21 Q. Do you agree that at some moments Blaskic could order them and
22 sometimes he could not?
23 A. Well, they could not have been ordered by anybody, more or less.
24 Those were units that perhaps you could agree on something with them on a
25 sort of human basis, but you could not order them.
1 Q. Do you think, Mr. Ceko, that your commander, Mario Cerkez, could
2 have commanded any one of these units?
3 A. No way.
4 Q. Tell me: All those units had some kind of insignia which made it
5 more or less clear that they belonged to the Croat side in this conflict;
6 is that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. But there were different insignia; right?
9 A. Yes. There were different insignia. There were some recognisable
10 insignia. There were some different uniforms. There were some black
11 uniforms. However, the majority, the majority, had HVO insignia and
12 camouflage uniforms. Some PPN units, special purpose units, in addition
13 to the HVO patch, had the patch of their brigade, the emblem of
14 their -- and also pistols, holsters, et cetera; however, most of them had
15 HVO insignia.
16 Q. Does that mean that not at all points in time and not at every
17 place was it clear, when we saw a soldier or a group of soldiers at some
18 place, we did not know who they belonged to actually?
19 A. Some could be identified and others could not be identified.
20 Q. Just another question: Did you ever see Mario Cerkez in a black
22 A. No. I never saw him in a black uniform.
23 Q. Is it correct that on one occasion in Sesvete in 1992 he wore a
24 black jacket? Do you remember that?
25 A. I don't remember. I don't know.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. Finally, did you ever hear of Mario Cerkez being a member of the
3 A. No, I never heard of that, and I know he was not.
4 Q. Had he been a member, you would have known?
5 A. Yes, I would have known for sure.
6 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honours, I'm finished with that witness. I
7 would just like to notice that there is an affidavit filed a couple of
8 days before this testimony, related to this testimony.
9 JUDGE MAY: Thank you.
10 Mr. Naumovski, have you any questions?
11 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] I think that I could finish by the
12 time of the usual adjournment, not more than ten minutes. Thank you.
13 Cross-examined by Mr. Naumovski:
14 Q. Mr. Ceko, may I introduce myself once again. My name is Mitko
15 Naumovski, I'm an attorney at law from Zagreb, and I defend Mr. Dario
16 Kordic in these proceedings. I just have a few questions for you.
17 Mr. Ceko, throughout this time period that you explained to us
18 today, you were a soldier, essentially, all the time; is that right?
19 A. Yes, that's right.
20 Q. So I wish to ask you the following, as an experienced soldier and
21 officer: What was Mr. Dario Kordic, in your opinion; a soldier or a
23 A. Mr. Dario Kordic, ever since I know him, was a politician, not a
25 Q. Tell me, please: Throughout your work in the Stjepan Tomasevic
1 Brigade and in the Viteska Brigade, and also during the time while you
2 were in the Municipal Staff of the HVO in Vitez, did you personally ever
3 hear of any commander, yourself included, having received an order from
4 Mr. Kordic?
5 A. No. Throughout this period that you mention, from 1992 all the
6 way up to the ceasefire, I never heard or saw, or saw and heard, that
7 Mr. Dario Kordic issued some orders to soldiers.
8 Q. Thank you. Let us expand on this same question. Did any
9 politician represent the civilian government either in Novi Travnik or in
10 Vitez? So when we are talk being Vitez, I am talking about Mr. Anto
11 Valenta, Pero Skopljak, Ivica Santic, et cetera? Did any of these
12 civilians, politicians, issue any military orders to the brigade or could
13 he have or could they have?
14 A. All the persons you mentioned could not have issued military
15 orders nor could they have issued military orders nor do I know of them
16 having issuing military orders.
17 Q. Thank you. Mr. Ceko, I assume that throughout this period of the
18 war and before that, you probably had the opportunity of following the
19 press conferences that Mr. Kordic took part in?
20 A. Yes, from time to time.
21 Q. Did you ever hear at these press conferences or through statements
22 on some other occasion that Mr. Kordic ever spoke in a derogatory
23 insulting way about Muslims as a people?
24 A. No, I never heard of Mr. Kordic speaking in an insulting and
25 provocative way about Muslims, never.
1 Q. We also talked -- a few minutes ago, we talked about the civilian
2 authorities and the military authorities, and you talked about that during
3 your examination-in-chief so perhaps just one question. Specifically in
4 Vitez, was there the civilian HVO and the military HVO or was this one
6 A. The HVO was --
7 Q. Just a minute, please, could you explain this to me a bit? In
8 Vitez, was there a military authority and was there a civilian authority,
9 and were they organised separately or not?
10 A. There was a civilian authority and there was a military authority,
11 and all of that was the Croat Defence Council.
12 Q. If I understand you correctly there was the civilian authority we
13 mentioned the persons --
14 THE INTERPRETER: Counsel has overlapped the witness' answer.
15 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation]
16 Q. We are not supposed to overlap each other, you see. So there was
17 a civilian authority and there was a military authority. And this
18 military authority, you were also a member; is that correct?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. You mentioned this roadblock in Ahmici on the 19th of October,
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Did you ever hear of Mr. Dario Kordic in connection with this
24 roadblock threatening the villagers of Ahmici that their village would be
25 burned down if this roadblock was not removed?
1 A. I never heard of that.
2 Q. I put this same question to all the witnesses, perhaps it may seem
3 strange to you, but I have to put it for reasons that we know. Throughout
4 your soldiering, so to speak, in Novi Travnik, in Vitez as well, did you
5 ever see any organised unit of the Croatian army in the territory of those
6 two towns?
7 A. No. I never saw any unit or any individual who was a member of
8 the Croatian army either in Novi Travnik or in Vitez, nowhere.
9 Q. Mr. Ceko, you mentioned a few minutes ago going to the front line
10 against the Bosnian Serb army, and you also talked about the defence of
11 Jajce in this context.
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. I don't want to tire you with a long introduction and to tell you
14 what the Prosecutor's case is, but my question is going to be very
15 simple. The army of the Bosnian Serbs and the JNA, did they take Jajce
16 through military supremacy or was this through some kind of bargaining
17 between the Serbs and the Muslims?
18 A. Jajce was taken by the Serbs, the JNA. There was no agreement, no
19 bargaining, no deal. We sent shifts up there and we realised that it was
20 easier to defend ourselves further away from home than closer to our
21 homes. And we would drive during the night without any lights and --
22 Q. Very well, very well. So to put it simply, this was a military
23 defeat; is that right?
24 A. Yes, that's right.
25 Q. Perhaps yet another subject. In the territory of Novi Travnik and
1 of Vitez, in particular, where you spent all of 1993 where you lived after
2 all, can we agree that there were at least three major waves of refugees
3 from the western or northwestern part of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
4 A. Yes. Just a minute, what period are you referring to?
5 Q. I'll get to that now. At the end of October, beginning of
6 November 1992, there were many refugees coming in from Jajce, Kotor Vares
7 et cetera, et cetera?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And then the well-known events in Zenica and Travnik in 1993?
10 A. Yes, then also in June, from Travnik.
11 Q. Precisely that's what I wanted to ask you about. Tell me, please,
12 just one more question. This major influx of refugees -- you are a man
13 involved in logistics so you know about this -- these thousands of
14 refugees, did they bring pressure on the resources that you had available
15 in the municipality? Were there food shortages, et cetera?
16 A. Well, yes, of course.
17 Q. And do you know whether this influx of refugees, notably in Vitez,
18 led to an increase in the crime rate and crime as such?
19 A. Well, I did not think about this but for sure, yes, it was only
20 logical that these were refugees who had lost everything and that they
21 were involved in certain criminal deeds.
22 Q. It seems that in the transcript -- and this will be my last
23 question. The last wave of refugees, you said when Travnik fell and
24 surrounding villages and that was June 1993; is that correct?
25 A. Yes, yes.
1 MR. NAUMOVSKI: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Ceko. Your
2 Honours, I do not have any more questions, as I promised.
3 MR. KOVACIC: Your Honour, perhaps we should give some information
4 on the status of the witnesses, so should I do it on Monday morning.
5 JUDGE MAY: Do it on Monday morning.
6 MR. KOVACIC: I omitted one question, could I put it to the
7 witness on Monday morning?
8 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Cross-examination on Monday morning. Mr. Ceko,
9 we're going to adjourn now until Monday morning. Could you be back,
10 please, at half past 9.00 on Monday morning to conclude your evidence.
11 Would you remember during the adjournment not to speak to anybody about
12 your evidence, not to let anybody speak to you about it until it's over,
13 and that does include the members of the Defence team.
14 So if you would be back please at half past 9.00 please on Monday
15 morning and I will remind the Court that we will be sitting two judges on
16 Monday morning. We'll adjourn.
17 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned
18 at 1.03 p.m., to be reconvened on Monday
19 the 31st day of July, 2000, at
20 9.30 a.m.